FIVE FAVOURITES: Francis Of Delirium

Creators of swirling, grunge-infused guitar tunes, Luxembourg-based duo Francis Of Delirium write songs about the ever-evolving nature of human emotion. Together, songwriter & guitarist Jana Bahrich and her collaborator Chris Hewett have released two EPs via Dalliance Records, with their most recent offering, Wading, continuing Jana’s narratives of personal resilience and enlightenment.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Jana to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired the band’s song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to listen to Francis Of Delirium’s latest single ‘I Think I’m Losing’ at the end of this post.

1. Arca – KiCk i
I found Arca through the newest Euphoria episode. There’s this one scene where they use Arca’s music and it’s this crazy gunshot type beat and it sounds so smoke and it is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. I spent weeks trying to figure out where I could hear it in full but it turns out it’s not released. In the process though, I became obsessed with her album KiCk i. I’m trying to get better at electronic production and I like to use Kick i as my north star, less as a template to copy but more as the realization that anything is possible. She’s so creative in everything that she does which I find very inspiring, plus her songs just do something to my body that makes it feel like it’s exploding. I love you Arca.

2. Sufjan Stevens – All Delighted People
Hoping this will pass as an “album” even though it’s an EP! This is my favourite Sufjan project, easily. I feel like in this era Sufjan Stevens was making music for kids who were in the school brass band and so I felt very seen. I love the way he uses horns and trombones in All Delighted PeOple and the song-writing is still so strong, he also just gives you so much time to settle into each song which I love. The first Sufjan Stevens song I ever heard was ‘Casmir Pulaski Day’, my friends showed it to me. I went home that day and then learned it on the banjo. I spent a lot of my teens consuming solely his music. Then I realized his music was in Little Miss Sunshine which was my favourite movie then, so it felt like Sufjan was the man for me.

3. Half Waif – The Caretaker
Half Waif has such a wonderful ear for melody and uses vocal harmonies so wonderfully. Even on the first track, you’re almost immediately hit with those harmonies and they’re so beautiful and her delivery is heart-breaking and pulls at your chest. I couldn’t tell you how she’s influenced my song-writing but she must have because I’ve probably listened to The Caretaker everyday since it came out. Similarly to Arca, I often reference Nandi’s production choices, she has an incredible ability to make electronic sounds feel so tactile and warm and human, I just love everything she does. I first found Half Waif through her Tiny Desk which is also incredible, I say it a lot but I just love when artists give you their whole voice and body in a performance, it becomes so easy to connect with them through that.

4. Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy
I don’t know how much I can express how much I love this album. When it comes to rock music and I look at someone like Car Seat Headrest, it’s just a reminder that you can and should keep making music on your own and you should make whatever it is you want to make. Especially since Chris and I record our own music, I found it really helpful to look to other artists that were making music on their own and read articles from them to try and figure out how to do it on their own. Then lyrically and performance wise the album is perfect to me, I find a kind of peace whenever I listen to Twin Fantasy. There’s always something unexpected in a Car Seat Headrest song when you listen to it the first time and I really value that, I feel like you are walking along some dark long winding road whenever you jump into a Car Seat Headrest record.

5. Heart – Dreamboat Annie
A lot of my favourite songs and albums I’ve actively disliked before I love them. For some reason, I couldn’t get into ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ when I was young and then I turned 14 and it was the greatest song I’d ever heard. I have a specific memory of this one rock station in Vancouver that would always play Heart all the time whenever my dad and I would drive to Taekwondo, and I thought it was some of the worst music I’d ever heard. After maybe 5 car rides, I was obsessed with Heart. If my dad and I go on a drive anywhere now, we definitely scream and sing along to ‘Crazy On You’, that song is so good, and they’re both so talented it’s crazy. They give everything to all the songs they play and that is something I try to do with every performance of our songs.

Thanks to Jana for sharing her favourites with us!

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Photo Credit: Lynn Theisen

Five Favourites: MarthaGunn

Having released their debut EP Caught Up And Confused last year, Brighton’s MarthaGunn have received acclaim from the likes of The Independent and Radio X’s John Kennedy. Following recent single ‘Nowhere To Run’, they have now shared their latest offering ‘Honest‘. Confronting themes of fear and trauma, it oozes a soaring soulful splendour and celestial emotion-strewn power, showcasing MarthaGunn as definite ones to watch.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with front woman Abi to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums or songs that have shaped her as a musician, and in turn influenced MarthaGunn as a band. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch the homemade lyric video for ‘Honest’ at the end of this feature. 

Mystery Jets – Serotonin
I was about 16 or 17 when this came out. Mystery Jets were the first band I truly understood. It was a real coming of age album for me, and I think whatever album you listen to around those years of your life tends to stick with you forever. It’s not necessarily something that would hit me in the same way now if hearing for the first time, but at that age it just captured so much of what I was feeling and it had just the right amount of angst. For me, this was the album that made me want to start a band. I loved the idea of singing and writing songs with mates and being in a gang together. It was also the reason why I used to make Max sing everything in harmony with me, as Blaine and Will used to sing a lot together.

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
In our first year as a band, we were playing in a pub and I remember this guy coming up to me afterwards and saying we reminded him of Fleetwood Mac. At the time I had no idea who they were. I asked Max and he was like “you know who they are, you know – ‘Dreams’, ‘Go Your Own Way’?”, but I genuinely had no idea. I went home and looked them up and from that day I had them on repeat for about two years solid. I didn’t listen to anything else and I watched every documentary under the sun. I love the fact this album has the song writing perspective of three people, there’s a lot to work with there. It was the main inspiration behind our song ‘Heaven’. Funnily enough, the song that inspired ‘Heaven’ was ‘Oh Daddy’. When I first wrote ‘Heaven’, it was at the speed of ‘Oh Daddy’, which if you know that song, is much slower than now.

Haim – Days Are Gone / Something To Tell You
I was going through a bit of a rough patch in my song writing, not knowing what the hell I was trying to make. Someone showed me a video of Haim ‘Night So Long at the Greek’, and I just thought it was amazing. From there I dived into every song and documentary I could. There’s a pattern here isn’t there? If I love something I become quite obsessive and I want to squeeze it dry of every drop of inspiration. These two albums for me made me realise I had been over complicating song writing and actually it was meant to be a fun process. Haim’s lyrics are simple and to the point (which is actually the hardest, most skilled thing to do). I really focussed on rhythms in drums and vocals after this and trying to make both as hooky as possible. I owe them a huge thank you for helping me to fall back in love with song writing.

Prince – ‘I Would Die For You’
This was one of those songs that I listened to on repeat for a whole year. Even now it still makes me feel the same. I think music is able to help us feel emotions we aren’t able to express. This song kills me every time I listen to it. To all those I’ve loved who have no idea, or don’t want to know, I guess this song is my way of communicating it without actually having to. The combination of the two Haim records and this song really lead me to experimenting more with rhythms in drums and vocals. This helped me find my voice for writing drum parts. You don’t need to play an instrument to write for the instrument. Haim and Prince also made me become obsessed with the Linn Drum, but I am yet to own one. It’s on the wish list.

Daft Punk – ‘One More Time’ / ‘RAM’
This isn’t so much of a direct influence but we are all obsessed with Daft Punk. Humph and Frank are probably the biggest fans in the band. Frank is always the DJ in our van on tour so they come everywhere with us. When I think of our band it is soundtracked by Daft Punk, up and down the autobahn. ‘One More Time’ as a song does something to me (and I’m sure many others), it instantly puts me in a good mood and gets me ready for a show. I’m slightly obsessed with a new bit of info I just discovered on this song about how it was sampled. I won’t bore you here but if interested, google it. I guess there is a dance element that us three in particular are interested in exploring and I’m sure at some point in the future there will be a dance track from us subconsciously influenced by the hours and years listening to Daft Punk.

Massive thanks to Abi for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Watch the poignant homemade lyric video for MarthaGunn’s new single ‘Honest’ below:

Five Favourites: Fable

With acclaim from the likes of The Guardian, Rolling Stone and BBC 6Music’s Chris Hawkins, Brighton based artist Fable has recently made her return to music after taking some time out after suffering from depression and burnout following the loss of a close friend. Now an ambassador for mental health charity My Black Dog, her upcoming debut album is due later this year. Covering a range of poignant issues, the album is filled with heartfelt offerings that blur genre boundaries with a sweeping, dark majesty and hypnotic splendour.

Following the release of spellbinding recent single ‘Orbiting’, we spoke to Fable about the five albums that mean the most to her. Check out her choices below, and watch her video for ‘Orbiting’ at the end of this article. 

Radiohead – In Rainbows
This album crept into my life when I was in my early teens. It grew almost organically in my mind from a whisper of “Ah, this is agreeable, I’ll give it another go” to “I think this is the best album of all time…” Every song paints a picture in my mind – Thom’s delivery of profound nothingness is everything. ‘Nude’ is probably my favourite track with its glittering darkness that literally breaks me every time I hear it, and ‘Reckoner’ offers a cryptically wise piece of lyricism over the beautiful simplicity and a supernatural presence. I remember listening to it on the bus home from school feeling like the music understood me, not the other way around. And, if I could pick more, there are a few Radiohead albums that would make the list. The infinite possibilities of creative freedom that Thom displays in his writing is what I am constantly checking myself for.

Kate Bush – Hounds Of Love
Kate Bush is my inner child, she lifts my spirits and always tells the truth. My mum had the cassette and I would rewind ‘Cloud Busting’ for the line “… just saying it could even make it happen” – the open endedness and desperation in her voice is so moving, it’s hopeful and hopeless at the same time. I’ve definitely drawn from her work subconsciously, especially in my 4th release from the album that’s due out in the Autumn.

Gorillaz – Demon Days
The first album I ever bought on CD – I fell in love with it instantly. The theatrics of the intro setting the stage to drop straight into that filthy drum machine on ‘Last Living Souls’ is superb and the contrast between organic sounds and electronic are perfectly balanced. I love it when an album plays with the flow of time and really takes you on an adventure like this one does. I think Damon’s concept was to begin at dusk, take you to meet his demons with the last track representing the sun rising. When I heard that it all made sense. I used to go to countryside raves frequently and the last track ‘Demon Days’ would be the song I’d bang on the car speakers at sunrise.

David Bowie – Black Star
I’m still here wondering how this is possible – how someone can create such a relevant and stunning piece of work at 69, put on a staged musical production of the album, all whilst battling cancer. If anyone can, it’s Bowie, but it must have been exhausting. There is an urgency to the album which really breaks my heart. Here is a poet’s experience of mortality, documented in song. This album will always remind me of loss -I saw Lazarus the musical the night after hearing about the death of my friend and the music had such an impact on how I remember that time. It’s been really hard to pick a single Bowie album but this one will always be sentimental. 

Portishead – Dummy
There’s something really special about this album and it features in one of my earliest memories: I was 4 in my parents’ kitchen when I heard ‘Numb’ on the radio. Even at that age, this track completely enchanted me. Everything about it is an unsettling contradiction – it’s kinda like marijuana, in how it gets you loose and comfortable before unveiling the dark truths. Beth’s vocals are deliciously heartbreaking and reminiscent of Billie Holiday, who I also adore, along with the jazz influence. From that moment in the kitchen, they’ve been a huge influence on my writing. Their use of space and sonic contrast is so inspiring, it’s blunt yet silky and holds your hand through the haunted house of comedowns and urban decay. Everything about it is beautiful. My most recent single ‘Orbiting’ has had Portishead comparisons drawn in the press, which didn’t surprise me – I guess we’re having another societal comedown that needs a soundtrack.

Huge thanks to Fable for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Check out the video for recent single ‘Orbiting’ below:

 

FIVE FAVOURITES: Sunflower Thieves

Combining charming vocal harmonies and soft guitars to create their delicate pop-folk sounds, Leeds duo Sunflower Thieves write tunes inspired by personal narratives and nostalgia. Their musical creations have blossomed out of a sixteen year friendship between band members Amy and Lily, and their upcoming single ‘Don’t Mind The Weather’ is a warm reflection on staying grounded and safe within the relationships with the people you trust.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Amy and Lily to ask them about their “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired their song-writing techniques. Check out their choices below and scroll down to watch Sunflower Thieves’ lyric video for ‘Don’t Mind The Weather’ at the end of this post.

1. Sylvan Esso – What Now
Lily: Since I was first introduced to Sylvan Esso with their song ‘Hey Mami’, I just completely fell in love. Amelia’s gorgeously beautiful vocal alongside Nick’s impossibly catchy production is just the perfect mix to leap around your bedroom or just lie on the floor and weep. When this album came out I was absolutely obsessed and it’s all I wanted to listen to for a really long time. I remember every time that me and my best friend got in the car to go anywhere we’d blast it out on the country roads and just scream along without a care in the world.

I think the main thing I gained from listening to them was the reassurance that having a soft vocal does not mean that you can’t sing. At the time when we started singing together I felt very self conscious about my voice because I wasn’t/will never be a belter! But as I grew up and started listening to more and more music I realised that that wasn’t the be all and end all.

2. MUNA – Saves The World
Amy: I first came across MUNA through one of my Uni lecturers. I don’t think he would have predicted what an impact they would have on me. Lyrics are a big thing for me and there aren’t many people who cut straight through to your feelings like MUNA. It’s hard to choose between this album and About U, but Saves The World came along during my time at Uni and for me, it’s attached to a lot of my personal growth, new experiences and wonderful friends found during that time. I can’t wait to be back in a room with my friends, dancing to this album and celebrating loving each other and being exactly who we all are.

3. Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger in the Alps
This is our joint choice and always our reference for writing inspiration, production inspiration and general wonderful human being inspiration. We couldn’t tell you how many times we’ve been working on a song and one of us has said “you know in ‘Scott Street’ where she does this…we could try that!” We’d never heard anyone say things the way she says them before and when we first heard ‘Motion Sickness’, it was an instant “yes please.” Phoebe has helped us find our sound, inspired us to write the kind of music we want to write and we definitely aspire to achieve the kind of poetic realism her lyrics hold. In this album, Phoebe helped Sunflower Thieves’ writing grow and she hasn’t disappointed since.

4. Darwin Deez – Songs For Imaginative People
Lily: It was hard to choose which Darwin Deez album to pick! I think I know every word to every song he’s ever released. However, I reckon this album has really influenced the lyrics I write. The word play in his song-writing is something I strive for and all his outer-space metaphors excite me, I just love how geeky he is! I feel like we’d get on. I first heard of him because a friend at school recommended his song ‘Radar Detector’ and that was it, I was hooked. My favourite song on this album is ‘Alice’, it’s the song that plays automatically every time I plug my phone into the car stereo and I don’t hate it! I just love how honest and real he is, in a weird and wonderful way.

5. Sam Fender – Hypersonic Missiles
Amy: My ultimate go-to running/driving album (drumsssss + Springsteen vibes). I first saw Sam Fender play live at The Bodega in Nottingham in 2018 and have followed his journey since – I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about an artist’s debut album. I listened to nothing else for weeks after the release – my friends and housemates at the time can attest for that! I have Geordie family, so I guess that’s why I feel at home with his music.
It’s so refreshing to hear an artist address real, difficult subjects with such intimacy and fragility. This album makes me feel angry, powerful, vulnerable and uplifted. And probably most importantly for me, the lyrical content of this album makes me want to write songs.

Thanks to Amy & Lily for sharing their favourites with us!

Watch the lyric video for Sunflower Thieves’ new single ‘Don’t Mind The Weather’ below.

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Photo Credit: Alice Ashley