Five Favourites: Electric Pets

Having previously received acclaim for catchy singles ‘Don’t Leave Me’ and ‘That Way‘ from the likes of BBC Introducing, Emma Buckley, Phil Wagg, Adam Grace and Pete Darrington – aka Electric Pets – have today released their second EP, Elephant. Showcasing front woman Emma’s raw, impassioned vocals and the band’s trademark gritty, scuzz-strewn musicality, it’s a collection of garage-infused rock anthems, all propelled by a fierce energy and empowering spirit.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the release of Elephant, we caught up with Emma Buckley of Electric Pets to ask about the music that has inspired her the most. See below for her choice of her five favourite albums.

Lucia & The Best Boys – Cheap Talk
Lucia, now known as Lucia & The Best Boys have been on my radar since 2018. I came across ‘Summertime’ on a playlist and fell in love with their in your face, feel-good, indie-pop sound. Their discography combines big ’60s pop choruses with punk riffs. Lucia’s vocals have the perfect blend of sweetness and angst which sit perfectly on a bed of grunge guitars. I respect the bolshy synth work and fully support the themes of female empowerment. Oh, and of course I’ll never get tired of seeing a female front woman in an over-sized blazer playing the electric guitar!


Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam – I Had A Dream That You Were Mine 
It was actually Phil (lead guitarist in Electric Pets) who introduced me to this masterpiece. Leithauser, lead vocalist of The Walkman and Rostam, founding member of Vampire Weekend and in my opinion one of the greatest indie-rock producers of his generation. This collaboration features a variety of vintage production that inspired some of the influences of soul & early ‘rock n roll’ you hear in Electric Pets. It never conforms to the verse-chorus structure and doesn’t dwell on lyrical content. This album played a large part in my ability to trust the natural flow of a song’s narrative. It taught me not to get hung up on the story and appreciate a song in its entirety.

Bon Iver – 22, A Million
This album marked a shift in my appreciation for the art of production. As much as I’d been party to an indie-folk outfit, I’d never heard influences of hip-hop and electronic music fuse with folk in this way. Before this album, I was impressed mostly by a story and a hook but Bon Iver’s production transported me to different world. After getting over the initial meditative state I found myself in when listening, I naturally attempted to dissect the layers of instruments and their place in the ensemble. This album represents the power music has to shift a mental state for me. It’s obscure and none conventional but beautifully peaceful.

P!nk – I’m Not Dead
It wasn’t Pink’s recorded material that impressed me, but her spellbinding live performance. I was eleven when I received tickets to her Misunderztood tour as a birthday gift. I had a pre-conceived idea she was like any other female RnB/pop star but stood corrected. A singer, songwriter, performer, instrumentalist and true trailblazer. She had it all – a complete force of nature. She redefined the concept of a popstar and commanded the stage like a born rockstar. I made it my mission to go to as many of her tours as I could, which over the years have turned into acrobatic masterpieces. P!nk’s ability to combine show-stopping spectacles with simple, acoustic masterpieces are what make her truly unique. Off stage, she’s committed to her community and has inspired a generation to embrace themselves for exactly who they are – a message that shaped my youth and a baton I hope to carry for others.

Eminem – The Eminem Show
I’m not exaggerating when I say ten year old Emma lived for this album. It was the first time I truly understood the power of words when it came to expressing pain and evoking emotion through music. Most girls my age were busy dancing to the Spice Girls (which I was very much party to) but. in the comfort of my own room, I meticulously studied the lyrical genius that formed these troubled verses from Eminem. I think part of the excitement and charm was that I definitely shouldn’t have been exposed to such narrative at that young age but as my Dad always said –  “Emma, this is art and I won’t restrict access to art whatever your age… Just never tell your mother!”

Massive thanks to Emma for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Listen to current single ‘Show’ below:

Elephant, the brand new EP from Electric Pets, is out today via Reckless Yes. Buy/stream on Bandcamp now, and make sure you catch Electric Pets live at their first headline show on 18th November at West Hampstead Arts Club.

Five Favourites: Hannah Schneider

Having been big fans of Danish artist Hannah Schneider (also of duo AyOwA) for some time now, we were super excited to welcome the release of her latest album (her first solo release in seven years), Ocean Letters. A collection of immersive, celestial soundscapes, it perfectly showcases Schneider’s ability to bathe your ears in a euphoric, soothing grace as her rich, crystalline vocals ripple with a dreamy ethereal haze. A blissful sonic accompaniment to calm the senses as the temperatures drop and the darkness draws in.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the release of Ocean Letters, we caught up with Hannah Schneider to ask about the music that has inspired her the most. See below for her choice of her five favourite albums.

Beach House – Teen Dream
As a surprise to no-one, Beach House is a huge inspiration for me, and this is one of my favourite albums ever. The songwriting is off the charts amazing – wild, advanced and still it seems you can hum along to every one of the tunes. Many of the texts and titles have such a suspense in them, and they each create a scene or a story that catches your attention. And then of course, the sound. I have always been extremely inspired by their hazy dream pop sound with significant guitar lines, drum machines and beautiful vocals, and on my album Ocean Letters in particular I go all the way on a few songs in my Beach House tribute. The demo for ‘The World’s Gone Still Now’ from my album was even called “beach house vibes” before it got its real title after my friend and magic guitar player Anna had come and laid down the guitar parts on it! 

Hania Rani – Esja
For me, Hania Rani is a fairly new acquaintance, but I have been very inspired by her in my work with this album. From the sound of the piano, to the simple and yet complex compositions, and the sparse layers that still create such a full sound and beautiful cinematic scenes. This music gives such space for imagination, and that’s what I have been trying to create with my album as well. 

Portishead – Portishead 
I don’t think there’s a time in my life where I haven’t listened to Portishead. It’s a constant source of inspiration, how they make such intense music without shouting at the listener. Such slow paces, such minimalist productions, simple chord structures, and yet the melody and Beth Gibbons’ voice is so wild – complex and completely vulnerable, and unnerving, at the same time. I am forever inspired by their way of orchestrating music and making suspense and drama, and the way they dare to combine musical genres in their music has been a big inspiration for my album as well.

Emilie Nicholas- Tranquille Emile
Norway is the country with the most happening right now music wise in Scandinavia I think. One of the first in this new wave of interesting artists is Emile Nicholas, and I love her way of creating new R’n’B/soul with such a distinct Nordic flavour. Interesting melodies, beautiful instrumentation and Emilie’s million dollar vocals on top – wow, how she can create lines that amazes! I just gave in to this album, and have enjoyed it very much while creating my own album. I think I have also let myself be inspired by the gospel-ish chord changes in some of her songs, and in my song ‘It’s The Season’ I have let myself dive in to the slow more soulful chords and musical phrasings.

Agnes Obel – Myopia
This album is a true masterpiece of orchestration and melodies – such beautiful compositions, and Agnes Obel’s magical voice on top. There is such a cinematic quality to all her albums, and this has been a great inspiration to my album, Ocean Letters. Her albums also seem very conceptual thematically and sound wise, and this is something I have also approached in my work with Ocean Letters.


Massive thanks to Hannah Schneider for sharing her Five Favourites with us!

Ocean Letters, the new album from Hannah Schneider, is out now via Midnight Confessions.

FIVE FAVOURITES: Bonnie Trash

Finding comfort and catharsis in the darker spheres of life, Canadian-Italian twin siblings Emmalia and Sarafina Bortolon-Vettor create music inspired by everything from Italian folklore to the gloom of post-punk. Performing under their moniker Bonnie Trash, the duo have recently released their deliciously droney debut album, Malocchio, which translates as “hex” or “curse”. Inspired by the stories that their grandma Nonna Maria handed down to them as children, their record is a potent and commanding blend of metal, shoegaze and gothic rock, released via aptly named label, Hand Drawn Dracula.

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 Bonnie Trash to ask about their “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired their song-writing techniques. Check out Emma & Sara’s choices below and listen to their new album, Malocchio, here.

1. The Smashing Pumpkins – Gish
Sara: When I was a teenager, around 13 or 14 years old, I was emotional as all hell and needed to release my sadness, my anger – it’s like all of a sudden I was finally feeling everything all at once. I was just beginning my journey into 1990s grunge like Soundgarden, Nirvana, and Alanis Morisette. Then I heard, ‘I Am One’ by The Smashing Pumpkins and it blew my mind. It was loud, heavy, and had hints of heavy metal. That drum opening drew me right in and I became an instant fan of Jimmy Chamberlin. At the time, I was solely playing the drums. I didn’t even think about singing until I was around 16. As I listened to Gish on repeat for a few years, it didn’t take long until Billy Corgan’s lyrics and voice seeped into my bloodstream, and inspired me to sing and write. There are truly painful, sad, and quiet moments on this album, and they are almost always followed by dramatically explosive arrangements. I instantly fell in love.

2. The Jesus and Mary Chain – Darklands
Sara: This album is a post-punk gem. It’s gorgeous. Those smooth, noisy, yet soft grooves that make you want to slow-bop along to it all – it’s pure bliss. There’s a sensitive nature to this record, and it bleeds out through the vocals and lyrics, backed up by pop-sensibilities. The drums hit hard and are super robotic, as the guitars float on top. Darklands sparked my love for drum machines and electronic percussion. And the lyrics? They’re macabre, sad, dark, and at times joyous: “And I awake from dreams, to a scary world of screams.” Combining these contrasting lyrical themes are beautifully-haunting. What’s so cool about this record is that it’s got this overall bubblegum pop sound. Darklands continues to inspire my love for electronic drums, writing pop-structured songs, and singing about dark subject-matter in a (sometimes) joyous way.

3. Godspeed You, Black Emperor – Yanqui U.X.O 
Emma: I encountered this album after a hard drive swap with my bandmates/friends about 10 years ago. I religiously listened to my iPod on shuffle to hear how songs were related to each other. ‘Motherfucker = Redeemer’ came on and my world was transformed. It slowly repeated and grew in intensity, yet gave so much sonic space for emptiness to shine. This album forever changed my guitar playing. It made me want to expand on noise and texture while keeping everything I wrote simple enough to be repeated, droned, and transforming. I changed the way I use a slide and it made me pick up a bow. Yanqui U.X.O is the soundtrack of major horror and disaster, telling a story of how deep our formations of capitalist structures eventually funnel into the corporate hands of bomb making and war-feeding. It tells the tale of how the little things really do add up.

4. Nine Inch Nails – And All that Could Have Been
Emma: This is more of a recent discovery and a moment of excitement in re-igniting a creative spark. I’m not normally into listening to live albums but this one is exceptional– the 2000 Fragility 2.0 tour that took the world by storm. In this sonic capture, you can hear every instrument in its live element embodying the heaviness of each song with even more depth; you can feel everything vibrate and sense the sweat. This was the first time in a long time where I picked up my guitar and played to each song, pretending to be part of the band. ‘Wish’ hits me the hardest on this album because you can hear an entire audience singing, “Wish there was something real, wish there was something true / Wish there was something real in this world for you.” And in this time, I cannot help but wonder how many of us are reciting these very same lyrics.

5. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures 
Emma & Sara: The feeling, “Is that it? Is there more?” is a ghost that haunts humanity. Don’t pretend it isn’t. Even the most joyous person asks this question from time to time. Unknown Pleasures in it’s most turmoiled, poetic existence, illuminates the truths behind our being. It adds some sort of comfort despite the demise and perhaps, in this struggle, we find ourselves again. Let there be disorder, lose control, fuck your day of the lords, and fall into the interzone. This chaos is the beauty of existence and with it comes hope, a monster to have faith in. There is more. You are more. Make your fate. Unknown Pleasures is a classic because it allows you to pick your personal scabs and come out transformed. It has inspired our love for the macabre, sorrowful, and of course, post-punk.

Thanks to Emma & Sarah for sharing their Five Favourites with us!

Watch the video for Bonnie Trash’s single ‘Silence Is A Killer’ below

Follow Bonnie Trash on bandcamp, Spotify, TwitterInstagram

Photo Credit: dana Bellamy

FIVE FAVOURITES: Ora Cogan

Ora Cogan is not easily categorised. Since releasing her 2007 debut, Tatter, the Canadian artist has continued to evolve in intriguing ways, not only as a musician but as an activist, filmmaker, photographer and writer. Her new EP, Dyed, follows 2020’s shapeshifting album, Bells in the Ruins, and finds her exploring gradations of shoegaze and experimental folk succoured through shadows and light. As well as the high and airy title track, described as “a cryptic rumination on awkward love,” there’s a cloudy, ephemerally anxious mood piece (‘Diver’) and a tantalising cover of PJ Harvey’s ‘To Bring You My Love’, completely reimagined within Ora’s rapt soundworld.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. To celebrate the release of Dyed, we caught up with Ora to ask about the music that has inspired her the most. See below for their choices of her five favourite albums, and be sure to catch her on tour with Aoife Nessa Frances in November. Full list of headline and support dates here.

 

1. Buffy Sainte-Marie – Coincidence and Likely Stories
One of my favourite memories of this record is from when I was a kid. My mum and I had picked up my godmother on the side of a highway for a roadtrip. I think my godmum had just finished doing some kind of farm work, but I’m not sure. She’d click her rings on the dashboard, singing along to every song on this record at the top of her lungs as we drove through the desert. Buffy Sainte-Marie is a legend, she’s one of the greatest songwriters alive and has many mind-blowing albums of course, but Coincidence and Likely Stories was the first record of hers I heard that I fell in love with. I keep going back to these songs. Her work continues to inspire me to write honestly, to try to use songwriting as a way of finding understanding in life, in politics, in love. She inspires me to write songs that speak truth to power.

2. Fiver – Audible Songs from Rockwood
Audible Songs from Rockwood is a monumental piece of work. This record is comprised of songs Fiver (Simone Schmidt) wrote after of years of research on inmates incarcerated in the Rockwood Asylum for “the criminally insane” in Kingston, Ontario, between 1856 and 1881. The songs speak of these women’s lives and dig into matters of the heart, the justice system, colonialism, ableism. This record is more than a record, with 30 pages of liner notes featuring illustrations, history, and context for the songs. I first heard Fiver when I opened for them at one of the stops on their tour in support of this album, and they had the whole audience spellbound. I look up to them as an artist so much, and this project was such generous work.

3. Marika Papagika – The Further the Flame, The Worse It Burns Me
Marika Papagika moved to New York City from Greece and became a prolific recording artist there. She eventually opened a club with her husband in the ‘20s and had a successful music career, but that ended abruptly with the Wall Street Crash of 1929. I fell in love with Marika Papagika after Eric Isaacson at Mississippi Records introduced me to her work. Rumbetiko feels vital and familiar as I grew up listening to Jewish folk music that can sometimes have similar vocal lines. Marika’s voice felt relatable, and this record will always hold so much magic for me. Marika inspires me endlessly to be a better singer.

4. Nina Simone – Sings the Blues
The opening track, ‘Do I Move You’, kills me every time. You can hear people yelling in the recording, they were feeling it so much. I first heard this album when my friend Jeremy from Shearing Pinx was DJing a bush party a few hours north of Nanaimo. The song was echoing across a lake, and I swear I could feel the whole natural world saying, ‘Yes, Nina Simone, you move us, you move everything. The whole universe bends towards you.’ I might have been high, but it’s still the truth. She was truly the best.

5. White Magic – Through the Sun Door
White Magic (Mira Billotte) has been one of my favorite musicians forever. I first heard her when she was a part of the Washington D.C. group Quix*o*tic; their song ‘The Breeze’ stopped me dead in my tracks. My friends and I used to stay up all night crafting or painting with Through the Sun Door on repeat. For us, I think, this album was our touchstone, like a secret passageway to an alternate reality. Some music opens up entire worlds, and for me this was a teleportation device. This record is intimate but spacious. Some of it feels like tavern music, punk, psychedelic folk and experimental music at the same time. I love the unique arrangements. I don’t know any other music that breathes like this does.

Thanks to Ora Cogan for sharing her Five Favourites with us!

Watch her video for ‘Diver’ below.

Dyed, the new EP from Ora Cogan, is out now via her own label Prism Tongue Records.

Photo Credit: Journey Meyerhoff

Alan Pedder
@alanthology