FIVE FAVOURITES: Sarah Walk

Celebrating both the joys and the struggles of being a queer woman, LA songwriter Sarah Walk is preparing to release her second album, Another Me, on 28th August via One Little Independent Records. “The songs on my first album were a means to survive the immediate, and my songs on this album have been a journey in learning how to take up space and thrive in the long term”, Walk explains. It sounds like a learning curve both she and her listeners will benefit from, as she tackles everything from patriarchal entitlement to letting go of damaging tropes about being a queer woman.

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 Sarah to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to Sarah’s latest single ‘nobody knows’ at the end of this post.

1. Wolfgang Amadeus – Phoenix 
I just think this is a brilliantly executed record, start to finish. I still try to wrap my head around the arrangement of this album. Each part fits together like this weaving patchwork of ideas that lock into each other like a puzzle. When I try to isolate the vocal or an instrumental part it feels like such a scattered and disjointed idea, but as a whole it’s completely full. I often wonder how they recorded this because it’s so hard for me to hear a backbone that was built around.

2. Fiona Apple – Fetch The Bolt Cutters
What a powerful comeback album from Fiona. I grew up listening to her and felt so empowered hearing a woman sing and play the piano that wasn’t afraid to be angry. This album totally goes there, and I’m so happy it does. There’s anger and regret, and through that, this incredible reclamation of self. She’s one of the best there is and has paved the way for so many women in the music industry, whether we all know it or not.

3. Radiohead – In Rainbows
It wouldn’t be a favorites list without a Radiohead album. This band totally expanded my ears to what music could be, and were my unwavering companion during some of the toughest and loneliest years of my adolescence. I remember waking up early before school the day this album came out and downloading it (this was the “pay what you want” record pre-spotify which was brilliant) and I sat in my car in the high school parking lot that gloomy October morning and was crying by the time ‘Faust Arp’ came around. I was late for school that day, and I’m glad I was.sarah

4. Everything Everything – A Fever Dream
Love this band so much. They combine certain sonic elements of Radiohead that I love – that ethereal soundscape of guitars that don’t sound like guitars – with heavy grooves and pop sensibility. This album is so good, and they’re incredible live as well.

5. Madison Cunningham – Who Are You Now?
A more up and coming LA artist, Madison is an incredible force of talent. The first time I saw her play live I was completely floored. I’m not a religious person, but after first seeing her play I went home and completely broke down because it felt like such a spiritual experience. She absolutely destroys the guitar and her voice and songwriting are other worldly. Definitely give this one a listen and check out some live videos online.

Thanks to Sarah for sharing her favourites with us.
Listen to her track ‘nobody knows’ below.

Follow Sarah Walk on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

FIVE FAVOURITES: Hannah Georgas

“The album is about healing, self reflection and getting up again at the end of the day,” explains Toronto-based songwriter Hannah Georgas about her upcoming record, All That Emotion. Set for release on 4th September via Brassland & Arts & Crafts, it’s a full length collaboration between Georgas and The National’s Aaron Dessner, and one that shows her resilience as both a songwriter and as a determined woman navigating the world around her. 

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 Georgas to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to her latest single ‘Dreams’ at the end of this post.

 

1. The Cranberries – No Need To Argue
The Cranberries are one of my all time favourite bands and had a big effect on me throughout my adolescence. I was so drawn to Dolores’ melodies and songwriting. I loved that their music was catchy and also had a real depth to the writing. I would listen to this album over and over and try to harmonize with her vocals. I saw them live in the late 90’s and it was one of the most memorable live shows I’ve ever seen.

2. Sade – Lover’s Rock
I like putting this album on to de-stress and relax. Her voice is so incredibly soothing to listen to. I also love the slow paced hip hop loops mixed with acoustic guitar and layered harmonies throughout the album. The track ‘Every Word’ is a real highlight for me. This song helped me get through the time I first got my heart broken. I would cry and play it on repeat.

3. Broadcast – Tender Buttons
This album is something I discovered a few years back and I’m so drawn to the production of it. I couldn’t believe I didn’t know about it earlier. I love the drum loops, synth sounds and the simplicity to it all. My favourite track to listen to off the album is a song called ‘Corporeal’.

4. Fiona Apple – Tidal
This album gave me confidence and a sense of hope growing up. There’s so much strength and courage behind Fiona’s writing that I really admire. Playing music was treated like a hobby in my household and the moment I mentioned to my family I wanted to take music more seriously it was a hard thing for my parents to digest. I listened to this album a lot along with many other female fronted projects. I think they subconsciously gave me that courage to continue writing and making music. ‘Criminal’, ‘Sleep To Dream’ and ‘Never is a Promise’ are a few of the many highlights off the album.

5. The Blow – Paper Television
I discovered The Blow when I moved away from home and was living on the West Coast of Canada. I love how lo-fi, dancey and catchy the songs are. The album gives me energy and inspiration. ‘True Affection’ is such an awesome song and makes me miss Vancouver a lot.

Thanks to Hannah for sharing her favourites with us. Listen to her single ‘Dreams’ below.
Pre-order your copy of All That Emotion here.

FIVE FAVOURITES: GRAMN.

Blending soulful vocals with lush synths and trip-hop inspired beats, GRAMN. is the new project of Hackney-based Awks. She transforms her experiences as a woman of colour in both the music industry and wider society into catchy, slickly produced tunes.

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 GRAMN. to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have inspired her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to GRAMN.’s latest single ‘Mini Milk’ at the end of this post.

1. Earth, Wind & Fire – ‘September’
They’re my heroes – look how big the band is, they play perfectly, I’ve never not heard it. I remember being really small in my cot, and my dad singing this song bare close to my face. But he’s dead now.

2. Kendrick Lamar – ‘These Walls’
This is my go to Kendrick tune. It’s a revenge story about how he seduced the girlfriend of the man who killed his friend Dave. I’m like, that’s like something I would do. ‘These walls’ works on so many levels; the walls of a vagina, prison walls, city walls, the walls put up by systemic racism in America. At the same time it’s such a tune. Bilal’s vocals are so nice, you can listen to it any time, in the shower, in your car, when you’re happy or sad. It just works.

3. Stevie Wonder – ‘Living For The City’
He’s such a G, he writes stuff that you always wanna listen to. It’s so well crafted, someone’s actually gone, “wait how am I gonna make this a banger?”, and he’s done that on every track. The break downs are everything and this song is a perfect example. It’s 7 and a half minutes long and I always play it twice.

4. Tierra Whack – ‘Unemployed’
Her flow, her diction, I can understand every word she’s saying. her flow switches up at the drop of a hat, she’s just like aaaaaand switch. She uses all these different voices like I try to do to bring different characters into the stories I’m telling. Plus there’s a massive potato in the video and potatoes are my favourite absolute motherfucking favourite vegetable. But more than anything she’s just so unapologetically herself – I have so much respect for that, especially when there’s so much pressure to get in the mould.

5. CHIKA – ‘industry Games’
So good. I mean everybody knows that crazy things happen in the music industry but no one really seems to speak about it, so it’s great that’s she’s just like – there you go. And she’s rude, just the perfect amount of rude – her lyricism is incredible. But tiny desk is what really made me fall in love with her – it’s perfect.

Thanks to GRAMN. for sharing her favourites with us. Listen to her track ‘Mini Milk’ below.

Follow GRAMN. on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.
ganser

FIVE FAVOURITES: Ganser

Formed of Nadia Garofalo (keyboards/vocals), Alicia Gaines (bass/vocals), Charlie Landsman (guitar) and Brian Cundiff (drums), Chicago-based Ganser have garnered comparisons to the likes of 90s noise-makers Fugazi, Shellac, and Sonic Youth. The band have recently shared their new album, Just Look at That Sky, via Felte Records and it’s a defiant fusion of jolting rhythms, confrontational vocals and manic riffs.

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 bassist & vocalist Alicia Gaines to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that she believes have inspired Ganser’s song-writing techniques on their latest record. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch Ganser’s video for ‘Projector’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Date With a Night’
There is a songwriting mode we’ve utilized at times which I’ve jokingly called “Doom Hoedown” or “Doom Shuffle.” Before really getting into The Birthday Party and their ilk, my first concert back home with my high school friends was Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I remember being blown away by their raw delivery and Karen O’s command of her particular vocal style. It took us a while to tease out what songs lean into Nadia and my strengths as vocalists, but man the music’s like a glove for O’s voice here. Listening to this really makes me miss the chaos of playing live.

2. Ultravox – ‘Distant Smile’
For Ganser, it’s about contrast. The violence and serenity in this track really compliment each other. Red looks more red against green, and so on. In a way the form of this one is a backwards version of our track ‘Emergency Equipment and Exits’. I love how the back half of this song sounds like its running away from itself.

3. Talking Heads – ‘Life During Wartime’ (Live in Los Angeles 1983)
This live version has an inevitability that’s hard to escape. The faster tempo and incredible work by the band’s support vocalists adds to the urgency on this classic. Tina Weymouth is just a monster. I have a strained and complicated relationship to the history of particularly Black women backup singers for white bands, but my affinity for this song and album (Stop Making Sense) remains.

4. These Immortal Souls – ‘The King of Kalifornia’
When there isn’t really a template for voice or perspective, it’s a journey to find what feels natural or what you need to try on to see how it fits. I think this album (I’m Never Gonna Die Again) is the first time we’ve really waded into “cockiness” as an attitude, which isn’t something women are encouraged to do. It felt really good to really absorb the energy of Rowland and some of the 90’s British bands we love. Bravado feels like a lounge lizard to me. We free associated in that direction and that attitude crept into several songs on our new record.

5. Liars – ‘No.1 Against the Rush’
I’m so amazed every time I look at Liars’ range. I have a soft spot for ambivalent tone bands like Liars and Radiohead have. There’s always a sinister edge, a wistfulness to their music throughout their discography that’s extremely admirable. Our album Just Look at That Sky is really comfortable for ambivalence, but that takes time and living in the grey. We’re just here to eavesdrop.

Thanks to Alicia for sharing her favourite songs with us.
Watch the video for Ganser’s latest single ‘Projector’ below.

Order your copy of Ganser’s new album here.

Photo Credit: Kirsten Miccoli