FIVE FAVOURITES: November Ultra

French bedroom-pop sensation November Ultra creates tender, heartfelt tunes that reflect her passion and joy for writing and performing music. “Technique is important, but singing is more about how you feel, because your body is the instrument,” explains the classically trained musician. This is something that permeates the sounds of her recently released debut album, Bedroom Walls, on which she blends elements of folk, pop and indie music to create her lush, emotive sounds.

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 November Ultra to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch her video for ‘le manége’ at the end of this post.

1. Andy Shauf – The Party
I love albums. I always have, I always will. There’s something very special and precious with the relationship you build with them. I’ve always compared it to the stages of meeting and falling in love with someone: there’s the love at first sight song (‘Quite Like You’ was the first Andy Shauf song I stumbled upon very late at night and I suddenly felt the rushing need to listen to his entire discography), then there’s the deep conversation songs that make you fall even harder (‘Early To The Party’ truly, that cello bridge with the harmonies and the swelling – pffff even talking about it, makes my heart beat faster!) There’s the falling in love with the quirks stage (‘Alexander All Alone’) and then there’s the peaceful, joyful comfortable moment of sleeping next to the one we love and know so well by now (the last song ‘Martha Sways’, the last dance of the party with those strings that come and go in the song making you waltz in this special space between dream and reality late night early morning slowdancing creates.) This album is a masterpiece, it tells a story, a party from beginning to end, you close your eyes and when the album is finished it feels like you’ve lived the party, met all the characters, the songwriting is exquisite, the arrangements too. An album is a spell, no wonder the album opens with ‘The Magician’.

2. Rosalía – Motomami
This album just came out, but I already know it’s an album that I’m going to love until the day I die. I know it because I’ve felt the same exact sensation I felt the first time I heard Frank Ocean’s mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra, or James Blake’s first album: that tingling sensation going through my body, that same excitement, unrest, that feverish hunger to listen to every single song obsessively, but also wanting to pause them every two seconds to take in the lyrics, the melodies, analyse the production, the sounds. It has that double organic-machine quality to it: it makes human-me feel a lot of things that are unexplainable, and it makes artist-me incredibly excited to try and find out why. Rosalía, just like Frank Ocean, is an exceptionally inspiring artist because she makes bold moves, bold choices, but most importantly she puts a lot of meaning and detail into all of it. There’s so much life, heart, intelligence, joy, and FUN in every single movement. To me, she’s a fencing queen: she skillfully aims for the heart while looking like a ballerina, as complex and light on her feet as a butterfly.

3. Frank Ocean – nostalgia, ULTRA
My name, November Ultra is a homage to this mixtape. That’s how much I love it. I love its story, the fact that it was a download-for-free mixtape he made because his label wasn’t paying attention, the sense of freedom and independence, again, the boldness in the choice, in that move, the sheer intelligence and creativity too – being able to rework songs, use big tunes like ‘Hotel California’ or Coldplay and make something new with it while telling a story through noises like tapes being played, stopped, rewinded. This mixtape is the work of an alchemist. Frank truly transforms, transmutes and breathes life and emotion into everything existing, crystallising feelings and turning them into precious songs for other people to hold, allowing us to understand our own selves. I couldn’t believe my luck the first time I heard it… I still can’t, a million plays later.

4. Tiny Ruins – Some Were Meant For Sea
New Zealand has so many precious gems, Tiny Ruins is one of them. I love everything about this album, Hollie Fullbrook’s songwriting is immaculate, as intricate and delicate as an old ring passed on to you by your grandmother who had it from her grandmother. You almost don’t want to wear it, and yet you can feel the power and strength it encapsulates when you hold it in the palm of your hand – like holding generations of life stories. That’s how the album makes me feel. So many lives, so many stories, so many heart beatings told with so much talent and wit. One of my favourite lines in the album probably comes from a song called ‘Priest With Balloons’ based on a true story of a Brazilian priest who jumped off a cliff, helium balloons attached to him, Fullbook writes “what was he looking for? Truth or was it heaven? Or did he just want to go out with a bang, so to speak… It’s funny but I can understand why… I want to live”

5. Lifafa – Jaago
It was so hard to make a choice, there are so many albums I love and while I still think James Blake’s first album has been a turning point in my life (yes, I said “turning point” haha please don’t judge me, music is my everything, I take all of it very seriously), I couldn’t pass the opportunity to talk about Lifafa’s Jaago, who got me ultra obsessed for most part of 2019 and early 2020. Lifafa’s part of another amazing musical project called Peter Cat Recording Co., they’re exceptional musicians and songwriters but with this one, Lifafa’s decided to sit behind a computer with a midi keyboard and compose songs in ways he wasn’t really used to, with no precise goal in mind other than to explore and have FUN and that’s exactly what I love about this album: it’s a trip, but oh boy such an intelligent, lively, well-executed one! The sonical landscapes are endless, it’s no easy-fit to be able to capture spontaneity, and I feel this album does that. A song starts and you never know where it’s going to land, and you don’t care, you’re just happy to be part of the ride, makes you feel alive. Bonus points? Lifafa has probably one of my most favourite voices in the world, AND the album cover is iconic.

Thanks to November Ultra for sharing her favourites with us!

Watch the video for ‘le manége’ below.

Follow November Ultra on bandcamp, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

 

Photo Credit: Pauline Darley

LISTEN: GIHE on Soho Radio with Peaness 06.04.22

Tash was back on the Soho Radio airwaves playing loads of new music from some of the GIHE team’s favourite artists.

Chester indie trio Peaness also had a chat with Mari about their upcoming debut album, World Full Of Worry, the music that inspires them, the festivals they’ll be playing this summer and the joys and challenges of being in a DIY band.

Listen back below:

Tracklist
Nova Twins – Cleopatra
Ibibio Sound Machine – Electricity
t l k – IWNU
Fears – 16
Midwife – Send The Pain Below (Chevelle Cover)
SASAMI – Call Me Home
Jenny Hval – American Coffee
Ydegirl – I Need This
Coco – Last of the Loving
Hannah Holland x Planningtorock – Planningtobeams
Real Big Sky – Long Lost
Ethel Cain – Gibson Girl
Francis Of Delirium – The Funhouse
x/o – Red Alert
Peaness – How I’m Feeling
**Interview with Peaness**
Nikki and the Waves – Online Chess
Horsegirl – Anti-Glory
Proper. – Huerta
CRi – Something About
Problem Patterns – Y.A.W
LibraLibra – Here’s To You Mr Robinson
Scrounge – This Summer’s Been Lethal
Breakup Haircut – Out Of My Way (I’m Not Getting On The Nightbus)
bestfriend – someplace else
Julia-Sophie – Dial Your Number
Wet Leg – Too Late Now

FIVE FAVOURITES: Sea Change

Equally as inspired by the club music of LA and Berlin as she is by her quieter coastal surroundings in Kristiansand in Norway, Ellen Sunde aka SEA CHANGE’s sounds ebb and flow with a tranquil, yet deeply primal desire to move through a feeling that sometimes escapes written articulation. Her electronica ripples with emotion, but without every feeling weighty or over-thought, reflecting the way she feels about music in general. She’s set to release her new album, Mutual Dreaming, on 11th February via Shapes Recordings.

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 SEA CHANGE to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have inspired her song-writing techniques and informed her new album. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch her video for her latest single ‘I Put My Hand Into A Fist’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Aurora Halal – ‘Death Of Real’
Aurora Halal is an amazing techno producer, I’m just totally mesmerized by her productions. This particular track is more mellow, but it’s one of my favorites. I’ve recently been re-watching some videos of her hardware live sets. Wow! A total inspiration. Her music is super sensual and dreamy and has this dark psychedelic and shadowy vibe, and at the same time it’s also danceable. This combination was also something I tried to achieve on my album. She releases on her own label called Mutual Dreaming and, well, guess where I took my album name from? Just a little homage from me there.

2. Lövgren – ‘Power Surge’
Around the time I was producing Mutual Dreaming in my home studio, my friend Lövgren was finishing up his debut album, and his Burial inspired ambient made me realize I wanted to do more ambient textures in my music. I think his combination of hard hitting beats with manipulated vocal samples and textures is amazing. This was the first time I heard his music and I was totally blown away. It’s always really cool to be inspired by friends, it makes you try to reach even higher yourself. This track and the whole album is an amazing hidden gem that more people should listen to.

3. Julee Cruise – ‘Mysteries Of Love’
I was late to the party to watch the last Twin Peaks season, but when I finally did I got this total new fascination for Julee Cruise and her floaty voice over dreamy ambient. So then I had to re-watch Blue Velvet where this song is featured as well. Julee Cruise gives me a very strange and weird vibe – it’s almost too dreamy – I don’t even know how to explain it, but I guess that’s why it works so well cinematically in these films. This song was a very direct inspiration for the tracks ‘Mirages’ and ‘Mutual Dreaming’. I guess I sometimes can be a little afraid of singing too prettily over a beautiful instrumental track. Always a bit afraid of seeming too cute. But on ‘Mirages’ I tried to channel my inner Julee Cruise, and I kind of loved it.

4. Sassy 009 – ‘Okay’
The first time I heard Sassy 009 I was totally compelled by the ethereal feel, combined with her danceable beats. Sunniva who is the producer of Sassy 009 has a really stunning way of making her productions dreamy and experimental, but at the same time there’s several super catchy phrases in each song. It’s like all of them could be the main hook in a completely new track, but instead she spices up her song-writing with it and makes this beautiful forward thinking alternative pop of out of it. When I was looking for a mixer and co-producer for my last album INSIDE I looked everywhere for a person to work with. I tried different things out but didn’t really feel it worked. At that time Sassy 009 was a trio and released their debut EP, and I absolutely loved their vibe. I reached out to their mixer and co-producer and BAM – I found the right person to work with on INSIDE – BAYA and I also worked together on my new album Mutual Dreaming.

5. Haxan Cloak – ‘Excavation (Part 1)’
One thing that I loved about the process of producing my new album was that I felt I had the time to really go deep into learning new production styles. One thing I tried was reproducing tracks that I’m fascinated by, just to learn some new things in the process. This Haxan Cloak song was one of the tracks I tried to reproduce. Since this record came out I’ve been super fascinated by this album and especially this track. How it shifts and turns in the intensity of the production. The combination of the reverb heavy beats together with the heavy side chain makes you feel on edge the whole time. And it’s so dark and compelling that it makes me want to go into the woods and do some witchy rituals. My little copy of this track developed into its own thing and I split in two and it was actually planned to be the first and the last track on my album, but in the end I felt the first one didn’t belong there. But I kept the last part – which is called ‘Rituals’.

Thanks to Sea Change for sharing her favourites with us.

Watch the video for her latest single ‘I Put My Hand Into A Fist’ below.

Follow Sea Change on bandcampSpotifyTwitterInstagram & Facebook

Photo credit: Simen Løvgren

FIVE FAVOURITES: Los Bitchos

London-based, pan-continental instrumental four-piece Los Bitchos are gearing up to release their highly anticipated debut album, Let The Festivities Begin! on 4th February via City Slang. Formed of Serra Petale (guitar), Agustina Ruiz (keytar), Josefine Jonsson (bass) and Nic Crawshaw (drums), the band have joyfully blended elements of Peruvian chicha, Argentine cumbia, Turkish psych and surf guitars to create their collection of buoyant new songs.

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 Los Bitchos to ask about their “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired their song-writing techniques. Check out their choices below and scroll down to watch Los Bitchos’ video for her ‘Pista (Fresh Start)’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Dead Or Alive – Youthquake
Serra: This album embodies everything I love about the 80’s. Outrageous high energy production, out of control brass arrangements, chorus stained overdriven guitars and uncanny vocals that really hit. Funnily enough, I had only come across the full album over the past few years, before that I’d always thought of Dead Or Alive as a bit of a one hit wonder band – they are far from that. This was one of Stock Aitken and Waterman’s first breakthrough productions, which for me really became the sound of the 80’s. They are second to none, and every time I listen back to the songs, I always find an extra element going on in the background that i did not notice before.

All the while you have Pete Burns laying down one of the best vocal performances I’ve ever heard on an album, he is like a cyberpunk Opera singer that’s stumbled into an 80’s rave, such a captivatingly magical frontman. Each of the songs on the record have something that stands out and it’s pure fun and energy from start to finish. Apart from the incredible stand out hit, ‘You Spin Me Round’, the album truly shines with songs like ‘DJ Hit That Button’ and ‘My Heart Goes Bang (Get me to the Doctor)’. This album makes me feel like dancing all night with big hair, a Pete Burns eye patch, spandex, shoulder pads and taking on the world.

2. Lush – Spooky
Serra: I remember hearing and seeing the video for ‘Nothing Natural’ for the first time about 7 years ago when my boyfriend randomly sent me a YouTube link saying, “I think you’ll like this” – boy was he right! Lush were definitely on my radar as they would often pop up on 90’s music shows me and my brother would watch in Australia when I was a child, but my love for them was really cemented in my mid-twenties. Robin Guthrie from the Cocteau twins was on board as the producer, and what he did with this record is absolutely sublime. Lots of layering, lots of effects and washes running throughout the songs, I think it’s quite a studio album in that way, a lot of these effects would have been difficult to pull off live.

Miki Beryani and Emma Anderson have somewhat of a perfect matching of gorgeous falsetto vocals, as they often sing together on their songs and their harmonies just get under my skin in the best possible way. Their vocals are so delicate, and I love how they contrast against the swirling guitars drenched in chorus and reverb and Guthrie’s wall of sound. I would say the guitar sound/tone on this record is something I try to emulate on everything I do. Songs like ‘Nothing Natural’, ‘Tiny Smiles’ and ‘Superblast’ are stand out moments, their vocal and guitar melodies seem to capture certain bleakness and sadness that always sticks with me and has had such a profound influence on the music I make today.

3. The Ramones – End Of The Century
Agustina: End of the Century by The Ramones is arguably one of the less popular albums among Ramones fans, but personally, I always loved it the most. To start with, the artwork looks incredible, it’s just cheesy punk all over the place. They look cool and carefree, but retaining a certain romanticism at the same time, a cover full of contradictions. It was an album produced by Phil Spector, which obviously meant instant speculation. Apparently my favourite Ramone (Dee Dee) didn’t even play his bass parts in the final recordings and while they were at the studio it was debauchery and chaos, bless them.

But I gotta give it to them, despite the apparent recording troubles, the songs are pure gems. ‘Danny says?’ makes me wanna cry & go back to my love. ‘I’m Affected’ reminds me of my first kiss outside my parents’ house. ‘Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio’ takes me back to my bed back home listening to this album for the first time. ‘Baby I Love You’ well, this cover will melt even the most cold person on earth’s heart. I could go on and on forever with all the songs, but don’t worry I won’t! One of my fave bits about this album? Ten years ago I bought a really rare edition in Brooklyn for a fiver without even knowing how special it was, but when I found out, that made me love it even more.

4. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
Josefine: Not sure how or when Polly Jean Harvey entered my world, but I do know I absolutely RINSED this record in the months leading up to me leaving Sweden behind to move to the UK to study music. It came out in the early spring of 2011, and I moved in the fall that same year, and I would basically only listen to music from the UK to mentally prepare myself for months. This record has really stuck with me over the years, and I continue to discover new things about its melodies and moods still. Picking a record is a funny one for me because controversially (or at least I think it is), I don’t often get hooked on a specific record – instead I tend to get obsessed with a song or artist first and from there jump all over their discography in a frenzy. However, with this record I do stop and listen to it from start to finish as one piece, and what a brilliant piece it is!

5. PJ Harvey – Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
Nic: This has to be one of the most nostalgic and powerful albums for me. It came out just before my 17th birthday and I remember one of the girls I was working with in the local cinema telling me about this artist she had just discovered with such excitement. She’s put out so many incredible records but for me this one will always feel special. I’ve revisited it so many times. When I went to New York it was one of the albums I listened to a lot while walking miles and miles around the city. ‘Good Fortune’ is one of those songs you can put on and just feel invincible, and like it’s you against the world. It’s so powerful. ‘You Said Something’ instantly brings back memories but still feels like a tune I could discover now and become obsessed with. This album just doesn’t age! ‘The Whores Hustle And The Hustlers Whore’ still gives me chills. The energy and dynamic of this woman is so inspiring. I was just starting to play shows in my first band around that time and PJ was a huge role model for just being myself, knowing my power, and losing myself in performing. A real hero and an absolute masterpiece of an album.

Thanks to Los Bitchos for sharing their favourites with us!

Watch their video for ‘Pista (Fresh Start)’ below.

Follow Los Bitchos on bandcampSpotifyTwitterInstagram & Facebook

Photo Credit: Tom Mitchell