FIVE FAVOURITES: People Club

Soulful vocals, snaking bass lines and an anti-misogynist premise mesh beautifully together on the new EP from Berlin-based indie soul group, People Club. Titled Kil Scott, the release centers around a fictional character (Scott) who is a benchmark for toxic masculinity, and the group use their music to dismantle his unsavory traits. 

Formed of Sarah Martin (lead vocals), Ray Sonder (bass, backing vocals), Saxon Gable (guitar, backing vocals), Pete Costello (keyboards, backing vocals) & Drew Deal (drums), People Club formed in 2018 after they all moved to Berlin in late 2017 from their respective countries (Australia, USA, UK, New Zealand).

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 People Club to ask them about their “Five Favourites” – five songs that have influenced their song writing techniques. Check out their choices below, and scroll down to listen to their new EP at the end of this post.

 

1. 10cc – ‘I’m Not In Love’
This song is a complete one-off, it sounds nothing like anything else from 10CC or like anything else from 1975. The multi-track vocals are completely intoxicating, it’s like taking a bubble bath in liquid love. Stewart’s lyrics are incredibly touching too. Apparently, it’s an ode to his wife who had suggested he didn’t say ‘I love you’ enough. We like to think that the female vocal, “big boys don’t cry”, is his wife. Regardless, it’s a wonderfully intimate piece, indulgently orchestrated. Delicate in all the right ways.

2. Carole King – ‘It’s Too Late’
This song is a very special one for us, it sounds exactly like that place at that time; the summer of 1971 in LA – oozing with sunshine but hosting a reflective melancholy. King’s vocals are assertive and strong, and the irresistible poppy melody sits so tight with the light jazz arrangement. What a treasure, thanks Carole.

3. Bobbie Gentry – ‘Courtyard’
Can’t believe we only came across this gem this year, it’s the closing track of her 1968 album The Delta Sweete. It has a deeply psychedelic tinge to it, whereas the rest of the album is more straight-laced country. She must have been saving the best ’till last. It’s almost like a proto-youtube meditation video soundtrack (but way more decent sounding), completely immersive and supernatural. The lavish string section is exquisite and perfectly complements her vocals. The gently-delivered lyrics are very simple – she basically just describes a courtyard that is gifted to her by her presumed lover – provisionally unassuming but somehow it takes you to another euphoric dimension.

4. Gil-Scott Heron & Brian Jackson – ‘We Almost Lost Detroit’
We’ve all been in love with Gil for a long time, he’s a huge influence for us, he ticks all the boxes. This is probably our favourite song by him. He casually addresses the near-meltdown of a nuclear power plant near Detroit in the mid 60s and the moral ineptitude of the government in dealing with the disaster. As always with Gil, it’s a gripping tale of injustice, delivered with an icy poet’s cool. The arrangement is really delicious too, loads of juicy rhodes piano. Relaxed but incisive, brilliant stuff.

5. Donny Hathaway – ‘A Song for You’
You know a song is special when it sends shivers down your spine every single time you listen to it. Whenever we play this track, it’s met with silence, it’s impossible to talk over, impossible to not be instantly bewitched. It surely is one of the most profound love songs ever written. Words don’t do it justice. Divine.

Thank you to People Club for sharing their favourite songs with us. Listen to their new EP Kil Scott below. Catch them live in London at The Islington on 28th November.

FIVE FAVOURITES: JEANA

Emerging London-based artist JEANA – who originally made music in Bedford with her siblings – has spent the majority of 2019 working alongside Producer Ginger Snaps to create her smooth, indie pop sounds. Her latest single, ‘Nameless’ is a polished offering that explores the feelings of vulnerability and of power when a toxic relationship comes to an end, and showcases the nineteen year old’s ability to rise from these ashes in Phoenix-like fashion.

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 JEANA to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her song writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to her single ‘Nameless’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
Like a lot of people, this album was on repeat in my household for a few years when I was growing up as a child. We used to go to a bar on a beach in Spain, which always played this album & even though the bar has since shut we still refer to it as the Amy Winehouse beach. I love this album so much because I felt I could enjoy it as a child as well as enjoying it now as an adult for different reasons. The lyrics are so raw and are empowering I think. The memories are distant from when I first heard this album but I associate it with so many different good times, and i’m sure I can go back and relate to this album in more stages of my life to come.

2. Taylor Swift – Fearless
I found this album in 2011 as a young tweenager and I remember feeling like I had discovered the true meaning of music. I randomly found an iPod on a family holiday with only illegally downloaded Taylor Swift music on, Fearless being the only album. Of course, I rinsed all the songs and wanted to become Taylor Swift, this album actually encouraged me to start singing, pick up a guitar and started me writing (and I really did want to be Taylor Swift for a good 3 years!).

3. Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Balcony
At 14 years old I discovered Catfish and the Bottlemen, and wanted to be “Mrs Van McCann”. This album completely transitioned me from Taylor Swift’s biggest fan to the indie girl that started to go to gigs with her Sister. I’ve always loved indie music as it’s what I’ve been brought up on, but this is the first album I remember discovering myself, and loved like it was my own. It made me start to explore similar artists, and led me to the artists who influenced them.

4. Arcade Fire – Funeral
This album is one of my all time favourites, not only because its the soundtrack to my childhood but also because every song is a favourite. The songs are all such massive anthems and listening to it even though it was their debut, feels like a greatest hits collection. Seeing them live last year at Wembley arena just made me love them as a band even more. From the way they swap their instruments during their set, to the show being staged in a boxing ring – they bring such variety to a performance.

5. Ms. Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
A truly beautiful album that I discovered through working with my producer Ginger Snaps. Listening to this was my first step away from my indie/pop roots, and influenced my sound more towards RnB. The songs are so raw and vulnerable, it made me feel more comfortable putting my own honest feelings into lyrics. It has so much going on musically with the combination of reggae/latin beats. Since discovering this album early last year I’ve been lucky enough to see Ms. Lauryn Hill twice – at the O2 arena and Boomtown Fair.

Thanks to JEANA for sharing her favourites with us. Follow her on Facebook for more updates.

FIVE FAVOURITES: Sea Change

Norwegian newcomer Sea Change is skilled at crafting atmospheric, transformative, electronic sounds. She’s set to release her new album INSIDE on 15th November, and if recent singles ‘Stepping Out’ and ‘Flown’ are anything to go by, it’ll be filled with intriguing synth textures, longing vocals, and irresistible lo-fi beats. 

Sea Change (aka Ellen Sunde) wrote her new album after she relocated to Berlin, and during her many trips back and forth to LA; resulting in seven tracks that meander through intimate and stimulating personal territories.

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 Ellen to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her song writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to her latest track ‘Flown’ at the end of this post.

 

1. PJ Harvey – Is This Desire / 4-Track Demos
Discovering PJ Harvey at 16 made my whole world turn around. Before that, I loved music and I knew that I needed to do music myself, but I’d never heard anything by a female voice or musician that I loved with all my heart (how sad is that !?). But then I discovered PJ Harvey and the way she sang and made her music was so gut wrenching and vulnerable and beautiful and horrible at the same time; I realized that I don’t have to sing in a pretty voice to make music. When I heard Is This Desire, it was like – yes – this is the music I’m gonna make. Everything kind of fell into place when I discovered her. She taught me that being raw and honest is what makes amazing art. She has a special place in my heart.

2. Sidsel Endresen & Bugge Wesseltoft – Duplex Ride / Out There. In There.
At 18 I started to discover more and more experimental music and in Norway. There’s an amazing improv and jazz scene. I discovered Sidsel Endresen which is an experimental jazz singer. I think the way she uses silence and minimalism in her music is incredible. She is an amazing improviser, it’s super intuitive. In her music there’s nothing of that showing off-virtuosity you can often find in jazz music, but it’s actually something that comes from her heart. And I think she also taught me to not give a crap about what other people think, and to do your own thing. Her lyrics are also utterly beautiful.

3. Arthur Russell – World Of Echo
Arthur Russel makes the perfect blend of club music/disco/experimental and vulnerability. He has something that I can’t explain. His music and lyricism is so naive and beautiful in it’s simplicity, and I love that it’s electronic music but it has this off-kilter and strange vibe. It sounds like he is improvising and jamming by himself in his living room, and it’s so rare to listen to electronic music that is so unperfected. His songs don’t really have one proper studio version, they have about 10 different ones that make his artistry so utterly interesting. He has a mixture of authority, intuition and vulnerability in his music that I will always strive after, ‘cos its so explosive in an artist. I recently heard that he will be releasing a new mix of unreleased songs/demos on the 15th of November (the same day I’m releasing my record!) and I can’t wait to listen.

4. Noise/Improv/Lasse Marhaug/Noxakt/Kevin Drumm
I need to put in this on the list but it’s more of a state of mind/genre than albums or tracks. Most of this music I’ve experienced live. When I moved to Oslo at 19 I started to go to improv and noise concerts. Oslo has an amazing experimental scene and it was really cool to be able to go to so many shows that were so well curated. There’s a rawness and punk atmosphere to this music that I love, and to be able to just close my eyes and dive into a world of raw sound is incredible. This was also at the same time I started making music myself. When I started playing live I usually had parts in the live sets that were ambient and drone like (it’s surprisingly hard to make something that actually sounds good). This music is best to experience live. I think it awakes something primal in me, and I’m really happy I went through this musical phase cos it taught me so much about what music can be and that it has no limits!

5. Fever Ray – Plunge
I’m such a huge fan of Fever Ray, it’s kind of embarrassing. When she all of the sudden dropped PLUNGE in 2017 I was listening to the record over and over for days. I can’t remember last time I had this obsession with a record, since I was in my teens I guess, and that is the most amazing feeling. I love what she’s challenging both musically and lyrically. There was a music journalist that wrote that this record was like jumping into cold water, and I really love that allegory. This record hit me in the chest and I think it came at a time in my life when I really needed it and it also influenced my newest record a lot. I love how she blends club music, pop music and listening music and makes her own breed of art with her explosive visual narrative. She is a HUGE inspiration!

I saw her live recently and she had a seven piece band with only female musicians, and I remember how shocked I was with how shocked I was. How have I never seen that before!? And that made me realize that hell, from now on I’m only gonna have female musicians on stage. Her first record was amazing and Its still a piece of art that stands steady as a rock, and I find myself going back to it over and over again.

Thanks to Ellen for sharing her favourites with us.

Follow Sea Change on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Fotini Chora

FIVE FAVOURITES: SHHE

Sparse, searching, and sincere; Scottish-Portuguese artist and producer Su Shaw – aka SHHE – creates captivating electronic sounds based around the concepts of identity, empathy, and intense personal change. She recently released her debut self-titled album via One Little Indian Records, and it’s an understated, yet dramatic gem that lingers in the memory long after the first listen.

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 Su to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five tracks that have influenced her song writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to her debut album at the end of this post.

1. Jenny Hval – ‘Conceptual Romance’
Jenny Hval is not just one thing, she is many things. If you are not already familiar with some of those things, take a five minute intermission and read her recent ‘Hi I’m Jenny Hval and you can ask me anything’ interview on Reddit. ‘Conceptual Romance’ from Blood Bitch was the first track I heard, but all of her projects are worthy of your eyes/ears/time. My girlfriend and I went to see her a few years ago, and it was one of my favourite gigs. Half-way through she admitted that most of the set had been improvised because the airline had lost their instruments the day before.

When I listened to ‘Lions’ for the first time [from her recent album The Practice Of Love] it made me want to cry and go for a very fast run. Those are strange things to feel simultaneously. She is open and honest and writes about the things that other people don’t write about, and I have a dream that one day we will be great friends.

2. Land of Talk – ‘Some Are Lakes’
I was 20 when I heard Land of Talk for the first time. I can’t tell you where or how I made the discovery, but I listened to this album [of the same name] on repeat that whole year. I was in a bunch of bands at school, I was always the only girl. At a school with more than 100 other people in my year, that always made me kind of sad. I didn’t pick up an electric guitar until I was 17, even then I never had confidence to play it on stage. I was the singer. Liz Powell did both. I wish we’d gone to school together.

3. Boards of Canada – ‘Music is Math’
‘Music is Math’ is taken from the Boards of Canada album, Geogaddi. It was released in 2002. I did not find Boards of Canada until they released Tomorrow’s Harvest in 2013. No one has found them since. In fact, no one knows much about them. It’s a useful reminder, at a time when everyone is obsessed with knowing everything, that the music is the only thing we need. If you’re not satisfied by that, there’s patterns and messages and codes that they’ve hidden throughout their albums to keep you busy. I like listening to Boards of Canada when I’m feeling confused and I need a break.

4. Jon Hopkins – ‘Luminous Beings’
The first time I saw Jon perform was in a village hall at a festival called Homegame in Fife. It was the most relaxed I’ve ever felt in a room packed full of people. There’s a great Song Exploder interview with Jon where he talks about some of the influences behind ‘Luminous Beings’ – meditation and altered states and psychedelics and ice baths. His Asleep Versions album is also a special record and has been the soundtrack to many late night/early morning drives.

5. Caterina Barbieri – ‘SOTRS’
Patterns of Consciousness is one of my favourite albums from the last few years. ‘SOTRS’ is perfect for riding a bike with no hands, if you’re able to do that somewhere safely.

Thank you to Su for sharing her favourites with us. Follow SHHE on Facebook for more updates.

FIVE FAVOURITES: R. Elizabeth

With her instinctive approach to sound art and pop minimalism, London-based artist R. Elizabeth (aka Rachael Finney) creates deceptively simple tunes underscored by complex themes. On her latest album, Every And All We Voyage On, released via Night School (Patience, Molly Nilsson, Cucina Povera), she improvises with a single 80s Casio keyboard, reel-to-reel tape manipulation, piano and vocals; resulting in a mix of atmospheric, upbeat, charming 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 Rachael to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her song writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to her new album at the end of this post.

 

1. Scott Walker – Scott 2
‘Best of Both Worlds’, the second track on Scott 2, is absolutely staggering. I remember the first time I heard this – I had bought and exhausted Scott 1, so thought it logical to simply buy each album chronologically. I picked up a copy of Scott 2 on CD and proceeded to listen to it on my way home on some crappy discman. Hearing ‘Best of Both Worlds’ for the first time I had to stand still; the sweeping violins are dizzying, it’s a fantastically intense song. Scott 1 to 4 are all completely overwhelming in the best possible way but Scott 2 has such an incredible arc to it.

‘Plastic Palace People’ contains not only an incredible story, but there’s these almost spinning violins and flutes, then right in the middle there’s this shift where Walker’s voice sings this dissonant harmony “hurry you’ve got to get in line/your nose might start to shine” then back to these flurry of violins and flutes. Whenever I listen to Scott Walker, my teeth go on edge with excitement. I can never just have it on in the background, I have to give it my full attention and listen each story. All of Walker’s albums are incredible experiences.

2. Daphne Oram – Pop Try Outs
Pop Try Outs was a cassette release by Mondo Hebden/Was Ist Das? of some of Daphne Oram’s work. Unlike Oramics, Pop Try Outs presents Oram’s experiments with highly melodic pieces. Oram, among other women, continues to be a significant figure for me. Her work with tape and the Radiophonic workshop more broadly is endlessly fascinating. The cassette is a wonderful glimpse into her working methods. It’s also pretty much one pattern looping again and again, which is very up my street.

3. John Baker – John Baker Tapes Vol.1 1963-1969
John Baker is another Radiophonic Workshop figure. This was gifted to me about ten years ago and I have listened to it continuously ever since. Baker produced theme tunes and incidental music for TV and radio. He worked with tape, and it’s Baker along with Delia Derbyshire that I owe my tape obsession too. There is one track where Baker explains his process. Upon hearing the theme tune you would be forgiven for thinking you’re listening to a synthesizer, but it’s largely objects and natural elements like water being poured from a bottle, or a wooden ruler just hitting the top of a table. It’s magical.

4. Ikue Mori – Hex Kitchen
The patterns that Mori creates are both dense and full of space. When listening to Hex Kitchen, it’s as if all these sounds are being tipped out, almost cascading past your ears. There’s elements of collage, but then really pronounced rhythmic patterns. I like the feeling of these parts that come together almost melodically, especially when Mori uses her own voice, only to fall away into something with a much more open and abstract structure. The opening track ‘Slush’ is fantastic – you are confronted with loud, almost percussive sounds, but then they begin to sound like water – the experience of hearing these electronically produced sounds sound so fluid but structured all at the same time has a really sensuous effect. I always have to scratch my head whilst listening to ‘Slush’, it has this ability to cause quite peculiar physical responses.

5. Don Ellis Orchestra – Electric Bath
‘Open Beauty’ is one of my favourite pieces of music. It begins very open with flutterings of electronic piano and wind and reed instruments, creating beautiful patterns. It builds up to quite an intense and extended burst right in the middle then almost falls back to silence. Ellis then plays an absolutely incredible trumpet solo. Using tape delay and echo he kind of duets with himself. Its remarkable. It’s a beautiful record.

Thanks to Rachael for sharing her favourites with us. Order your copy of R. Elizabeth’s new album Every And All We Voyage On here.

FIVE FAVOURITES: Mira Lu Kovacs (5K HD)

Austrian experimental-pop group 5K HD shared their new LP, High Performer, in September earlier this year, and their feet have barely touched the ground since. They’re currently touring the new record across Europe, filling stages with a blend of their poppy, jazzy, prog-rock beats. Vocalist Mira Lu Kovacs is regarded by critics and peers as one of the most expressive voices in the scene, and with a team of multi-instrumentalists behind her, it’s easy to see why 5K HD are in such high demand. 

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 Mira to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her song writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch the video for for 5K HD’s track ‘Crazy Talk’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Ani DiFranco – Evolve / Educated Guess
With Ani DiFranco I grew up! I remember I was 11 and my step father at that time played a mixed CD (it couldn’t have been a tape, it was the late 90s). He put on Ani DiFranco’s ‘Marrow’ right after Tori Amos’ ‘Cornflake Girl’, what a mix! I didn’t understand much, cause my mother tongue is German, so the only thing I grasped was the phrase “And where did you put all those letters that you wrote to yourself, but could not address?” I don’t know if it was her finger picking (or should i say ripping?) on her steely guitars, or her edgy playful singing? I think it was the seriousness of her songwriting, I felt spoken to. It was really magical. Later, I listened to all her albums. Now I would say my favourites are Evolve and Educated Guess, but to me Ani DiFranco is such a poet and what she does must be evaluated as a whole and not just one album. She inspired me endlessly, even if her sound aesthetic isn’t the one that I am looking for today.

2. Radiohead – Hail To The Thief
Hail To The Thief is maybe an atypical Radiohead album to start with, no? I think I listened to this one at the age of 14 and then traveled back in time to learn about Kid A, OK Computer and The Bends (which I only appreciated later in my musical career). Most Radiohead Hardliners don’t understand why this album is so special to me. But I think, again, the songwriting is especially good on this one and there is a new shininess in their sound with this album. Also – ‘Backdrifts’, ‘We Suck Young Blood” and “I Will “ (to date the only song I ever publicly covered – acappella) – what great songs to speak to a depressed teenager!

3. Aldous Harding – Designer
This one is quite new, and has been such an inspiration to me this year. I just love the boldness and uncompromising softness in Aldous Harding’s music. I didn’t allow myself this kind of softness for a while, and now I feel like it’s coming back. The allowance, it’s something that I was scared of, because: how else to defend myself? I thought I needed to be loud and clear and aggressive. I am that, too, but I need to allow the softness to comfort me, as well. I feel like the beautifully weird old/new voice of Aldous Harding reminded me of that part of me. Thank you ❤

4. Beth Gibbons – Out Of Season
I can’t believe I only found this album 3 years ago. What a production! What songwriting! What truth, what openness. Sorry, there’s not much else to say. She’s a genius. The arrangements are sparse and pompous at the same time. I think this is where I wanna go in the future and who I wanna be when I grow up.

5. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
I think this was the album of a whole generation. It changed many things, not only musically, but also in the industry. The simplicity set new standards. The vulnerability in his voice was a new level of emotion. Whatever genius album Bon Iver made after this, this one is still one of the most brutally beautiful ones that there are.

Thanks to Mira for sharing her favourites with us. Follow 5K HD on Facebook for more info on their current tour dates.

Photo Credit: Ingo Pertramer

FIVE FAVOURITES: Wallis Bird

Having just released her sixth album Woman via Mount Silver Records/Caroline International, modern folk singer Wallis Bird seems to be in a good place. The Irish songwriter uses her music to speak out against injustice, writing in a confessional style and blurring the lines between the genres of modern folk, roots and soul.

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 Wallis to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her song writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch her video for ‘As The River Flows’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Ani DiFranco – Living in Clip
Changed my life. I was 11, was really growing into my skin on the guitar and my lyrics, I was finding out who I was and Ani burst down my doors. She was a queer feminist in defiance of bureaucracy and sexism and it was so fresh and out of this world to me, I found my back straighten and my eyes clear. It was a turning point. They way she pounded the guitar as if it was a weapon, the depth of chord structure, the prolific output, the badass necessity for creativity – no one like her then nor now.

2. Björk – Vespertine
Björk married Avantgarde with pop and classical in this ethereal, emotional warm embrace of a record. It’s an absolute timeless classic where electronic and traditional instrumentation move horizontally across space and time, and she dances the linear by diving deep into langerous pregnant pauses, long sensual outros of choirs with purist choral, Icelandic landscape escapism… I visualise deeply when I put this record on. Lyrically she discovers a new side to her sex, which she describes it in a detailed, curious, positive and private way – celebrating vulnerability, dreams, intimacy, secrecy and this fragile flesh we’re all in.

3. There Magic Lantern – A World in a Grain of sand
I’ve listened to this record more than any other record I think. Possibly over 200 times. The emotive dynamic, the positive message tinged with some kind of despair. The musicianship, the instrumentation. It moves from English folk to exotic afrobeat to modern NY jazz. It sounds open, wide and luxuriously recorded, giving so much breathing space that the listener feels freed and cosy and listened to. I adore the clever drum timing, the breathy wind instruments and Jamie Doe’s unique vocal style and gently powerful lyricism. This album is a friend of mine.

4. Sam Vance Law – Homotopia
Sam is a friend of mine, but before I knew him I was a fan of his music. We played in the band together and I basically stole him so that I could spend time with the person who wrote what I consider an iconic modern pop record. He tells tales, long and short about narcism, sexual adventures and misadventures, coming out, social suicide, staying in the closet, faking a happy marriage, all wrapped in orchestral instrumentation, sometimes punk, sometimes indie pop, ambling bridges, satirical and snide lyrics, true love, true confusion in youth, pure dreams, mature and clever and unforgettable. Vidal Gore meets The Cure. An album like no other.

5. The Prodigy – Music For a Jilted Generation
My first foray into how beautiful and merciful getting fucked up and dancing your pain away can be. It is wild, concentrated progressive passionate hard and heavy and fucking fantastic dance music. My sister played loads of these tracks at her wedding and all the siblings just broke the dance floor open! it was a real source of relief for us as a family. If we were pent up, if we needed to wind down, this album always did the job for us, when it was playing you left each other alone and everything was all ok afterwards!

Thanks to Wallis for sharing her favourites with us. Follow her on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Jens Oellermann