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

FIVE FAVOURITES: Delhia de France

Crafting a solo career between Berlin and L.A over the past two years, Producer and songwriter Delhia de France has been busy re-working a track from German producer Robot Koch’s latest album, The Next Billion Years. She takes Koch’s concept of sound-tracking the far distant future of earth on ‘All Forms Are Unstable’ and gives it an alt-pop twist, breathing new life in to the instrumental piece with her soft vocals and shimmering electronics.

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 Delhia to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to her cover of ‘All Forms Are Unstable’ at the end of this post.

1. Massive Attack – ‘Paradise Circus’
‘Paradise Circus’ has a certain melancholic lightness to it that I really like. Massive Attack have been consistently bending genres and been a huge influence of mine since forever. Their latest project Eutopia with Young Fathers is as brilliant as it is important. The tracks are layered over with speeches and lectures by prominent educational figures demanding justice, equality, sustainability. Goosebumps education.

2. Fever Ray – ‘I’m Not Done’
This whole album is one of my all time fives. I will never get tired diving into these eerie synth baths that have a very artificial sound yet and incredibly warm vibe. It really is an album of light and dark and to create opposites so each side can shine is something that I picked up from Karin Dreijer’s productions.

3. Rosalia – ‘A Palé’
I love how the track begins with this soothing melody and then takes a totally different turn. It’s incredible how she fuses traditional flamenco with modern sounds. I love all the space in between and her voice effortlessly pouring over it like a waterfall.

4. Thom Yorke – ‘Skip Divided’
Radiohead had always been a massive influence to me and Thom Yorke with his extraordinary fragile voice throwing words at you like daggers. He has a special way of writing melodies that uniquely beautiful. How he marries the piano with these textured organic sounds has been, I’ve always been fascinated.

5. The Knife – ‘Silent Shout’
Again Karin Dreijer, this time with her brother Olof. The whole Silent Shout album has been an eye-opener to me, these simple melodies and her bone-shaking voice combined with glowing and sawing synths are so far opposite of my usual sound yet so captivating and just plain beautiful in this genius simplicity.

Thanks to Delhia de France for sharing her favourites with us.
Listen to her cover of ‘All Forms Are Unstable’ below.

Photo Credit: Alix Spence

FIVE FAVOURITES: Bryony Williams

Wolverhampton based artist Bryony Williams has been busy building self-confidence and exploring new territories on her upcoming EP, State I’m In. Set for release via Beth Shalom Records on 18th September, the songwriter has crafted a collection of her boldest sounds to date, and latest single ‘I Can Be’ is a shining example of this.

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 Bryony to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have inspired her new EP. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to her single ‘I Can Be’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Julia Jacklin – ‘Pressure to Party’
After seeing Julia perform live at the Castle & Falcon in Birmingham last year or so, she absolutely floored me. I was only aware of this single of hers, yet I was so transfixed with her presence. Julia was herself, she didn’t feel the need to excite the crowd through body movement or any stage tactics. Her songs were simply enough. That was a pivotal point for me when reflecting on how I approach my own music. ‘Pressure to Party’ will always be a reminder of that, and when you trace back the lyrics through the dry production, she’s telling you a story that we all know too well. But we don’t mind being told again, because she tells it so forgivingly.

2. Jen Cloher – ‘Forgot Myself’
To choose one song from Jen’s self-titled album is hard, but this particular track just goes that extra little bit further for me. It’s self-deprecating and whiney, yet so poetic and raw. It’s a direct reflection of how she was feeling towards herself at the time and she’s brutally honest about that, yet the guitars almost give Jen an opportunity to show her inner-strength and that this negative spout she’s going through is only temporary. It shows guts and I like that. I actually interviewed Jen a couple years ago for the Grrrl Groannn publication when she was touring this album, and let me tell you, it has been my favourite interview since. We spoke all things music for a good hour while drinking Guinness (okay, it was only me drinking Guinness). But the things she said were just so honest and true, to take a quote from our interview, “When you’re younger you do worry about what people think. It’s just human. But as you evolve as a person you care less and less and with this album, I’m not worried about what people will think.” And so with this record of mine coming out, that’s exactly the energy that I have adopted.

3. Chastity Belt – ‘Different Now’
This SONG. It humbles me. My personal memory of this song was when I was being driven to the New Orleans airport in a beach buggy?? After just being broken up with half way across the world, and this song came on as we were all wistfully and awkwardly watching the Louisianan landscape pass us by in our final moments together. That was a hard time. But this song to me represents change, and yeah that can suck, but you have to make light of whatever you’ve got and grow from that. Just like Chastity Belt say: “You’re hard on yourself / Well you can’t always be right / All those little things that keep you up at night / You should take some time to figure out your life”.

4. Clairo – ‘Bags’
Taking it down a little for a moment now… The storytelling here just blows me away. On a surface level it can seem quite easy, yet with every line there is meaning behind it whether that’s hidden or not. You can tell it comes from a place of deep emotion and that really grabs you. I always find it interesting when an artist can write something so open and heart on their sleeve and have it listened to anyone and everyone, yet it could be a situation from their personal life that showcases them being the opposite of that. So these juxtapositions really compel me and I’ve not been afraid to lyrically story tell my inner-demons through song in the past, but if you unpick this track, it’s just genius. Plus my mum really digs this track too so, thanks Clairo!

5. Anna Burch – ‘Tea-Soaked Letter’
Okay, so Anna Burch is my current no.1 inspiration. All these tracks have all contributed to the making of my upcoming EP, from drum rhythms to the lyrical storytelling, but this track takes the cake! I am just so jealous that I didn’t think to write this song! The lyrics really make me think about how I want to move forward with my self-portrayal and I’m kind of sick of writing sad songs. I’m just not that person anymore. So Anna has really drawn out a different lyrical direction for me in order to express myself in perhaps more of a nonchalant way.

Thanks to Bryony for sharing her favourites with us. Follow her on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

State I’m In by Bryony Williams