Five Favourites: Kama Vardi

Having spent a nomadic youth travelling, experimenting and creating, Tel Aviv based artist Kama Vardi has released a stream of solo material to much acclaim, and is now set to release her new album this week.

Showcasing Vardi’s unique sparkling majesty, the collection is filled with a beguiling allure and captivating mysticism as the shimmering splendour of Vardi’s distinctive vocals flows throughout each strikingly beautiful offering.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them or influences their writing. So, we caught up with Kama to discuss the five songs that inspire her the most. Have a read and watch her latest video for ‘The Gate’ below. 

Nina Simone – ‘Stars’ 
My first choice is this brilliant, heart breaking live version of Janis Ian’s song ‘Stars’, performed by Nina Simone. Nina Simone’s life was not a simple one, to put it lightly, and when you listen to her play this song you get it all – you mourn that life of glory with her, you make peace with her pain; you see her as she really is – a true performer. Simone is known for never leaving the stage, not for a moment, and when you watch this show, and you witness her breathtaking personality as it’s showing here, full of kindness and anger, you realise why. 

Syd Barrett – ‘Dark Globe’
Even though I rarely listen to Syd Barrett anymore, I had to put him in this list. Barrett was one of the first artists I ever got deeply into, and definitely the one that influenced me in the most meaningful way. His raw nature and wild, intuitive writing and performance got me from the first second. Barrett is not the relatable kind. He is not Joni Mitchell who wrote all her songs just for you, nor is he Tom Waits who will pull you from your deepest pits with a cuddle. But he will expand your horizons in a very real way, he will put you in a foreign land and stay with you there. This song, also called ‘Wouldn’t You Miss Me?’, is a perfect example of Syd Barrett’s world; a gorgeously hectic, beautifully broken, dazzling world.

Joanna Newsom – ‘Sawdust and Diamonds’
I admit, when I first heard Joanna Newsom I didn’t believe her. All I could hear was squeaks and, despite everyone around me praising it, I just couldn’t buy it. But then I broke up with my then boyfriend and band mate, and something about being twenty and alone cracked me wide open, and I decided to give it another chance. I sat down to listen to her album YS, and when I did I just couldn’t believe I couldn’t hear it before – it was so gorgeous, so profound; I listened to it on repeat for a week, waking up every morning excited to press play again, and when it reached a boiling point I sat down and within one sleepless week wrote my entire first solo album. It’s hard to pick just one song from this album, but ‘Sawdust & Diamonds” is a good one to start with. The words are everything in these songs, so reading them as you listen is very good advice. Here is a quote from that song, for appetite:
I wasn’t born of a whistle or milked from a thistle at twilight
No; I was all horns and thorns, sprung out fully formed, knock-kneed and upright
So enough of this terror, we deserve to know light
And grow evermore lighter and lighter
You would have seen me through but I could not undo that desire…

Oren Lavie – ‘Note to Self’
Sometimes you hear a song and you immediately feel so close to the person singing, you’re sure you and them are meant to be, and if you only got to meet each other you’d fall in love, become best friends, live happily ever after. I know that isn’t usually true; it’s disappointing, but artists are often very different on their canvas than in person.
Nevertheless, after I heard Oren Lavie’s ‘Note to Self’ I had to find out. I got his number and asked him out for a drink, and that drink turned into a night of wandering the streets together, which turned into the greatest love of my life to date. Oren Lavie is one of the most exciting, honest and timeless songwriters I know, with a voice so deep and soothing you’re gonna want to forget yourself in his arms every night, which I strongly recommend. 

Tom Waits – ‘Looking For The Heart Of Saturday Night’
When you’re young and seeking adventure, everything means something: the street lights flickering, your cousin calling, your weekly pay – all these things are like clues to help you find it. When you grow up you start filtering, you just can’t afford the waste, you don’t have time. But Tom Waits didn’t write this song when he was seventeen and this agelessness is one of the things I love about him. He could write a convincing fifty year old when he was twenty three, and he can capture this teen spirit as an adult. When I first listened to ‘Looking For The Heart Of Saturday Night’ I was a deeply committed youth participant myself, and I was drawn to this world he described like a moth to the flame. A world that is happening, the real thing. And he helped me up there, and still is. 

Massive thanks to Kama Vardi for sharing her five favourites with us!

Moonticket, the upcoming new album from Kama Vardi, is out 27th November via Bread For Eskimos.

Photo Credit: Goni Riskin

FIVE FAVOURITES: Camila Fuchs

An exploration of the world around us, how we interact with it and the cyclical nature of life, Lisbon-based Mexican/German duo Camila Fuchs are preparing to release their new album, Kids Talk Sun, via Felte Records on 13th November. Formed by Camila De Laborde and Daniel Hermann-Collini in London in 2012, the band create experimental electronic pop with spectral vocals and avant-garde sensibilities. 

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 Camila to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have inspired Camila Fuchs’ song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to listen to Camila Fuchs’ latest single ‘Come About’ at the end of this post.

1. Le Tigre – ‘Deceptacon’
I remembered discovering Kathleen Hanna, starting with Bikini Kill, how I felt a massive outburst of energy, how my brain started rewiring and possibilities widen up – abruptly. It was a shock, a great shock. It got me straight into trying new ways of expressing, straight into using words I wouldn’t usually use. It freed me up. It was for me a completely new and necessary female energy to come across. Secure, open, unlimited, gutsy. I was 19 and had just decided to give music a big role in my life so it stirred it right away. It gave me confidence and great times, enjoying her songs, watching live concerts, head banging and foot stomping. It gave me something no one could take away and worked as a key to never go back! I chose this song because it reminds me of those times and makes me feel the same all over again.

2. Maria Minerva – ‘Spirit of the Underground’
Maria Minerva really influenced my first electronic productions, especially my first solo EP Opuntia. I absolutely love her free flow and way of singing. It resonated and inspired me so much. I wished so many elements could form part of what I did, in a really sweet way, I looked up to her. She does electronics and vocals, which was what I always dreamt of doing, and by the time I discovered her I was trying it. There’s still traces of her influence in what I do nowadays. You can hear it on ‘Moon’s Mountain’, a track on our new album Kids Talk Sun. Who sings “did your mamma drop you off to this party?” I love this track and so many more. My favourite full album is Cabaret Cixous though.

3. Laurie Anderson – ‘Big Science’
I didn’t grow up with much music around me. 3, 4 CDs in the car and that was it. When I moved to London, after high school, I heard a record for the first time, placed a record on a record player for the first time, and it blew my mind obviously. When I went back home to Mexico I asked my mom if she had any records by any chance. She did! In the house! And I never knew! The good thing was she gave me the chance to take some back with me. I picked 3 by the artwork covers. ‘Big Science’ by Laurie Anderson being one of them. I had no chance but to wait to be back in the UK and go to a friends and borrow their turntable. You can imagine the surprise! Can’t believe that record was so close to me my whole life and only then it crossed my path!

I LOVE LAURIE ANDERSON. It’s to date one of the records I play the most at home. I’ve never heard anything like it. She has such a unique relationship to sound. One of the most unique, at least for me. She’s my idol.

4. Lhasa de Sela – ‘El Desierto’
When I mentioned 3 to 4 CDs in the car (because that’s the only place my family played music), La Llorona by Lhasa de Sela was one and ‘El Desierto’ was one of my favourite tracks. My dad used to play it all the time. I registered it but it totally slipped my mind for years, completely. I rediscovered it again when I was in my teens and it brought me so many flashbacks of my childhood. The first time sound took me back like that…unconsciously and then consciously, Lhasa influenced my singing a lot! A singing from the guts. I always thought that was the way it had to be, that you had to feel each word you were singing. You can hear her voice coming deep from within. She also sang in different languages and did it well, something I always admired. I’m not a fan of the instrumentations in general, but the lyrics and voice I hold dear. A sweet song in English I recommend is ‘Small Song’. RIP Lhasa xx

5. Connie Francis – ‘Love Is A Many Splendored Thing’
A recent discovery. What a beautiful voice. I used to have allergic reactions to cheesy songs. I guess it’s slowly crumbling apart. I heard this song, amongst others, lying down in bed and literally felt in love. I feel her influence kicking in. Maybe I’ll end up doing an album with love songs, maybe even more than just one. It is extremely corny, but there’s something about that level of clarity in words that I appreciate. It is what it is, it says what it’s saying, doesn’t go around in circles, straight to the true words. I like that. Enjoy!

Thanks to Camila for sharing her favourite tracks with us. Listen to ‘Come About’ below.

Follow Camila Fuchs on bandcamp, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter & Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Thyra Dragseth

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