FIVE FAVOURITES: Das Beat

Formed during lockdown in 2020 to counteract chronic boredom and reignite their creative spark, Berlin-based duo Das Beat craft quirky electronic tunes with an indie disco edge. Together, German actress & vocalist Eddie Rabenberger and Canadian musician Agor (Blue Hawaii) blend elements of new wave, synth pop and disco to create their playful and provocative tunes, which culminated in the release of their debut EP, Identität, earlier this year.

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 Eddie to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to listen to Das Beat’s single ‘Jackie’ at the end of this post.

 

1. John Cale – ‘Dying on the Vine’ (Accoustic Version)
This song has been one of my favourites for many years. I can’t help but to default to it when I am with a group of friends and everyone starts playing songs for each other. The version I love is from a live concert Cale plays with Nick Cave, only piano and vocals. It’s a great concert but especially this song sticks out to me. I love the rhythm of the voice and the lyrics. It just makes me happy and a little sad and that’s the way I love it.

2. Luis Ake – ‘Liebe’
I must mention this amazing German contemporary artist. He writes beautiful lyrics and songs. Especially in the new song ‘Liebe’ it all comes beautifully together to me. This song is about falling out of love with someone but instead when you listen you just have to fall in love with the music. There is also a great music video made from Tereza Mundilova, it’s super and I definitely recommend watching and letting yourself be carried away by the beautiful tunes of Luis Ake.

3. Brutalismus 3000 – ‘Good Girl’
A new band from the Berlin underground scene. But I am sure soon they will be known internationally. You listen to the music and you wanna dance – this is what being in a club should sound like. Amazing beats by Theo Zeitner joined by the incredible vocalist Victoria Daldas. When I listen to their songs it makes me feel powerful and strong and on top of the world. This song is about how impossible it is to be a “good girl” and that as a woman you can not do anything right, you’re always blamed for the actions of others. It is simple but genius and I hope soon everyone will party to this gorgeous music.

4. Gina X Performance – ‘Be a Boy’
Such an icon. Gina Kikoin is such a wonderful queer figure from the German 80`s scene. The song gave me strength as a little girl, not having to be the classical girl that society wanted. Helping to break out of gender conformity. Now I feel more secure with my self and also my “femininity”, but Gina X Performance definitely helped me on the way to define myself on my own terms, not others. It was a little hard here to choose one song, because to be honest all her albums are great.

5. Grace Jones – ‘I’ve Seen That Face Before’
Every time this song comes on it gives me the goosebumps, it’s so mystical and elegant. My fantasy immediately goes wild and then Grace’s beautiful voice comes in and I am gone. I can connect with the feeling and the lyrics. I love Grace Jones and it would be crazy not to mention her here.

Thanks to Eddie for sharing her favourites with us!

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Photo Credit: Peter Zeitner

FIVE FAVOURITES: girlhouse

A creator of intuitive, catchy indie-pop anthems, Portland-born Nashville-based musician girlhouse aka Lauren Luiz’s debut self-titled EP rings with an earnest charm. Inspired by her relationships, personal learning curves and navigating a new life in L.A, the record balances the joys and frustrations she experienced whilst living in the City Of Angels.

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 girlhouse to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch her video for her recent single ‘Pretty Girl in LA’ at the end of this post.

1. Sharon Van Etten – ‘Seventeen’
I made the girlhouse EP when I was in the last year of my 20’s and this song became a big part of the soundtrack for that time in my life. The production is so simple but also so huge. I think it lends itself to the story so well. Everything sonically about this song is incredible. Sharon’s vocals also shred in this song. I wish I could go back in time and talk to myself when I was a teenager. I think I would tell her to talk slower and stop trying to be everything for everyone. The music video is so simple and tells the story so perfectly.

2. Big Thief – ‘Shark Smile’
Adrianne Lenker’s style of writing has been a big inspiration for my lyrics for a while now. I think her storytelling and melodies are so poetic and creative, I listen to her songs and it really makes me want to push myself to be better. This song is about a car accident where someone dies but it doesn’t feel sad, it’s really dark and complex! I wanna write songs like that. It was so hard picking just one Big Thief song. The first time I heard them I was on tour while I was driving late at night. I didn’t want to stop driving so I could get through their whole catalogue. I can’t remember where we were or where we were driving to, but it fit perfectly.

3. Phoebe Bridgers – ‘Smoke Signals’
I, like many people with a pulse, am obsessed with Phoebe Bridgers and the honesty in her lyrics. This album put me in a dark place for a long time but art is supposed to do that sometimes, it made me feel things! Phoebe is another one that really makes me wanna be better. She and I used to live in the same neighborhood in LA, I saw her at a yoga class one time in eagle rock and wanted to say Hi so badly, but I got nervous. I think I read that this song was about someone trying to get her attention or breaking up with someone? It’s hard to push someone away, doesn’t feel good ever. I really appreciate her writing about things that aren’t necessarily pretty or perfect.

4. Decemberists – ‘Make You Better’
Picking one Decemberists song is like picking my favourite dog, nearly impossible and a viscerally painful process. This was the first band I ever stanned HARD. They’re from the Pacific Northwest as well so I’ve seen them play Edgefield (an amazing outdoor venue in Oregon) COUNTLESS times, it’s possibly the best vibe in the world. Writing with Colin Meloy has been a goal since I was 12. I picked this song because I feel like it represents how I feel about most of the relationships I’ve had in my life/ I used to be all about seeing the “potential” in people instead of accepting who they are in the moment and that was shitty of me. You gotta let people be people.

5. Lucy Dacus – ‘Night Shift’
For me, there is no better breakup song than this one. I love how the lyrics feel like a letter or a journal entry. It reminds me of being in the valley in LA for some reason, I feel like most of the people I dated and had break-ups with lived in the valley. Lucy’s style of singing feels so effortless and easy to listen to, I don’t feel like she’s trying to do anything cool, she just is the coolest!

Watch the video for girlhouse’s new single ‘Pretty Girl in LA’ below.

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Photo Credit: Alex Justice

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: Sophie Hutchings

A talented composer who produces mindful piano-led music, Australian artist Sophie Hutchings uses sound to ease the anxieties of everyday life. She recorded her recent EP, Love & Keep, between the hours of 12-4am, embracing her insomnia and offering her listeners a moment of stillness and serenity amidst her restlessness.

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 Sophie to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch her video for recent single ‘Light Over The Moor’ at the end of this post.

Sophie: “I find it almost impossible to choose 5 favourite pieces, so I’ve chosen 5 of my favourites that had a significant impact on my formative years. Even though they are all quite different from each other, there’s a common ground of repetition in these pieces which I’ve always found quite hypnotising in music.”

1. Brain Eno – ‘Discreet Music’
I love Erik Satie’s invention and coining of the term “Furniture music” – sounds that were designed to be heard, but not listened to. Brian Eno fans will know this is the whole aim with ‘Discreet music’. It’s intended to blend into the ambient atmosphere of the room rather than be directly focused upon. This, to me, has got to be one of the most soothing ambient pieces I’ve ever heard and has always been one of my favourite go to late night listens. I grew up listening to a lot of Brian Eno but this one really stirred me. It always felt like a musical bedtime story. There’s a dreamy placid beauty about it that allows you to float and drift outside yourself without you even realising.

With a very simple organic layering of melody the piece never really changes which is what I love about it, yet it constantly and subtly evolves with the accession of various decay as the piece gradually and quietly repeats its motifs with all the sounds remaining continually tranquil and peaceful. It’s one of those pieces that feels like it could go on for infinity. It’s music that doesn’t demand your attention though still evokes a delicate sense of emotion.

2. Arvo Part – ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’
The first time I heard ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’ it put a massive lump in my throat. I’ve listened to it countless times and there’s not a moment when it still doesn’t raise the same stirring response. Again, this is one of those hypnotising pieces due to the unchanging nature of recurring motifs in the piece and beautifully long sustained notes. I love how the minimalism relies on atmosphere and not on building towards a climax like a lot of classical music does.

Arvo Part is a true example of introspective music. It’s not how many notes are played but how they are played. It’s also about the space in between. Silence in music speaks and I find there’s almost as much strength in the pauses and space in music as there are notes. ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’ hangs on the edges, yet there’s a restlessness over the quietness that balances the fragility in this piece of music and I guess being a sentimental person you don’t tire of this kind of beauty in music.

3. Susumu Yokota – ‘Traveller In The Wonderland’
Discovering Susumu Yokota was like discovering Alice In Wonderland as a child all over again (which I’m slightly obsessed with). I find him the true master of ambient electronica. Sadly, I only discovered him just before he died and I would love to collect all his albums on vinyl, which are few and far between. There’s a lush fanciful playfulness to this piece. It’s almost like nature talking to each other.

Yokota taps into the senses through melodic remnants taken from historical old classical pieces on his album Symbol, and in this instance on ‘Traveller In The Wonderland’ there’s some beautiful Camille Saint-Saens and a little Luigi Boccherini which gives it this mystic whimsical edge – still he reveals it in this almost anonymous way – placing a sense of nostalgia of some long lost place weaved throughout his dreamy melodic textural synths, wordless dreamy vocals and drum loops with romantic musical pathways of middle eastern tonality resonating around the circumference. To me, it’s like being under the trance of a magical child-like spell which takes me back to my Walt Disney imaginative heydays.

4. DJ Shadow – ‘Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt’
DJ Shadow was a revelation in my early adult years. He enthusiastically rocked my world. There’s this clever combination of moody and intense rhythmic melodious energy that just brings everything so alive in this piece. The haunting atmosphere that’s accentuated by the repetitive hypnotic group vocals, rich off beat bass and the urgency and drive of the eerie piano riff. I’ve always affiliated with a certain amount of intensity in music and hearing this song for the first time was like hearing an unexplored wilderness of dynamic addictive melody. I love how he brings to life all these old vinyl treasures and re-creates layers and collages of sound. It’s enticing, energetic, ethereal and ambient all in one – where happy and melancholy are competently one – it’s an intoxicating and timeless listen.

5. My Bloody Valentine – ‘Soon’
I grew up being surrounded by a lot of noisy indie rock and shoegaze music and as much as I don’t listen to this kind of music as much as used to, this piece stuck with me and was one of my favourites that bounced off the family household walls at high decibels thanks to my older brothers. I would always have a good dance to it!

If there’s ever a blurred latitude of noisy dreamy sound with a rhythmic propulsion, I say this is an iconic one. It’s one of those songs that feels like you’re lost in a sonic labyrinth which one will either grapple with or be enlightened by. I just listened to it again for the first time in years and it took me back to days of going for walks and blaring it in my headphones. When embraced, it’s like entering a woozy euphoric daze that you can get totally lost in and it taught me that you don’t necessarily have to always interpret music as long as you feel it – then to me, you understand it. Not everything in music needs an explanation to be felt.

Thanks so much to Sophie for sharing her favourites with us!

Watch her video for ‘Light Over The Moor’ below.

Photo Credit: Luke Dubbelde

FIVE FAVOURITES: Charlotte Spiral

Informed by personal loss, the need for escapism and intense self-refection, London-based dark-pop duo Charlotte Spiral are preparing to release their upcoming EP, New Light, on 9th April. Co-produced by Speedy Wunderground’s Dan Carey (Kae Tempest, Bat For Lashes, Sia) the band’s latest offering was recorded both remotely and in-person over the last year in and out of lockdown, an experience which heightened the EP’s themes of connection and isolation.

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 Charlotte Spiral’s Amy Spencer to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have inspired the band’s song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to listen to a live rendition of Charlotte Spiral’s latest single ‘New Light’ at the end of this post.

1. Laura Marling – ‘Fortune’
I’ve been listening to Laura Marling since I was in high school. I used to play guitar and sing and I was very inspired by her, especially as she was so young and already releasing records. I hadn’t heard of many singer-songwriters who were that young, and who also felt like they were doing something true to themselves.

Until her latest album Song For Our Daughter came out at the start of the first lockdown, I hadn’t listened to her for quite a while, but it became my lockdown soundtrack and continues to be on repeat. This song is one of the highlights from the record – it’s so elegant and it reminds me of ‘Blackbird’ by The Beatles. I love the lyrics, in particular, the line “better off measured in coffee and wine” and the subtle arrangement of Laura’s vocal, guitar and strings. I also love that the record is written to a fictional daughter, it’s very poetic, and I’m always drawn to records that have an underlying theme throughout.

2. Rufus Wainwright – ‘Memphis Skyline’
Avi Barath (the other half of Charlotte Spiral) introduced me to Rufus Wainwright when we were at Goldsmiths University. I’d always known of his music, but I’d never properly listened to his records. When Avi and I went to Tel Aviv a few years ago, we had this song on repeat driving around in the boiling weather.

It’s a gorgeous song, the arrangement is unbelievably beautiful and it gradually builds to an epic ending. It was written about Jeff Buckley after he died. Rufus’ music is a mix of ballads, musical theatre and classical, which I think we have tried to capture within our music. The way the piano and vocal parts work together in this track in particular is an inspiration for us, and we have some new music coming out later this year, which I think feels especially influenced by Rufus’ sound. He’s a true hero of mine and one of our main references for the project. I think both of his albums, Want One and Want Two are beautiful, but this song is pretty much perfection!

3. This Mortal Coil – ‘Song To The Siren’
This track is a cover, originally by Tim Buckley, Jeff Buckley’s dad. I was recommended to listen to this song by my singing teacher when I was at Goldsmiths, she wanted me to try and embody some of Elizabeth Fraser’s vocal tone. I’ve always tried to sing this song the way she does and apply it to my sound, but it’s almost impossible because her voice is so unusual and unique. The way she sings here is with so much vibrato! It’s such a sad song, but she completely makes it her own. I think everything Elizabeth Fraser does is wonderful and I’ve always been inspired by her music, from the Cocteau Twins to her work with Yann Tiersen and Massive Attack. She has such an ethereal voice and her song-writing is one of a kind. A huge inspiration for me.

4. Moses Sumney – ‘Don’t Bother Calling’
I discovered Moses Sumney when he released his first record Aromantisism in 2017. I’d have it on repeat whilst I was working. Throughout the album, the focus is on his vocals, whether it’s his lead vocal or layers of harmonies and that’s something I’ve always loved to do throughout my music. I remember when we went to record our track ‘Wide Eyed’ from our first EP Ideal Life with Dan Carey, and he suggested Moses Sumney as a reference. This made me even more excited about working with Dan! ‘Don’t Bother Calling’ feels like a bittersweet kind of song, so dreamy and melancholy, but at the same time catchy – the perfect mix! And Moses’ falsetto is just incredible and his music is otherworldly. The lyric “the world is a wonderland scene” is beautiful.

5. Audrey Hepburn – ‘Moon River’
‘Moon River’ has got to be one of my favourite songs of all time. I love the film and book Breakfast At Tiffany’s, but it’s the song that I truly love. If anyone asks me to sing something, I’ll sing this! Just after I graduated I was a nanny and I’d sing it to the baby I looked after every day. She started singing it too at some point! It’s so graceful and understated.

I love the strings at the end of the track and the line “my huckleberry friend / moon river and me,” always gets me. I’m definitely a pretty cynical person, but I’ve got some romance in me too, and this song is that bit of romance in me. I think you can hear this romantic, rose-tinted vision touching some of our music. ‘Moon River’ is a timeless song, and that’s something we try to capture throughout our Charlotte Spiral releases. I’ll try and sneak this into one of our shows one day, whether Avi likes it or not!

Thanks to Amy for sharing her favourites with us.
Watch the video for Charlotte Spiral’s single ‘New Light’ below.

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Photo Credit: Barbora Mrazkova