INTERVIEW: Fears

An intuitive artist who transforms her darkest moments into graceful electronic soundscapes, Fears aka Constance Keane is days away from sharing her debut album, Oíche. Set for release via her own label TULLE on 7th May, the Irish-born, London-based musician balances her intense ruminations on trauma alongside delicate synth loops and tentative beats to shine a light on the fluctuating nature of mental health and the resilience that she’s gained from an honest approach to her on-going healing process.

GIHE Features Editor Kate caught up with Constance to talk about TULLE, the anticipations and events that went into creating Oíche, the importance of friends and family in that process and the hugely supportive women in the Irish music scene who help keep her going…

Hello Constance, last time we spoke in December 2020 you had just launched TULLE Collective. How have things with the label been since then?

Really good. Really, really good. I don’t think I expected the level of support that we have actually had so far, which has been quite reassuring. I kind of had no idea if people would actually respond, or if it would even be viable in any way – I just really wanted to do it. We’ve released a few singles now and the reaction’s been really nice. We’ve felt this community building around us which feels really special. It’s weird, because I’m using my own album as a guinea pig for this, so there’s double layers of emotional investment. So when when anything good happens, I feel it twice as much and it’s the same as when rejections happen too.

It’s not long now until you release your debut album Oíche out in the world. What are you most proud of about this record?

Finishing it was a really big deal. When I started writing music for Fears, I knew I wanted to put out just singles until I had an album ready. I wanted it to be an entire body of work, whenever it was ready. I feel like a lot of it is tied in together thematically.

Sometimes when you work on something for years – it’s been over five years I’ve been working on this – it can be really hard to decide when something’s done. Especially when you’re writing something and creating something that is so personal. Your life continues on, but you have to decide where you draw a line with packaging art made out of your experiences. It’s kind of been like deciding, for me personally, this one chapter can end and now I can begin work on the next one. It feels like not just tying up making an album but it’s like tying up a whole load of experiences as well.

You’ve been open about the context for many of the tracks on Oíche and how they are rooted in your experiences of trauma. When I listened to the album I found it quite uplifting – I noticed a genuine buoyancy to the music, even though lyrically it’s quite sad. Do you do this consciously to balance these contrasting emotions?

I enjoy listening to music that has a level of juxtaposition in it. I like listening to things that if you’re in one mood, you’re going to interpret it as devastating, but if you’re in another mood you’re open enough to hearing the uplifting parts of it. I’m really interested in how art in general is interpreted, so allowing space for the listener to project their own feelings that day onto my music is quite important to me.

I tried to create a sonic landscape that reflects what’s going on in my head at the time. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to write really upsetting guitar lines, it’s more to do with when I’m in a certain headspace, I get very repetitive intrusive thoughts. So I like having the same beat going for the entire song or having a guitar line loop the entire way through to reflect that. The lyrics might be bringing you on a journey of progression, but the music might keep you stuck, or else I like to do it the other way around.

When I was writing the album I was processing complex PTSD and before that when I was in an abusive relationship, but I was still going to work and the world was still happening. I think in real life, we do have these heavy things happening to us but I think it’s important for my music to reflect the kind of day-to-day experiencing of these things.

The repetitive thought pattern was a big thing for me, because I’m a person who takes so frickin’ long to process anything. I’m a person that needs to talk about things loads and I need to sit with things in order to then move past them. I’ve pretty much always been like that. So having that repetitive nature in my music and lyrics is just a realistic depiction of how I deal with day to day life.

I mean, there’s points on the album where everything did stop. I think that’s important to acknowledge as well. A lot of the time we keep doing the day-to-day things as the situation is getting worse and worse and worse, so you end up not having a choice to keep going anymore. I wanted that contrast as well. I wanted to show the times where I had to keep going, but also where I had to absolutely pause and where I did basically nothing for months after having a breakdown. Then it’s about rebuilding yourself after that.

To me, Oíche is kind of funny to listen to, because there’s stuff that happened pre-breakdown, breakdown and post-breakdown. I mean, I didn’t organise the songs in that order, but I know where each one sits and that gives me a lot of hope – to have a full picture of it for myself.

It sounds like you’ve worked incredibly hard to get to a place of such resilience. When you decided to write about your experiences, were you nervous to put them out into the world? Of course, there’s a level of excitement and pride that comes with releasing a record, but have there been moments of hesitation about releasing music that’s so personal to you?

Yeah, I mean, parts of me still are. I’m very open to talking about mental health issues or trauma. I have no issue talking about what happened to me and my experience of things, I’m very comfortable doing that. To me, it’s actually easier to be honest about it, rather than having to come up with ways of down-playing things or making excuses about where I was at certain times.

I think it’s really important that when you’re doing that, you’re doing that knowing the other person’s interpretation of you is not actually anything to do with you. So, if somebody gets freaked out when you’re like, “Yeah I was on a psych ward for six weeks blah blah, blah,” that’s their own freak out to have, that’s not yours. You can let them hold on to that rather than them passing it on to you. But it takes a certain level of work to even get to that point. So I guess, at this point, I still have waves of feeling like, “Whoa, how am I putting this out after all this time? really?” But overall, I’ve just worked so hard on this.

I don’t really have high expectations for how anybody is going to listen to it. I would like people to enjoy it, but it’s more for me. It’s more of a personal goal of mine. I mean…obviously, please listen to my album and if you want to give me a 10/10 review, I’ll take it! But it’s more about me doing this thing that I said I was going to do, and me doing it in a way that I’m most comfortable with and that I feel I can enjoy the process of.

Well, I think it’s a beautiful record, so you will be getting a 10 out of 10 review from me…

Thanks! I’ve been super lucky in that I’ve had such a solid support system around me the whole time. So while people weren’t physically writing the music with me, I did have so much support from a really good friendship circle and a very supportive family to help build me up throughout this.

For my family as well, it almost feels like a success for them for this to be coming out. Because, you know, a few years ago – I was planning on not being alive. So when I was writing some of the songs on the album, I wasn’t writing them for anybody to hear them. We kind of feel almost giddy about it – it feels like such a huge thing to release work that was made at a point when the idea of releasing anything just wasn’t even on the cards. It feels like a personal victory.

My family are so excited. My Mum reads my different interviews and listens to my stuff on the radio and she’s buzzing.

I know your family help you with so much behind the scenes as well – shooting music videos, featuring in them etc. Do you think it’s strengthened your existing relationship with them?

Definitely. Going through stuff like that as a family can almost break you. When I had a breakdown, it was a really bad time as a family and they were super supportive. To see your family member that unwell is a really scary thing. I think that having them so involved in building this thing afterwards has been really nice, it’s been a really wholesome point of connection.

Filming my videos with my brother has just been hilarious to me. He didn’t film anything before this and he’s just done so much for me and this project. I think it was nice for him to be excited about a creative thing during Covid-19 as well. A load of this also just came out of the fact that I moved home when Covid hit in 2020, I moved back to Dublin for lockdown and…what else were we gonna do?

Do you have a favourite track on the album and if so, why?

I mean, it changes, but I have one at the moment. My favourite track is the opening track ‘h_always’. It’s my favourite because I haven’t touched it. I recorded it completely at the time of writing it, and that was in the music room of the hospital I was in.

I listened back to it and I almost – not in a mean way – but I almost laugh at myself, because I wrote it at a time before I’d realised a lot of things. I guess listening back to something where you were so sure of a different narrative and now you know the truth can actually be really good, because it reminds you that just because you think something is one way right now, doesn’t mean it’s going to be like that forever. So, for me to listen back to that song now and to be able to prove myself wrong – it brings me a lot of comfort.

There’s also just random bits that are recorded in it near the start of the song, if you listen really carefully, you can hear the noise of a tram going by outside the walls of the hospital. I recorded the whole thing just on my MacBook mic, because I didn’t have any recording equipment in there. I haven’t even tried to re-record it. I don’t want to. I just like it left that way.

You have been working on Fears for some time now, but I know you’re involved in other musical projects too. You’re in post-punk band M(h)aol, you’ve also been in one of CMAT’s music videos and you’re friends with Julie from HAVVK – who we also love here at GIHE. You’re part of this amazing community of female musicians in Ireland. Just take a few moments to tell me how great that is, because it looks great from an outsider’s perspective…

I love it so much. There’s such a level of women supporting each other in Irish music at the moment, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. I started making music when I was 18 and if this had been the case then, I think I would have started out with a completely different level of confidence.

Back then, if you were on a line-up of four bands and there was one girl in one of the other bands, you were doing well. You used to go into venues and during soundcheck just feel quite uncomfortable and like you’re being judged. Whereas now I feel like there’s this network, even online, during Covid where no-one’s even playing shows, where everyone is supporting each other. There’s a real sense of camaraderie in it.

I think we have all grown-up around a similar scene and at a similar time. We’ve all had those experiences of feeling very alien to the norm in the Irish music scene. I feel so grateful that there’s now a space for celebrating something else and a real community where we’re sharing stuff that’s from completely different genres – like wildly different genres. My music sounds nothing like CMAT. At all. It doesn’t sound like HAVVK’s music, it’s totally different. But yet, these women are just really supportive. I think we all recognise how hard everybody works and we have a huge level of respect for each other in that sense.

I genuinely think that’s amazing. Here in London, aside from the GIHE community that I’ve surrounded myself with, I don’t see London or UK bands support each other in the same way that Irish bands do.

I think maybe it’s because we have such low expectations for success. Not in a bad way! I think that frees you up a lot because you just don’t interpret anybody as competition. Because you’re all just doing your own thing. In Ireland, there’s such a long history of gigs that you go to with three or four bands on the line-up that all sound very different because there’s not that many places to play. There are great places to play, but there’s just not that many. So the scenes in Ireland aren’t even necessarily built around the genres at all. I think that is kind of responsible for how there’s such an even crossover with stuff.

I find here in London, because I work in music here in London, a lot of the time people don’t share stuff that they didn’t work on and that’s so weird to me. I remember when I put out a song, I was really confused as to why people were privately messaging me being like “yeah, good job!” but no one would actually share it. I was talking to one my best friends about it and I was like, “it’s just so weird,” and they were like, “no, that’s how you do it here.” I think it’s a very different approach.

The Irish music scene is tiny, so if you’re mean to each other, it’s very awkward when you see each other in the shop the next day, you know? But you also end up getting to know people so well that any kind of preconceived notion you had of them beforehand is wiped away. So it’s hard to be jealous when you’re like “I know that person and they’re really sound.” There’s also a higher chance of actually getting signed here in London. The stakes feel like they are higher here.

That makes sense. As we’re a new music blog, we always ask artists to recommend an artist or band for us to listen to. You’ve mentioned CMAT and HAVVK, is there anyone else you’d like to give a shout out to?

Mia Sofia. She writes songs really poetic songs about literature and Irish history. Her lyrics and her voice are really beautiful and really honest and I feel very connected to them. I have essentially been friending her online for almost two years now. I’ve never met the girl, but that’s fine! I love her. I think she’s absolutely amazing.

There’s an amazing rapper and producer called Celaviedmai who I absolutely adore. I think she’s incredible. She just feels so authentic and so herself and that’s a wonderful thing to see. I always like to look up to people like that.

My friend Sarah Merricks is in a band called Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra. They released a song on Valentine’s Day called ‘I didn’t love you when I said I did and I don’t now,’ which is so, so good. Her song-writing is great, she’s just so clever. You can imagine her singing with a kind of smirk and I love that.

Thanks so much to Constance for chatting to us!

Pre-order your copy of Fears’ debut album Oíche here

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Photo Credit: Bríd O’Donovan

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

PLAYLIST: March 2021

It’s been another long month of lockdown here in the UK, but the end is in sight with lighter evenings and the chance to see more than one friend in public on the horizon. The GIHE team have unearthed some more new music gems for you to listen to on our March Playlist. It’s an eclectic mix of indie anthems, alt-pop gems, intriguing electronics and raucous guitar tunes. Take some time to scroll through our track choices below and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist at the end of this post.

Follow GIHE on Spotify to hear all of our previous playlists too.

Grandmas House – ‘Small Talk’
This thumping new track from Bristol-based punk trio and GIHE faves Grandmas House speaks for itself. ‘Small Talk’ explores the times when you’ve had to unwillingly engage in idle conversations with strangers at the bar, when all you want to do is sit and have a pint with your friends. (Kate Crudgington)

ARXX – ‘Deep’
The new single from GIHE faves ARXX, ‘Deep’ offers an empowering ode to leaving behind all your anxieties and getting what you want. Propelled by a sweeping, impassioned energy, it interweaves an electro-infused, glitchy sound with the duo’s signature ferocious drive, instantly hitting you with its raw, anthemic rush and gritty, sensual prowess. A swirling slice of rousing power-pop. (Mari Lane)

CLAMM – ‘Liar’
Melbourne punk trio CLAMM are gearing up to release their debut album Beseech Me on 9th April, and single ‘Liar’ is a crash course in what to expect. “The song is about mental health,” the band explain. “It’s about wanting to break through a pattern of thinking that isn’t necessarily positive. It’s about dealing with an internal monologue that isn’t always telling the truth.” Through their thrashing guitars and relentless percussion, the band beat back their doubts on this raucous offering. (KC)

Gender Chores – ‘Night In The Woods’
A slice of fast-paced punk-pop, and inspired by a video game of the same name, ‘Night In The Woods’ reflects on slum landlords and the high costs of living in the city. As the Belfast band ooze a swirling, playful energy, the track builds to an immense whirring cacophony. A raging punk anthem, truly of our times; despite being coated in a buoyant, quirky charm, it’s no less powerful in its explicit enraged message. (ML)

CYNICS – ‘Idiots’
This high energy single from London-based four-piece CYNICS is lifted from their recent EP, restless in comfort. The band will be releasing a second EP in April, so keep your eyes peeled for that. (KC)

Du Blonde and Ezra Furman – ‘I’m Glad That We Broke Up’
Du Blonde joins forces with Ezra Furman on latest track ‘I’m Glad That We Broke Up’ which is an absolute tune released ahead of Du Blonde’s upcoming LP Homecoming, due on 2nd April. “It’s our take on a 60s girl group/glam rock explosion,” Du Blonde explains. “I feel like Ezra and I have been travelling towards a duet for years and we finally got our shit together.” (Tash Walker)

deep tan – ‘camelot’
Taken from their upcoming debut EP, deep tan’s ‘camelot’ is propelled by the majestic whirr of sparse hooks and throbbing beats, building with a quirky hypnotic splendour and fizzing tension. As swooning vocals glide across the angular soundscape, it creates another truly captivating sonic delight from the post-punk trio, leaving you longing for more of their exquisite stirring allure. (ML)

People Club – ‘Take Me Home’
The title track from their upcoming EP which is set for release on 7th May, this single from Berlin-based indie outfit People Club is about the realisation of mortality in old age. It’s an upbeat offering, but it explores the cynicism that often plights the elderly after losing their loved ones and being left alone with their regrets. (KC)

ĠENN – ‘Mackerel’s Funky Mission’
Taken from their upcoming EP Liminal, ‘Mackerel’s Funky Mission’ is the latest single from Brighton-based ĠENN. Propelled by a quirky, playful energy and eccentric, colourful charisma reminiscent of the likes of The Orielles, it races with scuzzy hooks alongside the raw, gritty vocals of front woman Leona. Building to a fuzz-filled, psych-infused cacophony, it showcases all there is to love about ĠENN – a band set on continually developing their compelling sound and enrapturing our ears with their unique fantastical spirit. Liminal, the new EP from ĠENN, is out tomorrow 30th March via Everything Sucks Music. (ML)

45ACIDBABIES – ‘Mommy’s Favourite 1’
Following the success of last year’s ‘3 (Walk With Me)’, ‘Mommy’s Favourite 1’ is the latest single from Dutch band 45 ACIDBABIES. Propelled by a vibrant, playful energy, it races with swirling layers of sound creating an instantly infectious, danceable cacophony. As scuzzy, electro-driven hooks race alongside the soaring sultry power of Sophia De Geus’ vocals, a psychedelic haze ripples, creating an uplifting sonic fusion. (ML)

Boudicca’s Bass Service – ‘Egypt’s Over There’
This is the latest single from Somerset based 19-year-old Georgina Cotteril aka Boudicca’s Bass Service. I love her laid back vocals, trippy synths and the feel-good vibes of this track. Speaking about ‘Egypt’s Over There’, Georgina explains: “This song is about realising you’re doing fine, all things considered…this song brings with it the new growth of spring and provides a resting spot, a much needed escape, amongst the craziness of your mind – and the current world in which we live in.” (KC)

Notelle – ‘Doctor Sign’
Nashville-based, nightmare-pop artist Notelle’s latest single ‘Doctor Sign’ was heavily influenced by the intense, shadowy sounds of Nine Inch Nails. Writing the track was a form of emotional exorcism for Notelle, who gave herself permission to “lean into some unattractive emotions” on this new offering. (KC)

Debby Friday – ‘Runnin’
Vancouver-based audio-visual artist Debby Friday blends intoxicating rap verses, trippy beats and snaking rhythms together on this eccentric anthem about self-expression. Full of commanding rhythms and jagged synths, ‘Runnin’ marks a new musical direction for Friday, moving away from her abrasive earlier work into more sultry, effervescent territory. Dripping with unfazed confidence, Friday’s synth-rap tune smoulders with autonomous vibes. Love, love, love it. (KC)

Loraine James – ‘Simple Stuff’
This is the first single from Loraine James’ new album Reflection, which is set for release on 4th June. ‘Simple Stuff’ is a minimal, cathartic plea for equality and acceptance as a black, queer woman. I love the criss-crossing drums and Loraine’s straightforward vocals on this track. (KC)

Mykki Blanco – ‘Free Ride’
The latest single from queer pioneer and musician/rapper extraordinaire Mykki Blanco, ‘Free Ride’ was written back in 2018 after Blanco had just ended their first long-term relationship. Co-produced by FaltyDL and Hudson Mohawke, it oozes a funk-fuelled uptempo musicality and glistening soulful refrains alongside Blanco’s trademark flowing lyricism. Appearing less brash and perhaps more sentimental in sound than some of their previous offerings, it loses none of their distinctive wit and poignant spirit. The video for “Free Ride” was directed by Hannah Rosselin, produced by DIVISION, watch it here. (ML)

Ci Majr – ‘Guillotine’
This is the latest track from Atlanta-based, emerging non-binary artist Ci Majr. Taken from their upcoming debut EP Side Effects, set for release on 16th April, ‘Guillotine’ is a shimmering pop anthem about cutting off your own ego in order to grow in a new relationship. (KC)

Sofia Kourtesis – ‘La Perla’
One of my absolute favourite songs at the moment! Inspired by the sea and her father (written when he was dying of leukemia), the result is a kaleidoscope of synths and deep house. Kourtesis describes the song as about feelings that can’t be captured with words – ‘La Perla’. (TW)

Gemma Cullingford – ‘Wide Boys’
Known as one half of GIHE faves Sink Ya Teeth, musician and songwriter Gemma Cullingford has now announced the release of her debut album this summer. Taken from the album, ‘Wide Boys’ reflects on the need for us to wake up and take back control from those in power. Driven by a racing energy and interweaving immense hooks, including a fiercely flowing flute solo, it’s an instantly catchy funk-fuelled call to arms for these desperate times. (ML)

Elsa Hewitt – ‘Inhaler’
This new single from London-based, experimental electronic producer & GIHE favourite Elsa Hewitt soothes my tired mind. It’s taken from her upcoming album LUPA, which is set for release via Cargo Records on 30th April. (KC)

Fears – ‘vines’
Another poignant meditation on some of her darkest hours, Dublin-born London-based musician Fears aka Constance Keane penned her latest single ‘vines’ before she experienced a breakdown. Through her tentative beats and soft vocals, Fears taps into her pain and offers listeners a chance empathise and heal alongside her. I’m excited to hear her debut album Oíche when it’s released on 7th May via her own label, TULLE. (KC)

Penelope Trappes – ‘Nervous’
A graceful, evocative soundscape that tentatively traverses the inner thoughts of an anxious woman, this single from Australian-born Brighton-based artist Penelope Trappes is taken from her new album, Penelope Three. Set to be released on 28th May via Houndstooth, the track ripples with a sense of mystery and disquiet, both of which are beautifully reflected in the accompanying video. (KC)

Beckie Margaret – ‘FF’ 
Inspired by the Bob Marley quote “I don’t have that type of richness. My richness is life, forever,” ‘FF’ is the latest single from Essex songwriter Beckie Margaret, released via Cool Thing Records. Her voice melts me every time I hear it, and this lush, atmospheric new offering is no exception. (KC)

Ailbhe Reddy ft. Sacred Animals – ‘City Unfolds’
Dublin alt-folk artist Ailbhe Reddy and producer Darragh Nolan aka Sacred Animals have teamed up for this atmospheric new offering ‘City Unfolds’. Lyrically based on Ailbhe’s own experience of being close to a panic attack in the back of a taxi on her way to play a festival in Barcelona, the pair blend tentative keys and atmospheric beats to work through this heightened state of emotion. (KC)

Shamir – ‘DsharpG’ (Sharon Van Etten cover)
Shamir’s cover of Van Etten’s ‘DsharpG’ is just beautiful and will appear on Epic Ten, a special 10th anniversary edition of Van Etten’s second album, Epic. (TW)

Flock Of Dimes – ‘Hard Way’
Taken from her second solo album Head Of Roses, ‘Hard Way’ is the latest single from Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner aka Flock Of Dimes. Reflecting on the power of the subconscious to hide truths from ourselves, it combines glitchy elements of modulated synths with a lilting musicality and the smooth, emotion-rich splendour of Wasner’s vocals, creating a truly exquisite enchanting soundscape. (ML)

Hanya – ‘Lydia’
Having previously captivated our ears playing for us live on more than one occasion, Brighton band Hanya have now shared a brand new single. Flowing with shimmering hooks and an effervescent, ethereal grace, ‘Lydia’ showcases the stirring emotion of Heather Sheret’s rich, glossy vocals alongside a swirling musicality, creating a beautifully dreamy slice of shoegaze-tinged indie; a soothing soundscape oozing a blissful tranquillity. (ML)

Thallo – ‘Mêl’
This is a lush offering from Welsh songwriter Thallo, sung in her native tongue. Of the track, she explains: “‘Mêl’ which is Welsh for ‘Honey’ is about fearing inevitable heartbreak, but only making a feeble attempt to avoid it and resist temptation.” Check out her latest single ‘The Water’ too. (KC)

Naz & Ella – ‘No (Doesn’t Mean Convince Me)’
Having just announced a new EP set for release this Spring, Naz & Ella have now shared a poignant new single. Reflecting on the all-too resonant theme of sexual harassment, ‘No (Doesn’t Mean Convince Me)’ oozes a gritty, grunge-infused aura alongside the duo’s traditional folk-inspired musicality. Tinged with an eerie majesty with shades of grunge pioneers Alice In Chains, it’s a beautifully stirring offering, exuding a subtle, stark power. Find out more in our recent interview with Naz & Ella. (ML)

Ayoni – ‘Unmoved (A Black Woman Truth)’
‘Unmoved (A Black Woman Truth)’ was released last year, but I only heard it for the first time recently. Described as her most vulnerable song to date, the song is about her journey and the struggles she’s endured as a Black woman growing up. In Ayoni’s words “This song is my every uttered whisper and prayer. It is every heartbreak, micro-aggression, breakdown in the bathroom, and every swallowed fit of rage. But most importantly it is every single moment I remembered the walking poems that are my Black sisters, the breathing reasons to continue fighting to forge a path forward. So here I remain unmovable and unmoved.” (TW)

Clever Girls – ‘Stonewall’
“I wrote ‘Stonewall’ about the distribution of emotional labour in relationships and what is often asked of us AFAB (assigned female at birth) individuals based on our perceived gender identities,” explains Clever Girls’ front person Diane Jean. “It’s really my own anthem of rebellion – against my own perfectionism and against the constant inner monologue that tells me to adapt to others’ needs and expectations.” I love this track, which is taken from the band’s recent album, Constellations. (KC)

Johanna Samuels – ‘Single File’ (Elliott Smith Cover)
Iconic riot grrrl label Kill Rock Stars turns 30 this year! To celebrate, they’re releasing a string of cover singles under the title Stars Rock Kill (Rock Stars), where several artists from around the world will cover tracks from the label’s expansive back catalogue. This dreamy cover of Elliott Smith’s ‘Single File’ by Johanna Samuels is their latest celebratory offering, full of lush vocals and soft guitars. (KC)

Amy Ellen – ‘This Life’
Dublin-based indie musician Amy Ellen says ‘This Life’ is about “loosing someone who meant something to you, but also appreciating those who come into your life and stick around.” She embraces life’s bittersweet nature via her clear vocals and rich guitar sounds on this single. (KC)

Vox Rea – ‘Dufferin Ave.’
Always a sucker for some silky sax, this latest track ‘Dufferin Ave.’ from Vancouver-based Vox Rea delivers with an abundance of ambience. As we look to warmer and lighter evenings, I’m looking forward to listening to this song glisten out over those hazy nights. (TW)

Nadine – ‘Hair Up’
An aspiring singer & rapper from Sudan who’s currently based in Cairo, Egypt, Nadine wrote this R&B-tinged offering after she spent a week living in sweatpants during quarantine. It’s a chilled tune that celebrates feeling confident in your natural state. (KC)

PLAYLIST: January 2021

2021 hasn’t got off to the best of starts, but while we’ve been in another version of Lockdown here in the UK, the GIHE team have been busy unearthing some new music gems to help you get through the cold winter days. We’ve put together a stellar mix of alt-pop gems, atmospheric electronics, imaginative cover songs and gritty guitar tunes on our January playlist. Take some time to scroll through our track choices below and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist at the end of this post.

Follow Get In Her Ears on Spotify to hear all of our previous playlists too.

 

Noga Erez – ‘End of the Road’
Noga Erez is single-handedly saving 2021 with this new track & her upcoming second album KIDS, which is set for release on 26th March via City Slang. Exploring the thrill of the unknown through commanding beats and defiant lyrics, the Tel-Aviv based musician shrugs off the tight grip of mortality on this catchy, slickly produced new offering. I cannot wait to hear the record in full. Watch the fab accompanying video for ‘End of the Road’ here.
(Kate Crudgington)

Nilufer Yanya – ‘Same Damn Luck’
I’m loving Nilufer Yanya’s latest three-song EP, Feeling Lucky?, which is basically about losing and finding good luck. This particular track ‘Same Damn Luck’ deals with resentment and anger, all swept up in 80s guitar vibes. (Tash Walker)

NewDad – ‘Blue’
Another find courtesy of The Irish Jam radio show and recommended to me by Lizzie from Dublin trio Bitch Falcon, Galway-based dream-poppers NewDad create lucid guitar tunes that will melt the ears right off the side of your head. (KC)

Miss Grit – ‘Impostor’
‘Impostor’ is the title track from Miss Grit’s new EP, which is set for release on 5th Feb. The multi-instrumentalist is a genre-defying artist who has spent much of her life feeling out of place in rooms full of people, and this EP helped her overcome unwanted feelings of self doubt. The Korean-American musician has a sound that ricochets between atmospheric, angular and anthemic and I’m a big fan of her turbulent sounds. Read our interview with her here. (KC)

all cats are beautiful – ‘lucky cloud’
Not only do they have the best band name, but indie-pop duo all cats are beautiful create some really exquisite musical offerings. Latest single ‘lucky cloud’ pays homage to songwriter, cellist and queer icon Arthur Russell. Flowing with dreamy, twinkling hooks and serene harmonies, it maintains all the psychedelic grace of the original, whilst adding a unique uplifting charm and shimmering musicality. A ray of glistening sunshine (or indeed a ‘lucky cloud’) at a time when the rest of the horizon may be looking a little grey. ‘lucky cloud’ is available on bandcamp, with all proceeds split equally between Act Up New York and the Terrence Higgins Trust – supporting people living with HIV/AIDS. (Mari Lane)

Fears – ‘tonnta’
A delicate rumination on her relationship with her late Grandmother who suffered with dementia, ‘tonnta’ – meaning ‘waves’ in Irish – is one of fears’ most poignant singles to date. The Dublin based multi-instrumentalist released the track to celebrate the launch of her new label TULLE, which you can read more about here. (KC)

SLUGS – ‘Super Sane’
LA alt-rockers SLUGS have released this intensely relatable, bittersweet guitar tune that navigates life’s many contradictions. It’s a welcome tonic for the ears in these weird and confusing times we’re living through. (KC)

Lauren Lakis – ‘Sail Away’
I love this hazy, heavy offering from dark dream-rock artist Lauren Lakis. The track explores the idea of running away with your inner child, protecting and nurturing it into a capable adult. Moody reverb and Lakis’ clear, emotive vocals make this a captivating listen. (KC)

Maya Lakhani – ‘The Line’
The driving new single from Maya Lakhani, ‘The Line’ is a soaring alt-rock anthem. Oozing a fierce energy as grunge-fuelled hooks blast out alongside Lakhani’s impassioned, soaring vocals, it’s a compelling offering with shades of the likes of noughties rockers Evanescence. (ML)

The Nova Hawks – ‘Redemption’
Black country band The Nova Hawks are set to release their debut album next month and have now shared a taste of what’s to come with its title track. An immense slice of rock ‘n’ roll, ‘Redemption’ blasts into the ears with soaring, gritty vocals and fuzzed out bluesy hooks, all delivered with a raging, soulful energy. Redemption, the debut album from The Nova Hawks, is out 12th February via Frontiers Records. (ML)

Table Scraps – ‘Doom Generation’
The latest single from Birmingham trio Table Scraps, ‘Doom Generation’ and its post-apocalyptic theme couldn’t be more resonant right now. Immediately hitting the ears with a disconcerting sound of an air-raid siren, the track builds with immense thrashing riffs and a searing sense of urgency. As the seething, angst-driven power of the vocals rage, ‘Doom Generation’ provides a fierce, riotous commentary on the state of society at the moment. ‘Doom Generation’ is taken from Table Scraps’ upcoming album Coffin Face. Watch the animated video for the single here. (ML)

Kermes – ‘Peeling Off The The Rind’
The latest raucous single from Leicester queercore outfit Kermes, ‘Peeling Off The Rind’ forms part of a double A-side, found exclusively on bandcamp. Propelled by scuzzy, swirling hooks and a shimmering, angst-driven energy, front-person Emily’s raw, seething vocals provide a much needed slice of uplifting catharsis. ‘Peeling Off The Rind’ and accompanying track ‘Terms’ are available digitally and on limited edition cassette via Amateur Pop Incorporated on Kermes’ bandcamp page now. Another recent single from the band ‘Like A Sister (Again)’ is available on Spotify, which is what we’ve put on our playlist!
(ML)

 

BLAB – ‘Casual Sex’
Described as an “ode to the dilemmas of single life,” Southend-based musician BLAB has shared her latest single ‘Casual Sex’ via indie label Cool Thing Records. Full of angsty guitar licks and savage lyrics, the track riotously takes down those who only want your company for a disappointing twenty minutes. (KC)

Graywave – ‘Like Heaven’
An atmospheric guitar tune that tackles the urge to self-sabotage, Graywave’s anthemic single is inspired by the sounds of Men I Trust and Slowdive. ‘Like Heaven’ is taken from Graywave’s upcoming EP Planetary Shift, set for release later this year. You can also listen to their new single ‘Before’ here. (KC)

Okay Kaya – ‘You’re Still The One’
I’m vibing the covers this month, and have been listening to this one a lot. ‘You’re Still The One’ by Okay Kaya, who was the last person I saw live in February 2020 at SET in Dalston, London. I’ve thought about that show so much throughout this last year, the tenderness, the raw goosebump nature of hearing their voice live. God I miss gigs. (TW)

Mary Lou Lord & Mikaela Davis – ‘Some Song’ (Elliott Smith Cover)
Iconic riot grrrl label Kill Rock Stars turns 30 this year! To celebrate, they’re releasing a string of cover singles under the title Stars Rock Kill (Rock Stars), where several artists from around the world will cover tracks from the label’s expansive back catalogue. This is the first single from the series – a dreamy cover of Elliott Smith’s ‘Some Song’ by Mary Lou Lord and Mikaela Davis. (KC)

Maria BC – ‘Adelaide’
An ambient reflection on finding your way back to the world after feeling disconnected from it, Brooklyn-based musician Maria BC’s debut single ‘Adelaide’ is a blissful lo-fi gem. The track is taken from their upcoming EP Devil’s Rain, which is set for release on 5th February via Fear of Missing Out Records. (KC)

Vagabon feat. Courtney Barnett – ‘Reason To Believe’
A perfect combination of two of my favourites, Vagabon and Courtney Barnett, covering ‘Reason to Believe’. Of the track Vagabon says: “The decision to have Courtney sing it with me came after we performed it together live at the Palace Theatre in Los Angeles on Valentine’s Day 2020, a month before lockdown. It was fresh in our brains then, so not long after the show, Courtney came over and we recorded her parts.” Barnett added: “I’m a huge fan of Vagabon and Karen Dalton so this was a dream. They both have a voice that absolutely knocks the wind out of me. I really admire Lætitia and am constantly inspired by her songwriting, production, and our sporadic FaceTime chats.” (TW)

Laura Guarch – ‘Náufrags (Castaways)’
Following previous single ‘Fleeting Light’, Spanish born, London-based artist Laura Guarch has now has now shared her latest single ‘Nàufrags (Castaways)’. It flows with an anthemic, emotion-strewn musicality, propelled by Guarch’s rich crystalline vocals in her native language of Catalan. A truly captivating, ethereal soundscape with shades of the other-wordly majesty of Björk. (ML)

Catgod – ‘Sometimes I Care For You’
The first of three singles to be taken from Oxford band Catgod’s upcoming album, ‘Sometimes I Care For You’ is an ode to the isolation we feel when we cannot express ourselves. Flowing with a stirring, heartfelt emotion, it’s propelled by the rich power of Cat’s soaring vocals alongside Robin’s twinkling harmonies, creating a truly captivating soundscape. ‘Sometimes I Care For You’ is out now, and Born Again, the upcoming album from Catgod, is set for release in Spring. (ML)

Chuck SJ – ‘Sink Your Teeth In’
Taken from their upcoming debut album Resist.Recharge.Revolt, this is the latest single from DIY musician & multi-instrumentalist Chuck SJ. Full of atmospheric guitar riffs, sparse beats and glitchy electronics, the track is an industrial-tinged rumination on the forces that construct, influence and sometimes dismantle our ways of thinking. (KC)

Little Dragon & Moses Sumney – ‘The Other Lover’
Another perfect collaboration, this time coming from Little Dragon and Moses Summer, who have recreated an old Little Dragon song in the form of ‘The Other Lover’. Speaking about the partnership Little Dragon said: “When we reached out to Moses we didn’t know what to expect. What we received was very stripped down, with his beautiful voice. We jammed along and sent it back. It bounced back from his end with added horns and sounded beautiful to our ears. We are very proud of this.” (TW)

Alex Loveless – ‘Phone Keys Wallet’
Hackney-based independent musician Alex Loveless has shared this sultry new single and I’m 100% into it. Recorded, mixed and produced by Loveless themselves, the track is lifted from their upcoming debut EP which is set for release on 14th February. (KC)

Nuha Ruby Ra – ‘Sparky’
One of our ‘Ones To Watch’ for this year, Nuha Ruby Ra shared ‘Sparky’ at the end of 2020, and it’s a gritty slice of electro-tinged alt-pop. With her raw, no-frills spoken word vocals, alongside catchy hooks and a scuzzed-out playful groove, it’s an honest, majestic offering luring us into the unique world of Sparky and Nuha Ruby Ra’s bewitchingly unique sound. (ML)

S.A.A.R.A – ‘Grace Jones’
London-based musician S.A.A.R.A has one ambition – to make people dance – and with her funky beats and catchy refrains on ‘Grace Jones’ she achieves just that. I love her retro-infused sounds and look forward to hearing more from her this year. (KC)

Black Gold Buffalo – ‘Lay It Down’
Throwing it back to 2018 with this atmospheric alt-pop gem from Black Gold Buffalo. I’ve been busy diving into the GIHE radio archives recently for our #ThrowbackThursday sessions, as we’ve been unable to get into the Hoxton Radio studio to broadcast our weekly live show due to Lockdown 3.0/Covid-19. I rediscovered this show we recorded with Black Gold Buffalo back in March 2018, and I’ve been listening to their debut self-titled album ever since. ‘Lay It Down’ reminds me of being 28, living in London, falling in love and making the most of my evenings by going to gigs or being on air with Tash and Mari. I took it all for granted at the time, but I’m really looking forward to getting back out there and doing it all again once it’s safe. (KC)

GIHE: Personal Highlights Of 2020

2020 has been a year unlike any other and we’ll be glad to see the back of it, but before we wave goodbye, the GIHE team would like to share some of their personal highlights. Thanks to everyone who has been following, reading or listening to GIHE this year. It really does mean the world to us and we couldn’t do this without you.

Shared Highlights

Seeing the GIHE name appear in a PHYSICAL BOOK was a landmark moment for the team this year. Music journalist Lucy O’Brien mentioned us in her 25th anniversary edition of She Bop, a fantastic book that explores the role of female artists and how they’ve helped to shape the music industry. You can buy your copy here.

Fellow GIHE Co-Founder Tash Walker was super busy recording & producing series 2 of The Log Books throughout 2020, a podcast which explores the history of the LGBTQ community via the phone archives of LGBT+ charity Switchboard. Tash is a co-chair at Switchboard and she is dedicated to celebrating and supporting the LGBTQ community through her work with them, and through her work with GIHE. She is one of the most resilient, informed and hilarious people we know and it’s a privilege to work alongside her and call her a friend. The Log Books are a truly necessary listen for all.

Now for some personal highlights…

Kate Crudgington (Features Editor)

GIHE usually takes up a big part of my life, but it was a lifeline for me during March of this year when the government text me (lol) telling me to shield for 12 weeks. Thanks to the magic of the internet, I was able to talk to the people who were making the music that was distracting me from the panic-inducing headlines, reminding me what a huge privilege it is to have access to this amazing platform.

As our followers already know, Lockdown 1.0 instantly put a stop to our weekly GIHE new music shows on Hoxton Radio. We had 16 weeks off air, so when it was “safe” for me to go back in to the studio in July I was buzzing with excitement (which you can hear in my voice if you listen back to the show here.)

Like most platforms during the pandemic, we embraced technology and started interviewing artists over Zoom instead of inviting them in to the studio for the usual chat and live session. We managed to get time with Jessica Winter, BISHI, Lucy O’Brien, Tessa from Girlhood, Julia-Sophie, Lizzie from Bitch Falcon, Grave Goods, Problem Patterns, ZAND, Hannah from PELA, Seraphina-Simone & Penelope Trappes. It was so lovely to see Tash in person in the studio most weeks, and while we both missed seeing Mari a great deal, her weekly track contributions to the show still made it feel like a GIHE team effort.

At the beginning of the year, I was invited by Niall Jackson, one of the hosts of Riverside Radio’s The Irish Jam, to be a contributor to their New Music Sunday section. Co-hosted by Kealan, Mel and Rob, The Irish Jam is a London based radio show that celebrates and promotes music from Irish artists. The crossover of favourite bands between GIHE & the Jam is huge and something I’ve enjoyed chatting to the team about both on and off air. They’ve introduced me to the likes of CMAT, fears, Denise Chaila, Silverbacks and Celaviedmai, whilst I’ve shared tracks by Kynsy, Party Fears and CAMI with them. Listening to their show on a Sunday evening continues to be a wonderful distraction from life.

Who could’ve predicted that bandcamp would become the musical hero of 2020? When the streaming platform announced that on the first Friday of every month they’d be waiving their fees so that 100% of profits would be going directly to artists, my newsfeeds were awash with new music recommendations. Moving home to Essex from London in March meant I actually had some expendable income to buy new records, so I was furiously typing bespoke recommendation threads on Twitter every time the date rolled around. bandcamps’ generosity meant you were able to genuinely support your friends (and the artists you secretly wish you were friends with) during a truly depressing year for music.

Normally, we’d be picking our live music highlights too, but for obvious reasons, we’ve hardly been to any gigs this year. Mari had to cancel half of the gigs GIHE she had booked pre-pandemic and it’s fucking depressing to not know when it will be (properly) safe for her to book more. That’s why I feel incredibly fortunate to have wedged in one last GIHE gig before Lockdown 1.0. GIHE worked together with Sofar Sounds to put together a special International Women’s Day gig at their Hackney HQ in March, with Beckie Margaret, Amahla and Indian Queens on the bill. It was so exciting (and nerve-racking) to host the evening with fellow GIHE pal Tash too. Even if I’d had a year full of gigs, this one still would’ve made my highlights list.

One last gloat – I published some of my all-time favourite features on our website this year. My Zoom interviews with the wonderful A.A Williams, the hilarious CMAT and the ultra talented Lido Pimienta are well worth a read.

Mari Lane (Managing Editor)

It goes without saying, most of the highlights I’d normally mention at this time of year were not able to go ahead in the void of 2020. They would normally consist of the monthly gigs that I host at The Finsbury, whereas this year I was only able to put on two before Covid hit. And, in addition to having to cancel at least seven of our regular gigs, we were pretty heartbroken to cancel what would have been our very first festival, due to take place in July. However, I did manage to fit in a couple of memorable live experiences before being confined to being permanently pyjama clad; my only weekly highlight being our regular beer delivery from Croydon’s Art & Craft bar.

The first gig I hosted this year felt particularly special. Personal Best headlined a night filled with all the best vibes. Drawing the night to a memorable close, front person Katie Gatt dedicated their set closer to the queer community. As a sea of buoyant voices joined in with “I wanna kiss you in the street / where everyone can see / ’cause this is what we look like,” the poignancy of the lyrics was overwhelming and an empowering sense of unity took hold. The night also included the shimmering folk-strewn offerings of Athabaska, the quirky energy and sparkling charisma of Nun Habit and the sun-drenched swirling anthems of Hurtling. There is nothing quite like that joyous sense of togetherness that comes from hosting gigs filled with like-minded wonderful people.

I was also lucky enough to fit in seeing one of my all time favourite bands with a few of my all time favourite people. The last time that Tash, Kate, Paul and I were all together pre-Covid was for Sleater Kinney at Brixton Academy – a pretty special night. Not only did I get to see the legendary Carrie Brownstein deliver her distinctive gritty, scuzz-filled riffs alongside Corin Tucker’s unmistakable swooning vocals in the flesh, conjuring up massive feelings of awe and nostalgia, but they were supported by one of our favourite current bands. The second time we’d seen Big Joanie on the Brixton Academy stage (the first being opening for Bikini Kill last year!), they showcased just how deserving they are of their rising success; with their unique, raw, post-punk soundscapes and poignant lyricism, they delivered an absolutely incredible set. A truly memorable night.

My last ‘outing’ before lockdown was to the BBC 6Music festival for International Women’s Day at The Roundhouse. An epic line-up consisting of some incredible women and non-binary folk that I’m incredibly grateful I got to witness before everything fell apart. In addition to the immense poignant power of Jehnny Beth, the utterly beguiling splendour of Nadine Shah (who I fell in love with there and then), and the completely mind-blowing presence of hero Kim Gordon, Kae Tempest delivered a fiercely moving, truly breath-taking headline set.

And then gigs were gone. To be replaced by online streamed “events” which I think have had mixed reviews over the last few months – they’re of course no replacement for the “real thing” and it’s hard to feel motivated to “attend” things when you’ve been on the sofa in your pjs for weeks. However, I have managed to organise a few GIHE Instagram ‘Takeovers’, featuring some of our favourite bands and artists. From ARXX’s drum and guitar lessons, LibraLibra’s quirky tele-sales style feature and Tiger Mimic’s interviews with others on the scene, to inspiring chats with Amaroun, Eckoes, Foundlings and Husk, beaut “live” sessions from Gold Baby, Scrounge and KIN, and King Hannah’s EP run through, I feel grateful that so many creatives have wanted to be involved.

It’s a strange time, no doubt, but one which is made that much better by a sense of togetherness within the community. One positive from all this really has been the mutual support and genuine care that I’ve seen musicians and those within the industry show for each other.

John McGovern (Contributor)

On the one hand, there’s been almost no gigs, no festivals, much fewer physical releases and closed record shops. On the other, BBC 6Music’s response helped me stay indoors and make the most of my furlough life. Lauren Laverne‘s show was extended to cover the late morning, running to nearly double the length of most of the other shows on the station and basically saw her appointed as chief mood-lifter for the BBC’s flagship alternative music station. Amongst the days of uncertainty, where even leaving the house offered the risk of serious illness, with no guarantee of a job at the end of the summer, having Lauren there to soundtrack breakfast/brunch made a world of difference. It produced a kind of odd stasis: the background radiation of a pandemic, but an excellent range of music, usually featuring a smattering of classics, new music and obscure gems. The only disappointment was when the schedule reverted back to usual come the end of lockdown. Hopefully, that same semblance of normality will be back for us all, soon.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read our highlights!

You can read about our GIHE Albums of 2020 here and our GIHE Tracks Of 2020 here.

Keep an eye out for our Ones To Watch in 2021 feature next week!