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

FIVE FAVOURITES: Dolls

After sharing their debut EP Pop The Bubble in 2018, garage-rock duo Dolls have been busy writing new material and working with Producer Margo Broom (Hermitage Studio Works) to create more of their energetic guitar tunes. Filled with buoyant riffs, crashing percussion and strong vocals; their new EP, Eggshells, is a retrospective take on “Losing friends, creepy men, the strive for perfectionism, and day-to-day anxiety.”

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 Dolls’ vocalist & guitarist Jade Ellins to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her writing techniques. Check out Jade’s choices below, and scroll down to watch the video for Dolls’ track ‘Eggshells’ at the end of this post.

1. PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love
I felt like I got into PJ Harvey surprisingly late considering I have loved female-fronted bluesy rock for most of my life. When I first started gigging in London about 8 years ago, I used to get compared to her so I thought “I should really give her a listen2. This was the first PJ album I listened to and it blew my mind. I loved everything about it – her vocal performance, the production, the lyrics – it was all incredible. It really influences my song writing and I especially like the way she plays with dynamics on this album. She manages to make one riff sound interesting for over five minutes with her arrangements, which I feel is one of the hardest things to do. My partner bought me this on vinyl and I honestly find it hard to listen to records all the way through without zoning out but this album keeps my interest the whole time.

2. Deep Purple – Made In Japan
I used to listen to this album on car journeys when I was little all the time. I love Deep Purple, and this live album showcases how brilliant they are live, even if Ritchie Blackmore likes to go off and do his own thing a lot of the time! I love every song on this album but my favourites are ‘Highway Star’, ‘Lazy’ and ‘Space Truckin’. This album has a lot of good memories for me and Ritchie Blackmore is still one of my favourite guitarists. I wouldn’t say I directly use Deep Purple to influence my song writing but I feel like parts of them must come out as I have listened to them so much.

3. Pixies – Doolittle
I actually used to hate the Pixies, and I did see them live when I was 21 and was bored. Then about 4 years later I listened to some songs of Doolittle and it was a light bulb moment (I thought it might happen with The Smiths but I still hate them!) I think my music taste really changed as I wanted to be more experimental with song writing. Pixies have an amazing way of making certain songs that really shouldn’t work sound interesting and engaging. My favourite song off the album is ‘Hey’. When I listen to it I sometimes want to cry because it is so good. Every single musician brings something unique to the band and I feel like every part fits together perfectly. It’s probably why when seeing them live now it isn’t quite the same as they don’t have Kim Deal anymore. I have watched old live videos and she definitely brings the energy and has such a distinctive voice. Raspy and angelic at the same time! I love you Pixies, I’m sorry I doubted you.

4. Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense
Is this one of the best live albums/shows of all time? I think so! I sometimes put the show on just so I can run around with them. The song writing is magnificent and I love how in the show they gradually build up the stage, I couldn’t believe it when I first watched it. The only thing I can’t work out is everyone is wearing a similar outfit but the drummer is wearing a bright blue polo shirt, it annoys me slightly but I’ll let it go one day. I love Talking Heads’ use of vocal harmony and much like most of the albums I have put on this list – every instrument has its own essential part. Some bands you can feel that they haven’t been bothered to push themselves to think of a better bass line or guitar part but each instrument and choice made on these Talking Heads songs creates an essential part in a well-oiled and groovy machine.

5. The Kills – Keep On Your Mean Side
A friend at music college introduced me to The Kills and out of the largely male led duos I was listening to at the time. I loved the fact that there were male and female vocal parts. I thought Alison Mosshart was the coolest person ever and such a brilliant performer. I don’t listen to The Kills much anymore, but when I was first starting Dolls they played a big role at influencing my song writing. My favourite song from the album is ‘Fried Your Little Brains’. Much like PJ Harvey, they manage to make one riff throughout a whole song sound brilliant. I think that is largely down to Jamie’s rhythmic guitar playing. I used to watch him a lot to help with guitar playing ideas for Dolls. Out of the big duos at the time (The Black Keys, The White Stripes) Jamie’s guitar playing was my favourite. Not too showy but still unique.

Thanks to Jade for sharing her favourites with us!
Listen to Dolls’ new EP Eggshells on Spotify.

Photo Credit: Keira-Anee Photography

Five Favourites: GRANT

Following 2018’s album In Bloom, Swedish artist GRANT has now returned to grace our ears with new single ‘Words’. Oozing a raw emotion and shimmering musicality, it’s a heartfelt slice of enchanting alt-pop.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them or influences their writing. We caught up with GRANT to find out her “Five Favourites” – five albums that she’s found particularly influential. Check out her choices below, and make sure you watch the new video for ‘Words’ below.

4 Non Blondes – Bigger, Better, Faster, More!
This was my own very first CD, that my sister gave me when I was about eight. I learned how to sing belting along with Linda Perry. This album falls somewhere in rock n’roll land, with a touch of Linda Perry’s pop genius, and  listening to it felt like a roller coaster through a wicked landscape. I highly recommend that you listen to the Linda Perry episode of the Broken Record Podcast!

Björk – Debut / Post / Homogenic
This is my holy trinity, and I honestly didn’t know which of Björk’s albums to choose; each of these three have inspired me immensely. I love the unexpected dynamics and how in each delicious song she unfolds like an adventure so naturally.

Nina Simone – Wild Is The Wind
The first time I heard Nina Simone, she sang of experiences I’d never lived in a language I didn’t understand yet, but I felt so much. It was kinda heavy but also beautiful. Never has an artist expanded my world view like she did. I want to make music that makes someone young feel like that. 

Portishead – Dummy
I must’ve listened to this album more than a thousand times. When I first discovered trip-hop I thought it was the most ultimate genre, simply because it was genre-bending and contradictory (gloomy yet playful, soft and hard), and I still hold this to be true. Even though I’ve transitioned into a more pop soundscape, I’m still heavily influenced. Also, Beth Gibbons singing ‘Glory Box’ and smoking on stage is too sexy. 

Edith Piaf – À l’Olympia
As with Nina Simone she sang of experiences in a language I didn’t understand, but I was completely enchanted. The way she sings and poises herself with small movements that stir up a fucking whirlwind… I think you can hear her influence in my music in terms of both melodies and phrasing. I learned French from listening to her and I’m forever grateful for the impact she’s had on me.

Huge thanks to GRANT for sharing her Five Favourites with us! 

Watch the new video for ‘Words’ here:

 

Photo Credit: Angelina Bergenwall

 

FIVE FAVOURITES: OHMME

Formed of Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart; Chicago-based OHMME blend driving beats and brooding, distorted guitars to create their deceptively simple, catchy songs. The pair are set to release their new album, Fantasize Your Ghost, on 5th June via Joyful Noise Recordings, and it’s full of snaking riffs and restless lyrics designed to relieve the feeling of being stood still. 

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 Macie & Sima to ask about their “Five Favourites” – five songs and/or albums that have influenced their writing techniques. Check out their choices below, and scroll down to listen to OHMME’s track ‘Selling Candy’ at the end of this post.

1. Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum
Macie: Cate Le Bon is a new discovery for the both of us. We listened to ‘Reward’ a lot last Spring/Summer when we were touring, and then dug into some of her earlier records. “Mug Museum” really stands out as one of our favourites. The guitars weave together in this snake-like way which inspired a lot of our approach to the guitar part writing on Fantasize Your Ghost. She just has such great songs and arrangements that groove so easily and make you feel good. ‘Are You With Me Now’ is one of our favourites off of the record.

2. Kate Bush – The Kick Inside
Macie: It would be impossible to downplay how much we love Kate Bush. She has this ability to create a different universe on each record of hers, and listening to The Kick Inside woke something up inside of us. I can’t believe she was 17 when she made this record! She’s so young but her voice is so powerful and commanding, it’s really inspiring. It’s cool how this record plays with the aspect of performance in the theatre sense, she’s always embodying these characters in her songs and making them larger than life. It opens up a lot of possibilities of what a song could be.We have a dream of doing a Kate Bush cover night and performing the entirety of this record…We’ll let you know when that happens.

3. The Roches – ‘Hammond Song’
Sima: There’s something about the unison singing in the song that just cuts right through you. The Roches’ use of harmony, unison, and polyphonic singing has been very influential on us the last couple years as we play with all the different ways we can combine our voices. We also adore their songwriting; how direct and hilarious but also earnest it can be. The eponymous album that this song comes from also feels like it was written specifically for people (and maybe even more specifically, women) who are on tour all the time.

4. The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices
Sima: I grew up singing in a choir and was introduced to Bulgarian Women’s Choral singing at a young age and I always loved it. I love any singing where you can sing full-throttle – sacred harp, gospel – it just pulls your guts right up through your throat and I love that. A few years ago on tour, Macie put on the album made by this group and we we’re both just really excited about it. Its one end of the spectrum of singing that we love to indulge in and you can hear it pretty directly influence moments on Fantasize Your Ghost.

5. Neko Case – Star Witness
We’ve both loved Neko for a long time; her voice, her music, but especially her poetry. We sing this song sometimes together when we’re sitting around with acoustic guitar. Neko has an incredible ability to convey a mood without saying exactly what or who she is always singing about. The sound of her words works so well with how her melodies leap and bound around each other. This album came out at a time when we were coming of age as songwriters and is therefore immortalized in our brains forever.

Thanks to Macie & Sima for sharing their favourites with us.
Follow OHMME on Spotify and Facebook for more updates.