Five Favourites: Maria Uzor

Having recently wowed us with her immersive live show at The Shacklewell Arms, and having received acclaim from the likes of John Kennedy and Amy Lame, we’re excited to hear that Norwich based vocalist and producer Maria Uzor (also half of faves Sink Ya Teeth) has now announced the release of her upcoming new EP in December. Ahead of the EP release, she has now shared captivating new single ‘Solitaire’. Flowing with a luscious, swirling groove and gnarly beats, it builds with a shimmering, pulsating majesty to a gritty slice of euphoric electro-pop. Oozing her distinctive, spellbinding sweeping vocals, it’s a gloriously uplifting synth-soaked soundscape.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the upcoming release of Songs For Luminous Living, we caught up with Maria to ask about the music that has inspired her the most. See below for their choices of their five favourite albums, and be sure to watch the trippy new video for ‘Solitaire’ at the end of this feature.

Tricky – Pre Millenium Tension
I’ve always really admired Tricky as an artist. I’m really drawn to the landscapes he paints with sounds and vocals, and how he doesn’t confine himself to genres. You can hear influences from all over the place. There’s an other-worldly quality to his music too, which I think comes from not putting restrictions on himself. He’s an explorer; I love that. This album also features the superb vocals of Martine Topley Bird. The interplay between their two voices is something magic.


Minnie Ripperton – Come To My Garden
This was Minnie Ripperton’s debut solo album after leaving Rotary Connection, and what an album! That voice is just from another realm – it makes me cry! And such beautiful production too. It’s the kind of album I can play on a summer’s day or late at night and it will just put me in a mood of beauty and possibility. This album has an other-worldly feel to it too; it’s haunting in its beauty.


Sylvester – Stars
I absolutely adore Sylvester. He had such a beautiful voice and presence, and he chose to spend his time on this planet being unapologetically himself, and I really love that. Stars is only a four track EP but every song is special. The title track makes me want to dance whenever I hear it, it’s just life affirming. The EP also features a collaboration with Patrick Cowley on ‘I Need Somebody To Love Tonight’ (Cowley produced it). It definitely grooves hard, but there’s a pensive element there too which gives it a different edge.

David Bowie – Low
Whenever I speak to people who were around when Ziggy Stardust first landed, they always say the same thing; that it was like he came from another planet. So naturally, I love him – haha! When I was a teenager I used to just play all the usual early ’70s classics like ‘Life On Mars’ and ‘Starman’, but then I started loving all eras of Bowie as I got older. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed out on. I’m really into how wise he became in his older years too. There’s some stellar nuggets of wisdom from him in YouTube videos! It was hard to pick just one Bowie album but I settled on Low for the beautiful songwriting and production. I admire Bowie for the same reason that I admire Tricky; they’re both explorers, boldly dancing beyond boundaries in every sense. ‘Sound And Vision’ just reminds me of countless good times I’ve had with friends, late at night in small kitchens!


Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On?
To me, no other piece of music comes closer to perfection than this album. I first discovered it at art school and used to play it every day for about two years. The production, the sentiment, the vocals; it’s like it’s a precise moment of expression beamed out to the universe. Or beamed in from the universe. Or both! Flawless and breathtaking in its beauty.


Massive thanks to Maria Uzor for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Watch the captivatingly trippy new video for her single ‘Solitaire‘ now:


Songs For Luminous Living, the upcoming EP from Maria Uzor, is set for release on 9th December via Hey Buffalo Records.

Photo Credit: Andi Sapey

FIVE FAVOURITES: Muna Ileiwat

London-based, New Jersey-born songwriter Muna Ileiwat creates tender indie pop tunes that are a blend of soft vocals, shimmering electronics and steady beats. Her debut EP, Twenty-Seven, released today (19th Aug) via Fear of Missing Out Records, explores the fluctuating nature of relationships in all their forms, and the resilience and freedom that comes with creating art for arts sake.

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 Muna to ask 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 ‘Pity Party’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Ms. Lauryn Hill – ‘I Find It Hard to Say (Rebel)’
This song made me want to learn guitar and start writing my own music. When I started guitar lessons I learned classical music. At the end of each lesson, my teacher and I would spend a bit of time learning a “pop” song. This was the first song I chose. I heard Lauryn Hill’s MTV Unplugged album a lot when I was young (my dad owned it on CD). I’m not really into live albums except this one I love. I’ve come back to this song throughout my life. It’s not a conventional structure and the lyrics are stunning. The song’s nearly 7 minutes long, but every time I listen to it, it feels like half the time, probably because it’s so moving. Lauryn Hill’s performance is so raw. Once I was old enough, I discovered the song was about the murder of Amadou Diallo.

2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Maps’
An indie gem. I have such a soft spot for Karen O, she’s so badass! Yeah Yeah Yeahs were one my first introductions to indie music (this song in particular). There’s something so understated and vulnerable about the chorus line – “wait, they don’t love you like I love you”. It’s hard to convince me that a guitar solo is ever cool, but Nick Zinner’s solo in this is very cool. I got so wrapped up in the story behind this song. Music is so much about storytelling. You get a unique perspective into the deepest parts of people’s inner emotional states, the things people want to talk about, but just don’t know how. In the music video, Karen O is apparently crying real tears because her boyfriend was hours late to the shoot, right before her tour. There’s speculation that the song title is an acronym for ‘My Angus Please Stay’ and even though Karen O has never confirmed it, this kinda makes me love the song more. It really hurts. You feel her disappointment when the person you love can’t show up for you in the ways you need.

3. Selena – ‘Como La Flor’
I spent my early childhood in the US and Selena was always on the radio. I can’t begin to explain how much I love her and what she represents. Her outfits – incredible. Her voice – flawless. Her stage presence – mesmerising. Her music crossed cultural boundaries. That’s so powerful. Her iconic performance of this song at the Astrodome can bring me to tears. I’ve watched that performance a billion times. She was so talented. Her music is a nostalgic part of my childhood.

4. Solange – ‘Losing You’
The synths, chord progression, harmonies, production, the video – I love this song! It’s so fun! It’s melancholy cloaked in catchy hooks. I love the simplicity of the lyrics. Nothing is hidden under metaphors. I find songwriting like this bold. You can’t disguise your vulnerability under fancy wordplay. It’s direct. I’m a big Dev Hynes fan so the fact that he co-wrote this explains why it’s so goddamn good. I’ve always appreciated Solange’s holistic approach and commitment to her art. The video manifests a sense of community. It reminds me of Curaçao and that island life.

5. Robyn – ‘With Every Heartbeat’
I’ve always admired Robyn’s songwriting. She’s so inspiring and her music is so cathartic. This song has everything you need – a sweeping orchestra and driving beat. The lyrics are a perfect blend of hopefulness and devastation, particularly in the chorus. Robyn is so good at finding that balance, and nothing hits like a pop song about the realisation that you have to leave someone behind even though it hurts. I dream, and will continue to dream of writing a Robyn equivalent one day.

 

Thanks to Muna for sharing her favourites with us! Watch her video for ‘Pity Party’ below.

Pre-order Muna Ileiwat’s debut EP, Twenty-Seven, from Rough Trade here

Follow Muna Ileiwat on Apple MusicSpotifyTwitterInstagram & Facebook

Photo Credit: Guy Gotto

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Five Favourites & Video Premiere: Femegades – ‘Daddy Says’

Having previously received acclaim for singles ‘Speechless‘ and ‘Be Alone‘, and wowed crowds headlining Camden Rocks Presents, grunge-rockers Femegades have now announced the release of their new EP, Not All Men, set for release in September. To celebrate the announcement, the band have shared a brand new video for stirring single ‘Daddy Says’. Gentler in tone than previous offerings, heartfelt ballad ‘Daddy Says’ poignantly reflects on the somewhat challenging subject matter of a father encouraging his daughter into the sex industry. As front person Em’s honey-sweet vocals lilt alongside the backdrop of strummed Americana-inspired hooks and a catchy musicality, Femegades showcase their ability to tackle hard-hitting subjects; giving a voice to issues that society may prefer to shy away from.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the release of the stirring new video for ‘Daddy Says’ and the upcoming EP, we caught up with Femegades to ask about the music that has inspired them the most. See below for their choices of their five favourite songs, and watch the new video for ‘Daddy Says’ at the bottom of this feature.

Fugazi – ‘Suggestion’
A song by four dudes calling out the harassment of women. The dynamics they employ sonically to build up and release tension – it really is a masterpiece. And, given our female/male co-writing dynamic in the band, it is such an inspirational song for us; a great example of how switching gender roles for a song can still produce something so powerful. It shows you don’t need to be constrained by only writing from the perspective of the female character. The live version sung by Amy Pickering really takes it to another level as well.

Pete Yorn – ‘Life On A Chain’
I received Pete Yorn’s album as a gift when I was quite young and only really listened to it years later, which made me say to myself – what were you thinking?! The album is great as a whole and this song really hits home.I love the vibes of rock meets folk meets acoustic. Not often that I can tolerate an album from start to finish, however this one is definitely one I can listen to on repeat and really influenced a lot of the sounds in the music I played early on.

Angus & Julia Stone – ‘The Devil’s Tears’
Always a sucker for sibling musical ensembles but Angus and Julia just hit differently. Their simplistic yet emotionally charged songs really showed me that taking it back a step and playing on those heartstrings using minimalism can really resonate.

Jewel – ‘Who Will Save Your Soul?’
Always been a fan of Jewel – her vocals, her lyrics, her energy – it’s a lot of what I aspire to be able to put forth when writing or performing. She’s just so damn cool and I love it.

Taking Back Sunday – ‘MakeDamnSure’
A bit of high school nostalgia here, but Taking Back Sunday just give me a rush of energy that’s infectious. Absolutely feel like I can lose myself listening to them.

Massive thanks to Femegades for sharing their Five Favourites with us! Watch the affecting brand new video for ‘Daddy Says’ here:

Not All Men, the upcoming new EP from Femegades, is set for release on 1st September via Regent Street Records.

Five Favourites: Sir Jude

Having had previous singles featured in popular TV shows such as ‘Catfish’ and ‘The A List’, Australian artist Sir Jude has now announced the release of her upcoming debut album, Revelations, and shared a sweeping new single with the world. Propelled by a stirring, glitchy energy ‘Madonna‘ reflects on the dichotomy of the Madonna concept – the virgin and the whore. As her rich vocals soar over a gritty electro-infused soundscape, an instantly catchy cinematic alt-pop anthem is created.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the release of ‘Madonna’ and the upcoming debut album, we caught up with Sir Jude to ask about the music that has inspired her the most. See below for her choices of her five favourite songs.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘Wet Sand’ 
Growing up, I was such a big Chili Peppers fan. Still am of course. It was the soundtrack to many defining moments, particularly my first love. My journey to discovering them as a band was led by pure intrigue – none of my friends listened to them and I was mesmerised by the sound of psychedelic rock. The lyric in this track – “you don’t form in the wet sand” – I thought was so delicate and beautiful. Despite it feeling like a song about lightness, there is this sense of tragedy and vulnerability. I think Anthony Kiedis mastered that; most of their songs have this wonderful element of dichotomy. Later I watched an interview of Flea talking about how the song for him is a special love song, about the darkness of love, and I deeply resonate with that.  

Imogen Heap – ‘Hide and Seek’
This song was a staple for my teen years! I had first heard this on my favourite show at the time – which I’m admitting was The OC. I think for most people, it was unlike anything else they’d heard before. For me, I wanted to know more. I think Imogen Heap is one of the most talented composers and is an absolute force for women in music. I’m so grateful to her for being so authentic and bold in everything she does. This song inspired a whole era of songs I set to write at 13 or 14 (most of which were terrible). But one song it inspired, titled ‘Sailor Ships’, was the very song that brought me to Abbey Road Studios in London, with my friend and collaborator Bryce Jacobs, and that moment was so special.  

Arctic Monkeys – ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ 
This song gets most of its lyrics from the John Cooper Clark poem of the same name. I first heard this and gasped. I’m not the most romantic person, but for the first time I felt like these words were ones I could understand. It’s honestly a little creepy when you read it aloud, but I think at the heart of the song it’s about loving someone so deep that you want to know and be with every single part of them, and that’s pretty beautiful. I feel like such a sap admitting that, but it’s just lovely.  

Kavinsky ft. Lovefoxxx – ‘Nightcall’
I had heard this song before seeing it in Drive. The movie and the scorpion jacket only added to the iconic etch it made in my mind. The way the album, Out Run, opens is so epic; it paints this glorious mental movie soundtrack that is otherworldly and genius and just so cool. It’s the best nighttime driving song there is. Again, there is this sense of love and tragedy that I resonated with because the concept of the album itself felt so tangible.  

The Naked and Famous – ‘The Sun’
I lean very heavily towards songs that make me feel as though I can cut a quick movie montage of my life in my head. Every time this song plays, I feel so empowered and capable – like something is about to happen. It’s dramatic and aggressive and the lyrics bring about a feeling of frustration, like this person is about to explode; like they’re finally at a turning point. The line “and what the hell have I done” inspired my own song – ‘What the Hell Have You Done’. I just remember feeling so heard in that line. It does something to me every time I hear it. And the whole album is a classic; I think there are a lot of people that can listen to a song from that album and have it take them back somewhere years ago.  

Massive thanks to Sir Jude for sharing her Five Favourites with us!

‘Madonna’ is out now, and Revelations, the upcoming debut album from Sir Jude, is set for release soon!