Five Favourites: Kama Vardi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Goni Riskin

FIVE FAVOURITES: anrimeal

“I never gave gender much thought before this album,” Porto-born, London-based artist anrimeal explains about her new release, Could Divine. Described as a “computer folk” record exploring the use of texture, limitation and repetition, anrimeal’s new record is inspired by the work of Eva Hesse and other women artists who pioneered the post-minimalism movement.

“I’d always felt alienated by concepts of womanhood, especially the notion that women exist under nature’s control,” anrimeal continues. “[But] seeing women use nature at the forefront of their work, not afraid to create art that could be seen as messy or dirty helped me reconcile those feelings, and motivated me to explore the less conventionally beautiful side of things.” Written, performed, mixed and mastered by anrimeal from home, Could Divine is a beautiful insight into the mind of a flourishing new artist.

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 anrimeal to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Speaking about her choices, anrimeal explains: “These are far from deep cuts, but really albums that not only do I know front to back, but also signposted some or other pivotal moments in my life.”

Check out her favourite albums below and scroll down to listen to anrimeal’s latest single ‘Encaustic Witches’ at the end of this post. You can also catch anrimeal and her musical collaborator Freda D’Souza performing a live improv session from home on Youtube at 6pm tonight. (Link here)

 

1. James Blake – James Blake
I remember buying this album on CD when i was 17 and spending entire days during Easter break lying down in my bedroom, looking at the ceiling and just listening. I think it was my first proper introduction to ambience in music, to a sound landscape that was as rich as the actual songwriting. And one of those things I just couldn’t unlisten. From then on, texture became the most important thing to me in music, a language of its own. There was something so personal about the sonic world James built in this album. I don’t think I’d been exposed to a truly DIY record before this one, and it really changed my perception of music as a medium, and ended up informing the way I like to create music today.

2. Grouper – The Man Who Died In His Boat
Liz Harris, I mean – her music changed my life. Listening to The Man Who Died In His Boat for the first time was like being shown the inside of my brain. The album was sent to me along with Animal Collective’s Sung Tongs with a message of this sort “if you like delay, then you might like these”. This was an even deeper dive into ambient music, and maybe the first time I felt like I could fully relate to what an artist was trying to put out. There’s a dark gentleness in her records, that I’ve only ever felt with music made by women. A kind of understated submerged darkness that is constant and calm. Not depressing nor effusive, just constant.

3. Animal Collective – Sung Tongs
Animal Collective!!!! Field recordings, adaptations of the aesthetics and energy of traditional music, beautifully poetic but slightly absurd lyrics, moments of chaos and of quiet introspection. Seriously, what does this album not have? I can’t say Sung Tongs reflects me exactly, but I think it showed me a side of life that I wasn’t very familiar with before. Having been educated in a strict classical music setting, I needed Animal Collective to show me that there was a fun side to music after all. The clouds opened to the sun like eyelids, and I owe it to this album. I’ve since become a devoted fan of Avey Tare’s catalogue, and I carry this upbeat and earthy world very dearly with me, as a kind of companion.

4. Kanye West – Yeezus
I was so arrested by this album, the first time I listened to it I was petrified and started sweating. It was completely different from anything I’d ever listened to before, it was so bold and genre-bending. I think I use this record a lot to remind me that I can do anything I want with my music. I very much appreciate Kanye’s commitment to art and unhindered self-expression.

5. Sufjan Stevens – Age Of Adz
Even though I was a fan of Sufjan for a long time, Age Of Adz was definitely an acquired taste, an album that sunk in really slowly with time. Again, it’s such a bold piece of work, so well crafted that its existence almost seems impossible to me. There are almost no words to describe this album, maybe just to say that it is a testament to true passion for the art of songwriting. If anything, Sufjan’s music makes me want to experience life with more care, so that I can find his detail in my own reality.

Thanks to anrimeal for sharing her favourites with us.
Listen to her new single ‘Encaustic Witches’ below.

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

FIVE FAVOURITES: Camila Fuchs

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

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Camila to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have inspired Camila Fuchs’ song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to listen to Camila Fuchs’ latest single ‘Come About’ at the end of this post.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Thyra Dragseth

Five Favourites: RAHH

Having previously provided backing vocals for Liam Gallagher and shared stages with the likes of Nile Rogers, Emili Sande and Beverley Knight, Manchester born London-based artist RAHH has now shared a euphoric new single.

A blissful slice of soul-strewn alt-pop, ‘Overkill’ showcases the impassioned soaring splendour of Rahh’s vocals alongside a house-inspired enraptured groove.

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 RAHH to ask about her ‘Five Favourites’– five albums that have inspired her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch the video for her latest single ‘Overkill at the end of this post.

TLC – Crazy Sexy Cool
This was my first album, bought for me by my big brother. I think it just opened up my eyes to what was possible as a music artist. I was a little mixed-race girl in a white area and the media and charts reflected that massively. All of a sudden I was introduced to TLC, the coolest girls I’d ever seen in my life and they kinda looked like me. It was massive! Plus I adored the music, I loved that Lisa Left-Eye Lopez rapped and that T-Boz sang so incredibly low – it was totally unusual. I remember learning every word of the rap from ‘Waterfalls’, playing it on repeat in my room and having to turn the volume down when she said “my only bleeding hope..” because I thought my Dad would go mad at me for swearing!

Michael Jackson – History
A different big brother moved out to go travelling in Australia and left me with this album and the VHS to go with it. It was pretty life changing for me. I fell head over heels in love with Michael Jackson’s genius, I was completely captivated. I think his influence can be heard in most music that came after him. The way he created a feel, a groove, and the infectious need to dance is magic. It’s something I think we all aspire towards as songwriters.  

Simon and Garfunkel – Bookends
I think before I’d heard this album I was big on RnB and soul, I was focused on the sound and technique of the vocal and hadn’t opened up to the possibility of liking artists that didn’t champion the voice in that way. After this album, all of that went out of the window and I fell in love with the lyrics and poetry of artists like Paul Simon and Bob Dylan. Track 2, ‘America’, remains one of my favourite songs of all time. I’ve had incredible bonding experiences with other people who adore the song and who know about that one lyric where he addresses his wife who’s sleeping next to him to tell her he’s empty and aching and doesn’t know why.  It is my favourite lyric ever and the way its placed in this song will forever inspire me as a writer. 

Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Every song and every note just seems like effortless genius. I can’t remember when I first heard this album but it is timeless. It inspired me to be a better musician and to care less about perfecting vocals and more about the depth of the song. ‘Ex-factor’ makes me melt!

Solange – A Seat at the Table
As a huge Destiny Child and Beyonce fan growing up, I think I just never imagined I could possibly get into Beyonce’s sisters music more than Beyonce’s herself until this album. It seemed to come out of nowhere. I listened to it over and over, I love the whole concept of it, the fashion and contemporary dance of the videos and artwork. The interludes, the interviews. The running theme of race and Black beauty. I really think it’s a piece of artwork from start to finish. The depth of the music in its content and musicality is inspiring and I strive to instil that in my own writing.

Massive thanks to RAHH for sharing her Five Favourites with us!

Watch the new video for ‘Overkill’ here and listen on Spotify now: