FIVE FAVOURITES: November Ultra

French bedroom-pop sensation November Ultra creates tender, heartfelt tunes that reflect her passion and joy for writing and performing music. “Technique is important, but singing is more about how you feel, because your body is the instrument,” explains the classically trained musician. This is something that permeates the sounds of her recently released debut album, Bedroom Walls, on which she blends elements of folk, pop and indie music to create her lush, emotive sounds.

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 November Ultra to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch her video for ‘le manége’ at the end of this post.

1. Andy Shauf – The Party
I love albums. I always have, I always will. There’s something very special and precious with the relationship you build with them. I’ve always compared it to the stages of meeting and falling in love with someone: there’s the love at first sight song (‘Quite Like You’ was the first Andy Shauf song I stumbled upon very late at night and I suddenly felt the rushing need to listen to his entire discography), then there’s the deep conversation songs that make you fall even harder (‘Early To The Party’ truly, that cello bridge with the harmonies and the swelling – pffff even talking about it, makes my heart beat faster!) There’s the falling in love with the quirks stage (‘Alexander All Alone’) and then there’s the peaceful, joyful comfortable moment of sleeping next to the one we love and know so well by now (the last song ‘Martha Sways’, the last dance of the party with those strings that come and go in the song making you waltz in this special space between dream and reality late night early morning slowdancing creates.) This album is a masterpiece, it tells a story, a party from beginning to end, you close your eyes and when the album is finished it feels like you’ve lived the party, met all the characters, the songwriting is exquisite, the arrangements too. An album is a spell, no wonder the album opens with ‘The Magician’.

2. Rosalía – Motomami
This album just came out, but I already know it’s an album that I’m going to love until the day I die. I know it because I’ve felt the same exact sensation I felt the first time I heard Frank Ocean’s mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra, or James Blake’s first album: that tingling sensation going through my body, that same excitement, unrest, that feverish hunger to listen to every single song obsessively, but also wanting to pause them every two seconds to take in the lyrics, the melodies, analyse the production, the sounds. It has that double organic-machine quality to it: it makes human-me feel a lot of things that are unexplainable, and it makes artist-me incredibly excited to try and find out why. Rosalía, just like Frank Ocean, is an exceptionally inspiring artist because she makes bold moves, bold choices, but most importantly she puts a lot of meaning and detail into all of it. There’s so much life, heart, intelligence, joy, and FUN in every single movement. To me, she’s a fencing queen: she skillfully aims for the heart while looking like a ballerina, as complex and light on her feet as a butterfly.

3. Frank Ocean – nostalgia, ULTRA
My name, November Ultra is a homage to this mixtape. That’s how much I love it. I love its story, the fact that it was a download-for-free mixtape he made because his label wasn’t paying attention, the sense of freedom and independence, again, the boldness in the choice, in that move, the sheer intelligence and creativity too – being able to rework songs, use big tunes like ‘Hotel California’ or Coldplay and make something new with it while telling a story through noises like tapes being played, stopped, rewinded. This mixtape is the work of an alchemist. Frank truly transforms, transmutes and breathes life and emotion into everything existing, crystallising feelings and turning them into precious songs for other people to hold, allowing us to understand our own selves. I couldn’t believe my luck the first time I heard it… I still can’t, a million plays later.

4. Tiny Ruins – Some Were Meant For Sea
New Zealand has so many precious gems, Tiny Ruins is one of them. I love everything about this album, Hollie Fullbrook’s songwriting is immaculate, as intricate and delicate as an old ring passed on to you by your grandmother who had it from her grandmother. You almost don’t want to wear it, and yet you can feel the power and strength it encapsulates when you hold it in the palm of your hand – like holding generations of life stories. That’s how the album makes me feel. So many lives, so many stories, so many heart beatings told with so much talent and wit. One of my favourite lines in the album probably comes from a song called ‘Priest With Balloons’ based on a true story of a Brazilian priest who jumped off a cliff, helium balloons attached to him, Fullbook writes “what was he looking for? Truth or was it heaven? Or did he just want to go out with a bang, so to speak… It’s funny but I can understand why… I want to live”

5. Lifafa – Jaago
It was so hard to make a choice, there are so many albums I love and while I still think James Blake’s first album has been a turning point in my life (yes, I said “turning point” haha please don’t judge me, music is my everything, I take all of it very seriously), I couldn’t pass the opportunity to talk about Lifafa’s Jaago, who got me ultra obsessed for most part of 2019 and early 2020. Lifafa’s part of another amazing musical project called Peter Cat Recording Co., they’re exceptional musicians and songwriters but with this one, Lifafa’s decided to sit behind a computer with a midi keyboard and compose songs in ways he wasn’t really used to, with no precise goal in mind other than to explore and have FUN and that’s exactly what I love about this album: it’s a trip, but oh boy such an intelligent, lively, well-executed one! The sonical landscapes are endless, it’s no easy-fit to be able to capture spontaneity, and I feel this album does that. A song starts and you never know where it’s going to land, and you don’t care, you’re just happy to be part of the ride, makes you feel alive. Bonus points? Lifafa has probably one of my most favourite voices in the world, AND the album cover is iconic.

Thanks to November Ultra for sharing her favourites with us!

Watch the video for ‘le manége’ below.

Follow November Ultra on bandcamp, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

 

Photo Credit: Pauline Darley

PLAYLIST: LGBT History Month 2021

GIHE Co-founder & Switchboard Co-Chair Tash Walker has put together some poignant words to introduce our LGBT History Month Playlist:

“As a society we all have to strive to be better allies, to not make the same mistakes that we have made in the past, to learn and to evolve so that we move towards a more equal society for all. Learning more about our untold histories is essential for this. February is LGBT History Month, so we’ve created a playlist for you as the perfect accompaniment to all that learning!

But remember it’s not just about the famous names, it’s about all LGBTQIA+ people who lived, whether they were out or unable to be open, they are all part of history, they have all shaped where we are today. This LGBT History Month, have a look for those unsung heroes, lift up their stories and learn more about their hidden lives.

By delving into LGTBQIA+ history, we learn so much about the struggle and fight for equality – the discrimination, the victimisation, the love, the support, the strength – it’s all a part of who we are today, as queer people, as allies, as people. You have to learn from the past to understand what community, allyship and support really mean. The stories you discover will make you laugh and cry – from sex, to police raids, to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, to censorship – it’s all there! It’s so important that we look back, honour, remember, celebrate and mourn for all that has happened in our LGBTQIA+ history, so that we can all work together for a more equal future. A good place to start is by listening to The Log Books podcast – untold stories from Britain’s LGBTQIA+ history and conversations about being queer today.”

If you need support during LGBT History Month or at anytime in the future, you can always reach out to Switchboard LGBT+ via their website or by calling 0330 330 0630.

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!

 

SOPHIE – ‘It’s Okay To Cry’
With the tragic news last week of SOPHIE’s sudden passing, I felt it was necessary to pay tribute to her as we celebrate LGBT History Month. An inspirational pioneer in both electronic music and for Transgender artists, she is gone far too soon, so please don’t hold back in shedding a tear as you listen to the beautifully poignant ‘It’s Okay To Cry’. (Mari Lane)

Planningtorock – ‘Non Binary Femme’
This track is take from one of my favourite albums of all time, Planningtorock’s Powerhouse. Unarguably paving the way for not only a better understanding of what those words mean, but also leading in acceptance for transgender and gender non-conforming people. Planningtorock and their music has unquestionably helped me on my own gender identity journey and I’m sure many others. (Tash Walker)

Bishi – ‘Don’t Shoot The Messenger’
For the Southbank Centre’s 2019 Meltdown Festival, Kate and I had the privilege of meeting Bishi. An incredibly talented singer, electronic rock-sitarist, producer and performer born in London of Bengali heritage. She is also the co-founder of WITCiH: The Women in Technology Creative Industries Hub, a platform elevating Women & Non-Binary in tech through commissions, performances & panels. (TW)

JD Samson & Men – ‘Who Am I To Feel So Free’
Having been part of GIHE faves Le Tigre, genderqueer musician, artist and activist JD Samson is a constant inspiration. Taken from Men’s 2011 album Talk About Body, ‘Who Am I To Feel So Free’ offers a joyous celebration of having the freedom to be yourself. (ML)

LIINES – ‘Sorry’
Manchester post punks LIINES continually impress with their deep, intense bass lines, the gritty, commanding growl of vocalist Zoe McVeigh and Leila O’Sullivan’s consistent pummelling beats. Propelled by a thrashing sense of urgency, ‘Sorry’ will captivate the ears with its punk-fuelled bewitching allure. (ML)

Big Joanie – ‘Cut Your Hair’ & Charmpit – ‘Bad Attitude’
Putting these tracks from two fab UK based feminist punk groups together as they were shared on a split single release for iconic record label Kill Rock Stars last year. We’ve made no secret of our love for Big Joanie or for Charmpit here at GIHE, and we are all collectively inspired by the incredible work they do on and off stage. Check out Decolonise Fest and First Timers UK to see just some of the vital creative projects they’re involved in. (Kate Crudgington)

Problem Patterns – ‘Terfs Out’
Belfast Feminist punks Problem Patterns are big faves of mine and Kate’s, and with ‘Terfs Out’ showcase the true meaning of Feminism – being inclusive of ALL women, including our Trans sisters. Taken from last year’s Irish compilation album A Litany Of Failures, Vol. III, ‘Terfs Out’ rages with a seething angst-driven energy, poignantly asserting that “LGB is nothing if not for the T”. A perfect call for solidarity and one which is needed now more than ever. (ML)

Dream Nails – ‘Kiss My Fist’ 
An aural uppercut to those who antagonize the LGBT+ community, this single from GIHE faves Dream Nails is a riotous stand against homophobic violence. The band penned the track days after they saw the news that queer couple Melania Geymonat and Christine Hannigan were attacked by a group of teenagers for refusing to kiss on a London bus in 2019. Guitarist Anya Pearson spoke poignantly about how the news affected her: “As a queer woman, I live in fear of violence every day because of my sexuality and the way I look. In the UK, anti-LGBT hate crime has surged in the past five years. We released ‘Kiss My Fist’ in honour of all the queer people trying to get from A to B without getting beaten up. Our message to homophobes and transphobes is clear: ask us to kiss again and we will eat your brain.” (KC)

Gossip – ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’
This is an absolute ANTHEM that is guaranteed to get me on to any dance floor. Bith Ditto’s voice is so powerful and so defiant on this track. A proper indie banger that you can belt out whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed. (KC)

pink suits – ‘Fake Great Britain’
Margate based queer punk-rock duo pink suits incorporate politically driven rage, dance and even theatre into their work, exploring issues of sexuality, mental health and a resistance of binary gender. Propelled by a frenzied, angst-driven power and scuzzy hooks, ‘Fake Great Britain’ is a queer punk anthem inciting us to get up, make our voices heard and fight fascism with all our might. (ML)

Kermes – ‘Peeling Off The Rind’
The latest single from Leicester queercore outfit Kermes, ‘Peeling Off The Rind’ reflects on feelings of unity and togetherness, and their importance in resistance. With front person Emily’s raw, seething vocals driving the track’s poignant, impassioned power, it’s a much needed slice of uplifting catharsis. (ML)

Partner – ‘Big Gay Hands’
I’ve been a bit in love with Canadian duo Partner since seeing them live at The Victoria a few years back, supported by faves Charmpit and Suggested Friends. Taken from their latest album Never Give Up and reflecting on “a wild night on the town filled with queer desire”, ‘Big Gay Hands’ epitomises the duo’s playful sense of fun in an epic, uplifting rock anthem. (ML)

ARXX – ‘Call Me Crazy’
The latest single from GIHE faves, Brighton duo ARXX, ‘Call Me Crazy’ showcases Hanni and Clara’s more reflective side. A heartfelt reflection on mental health struggles, at a time when this topic is more resonant than ever before, it builds in emotive splendour to an epic, pop-strewn ballad. (ML)

Foxgluvv – ‘Beautiful, Dirty, Rich’ (Lady Gaga Cover)
A glamorous cover of Mother Monster’s fabulous original 2008 single, London-based queer hungover pop artist Foxgluvv has paid homage to LGBTQ+ ally Lady Gaga by crafting this funky re-working with producer by Scott Colcombe. Her cover has all the spirit and sass of Gaga’s original, with a slight disco-pop twist. It’s not on Spotify, but you can watch the fab accompanying video to the track below. (KC)

Robyn – ‘Dancing On My Own’
Robyn is an outspoken ally for LGBTQ+ rights. I think it’s important to recognise the role that allies play within LGBTQ+ history and the movement’s continued fight for equality. Being an ally is about educating yourself, it’s about listening, being visible, challenging inequality and helping to educate others. Being an ally isn’t just about LGBTQ+, it applies to any under-represented, marginalised section of society worldwide. As Stonewall says “If we want to live in a world where people are accepted without exception, we all need to be part of the solution.” (TW)

Mykki Blanco (feat. Princess Nokia) – ‘Wish You Would’
This is a song from an artist who I feel needs no introduction, a queer pioneer who is doing amazing things for LGBTQ+ rights as well as being open about their positive HIV status. Mykki Blanco is also such an incredible artist and his music is just oh so gooooood. (TW)

Tyler Holmes – ‘Actors’
I’ve only recently become acquainted with artist Tyler Holmes, but I have fast fallen in love with their poignant, affecting and utterly unique sweeping electronic soundscapes. Holmes has spent a lifetime crafting their own Black, Queer narrative by pushing the limits of their imagination, and is set to release their new album next month – I cannot wait to immerse myself in it. They have also just shared a cover of SOPHIE’s ‘BIPP’. Check it out on bandcamp now. (ML)

Hercules & Love Affair – ‘Blind’
This track is so important me, taken from Hercules & Love Affairs’ self-titled album released in 2008, which I was obsessed with. Growing up I don’t remember any out famous LGBTQ+ women in music, so seeing Kim Ann Foxman who was part of their line-up on the album -so confident in her sexuality – it made the biggest of impressions on me. The music isn’t bad either. ‘Blind’ is without a doubt the theme tune to me fully embracing my sexuality, feeling proud of who I was and strong enough to come out happily in all aspects of my life. (TW)

KERAI – ‘desire’
KERAI is the project of nonbinary/trans producer & writer Sasha Wilde and co-producer Julian Wharton. Influenced by Russian new wave, Scandinavian electronica and Lithuanian folk, the duo blend pitch-manipulated vocals, punchy beats and edgy noise to create their haunting sounds. Their debut album Show Me a Future Where I Can Live is an intense electronic exploration of Wilde’s childhood. Growing up queer in a hostile post-soviet environment, Wilde has channeled their fears and hopes into this “serious shape-shifting” record, and I’m so glad it dropped into my GIHE inbox. (KC)

Gordian Stimm – ‘Though My Love Is Always Still’
I am such a huge fan of everything  Gordian Stimm (aka Maeve Westall of itoldyouiwouldeatyou) releases. They’ve crafted so many experimental gems in the last year, from their debut album Your Body In On Itself, to this single for Amateur Pop Inc.’s compilation record, their offerings are intensely eclectic & so well produced. Definitely check out their new instrumental EP Flirty Lucre for Public Sector, on bandcamp too. (KC)

The Crystal Furs – ‘Comeback Girls’
Oregon queer indie-pop band The Crystal Furs last year released their second album Beautiful and True. Taken from the album, ‘Comeback Girls’ is a twinkling offering, flowing with uplifting shimmering synths, honey-sweet vocals and scuzzy hooks. (ML)

Rookes – ‘Liminal’
Having wowed us live more than once, London based Rookes is fast becoming known in the industry for her fearless exploration of queer-female identity. Taken from 2019’s EP of the same name, ‘Liminal’ offers a beautifully uplifting pop ballad twinkling with a dreamy warmth. (ML)

Marika Hackman – ‘Realti’ (Grimes cover)
Taken from last year’s Covers album, Marika Hackman’s rendition of the Grimes classic adds her own ethereal, soothing touch to the original, oozing a spellbinding majestic splendour. (ML)

Landshapes – ‘Drama’
One of the first guests we ever had on our radio show, Landshapes last year released their first album in five years. Taken from the album, ‘Drama’ reflects on the imbalance of emotional labour that’s often seen between men and women. Propelled by a steady, jazz-infused bass-line, it soars with a whirring synth-filled musicality as the lustrous distinctive power of Luisa Gerstein’s vocals flows.
(ML)

Bronski Beat – ‘Smalltown Boy’
Released in 1984 at the height of the AIDS crisis by openly gay Bronski Beat, ‘Smalltown Boy’ is a heart-breaking story given an empowering beat. In 2020 I worked on the second season of a podcast called The Log Books all about LGBTQ+ history, covering the years from 1983 to 1991, when the HIV/AIDS epidemic hit the UK, this seems like a brilliant way to look back and think of that time – through all the pain and loss, there was love and laughter and most importantly DANCING! Happy LGBT+ History Month! (TW)

Jackie Shane – ‘Coming Down’
We’ve played Canadian soul-singer Jackie Shane multiple times on the GIHE radio show, and included her on many a playlist and we’re certainly not stopping now! Jackie was a pioneer for transgender rights in the 60s & 70s, a time when being your true self was not always welcomed, or accepted. (TW)

Arlo Parks –  ‘Black Dog’ 
I cannot get enough of Arlo Parks and her mesmerising music, so full of emotion I get lost in every second. ‘Black Dog’ is a frank, heart-breaking insight into the the darkness of depression. Mental health awareness within the LGTBQIA+ communities is so important, especially with rising levels of isolation and loneliness. Asking for, or reaching out for help is so important and totally OK to do. The more we can look out for each other, the more we can show people that asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness. (TW)

Perfume Genius – ‘Without You’
I wanted to include the heart-string tugging ‘Without You’ on here to dedicate to anyone who’s ever lost someone. With the pandemic and the recent (rightful) attention being drawn to the effect that the HIV/AIDS crisis has had on the lives of so many in this country with the release of Channel 4’s It’s A Sin, I’ve been thinking a lot about grief and the ways to support each other through it. (ML)

Frank Ocean – ‘Chanel’
Such a great song. As you may or may not know, Frank Ocean came out back in 2012 to mixed but mainly positive responses. Although he’s not technically a hip-hop artist, he is very much part of the community and this was a positive step for LGBTQ+ artists not only in hip-hop, but also on a much wider scale. (TW)

Ma Rainey –  ‘Prove It On Me Blues’
Unarguably the mother of blues Ma Rainey, this taken from 1928, a song that is very possibly one of the first references to queer lesbian culture. Where Ma Rainey, a queer woman sings, “Went out last night with a crowd of my friends. They must’ve been women, ’cause I don’t like no men.” An essential to any LGBT History Month playlist. (TW)

Follow Get In Her Ears on Spotify to listen to our previous playlists featuring more LGBT+ artists.

FIVE FAVOURITES: TONI&MASH

Berlin-based duo TONI&MASH are on a mission to create 80s inspired, electro-pop bangers. They recently released their debut single ‘LTGFU’ through Black Diamonds Records this summer which stands for “‘Love to Get Fucked Up” – a direct and self-explanatory tune designed to fill the coolest of dance floors.

With influences ranging from Abra to Patti Smith and Grace Jones to The Sugababes, they’ve been active on the DIY music collective circuit in Berlin for the last few years. In addition to TONI&MASH, the duo are involved in a multitude of projects, including directing, shooting and editing videos for themselves and other artists in Berlin’s hip hop and R&B scene.

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 TONI&MASH to ask about their “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced their songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to their track ‘LTGFU’ at the end of this post.

1. Abra – Rose
I (Toni) remember the first time I heard Rose – I was so enthralled by the 808 drum combo with Abra’s catchy and emotional hooks. I must have listened to this album 20 times over in the first week I got it. It came out in 2015, a time when I was still developing my full badassness, I remember hearing her vulnerability and rawness in what very often women have been scolded for; expressing her needs and desires so openly. Well done Abra, big ups for being a voice for young women navigating mad lusts and relationships in this world, an creating a beautiful record at the same time. I still return back to ‘Rose’ every few months, the sign of a great album!

Toni showed me (Mash) this album  and it was right up my ally – of course! Dramatic melodies, over layering vocals and 80´s sounds in nu-r&b form – that is what dreams are made of! I´m especially in love with her lyrical style and surprising melodies. I strongly relate to every songs message. This album has a fierce female energy while being boss-ass and not too sweet or girlish. A lot of the songs seem to talk about power dynamics in relationships and as a psychologically interested person, that totally hits the sweet spot for me. Songs about feeling and relationships that are hermetic and not completely on the nose are hard to write and lovely to listen to. Although all the songs have a similar style they are all very distinct and individually beautiful. Whenever we do a TONI&MASH related mix, we make sure there is one track of Abra in there, since she is such a musical influence to us.

2. SBTRKT – SBTRKT
The first album that TONI&MASH ever bonded over. Knowing each other for only one week and on set for an Ämsi Maasname video shoot, this album came on and before the first chorus even hit to ‘Wildfire’ we were both singing every lyric, word for word. And from that the beginnings of a beautiful musical friendship was born! It was a record I (Toni) also fell in love with at uni, just a year or two before moving to Berlin. It manages to overlap that wonderful bridge between pop and electronic dance music with tracks like ‘Hold On’. Sampha’s hypnotic and somewhat UK homesick inducing accent hold the perfect singalong, ass shaking session together. ‘Pharaohs’ also dropping a mega strong vibe on this record. Feel like this album really represents what was happening with the UK pop/dance music cross over in 2011/12. We still love it until this day. A formative album for many.

I (Mash) remember the look on Toni´s face when this German girl knew all the lyrics to all the songs of this great album and that I was very proud of making an impression on her. When this album came out, I didn’t know anyone who wasn’t crazy about it. It seemed so ground breaking at the time. The beats, the lyrics, the melodies, the content – it all felt so new and fresh and never heard before. Although I am not such a big fan of instrumentals, I even loved the songs without lyrics, which has to be a good sign. I especially loved all the collaborations – that was also always my dream, was I to make music on my own – a loooot of collaborations since they spark the most inspiration for me. My two favourite songs are definitely ‘Wildfire’ and ‘Hold On’.

3. OutKast – Aquemini
Toni and Mash found out early, that they both are big OutKast fans. Andre 3000 and Big Boi are musical geniuses – period! At a time where most American rap seemed to be gangsta rap and very repetitive, OutKast managed to produce rap music that was beautiful, deep, conscious, without being preachy or boring. While east coast and the west coast were comparing dick sizes and rapping about money and bitches, the south reinvented the game and managed to do so by leaving those topics out and making sociocritical music that was still cool. And even when they rap about having sex with groupies in ‘Mamacita’ they stay respectful and make sure it’s consensual.

Songs like “Da Art of Story Telling” show off their excellent skills in exactly that – the art of storytelling. I love the fact that they are a duo, just like us. Coming from a background of 80´s music, punk and rap, I always got inspired by their quick change of flows and the non-chalant switch from rapping to singing to rapping. We love to make that shift in our own music as much as possible. Favourite tracks are ‘Aquemini, ‘SpottiOttieDopaliscious’, and ‘Liberation’ featuring Cee-Lo and Erykah Badu, but every song on this album is a banger and good to bang to.

4. Frank Ocean – Channel ORANGE
Omg, I think this album changed my life and how I look at music (for the better). I love everything about Frank Ocean. His voice, the fact that he´s openly gay in a scene that’s still very dominated by male toxicity and that he came from a songwriting background and then started making music for himself.

The first song I ever heard of him was ‘Thinkin Bout You’ and I just melted. Never has a song portrayed the feeling of longing for someone more accurately. Songs like ‘Super Rich Kids’, ‘Sweet Life’ and ‘Crack Rock’ are outstanding in storytelling and are sharp observations of society by a woke mind. I was listening to nothing but this album when it came out and I showed it to everyone who didn’t jump up the tree quick enough.

I also loved the fact that almost none of the songs had the traditional “song-form” of verse-hook-verse-hook-bridge, etc. Songs like ‘Pyramids’ which is almost 10 minutes long seemed bold and like he just really made the piece of art he wanted to make. So what it´s like two different songs in one? It´s like a dark nu-r&b musical track and it all makes sense. ‘Bad Religion’ is also an all time favourite of course, speaking to anyone with a broken heart. I can´t tell which song is my favourite, I don’t want to diss the others!

5. M.I.A. – Arular
This album came out when I was 18 years old and going out every weekend. I grew up in a smaller city than Berlin in NRW and I knew the DJ of my main club and would always ask for songs and he would play them for me because i´d always be the first person on the dance floor and break the ice. M.I.A. was always on top of the list. Usually I went for ‘Bucky Done Gun’ or ‘Galang’ and totally lost it. She was such an icon to me!

A badass woman that produced her own music, invented a whole new style and was successful without getting her obviously sexy body naked. She always produced her own videos (in which she also appeared without make-up), made art and was multi-dimensional talented while at the same time being very outspoken politically, never taking comfort in her stardom, always out using her voice to do good and change the status quo which is depriving so many people from leading good lives. I obsessed about her and sucked up any information I could get. I was so excited to see the documentary about her last year!

This album just blew my mind, I had never heard music like that. ‘Pull up the people’ and ‘Sunshowers’, are definitely favourites – I also love the music video to ‘Sunshowers’ which touched my heart and showed me that women in pop don’t always have to get their tits out to sell their music.

Thanks to TONI&MASH for sharing their favourites with us. Follow the band on Facebook for more updates.