Having previously received acclaim for their previous three albums, including last year’s Appendix, Derby-based Grawl!x, aka James Machin, has now shared their bewitching new single, ahead of playing at Indietracks festival later this month.
A collaboration with Umbilica’s Jo Lewis, ‘Epicene’ is a soaring, cinematic soundscape exploring discussions of gender, sexuality, feminism and the role of allies. Flowing with twinkling electronic hooks and spellbinding harmonies, it’ll send shivers down the spine, oozing its poignant, sweeping emotion. Of the track, Machin explains: “… [gender] is an issue I’ve wanted to explore in a musical dialogue for quite some time. It’s quite alarming when you realise how great the gender disparity is and how our culture is divided in binary terms.”
We think one of the best ways to get to know a new artist is by asking them what music inspired them to write in the first place, so we caught up with James to talk about their ‘Five Favourites’. Identifying as non-binary, they have recently started performing as ))Maria(( too, and so has chosen five inspiring tracks that reference or subvert gender in some way. Check out their choices below, and watch the new video for ‘Epicene’ at the end of this post.
Anna Meredith – ‘Varmints’
In life, one is rarely afforded the opportunity to have a proper “WHAT
THE F**K AM I LISTENING TOO?!!” moment, but this was definitely one of them. A DJ friend of mine Russell played this at a local bar called Sudz &
Soda, and I was just blown away. It has such a majestic, foreboding
quality. Even when the beat drops, you don’t quite know whether to Dirty
Wine Squat or crumple into a husk of tears. Strictly speaking, I don’t
think it’s about gender but given the lack of vox, it could be! This definitely inspired our song ‘Epicene’. Meredith is an incredible composer
who never fails to make me feel like a backwards country bumpkin’
Princess Nokia – ‘Tomboy’
What a banger!! I asked my pal Ruth Hindle (who did the artwork for
‘Epicene’ as it happens) what the kids were listening too. She said she
didn’t know, but gave a lovely list of grime & trap tracks she likes. I
love this track so much. Princess Nokia just seems like such a strong role model.
Apart from embracing that age old gender stereotype with thoughtful
lyrics; she does it such aplomb and fun, it’s impossible to resist.
Although, dancing to this, a person of my age tends to
silence my desire to yell “my little titties & my fat belly” at the top
of my lungs. Awkward!!
Michelle Gurevich – ‘I’ll Be Your Woman’
ANOTHER friend of mine turned me onto this. Come to think of it, all my
friends tend to have pretty great taste! Gave me some proper Lynchian
chills. This song is just sooooo sultry, and the imagery masterfully plays with
gender assumptions, albeit in a slightly off-kilter kinda way. Her voice
is super androgynous too and, being non-binary I just love the both-ness of
it all. Top job Chinawoman!!
Charli XCX – ‘Boys’
Considering how crazy popular she is, it’s probably somewhat unnecessary
for me to help out, but I just love this song so much! Despite being everywhere, I missed it when it first came out then found the video on YouTube and had to rewatch it several dozen times. Once I got over how fun and lovely and
saucy it is, I then realised how clever and sparse the composition was with the 8bit business at work. Really amazing production. BANGER!!! And, although in the context of this list, it doesn’t so obviously subvert gender (the title clearly defines that), the idea of kinda objectifying men is done really well, and switches things around a bit.
SOPHIE – ‘Infatuation’
Speaking of amazing production, here is someone who again is properly
taking electronic music to a new level. By virtue of her current status,
I think she is helping change folks’ perceptions about gender. I could
have picked any off the record but this track is my favourite, mainly because
of the opening chords. Quite melancholy – what I’m a sucker for. It takes
you on a proper sonic traverse somewhere horrifically pretty. YAYAY!!!
Massive thanks to James for discussing their Five Favourites with us!
‘Epicene’ is out 19th July via Reckless Yes. Watch the new video here: