Interview: Girl Ray

Following 2017’s Earl Grey, GIHE faves Girl Ray are set to release their new album, Girl, later this month. And we couldn’t be happier with the news.

Whilst we’ve been big fans of Girl Ray’s dreamily jangly offerings for a long while now, their new album seems to signal a slight change in a poppier direction, and we’re loving what we’ve heard of it so far.

We caught up with Poppy Hankin from the band to find out more…

Hi Girl Ray, welcome to Get In Her Ears! How are you doing at the moment?
Doing really well thanks! About to eat lunch.

You’re about to release your new album – Girl – on 22nd November, which is super exciting! Can you tell us a bit about it? How does it differ from your beautiful last album Earl Grey?
Of course! Girl is us trying our very best to do pop. Although Earl Grey will always be a special album to us, touring it so much definitely made us crave a change in sound for the next album. We’d been listening to a lot of mainstream pop before recording, and I think the universal appeal of it was something that interested us and made us want to have a crack at writing a pop album of our own. 

What is your songwriting process normally like? Does one of your tend to take the lead, or is it quite a collaborative process?
I usually do most of the writing at home in my room. Although, for this album we collaborated on writing ‘Keep It Tight’ and ‘Let It Go’ together which was really fun! This time round I was using Logic to write, playing around with midi keyboards and different synth sounds and beats to find something that stuck. After I’ve recorded a demo, then Sophie and Iris will work out their drum and bass parts.

And is there anyone or anything in particular who inspires your writing?
For this album, I think I was looking more to producers for inspiration rather than writers. I’d try and listen out for different production techniques and replicate them through our own filter. With ‘Keep It Tight’ we were inspired by Max Martin’s ’00s pop, with ‘Show Me More’ I was listening to a lot of Mark Ronson written/produced tracks and took inspiration from his more polished approach to funk, and with ‘Let It Go’ we were trying to go minimal like Drake.

I’ve been lucky enough to catch you live a couple of times, most recently at Indietracks Festival last summer (I actually proposed to my husband straight after your set – ‘Stupid Things’ is one of ‘our’ songs!), but do you have a particular gig or show that you’ve played that stands out as a particular highlight of your career so far?
That’s so incredibly sweet, congratulations! Hmmm… I think playing Scala was my (and all of our) favourite gig. It had sold out and all of our favourite people were in the audience as it was a hometown show. I was so tense before the show, but as soon as I got on stage I just became really elated. It sounds so intensely cheesy but you could feel that the room was filled with love and positive energy. That was really special. Plus, we got loads of our friends and family on for the last song to play ‘Earl Grey (Stuck In A Groove)’ which is the needlessly long title track of our first album. That was fun.

You were recently named as a PRS New Momentum Artist, which is fantastic news! Can you explain a bit about what this means?
It means that PRS have given us a hugely generous grant to help us with touring costs. There are so many costs that come with touring that you don’t really think about, and this grant means that we don’t have to stress about money for a little while. It’s really sorted us out! 

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands and artists at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to start out and get noticed?
I think that, thanks to social media and new music platforms, it’s easier than ever to get picked up as a new band. If you’re making interesting music and the right person stumbles upon it, then you’re sorted. Well, maybe it’s not that simple… But I’m feeling positive!!

As we’re a new music focused platform, are there any new bands or artists that you’ve been listening to lately that you’d recommend we check out?
I saw Free Love play at Visions a few months ago and thought that they were incredible. Their music is dancey and clubby and generally very cool. Plus their live set was INSANE.

Finally, in addition to the release of your album, what else does the rest of 2019 have in store for Girl Ray?
We’re about to set off on tour with Metronomy, which we’re really excited about. We’ve been fans of theirs forever. Other than that, we’re releasing the album on the 22nd November and doing bits and bobs around that!

Massive thanks to Poppy for answering our questions! 

Girl, the new album from Girl Ray, is out 22nd November via Moshi Moshi. Catch Girl Ray live on tour with Metronomy:

6th November – Southampton, O2 Guildhall
8th November – London, Roundhouse
9th November – Manchester Academy
14th November – Bristol, O2 Academy
15th November – Nottingham, Rock City

 

Photo Credit: Laura McCluskey

Track Of The Day: Bubble & Squeak – ‘The Christmas Stick’

It seems Poppy Hankin has a knack for creating perfect festive ditties; following Girl Ray’s ‘(I Wish I Were Giving You A Gift) This Christmas’ last year, she has now teamed up with The Boy Least Likely To’s Jof Owen to treat our ears to a sparkling slacker pop masterpiece.

Depicting a chance encounter on a lonely winter’s night between two strangers whose eyes meet across a bustling broadway, ‘The Christmas Stick’ is filled with completely dreamy, twinkling melodies and an endearing, scuzzy charm. As luscious harmonies flow alongside the joyous sound of sleigh-bells and a slight whirr of wistful melancholy, it’s the perfect antidote to some of the usual festive drivel circulating at this time of year. An uplifting slice of shimmering garage-pop to accompany those hot toddies, mince pies and inescapable pre-Christmas anxiety.

Of the track, Hankin explains: 

Jof told me about the idea for the song one night in the pub, but all he had so far was the line “you’ve been hit, you’ve been hit, you’ve been hit by The Christmas Stick”. I remember singing an idea for it straight away and then we got together the next morning and wrote the rest of it. It ended up being a really sweet love song, which we didn’t expect it to be.”

Download ‘The Christmas Stick’ here.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

LIVE: Indietracks Festival 27/07/18 – 29/02/18 (PART 2)

(Part 2 of our Indietracks Festival review – read Part 1 here….)

Continuing a completely joyous Saturday, queens Dream Wife take to the outdoor stage. Having not seen them for about three years when they completely blew me away at Visions Festival, they do not disappoint. Oozing their trademark empowering force, Rakel and co. take my breath away once more; such is their immense liberating power. Sparkling with her vibrant charisma, Rakel is the perfect, engaging front woman as Alice and Bella deliver frenzied, defiant hooks. With shout outs to Alice’s super cool grandma (who I was standing next to in the crowd), and a truly stirring performance of ‘Somebody’ (“this one’s about smashing gender roles that need to be smashed”), Dream Wife prove they’re an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.

After unsuccessfully attempting to get into the church to catch Spanish band Melenas (they sounded good from the door though!), we chill out for the rest of Saturday evening – preparing ourselves for a Sunday jam-packed full of some of the best new music.

Despite a rainy start, all the lush live music on Sunday certainly brightens the mood. The first example being Brighton band Just Blankets who bring their dreamy harmonies to the indoor stage; the perfect start to the day.

And the rain doesn’t stop us heading to see personal faves Wolf Girl. Alongside many “wet jokes”, they deliver their immensely infectious, thoroughly engaging indie-pop to perfection. As the crowd unites in a buoyant, albeit damp, cheer, I find that singing along to the uplifting hooks and exquisite harmonies of tracks such as ‘Middlesexy’ causes me to complete forget the weather and drift away on waves of Wolf Girl’s sunny energy.

Heading back to shelter for our favourite Feminist Punk Witches Dream Nails on the indoor stage, the DIY spirit and wonderful music continues. Despite having seen them live many times, Dream Nails never fail to totally inspire me. Treating us to a range of songs, new and old, they deliver their message as loud and as clear as ever to an adoring crowd of near 700. With her truly captivating intense energy, Janey leads the way in raging against sexual violence, misogyny and Facism, as guitarist Anya delivers impressive racing riffs, and Mimi and Lucy complete the punk-filled power of this unique band. As they deliver riotous impassioned lyrics such as “Hey mister, get your hands off my sister”, and express solidarity with those coming out as queer with uplifting offerings like ‘Swimming Pool’, a wonderful aura of unity sweeps throughout the crowd – as girls, women and non-binary people of all ages (in front of me a mother bops with her head-phoned baby in arms) dance and sing in solidarity – and I’m reminded once again why these strong-spirited wonder-women are so essential in our lives right now.

After sticking around to dance in buoyant joy to the utterly uplifting and twinkling calypso-like musicality of Tigercats, the empowering mood continues with (yet another GIHE fave), The Baby Seals in the church. With their uplifting charisma and triumphant wit, they champion autonomy and body positivity with wonderfully tongue-in-cheek (and amazingly entitled) offerings such as ‘My Labia’s Lopsided But I Don’t Mind’ and ‘Nipple Hair’, as well as mighty tracks celebrating Masturbation Month. Apologising for mentioning “tits” in a church, The Baby Seals celebrate all things female and break gender boundaries in all the right ways with their superb insightful humour and catchy musical prowess.

Sticking around in the intimate setting of The Church, we’re welcomed by another band who’ve wowed us at one of our nights at The Finsbury – the immensely impressive Sink Ya Teeth. Oozing their addictive, pulsating beats and ‘80s-inspired dance-pop hooks, they continue to prove themselves to be one of the most exciting bands around. As Maria Uzor’s smooth, intoxicating vocals soar, Gemma Cullinford’s pounding, funk-fused bass-lines provide a perfect, groove-ridden soundscape.

As the sun shines once more, we head back to the outdoor stage for North London’s Girl Ray. With their sweet, sunny charisma, each offering is a truly uplifting delight. Flowing with smooth, swooning vocals and catchy jangly melodies, they deliver their dreamy slices of gentle garage-rock with a sparkling grace, and – despite appearing to miss my personal favourite ‘Stupid Things’ – continue to cement their place firmly in our hearts.

After another welcome interlude with the owls and parrots (still not over how amazing this festival was!), final band of the weekend, Scotland’s Honeyblood, soothe our ears as the sun goes down. With a shimmering grace combined with their scuzzy garage-rock anthems and subtle empowering energy, the duo draw an end to the live music with all the perfect uplifting colour and fiery finesse we could have hoped for.

And that’s it; after spending a few more blissful hours dancing away in The Marquee, my first Indietracks is over. The most refreshing and enjoyable of weekends; one which exceeded all expectations. It was simply so wonderful to be a part of an event that so triumphantly champions DIY bands and artists of all genders and genres, in a beautiful location that’s not only family friendly, but a safe space for all, however you may identify.

Unfortunately, it still seems to be unusual to attend bigger festivals these days and not encounter ingrained misogyny or disrespect of some kind, but Indietracks felt like a different world; a safe, joy-filled world, and one jam-packed with all the best music (Also, did I mention there are owls and parrots?!). So, huge thanks to the organisers for creating something so beautiful, and I can only hope that more events start to take a leaf out of your book very soon!

Until next year, Indietracks…

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Track Of The Day: Girl Ray – ‘The Way We Came Back’

Following the success of last year’s debut album Earl Grey, and charming us with their sunny charisma at Green Man Festival, North London’s Girl Ray have since been receiving acclaim from the likes of BBC 6 Music, The Line Of Best Fit and The Guardian, and have now shared an infectious new single.

Written by Poppy Hankin when she was just sixteen, ‘The Way We Came Back’ is the perfect antidote to this bitter weather. Flowing with the band’s trademark smooth, swooning vocals and uptempo, jangly melodies, it oozes a sparkling, uplifting grace. As sweeping, lush harmonies glide alongside delicate refrains, it’s another shimmering slice of gentle garage-rock from the band, cementing their place firmly in our hearts.

Of the track, Sophie Moss explains:

“It’s an early, early – we’re talking pre-Earl Grey here – banger that we wanted to oil up. A plump cow that needed to be milked. It was one of the first songs Poppy wrote when she was 16 which we all found pretty impressive. Sly arrangement, good vibes here”

Watch the new video for ‘The Way We Came Back’ (fittingly filmed in below freezing temperatures on the Isle Of Sheppy) here:

Catch Girl Ray live:

10 April – Bristol, Thekla
11 April – Nottingham, Bodega
12 April – Hebden Bridge, Trades Club
13 April – Glasgow, Art School
15 April – Middlesbrough, Wegarth Social Club
16 April – Sheffield, The Leadmill
17 April – Manchester, Deaf Institute
18 April – London, Heaven
19 April – Brighton, The Haunt
05 May – Leicester, Handmade Festival
06 May – Newcastle, Hit the North
28 July – Derbyshire, Indietracks

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Photo Credit: Nyla Davison

LISTEN: Girl Ray – ‘I Wish I Were Giving You A Gift This Christmas’

Following the success of their gorgeous debut album Earl Grey, wowing us at Green Man Festival over the summer and selling out venues such as The Lexington this year, North London trio Girl Ray are ending 2017 on a high: by treating us to a gently festive number.

With the perfect balance of Christmassy sparkle and the band’s trademark shimmering, sunny charm, ‘I Wish I Were Giving You A Gift This Christmas’ is a song about longing and loneliness at this time of year. Complete with a children’s choir, sleigh bells and even a whinny of a kidnapped reindeer (!), the track proves to be the perfect slice of twinkling garage-pop to get you in the mood for this time of year. Of the track, the band’s Sophie Moss explains:

“Christmas is great and everything, but where are the indie bangers? We’ve pulled it all out the stocking on this one. You’d be a fool not to buy one for every family member, friend and tinder acquaintance this Christmas.”

‘I Wish I Were Giving You A Gift This Christmas’ is out 8th December on a limited run of 7″ vinyl via Moshi Moshi Records. Catch Girl Ray live next April:

10 April – Bristol, Thekla
11 April – Nottingham, Bodega
12 April – Hebden Bridge, Trades Club
13 April – Glasgow, Art School, Glasgow
15 April – Middlesbrough, Wegarth Social Club
16 April – Sheffield, The Leadmill
17 April – Manchester, Deaf Institute
18 April – London, Heaven
19 April – Brighton, The Haunt

Mari Lane
@marimindles

LIVE: Girl Ray @ EBGBs, 30.10.17

During their headline set, Girl Ray lead singer Poppy Hankin confesses that tonight’s show – part of the annual Liverpool Music Week festival – is the band’s first outside of the capital. Appropriately, then, the headliners take to the stage in the basement of EBGBs after a line-up featuring several local acts.

Disastronauts are first up. A four-piece specialising in totes emosh pop-punk and garage, their sound is typified by shredded Sonic Youth-y guitars on top of a bang-bang-boom rhythm section, with flips into math rock and pure grunge. They’re young, and raw, but there’s no shortage of talent and invention, with opener ‘The River’ demonstrating a rapidly-developing maturity. Special props to their drummer too who, whilst the lead singer and guitarist are acapella-ing the lyric “It’s time to go”, decides to dismantle his cymbals. It’s a riotous, consciously chaotic start to the night. 

Up next are Gintis. Hailing originally from Abergele, they’re an acoustically-driven latter-day take on the likes of Grandaddy and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, with the addition of a trumpet.  fter them, it’s Sugarmen – an indie-rock band with a drive that sits somewhere between Buzzcocks and Arctic Monkeys, with the Scouse tinge of The La’s or The Coral’s most upbeat numbers.

Finally, to the headliners, who kick off with the bouncy indiepop double-hit of ‘I’ll Make This Fun’ and ‘Just Like That’. It’s a perfect way of demonstrating their arpeggiated sparkly pop that hangs around Poppy’s vocals, intoning lyrics, all served with just a hint of country winsome.  

The performance of ‘Don’t Go Back at Ten’ even involves a line-dancing style 360° spin, courtesy of Poppy and bassist Sophie, during its middle eight, whilst ‘Trouble’ and ‘Stupid Things’, with their bittersweet combination of naïveté and confession, carry the band through until their penultimate song, which is a Breeders-like rock number.  

Sid from The Orielles is spotted in the audience and invited to play cowbell on final song, ‘Ghosty’. It’s a reminder that, for a lot of these bands, this is really just the start and, although the set may not have been perfect, there’s enough to suggest that Girl Ray will be venturing out of London for a long time to come.

John McGovern
@etinsuburbiaego