Introducing Interview: Alice Hubble

Set to release her new album Hexentanzplatz this Friday, innovative London based artist Alice Hubble has previously captivated us with poignant singles such as ‘Power Play‘ and ‘My Dear Friend‘. With her distinctive euphoric, synth-driven energy and glitchy ‘80s-inspired musicality, we’re already huge fans of the soaring, ethereal soundscapes she creates.

Ahead of the release on Friday, we caught up with Alice to find out more about the album, what inspires her and her thoughts on the treatment of women and non-binary people in music at the moment… Have a read!

Hi Alice, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! Thank you, it’s great to be here! I’m Alice Hubble, an electronic pop musician, based in London, originally from Leeds. I make music with my collection of vintage synthesisers, which combines pastoral instrumentals and budget pop in equal measure. My first LP came out in 2019 and the second is coming out this month via Happy Robots.

What initially inspired you to start creating music?
It’s hard to think what initially inspired me to create music cause it feels like it’s always been there. I was one of those music nerd kids, always singing and playing in music groups. In my 20s and a lot of my 30s I was in various bands, albeit to very limited successes. In mid 2018 I decided to focus on my own solo musical creation and Alice Hubble as we know it was born. I’m very inspired by creating ‘otherly’ worlds in music, recreating my imagined worlds sonically. As a person, I’m always pushing to contradict expectations and I attempt to do this in my music. Writing lyrics can be a form of therapy for me to unpack my lived experiences, but I also write about things that matter to me – particularly a highly inclusive form of feminism.

You’re about to release your new album Hexentanzplatz at the end of this week – are you able to tell us a bit about this? Are there any particular themes running throughout the album? 
The album was recorded in October 2020, with half of the songs written during the lockdown in 2020. Though I chose to stay away from writing about the lockdown, I feel the unease and anxieties of the time are very present in the music. The album is called Hexentanzplatz, named after the German mountain. The mountain is steeped in magic and legend and is famous for its Walpurligsnacht celebrations. The name translates literally to mean Witches’ Dance Floor, which really is too perfect. Recurring themes on the LP are illusion, feminism and protest. Illusion creeps into my songs a lot, whether it’s a projected myth of an unbeknown subject of my affections, the illusions we create on social media or your re-imagination of a place in your head. I’ve always been fascinated about how a real place or moment can exist so differently in two people’s minds. 

And how have you found recording and promoting an album during these strange times? 
It’s definitely been strange, I’ve been lucky that the pandemic gave me more space to focus on my music – I was on furlough with my day job, so I had time to spend writing and recording at home. I got to travel to Germany and visit the Harz mountains and learn about Hexentanzplatz and then to Ramsgate in October to record the LP. I also got to play a gig in May just after things started to lift which was really great. I spent 2019 being so busy that I was burnt out, so spending a lot of 2020 focusing on my mental health and having a quiet time was really good for me. It also gave me the chance to record a collaborative EP with Bradford based musician Andy Abbott (under the name ADRA Hubble) and do things I thought I’d never have the confidence to do like host a Facebook chat show and start my radio show. It was disappointing to have things cancelled, but it wasn’t something I dwelled on too much, there were bigger tragedies of the pandemic. I very much see myself as one of the fortunate ones over the last year and feel grateful for what I achieved in this time.

We love your shimmering, euphoric electro soundscapes, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Thank you! Oh my, it’s hard to narrow down. The bands that have always been with me are the classic synth pop bands – Kraftwerk, OMD, New Order. The Beach Boys have also been such an influence to me. For Alice Hubble, sonically I’ve been inspired by Sally Oldfield, School of Seven Bells, Goldfrapp, Book of Love, Susan Sundfor, to name a few.

We have been particular fans of your recent single ‘Power Play’ – described as the closest thing you’ve written to a protest song, it’s inspired by the #MeToo movement. Are you able to tell us a bit more about this? And, in relation to this, how do you feel the music industry is for women/non-binary people at the moment – do you feel that things have improved over the last few years
Thank you! It means a lot to have people respond to the song. ‘Power Play’ is a track that was, on the whole, written in lockdown 1. I feel like a lot of anger and frustration that came out of that time was channeled into the track. At the time I’d looked at Twitter and seen that one of the musicians whose hideous behaviour had been a focus in the #metoo movement was back Tweeting and interacting with fans as normal. And it got me thinking “have things really changed? Do people move on to different things once the moment has passed?” It all started with the menacing synths and, as the track was so angry sonically, I wanted the lyrics to be a call to arms of some sorts. The mass hex of Brock Turner as an act of resistance and resilience (to quote the song) always really intrigued me as a form of activism and I read a lot around this to inform the lyrics. With the subject matter being so triggering, it was a song that needed careful consideration to get just right. It’s definitely getting better for women/non-binary people in the industry but there is still a long way to go. There is better representation generally – I just came back from Green Man where there were so many amazing women/non- binary performers at the festival. There’s also a greater understanding of mental health awareness, and discussions taking place about what behaviours in the industry are not helpful for women/non-binary people. The male ego power-trip that was accepted as the norm for years is now being recognised for what it is, and there are people in the industry trying to make changes. My brother is trans, so naturally trans rights is an issue close to my heart. I have noticed there is more awareness in the general public of trans and non-binary people compared to twenty years ago, which is great. But I feel there is still a long way to go, and a lot of educating still to do, particularly with how polarised society is. I find all the ‘anti-woke’ and TERF rhetoric very disturbing, particularly in the way that they present themselves as reasonable people (when they clearly aren’t!).

How have you been connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
I played a few online shows including a Zoom show, the shows went ok but I’m not sure I’d rush to do them again as it’s so hard to connect with an audience that way. I’m also not sure how long people’s attention span is for a Zoom gig these days. It’s great to use digital to connect with audiences in different ways than the typical live performance. I really enjoyed doing the Hubble’s House Party chat show, partly as it felt like such an achievement and we had a great crowd watching. I also did an Instagram DJ set for Divine Schism which was great.

And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, throughout these strange times? 
Hexentanzplatz and music making in general helped give me a purpose during this time. I think 2020 would have been a lot harder for me if I hadn’t had a creative project to throw myself into. I also consumed a lot of TV and books. My partner and I have done a lot of travelling through culture to take us outside of our reality. We got really into watching travel shows like Race Across the World. I also went on a bit of a deep-dive reading about the ’60s hippy trail trekkers after watching The Serpent, and found Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld a bit silly but a welcome break from real life politics.

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists or bands that you’d recommend we check out?
Sister Wives from Sheffield are awesome!

Finally, in addition to the release of your album, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for you?
Alongside the album there’s a fantastic video which will be out soon, created by illustrator Katherina Rival. I’m going on a mini tour in October which, fingers crossed, will happen as expected. It would be great to see you there!

Massive thanks to Alice for answering our questions!

Hexentanzplatz, the upcoming new album from Alice Hubble, is set for release this Friday 10th September via Happy Robots. Catch Alice on her UK tour:

7th October – Folklore, London
8th October – The Cold Store, Nottingham
15th October – Wharf Chambers, Leeds
23rd October – West Hill Hall, Brighton (supporting Laetitia Sadier)
31st October – The Moon, Cardiff

Photo Credit: Tom Hilverkus

Track Of The Day: Mesadorm – ‘Yours And Not Yours’

An urgent exploration of insecurity and doubt, London-based collaborative project Mesadorm have shared their latest single ‘Yours and Not Yours’. Released via Babylegs Records earlier this month, the track is taken from the band’s upcoming album Heterogaster, which will be released in Spring 2018.

Formed in 2015 by a group of long term friends, Mesadorm are a combination of each band member’s musical and artistic influences. Every individual is a performer in their own right, having written and/or recorded with such artists as Goldfrapp, MIKA, Paloma Faith, Rae Morris, The Magnetic North, John Metcalfe, The Unthanks, Hannah Peel and Frank Turner.

‘Yours and Not Yours’ is an amalgamation of each band member’s talent, collectively exploring an intense sense of doubt, ricocheting between security and unease with the help of an abrasive synth line and urgent, rich vocals.

“’YANY’ is a purging song for me,” vocalist & songwriter Blythe Pepino explains about the track.”It has something of the moment when self-doubt and doubt in everything around us collides. A special kind of doubt I think us ‘beneficiaries’ of the Western Capitalist model are now experiencing. The kind where, perhaps at a certain destabilising point in your life, the kind faces of friends and family and lovers melt into the smiles of the adverts forced upon you for addictive crap you don’t need. It has something of the taste of looking for home when everything you’ve been grown to enjoy carries the smell of burnt flesh and deceit. After that you must learn to look for what joy really is to you because the potential to fill yourself up with the other stuff is very real and very easy and all the while someone else is dying for your comfort on the TV screen.”

Listen to ‘Yours And Not Yours’ below, and follow the band on Facebook for more updates.

Mesadorm are: Blythe Pepino (Vox/Keys), Aaron Zahl (Guitars/Production), Daisy Palmer (Drums/Bvs), David Johnston (Bass/Bvs), Jo Silverston (Cello/Bvs).

Photo Credit: Sarah Cresswell

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut