Guest Playlist: Julie and Joanna from SelfMade

SelfMade is a platform that explores the unseen sides of the music industry through discussion, performance, art and zines. With a strong focus on women in music, their goal is to celebrate the work of DIY musicians and to create a supportive space to explore the realities of getting a music project or career off the ground. SelfMade is organised independently by artist, Joanna Bain, and musician/label co-founder Julie Hawk (HAVVK) in collaboration with a collective of Irish musicians.

Tomorrow, 25th May, SelfMade is hosting a Mind YourSelf: Mental Health and Music event (sponsored by IMRO) event at The Tara Building in Dublin. The two-part event will look at mental health in the Irish music scene and the challenges affecting developing musicians in their professional and personal lives. Featuring a workshop lead by psychotherapist, musician, researcher and BIMM lecturer, Aoife Ruth, in collaboration with Wyvern Lingo’s Caoimhe Barry, the event also sees an evening panel with a line-up of Irish artists, including Maria Kelly, Michael Pope (Le Galaxie) and Paddy Hanna, who have all used their creative work and social platforms to highlight career-related mental health and anxiety.

Ahead of the event tomorrow, SelfMade founders Julie and Joanna have chosen some of their favourite tracks that help them to process, wind down, blow off steam or simply kick-start a bit of self-love.

Read about their choices, and listen to the playlist below!

Joan Jett and the Black Hearts – ‘Bad Reputation’
This is reserved for when I need a true kick up the ass and a reminder that other people’s opinions can not topple my own sense of what’s right or who I am. Also a very good one for abolishing pre-gig nerves.
(Julie)

Scarlet – ‘Independent Love Song’
If I want to sing along at top volume in the car, this one is near the top of the list. Another old song (I still have the single on cassette at my parents’ house), but it has this incredible explosive anthemic chorus that’s a joy. It’s aged pretty well too, and every now and again it turns up in a bar or on a TV programme and it takes me right back.
(Joanna)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Maps’
This song reminds me to love myself. It’s such a unique love song because it’s about reminding someone of their true value and that they are truly loved by someone. And to me, it’s even more powerful because it’s coming from Karen O, who is a huge hero of mine as a performer.
(Julie)

The National – ‘Daughters of the Soho Riots’
That crackling, lo-fi intro, the monotone vocal; the beautiful subtlety of it. I love everything about this song. Matt Berninger writes these incredible lyrics that convey a sense of time and place and a feeling without ever saying anything overt. I’ve always loved the line “I don’t have any questions, I don’t think it’s going to rain / You were right about the end, it didn’t make a difference”. It’s a masterclass in understatement and it brings instant calm.
(Joanna)

Jose Gonzales – ‘Crosses’
I’m a very sensitive person and I definitely get triggered by sad music, which can be great sometimes. But Veneer is one of the only albums I can actually work to or really sort out my thoughts to. There’s something about the sense of space around his voice and guitar that leaves room to think and process, rather than dwell on emotion.
(Julie)

Jose Gonzalez – ‘Heartbeats’
This whole album, Veneer, is an exercise in restraint – beautiful, intricate guitar playing and gorgeous melodies. If I want to wind down in the midnight hour I dim the lights, pick up a book, and set this to play in the background. This song in particular though, there’s something so tranquil but so melancholy about it; it makes me stop and breathe and just enjoy its loveliness.
(Joanna)

Robyn – ‘Every Heartbeat’
Probably not the most uplifting Robyn track but for me, it’s my ultimate ‘blowing off steam’ anthem. There’s something about the repetition and the builds in this song that keeps me grounded. Really good for running, trying not to focus on stress or bullshit, or mustering up the mood for a night out.
(Julie)

Bon Iver / The Staves – ‘Heavenly Father’
There’s a video floating around the internet somewhere that features Bon Iver performing this song live – a cappella, with the Staves, at the Sydney Opera House. It is one of the most beautiful bits of music I’ve ever seen or heard, and have listened it to death. If I want to be transported, I put this on loud and just listen to the layers of harmonies and the wall of sound they produce. Incredible.
(Joanna)

Maria Kelly – ‘Dark Places’
This song is just such a comfort. It is such a generous example of someone saying “hey, we all go through this sometimes and it’s not shameful or the end of the world”.
(Julie)

Radiohead – ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’
I was obsessed with this song and its video as a discerning 8 year old when it first came out, and it’s remained a favourite. I love that unmistakeable guitar line, and there’s something about that gradual build and release at the end of the second chorus that brings a feeling of total peace. I remember crying in a field when I heard this live for the first time over a decade a year or two ago in Lisbon – but I wasn’t the only one…!
(Joanna)

Huge thanks to Julie and Joanna for their choices! Listen to the playlist below, and find out more about SelfMade here.

 

Interview and Playlist: Amahla

Having played legendary venues such as The Jazz Cafe and The Roundhouse, and garnered support from the likes of BBC Radio 1 Extra and 6Music’s Tom Robinson, Hackney native Amahla was also been a recipient of the second ever MOBO Awards X Help Musicians Grant for her exceptional voice. Following the lush sounds of last year’s ‘Old Soul’, she’s now returned to grace our ears with poignant new single ‘Dorothy’s Verses’.

We had a little chat with Amahla to find out more, and asked her to pick a few of her favourite songs for a special guest playlist…

Hi Amahla, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do
Hey, I’m Amahla! I’m 22 and I’m a soul singer-songwriter from Hackney. Some of my music branches into folk because I write primarily with guitar but it’s definitely in the bracket of soul. I’ve been lucky enough to play some amazing venues so far, like the Jazz Cafe and Roundhouse main stages. Usually I play with my band but I’ve also been doing more intimate acoustic shows recently.

Your new single ‘Dorothy’s Verses’ is out on Friday, can you tell us what it’s all about?
‘Dorothy’s Verses’ is a story inspired by my grandmother. She came to the UK with my mum and Grandad in the early ’60s from Guyana. She’s always been super independent but three years ago she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and had to change her lifestyle. Since then my family and I have had to learn to see her world through this new lens. ‘Dorothy’s Verses’ is about her reflecting on her life, but also about the need to push women’s stories to the forefront into all of our collective memories more generally.

You’ve been compared to the likes of Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse, but who would you say are you main musical influences?
Have I? That’s nice! It’s hard to say who my main influences are, but here are a few on my mind at the moment… Amy is a huge one, I was 11 when Back to Black came out and she showed me that I could sing soul but still retain everything that makes me a London girl – the accent, the honesty – and not compromise my identity. Listening to Etta James taught me how to sing with conviction, plus the phrasing of lots of the early Jazz pioneers like Ella and Nat King Cole is just exquisite and has fed into the way I now write my melodies – it’s all about intention.

You graduated university with a first in Anthropology, how would you say what you’ve learnt about this feeds into your music?
I wrote my final thesis about the impact technology (particularly camera phones) has in recreating an archive of violence against the black body – one that the US government sought to repress after the civil rights movement. I think this thesis broadened my mind in terms of how I think about social movements, how they occur and why. These topics consumed my life for a year and I think you can hear its impact on my upcoming EP Consider This – thematically I explore similar themes of memory, justice and using one story to tell many.

And how important do you think it is for musicians to use their creative platform to address issues of politics and race?
At the moment it’s important for me to address issues of politics; I’ve always wanted in some way to impact social change in my lifetime. I don’t know how yet, but for me putting my thoughts into my music is a start. But, as much as music is a place to dissect these issues, it’s also a place to escape from them. Having the freedom to create and innovate is the most important thing.

And would you say movements such as Me Too have allowed more musicians to be more honest in their songwriting?
It’s an interesting question, I don’t know how anyone would go about quantifying its impact yet. I think that the impact of Me Too as a movement won’t really be felt on a broad level for a few years still.

 

We’ve asked you to pick some songs by artists and bands you admire for a special playlist, can you tell us a bit about each of your choices?

Miss Jacqui – ‘These Walls’
I’ve known Miss Jacqui for a while now, she is a songwriter and poet. She performed at the 2012 Paralympics ceremony but hasn’t released anything officially ’til this year. She’s exceptional. We need more voices like hers in the music industry.

Hejira – ‘I Don’t Belong To Anyone’
One of the most underrated bands in my opinion, their sound and visuals are so unique – every single is fire. The rhythm of this one particularly, captures you from the beginning.

Cosima – ‘Hymns For Him’
Cosima is uncompromising in her sound and has such a cutting tone to her voice, she reminds me of Prince. I love this song!

Fatima – ‘Westside’
The bassline in this track is something else and Fatima’s low register is gorgeous. I was lucky enough to support her at her Roundhouse show last month, she’s even more magical live. Her music came alive and her voice and presence filled the room, I haven’t been able to switch it off since.

Nai Palm – ‘Crossfire/ So Into You’
Her voice of course is out of this world, but there is nothing conventional about her songwriting. The way she uses guitar as harmony and percussion to complement her vocal lines is something I’ve admired for years.

Shae Universe – ‘Tell Me The Truth’
Shae’s voice is simply incredible. I’d love to write a song for her catalogue, the range and melodic possibilities with her voice are just gorge.

Massive thanks to Amahla for answering our questions! Listen to her guest playlist here:

 

And you can catch Amahla live at The Roundhouse on 19th February.

Guest Playlist: Jo Quail

In the run up to acclaimed composer and virtuoso cellist Jo Quail‘s new album Exsolve, we asked her to put together a playlist of the artists and tracks that have influenced her throughout the years.

Watch Jo Quail’s trailer for the album here, with an excerpt of the track ‘Mandrel Cantus’:

Artists / Tracks that have influenced me:

Dead Can Dance – ‘Song of the Sybil’
My cousins playing this whole album to me when I was maybe 12, sitting on the steps outside their flat on a warm summer night. This careful, simple yet wholly powerful arrangement has stayed by my side over the years.

G Tom Mac – ‘Cry Little Sister’ (from The Lost Boys)
I remember watching The Lost Boys for the first time as a kid, and immediately rushing upstairs to the piano to play this theme back. I still love this track today (and the movie!).

Jane’s Addiction – ‘Three Days’
Perry Farrel’s vocals are unbridled in an almost animalistic fashion and this gives such space, it removes boundaries of precision in a way, yet there is so much precision in the whole track. It creates a kind of virile rawness that pervades ‘Three Days’, and much more of their music too.

Tchaikovsky Symphony No.6 – ‘Adagio (final movement)’
I have to listen to this periodically. There’s an incredible YouTube performance conducted by Myung Whun Chung that I often visit. The whole symphony is stunning but this movement especially has a place in my heart. I played this years ago and for the first time felt the true power of a symphony orchestra, and knew first-hand the absolute intention in the weight and heaviness wrought from the instruments and performers.

Saul Williams – ‘Twice The First Time’
Awesome track. He’s mesmerising in live performance and has a real breadth to what he does in terms of arrangement, as well as brilliant lyrics. Watching him open for Nine Inch Nails was a huge and profound learning curve for me.

Ratt – ‘Round and Round’
I love Ratt for several reasons but in this track it’s the drive and the kind of confident (hedonistic!) attitude that pervades the writing and the live show too, it delivers in droves!

Arvo Part – ‘Fratres’ (for strings and percussion)
When I first heard this in concert I was completely moved. The harmonic movement of the strings, the rhythmic unison, coupled with the constant pedal A sparse and profound percussion. This is pure beauty.

Manuel De Falla – ‘Asturiana’
Beauty, grace and elegance. I have played this arranged for cello and piano, and also arranged and performed it as a cello quartet in a concert a few years back. The harmonies are close, and there is a gentle almost omnipresent movement in the piano or guitar underpinning the voice which, when it pauses, creates the most powerful space in the music.

Lana Del Rey – ‘Summertime Sadness
At home people like the Cedric Gervais remix particularly! The whole remix concept has influenced me a great deal, especially in the way I’ve dealt with pieces like ‘White Salt Stag’ in live performance, bringing the pace up a bit and making fuller use of percussion to drive things along, cutting things out or apparently ‘splicing’ them sonically speaking – changing bowing or phrasing to get a very different feel from a track that I’ve felt has been less settled previously.

Huge thanks to Jo Quail for selecting these tunes for us! Listen to them in our Guest Playlist here: 

 

Jo Quail’s upcoming album Exsolve is out 2nd November. 

Guest Playlist: Emily Magpie

As Autumn draws in, what better way to remember the summer than by listening to some of the sweetest tunes from this year’s festivals…?! Having just shared the celestial grace of latest single ‘Last Train’, and set to release her new EP next month, Bristol-based artist Emily Magpie has chosen some of her personal favourites for us…

Watch Emily Magpie’s new video for ‘Last Train here:

It’s been such a lush summer of festivals for me, and I’ve gotten to see some amazing female artists along the way. Really proud to see some amazing women doing their thing and blazing a path for there to be more of a balance at festivals – we need more of this please! Here’s some of my faves that I’ve seen/hope to see next year…

China Bowls 
My fellow Bristolian China Bowls is such a superb musician and songwriter… I’ve had the joy of gigging with this lady before and she was all over the festival season. Jazz, neo soul and hip-hop influences, soulful vocals and guitar… Always great solo, or with band in tow, check her out!

Lucy Dacus
I’ve loved ‘…Familiar Place’ by Lucy Dacus since I stumbled across it on Spotify this year, and then managed to stumble across her live set at Green Man Festival this summer after I’d finished mine. I was so happy to see this lovely indie singer-songwriter live; chill vibes, plus she’s hilarious!

Hollie Cook
I caught Hollie’s tropical pop at Boomtown Festival this year, when tropical pop was so so necessary. It was a pretty soggy affair and Hollie brought the sunshine. She’s on tour in Autumn, and I’m definitely going to try and watch her again!

Goat Girl
Saw the end of their live set at Green Man Festival and loved it. Dark, hazy, some shoegaze feels and indie sounds – very cool band.

IDER
IDER are right up my street; with really cool electronic production, their vocals are what really take it to the next level. I’m excited to see what they do next.

Kate Stapley
I saw Kate Stapley live at Bristol Harbourside Festival just after my set. It’s such a great festival for seeing upcoming Bristol artists, and I fecking LOVE Kate’s music. I guess genre-wise it’s indie, but what she does is just magical. The songwriting is fantastic. You need ‘These Planets’ on repeat!

Holly Walker & Malibou State
I’m really into this set up; it’s such great music to chill to, but also kind of dance-able also. It’s on my list to listen to lots more and get into.

This is the Kit
I didn’t manage to catch This Is The Kit at a festival this year, but they were doing the rounds. Such a lovely, lovely band! I was lucky enough to play support to them earlier this year, and they craft the most magical folk songs. A really special band and excellent people, check them out!Frankie Cosmos
Frankie Cosmos is just ace. Somewhere between indie and folk, I love the lo-fi feel of her music, it just makes me feel all happy and soft inside.

Honeyfeet
Honeyfeet are a band you just have to see live. I got taken along to a gig of theirs a couple of years ago, and wow. Perfect festival band – so much soul, so much sass, so much energy, so much dancing. Go listen and get sweaty and happy!

Huge thanks to Emily for putting together this playlist for us! Have a listen, and feel all those luscious summer vibes here: