WATCH: Nuha Ruby Ra – ‘Erase Me’

For Nuha Ruby Ra, music is just one aspect of her work as a self-described “experimental artist”. Having emerged as part of the Vicious Collective – a collection of ziners, satirists and fashion designers, based in Hackney – music has begun to take centre-stage for Ra, following rave reviews of her appearances supporting Warmduscher (on whose recordings she has also appeared) and Snapped Ankles, as well as performances alongside some of the best emerging artists of last year, such as Amyl and the Sniffers, Bo Ningen and Bambara.

With such a diverse background in art and music, it’s perhaps no surprise that ‘Erase Me’, her debut single from the forthcoming How to Move EP, is a deftly crafted and deeply emotional performance, both in its lyrics and in the video, made by Ra in collaboration with her friend, Billie Turnbull.

Sonically, a repetitive piece, formed from warped percussion and a raw, softly detuned guitar line, ‘Erase Me’ has a dark psych feel, initially, that grows into something more foreboding through the industrial sounds that grow from the background of the track, into a roar by its close.

Lyrically, it’s similarly repetitive, particularly as Ra’s plaintive voice echoes the word “heavy”, just as the music starts to increasingly weigh on the listener. A tale of dark affections and addiction, it’s a grower, with the hypnotic effect of its sound mimicked by that of its simple-palette video, which features overlaid images of Ra dancing and singing against a black background, lit solely in a red or blue hue.

Given the balance of art, experimentalism, performance and pop in ‘Erase Me’, it’s perhaps no surprise that Ra’s diverse influences include the likes of Philip Glass, Brian Eno and Einsturzende Neubaten; the darkness of The Birthday Party, the auto-biographical hip-hop of Princess Nokia, and the Egyptian torch songs of Abdel Halim Hafez – presumably a reflection of her upbringing in Cairo. Similarly, her visual style – described by the single’s press release as “Grace Jones meets Fat White Family” and by Ra herself as “part-time punk, part-time goth” – is a unique mish-mash of old and new, art and fashion. And, with her mesmerising combination of imagery and sound, it seems unlikely that you’ll be erasing Nuha Ruby Ra from your mind, any time soon.

Check out Nuha Ruby Ra’s website and Instagram for more examples of her creativity.

John McGovern
@etinsuburbiaego

EP: Indian Queens – ‘You When I Close My Eyes’

The ever cool Indian Queens have shared their debut EP You When I Close My Eyes, and it’s an atmospheric, driving compilation of sounds that prove the Hackney trio are set for big things. Released via Cool Thing Records, the EP is filled with hazy guitars, mesmeric vocals, and brooding percussion; making it the perfect soundtrack for an autumnal evening in London.

The record opens with title track ‘You When I Close My Eyes’, which was inspired by the binary opposites of “ugly and beautiful”. Jennifer O’Neill’s clear, strong vocals permeate the track, alongside sultry bass lines and grungy guitar riffs. ‘Wish You Well’ follows, blushing with an intense romantic need to be next to a lover, with its hushed vocals and catchy chorus.

The band’s first single ‘I Get No Rest’ – written during the midst of a massive political shift (Brexit, the general election) and in the wake of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire – is a response to the inescapable feeling that (as Jennifer puts it) “rich ‘important’ people were taking the piss out of our lives”. The song’s steady percussion and moody bass lines create a jaded, but seductively atmospheric tune that remains in the mind long after it stops spinning.

Equal parts driving and delicate, ‘Pretty Little Thing’ is as attractive to the ears as its name suggests. It’s an infectious blur of hypnotic vocals and shoe gaze guitar sounds, inspired by a childhood memory of being safe and happy in a Grandparent’s garden. This nostalgic undertone makes the track ring out with warmth and understated joy, before closing track ‘Us Against The World’ proves that Indian Queens have the potential to produce original, magnetic, meaningful sounds.

Together, Jennifer, Katherine, and Matt have created an EP that warrants all the praise it’s been receiving from critics and fans alike. It’s no surprise the band received a standing ovation earlier this year after their set at Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival – You When I Close My Eyes is a stunning debut from this compelling trio.

Download Indian Queens’ debut EP here. Follow the band on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut