Track Of The Day: Mai – ‘Control’

An evocative electronic gem that urges listeners to surrender to the inevitability of change, Essex-based musician and vocalist Mai has shared her debut single ‘Control’. Released via Cool Thing Records, the track is a collaboration between Mai, aka Rosie Gulliver of Petty Phase and songwriter and producer Liam Watkins from A Cause In Distress.

Originally developed as a project during lockdown, Mai creates music inspired by the ethereal sonics of This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins and Zola Jesus, as well as the tenebrous soundscapes of Nine Inch Nails and My Bloody Valentine. On ‘Control’, her gentle vocals float over shadowy beats and urgent electronics, reflecting the track’s theme of submitting to the relentless and random changes that have an impact our lives, especially during the last year.

“The song is about accepting a lack of control and embracing the unpredictability of life,” Mai explains about ‘Control’. “Realising that you can make endless plans and fail-safes but ultimately you can never have total control, and that’s okay.” Finding catharsis via thoughtful lyrics and compelling synth textures, Mai’s debut single provides momentary relief from life’s more hectic moments.

Listen to ‘Control’ below.

Follow Mai on Spotify & Instagram

Photo Credit: Owen Stephen Foran

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

INTERVIEW: Lilith Ai

Self-described as “a singer-songwriter who performs poignant tales of modern city life,” Lilith Ai writes relatable guitar tunes exploring turbulent emotions in a humble and engaging way. When I catch up with her via Zoom, she’s sat on a comfy looking bean-bag in the music shed which she’s currently sound proofing. She tells me she’s spent her morning at a power-pump weightlifting exercise class, because she’s keen to feel healthy again after “basically just eating pies” throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. We laugh about how everyone buried their feelings in take-away food instead of dealing with the mental toll of multiple lockdowns in 2020.

Modest, self-deprecating but incredibly warm and open to talking about all aspects of her life and art, Lilith speaks to me about her recent album, Folk You Hard, her upcoming performance at Loud Women Fest – who just awarded her their prestigious Hercury Prize Award – and what drives her to keep creating music despite the many challenges that life brings…

Hello Lilith! Who or what first inspired you to start making music?

I think I’ve always made music, but I don’t know what first inspired me. I wanted to be a writer when I was very little but I’m dyslexic so I couldn’t really write anything. I just liked to sing songs. I don’t think I’m naturally good at music. I know I have a nice sounding voice, but some people can pick up a song and play it on guitar the first time they hear it on the radio and I’m not like that. I wish I was like that! I’m actually better at art than I am at music, but I don’t enjoy it as much as I enjoy making music.

I grew up with a lot of stress because I had so many learning disabilities, so school was difficult and my family life was really mad. I did a lot of extracurricular things that were not music. I had dance classes, I went to Brownies and Girl Guides, I did track running and I had art. Music was a thing that I didn’t tell anybody about. I just kind of did it in my brain and made songs up!

I’ve had a weird year where I’ve been doing a lot of therapy and I’ve had so many revelations about myself. I’ve had to kind of white knuckle most of my life until quite recently.

So, how did I get into music? I don’t know. I just I did it secretly until I joined a band. I was in a lot of really terrible bands and they all kept falling apart. So, in 2015/16 I just decided to do my own solo project. I didn’t really know how to play guitar at the time, so I was a bit shit. I was completely oblivious to that at the time though. I didn’t really know how terrible my playing was until I started playing on my own! I was like, “I need to be way better than this,” so I did a lot of gigs. A lot. Probably hundreds that were just not very good, but I don’t think it matters. I think a little bit of delusion is good as a musician. It doesn’t really matter how good you are at the start; you’ll get good eventually if you keep doing it.

Perseverance is key! You mentioned being in therapy, would you say creating your music has helped you make sense of things that have happened to you as well? Do you find writing songs can be quite cathartic for you? It seems that way on your most recent album, Folk You Hard.

The reason why I make music is because I want to connect with people. Because of the way I grew up, I really, really struggled to make friends. I have a best friend now, but it took me five or so years to really believe that she liked me when we were growing up, even though she wanted to hang out with me and called me every day! So, with music, I wanted to do something so that I could say “do you feel like this? Because I feel like this,” to other people.

Music is also a way of escaping for me too. Some of my songs are more like me being how I wish I was, rather than how I actually was at the time. You can still see me in them, but songs like ‘Rude Grrrl’ and ‘Riot’ are more what I want to be like. I want to be confident or strong. I think there was definitely a thing when I was writing Folk You Hard, where these things slowly toppled into who and where I am now. That album is just me being very frank about stuff. That’s the most frank I’ve ever been and I think I’m going to continue to try and do that.

But sometimes, I’m not thinking like that and I write stuff really quickly. I have a notebook that I put all of my ideas in and then when I’ve got enough ideas, I’ll sit down and be like, “okay, I’ll write a song now” and I’ll write it in half an hour. I wrote the song ‘Michaela Coel’ after watching her series I May Destroy You. I’ve always liked her ever since she did Chewing Gum and I did actually meet her at an event a couple of years ago. We talked about stuff and she was so amazing. So I just sat down and wrote that song. It doesn’t always happen like that, but sometimes it does.

That’s so cool, I think ‘Michaela Coel’ is one of my favourite songs on your album. Do you have a favourite song? If so, why?

I really like the single that I’m about to drop, ‘Bloodlines’, which is the first one I wrote for that record. But I think my favourite is probably the last song I wrote which is ‘F’. It was very easy to write and I think I’m saying stuff on it that I haven’t really said before. They’re both kind of songs about my Mum, which is weird, because I have an estranged relationship with my Mum at the moment. But ‘F’ could also be about so many things. It’s written in the key of F, it’s about family and it’s also ‘F’ for “fuck” and for Folk You Hard.

Another song I love on the record is ‘Bare Radical’. I really like the lyric “I’m not bitter / I’m better” – it almost sounds like a mantra…

I mean, I’m not sure I am better, but I’m trying to be! It’s a continuous thing. That song is about dating a person who was just like, not the person. But I try to remember that everybody is on their own journey, I think very few people deliberately do things to be a dick. Though I know I need to get away from that person, I try not to be bitter…but it is hard!

The only way that you can “win” is to be like, “Okay, I’m actually genuinely going to be happy now” – that trumps everything. This is going to sound a bit weird, but I’ve wanted to join a gym for ages, but it’s so expensive and I knew it would take up a big chunk of my money. But I realised, if I was dating someone and they wanted that gym membership – I would probably give them the money, instead of spending it on myself. So, to be like “Oh, I need this! I’m going to buy this for myself because I deserve it,” you know? I want to look after myself and that is actually me “winning.” It definitely is a long process, I’m not 100% there yet, I’ve got a long way to go. All we can do is try to be better, to get away from toxic people and encourage toxic people to get help.

That’s genuinely good advice.

You’re going to be performing at Loud Women Festival on 18th September. There are so many GIHE faves performing too – ARXX, Vulpynes, Breakup Haircut, MIRI, Deux Furieuses, Jelly Cleaver, GENN, Sister Ghost – what bands are you looking forward to seeing on the day?

I think this is my fourth time playing the festival and I can’t wait. I really want to see Jelly Cleaver. I haven’t seen her play for ages. I really like her as a person too. MIRI, who I have seen lots of times and who I love, she’s really good. I’m excited to see ARXX as well. There are a lot of bands on the line-up who I don’t know, so I’m looking forward to hearing them as well. I’ll be there in the morning with soooo much merch – I’ve made my own bracelets and everything – so I’ll be there all day.

Great stuff. Finally, as we’re a new music blog, we always ask artists to recommend a few bands they’ve recently been listening to. Any suggestions?

One is Nathan Day who I really got into last year and I just think their music is amazing. It’s literally like someone reached into my head and made the music that I want to make. Probably my favourite song is ‘Fade Like You’ but they’re all good songs.

Pom Pom Squad are also so, so, so good! And Eliza Shaddad. I really want to go on tour with her!

Thanks to much to Lilith for chatting with us!

Follow Lilith Ai on bandcamp, Spotify, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

Grab a ticket to see her live at Loud Women Fest 5 here

LISTEN: GIHE on Soho Radio with BISHI 02.06.21

Tash, Kate & Mari were back on the NYC & Culture channel on Soho Radio‘s airwaves for their second GIHE show! They played a mix of golden oldies and new music tunes from some of their favourite women, non-binary and LGBTQ+ artists.

Multi-instrumentalist & all round icon BISHI also joined them to talk about her upcoming WITCiH Digital Festival, the many musical projects she’s involved in and to praise the ground-breaking new Channel 4 drama We Are Lady Parts.

Listen below:

Tracklist
PJ Harvey – This Is Love
Nina Simone – I’m Gonna Leave You
Tirzah – Sink In
MAITA – Dumb (Nirvana Cover for Kill Rock Stars)
Fraulein – Pretty People
Mumble Tide – Sucker
Maeve – Sick
Circe x Sleigh Bells x Dream Wife – TRK 3 (Dream Wife Mega Mix)
Sofia Bolt – Get Out Of My Head
Krush Puppies – Slay The Dragon
Tokky Horror – Eden On Acid
Janette King ft. DijahSB – Cool Me Down
Ragdoll ft. Husk – Throwback
BISHI – Don’t Shoot The Messenger
**Interview with BISHI**
Serpentwithfeet – Fellowship
Fossa Beats – Gonna Be
Wolf Alice – No Hard Feelings
Lemondaze – 1990 nine
Kllo – Still Here
Penelope Trappes – Blood Moon
Solidarity Not Silence – This Is Sisterhood
The Bug Club – Checkmate
Lucy Dacus – VBS
Fightmilk – Hey Annabelle
Sleater-Kinney – Hurry On Home

GIHE: Albums Of 2020

It feels strange to be celebrating anything in 2020, but the GIHE team want to shine a light on some of the brilliant music that’s been released against the odds during the last 12 months. If you, or your band managed to release a full length record, Congratulations! You should be super proud. If you didn’t manage to write anything new this year though, we fully understand and we’ll still be here to sing your praises when you feel ready to write again.

In the absence of live shows where we’d normally celebrate the release of an album, we’ve coped by dancing around our living rooms, miming underneath our face-masks and telling as many people as we can on our Zoom calls to listen to these records. So, in alphabetical order, here are ten albums that helped us get through 2020 (with some honorable mentions at the end because we’re a little bit fed up of restrictions this year…)

Bitch Falcon – Staring At Clocks
Released via Small Pond Records in November, Staring At Clocks is a blistering cacophony of grunge, post-punk and shoegaze inspired sounds from Dublin trio Bitch Falcon. Effortlessly switching from a savage scream to a sublime extended yearning, front woman Lizzie Fitzpatrick’s elastic vocal ability never fails to impress and my admiration for her natural talent swells with each listen. Her intuition is matched by Nigel Kenny’s razor sharp cymbal strikes and Barry O’Sullivan’s brooding bass hooks. Equal parts gritty and graceful, I’m properly in love with Bitch Falcon’s debut album and no, I will not stop talking about it. Listen to Staring At Clocks via bandcamp or Spotify.
(Kate Crudgington – Features Editor)

Bugeye – Ready Steady Bang
A long-standing fave of GIHE, Bugeye have previously wowed us with their vibrant live shows, including performing for us at The Finsbury and at Cro Cro Land, a festival put together by front person Angela Martin in my hometown of Croydon. They’ve also received plenty of acclaim from the likes of Radio X’s John Kennedy and BBC Introducing, and rightly so. Ready Steady Bang is like nothing you’ve heard before; a vibrant fusion of disco, punk and everything in-between, all fused together with magnificent energy into a relentlessly riotous and utterly uplifting collection. This explosive debut fizzles with a wonderfully unique colourful pizazz as the band reflect on the state of the world today. Raging with Angela’s gritty, snarling vocals and whirring electro hooks, alongside crunching riffs and poppy harmonies, each track is a total earworm. Reminiscent of nineties indie legends Elastica, with shades of the retro energy of Blondie, it’s an album oozing a sparkling majesty that’ll charge you up and leave you ready to face whatever 2021 has in store.
Ready Steady Bang is out via Reckless Yes Records, listen on bandcamp or Spotify.
(Mari Lane – Managing Editor)

Dream Wife – So When You Gonna… 
To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about the release of this year’s sophomore Dream Wife album. I had been so completely enamoured by their 2018 eponymous debut that it seemed impossible not to be disappointed, but how wrong I was. So When You Gonna… is both uplifting and poignant in equal measure. From the heartfelt and relatable stirring emotion of album closer and pro-choice anthem ‘After The Rain’ to the immersive inspirational power of ‘Validation’ and fun-filled playful energy and trademark charisma of ‘Hasta La Vista’ and the album’s title track, it proves that Dream Wife are here to stay. With this latest collection, they’ve come back more empowering, passionate and truly joyous than ever.
Listen to So When You Gonna… via bandcamp or Spotify.
(ML)

Gordian Stimm – Your Body In On Itself
I remember thinking “yessss this is a bit of me!” when Gordian Stimm’s (aka Maeve Westall of itoldyouiwouldeatyou) experimental gem of a record first dropped into my GIHE inbox in April. Released via independent Leicester-based label Amateur Pop, Stimm’s debut album is a vivid exploration of bodily autonomy. There’s an enjoyable violence underscoring their vision; a gleeful, sometimes painful dissecting of the self and the social cues that either help construct or dismantle it. At times reminiscent of early Passion Pit or Crystal Castles, Your Body In On Itself is a wonderful collection of distorted, dance-able beats that I continue to enjoy even after multiple listens. The cassette tape is cute af too.
Listen to Your Body In On Itself via bandcamp or Spotify. (KC)

Happy Accidents – Sprawling
Probably my most listened-to full album of 2020, Happy Accidents’ Sprawling follows 2018’s equally addictive Everything But The Here And Now. Since first falling in love with the band back at Indietracks of the same year, I’ve been continually seeking comfort in their sparkling creations. Now a duo made up of Phoebe Cross and Rich Mandell, Happy Accidents have showcased all there is to love about them in this latest collection. An album about “getting out of your head and allowing yourself to connect with others on a fundamental level”, it offers a perfect juxtaposition of honey-sweet vocals, swirling jangling melodies and luscious harmonies, all delivered alongside the heartfelt emotion of the reflective, relatable lyricism, making it impossible not to get utterly immersed in. With Rich and Phoebe taking turns with the lead, each track maintains the glistening warmth and twinkling uplifting charm that first drew me to the band. And now I can’t seem to stop listening; forever seeking soothing catharsis in Happy Accidents’ shimmering, Sprawling indie-pop.
Listen to Sprawling via bandcamp or Spotify.
(ML)

Hilary Woods – Birthmarks
Inspired by field recordings, images from post-war Japanese & wet-plate photography and the secret life of trees, Hilary Woods’ second album Birthmarks is a cohesive set of shadowy soundscapes that smolder with quiet intensity. Released in March via Sacred Bones, the Irish multi-instrumentalist collaborated with Norwegian experimental noise producer Lasse Marhaugher to create a record that was “of the body…a more physical record” than her previous work. She crafted eight fleshy, twisted, charged lullabies that are laced with a mix of hushed vocals, melancholy strings, saxophone sounds, distorted drone noises and Okkyung’s exquisite cello playing. Recorded over the course of two years between Galway and Oslo whilst Woods was heavily pregnant, Birthmarks feels like her most personal and powerful record to date and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to it this year.
Listen to Birthmarks via bandcamp or Spotify. (KC)

Indian Queens – God Is A Woman
Described by lead vocalist & guitarist Jennifer O’Neill as “a late night record”, London trio Indian Queens’ debut album is a sublime offering, designed to dissolve uncertainty and soothe anxious minds. Released via Cool Thing Records in April, the band have written thirteen dizzying tracks that are as driving as they are delicate, providing a welcome rush of blood to the head every time they’re listened to. I love everything about this band and I’m so glad I got to hear them live again in March before the rest of 2020 got cancelled.
Listen to God Is A Woman via bandcamp or Spotify. (KC)

Nova Twins – Who Are The Girls?
Us GIHE grrrls collectively agreed that this is a stunning debut album. Nova Twins’ battle cry for equality and diversity on Who Are The Girls? resonates long after the record stops spinning. Amy Love & Georgia South are a force for fun, for fury and – most importantly – for change in an industry that still “struggles” to book women as headliners at major festivals. This album, released via 333 Wreckords in February, is a collection of thundering bass lines, uncompromising rhythms and wicked riffs. It’s an aural uppercut that proves the London-based duos talent and instinct for writing anarchic anthems. Nova Twins always have us riled, re-energised, and ready to ask for more.
Listen to Who Are The Girls? on Spotify. (KC)

Screaming Toenail – Growth
Having blown us away with the impassioned magnificence of their live show at The Finsbury last December, anti-colonial queer punks Screaming Toenail have become firm favourites here at GIHE, and their message is more resonant now than ever before. Opening with a jarring recording of reports of trafficking migrants and “swarms” of refugees coming across the Mediterranean seeking a better life, Growth starts as it means to go on: honest, politically charged and utterly necessary. Combining shades of ‘80s post-punk with the band’s raw magnetism and angst driven drive, the album covers poignant subject matter, ranging from institutionalised racism and damaging hetero-patriarchal norms, to “little old ladies shoplifting from Boots” and other inspiring female figures such as Diane Abbott and Reni Eddo-Lodge. Growth is truly a soundtrack to our times. Fuelled by a motivational cathartic rage, it starkly reminds us that on returning to “normality”, we need to create a new normal. One in which voices like Screaming Toenail’s can be amplified to the max; one in which we prioritise creating safe, queer, inter-sectional communities and spaces for people to share their art together.
Listen to Growth via bandcamp or Spotify.
(ML)

Sink Ya Teeth – Two
Long time GIHE faves who first completely took our breath away playing for us live at The Finsbury a few years back, Norwich duo Sink Ya Teeth brought some groove-laden joy to this nightmare year with their second album, appropriately titled Two. Having been booked to play our very first Get In Her Ears festival that would have taken place this summer, being able to listen to all the unique dance-punk soundscapes throughout this album offered a bit of consolation. Blowing us away with the soaring, sparkling majesty of each track, they continue to mark themselves out as truly innovative in their craft. From the synth driven glitchy hooks of ‘Somewhere Else’ to the immense funk-fuelled groove of ‘The Hot House’, everything the duo create oozes an infectious shimmering energy, showcasing Maria Uzor and Gemma Cullingford as the ultimate dream team in both songwriting and performing.
Listen to Two via bandcamp or Spotify.
(ML)

Honorable mentions:
A.A. Williams Forever Blue
Ailbhe ReddyPersonal History
ByenaryByenary
The Crystal FursBeautiful and True
Diet CigDo You Wonder About Me?
Dream NailsDream Nails
Lido PimientaMiss Colombia
MOURN – Self Worth
Nadine ShahKitchen Sink
No HomeFucking Hell
Phoebe BridgersPunisher
REWSWarriors
WaxahatcheeSaint Cloud
The Fight Is Not Over (Live album feat. Problem Patterns, Sister Ghost, Strange New Places, Gender Chores)