Guest Blog: Nuala Honan

Having just released her latest album Doubt & Reckoning last month, Australian Bristol-based Nuala Honan has been evolving her songwriting over the years from acoustic folk artist to a grittier, more eclectic, sound, whilst losing none of her reflective lyrical storytelling.

A collection of lilting, heartfelt offerings, the new album showcases a soaring, emotion-strewn splendour and the subtle, stirring power of Honan’s rich vocals.

Following the album’s release, Nuala has reflected on the influence of water on her music, and the strong feelings it evokes in her. Read her guest blog below:

FOR A SOUL-SAVING NEW SOUND, JUST ADD WATER

When I was a kid growing up in Australia, I spent a lot of time at the beach. I had so much to love and cherish in life then, but I was also often unhappy. On walks down the beach by myself, once out of earshot, I would shout at the sea. Long, musical wailing, improvising words and melodies about my woes and teenage crushes, writing my first songs. I still shout at the sea when I get the chance.

The landscape where I grew up is big, and flat, and the sky and sea goes on forever. Something about bigness soothes my soul, keeps me grounded, and speaks to me in a way that I speak back and write songs. I honestly can’t think of anything more spiritual to me than water and music, hand in hand. Since moving to England’s South West sixteen years ago, I’ve transferred that love of the ocean to England’s cold, stretching network of rivers and lakes.

In the ’90s, the Eyre Peninsula – my dusty corner of South Australia – had no accessible live music, no DIY or riot grrrl culture, and no internet to seek it out. Gifted an acoustic guitar for my fifteenth birthday, I fell into folk and eventually country. It was satisfying and leant itself to my autobiographical musings. I ended up making a living that way, often playing alone, but after a decade I ended up in a rut. Not just creatively but physically and mentally in my work and self, so I took the step into counselling.

Very quickly my therapy revealed a desire to take a break from my music and the unsustainable DIY artist grind that I’d wound up living, and I applied to be a lifeguard at an outdoor swimming lake, an old flooded quarry in North Bristol.

The most interesting thing I’ve learned working at the lake is the power of being bored (not so bored I get distracted from the task, you are in safe hands!). But I spend hours on end without a phone or the internet, surrounded by trees and wildlife and water, listening. I process ideas for songs, and have the time to repeat and reinforce them. I feel safe to ask myself why I make music, and what I want to communicate. I sing when I think no one’s listening, and I quite literally stared across the lake at the big willow tree for months, planning the photoshoot for my album artwork.

The space and balance the lake brought to my life made room for me to consider themes from my counselling and re-examine my creativity. The track ‘How to Shame You’ from my new album is an ode to my childhood bully. I wrote it consciously, to cast off and free myself from pain I was holding onto. It marked a transition, where I cast aside my old way of writing and weaved myself outside my comfort zone. You can hear the country sound in the verses sweeping into the new belting psychedelic sound in the chorus.

People are often surprised to hear I suffer with self-doubt and anxiety; they only see the confident gig or final version of a song (the studio stage might be the only place in the world I love more than the water!). It took a lot of practice in courage to pull myself, this band, and this album together, and I learned a lot about courage from winter swimming at the lake. Lowering your body into water is totally mad. It takes a mindset of courage and acceptance to get in. The sensation of catching my breath, feeling the blood move to my core, the needles and fizzing on the surface of my skin makes me feel totally alive. Then getting out of the water is a whole other feeling. Because my body is essentially in stress response, all my senses are heightened, I feel a bit like a superhero for two minutes as I stand beside the lake!

I think it’s the same experience making music. It’s terrifying, but it’s courageous and magical and human and even though you’re afraid, you have to do it anyway, and then you feel alive, and you make something beautiful.

Massive thanks to Nuala Honan for sharing her thoughts with us!

Doubt & Reckoning is out now. Listen on Spotify.

Photo Credit: Paul Blakemore

Get In Her Ears w/ Grave Goods 24.09.20

Kate was back in the Hoxton Radio studio this week spinning loads of new tunes from women and non-binary artists, including tracks by People ClubPercolator, Dream Nails, Planningtorock, CMAT, Daniela Andrade, Penelope Trappes, Gazelle Twin and King Hannah.

She also caught up with Sarah, Lois and Phil from Grave Goods to talk about how the band first got together, and their recent contribution to an upcoming compilation album of Irish artists called A Litany Of Failures: Vol III, which is set for release on 2nd October.

Listen back here:

Tracklist
Noga Erez – YOU SO DONE
Æ MAK – hey driver (!)
CMAT – I Wanna Be a Cowboy, Baby!
Fenne Lily – I Used To Hate My Body But Now I Just Hate You
Everything and Everybody – Lifequake
Planningtorock – Transome
April – Watching You Disappear
Daniela Andrade – K.L.F.G
Aunty Social – Crack a Deal (jennylee remix)
Gazelle Twin – Glory
Penelope Trappes – Eel Drip
King Hannah – Creme Bruleé
Technoir – Haters Hate
Lucia & The Best Boys – Perfectly Untrue
Grave Goods – Juice
**Grave Goods interview**
Percolator – Freshin
GHXST – P.U.R.R
People Club – Lay Down Your Weapons
Grand Pax – Wavey
Potpourri – Postcards
Dream Nails – Kiss My Fist
Genevieve Miles – Magic Man
Voodoo Radio – Eat Your Words
Ultraísta – Tin King
Lady Gaga – 911
Kate Bush – Hounds Of Love

PLAYLIST: September 2020

It’s been another testing month, filled with more government Covid-19 “rule” changes and unwanted opinions on social media, but we’re determined to keep our spirits up by listening to some of our favourite women and non-binary artists. September’s GIHE playlist is filled with an eclectic mix of alt-pop gems, frenzied guitar anthems, indie tunes and alternative new sounds. Take some time to scroll through our track choices below, and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist at the end of the page.

 

Noga Erez – ‘You So Done’
An emotionally charged offering from a resilient and uncompromising artist, Noga Erez’s latest single is accompanied by a stunning set of visuals directed by Indy Hait. The Tel Aviv based artist delves deep into the memories left behind by a toxic relationship, making this her most personal release to date. She’s yet to share something that we don’t collectively adore here at GIHE, so expect to see her name on all future playlists! (Kate Crudgington)

Eilis Frawley – ‘Stats’
The poignant new single from GIHE fave Eilis Frawley, ‘Stats’ offers a completely unique soundscape from the classically trained percussionist. Kicking off with an arresting drumroll, it quickly picks up the pace moving into bold, Krautrock-infused spoken word, as the lyrics see Frawley recite hard-hitting stats, highlighting the everyday injustices facing women today. Tackling issues such as period poverty, FGM, domestic violence and other vital issues, it’s a beautifully striking and necessary listen. A poignant protest song that you can dance to. ‘Stats’ is out now via faves Reckless Yes. (Mari Lane)

Æ Mak feat. Seba Safe – ‘i dance in the kitchen’
Embracing production duties for the first time on her new EP, how to: make a kitsch pop song to show the world, Æ MAK – aka Aoife McCann – made this record during the Covid-19 lockdown period with “100% childsplay and solo belly laughs”. This single in particular showcases her delightfully carefree, vibrant attitude when it comes to letting go of performance qualms and focusing on making music that makes you feel good. (KC)

HANYA – ‘Texas’
The latest single from Brighton’s Hanya, ‘Texas’ is propelled by a dreamy haze, as it flows with twinkling hooks and the soaring, effervescent vocals of front person Heather Sheret. With shades of the lush surf-pop of Real Estate or Best Coast, it’s a shimmering slice of exquisite indie-pop oozing a blissful tranquility and spellbinding ethereal splendour. The perfect soundtrack to soothe these post-summer blues. Of the track, the band explain: “‘Texas’ was entirely written and recorded during lockdown, experimenting with working remotely as a group. The track explores the startings of a relationship – the head-over-heels uncertainty, the self-doubt and the desire to know each other entirely.” (ML)

Daniela Andrade – ‘Puddles’
A definite September highlight for me comes from Honduran-Canadian producer and musician Daniela Andrade. The track is called ‘Puddles’, it’s self-produced and it has been reverberating around my head since I first heard it. If you don’t start swaying when you hear this, something is wrong. This track was announced alongside details of her new EP, Nothing Much Has Changed, I Don’t Feel The Same, which is out on 30th September via Crooked Lid. (Tash Walker)

Komang – ‘DEWI’ 
I cannot get this song out of my head! It’s excellent. It comes from Melbourne artist Komang and is her debut release, endorsed by a mentorship with the amazing Sui Zhen. Komang is a multidisciplinary producer, performer and vocalist who blends soul-based groove and echoes of traditional Gamelan to create vibrant electronic RnB described as “neo-soul meets Balinese mystic power”. This track is lifted from her forthcoming EP Mythologies, which is set to be released later this year. There’s only one way to listen to this song and that’s very loudly with your eyes closed. TURN UP THAT DIAL. (TW)

Nina Cobham – ‘Solar’ (Bipolar Sunshine Remix)
I love this remix by Bipolar Sunshine of Nina Cobham’s ‘Solar’, it’s so goddamn sultry. Makes me hold onto those dreamy summers of years gone by… (TW)

Seraphina Simone – ‘Hollywood $$$’
The latest release from one of my faves Seraphina Simone, a song shining the spotlight on the glitzy, gritty, ghastly Hollywood. In her words, “’Hollywood $$$’ is about the Lynchian, fame-obsessive undercurrents of tinsel town, with its sirens, starlets, leeches & letches. It’s about that world of smoke and mirrors – where nothing and no one is really as it seems, and the world of celebrity – where we deify or demonise people into these superhumans or arch villains. Kim Gordon mentions ‘tarantula LA glamour’ in Girl In A Band, and that sums it up perfectly I think – the predatory darkness under the glitz.” Amazing description, I defy you to not think of Mulholland Drive or even Selling Sunset (for my sins) when you press play on this. (TW)

ZAND – ‘Slut Money’
A defiant, savage pop tune that celebrates self-autonomy, body positivity and sexuality, self-described “ugly pop” star ZAND takes aim at slut shamers on their latest single. They deftly defy the haters on ‘Slut Money’ through a combination of gritty beats, sweet vocals and candid rap verses. (KC)

Leikeli47 – ‘Zoom’
I’m ashamed to say I’m extremely late to the Leikel47 party, but I’m so glad I’ve now discovered the gritty, brutal wit of the bandana-clad Virginia born rapper. Following 2018’s epic album Acrylic, last month she shared ‘Zoom’. Holding nothing back, ‘Zoom’ showcases Leikel47’s swagger and tenacity with its glitchy beats, catchy hooks and lyrical wit, with references to ‘90s boy bands and her roots in the DMV area: “I ain’t the type of bitch to do a lot of barking/ And only thing I need validated is my parking/ I’m from the back street boy, where it’s very rare to link/ And if you using the wrong note/ We’ll put yo ass n sync…” I just can’t get enough of it. And if you too are new to the joy of Leikel47, I strongly suggest checking out singles ‘Girl Blunt’ and ‘Money’. (ML)

Tolü Makay – ‘Don’t Let Go’
An understated, beautifully soothing listen, Nigerian-born, Ireland-based artist Tolü Makay gently reassures her listeners to let go of their fears through her smooth vocals, tender lyricism and jazz inspired instrumentation on this reassuring track. (KC)

SUSU – ‘Work Song’
New York based SUSU have shared this epic guitar tune that powerfully demonstrates the deep civil unrest that’s simmering beneath the Covid-19 pandemic in the USA. The band explain: “This song is for US – the disenfranchised, black, brown, minority, middle class, poor, trans, gay, and subjugated communities stepping down off the auction block, breaking the stranglehold; saying: ‘If a house gets in my way, you know I’ll burn it down.’ As Nina Simone once said, ‘An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times’.” (KC)

MOURN – ‘Men’
A rallying cry against toxic masculinity and street harassment, Barcelona-based MOURN’s latest single is lifted from their upcoming album Self Worth, which is set for release on 30th October via Captured Tracks. The song is an honest, cathartic purge of the distrust and anger many women suppress on a daily basis when they’re intimidated in public spaces. (KC)

Francis Of Delirium – ‘Equality Song’
Funded by Luxembourg’s Ministry of Equality to celebrate 100 years of women’s right to vote, Francis Of Delirium’s vocalist & guitarist Jana Bahrich penned this poignant track in the wake of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. It’s a powerful, necessary dismantling of the ingrained sexism and toxic masculinity that permeates society. (Just a heads up: there’s mention of rape/sexual assault) (KC)

Fightmilk – ‘If You Had A Sister’
The latest single from faves Fightmilk, ‘If You Had A Sister’ may be more sombre in tone than previous releases, as it oozes a swirling melancholy and heartfelt lyricism, but it loses none of the band’s trademark emo-tinged indie-pop goodness. Propelled by the gritty, raw emotion of front person Lily’s yearning vocals alongside scuzzy hooks and perfectly interwoven musical layers, it offers a shimmering reflection on life and loss. The band expand: “ … if there was ever a time for songs you can do ominous slow dancing to, it’s 2020.” ‘If You Had A Sister’ is out now via Reckless Yes. (ML)

Ailbhe Reddy – ‘Looking Happy’
Dublin’s Ailbhe Reddy has transformed the crushing sadness that comes with seeing your ex “enjoying” their life on social media without you, into a buoyant alt-folk gem. Lifted from her upcoming debut album Personal History, which is set for release on 2nd October, the track taps into the feelings of inadequacy we all experience when the FOMO unexpectedly hits us while scrolling through our ex’s newsfeed. (KC)

First Frontier – ‘Take Cover’
Having been creating music together since last year, South London duo Helena Poole (who has previously played for us at The Finsbury in her other band Macadamia Sluts) and Paul Stafford – aka First Frontier – pride themselves on choosing hope over fear and play over fight. Focusing on what we can control and devote positive energy to, debut single ‘Take Cover’ is propelled by scuzzy hooks and thrashing beats, creating a catchy slice of fuzzed-out garage rock, tinged with dark ‘80s nu-wave vibes and swirling harmonies. (ML)

Nadine Shah – ‘Ladies For Babies (Goats For Love)’
In the wake of another irritating tirade from “that” man-punk-band of the moment, I just wanted to take this opportunity to declare my love for Nadine Shah. Having released her immense latest album Kitchen Sink earlier this year, she completely blew me away when playing the BBC 6Music festival in March; one of the most immersive live performances I’ve ever witnessed, it’s simply impossible not to become utterly captivated by her unique charisma and the subtle, gritty power of her vocal delivery. I’d pay whatever it took to take her on tour with me… (ML)

Vanessa Richardson – ‘Spider’
This track is right up my experimental music street. It comes from Toronto/Montreal based Vanessa Richardson who is an experimental singer, songwriter and producer. I’ve listened to it non-stop since I heard it first, I love the loops, the deep vocals, the feverish percussion, it really creates this wonderfully dark intoxicating sound. Sublime. (TW)

Masma Dream World – ‘Theta’
This is the lead track from the upcoming album by Masma Dream World, the solo recording project of multi-disciplinary artist Devi Mambouka. Of the track, she explains: “From age 0-7, the human brain is in ‘theta,’ a state during which our minds can be programmed to believe anything. I became quickly aware of that programming growing up in the African country of Gabon, where, despite its Matriarchal roots, young girls are groomed to be wives and mothers only — there are no other options.” Mambouka wanted to create an anthem for these young girls, which developed into the otherworldly trip-hop song ‘Theta,’ driven by a deep sub-bass and kick drum. The lyrics, which are heard both forward and in reverse, translate to: “We are girls from central Africa. We are Gabomas!” Gaboma refers to a young hip Gabonese girl. As with the rest of her debut album, the music is designed specifically to awaken one’s power source from within, and it set for release on 25th September via Northern Spy. Incredible. (TW)

LibraLibra – ‘Listerine’
A step away from the usual high energy riotous cacophonies of the Brighton band’s previous releases, ‘Listerine’ reflects on lingering painful memories. Showcasing the incredible soaring splendour and versatility of front woman Beth Cannon’s vocals with an almost operatic force, the track oozes a glistening soulful majesty, creating a striking cinematic soundscape. With blissful twinkling keys providing the backdrop to Beth’s vocals, it’s filled with poignant, reflective lyricism as a raw, emotion-strewn power builds to a magnificent, immense anthem of self-realisation. ‘Listerine’ is taken from LibraLibra’s new EP, Hail Mary, out now. (ML)

Balraj Singh Samrai, Pandit G Gavsborg, Farah Amad Khan, Shanique Marie, Tunde Adekoya, Vikaash – ‘I should have hugged you tighter when we last met (Oh What A Joy)’
This piece was made in June of this year with the help from Opera North’s artist development programme, Resonance: The Lockdown Edition. Combining  music and spoken word to document life  during the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on  communities of colour, Samrai initially produced an instrumental which tabla player Vikaahsh Sankadecha added South Asian percussion rhythms to. Equiknoxx member Gavsborg then penned a poem for the track, and Farah Ahmad Khan added her own spoken word contribution. The accompanying video is so powerful and was made by the Rainbow Collective, go check it out and raise the profile of this track. This is documentary art at its best. (TW)

 

Get In Her Ears w/ Julia-Sophie 17.09.20

Tash & Kate were back in the Hoxton Radio studio this week with loads of great new tunes. They played tracks by Nova Twins, CMAT, otta, Eilis Frawley, EFÉ, Cehryl, ZAND, Nayana Iz & more.

They also caught up with Julia-Sophie to talk about her latest single ‘breathe’, her debut EP Y?, and her recent airplay on Radio 6.

Listen back:

Tracklist
Jackie Shane – Any Other Way
Nova Twins – Play Fair
MJ Guider – FM Secure
ASHWARYA – BIRYANI
Cehryl – superbloom
Æ MAK – forevermorereplay
SHHE – BOY (Alva Noto Remix)
EFÉ – Table For Two
Jealous Of The Birds – Something Holy
Bad Honey – End of the World
Ella Grace – Pieces
ZAND – Slut Money
anrimeal – Marching Parades
Nayana Iz – Growing. Pains
Julia-Sophie – Breathe
**Julia-Sophie interview**
Asha Gold – Debut
Lili Grace – Silhouette
Otta – Just Like The Rain
Total Rubbish – Honey Ryder
MOURN – This Feeling Is Disgusting
CMAT – Another Day (kfc)
Mamalarky – Schism. Trek
Eilis Frawley – Stats
Synapson feat. Pongo – Lengueno
First Frontier – Take Cover
Anna Wolf – The Unfamiliar
Amy Winehouse – Tears Dry On Their Own