GIHE: Personal Highlights Of 2020

2020 has been a year unlike any other and we’ll be glad to see the back of it, but before we wave goodbye, the GIHE team would like to share some of their personal highlights. Thanks to everyone who has been following, reading or listening to GIHE this year. It really does mean the world to us and we couldn’t do this without you.

Shared Highlights

Seeing the GIHE name appear in a PHYSICAL BOOK was a landmark moment for the team this year. Music journalist Lucy O’Brien mentioned us in her 25th anniversary edition of She Bop, a fantastic book that explores the role of female artists and how they’ve helped to shape the music industry. You can buy your copy here.

Fellow GIHE Co-Founder Tash Walker was super busy recording & producing series 2 of The Log Books throughout 2020, a podcast which explores the history of the LGBTQ community via the phone archives of LGBT+ charity Switchboard. Tash is a co-chair at Switchboard and she is dedicated to celebrating and supporting the LGBTQ community through her work with them, and through her work with GIHE. She is one of the most resilient, informed and hilarious people we know and it’s a privilege to work alongside her and call her a friend. The Log Books are a truly necessary listen for all.

Now for some personal highlights…

Kate Crudgington (Features Editor)

GIHE usually takes up a big part of my life, but it was a lifeline for me during March of this year when the government text me (lol) telling me to shield for 12 weeks. Thanks to the magic of the internet, I was able to talk to the people who were making the music that was distracting me from the panic-inducing headlines, reminding me what a huge privilege it is to have access to this amazing platform.

As our followers already know, Lockdown 1.0 instantly put a stop to our weekly GIHE new music shows on Hoxton Radio. We had 16 weeks off air, so when it was “safe” for me to go back in to the studio in July I was buzzing with excitement (which you can hear in my voice if you listen back to the show here.)

Like most platforms during the pandemic, we embraced technology and started interviewing artists over Zoom instead of inviting them in to the studio for the usual chat and live session. We managed to get time with Jessica Winter, BISHI, Lucy O’Brien, Tessa from Girlhood, Julia-Sophie, Lizzie from Bitch Falcon, Grave Goods, Problem Patterns, ZAND, Hannah from PELA, Seraphina-Simone & Penelope Trappes. It was so lovely to see Tash in person in the studio most weeks, and while we both missed seeing Mari a great deal, her weekly track contributions to the show still made it feel like a GIHE team effort.

At the beginning of the year, I was invited by Niall Jackson, one of the hosts of Riverside Radio’s The Irish Jam, to be a contributor to their New Music Sunday section. Co-hosted by Kealan, Mel and Rob, The Irish Jam is a London based radio show that celebrates and promotes music from Irish artists. The crossover of favourite bands between GIHE & the Jam is huge and something I’ve enjoyed chatting to the team about both on and off air. They’ve introduced me to the likes of CMAT, fears, Denise Chaila, Silverbacks and Celaviedmai, whilst I’ve shared tracks by Kynsy, Party Fears and CAMI with them. Listening to their show on a Sunday evening continues to be a wonderful distraction from life.

Who could’ve predicted that bandcamp would become the musical hero of 2020? When the streaming platform announced that on the first Friday of every month they’d be waiving their fees so that 100% of profits would be going directly to artists, my newsfeeds were awash with new music recommendations. Moving home to Essex from London in March meant I actually had some expendable income to buy new records, so I was furiously typing bespoke recommendation threads on Twitter every time the date rolled around. bandcamps’ generosity meant you were able to genuinely support your friends (and the artists you secretly wish you were friends with) during a truly depressing year for music.

Normally, we’d be picking our live music highlights too, but for obvious reasons, we’ve hardly been to any gigs this year. Mari had to cancel half of the gigs GIHE she had booked pre-pandemic and it’s fucking depressing to not know when it will be (properly) safe for her to book more. That’s why I feel incredibly fortunate to have wedged in one last GIHE gig before Lockdown 1.0. GIHE worked together with Sofar Sounds to put together a special International Women’s Day gig at their Hackney HQ in March, with Beckie Margaret, Amahla and Indian Queens on the bill. It was so exciting (and nerve-racking) to host the evening with fellow GIHE pal Tash too. Even if I’d had a year full of gigs, this one still would’ve made my highlights list.

One last gloat – I published some of my all-time favourite features on our website this year. My Zoom interviews with the wonderful A.A Williams, the hilarious CMAT and the ultra talented Lido Pimienta are well worth a read.

Mari Lane (Managing Editor)

It goes without saying, most of the highlights I’d normally mention at this time of year were not able to go ahead in the void of 2020. They would normally consist of the monthly gigs that I host at The Finsbury, whereas this year I was only able to put on two before Covid hit. And, in addition to having to cancel at least seven of our regular gigs, we were pretty heartbroken to cancel what would have been our very first festival, due to take place in July. However, I did manage to fit in a couple of memorable live experiences before being confined to being permanently pyjama clad; my only weekly highlight being our regular beer delivery from Croydon’s Art & Craft bar.

The first gig I hosted this year felt particularly special. Personal Best headlined a night filled with all the best vibes. Drawing the night to a memorable close, front person Katie Gatt dedicated their set closer to the queer community. As a sea of buoyant voices joined in with “I wanna kiss you in the street / where everyone can see / ’cause this is what we look like,” the poignancy of the lyrics was overwhelming and an empowering sense of unity took hold. The night also included the shimmering folk-strewn offerings of Athabaska, the quirky energy and sparkling charisma of Nun Habit and the sun-drenched swirling anthems of Hurtling. There is nothing quite like that joyous sense of togetherness that comes from hosting gigs filled with like-minded wonderful people.

I was also lucky enough to fit in seeing one of my all time favourite bands with a few of my all time favourite people. The last time that Tash, Kate, Paul and I were all together pre-Covid was for Sleater Kinney at Brixton Academy – a pretty special night. Not only did I get to see the legendary Carrie Brownstein deliver her distinctive gritty, scuzz-filled riffs alongside Corin Tucker’s unmistakable swooning vocals in the flesh, conjuring up massive feelings of awe and nostalgia, but they were supported by one of our favourite current bands. The second time we’d seen Big Joanie on the Brixton Academy stage (the first being opening for Bikini Kill last year!), they showcased just how deserving they are of their rising success; with their unique, raw, post-punk soundscapes and poignant lyricism, they delivered an absolutely incredible set. A truly memorable night.

My last ‘outing’ before lockdown was to the BBC 6Music festival for International Women’s Day at The Roundhouse. An epic line-up consisting of some incredible women and non-binary folk that I’m incredibly grateful I got to witness before everything fell apart. In addition to the immense poignant power of Jehnny Beth, the utterly beguiling splendour of Nadine Shah (who I fell in love with there and then), and the completely mind-blowing presence of hero Kim Gordon, Kae Tempest delivered a fiercely moving, truly breath-taking headline set.

And then gigs were gone. To be replaced by online streamed “events” which I think have had mixed reviews over the last few months – they’re of course no replacement for the “real thing” and it’s hard to feel motivated to “attend” things when you’ve been on the sofa in your pjs for weeks. However, I have managed to organise a few GIHE Instagram ‘Takeovers’, featuring some of our favourite bands and artists. From ARXX’s drum and guitar lessons, LibraLibra’s quirky tele-sales style feature and Tiger Mimic’s interviews with others on the scene, to inspiring chats with Amaroun, Eckoes, Foundlings and Husk, beaut “live” sessions from Gold Baby, Scrounge and KIN, and King Hannah’s EP run through, I feel grateful that so many creatives have wanted to be involved.

It’s a strange time, no doubt, but one which is made that much better by a sense of togetherness within the community. One positive from all this really has been the mutual support and genuine care that I’ve seen musicians and those within the industry show for each other.

John McGovern (Contributor)

On the one hand, there’s been almost no gigs, no festivals, much fewer physical releases and closed record shops. On the other, BBC 6Music’s response helped me stay indoors and make the most of my furlough life. Lauren Laverne‘s show was extended to cover the late morning, running to nearly double the length of most of the other shows on the station and basically saw her appointed as chief mood-lifter for the BBC’s flagship alternative music station. Amongst the days of uncertainty, where even leaving the house offered the risk of serious illness, with no guarantee of a job at the end of the summer, having Lauren there to soundtrack breakfast/brunch made a world of difference. It produced a kind of odd stasis: the background radiation of a pandemic, but an excellent range of music, usually featuring a smattering of classics, new music and obscure gems. The only disappointment was when the schedule reverted back to usual come the end of lockdown. Hopefully, that same semblance of normality will be back for us all, soon.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read our highlights!

You can read about our GIHE Albums of 2020 here and our GIHE Tracks Of 2020 here.

Keep an eye out for our Ones To Watch in 2021 feature next week!

PLAYLIST: March 2020

March has been a busy month for Get In Her Ears HQ! It’s Women’s History Month and it was International Women’s Day on the 8th, so we’ve continued to support the women artists we love with regular reviews on our website and a special IWD Playlist which you can listen to here.

Sofar Sounds kindly invited us to curate their IWD gig in Hackney too, which Indian Queens, Amahla, and Beckie Margaret all graciously agreed to play for us. We’ve barely stopped for breath! Take some time to scroll through our track choices for our March playlist below and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist at the end of the page.

Sink Ya Teeth – ‘The Hot House’
Fresh from their excellent second album aptly named Two, Sink Ya Teeth’s singleThe Hot House’ and the accompanying video features footage shot by the band and audience members at their recent show in Oxford (check it out here). I am SO happy that I’ve got another heavy helping from the Norwich duo to soundtrack the upcoming warmer months. A time where post-punk, and deep house and I really get back into the swing of things. Sink Ya Teeth thank you, thank you! (Tash Walker)

Sleater-Kinney – ‘Hurry On Home’
I have not stopped singing this since us GIHE girls saw Sleater-Kinney live at Brixton Academy a few weeks ago. Their latest album The Center Won’t Hold is such a tonic, and their performance was certainly a gig-life highlight for all of us. (Kate Crudgington)

Noga Erez – ‘VIEWS’
The inimitable Noga Erez stylishly explores the absurdity of paying for exposure on social media on her brand new track, ‘VIEWS’. Collaborating with her partner Ori Rousso, and LA-based hip-hop artist Reo Cragun, Erez effortlessly commands attention in the striking video that accompanies the single. The Tel-Aviv musician’s clear vocals glide over slick beats and pop hooks to create an infectiously powerful anti-fakeness anthem. (KC)

Taquirah – ‘Feel’
‘Feel’ is the latest single from Taquirah, a performance artist form Illinois currently living in Brooklyn. I cannot get this track’s addictive beats and R&B melodies out of my head. I’m obsessed. Taquirah recently released a video for her track ‘Rush’ choreographed and performed by herself, in line with her focus on creating performance art pieces that fuse ballet with hip hop culture. Keep your eyes peeled for Taquirah’s debut project Divine, coming soon. (TW)

Belako – ‘Tie Me Up’
Having previously blown me away with their immersive live show supporting Queens Of The Stone Age in Finsbury Park last year, Basque Country band Belako have now shared new single ‘Tie Me Up’. Filled with gritty, swooning vocals and immense swirling hooks, it’s a super catchy alt-rock anthem showcasing the poignant raw power and majestic musicality that this Spanish band are capable of creating. (Mari Lane)

CLT DRP – ‘Where The Boys Are’
An anthem of self-realisation and new found confidence, ‘Where The Boys Are’ from Brighton-based CLT DRP oozes their immense raging passion in a seething blast of poignant, swirling electro-punk. Commenting on the track, front-woman Annie Dorrett says: “It’s a love song to some of my favourite female artists, a big thank you to my mom for being such a powerhouse and lastly a big f*ck you to all the TERFS out there spreading hate. It’s also just a really playful song to perform with the band, you get a lot of different elements of our sound all jammed into one piece.” CLT DRP’s upcoming debut album Without The Eyes, is out 15th May via Small Pond Records. (ML)

THICK – ‘Mansplain’
A cathartic, witty, guitar driven take-down of the men who undermine women in bands (and women in general), Brooklyn punk trio THICK’s single ‘Mansplain’ will resonate with women and girls who have struggled to be taken seriously on, and off stage. The track is lifted from their debut album 5 Years Behind, which is out now. (KC)

New Pagans – ‘Admire’
I first heard New Pagans whilst listening to The Irish Jam, and I quickly became fascinated by the Belfast band’s genre-bending sounds. Their debut EP Glacial Erratic is a poignant collection of tracks that explore issues of frustration, defiance, and resolution. ‘Admire’ is a personal favourite. It’s a humble, shimmering ode to the perseverance that’s needed to keep a long-term relationship going. (KC)

Why Bonnie – ‘Voice Box’
Oozing sunny uplifting vibes as shimmering hooks and Blair Howerton’s rich, luscious vocals flow with a soaring emotion, Why Bonnie’s ‘Voice Box’ has shades of the twinkling surf-rock of the likes of Alvvays or Best Coast, creating a truly dreamy offering fuzzing with a dazzling, effervescent charm. Voice Box, the upcoming EP from Why Bonnie, is out 10th April via Fat Possum Records. (ML) 

Ghost Car – ‘Virginia & Vita’
Released at the end of last year, ‘Virginia & Vita’ is a perfect example of all there is to love about Ghost Car. Oozing their scuzzy, quirky bubblegum indie-pop sounds, it’s propelled by eerie synth-driven hooks, soaring honey-sweet vocals and their trademark stirring, whirring theramin-soaked fuzz. I cannot wait to catch this totally unique band headline for us this Friday at The Finsbury! As always, FREE entry, event details here. (ML)

Indian Queens – ‘Bubblewrap’
Hackney trio Indian Queens headlined our International Women’s Day gig (in partnership with Sofar Sounds) at the weekend, and we were captivated by their stripped back set. The talented Amahla & Beckie Margaret also shared the bill, and Girls Against were on hand to  help raise awareness of the issues that female musicians & fans often face. This IQ track is a beguiling lament about the state of the planet, and it’s taken from their debut album God Is A Woman, which is set for release via Cool Thing Records on 3rd April. (KC)

Laura Gray – ‘Break, Drift’
‘Break, Drift’ is the first release from Laura Gray’s upcoming EP Better Lighting. Gentle vocals and dreamy synths all mixed together with pulsating beats. I think we could all do with a little more saxophone in our life. Check out the video for ‘Break, Drift’ here. (TW)

A.A. Williams – ‘Cold’
A.A. Williams is set to play her first headline gig at Southbank Centre in the Purcell Room on Thursday 12th March, and I’m excited to hear her dark, atmospheric sounds in the flesh for the first time. (tickets are available here). (KC)

Otta – ‘Near Enough A Woman’
I cannot get enough of Otta! Their new music is seeping so perfectly into my ears, it’s what I’ve been craving for so long and didn’t realise. This is one of their latest singles taken from the freshly released debut EP after it all blew over, which is sublime. Delivering the perfect combination and concoction of electronic, UK jazz, new soul and RnB. (TW)

Okay Kaya – ‘Insert Generic Name’
Okay Kaya who hails from Norway has been a firm fave of mine since I heard her debut Both, released back in 2018. I got to catch her on 4th March at SET in Dalston which was a total pleasure, she’s back again in May at Hoxton Hall so if you can, grab yourself some tickets. ‘Insert Generic Name’ is taken from her recently released and equally fantastic album Watch This Liquid Pour Itself, another incredibly intimate record of self-reflection via boldly honest, exposing lyrics which are delivered with bone dry with wit. One of my albums of 2020, without a doubt. (TW)

Bugeye – ‘Don’t Stop’
The latest single from friends of GIHE, Bugeye, ‘Don’t Stop’ is filled with swirling scuzzy hooks and the band’s trademark impassioned fiery attitude. Complete with whirring synth-driven refrains, it’s a frenzied slice of catchy disco-punk, showcasing the band’s utterly unique vibrant sound. ‘Don’t Stop’ is produced by Paul Tipler and is out now. You can catch Bugeye live on tour this month – check out their Facebook page for details. (Mari Lane) 

Lady Gaga – ‘Stupid Love’
Get me a pink wig and a metallic bikini, because I’m moving to Chromatica to live with Lady Gaga (see the ‘Stupid Love’ video here). I am SO excited to hear her new album (released on 10th April). I hope it’s bursting with electro-pop bangers like this one, and that all of her future videos are just as Power-Ranger-esque. (KC)

ReBalance Celebrates International Women’s Day & Interview with Cat Webb (Lighting Engineer at Union Chapel)

There are plenty of music events happening across the UK on International Women’s Day this year (which we’ve listed for you here), but we’d like to give some extra attention to the ReBalance event that’s happening at London’s Union Chapel on Sunday 8th March (tickets here).

Women from Festival RepublicLive NationAcademy Music GroupBig Scary MonstersSony MusicMAMAOgle HogMetropolisMelody VRNational MerchandiseBBCSafe Gigs for Women, and PRS Foundation will all be in attendance, and on hand to talk to wxmen who are looking for advice about their career in the music industry. There will also be live performances from Nilüfer YanyaMartha Hill and Tamzene.

Cat Webb, who is the Lighting Engineer at Union Chapel, has invaluable experience in an industry environment that has traditionally been dominated by men. Below, she candidly shares how she came to be a Lighting Engineer, and the challenges she’s overcome to excel in her current field.

 

How did you come to know about, and work at Union Chapel?
I’ve lived in Islington for years, and always passed the Chapel with itchy fingers and ambitious eyes. As a lighting engineer you’re always looking to work on interesting shows in spaces that give you a sense of awe and delight, so when the opportunity arose to join the lighting team I jumped on it.

What is your work at Union Chapel, and what does it involve?
I’m a lighting engineer and designer. Some of the time this involves looking after visiting designers, assisting with setting up their equipment or helping them use the lights we have to achieve the looks they want. The work can be technical – rigging, calculating power and programming – but a lot of the time the most appreciated quality is being a friendly, welcoming face.

However, not many bands tour with their own lighting designers, so most of the time I’m the designer for visiting gigs. If you imagine that this is a profoundly complex process involving extensive collaboration and maybe an analysis of the cultural meaning of blue – that’d be great. But the reality is that most of the time you have 4-5 hours between the band arriving and the audience, and though you can listen to sound check and have conversations in that time, maybe even be given a rough set list of songs and binge a few on YouTube if you’re lucky (and the wifi works), realistically most of the time you’re winging it. Even if you do get to hear something from an album they might play, the live version is often very different, which is both the challenge and the thrill of live music.

But! In defense of lighting designers: we are winging it based on years of experience with story, atmosphere and music, as well an understanding of light, colour, angle and the tools that are available to us. Even if I don’t know the music well, my job is to use that experience to judge where emotionally things are going, and to follow and predict in a way which catches the eyes along with the ears. At its best, good lighting adds to something that the brain doesn’t even necessarily experience as sight or sound – just a great big feeling, powerful and true.

What has it been like being female working in a male-dominated industry? What needs to change?
Things have changed a lot in the last ten years. The overt sexism that was very present when I graduated – relentless comments about my appearance, sexuality or ‘lady-brain’ – has declined, for which we can all heave a sigh of relief.

However, there’s still a long way to go. With somewhere between 6-9% of my profession being female, the mental picture people still have of lighting designers is male. Psychologically this has numerous consequences, including making it more likely that men are hired. It is easier to see the merits in someone who already fulfills your mental picture of what the person should be, and to see the flaws in someone who defies that expectation – this is human nature. The goal is to change that expectation.

I have been in more gigs than I can name where my male colleagues are addressed as the sound or lighting ‘engineer’ and I will be the lighting ‘girl’. Visiting engineers have physically started in surprise to see a female in my position, or I have been told that I shouldn’t light a certain kind of music, because as a woman I “just won’t get it”. The base-line expectation of female competence is still not there. Personally – and among many of my peers – this means we aspire to standards of excellence above and beyond, just to be treated with the same respect as our male colleagues. And if our standards drop to merely average, we are judged twice as harshly.

Qualities in a designer such as confidence, commitment, determination, expertise, or precision, are too-often called something else in a woman. Bossiness. Ball-busting. Picky; difficult; cocky. And we are social creatures; it is easier to believe that we are individually failures, than to challenge a cultural bias, let alone in an industry whose leaders, who you depend on for your ability to live and eat, are still overwhelmingly male. Women who call out the sexism are too often dismissed as “difficult” or “flaky”, or accused of making a big deal out of nothing. It is incredibly hard to honestly and openly challenge your own privileges and biases, and having these conversations with generosity is still an ongoing challenge – for all of us.

Machismo still drives large parts of the technical industry, though it too thankfully is changing. A classic example is the endless saga of whether women can lift heavy things. The answer is, of course: yes. Of course we can, and yes, it is frustrating when a woman states her capabilities, but is ignored; her competence and her word mean less than a preconception of her strength and abilities. However I will often ask someone else to help me lift something heavy, not because I’m “weak”, but because the culture of being “strong” has left so many good men I know injured. It is a culture that hurts everyone.

Both theatre and live music often correctly protects the well-being of artists, but does not extend the same human courtesy to its technicians, male or female. Hard hours, rudeness, variable pay – I don’t know any technician of any gender who hasn’t been in some way treated badly at some point in their careers, or told to “suck it up” because we work for “passion” rather than decent work conditions or reasonable pay. The Union Chapel is a fantastic part of changing this, but it’s a big fight. Actively promoting diversity is the first step to changing that culture, and making the industry better for us all.

What has working/volunteering at Union Chapel made a difference to you/your career?
I always wanted to work at Union Chapel, for the space and the music. It was a bucket-list ambition, and fulfilling it has been a privilege.

In recent years, the Chapel’s move to actively seek out female technicians has been incredibly encouraging to see, and it’s been an honour to work with the incredible teams of both male and female engineers in the venue. As a freelancer you can bump from show to show without ever feeling rooted, but the Chapel fosters a sense of community, and the team is so welcoming and good that walking through the Chapel’s doors often feels closer to coming home, than going to work.

As a listed building, lighting the Chapel has changed how I approach my work. Traditional stage lighting is about drawing the eye into only one place, zooming the senses in. At the Chapel you almost have to do the opposite, zoom out to place the music in the context of a shared space and experience. That said, while I’ve lit many gigs that will stay with me and reveled in the power of light in that space to do something big and amazing, the moment a thousand candles were lit up during the Christmas service, I was forced to admit that sometimes, just occasionally, a bit of string and wax can put the twenty first century to shame.

Finally, tell us a bit more about yourself…
I started in theatre before moving more into gigs, but probably still know more about Shakespeare than Adele. That said, I’ve now been in music long enough that every week something will come on the radio that I’ve lit, which is pretty damn cool. I have mild synaesthesia, so I often hear and feel things in colour; I’ll hear a song and see the colours I lit it with long before I recognize the actual band.

I volunteer for the Green Party, and as well as studying a martial art I also sometimes teach women’s self-defense. I hope that none of my students ever have to fight to protect themselves, but I believe that it’s easier to talk your way out of trouble if you know you can also defend yourself, and that crucially you believe in your own right to do so. I also write novels, initially as Catherine Webb and Kate Griffin, and more recently as Claire North.

Get In Her Ears w/ Nun Habit 05.03.20

Kate and Mari were back in the studio this week with all the new music to celebrate International Women’s Day, including tracks from Karen O, Belako, Nova Twins, Taquirah, Why Bonnie and New Pagans.

They were joined by Nun Habit, who entertained us with the wit and musicality of exclusive acoustic renditions of two of their tracks.

Listen back here:

Tracklist
Karen O & Dangermouse – Woman
Nova Twins – Vortex
Noga Erez – Views
Shea Diamond – I Am Her
Tina Boonstra – Out Of My Depth
Actrese – Lola
Pom Pom Squad – Red With Love
Wargirl – Dancing Gold
Beach Riot – Tune In, Drop Out
Deaf Surf – SOFA
Dream Nails – Payback
LIME – Surf n Turf
Belako – Tie Me Up
Johanna Glaza – Exile
Jemma Freeman & The Cosmic Something – Black Rain
New Pagans – Admire
Why Bonnie – Voice Box
Taquirah – Feel
Faber – Time
Matthew Barton – Fag
Ali – No More Trying
Jess Fitz – I’m Fine
Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know
Eurythmics & Aretha Franklin – Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves