Five Favourites: Dude York

Set to release their new album next week, Seattle trio Dude York pay tribute to adolescent romance and early noughties ‘mall punk’ with their whirring scuzz, catchy jangling hooks and gritty vocals. And we cannot get enough.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a new band/artist is by asking them what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Claire from Dude York to talk about her ‘Five Favourites’ – five songs or albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques, or simply take her back to a specific feeling or time. Check out her choices below, and make sure you watch the band’s new video for ‘Should’ve’ at the end of this post.

Jimmy Eat World – ‘Your House’
This is one of my absolute favourite songs and Jimmy Eat World in general was a big influence for me on our new record. Play this song very loud driving somewhere sentimental in your car, you might feel feelings! Our single ‘Falling’ is kind of about falling in love in your late 20s to the soundtrack of your early teens, and it’s supposed to start as a sonic reference to this song (and a lyrical reference to Dashboard Confessional if anyone is keeping track). I think there’s a lot to admire about this band; I love how expressive Jim Adkins’ voice is without being cloying, and the way he uses harmonies really intentionally and loud. Bleed American in its entirety is a pop record that can’t or at least shouldn’t be pigeonholed, it moves through totally different sounds seamlessly. They are masters of wordless bridges and hooks, so good lyrics would probably just mess them up. I have also done the important experimental research on a few tours now: If you wear a Jimmy Eat World shirt you will only meet nice people and have pleasant conversations, it’s a good energy.

No Doubt – ‘Sixteen’
I remember listening to this song with fresh ears when I was first starting to make music which required a.) figuring out how to sing and b.) figuring out how to write harmonies. The first 30 seconds stopped me dead in my tracks when I realized Gwen Stefani’s basically just yelling? In key? And it actually sounds amazing?!? At the time I didn’t have much of a singing range basically because I was afraid to be loud or sound bad at all before getting it right, but I loved how these harmonies sounded so I tried singing them alone in the car or the basement to see if it was even possible to hit that note and when I did it I felt like I had unlocked a superpower. It’s hard to choose a No Doubt song though, so I have to give honourable mention to ‘Simple Kind Of Life’ for having some of the most inspirational lyrical honesty and delivery for me. I always felt it was a special song in that way, but revisiting it this year at the same age she wrote it (and let’s just say during my Saturn return, although I think it may have been a few months late), it hits me that much harder. When she says “you seem like you’d be a good dad” you can actually hear the smirk on her face and it’s the best.

Yuck – ‘Operation’
I just love so much about how this song sounds. I’m not always drawn to vocals being mixed way down or being so fuzzy you can barely tell what they’re saying because it can feel intentionally buried, but in this song everything has enough space to be appreciated. The vocals are just another fuzzy instrument, not more or less important in the melody than the guitars and it all trades off with every section elevating into the next effortlessly. So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I think this song is (bad pun intended) well designed. And just really good.

Weezer – ‘I’m Your Daddy’
Weezer is a huge influence on me and sure, maybe I wouldn’t even play guitar if it wasn’t for “the early stuff” but that’s not as funny as this song. I’ve had a side project Weezer cover band for MANY years (despite only playing something like 5 shows) with a very specific premise: we play only songs the casual fan has never heard of and the serious fan hates. Usually, if I’m getting ready for one of these shows I’ll be playing the songs at Dude York practice and Peter or Andrew will say “what’s that?” and I’ll say “Goat Reward” and they’ll say “oh” or “maybe it should be a Dude York song?” and usually it’s too hard to divorce myself from the source material to even consider it, but I have to admit I did it with this song! I don’t remember whether it was before or after that but around the same time I heard the Rivers Cuomo episode of Song Exploder and he described doing essentially the same thing as part of his song writing process, copying something from a song he liked and then distancing himself and intentionally hiding the source material until he can’t remember where it came from, revisiting it and writing a new song around it. So that’s how I know it’s ok. He wouldn’t mind, he does it too.

Josie and the Pussycats – The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
This movie came out when I was 11 years old and every single one of my friends had the soundtrack, knew every word, and we were all saying the same thing back and forth to each other, “Why isn’t this a real band? Why is this so much better than any real bands? Why can’t whoever made this soundtrack just become a real band because this is probably so much better than whatever they are doing right now?” This is obviously the narrow view of a pre-teen with limited googling ability in 2001, but in retrospect I think there was still some truth in it. The soundtrack really resonated with me at the time because the idea of this band from the movie coupled with the songs to back it up hit a sweet spot between the energetic sound of the dude rock bands on the radio I was leaning towards and the feminine energy I could actually relate to. That’s not to say those bands didn’t exist and thankfully I think there are more now than ever, but at the time it was hard for me to find anything that satisfied quite like Josie. We played a halloween covers show in 2014 where we dressed up as the Pussycats and played three of the songs and it was so fun. They were just fun to play and sounded great! Or at least I think they did, there’s no video evidence and it was a DIY show… But I think it re-opened the door to those songs in my mind, there’s no reason why bands like Josie and the Pussycats can’t be real. 

Massive thanks to Dude York for sharing their awesome Five Favourites with us! 

Falling, the upcoming album from Dude York, is out 26th July via Hardly Art. Watch the video for latest single ‘Should’ve’ here:

INTERVIEW: Le Butcherettes

When I speak to Teri Gender Bender – front woman of Le Butcherettes – she’s in the van with band mates Alejandra (drums), Rikardo (guitars) and Marfred (bass) on her way to Kansas. Later that evening, the band (who are based in El Paso) are supporting riot grrrls L7 on their current tour, and naturally, Teri is in high spirits. I’m in high spirits too, as I’m talking to the woman who I saw dominate the stage at Hackney’s Moth Club at Le Butcherettes’ headline show a few months ago. Her voice and her presence are a formidable force, and I’m pleased to hear that off stage on the phone, her energy is just as prolific. We talk about the band’s new album bi/MENTAL and their recent support slots with Bikini Kill in LA, and even manage to conjure up a voodoo Beatles collaboration….

Hello Teri! I saw you play with Big Joanie at Moth Club in Hackney a few months ago. Talk me through how that went and how you came discovered them…

I wish I could say that we’re in the know, but I have to give the credit to the show’s promoter. He hooked us up with a great new discovery. They blew my mind, holy shit! They were amazing. Putting that all aside, they’re not just talented – there are many super talented people out there – they’re genuine sweethearts. We shared a dressing room with them and they were very self aware and conscious of space, and we’re the same. We always try not to be a burden, so we were both really shy together, and we bonded over that. It was really sweet you know? “We were like cool, we’re weirdos too, yay! You like pizza, I like pizza!” It worked out beautifully and I saw that they’re playing with Bikini Kill in London soon too, which is fucking awesome.

It is, I’ll be there to watch them! You recently supported Bikini Kill in LA too. Please tell me in as much detail as you can how the gig went…

It was like a dream come true. It felt like winning a Grammy. It was a pretty emotional day as it was, because it was our guitarist Rikardo’s birthday. He was turning the big ’29’ so that was pretty symbolic, it was his birthday and we got to spend it at The Palladium, another great venue that we really love and are big fans of, we’ve seen a lot of great shows there before. And to top that, we were opening up for one of our favourite bands ever. Someone once asked me if you could organise a festival who would you have as the headliner? And I was like “Bikini Kill would be my headliner!” They’re also super sweethearts. They came in to say hello and treated us as their guests, so in that sense it felt like home, very Latino, very welcoming. Some bands are shy, and I know I have been before. But when you get a little older you’re less shy, and you take things less personally. Sometimes people might just be having a bad day and not want to talk you know? I used to take that personally, but the end of the day it’s not about me. Everyone has their own movie going on, you know?

But yeah, Bikini Kill are sweethearts and they were very, very welcoming. Such a breath of fresh air. And their set was amazing, holy shit! They played ‘Double Dare Ya’ ‘Tammy Rae’, ‘Suck My Left One’, ‘Rebel Girl’ of course! They essentially played almost all of their songs off the two records they put out, and the EP that was produced by Ian MacKaye from Fugazi. There were loads of people in the crowd too, I ran in to Henry Rollins, and Juliette Lewis was at the show so it was really cool. There were a lot of people who I would say are usually introverts that came out to go and see them.

That sounds amazing! I can’t wait to see them at Brixton in June. You have a very strong performance style and you seem fearless on stage. Who inspired you as a performer and a front woman?

It’s basically this never-ending love/hate relationship between me and my Mother. I say that because she’s the “real deal” artist of the family, and when I was little she was basically putting her career in theatre on hiatus just to be able to be a stay at home Mum with us. But over the years, she took that out on us. So there was this relationship of “damn, I am guilty because she’s the real deal and she knows it, I know it”, so it’s this angst of me just trying to scream all of that desperation on stage trying to get rid of it. And also to get rid of the wrong-doing that’s been done, you know? For me it’s my therapy.

It helps to have other women Pioneers to open up the past as well, like Alice Bag, Kathleen Hana, Tobi Vale, Karen O and Mon Laferte. Mon Laferte is also fearless off stage. She’s had politicians who want to take pictures with her and she’s been put on the spot by them, and she’s had the guts to be like “I am not going to take a picture with you”. Especially in Mexico, the politics can be very corrupt and messy, so just hanging out with one of them can have you end up on someone’s hit list. So to say no to a Politician is to basically get your name on a hit list. But she’s a badass, she still said no to them and she still continues with her art.

But my Mother, she’s an unlimited source of inspiration. Even though we’re sometimes at one another’s throats.

Congratulations on the release of your third album bi/MENTAL. I read that you felt comfortable working with Producer Jerry Harrison because you were able to be “vulnerable and in-your-face at the same time” – that definitely comes across in the songs on the new record, but can you elaborate on that a little more? Did he leave you to your own devices or did he play a bigger role?

I think it was a combination of everything. When you mentioned about be left to your own devices, that’s something I’m definitely aware of when I’m working with a new producer. When you have your original idea and you’re working with someone new, because it’s always been myself in the past or another member of the band so that there’s always a comfort or a shoulder to lean on, you know? But I felt like it would be great to work with Jerry. He was number one on my list because I’ve always admired his work with Talking Heads, but I’m also a big No Doubt fan, and out of the songs he put out with them, ‘New’ is one of my favourite songs and he produced that.

The fact that he was open to producing for us – and that he’d actually heard of our band – was like “Oh shit, I’m not left to my own devices then!” So from the beginning when we just had a phone call I was shaking! It felt so “Ooooh the mystique!” because we hadn’t met face-to-face before. Then his wife was on the phone and she was great, saying she couldn’t wait for pre-production to begin and she invited me to spend that time with them in their home. They were very welcoming, they had me in their home before we started work in the studio, and I got to see the process of how they live and they welcomed me to be part of their family dinners in the evening. I was living in a home full of love, I felt like the family cat you know? Like when a cat relaxes and their tails gets kinda curly? That’s what I felt like, a relaxed little cat. Being able to relax and explore the songs together and just be part of a family. They had no reason to do that either, it could’ve been all just via email you know?

That’s really generous, and great that you felt relaxed. I know you’re an advocate for being open about mental health, and I think that comes across on the themes and lyrics on your new album. Without being too invasive – are you able to tell me why you think it’s so important to be honest with yourself and with others about your own trauma, and the emotions that come with it?

I think it’s important – at least for me – it’s definitely helped. But some people don’t feel comfortable talking about it, and that’s okay too. It’s okay to hold on to something for a long time, eventually the time will come when you want to talk about it. It’s hard to know if there will be someone to hear you out. You’re never alone though, and I try to tell myself that. Just opening up a dialogue is very healthy, which is something I wish I had when I was younger at school when I had all these questions about why I was feeling this way, or why do I have the urge to cut myself and think these horrible thoughts about myself?

I remember when someone would try to open up about it, at least in Mexico with the Catholic Church – we’d be automatically expelled or put in for psychological testing with such a rude manner. There was no tact, it was like “we better evaluate her because she might be a threat”. So maybe a little empathy and dialogue are what’s needed. With mental health in general though, sometimes people don’t want to take care of themselves, period. They’re dealing with over stimulation constantly. A breather would be good. I feel sorry for kids at school now, I remember when I was barely going in to high school when MySpace was becoming a thing, but I cannot imagine being around [social media] now during pre-school or even kindergarten.

It must be a bit of a minefield trying to grow up nowadays.

Collaboration seems important to you – you worked with Alice Bag & Chilean vocalist Mon Laferte on your new album, and you work with members of the Mars Volta in your other project Bosnian Rainbows. In your mind, what makes for an effective collaboration? Who else would you like to work with in the future?

What makes for an effective collaboration is just the wanting to and the will power to do it. There are many times when people say “Yeah let’s do this!” and I’m guilty of it myself, but then dead air…you see the inactivity or you keep pushing it for later, later…that’s what kills a collaboration. For me, I’m attracted to individuals that are like “Shit, let’s do this now, I don’t care where the fuck we are! We’re gonna make this work”. Where there’s will, and want, and desire to do it then hell yeah – we’re in! So luckily all of these individuals that we’ve worked with have had that and the appreciation do it, you know? Why would you want to work with someone that makes you feel shit, right?

There are many, many talented people out there [that I’d collaborate with]. I say this time and time again, but there’s this great artist called Natalia Lafourcade from Mexico and Vanessa Zamora who is a great folklore/pop star, and a great shredder and songwriter. Also Selda, she’s an OG from Turkey, the list goes on! The Beatles, well Paul McCartney…maybe do some voodoo and get the whole group back? Some Voodoo Beatles?

I think you just found the concept for your next record…

You’re returning to London on 9th July to play the Boston Music Room. What are your anticipations for this gig?

Well, hopefully that some people go! We’ll be playing the new songs off of the new record. I take things one day at a time really, but hopefully when the time comes, that everything goes to plan, that we get there safe, that everyone going to see us gets there safe. The cool thing about it – here comes a sales pitch for our shows – is that we never really know what’s gonna happen, we fucking roll with it. It’s a real kind of feeding thing, a give and take situation, that’s why I’m hopeful that people are going because it’s a two-way street. I feed off of the people the band feeds off the people, we feed off each other. It’s like a feast! We’re all just eating!

It’s going to be a banquet, I can’t wait! You’re on tour with L7 now, so tell me as much detail as you can about how excited you are to share a line-up with them…

It’s show number 6 or 7 with them, but it’s been so chill. Another example of great talent and great people who are fucking inspiring and their fans are really sweet to us. It’s been amazing. Our set is about 30 minutes, so it’s really nice to have some chill time afterwards, because when it’s our own shows we have to basically leave right away because it’s curfew!

We played one show with them in this really old and rustic theatre, which I loved! I felt like there were at least a couple of ghosts there, so that was a highlight for me. I love ghosts, who doesn’t right? Who wouldn’t want to hang out with a ghost? I mean, not a demon, just a ghost. But there were a couple of ghosts in that theatre for sure.

Sounds spooky…What artists are you listening to at the moment. Who would you recommend?

Blood Orange – Marfred & Rikardo put it on when we drive, so we’ve all become fans. I’ve kind of been on a repeat too, going back to the classics like Talking Heads, but my biggest obsession that’s been taking up 80% of my listening time is Ariana Grande! I wish I could say something underground, but I went to see her recently and it was insane how she’s only like, 5″ tall and that voice comes out of her! You can see the pain and grief in her eyes.

Good recommendations. Finally, do you have any advice for any woman or non-binary person who’s contemplating starting a band?

My advice – and I’m sure you hear this all the time – is don’t feel like you’re a burden. I feel like that will hold you back. I’ve missed out on so many beautiful friendships and possible songs and ideas only because I thought I was a burden. I felt like I started late, I was 17 when I started a band but I wanted to start a band since I was 6! All those years – from age 6 to 17 – that’s so many years of fear! I wish I’d started earlier. I mean, there was a band who opened up for Bikini Kill on their other LA date that were 10 years old! When I saw them I was like “damn!” and I was so inspired. They’re definitely not having any fear of being a bother or holding back, and that’s so great.

I feel the same about writing, you know? I’ve always wanted to write books, tangible things, because songwriting can be kind of abstract. I wanted to be a tangible “real” writer but my teachers would get frustrated with me because of my language impediments and I felt like I was being a burden on them so I gave up. But it’s never personal, that frustration you know? Sometimes it’s projection. It’s scary sometimes, but you have to just get out there!

Huge thanks to Teri for answering my questions. Catch Le Butcherettes on their upcoming UK tour (dates below)

9th July – London, Boston Music Rooms
10th July Brighton, Green Door Store
11 July – Cheltenham, 2000 Trees Festival

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Interview: Sit Down

We’ve been massive fans of Brighton duo, Katie Oldham and Greg Burns – aka Sit Down – for a while now; the intensity of their thrashing garage-punk sounds completely blowing us away on each listen, and their sheer dedication to their craft (Katie even makes all their stage outfits) marking them out instantly from other bands.

Now, following last year’s immense EP Cheap Luxe and singles ‘Take A Seat’ and ‘Knives’, they’re back with a gritty new offering. Accompanied by a gripping video set in the French Alps, ‘Teeth’ is out now.

We caught up with Katie to find out more about the new single, their thoughts on the music industry and what 2019 has in store for Sit Down…

Hi Sit Down, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about how you both initially got together and started creating music?
Haha, it’s a funny story actually. I was at Uni and just tentatively dipping my toe into making music – joining some music societies and uploading some acoustic covers on YouTube and stuff. I was incredibly shy and was just secretly trying to start creating what I’d always dreamed when these music students reached out to me and said they’d seen what I was up to, and was wondering if I’d be up for fronting their indie/electro band. I was over the moon, and as soon as I met up with them we clicked instantly. The funny thing is, after about a year of jamming together, they finally admitted to me one night that they’d actually just sent the same identical message to the hundreds of people in the music society and I was the only one who replied! But I do believe it was fate, because I was best friends with them all through Uni from then on, and Greg and I were inseparable; firstly starting our own acoustic/folk duo, then moving on to the heavier stuff we always dreamed of making.

We’re loving your gritty new single ‘Teeth’! What’s the story behind the track?
We actually wrote the song about two years ago, when we were both going through some heavy shit at the time. I was really struggling with depression, yet still desperately yearning to make music and progress, but the two were fundamentally incompatible. I’d force myself to go to practice, but I’d sit behind the drums without the strength to lift the sticks. It felt like a curse that wouldn’t let me do, say or achieve anything except wallow. And I think I realised that the only way to get through it was to face it head on and face the worst my brain was trying to convince me of. Sonically, the song seems to be of two very different styles, which represent the duality of depression – the sad lonely isolation of wanting to be better, as reflected in the verse “I’m trying to be a bigger man / but I just feel so small / I’m trying to feel better man / but I don’t feel so strong”, and the fiery frustration that comes from the anguish of being trapped in a sadness that’s trying to push you to extremes. “I’ll throw myself into the ocean / and wash up upon the beach / stick a knife into my ribcage / and I’ll tell you how it tastes”. But ultimately this isn’t a song about self-destruction, it’s about catharsis. The chorus ends – “But it’s too hard to take it easy / so I grit my teeth” – because I knew I was stronger than the depression, and I was going to grit my teeth and find my way through. Which I did, and I think that’s an important message for anyone going through a similar thing to know. And also not to be ashamed of the dark thoughts that cross your mind when you are depressed, because it’s not your fault.

And the gripping new video was filmed in the French Alps – that must have been fun! How did that come about?
As the song is so heavy, in terms of sound and sentiment, we wanted something to balance that to create a more light-hearted interpretation. We wanted to focus on the theme of being pursued by something you want to escape and outsmart. So, after watching Spy Kids one night, we came up with the idea of two rival spies set to target one another. It just so happened that it was my parents’ anniversary and they had planned a family ski holiday to celebrate, so we thought what better way to make the most of that then to set it in the French Alps! It was very serendipitous, and definitely not something we could ever afford in a million years, so we had to nail it in a couple of days, haha. The single flaw I guess is that neither of us can ski for shit, so with our ‘high speed ski chase’ we had to improvise a little….

We’re big fans of your immense, raucous sounds, but who or what would you cite as your main influences?
The Garden, The Kills, The Voidz, Ho99o9, Grimes, Deap Vally, Electric Wizard, Promiseland… 

You’ve previously supported the likes of Drenge, as well as playing the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds festivals, but is there a particular show you’ve played in the past that stands out as a particular highlight?
I think it’s gotta be Leeds Festival. We’re still so new and playing Reading & Leeds was such an unbelievably big jump (which I’m not sure we’ll be able to live up to for a while, haha), and the first day at Reading we were just destroyed by nerves. The staff and stage crew were all amazing and so hospitable, but there was just this insane amount of pressure not to mess up, as well as having a bunch of cameras all pointed at you and knowing if you swore you were gonna get blacklisted and not broadcast! But all the stressful stuff was done at Reading, so Leeds was just pure enjoyment. You could even see it with all the other bands. Backstage at Reading everyone was very quiet and keeping to themselves, not really drinking. Backstage at Leeds everyone was laughing and all mingling together, getting pissed in the rain and swearing their hearts out on stage. It was such a welcome relief and, even though there weren’t really that many people in the crowd, everyone just had such a good time!

You’re currently based in Brighton which is well known for its array of new bands and artists! Are there any in particular you’ve come across recently that you’d recommend we check out?
I think the best band in Brighton right now is Clt Drp. They had a brief hiatus while their singer Annie went back to Canada, but I feel like they’re gonna do some really cool shit this year!

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
You know, we spend a lot of time thinking about this. I think for young DIY bands like us, to think of the music industry as one singular thing – like one building you need to get the key to – is just not going to help you. The industry is so monstrously huge and multi-faceted that there’s no one size fits all solution to ‘breaking through’. And NONE of it is what it looks like on paper, and there’s a LOT of people who will cash in on your naivety. In Brighton, there’s bands that can have gigged solidly for like seven years and put out three albums, but are still unsigned and can’t get on festival rosters. Then there’s bands that seemingly pop out of nowhere with thousands of likes and are headlining European tours without ever having released a single. And you think HOW?! It’s mind-boggling to try and wrap your head around it, because there’s so much secrecy around it too. Essentially, it just comes down to who you know. Some acts just know someone who knows someone who puts them in touch and starts dropping their name into the right conversations and voila. That’s not something you can replicate without those hookups, and you can’t bog yourself down trying to keep up with it.

Having started completely clueless and now entering our third year, we have learnt so so much and we’ve come to the point now where we’re stepping away from trying to be acknowledged by the places we all seem to be desperately competing to get the attention of, and focusing on the smaller scale – what we want to make, how we do that, who we want to hear us, and how we make that happen. There are bands on minimum wage jobs paying thousands to companies that say they ‘might’ get them on a big Spotify playlist, and it’s kind of soul-destroying. We always make sure we’re constantly observing and watching and learning whilst cultivating organic relationships and connections. Bands at this level are kind of being encouraged to spend all of their time and energy on licking industry ass, but we’d much rather have full creative control of what we do and actually communicate with the people who take time out of their lives to listen to our music and come to our shows. A lot of people think we’re probably stupid for doing that at this critical point, but… fuck them. We make punk music, we’re gonna do it our way, and we’re gonna make it work.

It’s that time of year when we’re just starting to hear about all the various festival line-ups… which ones are you particularly looking forward to?
Kylie Minogue at Glastonbury is all I care about right now. Primavera kills it every year, but… they don’t have Kylie, so.

Finally, what else does 2019 have in store for Sit Down?
Collaboration. We’ve been so precious about it just being the two of us, ever since way back from when we first met. But we’ve finally started to realise we can’t let that inhibit us in making what we want to make. You’re gonna start seeing a lot more than just two faces on the stages we play. And we are so so excited about it.

Massive thanks to Sit Down for answering our questions! 

‘Teeth’, the new single from Sit Down, is out now. Catch them live at The Windmill Brixton on 22nd February, with Pussyliquor, Petty Phase and Crack Foxes.

Interview: Our Girl

Following last year’s debut album Stranger Today, we’ve been massive fans of the lush, fuzzed out sounds of Our Girl. And now, having supported the likes of Bill Ryder Jones, as playing as wowing crowds headlining The Garage, they’ve announced a gig at London’s Southbank Centre next month.

Ahead of the upcoming intimate set, we caught up with Soph from the band to find out more…

Hi Our Girl, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about how you all initially got together and started creating music?
Hey! Josh and I were living in Brighton at the time, and I had written a bunch of songs I was desperate to get a band together for. I was obsessed with this Canadian two piece called Cousins at the time, so I initially imagined the band would be a two piece. It totally needed bass though, and Josh and I really wanted to play together so, although he’s primarily a guitarist, he started playing bass! We then tracked down Lauren through friends of friends and met up for a practice. We asked her to be in the band on the spot and it’s been the three of us ever since!

Your debut album Stranger Today was out last year to much acclaim, can you tell us about the writing process and the inspiration behind this album?
The songs on the record were written over a period of four years. About half the record was written before we started playing live, so it was really nice to be able to finally get them on record and make them sound exactly how we wanted them to. I write the songs at home on the guitar, and then I’ll normally send Josh and Lauren an unfinished demo. We’ll then get together in a practice room near where we live and we’ll flesh it out! It’s such a satisfying feeling when it all comes together.

We’re big fans of your lush, fuzzed out sounds, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Thanks very much! We have so many different influences – I guess our sound is just the product of them all coming together! It’s not something we think of consciously during the writing process, but when I started writing songs I was listening to a lot of St. Vincent (mainly Strange Mercy which is my favourite of her records). I love the dynamics and theatrics in her music. We’re all fans of Warpaint too, seeing them perform as a teenager really solidified my want to play music with people. They make it look so easy and fun and I love the way they interact and play off each other – that’s a huge part of the joy of being in a band.

You’ve previously supported the likes of Bill Ryder Jones and Pale Waves, but is there a particular gig you’ve played that stands out as a highlight over the last couple of years? Our own headline show at The Garage was one of my favourite shows ever. It was the biggest headline show we’ve ever done and the crowd was amazing. It felt like we’d been building up to it for a long time, so it was quite cathartic. Another one of our faves was supporting our friend Marika Hackman at Shepherds Bush Empire! The venue’s beautiful, we had a great time.

And you’re going to be playing at London’s Southbank Centre next month, how are you feeling about this? And how do you think it will differ from your other gigs?
Yeah really excited! We played there (in the Queen Elizabeth Hall) when we supported Bill Ryder Jones and it was one of my favourite shows. I was a bit daunted by the idea of having everyone seated but actually it felt quite special. This show will feel similar but it’s in the Purcell Room which is smaller so will be quite intimate and we’re playing some more stripped down songs from a record we made called Bedroom Record which is an album of demos that accompanied our debut Stranger Today.

You’re currently based in Brighton which is well known for its array of new bands and artists! Are there any in particular you’ve come across recently that you’d recommend we check out?
We’ve actually all moved to London now but Brighton is one of my favourite places. A new Brighton based band I think are great are CLT DRP. It’s heavy and quite different to other things coming out of Brighton at the moment I think.

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
Yeah I think it is difficult. It’s also so multifaceted it’s hard to know who you even want to get noticed by. I guess it depends on what you want from being in a band! There are a lot of bands all trying to achieve the same things, especially in London, which makes it harder. Having said that, there are lots of opportunities for new bands to play gigs – DIY have set up a cool scheme that bands can apply to to get shows. We also have friends who put on shows which give new bands an opportunity to perform in really friendly and supportive environments (Echochamp do a lot in Brighton and Memorials of Distinction in London).

It’s that time of year when we’re just starting to hear about all the various festival line-ups… which ones are you particularly looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to Liverpool Sound City! We recorded part of our record there and loved it, so it’ll be nice to be back.

Finally, besides your upcoming gig at Southbank Centre, what else does 2019 have in store for Our Girl?
Well, we have a UK tour around the Southbank Centre show that are all in intimate venues/churches so I think that’ll be quite an interesting change from the kinds of places we normally play. After that it’s festival season and in the gaps we’re going to be writing and working on new songs!

Huge thanks to Our Girl for answering our questions! Catch them live at The Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room on 6th March at 7.45pm – tickets available here

Photo Credit: Hollie Fernando

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.

Interview: Dream Nails – ‘Take Up Space’

As if putting on immense, riotous live performances wasn’t enough, in September last year GIHE’s favourite Feminist Punk Witches Dream Nails decided to blow our minds in a slightly different way – by putting on their first ever acoustic set at infamous independent and anti-fascist bookshop Housmans. A much smaller space than the band have played in the past, the gig was a wonderfully intimate experience, and – whilst perhaps quieter in volume – no less powerful and empowering than your usual raucous Dream Nails gig.

And if you weren’t able to make the gig, fear not! Dream Nails have now made the full recording of the set into a new acoustic album, appropriately entitled Take Up Space. And it’s most certainly worth a listen. Showcasing their luscious harmonies and poignant songwriting in a way we’ve not yet heard, it proves that plugged in or acoustic, Dream Nails are a sparkling, formidable force. Combining impassioned activism and infectious tunes, they consistently inspire and motivate us to get up, make our voices heard and fight fascism with all our might.

We caught up with Mimi, Janey, Lucy and Anya to find out more…

Hi Dream Nails, welcome back to Get In Her Ears! How are you doing today?
Mimi: Thank you! I’m refreshed and ready for 2019.
Janey: I’m rested too!
Lucy: Ran 4 miles on the treadmill this morning like a little excited hamster so I’m bathing in the endorphins right now.
Anya: Me and Janey just did a songwriting session and I’m gassed about our latest ideas, including one about feminism and the future of technology. I can’t say what it’s about but it’s completely ridiculous and hilarious.

We’re super excited to hear about the release of your new acoustic album Take Up Space! What was it that inspired you to record this – something perhaps so different from what fans might expect?
Mimi: We really feel there’s magic in our live shows. In the past we’ve tried to record some shows, but it’s always really difficult because of the sound in the venues, and it’s never come out that great. We thought this was a perfect opportunity to try again, in a less noisy setting.
Janey: We put so much thought into our song lyrics and vocal harmonies, and much of that gets lost in the fuzz of a punk PA system. This gig was a chance to finally let our songs breathe and the lyrics be heard.
Lucy: We were excited to listen to the recordings but didn’t know how good they would turn out and certainly didn’t expect to release them! We only had one acoustic rehearsal before the show and were very pleased with the new dimension the songs have taken on!
Anya: We also wanted to try more of an intimate show, more of ‘an evening with Dream Nails’ sort of thing where the crowd were very much part of the show and we could be really spontaneous with our interactions.

The album was recorded at your intimate gig at Housman’s Bookshop (which was a pretty wonderful evening!) in September last year – how was this experience for you? And how did it differ from your usual gig set ups?
Mimi: For me, I had no distortion pedals and no big amps, I was playing my semi-acoustic bass guitar. My bass was very à la Violent Femmes. It was a much more intimate setting with no stage, and it was a lot of fun to be in with the crowd and hear everyone’s laughs during all of the funny bits.
Janey: That gig was so much fun, and a challenge for us because the audience were sitting right in front of us in pretty good lighting – we could see everyone! That completely changed the dynamic and made it special.
Lucy: Yeah it was exposing at first and I was more than a little nervous! I’m usually hiding at the back on my all-seeing drum throne, so this was my chance to get my jokes and chat in too. I got pretty over-excited tbh. Fun fact: the tom and snare drums I was using were propped up on old Delia Smith cookery books and I think you can definitely hear this in the music!
Anya: I actually play an acoustic guitar borrowed from Dave McManus who runs Everything Sucks Music, one of the labels we work with! It was weird playing an acoustic and I had to change a few things in the songs to make it work, but it was a fun challenge. My hands were like frozen claws by the end – an acoustic is a lot harder work, strangely!

Do you feel that putting on a gig in such a different setting opened up your music to some people who may not normally be able to attend gigs in late night bars/music venues?
Mimi: Yes definitely! We really want to play more bookshops. Because most gigs are in bars, it’s almost impossible to hold all ages shows, and we would love to play to younger people.
Janey: Almost all punk shows are held in squats, basements or alcohol-based venues, which excludes a lot of people from experiencing our live music, and we wanted to change that. At this show, we had more under-18, muslim and disabled fans than usual, many of whom mentioned they hadn’t managed to get to a show before. This show was our most inclusive by far, and I want to do more gigs where we transform a community space into a gig space.
Lucy: Our shows are accessible as we can make them, but I feel like the audience were so relaxed at this show and that contributed to a very special atmosphere. It was early in the evening and the fact that no one felt they had negotiate beer being chucked around, creepy dudes at the bar, dark and sometimes intimidating spaces and pushing created a calmness that was palpable.
Anya: We also live streamed it via Facebook with the help of Get in Her Ears, which we’ll probably do more of in the future so our fans in other countries can see the bookshop gigs we do.

Has having had the experience of performing acoustically changed the way you approach writing songs now?
Lucy: You know what, it’s made me itching to get more into the composition side of our music. Hearing everything so stripped back, and being mindful of how our songs sound in the state will surely translate when we start writing again (imminently!).
Anya: It’s definitely reinforced my feeling that our songs need to work on an acoustic guitar or they won’t work at all!

The album includes a couple of new songs… including ‘Jillian’ and ‘Chirpse Degree Burns (Text Me Back)’ – can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind these tracks?
Mimi: ‘Jillian’ is about Jillian Michaels, a fitness personality who has a workout DVD called ‘The 30 Day Shred’. It was permanently in my DVD player growing up, she is seriously strong and fierce, and I definitely memorised her chat throughout the entire workout. Her message is that you can push yourself and literally be strong!
Janey: Mimi and I really bonded over our shared love of Jillian. To be honest, the 30 Day Shred was my first experience of exercise and recognising how good it was for my mental health. I have Jillian to thank for that. Plus she’s one of my queer idols.
Lucy: ‘Chirpse Degree Burns’ (fyi chirpse is London slang for flirt and can be a noun, verb or adjective) is tragically close to the hearts of me and another anonymous band member. It was written in an emotional outburst during the comedown of Glastonbury 2017 when Anya (oops) and I were thwarted by our short-lived festival loves. I don’t get it?! We are a catch and also 1000000% chill as the song we wrote will attest to!
Anya: There’s also a new track ‘Time Ain’t No Healer’ which is about how much work it is to get over the troubles in your life and recover from trauma. The idea is you can’t just wait for time to do it for you, it takes a conscious effort. And probably a therapist, lol.

The album’s appropriately entitled Take Up Space, which very much ties in with your mantra of “Girls To The Front” at gigs. How important do you think it is for girls/non binary/female-identifying people to take up space in the music industry? And what do you think people can be doing to encourage this more?
Mimi: It’s hard to encourage women and non binary people to get into the music industry because you just know they’re going to meet so many obstacles, which are only there because of deep set misogyny. It just needs to be challenged by everyone. I can’t bear to think of how many women and non binary bands have quit doing music because of people being shit to them at every turn. Even little things – like I can’t even count how many times a sound guy has told me where to plug my bass in.
Janey: Bookers need to change their policies, and introduce diversity quotas. The musicians are out there. Look harder. There’s no excuse for all-male tour line-ups anymore. The issues within the music industry are structural, and need to be met with structural changes.
Lucy: Obviously the need is vital and I’d like to quote an iconic Anya statement here relating to all-male bands: “men, ask yourselves, does the world need any more of your dry music?” We try to hammer home the idea that skill level and technical know-how does not take precedence when it comes to music, no matter what intimidating sound people, music shop assistants, or band boys would like you to think. YOUR music and experiences are valid and vital and you’re the only person in this world who can make it. Until these structural changes manifest, we endeavour to create these spaces and opportunities ourselves.
Anya: For women to Take Up Space, men need to Make Up Space. Make way, not today, man bands, go away!

As ‘Feminist Punk Witches, what does ‘punk’ mean to you?
Mimi: Punk means challenging everything, even the definition of ‘punk’. It’s about being a good ally, standing up for what’s right, being an activist, taking our lives into our own hands. It bothers me that people like Donald Trump and Doug Ford (Canadian Premier of Ontario, where I’m from, who literally fucked Ontario) are seen as punks, only because they’re kind of rogue outsiders from the political world?? They’re the farthest thing from punks, their only intention is to fuck the little guy and they only benefit the rich.
Janey: For me, punk is about shared creation. Not just tearing the world apart, but challenging the status quo by building a new one. I think the punkest thing we do isn’t even our music, but the bands we support behind the scenes, or making sure promoters have gender-neutral toilets.
Lucy: Punk is about utilising a rebellious spirit in a way that DOES NOT resemble a teenager with a “my mum and dad aren’t home, no one can tell me what to do” attitude. For me, the rebelliousness of punk is about radical collectivity, thoughtfulness, inquisitiveness, joy, rage and action that both strengthens you and provides relief in a world and city that seeks to crush you.
Anya: Some of our dearest female idols like Viv Albertine and Patti Smith interrogated the world as they saw it, threw stale, patriarchal convention out of the window, and filled their world with new meaning. Punk is about being thoughtful and honest. It’s interesting that they both taught themselves to play guitars as young women. Being self taught makes you approach music differently, I think.

So, after the experience of playing acoustically in Housman’s, do Dream Nails have plans to play any more acoustic shows in 2019?
Mimi:
This is something we are seriously talking about and would love to do a radical bookshop tour!
Janey: 100%!
Lucy: Yes! It feels so pure!
Anya: I’ll only play in places where they have the entire back catalogue of Simone De Beauvoir now. It’s my rider.

And what else do you have up your sparkly sleeves for the rest of the year??
Mimi: We are going to be spending a lot of the first part of this year writing and recording for our debut album release (not acoustic), and then playing many festivals over the summer.
Janey: We’re headed to Switzerland in the first week of February, and are playing four shows there! Follow us on Instagram for our tour stories, they never fail to delight.
Anya: We are curating a stage at one of our favourite festivals this year. We can’t say which one, but it involves a zine making workshop for young people and I’m so excited.
Lucy: Aside from this, my personal dream is to sell our critically acclaimed ‘Chipadvisor’ chip reviewing YouTube series to Netflix. We would use the proceeds from this to buy ourselves more chips.

Massive thanks to Dream Nails for answering our questions!

Take Up Space is available exclusively on Bandcamp, where you can also get hold of an awesome accompanying t-shirt designed by illustrator Sumena Owen.

 

Photo Credit: Poppy Marriot

Introducing Interview: CHILDCARE

Having received acclaim from the likes of The Line Of Best Fit and BBC Radio 1, softcore-psych group CHILDCARE have returned with the release of their new single ‘Bamboo’.

With Emma Topolski taking the reins as lead vocalist, ‘Bamboo’ is an instant indie-pop anthem, filled with scuzzy hooks, luscious harmonies and an infectious psych-driven haze.

We caught up with the band to find out more…

Hi CHILDCARE, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about the band?
We’re a four piece softcore-psych band from London that are really very good.

How did you initially all get together and start creating music?
I started the band a few years ago when I was working as a nanny, hence the name CHILDCARE. Over time I got these guys involved; Emma the bassist I met at a party, Rich the guitarist I knew from other bands and Glyn the drummer I met on a mini golf course.

Your new single ’Bamboo’ is out very soon – can you tell us what it’s all about?
‘Bamboo’ is a metaphor for ego. It’s about understanding the relevance of it but recognising how it can be limiting and that most of our mental difficulties are as a result of having an ego.

You’ve been compared to the likes of Everything Everything and Our Girl, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Well loads of stuff, I guess most decent guitar music from the last fifty years, so let’s say Pixies and Radiohead, but melodically and harmonically also R’n’b, Beyonce etc.

How is your local music scene? Do you go to see lots of live music?
Local is a slightly tricky word in London, though obviously we have mates in bands we go and watch. And yeah I go to a fair amount of gigs, last three big ones were Pixies, Kendrick Lamar and LCD Soundsystem.

And what can fans expect from your live shows?
Guided meditation, dangerous guitars, weeping fans and strong poses.

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
Check out Lazy Day who just supported us on tour, I’d describe them as psych-grunge.

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
In London it’s pretty difficult, but I used to live in Leeds and it was a lot easier there. You’ll have more luck making a name for yourself somewhere smaller. As to the music industry, well there’s no money for very new acts really, so just be prepared to work on your own and fund everything yourself for a few years.

Finally, what does the rest of 2018 have in store for CHILDCARE?
Finish album, play two gigs in London on 14th and Manchester on the 16th, get better at table-tennis.

Massive thanks to CHILDCARE for answering our questions!