INTERVIEW: Noga Erez

When I meet Noga Erez in Clapton, East London, on a Sunday afternoon, she’s trying on suits for an upcoming photo shoot with her Stylist David Evans. There’s a vintage-looking Mulberry suit, an incredible “Beetle-juice” striped number (David’s reference) as well as a colourful pink & orange play suit. “There’s something psychological about play suits, you always need to pee when you’re wearing them” jokes Erez, and I nod enthusiastically because I know the #playsuitstruggle.

I feel at ease around her; her clothes and her comments are practical as well as cool; a great combination in an artist who has been on the rise since the release of her debut album, Off The Radar, in 2017. I ask her what she’s most proud of about this record: “Because of the many things surrounding the making of the album, and the people I partnered up with, I was able to really make it my way and keep it very authentic. That is something that I feel I had to challenge with the new album, ‘cos making a second album is always kind of a reflection on your first, and there are expectations. Whereas with the first, no-one expected anything of me. That’s the spirit that I want to maintain: something that is very authentic and not compromising in any way.”

This defiant spirit underscores her second LP, which is set for release in 2020. There has been a minor compromise though, but not in a negative way. Together Erez and her partner Ori Rousso have written “too many songs”, so they need to refine their track list: “We’re in a situation where we have a lot of songs to choose from right now. Maybe we have to say goodbye to some of them and release them separately. We’ve been writing so much music, and it’s been over a period of over more than two years, so  it kind of feels like the ones we wrote at the beginning are not the same as the ones that we write now. It’s weird, an album is a documentation of chunk of a person’s life, it’s spread over what feels to me like such a long time, it’s going to look like an album from different periods of time.”

This idea of documentation is something that fans and journalists were quick to pick up on after her debut release. In a 2017 interview with The Guardian, Erez said she had been called “brave” for speaking out about the conflicts in her hometown of Tel Aviv. I ask her if she still thinks its necessary to confront these issues alongside her music, and her response is incredibly diplomatic: “I am in no way a politician or an activist, or anything like that. I’m considered to be politically aware. During the time that I wrote Off The Radar, I was kind of obsessively connected to what was happening. I get periods of time in my life when I’m more like that, and sometimes I’m the opposite. Anything that has to do with the media especially, I feel like the more I read it, the more I get a different perspective. I’m just being flooded with information. It’s so hard for me to tell what is reality, and what is not. Being confused is one thing, but also feeling like someone wants me to be confused is another. So I just want to shut myself off and not be touched by that every now and then.”

“I still feel like I would have to handle the fact that this is where I come from, but what I gradually discovered is I never needed to talk about it as much as when it was included in the album campaign. It was weird to me. But, that story made me stand out in a way, so I feel like if I want to be very selfish, I would probably still continue to talk about it as I can’t really avoid it, I’m going to be asked about it, so I still try to maintain to some kind of connection with what is happening. But I really do feel like the best thing that I can represent right now that will be really genuine is how very confused I am about everything. The only thing I can say is that I have no idea. We look for people who tell us things, accurate things, but I cannot provide that about where I come from, or about this world, and I kind of feel like the problems of my country are minor problems. The world has bigger issues, the more the conversation becomes a global conversation, I think there’s a benefit for all of us to start talking beyond our boundaries.”

“There’s such a nationalistic kind of conversation going on about taking care of the poor people of your country, or the political problem of your country, or the surrounding countries. But the thing that we should all try to consider is our main problems, as of today, are global problems. The more we talk about the world in a global way, the better.”

Fans of Erez’s track ‘Global Fear’ will certainly resonate with her sentiments. I change the subject back to her new album, and ask what details she can share with me. “I’m not obliged to keep anything a secret, and that’s the atmosphere surrounding this whole new project. The first album, I needed to tackle more political issues. It felt to me like I had to explain to people that the fact that I come from that place, doesn’t mean that I represent what that place represents. Now that I feel like I’ve checked that box, it’s a more personal album. I feel like it’s kind of a cliché to say “it’s my most personal project yet”, but I love this new album so much that I don’t want to give up any of the songs.”

“I kind of feel like this album is going to be divided in to sections. Parts of it still deal with more global issues and things that have been going on in the world that I still have to reflect on, but there’s a personal side to things because these past two years after releasing Off The Radar were an amazing two years career-wise, but at the same time personally, we dealt with Ori’s Mum passing away. She died of cancer, and she wanted to die at home, and we saw her in the process of that. There was so much to process – so many amazing things – but so many fucked up things. It was just a mixture of all of it at once. Which is life! But sometimes you feel that everything is intense on both sides, so that is a major part of it. And also, having the perspective of being an artist that already has some music out there, and realizing what being an artist and being a persona is all about. That’s where it touches.”

Blending the personal and the political is something Erez does exceptionally well, as some of her standalone singles ‘Bad Habits’ and ‘Cash Out’ (feat. SAMMUS) have shown. I’m particularly intrigued by the video she created to accompany ‘Cash Out’. The visuals tell a story of a society without men, where women are left to fend for themselves, pitted against each other in punishing street-fights. I ask her about the creative process behind these visuals, which prompts her to talk about the development of her lyricism: “The songs take you to places. Whenever a song is done – I’m going through this process now with the second album – I realise that after writing the lyrics, I understand them so differently. Sometimes, you understand them immediately, but with other songs you leave them behind and when you read the lyrics again you’re like “what the fuck was I talking about?” This is why I love this second album so much, because I’m reading the lyrics and I’m like “I can’t believe I wrote this!”. This is a perspective that I didn’t even know that I had.”

“The thing about words, they are so deceiving. Words are the worst form of communication. I feel like music is so accurate. It captures something in a way that words could never do. But the fun thing about words, is that you meant something, but then you can forget about it, and when you come back to it, it means something so different. It feels like you are reading something that was written by someone else. That’s kind of how my videos are made. With ‘Cash Out’, I was basically writing a checklist of how to be a very strong and successful woman in today’s world. It’s the most cliché checklist: “eat breakfast / not too much / be skinny / not too much…” all those things and a lot of contradictions in between. Then, when I re-read the whole thing, I felt there was some kind of internal violence to it.”

“I feel like sometimes the voices that I have in my head are extremely violent. I am being very violent towards myself. In a way, I feel like that is a very female thing. I don’t think Ori – my partner in life and in music – struggles with the same inner conflicts or inner violence. ‘Cash Out’ was just me taking the violence that I have in my head, those voices that keep telling me to do something – it doesn’t matter how well I’m doing, they are still there – it’s never enough. So the women in this ‘Cash Out’ world are all me. And I’m taking myself in to a battle scene, a fight scene, and I put myself in front of my other self and go ahead and let them kick each other’s asses. I never thought about that when I wrote it, but that’s what happened.”

It’s strangely comforting to hear that Erez struggles with self doubt, like so many women in both the music industry and in wider society. I attempt to reassure her by saying that her persona is formidable, showing no signs of insecurity, and that both her music and her performance style translate as incredibly confident. Her reply is very diplomatic: “I’m happy that I’m able to be very frank about the fact that that’s just not the case. I think it’s hardly ever the case. There’s something very selective about the way I choose to present myself, like all of us, I deal with a lot of shit that is pure weakness, and things that I have to tackle in myself. There’s a lot of insecurity in me, but then eventually I become more aware of the fact that weaknesses are something that you have to grab on to and say okay, that’s the most valuable thing in life. Failures are the most valuable lessons in life. If you get straight A’s in tests – then good for you – but if you fail a test, then it’s the best possible scenario. Easier said than done, but that’s where I’m trying to go mentally.”

I ask about her collaborations with SAMMUS and ECHO, and if she consciously collaborates with other female rappers. As the words leave my mouth, I already feel like I have made a mistake by bringing gender in to the question. This is something I strive to leave out of the majority of my interview questions for GIHE, but today I’ve slipped up and I’ve left it in. But, as Noga has just pointed out, mistakes are valuable, and her response is authentic: “No, I don’t seek to collaborate with any musician because of their gender. Gender plays a very minor role. The one thing that I hate, is when I read about “female rappers”, that kind of gives me the cringe, even though I know it is necessary from the standpoint of people who write about music, and even from the standpoint of someone who reads it.”

“We’re still in a place where you have to add “female” to everything. It’s a language thing, it’s so weird. In Hebrew, you have a gender for every word, in English you have to add something in order for it to be gendered. That’s why words and language can be so fucked up, because it changes the atmosphere about everything. So in English, you have to make that distinction sometimes, which is sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. In Hebrew, I feel like the fact that you have a word for a female singer and a male singer, doesn’t give you the option to look at things from a non-gender perspective. I think about these things so much, but I have a collaboration with a rapper on my new album who happens to have a penis, I really truly don’t give a fuck about none of that. It just has to really feel right. Both ‘Chin Chin’ and ‘Cash Out’ are songs from a female perspective. So it made sense to work with women.”

“I find myself needing to balance the issue of gender whenever I have to curate a playlist. What I do immediately, naturally, I put a lot of men on it. My stars, a lot of them are male – Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar. Then I get conscious about that, so I add female artists in. That’s me being real with you about making a conscious decision to have some kind of positive discrimination. It’s a progress. Expecting it to be naturally what we want it to be, you have to be realistic. I feel like when I released my first album in the midst of the #MeToo movement, people were kind of putting the feminist suit on me. I’m a lot of things, a feminist is one of them for sure, but it took a place in the conversation that is larger than the role that is actually plays in my life.”

Her honesty is refreshing, and I re-frame the question, asking her what she thinks makes for a good collaboration. “That’s a good question, especially as I feel collabs have become like a marketing thing, more than they are an artistic thing. But I don’t judge, I think collaborations are great, so the most important thing is that the person that you have on your track gives a really good new perspective to the subject that you were tackling. That’s what happened to me with SAMMUS. When she sent that verse for ‘Cash Out’, Ori & I were at home listening to it, and we were both reacting the same – “Wowwww…what the fuck did she just do!?” – that is how it should be.”

“I knew her music for a while, and I knew she was an amazing lyricist. She’s a poet, and there’s something about her voice, and where she comes from, and her background; I knew it was going to be something different. The song’s concept is a list of things you have to do to be a “good woman”, a “strong and successful” woman even from a feminist world. So my list was so different to hers. In my list, you have to be skinny, but in her world as a woman of colour, that’s just not it. It was one of the things that made me realise that we’re not all in the same boat, you know? We’re in the same boat in the sense that we are being told what do to, who to be, what to wear and what to look like, but that varies depending on who you are. When we are all seen as “women” it flattens it, I feel. So a good collaboration would be having someone twist something so well that it helps you learn something new.”

I ask her what she learned from her collaboration with Israel’s esteemed Camerata Orchestra in 2018. Renowned artist Shlomi Shaban invited Erez to perform re-worked songs from her debut album at Tel Aviv’s prestigious Performing Art Center, and it was captured on film and recorded as a special release titled RaDaR Reworked. I also ask her about the practical side of rehearsing with a live band, as usually she performs solo. “It’s good that you mention rehearsals, because there weren’t many of them. I got this opportunity handed to me, funded by someone. It was perfect. They did a lot of performances, but I was the only one who brought 80 microphones to the venue and recorded and filmed the whole thing.”

“Ori mixed it and it was crazy, such hard work, but I knew that I had gold in my hands. For me it was surreal, because I always imagined myself with an orchestra, but it was something that was supposed to come so much later. We’d started preparing all of the orchestrations about a year in advance, and the reason we had to prepare it so well was because we had only one rehearsal with the orchestra. Unfortunately, that’s how it is with orchestras who don’t have a lot of money. It made it an even more stressful experience, just getting used to the atmosphere of having this whole thing behind me, I would have loved to have spent more time with it.”

“Honest to God, I had a really bad time the two weeks before that show. I wasn’t able to sleep, I wasn’t able to go to the bathroom, so when I got on stage I was a mess. It came out great, but I feel like I had to compensate for a lot of it afterwards in the process of mixing and keeping it dynamic. There’s something dynamic about an orchestra, there’s something dynamic about classical music. Sometimes it’s really soft, then it goes really loud – and I knew that because I’m coming from a background of studying composition, so the dynamic thing was so important to me. I wanted to tackle that as a performer, but that was the one thing that just did not happen. It was loud and stressed, but luckily that is something you can easily fix in mixing. Honestly, the process was a disaster” – she laughs at this comment – “but Ori was able to do such a great job with helping that sound dynamic.”

It’s mad how even when she doesn’t feel like she’s at the top of her game, Erez still creates captivating music. I ask her what artists are currently captivating her: “I’ve been coming back to the latest James Blake release in the last few days, because the first time I heard it I didn’t actually like it, but it grew on me. Also, Tkay Maidza. She’s an Australian rapper. I would love to collaborate with her. I discovered her through a collaboration that she did with a band called J-E-T-S. She’s fabulous. She also just did a song with JPEGMAFIA called ‘Awake’. I love her.”

My time with Noga Erez is now up, so I thank her profusely for her willingness to answer my questions, and for making such an addictive debut album. She hugs me goodbye, but before I leave, she asks “So, is Get In Her Ears a play on “Get In Her Pants”?” I laugh sheepishly and explain the only thing I’m trying to “get into” are good records, and interesting interviews with artists I admire. With Noga Erez, I’ve accomplished exactly that.

Follow Noga Erez on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram for more updates.

Photo Credit: Timo Kerber 

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Interview: Girl Ray

Following 2017’s Earl Grey, GIHE faves Girl Ray are set to release their new album, Girl, later this month. And we couldn’t be happier with the news.

Whilst we’ve been big fans of Girl Ray’s dreamily jangly offerings for a long while now, their new album seems to signal a slight change in a poppier direction, and we’re loving what we’ve heard of it so far.

We caught up with Poppy Hankin from the band to find out more…

Hi Girl Ray, welcome to Get In Her Ears! How are you doing at the moment?
Doing really well thanks! About to eat lunch.

You’re about to release your new album – Girl – on 22nd November, which is super exciting! Can you tell us a bit about it? How does it differ from your beautiful last album Earl Grey?
Of course! Girl is us trying our very best to do pop. Although Earl Grey will always be a special album to us, touring it so much definitely made us crave a change in sound for the next album. We’d been listening to a lot of mainstream pop before recording, and I think the universal appeal of it was something that interested us and made us want to have a crack at writing a pop album of our own. 

What is your songwriting process normally like? Does one of your tend to take the lead, or is it quite a collaborative process?
I usually do most of the writing at home in my room. Although, for this album we collaborated on writing ‘Keep It Tight’ and ‘Let It Go’ together which was really fun! This time round I was using Logic to write, playing around with midi keyboards and different synth sounds and beats to find something that stuck. After I’ve recorded a demo, then Sophie and Iris will work out their drum and bass parts.

And is there anyone or anything in particular who inspires your writing?
For this album, I think I was looking more to producers for inspiration rather than writers. I’d try and listen out for different production techniques and replicate them through our own filter. With ‘Keep It Tight’ we were inspired by Max Martin’s ’00s pop, with ‘Show Me More’ I was listening to a lot of Mark Ronson written/produced tracks and took inspiration from his more polished approach to funk, and with ‘Let It Go’ we were trying to go minimal like Drake.

I’ve been lucky enough to catch you live a couple of times, most recently at Indietracks Festival last summer (I actually proposed to my husband straight after your set – ‘Stupid Things’ is one of ‘our’ songs!), but do you have a particular gig or show that you’ve played that stands out as a particular highlight of your career so far?
That’s so incredibly sweet, congratulations! Hmmm… I think playing Scala was my (and all of our) favourite gig. It had sold out and all of our favourite people were in the audience as it was a hometown show. I was so tense before the show, but as soon as I got on stage I just became really elated. It sounds so intensely cheesy but you could feel that the room was filled with love and positive energy. That was really special. Plus, we got loads of our friends and family on for the last song to play ‘Earl Grey (Stuck In A Groove)’ which is the needlessly long title track of our first album. That was fun.

You were recently named as a PRS New Momentum Artist, which is fantastic news! Can you explain a bit about what this means?
It means that PRS have given us a hugely generous grant to help us with touring costs. There are so many costs that come with touring that you don’t really think about, and this grant means that we don’t have to stress about money for a little while. It’s really sorted us out! 

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands and artists at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to start out and get noticed?
I think that, thanks to social media and new music platforms, it’s easier than ever to get picked up as a new band. If you’re making interesting music and the right person stumbles upon it, then you’re sorted. Well, maybe it’s not that simple… But I’m feeling positive!!

As we’re a new music focused platform, are there any new bands or artists that you’ve been listening to lately that you’d recommend we check out?
I saw Free Love play at Visions a few months ago and thought that they were incredible. Their music is dancey and clubby and generally very cool. Plus their live set was INSANE.

Finally, in addition to the release of your album, what else does the rest of 2019 have in store for Girl Ray?
We’re about to set off on tour with Metronomy, which we’re really excited about. We’ve been fans of theirs forever. Other than that, we’re releasing the album on the 22nd November and doing bits and bobs around that!

Massive thanks to Poppy for answering our questions! 

Girl, the new album from Girl Ray, is out 22nd November via Moshi Moshi. Catch Girl Ray live on tour with Metronomy:

6th November – Southampton, O2 Guildhall
8th November – London, Roundhouse
9th November – Manchester Academy
14th November – Bristol, O2 Academy
15th November – Nottingham, Rock City

 

Photo Credit: Laura McCluskey

Interview: Bang Bang Romeo

Having been completely blown away by the immense force of Doncaster’s Bang Bang Romeo live at Cro Cro Land earlier this year, it was with excitement that I ventured out on a rainy Thursday night to see them again last week.

With their current UK tour in full swing, having already sold out shows in Birmingham, Manchester and Southampton (amongst others), and with the injuries to show for it (drummer Richard broke his foot in an unfortunate accident coming off stage in Birmingham, but is continuing to play gigs like a trooper), the band are in good spirits when I catch them for a quick chat before the gig at Omeara.

The tour’s been beyond what we expected”, front woman Stars enthuses when I ask how it’s been going so far. “We’ve sold out every night… it’s crazy. Of course, we’d hoped that Leeds and Sheffield and places close to home would sell out. But, for places down here, like Southampton, it blows my mind; driving so far away from where friends and family are, there are no guestlists, it’s just genuine fans. It’s a great feeling.”

Discussing how the crowds have all been totally “up for it“, Stars tells me how it’s been the first time she’s experienced receiving gifts from fans. From wooden BBR logos and names tattooed on people’s arms, to tasty Bake Off worthy cakes: “One BBR fan in Edinburgh had seen on social media that my favourite breakfast is Eggs Benedict with black pudding, so they baked a three tier cake in the shape of Eggs Benedict with a shiny pink tutu… And it tasted amazing.”

And so it seems that Bang Bang Romeo’s time has come to win over hearts worldwide with their energy-fuelled anthems and Stars’ unmatched charisma, and it’s fantastic to see this well-deserved success. “There’s been all these weird moments that we’ll never forget… This tour really has been a turning point.”

But what got Bang Bang Romeo started on their journey to ‘stars’dom? Has music always been a part of their lives?

There’s just nothing else we could see ourselves doing,” Stars reflects. “I’m very happy that mine and Ross’ paths crossed a few years ago. We’ve been writing together ever since.” And with Richard Gartland (drums), and the recent addition of Richard (II) on bass, their line-up is now complete. “This is the line-up that you see today,” Stars motions around the cosy dressing room, “We’re a very happy unit.”

We’re all just massive music lovers“, guitarist Ross continues, “We got a lot of inspiration from our dads.” Stars agrees: “We’ve all had our dads as a main focal point for music… Well-played dads!

As well as listening to music from a young age, Stars can’t remember a time that she didn’t love singing – “Dad says I started singing when I came out of the womb… just imagine – ‘I’m here and I’m queer!’” she chants, with that distinctive cheeky glint in her eye. Drummer Richard, too, has been honing those beats since childhood: “I started playing when I was ten. At first, I didn’t like missing Maths for the classes, but as soon as I got into it, I loved it.”

Music has always been an integral part of the band’s lives, and this completely shines through in their boundless passion and enthusiasm for all they do. Music is life, and Bang Bang Romeo’s belief in this is just one of the things which I’d imagine makes so them so popular – their genuine love for what they do resonates deeply in each of their immense performances; it’s impossible not to become swept up in their utterly infectious joyous energy. “Music is everything” Stars explains, “… Whatever experience you have relates to music – happy times, sad times, you wanna pull a girl – music… Music is the real accompaniment to every memory. It’s a wonderful thing. We are all obsessed with it.”

Bang Bang Romeo’s passion and optimism is reflected in their empowering latest single ‘Love Yourself’, which saw them team up with songwriter and producer Example. Of the collaboration, Ross explains: “It all started at a This Feeling TV show we were doing. He (Example) was also there doing an interview, and we just started chatting.” Stars continues: “Mikey Johns – the creator of This Feeling, an organisation that’s always supported us – just introduced us to his mate, Example, and we just both hit it off straight away… We had each other belly-laughing, and he suggested we should work together. Two weeks later, behind the scenes, it had all been sorted out.” Co-writing and recording the song together, the collaboration seemed like a completely natural and pretty relaxed process: “Blueprints of the song were down within two hours. It was just there.

Reflecting on the meaning behind the lyrics and its message of self-love, Stars explains: “The state that social media’s in, with the massive pressure to be perfect… It bleeds into your life and your loved one’s lives. It’s becoming more and more apparent that no one can accept a compliment or be proud of how they look. I’ve experienced it a million times with myself, and with my partner Charlotte too: I’ll say ‘You look beautiful today’, and she’ll say ‘no thanks’… I’m like basically ‘just love yourself!‘” So, it seemed only right to write a song with this message. “We all wanted to roll with that”, she continues, “Ross had had this chorus in his ‘brainlocker’ for a while, and it was just a perfect starting point for this song, and we just built around it…”

Taking this as a starting point, Example, too, was inspired: “He would just suddenly come up with lyrics… He’d be on his phone and we’d be like ‘what the fuck’s he texting for?’, and he’d literally just written the whole songThere were just little things that inspired the lyrics. Like, we were recording in London and it was absolutely pissing it down, and we went somewhere called The Moon, which is where the lyric ‘meet me down the moon some rainy Sunday’ came from. The guy’s a genius, we loved working with him.”

On the subject of working with other members of the pop elite, we discuss the band’s recent support slot on tour with the legendary P!NK. “It was amazing“, Stars recounts, “It was more than we expected. A dream come true. Everything was more than we expected“. Richard interjects: “Especially the catering!

Everything was more. We got told that P!NK’s agent had come to a show we didn’t know about – you don’t expect anything to come from it, and then obviously this happens. So, that was more than expected. Then you think you’ll be playing somewhere like the O2, then it’s Wembley Stadium two nights in a row, so it’s a little more than expected. Then on the catering, you expect chips and burgers and then it’s lamb shank with a dauphinois red wine jus. Everything exceeded every expectation. Including P!NK herself.”

With clear admiration and gratitude, Stars continues: “That saying ‘never meet your heroes’ – whoever came up with that had shite heroes! She’s a total hero of mine, and I know the lads genuinely love her and appreciate her as an artist. She was extremely inspirational in every single way. It really is a testament to her as a person, and an artist, and her whole team – putting on a band like us, a completely unknown band in comparison. I think other artists of her level should take a leaf out of that book because otherwise noone’s gonna have a chance. And we feel like we’ve been given this wonderful chance.”

Again, Stars’ and the band’s genuine emotion and love for what they do shines through. They’re clearly not taking anything for granted and relish every opportunity they get to spread the word about BBR, perform around the world, and recruit new members of the ‘BBRMY’. Their love for each other and closeness as a unit is also explicitly evident; they seem completely at ease with each other; totally on the same page, and frequently breaking out into little giggles either at each other or the various interruptions we have throughout the interview (the fire alarm and support bands’ vocal warm-ups only adding to the fun). 

With them now having shared a stage with one of the most famous women in the industry, I ask the band what they think of the representation of women in music generally. “I think it’s progressing”, Stars begins, “And quite rightly so. Just like anything else in the world, the more awareness there is about it – the more conversations we have, and the more open-minded we are – the more change will happen. And I think this change has started to happen. We’re starting to have more of these conversations; whether it’s the 50/50 split on festival line-ups, or even tragic things that shouldn’t have to be campaigns like the ‘Me Too’ movement. They shouldn’t have to be a thing, but shed light on the way women in general are treated.”

And on the labels women are so often heaped under, Stars laments: “I think we’re at a stage where people are starting to hopefully not focus too hard on ‘female fronted’ as a label. I hate that so so much – my vagina’s nothing to do with it! It’s not ‘female fronted’, it’s ‘me’ fronted! I think we’re getting there. We just need to have more conversations like this.”

It’s evident that the rest of the band are in agreement too, as Richard adds: “I think the best thing we’ve seen is women now finding the confidence to say ‘actually you can’t say that to me. You can’t do that to me‘”. In other words, Stars clarifies: “We’re not taking any more shit!

However, Stars does have some concerns about certain measures being put into place to promote ‘equality’. “The 50/50 split does kind of worry me. I wanna be on a line-up for a festival because I’m good enough, not because I’ve ticked a box. Not because there’s a space for my vagina! It would have to be a pretty big space… I take up two seats. I don’t want to be a statistic on your fucking spreadsheet. I’m here because I’m good enough.” 

She has a valid point. These measures are of course positive steps, but what’s key is the awareness of the issue, and the importance of female/non binary artists being given as many opportunities as their male peers. “I think we just need to come up with more ideas, because it’s working and I’m seeing more bands with a strong female presence, and that’s because of this, and soon I won’t have to say a ‘female band’, that’s the dream for me… Just stop calling me a ‘female fronted’ band!” Stars’ passion fills the room; her assertive and vibrant nature is something that I truly admire, and wish I had more of. She’s a force to be reckoned with, an essential strong presence in today’s industry.

So, it is not surprising that when asked about sexist attitudes she’s come across directly, her initial response is: “I think the majority of people wouldn’t fucking dare! I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ll just tell you what I think.” (I have noticed, and it is one of the things I love most about her).

“Yeah, I’ve experienced little things – it’s hard to compile just one experience. But there are always things that make you go ‘Oh, you said that because you’re a man… At a show abroad recently, I was getting interviewed and the guy was like ‘how do your band feel about a woman fronting them?’ … I was like ‘they probably feel pretty fuckin’ lucky. Next question’… And then he continued ‘how does it feel to be female in a band in a man’s world?’ – I was like ‘what is this?! Am I being Punkd?!'” So, yes, even the strongest and most outspoken of us experience sexism from ignorant men in the industry… “There are so many other interesting things to talk about… Why are we talking about my tits?!

And it’s clear this wasn’t a stand-alone incident, as Richard adds: “And a bloke the other day said he’d wank over Stars. He even said it twice, for effect.” Stars continues: “Yeah, he said it like it was a compliment, like I should be flattered. I was like ‘why are we having this conversation?!’ If I could get away with breaking someone’s nose, I’d have broke his nose. Obviously I don’t condone violence though… Piss off!

My admiration for Stars only continues to grow, as I secretly wish she had broken that guy’s nose…

So, onto subjects other than being in a ‘female fronted band’…

It’s with evident excitement that the band talk about their upcoming debut album, which is out this Friday, 1st November. “We had the release pushed back a couple of times due to various things, like the P!NK tour and Example song“, Richard explains, “And us all just being total perfectionists… But we’re finally in a position when it’s ready.

We’re itching to get it out“, Stars adds, “It’s a compilation of songs that we’re so excited about. It’s our life’s work versus recent work, showing the journey of us as musicians, and how we’ve progressed.”

I just think it’s a really good introduction to what we deliver” Richard continues, “It varies from different sorts of vibes. It’s got funkier tracks, heavier ones, and then more mellow ballads, like my personal favourite ‘Beautiful World‘.”

“It includes songs we’ve recorded all over the world“, Stars explains, “From songs we recorded a few years ago, to one we recorded in March of this year. It really does span a long amount of time and distance – from NY and LA, to Birmingham, London and Doncaster.

This distinctive, yet eclectic, sound is a Bang Bang Romeo trademark, as I witness at the gig that follows – from head-banging, fist-clenching heavy rock moments, to lighters (phones) in the air emotional pop ballads. Their versatility, all held together by the immense power of Stars’ vocals, her unique charisma, and the band’s consistently tight musicality, is another element that I think contributes to their widespread and ever-growing fan base.

And, yet again highlighting their closeness as a band, Stars explains how all the songwriting is completely collaborative: “In terms of lyrics, me and Ross will write the songs, then when we take the bones into the studio, it’s all very hands on in how we want it to sound. We all help each other out with everything, we’re strangely in tune with each other, and have the same kind of vision. We all trust each other completely, and want each other to be completely happy.

One of our favourite things to do“, Ross adds, “is just being in the studio, throwing ideas around. With ‘Beautiful World’, for example, Stars went in to do a vocal on it, and just went off on a tangent of crazy vocals. We were all hugging each other, and she had no idea what was going on – it was perfect. There are loads of little beautiful moments. So, hopefully people will listen to the album and get those too.

It seems, with the tour and album, that Bang Bang Romeo are pretty busy and couldn’t possibly fit in anything else for the rest of the year, but they’re not stopping there…

We have got a few announcements coming up. A few Christmas shows we’re playing and announcements for next year…” Richard assures me.

Even though our debut album will have just come out”, Stars adds, “we are going straight back into the studio to record album number two… Sitting on our hands and doing nothing is just not an option. Not just financially, but we just don’t wanna do anything else… This is life. We are often talking ’til midnight, and then will be back on the phone at 8am. Not a day goes by when we don’t speak.”

And it shows. Bang Bang Romeo are clearly as tight personally as they are musically. There will be no stopping them as they continue to blast into our ears and minds, expanding their ‘BBRMY’ and creating powerful, empowering anthems. With the incredible raw force of Stars at the helm, they’re unlike any other band around; their music, and all they stand for, is truly admirable. It was an honour not only to meet them, but to continue to have my mind blown by their colossal live show once again.

A Heartbreaker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the upcoming debut album from Bang Bang Romeo, is out 1st November.

Words: Mari Lane / @marimindles
Photos: Jon Mo / @jonmophoto

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 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