CIRCE Photo Credit: Rachel Povey

INTERVIEW: Circe

A creator of evocative, cinematic dark-pop, Circe’s compelling electronic soundscapes fill the cells with a dazzling euphoria, whilst simultaneously dissecting personal and social norms with breath-taking grace. Since the release of her debut EP, She’s Made Of Saints, in 2020, I’ve been a huge fan of her charged, sultry tunes.

When I spoke to her via Zoom at the beginning of May, her vibrant energy and charm transcended the screen as we explored the themes and iconography behind her visuals, the inspiration for the tracks on her EP, and her inability to tell the difference between panpipes and the flute as a small child…

Hello Circe, how have you been? How have you been coping with lockdown and the pandemic over the last few months?

Covid-19 has been absolutely awful for the people who have been directly affected by it, but – and this might sound bad – I was one of the lucky ones during lockdown. At heart, I’m a nerd and I like to just be on my computer making music. So there was a moment of self acceptance where I though, “Oh, I’m just gonna make loads of music!” and the days went past and the whole EP came out of me while I was just set up in my bedroom.

I think I’m a natural loner. Without sounding completely wanky, I like living through music, living through movies and living in a world with those characters. It might be because I went to art school, but I like to create a whole world around me with each song, which is what I did with my first EP. I changed my bedroom to make it feel like a movie set.

That sounds really safe & wholesome! So where did it all start musically for you? Was there a specific artist or person who inspired you to start making music?

I have the cheesiest little answer for this. I remember this so well. I was 5-6 years old and we were walking into town with my Mum, and this man was playing the panpipes. I feel like way more people used to busk with panpipes back then? It was really beautiful and it made me cry my eyes out. My Mum was like “why are you crying?” and I didn’t know, I didn’t quite understand. I thought it just sounded really beautiful.

I don’t think my Mum had fully seen what was going on – she had four kids with her – but when we got home I was trying to explain the beautiful sound, but she couldn’t work out what I meant. I said I saw a man blowing into something and she said it was probably a flute. So for ages I thought the panpipes were a flute, so for years I was asking “can I have a flute? Can I have a flute?” When I was 13 my Mum rented me a flute, and obviously when I opened it “I was like, what the hell is this?” but I was still really excited to play it. So I played that classically for a really long time and did the whole classical thing, playing in orchestras and stuff. Then when I was 17 I got a guitar. But it all started with a flute and some panpipes…

That’s so sweet and you’re right, you never see people busking with panpipes anymore. It’s a lost art. Talk to me about your recent single ‘Going Down’. What were the influences for the sound and visuals?

When my Mum was moving house, I went and helped her pack up and sort through some stuff, and I found my teenage scrapbook that was kind of like a diary, and it was just so amazing to read it all back because it was so unbelievably passionate. There were loads of bits of poetry and stuff, and there was a piece that wasn’t exactly erotica, but I was definitely on the periphery of discovering my sexuality and what it means to be a woman, so I was writing these little stories about it as a teenager. I thought it was cool, so I kept it.

Then one day when I was on my way to my studio, I was I was listening to ’99 Problems’ by Jay-Z and I was so into the beat. I don’t play drums, but I make all my own beats, so when I got into the studio I was making a beat and I knew it would be a big bombastic song kind of like Jay-Z, and I thought, “can I put these erotic stories over this?” So I did, and then it just became this mad little song. It’s about teenage liberation and finding your sexuality.

Did you have fun making the video for it?

It was so fun. I guess it’s a bit like what I did with my teenage scrapbook, I just collected loads of pictures, poetry, stuff about cults, shots from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet and I fitted some Catholic Church stuff around it too. Then I filmed myself, and I tried to get that sort of innocence where, as a young woman, you know, you’re objectified all the time, you can’t walk down the god damn street without someone calling you a slut for absolutely no reason, so to come home and be like, “I’m gonna be really sexy and really into myself as a sexual being.” It’s all about that really, that’s what I’ve tried to convey.

The idea for my character in the video was kind of inspired by a character in Euphoria called Kate. She starts doing online webcam dancing and sex cam-ing and she’s just the most amazing character. It’s a much more complex storyline than just that, but she was a big influence.

That’s so great that you were just in your own space getting to fully enjoy that freedom of expression, whereas when you try and take that into the world, lots of people have an opinion about it – like you said. That’s such a lovely thing to be able to enjoy.

Something which we have to talk about is your contribution to the Dream Wife Megamix compilation album on bandcamp. It’s all of GIHE’s favourite musicians coming together to make music for a good cause (Rainbow Mind), tell us how you got involved…

I’ve known Alice from Dream Wife for a really long time, because I went to art school in Brighton at a similar time to her. She was on the first people to record my first ever demos. She really got me into it and she was like “you should do like production as well,” and that’s how I got into it. We kept in touch and we’ve done bits and pieces, but yeah, she contacted me and asked if she could use ‘Ten Girls’ for a project and I was like ‘Yeah!’ and then she said she was mixing it with a Sleigh Bells song, and I was like, ‘Yeah!’ Dream Wife are amazing. They do so much campaigning work for such amazing charities and they’ve always been a really good voice for change.

Let’s go back to your 2020 EP, She’s Made Of Saints, because it’s just it’s SO GOOD. It’s cinematic and mysterious, but it also tackles heavy themes like toxic masculinity, the policing of female sexuality (which we’ve already touched on) and even the manipulative behaviour of cult leaders. You explore these themes in such a poetic way, how do you take subjects like this and transform them into dark pop songs? 

Thank you so, so much, that’s so so lovely! I know I’m a songwriter, but I think of myself as a writer in general, and I think with these themes I was writing a story, or a little movie and it all turned out to sound just like a soundtrack. It’s like I’m directing it as Circe. So maybe that’s my way of condensing the big stuff, but some of it does often come from something I’ve seen, or experienced too.

With ‘Ten Girls’, I can 100% remember it so well. I was watching The Handmaid’s Tale, and in one episode, one of the women that’s been kidnapped gets away, she gets in a car and just runs over this horrible guard and it’s obviously violent and mad, but it just, oh my god, it just made me bawl my eyes out. It had the most amazing piece of music behind it and I was just like – I’ve got an idea – and I wrote ‘Ten Girls’. It came out really quickly. I often write a song quite fast, I get an idea and then I just build from that. You need to still stay true to those first characters, those first stories, that first line you came up with, but then you can build around it.

I’ve seen The Handmaid’s Tale, so I know the exact scene you’re talking about! Whoever organises or selects the music for the show should get in touch with you, because you could easily write the whole score for it.

I feel like a lot of artists have goals to tour the world and stuff, which would be amazing, but my absolute golden dream is to soundtrack a TV show. I feel like that’s what I was built for!

Absolutely. On a side note, did Steve Harrington from Stranger Things ever get in touch to say he’d heard your track ‘Steve Harrington’?

It’s so funny, because I did an interview on Radio 1 with Jack Saunders and then the next day, Joe Keery who plays Steve Harrington was on talking about his own band and I was like, “Do I have the guts to say ‘hello, I wrote a song about you'” – but I didn’t. If it ever got to the Stranger Things people, I don’t know what I’d do. I’m quite shy with people, so my way of fan-girling is to write a song. I did go to see the music of Stranger Things live at Southbank Centre though, that was one of the best nights of my life.

As we’ve already mentioned, there are lots of cinematic influences on your sound & visuals – David Lynch, Baz Luhrmann, The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things – but what is it about the style of these directors and shows that you like so much?

To sum it up, I think a lot of the time when I was growing up, I felt quite uncomfortable in my own skin. I’ve always been told I’m too emotional, that everything I do is just too much, so I took solace in things like Romeo & Juliet. I was like, “that’s quite a good level to live at; it’s bombastic, romantic, outrageous, cameras fucking everywhere, sped up then slowed down” – it made me feel so comfortable and happy! That’s the world that I live in, in my own head.

I think with all of these things – including Stranger Things and Twin Peaks – there’s a cosiness to them and they’re completely their own thing. They are outrageous and beautiful and I think I just feel comfortable at that level and in that world. It’s fantasy, but it’s grounded in human emotion, love and storytelling. I’m just absolutely not interested at all in living in the real world, you know? I have no connection to it. I have friends and people I know who are doing sensible things and getting married, and I’ve got probably about 10 wedding dresses in my wardrobe just because I love dressing up and inventing stories about brides running away…

I think your way of living sounds more fun and I love that you have 10 wedding dresses that you can throw on when you’re running away from reality.

I know live music is still on the backburner at the moment due to Covid-19, but do you have any plans to play live when things are safe again? Are you planning to release more music too?

Yes, there’s definitely more music to come this year. I think what I’m hopefully planning to do is play a Circe show. I’m not that interested in playing just a conventional gig, because to me, it just doesn’t feel quite right for Circe. So my plan is to build an installation piece with live elements to it. It will definitely feel more like an immersive kind of experience.

That sounds great, I’ll be there. Finally, are there any artists or bands that you recommend we listen to?

I’ve got two, and they’re both completely different to Circe.

One of them is called Amour, who is also called Megan. They’re so young and they’re just absolutely killing it. They make pop music that’s on the edge of Pale Waves, but even cooler. And then a duo I think you might know called ARXX. I absolutely love them, they’re so talented, if I had a label I would sign them in a millisecond. Fantastic song-writing. I can see them being absolutely massive. I have like no doubt, I think they will really take off.

Thanks to Circe for answering my questions.

Follow Circe on bandcampSpotifyFacebookTwitter & Instagram

Photo Credit: Rachel Povey

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Introducing Interview: The Deep Blue

Releasing their debut single, ‘The Jealous Sea’, today, Manchester-based band The Deep Blue create wonderfully uplifting, shimmering offerings. Flowing with glistening harmonies, the new single showcases Georgia, Sophie, Niamh and Katie’s beautifully rich vocals and an endearing heartfelt sentiment, reminiscent of the likes of HAIM or The Staves.

Despite only forming last year, The Deep Blue have already secured bookings at festivals such as Liverpool Sound City and Focus Wales, immediately cementing themselves as firm ones to watch. We caught up with the band to find out more…

Hi The Deep Blue, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?
Hello! Thanks for having us. We are an all-female indie-folk band based in Manchester. This city has a special place in our hearts but our homes are far and wide; Georgia is from Scotland, Sophie from Wales, Niamh from Ireland and Katie from Down South (official term). We spend our weekends blending weird and wonderful vocal harmonies with Sophie’s punchy beats and Georgia’s catchy guitar lines. If we’re lucky, Sophie cooks us dinner after rehearsal (her cooking is out of this world). ‘Jealous Sea’ is the debut single from The Deep Blue, released under Liverpool-based indie label Snide Records. It was produced by the talented Alex Quinn.

How did you initially decide to start creating music together?
Niamh, Sophie and I used to be in another band named Café Spice but in 2020 we began making new tracks that didn’t fit with our old sound, so we decided to start something new. Katie joined us in the summer lockdown 2020 and The Deep Blue was born. It’s been so joyful painting on a fresh musical canvas with this wonderful group of women! A key component of our music is three-part harmonies and with Katie’s voice, the mix was luscious. Silky, warm and velvety. 

You’re about to release your debut single ‘Jealous Sea’. What inspired this track? Are there any particular themes running throughout it?  
The never-ending onslaught of airbrushed social media has been giving us all motion sickness these past few years. It’s both spectacular and terrifying, but we can’t deny that it often leaves us feeling a little green with jealousy. We wanted to capture that in an honest, hair-down, mask-off song. We reached for a gritty rawness and paired it with our soft folky singing and out popped ‘Jealous Sea’. 

We love your uplifting, shimmering sound, which brings to mind the beautiful alt-folk of The Staves, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
What a compliment! Thank you. It’s a tricky one. For this song in particular we listened to a lot of Phoebe Bridgers and ‘Emily’ by Clean Cut Kid. HAIM’s album Women in Music Part II had just come out and we all became obsessed with it. We played it in the car all the way to Giant Wafer Studios in Wales (where we recorded ‘Jealous Sea’). We have a good mix of favourites among us. Everything from Arlo Parks to Jessie Ware, Big Thief to Katy Kirby. We love it all! 

You’re from Manchester – in ‘normal’ times, one of the best places for live music! What have been some of the best gigs you’ve ever been to?
Well, obviously it attracts some big names. Some of our top gigs include Maggie Rogers at the Ritz, Parcels at The Academy, Everything Everything at the 02 Apollo, Honeyfeet at Niamos – all mind-blowing. Some of the best live acts we’ve seen are the more local ones. Rocking up to Matt and Phred’s or The Whiskey Jar on a Tuesday night, you’re bound to hear something brilliant. Those music nights are intimate and special. Manchester’s local musicians are unbelievably talented.

And what can fans expect from your live shows? 
Our gigs are quite intimate even with a lot of people in the room – we like it that way. We want people to feel things and we also want people to dance. Dance their feelings – there’s time for stories, but also time to just move to the music and have a wee boogie! Expect vocal lusciousness, catchy guitar riffs and four-to-the-floor grooving; expect to laugh and maybe cry; expect to be lost and then found again, and then, by the end, expect to be our new friend and have tired feet.

How have you been connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
I’d love to say we’ve been writing our fans letters and serenading people on their door steps but the fact of it is, we’ve been doing the usual social media dance. We’ve had fun covering some of our favourite female artists – Sorcha Richardson, Aurora, Caroline Polachek. I guess we’ve mostly been focusing on ourselves, building The Deep Blue and writing songs.

And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, throughout these strange times? 
We all have sisters and I feel like we’ve become a surrogate sisterhood in replacement of our absent sisters. Having each other has been hugely supportive, I can’t even find words. The Deep Blue has been our family when we couldn’t go home.  Now for the serious stuff: Sophie’s cooking, HAIM, chocolate digestives, Niamh’s poetry phase, the thought of releasing this song.

How do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
Yes, it certainly is hard to get noticed but I think if you’re out there just to “get noticed” there are far easier routes to success than being a musician. It’s tricky not to stray from your path of passion and we’ve all had bizarre ideas like “Oh maybe if we just start a cooking channel on TikTok where we sing and toss pancakes we’ll double our fan base in 30 seconds”. Making the music we love is the most important thing and that keeps us grounded. It’s difficult to be heard, there are so many new bands and artists all the time. It takes a hell of a lot of organisation and hard work to even get one song written, rehearsed, recorded and released. There are seven of us in this team working to make it work! But it started with one and grew over time. My advice to new acts would be: take your time, figure out who you are and what your sound is and let that be the centre of your universe. 

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming bands that you’d recommend we check out?
Yes! Morgan Harper Jones, Nina Cobham, Quiet Houses, MYTBE.

Finally, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for The Deep Blue?
Write, record, release and finally play some live shows! We cannot wait to perform, we’ve got so many songs we want to share with the world. We’ve been working hard in the studio so keep your eyes peeled and your ears tuned.

Massive thanks to The Deep Blue for answering our questions!

Produced by Alex Quinn and recorded in Giant Wafer Studios in Wales, ‘The Jealous Sea’ is out today, 13th May, via Snide Records.

INTERVIEW: Nova Twins

Almost a year after the release of their debut album Who Are The Girls?, alt-rock duo Nova Twins have returned to share Voices Of The Unheard, a charity compilation LP that’s dedicated to spotlighting artists of colour in the heavy music scene. Available to pre-order until 1st March, Nova Twins, aka Amy Love and Georgia South, have put together a blistering collection of alternative anthems that showcase an eclectic range of talent, featuring tracks from Big Joanie, The OBGMs, LustSickPuppy and more.

We caught up with Amy & Georgia to talk about the new compilation record (supported by Dr Martens Presents), their ongoing conversations about racism in the heavy music scene, their dedication to the underground music community and a shared love for DeathKult leaders Ho99o9…

Make sure you pre-order your copy of Voices for the Unheard here.

Hello Amy & Georgia! It’s been almost a year since you released your debut album, Who Are The Girls? What are you most proud of about this record? Did you get to play any live shows with it before Covid-19 hit?

Georgia: I feel most proud about the amount of people we’ve reached. We get messages that say stuff like “I’m so glad we’ve discovered you” or “we can see ourselves in you, and we can be something different too” because they’re seeing us play a different type of music to what people are used to seeing black women play, you know? When we won the Heavy Music Award last year too, it felt like a big achievement to us, because of what we look like. It was such a big moment for the band, but it was also a big moment for our community as well, so that was great.

Amy: We did manage to tour the record a little bit in March and April last year. We were in France for about nine days, which was great, so at least we got to experience a little bit of the live buzz and the kick you usually get out of making an album. But yeah, we were supposed to play Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds and all these new places for the first time, so we were a little bit gutted that we never got to play the album there.

I think people are listening and paying attention in a different way though. Yes, we’re more online than ever, but I think we can reach more countries and reach more communities this way. I think we’ve discovered a lot of different things and we’ve got to know our audience a lot better. I think the album’s actually done better because of the reach it’s had online, as opposed to us just gigging. Everyone’s in a different headspace now. I think it’s been really, really amazing to take a step back and just get to know our audience and watch them enjoying it as much as we enjoyed making it.

That’s true, people have been really appreciative of new music over the last twelve months.

Another amazing thing that you did in 2020, you wrote an open letter to the MOBO Awards asking the panel to consider adding a Rock/Alternative category to their awards show. They acknowledged your letter with a tweet saying they’re working towards representing alternative music genres in the future. How do you feel about their response?

Amy: I think we still have to now push for it to happen this year. We have to take into account that we’re still struggling through this pandemic and there’s issues with funding and things like that, but I think this is a time to push in the right direction. We’ve got people’s eyes and ears on us now more than ever and people are listening. We just have to keep pushing.

You also started up your Voices For The Unheard platform last year, which was originally a series of Spotify playlists and conversations online highlighting artists of colour in the alternative music scene. That’s now developed into a compilation LP funded by Dr Martens Presents, which is amazing! Did you have a record release in mind when you originally started the platform? Or did it develop naturally?

Georgia: I think it really was a natural evolution, it just kept escalating. It started from the playlist on Spotify and then we thought, why don’t we just chat to these people on our Instagram and have a conversation with them and discover their journey? We ended up having so much in common, even though we’re from different sides of the world, we have this similar feeling being a POC alternative artist on this journey. So that was great to see our audience discover them, as well and for us to meet so many new bands too. When Dr. Martens reached out to us and asked if we wanted to do something with them on a bigger level, that was where the vinyl idea stemmed from. We thought it would be amazing to raise money for The Black Curriculum and to push all of these artists we’d selected and to give them more exposure as well.

As you’ve mentioned, all proceeds from the physical release of Voices For The Unheard will be donated to The Black Curriculum, a charity that addresses the lack of black British history in the UK curriculum. How did you find out about this charity and the work that they do?

Amy: I think it came up on our social media last year when the Black Lives Matter movement started to happen again. All these forums and websites and Instagram pages started popping up. I think before that, we felt quite isolated. It didn’t feel that there was much of a community here for us to join, everything felt sporadic. I remember when AfroPunk held their first London festival at Alexandra Palace and we had all these incredible POC creatives artists and fashion designers turn up, and we were like, where did all these people come from? Because we don’t see them here. We didn’t feel like there was much of a community that we could just go to and feel like accepted, I guess.

So around the time of the BLM movement last year, everyone start reaching out to each other – all of us, no matter where you were from – sharing websites and discovering a whole new world that we didn’t really know existed. I think The Black Curriculum popped up through that and we just thought there was some really interesting stuff on there. We actually had to relearn and are still re-learning our black history. So we just think it’s really, really important for organisations like them to exist.

I grew up in Essex. I’m from Thurrock, and I was probably like, one of maybe two black people in my class? I remember my teacher saying, specifically, “black people are slaves, that’s where they come from, slavery.” Not saying why that might actually be, or how terrible slavery was. So I was like, “Oh, I used to be that?” I remember being quite embarrassed. I was just a kid! You just don’t know any better, you know? My parents are Iranian, so I grew up with my Iranian family. So I was immersed in that culture, but I wasn’t necessarily immersed in my kind of blackness, I guess, until I met Georgia’s family.

It was just painted that white people saved us here in Britain and how great the British Empire was, and how they decided to free us. It was a really strange and backwards way to learn your history.

Georgia: I grew up in London, so it was really diverse at my school. But when it came to black history, all they showed us was the Roots documentary. They said that slavery was bad, but they didn’t teach any other black history. Nothing about black kings and queens and how rich they were. That’s all I took from school.

I guess that’s why The Black Curriculum is so important isn’t it? I grew up in Essex too and I don’t remember anything about black history on the syllabus. Hopefully organisations like this will be able to change that for school kids in the future.

The Voices For The Unheard vinyl has been funded by Dr Martens Presents. What does it mean to you to have this kind of support from such an iconic brand?

Georgia: Dr Martens are our favourite shoe brand, we literally wear them every day. They’re a massive corporation, so their connection to underground music is so helpful. Even with the people that they put on their adverts, they could easily pick a bigger artist but they want to support new bands and they’re always searching for new music, which is refreshing.

Amy: I think it really makes sense for us because we genuinely love the brand. I mean, I could show my feet right now – I’m wearing DMs! It’s a natural alliance and it’s just great for us to be able to have a company invest in ideas support in the community in such a way so it’s brilliant, a really good match.

They’re so good at spotlighting new bands. I remember coming out of Camden tube station about three years ago and seeing the Dr Martens campaign that featured Ho99o9. They had posters of the band all the way up the escalators in the station and all over town, it was so good!

Amy: Yes, we love Ho99o9!

Georgia: I remember seeing the posters too, they were so good!

When it comes to the track-list for the album, how did you narrow it down to 11 songs? Your Voices For The Unheard Spotify Playlists are so extensive, it must have been hard to choose only ten artists?

Georgia: It was really hard! We were like “can’t we have 14 people on the record, please!?” I think many of the people on the track-list are the artists we first discovered and chatted to, so all of the people we’ve had online conversations with are on there. It was really difficult to be honest. We would have added like ten more if we could…

Amy: Exactly. We picked artists like Connie Constance who we love and feel like she is deserving of so much more. There’s obviously bigger artists that we love like Ho99o9 and FEVER333, but they’re kind of big already, so we tried to focus on people who may have not had that kind of kickstart or any kind of attention just yet. We wanted to explore the idea of new bands making new exciting sounds, and who have a new take on things, so we’re just really proud of them all.

Georgia: We wanted to be diverse as well, so there’s a mixture of non-binary and trans artists as well as artists from different cultures on there too.

It’s an amazing album and I can’t wait to get my hands on a physical copy.

So, what else is on the cards for Nova Twins this year? Any new music from you after this compilation release?

Amy: I feel like you never know what’s next for Nova. It’s so funny being in this band, I love it. One day we’ll be sitting there twiddling our thumbs and then suddenly, we’ll just run with this massive new idea. I think there’ll be loads of stuff that we’ll be putting out there, just trying to make shit happen for the community, and also just for us as two girls living in the UK, with a fucking dream, trying to get somewhere.

I think 2021 is going to be good. We’re excited about the new stuff we’re making and excited to join alliances with more artists. I feel like there’s strength in the artists joining together, as opposed to us being competitive with each other.Exciting times!

Thanks so much to Amy & Georgia for chatting with us!

Pre-order your copy of Voices for the Unheard here.

Follow Nova Twins on Spotify, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Introducing Interview: Tender Central

Having previously worked with the likes of Ben Howard and A Blaze Of A Feather, classically trained cellist and songwriter India Bourne – aka Tender Central – has just released her poignant debut album The Garden. 

Creating rich layers of twinkling electronic folk-pop, the album showcases Bourne’s reflective, emotive lyrical storytelling and a sweeping, ethereal musicality.

We caught up with India to find out more about the album, and how she’s been managing to continue creating and releasing music during a pandemic…

Hi India, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a musician, songwriter and mum of one, nearly two (second coming in a couple of weeks!). I am passionate about nature, food, running, wild swimming and period dramas. I am an emotional person with a great curiosity about the world and people and how we all work. I feel music is a fundamental part of me; nothing else makes me feel the way music does when I am in the flow of performing or writing. 

How did you initially decide to start creating music?
It feels like the urge to write and play music has been there from a very young age. I think it became just another way of expressing myself and my thoughts and feelings. I believe music is innate in all of us though, as is dance, art and all forms of the creative arts. I see this so clearly when watching my toddler and my nieces and nephews navigate the world. The way they play and sing all day; it’s undeniable to me. I was also lucky to be brought up in a musical family where music was a daily activity. We all played an instrument, and growing up in a small house with 3 other sisters, we couldn’t get far away from each other! So there was always a lot of noise and activity going on. My dad was a composer and ran an accapella choir which my mum also sung in, so we’d regularly go and watch them perform. I took up the cello aged ten and have played ever since, thanks to my mum for nudging me that direction when she felt I really needed something to get my teeth into.

You’ve just released your beautifully poignant debut album The Garden – are there any particular themes running throughout it?
Thank you for describing it that way. It was interesting looking at the whole body of work with a bit of space once it had been completely finished. It became quickly apparent to me that there was a strong theme and narrative in there, and it all led to the song ‘The Garden’ which is the last track on the record and possibly my favourite. The album took the best part of a decade to make and spanned a time in my life when I was very busy touring with Ben Howard and later Ry X and A Blaze Of Feather, so I had little time at home and even shorter times to ground myself and write music. Although I loved performing all over the world, this desire to find my ‘home’, my stability, my ground and my peace amongst the constant movement is a strong theme in this album. There is a lot of emotional turbulence in many of the tracks where I see the light as well as the dark, but in ‘The Garden’ I feel I reached my place of belonging and calm. The song acknowledges challenge and hard times, but is deeply rooted in my sense of “everything is ok!” The blue sky above the clouds; the peace always within me, but “hard to learn” as I sing in the song. I wrote it whilst off tour, digging the small patch of earth in my garden flat in London, shoving bulbs into the ground and heaving a fork through the earth. I needed to find quiet in myself, and here is where I found it. 

How are you connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
I’ve never been more grateful for technology than I have been this past year! It’s been a lifeline socially and musically. Musicians have created so many new ways to share work and be creative during this time, I’ve found it really uplifting and inspiring. Online gigs, live streams, Zoom choirs… It’s been really awesome. And at the same time I am craving those days of performing live and talking face to face with people. I was lucky enough to record and film four live tracks from the record back in September with a full band and crew, knowing that the possibility to do an album tour or album release show would be unlikely. So, I am very happy to be sharing these with my audience via social media now the album is out, and to be able to still engage in conversation despite the distance between us all.

And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, throughout these strange times?
Yes!
My 3 year old. His joy in the everyday and his focus on the present has gotten me through some really challenging times during the pandemic. Spending such quality time with him has been the best reminder to not get swept away in thought or worry, but just to be and to appreciate what’s around me. He also has such a great sense of humour, we are always cracking up!
My producer James. His faith in me and my music from the early days has made releasing this album possible. He has been unwavering in his support and has been a core part of Tender Central from the beginning.
My dad. He and I speak the same musical language and whenever I have been stuck, he has been my rock.
Nature. Being in the wild outdoors and swimming in the local river has been deeply nourishing and inspiring. Often when I have hit a wall all I’ve needed to do was get my wellies on and head to the woods for a walk, or the river to swim. The answers always come! 

How do you feel the music industry is for new artists at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
Every sector of the industry has been affected by the pandemic and some have had to almost completely shut down because of it, so certainly at the moment I would say it’s difficult to get noticed or breakthrough, yes. But at the same time there is a greater thirst from the online community for artists to produce something because we are all missing gigs and face to face interaction, so there’s an opportunity in that. So, although the industry is much quieter, there’s a lot going on in the background I believe, and people definitely haven’t stopped writing or releasing music. We are all just doing it differently than before. Certainly, even without the pandemic, it’s not easy getting heard as new artists, especially if you’re only just starting out. There’s so much you have to do yourself to build your profile; not least working on your own music, but also having a strong online presence, being in touch with your fanbase, getting good PR, having good press shots… I haven’t had a manager for a couple of years and it’s definitely harder to get noticed, but not impossible! You need a good and supportive team around you. Whether that be your family and friends and a few contacts in the industry, or a manager/label/agent etc. Most importantly, you need faith in yourself, that what you are creating is worthy to be heard/seen/experienced and the drive to see it through. 

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists that you’d recommend we check out?
Absolutely. Over the last six years I’ve worked with the most amazing vocalist/pianist/songwriter, Greta Vaughan, on her music. You must check her out here. Her lyrics are poetry and her music is complex and deep and incredibly heartfelt. I feel every song of hers is such a journey and she definitely demanded a lot of me as a player and collaborator, which was fantastic and invigorating. Her debut record is soon to be released, I can’t wait.

Finally, what does 2021 have in store for Tender Central?
Firstly, the birth of my second child! It’s very much on my mind at the moment, given there’s not long to go now. I will understandably be very focussed on my family this year, but at the same time I am eager to see how this album will unfold and what life it will have. I have just finished a short piece for a film commission and I am already planning on recording and filming the next set of live tracks from The Garden later this year, all being well. And I am also excited about doing more collaborations. I find that way of working so inspiring and surprising; you just never know what’s going bubble up or what direction a song is going to go in. Keeps life very fresh and exciting. 

Massive thanks to India for answering our questions! 

 

Tender Central’s latest album, The Garden, is out now via Hello Friendly Recordings. Listen on Spotify.

Photo Credit: Harvey Pearson