INTERVIEW: Anna Vincent

Having previously charmed us fronting indie-pop outfit Heavy Heart (who headlined a dream of a gig for us at The Windmill a while back), and as a touring member of Happyness, after two decades making music London based Anna Vincent has now launched her first solo venture. With her debut album, Under The Glass, set for release tomorrow (29th October) on Max Bloom (Yuck)’s new label Ultimate Blends, she has recently been charming our ears with a number of shimmering singles. Exuding a spellbinding majestic grace alongside the stirring heartfelt emotion of Anna’s exquisite sparkling vocals, each track offers a truly blissful, captivating soundscape.

We caught up with Anna to find out more about the album, what inspires her, her feelings about the industry, and more… Have a read!

Hi Anna, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Thank you! I’m a singer-songwriter from London and I’m releasing my debut solo album Under the Glass on 29th October.  Before going solo, I released albums with several bands – most recently Heavy Heart, and before that My Tiger My Timing – and was also a live member playing bass in Happyness, Ski Lift, and with Max Bloom. I’ve always loved being in bands, but when Covid hit it felt like a good moment to explore some other ideas, and that’s how this solo album came together.

What initially inspired you to start creating music?
I’ve been writing songs since I was about fourteen, and what initially inspired me was simple: The Beatles. I was lucky to grow up in a household where great music was always playing – from Bowie and Iggy, to Joni and Patti – and I’d loved them since I was a little kid. When my brother got a guitar, I started to realise that it might be possible to play those songs myself. James was always a far better guitarist than me, and I’ve had the privilege of being in both Heavy Heart and My Tiger My Timing with him, but even with my rudimentary skills I did love the way that you could accompany yourself on guitar with just a few simple chords and suddenly have a song. My first songs were really just lyrics, but I distinctly remember the moment where I made the leap and actually put them to a melody. It’s weird because one minute you think “how the hell do I write a song?”, and the next minute you hum something into thin air and you’re a songwriter. I found that exhilarating; the idea of creating something from nothing. Even to this day I don’t really understand how it happens, it’s like magic. 

Between the ages of fourteen and eighteen I played in local bands in New Cross (mostly grunge and nu metal covers!), and quietly taught myself to write and record songs on my Tascam 4-track. I could happily spend hours in my bedroom multi-tracking guitars, MIDI drums, and harmonies, and then bouncing them down and walking around the neighbourhood listening to them on my headphones. I really wanted nothing more than that, and I had no real ideas about anyone else listening to my stuff. Eventually I got into being in “proper” bands and started releasing my music on a wider scale, but I was probably never happier than in those early years when it was just about the songs and nothing else.

I love your beautifully heartfelt, twinkling sounds, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Thank you! I have so many influences, but when I was making this record, I was definitely exploring folk and folk-rock a lot more, particularly things like Crosby Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne, Simon & Garfunkel, and John Martyn, alongside Joni Mitchell (who I’ve always loved), Sheryl Crow, and Nico. I also got really into Wilco, Elliot Smith and Teenage Fanclub quite recently, so those were definitely in the background too when I was making the album. I don’t know if any of this stuff comes through in the songs or not, but these artists definitely inspired me and gave me a particular mood and approach I think.

Youre about to release your debut album Under The Glass – are you able to tell us a bit about this? Are there any particular themes running throughout the album? 
Under The Glass is definitely the most honest and personal album I have ever made, and although I’m excited for people to hear it, it’s also scary putting myself out there in this way, and I do feel quite vulnerable and exposed. There are a few main themes which run throughout the album, of which the central one is love. I’ve written about love in the past, but never this literally or this intimately, so this has been a new departure for me (although I am aware that writing songs about love is pretty much as normal as it gets!). 

At the start of the first UK lockdown in March 2020, I initially felt no desire to write music or really put anything into the world. It just seemed pointless and futile. But after a while, and despite myself, I picked up my guitar again and some songs started to take shape. A lot of the lyrical ideas came from poems I had written back in 2019. Halfway through that year, several things happened in my life all at once. Firstly, the long relationship I had been in suddenly came to and end – and with it, Heavy Heart – because we were both in the band. Although Patrick and I have remained great friends, at the time it was a huge change that I wasn’t ready for, and it felt like everything we’d been building over the past five or more years was gone. But then, something amazing happened out of the blue. Max and I had been friends for several years and had even played in each other’s bands at various points, but I don’t think either of us expected what would happen. But one night we met up for a drink and something changed (I always think about that Pulp song). Suddenly mixed in with the sadness of things ending, was this incredible, magical high of new love, and I was walking around the place feeling like I was on some crazy drug. I actually wrote a song called ‘Seeing Double’ about that very evening, and I’d say more than half of the songs on the album are little moments from our story. Which I know could potentially sound very soppy, but I think that with those intense feeling of love can also come feelings of insecurity and doubt about whether they feel the same, whether it will last. So being a natural worrier, there’s still a healthy dose of what I’ve come to think of as my trademark melancholia in there!

Other themes on the album are to do with the passing of time, growing up and getting older. When I calculated it I realised I’d been making music for about twenty years, and suddenly it felt like something I should embrace, or at least explore. In the music world, everyone is meant to be eternally young, and the idea of ageing, especially for women, is taboo. But I’m writing better songs now, I think, than I ever did in my twenties, and I want to be able to be proud of that and not hide myself away. I haven’t fully come to terms with getting older, and some days I don’t want to be a grown up at all, but I was able to put a lot of my thoughts about it into these songs and I do think that has been helpful.  At the very least I’ve made something I’m proud of. The album title track came from this idea I had about moments in time being like butterflies that we’re always trying to catch and pin underneath glass. As a songwriter, every song is my attempt to capture a fleeting moment or feeling and preserve it for other people to experience.

And how have you found recording and promoting an album during these strange times? 
Recording the album has actually been the best thing about the pandemic for me and I feel really grateful that I’ve been able to keep working even during lockdown. When I started writing these songs I had no intention of releasing them, they were just something to do so that I wouldn’t feel like the year had been totally wasted. I actually think that writing without considering an audience or a release really gave me the freedom to explore different sounds, and made me creatively unafraid in a way I hadn’t experienced since those early forays into songwriting back in my teenage bedroom.  I actually got back to writing for the love of it, and with no other objective than to make a song I felt proud of. 

My boyfriend is Max Bloom, who is an incredibly talented musician, songwriter and producer, and he produced the whole album here at our home studio, and recorded almost all of the instruments you hear, so I’ve been very lucky. We were so fortunate to have a space where we could record everything (expect drums – those were done remotely by the brilliant Adam Gammage), and it meant that we could both keep working. Max was previously in Yuck and released his amazing second solo album Pedestrian earlier this year which I highly recommend listening to.  

Adapting to working in lockdown definitely had an effect on the sound of the record, as all of the songs were written with just an acoustic guitar, even though we did add drums later, and going solo rather than working with a band was as much out of necessity as choice. But I’m really happy with how it came out, and I feel so relieved that I have something to show for that weird year. We’re releasing the record through Max’s label Ultimate Blends, and so far the reception to the singles I’ve put out has been really lovely.

How have you been connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
Obviously without live shows it has been harder to connect with any audience or other musicians, although I did do my first solo acoustic show the other day in London supporting my dear friends LIINES and it was so much fun. I’m not a big performer and I haven’t always enjoyed being on stage, but I think this is the longest I’ve gone without playing live since I was a teenager, so it did feel really good to be back. And it was so lovely talking to people afterwards who said they enjoyed the set. In previous times if I wasn’t playing myself, I would always be at gigs seeing friends’ bands, seeing new bands, seeing any bands, so I do feel very out of the loop now. But it really has made me appreciate the fact that people are still putting out music in spite of so many things being against us as musicians (not just Covid).

And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, over the last couple of years?
I have to give huge credit to Max for making me play him my demos for this album even though I was shy about it, and for insisting we record them properly. At every stage where I felt like I wasn’t good enough, he encouraged me and gently pushed me forwards, and it’s safe to say this record would not exist without him. Although I’m releasing this under my own name, I do view it really as a collaborative project and I feel privileged to have been able to work with such a brilliant musician and producer. As far as inspiration goes, I’d cite all of my amazing musician friends, and all the people I’ve been fortunate enough to make music with throughout my life.

As a woman in music, how do you feel the industry is for new artists at the moment? Do you feel much has changed over the last few years? 
I’m actually so out of the loop with the music industry now, and I’m really happy that way! I’ve spent my life trying to somehow break my way in to little or no avail, and I have almost always ended up DIY-ing it, so my perspective has tended to be that of an outsider. That used to upset me a lot, and I’d feel like there was some conspiracy against me or some kind of list of names (oh the arrogance of youth!), but now it’s a bit of a relief. I don’t feel the burning need to compete so much any more and I don’t really want to play those games. Which is not to say that I’m giving up, or don’t want my music to be heard – quite the opposite, I feel more energised than ever and I know I will always be making music (for myself and anyone who wants to hear it). It means so much to me when I see that someone across the world (or across the road) has listened to my songs, so I hope I can reach more people by just doing it my way.  

I think it’s harder and harder for new musicians – there’s this perception with the internet that the opportunities to release your music are endless, and in some ways they are, but it’s also a huge turbulent ocean of bands trying to make their own waves, and the damn algorithm seems to squeeze things so tightly and it feels like independent artists are often stifled because of it. I used to worry so much about “success” when I was starting out, but eventually I realised that the only thing in my control was the songs, and I’ve written a lot that I’m really proud of, so I guess that was its own success. It’s great to see so many amazing new female artists coming through, and I do think that things are slowly changing for the better, but sadly a lot of the sexist old ways of the music industry are still alive and kicking. I guess the difference now is at least we’re starting to be able to talk about it.

And, as were a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists or bands that youd recommend we check out?There are so many, but a few that I have to recommend you check out if you haven’t yet are Ski Lift (@helloskilift), Sunnbrella (@sunnbrella), and Malvis Key (@malvis_key), and special shouts – although they are both very established – to LIINES (@weareliines), and Max Bloom (@maxbloommusic), just because I love them!

Finally, in addition to the release of your album, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for you?
I’m really excited to be launching my album with a full-band live show in London at The Waiting Room next Monday (1st November), which follows my singles ‘Nothing Wrong’, ‘Thin Skin’ and ‘Naxos’.  Aside from that, I guess I might think about making another album. I do already have some ideas, but I want it to come together naturally, so I’m not pushing it at the moment. 2021 has gone quickly in some ways, so I’m not sure what’s left of it, other than my birthday in December which I am – for the first time in a long time – kind of looking forward to this year. A year older, and maybe this time, a little wiser.

Under The Glass, the debut solo album from Anna Vincent, is out tomorrow 29th October via Ultimate Blends. Order here.

Photo Credit: Max Bloom

INTERVIEW: HAVVK

Having been huge fans of HAVVK since they headlined our first gig at The Finsbury back in 2016, we were massively excited about the release of their stunning new album, Levelling, a few weeks back. With support from the likes of Radio X, BBC 6Music and Wonderland Magazine under their belts, the album showcases the Dublin trio’s knack for creating truly immersive offerings, oozing a swirling, ethereal splendour, intertwined with a grunge-tinged grit. Propelled by the haunting, celestial power of front person Julie’s vocals, each track ripples with a captivating grace, creating a collection of exquisitely cathartic soundscapes.

We caught up with Julie to find out more about the album, Dublin’s live music scene and HAVVK’s plans for the next few months… Have a read!

Hello! Hope you’re all well at the moment… Your new, totally beautiful, album Levelling has recently been released, which is super exciting! How has it all been? Has it had the reaction you were expecting? 
Honestly, it’s been so, so nice. It’s been hard to connect with listeners for the last couple of years and it’s made releasing music a bit surreal sometimes. It’s all been a bit Black Mirror. But the reaction to the record was so tangible – we’ve had so many kind messages. And we were really lucky that we got to have an album launch – that one night that we got to scream at each other (from a safe distance) really made up for a lot of that lost connection. People knew the words and were doing their best to break their necks moshing from their seats. It was gorgeous.

And how was it recording and promoting an album during such unpredictable times? 
We were super lucky as we’d literally done our last in-person session in Belfast just before the restrictions got serious. There was still a lot of production work to do but we managed it all through zoom calls during lockdown, with lots of pets (our side) and kids (Rocky’s side) running around in the background too. Even though promoting the tracks during lockdown was really strange and a bit lonely at times, I’m so grateful that we had something so important to focus on during those eighteen months. It really kept us grounded.

You recorded the album with Belfast legend Rocky O’Reilly at Start Together Studios, and have worked with him quite a lot previously. What is it that you love about working with him, and marks him out as different from other producers? 
Rocky has become such a good friend of ours. He has such an amazing ear for how to bring out different layers of our music and his knowledge of synths and pedals and plug-ins is astounding. The first time we recorded with him, he had set up a wall of amps for Matt and we’d never seen or heard anything like it. They’ve created such a welcoming, inclusive space at Start Together which can be rare to find in studios and honestly, anywhere in the industry.  

You’ve described the album as being about growing up and how our perceptions change over time – can you tell us a bit more about this and the themes running throughout the release?
If you include the age gaps between us, we’ve spent almost all of our collective 20s and 30s together as a band. And along the way, we’ve gone through major life moments together – losses, moves, break-ups, and we’ve had some big, big conversations along the way too. We’ve seen how much your priorities can change. We wanted to make a record that started at one end of a life and ended at the other, and broke out some of those moments where you have to make a choice that will probably stick with you for the rest of your life. A lot of the songs are about the important relationships that crystallise us as people (even if we didn’t know it at the time), or the ones we have to let go of and make our peace with. It’s really about trying to get perspective on how much time we have in the world – which is a massive, scary, silly thing to think about, but it can really magnify the moments that matter. And we’ve tried to capture some of those in Levelling.

‘Home’ or ‘Hold On’ may have to be my faves on the album – they just really seem to resonate (though every song is beautifully majestic!). Do you have a favourite song on the album, and if so why?
For me it’s ‘Automatic‘. That song just made me so happy from the minute we started recording it – I felt like I was in the band that fifteen year old me always wanted to be in. I love the humour in the lyrics, the playfulness of the verses before we smash into the choruses, and the absolute wall of sound from Matt’s guitar part and Sam’s drums in the chorus. And I just love that it’s a love song about friendships and some of the most important women in my life. That’s a very satisfying thing to shout about on stage.

I was just alerted to the fact that the first ever gig I hosted, which you headlined at The Finsbury, was five years ago today! That was such a dreamy night. But over the years, has there been a particular show you’ve played that stands out as a highlight? 
I’m gonna throw all of my previous answers to this question out of the window now because we’ve just had our album launch in Dublin after eighteen months of zero gigs and it was an absolutely magic night! Finally being back in a room with humans and playing the new songs for the first time was incredibly special to us. I had just forgotten how much it meant – and not just to ourselves. There were so many people in that room who also hadn’t been to a live show yet – so really, I felt like the gig was about way more than just ourselves. It was about everyone remembering how much the live music community meant to them.

And how is the live music scene in Dublin at the moment? Would you say it’s back on its feet after the pandemic? 
As I type, we’re waiting for the Irish government to ‘clarify’ a bizarre new easing of restrictions which is allowing clubbing to re-open while live music still can’t go on at full capacity and all audiences still have to be seated. Yes, you did read that correctly and no, that does NOT make sense. I think that illustrates the situation pretty well – I’m delighted to see clubs opening and that there’s some changes happening (and obviously that we got to have any kind of album launch!), but every time there’s an update live music and theatre seems to be at the bottom of the priority list. Promotors and musicians are really confused and frustrated over here – it is such a slap in the face as a country that really prides itself on culture, that this isn’t reflected back by the funding and decisions made at government level.

You’ve been a band for quite some time now (and we’ve been fans all the way!) – would you say the music industry has changed much over the last few years? And, in particular, do you think it’s improved in its treatment of female/non-binary/LGBTQIA+ artists? 
It’s hard to measure any kind of change in the industry just now as it’s been such a strange couple of years. Yes, there’s definitely been some progress and I feel like my identity is more reflected back in the industry than it was when we started out – there are more women, NB and queer folks on stage, on the radio, on panels etc. but there’s miles to go. I’m more excited about what’s next. As a community, we’ve had a lot of time to reflect on our needs over the last couple of years and we’re kind of at a point of ‘restart’ right now. I personally feel more empowered now to put up boundaries and to call out discriminative behaviour – speaking to other artists I know in Ireland especially, there’s a mutual feeling that if we’re getting back to business, we are going to have higher standards for ourselves and for each other. I hope this will have an upward effect on the industry.

As we’re a new music focused organisation, are there any upcoming bands or artists you’re a fan of that you’d recommend we check out? 
Yes! I am currently swooning over M(h)aol, Runah, Pretty Happy, Fears and Bobbi Arlo.

Finally, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for HAVVK? 
You’d think I’d be sick of my house by now but honestly, we’ve been looking forward to a bit of a rest and a refuel before next year. We’ve not just put out our own album this year, but we’ve also worked on a tonne of releases on our label, VETA Music. So apart from a few live sessions, I think the priority is to get back to basics: eat well, rest up and maybe do a little writing – hang out with the cat! My brain still doesn’t quite understand how to switch off at the moment, so that’s my biggest goal for the rest of the year before we get on the road next year (spoiler). 

Massive thanks to Julie for answering our questions!

Levelling, the new album from HAVVK, is out now via VETA Music.

Introducing Interview: th’sheridans

Following a decade on the scene, indie pop duo th’sheridans have recently released an epic, career-spanning compilation – Pieces Of General combining both old favourites and some newer treats. Showcasing their knack for creating scuzzy hooks, jangly beats and a swirling energy, the album offers reflections on poignant issues whilst oozing an uplifting effervescent euphoria. Whilst harking back to old favourites with a shimmering sense of nostalgia, the duo have managed to evoke a stirring resonance for right now; a sparkling call to arms, oozing a quirky, colourful spirit.

We were lucky enough to chat to the band to find out more… Have a read!

Hi th’sheridans! Are you able to tell us a bit about how you initially started creating music together?
We met at Bongos?! World Music Society in 2010 where we played “international folk” covers that ended up sounding more like a big indie band. The first thing the two of us really played together was an arrangement of the Italian partisan song ‘Bella Ciao’ (which may some day emerge as a b-side). And after trying out a batch of original sheridans songs, everybody agreed to do band.

I love your scuzzy, sparkling sounds but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Thank you so much! We put a lotta thought into the sounds and textures we use, so it’s lovely whenever that resonates with someone. Our songwriting really comes out of the Ramones playbook in that the songs can usually be broken down to a set of chords and a pop/R&B melody. As well as the broader ‘70s New York scene, ‘90s Riot Grrrl is a huge influence – especially Ladies, Women and Girls, Bratmobile’s second record. It’s key in terms of figuring out how to express and own our values in the songs, while keeping the hooks as tasty as possible! Klezmer music, Papa T. (Julia’s dad), and The Velvet Underground’s drone all play a big part in our arrangements, especially with the viola. Lastly (although this could easily spin out into a whole encyclopaedia…), artists like Hundred Waters, Beth Orton and Metric have really helped us hone how we incorporate electronic elements like drum machines and synthesisers.

You’ve just released your new career-spanning compilation album – ‘Pieces Of General’ which is super exciting! Are you able to tell us a bit about this? What made you decide to put together this collection of songs new and old?
This album really came out of conversations we had with Reckless Yes after signing with them in 2020. We were thinking about how we could best introduce ourselves to their audience while also capping off the DIY phase of our work. So Pieces Of General is basically greatest hits for a band that’s had… no hits, with some new tracks mixed in. The key thing for us was to sequence it as a coherent album, which only really became possible through Livio Beroggi’s incredible remastering work. Getting the chance to present these songs in this way has been truly wonderful, and having the label stand by and co-sign our work has meant so much to us personally.

And how have you found recording and promoting an album during these strange times?
Day to day, it’s honestly felt quite abstract, which is tough. But it’s also been a blessing to have this project to work on, especially with such wonderful collaborators. Having the remastered tracks coming in from Livio, or seeing Nestan Mghebrishvili’s artwork and design take shape – those were moments of total joy. Promotion’s been an unusual vibe (when is it not?), and at times it’s felt like folks have had more energy to get down and engage with something – and at times less. And that’s okay, we’re all trying to survive right now. But we’re grateful for where our work’s been given space or shared, and we’re particularly appreciative of Reckless Yes’s efforts to get our stuff further out there.

How have you been connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
It’s been v. v. difficult. We’ve definitely missed the energy of a scene, of seeing friends do their thing and being inspired by that. The divisiveness of the UK government’s “it’s all up to you now, so fight amongst yourselves!” policies has been especially painful. We haven’t been rehearsing or taking bookings in the pandemic, because that hasn’t been right for us, and that’s still where we’re at. Bitch Hunt put it so well in a recent interview, where they pointed out that “it’s just less visible when people are not-doing-stuff.” Meanwhile, virtual connection has definitely felt more meaningful, whether that’s social media or ZOOM calls.

And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, over the last couple of years?
Absolutely! In terms of craft or artistic practice, artists working in other media have been an increasingly big deal for us in how we approach our work as a band. Over the last few years, that’s included Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Diane Arbus. Exploring how someone develops, refines, unpacks, diverges from, expands on the themes in their work is just endlessly interesting – and where you find connection in that, it’s such a precious, beautiful experience. Same goes for how an artist lives their values – lately that’s been writers like Cecil Castellucci, artists like Bianca Xunise, and the folks over at wildly rad UK record label Amateur Pop Incorporated. And on that level of inner work, cultural workers like adrienne maree brown, Layla F. Saad, and Prentis Hemphill offer invaluable insights and pointed, necessary challenges. All their podcasts come highly recommended by yr local sheridans.

As a band keen to call out sexism and racism, how do you feel the industry is for new artists at the moment? Do you feel much has changed over the last few years?
There’s always values at work in any piece of art, the same way there’s always values at work in any conversation. And because of the overt and more transparent experience of fascism in recent years, we’ve felt the need to be increasingly direct and open about our values, as in songs like ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Dismembered‘. It’s also important to pair that kind of projection with practice and embodiment. And, while we name and explore the things we can speak to, we’re also trying to do the work around the things we don’t directly experience. As far as what we’ve seen lately, it’s a mixed bag(uette). Something we’ve noticed is a kind of values drift, particularly when it comes to specific intersections of marginalised identity (eg. white bands only paying attention to gender as a lens). And it’s hard to know how much it’s just the predictable co-option of whatever’s on-trend, or something else. Dr. Angela Y. Davis reminds us that even if it is just co-option, it means we’re getting somewhere. And at the same time, one of the biggest shifts has been witnessing the start of mainstream conversations that were previously totally off the table, specifically with regards to structural racism. And, as so many of those who have spoken truth to power have always underscored, one of the things that keeps us going is the idea that folks younger than us won’t have to go through the same things we have over the last decade or so.

And, as we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists or bands that you’d recommend we check out?
A list! Shilpa Ray (‘70s New York vibes for the modern day, best scream outside of metal), Naz & Ella (grunge + indie + folk), Breakup Haircut (spooky pop-punk), Jemma Freeman and The Cosmic Something (cutting edge post-punk), Whitelands (shoegaze lives!), sweetbellechobaby (radical atmospheric pop), Bitch Hunt (emotionally real indie punk).

(Great choices – all GIHE faves!)

Finally, in addition to the release of your album, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for th’sheridans?
Anxiety and hibernation! We do have our next release already in the can though (a li’l late ‘80s throwback), and we’re currently figuring out which thematic batch of songs to get into next.

Massive thanks to th’sheridans for answering our questions!

Pieces Of General, the new compilation album from th’sheridans, is out now via Reckless Yes. Buy it on bandcamp now.

Introducing Interview: Alice Hubble

Set to release her new album Hexentanzplatz this Friday, innovative London based artist Alice Hubble has previously captivated us with poignant singles such as ‘Power Play‘ and ‘My Dear Friend‘. With her distinctive euphoric, synth-driven energy and glitchy ‘80s-inspired musicality, we’re already huge fans of the soaring, ethereal soundscapes she creates.

Ahead of the release on Friday, we caught up with Alice to find out more about the album, what inspires her and her thoughts on the treatment of women and non-binary people in music at the moment… Have a read!

Hi Alice, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! Thank you, it’s great to be here! I’m Alice Hubble, an electronic pop musician, based in London, originally from Leeds. I make music with my collection of vintage synthesisers, which combines pastoral instrumentals and budget pop in equal measure. My first LP came out in 2019 and the second is coming out this month via Happy Robots.

What initially inspired you to start creating music?
It’s hard to think what initially inspired me to create music cause it feels like it’s always been there. I was one of those music nerd kids, always singing and playing in music groups. In my 20s and a lot of my 30s I was in various bands, albeit to very limited successes. In mid 2018 I decided to focus on my own solo musical creation and Alice Hubble as we know it was born. I’m very inspired by creating ‘otherly’ worlds in music, recreating my imagined worlds sonically. As a person, I’m always pushing to contradict expectations and I attempt to do this in my music. Writing lyrics can be a form of therapy for me to unpack my lived experiences, but I also write about things that matter to me – particularly a highly inclusive form of feminism.

You’re about to release your new album Hexentanzplatz at the end of this week – are you able to tell us a bit about this? Are there any particular themes running throughout the album? 
The album was recorded in October 2020, with half of the songs written during the lockdown in 2020. Though I chose to stay away from writing about the lockdown, I feel the unease and anxieties of the time are very present in the music. The album is called Hexentanzplatz, named after the German mountain. The mountain is steeped in magic and legend and is famous for its Walpurligsnacht celebrations. The name translates literally to mean Witches’ Dance Floor, which really is too perfect. Recurring themes on the LP are illusion, feminism and protest. Illusion creeps into my songs a lot, whether it’s a projected myth of an unbeknown subject of my affections, the illusions we create on social media or your re-imagination of a place in your head. I’ve always been fascinated about how a real place or moment can exist so differently in two people’s minds. 

And how have you found recording and promoting an album during these strange times? 
It’s definitely been strange, I’ve been lucky that the pandemic gave me more space to focus on my music – I was on furlough with my day job, so I had time to spend writing and recording at home. I got to travel to Germany and visit the Harz mountains and learn about Hexentanzplatz and then to Ramsgate in October to record the LP. I also got to play a gig in May just after things started to lift which was really great. I spent 2019 being so busy that I was burnt out, so spending a lot of 2020 focusing on my mental health and having a quiet time was really good for me. It also gave me the chance to record a collaborative EP with Bradford based musician Andy Abbott (under the name ADRA Hubble) and do things I thought I’d never have the confidence to do like host a Facebook chat show and start my radio show. It was disappointing to have things cancelled, but it wasn’t something I dwelled on too much, there were bigger tragedies of the pandemic. I very much see myself as one of the fortunate ones over the last year and feel grateful for what I achieved in this time.

We love your shimmering, euphoric electro soundscapes, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Thank you! Oh my, it’s hard to narrow down. The bands that have always been with me are the classic synth pop bands – Kraftwerk, OMD, New Order. The Beach Boys have also been such an influence to me. For Alice Hubble, sonically I’ve been inspired by Sally Oldfield, School of Seven Bells, Goldfrapp, Book of Love, Susan Sundfor, to name a few.

We have been particular fans of your recent single ‘Power Play’ – described as the closest thing you’ve written to a protest song, it’s inspired by the #MeToo movement. Are you able to tell us a bit more about this? And, in relation to this, how do you feel the music industry is for women/non-binary people at the moment – do you feel that things have improved over the last few years
Thank you! It means a lot to have people respond to the song. ‘Power Play’ is a track that was, on the whole, written in lockdown 1. I feel like a lot of anger and frustration that came out of that time was channeled into the track. At the time I’d looked at Twitter and seen that one of the musicians whose hideous behaviour had been a focus in the #metoo movement was back Tweeting and interacting with fans as normal. And it got me thinking “have things really changed? Do people move on to different things once the moment has passed?” It all started with the menacing synths and, as the track was so angry sonically, I wanted the lyrics to be a call to arms of some sorts. The mass hex of Brock Turner as an act of resistance and resilience (to quote the song) always really intrigued me as a form of activism and I read a lot around this to inform the lyrics. With the subject matter being so triggering, it was a song that needed careful consideration to get just right. It’s definitely getting better for women/non-binary people in the industry but there is still a long way to go. There is better representation generally – I just came back from Green Man where there were so many amazing women/non- binary performers at the festival. There’s also a greater understanding of mental health awareness, and discussions taking place about what behaviours in the industry are not helpful for women/non-binary people. The male ego power-trip that was accepted as the norm for years is now being recognised for what it is, and there are people in the industry trying to make changes. My brother is trans, so naturally trans rights is an issue close to my heart. I have noticed there is more awareness in the general public of trans and non-binary people compared to twenty years ago, which is great. But I feel there is still a long way to go, and a lot of educating still to do, particularly with how polarised society is. I find all the ‘anti-woke’ and TERF rhetoric very disturbing, particularly in the way that they present themselves as reasonable people (when they clearly aren’t!).

How have you been connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
I played a few online shows including a Zoom show, the shows went ok but I’m not sure I’d rush to do them again as it’s so hard to connect with an audience that way. I’m also not sure how long people’s attention span is for a Zoom gig these days. It’s great to use digital to connect with audiences in different ways than the typical live performance. I really enjoyed doing the Hubble’s House Party chat show, partly as it felt like such an achievement and we had a great crowd watching. I also did an Instagram DJ set for Divine Schism which was great.

And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, throughout these strange times? 
Hexentanzplatz and music making in general helped give me a purpose during this time. I think 2020 would have been a lot harder for me if I hadn’t had a creative project to throw myself into. I also consumed a lot of TV and books. My partner and I have done a lot of travelling through culture to take us outside of our reality. We got really into watching travel shows like Race Across the World. I also went on a bit of a deep-dive reading about the ’60s hippy trail trekkers after watching The Serpent, and found Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld a bit silly but a welcome break from real life politics.

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists or bands that you’d recommend we check out?
Sister Wives from Sheffield are awesome!

Finally, in addition to the release of your album, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for you?
Alongside the album there’s a fantastic video which will be out soon, created by illustrator Katherina Rival. I’m going on a mini tour in October which, fingers crossed, will happen as expected. It would be great to see you there!

Massive thanks to Alice for answering our questions!

Hexentanzplatz, the upcoming new album from Alice Hubble, is set for release this Friday 10th September via Happy Robots. Catch Alice on her UK tour:

7th October – Folklore, London
8th October – The Cold Store, Nottingham
15th October – Wharf Chambers, Leeds
23rd October – West Hill Hall, Brighton (supporting Laetitia Sadier)
31st October – The Moon, Cardiff

Photo Credit: Tom Hilverkus