Introducing Interview: Lena Morris

Having released six singles over the last few years, French artist Lena Morris has now released her debut EP New Blood. Exploring themes of female sexuality, empowerment and vulnerability, the collection showcases Morris’ catchy soulful sounds and heartfelt splendour perfectly. Taking us on an emotion-strewn journey through feelings of anxiety to hope and joy, it’s a truly captivating offering.

We caught up with Lena Morris to find out more…

Hi Lena, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a Blues-Rock singer-songwriter-bassist. I’m a French 23 year old. I grew up in Hong Kong, but I’m now based in Brighton. I have just released my first EP New Blood, after releasing six singles. My cat is called Bowie, I’ll leave you to understand this choice of name. And I love cats. 

How did you initially decide to start creating music?
When I was fourteen years old it was the real turning point where I decided to be true to myself and to others by finally saying I wanted to make of music my life. Before then I was very shy about it, even in front of my parents I wouldn’t sing. I listened to ‘Oh! Darling’ by The Beatles and it’s this McCartney song that was like a kind of wake up call. So I immediately bought a bass, started singing and after a couple of months I had my first gig at Hong Kong’s legendary live music bar: The Wanch. Automatically I started writing my own songs. It all came very quickly after this realisation. 

You’re about to release your debut EP New Blood – are there any particular themes running throughout it? 
Yes, definitely. In the songs’ order, we have a woman taking ownership over her sexuality in ‘Little Bird’. ‘Lonely Hunter’ depicts loneliness and love hopelessness. ‘Never (Is An Awfully Long Time)’ portrays anxiety caused by low self-esteem. ‘Phaedra’ was written after Jean Racine’s tragedy of the same name, it’s in the theme of sin and tragic fate. Last but not least, ‘Dance In My Arms’ finishes the album on a more positive note. It’s a song about comfort, hope and a journey to getting better. We go from confidence to loneliness, anxiety, tragedy to finally end up on healing and hope. I believe in our society there are still too many taboos about these issues and I don’t think this is healthy, that’s why I like to sing about it. I modestly try to untwine some thoughts on these topics.

We love your catchy soulful sounds, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Thank you! My biggest direct influences would be The Beatles, Queen and David Bowie (yes, that explains my cat’s name!). They’re the artists I’ve got under my skin. With them and that we can maybe hear more in my music there’s Rickie Lee Jones, The Pretenders… Powerplay Magazine recently reviewed my EP and they found some Sheryl Crow and Janis Joplin similarities too, which are extremely flattering and I’ll take! 

How are you connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
I guess like everyone else, I’ve had to become a little more active on social media, which does give us a chance to maintain a contact even if I’m not too crazy about talking/playing to my phone. I’m more at ease in a good old pub, where we can discuss and drink pints with the beautiful audience.

And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, throughout these strange times? 
I know it was very hard for a lot of people and I truly felt for them so I need to be honest as these times weren’t very complicated for me. I had the huge chance of keeping my everyday job by working from home. It sucks big time that we can’t play live or rehearse etc, but I’d rather focus on what I can do rather than on what I can’t. So, that’s why you’ve got an EP you can listen to today! A Covid baby we could say… and the release of an EP for an independent musician is extreme work! So, between this and my full time job, I don’t have much time to think about the situation. Also, even if I’ve been alone a significant amount of time over the past year, I’ve got great people in my life like my family and my close friends. Virtual calls are never the same, but they were good enough to keep me sane. 

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists that you’d recommend we check out?
I recommend you check out Rosin. She released a beautiful single ‘Honest’ on the same day of my EP (26/03/2021). I highly recommend you check her out cause she’s got big things coming up. I also recommend you to keep an eye on Daniel Borschel- he’s the guitarist and producer on ‘Lonely Hunter’. He’s got big projects he’s working on at the moment and trust me you would want to hear it. 

Finally, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for you, music-wise?
In the rest of 2021 I’m planning on going back on stage (fingers crossed). I am also focussing a lot on new collaborations for a new album. So a lot of songwriting, recording, promoting and gigging hopefully!

Massive thanks to Lena for answering our questions!

New Blood, the new EP from Lena Morris, is out now. Listen on Spotify.

Introducing Interview: Murman

Since forming in 2018, London-based Murman have wowed crowds at venues such as The Scala, The Windmill and The Old Blue Last, and have now – following the frenzied energy of last year’s ‘Panama’ – shared a brand new single. ‘Achilles’ hits you instantly with its gritty hooks, swooning vocals and immense thrashing beats, as it builds to a riotous slice of garage-rock, oozing a raw, scuzzy energy.

We caught up with drummer Abbi Knell to find out more about Murman and their distinctive sound…

Hi Abbi, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello, and thank you! I’m Abbi and I play the drums in a band called Murman, based in North London. I grew up in Suffolk and have been playing since I was about 10 years old, when I started my first band to play in a school talent competition. Very rock and roll. For a day job I work in communications and campaigns for a global philanthropy, so it’s a very different world to music but I really enjoy flitting between the two, and I picked up cycling during lockdown 1.0 – so that’s a nice new hobby!

How did you and David initially decide to start creating music together as Murman?
So, when I moved to London after university I was desperate to get back into playing live. I started scrolling through a few GumTree ads looking for drummers, and stumbled across an ad from David looking to start a band. We first met back in 2018, and David already had a few songs drafted (‘Christian Boys’, our first single, and ‘Tred Bay’, our second), so we used those as a springboard into other sounds, hooks, and ideas. It really started for us both as a hobby and a passion, I don’t think either of us thought a year later we’d be playing at Scala or hosting our own headline shows at The Shacklewell Arms, but it’s so much fun, and that’s at the heart of the music we want to create too – fun to play and fun to listen to. 

You’ve just released your gritty new single ‘Achilles’ – are there any particular themes running throughout it?
We have! Out of all our releases it’s probably the most difficult for us to attribute a singular theme or genre to – it’s an amalgamation of different ideas, but we always play with the notion of masculinity and try to flip it on its head. It ultimately developed into quite a tongue in cheek, playful song you can dance to, but the undertones of real emotion are still there.

We love the dark, thrashing sounds of the single, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
It’s a really tricky question. I’d say lyrically we’re influenced by anything and everything, from the darker styles of Joy Division to much lighter stuff like Devo, but drumming-wise I’ve always been pulled towards The Horrors, Our Girl, Idles… Anything with a heavy floor-tom and splashing cymbals. Growing up I loved watching Anna Prior from Metronomy, or Stella Mozgawa from Warpaint as incredible female drummers. Watching Stella definitely encouraged me to be more experimental in my own drumming, and branch out from letting the hi-hat and snare dictate my own drumming patterns.

How are you connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
We (David) have done a few live sessions on Instagram and Facebook, but it’s so far removed from how we sound live that we’ve tried to engage through other means. We were a part of the Stay Home independent artists’ album earlier in 2020, and have done a few Instagram live interviews. But mainly we try to share our friends’ music as much as possible – I think getting support and recognition from other artists has been really important for loads of bands over the past 12 months. 

And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, throughout these strange times?
I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and reading more over lockdown – I’ve just finished ‘Blonde Roots’ by Bernardine Evaristo, which I’d recommend! I think I’ve actually used this unintended break from music as an opportunity to engage more in other interests, rather than trying to force musical creativity. As a drummer living in a flat, it’s a little tricky to keep playing anyway, so I had to form new routines. In terms of motivation though, I’m definitely counting down to when we can play live and go to gigs again, and I think we’ll all value live music so much more after its 18 month absence!

How do you feel the music industry is for new artists at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
It seems like it’s always difficult to get noticed, but particularly at the moment. Social media is so heavily saturated with content it’s really hard to cut through, which is why we prefer to focus on live gigs and put on a real show. I think the key thing is not expecting people will just come to you, but reaching out instead – we’re pretty shameless in tagging and messaging BBC Intro, Steve Lamacq and big bands etc on Instagram, and sometimes it pays off! You just have to be super proactive if you’re trying to get industry recognition, but obviously if you’re just doing it for fun then you can do whatever you like!

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists that you’d recommend we check out?
It’s pretty bad to think that, over the two years we’ve been gigging, we’ve probably only played with a handful of bands with other women in, but I’m really hoping that will change! I’d definitely recommend listening to Maya Law – she’s an incredibly talented upcoming musician and brilliant lyricist. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Liz Lawrence, she’s such a warm character both on stage and on record, and writes in a really frank and authentic way, which I think often gets taken for granted in the current music landscape. You should definitely check both of them out!

Finally, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for Murman?
That’s a big open question but I can safely say that if gigs are back, we’ll do doing as many as we can! We’re also releasing our music video for ‘Achilles’ in a month or so, so keep an eye out for that. Hopefully we’ll also be able to release another single later in the year, and play a few more gigs outside the M25. Getting into more cities across the UK was our original plan for last summer, so we’ll definitely be making the most out of the freedom we have to play again, to as many people as possible. For now, I’ll have to make do with my podcasts and David’s regular WhatsApp voice notes. 

Huge thanks to Abbi for answering our questions!

 

‘Achilles’, the latest single from Murman, is out now. Listen on Spotify.

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

INTRODUCING INTERVIEW: Fears & TULLE

A gentle, atmospheric offering inspired by her relationship with her late Grandmother, Irish artist Fears has shared her latest single ‘tonnta’ via her brand new label TULLE. Born from her desire to mix things up and provide support to under-represented groups in music, Fears’ (aka Constance Keane) new collective is one we wholeheartedly support and look forward to hearing more from in 2021. We caught up with Fears to talk about the story behind ‘tonnta’, the beautiful accompanying video and how she manages to stay on top of the many impressive musical projects she’s involved in…

Congratulations on launching your new label TULLE! What inspired you to set it up?
Thanks so much, it feels great to get it out in the world now. I’ve been working on my music as Fears for a few years now, just self-releasing stuff and earlier this year I was thinking I’d like to find a proper home for it. It felt most appropriate for that home to be a label owned and run by not straight white cis men to be honest. I was working at a few labels in London and having these great conversations with women about setting something up. At the same time, I was doing some recording with my friend Katie O’Neill, who encouraged me and helped me think this is something I actually could do. The team so far came together really naturally, as we all have a shared want of mixing things up.

We’re always glad to hear about people mixing things up! There was some unwanted backlash on social media when you made it clear that TULLE would be supporting under-represented groups in music (women, trans women, gender non-conforming and non-binary folk). Were you surprised by this?
I actually wasn’t surprised at all and I think that’s the saddest part of it. Generally speaking, when you create something that isn’t directly serving a group of people who are used to being the ones in power, there’s going be some of them who are not into it. I’m at a stage with feminism right now where I think the best approach is to block and swerve those people. Conversations are important and useful when it comes to changing perspectives, but sometimes you have to weigh up if talking to certain people is worth the amount of energy it will cost you, when you could be using that energy elsewhere.

Your first release via TULLE is your own song, ‘tonnta’. It celebrates the life of your late Grandmother, while acknowledging her struggle with dementia. How did you find writing this song? Was it cathartic, difficult, or a mixture of both?
I actually wrote the song while she was still with us. I’ve been sitting on this one for about four years, it’s just taken me this long to figure out the best way for me to present it that I think honours her as a person. She had dementia for quite a long time and we were so lucky that it was a fairly slow decline. My Nana was incredibly good to me growing up, and it was really important to me to write about her and her wonderful soul, even while she had dementia. It’s a very scary and unsettling thing to watch a loved one slip away. But I think it’s really important to step up and care for them, like they did with us. I’m really glad I got to do that.

The single is accompanied by a beautiful DIY video. Love that you directed it, your brother shot the footage and the video features your Mum & sister (as well as pop sensation CMAT) What was the experience of working with your family like?
I love working with my family. I mean, we’re quite loud and direct with each other so it’s not like we’re sitting around smiling and holding hands 24/7, but we are very close. They’re so supportive of me, so this is definitely not the first time they’ve been dragged in to help me with stuff. I felt that for this release in particular, it would be very special to have them as part of it, once they were comfortable with it. For all of us, it’s been really lovely to have our Nana in our thoughts so much, have her things around us, speak about her, and celebrate her. Pretty much everything I do with Fears is extremely low budget and very DIY so having a family who enjoy doing things like shooting a video or getting into the very cold Irish sea is such a bonus.

The sea does look cold actually…Talk me through how you made the dresses in the video. Where did the inspiration for the shape and fabric come from? How long they take to create?
My Nana taught me how to sew when I was younger. We used to make aprons and skirts and stuff when I was a kid. I had a thought around this time last year that I wanted to try making a big dress for my live performances, sort of inspired by a photo of her from 1974, where she looks really confident and happy. It’s the single artwork for ‘tonnta’. My dresses are much bigger than that, as I wanted to capture that idea of taking up space. I get really anxious before I perform, so I wanted to make something that would help me stand up straight and own what I was doing.

My brother actually bought me the sewing machine because I was so broke during the first lockdown, as many of us were, so a big thank you to him. As I made the first dress, I got into a flow of it and found a feeling of connection to those childhood memories. It was then that I came up with the concept for the video, and started asking some women who knew what I was doing if they wanted to be involved. I then designed each dress while consulting each woman.

They do take a little while to make. It depends on the design and the type of tulle I’m using, but it is quite labour intensive. It’s worth it though, when you see the final product and the way the person looks while wearing it. I think wearing something big like that automatically gives you an air of importance that it would be great if women had automatically.

Be honest, did you trip at any point while running through that field in your dress? Do you have a reel of out-takes you’re willing to share with the world?
Hahaha, I didn’t trip, but I definitely fell over a few times while spinning around. I think one of the things I love about the video is that as it progresses, I put in clips that were less polished and us being messy in a field, screaming the Irish national anthem for whatever reason. I will release that clip sometime soon.

You’re a super busy woman – launching a label, hand-making bespoke dresses, creating music as fears and drumming in post-punk band M(h)aol too. Any tips on time management? That’s a lot for one person to undertake!
I guess I am quite busy. I also manage Laura Groves and work on and off at a few labels. My family always joke about how I’m like two extremes at the same time. I’m doing all this stuff, but sitting in my dressing gown drinking hot chocolate. I’m either switched very on or very off. I work really hard and then exist horizontally watching Real Housewives alone for hours on end.

I think my main tip is being honest with yourself about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and assessing what your needs are in order to help you get everything you want done. Most of what I’m doing is not making me money, which you need to do things like pay rent and buy food, so trying to get the balance right with that stuff is obviously key. Everything you do (even if you love it) is going to have its downsides and drain you at some point. I just try to evaluate everything as I go and check in with myself. I also go to therapy every two weeks which is absolutely vital for me, to have space to sit and assess, and be supported doing so. I enjoy hanging out with myself a lot, and know that I need to factor that in to any work schedule I’m making.

That’s great advice. What does early 2021 look like for fears and for TULLE? Anything you can tease us with?
The first half of 2021 will see the first full length release on TULLE. And that’s all I’m saying.

Thanks so much to Fears for taking the time to talk to us!

Follow Fears on bandcamp, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter & Facebook
Follow Tulle on Instagram & Twitter

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut