FIVE FAVOURITES: Julia-Sophie

Describing herself as finally finding her “hullabaloo within the storm”, new electronic artist Julia-Sophie shared her mesmerising debut EP, Y?, last week, and we cannot stop listening to it.

Y? is a sublime four track record of emotionally intelligent, electrifying electronica. Music which builds and layers, over and over, resulting in an almost painfully blissful experience; much like listening to a Gazelle Twin record. Julia-Sophie is clearly an artist who has a solid understanding of producing sound, removing boundaries and letting music speak for itself.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Julia-Sophie to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that influenced her own writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch the video for her single ‘x0x’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Thom Yorke – ANIMA
I’ve been listening to a lot of Thom Yorke this last year and feel very drawn into his latest album ANIMA. For me, it feels dark and tender and addresses emotional holes in my life. I’m attracted to his lyrics that have a dreamlike quality, like a stream of consciousness; like a beautiful nightmare. I love the way the album floats through unease as it slips and slides all over the place without ever becoming boring. It’s a left of centre electronic album with jabbing pulses, syncopated rhythms, spring loaded grooves and wheezy synths surging in waves; I love how effortless it all feels. I only dream of making music with that apparent ease. I love feeling like I can hear his whole creative process. The album makes me feel like I’m listening to art, like a sculptor mastering textures and layers; as I drift off the album catches me unawares. I love it and can’t recommend it enough.

2. James Blake – Assume Form
James has an infectious take on post-dubstep and downtempo, minimalistic electronica. His vocals are otherworldly, airy and his productions boundary-breaking. When the way that you relate to the world becomes difficult I look for artists who express emotions that I cannot; that I am searching for. I felt particularly connected to this album; it is melancholic yet hopeful. The record is full on emotion, and like all the best things in life, it doesn’t reveal itself immediately; it deserves time. As a producer, his sounds make me want to explore the record further and as I do, I capture themes that I didn’t quite grasp the first time round. When I feel dulled by emotion and trauma, James’ music makes me feel safe; his music makes me feel like I’m being held; arms wrapped around me delicately; all unencumbered by musical form. The guests on this album are incredible and are definitely worth revisiting, most notably Moses Sumney’s performance on ‘Tell Them’ blows me away. There’s definitely something particularly special about this album.

3. Art School Girlfriend – Into The Blue Hour
I’m not sure where or how I first came across Polly Mackey, aka Art School Girlfriend (knowing me, I was probably stalking Paul Epworth’s Wolftone Records as I’m a guilty Glass Animals and Harry Edwards fan). Art School Girlfriend self-produces music that for me shares the hypnotic euphoria of trance music. Her ability to create surreal, ethereal bodies of work laced with moodiness not only blows my mind and inspires me, but also gives me feelings of lustfulness and space; within this space I find myself free to think, feel, bend and reflect. I love that place she takes me to. Her music is all very dreamlike but packed with emotion and feels as menacing as it does beautiful. As someone who loves and is obsessed with electronic sounds, I love her use of electronica and only dream to be able to create hazy soundscapes like her, that are tied together with an innate pop understanding. Her music to me, feels quite sad and melancholic, but all tinged with beauty and mystery; it draws me in. Definitely music worth escaping to (plus she has a really cute dog, so what’s not to love about her and her music?)

4. TT (Theresa Wayman) – Lovelaws
I was never a huge Warpaint fan, not because I didn’t like them, but because I was late to the party. Warpaint’s music was so big that it seeped into my life all the same, always playing in the background at friend’s houses or in cafés, and so I’ve always had a wispy notion of their sound. When I heard Warpaint’s Theresa Wayman’s solo debut, I guess because I’ve become more into electronic music than guitar-led music, I was immediately drawn in. Her vocals felt intimate and her use of electronica excited me. This debut record feels really honest; where she explores themes of motherhood, isolation and romances. Her songs are dreamy and I feel she allows me to dream with her; the sound of skin on skin, she journeys fragile threads of human connections and makes me feel a certain sense of companionship and loneliness, all given in equal weight. The album never overpowers; it is warm and comforting: its songs mutate in ways that are unexpected and offer different kinds of rewards. She reminds me that we are all human, obsessing, disconnecting, passionate and jealous. I love her and this record for it.

5. Double Negative – Low
I first discovered this record at my local record store, Truck Music Store in Oxford, as they made it their album of the year. I remember Carl who works behind the counter waving it to me as I asked for recommendations. He was telling me about this album and I loved it from the get go. It’s an immensely creative, ambitious, warped slowcore album that takes you on an experimental journey from start to finish. It’s a radical record in many ways, creating all kinds of atmospheres; sometimes through drone and then also through using song as a conduit. It thumps, crackles and hums, is as oblique in its nature as it is haunting and on first listen sent shivers through me. I was hooked; I found myself lost in its noise, its darkness and heartbreak and yet the album somehow made me feel good even when I was falling apart.

Thanks to Julia-Sophie for sharing her favourites. Listen to her EP here.
Follow Julia-Sophie on Instagram for more updates.

FIVE FAVOURITES: Bad Honey

South London based duo Bad Honey blend dreamy vocals, bouncing beats and lo-fi electronics to create their upbeat, alt-soul sounds. Formed of Lydia Clowes & Teresa Origone, the duo have received radio support from the likes of BBC Introducing London, BBC Radio 6, Amazing Radio, and from Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Lydia & Teresa to ask her about their “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced their song writing techniques. Check out their choices below, and scroll down to watch Bad Honey’s video for ‘Weak When You’re Near’ in collaboration with O2 Music & their ‘Music Box’ challenge, at the end of this post.

 

1. James Blake – Assume Form
Teresa: James Blake’s melodies are the best melodies. His music makes me want to make sure I keep trying to find the best possible melodies when I write. I always loved James Blake, so I wanted to listen to this album as soon as it came out. The day before it was released, I was in the Netherlands playing keys for an artist called Rina Mushonga. We were there for only one day, but had a long day of travelling to play for a TV session, then drove back to Amsterdam for a radio session in the evening, then decided to go for a walk in Amsterdam in the snow, and ended up having a three hour sleep because our flight back to London was really early the next morning. As soon as I got home, I played the album. I was exhausted and I remember having one of those moments where you are reminded of how happy music can make you feel. It happened when I first heard ‘Into The Red’ when the twinkly piano comes in about 40 seconds into the song. It’s so tiny and delicate and it makes you want to cling onto it. The use of tension and release in that song is amazing. You really want something big to happen at the end of the first chorus, but it just doesn’t happen until the second chorus.

Lydia: I love how James Blake’s songs are very atypical and don’t adhere to a “normal” song structure necessarily. Often his songs don’t have an obvious verse or chorus but he somehow manages to give you the feeling of tension and release in other ways. The production on this record is great and the fact that he does it all himself, I feel that this album was a particular motivation to me and Teresa to start producing our own music. I particularly love ‘Into The Red’, ‘Can’t Believe the Way We Flow’ and ‘I’ll Come Too’ on this album, they all have such a great way of portraying a feeling of love through interesting lyrics, without being cheesy, which I’ve found quite a hard thing to achieve!

2. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy 
Teresa: This album is a reminder that you need to be brave with your music, and you can do whatever you want with it. I discovered St. Vincent when she released her album Actor. I think I just saw an article on Pitchfork about it and decided to listen to it, and it took a couple of listens for it to grow on me, but I’ve loved her music since then. I was 18 then, and I remember thinking that it would be cool to produce my own music at some point. She’s one of those artists who I will always love, and will always find something new to love about her each time I listen to her music. Strange Mercy is my favourite St. Vincent album. It’s so dreamy and heavy at the same time, which for me is one of the best things you can achieve in music. I love how loud and direct the guitar is, kind of at the same level as her voice. And I don’t know how she made the backing vocals sound like that, but it sounds so great. My favourite moments on the album are the weird guitar riff on ‘Surgeon’, and the craziness at the end of ‘Northern Lights’. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it.

3. Laura Mvula – The Dreaming Room 
Lydia: I first heard of Laura Mvula with ‘Green Garden’ when I had just moved to London and I loved everything she represented. She was making a blend of music that I’d not really heard before and I loved it and wanted to make this myself. I found out she was from Birmingham, which is near to where I grew up so this helped to inspire me to think I could do it too! This album for me has an overwhelming feeling of female empowerment and joy, and therefore it really resonated with me from the first time I listened to it.

I love how Laura Mvula has always had a really unique style of what seems to me, orchestral inspired pop songs, using interesting chord progressions, simple but strong melodies and for me one of my favourite things is her use of close vocal harmonies. I’ve always loved vocal harmonies and I think she uses them so effectively throughout this album, with the emotion of her voice really coming through. This album is also produced by Troy Miller who I think is a genius, I’ve loved many of his other album productions such as Gregory Porter’s ‘Liquid Spirit’ and Jamie Cullum’s ‘Taller’. ‘Overcome’ has such a strong emotion, especially the outro where it builds and builds on the same melody which never gets old, she’s really good at doing this and I could listen to this forever! ‘Show Me Love’ is an amazing song. The intro is almost like an recitative in an opera, and sets the rest of the song up beautifully. I find this song quite deeply sad, but it one of my favourites of the album. My other favourite is ‘Phenomenal Woman’ I just absolutely love this song, it’s so feel good. I remember clearly dancing in the back of a car whilst driving up to Glasgow on a tour to this song. It just makes me want to move, and I love the fact it’s written about her Grandma. Elements throughout the album reflect back to this too with ‘Nan’, a phone calls between Laura and her Grandma. I am keenly awaiting an album 3 for Laura Mvula!

4. Tyler, The Creator – IGOR 
Teresa: This is my album of choice for when I’m driving and want to play something really loud (through my tiny bluetooth speaker). I’m not someone who grew up listening to hip hop, I discovered it quite late and I am still slowly discovering it, but I think everyone should listen to this album regardless of what kind of music they usually listen to. Not that I think people really listen to music based on genre, but hip hop in particular can be so diverse and free and it can incorporate so many types of music, and this album is such a good example of that. The arrangements are amazing, there is so much happening, so many details, and it’s so intricate and colorful. More is more and I really agree with that. I love how much space is given to instrumental sections, the songs are so progressive and each section flows into a new one each time. This is definitely one of those albums I’d need to listen to the whole way through from beginning to end, and I wouldn’t be able to remember even one title of each individual song, because it’s a whole journey. It’s also full of analog synths, so it was just made for my ears. It’s a great example of how making music is just fun, and making music means exploring where you can go without limiting yourself to a structure or a genre.

5. Lianne La Havas – Is Your Love Big Enough?
Lydia: Lianne La Havas has one of my favourite vocalists, so this album was instantly a favourite of mine. I first saw Lianne on Jools Holland singing ‘Age’ in 2011. I just thought she was brilliant, the song was light-hearted and almost humorous, her voice was amazing and her guitar playing was interesting. She was not just your average singer songwriter strumming on a guitar, she could actually play quirky riffs, harmonics, and was also playing electric which I thought was extremely cool. Again like Laura Mvula, I think I discovered Lianne La Havas when I was at a stage in my life when I wasn’t yet sure who or what I wanted to do and be in terms of music, and so she was a huge inspiration for me. Seeing a young woman playing great music, with incredible instrumentation, talent, and confidence was exhilarating. I generally prefer the more acoustic songs on this album, as I think it really showcases Lianne’s voice, such as ‘Lost & Found’, ‘Au Cinema’ and ‘Gone’. Again, she uses lots of vocal harmonies throughout the album, and I love that.

 

Thanks to Lydia & Teresa for sharing their favourites with us. Follow Bad Honey on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut