FIVE FAVOURITES: Aerial East

Described as a deeply personal coming-of-age record, New York-based musician Aerial East is preparing to release her poetic new album, Try Harder, on 12th February. Set to be released via Partisan Records, the LP tentatively explores East’s experiences of disconnection, loneliness, suicide, friendships, gender roles and breakups, whilst also embracing the simple beauty that life can unexpectedly bestow upon us.

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 Aerial East to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch Aerial East’s latest video for ‘Try Harder’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
This album just keeps giving. When I first heard it in 2010 I had a really negative reaction to it. I was already a big fan having binged The Milk Eyed Mender and Ys after high school. A friend of mine made a comment about her during this time that was something like “I would marry her without even meeting her” and I followed an immature impulse to prove that she wasn’t that amazing by rejecting the overwhelming 3 disc record. By 2011 though I was feeling heartbroken and I found myself uncontrollably humming and singing ‘On a Good Day’, the most digestible song on the epic breakup record. The more heartbroken I felt the more I threw myself into the record. I must have listened to this album thousands of times – probably more than any other. It is so familiar to me and feels like home. It still makes me cry. My friend Kelly once said that she feels like herself when she hears it. I feel that way too. I still don’t always know what is going to happen next when I listen though. I haven’t yet memorized the lyrics, melodies and structures of the songs and that makes for stimulating repeated listens. I saw her perform again in 2019 and it sent me into a satisfying spiral of obsessively analyzing her lyrics and reading about her that really helped me think and write about my own songs.

2. Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
The Kick Inside gives this one a run for its money but Hounds of Love is the record I put on to cheer myself up when I’m feeling depressed. I actually first heard the song ‘Hounds of Love’ in high school when the Futureheads covered it and didn’t discover Bush until years later when I moved to New York. I was immediately drawn in when I first saw her dancing in the red dress video for ‘Wuthering Heights’. I remember thinking I had heard the song as a child but I later realized I was remembering ‘Come to My Window’ by Melissa Etheridge. Anyway, Bush’s videos are all amazing. I wanted to study mime for a long time because of her. I still kind of do. Hounds of Love is one of the best records ever made.

3. Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou – Ethiopiques, vol. 21: Emahoy (Piano Solo)
This record centers me. It was all I could listen to in 2016 and I don’t play piano but I wanted my record Try Harder to feel like this. I first heard it when I was working at Dimes, a restaurant I have worked at since 2013. I used to listen to it often while setting up for my night shift that the closing daytime server would put it on when they saw me arrive. Emahoy, homemade pizza, and David Attenborough got me through 2016. A good remedy for anxiety.

4. Joni Mitchell – Blue
I mean, come on. It’s so good! I actually didn’t get into Joni Mitchell until Teeny Leiberson and Rachel Pazdan invited me to perform in their HUM Joni Mitchell tribute show. There was a lot to dig into and I said yes obviously, but then I had a deadline to familiarize myself with her work – she is pretty prolific – and choose a song I wanted to sing. I ended up doing ‘My Old Man’ because I don’t really write love songs even though I’m very romantic and ‘Hana’ from 2007’s Shine, because I wanted to acknowledge her as a contemporary artist. This is one of those records that just makes me feel good when it comes on. It came out the same year as Carole King’s Tapestry and I like thinking about the two different song-writing styles. Tapestry has so many crazy big hit songs that you are like “wait, she wrote that song too?!” They are such perfectly written pop songs but Blue is full of weird idiosyncratic songs that only really make sense if Joni is singing them. I love both albums so much and I imagine Carole made more money off of Tapestry because those songs are so widely covered and licensed, but if I could choose I would rather have made Blue.

5. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
Beautiful melodies, beautiful harmonies, dizzying layered vocals, heart-breaking lyrics produced joyfully. I’m not sure if it was the first time I heard this record but I remember listening to these songs upstate and crying and everyone in the room politely pretending not to see. Pet Sounds was a big reference when I was producing my first record Rooms.

Thanks to Aerial for sharing her favourites with us!

Watch Aerial East’s video for ‘Try Harder’ below.

You can pre-order Aerial East’s new album Try Harder here.

Follow Aerial East on Spotify, bandcamp, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook 

Premiere: Jelena Ćirić – ‘Lines’

Set to release her debut EP later this month, Reykjavík based singer songwriter Jelena Ćirić has now shared the first single from the collection.

Reflecting on our preoccupation with finding the meaning of life, ‘Lines’ offers a captivating ethereal soundscape. With shades of the other-worldly allure of Regina Spektor, it flows with twinkling keys and the impassioned majestic splendour of Ćirić’s vocals, creating a musically rich, lyrically poignant slice of spellbinding alt-pop.

Listen to ‘Lines’, for the first time, here. And read a little interview with Jelena all about the track and her upcoming EP below!

 

Hi Jelena, can you tell us about your new single ‘Lines’?
‘Lines’ is a song about the fetish we humans have for answers to life’s big questions. Whether we admit it or not, we love the idea that a conversation with a fortune tell could reveal the purpose of our life or that we’ll meet a new lover and suddenly everything will fall into place. I don’t think that happens to most of us. Changing ourselves is gradual and hard and not very romantic.

And can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind the the song?
The song is set in Toronto, where I grew up. Like all cities it’s got many layers, and stepping into one of its neighbourhoods can feel like stepping into an alternate reality. It’s been a few years since I’ve lived there but it’s where I grew up and grappled with the sorts of questions that the song’s protagonist wonders about: who am I, what should I do with my life, who should I love?

You’re Serbian born, grown up in Canada, but have lived in Iceland for several years, how has living there influenced your songwriting?
The Icelandic music scene has been incredibly supportive and encouraging to be a part of. I studied classical singing – although it was a good foundation in many ways, it also instilled a scathing self-criticism in me that I had to unlearn. What I love about Icelandic artists is that when they have an idea, they just go for it. I’ve been learning to just act on ideas rather than criticize them to death before I begin.

And what can we expect from your upcoming debut EP?
I named the EP Shelter One because for me each of the songs is a little temporary haven that I built to process something I was going through. That’s what songwriting has always been for me – a way to explore questions I had about myself or the world or give myself a sort of solace that I couldn’t find elsewhere. Personally, I’m drawn to music that isn’t overly produced, and I’m really proud of the team behind this EP for bringing out the best in me without ironing out the authenticity of the songs. From Pétur Þór Benediktsson who recorded the vocals so beautifully and Snorri Hallgrímsson who recorded piano, to Margrét Arnardóttir (accordion) and Karl James Pestka (viola and violin) whose playing brings depth to the songs, Albert Finnbogason who produced it with such care and respect, and then Sarah Register’s mastering that polished it like a gem. It’s really important to me to acknowledge the people whose names you may not see when you check out a song on a streaming platform. This EP was a team effort and it was truly crafted with care at every step.

Huge thanks to Jelena for answering our questions!

‘Lines’ is out now, taken from Jelena Ćirić’s upcoming debut EP Shelter One, set for release 27th November via Icelandic label Paradís Sessions.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Five Favourites: Deux Furieuses

Having previously wowed us with their truly immense live show at The Finsbury a couple of years back, duo Ros Cairney and Vas Antoniadou – aka Deux Furieuses  – have been going from strength to strength with their powerful offerings.

Now, with the release of their poignant new album My War Is Your War, they continue to blow our minds with their explosive post-punk and stirring raw emotion.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspires them or influences their writing. We caught up with Ros from the band, who has shared her “Five Favourites” – five tracks that particularly resonate with her and Vas. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch the new video for ‘Let Them Burn’ at the end of this post.

PJ Harvey – ‘All and Everyone’
This makes me feel ill. I first listened to the album lying in a hospital bed which was a mistake. The track alternates heart-stoppingly between urgent and woozy sections as she plays with time, life and death. When the drums come in with a dull thud they sound stilted, then soon stop to leave the build up of chiming autoharp chords which introduce the voice with the words “Death was everywhere, In the air, And in the sounds, Coming off the mounds, Of Bolton’s Ridge..”. The vocals echo with a sense of place and history. Verse 2 is propelled along by churning chords until the rhythm slows and the song just lets go into the most sublime free fall with “As we advance in the sun, As we advancing every man, As we advancing in the sun”.  After the last line “Sing death to all and everyone” the track descends into a repetitive outro with long trombone notes conveying an out of tune malaise. I didn’t think PJ Harvey could improve on Dry until I heard Let England Shake. I had always loved PJ Harvey the actual band, that first trio with her distorted guitar riffs locking into that fantastic rhythm section, rather than her songwriting or her ‘solo’ albums. Vas and I saw them many times and are honoured to have worked with drummer Rob Ellis on both our albums. But on Let England Shake, Polly Harvey surpassed all her previous work.

Bert Jansch – ‘January Man’
I first heard Bert Jansch on an old battered copy of 1965 album Don’t Bother Me, borrowed from my aunt Aine Carey who actually taught me to play guitar. I loved his voice and the track ‘Ring a Ding Bird’ with its mesmerising major to minor and back to major key mood shifts. But this is my favourite Bert Jansch song for the combination of his voice and guitar playing on this fantastic song written by Dave Goulder. “And the January man comes round again in woollen coat and boots of leather, To take another turn and walk along the icy road he knows so well, The January man is here for starting each and every year, Along the road for ever”.

Joni Mitchell – ‘Amelia’
I took a year off university in Glasgow to work as a houseparent in a ‘free school’ near Dumfries and would take off into the countryside on a bike. It was summer and I loved to sit under a tree in a field and listen to Hejira, Joni Mitchell’s electric guitar road album endlessly on headphones. I loved the words and guitar on ‘Amelia’, skies streaked with vapour trails that look like “the hexagram of the heavens, the strings of my guitar… The drone of flying engines is a song so wild and blue, It scrambles time and seasons if it gets through to you… I dreamed of 747s over geometric farms”. The song progresses without a chorus, powered by her finger picked electric chords with sonic textures and a line at the end of each verse addressed to Amelia Earhart, another solo traveller with a dream to fly. I was considering moving to London to pursue music but then stayed on in Glasgow for a few years until I realised it was now or never. When I finally moved I met Vas. 

The Beatles – ‘A Day In The Life’
It was tough to choose between ‘A Day in the Life’ and ‘Gimme Some Truth’ by John Lennon solo, which is the only cover we have ever played live and is so relevant to now. But ‘A Day in the Life’ won through. Wafting in with atmospheric guitar and piano which reminds me of PJ Harvey, the dead pan vocals intone the almost callous words. On verse 2, thunderous rolling drum fills propel the track along without playing a beat. “He blew his mind out in a car… A crowd of people stood and stared… Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords”. This experimental track has a violent cruelty about it which is lightened by Paul McCartney’s middle section which ends with “And I went into a dream…” before returning to John Lennon’s evocative wailing “Aaaahs”. ‘A Day In the Life’ evokes for me an indifferent England sleepwalking into catastrophe which resonates even today.

Kate Bush – ‘Sat in Your Lap’
This is the track Vas and I put on to remind ourselves that we have a very long way to go and should possibly just give up. In fact all of these tracks do this. But you have to keep going if you are driven to communicate with music like we are. With its thunderous drums and absolutely insane vocals, this is a masterpiece. The words have a great rhythm to them. “Some say that knowledge is something sat in your lap, Some say that knowledge is something that you never have.” It comes to a thunderous and operatic end which I can hear us trying to emulate in some of our songs. Is this rock? Who cares. We don’t make music to fit your genres! These artists inspire and challenge us and brought us together with their music.

Massive thanks to Ros for sharing her Five Favourites with us! 

My War Is Your War, the new album from Deux Furieuses, is out now. Watch the searing video for latest single ‘Let Them Burn’, here:

Catch Deux Furieuses live at the following dates:

2nd November – Blossoms, Stockport
5th November – Banshee, Edinburgh

 

Photo Credit: Dan Donovan