Five Favourites: Ailsa Tully

Following acclaim for previous singles ‘Greedy’ and ‘Parasite’ from the likes of The Line Of Best Fit and Clash Magazine, Welsh artist and GIHE fave Ailsa Tully has now announced the release of her upcoming EP, Holy Isle – due out in September. Taken from the EP, recent single ‘Sheets‘ insightfully reflects on those first moments of waking, as your senses gradually start to stir whilst limbs stretch amid the crisp white linen. Combining lilting melodies with Tully’s crystalline, honey-sweet vocals, it oozes an immersive, delicate emotion and sparkling grace. With a heartfelt splendour, it offers an exquisite slice of folk-strewn indie, resonating with a glistening allure and subtle, yet stirring, sentiment. We can’t hear to the EP very soon!

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the upcoming EP, we caught up with Ailsa to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that she loves the most. Check out her choices below and scroll down to listen to the uniquely captivating ‘Sheets’.

Rozi Plain – ‘Conditions’
Let’s start with this one because it’s a sonic masterpiece. I love how relaxed it is, how fluttery and flighty the synth parts are, the simple directness of the lyrics, and the grounding repetition of the bass riff. It has a wondrous quality like you are an (extremely calm) child on a day out, observing a blustery day by the beach.


Hildegard von Bingen – ‘Spiritus Sanctus Vivificans’
Hildegard von Bingen was a German Benedictine Abbess around in the 10th century and is one of the best-known composers of sacred monophony as well as being a respected writer, philosopher and mystic. I am so intrigued by her, a prolifically creative woman in the Middle Ages who was actually recognised for her work. Her music has an incredible purity and is so evocative of an ancient sacredness which I often feel I need to tap into. It reminds me of walking in the mountains in Wales where I grew up.


Joni Mitchell -‘Don’t Interrupt The Sorrow’
I listened to the album Hissing of Summer Lawns countless times with my Dad in the car. This was where I first fell in love with Joni’s lyrics and her ability to paint these incredible pictures of people and social situations. The power of her emotion and her voice just cut right through, coupled with these incredibly unusual arrangements. Every element is good enough to have made it amazing by itself. Me and Dad would talk about it on many journeys, extremely fond memories.


Sudan Archives – ‘Come Meh Way’
I am a cellist and spent a while trying to work out how to incorporate the cello into my live set up… In the end I gave up and turned to the bass. Sudan Archives made me wish I hadn’t. How she performs with a violin and how she uses it to accompany her voice is so unique to her, very mesmerising. She gets a really cool scratchy, earthy tone and puts it through loads of pedals. Catch her live if you can!

Caroline Polachek – ‘So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings’
I listened to this song all the time when I started dating my boyfriend. It reminds me of feeling all that crazy joyful excitement. It’s just a great pop song!


Thanks so much to Ailsa for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Listen to latest single ‘Sheets’ below:

Holy Isle, the upcoming EP from Ailsa Tully, is set for release 1st September via Dalliance Recordings.

Five Favourites: Becky CJ

Having received support from the likes of 1883 Magazine and Amazing Radio, as well as being featured in the likes of The Independent and Huffington Post for her ‘Tinder Nightmares’ TikTok series, queer artist Becky CJ has now shared her poignant new single. Ahead of the release of her upcoming EP next month, ‘I Think I’m In Love With My Best Friend’ oozes a heartfelt splendour and twinkling emotion, creating a shimmering and stirring slice of alt-pop.

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 Becky to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums or songs that have shaped her as a musician. Check out her choices below and scroll down to listen to ‘I Think I’m In Love With My Best Friend’ at the end of the feature.

Susanne Sundfør – Ten Love Songs
Hearing Susanne Sundfør for the first time was a big moment for me. She truly epitomises what I love in music; drama, musicality, unpredictability and emotion. This album has been on repeat for me for years, in particular ‘Delirious’ and ‘Fade Away’. The way she explores this ’80s synth pop sound but pairs it with her classical influence and singer/songwriter style is just magical to my ears. Each song on the album does something different and takes you somewhere else emotionally. I predominantly remember seeing her play most of the album at Latitude Festival in 2015 and literally just crying throughout. I think she felt like one of the first contemporary female artists that I felt represented the musical world that I wanted to inhabit.

Alison Krauss and Union Station –  Paper Aeroplane
Alison Krauss was an artist who we listened to a lot growing up; both my parents were massive fans of her beautiful voice and songs. This album for me is one that I can listen to from beginning to end and I never get bored. I think I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for country/bluegrass music and this album marries those elements perfectly for me. Alison Krauss’s voice is one of my all time favourites and on this album it just melts me. My favourite track is ‘Lay My Burden Down’, which is a song about releasing yourself of worries, and it’s just super feel good.

Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
This is another album I can listen to from start to end, sing along to most of the lyrics and never ever get bored of. There is literally just no one like Frank Ocean, his songwriting is mesmerising. I feel this album covers a whole host of genres and experiments so much with song form but somehow still feels like a cohesive piece of art. ‘Bad Religion’ was the song that I think initially gripped me the most, the lyrics were so vulnerable and the melody so emotional, but it was still so cool. That has to be the perfect combination for any song, right?! I think the common denominator for me in loving something is connecting to the vocal performance and me oh my, Frank’s is something else.

James Blake – ‘Into The Red’
I really love the whole Assume Form album but I wanted to highlight this song in particular as it has such a special place in my heart. I know that sounds super cringe but I don’t know how else to describe my love for this song. The lyrical concept is just genius, the idea that you love someone so much that you’d go into the ‘red’ (debt) for them is so unique but somehow so relatable!? I connect so deeply to the lyrics and then add to that James’ incredible vocals, production that is out of this world and a super unique arrangement, and I am sold. I was getting together with my partner around the same time as listening to this song on repeat so it always reminds me of her. We went to see him play at the Brixton Academy and were GUTTED because he didn’t play this one live.

Joni Mitchell – Rainy Night House
My dad played me this song when we were on holiday when I was about 13 or 14. I remember curling up on the sofa, putting the headphones on and begrudgingly listening in that way you do when your parents want to show you something at that age. I listened to the whole song, then listened again and then again. I had never properly listened to any Joni Mitchell, I knew the classics but hadn’t taken the time to get to know any more. The storytelling was so absorbing, I couldn’t believe that in this three minute song she’d basically told me the beginning, middle and end of a story and I felt I knew all the characters. Since then I’ve always gone back to listen to this song when I’m feeling introspective or in need of a reminder of true, classic song writing.

Massive thanks to Becky for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Ahead of the release of her upcoming EP Woman next month, listen to ‘I Think I’m In Love With My Best Friend’ now:

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