FIVE FAVOURITES: Muna Ileiwat

London-based, New Jersey-born songwriter Muna Ileiwat creates tender indie pop tunes that are a blend of soft vocals, shimmering electronics and steady beats. Her debut EP, Twenty-Seven, released today (19th Aug) via Fear of Missing Out Records, explores the fluctuating nature of relationships in all their forms, and the resilience and freedom that comes with creating art for arts sake.

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 Muna to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch her video for ‘Pity Party’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Ms. Lauryn Hill – ‘I Find It Hard to Say (Rebel)’
This song made me want to learn guitar and start writing my own music. When I started guitar lessons I learned classical music. At the end of each lesson, my teacher and I would spend a bit of time learning a “pop” song. This was the first song I chose. I heard Lauryn Hill’s MTV Unplugged album a lot when I was young (my dad owned it on CD). I’m not really into live albums except this one I love. I’ve come back to this song throughout my life. It’s not a conventional structure and the lyrics are stunning. The song’s nearly 7 minutes long, but every time I listen to it, it feels like half the time, probably because it’s so moving. Lauryn Hill’s performance is so raw. Once I was old enough, I discovered the song was about the murder of Amadou Diallo.

2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Maps’
An indie gem. I have such a soft spot for Karen O, she’s so badass! Yeah Yeah Yeahs were one my first introductions to indie music (this song in particular). There’s something so understated and vulnerable about the chorus line – “wait, they don’t love you like I love you”. It’s hard to convince me that a guitar solo is ever cool, but Nick Zinner’s solo in this is very cool. I got so wrapped up in the story behind this song. Music is so much about storytelling. You get a unique perspective into the deepest parts of people’s inner emotional states, the things people want to talk about, but just don’t know how. In the music video, Karen O is apparently crying real tears because her boyfriend was hours late to the shoot, right before her tour. There’s speculation that the song title is an acronym for ‘My Angus Please Stay’ and even though Karen O has never confirmed it, this kinda makes me love the song more. It really hurts. You feel her disappointment when the person you love can’t show up for you in the ways you need.

3. Selena – ‘Como La Flor’
I spent my early childhood in the US and Selena was always on the radio. I can’t begin to explain how much I love her and what she represents. Her outfits – incredible. Her voice – flawless. Her stage presence – mesmerising. Her music crossed cultural boundaries. That’s so powerful. Her iconic performance of this song at the Astrodome can bring me to tears. I’ve watched that performance a billion times. She was so talented. Her music is a nostalgic part of my childhood.

4. Solange – ‘Losing You’
The synths, chord progression, harmonies, production, the video – I love this song! It’s so fun! It’s melancholy cloaked in catchy hooks. I love the simplicity of the lyrics. Nothing is hidden under metaphors. I find songwriting like this bold. You can’t disguise your vulnerability under fancy wordplay. It’s direct. I’m a big Dev Hynes fan so the fact that he co-wrote this explains why it’s so goddamn good. I’ve always appreciated Solange’s holistic approach and commitment to her art. The video manifests a sense of community. It reminds me of Curaçao and that island life.

5. Robyn – ‘With Every Heartbeat’
I’ve always admired Robyn’s songwriting. She’s so inspiring and her music is so cathartic. This song has everything you need – a sweeping orchestra and driving beat. The lyrics are a perfect blend of hopefulness and devastation, particularly in the chorus. Robyn is so good at finding that balance, and nothing hits like a pop song about the realisation that you have to leave someone behind even though it hurts. I dream, and will continue to dream of writing a Robyn equivalent one day.

 

Thanks to Muna for sharing her favourites with us! Watch her video for ‘Pity Party’ below.

Pre-order Muna Ileiwat’s debut EP, Twenty-Seven, from Rough Trade here

Follow Muna Ileiwat on Apple MusicSpotifyTwitterInstagram & Facebook

Photo Credit: Guy Gotto

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Five Favourites: Beth Cassidy (Sea Fever)

Set to release their debut album next month, Manchester band Sea Fever is a collective of musicians who are no strangers to the music scene. Fronted by Beth Cassidy (Section 25) and Ivan Gronow (Johnny Marr, Haven), the band also consists of New Order’s Tom Chapman and Phil Cunningham, as well as Elliot Barlow. Talking about the formation of their latest project, the band explain: “We’d wanted to work with each other for ages, so when we finally sat down in the studio, the band just seemed to come together naturally. It felt like we were really free to explore the kinds of music that have always inspired us, we dug right through the record crates of our minds to shape the sound of Sea Fever.

Ahead of the release their debut album, Sea Fever have recently shared a stirring new single, ‘Under Duress‘. Flowing with a sweeping otherworldly allure, it showcases the collective’s ability to create captivating multi-layered soundscapes; feeling both futuristic and nostalgic in its cinematic sonic majesty.

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 album, we caught up with Beth from the band to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that she loves the most. Check out her choices below and scroll down to listen to the spellbinding ‘Under Duress’.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell
This band were the soundtrack to my college years. I went to see them live at Manchester Academy 3 when they’d just released their debut EP, and they’ve been a staple of my record collection ever since. I remember seeing Karen O on stage and she wore a piece of neon netted fabric over her face the entire gig – like a veil. She seemed mental. Fever To Tell has so much energy and chaos mixed with this sweetness that comes through with the softer vocals. This band are a true force of nature.

Booka Shade – 2006 Pete Tong Essential Mix Session
I stumbled across this session after getting hooked on Booka Shade’s melancholic ‘In White Rooms’ track, and after that I was searching through their whole back catalogue. Their sound is percussive, dark, but also surreal and really kind of imaginative, and from there I discovered minimal techno. I don’t really listen to them anymore, but they paved the way for my love of dance music. I moved out to Berlin soon after, on some kind of pilgrimage to German techno! In this particular essential mix, they DJ for half and play live for the other half, so you can really hear how their own influences play out in their music, it’s so interesting. And the tracks they mix, man! Laurie Anderson, Aphex Twin, Yello… It’s sublime.

Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam
I played this record on repeat for months, listening through headphones while I was moving around Manchester on public transport. I was juggling a lot in my life at that time and felt a bit mixed up with what I was doing – studying for an MA, working in a job I hated, my Dad had died a few months earlier – and this album definitely helped me escape into my own head. The lyrics are so easy and playful, colloquial but profound at the same time, and he describes those really small moments in life that we all experience; the little things that make us human, and he puts them on a pedestal. It’s very clever.

Bjork – Post
‘Hyperballad’ was the first cassette tape I ever bought. I was nine so it must have come on recommendation from my older brother, and it probably went over my head at the time but I loved the electronic sounds. Bjork’s vocal melodies and the way she moves through the music at her own pace, it feels so confident, like she’s carving out a space for the vocals. I come back to Bjork a lot, she just seems to empower me and make my own work more purposeful.

LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
Every track on this album is an absolute banger, and when you listen from start to finish it takes you on a really expansive trip through different moods. The layering of different beats and loops is so intricate, and James Murphy’s vocals drive the whole sound. I just hang off his every word. Even though they are hugely popular, I still feel like LCD Soundsystem are a cult band, in that, you’ve either never heard of them, or you fucking love them! There’s no in-between!

Massive thanks to Beth for sharing her five favourites with us!

Folding Lines, the debut album from Sea Fever, is set for release on 22nd October (CD/DL) and 29th October (vinyl). Pre-order here. And you can catch Sea Fever live at Rough Trade East in store to celebrate on 29th October – tickets here.

Photo Credit: Anthony Harrison

ganser

FIVE FAVOURITES: Ganser

Formed of Nadia Garofalo (keyboards/vocals), Alicia Gaines (bass/vocals), Charlie Landsman (guitar) and Brian Cundiff (drums), Chicago-based Ganser have garnered comparisons to the likes of 90s noise-makers Fugazi, Shellac, and Sonic Youth. The band have recently shared their new album, Just Look at That Sky, via Felte Records and it’s a defiant fusion of jolting rhythms, confrontational vocals and manic riffs.

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 bassist & vocalist Alicia Gaines to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that she believes have inspired Ganser’s song-writing techniques on their latest record. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch Ganser’s video for ‘Projector’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Date With a Night’
There is a songwriting mode we’ve utilized at times which I’ve jokingly called “Doom Hoedown” or “Doom Shuffle.” Before really getting into The Birthday Party and their ilk, my first concert back home with my high school friends was Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I remember being blown away by their raw delivery and Karen O’s command of her particular vocal style. It took us a while to tease out what songs lean into Nadia and my strengths as vocalists, but man the music’s like a glove for O’s voice here. Listening to this really makes me miss the chaos of playing live.

2. Ultravox – ‘Distant Smile’
For Ganser, it’s about contrast. The violence and serenity in this track really compliment each other. Red looks more red against green, and so on. In a way the form of this one is a backwards version of our track ‘Emergency Equipment and Exits’. I love how the back half of this song sounds like its running away from itself.

3. Talking Heads – ‘Life During Wartime’ (Live in Los Angeles 1983)
This live version has an inevitability that’s hard to escape. The faster tempo and incredible work by the band’s support vocalists adds to the urgency on this classic. Tina Weymouth is just a monster. I have a strained and complicated relationship to the history of particularly Black women backup singers for white bands, but my affinity for this song and album (Stop Making Sense) remains.

4. These Immortal Souls – ‘The King of Kalifornia’
When there isn’t really a template for voice or perspective, it’s a journey to find what feels natural or what you need to try on to see how it fits. I think this album (I’m Never Gonna Die Again) is the first time we’ve really waded into “cockiness” as an attitude, which isn’t something women are encouraged to do. It felt really good to really absorb the energy of Rowland and some of the 90’s British bands we love. Bravado feels like a lounge lizard to me. We free associated in that direction and that attitude crept into several songs on our new record.

5. Liars – ‘No.1 Against the Rush’
I’m so amazed every time I look at Liars’ range. I have a soft spot for ambivalent tone bands like Liars and Radiohead have. There’s always a sinister edge, a wistfulness to their music throughout their discography that’s extremely admirable. Our album Just Look at That Sky is really comfortable for ambivalence, but that takes time and living in the grey. We’re just here to eavesdrop.

Thanks to Alicia for sharing her favourite songs with us.
Watch the video for Ganser’s latest single ‘Projector’ below.

Order your copy of Ganser’s new album here.

Photo Credit: Kirsten Miccoli