EP: Deap Vally – ‘Digital Dream’

It’s often repeated that the enemy of art is the absence of limitations, but limitations can eventually outlive their usefulness – as Deap Vally discovered when cracks began to show in the band’s creative partnership. With two acclaimed albums of maximalist blues-rock behind them, Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards began to feel the strain of working democratically as a duo. The ‘enemy’, it turns out, could in fact be the absence of a deciding vote.

Going through a form of couples therapy helped them to re-evaluate and open up their process and, feeling rejuvenated, they set out to make an album of collaborations. Digital Dream is not that album, but it features four songs originally planned for it – each one distinct from the other and pointing in several interesting directions for Troy and Edwards to progress in.

For a band named Deap Vally, they certainly have a few friends in high places. The guestlist for Digital Dream reads like a page from the Who’s Who of the L.A. music scene: Peaches, KT Tunstall, Soko, Jenny Lee Lindberg of Warpaint and Jamie Hince of The Kills all contribute. Behind-the-scenes videos from the recording process offer a glimpse into how these songs were pieced together, with experimentation, a little frustration and heaps of mutual respect. Those sessions took place way back in 2018, but ‘Look Away’ and, especially, ‘Digital Dream’ feel strangely relevant to our current situation. That Lindberg co-write ‘Look Away’, with its lovely three-way harmonies, is – by Deap Vally’s own standards – almost shockingly sedate. Vulnerability creeps into the framework of the song but a steely resistance remains at its core, driven by the confident, repetitive rhythm and the insistent command to not gaze too long at the past.

‘Digital Dream’ is something else altogether. Soko’s star turn here is as narrator from the year 2068 where human interaction is all but extinct and resistance to the post-apocalyptic technocracy is less than futile (think E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, without the redemptive arc). Together, the three women successfully build a Stockholm syndrome song-world, complete with atmospheric bleeps and blops, zeroing in on illusions of pleasure within the vividly dystopian context. Then, as the extended outro fades, we’re jolted back into the present with the cocksure swagger of ‘High Horse’. Tunstall, Troy and Edwards grandstand from the get-go – “I could be fucking anything I want / Yes, I’m driven, I use what I’m given” – and the chorus is close to euphoric. Things take a turn for the gloriously absurd when Peaches comes in with a typically audacious rap. Who else could rhyme ‘Devil Wears Prada’ with ‘boys on Truvada’ and ‘douche with java’ with ‘been to Bratislava’? It’s good, unpolished fun.

Finale ‘Shock Easy’ is less instantly attention-grabbing but reveals itself over several listens to be quite revelatory in its own right, with some masterful guitar work from Hince. A chilling reflection on the very American epidemic of mass shootings, it has the sort of detached, observational insight that made Sheryl Crow’s early albums so refreshing. “It was all too easy, now it’s all too heavy,” they rasp over blown-out drums and a starkly contrasting, almost-gospel backdrop that elevates and punctuates the song. It’s four for four, then, in terms of breaking all the Deap Vally ‘rules’ – and to largely great effect.

By following their instincts rather than self-imposed red lines, Troy and Edwards have discovered new doors where once they saw only walls. With more music promised later in the year, we won’t have to wait long to find out where they lead.

Listen to Deap Vally’s Digital Dream EP here.

Photo Credit: Kelsey Hart

Alan Pedder

Introducing Interview: Lauran Beth

Having kick-started her musical career on YouTube, with a great popularity of videos of her performing impressive covers, Irish artist Lauran Beth has since been captivating listeners with her dreamy alt-pop, and has previously received acclaim from the likes of Hot Press for her debut ‘Just Breathe’.

Lauran’s poignant new single ’11 Years’ offers a shimmering reflection on climate change and its effects, oozing her luscious rich vocals and twinkling pop melodies. We caught up with her to find out more…

Hi Lauran Beth, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hey! I’m a 17 year old singer-songwriter from Offaly, Ireland. My music is mainly pop, but I am influenced by everything!

How did you initially start creating music?
Growing up, my family was quite musical – especially my da. I began playing traditional Irish music when I was seven, but didn’t discover my real passion until I asked for a guitar for Christmas when I was eleven. My da taught me the basics, and the rest is history! I wrote my first proper song ‘Thoughts’ in my bedroom when I was fourteen, and that’s when I discovered my love for songwriting.

Your new single ’11 Years’ is out now – can you tell us what it’s all about?
’11 Years’ is about climate change and the need for society to take it more seriously. As people, we have grown to become selfish in terms of our own wellbeing and indifferent to the needs of plants and animals. ’11 Years’ expresses my personal fears in relation to climate change, as well as the opinion of a need for change. 

You’ve been compared to the likes of KT Tunstall and Orla Gartland, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
I listen to a bit of everything, but I would say main influences at the minute would have to be Avril Lavigne, Melanie Martinez and The 1975. I love artists who are not afraid to be bold in terms of expressing themselves and their projects, and who break social barriers.

In ‘normal’ times, how is your local music scene? Do you go to see lots of live music?
Growing up in a village has really restricted me from seeing many people play live close to home. However, there are some really cool local artists like Jack Keeshan and James Mckelvey who are extremely talented! I’d love to see more music being played in my area.

And what can fans expect from your live shows?
I love to play live, and I hope that people who come to the shows feel like they are safe and belong, as the world can be a scary place at times.

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
There are loads of cool artists on the label that I am on, which is the Beardfire Music label. Artists like KTG, Martin McDonnell, Zoe Clarke, Michael T, Moylan and HappyBdayDaniel are so talented and definitely deserve more attention.

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
I think that that this era is the best for sharing music as there is a huge presence on social media, which makes it easier for people to share projects. However, people can sometimes be reluctant to investigate new music, so that can make things hard. 

Finally, what does the rest of 2020 have in store for Lauran Beth?
I’m really looking forward to picking my brain and writing more music. Hopefully I can record more soon, but I am really excited to grow as a musician and songwriter. 

Huge thanks to Lauran for answering our questions! 

’11 Years’ is out now via Beardfire Music.

Introducing Interview: KTG

Set to release her debut album in September, Irish singer-songwriter Katie Gallagher, aka KTG, combines delicate folk-inspired vocals with sunny, uplifting pop-tinged melodies. Sure to captivate the ears with her feel-good offerings, she stands out as a definite one to watch.

We caught up with Katie to find out more…

Hi KTG , welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Thank you so much for having me, I really appreciate the time! My name is Katie Gallagher, but I perform under KTG. I am a 22 year old singer-songwriter from Longford, Ireland. I have been writing since I was very young and always used songwriting as a music therapy of sorts. I have been performing professionally for four years, touring all of Ireland and some dates in the UK. I am also a newly qualified music teacher, so my life literally revolves around music performance and creation. 

How did you initially start creating music?
I was never good at sports – it was actually embarrassing how bad I was, so my family always encouraged me to find another outlet, and from the age of five I played the piano and the guitar from the age of ten. I used to be obsessed with journaling and having diaries but found them really unproductive, but when I started the shift to songwriting I saw that it was a really good way to deal with the experiences I was going through, good and bad. It was also really good for reminding myself of different experiences. For example, every time I play one of my songs ‘Get Your Story Straight’, even though it is about a negative experience, infidelity, I get this rush of self confidence.  

Your new album Searching For Magpies is out in September – can you tell us what it’s all about? Are there any themes running throughout the album?
I am so excited to release Searching For Magpies! The whole album was recorded by David Virgin, Rohan Healy and Al Quiff from Beardfire Studios, the label I am also signed to. The album relates to the old wives’ tale about magpies: one for sorrow, two for joy etc. Each line in the rhyme relates to one song on the album. I wanted to use the magpie theme because I am personally obsessed with magpies, and always try to find a pair of them! But also there are four songs that are linked together in a separate saga in the album: ‘Strawberries’ – the first part of the relationship and the saga, ‘Get Your Story Straight’ – things are going wrong and you need to walk away, ‘Don’t Tell My Mother’ – this song is all about second chances and going back with a naive idea that things will get better, ‘Lost Boy’ – abandon ship and realise you cannot possibly fix the situation. Other themes include love, escapism and anxiety. 

You’ve been compared to the likes of KT Tunstall and Wallis Bird, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Well, first off it is an honour to be even in the same sentence as these musicians – I hope I live up to this comparison! Being a music teacher I have to be educated in lots of different genres and styles, and I think that has come through in my music. I adore One Republic, they are a huge inspiration of mine. Also Lewis Capaldi, Taylor Swift, Gabrielle Aplin, George Ezra, but also The Black Keys, Paramore, Dolly Parton, Stormzy, Kanye West and Nicki Minaj. My Spotify profile looks like five different people run it when really I try to find influences from all artists! 

How is your local music scene? Do you go to see lots of live music?
The Irish music scene on a whole is booming with opportunity to see gigs, but also be a part of one. The Midlands, where I am from, have a host of festivals, gigs and give so many opportunities to young musicians to perform their music. I love to go to listen to live music, in all capacities; whether it be an intimate gig, or a stadium concert, the live performance is so important to me. It’s all well and good to listen to the music in your car or at a party, but nothing beats the live experience! 

And what can fans expect from your live shows?
They can expect to sing along, jump, dance and leave without any voice! I really live for the high energy gigs and try to make sure that I give an experience that I want to have at a gig. There is nothing better than saying “will you sing with me?” and the crowd respond and scream your lyrics back to you! 

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
There are so many I could recommend: Dean Maywood, Grainne Fahy, Maria McCormack, Aidan Laird. There is also Evans Junior who is killing the rap game at the moment! 

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
I would say that it is difficult to stand out from the crowd, but the music industry is very welcoming – you just have to be prepared to work hard. No musician can come into this industry and expect the fame and fortune to just fall into your lap. And, as long as the industry will have me, I will be working as hard as I can!

Finally, what does the rest of 2019 have in store for KTG?
I have my next single, ‘Strawberries’, out on the 26th July, and the final summer single ‘Never Go Home’ out on 23rd August. The album is out on the 26th September, and with that I have a nationwide tour, and we are currently trying to have some gigs abroad, but that will all be announced very soon. And, with any luck, this writer’s block of mine will go away and I can get back to write more songs! 

Huge thanks to Katie for answering our questions! 

Searching For Magpies, the upcoming album from KTG, is out 26th September via Beardfire Music.