Five Favourites: RAHH

Having previously provided backing vocals for Liam Gallagher and shared stages with the likes of Nile Rogers, Emili Sande and Beverley Knight, Manchester born London-based artist RAHH has now shared a euphoric new single.

A blissful slice of soul-strewn alt-pop, ‘Overkill’ showcases the impassioned soaring splendour of Rahh’s vocals alongside a house-inspired enraptured groove.

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 RAHH to ask about her ‘Five Favourites’– five albums that have inspired her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch the video for her latest single ‘Overkill at the end of this post.

TLC – Crazy Sexy Cool
This was my first album, bought for me by my big brother. I think it just opened up my eyes to what was possible as a music artist. I was a little mixed-race girl in a white area and the media and charts reflected that massively. All of a sudden I was introduced to TLC, the coolest girls I’d ever seen in my life and they kinda looked like me. It was massive! Plus I adored the music, I loved that Lisa Left-Eye Lopez rapped and that T-Boz sang so incredibly low – it was totally unusual. I remember learning every word of the rap from ‘Waterfalls’, playing it on repeat in my room and having to turn the volume down when she said “my only bleeding hope..” because I thought my Dad would go mad at me for swearing!

Michael Jackson – History
A different big brother moved out to go travelling in Australia and left me with this album and the VHS to go with it. It was pretty life changing for me. I fell head over heels in love with Michael Jackson’s genius, I was completely captivated. I think his influence can be heard in most music that came after him. The way he created a feel, a groove, and the infectious need to dance is magic. It’s something I think we all aspire towards as songwriters.  

Simon and Garfunkel – Bookends
I think before I’d heard this album I was big on RnB and soul, I was focused on the sound and technique of the vocal and hadn’t opened up to the possibility of liking artists that didn’t champion the voice in that way. After this album, all of that went out of the window and I fell in love with the lyrics and poetry of artists like Paul Simon and Bob Dylan. Track 2, ‘America’, remains one of my favourite songs of all time. I’ve had incredible bonding experiences with other people who adore the song and who know about that one lyric where he addresses his wife who’s sleeping next to him to tell her he’s empty and aching and doesn’t know why.  It is my favourite lyric ever and the way its placed in this song will forever inspire me as a writer. 

Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Every song and every note just seems like effortless genius. I can’t remember when I first heard this album but it is timeless. It inspired me to be a better musician and to care less about perfecting vocals and more about the depth of the song. ‘Ex-factor’ makes me melt!

Solange – A Seat at the Table
As a huge Destiny Child and Beyonce fan growing up, I think I just never imagined I could possibly get into Beyonce’s sisters music more than Beyonce’s herself until this album. It seemed to come out of nowhere. I listened to it over and over, I love the whole concept of it, the fashion and contemporary dance of the videos and artwork. The interludes, the interviews. The running theme of race and Black beauty. I really think it’s a piece of artwork from start to finish. The depth of the music in its content and musicality is inspiring and I strive to instil that in my own writing.

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

Watch the new video for ‘Overkill’ here and listen on Spotify now:

Interview: Duchess

With acclaim from the likes of BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, South London artist Duchess writes from the heart; creating rich soulful ballads reflecting on her childhood of frequently moving from place to place, her experiences in London, and love and life in general.

Having released her debut EP Early Days back in March, she has now shared a special acoustic version of the collection. With her distinctive impassioned vocals at the forefront, oozing a raw heartfelt emotion, it showcases all there is to love about this upcoming artist.

We caught up with Duchess to find out more…

Hi Duchess, welcome to Get In Her Ears! How are you doing?
I’m good thanks – wish it was a bit more sunny though!

What initially inspired you to start creating music?
I’ve always been around music growing up. My mother would always have the stereo on in the morning with her all-time favourite CDs, from Tracy Chapman to Lauryn Hill, and my dad always played Bob Marley and Gregory Isaacs.

What made you decide to release an acoustic version of your EP?
I’m in love with live music and instrumentation, so it was really important to me to have an acoustic version of the EP. I feel it allows you to focus on the voice of the artist and gives you a whole different vibe to dive into. It reminds me of small or intimate shows and concerts with stripped back production.

What other acoustic albums or versions do you love?
I’m a big fan of Amy Winehouse’s acoustic version of Back To Black and ‘I Gotta Find Peace Of Mind’ from Lauryn Hill’s Unplugged album. I really enjoyed Summer Walker’s cover of ‘Fake Love’ too! 

What was behind the choice to use guitar for ‘Elephant’, ‘When it All Falls Down’ and ‘Blame’ vs piano for ‘Why Can’t We’?
When I’m in the studio, I love to freestyle and see where the energy takes me, so we will always start with live instruments – I’m just so in love with the bass guitar. It was a bit of a no-brainer to get Fred Cox involved, as he really understands me, and the vibe I wanted to create with this project. He instantly got how we could strip everything back, but still keep it fresh, and it just felt natural that ‘Why Can’t We?’ was just piano.

How has growing up in a big family and moving around so much affected your music and artistic expression? Were you the sole musician/artist, or was music and art a big part of your family life?
I mean moving around a lot isn’t good for anyone, especially if you want to focus on something, so it was unsettling. But, wherever I lived, music was always there with me. I admit, it was hard to really focus on music when there were family priorities that came first, but I’m also happy I’m pursuing music, at this stage in my life – It feels right and I feel ready!! In the family, I’m the main one involved in music, along with my younger sister who often writes with me, but we are all connected to music in our own way

People compare you a lot to Minnie Riperton. Is she an influence and, if so, how? What other artists influence your music, and how?
Wow, I’m flattered. She is an amazing woman and I’m a big fan of her material – one of my favourites is ‘Inside My Love’ – it’s so beautiful. My main inspirations come from all kinds of places – Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson, Gregory Isaacs, Lady Gaga – the list goes on, but they main thing is they have all showed me to always be me and believe in my message musically.

What music scenes are you into – offline and online?
Shoreditch is cool! There are some really good live and open mic nights if you want to discover something new and fresh. Online-wise, I love to watch other artists livestreams and special projects. I don’t have a particular genre or focus – as long as it’s good, I’ll tune in!

How are you connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
I’ve been doing a few livestreams during lockdown which have been fun. But with social media in general, it’s been really good to connect with the listeners and other musicians. It’s defo sparked off a new wave of creativity in everyone.

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists that you’d recommend we check out?
Yes of course! Check out Ray Vela (@rayrayvela) – she’s such a great bubbly character and has such a beautiful tone to her voice which is so soothing. And also Nia Wyn (@niawynmusic) – she’s got such a unique voice and I really enjoyed watching her live. We were on the same bill for a show at the beginning of this year, and she just blew me away.

And what else does the rest of 2020 have in store for Duchess?
Definitely new music which I’m very excited about! I also want to work with other artists more and create together – I’m interested to see what could come from it. And I know it’s probably a while from now, but I can’t wait to start performing live again.

Huge thanks to Duchess for answering our questions! 

The acoustic Early Days EP is out now via Lost Ones Recordings.

Five Favourites: MEI

South London-based vocalist, bassist and producer MEI, is on our radar. MEI recently released her double a-side project ‘No Dim Lights’, the second installment in her Antonio Vivaldi-inspired seasonal trilogy. The project expresses the “fight to not give up, even on my gloomy days, my light still shines and nothing can dim it.”

We asked MEI to name her ‘Five Favourites’ – five artists or albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques, and we let her chuck an extra one too! Check out her choices below, and make sure you give ‘No Dim Lights’ a listen out now.

Lauryn Hill- The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
This album really changed my life. I studied it like it was a school project! I learnt so much about singing, songwriting and rapping from it, and it was the first time I’d heard all three be done so incredibly well. She definitely put the fire inside me to rap as well as sing, and it wasn’t until years later I actually had the confidence to do it. The honesty in every lyric also made it impossible not to connect to it. The album really had a profound impact on me personally and my songwriting.

Coldplay – Parachutes
I still remember clearly hearing ‘Trouble’ on the radio for the first time and feeling such a strong wave of emotion. I don’t think I even took in the lyrics because I was too young but sonically it was just so moving. When I revisited the album in my teens I was so gripped by how talkative they were and how they hit you so deep. The chord progressions too!

Laura Mvula – ‘Show Me Love’
I truly believe this is outstanding songwriting. It inspires me so much. It’s so honest and tragically beautiful. Wow. The vocal is mesmerising, you feel every word and the arrangement tears you apart and brings you back again. I wish I wrote it.

Ms Dynamite- ‘Dy-Na-Mi-Tee’
I absolutely love this song. I’ll never forget feeling so empowered by it. Here was a young black girl from London being herself all over my TV screen and I loved it! She was so unique and unapologetic and always bringing a positive message to her music, which was so inspiring to me.

Ebo Taylor – ‘Love and Death’
This song takes me straight back to my childhood! Growing up in a Ghanaian household meant I got to hear a lot of highlife and afrobeat music. Especially at family parties; you would have all the old school high life playing in the background and I’d never know any of the titles or artist names. I loved the horn line on this tune so much, so when I rediscovered it a few years ago I was so happy! I also loved the concept of a sad song that made you want to dance. The polyrhythms in highlife and afrobeat music really inspires my production.

Kendrick Lamar – ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’
Kendrick is definitely one of my favourite artists of the last decade.

Massive thanks to MEI for sharing her Five (or six!) Favourites with us. Listen to ‘No Dim Lights’ below.

Follow MEI on Twitter for more updates.

FIVE FAVOURITES: Emma Frank

Toying with themes of love, lust, self-doubt, commitment and sadness; New York based songwriter Emma Frank is set to release her new album Come Back on 6th September. After spending time studying literature at McGill University in Montreal and performing vocals & brass with art-pop ensembles She’s Got a Habit and Malcolm Sailor’s Songs – she returned to Brooklyn to write more of her own music, having recently signed to Justin Time/Nettwerk Music Group.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is to ask them what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Emma to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you watch the video for her track ‘I Thought’ (directed by visual artist Ay Tsalithaba) at the end of this post.

 

1. Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
I’ve always loved singers – singers where the music was happening but you could fully believe in every word the singer was saying. I grew up mainly on Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone, and then a little bit of Simon and Garfunkel. Towards the end of high school, and for all of college, I found Lauryn Hill and I listened to this record on repeat. The tone of her voice, the way she uses it – Lauryn Hill’s voice was just utter perfection to me and I tried so hard to sound like her (I couldn’t really, without trying too hard.). And that album. The production on those songs. The songs themselves. My sixteen year old self that had just gotten broken up with for the first time really needed all of these songs.

2. Hanne Hukkelberg – Little Things
This album came to me during a very lonely period when I was either nineteen or twenty and just blew my mind. To me, it was such a complete sound universe, that cast a very dark Montreal winter in a magical new light. I grew up doing musical theater so I was accustomed to lyrics and music pairing up to tell a story and advance some action. I really loved how Hanne built her compositions so that the musical changes reflect the lyrical story in a really playful, immersive way and how she used found sounds and objects as instruments. Her song ‘Balloon’ is told from the perspective of someone holding onto a balloon and floating high above the world, and uses the squeak of a blown up balloon throughout. The narrator eventually let’s go of the balloon and as she falls, what had been a more contained song expands into a lush, dreamlike fall. Or ‘True Love’ which alternates between free, almost demented sounding improvisation, and very beautiful, romantic, gestures.

3. Bernice – Puff: In the Air Without a Shape
These guys are so good and this album is so fun. Robin Dann has an approach to songwriting and singing that I find really calming. It feels cerebral in the best ways, and also really embodied and relaxed. Each person in this band is so talented and does all sorts of amazing things, but this project is especially great. I really love how they all come from improvisatory backgrounds, and it’s clear in how they interact, and also in this very wide but specific sound palette. Also they’re all besties and really silly and funny and smart. They’ve created a unique and immersive sound world that’s really nice to hang out in.

4. Tawk Tomahawk – Hiatus Kaiyote
A friend recommended this album to me right before I went on cruise ships as a lounge singer for six months when I was 24. It was the absolute strangest experience, and this album really helped me have a joyous, grounded space to escape to. I listened to it for the first time in Hawaii – we were doing a cruise around Hawaii before we went to Alaska. I’m from Boston and I had never been to Hawaii before. I’m so used to all of these cool greys and blues, some green, but mostly colors are muted. Hawaii was so vibrant. I just remember listening to this record while running underneath these brilliant magenta flowers with the ocean to the right of me. That’s how this record sounds to me. Just so lush and alive.

5. Andy Shauf – The Party
Each song is such a good complete story. And then the whole album paints such an empathetic portrait of a few different, interconnected characters at this one party. Sonically, it honestly reminds me of The Beatles, these beautifully orchestrated, fun songs, but then with these aching, sometimes very uncomfortable lyrics. Also, Andy Shauf plays all the instruments on it, so I am also blown away by it on that level.

Thanks to Emma for sharing her favourites with us! Follow Emma Frank on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut