FIVE FAVOURITES: TWEN

Nashville-via-Boston duo Twen are gearing up to support Seattle rockers TacoCat tomorrow night at Hackney’s Moth Club (29th Aug), and we’re convinced their celestial, angular sounds will impress their London crowd. Comprised of Jane Fitzsimmons and Ian Jones, Twen came to life over the space of two years as the duo toured the Boston DIY punk scene. Now, they’re getting ready to share their debut album Awestruck, which is set for release on 20th September via Frenchkiss.

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 Jane to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to Twen’s track ‘Baptism’ at the end of this post.

1. Central Heating – Heatwave
This is a classic that has stayed with me since I was 14. Before streaming, I would check out CDs at the library and rip them into my iTunes library. I found Heatwave while trying to listen to every funk/disco band I could find (thinking I could somehow listen to the whole genre). This whole album has a playfulness that packs some serious joy. The title track is the star of the show; the vocals are so strangely melodic but carry major rhythmic weight. I just love the concept of making people groove out with a vocal melody rather than the beat. Also the most silly and beautiful intro and outro I have yet encountered. James Guthrie (of Pink Floyd The Wall fame) produced this album, which I don’t really care about but something to note.

2. Bibio – À tout à l’heure 
I put this song on a mixed CD I made for Ian when we were sophomores in college. We would make so many mixes for each other, a different type of language than our early awkward convos. I would meticulously decorate them with sharpies and would spend hours deciding how to make the perfect “flow”. This was a song I found out he loved too, and he even knew how to play them to my amazement. The beyond beautiful and intricate finger-picking is so delicate but this song is a BANGER. The beat and funky bass line pair perfect with the acoustic layers and nonsensical lyrics (“À tout à l’heure”, French for “see you later”). There is such emotional and hypnotic value to this song, without making logical sense of it. Bibio still and always will have the best production sounds on the block, mixing analog and digital to make more of a sound tapestry than just a mere song.

3. Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Los Vegas
I found out about Cocteau Twins through my friend Matt, who DJ’d a college radio show called “Folk U” with me for two years. We had inherited the show and both slowly started to move out of the genre till Death Grips was playing. He played ‘Cherry-colored Funk’ and I nearly lost my damn mind, I had never heard anything so perfect. I read once that Elizabeth Fraser’s voice was ‘the voice of God’ and I don’t dispute it. Her ingenious melodies put me in a trance and make me feel like I’m understanding something outside words. Also, I have sweet memories with this album since it was one of the few albums I brought with me on an iPod on a trip to Iceland. I had gone by myself after college to camp 10 days in June when it’s daylight 22 hours a day (the only way I felt safe to camp by myself). I brought an old ass iPod that only had room for a few albums and this one of them. So, I listened the shit out of it while looking at the insane Icelandic landscape and I still love it.

4. Lijadu Sisters – Horizon Unlimited 
I had first heard the Lijadu sisters while working in a vegetarian restaurant in St. Louis, where I’m from. I had just moved back home for a quick quarter-life crisis. The owner and chef, Bay would sometimes make the playlists for the restaurant and loved blasting Lijadu Sisters. Being surrounded by an inspiring woman with a fountain of culinary creativity and listening to this album most days made a hard time a little less unbearable. The power of music. The beats and melodic riffs will make any day great and the two sisters feel exponentially BIG singing in unison. I really enjoy listening to music in different languages, it makes me notice the melodies better and the variety of vocal sounds possible that aren’t even used in English.

5. Mercyful Fate – Melissa 
I’m not super metal literate, but Mercyful Fate is THE metal band in my little world. On a tour probably a year ago (I only remember it was cold outside, they all start to blend together) a sound guy played this in the venue after the lights went on, probably to make everyone leave. A classic move. It made me want to STAY and to find out everything. Better known as King Diamond, this was his first band and Melissa is their first album. The vocal range is inhuman and the diversity of sounds that merely one person can make is an inspiration. Also I was raised Catholic, so hearing about covens and satanic rituals brings me a twisted joy.

Thanks to Jane for sharing their five favourites with us! Follow TWEN on Facebook for more updates.

Photo credit: Alexa Viscius

INTERVIEW: Le Butcherettes

When I speak to Teri Gender Bender – front woman of Le Butcherettes – she’s in the van with band mates Alejandra (drums), Rikardo (guitars) and Marfred (bass) on her way to Kansas. Later that evening, the band (who are based in El Paso) are supporting riot grrrls L7 on their current tour, and naturally, Teri is in high spirits. I’m in high spirits too, as I’m talking to the woman who I saw dominate the stage at Hackney’s Moth Club at Le Butcherettes’ headline show a few months ago. Her voice and her presence are a formidable force, and I’m pleased to hear that off stage on the phone, her energy is just as prolific. We talk about the band’s new album bi/MENTAL and their recent support slots with Bikini Kill in LA, and even manage to conjure up a voodoo Beatles collaboration….

Hello Teri! I saw you play with Big Joanie at Moth Club in Hackney a few months ago. Talk me through how that went and how you came discovered them…

I wish I could say that we’re in the know, but I have to give the credit to the show’s promoter. He hooked us up with a great new discovery. They blew my mind, holy shit! They were amazing. Putting that all aside, they’re not just talented – there are many super talented people out there – they’re genuine sweethearts. We shared a dressing room with them and they were very self aware and conscious of space, and we’re the same. We always try not to be a burden, so we were both really shy together, and we bonded over that. It was really sweet you know? “We were like cool, we’re weirdos too, yay! You like pizza, I like pizza!” It worked out beautifully and I saw that they’re playing with Bikini Kill in London soon too, which is fucking awesome.

It is, I’ll be there to watch them! You recently supported Bikini Kill in LA too. Please tell me in as much detail as you can how the gig went…

It was like a dream come true. It felt like winning a Grammy. It was a pretty emotional day as it was, because it was our guitarist Rikardo’s birthday. He was turning the big ’29’ so that was pretty symbolic, it was his birthday and we got to spend it at The Palladium, another great venue that we really love and are big fans of, we’ve seen a lot of great shows there before. And to top that, we were opening up for one of our favourite bands ever. Someone once asked me if you could organise a festival who would you have as the headliner? And I was like “Bikini Kill would be my headliner!” They’re also super sweethearts. They came in to say hello and treated us as their guests, so in that sense it felt like home, very Latino, very welcoming. Some bands are shy, and I know I have been before. But when you get a little older you’re less shy, and you take things less personally. Sometimes people might just be having a bad day and not want to talk you know? I used to take that personally, but the end of the day it’s not about me. Everyone has their own movie going on, you know?

But yeah, Bikini Kill are sweethearts and they were very, very welcoming. Such a breath of fresh air. And their set was amazing, holy shit! They played ‘Double Dare Ya’ ‘Tammy Rae’, ‘Suck My Left One’, ‘Rebel Girl’ of course! They essentially played almost all of their songs off the two records they put out, and the EP that was produced by Ian MacKaye from Fugazi. There were loads of people in the crowd too, I ran in to Henry Rollins, and Juliette Lewis was at the show so it was really cool. There were a lot of people who I would say are usually introverts that came out to go and see them.

That sounds amazing! I can’t wait to see them at Brixton in June. You have a very strong performance style and you seem fearless on stage. Who inspired you as a performer and a front woman?

It’s basically this never-ending love/hate relationship between me and my Mother. I say that because she’s the “real deal” artist of the family, and when I was little she was basically putting her career in theatre on hiatus just to be able to be a stay at home Mum with us. But over the years, she took that out on us. So there was this relationship of “damn, I am guilty because she’s the real deal and she knows it, I know it”, so it’s this angst of me just trying to scream all of that desperation on stage trying to get rid of it. And also to get rid of the wrong-doing that’s been done, you know? For me it’s my therapy.

It helps to have other women Pioneers to open up the past as well, like Alice Bag, Kathleen Hana, Tobi Vale, Karen O and Mon Laferte. Mon Laferte is also fearless off stage. She’s had politicians who want to take pictures with her and she’s been put on the spot by them, and she’s had the guts to be like “I am not going to take a picture with you”. Especially in Mexico, the politics can be very corrupt and messy, so just hanging out with one of them can have you end up on someone’s hit list. So to say no to a Politician is to basically get your name on a hit list. But she’s a badass, she still said no to them and she still continues with her art.

But my Mother, she’s an unlimited source of inspiration. Even though we’re sometimes at one another’s throats.

Congratulations on the release of your third album bi/MENTAL. I read that you felt comfortable working with Producer Jerry Harrison because you were able to be “vulnerable and in-your-face at the same time” – that definitely comes across in the songs on the new record, but can you elaborate on that a little more? Did he leave you to your own devices or did he play a bigger role?

I think it was a combination of everything. When you mentioned about be left to your own devices, that’s something I’m definitely aware of when I’m working with a new producer. When you have your original idea and you’re working with someone new, because it’s always been myself in the past or another member of the band so that there’s always a comfort or a shoulder to lean on, you know? But I felt like it would be great to work with Jerry. He was number one on my list because I’ve always admired his work with Talking Heads, but I’m also a big No Doubt fan, and out of the songs he put out with them, ‘New’ is one of my favourite songs and he produced that.

The fact that he was open to producing for us – and that he’d actually heard of our band – was like “Oh shit, I’m not left to my own devices then!” So from the beginning when we just had a phone call I was shaking! It felt so “Ooooh the mystique!” because we hadn’t met face-to-face before. Then his wife was on the phone and she was great, saying she couldn’t wait for pre-production to begin and she invited me to spend that time with them in their home. They were very welcoming, they had me in their home before we started work in the studio, and I got to see the process of how they live and they welcomed me to be part of their family dinners in the evening. I was living in a home full of love, I felt like the family cat you know? Like when a cat relaxes and their tails gets kinda curly? That’s what I felt like, a relaxed little cat. Being able to relax and explore the songs together and just be part of a family. They had no reason to do that either, it could’ve been all just via email you know?

That’s really generous, and great that you felt relaxed. I know you’re an advocate for being open about mental health, and I think that comes across on the themes and lyrics on your new album. Without being too invasive – are you able to tell me why you think it’s so important to be honest with yourself and with others about your own trauma, and the emotions that come with it?

I think it’s important – at least for me – it’s definitely helped. But some people don’t feel comfortable talking about it, and that’s okay too. It’s okay to hold on to something for a long time, eventually the time will come when you want to talk about it. It’s hard to know if there will be someone to hear you out. You’re never alone though, and I try to tell myself that. Just opening up a dialogue is very healthy, which is something I wish I had when I was younger at school when I had all these questions about why I was feeling this way, or why do I have the urge to cut myself and think these horrible thoughts about myself?

I remember when someone would try to open up about it, at least in Mexico with the Catholic Church – we’d be automatically expelled or put in for psychological testing with such a rude manner. There was no tact, it was like “we better evaluate her because she might be a threat”. So maybe a little empathy and dialogue are what’s needed. With mental health in general though, sometimes people don’t want to take care of themselves, period. They’re dealing with over stimulation constantly. A breather would be good. I feel sorry for kids at school now, I remember when I was barely going in to high school when MySpace was becoming a thing, but I cannot imagine being around [social media] now during pre-school or even kindergarten.

It must be a bit of a minefield trying to grow up nowadays.

Collaboration seems important to you – you worked with Alice Bag & Chilean vocalist Mon Laferte on your new album, and you work with members of the Mars Volta in your other project Bosnian Rainbows. In your mind, what makes for an effective collaboration? Who else would you like to work with in the future?

What makes for an effective collaboration is just the wanting to and the will power to do it. There are many times when people say “Yeah let’s do this!” and I’m guilty of it myself, but then dead air…you see the inactivity or you keep pushing it for later, later…that’s what kills a collaboration. For me, I’m attracted to individuals that are like “Shit, let’s do this now, I don’t care where the fuck we are! We’re gonna make this work”. Where there’s will, and want, and desire to do it then hell yeah – we’re in! So luckily all of these individuals that we’ve worked with have had that and the appreciation do it, you know? Why would you want to work with someone that makes you feel shit, right?

There are many, many talented people out there [that I’d collaborate with]. I say this time and time again, but there’s this great artist called Natalia Lafourcade from Mexico and Vanessa Zamora who is a great folklore/pop star, and a great shredder and songwriter. Also Selda, she’s an OG from Turkey, the list goes on! The Beatles, well Paul McCartney…maybe do some voodoo and get the whole group back? Some Voodoo Beatles?

I think you just found the concept for your next record…

You’re returning to London on 9th July to play the Boston Music Room. What are your anticipations for this gig?

Well, hopefully that some people go! We’ll be playing the new songs off of the new record. I take things one day at a time really, but hopefully when the time comes, that everything goes to plan, that we get there safe, that everyone going to see us gets there safe. The cool thing about it – here comes a sales pitch for our shows – is that we never really know what’s gonna happen, we fucking roll with it. It’s a real kind of feeding thing, a give and take situation, that’s why I’m hopeful that people are going because it’s a two-way street. I feed off of the people the band feeds off the people, we feed off each other. It’s like a feast! We’re all just eating!

It’s going to be a banquet, I can’t wait! You’re on tour with L7 now, so tell me as much detail as you can about how excited you are to share a line-up with them…

It’s show number 6 or 7 with them, but it’s been so chill. Another example of great talent and great people who are fucking inspiring and their fans are really sweet to us. It’s been amazing. Our set is about 30 minutes, so it’s really nice to have some chill time afterwards, because when it’s our own shows we have to basically leave right away because it’s curfew!

We played one show with them in this really old and rustic theatre, which I loved! I felt like there were at least a couple of ghosts there, so that was a highlight for me. I love ghosts, who doesn’t right? Who wouldn’t want to hang out with a ghost? I mean, not a demon, just a ghost. But there were a couple of ghosts in that theatre for sure.

Sounds spooky…What artists are you listening to at the moment. Who would you recommend?

Blood Orange – Marfred & Rikardo put it on when we drive, so we’ve all become fans. I’ve kind of been on a repeat too, going back to the classics like Talking Heads, but my biggest obsession that’s been taking up 80% of my listening time is Ariana Grande! I wish I could say something underground, but I went to see her recently and it was insane how she’s only like, 5″ tall and that voice comes out of her! You can see the pain and grief in her eyes.

Good recommendations. Finally, do you have any advice for any woman or non-binary person who’s contemplating starting a band?

My advice – and I’m sure you hear this all the time – is don’t feel like you’re a burden. I feel like that will hold you back. I’ve missed out on so many beautiful friendships and possible songs and ideas only because I thought I was a burden. I felt like I started late, I was 17 when I started a band but I wanted to start a band since I was 6! All those years – from age 6 to 17 – that’s so many years of fear! I wish I’d started earlier. I mean, there was a band who opened up for Bikini Kill on their other LA date that were 10 years old! When I saw them I was like “damn!” and I was so inspired. They’re definitely not having any fear of being a bother or holding back, and that’s so great.

I feel the same about writing, you know? I’ve always wanted to write books, tangible things, because songwriting can be kind of abstract. I wanted to be a tangible “real” writer but my teachers would get frustrated with me because of my language impediments and I felt like I was being a burden on them so I gave up. But it’s never personal, that frustration you know? Sometimes it’s projection. It’s scary sometimes, but you have to just get out there!

Huge thanks to Teri for answering my questions. Catch Le Butcherettes on their upcoming UK tour (dates below)

9th July – London, Boston Music Rooms
10th July Brighton, Green Door Store
11 July – Cheltenham, 2000 Trees Festival

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LIVE: Le Butcherettes (w/ Big Joanie) – Moth Club, Hackney 02.03.19

Fueled by almighty vocals, hefty guitar riffs and commanding percussion; Le Butcherettes‘ powerful sound ricocheted around the glittered walls of Moth Club last week. Celebrating the release of their fourth album bi/MENTAL, the group delivered a passionate mix of old and new material to their London fans.

Opening the night were DIY garage punks Big Joanie, who were in high spirits having just returned from playing SXSW. The trio’s understated and relatable sounds went down well with the crowd, with ‘Fall Asleep’, ‘Used To Be Friends’ and ‘Down Down’ proving to be the strongest songs in their set.

Cited as their most personal album to date, bi/MENTAL is an ode to Le Butcherettes’ frontwoman Teri Gender Bender’s Mother, and the tracks were as visceral and vulnerable performed live as they are on the record. Teri’s trademark falsetto voice was breath-taking. She flitted between screams, cries and authoritative vocals which matched her erratic but focused performance style. Her band mates – Alejandra Robles Luna (drums), Rikardo Rodríguez-López (guitars) and Marfred Rodríguez-López (bass) – performed with equal amounts of energy; switching between off-kilter sounds and infectious, rolling rhythms with enviable precision.

Teri’s howls and cries cut through the air when she broke the fourth wall and entered the centre of the crowd mid-set and laid on her back. She commanded attention wherever she stood, and spoke fluent Spanish between songs to keep listeners on their toes. As for stand out tracks, it’s difficult to pick just one – but ‘give/UP’ and ‘struggle/STRUGGLE’ stood out among the set list. Both felt like seething, buzzing explorations of grief despite their opposing tempos.

Inspired by the “the death of a living mother”, the duality of life, and the inevitable strife caused by the fluctuation of mental health; Le Butcherettes bi/MENTAL is a cathartic burst of emotive rock designed to clear the cobwebs between your ears – and the band’s live set does exactly that.

Catch Le Butcherettes on their upcoming UK live dates:
Tues 9th July – Boston Music Rooms, London
Weds 10th – Green Door Store, Brighton
Thurs 11th – 2000 Trees Festival, Cheltenham

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LIVE: Kiran Leonard @ Moth Club, 27.11.18

Arriving at the sparkling facade of the Moth Club just in time to catch the wonderful, string-strewn, punk-driven cacophony of POZI, I’m ready to be blown away by Manchester artist Kiran Leonard once again.

Opening with the first track from his new album Western Culture, ‘The Universe Knows No Smile’ immediately draws us into the whirring, twinkling splendour and multiple sonic elements of Leonard’s creations. Following, as does the album, with ‘Paralysed Force’, we bear witness to an immense raw emotion and impassioned majesty that casts us under Leonard’s spell in an instant. Angst-driven, yet dreamily euphoric; discordant, yet eerily beautiful; he wails, and he whispers, captivating the ears and not losing focus for a second. Showcasing his innovative song-writing skill with rich, multi-layered soundscapes and an epic intensity, Leonard continues to captivate as his soaring falsetto soars amid immense whirring hooks and mind-blowing, clattering cowbell-heavy beats.

Reflecting on the state of society with a spine-tingling poignancy, ‘Working People’ flows with intricate finger-picking and the distinct, visceral emotion of Leonard’s vocals, providing an utterly engrossing and lyrically rich offering, resonating with a subtle power. Continuing the run of album tracks, ‘An Easel’ (“ a song about power and responsibility…”) emanates a racing sense of urgency.

Interrupting the order of tracks from Western Culture, we’re treated to a “long song” from 2016’s Grapefruit. With fluid finger-picked hooks and swirling layers of sound, throughout ‘Don’t Make Friends With Good People’, Leonard blasts out immense shocks of energy interwoven with moments of quiet reflection, as frenzied beats are juxtaposed with an intricate musicality, building to create an utterly blissful cacophony. Continuing with another “old song”, and personal favourite, ‘Secret Police’ oozes its stirring anthemic grandeur and cinematic, goosebump-inducing power, leaving me as spellbound as the first time I heard it, back at Green Man Festival a few years back.

And back to the new album. Inspired by a conversation with a friend about stress, ‘Shuddering Instance’ races with scuzzy, discordant hooks and a gritty, seething passion before ‘Unreflective Life’ (“a song about selfies”) and ‘Suspension’ whirr with a raw ferocity.

Closing with ‘Geraldo’s Farm’, from 2013’s debut Bowler Hat Soup, a magnificent wall of sound of epic proportions is created, as each of the four band members offer their own intense sonic force, spiralling to a potent, dramatic climax to end the set.

And once again, Kiran Leonard has succeeded in taking my breath away. This being perhaps the fifth time I’ve seen him live, I was a little worried – as with any favourite – that this time wouldn’t be as impressive as the last, but I certainly had nothing to fear. A perfectly balanced set of songs new and old, Kiran Leonard and his band continue to offer something entirely unique and unforgettably poignant. The emotion and hypnotic sense of awe generated whilst watching Leonard live is unparalleled to any other performance I’ve seen. Although I have compared him to the likes of underrated ‘90s grunge outfit, Slint, in the past – and the similarities remain – it is safe to say that Kiran Leonard is truly one of a kind. And I can’t wait to hear where he might take our ears next.

Western Culture, the new album from Kiran Leonard, is out now.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Track Of The Day: Projector – ‘Full Circle’

Brighton’s Projector have shared their latest single ‘Full Circle’, and it’s swept us up in to a grungy haze. The track is taken from the band’s debut EP How Does It Feel? which is set to be released via Roadkill Records on 9th November.

The trio’s debut explores themes of “anxiety, love and loss”, and ‘Full Circle’ encapsulates all three. Bassist Lucy’s vocal range is impressively showcased on the track – switching between coarse, gravelly screams and clear, magnetic harmonies – whilst drummer Demelza’s beats drive the song to its conclusion, alongside Edward’s spiralling guitar sounds.

After a string of sold out home town shows and support slots including Tigercub, Demob Happy and Deap Vally, Projector will be headlining their own shows in celebration of their debut release. The band will play in Brighton at The Haunt on 9th November, and at London’s Moth Club on 10th (tickets are available on DICE).

Listen to ‘Full Circle’ below and follow Projector on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Jessie Morgan

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

WATCH: Fenne Lily – ‘On Hold’

If you’re a firm believer in small acts of kindness, then Fenne Lily‘s new video for ‘On Hold’ is going to brighten up your day. It’s the title track from her upcoming debut album (out April 6th), and the accompanying visuals are as sweet as the single sounds.

The video is a self-directed, DIY project which shows Fenne Lily roller-skating around London handing out roses, captured by her friend following behind her on a skateboard with a camera.

Speaking about the concept for the video, Fenne Lily says: “‘On Hold’ was written as a thank you for the warmth of the world when I was at my lowest, and I wanted the video that accompanied it to be a raw representation of this gratitude. Being nice is underrated. It makes me smile to watch, and dorky as it is, I feel this video communicates a joy that often goes untold.”

Dorky or not, we love it. Watch the video for ‘On Hold’ below, and check out her UK tour dates below. Tickets are available here.

Fenne Lily Live Dates 2018

6th Apr – Cardiff – Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
7th Apr – Southampton – Heartbreakers
9th Apr – Brighton – Hope & Ruin
10th Apr – London – Moth Club
11th Apr – Manchester – Soup Kitchen
12th Apr – Leeds – Brudenell Social Club
13th Apr – Glasgow – Stereo
15th Apr – Dublin – The Sound House
16th Apr – Birmingham – The Cuban Embassy
17th Apr – Bristol – Thekla

Pre-order your copy of On Hold here.

Follow Fenne Lily on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut