INTERVIEW: Ghum

Having been firm favourites here at GIHE for a number of years, wowing us with their immersive live performances and captivating post-punk musicality, London band GHUM have now released their much-awaited debut album, Bitter. Oozing a gritty, swirling energy as front person Laura’s vocals soar throughout, each track carries the band’s trademark ethereal allure and dark, hypnotic splendour, showcasing their ability to consistently hone their sound and bewitch listeners worldwide.

To celebrate the release of the album, we caught up with Laura, Jojo, Marina and Vicki to find out more about Bitter; what inspires them; their thoughts on the industry today; their plans for the year, and more. Have a read below and make sure you immerse your ears in the new album as soon as possible!

Hey Ghum! For those who aren’t familiar, can you tell us a bit about yourselves and how you all got together to start creating music as Ghum? 
We met because Marina, our bassist, put an ad online looking for female musicians to form a band because she thought playing with other women would be more fun. She knew Laura from a previous jam with other people and asked if she was still looking for a band. “I loved her voice and vibe so much, and was really happy she said yes.” Jojo responded to the ad saying she loved The Cure and Warpaint and I said: “You’re in, bitch”. Vicki came along soon after that and boom: Ghum was formed. 

We’re huge fans of your swirling, ethereal allure and post-punk energy, but who would you say are your main musical influences? 
Bit of Cure, bit of Pixies, bit of Joy Division and Warpaint…

You’ve just released your debut album, Bitter, which is super exciting! Are you able to tell us a bit about it? Are there any particular themes running throughout it?
Bitter is our debut album and we wanted to establish and cement our sound with this record. This time we knew what we were looking for when songwriting, and searched for it. The themes vary but the songs are about people and conversations that have maybe a bitter end – reflections on people that left a mark, and just a release of feelings that needed an escape.

And how would you say this album differs or moves on from your previous releases? 
We have consolidated our sound (for now) after The Coldest Fire EP we released in 2019, we found something that really agreed with all of us – we wanted to explore this sound and make it punchier. It feels like the culmination of an era, what we wanted to reach until now. This is us.

You’ve been wowing crowds with your immersive live shows for some time now, including support slots with the likes of Dream Wife and L.A Witch (and headlining for us at the Finsbury!), but is there a particular gig you’ve played that stands out as a highlight for you? 
We have just finished a supporting tour with Choir Boy and Soft Kill. We played in Paris at the Petit Bain and we really enjoyed that one. The French crowd was awesome and the venue was a dream – it was in the middle of our first European tour, so it was quite special to play to such a different crowd and get such a good response.

I’ve always loved seeing you live, and seem to become hypnotised by your majestic splendour! But how would you describe the Ghum live experience to those who’ve not had the pleasure yet? 
Thank you! We live our shows in our skin, we try to transmit the emotions in the songs and give a performance where we tell a story. We are loud and quiet, and we love low lights and smoke machines. We love a good mosh pit and dance party too.

How do you feel the industry is for new artists at the moment? And do you feel much has changed over the last few years in its treatment of female and queer/LGBTQ+ artists?
The industry is changing slowly and improving with this, but there is still a lot to improve on. Lack of representation and sexism is still a massive problem in this industry; on and off stage. For example a lack of female, non-binary, trans and queer/LGBTQ+ tour managers or drivers, or sound engineers, or gig promoters, or lighting designers. Fortunately, there are collectives such as 3T which is a training course for underrepresented gender/ethnic groups in touring and live music – something we want to see more of! At any given point, we try to always work with women across the board for our shows or tours, and to give opportunities to women to work in a safe working environment is also important. It’s still very much a “boys club” or “man’s world” in the music industry, especially when you step outside of the DIY scene – which we’re very fortunate to have started from. But it’s evident there’s still a great deal of improvement that could be done and we hope we can help with this, along with many other artists, fighting for more change.

And with you all being from different parts of the world, how would you say the music scene here differs from the places you grew up? 
It’s totally different! There are underground alternative scenes everywhere of course, but London has such an extensive circuit of venues of all sizes and a lot of respect for bands that are starting out; there is a big history of alternative music from this neck of the woods and it feels like people are more tolerant. I’ll say the alternative scene is even more alternative in places like Spain and Brazil where society is not as open minded – it’s way harder to find places to play, and the resources are more limited. But there is a lot of DIY ethos and community support.

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists or bands you’re loving right now that you’d recommend we check out?
We really like NewDad, Hussy, Fraulein, Bdrmm, Montaña (Spain)…

And, finally, in addition to the album release, what does the rest of the year have in store for Ghum…?
We have lots of plans. We have a few shows and festivals coming up. We are especially excited for our upcoming show at Rough Trade East on 4th July where we are gonna be celebrating our album launch and signing some vinyls for the first time. We are finally playing in Spain (where our vocalist Laura is from) at the end of August at Canelaparty in Malaga and we are very happy about that too. We will be announcing a UK tour in autumn and we are writing new songs, so we hope to keep on releasing new material. Lots of work and lots of gigs!

Huge thanks to Ghum for answering our questions!

Bitter, the debut album from Ghum, is out now via Everything Sucks. Buy here.

Photo Credit: Paul Phung

WATCH: Wyldest – ‘Abilene’

Wyldest, aka Zoe Mead, is a London-based singer-songwriter and producer. Having just announced the release of her new album, Feed The Flowers Nightmares, she has now also shared her disco-tinged second single, ‘Abilene‘. Following the release of her last album, 2021’s Monthly Friend, Zoe was burnt out creatively. She began collaborating with Luciano Rossi (Idlewild, Dama Scout), activating a new energy, and they went on to create what they jokingly call their “doom pop” record; the resulting songs are meticulously constructed, featuring variations on Wyldest’s ambient/dream-pop sound.

Playful and infectious, ‘Abilene’ is a song made to be performed to flashing disco lights. Hidden beneath the glow, is the tale of a sorrowful farewell to a close friend. Starting off with slow, dreamy vocals, and an electronic beat, it then blossoms into swirls of guitar, bringing us into the poignant emotional soundscape of the song (“Lessons you taught me, I’ll think of you Abilene”). 

This stirring latest offering from Wyldest brings out a more introspective side underneath the shimmering surface, blending happy and wistful memories into pure pop bliss. It’s a perfect indication of the different paths her upcoming album will take us on, whilst exploring the themes of regeneration and growth.

‘Abilene’ is accompanied by a heartfelt new video, featuring Get In Her Ears contributor Tutku Barbaros. Watch it below:

Feed The Flowers Nightmares, the upcoming new album from Wyldest, is set for release on 9th September via Hand In Hive.

Fi Ni Aicead
@gotnomoniker

Photo Credit: Eva Bowen

ALBUM: Soccer Mommy – ‘Sometimes, Forever’

Inspired by the concept that neither sorrow nor happiness are permanent, Sophie Allison aka Soccer Mommy cleverly nods to synth sub-genres on Sometimes, Forever. From new wave to goth, the album broadens Allison’s repertoire without abandoning the compelling melodies she’s known for.

Throughout, Sometimes, Forever is informed by historic musical movements. It’s entirely plausible that the album has been described as “a moodboard of vintage touchstones”. ‘Unholy Affliction’ and ‘Following Eyes’ both echo the 1990s grunge scene, with the use of guitars in the latter particularly drawing inspiration from Nirvana’s ‘Heart Shaped Box’. Likewise, opening track, ‘Bones’ wouldn’t feel out of place on Alvvays’ eponymous 2014 album.

Thankfully, Sometimes, Forever falls short of simply recycling old sound as the album transcends its influences. Later track ‘With U’ and lead single ‘Shotgun’ both incorporate heavier synth notes. The juxtaposition between this sound and the previously mentioned tracks separates Soccer Mommy from a sea of grunge and indie-pop imitators. The synth notes should come as no surprise though – Sometimes, Forever was produced by Daniel Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never, most notable for the score of ‘Uncut Gems’ and The Weeknd’s chart-topping, ‘Dawn FM’. Lopatin has an unbounded synth vocabulary, which particularly shines through on ‘With U’.

Radiating an overwhelming theme of blueness, Soccer Mommy’s album is partially galvanised by the push and pull between Allison’s yearning to produce meaningful art and her scepticism about artless careerism. The echoey vocals on ‘Fire In The Driveway’ accompanied by nothing but acoustics certainly represents this disposition. Interestingly, the downcast lyrics depicting elitism on Sometimes, Forever follow Soccer Mommy’s past successes. Strikingly, her studio debut, Clean, is one of the most beloved albums of the 2010s lo-fi bedroom-pop scene. Similarly, her sophomore effort, color theory, was GRAMMY nominated. As explorations of artistic integrity go, Sometimes, Forever is a brave effort.

Sometimes, Forever will be released on June 24th via Loma Vista. Pre-order here

Follow Soccer Mommy on Spotify, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Photo Credit: Sophie Hur

Sarah Bennett
@sarah_benn3tt (Twitter)
@zasbennett (Instagram)

Guest Blog: FES Break Down Their Top 5 Essential Pieces of Guitar Gear

Having just released their debut album, With Regards From Home, Leeds-Peterborough band FES have previously received acclaim from the likes of Guitar World, BBC 6 Music and Noizze, and have also wowed crowds at festivals such as Portals Festival and Bad Pond, and supporting LA duo Standards on tour.

Reflecting on themes of grief, loneliness and front-person Pollyanna Holland-Wing’s identity as a young queer woman, with the new album FES showcase their knack for delivering fuzzy, swirling riffs, creating quirky math-pop melodies with a catchy punk-pop energy. With its slick, scuzzy, emotion-rich anthems, With Regards From Home is sure to propel FES further into the stratosphere of music fans’ hearts.

To celebrate the release of the album, we spoke to Pollyanna about her love of her guitar equipment and the five favourite pieces she used on their 2017 single ‘Inside Out’. Read more below and watch a new, awesome ‘play along’ video of Pollyanna playing guitar to the track at the bottom of the feature…

For so many years I’ve always had to borrow equipment. It wasn’t until we started on ‘Inside Out’ that I started my own collection of equipment. It’s been a long journey getting our sound right and finding budget friendly equipment that still has a lot of oomph behind it, but I think I’ve nailed it now!

Marshall DLS 20
I really believe the amp is the most important part of my core guitar setup. I think you can plug a rubbish guitar into a great amp and you’ll be alright. But a great guitar into a crap amp will do you no favours. As well as sounding great, I needed an amp that was going to be slim and light to carry- my Marshall is just that! To help get my sound for ‘Inside Out’, on my amp I have the bass turned to 10 o clock, the mid at 12 and treble at about 1. I love a crisp clean sound from my amp that’ll rock a punch, but I believe it’s important to let the actual bass take charge of that low end. There’s no need to let our sound get muddy.

Stratocaster Guitar
I’ve always been a Tele girl for the most part and I think I even use one for the studio version of ‘Inside Out’. That middle pick-up sounds great on record, and I have no regrets! However, since then I’ve come to love the classic Strat. I can’t go back now! I love the total uniqueness and variety in tone. ‘Inside Out’ uses the middle pick-up which I find has the perfect balance in bass and treble alongside my amp. I think they’re quite complementary of each other. However, being in a three piece it’s imperative to still achieve those big sounds. The Strat definitely takes the cake over the Tele in this regard!

5 Ages Walrus Overdrive Pedal
Okay, so I believe I used the Fulltone OCD in the studio, but damn do I wish I used the ‘5 Ages’. This pedal just can’t be beaten in my eyes. I just love the versatility of it! It has five different types of overdrive which has been so handy when double tracking guitars in the studio. I used to swear by the Fulltone OCD but like many others, I fell out of love with the company and frankly the Ages does everything the OCD did but with so much more flavour. My personal favourite mode to use is the 3rd mode with the gain turned up to 12 o clock. I find that although I pretty much always have the overdrive switched on, I don’t like the sound to get too muddy. In ‘Inside Out’ there’s a lot of chord progressions and chord voicings that are important to not get drowned in overdrive. The major seven chords hold so much emotion in them, I can’t let them get lost.

MXR Micro Amp Pedal
This pedal is great! I don’t use it often but that doesn’t mean it isn’t as important as all my other equipment. I use it for the breakdown at 2:16 in ‘Inside Out’ to thicken out the sound. Like I mentioned earlier, being a three piece it’s important we sound as big as possible with the limited musicians in the band. Utilising pedals is our best bet at doing so. The MXR is straight to the point with one stomper and 1 big dial to control the gain. Bish bash bosh!

Walrus SLO
Gosh, this pedal is so dreamy! The thing I love about the Slo is the added low octave that it adds to reverb tails. This again comes in handy when wanting to create bigger sounds, but I find that it’s not too overbearing. Whilst some reverbs can sound like a huge cathedral, the Slo adds colour without losing itself in massive swirling worlds of reverb. I use this setting live just after the breakdown at 2:42 in ‘Inside Out’.

FES’ new album, With Regards From Home, is out now via Small Pond Records.