Five Favourites: Maria Uzor

Having recently wowed us with her immersive live show at The Shacklewell Arms, and having received acclaim from the likes of John Kennedy and Amy Lame, we’re excited to hear that Norwich based vocalist and producer Maria Uzor (also half of faves Sink Ya Teeth) has now announced the release of her upcoming new EP in December. Ahead of the EP release, she has now shared captivating new single ‘Solitaire’. Flowing with a luscious, swirling groove and gnarly beats, it builds with a shimmering, pulsating majesty to a gritty slice of euphoric electro-pop. Oozing her distinctive, spellbinding sweeping vocals, it’s a gloriously uplifting synth-soaked soundscape.

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 release of Songs For Luminous Living, we caught up with Maria to ask about the music that has inspired her the most. See below for their choices of their five favourite albums, and be sure to watch the trippy new video for ‘Solitaire’ at the end of this feature.

Tricky – Pre Millenium Tension
I’ve always really admired Tricky as an artist. I’m really drawn to the landscapes he paints with sounds and vocals, and how he doesn’t confine himself to genres. You can hear influences from all over the place. There’s an other-worldly quality to his music too, which I think comes from not putting restrictions on himself. He’s an explorer; I love that. This album also features the superb vocals of Martine Topley Bird. The interplay between their two voices is something magic.

Minnie Ripperton – Come To My Garden
This was Minnie Ripperton’s debut solo album after leaving Rotary Connection, and what an album! That voice is just from another realm – it makes me cry! And such beautiful production too. It’s the kind of album I can play on a summer’s day or late at night and it will just put me in a mood of beauty and possibility. This album has an other-worldly feel to it too; it’s haunting in its beauty.

Sylvester – Stars
I absolutely adore Sylvester. He had such a beautiful voice and presence, and he chose to spend his time on this planet being unapologetically himself, and I really love that. Stars is only a four track EP but every song is special. The title track makes me want to dance whenever I hear it, it’s just life affirming. The EP also features a collaboration with Patrick Cowley on ‘I Need Somebody To Love Tonight’ (Cowley produced it). It definitely grooves hard, but there’s a pensive element there too which gives it a different edge.

David Bowie – Low
Whenever I speak to people who were around when Ziggy Stardust first landed, they always say the same thing; that it was like he came from another planet. So naturally, I love him – haha! When I was a teenager I used to just play all the usual early ’70s classics like ‘Life On Mars’ and ‘Starman’, but then I started loving all eras of Bowie as I got older. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed out on. I’m really into how wise he became in his older years too. There’s some stellar nuggets of wisdom from him in YouTube videos! It was hard to pick just one Bowie album but I settled on Low for the beautiful songwriting and production. I admire Bowie for the same reason that I admire Tricky; they’re both explorers, boldly dancing beyond boundaries in every sense. ‘Sound And Vision’ just reminds me of countless good times I’ve had with friends, late at night in small kitchens!

Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On?
To me, no other piece of music comes closer to perfection than this album. I first discovered it at art school and used to play it every day for about two years. The production, the sentiment, the vocals; it’s like it’s a precise moment of expression beamed out to the universe. Or beamed in from the universe. Or both! Flawless and breathtaking in its beauty.

Massive thanks to Maria Uzor for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Watch the captivatingly trippy new video for her single ‘Solitaire‘ now:

Songs For Luminous Living, the upcoming EP from Maria Uzor, is set for release on 9th December via Hey Buffalo Records.

Photo Credit: Andi Sapey

Introducing Interview: Annie Elise

Having recently released her evocative debut EP, Breathe In, Breathe Out, Boston based artist and producer Annie Elise strives to elevate women in music production through the celestial soundscapes she creates. Born with Synesthesia, she is a “conductor for colour” – creating music that produces the colours she likes to see. The result are blissful, electro-driven, R’n’B infused pop anthems showcasing both her rich, sweeping vocals and innovative production capabilities.

We caught up with Annie to find out more about the EP, how she got into creating music and what inspires her… Have a read, and make sure you check check out Breathe In, Breathe Out, which was released in partnership with non-profit organisation Someone To Tell It To, which is dedicated to the power of compassionate listening in today’s society.

Hi Annie Elise, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hey there, thanks so much for having me! My name is Annie Elise, and I’m a producer/artist/A&R currently living in Boston. I really love the colour purple, and I have a kitten named Juno, short for Roland Juno-106 Polyphonic Synthesizer. 

How did you start creating music?
It was a bit of a perfect storm. I was born with a neurological condition called Synesthesia that causes me to physically see sound and hear colour, so naturally I gravitated towards music. I was also born into a musical family – my dad is an amazing music educator. When I was nine, his middle school program was gifted an iMac lab to learn Garage Band, and I became the guinea pig for the new curriculum. I was instantly hooked and would sneak downstairs at night to go play around with some sounds, and that was my first experience with production. Around that time, I started studying classical violin, and later was accepted into Berklee College of Music to study violin performance. But I guess my hands had other plans – about halfway through my first semester, my fingers stopped working as they should and I was eventually diagnosed with Focal Dystonia, which meant a career in violin performance was out of the question. Heartbroken, I had to decide what to do next, and I decided to pivot towards production, and never looked back. Thankfully, it allows me to still be creative without needing all ten fingers working perfectly! And now I’m here, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Your latest EP Breathe In, Breathe Out is out now – can you tell us what it’s all about? Are there any themes running throughout the EP?
To sum it up the best I can, it’s the honest, genuine story of my worst year. It’s filled with grief, loss, doubt, stress, surgeries, hospital visits, and sexism – but also perseverance, finding inner strength, identity and recognition. I think optimism in the face of uncertainty is a big theme for me – starting around the time I lost the use of my finger – and I like to think of this as a personal journey of the healing process. I recorded all the strings on the EP myself, and it was a long and frustrating process to deal with the Dystonia, but it was so special for me to be the one playing my violin. The EP kind of starts in this incredibly dark and overwhelming place with ‘Breathe In’, and then over the course of the record slowly gets lighter and more optimistic until the end, when you end with ‘Breathe Out’, which is all about welcoming peace and letting things be.

You’ve been compared to the likes of Shura and Robyn, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
I’m super inspired by other gender minorities in production who are absolutely killing it – Bad Snacks, Rachel K Collier, and SoWylie to name a few – as well as songwriters who are able to just be 1000% honest and genuine. Matthew Thiessen of Relient K has been a huge influence for me, as well as Devon Again and Lila Drew.

How is your local music scene? Do you go to see lots of live music?
I end up seeing a lot of live music thanks to my A&R work! Going to support and scout artists is all part of the job, and I’ve really enjoyed watching all sorts of acts just be their best selves on stage. It’s really inspiring.

And what can fans expect from your live shows?
Last month, we finished up our first ever Northeast Tour! It was soooo much fun. When I’m performing solo, you can expect a solo beat set. I hook up a vocal mic, my SP404sx, my viola and we have a ball. When I’m performing with my band, the set sounds way more neo-soul than electronic, and it’s way less for me to worry about since there’s no looping, no sampling, no playing while singing… Just me and the band. There’s things I love about both setups, but sometimes it’s just logistically easier to do it one way over another. I love having the flexibility and also the unpredictability of having every show be something different.

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
I mentioned Bad Snacks earlier – def check her out! She’s one of the reasons I decided to make the leap into production, and I can’t wait to watch her music continue to do amazing things.

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
Speaking as an A&R, I would definitely say that it can be harder to cut through the noise since making and releasing music is far more accessible these days. Surrounding yourself with the right team and being true to yourself as an artist is the absolute best thing you can do.

Finally, what does the rest of 2022 have in store for Annie Elise?
Lots of new music – both for my artist project, and music that I’ve produced for other people. I’m really excited for it all to be out into the world.

Massive thanks to Annie for answering our questions!

Breathe In, Breathe Out, the debut EP from Annie Elise, is out now.

EP: deep tan – ‘diamond horsetail’

Infectiously off-kilter, Hackney-based queer punk trio deep tan have re-emerged with their sophomore extended play, diamond horsetail; five minimalistic DIY tracks of uncompromising post post-punk. Following the shimmering psychedelic pop of 2019 singles ‘Air’ and ‘Shimmer’, and the haunting discordant hooks of their subversive debut EP – 2021’s creeping speedwellsdiamond horsetail propels deep tan’s otherworldly sound into the exosphere through dissonant guitar riffs, eccentric bass-lines, syncopated rhythm, and intimate vocals. Embracing the seductive allure of their swirling sound, guitarist/vocalist Wafah Dufour, bassist Celeste Guinness and drummer Lucy Rushton will hypnotise listeners into questioning their identity.

Hitting hard with opener ‘beginners’ krav maga’, deep tan explore angular arrangement on a track that is as aggressive as its own namesake; contact combat! Juxtaposed over an irresistible twangy groove, Wafah’s soft, dexterous, and often critical vocals remind us that learning self-defence will unfortunately not help most women feel safe walking alone at night (male violence is an epidemic) – “I stand outside / I bide my time / Wait for the mood to pass / Night-time checklist / Keys in a fist / In the dark can’t relax.”

Inserting itself into your brain, ‘device devotion’ follows as an ode to deep tan’s browser history; the trio share their fascination with (and critique of) internet subcultures – from lobster erotica to vore-porn subreddits – hooking you in with delicate vocal notes and erratic instrumentation. The presence of the world wide web also influences ‘gender expansion pack’, a mostly instrumental track utilising WikiHow hypnosis through subliminal messaging. Underlying spoken word is low-pitched to a subliminal frequency allowing deep tan to challenge cis-het men – “the demographic that buys most of our vinyl” – into exploring their gender.

Caught with his hands down his pants, Rudy Giuliani’s public image melts under deep tan’s sardonic black humour during the “diss track you never asked for” ‘rudy ya ya ya’ – “We’re seeking law advice / ‘Cause he’s a legal eagle supersized / A considerable adversary / Rudy ya ya ya / Giuli ya ya ya!” – before the cathartic title track disturbs with abrasive outbursts of ancient and justified rage.

Maintaining their intensity, deep tan crescendo into a cataclysm of obliterating melody and anthemic vitriol; channelling the chaos of The KLF, the defiant attitude of The Slits, and the gloomy new wave of Joy Division. And yet diamond horsetail isn’t constricted by influence. Every detail has been carefully considered in the creation of deep tan’s strangely addictive sound, further developing their identity through ceaseless DIY punk energy.

diamond horsetail is out now via Practise Music.

Ken Wynne

Photo Credit: Alex Matraxia

Track Of The Day: Nikki & The Waves – ‘E.L.C’

As a cord-loving Northerner, I had high hopes for this song by the Manchester-based Nikki & the Waves. And woah, ‘E.L.C.’ (exceptionally lovely corduroy) delivers! From the catchy opening chords to sounds of the band dissolving into laughter towards the end, the joy just pours out of this lo-fi electro-pop gem. 

‘E.L.C.’ is supposedly a celebration of the ordinary; the ‘beige’ things in life that we can take for granted. But the infectious bassline, funk-tinged production and irresistible chorus that celebrates every indie kid’s favourite fabric give it an otherworldly quality that’s anything but mundane.  

Front-person Nikki’s sweeping vocal elevates the song further, making ‘E.L.C.’ a radio (and dancefloor!) friendly tune that’s as much a pop banger as an indie floor-filler. With shades of The Orielles, it sparkles wonderfully with heaps of potential. 

‘E.L.C.’ is taken from Nikki & The Waves’ new EP, songs to play tennis to, which is produced by Joel Patchett (The Orielles) and set for release this Friday 24th June. Also, we cannot wait for Nikki & The Waves to headline for us at The Victoria on 12th August (with support from BAXTR and Panic Pocket) – get your tickets here.

Vic Conway