FIVE FAVOURITES: Cuffed Up

“I have a bachelor’s degree in guitar performance but really I’ve just wanted to write songs and play in rock bands,” explains Cuffed Up‘s vocalist and guitarist Sapphire Jewell. “I had a sad realization this year that I’ve never had guitar role models. To think I’ve been playing guitar for 14 years now and I’ve never been taught anything on guitar by a woman…not even on YouTube or anywhere online. I wish I could’ve had more badass female guitarists to look up to, I think I’d be a better guitarist if I did.” Jewell doesn’t let a lack of representation hold her back though. She fronts LA alt-rock band Cuffed Up with genuine tenacity, stepping into the musical spotlight trying to fill the gaps she’s painfully aware of.

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 Sapphire Jewell to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five tracks that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch Cuffed Up’s video for ‘French Exit’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Foals – ‘Two Steps, Twice’
First of all, I love Foals and I love their debut album Antidotes. This song is so insanely fun to listen to. It just bops. It’s mathy, poppy and heavy all in one track. How is that even possible?! I think it was one of the first songs I’d recognized as being perfectly crafted to be played live. There’s so much room to change the arrangement and build it out as a banger live track. Now, whenever I write something new I think about the live aspect of it and what it could do in a live setting that’s elevated or different from the recorded version. Even now, 12 years after Antidotes was released, Foals close their shows with this song because it still rips. I gotta have a song like that someday.

2. Nick Drake – ‘River Man’
I’ve loved this song for many years now. It flows so smoothly despite being in an odd 5/4 time signature. I am enamoured by the chilling chord changes, the way his voice sounds like a breeze passing through a quiet town and the strings that just melt me away. It’s so mysterious and fleeting. This song is hauntingly beautiful. Maybe this isn’t a desirable sensation, but it makes me feel old and almost wise for those few minutes. Nothing has ever moved me in that way before. I think more people should know Nick Drake and this song.

3. Grizzly Bear – ‘Yet Again’
Okay, so no one has the right to make such a perfect guitar tone! Especially not in the first four chords?!? God damn this song is unreal. Literally every time this song starts I’m just like “this is IT.” The best part?! It feels new every time I hear it. How can that be? It’s one of those songs that I wish I’d written. I’m not sure I could pinpoint exactly what it is that’s so perfect about this song, but Grizzly Bear sure knows how to layer and produce marvellous music and this is my favourite of theirs.

4. Beach House – ‘Zebra’
This song and this band take me back to the better parts of my life in high school. I didn’t have many friends who were passionate about music, really just one, and we both loved Beach House. Most of my friends didn’t pay much attention to what they listened to but my friend Deric and I would share music with each other. That was really special. Whenever I think of Beach House I think of him. ‘Zebra’ was one of my favourites of older Beach House. They have a zillion amazing songs and they all remind me of the good times during those hellish years of high school.

5. Miike Snow – ‘Genghis Khan’
So this song RIPS and the music video is BRILLIANT. The song stands on it’s own but the video just seals the deal and now it’s unforgettable. It grooves so hard and makes me feel all giddy. This song and its video are untouchable. It’s too good. It’s too fun. I love it way too much. I can’t explain further, it’s one of those you gotta see and hear for yourself. You’d be a fool not to thoroughly enjoy the might and power of Miike Snow’s ‘Genghis Khan’!

Thanks to Sapphire for sharing her favourite tracks with us!

Watch the video for Cuffed Up’s single ‘French Exit’ below.

Follow Cuffed Up on Spotify, bandcamp, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Photo Credit: Ana Karotkaya

FIVE FAVOURITES: Francis Of Delirium

Formed of 18 year old songwriter Jana Bahrich and collaborator Chris Hewett, Francis of Delirium create swirling guitar tunes that centre around Bahrich’s personal experiences. The Canadian-American duo recently released their new EP, All Change, via Dalliance Recordings and it’s full of fuzzed up, cathartic guitar sounds.

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 Jana to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to Francis Of Delirium’s new EP at the end of this post.

 

1. Nick Drake – Five Leaves Left
I can pinpoint the exact moment I heard ‘River Man’ for the first time. That song is so special, everything about Nick Drake is really special. It legitimately made me feel like my soul was lifting out of my body. His voice, the chord progressions, the string arrangements, everything adds so much. It might’ve affected me so much because it’s this singer-songwriter but it feels presented in a way that is completely new and so grounded in the earth. Both Chris and I have a special love for Nick Drake. We played this kind of brutal show and then came into the studio the next day and watched a Nick Drake documentary so there’s something comforting about him and his music, in particular this whole album.

2. Caroline Polachek – Pang
I think this is just an excellent pop record. The vocal melodies she’s choosing are so angular and unexpected but accompanied with really emotional and lush production. She has such control of her voice. There’s a KEXP session she did that was just her and a piano and I had to keep pausing the video every few seconds because I was so overwhelmed by how insane her voice is. It sounds out of this world.

3. Solange – When I Get Home
As a listener it feels like there’s so much intent with everything Solange does, maybe I’m cheating because there is literally an interlude on the album that says “do nothing without intention”. Both visually and in an auditory sense. She did a performance that was a medley of songs from When I Get Home on Jimmy Fallon and that was really important to me. I love choreography and shows that are big and planned but have a way of maintaining intimacy. I think that’s really hard to pull off. It’s something I think about a lot for our live shows. Obviously venues we play are pretty small, so it feels important to keep a closeness between the performer and the audience but I would like to incorporate something theatrical without alienating the audience so it doesn’t feel like I’m not there with them anymore. To me, Solange achieved that with her performance on Jimmy Fallon and the album is great.

4. The Microphones – The Glow pt.2
Phil Elverum’s music always centres me. It reminds me why I like Chris and I figuring out how to record music on our own and how getting it wrong but it still feeling right and ultimately that being what matters the most is really important. Phil always creates such a wonderful sense of space which makes me feel like I belong in the album he’s making, in particular this one, there’s this sense of home. Whenever I listen to him I want to go and try new recording techniques and try new things, listening to his music is like instant inspiration for me.

5. James Taylor – Greatest Hits
We grew up with a lot of “best of” albums around the house, which I never really realized until a bit recently. We had the R.E.M CD with the hand on it, the Nirvana black album, the wings best of, The Beatles one album so I really grew up on bangers only. Sometimes I want to do these huge ambitious orchestral albums and I still want to make a musical but James Taylor always reminds me, if you have something simple and pure and honest it can be just as arresting as anything else. He makes it seem a lot easier than it is and always reminds me to really check and double check if what I’m adding is serving the song.

Thanks to Jana for sharing her favourites with us! Listen to Francis Of Delirium’s EP below.

Photo Credit: Patricia Marets

Five Favourites: jade imagine

Fresh from a tour with fellow emerging Australian artist, Julia Jacklin, and with their forthcoming first album coming later this year, Melbourne trio jade imagine have recently shared their latest single ‘Big Old House’. A captivatingly gloomy slice of shoegaze-inspired guitar pop, it’s a shimmering offering that leaves us eagerly awaiting the upcoming album…

We think one of the best ways to get to know a new band/artist is by asking them what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Jade to talk about her ‘Five Favourites’ – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques, or simply take her back to a specific feeling or time. Check out her choices below, and make sure you watch the band’s new video for ‘Big Old House’ at the end of this post.

The Church – Of Skins And Heart
This album is a huge nostalgia trip for me. When I was a kid, it was one of my first introductions into music… I’m not entirely sure if it was a hugely ground breaking record or not (I’ve never really thought about it), but i feel like in some way this album encapsulates a lot of the elements that I bring into my own music; I’ve always loved The Church’s chord progressions and the way their guitars weave together melody and the way the drums are pretty straight and punchy/punk-y, and the way the bass leaves space and punctuates the song. The Church create create these really interesting songs, but deliver them in a kind of dead-pan way. There’s some strange kind of glam vibe in there, but also a sense of ‘Australiana drama’ kind of thing going on. Fave track’s gotta be a tie between ‘Bel-Air’ and ‘Is This Where You Live’.

Ty Segall – Sleeper
I’m a sucker for a good old folk acoustic guitar album. Though I’m a big fan of all of Segall’s heavier work, for some reason this record really stuck out to me. Maybe it was the headspace I was in when I first heard it. I was travelling a lot and would put this on to chill myself out whilst on long flights. So, I associate it with movement and security. Ironically, I have read that this was written by Ty when he was going through a rough patch, which just proves to me that music can 100% be interpreted uniquely by everyone in a different way. I like how some of his songs are seemingly ‘nonsense’ songs, but there feels to me to be a deeper meaning behind them, even if that meaning is still a vague interpretation on my behalf…

Cat Power – You Are Free
Just a great vibe album. A good mix of loud and up, and quiet and down… 

Sibylle Baier – Colour Green
Sometimes when I’m not managing my anxiety very well, this album can totally help to chill me out and slow my brain down. I believe Baier’s son compiled these songs – which she’d recorded in the 1970s – and then the album was released in 2006 after it was passed on to J. Mascis from Dinosaur Jnr who passed it on to Orange Twin, a record label. I just love how you can hear the faint ambient room sounds throughout the album; the creaking of a chair in the background, the air in the room. I just wish this album was the whole soundtrack to my life.

Nick Drake – Five Leaves Left
I came across this record when I was in my mid teens and lived in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. I lived on a property with my family and uncle and all of his sheep and dogs and pets. I used to go on long walks in the bush around the area with my walkman, listening to this record over and over again. I think this album really shaped the music that I like these days and helped me to love the more understated albums in the world. They’re growers – albums you come back to over and over again throughout your life.  

Huge thanks to Jade for sharing her five favourites. Check out jade imagine’s new video for ‘Big Old House’ below:

Mari Lane
@marimindles