FIVE FAVOURITES: Aerial East

Described as a deeply personal coming-of-age record, New York-based musician Aerial East is preparing to release her poetic new album, Try Harder, on 12th February. Set to be released via Partisan Records, the LP tentatively explores East’s experiences of disconnection, loneliness, suicide, friendships, gender roles and breakups, whilst also embracing the simple beauty that life can unexpectedly bestow upon us.

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 Aerial East to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch Aerial East’s latest video for ‘Try Harder’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
This album just keeps giving. When I first heard it in 2010 I had a really negative reaction to it. I was already a big fan having binged The Milk Eyed Mender and Ys after high school. A friend of mine made a comment about her during this time that was something like “I would marry her without even meeting her” and I followed an immature impulse to prove that she wasn’t that amazing by rejecting the overwhelming 3 disc record. By 2011 though I was feeling heartbroken and I found myself uncontrollably humming and singing ‘On a Good Day’, the most digestible song on the epic breakup record. The more heartbroken I felt the more I threw myself into the record. I must have listened to this album thousands of times – probably more than any other. It is so familiar to me and feels like home. It still makes me cry. My friend Kelly once said that she feels like herself when she hears it. I feel that way too. I still don’t always know what is going to happen next when I listen though. I haven’t yet memorized the lyrics, melodies and structures of the songs and that makes for stimulating repeated listens. I saw her perform again in 2019 and it sent me into a satisfying spiral of obsessively analyzing her lyrics and reading about her that really helped me think and write about my own songs.

2. Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
The Kick Inside gives this one a run for its money but Hounds of Love is the record I put on to cheer myself up when I’m feeling depressed. I actually first heard the song ‘Hounds of Love’ in high school when the Futureheads covered it and didn’t discover Bush until years later when I moved to New York. I was immediately drawn in when I first saw her dancing in the red dress video for ‘Wuthering Heights’. I remember thinking I had heard the song as a child but I later realized I was remembering ‘Come to My Window’ by Melissa Etheridge. Anyway, Bush’s videos are all amazing. I wanted to study mime for a long time because of her. I still kind of do. Hounds of Love is one of the best records ever made.

3. Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou – Ethiopiques, vol. 21: Emahoy (Piano Solo)
This record centers me. It was all I could listen to in 2016 and I don’t play piano but I wanted my record Try Harder to feel like this. I first heard it when I was working at Dimes, a restaurant I have worked at since 2013. I used to listen to it often while setting up for my night shift that the closing daytime server would put it on when they saw me arrive. Emahoy, homemade pizza, and David Attenborough got me through 2016. A good remedy for anxiety.

4. Joni Mitchell – Blue
I mean, come on. It’s so good! I actually didn’t get into Joni Mitchell until Teeny Leiberson and Rachel Pazdan invited me to perform in their HUM Joni Mitchell tribute show. There was a lot to dig into and I said yes obviously, but then I had a deadline to familiarize myself with her work – she is pretty prolific – and choose a song I wanted to sing. I ended up doing ‘My Old Man’ because I don’t really write love songs even though I’m very romantic and ‘Hana’ from 2007’s Shine, because I wanted to acknowledge her as a contemporary artist. This is one of those records that just makes me feel good when it comes on. It came out the same year as Carole King’s Tapestry and I like thinking about the two different song-writing styles. Tapestry has so many crazy big hit songs that you are like “wait, she wrote that song too?!” They are such perfectly written pop songs but Blue is full of weird idiosyncratic songs that only really make sense if Joni is singing them. I love both albums so much and I imagine Carole made more money off of Tapestry because those songs are so widely covered and licensed, but if I could choose I would rather have made Blue.

5. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
Beautiful melodies, beautiful harmonies, dizzying layered vocals, heart-breaking lyrics produced joyfully. I’m not sure if it was the first time I heard this record but I remember listening to these songs upstate and crying and everyone in the room politely pretending not to see. Pet Sounds was a big reference when I was producing my first record Rooms.

Thanks to Aerial for sharing her favourites with us!

Watch Aerial East’s video for ‘Try Harder’ below.

You can pre-order Aerial East’s new album Try Harder here.

Follow Aerial East on Spotify, bandcamp, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook 

INTERVIEW: Baby In Vain

Mari & I have shamelessly plugged our love of Copenhagen trio Baby In Vain via Get In Her Ears since 2016 when we saw them perform a free show at tiny Dalston venue Birthdays. There’s something about their heavy, corrosive sounds that keeps us both hypnotised, and we were more than happy to be swept back under their spell at Camden Assembly on Monday night.

We met Bene, Andrea & Lola backstage before their show to talk about their current UK tour, their favourite tracks on debut album More Nothing, and how tricky it is to shoot a music video on skateboards and mopeds when you’re hungover…

Hello girls, am I right when in saying you met and started playing music together whilst still at school?

Bene: Not entirely…

My bad! How did you initially meet? What was it that made you want to start a band together?

Andrea: Lola & Bene went to music school together and we had some mutual friends and we went to a lot of the same shows, so we just started talking and one night decided we should all jam together, and we’ve been doing that ever since.

Bene: Every Tuesday, always on a Tuesday.

Cool. You’re almost half way through your current UK tour. What have been the highlights so far? How do the UK crowds differ from your hometown crowds?

A: Glasgow and Edinburgh…

B: So, Scotland?.

Lola: Edinburgh has been the best so far, and tonight maybe?

A: We had two days off in Nottingham also, and went to see Ulrika Spacek and Gary Numan.

I love Gary Numan! I saw him live for the first time last year and I thought he was incredible.

A: That was definitely a highlight for us. When it comes to crowds it’s not really fair to compare because in Denmark we play larger venues, and people know who we are. When we play here we’re still very new to people. Most places have been alright, but we’ve played a couple of places where only a couple of people showed up. But for an unknown band, the crowds in the UK are a little bit better.

L: I think it’s the same. Remember when we played in Oxford? People bought all of our merchandise afterwards so they really enjoyed it, but while we were playing people were just stood completely still (laughs)

B: Scotland crowds though…

L: They were incredible.

Is there any particular reason why they were so good?

L: They were so drunk!

A: Actually, when we played here about three years ago with The Wytches in Hull, the crowd was insane. Even for the support bands. They were also drunk.

There’s a trend here, the drunker they are, the better the crowd. Cool.

You released your debut album More Nothing (through Partisan Records) earlier this year. It’s a follow-up to your 2016 EP For The Kids. Did you approach the album differently in terms of writing/recording/producing compared to the EP?

B: Very differently. You can’t really compare the two recordings at all. For The Kids was meant to be an album when we started recording it, but our label thought it would work well as an EP. We were in the studio for a very long time, a very long time (laughs), several years I think? But the album was recorded in two weeks.

AWhen you don’t have a time limit you just don’t get stuff done. Once we had a deadline, things worked much better.

Do you have a favourite track on the album, and if so; why?

L: I think ‘One Feather’ is one of my favourite songs. I just think when we wrote it, you know, it was like… next level (laughs)

A: I really love ‘Transcendent’ as well.

I really like ‘Thank You’, just in case you were wondering…

B: That’s definitely a London thing! Something about Brits and that song…

It’s because the song name is really polite, but it sounds really aggressive. That’s the British way…

Your video for opening track ‘To Heaven & Back’ was shot in one take and looks extremely cool. Can you tell us about the shoot? Was miming on skateboards as easy as you made it look?

A: It was a very fun day. Me & Lola used to skate when we were younger, so it wasn’t that big of a challenge, but it was still a little nerve-racking because Bene was driving really fast, even if it doesn’t look like that in the video.

B: It was my first time riding a moped as well, I had to learn on the day.

This video sounds like a death trap.

A: It was really painful actually, the next day my thighs and my feet were killing me (laughs)

L: We shot the whole thing around 7 times. We didn’t really have a plan, we just met up and started shooting. There were no safety procedures, and we were all really hungover (laughs).

A: It was an old idea we had years ago, that Bene would be on the bike, we’d be skating, and we’d also have those little propeller caps on our heads.

L: Why didn’t have those in the video?!

I guess you’ll just have to do it again, re-shoot the whole thing.

You’ve also released a video for your latest single ‘Low Life’. I read your interview with Line Of Best Fit in which you describe this track as being “hard to complete” because you had several recordings of the song, so it took around 3 years to find a version you were happy with. Have you felt like this about other tracks?

L: ‘Low Life’ is definitely the song that we’ve worked on the longest, so we haven’t had that long a process with other tracks.

A: If you heard the old, old version of the song, it’s completely different to what it is now. We had to grow in to the song, we had to be better musicians and songwriters to write it properly. Half of the songs on the album were written pretty fast though, so we just worked really hard, kept playing at home…

L: ‘Thank You’ and ‘Pills’ were changed a lot for this recording. They’re still the same songs, but we just changed the song structures a bit.

As a blog centred around women in new music, we would love to know what female bands or what new music you’ve been listening too. What can you recommend?

B: Taylor Swift (laughs)

She’s great!

L: She’s not kidding (laughs)

Neither am I!

L: If we’re going with female bands, I love Mazzy Star.

A: Definitely, we love her.

L: She’s one of our favourite singers, and also a very beautiful woman. I’d also recommend Pure X, they’re a band we’ve been listening to a lot. They’re not girls, and they’re not new music (laughs) but they’re unknown to a lot of people and I want to spread the word about them!

They’ll be new to someone! We’ll have to have a listen.

Finally, what’s next for Baby In Vain? More recording? Touring? A holiday?

A: Holidays don’t exist (laughs), but more writing, recording, touring…

B: the same things we always do (laughs)

L: I’m really looking forward to writing songs again. You can’t really do it on the road.

A: We haven’t written a new song in over a year actually…

L: Woah, that’s insane. We need to focus man. That’s the best part of being in a band, writing songs…

…and we can’t wait to hear them. Huge thanks to Bene, Andrea & Lola for talking to us before their show. Follow Baby In Vain on Facebook for updates on future gigs and releases.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LIVE: Baby In Vain – Camden Assembly, London 09.10.17

Copenhagen trio Baby In Vain brought their dueling guitars, corrosive vocals and manic percussion to Camden Assembly on Monday night, and they took us ‘To Heaven and Back’. We’ve been following Andrea, Lola, & Benedicte since they released their EP For The Kids in 2016, and we’re hooked on their achingly cool sounds.

After the polished performance of support act Do Nothing, the girls took to the stage and kicked things off with ‘To Heaven and Back’, the lead single from their debut album More Nothing, which was released on Partisan Records earlier this year. Fans of the record were spoiled for choice when it came to the set list, which featured the swirling goodness of their latest single ‘Low Life’, a mesmerizing rendition of ‘Transcendent’, the melodic ‘Last Of The Turner Girls’ and the abrasive glory of ‘Not For You’.

Baby In Vain’s performance style is as captivating and eclectic as the tracks they’ve produced, and our only criticism is that they didn’t play the mind-melting ‘Martha’s View’, the lead single from For The Kids. The jagged synths on ‘The Urge’ and the visceral glory of ‘Jesusfreaks’ live however, acted as fair compensation for this oversight. Their current UK tour ends on October 21st in Oxford, so don’t miss out on your chance to see one of the coolest live bands around. Grab your tickets here.

Follow Baby In Vain on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut