GIHE: Personal Highlights Of 2020

2020 has been a year unlike any other and we’ll be glad to see the back of it, but before we wave goodbye, the GIHE team would like to share some of their personal highlights. Thanks to everyone who has been following, reading or listening to GIHE this year. It really does mean the world to us and we couldn’t do this without you.

Shared Highlights

Seeing the GIHE name appear in a PHYSICAL BOOK was a landmark moment for the team this year. Music journalist Lucy O’Brien mentioned us in her 25th anniversary edition of She Bop, a fantastic book that explores the role of female artists and how they’ve helped to shape the music industry. You can buy your copy here.

Fellow GIHE Co-Founder Tash Walker was super busy recording & producing series 2 of The Log Books throughout 2020, a podcast which explores the history of the LGBTQ community via the phone archives of LGBT+ charity Switchboard. Tash is a co-chair at Switchboard and she is dedicated to celebrating and supporting the LGBTQ community through her work with them, and through her work with GIHE. She is one of the most resilient, informed and hilarious people we know and it’s a privilege to work alongside her and call her a friend. The Log Books are a truly necessary listen for all.

Now for some personal highlights…

Kate Crudgington (Features Editor)

GIHE usually takes up a big part of my life, but it was a lifeline for me during March of this year when the government text me (lol) telling me to shield for 12 weeks. Thanks to the magic of the internet, I was able to talk to the people who were making the music that was distracting me from the panic-inducing headlines, reminding me what a huge privilege it is to have access to this amazing platform.

As our followers already know, Lockdown 1.0 instantly put a stop to our weekly GIHE new music shows on Hoxton Radio. We had 16 weeks off air, so when it was “safe” for me to go back in to the studio in July I was buzzing with excitement (which you can hear in my voice if you listen back to the show here.)

Like most platforms during the pandemic, we embraced technology and started interviewing artists over Zoom instead of inviting them in to the studio for the usual chat and live session. We managed to get time with Jessica Winter, BISHI, Lucy O’Brien, Tessa from Girlhood, Julia-Sophie, Lizzie from Bitch Falcon, Grave Goods, Problem Patterns, ZAND, Hannah from PELA, Seraphina-Simone & Penelope Trappes. It was so lovely to see Tash in person in the studio most weeks, and while we both missed seeing Mari a great deal, her weekly track contributions to the show still made it feel like a GIHE team effort.

At the beginning of the year, I was invited by Niall Jackson, one of the hosts of Riverside Radio’s The Irish Jam, to be a contributor to their New Music Sunday section. Co-hosted by Kealan, Mel and Rob, The Irish Jam is a London based radio show that celebrates and promotes music from Irish artists. The crossover of favourite bands between GIHE & the Jam is huge and something I’ve enjoyed chatting to the team about both on and off air. They’ve introduced me to the likes of CMAT, fears, Denise Chaila, Silverbacks and Celaviedmai, whilst I’ve shared tracks by Kynsy, Party Fears and CAMI with them. Listening to their show on a Sunday evening continues to be a wonderful distraction from life.

Who could’ve predicted that bandcamp would become the musical hero of 2020? When the streaming platform announced that on the first Friday of every month they’d be waiving their fees so that 100% of profits would be going directly to artists, my newsfeeds were awash with new music recommendations. Moving home to Essex from London in March meant I actually had some expendable income to buy new records, so I was furiously typing bespoke recommendation threads on Twitter every time the date rolled around. bandcamps’ generosity meant you were able to genuinely support your friends (and the artists you secretly wish you were friends with) during a truly depressing year for music.

Normally, we’d be picking our live music highlights too, but for obvious reasons, we’ve hardly been to any gigs this year. Mari had to cancel half of the gigs GIHE she had booked pre-pandemic and it’s fucking depressing to not know when it will be (properly) safe for her to book more. That’s why I feel incredibly fortunate to have wedged in one last GIHE gig before Lockdown 1.0. GIHE worked together with Sofar Sounds to put together a special International Women’s Day gig at their Hackney HQ in March, with Beckie Margaret, Amahla and Indian Queens on the bill. It was so exciting (and nerve-racking) to host the evening with fellow GIHE pal Tash too. Even if I’d had a year full of gigs, this one still would’ve made my highlights list.

One last gloat – I published some of my all-time favourite features on our website this year. My Zoom interviews with the wonderful A.A Williams, the hilarious CMAT and the ultra talented Lido Pimienta are well worth a read.

Mari Lane (Managing Editor)

It goes without saying, most of the highlights I’d normally mention at this time of year were not able to go ahead in the void of 2020. They would normally consist of the monthly gigs that I host at The Finsbury, whereas this year I was only able to put on two before Covid hit. And, in addition to having to cancel at least seven of our regular gigs, we were pretty heartbroken to cancel what would have been our very first festival, due to take place in July. However, I did manage to fit in a couple of memorable live experiences before being confined to being permanently pyjama clad; my only weekly highlight being our regular beer delivery from Croydon’s Art & Craft bar.

The first gig I hosted this year felt particularly special. Personal Best headlined a night filled with all the best vibes. Drawing the night to a memorable close, front person Katie Gatt dedicated their set closer to the queer community. As a sea of buoyant voices joined in with “I wanna kiss you in the street / where everyone can see / ’cause this is what we look like,” the poignancy of the lyrics was overwhelming and an empowering sense of unity took hold. The night also included the shimmering folk-strewn offerings of Athabaska, the quirky energy and sparkling charisma of Nun Habit and the sun-drenched swirling anthems of Hurtling. There is nothing quite like that joyous sense of togetherness that comes from hosting gigs filled with like-minded wonderful people.

I was also lucky enough to fit in seeing one of my all time favourite bands with a few of my all time favourite people. The last time that Tash, Kate, Paul and I were all together pre-Covid was for Sleater Kinney at Brixton Academy – a pretty special night. Not only did I get to see the legendary Carrie Brownstein deliver her distinctive gritty, scuzz-filled riffs alongside Corin Tucker’s unmistakable swooning vocals in the flesh, conjuring up massive feelings of awe and nostalgia, but they were supported by one of our favourite current bands. The second time we’d seen Big Joanie on the Brixton Academy stage (the first being opening for Bikini Kill last year!), they showcased just how deserving they are of their rising success; with their unique, raw, post-punk soundscapes and poignant lyricism, they delivered an absolutely incredible set. A truly memorable night.

My last ‘outing’ before lockdown was to the BBC 6Music festival for International Women’s Day at The Roundhouse. An epic line-up consisting of some incredible women and non-binary folk that I’m incredibly grateful I got to witness before everything fell apart. In addition to the immense poignant power of Jehnny Beth, the utterly beguiling splendour of Nadine Shah (who I fell in love with there and then), and the completely mind-blowing presence of hero Kim Gordon, Kae Tempest delivered a fiercely moving, truly breath-taking headline set.

And then gigs were gone. To be replaced by online streamed “events” which I think have had mixed reviews over the last few months – they’re of course no replacement for the “real thing” and it’s hard to feel motivated to “attend” things when you’ve been on the sofa in your pjs for weeks. However, I have managed to organise a few GIHE Instagram ‘Takeovers’, featuring some of our favourite bands and artists. From ARXX’s drum and guitar lessons, LibraLibra’s quirky tele-sales style feature and Tiger Mimic’s interviews with others on the scene, to inspiring chats with Amaroun, Eckoes, Foundlings and Husk, beaut “live” sessions from Gold Baby, Scrounge and KIN, and King Hannah’s EP run through, I feel grateful that so many creatives have wanted to be involved.

It’s a strange time, no doubt, but one which is made that much better by a sense of togetherness within the community. One positive from all this really has been the mutual support and genuine care that I’ve seen musicians and those within the industry show for each other.

John McGovern (Contributor)

On the one hand, there’s been almost no gigs, no festivals, much fewer physical releases and closed record shops. On the other, BBC 6Music’s response helped me stay indoors and make the most of my furlough life. Lauren Laverne‘s show was extended to cover the late morning, running to nearly double the length of most of the other shows on the station and basically saw her appointed as chief mood-lifter for the BBC’s flagship alternative music station. Amongst the days of uncertainty, where even leaving the house offered the risk of serious illness, with no guarantee of a job at the end of the summer, having Lauren there to soundtrack breakfast/brunch made a world of difference. It produced a kind of odd stasis: the background radiation of a pandemic, but an excellent range of music, usually featuring a smattering of classics, new music and obscure gems. The only disappointment was when the schedule reverted back to usual come the end of lockdown. Hopefully, that same semblance of normality will be back for us all, soon.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read our highlights!

You can read about our GIHE Albums of 2020 here and our GIHE Tracks Of 2020 here.

Keep an eye out for our Ones To Watch in 2021 feature next week!

VIDEO PREMIERE: Party Fears – ‘Time in Space’

A gentle, hazy musing on trying to stay afloat in an unpredictable time, Northern Irish born, Berlin-based artist Party Fears (aka Maggie Devlin) has shared a new video to accompany her latest single ‘Time in Space’. Shot by and featuring Devlin herself and edited by James Byrne, the visuals reflect the track’s day-dreamy nature, giving listeners further insight Devlin’s ruminations on what it means to question your instincts.

“’Time in Space’ is a song about prioritising security over authenticity; not necessarily bad, but sometimes hard,” Devlin explains. “For this song, I did a bit of projecting, imagining selves beyond this self; maybe some of them more authentic than the me imagining them. It’s a weird year that calls for some light astral projection.” Released via Babywoman Records, ‘Time in Space’ is an other-worldly offering that stretches the boundaries of self-perception, but in true Party Fears style it remains charmingly optimistic.

“I see me living a lie / You see me doing alright” Devlin sings, gently exposing the duality that comes with living your best life online vs the struggle of day-to-day existence. Devlin’s close-ups and still-life-like shots in the video reflect this perfectly, as she muses about being somewhere else in the solar system – a thought many of us have most likely had throughout 2020.

Watch the video for ‘Time in Space’ below.

Follow Party Fears on bandcamp, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

Photo Credit: James Byrne

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: Party Fears

The creator of some of our favourite DIY art-pop tunes over the last few years, Party Fears (aka Maggie Devlin) has shared her new single, ‘All Is Good’. Released via Babywoman Records, it’s a tender, lo-fi offering that explores feelings of loss, nostalgia and emotional endurance.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking them what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Maggie to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have influenced her song writing techniques. In true Party Fears style, Maggie has put her own spin on the feature, and has shared five songs that are “good for pretending you’re in a film” to. Check out her choices below, and make sure you watch the video for ‘All Is Good’ (spoiler: it’s got a cute dog in it.)

 

1. Duran Duran – ‘Ordinary World’
This song is in pole position on my list both because of the soaring eloquence of its melody and also because of those hyperbolic yet ethereal lyrics that seemed to permeate the 80s, like everyone was constantly carolling epic ditties for the sake of humanity: “I will learn to survive!” We could do with an epic 80s ditty or two about now, to be honest. Musically, there are a few highlights for me. The double tracking or echo on the main vocal, and the snare that nails things down so they don’t get too lofty. The backing vocals are ace. Then at around the three minute mark, Le Bon starts wailing in very cinematic fashion. This is the moment you could stop walking, perhaps, and look up through the rain. Wear a denim jacket with very deep pockets and get the hands shoved in there for effect. There’s also a nice moment where the synth/strings crescendo at about 3.46. Start running here. Very nice.

2. Kate Bush – ‘This Woman’s Work’
Gentle banger. Twin notes, bright on the piano and sparsely played, coax us into the song. This is followed by Bush’s airy howling before she goes right for the throat with the opening lyric, “Pray God, you can cope.” There’s no messing: she’s telling us from the top that she’s here to kick the fuck out of your tear ducts. The warm wash of backing vocals, the melodic acrobatics, how the voices deliver every “t” on “I know you’ve got a little life in you yet”, demonstrate expert precision intended to wound the listener in the most sublime way. The song is best enjoyed while you play back an imagined break up in your head, preferably in sepia tones. Make sure there’s someone on a swing, smiling as they glide through the air. Your hands pressed to absent cheeks, awash with tears. And at least one teddy bear dropped into a puddle. At the climax, why not go to a park and grab your hair and spin round in some leaves.

3. Skunk Anansie – ‘Secretly’
What’s more filmic than loads of jabby, dramatic strings straight from the top?! Who cares if what they play has nothing to do with the song? By the time you’ve realised, the bass tones have already kicked in; rippling across your headphones, anchoring the Bond-like guitar. Then there’s Skin’s vocal. I remember being so impressed that she sang in her own accent. She clips tightly through the verses before opening things up on the pre-chorus. Then the chorus launches, strings and guitar chimes and long vocal notes drawn agonised but perfect: “You wanna do someone else, so you should be by yourself.” And then there’s that bridge and the hanging note… Ooft! For this song, consider wearing a very long black coat and synthesise some spooky green light with a nice LED colour-changing bulb (by remote control so you can still look cool). It is very important that you powerfully grab the air when lip-syncing to the chorus. Shoulder movements will also be very important here.

4. Placebo – ‘Pure Morning’
Okay, so in order to fully appreciate this one, you will unfortunately have to commit a crime of some kind, but fear not! The fabric of society is quickly coming apart and it’s unlikely that if you commit a little heist for the sake of living out your OST dreams, there’ll even be a police force to catch you! From the awkward, stabbing guitar at the very top to the tinny, relentless drums and Brian Molko’s nasal whining, this song is excellent for walking somewhere with enormous purpose. If you can arrange for a glint of sunlight to cut across the air in front of you, maybe even a little gust of wind blowing your hair/coat/scarf back, this is even better. When we reach the refrain, ‘Pure morning’ it’s time to take that briefcase you’ve stolen and just throw it over a bridge. Make sure you achieve a wide arc or it will not have the same effect. Job done? Now it’s time to walk into the city and bump shoulders with pathetic normies who don’t know how dangerous and cool you are.

5. Brenda Fassie – ‘Vuli Ndlela’
This is easily one of my favourite songs. Themed on her son getting married, Vuli Ndlela opens with churchy organs and Brenda Fassie’s confident and gorgeously clear vocal. When the arpeggiator starts, we know the song is going to be a joyful, summery banger. Building and building with brushy drums and a warm bass line, the main melody repeats, the song getting richer and richer all the while, whether with further instrumentation (those backing vocals) or Fassie’s modulation. This is the song where you and your gang (adorned with lots of flowing, colourful things) dance off your previous cares, but not before you exchange a meaningful glance with your bestie over the top of those opening organ notes though. The door to the dance hall bangs open and light spills through. You all race outside, run down a grassy little hill and jump in a lake! Now you’re wet and laughing and someone is wearing a silly hat. There’s that villainous person from before, but it’s okay now; they’ve changed and they are dancing too. It’s okay! Everything is okay! There is no virus and Emma Thompson is president!

Follow Party Fears on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

Photo Credit: Marlene Thissen

PLAYLIST: St. Patrick’s Day 2020

We began drafting this St. Patrick’s Day Playlist before we were fully aware of the extent of the coronavirus pandemic in Ireland and before the Irish government called for the mass closure of pubs and clubs, thus removing any chance to publicly celebrate on the 17th. We debated whether it was appropriate to mention St. Patrick’s Day at all – especially after the numerous gig & parade cancellations both in Ireland and here in London – but seeing the resilience of our Irish friends and musicians on social media motivated us into completing it.

We all need a distraction during these uncertain times, so dive into our St. Patrick’s Day playlist – you’re going to find a new favourite artist among our choices! We’ve included links to each artist’s social media, Spotify and/or Bandcamp accounts and we urge you to stream or purchase their music if you have the funds to do so. Make sure you scroll all the way down for the playlist link…

Æ MAK – ‘Dancing Bug’ (Spotify)
A solid fan of Æ MAK otherwise known as Aoife McCann, I’ve followed her since the beginning of 2019, fresh off her recent support of both tUnE-yArDs and Warpaint. ‘Dancing Bug’ is her latest offering which speaks to her chaotic electronic beats and primitive vocal rhythms. (Tash Walker)

Cosha – ‘Do You Wanna Dance’ (Spotify)
A previous favourite of mine known as Bonzai, who released an old favourite of mine Where Are U Now, came back in 2018 under the name Cosha, teaming up with producer Rostam for this single. I’ve been keeping my ears and eyes peeled for their new music ever since. (TW)

New Pagans – ‘Admire’ (Spotify & bandcamp)
Filled with urgent, intensely catchy songs that challenge the norms surrounding relationships, history and gender, New Pagans’ debut EP Glacial Erratic is a powerful blend of alternative sounds. The Belfast band take the best elements of post-punk, grunge and indie rock and transform them in to abrasive, melodic noise. ‘Admire’ is my favourite track from the EP. (Kate Crudgington)

HAVVK – ’52’ (Spotify)
HAVVK have been long term favourites here at GIHE; a band who continually combine activism with their unique musical prowess, their exquisite, spine-tingling splendour resonates now more than ever. Although written about the extreme political dynamics in the run up to the Brexit vote in 2017, their track ‘52’ remains a poignant soundscape with all that’s happening in the world right now. Oozing a stark, stirring emotion, alongside the soaring, celestial splendour and gritty raw emotion of front woman Julie’s vocals, it’s filled with a glistening musicality juxtaposed with a frenzied, angst-driven climax. (Mari Lane)

The Cranberries – ‘Ode To My Family’
I couldn’t really not include The Cranberries on an Irish playlist. With the heartbreaking crystalline vocals of the late Dolores O’Riordan alongside a delicate twinkling musicality, each of their offerings sends shivers down my spine every time. I’ve chosen this particular track as, during these extremely troubling and anxiety-inducing times, I’d like to give an ode to MY family, and all loved ones – we need each other now more than ever, even if for some us it means not being able to physically see one another right now. Solidarity and good vibes to you all; we can get through this together. (ML)

REWS – ‘Monsters’ (Spotify)
I never fail to be impressed by the power of Shauna Tohill’s vocals and they’re out in full force again on this new REWS track. ‘Monsters’ is an aural challenge to self-doubt and a bit of fiery pop-rock encouragement to persevere in the face of anxiety. (KC)

Vulpynes – ‘2 Cents’ (Spotify)
Propelled by the gritty, impassioned vocals of guitarist Molly, ‘2 Cents’ rages with a seething energy and sublime raw power as scuzzy punk-fuelled riffs are blasted out alongside intense pummelling beats. Reminiscent of the riotous force of the likes of L7 or The Distillers, it’s a storming, empowering offering from my favourite Irish duo. We’re sad that we’re no longer able to host Vulpynes at The Finsbury on 3rd April, but we do hope to reschedule the gig for as soon as possible! (ML)

Bitch Falcon – ‘Prime Number’ (Spotify & bandcamp)
Mari booked Dubliners Bitch Falcon as the penultimate act for one of our GIHE gigs at The Finsbury a few years ago, and I was totally blown away by their live set. Such a raw, powerful sound. ‘Prime Number’ is a personal favourite, but I’d recommend listening to their latest single ‘Damp Breath’ too. (KC)

Party Fears – ‘Money’ (Spotify & bandcamp)
Party Fears are based in Berlin, but Maggie Devlin is originally from Northern Ireland. The band have been consistent favourites at GIHE since Mari first gave them a spin on our Hoxton Radio show and this track ‘Money’ is one of my favourites. Keep your eyes peeled for their new single ‘All Is Good’, set for release on 27th March. (KC)

PowPig – ‘Pretty Woman’ (Spotify & bandcamp)
PowPig are Irish DIY at its best, I was totally blown away when I found out that they were still at school. ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘Mayday’ are their most recent releases jam packed with indie harmonies and grizzly guitars. Loving it. Here’s to hearing more from them in the future. (TW)

Hilary Woods – ‘Orange Tree’ (Spotify & bandcamp)
Dublin-based Hilary Woods creates abrasive, primal, charged soundscapes that blur industrial and orchestral elements. She uses sound and image to navigate emotional territories and I feel intensely comforted when I listen to her music (I also cry to it sometimes, but that’s okay too). “My body knows I can’t make it out” sings Woods on ‘Orange Tree’, tentatively trying to make peace with her physicality and her surroundings. This need to face her inner fears underscores her latest record, Birthmarks, which is an unsettling, but genuinely liberating listen. (KC)

Fears – ‘Blood’ (Spotify)
Fears is the moniker of London-based, Irish musician Constance Keane. I first heard her music while listening to The Irish Jam, and I’ve been keeping tabs on her ever since. I love her dark, minimal electronic sounds. Definitely a bit of me. (KC)

SOAK – ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ (Spotify)
I came across SOAK last year when she released her sophmore album Grim Town, which is most definitely worth a listen. This however is SOAK’s cover of The National’s ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’, tender and gentle and a pleasingly fresh rendition. (TW)

Aoife Nessa Frances – ‘Here In The Dark’ (Spotify & bandcamp)
‘Here in the Dark’ is taken from the very enjoyable debut Land of No Junction by Aoife Nessa Frances. Her voice evokes so much emotion, you’ll soon find yourself falling into the songs reflective melodic musings. (TW)

Maria Kelly – ‘july’ (Spotify)
Alt-folk artist Maria Kelly’s ‘july’ looks inward, exploring the idea that we are ultimately in control of how we feel, and must take responsibility for what we choose to dwell on. Another truly beautiful offering from the Irish songwriter, it flows with her silky smooth, emotion strewn vocals and a stirring, bewitching musicality. Oozing a heartbreaking sense of vulnerability, it sparkles with a mystical grandeur, creating something truly mesmerising. (ML)

Rosie Carney – ‘Bud (Rose)’ (Spotify)
This is the last track to close Rosie Carney’s album Bare. ‘Bud (Rose)’ is a beautiful instrumental which mixes birdsong with piano. The piano is one of my favourite instruments to hear on record especially when it is played with such tenderness, as it is here. (TW)

B*witched – ‘C’est La Vie’
One of the first cassette singles I bought, when I was about twelve, I just wanted to include this one from the Irish girl group to put a smile on our faces – so, turn up it up, sing along and try to forget about everything for three sweet minutes! (ML)

 

We’d also like to give a shout out to GIHE allies and Irish born London-based musicians Niall Jackson and Matthew Sutton. Niall co-hosts The Irish Jam (along with Mel, Kealan & Rob) on Riverside Radio, which celebrates Irish music. Kate often contributes to their ‘New Music Sunday’ section.

Matthew fronts his own outfit called TAYNE, and is currently creating new music with his tattoo machine equipment. They both play together in Sweat Threats too. Both are trying to stay creative in a time of uncertainty, so if you can stream/purchase their music or merch, it would be greatly appreciated. (TAYNE bandcamp here. Niall ‘Swimmers’ Jackson bandcamp here).