Five Favourites: Dyan Valdés

Having been involved in the music industry for twenty years, Berlin-based Cuban-American artist Dyan Valdés has played in esteemed bands such as The Blood Arm and Die Sterne, and has just released her poignant debut album, Stand. Written at home during lockdown and made with an exclusively all female team, the album offers immersive reflections on both political and personal issues. Fusing together a post-punk ethos with delicately shimmering soundscapes, the album flows with gritty layers of synth and driving beats alongside Valdés’ luscious vocals – a truly stirring collection.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the release of her new album, we caught up with Dyan Valdés to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that she loves and have inspired her sound. Check out their choices below and scroll down to watch the video for latest single ‘Irregular’.

Bratmobile – ‘I’m in the Band’

I came of age in the ‘90s, when Riot Grrrl was at its height. As an adolescent and young teenager, I suddenly started seeing girls on stage, being loud and taking up space – it was hugely formative for me. After the pendulum swung back in the other direction and hyper-masculine music started to take over the mainstream again, it was too late…I already knew what we were capable of! So it was a huge honour when I got to interview Bratmobile singer and Riot Grrrl co-founder Allison Wolfe in 2020 on my old radio show, The Mexican Radio Radio Show on KCRW Berlin. During our chat, she talked about writing lyrics that connect the personal and political, about having the courage to present herself and her opinions exactly how she wanted to, and about how meaningful it was to work with an exclusively female team on the festival she co-founded, Ladyfest. Our conversation lit a fire under me, both in terms of what kind of music I wanted to make and how I wanted to make it. Inspired by her, I chose to work with a team of women at every level of my project – production, management, promotion, artwork, video, and so on.

Bratmobile have a great back catalogue, but I chose this song because it speaks out against a music industry that implicitly and explicitly tells women that we don’t belong here, which is something Allison and I talked about in our interview. I love how playful the song is, you want to dance and sing along to it – it’s not easy to make a protest song that is so much fun, I hope I was able to do it on my record once or twice too!

Kate Bush – ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)’ 

‘Running Up That Hill’ is one of my all-time favourite songs, it’s undeniable. Almost every moment of every track of that recording is a hook – the production is incredible. Her performance is so unique and 100% her, you get the feeling that she wasn’t holding anything back. I listen to this song a lot anyway in normal times, but I thought about it a lot from a songwriting perspective when I was working on my record. I was worried that if I allowed too much emotion to come through the songs, the end result would somehow be cheesy. Kate Bush was able to walk that line perfectly – this song is emotional, honest and deeply moving without ever coming across as trite. I also found the music very inspiring. I played everything on my album myself, and since I’m trained as a pianist, it was natural for me to gravitate towards a keyboard- and synth-heavy sound with beats that I either programmed or played myself on a keyboard. Naturally, that made me move towards an ‘80s sound, not only because I loved the style but because I could play it with the instruments I had! This song was an important sonic reference for the album, and I love her beautiful and powerful vocal performance.

Peaches – ‘Fuck the Pain Away’

Peaches is an incredible artist and performer. She also lives in Berlin, and I’ve been fortunate to see her perform in both small and very large-scale settings. She is always bold, unapologetic and in-your-face in a way that is somehow not intimidating at all, but rather inviting and cathartic. Her presence is always commanding, whether she is in a lo-fi stripped-down setting (like in the context of the simplicity of this song) or surrounded by dozens of dancers and musicians on a massive stage. I love her message that everyone – regardless of gender, sexuality, size, age or whatever – has a right to be loud and proud about who they are and who they want to be. I also find her career trajectory really inspiring – she is constantly pushing new boundaries in her work and refusing to be shuffled off to irrelevance. She’s running a marathon, not a sprint, and as a woman working as a professional musician for 20 years now, I really appreciate seeing other women with longevity.

I brought Peaches’ music in as a reference to my producer Julia Borelli. Little did I know, Julia was also working with the musician/producer Maya Postepski (Princess Century), who plays drums live for Peaches. We brought Maya on board to co-produce the album, so I’d like to think that there is some Peaches magic on the recording. Maya will also be playing drums with me when I play live, so Peaches and I will be sharing a drummer. What an honour!

Tracy Chapman – ‘Fast Car’

This is another one of my all-time favourite songs, which I can listen to on repeat every day and never get sick of. The music and melodies are simple and beautiful, and are so effective at making the lyrics feel like a thumb pressing on a bruise on your heart. Tracy tells a sad story in such detail – I think oftentimes songwriters try to abstract their experiences in order to appeal to a broader audience. But what Tracy does brilliantly is make a very singular story feel universal, which I think is only made possible by telling a story that is true and specific, with extreme honesty and vulnerability. I struggled a lot with writing about painful past experiences on my record, I didn’t know whether they would resonate with other people or whether I would even have the strength to open up about them at all. ‘Fast Car’ was like a light guiding me down that path, showing me a way to tell stories that might hurt but that could ultimately end with a hopeful message, like Tracy’s song does.

We recorded my album at a studio on the Spree River in Berlin, and took breaks sitting by the water and watching the sun set. There was a busker on the other side of the river who played ‘Fast Car’ every day, sometimes more than once. My producers, Julia and Maya, and I developed a really emotionally close bond during the recording process – something I’ve not experienced before when working on a record. Whenever the busker played this song, we just sat together and listened closely, smiling at each other and feeling all the feels. I like to think we carried that energy from ‘Fast Car’ back into the studio with us.

Fleetwood Mac – ‘Landslide’

I listened to a lot of Stevie Nicks when writing this record, in particular her solo songs ‘Stand Back’ and ‘Edge of Seventeen’, which had a musical vibe that I really wanted to incorporate into my sound. I love her strength as a singer and how powerful those songs make me feel. But ‘Landslide’ ended up having the most direct effect on the recording.

We were struggling with getting the right vocals for my song ‘Fade Away’- I kept delivering a more powerful vocal performance, and my producers Julia and Maya wanted something more vulnerable from me. We took a break for a long lunch and talked about the meaning of the song: it is about looking around you and having the courage to say “this isn’t good enough,” about realising that you are trapped yet having hope that things will change. We came back and then dimmed the lights in the studio and did a guided meditation together, watched a video of ‘Landslide’ (at their suggestion, they didn’t know I had a personal connection to the song: this was my parents’ wedding song that I had previously recorded a cover of with my dad). Julia asked me if I thought that Stevie sounded vulnerable, and I said yes, of course. Then she asked if I thought she sounded weak, to which I replied, absolutely not! “See?” she said, “there’s strength in softness.” With the lights still low, she had me close my eyes and do the lead vocal again, in one single take. When I got to the end of the song, Maya’s face was covered in tears. That was the take that we used on the album. ‘Fade Away’, the ‘Landslide’ version!

Massive thanks to Dyan Valdés for sharing her Five Favourites with us!

Stand, the new debut solo album from Dyan Valdés is out now, via R.I.P Ben Lee Records.

Introducing Interview: BITCH

With her epic new album, Bitchcraft, released today via legendary label Kill Rock Stars, queer electro-pop artist Bitch prides herself on being “like Joni Mitchell set to a click track… It’s neon pink, in your face, ready to hex you with its brilliance.” Having shared stages with the likes of Ani DiFranco and Indigo Girls, Bitch has now moved from the hustle and bustle of New York City to a log cabin in the woods, where she’s found time to properly delve into her art and write the songs for the new album.

Fusing together a driving, gritty energy and sizzling synths, alongside soulful, emotion-strewn vocals, we’re huge fans of the empowering sounds of Bitch and the poignant messages reflected in her writing. So, we caught up with her to find out more about the album, what inspires her, her thoughts on the music industry today and what’s next for Bitch…

Hi Bitch! Welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi!  Thank you so much!  I’m a violinist, singer, poet and popstress. I love to wear wild clothes and express myself visually as well as sonically.  

Are you able to tell us a bit about how you initially started creating music?
I grew up tap dancing since I was three (my Mom ran a tap dancing school in our basement). I saw the violin on Sesame Street when I was four and begged my parents for one, and have played ever since. I was a very shy kid, but looked up to very wild and performative artists, like Prince and Cyndi Lauper. I started writing poetry at age eleven, and at some point my musical world collided with my lyrical world and I started writing my own songs. 

I love the fizzing electro-punk energy of your tracks, but who would you say are your main musical influences? 
Thank you!  For this album, I would say early Sinead O’Connor, early Cyndi Lauper, Peaches, and Imogen Heap. 

Your wonderfully titled album Bitchcraft is out today! Are you able to tell us a bit about it? Are there any particular themes running throughout the album?
I’m super excited about Bitchcraft and can’t believe it took me nine albums to find an album title that is so PERFECT! Bitchcraft definitely has themes of climate change, being a woman in this male-dominated world, and good old-fashioned heartbreak. 

Do you have a favourite track on the album? And if so, why?
Lately, my favourite track is ‘Pages’. I think it’s because I re-wrote it, after I chose it for the album. I really crafted it – I pushed myself to a new place on a writing level and I still get excited when I hear it. 

How have you found recording and promoting an album during these strange times?
A lot of work, and also very joyous.  I feel like a lot of us realized during the pandemic how much we need art. So I have felt the process of it has been very celebrated by my friends, family and fans in a way that I have not felt before. 

How do you feel the industry is for new artists at the moment? And, as a queer artist, do you feel much has changed over the last few years in its treatment of female and LGBTQIA+ artists?
I can’t imagine being a new artist now, in the days of streaming and social media. I feel so lucky that I had the life experience of being a road dog, gaining fans by coming through their towns and giving them a good show. I do think things have changed for queerness in music lately. I have always been an out musician, but it feels way more accepted and normalized now and, dare I say, even sometimes an advantage? I still feel like women in music are subject to a TONNE of misogyny, within the gay community too, and it feels like there is still so much work to be done in giving women the spotlight, the mic, more women on lineups, etc. If I had a nickel for queer events that have NO women on the line-up I’d be as rich as Oprah. 

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?
I love my label mate Logan Lynn’s new album! Also: Be Steadwell, Shaylee, Tubafresh, Ry Lucia, Gustaf.  

In addition to the album release, what does the rest of the year have in store for Bitch?
I will be touring all year, have written a one-woman show of sorts. And will hopefully be planning a trip to the UK – my family is there and I love touring there!!

Bitchcraft, the new album from Bitch, is out now via Kill Rock Stars.

Photo Credit: Dana Lynn Pleasant 

EP: Deap Vally – ‘Digital Dream’

It’s often repeated that the enemy of art is the absence of limitations, but limitations can eventually outlive their usefulness – as Deap Vally discovered when cracks began to show in the band’s creative partnership. With two acclaimed albums of maximalist blues-rock behind them, Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards began to feel the strain of working democratically as a duo. The ‘enemy’, it turns out, could in fact be the absence of a deciding vote.

Going through a form of couples therapy helped them to re-evaluate and open up their process and, feeling rejuvenated, they set out to make an album of collaborations. Digital Dream is not that album, but it features four songs originally planned for it – each one distinct from the other and pointing in several interesting directions for Troy and Edwards to progress in.

For a band named Deap Vally, they certainly have a few friends in high places. The guestlist for Digital Dream reads like a page from the Who’s Who of the L.A. music scene: Peaches, KT Tunstall, Soko, Jenny Lee Lindberg of Warpaint and Jamie Hince of The Kills all contribute. Behind-the-scenes videos from the recording process offer a glimpse into how these songs were pieced together, with experimentation, a little frustration and heaps of mutual respect. Those sessions took place way back in 2018, but ‘Look Away’ and, especially, ‘Digital Dream’ feel strangely relevant to our current situation. That Lindberg co-write ‘Look Away’, with its lovely three-way harmonies, is – by Deap Vally’s own standards – almost shockingly sedate. Vulnerability creeps into the framework of the song but a steely resistance remains at its core, driven by the confident, repetitive rhythm and the insistent command to not gaze too long at the past.

‘Digital Dream’ is something else altogether. Soko’s star turn here is as narrator from the year 2068 where human interaction is all but extinct and resistance to the post-apocalyptic technocracy is less than futile (think E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, without the redemptive arc). Together, the three women successfully build a Stockholm syndrome song-world, complete with atmospheric bleeps and blops, zeroing in on illusions of pleasure within the vividly dystopian context. Then, as the extended outro fades, we’re jolted back into the present with the cocksure swagger of ‘High Horse’. Tunstall, Troy and Edwards grandstand from the get-go – “I could be fucking anything I want / Yes, I’m driven, I use what I’m given” – and the chorus is close to euphoric. Things take a turn for the gloriously absurd when Peaches comes in with a typically audacious rap. Who else could rhyme ‘Devil Wears Prada’ with ‘boys on Truvada’ and ‘douche with java’ with ‘been to Bratislava’? It’s good, unpolished fun.

Finale ‘Shock Easy’ is less instantly attention-grabbing but reveals itself over several listens to be quite revelatory in its own right, with some masterful guitar work from Hince. A chilling reflection on the very American epidemic of mass shootings, it has the sort of detached, observational insight that made Sheryl Crow’s early albums so refreshing. “It was all too easy, now it’s all too heavy,” they rasp over blown-out drums and a starkly contrasting, almost-gospel backdrop that elevates and punctuates the song. It’s four for four, then, in terms of breaking all the Deap Vally ‘rules’ – and to largely great effect.

By following their instincts rather than self-imposed red lines, Troy and Edwards have discovered new doors where once they saw only walls. With more music promised later in the year, we won’t have to wait long to find out where they lead.

Listen to Deap Vally’s Digital Dream EP here.

Photo Credit: Kelsey Hart

Alan Pedder
@_neverdoneing

GIHE: International Women’s Day 2021

Happy International Women’s Day! A day to highlight and bring awareness to the issues facing women around the globe, as well as a time to celebrate the women we love too. This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge – and here at Get In Her Ears we take that to mean that in order to create a more equal world, we must be constantly challenging accepted ‘norms’; constantly seeking to change and improve society in any way we can. In the words of the inspirational Angela Davis: “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.

At Get In Her Ears this International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating both women and non-binary folk who have inspired and motivated us throughout this particularly challenging year. We want to make clear that we are inclusive of ALL women. Inclusivity is at the core of what we do: it’s the reason we started, it’s what drives us, and it’s something we will consistently strive for as long as we exist. To be explicitly clear, we always have and always will stand against transphobia – it is unacceptable. We send our love, support and solidarity to ALL women out there, and celebrate those gender nonconforming people fighting for acceptance. 

Have a read about the consistently inspiring women and non-binary people who have been keeping us going this year, and listen to the accompanying playlist – including tunes by, or linked to, the people featured. And feel free to get in touch with us on socials about the women who have inspired you this year!

Kathleen Hanna
I couldn’t really put together an International Women’s Day feature without including Kathleen Hanna. Being a constant inspiration always, throughout the last year I’ve needed to find strength in her empowering charisma and motivating force more than ever, and treated myself to the 20th anniversary re-issue of the Bikini Kill EP on one of the amazing bandcamp days last year. As well as inspiring me with the riotous power of music, over the last couple of years Kathleen has also set up ‘Tees 4 Togo’ – a business that sells t-shirts designed by and depicting different artists, with 100% of the money raised going to Peace Sisters, a non-profit started by Tina Kampor. Peace Sisters’ mission is to provide equal education for girls in Tina’s hometown, Dapaong, Togo. Each shirt sold is $40, which is how much it costs to send a girl to school in Togo for one year. The sweatshop-free tees are collaborations between the artists and the performers who inspired them.
(Mari Lane)

Big Joanie
Is it even a GIHE feature if we don’t include Big Joanie? Authors, activists, musicians and all round punk icons, these grrrls are a constant source of inspiration to the GIHE team. From organising Decolonise Fest, continuously speaking out against racism and sexism in the alternative music scenes, to creating the perfect soundtrack to rage and rejoice to, Big Joanie are an unstoppable force for change. Their work on and off stage is remarkable. Vocalist & guitarist Stephanie Phillips is releasing her new book Why Solange Matters later this year, drummer Chardine Taylor Stone will be releasing her book Sold Out: How Black Feminism Lost it’s Soul in 2022, and bassist Estella Adeyeri is busy recording podcasts and working with the Girls Rock London team.
(Kate Crudgington)

Lucy O’Brien (author of She Bop)
Getting to interview and virtually meet Lucy O’Brien twice this year was such a pleasure. 2020 saw the release of her book She Bop in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the original publication, a book that shows how much Lucy has documented, highlighted and pushed for better representation of women, transgender and non-binary people in music through her writing. Most recently she has co-written Skin’s Memoir It Takes Blood and Guts, which was also released in 2020 (read our interview with Lucy and Skin here). Lucy O’Brien – an inspiring woman, with an inspiring career who, lucky for us, shows no sign of slowing down.
(Tash Walker)

I will never get over seeing the Get In Her Ears name in PRINT and that’s all thanks to author & music journalist Lucy O’Brien. She included us in a new chapter in the 25th anniversary edition of her book She Bop last year and I’ve been making my way through it since then. Tash interviewed Lucy for one of our radio shows and I was so impressed by her knowledge, articulation and kindness when it comes to reporting and acknowledging the often forgotten history of women and non-binary people’s contribution to popular music. Definitely pick up a copy if you’re able to. (KC)

Kae Tempest
Coming out as non-binary last year, Kae Tempest not only completely blew me away at the last gig I went to (exactly a year ago at BBC 6Music’s International Women’s Day celebration at The Roundhouse), but their recently released book On Connection has been a wonderfully insightful, and strangely comforting, read in these worrying times. Reflecting on the connection between people and the unifying feelings that art can create, they discuss how connection should be a collaborative, communal feeling. Sharing deeply personal experiences and discussing times that they’ve felt particularly disconnected, it’s such a relatable and moving piece of writing. It is also the only book I’ve managed to read properly this whole year; I’ve really struggled with just the things that they discuss throughout – with feeling focused and connected – and so to be able to read something that is both poignant but also short and simply put together, has been just what my mind has needed. (ML)

Peaches
Last year, I interviewed the trailblazing Peaches for a Nine Songs feature on The Line Of Best Fit. She spoke about her favourite music and I spent most of the time nodding enthusiastically at her reasons for loving The Runaways, Missy Elliott and Roberta Flack. One thing that’s got me through the last year – and every other year, really – is talking to people who are not just passionate about the music they make, but the music they love by other artists too. The unfiltered admiration you can have for a band or musician is so pure and so important, and it’s definitely something I have grown to cherish over the years. (KC)

Beth Cannon (LibraLibra)
International Women’s Day happens to fall in Endometriosis Awareness Month (a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, causing many painful symptoms and often affecting people’s lives significantly). And, as someone who has struggled with the symptoms for a number of years, I’m always inspired by talking to other people who have gone through similar experiences. This year, I discovered that Beth from one of our favourite bands, LibraLibra, has suffered with incredibly severe Endometriosis – to such an extent that, at the beginning of this month, she has had to have a very significant and invasive operation. However, throughout all the pain, treatments, stress and life-changing decisions that she has been under this year, she has continued to fight – to be an incredible force of nature, through both the immense power of her musical creations, and her openness and effervescent strength of spirit through her inspiring and motivating social media posts. (ML)

Planningtorock
I remember being in the Hoxton Radio studio in 2018, listening to Tash talk so passionately about how Planningtorock’s fourth album Powerhouse was resonating with them. Tash’s joy was infectious and I found myself listening to the record and hearing this incredible artist dive deep into their own gender identity with such playfulness and charm. Tash & I saw Planningtorock live at Queen Elizabeth Hall at Southbank Centre in 2019 and it was marvellous. We even ran onto the stage with loads of other fans at one point, looking around in disbelief and loving every minute of it. (KC)

SOPHIE
With full acknowledgment that SOPHIE’s identity was rooted in being SOPHIE, by naming SOPHIE in this piece I am not placing any identity on SOPHIE understanding that SOPHIE asked to be identified as SOPHIE. Someone who pushed the boundaries of music, of sound, of electronica, of what it means to be queer – a person who changed music for the better, by not living and reflecting in a nostalgia but pushing, reaching for a future. A future that SOPHIE saw through SOPHIE’s lens and through SOPHIE’s music; we got a glimpse of it too and for that we should be forever grateful. (TW)

FKA Twigs
I’ve been a fan of FKA Twigs since first been utterly captivated by the innovative sweeping sounds of ‘Two Weeks’ from 2014’s LP1, but I never knew that much about her. That is until I listened to her speaking with Louis Theroux on his Grounded podcast earlier this year. Not only was hearing her speak about her latest album Magdalene and how she found its inspiration in strong women – namely Mary Magdalene and her little known strength and achievements – particularly poignant, but hearing her speak openly about her experiences of abuse was immensely moving. Her honesty and openness about what she went through with Shia LaBeouf has been incredibly inspiring and a source of strength for many who are going through similar experiences. Public figures such as FKA Twigs being vocal about the issue of abuse is essential in enabling others to feel able to do this, and I feel a huge amount of admiration and gratitude to her for telling her story; opening up this vital conversation and giving a voice to survivors who so often remain unheard. (ML) 

Divide and Dissolve
Fuelled by Takiaya Reed’s doom-ridden saxophone notes and Sylvie Nehill’s phenomenal percussion, instrumental activists Divide and Dissolve have a sound that flows with a unique gargantuan grace. Designed to erode the foundations of colonialism and liberate the land for indigenous communities, their recent album Gas Lit smoulders with a righteous fury. Not only are they immensely talented musicians, they are also incredibly kind. Each time I’ve reviewed their music for our website, they’ve been quick to message via the GIHE socials to say a sweet and sincere thank you. (KC)

Sarah Lay (co-founder of Reckless Yes)
For a few years now, the label Reckless Yes has been a source of some of our most favourite artists – currently home to the likes of LIINES, Breakup Haircut, Bugeye, The Other Ones, The Crystal Furs and more – and co-founder Sarah continues to inspire us with her hard work and consistent dedication. Working ethically with all the artists on the label, making sure they are paid and treated fairly, Reckless Yes is supported by a membership that fans can sign up to and receive benefits, and is continually working on how it can be a force for social good: not only benefitting the artists on the roster, but holding environmental values as a fundamental part of their work. A one of a kind label run by a super wonder woman, who deserves to be celebrated for the consistently exceptional work she does and the invaluable help she gives upcoming artists. (ML)

Amateur Pop Inc.
A small record label based in Leicester working exclusively with artists of marginalised identities, Mari & I are huge fans of the musical output of Amateur Pop Inc. Run by Emily & Alex, it’s been a joy to interact with them and the artists they support. I recommend listening to Gordian Stimm and Boarder, and Mari would recommend listening to Kermes too! (KC)

Babywoman Records
We had Babywoman Records founder Charlotte Carpenter as a guest on our GIHE radio show a few years ago, and it’s been wonderful to see her create her own label and platform to help other women release their music. To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, Babywoman Records are launching a special four episode podcast series celebrating women in roles across the music industry. Each day between 8th-11th March, they’ll have a guest discussing their work. Speakers include Producer Steph Marziono, Warner Brothers’ A&R rep Holly Manners, musician Eliza Shaddad and Managing Director of Palm Bay Music Kimberley Anne. Visit the Babywoman Records website for more info here. (KC)

Amaroun
A long term favourite at Get In Her Ears, Amaroun consistently delivers a stirring power juxtaposed with an impassioned energy in each of her creations, and – throughout 2020 – she released a a number of poignant and empowering reflections on being a queer woman today. As well as captivating us with her tunes, over the last year Amaroun has also shared some of her insightful inspirations and thoughts on the industry with us in two of our Instagram Live sessions, and continues to be a massive inspiration in all she does. This year, in addition to working on her debut album, Amaroun has been running Black Queer Joy – a series of queer led sessions harnessing the power of community to call upon our ancestors as we heal, reclaim and find self-acceptance. The next session is this Wednesday, 10th March – details here. You can support Amaroun and her innovative journey at her Patreon page. (ML)

Arlo Parks
Arlo Parks has already achieved so much, especially over the last year, where we saw her release her debut album, Collapsed In Sunbeams, and her songs becoming the go-to hum on everyone’s lips. But what has resonated with me above all else is the depth of her lyrics – her mastery of language that she uses to delicately tell these stories with such feeling, as the music envelopes around you. So beautiful and often so sad. (TW)

Stereo Sanctity PR
Kate & Frankie who run Stereo Sanctity PR are absolute diamonds. Not only are their press releases informative, well-written and superbly formatted, the artists they represent are some of my personal favourites too, so it’s always a good day when I see an SS email at the top of my GIHE inbox. They’re assertive without being pushy and genuinely take the time to get to know your music taste so they can tailor their pitches to you. They represent an immense amount of talent, including Noga Erez, Hilary Woods, Penelope Trappes, Debby Friday, Desire, Anna B Savage, Spellling, Jenny Hval, Lotic, Katie Gately, Skating Polly, Zola Jesus and more. (KC)

Bimini Bon Boulash
I’m sure I don’t need to go into detail about who Bimini Bon Boulash is, but I have been falling more and more in love with them (and Tayce, but that’s another story…) throughout the latest season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK. As someone who has watched all the previous seasons of the competition, I have found this latest UK series to be a real breath of fresh air, largely thanks to Bimini. Openly discussing their non-binary identity and how this has affected their life, as well as supporting other contestants with discussing theirs and their struggles with society’s imposed gender norms, Bimini has given a voice to many and has apparently inspired a number of young viewers of the show to come out to their parents. Innovative not only in what they stand for, but in their incredible talent on stage, and their exquisite, unique style, Bimini has opened many people’s eyes as to what drag is, and what it can be: “I consider the concept of gender as a spectrum and I float somewhere in the middle… With drag, I don’t see what I do as female impersonation or illusion, more an expression of my identity and how I feel on the inside...” (ML)

Melanie Simpson (The Irish Jam)
I’ve been contributing to The Irish Jam’s New Music Sunday section for just over a year now. Based in London but celebrating music by Irish artists, the crossover of favourite bands between the GIHE team & The Irish Jam team is huge. I’ve enjoyed chatting to hosts Kealan, Niall, Rob and Mel on and off air for a while now, but Mel in particular is always quick to join me in fan-girling over Kynsy, CMAT and Celaviedmai. From drunkenly telling her about my admiration for Taylor Swift at The Jam’s 2018 St. Patrick’s Day gig when we first met, to buying tickets to CMAT’s debut London gig this November, Mel & I are well on our way to becoming true music gal pals. (KC)

Julia Woollams and Angela Martin (founders of The Croydonist/Bugeye)
Having been ‘locked down’ for pretty much a year now, I’ve come to value my home and its surrounding area in a new light. Being limited to the local area, it has been wonderful to discover new places for my daily walk, and it is has been thanks to The Croydonist that I have discovered a number of hidden Croydon gems; I had never known about Selsdon Woods or South Norwood Lake, for example, until seeing them featured on Croydonist’s Instagram, and they are both beautiful spots, unlikely rural escapes close to home. So, thank you to Croydonist founders Julia and Angela for keeping my love of Croydon going throughout the pandemic! Angela also contributed the most essential and uplifting of soundtracks for 2020 with her band Bugeye’s vibrant, energy-fuelled album Ready Steady Bang. (ML)

Girls Rock London
I wish Girls Rock London had existed when I was a teenager. They do incredible work to support girls, trans and non binary youth who have an interest in making music, but who may not have the funds or confidence to take that interest further. Through mentoring schemes, workshops and band camps, they provide an incredible level of support whilst offering attendees an opportunity to make friends and enjoy learning a completely new skill set. Find out more about their work here. (KC)

Mary Anne Hobbs
Having to work from home for the most part of a year has had its benefits. One of which has been being able to listen to BBC 6Music during the quieter moments of the day, especially my favourite show – Mary Anne Hobbs. Playing such a diverse range of music, from obscure electro to raging metal, she exudes such a passion and enthusiasm about all the tunes she showcases that is both refreshing and uplifting to hear. Hearing someone with such a genuine love of new music and sincere dedication to promoting upcoming artists is wonderfully inspiring, and I think more people in the industry could do with being a bit more like her! So, thank you Mary Anne, for being such a positive force – a consistently elevating accompaniment to my days – at a time when I need it more than ever. Also, what’s not to love about a show that has an ‘All Queens Mix’ at the start of every week?! (ML)

You Know Who You Are…
This last year has been a challenge for everyone, of varying degrees, but what comes out of difficulties endured collectively is a strength in connection. The end of 2020 was one of the most challenging times for me, but I have never felt more loved and supported in my life. So, to all the women and non-binary people who have been there for me over this last year, from family and friends, to all those in between, as someone who has struggled to love themselves for so long, you have all shown me the way, thank you. That includes my two GIHE babes – Kate and Mari, I love you two dearly. (TW)

Mari & Tash (GIHE babes)
Typing through the tears as I think about how much I have learned from you both, and how much I’ve laughed with you both over the last five and a half years. Here’s to many more weekends of gigs, chats about our favourite music and fancy beers with names I can’t pronounce properly. I’ll love you both forever. (KC)

Cindy Crudgington (My biggest fan)
Hi Mum! Probably wouldn’t have made it this far without your eternal love, patience and support. Thanks for always listening to our radio shows, reading my reviews & interviews (you’re welcome for the Noga Erez intro) and for listening to me rant on about how many emails I have to get through every weekend. I love you. (KC)

Holly and Sarah Crudgington (My younger sisters)
Hi Twinny Pigs! Thanks for holding my hand as I get over emotional at Wolf Alice gigs, raging with me in the mosh at the Ho99o9 shows and for always taking the +1 spot on the guest list for bands that I’ve bored you to death about for years. Here’s to many more conversations about how banging the soundtracks to the first two Twilight films are. Love you both. (KC)

GIHE Super Women, Tash & Kate
I couldn’t talk about the women who’ve helped me survive the year without including these two. Not only are they the best friends I could ask for, but they really do inspire me every day. They have both overcome the many challenges this year has brought with a grace and strength that I continue to admire, and both have an unwavering commitment to what they are passionate about. Tash’s work supporting LGBTQ+ people as co-chair of Switchboard and now sharing the community’s stories with the insightful and informative The Log Books podcast is absolutely incredible, and has taught me so much. Kate’s dedication to sharing new music through her amazing writing, and managing to remain so brilliantly organised, is admirable, and being able to regularly rant and rage with her about the world is something I’m forever grateful for. Tash and Kate, you’re a dream team and I cannot wait to see you at a Get In Her Ears gig one day soon, and hatch some exciting ventures for the future!

There are so many more women – both who I know and love personally, who have supported me through this year, and more well-known (Michaela Coel, Adriene Mishler, Phoebe Bridgers, Nadine Shah, Reni Eddo-Lodge) – who I could write about here, but there are only so many hours in the day… For now, I will leave you to celebrate the amazing women in your life!
(ML)

Massive thanks to ALL the wonderful women and non binary people in our lives – we see you, and we love you!

Listen to our accompanying IWD playlist here: