Track Of The Day: Maya Lakhani – ‘Nightfall’

An invigorating haunt makes for a sonic thunderstorm in the latest from British-Indian artist, Maya Lakhani. In her highly anticipated third single, ‘Nightfall‘, Maya leads us through a forest of dark sounds at the guidance of her dynamic voice. Displaying an explosive level of capability in bedroom studio production, Lakhani makes her impressive mark.

With instrumentals reminiscent of PJ Harvey and Garbage, ‘Nightfall’ pairs grunge influences with Maya’s captivating and bewitching vocals, channelling inspiration from modern rock vocalists like Evanescence’s Amy Lee or Spiritbox’s Courtney LaPlante. Guitar tracks topped with modest layers of reverb elongate the soundscape and foster a thick, overdriven mix felt in the chest. Energetic yet washy drums perpetuate the urgency of the track and support Maya’s guitar leads in just the right way.

Inspired by bad habits and unexpected dark thoughts, Maya captures her vulnerability by embodying emotional experiences in her lyrics – “I am holding on when night falls, for my life.” With a commitment to endure even the darkest of ventures, ‘Nightfall’ creates its own city of hopeful lights, all from a single bedroom.

Jill Goyeau
@jillybxxn

FIVE FAVOURITES: Los Bitchos

London-based, pan-continental instrumental four-piece Los Bitchos are gearing up to release their highly anticipated debut album, Let The Festivities Begin! on 4th February via City Slang. Formed of Serra Petale (guitar), Agustina Ruiz (keytar), Josefine Jonsson (bass) and Nic Crawshaw (drums), the band have joyfully blended elements of Peruvian chicha, Argentine cumbia, Turkish psych and surf guitars to create their collection of buoyant new songs.

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 Los Bitchos to ask about their “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired their song-writing techniques. Check out their choices below and scroll down to watch Los Bitchos’ video for her ‘Pista (Fresh Start)’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Dead Or Alive – Youthquake
Serra: This album embodies everything I love about the 80’s. Outrageous high energy production, out of control brass arrangements, chorus stained overdriven guitars and uncanny vocals that really hit. Funnily enough, I had only come across the full album over the past few years, before that I’d always thought of Dead Or Alive as a bit of a one hit wonder band – they are far from that. This was one of Stock Aitken and Waterman’s first breakthrough productions, which for me really became the sound of the 80’s. They are second to none, and every time I listen back to the songs, I always find an extra element going on in the background that i did not notice before.

All the while you have Pete Burns laying down one of the best vocal performances I’ve ever heard on an album, he is like a cyberpunk Opera singer that’s stumbled into an 80’s rave, such a captivatingly magical frontman. Each of the songs on the record have something that stands out and it’s pure fun and energy from start to finish. Apart from the incredible stand out hit, ‘You Spin Me Round’, the album truly shines with songs like ‘DJ Hit That Button’ and ‘My Heart Goes Bang (Get me to the Doctor)’. This album makes me feel like dancing all night with big hair, a Pete Burns eye patch, spandex, shoulder pads and taking on the world.

2. Lush – Spooky
Serra: I remember hearing and seeing the video for ‘Nothing Natural’ for the first time about 7 years ago when my boyfriend randomly sent me a YouTube link saying, “I think you’ll like this” – boy was he right! Lush were definitely on my radar as they would often pop up on 90’s music shows me and my brother would watch in Australia when I was a child, but my love for them was really cemented in my mid-twenties. Robin Guthrie from the Cocteau twins was on board as the producer, and what he did with this record is absolutely sublime. Lots of layering, lots of effects and washes running throughout the songs, I think it’s quite a studio album in that way, a lot of these effects would have been difficult to pull off live.

Miki Beryani and Emma Anderson have somewhat of a perfect matching of gorgeous falsetto vocals, as they often sing together on their songs and their harmonies just get under my skin in the best possible way. Their vocals are so delicate, and I love how they contrast against the swirling guitars drenched in chorus and reverb and Guthrie’s wall of sound. I would say the guitar sound/tone on this record is something I try to emulate on everything I do. Songs like ‘Nothing Natural’, ‘Tiny Smiles’ and ‘Superblast’ are stand out moments, their vocal and guitar melodies seem to capture certain bleakness and sadness that always sticks with me and has had such a profound influence on the music I make today.

3. The Ramones – End Of The Century
Agustina: End of the Century by The Ramones is arguably one of the less popular albums among Ramones fans, but personally, I always loved it the most. To start with, the artwork looks incredible, it’s just cheesy punk all over the place. They look cool and carefree, but retaining a certain romanticism at the same time, a cover full of contradictions. It was an album produced by Phil Spector, which obviously meant instant speculation. Apparently my favourite Ramone (Dee Dee) didn’t even play his bass parts in the final recordings and while they were at the studio it was debauchery and chaos, bless them.

But I gotta give it to them, despite the apparent recording troubles, the songs are pure gems. ‘Danny says?’ makes me wanna cry & go back to my love. ‘I’m Affected’ reminds me of my first kiss outside my parents’ house. ‘Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio’ takes me back to my bed back home listening to this album for the first time. ‘Baby I Love You’ well, this cover will melt even the most cold person on earth’s heart. I could go on and on forever with all the songs, but don’t worry I won’t! One of my fave bits about this album? Ten years ago I bought a really rare edition in Brooklyn for a fiver without even knowing how special it was, but when I found out, that made me love it even more.

4. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
Josefine: Not sure how or when Polly Jean Harvey entered my world, but I do know I absolutely RINSED this record in the months leading up to me leaving Sweden behind to move to the UK to study music. It came out in the early spring of 2011, and I moved in the fall that same year, and I would basically only listen to music from the UK to mentally prepare myself for months. This record has really stuck with me over the years, and I continue to discover new things about its melodies and moods still. Picking a record is a funny one for me because controversially (or at least I think it is), I don’t often get hooked on a specific record – instead I tend to get obsessed with a song or artist first and from there jump all over their discography in a frenzy. However, with this record I do stop and listen to it from start to finish as one piece, and what a brilliant piece it is!

5. PJ Harvey – Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
Nic: This has to be one of the most nostalgic and powerful albums for me. It came out just before my 17th birthday and I remember one of the girls I was working with in the local cinema telling me about this artist she had just discovered with such excitement. She’s put out so many incredible records but for me this one will always feel special. I’ve revisited it so many times. When I went to New York it was one of the albums I listened to a lot while walking miles and miles around the city. ‘Good Fortune’ is one of those songs you can put on and just feel invincible, and like it’s you against the world. It’s so powerful. ‘You Said Something’ instantly brings back memories but still feels like a tune I could discover now and become obsessed with. This album just doesn’t age! ‘The Whores Hustle And The Hustlers Whore’ still gives me chills. The energy and dynamic of this woman is so inspiring. I was just starting to play shows in my first band around that time and PJ was a huge role model for just being myself, knowing my power, and losing myself in performing. A real hero and an absolute masterpiece of an album.

Thanks to Los Bitchos for sharing their favourites with us!

Watch their video for ‘Pista (Fresh Start)’ below.

Follow Los Bitchos on bandcampSpotifyTwitterInstagram & Facebook

Photo Credit: Tom Mitchell

Introducing Interview: 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 now released her first solo material. Taken from her upcoming debut solo album, ‘Fade Away’ offers an immersive shimmering soundscape; propelled by layers of synth and driving beats alongside Valdés’ luscious vocals, it’s a poignant, twinkling message of hope at a time when things can feel hopeless.

We caught up with Dyan to find out more…

Hi Dyan Valdés, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! Thanks for having me. I’m a music industry lifer – I got together with my first band, indie rockers The Blood Arm when we were at university in 2002. After releasing five albums and two EPs, touring the world and moving to Berlin together, we went on hiatus in 2017. The singer and I formed the synth punk trio Mexican Radio in 2017, and released another two albums under that name. The band hosted a radio show on KCRW Berlin for 2 years, in which I interviewed artists such as Stereo Total, Sleaford Mods, Ian Svenonius, Allison Wolfe of Bratmobile, and many more. I’ve been playing with Hamburger Schule legends Die Sterne since 2012. ‘Fade Away’ is my debut single as a solo artist and Stand will be my first solo album.

How did you initially start creating music?
I never thought I would make my own solo music – I’ve always been a supporting player, co-writing the music and singing backing vocals. But, the pandemic changed things. At the beginning of the first lockdown, I was attacked by a strange man in broad daylight on the streets of Berlin. I recognised that my already precarious safety as a woman was even more threatened by pandemic circumstances. I arrived home, overwhelmed by my experience and by reports of increased domestic violence and the exploitation of female labour at the frontlines of the pandemic. I wrote and recorded the protest song ‘Stand’ that weekend – feeling that I needed to create something that would make me feel powerful again. This was the first time I had created a piece entirely on my own. After cancelled tours and rehearsals, I was alone in my home studio and could not fall back on my bandmates to provide a creative outlet. I stepped up and did it myself.

Throughout my music career, I have often been the only woman in the room. When I was attacked, I felt alienated and alone. I realised that on some level, I’ve felt the same way in the music industry for years – moving through spaces that are not designed to fit my body, protect my safety, or elevate my voice. What would our industry and our art look like if this model were flipped on its head? In order for the process of this album to line up with the sentiment, I employed women at every level of the project: production, artwork, video, photography, PR, styling, and marketing. 

We really love your recent single ‘Fade Away’ – can you tell us what it’s all about?
‘Fade Away’ is about looking around and saying to yourself “this isn’t good enough”, and dreaming that someday you’ll find yourself in a situation that is. I imagined this feeling of being locked in a house – either by someone else or by myself – and wanting the ceilings and walls to just disappear so that I could be free. The song is sad but hopeful – the “different day” hasn’t come yet, but I believe that it will. I dedicate the song to anyone who has ever felt trapped, marginalized or silenced. The song came to me extremely quickly – I wrote all of the lyrics, melodies and music and then recorded the basic tracks at home within about four hours from start to finish. I felt like the words and music just came through me from a place where they had already been written.

You’ve been compared to the likes of PJ Harvey and Bat For Lashes, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Probably my life-long biggest influence is David Bowie, who was never afraid to take big swings and explore all kinds of different directions. I thought about him a lot when making this record, just in terms of pushing myself to take risks. PJ Harvey is also a big influence, as is Stevie Nicks, Kate Bush, Peaches, Courtney Love and Tori Amos (obviously – I’m a keyboard player!) I was also very influenced by books that I was reading while writing this record. I’ve been a proud feminist my whole life, but while working on the album I really did a deep-dive into a lot of feminist writing. That helped me sharpen the messages that I wanted to deliver: who benefits from the oppression of and violence against women? How is capitalist society complicit? How am I complicit? I did a lot of self-examination on this record, and I hope that comes across.

What can fans expect from your live shows?
Since I’ve been playing in bands for nearly 20 years, I wanted to do something different with my solo show. Instead of hiding behind my keyboard, I’m challenging myself to be a real pop diva and sing and dance throughout the show. I have two backing dancers with me, and one of my producers Maya Postepski (who releases music under the name Princess Century and plays drums with Peaches), will be playing drums on stage. It will be a high-energy rousing pop spectacle!

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
Sadly, I usually discover new bands by happening upon them live, which hasn’t been possible in the last year and a half. However, when I was hosting the radio show, I had the pleasure of discovering a lot of new and exciting bands: Sweeping Promises, Big Joanie, Special Interest, Automatic and Surfbort were a few of my favourite discoveries.

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
When I started, my band The Blood Arm was part of the last generation of bands that really had the “get signed, get an advance, get label support for touring and PR” trajectory. It’s very different now – in some ways, you have more direct access to fans, but because everyone else does too, you have to find a way to stand out. I think the difference is now I’m not trying to get “label attention”, but rather to reach out directly to the fans. If new artists can manage to make a direct connection with people who like their music, that can be very powerful.

Finally, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for you?
Now that live music is opening up again, I’m touring a lot with my German band Die Sterne and doing some recording with them as well. Following ‘Fade Away’, I’ve just released a second single, ‘Be My Revolution’. There will be a third single (‘Irregular’) in January and the album Stand will come out in February. We are also choreographing and developing the live show, so it will be a busy time! But, after such a lull in the industry, I’m excited to get back on stage and even more excited to share my solo music with the world.

Massive thanks to Dyan for answering our questions!

Stand, the debut solo album from Dyan Valdés, is set for release on 11th February 2022 via R.I.P Ben Lee Records.

Track Of The Day: Fräulein – ‘Belly’

Originally hailing from Northern Ireland and the Netherlands respectively, London-based duo Joni Samuels and Karsten van der Tol – aka Fräulein – have been winning us over since we first became pretty obsessed with last year’s single ‘Drag Behind’. Now, following their majestic last single ‘Pretty People‘ and acclaim from the likes of BBC Radio 1’s Daniel P. Carter, they have shared the first taste of a new double a-side release.

Exuding a stirring sense of frustration, ‘Belly‘ is propelled by dark, sparse hooks and raw, loose beats as the sweeping, captivating allure of Joni’s vocals take centre stage. With shades of Rid Of Me era PJ Harvey, it flows with an eerie, spellbinding energy, interwoven with a gritty, grunge-fuelled drive. Building with a visceral power to a brooding, immersive cacophony, ‘Belly’ will take you on a fierce sonic journey; an evocative soundscape showcasing this innovative duo’s consistent ability to develop their exquisite musical prowess with each new release.

Of the meaning behind the track, Joni Samuels explains:

‘Belly’ is a song that is written around its lyrics. I’m talking about how creativity can be bloody and exhausting for some people but really organic and energising for some others.”

Fräulein headline The Windmill in Brixton on 25th October, tickets available here.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Photo Credit: Emma Swann