FIVE FAVOURITES: Sarah Walk

Celebrating both the joys and the struggles of being a queer woman, LA songwriter Sarah Walk is preparing to release her second album, Another Me, on 28th August via One Little Independent Records. “The songs on my first album were a means to survive the immediate, and my songs on this album have been a journey in learning how to take up space and thrive in the long term”, Walk explains. It sounds like a learning curve both she and her listeners will benefit from, as she tackles everything from patriarchal entitlement to letting go of damaging tropes about being a queer woman.

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 Sarah to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to Sarah’s latest single ‘nobody knows’ at the end of this post.

1. Wolfgang Amadeus – Phoenix 
I just think this is a brilliantly executed record, start to finish. I still try to wrap my head around the arrangement of this album. Each part fits together like this weaving patchwork of ideas that lock into each other like a puzzle. When I try to isolate the vocal or an instrumental part it feels like such a scattered and disjointed idea, but as a whole it’s completely full. I often wonder how they recorded this because it’s so hard for me to hear a backbone that was built around.

2. Fiona Apple – Fetch The Bolt Cutters
What a powerful comeback album from Fiona. I grew up listening to her and felt so empowered hearing a woman sing and play the piano that wasn’t afraid to be angry. This album totally goes there, and I’m so happy it does. There’s anger and regret, and through that, this incredible reclamation of self. She’s one of the best there is and has paved the way for so many women in the music industry, whether we all know it or not.

3. Radiohead – In Rainbows
It wouldn’t be a favorites list without a Radiohead album. This band totally expanded my ears to what music could be, and were my unwavering companion during some of the toughest and loneliest years of my adolescence. I remember waking up early before school the day this album came out and downloading it (this was the “pay what you want” record pre-spotify which was brilliant) and I sat in my car in the high school parking lot that gloomy October morning and was crying by the time ‘Faust Arp’ came around. I was late for school that day, and I’m glad I was.sarah

4. Everything Everything – A Fever Dream
Love this band so much. They combine certain sonic elements of Radiohead that I love – that ethereal soundscape of guitars that don’t sound like guitars – with heavy grooves and pop sensibility. This album is so good, and they’re incredible live as well.

5. Madison Cunningham – Who Are You Now?
A more up and coming LA artist, Madison is an incredible force of talent. The first time I saw her play live I was completely floored. I’m not a religious person, but after first seeing her play I went home and completely broke down because it felt like such a spiritual experience. She absolutely destroys the guitar and her voice and songwriting are other worldly. Definitely give this one a listen and check out some live videos online.

Thanks to Sarah for sharing her favourites with us.
Listen to her track ‘nobody knows’ below.

Follow Sarah Walk on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

FIVE FAVOURITES: Delhia de France

Crafting a solo career between Berlin and L.A over the past two years, Producer and songwriter Delhia de France has been busy re-working a track from German producer Robot Koch’s latest album, The Next Billion Years. She takes Koch’s concept of sound-tracking the far distant future of earth on ‘All Forms Are Unstable’ and gives it an alt-pop twist, breathing new life in to the instrumental piece with her soft vocals and shimmering electronics.

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 Delhia to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to her cover of ‘All Forms Are Unstable’ at the end of this post.

1. Massive Attack – ‘Paradise Circus’
‘Paradise Circus’ has a certain melancholic lightness to it that I really like. Massive Attack have been consistently bending genres and been a huge influence of mine since forever. Their latest project Eutopia with Young Fathers is as brilliant as it is important. The tracks are layered over with speeches and lectures by prominent educational figures demanding justice, equality, sustainability. Goosebumps education.

2. Fever Ray – ‘I’m Not Done’
This whole album is one of my all time fives. I will never get tired diving into these eerie synth baths that have a very artificial sound yet and incredibly warm vibe. It really is an album of light and dark and to create opposites so each side can shine is something that I picked up from Karin Dreijer’s productions.

3. Rosalia – ‘A Palé’
I love how the track begins with this soothing melody and then takes a totally different turn. It’s incredible how she fuses traditional flamenco with modern sounds. I love all the space in between and her voice effortlessly pouring over it like a waterfall.

4. Thom Yorke – ‘Skip Divided’
Radiohead had always been a massive influence to me and Thom Yorke with his extraordinary fragile voice throwing words at you like daggers. He has a special way of writing melodies that uniquely beautiful. How he marries the piano with these textured organic sounds has been, I’ve always been fascinated.

5. The Knife – ‘Silent Shout’
Again Karin Dreijer, this time with her brother Olof. The whole Silent Shout album has been an eye-opener to me, these simple melodies and her bone-shaking voice combined with glowing and sawing synths are so far opposite of my usual sound yet so captivating and just plain beautiful in this genius simplicity.

Thanks to Delhia de France for sharing her favourites with us.
Listen to her cover of ‘All Forms Are Unstable’ below.

Photo Credit: Alix Spence

FIVE FAVOURITES: Julia-Sophie

Describing herself as finally finding her “hullabaloo within the storm”, new electronic artist Julia-Sophie shared her mesmerising debut EP, Y?, last week, and we cannot stop listening to it.

Y? is a sublime four track record of emotionally intelligent, electrifying electronica. Music which builds and layers, over and over, resulting in an almost painfully blissful experience; much like listening to a Gazelle Twin record. Julia-Sophie is clearly an artist who has a solid understanding of producing sound, removing boundaries and letting music speak for itself.

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 Julia-Sophie to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that influenced her own writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch the video for her single ‘x0x’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Thom Yorke – ANIMA
I’ve been listening to a lot of Thom Yorke this last year and feel very drawn into his latest album ANIMA. For me, it feels dark and tender and addresses emotional holes in my life. I’m attracted to his lyrics that have a dreamlike quality, like a stream of consciousness; like a beautiful nightmare. I love the way the album floats through unease as it slips and slides all over the place without ever becoming boring. It’s a left of centre electronic album with jabbing pulses, syncopated rhythms, spring loaded grooves and wheezy synths surging in waves; I love how effortless it all feels. I only dream of making music with that apparent ease. I love feeling like I can hear his whole creative process. The album makes me feel like I’m listening to art, like a sculptor mastering textures and layers; as I drift off the album catches me unawares. I love it and can’t recommend it enough.

2. James Blake – Assume Form
James has an infectious take on post-dubstep and downtempo, minimalistic electronica. His vocals are otherworldly, airy and his productions boundary-breaking. When the way that you relate to the world becomes difficult I look for artists who express emotions that I cannot; that I am searching for. I felt particularly connected to this album; it is melancholic yet hopeful. The record is full on emotion, and like all the best things in life, it doesn’t reveal itself immediately; it deserves time. As a producer, his sounds make me want to explore the record further and as I do, I capture themes that I didn’t quite grasp the first time round. When I feel dulled by emotion and trauma, James’ music makes me feel safe; his music makes me feel like I’m being held; arms wrapped around me delicately; all unencumbered by musical form. The guests on this album are incredible and are definitely worth revisiting, most notably Moses Sumney’s performance on ‘Tell Them’ blows me away. There’s definitely something particularly special about this album.

3. Art School Girlfriend – Into The Blue Hour
I’m not sure where or how I first came across Polly Mackey, aka Art School Girlfriend (knowing me, I was probably stalking Paul Epworth’s Wolftone Records as I’m a guilty Glass Animals and Harry Edwards fan). Art School Girlfriend self-produces music that for me shares the hypnotic euphoria of trance music. Her ability to create surreal, ethereal bodies of work laced with moodiness not only blows my mind and inspires me, but also gives me feelings of lustfulness and space; within this space I find myself free to think, feel, bend and reflect. I love that place she takes me to. Her music is all very dreamlike but packed with emotion and feels as menacing as it does beautiful. As someone who loves and is obsessed with electronic sounds, I love her use of electronica and only dream to be able to create hazy soundscapes like her, that are tied together with an innate pop understanding. Her music to me, feels quite sad and melancholic, but all tinged with beauty and mystery; it draws me in. Definitely music worth escaping to (plus she has a really cute dog, so what’s not to love about her and her music?)

4. TT (Theresa Wayman) – Lovelaws
I was never a huge Warpaint fan, not because I didn’t like them, but because I was late to the party. Warpaint’s music was so big that it seeped into my life all the same, always playing in the background at friend’s houses or in cafés, and so I’ve always had a wispy notion of their sound. When I heard Warpaint’s Theresa Wayman’s solo debut, I guess because I’ve become more into electronic music than guitar-led music, I was immediately drawn in. Her vocals felt intimate and her use of electronica excited me. This debut record feels really honest; where she explores themes of motherhood, isolation and romances. Her songs are dreamy and I feel she allows me to dream with her; the sound of skin on skin, she journeys fragile threads of human connections and makes me feel a certain sense of companionship and loneliness, all given in equal weight. The album never overpowers; it is warm and comforting: its songs mutate in ways that are unexpected and offer different kinds of rewards. She reminds me that we are all human, obsessing, disconnecting, passionate and jealous. I love her and this record for it.

5. Double Negative – Low
I first discovered this record at my local record store, Truck Music Store in Oxford, as they made it their album of the year. I remember Carl who works behind the counter waving it to me as I asked for recommendations. He was telling me about this album and I loved it from the get go. It’s an immensely creative, ambitious, warped slowcore album that takes you on an experimental journey from start to finish. It’s a radical record in many ways, creating all kinds of atmospheres; sometimes through drone and then also through using song as a conduit. It thumps, crackles and hums, is as oblique in its nature as it is haunting and on first listen sent shivers through me. I was hooked; I found myself lost in its noise, its darkness and heartbreak and yet the album somehow made me feel good even when I was falling apart.

Thanks to Julia-Sophie for sharing her favourites. Listen to her EP here.
Follow Julia-Sophie on Instagram for more updates.

FIVE FAVOURITES: Mentrix

Born in Iran but now based in Berlin, Mentrix blends her experiences of eastern and western culture, along with traditional Sufi instrumentation to create her beguiling, bold soundscapes. Her extensive travels and multiple influences – from Latin and French Literature, to The Qu’ran and traditional Persian poetry – give her music a diverse and fascinating edge. She’s set to release her debut album – My Enemy, My Love – on 3rd April via her own (female-led) record label, House of Strength.

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 Mentrix to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that influenced her song writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch the video for ‘Nature’ at the end of this post.

Mentrix: “It’s hard to narrow things down to five favourite records. I love soul, funk, blues, rock, punk, hip hop. I have adored James Brown, Mick Jagger, Erykah Badu, Candi Staton, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Patti Smith and Mariah Carey (yes yes, l love Mariah). Who can deny the global phenomenon that was Michael Jackson’s History? And no matter what genre of music you are into, Bob Marley will always have a place of its own in your music-consciousness. As of pop and electronic music; MIA, Santigold and The Knife are among artists I consider pioneers. But when it comes to albums, strangely enough I surprise myself with what popped up. Suddenly, some albums that I had not thought of for a long time came back to mind. I know every note of Smoker’s Delight (Nightmares on Wax) and Fink’s first album Biscuit for Breakfast is a significant one for me. But, as I began to ask myself which were the 5 albums that stood out the most; some forgotten memories returned with their very own soundtrack. Here are my top 5 albums as I remember them today…”

1. Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman
The first record that comes to mind is the one that blew my mind – although 10 years had passed since its original release, it was a discovery for me and probably my introduction to songwriting. I would teach English lessons to an older lady in Tehran using the lyrics of this album. I miss that woman and hope to find her some day…

2. The Police – Greatest Hits
Another album that had a huge impact on me was The Police Greatest hits released in 1992. Every track an undeniable hit. Probably my introduction to what a hit is.

3. Radiohead – In Rainbows 
I discovered them much later in life and they won my utter most reverence with the album In Rainbows. Radiohead know how to make that kind of record.

4. Bjork – Vulnicura
Bjork has been a constant inspiration and Vulnicura is my favorite album of the artist. Although I m a huge Biophilia and Medulla fan, I relate much more to the love and pain topic of the artist’s most bold album in my opinion.

5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell
I discovered the Yeah Yeah Yeahs a bit too late to be honest… When I did, I listened to this record over and over again. It gave me the confidence to make music and inspired me at so many levels. I consider Karen O a bit of a guru… And this record remains sacred to me.

Thanks to Mentrix for sharing her favourites with us. Follow her on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

Photo Credit: Gilles Estève