Get In Her Ears w/ Big Joanie 27.06.19

Tash & Kate were back in the studio this week with loads of new tunes from the likes of People Club, Gauche, Polar Youth, deep tan, Drab Majesty, MBG & Millie Turner.

Steph & Estella from DIY punk band Big Joanie joined them for a chat about their recent support slots with Bikini Kill and the upcoming third annual Decolonise Festival at DIY Space for London.

Listen back here:

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@KCBobCut
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FIVE FAVOURITES: Big Joanie

DIY punks Big Joanie have had a great year. They’ve toured extensively across the UK & Europe, supported our faves Dream Wife at Camden’s KOKO, and last week they released their debut album Sistahs. Their music is a mix of the personal and the political, and we wanted to know what inspires the girls to create their own sound. We caught up with band member Stephanie Phillips to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five artists or albums that have influenced her songwriting technique. Check out her responses below…

1. Sleater-Kinney – Dig Me Out
I’m a huge Sleater-Kinney fan and it all started when I was a teenager. Listening to Dig Me Out in my bedroom when I was 16, I remember feeling a well of emotion in my chest. It was like I wanted to shout out loud with the song but I could never get the words out, even when I was alone. My journey from a shy, reserved kid to a singer in a band has mostly been through listening over and over again to this band and learning how to sing along. I’m pretty sure Carrie’s stadium rock guitar style has crept into my playing as well.

2. The Breeders – Last Splash
It’s hard to pick a favourite out of all of The Breeders albums, but Last Splash had a huge impact on me. Kim’s way of creating something that can still be a bit rough or unusual as long as its honest has been an approach I’ve tried to follow. The Deal sisters know their way around a harmony and it’s glorious to listen to them when it seems to come so naturally. Big Joanie’s album also opens with a song called ‘New Year’, not the same song but I must have subconsciously taken a note of this. It doesn’t matter how many times I go back to this album it’s still one of my favourites.

3. The Ronettes – Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes
I once went on a date with a guy who said he didn’t like ‘60s girl groups. I knew then and there I couldn’t be with that person. Who doesn’t love girl groups? From The Crystals to The Shangri-Las, I’ve studied every type of girl group but one of my all time favourites is The Ronettes. Ronnie Spector’s voice still sounds as arresting today as I imagine it did when the group first debuted. Though Phil Spector is a detestable human being, he was a visionary producer. The all encompassing wall of sound he was known for worked so well with The Ronettes sound. It’s a sound I’ve always wanted to capture myself. I know the wall of sound would have been nothing if it wasn’t for the young black women Spector worked with who gave it a voice.

4. Throwing Muses – Untitled
Again similar to the other artists I’ve listed, Throwing Muses have so many albums that influenced me but I have to pick their first album. I loved the complexity of the song structures, the emotional depth of the lyrics and the unusual turns and twists the record took. The album made me think about different ways to write pop songs. It made me think about how some of the best songs always take a different path to reach their destination of eventually becoming a pop song. Songs like ‘Vicky’s Box’, which is essentially a three part epic packed into a five minute song, shouldn’t work but they do.

5. PJ Harvey – Rid of Me
The raw blues punk of Peej soundtracked my early years and it’s still with me today. I love this album for all its worth. It’s strikingly intelligent, funny (even though many male journalists at the time didn’t seem to get her humour) and displays a level of emotional vulnerability that is rarely seen. Her dark sensibility and slightly twisted takes on love, lust, pain and anger captured my attention when I first listened to the album. I couldn’t believe that was the way people felt whether it was about her own experiences or not. Her ability to switch between different voices and tell numerous stories in her songs is comparable to the greats like Bob Dylan. I’m pretty sure for as long as I live I’ll always be trying but failing to replicate the work Polly created on this album.

Huge thanks to Steph for sharing her five favourites.

Order your copy of Big Joanie’s Sistahs here.

Follow the band of Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Big Joanie – ‘Sistahs’

DIY punks Big Joanie release their debut album Sistahs today, and it’s a mix of the personal and political; coupled with riotous rhythms and a sistah-hood ethos. Recorded at Hermitage Works Studio with producer Margo Broom, and released via Thurston Moore and Eva Prinz’s new label (The Daydream Library Series), Sistahs is a strong debut from a band who have been actively working on and off-stage within London’s DIY scene for years.

Together, Steph, Estella & Chardine have been busy running the Decolonise Fest for punks of colour, volunteering at Girls Rock Camp, and leading the Stop Rainbow Racism campaign, which works to stop racist performances in LGBTQ venues. Their combined pro-active efforts have resulted in the creation of 11 songs that tackle issues of self-motivation, race, equality, and letting go of unhealthy relationships.

The pensive and highly relatable opening track ‘New Year’ brims with a quiet yearning to kick start something, to stop waiting. It’s followed by ‘Fall Asleep’, with its infectious bass lines and wicked guitar riffs. The introduction of electronics 1:44 minutes in is ultra cool, and was inspired by the likes of Joy Division and New Order (which is why Producer Margo added a wall of synths and drum beats).

‘Used To Be Friends’ is an anthem everyone can sing with confidence, with a sarcastic smile and no real sense of aggro – just the care free attitude of someone who’s shed the skin of an unhealthy acquaintance. ‘Eyes’ is a cacophony of guitars, percussion, and recorder. It’s one of the first songs guitarist Steph wrote aged nineteen, inspired by her disdain for “working a part time job handing out over-priced artisan bread at Waitrose”.

‘Way Out’ is a wonderful, reverb-soaked, 90s-esque tune, whilst the brief ‘Down Down’ spirals along with its driving percussion for just shy of two minutes, before the surf-pop-style ‘Tell A Lie’ lifts listeners up again. Much like ‘Used To Be Friends’, ‘Token’ laments an unhealthy friendship, although this time it’s about the feeling of ‘tokenism’ experienced by people of colour, when middle class white people decide to befriend them as a lame act of liberalism. Following track ‘It’s You’ was born from a bad situation. After the lead singer from Steph’s first band (My Therapist Says Hot Damn) left just three days before their next gig – ‘It’s You’ was one of the many songs she had to write from scratch to play at the show.

The penultimate ‘How Could You Love Me’ will have you swaying from side-to-side as it rings out in “60s girl group style”, whilst closing track ‘Cut Your Hair’ is a vulnerable but optimistic ode to predicting a relationship is over before you or your partner are willing to admit it. Despite their breezy, confident nature; the contexts of Big Joanie’s songs are powerful because the relay the struggles of everyday – whether that’s having your mind turned to mush by a boring job, falling out with yourself, or others around you. They’re three women of colour talking about their life experiences to the backdrop of marching beats and punk-inspired riffs – and that’s something the world needs plenty more of in our opinion.

Order your copy of Sistahs here. Follow Big Joanie on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut