Five Favourites: Siv Disa

Set to release her debut album this autumn, New York (currently Iceland-based) artist Siv Disa has been beguiling our ears for some time now, since first hearing 2019’s captivating ‘moths’.

Ahead of her upcoming album, she has now shared a brand new single. Produced by long-time collaborator Sam and The Sea, ‘Music In The Streets’ offers a dreamy, ethereal soundscape, oozing a majestic grace and glitchy spellbinding splendour. A beautifully hypnotic insight into how Siv Disa is continuing to hone and develop her sound.

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 Siv Disa to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have shaped her as a musician. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch the recent video for ‘Music In The Streets’ at the end of the feature.

Fiona Apple – When The Pawn
Oh where to start with Queen Fiona?! I found her music after seeing the ‘Criminal’ video on one of those MTV ’90s rewind’ shows when I was about thirteen, and got into her first album Tidal shortly thereafter. Every subsequent album of hers has meant the most to me at different points of my life, but When The Pawn remains my favourite. I’ve listened to it straight through literally hundreds of times, so I’m sure Fiona has affected my songwriting style, but I was never consciously pursuing that. Influential albums for me are more about the role they’ve had in my life than anything directly “artistic”. Her lyricism is tied so close to her core that the feelings she expresses become universal; you can’t listen without connecting when something is that earnest. Ages fourteen to sixteen was a difficult time for me as I’m sure it was for others, I had headphones in my ears all the time like a horse has blinders to keep from falling off course. Usually I was listening to Fiona. When The Pawn is a no-skips album, but some important tracks: ‘I Know’ (I can’t think of a song more beautiful), ‘Love Ridden’ (the first song I ever learned to cover on the piano; my crash course in figuring out chords ), and ‘Paper Bag’ (I mean, if you know you know).

Radiohead – Pablo Honey
I was driving somewhere with my dad, going through his CDs when I first put this on. I heard ‘Creep’ for the first time in his truck in 2002 and my eight year old brain was overcome. I remember thinking “wow, this is a good song, why don’t more people know about it?” at the time, which I think is funny. It’s not like I’ve heard it at every open mic I’ve been to since or anything. It got put into rotation as one of “Siv’s car CDs’ (along with ’90s classics from Natalie Merchant, Seal, and Jewel) when I was a kid. I’ve liked Radiohead ever since. My favourite album of theirs is probably OK Computer, but I think Pablo Honey has been more influential. It’s funny, even though I make fairly electronic music, my favourite albums by my favourite bands are often their most acoustic. Apart from the obvious, other favourite tracks include: ‘Thinking About You’ (excellent breakup track) and ‘Prove Yourself’ (fuel for my nascent angst).

The Supremes – Where Did Our Love Go?
Another group I discovered through my parents’ CD collection! I have a tendency to find artists I like, then absorb their entire discography before moving on to listening to anything else; I know a lot about a handful of bands and absolutely nothing about anyone else. Thinking back on these albums, I realise the first band I did that with was The Supremes. My favourite Supremes track, ‘I Hear A Symphony’, isn’t on Where Did Our Love Go, but everything that is on this record is stellar. The songs weren’t too hard to sing along with as a kid, which is what first hooked me. Their dreamy ’60s glamour and vocal harmonies sealed the deal. The warmth of all their recording equipment, too, you can’t find on modern recordings. Listening now, I focus on that warmth. I like Motown in general, but the songs written by Holland-Dozier-Holland for The Supremes and The Four Tops are the best. Where Did Our Love Go is my go-to happy music. As you can probably tell from the rest of this list, I don’t really do a lot of happy music. But catch ‘Baby Love’ on? I’m in a good mood. Top Tracks: ‘When The Lovelight Starts To Shine’ (The backing band! The exuberance! Just try not to sing along) and ‘Baby Love’ (Diana Ross’ lead vocals are stellar, and a little softer than some of the other songs on this album. I like her voice the most when it’s softer and you get to hear a little more of its texture). 

The National – Trouble Will Find Me 
An ex got me into The National, actually (wishin’ you nothing but the best, C). I vaguely knew of them but hadn’t dived in until then; their band name made them blend into miscellaneous sad-boy rock in my head. I used to teach in-home piano lessons and had a lot of time driving from house to house, so I’d pick up CDs and audiobooks from the library – Trouble Will Find Me was one of those. I have bands for all my feelings and The National is great for a numb sulk. The songwriting is impeccable, Matt Behringer’s voice is equal parts miserable and pacifying and that’s really what I look for in singing. Getting into The National helped my songwriting by showing me how beautiful simple, well executed ideas could be. Being a classically trained pianist, I erroneously looked down on structurally simple music earlier on. I’ve tried to go the other direction though, which I’m hoping comes through on the upcoming album. Trouble Will Find Me and Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers are tied as far as favoruite The National album goes, but I think I’ve listened to Trouble more overall. The lyrics are a little more cutting, they’re a little more polished. Top tracks: ‘This Is The Last Time’ (the coda gets me every time) and ‘Don’t Swallow The Cap’ (the entire thing is a bit stream of consciousness, it’s almost like a conversation you get sucked into).

Ex:re – Ex:re
A musician friend of mine, Brett Gleason, turned me on to Ex:re a couple years ago when this album first came out. It’s fantastically beautiful, heartbreaking, and intimate. For what it’s worth: the rest of the songs on this list I’ve known about for years and years, this one is the only new addition that makes the cut. Albums get tied to different times for me – re-listening to Ex:re makes me think of living in New York, crying about one thing while listening to Elena Tonra cry about something else. It’s more of a “stick around and face your problems” album than an “escape” album, which suits me better now than it might have a few years ago. Each of the songs is so well-crafted lyrically, and often touch upon difficult topics. ‘Romance’, for example, I believe is about assault and the aftermath of living with it in our society. It’s an unfortunately relatable topic for many, but not one often given that treatment in music which is frustrating. It’s refreshing to hear a song about love and betrayal from such a difficult perspective, it’s an achievement to be able to relay that. Favourite tracks: ‘The Dazzler’ (a languid, sharp-tongued dream), and the aforementioned ‘Romance’ (but only if you’re ready to be emotionally devastated). 

Massive thanks to Siv Disa for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Watch her brand new video for ‘Music In The Streets’ below:

Dreamhouse, the debut album from Siv Disa, is set for release this Autumn via Trapped Animal Records.

WATCH: Siv Disa – ‘Fear’

New York based singer-songwriter Siv Disa has now shared her latest single, ‘Fear’ – an escape artist’s ponderings on intimacy.

Disa sings confidentially in laid-back vocals about her aversion to intimacy, both revealing and repelling us. She likes things just a little bit out of reach, a little bit undecided otherwise she’d have to take a risk; asking “is that fear?” in the chorus, telling us she doesn’t like to think about that too much.

The up-close-and-personal lyrics are accompanied by mellow analog synths and beats that lull you into a false sense of security, creating a glistening majestic soundscape. 

In the video, Disa is literally running away from us in barren, snow-driven fields. We never see her face except in overexposed over-the-shoulder glances towards a car’s high beams.

‘Fear’ is out now via Trapped Animal Records.

Aisha Kasmir
@aisha_vocal

PLAYLIST: November 2019

The shift from autumn to winter has been abrupt this year, and if our eclectic track choices are anything to go by; the lack of vitamin D has clearly hit us hard. From moody electronics, to upbeat bedroom bangers, to experimental soundscapes – we’ve got it all on our November playlist. Take some time to scroll through our track choices below, and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist link at the end of the page…

 

Catbear – ‘Unrequited Love’
‘Unrequited Love’ is the second single from Catbear, and what a tune! Fully home-recorded, self-produced, and with a heavy helping of synths. In their own words Catbear say: “We make music for the enjoyment of it. We are two good friends that love each other and we love making music together. There is no other agenda. And with that attitude we want to inspire young women and LGBTQ people like us to not only go form a band, but to take control over every aspect of their music. You can be a guitarist, you can be a drummer. You can make beats, you can record and produce your own music. You can be anything.” (Tash Walker)

HAVVK – ‘Operate’
The new single from long term faves HAVVK, ‘Operate’ is about getting caught up in the pressures of everyday life, and how this can effect your health and relationships. Filled with twinkling hooks and front woman Julie’s soaring celestial vocals, it’s a captivating creation filled with stirring emotion. Of the track, Julie explains: “There’s been a massive culture-shift towards measuring our happiness by productivity. Our digital lives mean that there’s always something we can be achieving and we have fewer obvious moments to switch off and connect with ourselves or the humans around us.” ‘Operate’ is out now via Veta Records, and will be followed by  HAVVK’s debut album, Cause & Effect, on 22nd November. (Mari Lane)

Le Butcherettes – ‘Tunisia’
Teri Gender bender opens this song with the lyrics “I’ve been masturbating thinking of no-one at all / and you make think that it is selfish of me / but I am no one at all” and I just want to applaud her for such an unexpected, celebratory few lines. ‘Tunisia’ is so funky, so catchy, and I’m so excited to hear the band’s new EP, Don’t Bleed, in February 2020. (Kate Crudgington)

Sea Change – ‘Scratch That Itch’
Norwegian artist Sea Change (aka Ellen Sunde) navigates personal metamorphosis on her new album, Inside, which this track is taken from. Sunde softly sings “I have a white hot anger / I’m slowly setting it free” over mellow synth textures and looping beats that sit in contrast to to emotion she’s expressing. This contradiction in sound and lyricism is what makes Sea Change’s music so compelling, and I’ve had her album on repeat since its release on the 15th. (KC)

Despicable Zee – ‘Counting Cars’
Despicable Zee is an Oxford based musician, composer and performer. I am so very into this track of hers, ‘Counting Cars’. I cannot get enough of the samples and composition – so so good! Despicable Zee aka Zahra is also the director of the Young Women’s Music Project working alongside and guiding young female musicians. Her third EP, Atigheh, is self-produced and independently released, and she will be hitting New Rvier Studios in London on December 8th. I’ll be there, join me. (TW)

ESYA – ‘Blue Orchid’
“I only came here for the meat” broods ESYA (Ayse Hassan of Savages/Kite Base/180db) on her latest track ‘Blue Orchid’, lifted from her new EP Absurdity of ATCG (II) – Emergent Form. Filled with buzzing synth textures, direct vocals and pummeling beats; the song fleshes out the absurdities of our relationships and interactions with each other. We can’t wait for ESYA to headline our next gig at Notting Hill Arts Club on Sat 30th November. Tickets are available on DICE, and you can find all the event info here. (KC)

JFDR – ‘Taking A Part of Me’
I’m highlighting one of my Icelandic loves on this list, JFDR, who is a prolific songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who we’ve supported at GIHE before as a part of her other project Samaris. ‘Taking A Part of Me’ is the first new material to be taken from her forthcoming album set for release in 2020, in conjunction with a gig at St Pancras Old Church on 30th January. Hauntingly perfect. (TW)

Pallas Athene – ‘Through Hell’
One of my favourite songs of the month, ‘Through Hell’ by Pallas Athene, taken from their debut self-titled EP. Exploring themes of man vs machine and the dissolution of self, this is the latest single from the EP which I’m so into – its spaced out vocals and calming chords – keep up the great work! Looking forward to the future of Pallas Athene. (TW)

Memphis LK – ‘Roses’
This track has been buzzing around my head over the last couple of weeks. It comes from Melbourne-based Memphis LK, described as a “spirited bass-pop on a bed of dystopian electro” – in other words ‘Roses’. (TW)

Shea Diamond – ‘I Am Her’
As early as transgender singer Shea Diamond can remember, she identified as a girl, and was punished for it. “I got whoopings for walking like a girl, for using the restroom sitting down like a girl,” says Diamond today. Written whilst Diamond was incarcerated in various men’s correctional facilities between 1999 and 2009, ‘I Am Her’ is a poignant offering oozing an infectious funk-filled groove. With last week being Trans Awareness Week, I wanted to bring everyone’s attention back to this soulful anthem of self-realisation. (ML)

Brix & The Extricated – ‘Wolves’
The latest single from Brix Smith Start (of The Fall) and her awesome band Brix & The Extricated. ‘Wolves’ reflects on pack mentality and the freedom to show your scars. Oozing eerie undertones alongside the impassioned grit of Smith Start’s vocals, it’s filled with searing hooks and a  powerful grunge-tinged energy. Brix & The Extricated’s album, Super Blood Wolf Moon, is out now. (ML)

Captain Handsome – ‘I Wish I Had A Dog’
The debut single from Captain Handsome (aka Lily from faves Fightmilk), ‘I Wish I Had A Dog’ is a poignant exploration of every-day anxieties. With a twinkling lo-fi scuzz alongside the sensitivity of Lily’s refreshingly honest and consistently relatable lyricism, it’s a slice of effervescent indie-pop that tugs at the heartstrings in all the right ways. ‘I Wish I Had A Dog’ is out now via Reckless Yes, and is taken from Captain Handsome’s upcoming EP, set for release in early 2020. (ML)

Siv Disa – ‘Moths’
The new single from New York based artist Siv Disa, ‘Moths’ is a poignant reflection on the captivity of love. Propelled by eerie, atmospheric hooks, ‘Moths’ showcases Disa’s soaring raw vocals alongside a spellbinding majesty. ‘Moths’ is out now via Trapped Animal Records. (ML)

Anne Müller – ‘Drifting Circles’
An epic seven minute instrumental from Berlin-based cellist and composer Anne Müller. ‘Drifting Circles’ is lifted from her highly anticipated debut solo album Heliopause, which is set for release on 29th November via Erased Tapes. I love Müller’s blend of frantic yet soothing strings, and feel like they would still captivate me even if the track was double its duration. (KC)

Tears|Ov – ‘All Else Is Bondage (for A.)’
Founded in 2015, Tears|Ov are a queer arts and LGBTQI+ trio. Formed of sound artist/musician Lori E Allen, cellist/mixed media artist Katie Spafford and illustrator/prison psychotherapist Deborah Wale; their sounds are experimental, unusual, and always engaging. Their latest album, A Hopeless Place, was initiated by award-winning photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, who asked them to perform at Tate Modern’s South Tanks for his retrospective back in 2017. A Hopeless Place is out now. (KC)

Katie Gately – ‘Bracer’
Brace yourselves for ten minutes of poignant, eerie electronic sounds from Producer Katie Gately. This single is taken from her second album, Loom, which is set for release on 14th February via Houndstooth. The record is dedicated to Katie’s mother, who passed away in 2018 due to a rare form of cancer. Her shifting stages of grief have informed her sparse, yet seismic soundscapes. Not for the faint-hearted. (KC)

Premiere: Siv Disa – ‘Moths’

New York based artist Siv Disa is now ready to share her poignant new single. Produced by fellow New Yorker, Sam And The Sea, ‘moths’ is a poignant reflection on the captivity of love.

Propelled by eerie, atmospheric hooks, ‘moths’ showcases Disa’s soaring raw vocals alongside a spellbinding majesty. As profound lyrics flow from an ethereal plane, it’s an utterly captivating offering that shimmers with a subtle mystical power. Of the meaning behind the track, Siv Disa explains:

“You see these impossibly large moths trapped in big street lamps, flying inside them and hitting the glass again and again… They must have gotten in when they were small enough to fit, and then grown too large to escape. The amount of time they spend on the wrong side of the glass. It seems so unnecessary from the outside. A whole life spent looking out at the world… For most of my life, love has meant captivity — you are at the mercy of whoever it is you love. After a destructive relationship a few years ago, I removed my emotional self from my physical self. I don’t think people can see moths or what they’re trapped in. I don’t think I can either. I don’t think I’m a lot different than those moths, except I think about them a lot and they probably don’t think about me very much at all.”

Directed by Siv with videography and photography direction from Evan Alexander Moore & Sanchez Murray, watch the hypnotic, yet disconcerting, video for ‘moths’ here:

‘moths’ is out 15th November via Trapped Animal Records.

Mari Lane
@marimindles