INTERVIEW: STRAIGHT GIRL

Describing themselves as “fiercely and fearlessly queer,” STRAIGHT GIRL is is the alias of Leeds-based composer and producer Holly Readman. The non-binary eletro-punk is a master at exorcising their demons and developing them into their own brand of “grave rave” sounds. We caught up with Holly to talk about their new single ‘Limón’, what their thoughts are about the Leeds music scene and what a “well-mannered gang of pixies are bashing down your door with war-hammers” sounds like…

How are you? How have you been finding Lockdown 2.0?
For the most part I’m chill (and thank you for asking!!!) I had to move back up north for “Lockdown 2: Electric Boogaloo” because I’ve had problems with my work and getting furloughed, but it’s meant I can at least take full advantage of the massive bath at my mam’s house so, swings and roundabouts???

You’ve just released your new single ‘Limón’. Talk us through what it sounds like & what it’s about…
The song is a re-envisioned and re-mastered version of one of the first songs I birthed unto the world under my original solo title N/\L/\. It sounds like a very well-mannered gang of pixies are bashing down your door with war-hammers. In a delicious little nutshell, ‘Limón’ is about shame. When I first wrote it I was very stressed and unhappy with the person I was, I was making a lot of decisions and saying things to people that even *I* didn’t agree with. I felt very disconnected within myself and I would picture it as someone was squeezing my head like a lemon until all this horrible, sour, bitter shit came out. It feels like a massive victory to now be releasing a better, stronger version of this song when I now feel like a better, stronger version of myself.

That’s good to hear! We know you’re based in Leeds – so pre-pandemic – what was your favourite thing about the Leeds music scene? How does it compare to other cities?
For me the community behind the music scene in Leeds simply does not compare. While it can be critical, it’s never competitive and we all support and even inspire each others successes. There is so much pure love within the Leeds music scene. I can without a shadow of a doubt say that living there for most of my formative adult years has been the most solid foundation behind my career as a musician.

You recently spoke to BBC Introducing about your experiences as a self-taught producer. Can you share a little bit of this wisdom with us?
I studied music production at college and then later again at university, but I quickly realised that learning to produce in an educational environment was not the way that worked for me and I dropped out of uni (twice). I ended up saving up to buy Logic Pro and just working on that a little bit every day by myself. I am very privileged to have the network I do in Leeds, so practically every single person I knew was a musician or a producer, it meant every conversation I was having I was learning something new or getting inspired in some sort of way. I still feel my knowledge of production is pretty basic, but as long as I can scream and roll around on a sticky beer soaked basement of a club in front of complete strangers (“Siri, define ‘global pandemic’?”) then the job is done and I am happy.

Do you have any advice for aspiring electronic musicians? Has anyone offered you advice about music that you’ve found helpful?
This is not specifically aimed at electronic musicians, but one of the things I spoke about on the production masterclass for BBC Introducing was how I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere if I hadn’t learned to lean on people. I honestly think now that my music means so much to me because I share it and develop it with so many people. My advice always is just to talk to everyone you can about your music, because even if they don’t have advice or insight they can give you, more often than not people are still impressed and think making music is cool and getting compliments is sooo sick.

We know you’re working on a new release for 2021. What details can you tell us about this?
It’s gay as hell!!!!!!!!

Finally, are there any bands or artists you can recommend we listen to?
Right now I am thinking about Team Picture’s debut album The Menace of Mechanical Music, the same way I have literally been thinking about it non-stop since June. Also, Anna Meredith, if you are reading this please know I am free to hang out next Saturday if you are free and would like to hang out next Saturday when I am also free.

Thanks to Holly for answering our questions!
Order your copy of ‘Limón’ on 7″ vinyl here.

Follow STRAIGHT GIRL on bandcampSpotifyTwitterInstagram & Facebook

Photo Credit: Andrew Benge (@andrewbenge)

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

PLAYLIST: November 2020

We’re almost out of Lockdown 2.0 here in the UK, but whether you’re feeling excited or apprehensive about the changes the new government measures will bring, our November playlist is here to help distract you. There’s an eclectic mix of alt-pop delights, atmospheric electronic soundscapes and some shimmering indie and alternative guitar tunes. Take some time to scroll through our track choices below and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist at the end of this post.

GENN – ’23rd March’
The latest single from Brighton based trans-national band Ġenn, ‘23rd March’ is propelled by whirring hooks, capturing the charismatic energy of the band’s magnificent live show, as it builds with a sultry power to a gritty grunge-fueled seething anthem. ‘23rd March’ is taken from Ġenn’s upcoming EP Liminal, set for release next year on Everything Sucks Music. (Mari Lane)

Nervous Twitch – ‘Tongue Tied’
The latest single from the Leeds three-piece, ‘Tongue Tied’ is a comforting ode to “Self-reflection and amazement over the contradictions in life”. Propelled by scuzzy surf-rock inspired hooks and an instantly catchy uptempo musicality, it’s a colourfully retro slice of uplifting punk-pop. ‘Tongue Tied’ is out now via Reckless Yes. (ML)

Tired Lion – ‘~Cya Later~’
Aussie band Tired Lion have just shared their new album Breakfast For Pathetics and it is SO. GOOD. I love frontwoman & guitarist Sophie Hopes’ voice and this track is apparently one of her favourites on the record – it also happens to be one of mine too. (Kate Crudgington)

Francis of Delirium – ‘Lakes’
“The main idea in ‘Lakes’ is that we are all fed by other people (or other “rivers”) to eventually form who we are, one large lake fed by other water streams, one community,” explains Francis of Delirium’s songwriter Jana Bahrich. Taken from their upcoming EP Wading, which is set for release next February, this single continues to show Bahrich’s talent for writing poignant guitar tunes about the interweaving nature of life. (KC)

King Hannah – ‘Meal Deal’
Liverpool’s King Hannah have just released a complete beaut of a debut EP, the magnificence of which is showcased perfectly in ‘Meal Deal’. Inspired by an unsuccessful flat-hunting mission, it’s steeped in an all-encompassing ethereal splendour as the utterly spellbinding majesty of Hannah Merrick’s vocals flow alongside swirling War On Drugs-reminiscent hooks. Tell Me Your Mind And I’ll Tell You Mine, the new EP from King Hannah, is out now via City Slang. Watch the homevideo for ‘Meal Deal’ here. (ML)

Serena Isioma – ‘Stop Calling The Police On Me’
“This song is about searching for peace outside of the society that doesn’t understand you,” explains Chicago-based musician Serena Isioma. “There was a heavy police presence in my household growing up. It was very toxic. Eventually, I stopped coming home altogether. I was much happier hanging out with my friends.” Isioma, a first generation Nigerian-American, neutralizes these hostile memories via ambient guitars and honeyed vocals. I’m so excited to hear their new EP The Leo Sun Sets, which is set for release later this year. (KC)

Amaroun & Jung Mergs – ‘Highest Head’
GIHE fave Amaroun’s latest offering sees the London artist teaming up with rapper Jung Mergs. Switching between the rich, smooth power of Amaroun’s soulful refrains and the fast-paced poignant spoken-word lyricism of Mergs, it builds with a gritty, grimey groove and whirring, fuzzy energy. (ML)

Rosé Petal – ‘Dripping’
I love this hypnotic new single from Rhode Island-based, alternative R&B/electro-pop producer and songwriter Rosé Petal. It’s a beautiful combination of sweet vocals, sultry beats and atmospheric electronics. (KC)

ZAND – ‘Inappropriate’
Self proclaimed “ugly popstar” ZAND has just released their new EP Ugly Pop, and ‘Inappropriate’ is one of several savage bangers on the record. ZAND’s wit and defiance in the face of their critics shines through in their candid lyricism and polished, yet punishing beats. (KC)

STRAIGHT GIRL – ‘Limón’
A vibrant, jagged electronic soundscape inspired by disjointed and self-critical thoughts, ‘Limón’ is the latest single from Leeds-based electropunk STRAIGHT GIRL. Released via Come Play With Me, the track is a cathartic new offering that sees the artist confront the darker parts of themselves and transform them into energetic, intensely danceable beats. (KC)

CIRCE – ‘Dancer’
An evocative dark-pop gem inspired by a morbid fascination with an infamous cult, London-based Circe’s latest single ‘Dancer’ is taken from her debut EP, She’s Made of Saints. The track is a sultry, cinematic tune exploring the dangerous allure of Californian cult The Source Family. I wholeheartedly recommend you listen to Circe’s EP if you’re a fan of any of the following: The Handmaid’s Tale, David Lynch or Stranger Things. (KC)

October and The Eyes – ‘Dark Dog’
New Zealand-born, London-based songwriter October and The Eyes recently shared her debut EP Dogs and Gods, and this dark, sultry single is lifted from it. Speaking about the track, October explains: “It’s about the uneasy feeling of being watched, that at any moment something bad could happen. There’s an anecdotal malformed dog who’s always near – limping, snarling, growling and drooling. It’s one you feel equally sorry for as you do fear it. You cannot outrun this dark dog, so you decide to make peace.” (KC)

Yumi And The Weather – ‘What Will Become Of The Wishing Well’
The latest single from Brighton based artist Yumi And The Weather, ‘What Will Become Of The Wishing Well’ flows with soaring rich vocals and twinkling uptempo vibes alongside glitchy beats and a driving energy. A soothing slice of alt-pop reminiscent of the electro-strewn grandeur of The Postal Service. (ML)

Elaine Malone – ‘You’ (1000 Beasts Remix)
A captivating, blissful lo-fi new offering from two of Cork’s freshest talents, ‘You’ is a beaut collaboration between songwriter & multi-instrumentalist Elaine Malone and electronic artist & producer 1000 Beasts. Led by Malone’s original beguiling vocals and lullaby-esque lyrics, 1000 Beasts has tentatively transformed the track with his distinctive percussion and the result is a magnetic soundscape that acts as an aural tonic for testing times. (KC)

Smoothboi Ezra – ‘My Own Person’
Smoothboi Ezra is an 18 year old songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer from Greystones, Ireland. This song is about “not being happy but not being able to do anything about it” which is the over-riding sentiment for most of 2020. I love this track and can’t wait to hear more from them in the future. (KC)

Hearts Beating In Time – ‘Simone’s’
The latest single from Berlin-based Hearts Beating In Time, ‘Simone’s’ offers a totally dreamy, twinkling soundscape. With elegant layers of shimmering synths alongside the glistening charm of Rebecca Theuma’s vocals, it’s an instantly captivating slice of immersive electro-pop. (ML)

Jenny Moore’s Mystic Business – ‘I Am Afraid’
Reflecting on how being alone as a female identifying person can be both scary and exciting, ‘I Am Afraid’ is propelled by funk-fuelled bass-lines and an empowering, shimmering energy. As it builds with the twinkling power of voices uniting together in harmony and jangling, playful percussion, it’s a poignant, impassioned ode to female strength and resilience. ‘I Am Afraid’ is out now via Lost Map Records. Watch the joyous new video here. (ML)

Pinlight – ‘Grow Slow’
The new single from Edinburgh-based hearing-impaired artist Jenny Laahs, aka Pinlight, ‘Grow Slow’ flows with an uplifting twinkling energy and luscious honey-sweet vocals. A refreshingly uptempo slice of sunny alt-pop, it’s the perfect danceable accompaniment to a solo lockdown living room rave. (ML)

Kama Vardi – ‘The Gate’
An uplifting slice of folk-pop, Kama Vardi’s ‘The Gate’ flows with a twinkling romanticism and joy-tinged lilting musicality. Oozing a captivating allure alongside the soothing splendour of Vardi’s vocals. Moonticket, the upcoming new album from Kama Vardi, is out now via Bread For Eskimos. (ML)

Track Of The Day: STRAIGHT GIRL – ‘Limón’

A vibrant, jagged electronic soundscape inspired by disjointed and self-critical thoughts, Leeds-based electropunk STRAIGHT GIRL has shared their latest single ‘Limón’. Released via Come Play With Me, the track is a cathartic new offering that sees the artist confront the darker parts of themselves and transform them into energetic, intensely danceable beats.

“I wrote ‘Limón’ in 2017 at a point where I was feeling a lot of shame about the person I felt I was,” explains STRAIGHT GIRL (aka Holly Readman, pronouns: They/Them.) “Feeling crushed by this immense disconnect between the things I was saying and the things I was thinking. It felt like this grotesque, sour monster was hiding within me, and I often wondered if the fact I harboured it inside meant that was who I was. I would imagine my head being squeezed like a lemon and feel the horrible, sour, bitter sting of shame pour out.” The result of this emotional squeezing is a stirring new “sad dance” banger.

Describing themselves as “fiercely and fearlessly queer,” STRAIGHT GIRL is a master at exorcising their demons and developing them into their own brand of “grave rave” sounds. ‘Limón’ is an exciting taste of what’s to come from this uncompromising artist over the next few months.

Listen to ‘Limón’ below.

Order your copy of ‘Limón’ on 7″ vinyl here.

Follow STRAIGHT GIRL on bandcamp, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Andrew Benge (@andrewbenge)

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut