FIVE FAVOURITES: ELLIS

Released today (3rd April) via Fat Possum Records, Ontario-based artist ELLIS has shared her debut album, Born Again. Filled with graceful vocals, confessional lyrics, and understated melodies; the album shimmers with a sentiment and maturity that shows her growth as a songwriter. 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 ELLIS to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that influenced her song writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch her video for ‘Embarrassing’ at the end of this post.

 

1. The Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream
I’m pretty sure The Smashing Pumpkins are the coolest band of all time. I love how cinematic this record feels. I love the distorted guitars paired with really pretty vocal melodies. And Billy shreds. I saw them live last summer shortly before I started recording the record, and was like, “I want to be in The Smashing Pumpkins.” I definitely referenced the guitar tone from ‘Mayonaise’ in the studio.

2. Carole King – Tapestry
I’ve been obsessed with this record in the last while. It is just banger after banger, it never stops. I especially love the use of piano in these songs. Piano was my first instrument and after almost exclusively writing on guitar, I was feeling really inspired to go back to the piano while writing Born Again. I also love that Carole didn’t consider herself “a singer” in the beginning, and started out writing songs for other people, and then she comes out with this perfect record – it’s unreal.

3. Death Cab For Cutie – Transatlanticism
This record came out when I was in middle school, and I’ve never gotten bored of it. I think everyone remembers exactly how they felt the first time they listened to Transatlanticism. It knocks the wind out of you. I love the long builds, the repeating phrases, the lyrics that break your heart into a million pieces. Also, the percussion! The drum machines, the tambourines, the tom beats – it’s good.

4. Taylor Swift – Red
Say what you want about Taylor, but she has a way of making me feel so seen. It’s like reading someone’s diary, but it looks a lot like your own. I love how candid she is in her songwriting – there’s no holding back, she just plainly puts it all out there like there’s nothing left to hide. It’s cathartic AND it’s catchy, you can both cry and dance to it and isn’t that amazing? This record in particular hits me hard. I’m pretty sure ‘All Too Well’ is the best breakup song ever written.

5. The Japanese House – Pools To Bathe In
When I was in the process of writing the record I was having a hard time concentrating at home, so I rented this little cabin (if you could even call it that, it was more like a tiny shed!) in the middle of nowhere on Lake Erie to get away and focus. I remember going for long walks down gravel roads just listening to this EP over and over again. The production is so good. I love the layered vocals over the minimalist drum beats, the synth swells, the guitar picking, all the subtle ambiance. It’s just totally beautiful and I found it really inspiring.

Thanks to ELLIS for sharing her favourite albums with us. Order your copy of Born Again here, and follow ELLIS on Spotify for more updates.

Photo Credit: Ebru Yildiz

PLAYLIST: Galentine’s Day 2020

Grrrls, it’s the best day of the year: GALENTINE’S DAY! Coined by Parks and Recreation character Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) back in 2010, Galentine’s has since been recognised by girls across the globe, and used as a light-hearted platform to celebrate the girls and women who enrich our lives.

We’ve selected tracks from some of our favourite female artists and put them all together in one big celebratory playlist. We’re all about self-love & sisterly support today; so scroll down, press play, and share the Galentines love.

 

Robyn – ‘Dancing On My Own’
‘Dancing On My Own’, and what’s wrong with that!? Often I prefer to dance on my own. More space. Robyn is also an outspoken ally for LGBTQ+ rights, and we all know romance isn’t just for the heterosexuals out there! So whether you honour Galentine’s, Valentine’s, or even Palentine’s Day; make sure you have a good old dance. (Tash Walker)

Le Tigre – ‘Hot Topic’
Pioneers of queer culture and ultimate faves, Le Tigre’s ‘Hot Topic’ is a celebratory ode to those who’ve inspired us. Paying homage to some queer feminist champions of the ‘90s and earlier, it’s an empowering and joy-filled protest in the face of adversity. This one’s dedicated to my GIHE gals this Galentine’s; Tash and Kate – you’re two of the most fantastic women I’ve ever met, and continue to inspire me every day! (Mari Lane)

Gold Baby – ‘What Party?’
We’re all big fans of Gold Baby here at GIHE, and I have to admit I’m a big fan of their vocalist & guitarist Sian. Not only is she a great songwriter, she’s as enthusiastic as we are about new music, and supporting other women in the industry. Keep your eyes peeled for Gold Baby’s new single ‘Japanese Racehorse’, set for release on 17th Feb. (Kate Crudgington)

ARXX – ‘Moments At A Time’
Is it even a GIHE playlist if I don’t include an ARXX track? The Brighton duo have truly taken off since Mari introduced me to them a few years ago, and us GIHE girls couldn’t be happier for them. Hannah & Clara also happen to be two of the loveliest people we’ve met in the DIY music scene. Absolute babes. (KC)

Alanis Morissette – ‘You Oughta Know’
I’m forever grateful to Alanis Morissette for showing 24-year-old me that being angry after heartbreak is totally normal. Even when I’m not in the midst of heartbreak though, this song makes me feel truly empowered. Taken from her iconic album Jagged Little Pill, which turns 25 this year, I am desperate to get my hands on a pair of tickets to Alanis’ anniversary gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 4th March. I’ll be singing this at the top of my lungs. (KC)

Personal Best – ‘This Is What We Look Like’
Headliners at our last Finsbury gig, Personal Best perfectly brand themselves as “classic rock for tragic lesbians”, and their frenetic riffs and pure-pop harmonies fill me with joy every time. Closing their set for us last month, front person Katie dedicated this track to the queer community. As a sea of buoyant voices joined in with “I wanna kiss you in the street / where everyone can see /’cause this is what we look like”, the poignancy of the lyrics in these uncertain times was overwhelming, and an empowering sense of unity took hold as the crowd danced and sang in solidarity. A perfect anthem for love between anyone and everyone. (ML)

Chastity Belt – ‘Joke’
This was one of the bands I discovered at the start of GIHE, all those years ago, and it just reminds me so much of what it was like at the start of it all. All these years on here’s to my two GIHE gals Mari & Kate, and all of the jokes we’ve had along the way. (TW)

Taylor Swift – ‘Out Of The Woods’
Did anyone else cry multiple times watching Taylor Swift’s Netflix documentary Miss Americana? (Just me? Cool.) Even if you’re not a big Swift fan, I recommend watching the film. It impressively highlights how badly the media treats young women in the spotlight, and how empowering it is when they decide to take back their own narratives. (KC)

Lizzo – ‘Like A Girl’
Turning the common derogatory phrase ‘Like A Girl’ on its head to create something wonderfully empowering, this is another ferociously fun offering from GIHE fave, Lizzo. With references to other powerful women of colour, including Lauryn Hill and Serena Williams, it’s the perfect ode to the power of being female and the power felt when women unite. So, this Galentine’s Day, I’ll leave you with the Lizzo’s words of wisdom: “If you fight like a girl, cry like a girl, do your thing, run the whole damn world”. An ultimate feel-good anthem for women everywhere. (ML)

God Colony (feat. Samirah Raheem) – ‘Girls’
You might recognise Samira Raheem from her 2 minute interview at Amber Rose’s Slutwalk in 2018. This video caught the attention of UK Producers God Colony, who approached Raheem to collaborate. The result is ‘Girls’; an encouraging call-to-arms laced with defiant lyrics, and industrial-tinged beats. I never get sick of listening to this. Shout out to my fellow ‘Girls’ Mari & Tash. I’d be lost without you. (KC)

TLC – ‘Unpretty’
Having had my love of TLC revived through watching Netflix’s brilliant Hip Hop Evolution documentary lately, I feel this ‘90s classic is the perfect Galentine’s anthem. Although it’s primarily about a guy making you feel shit, the message of getting past this and looking inside yourself to see your inner beauty is a perfect sentiment for any of your loved ones. And, set to that oh-so-catchy groove, it never fails to uplift and leave me feeling ready to face the world. (ML)

Ji Nilsson & Marlene – ‘Love You Anyway’
Released back in 2014 this was the first song that jumped to mind for this Galentine’s Day playlist, as ‘Love You Anyway’ is all about female friendship. The lyrics speak of solidarity, but with a slight note of sadness, combined with the enchanting quality to the music the whole thing intertwined together is mesmerising. (TW)

Chromatics – ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’
A great cover of a great track. ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ always reminds me of a story about this 60 year old Italian woman who walked into her local fire station as she was having trouble with her lock. When the firemen asked the woman where she lived, thinking she’d locked herself out of her house, she lifted her sweater and showed them her chastity belt. (TW)

Wolf Alice – ‘White Leather’
Despite being a huge Wolf Alice fan, I only heard this track for the first time last year when my sister Holly sent it to me when I was having a tough time. She told me to listen carefully to the lyrics, because they reminded her of me. I had to bite back tears after hearing it; I felt loved, acknowledged, and genuinely hopeful. (Also, shout out to my other sister Sarah, who always holds my hand during ‘Bros’ when we see Wolf Alice live. God love ya both.) (KC)

Kate Bush – ‘This Woman’s Work’
I recently found out Kate Bush wrote this song specifically for John Hughes’ 1988 film She’s Having A Baby from the lead male character’s perspective, but I think her lyrics transcend the film’s premise. When I hear this track, I think of my Mum, and how hard she works to keep everyone in my family safe, healthy, and happy. Then I think about how mad it makes me that men and boys aren’t expected to perform the same kind of emotional labour. Then I worry that patriarchy dictates that men aren’t allowed to show emotion, so that must be a burden in itself. Basically, I spend a lot of time thinking about ‘women’s work’, and what that means to me, and this song helps relieve some of the tensions surrounding those thoughts. (Love you Mum. You too Dad x) (KC)

Bikini Kill – ‘Double Dare Ya’
This is the first Bikini Kill track I ever heard, and it still fills me with hope and defiance every time I listen to it. My cousin Rebecca (an original 90s Riot Grrrl) introduced me to the band, and along with the GIHE crew, we both went to see Bikini Kill live at Brixton Academy when they reunited last year. Words escape me when I try to sum up how much that night meant to me. Women are the fucking best. (KC)

LibraLibra – Skin And Bone 
Having recently blown me away at our December Finsbury gig, Brighton’s LibraLibra are one of my ‘Ones To Watch’ for this year. Listening to the incredible brutal power of Beth Cannon’s immense vocal delivery motivates me with each listen, the empowering force of this inspirationally strong and charismatic front woman makes me feel like we can conquer the world. But I’ve added this one to our Galentine’s list not only for LibraLibra’s mind-blowing sound, but because since they played for us, I’ve been speaking to Beth quite a lot, and feel that we’ve both been able to provide a bit of a virtual sounding board for each other when we’ve needed picking up, or just to have a good old rant about society’s inherent sexism! Just one example of the wonderful gals I’ve been lucky enough to meet putting on our Get In Her Ears events. (ML)

Chorusgirl – ‘Stuck’
You probably all know by now how much this song means to me. It will never fail to bring me cathartic comfort. Its poignant emotive power, and the way it builds alongside the shimmering hooks, gets me every time. Listening to its heartfelt sentiment, and knowing that there’s other ‘gals’ in the world feeling similar anxieties as I do, helps me feel a little less alone. Chorusgirl’s Silvi is not only a heartbreakingly magnificent songwriter, she’s a wonderful person, and I’m so grateful our paths crossed. (ML)

Kate Tempest – ‘People’s Faces’
There is so much that is so perfectly poignant in this song; the glaringly honest and completely relevant social commentary showcases Tempest’s unique poetic skill at creating relevant and hugely emotive social narratives. But a subtle glimmer of hope also shines through; the comfort we gain from those we love, and the comfort we can offer them just by being there. So, even when it feels like the world is ending, we can still find happiness in each other: “… then we smile at all our friends… Even when I’m weak and I’m breaking… I can see your faces. There is so much peace to be found in people’s faces.”
Also, as a belated Galentine’s treat, I’ll be seeing Kate Tempest live at the 6Music Festival on 8th March, as part of an incredible International Women’s Day line-up of her, Kim Gordon, Jehnny Beth and Nadine Shah at The Roundhouse. I cannot wait to catch some of the most incredible gals all in one place! (ML)

Shirley Ellis – ‘Soul Time’
I love this song, it’s just so much fun and completely infectious. Shirley Ellis often unfairly categorised as a novelty act by many music historians has a well earned place in the history of American soul. Funky, sophisticated and sassy. All the sisterly love for her! (TW)

Jackie Shane – ‘Any Other Way’
I include this song on lots of our GIHE playlists, but that’s because it makes for such a smooth, upbeat listen. Canadian soul singer Jackie Shane was not only a talented vocalist, she was also a pioneer for trans rights in the 60s. Any chance I get to play her music, I’ll happily take. (KC)

FIVE FAVOURITES: JEANA

Emerging London-based artist JEANA – who originally made music in Bedford with her siblings – has spent the majority of 2019 working alongside Producer Ginger Snaps to create her smooth, indie pop sounds. Her latest single, ‘Nameless’ is a polished offering that explores the feelings of vulnerability and of power when a toxic relationship comes to an end, and showcases the nineteen year old’s ability to rise from these ashes in Phoenix-like fashion.

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 JEANA to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her song writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to her single ‘Nameless’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
Like a lot of people, this album was on repeat in my household for a few years when I was growing up as a child. We used to go to a bar on a beach in Spain, which always played this album & even though the bar has since shut we still refer to it as the Amy Winehouse beach. I love this album so much because I felt I could enjoy it as a child as well as enjoying it now as an adult for different reasons. The lyrics are so raw and are empowering I think. The memories are distant from when I first heard this album but I associate it with so many different good times, and i’m sure I can go back and relate to this album in more stages of my life to come.

2. Taylor Swift – Fearless
I found this album in 2011 as a young tweenager and I remember feeling like I had discovered the true meaning of music. I randomly found an iPod on a family holiday with only illegally downloaded Taylor Swift music on, Fearless being the only album. Of course, I rinsed all the songs and wanted to become Taylor Swift, this album actually encouraged me to start singing, pick up a guitar and started me writing (and I really did want to be Taylor Swift for a good 3 years!).

3. Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Balcony
At 14 years old I discovered Catfish and the Bottlemen, and wanted to be “Mrs Van McCann”. This album completely transitioned me from Taylor Swift’s biggest fan to the indie girl that started to go to gigs with her Sister. I’ve always loved indie music as it’s what I’ve been brought up on, but this is the first album I remember discovering myself, and loved like it was my own. It made me start to explore similar artists, and led me to the artists who influenced them.

4. Arcade Fire – Funeral
This album is one of my all time favourites, not only because its the soundtrack to my childhood but also because every song is a favourite. The songs are all such massive anthems and listening to it even though it was their debut, feels like a greatest hits collection. Seeing them live last year at Wembley arena just made me love them as a band even more. From the way they swap their instruments during their set, to the show being staged in a boxing ring – they bring such variety to a performance.

5. Ms. Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
A truly beautiful album that I discovered through working with my producer Ginger Snaps. Listening to this was my first step away from my indie/pop roots, and influenced my sound more towards RnB. The songs are so raw and vulnerable, it made me feel more comfortable putting my own honest feelings into lyrics. It has so much going on musically with the combination of reggae/latin beats. Since discovering this album early last year I’ve been lucky enough to see Ms. Lauryn Hill twice – at the O2 arena and Boomtown Fair.

Thanks to JEANA for sharing her favourites with us. Follow her on Facebook for more updates.

FIVE FAVOURITES: Ren (Petrol Girls)

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 Ren, frontwoman of the brilliant Petrol Girls, to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have kept her going whilst she’s been busy fighting & fundraising for a defamation case against a man in music industry for statements she made concerning his treatment of women.

Ren has written an intro to her favourite tracks, and we urge you to donate to the Solidarity Not Silence campaign – whether it’s £1 or £100 – every penny counts!

Ren: I’ve picked five tracks by artists that I really respect for the way that they’ve handled the issue of sexual abuse within the music industry. Many of them also faced defamation cases very similar to the one we are currently fighting as Solidarity Not Silence. We are still trying desperately to cover our legal costs and appreciate any donations that people can give, or awareness that people can raise of our crowd funding campaign

We are determined to win this case because the use of defamation law to silence survivors and their allies is yet another deeply unjust part of a legal system that is utterly stacked against survivors. In the wake of #MeToo this is more important than ever.

1. The Tuts – ‘Tut Tut Tut’
The Tuts are the other band involved in Solidarity Not Silence. During 2016 both bands spoke out about the behaviour of the man that is suing us, in solidarity with the survivors that we were aware of at the time. We received the first letters from his lawyers just before Christmas that year, and have been fighting it ever since!

I have so much respect for how outspoken the Tuts are about inter-sectional feminist issues and left politics more broadly, and super grateful for the huge amount of hard work they’ve done during this legal case, including organising a huge benefit gig at the end of last year! I’m so proud of all of us for how well we’ve been able to work together and support each other through this.

2. Taylor Swift – ‘Shake it Off’
I remember sticking on 1989 and leaping around the room when I heard about Taylor winning her case against David Mueller. She alleged that he groped her whilst they posed for a picture and consequently got him fired from his job. He then tried to sue her but she counter sued for a symbolic $1 and won following an incredible testimony in court, where she refused to take any bullshit: “I am not going to allow your client to make me feel like it is in any way my fault, because it isn’t.”

3. Alice Glass – ‘Cease and Desist’
Alice Glass left Crystal Castles in 2014 but as #MeToo gathered momentum she gained the confidence to speak up about her reasons why. In a post on her website she described horrific and sustained sexual, physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her former bandmate Ethan Kath. He then sued her for defamation but the case was dismissed in February 2018. When he appealed it in May 2018, he was ordered to pay Glass almost $21,000 in legal fees.

4. Venom Prison – ‘Immanentize Eschaton’
Vocalist Larissa Stupar wrote a public statement in support of survivors that spoke out about her former bandmates in Wolf Down. In her post she detailed some of her own experiences and ended with: “Enough is enough. I stand with the victims.”

5. Kesha – ‘Praying’
Kesha’s legal case against her former producer Dr Luke and record label Sony has been long, drawn out and bitterly unfair. It was overseen by a Judge that is married to a partner in Sony’s legal firm. Somehow Kesha pulled herself back to her feet and was able to release some hard hitting new music including ‘Praying’, which came out in the summer of 2017, just before #MeToo started gaining momentum.

Huge thanks to Ren for sharing her favourites with us. Follow Petrol Girls and Solidarity Not Silence on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut