Track Of The Day: Fears – ’16’

Transforming her ruminations on a troubled past relationship into an elegant, exquisitely raw new offering, Irish musician and producer Constance Keane aka Fears has shared her latest single ’16’. Released via her own imprint TULLE, the track is a combination of meditative synth loops, tentative beats – inspired by the traditional Irish bodhrán drum – and the instrumentals of her late friend, classically trained cellist and trans rights activist Sophie Gwen Williams, which all mesh together to create a truly soothing, magnetic soundscape.

Accompanied by a beautiful video, shot in The Maharees in County Kerry in south west Ireland and directed by Zoe Greenway who performs alongside Keane in punk band M(h)aol, the visuals are a poignant tribute to Williams too.

“Sophie was an incredible artist and a very close friend of mine,” Keane explains. “We did a filmed performance together last March, thinking we’d get a chance to record it ‘properly’ in a studio, but she passed away before we could. Zoe and I dedicate the video for ’16’ to her memory. I had made her a dress for the original performance out of pink tulle – the same fabric I have with me in the video. She was a really inspirational and encouraging person, and I wanted to create something that shows how I carry her with me, even though I no longer have her physically here.”

Using her art as a canvas to express and process her grief, Keane’s soft vocals and candid lyrics – “It’s been a while since I cried / unusual for me / normally once a week / since we were 16” – combine to create a delicate, shadowy landscape for her listeners to dwell in. On her debut album Oícheshe underwent a significant and moving personal metamorphosis and now with ’16’ she continues to shapeshift and thread her own experiences into immersive, illuminating sounds.

Fears will perform live in London as part of a TULLE Collective showcase on 7th May at Chat’s Palace. Watch the video for ’16’ below.

Sophie Gwen Williams was an acclaimed performance artist, classically trained musician and trans rights activist from Northern Ireland who co-founded We Exist, a charity which raises vital funds to help trans people across the UK pay for healthcare costs. She was also the chair and one of the original members of The 343, a Belfast-based queer art collective. Here she also founded 343 radio, which is Ireland’s first ever queer radio.

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Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: YAY MARIA – ‘Template’ (ft. Franx)

Having previously captivated our ears as the front person of Grawl!x, Trans and queer artist YAY MARIA has now announced the release of her debut solo album, OYEZ. Touching on themes of being an outsider, celebrating solidarity and community, OYEZ is set for release later this year.

The first of three tracks to be shared from the album, new single ‘Template’ is a wonderfully empowering slice of poignant power-pop. Made in collaboration with Nottingham-based queer artist and musician FRANX, the track oozes a swirling, ethereal splendour and vibrant, uplifting energy. Propelled by calypso-like jangling beats and colourful twinkling hooks, it’s filled with a stirring lyricism that celebrates self-love (“No set way for living your life / That’s ok / You’re great / No wrong or right.”) whilst oozing a dry wit, drawing attention with a raw honesty to the mundane issues of modern life; the parts of life that are often expected of us – the ‘template’ we are expected to live by – but by no means are appropriate or desired by all, particularly those in the queer/non-heteronormative community. As Maria explains:

“I think it can sometimes feel like there is a ‘template’ in life (school, marriage, children etc) & for many that course of life is either unattainable &/or undesirable. So, it can feel kinda scary not fitting in with that pre-supposed model. However, there is also something wonderful & empowering about that too; particularly given that there are so many other queer folks out there who feel a similar way.”

With this first taste of the new album, ‘Template’ offers a blissfully euphoric anthem in celebration of being your true self in the face of adversity. A much-needed sentiment right now, YAY MARIA has created a truly dreamy, danceable soundtrack to the summer; a vital message of solidarity – assuring us that even if you don’t fit society’s accepted ‘template’, you deserve happiness – that we need now more than ever.

‘Template’ is accompanied by a simply beautiful video, exuding all the celebratory, self-love filled joy you could ever desire. Have a watch, and a boogie, now:

‘Template’ is released with the Year Of Glad collective, a young imprint and close knit family of creatives who worked with YAY MARIA on her charity release ‘ENDTIMESand a commemorative piece for Transgender Day Of Rememberance’ in 2020. The track, as with all of OYEZ, is made in the spirit of collaboration, produced with label mate and YOG founder Tom John Hall.

‘Template’ is out now. Buy it on bandcamp now – with all proceeds going to the QTIBIPOC Therapy Fund; an initiative of the Radical Therapist Network, to create access for Queer & Trans People of Colour to safe therapeutic spaces & services; outside of systemic oppression. 

Mari Lane
@marimindles