WATCH: Maria-M – ‘Endtimes’

Having previously captivated us as front person of ambient alt-pop outfit Grawl!x at the last gig we put on at The Finsbury, Maria-M has now shared their first solo offering.

A song of hope during this uncertain period, ‘Endtimes’ flows with glitchy hooks and swirling atmospherics, creating a euphoric, cinematic soundscape, propelled by the captivating majesty of Maria’s soaring vocals. Oozing a twinkling musicality and effervescent charm along with uplifting ’80s-infused vibes, it’s a perfectly uplifting offering, tugging at the heartstrings with a poignant, stirring emotion.

‘Endtimes’ is accompanied by a beautifully hand-crafted video, reflecting on the feelings of isolation that come with lockdown, but with an overriding sense of hope and unity within the LGBTQ+ community. Depicting a transgender couple communicating whilst separated during the pandemic, it’s a heartfelt and moving visual accompaniment to the track.

Of the song and video, Maria expands:

“… it’s a song of hope, reminding myself mostly that though things can seem a little overwhelming these days, things are hopefully getting better (particularly for marginalised groups) & that while there are doomsdayers, the naysayers; there are also brave wonderful folks who are fighting to make people’s lives better… I decided it would be nice to convey this through a trans couple Yvonne & Chloe, who have been separated because of the pandemic but are there for each other with love & here’s hoping – I chose to use text-to-speech voices cos I thought it sounded cool!

Watch the video for ‘Endtimes’ here:

‘Endtimes’ is out now via Year Of Glad, a Derby based collective specialising in outsider music, art and writing. The track features a garage influenced remix by label mate Tom John Hall, and a stunning nine minute ambient B side, and all funds will be donated to the charity Derbyshire LGBT+. Download/buy on Bandcamp now.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Photo Credit: Laura Mi

INTERVIEW: Queen Zee & The Sasstones

Since we first heard the warped pop sounds of Queen Zee & The Sasstones, all we wanted to do was lay in a bath tub full of red wine and listen to their EP, Eat My Sass – watch the video for single ‘Boy’ below and you’ll feel the same. We had a quick chat with front person Queen Zee about how the band started out, what inspired their latest recording and the mix of “adoration and bemusement” they receive from live crowds…

Hello Queen Zee & The Sasstones. For anyone who doesn’t know, can you tell us how the band came to be?
Myself and Em met at a black metal show for both our solo projects. I uploaded some demos six months later under the Queen Zee moniker, Em didn’t like them but said we should start a band anyway…

Your latest EP Eat My Sass is out now. What kinds of reactions have you had from fans and critics about the EP? 
It’s been great, as a collection of songs they’re old and new, so it’s great to finally get those older songs out there while also showcasing our new material like ‘Boy’.

On a surface level, you can throw yourself around to the EP completely carefree on a dance floor, but your lyrics – especially on ‘Boy’ – highlight the dangers faced by trans people who have been the subject of trans and/or homophobic abuse. Do you write from experience?
I think all trans people are exposed to the abuse written about on ‘Boy’. On one level, yes ‘Boy’ comes from my resentment to how I’ve personally been treated. But I’m nothing special, all trans people experience the same hate.

Is the EP your way of dealing with and shouting back at those who have tried to silence or physically hurt you?
Art is in general, my art is my catharsis. It’s my rage, my passion, my love, my hate. So on some level, yes it’s my aggression. 

Your video for ‘Boy’ looks incredible. Tell us a little about the shoot: How much red wine did you consume? Would you recommend bathing in it to your fans?
Not enough wine. It was a very fun day, we were very tipsy. I wouldn’t recommend it though, the bathroom still stinks. We did it so fans don’t have too.

I’m a big fan of Courtney Love, and I noticed your reference to her on ‘I Hate Your New Boyfriend’. Are you a fan of her too?
Yeah I’m a huge Hole fan, ‘Violet’ is my jam.

You’re currently touring the UK and you played Reading & Leeds Festivals earlier this year too. What reactions have you had from the crowds so far?
It’s a mix of adoration and bemusement. Reading & Leeds was fun, people go feral when you put them in a field for three days.

Can you name a gig that was particularly memorable?
Playing with Venom Prison was fun, they’re a great death metal band. So this metal fan base turn up, loads of big dudes with beards and Neurosis shirts and we’re like “fucckkkkk” in our sparkly leggings absolutely bricking it. Two songs in the crowd’s going mad, the kit got crowd surfed, lapping it up, ended  up being one of the best shows we’ve ever done. Hopefully we’ll get to do a Venom Prison / Queen Zee tour one day.

As a blog dedicated to promoting women and non-binary artists in new music, we’d like to know if there are any female-fronted/non-binary artists you could recommend to us?

I really dig Babe Punch, who are our buddies from Nottingham. The new Marmozets record is a killer as well, we’re off on tour with them this month.

Finally, what’s next for Queen Zee & The Sasstones?
Wrap up this tour and head off for some studio time. Which may or may not result in more music next year…

Thanks to Queen Zee for answering our questions. Follow the band on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

WATCH: Queen Zee & The Sasstones – ‘Boy’

We’re hooked on the sound of Liverpool punk sass-perts Queen Zee & The Sasstones, and after watching their new video for ‘Boy’, we guarantee you will be too. It’s an anthem for trans-gender rockers and their allies who refuse to be ignored or oppressed by transphobic or homophobic attitudes.

“You can try and bury my head in the sand / But that won’t make the body at the surface a man’s,” seethes Queen Zee over manic guitar and heart-pounding drums throughout the track. Despite the infectious dancing rhythms, Queen Zee’s lyrics reveal the frightening reality faced by many transgender people, who live in fear of “That skinny kinda lonely kid / raised on homo-trans-hate rhetoric / Waiting for me to come outta the club / a concealed weapon clenched between his fists.”

With their punk attitude and ability to write abrasive heavy-pop tunes, there’s no danger of Queen Zee being melted in to a “masculine mould” – and we’re rejoicing in support of this “whipping girl born into a big man’s world”. Take a look at the incredible video for ‘Boy’ below and follow Queen Zee & the Sasstones on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut