Introducing Interview: Murman

Since forming in 2018, London-based Murman have wowed crowds at venues such as The Scala, The Windmill and The Old Blue Last, and have now – following the frenzied energy of last year’s ‘Panama’ – shared a brand new single. ‘Achilles’ hits you instantly with its gritty hooks, swooning vocals and immense thrashing beats, as it builds to a riotous slice of garage-rock, oozing a raw, scuzzy energy.

We caught up with drummer Abbi Knell to find out more about Murman and their distinctive sound…

Hi Abbi, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello, and thank you! I’m Abbi and I play the drums in a band called Murman, based in North London. I grew up in Suffolk and have been playing since I was about 10 years old, when I started my first band to play in a school talent competition. Very rock and roll. For a day job I work in communications and campaigns for a global philanthropy, so it’s a very different world to music but I really enjoy flitting between the two, and I picked up cycling during lockdown 1.0 – so that’s a nice new hobby!

How did you and David initially decide to start creating music together as Murman?
So, when I moved to London after university I was desperate to get back into playing live. I started scrolling through a few GumTree ads looking for drummers, and stumbled across an ad from David looking to start a band. We first met back in 2018, and David already had a few songs drafted (‘Christian Boys’, our first single, and ‘Tred Bay’, our second), so we used those as a springboard into other sounds, hooks, and ideas. It really started for us both as a hobby and a passion, I don’t think either of us thought a year later we’d be playing at Scala or hosting our own headline shows at The Shacklewell Arms, but it’s so much fun, and that’s at the heart of the music we want to create too – fun to play and fun to listen to. 

You’ve just released your gritty new single ‘Achilles’ – are there any particular themes running throughout it?
We have! Out of all our releases it’s probably the most difficult for us to attribute a singular theme or genre to – it’s an amalgamation of different ideas, but we always play with the notion of masculinity and try to flip it on its head. It ultimately developed into quite a tongue in cheek, playful song you can dance to, but the undertones of real emotion are still there.

We love the dark, thrashing sounds of the single, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
It’s a really tricky question. I’d say lyrically we’re influenced by anything and everything, from the darker styles of Joy Division to much lighter stuff like Devo, but drumming-wise I’ve always been pulled towards The Horrors, Our Girl, Idles… Anything with a heavy floor-tom and splashing cymbals. Growing up I loved watching Anna Prior from Metronomy, or Stella Mozgawa from Warpaint as incredible female drummers. Watching Stella definitely encouraged me to be more experimental in my own drumming, and branch out from letting the hi-hat and snare dictate my own drumming patterns.

How are you connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
We (David) have done a few live sessions on Instagram and Facebook, but it’s so far removed from how we sound live that we’ve tried to engage through other means. We were a part of the Stay Home independent artists’ album earlier in 2020, and have done a few Instagram live interviews. But mainly we try to share our friends’ music as much as possible – I think getting support and recognition from other artists has been really important for loads of bands over the past 12 months. 

And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, throughout these strange times?
I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and reading more over lockdown – I’ve just finished ‘Blonde Roots’ by Bernardine Evaristo, which I’d recommend! I think I’ve actually used this unintended break from music as an opportunity to engage more in other interests, rather than trying to force musical creativity. As a drummer living in a flat, it’s a little tricky to keep playing anyway, so I had to form new routines. In terms of motivation though, I’m definitely counting down to when we can play live and go to gigs again, and I think we’ll all value live music so much more after its 18 month absence!

How do you feel the music industry is for new artists at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
It seems like it’s always difficult to get noticed, but particularly at the moment. Social media is so heavily saturated with content it’s really hard to cut through, which is why we prefer to focus on live gigs and put on a real show. I think the key thing is not expecting people will just come to you, but reaching out instead – we’re pretty shameless in tagging and messaging BBC Intro, Steve Lamacq and big bands etc on Instagram, and sometimes it pays off! You just have to be super proactive if you’re trying to get industry recognition, but obviously if you’re just doing it for fun then you can do whatever you like!

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists that you’d recommend we check out?
It’s pretty bad to think that, over the two years we’ve been gigging, we’ve probably only played with a handful of bands with other women in, but I’m really hoping that will change! I’d definitely recommend listening to Maya Law – she’s an incredibly talented upcoming musician and brilliant lyricist. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Liz Lawrence, she’s such a warm character both on stage and on record, and writes in a really frank and authentic way, which I think often gets taken for granted in the current music landscape. You should definitely check both of them out!

Finally, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for Murman?
That’s a big open question but I can safely say that if gigs are back, we’ll do doing as many as we can! We’re also releasing our music video for ‘Achilles’ in a month or so, so keep an eye out for that. Hopefully we’ll also be able to release another single later in the year, and play a few more gigs outside the M25. Getting into more cities across the UK was our original plan for last summer, so we’ll definitely be making the most out of the freedom we have to play again, to as many people as possible. For now, I’ll have to make do with my podcasts and David’s regular WhatsApp voice notes. 

Huge thanks to Abbi for answering our questions!

 

‘Achilles’, the latest single from Murman, is out now. Listen on Spotify.

LISTEN: Bitch Falcon – ‘Martyr’

A savage blend of visceral vocals, grungy guitars and powerhouse percussion, Dublin trio Bitch Falcon have shared their latest single ‘Martyr’. The third single to be lifted from their debut album Staring At Clocks, which is set for release via Brighton label Small Pond on 6th November, the band effortlessly combine the racing energy of post-punk beats with the melodic elements of grunge on this new offering.

“Nigel’s drumming reminds me of Warpaint in this, it has such a bounce to it,” explains Bitch Falcon’s vocalist and guitarist Lizzie Fitzpatrick. “I tried to span my vocals from soft to cord-ripping, a bid to show the aggression in the song.” Fitzpatrick’s ability to deliver soft lines and ear-shredding screams at the flick of a switch is what makes ‘Martyr’ such a powerful tune. Underscored by Nigel Kenny’s heavy yet buoyant drumming and Barry O’Sullivan’s brooding bass lines, the single demands repeated listens to fully appreciate each of these formidable elements.

Listen to ‘Martyr’ below and follow Bitch Falcon on bandcamp, Spotify and Facebook for more updates.

 

Order Bitch Falcon’s debut album Staring At Clocks here.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: Julia-Sophie

Describing herself as finally finding her “hullabaloo within the storm”, new electronic artist Julia-Sophie shared her mesmerising debut EP, Y?, last week, and we cannot stop listening to it.

Y? is a sublime four track record of emotionally intelligent, electrifying electronica. Music which builds and layers, over and over, resulting in an almost painfully blissful experience; much like listening to a Gazelle Twin record. Julia-Sophie is clearly an artist who has a solid understanding of producing sound, removing boundaries and letting music speak for itself.

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 Julia-Sophie to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that influenced her own writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch the video for her single ‘x0x’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Thom Yorke – ANIMA
I’ve been listening to a lot of Thom Yorke this last year and feel very drawn into his latest album ANIMA. For me, it feels dark and tender and addresses emotional holes in my life. I’m attracted to his lyrics that have a dreamlike quality, like a stream of consciousness; like a beautiful nightmare. I love the way the album floats through unease as it slips and slides all over the place without ever becoming boring. It’s a left of centre electronic album with jabbing pulses, syncopated rhythms, spring loaded grooves and wheezy synths surging in waves; I love how effortless it all feels. I only dream of making music with that apparent ease. I love feeling like I can hear his whole creative process. The album makes me feel like I’m listening to art, like a sculptor mastering textures and layers; as I drift off the album catches me unawares. I love it and can’t recommend it enough.

2. James Blake – Assume Form
James has an infectious take on post-dubstep and downtempo, minimalistic electronica. His vocals are otherworldly, airy and his productions boundary-breaking. When the way that you relate to the world becomes difficult I look for artists who express emotions that I cannot; that I am searching for. I felt particularly connected to this album; it is melancholic yet hopeful. The record is full on emotion, and like all the best things in life, it doesn’t reveal itself immediately; it deserves time. As a producer, his sounds make me want to explore the record further and as I do, I capture themes that I didn’t quite grasp the first time round. When I feel dulled by emotion and trauma, James’ music makes me feel safe; his music makes me feel like I’m being held; arms wrapped around me delicately; all unencumbered by musical form. The guests on this album are incredible and are definitely worth revisiting, most notably Moses Sumney’s performance on ‘Tell Them’ blows me away. There’s definitely something particularly special about this album.

3. Art School Girlfriend – Into The Blue Hour
I’m not sure where or how I first came across Polly Mackey, aka Art School Girlfriend (knowing me, I was probably stalking Paul Epworth’s Wolftone Records as I’m a guilty Glass Animals and Harry Edwards fan). Art School Girlfriend self-produces music that for me shares the hypnotic euphoria of trance music. Her ability to create surreal, ethereal bodies of work laced with moodiness not only blows my mind and inspires me, but also gives me feelings of lustfulness and space; within this space I find myself free to think, feel, bend and reflect. I love that place she takes me to. Her music is all very dreamlike but packed with emotion and feels as menacing as it does beautiful. As someone who loves and is obsessed with electronic sounds, I love her use of electronica and only dream to be able to create hazy soundscapes like her, that are tied together with an innate pop understanding. Her music to me, feels quite sad and melancholic, but all tinged with beauty and mystery; it draws me in. Definitely music worth escaping to (plus she has a really cute dog, so what’s not to love about her and her music?)

4. TT (Theresa Wayman) – Lovelaws
I was never a huge Warpaint fan, not because I didn’t like them, but because I was late to the party. Warpaint’s music was so big that it seeped into my life all the same, always playing in the background at friend’s houses or in cafés, and so I’ve always had a wispy notion of their sound. When I heard Warpaint’s Theresa Wayman’s solo debut, I guess because I’ve become more into electronic music than guitar-led music, I was immediately drawn in. Her vocals felt intimate and her use of electronica excited me. This debut record feels really honest; where she explores themes of motherhood, isolation and romances. Her songs are dreamy and I feel she allows me to dream with her; the sound of skin on skin, she journeys fragile threads of human connections and makes me feel a certain sense of companionship and loneliness, all given in equal weight. The album never overpowers; it is warm and comforting: its songs mutate in ways that are unexpected and offer different kinds of rewards. She reminds me that we are all human, obsessing, disconnecting, passionate and jealous. I love her and this record for it.

5. Double Negative – Low
I first discovered this record at my local record store, Truck Music Store in Oxford, as they made it their album of the year. I remember Carl who works behind the counter waving it to me as I asked for recommendations. He was telling me about this album and I loved it from the get go. It’s an immensely creative, ambitious, warped slowcore album that takes you on an experimental journey from start to finish. It’s a radical record in many ways, creating all kinds of atmospheres; sometimes through drone and then also through using song as a conduit. It thumps, crackles and hums, is as oblique in its nature as it is haunting and on first listen sent shivers through me. I was hooked; I found myself lost in its noise, its darkness and heartbreak and yet the album somehow made me feel good even when I was falling apart.

Thanks to Julia-Sophie for sharing her favourites. Listen to her EP here.
Follow Julia-Sophie on Instagram for more updates.

LISTEN: Harkin – ‘Nothing The Night Can’t Change’

Inspired by the chaos and the romanticism of a night out in a UK city, multi-talented musician Harkin has shared her latest single, ‘Nothing the Night Can’t Change’. The track is lifted from her debut self-titled album, which is set for release on 24th April via Hand Mirror.

The new single features Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa, and Bon Iver’s Jenn Wasner. Speaking about her collaborators, Harkin explains: “Jenn and Stella were both old tour friends of mine, but had never met before our recording session together. By the end of day one, they were finishing each other’s jokes. [They] are as good as it gets, and I’m hugely grateful.” Harkin’s talent for collaboration extends even further, as she co-founded the label she’ll be releasing her debut record on (Hand Mirror), with her partner; poet and live arts organiser Kate Leah Hewett.

“What we did by the light of the fridge cannot be undone” sings Harkin mid-way through on ‘Nothing The Night Can’t Change’, prompting a plethora of scandalous images for her listeners. “Anyone that’s been on a night out in Leeds, or any of those places [in the UK] knows all the switches get flipped after dark” Harkin says. She explores these moments over rolling guitar riffs, thudding percussion, and smooth vocals.

Harkin will tour across Europe over the next few months supporting both Sleater-Kinney & Torres. Listen to ‘Nothing The Night Can’t Change’ below, and follow Harkin on Facebook & Spotify.

Photo Credit: Tomm Roeschlein

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut