Home-spun and home-made is the mood that John Myrtle captures on his debut mini-album Myrtle Soup. Written and recorded over various lockdowns, Myrtle set about to capture the feeling of longing and loneliness through tales of actors in love and human-detesting spiders. The name of the album came from the warmth and comfort brings about, and the warmth of this album is its greatest asset.
Paying homage to the recording techniques of the 60’s and 70’s that he embodies through his songwriting, Myrtle recorded the album on his tape machine at home. And thanks to the natural vibrance that this sound brings Myrtle is able to make his songs feel utterly timeless. His use of sound design on the instrumentals “On The Hob” and “Soups Up” is captivating in its simplicity. The dancing synth melodies and fluttering vocals capture the tender glow of an evening spent inside.
The feeling of love is one that’s wrapped around this album with a tight bow. But more often than not Myrtle is lost in self doubt, questioning whether what he’s feeling to be genuine on the sunshine tinted “How Can You Tell If You Love Her?”. Although the chords may be bright there’s an underlying melancholy within the lyrics, putting on a façade to hide his truth. This sense of subtle sadness also appears on “Remember Holly Park” as Myrtle desperately grasps on to that last breaking string of love as he tries to bring back the memories of good times gone by.
The sound that Myrtle distills on this album is one he’s playing with since his early EP days. In our interview he said that he was inspired by 90’s Britpop, namely The La’s. And you can hear the flowing harmonies and glittering guitar of Lee Mavers and co throughout “Just Can’t Seem To Say Goodbye”. But Myrtle doesn’t just replicate this sound, he embodies whilst showcasing his ultimately likeable and jovial personality throughout.
At just under 30 minutes this mini-album is the perfect accompaniment to making you dinner in the evening. Offering a comforting and all-round joyous listen that grows with each and every listen, leaving you to bask in its radiance.
Anna Leone creates the type of music that immediately spellbinds you with its incredible natural aura and ability to encapsulate you through every subtle movement. Growing the youngest of five sisters in Stockholm, Anna sought comfort not always in people but the stories that are told through video games and comic books. The ever expanding stories of the Marvel & DC comics soon became a home away from the real world for Anna, becoming absorbed and surrounded by the deep and rich storytelling.
She first emerged back in 2018 with her dazzling debut EP Wandering Away, a collection of heartfelt and earnestly bright songs that showcased her tender vocal trance and carefully constructed sounds. She has since gone on to win at the 2020 Music Moves Talent Awards and yesterday announced her long awaited debut album I’ve Felt All These Things, set to be released on September 10th via AllPoints/ Half Awake. We spoke to Anna over a very temperamental phone connection to learn all about her journey as an artist and what the album means to her.
Over what sort of time and whereabouts was the album recorded?
I recorded it two years ago now, between 2018 and 2019, I feel like I’ve lost track of time recently. I recorded it in LA with Paul Butler as a producer and we went in in instalments since I’m from Sweden. I don’t have a visa or anything so I went there twice for the album and then we went back again. It was very much a back and forth situation from LA to Stockholm.
Has sitting on the album for so long made you want to go back and change anything at all?
I haven’t dared to listen to it again! I want to be able to disconnect from it a little bit. Mainly because during the album process I was so wrapped up in it. And I think it’s still quite painful in a way for me to listen back to it, so I want to distance myself as much as possible so that I’m not a wreck when I sing the songs live or talk about them. And everything that has to do with marketing the project, I want to feel a little bit more disconnected than I’m able to be.
Is that due to themes of the album and what you were writing about around that time?
I love the album and I’m really proud of what Paul an I did together and everyone else involved within the album process. I’m really proud of the album and of the songs. But I’m so emotionally attached to the songs as they’re a mix of reminding me things that I felt at the time. I was going through depression when I wrote it and I’m still kind of in that space right now so just reliving those songs feels kind of tough. But also I think the music is really healing for me and painful at the same time so it’s a double edged sword.
Did writing these songs help you overcome what you were feeling at the time?
Yes, they didn’t solve anything at all but I think they were comforting at the time. It’s also cathartic sorting through your emotions as well. Being able to put it on the page helps you to analyse and see the situation clearer. And discovering what you’re feeling as well.
In the video for “Still I Wait” you’re all in this refurbished hospital showing people separated, was that inspired by last year or was that planned before?
The idea from it came from Savannah Setten, the director. It was after COVID hit but before the isolation aspect of it started. But the song in itself has also always represented that feeling so it felt natural to show it in the visual way that we did. But it also coincided with the pandemic so it was a real coincidence.
Do you think that now the last year has happened, there’s been a new meaning been placed on the song?
Yeah I think maybe more the video and the song together. I think when I looked back at it I thought “Oh this is actually sensitive of what’s going on”. Everyone is talking more about connection nowadays and how people find connection and who we become without it. So I think that’s an interesting perspective that we have now that we might have not had before.
Did you find yourself finding a connection with yourself on the album as well as other people?
Yeah the album is definitely very centered around myself but also loneliness and how that can manifest itself. And how you can try to reach out to other people and love them other people but also making sure you can love yourself.
You’ve said before you’re a fan of the DC and Marvel comics, what drew you to them originally? And how long have you been reading those?
It started when I used to watch them on Sunday morning cartoons. The old Justice League and X-Men shows. I grew up with that so I’ve always been a fan of those universes. I think comics-wise it started with Batman by Frank Miller so it was the really dark stories. That’s what drew me to them, the realism, the gritty, the really deep questions of “Why are they vigilantes?”. Then with the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe I’ve been really into that.
Does the storytelling from the darker side of the comics influenced the stories you tell within your songs?
It’s what I find interesting about it. The stories are about superheroes but it’s also about the person behind them and what a human does in extreme situations and the extreme emotions they face and the weight of responsibility. I think the emotional turmoil behind that life is really interesting. So I guess that’s what inspires me in that way. It’s also something I find really exciting, but I don’t think it’s the exciting side that translates more to my music, more the psychological aspect.
Who would you say would be some of your other biggest influences for your sound?
Bob Dylan and Laura Marling I think about a lot. I’m really drawn to these singer-songwriters who really explore different sounds with the guitar and that can be really sparse and have a raw feeling with their songs. They don’t have to rely on production, it’s just a beautiful song within itself. I’ve always loved the strings that Lana Del Rey uses, how she creates this cinematic universe with her sound. It feels like you’re stepping into her world.
Is creating a world within your songs something you try to achieve?
Yeah definitely. I think that’s a great goal of mine, to be able to lose yourself within the songs. You can almost drift off in a way. A lot of people have told me that they fall asleep to my songs! Which is fun haha. They’ve said it’s because I have a soothing voice and I like that idea that you’re entranced in a way. It’s not something that you put on in the background, you’re present in the music.
It’s almost entering a meditative state where the music is relaxing you.
Yeah I think that it’s a cool thing to represent.
Originally you never intended to release your own music, rather just playing it for yourself. What brought you to the point of deciding to release your own music?
I never thought that I would become an artist because despite listening to folk singers like Simon & Garfunkel or other people I looked up to, I saw the word “artist” as something that I wasn’t and something that I couldn’t be. Mainly because I felt very introverted and I thought that to be a singer and to release music you have to be a certain kind of extroverted person. So that’s why I didn’t picture myself in that industry. I don’t know exactly what changed but I guess it was me creating my own music and feeling that “well maybe I should give this a go”. After that both my sisters connected me in different directions. And then I started working with Mica Elig, my partner in crime right now and who has been for a few years. He’s really supportive and very ambitious and he’s driving me to get out of my comfort zone in a good way.
Is coming out of your comfort zone something you try to do often when writing songs?
I think my main thing is that I shouldn’t hold back when I’m writing. I shouldn’t think too much about how the song will be received or thinking “I can’t write this because it’s too honest”. I feel as if I should just write for myself, as if it was never going to be released. And then I just release it! Otherwise it would just feel like I’m holding myself back in that sense.
What’s it been like releasing this music at the moment without having any shows to support it?
It’s weird because you kind of need that exposure that you get from live shows. So from a business perspective it’s much harder to get the songs out there. But I’m really afraid of the stage and I have stage fright, so for me it’s been kind of nice in a way to release music and be able to have that be the main way that people consume the songs. That’s my main way of delivering emotions. I was looking forward to touring and meeting people and performing the songs live because that’s a whole different world for me.
You get that connection from people. But at the same time people appreciate the album as what it is as that’s all they can have.
It’s nice that people can dive into it that way.
I’ve Felt All These Things is out September 10th via AllPoints/ Half Awake, pre-order here.
Anna Leone has today shared new single “Remember”, along with the announcement of her debut album I’ve Felt All These Things, which is set to be released on September 10th via AllPoints / Half Awake. The album will also feature previously released singles “Once”, “Still I Wait” and “Wondering”.
Through dancing plucked chords Leone tries to understand a long lost connection. “Did you lie to me in your sleep?” she asks on the chorus as her impassioned vocals fall and rise. As the layers of pianos and drums slowly creep in you can’t help but become lost in Leone’s heartfelt natural aura.
For as much as many aspects of the music world have been delayed or seem to be coming together at at their own pace, Chloe Foy takes that to the extreme. Originally releasing her debut single “In The Middle Of The Night” way back in 2013, Foy has spent the majority of the last decade carefully building up an admiring fan base through her string of singles and festival slots, namely SXSW in 2018, Greenman and Cambridge Folk Festival in 2019. For Foy though her musical journey has been over a lifetime. Originally training in classical music, she then moved onto more “modern” styles of playing music, beginning to slowly craft her way as a singer-songwriter through open-mic nights and support tours with the likes of Jesca Hoop.
Where Shall We Begin feels like a summation of everything Foy has built up to this point. It captures her natural aura through its swooning and serene ballads. Detailing the loss she felt of loosing her father at a young age whilst also offering a light in the darkest days. And it radiates with a natural flair of ambient joy, drawing you in with its carefully planned guitar movements and sweeping string sections all whilst Foy serenades with her ever dazzling and encapsulating vocals. We caught up with Chloe to learn all about her journey up to this point.
How long has the album been in the works?
Quite a long time actually! I’ve been doing music now for a good while and I’ve always wanted to do an album. But it’s about having the resources to be able to do it. The songs on the album are kind of a variety, as it’s pulling together songs from what feels like a long time as well as more recent songs. I started recording it in early 2019 and then I did a few more songs at the beginning of 2020. So it was ready to go at the beginning of 2020, but then it wasn’t the best time to put it out. So it feels like it’s been a long time coming.
Have any of the older songs changed over this time or are they fairly true to what they originally were?
One in mind when I talk about older songs is “Bones”. It’s the same in its core and its structure, but the arrangement changed for it. I’d never really played it with a fuller arrangement, it had only been me and an acoustic guitar before. So it was really nice to add elements to it. I’d had ideas for it over the years so it was nice to bring those to life.
Has the album been almost a documentation of your life over all these years?
Yeah I think so in many ways. I suppose the main theme of the album is the fallout of having lost my dad quite young. So the songs are often touching on those themes but they were written at different times. It’s a reflection of that grief that people go through. It’s not all about that, but a lot of the subject matter was triggered from there. “Where Shall We Begin” for example isn’t necessarily about that, but the questions posed by it are a result of having lost someone. And the more recent songs have a more hopeful tone and are focused on the people I have in my life now. It definitely marks a journey in that way.
Has the album evolved with you?
Absolutely in so many ways. Whether it’s the themes it touches on and the subject matter and my ability to process those things in the way I write as well. And also my journey through the recording process as there’s always a bit of a learning curve. When you first step into a studio you can be quite daunted by it, or at least I was. But the process of recording a full length record and the environment in which we did it, at Penthouse Sound Studio in Manchester, I think really enabled me to grow a bit and gave me a comfortable space to experiment with what I like to do in the studio as i’d not really had that before.
Did working with the producers and other musicians involved help you realise what you wanted the songs to be?
Yeah definitely as that’s part of the process. I co-produced it with Harry Falson-Smith and we worked on demoing the songs out prior to getting to the studio, otherwise I think that they’re can be a lot of pressure when you get into the studio. If you don’t really have some framework or plan then that can sometimes be a really nice thing and make for a really nice process. But other times it’s better to go in with some idea. So that process of demoing them out did help me to realise what I wanted in the songs.
With the main theme of the album focusing on your dad’s passing, do you feel that your parents have influenced the album in others ways? Even musically?
Yeah absolutely. My parents weren’t ever musicians themselves but they were big fans of music, my mum still is. I’ve got slightly older parents for my age, they were teenager of the late 60’s and early 70’s. So as a result I ended up listening to quite a lot of that classic song-craft. There wasn’t anything wildly interesting about them really, but they had a good a good canon of people to choose from. It was Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell which sound a bit obvious now, but that’s what they grew up with. And then The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, people like Elvis Costello. And a lot of blues music was played in the house so that was my base really, before I started to go off and find my own interests and artists that I loved. So they definitely influenced where I’m at musically.
Did those artists influence your writing in anyway being the first people you listened to?
I think they must have been, actually more subconsciously. At the time that I was writing as a teenager I was listenting to all sorts and I was very much into reading the NME and it was the time when indie bands were having a bit of a resurgence. Bands like The View and people like that. I also remember loving Katie Tunstall. So I think those classic songwriters like Dylan and Mitchell influenced my songwriting sensibilities, but as a teenager I don’t think I was appreciating them. I was looking for my own path and I still am, but I always end up going back to those more classic songwriters.
Aside from them, who or what is the biggest influences for your songwriting?
I find myself always referring to fellow female musicians of today. They inspire me a lot because of what they’re doing and the visibility of what they’re doing. People like Sharon Van Etten, Jesca Hoop and Bedouine. Kate Stables from This Is The Kit. All of those people are the inspire me now but as well you’re constantly discovering new things as well. I’m also very much a people watcher so i’m very interested by people and their interactions with the world. So observing what’s going on around me and then definitely the world around us in terms of the natural world. Especially in the last year, it’s been particularly helpful in lots of ways.
Did you reconnect with natural world this past year?
Yeah definitely. I grew up in the middle of nowhere in the countryside. And then for last 8 years i’ve been living in Manchester. Covid meant then that I moved out of Manchester and was back in the countryside in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire and it’s been a real source of solace. It always had been but i’d never taken the time to make sure i was in nature often and it’s incredibly soothing, you can find peace so easily. There’s no judgement from a bird is there? Haha. So it’s an easy place to be.
Do you think that natural connection is something we need as humans?
Absolutely, I think so. It’s one of things where it feels like a lightbulb moment but it’s also been really obvious. I always knew that and I’ve grown up in a family that really have an appreciation for the natural world and they’re all country bumpkins. But it’s that realisation at the moment of “This was totally obvious all along”. And it makes sense that we as humans need to take it back to basics a bit as it’s all got a bit convoluted, so our focuses are on slightly strange things compared to what they should be as humans. We’re not feeding our souls as much as we should be.
We just need to settle down really!
So you have a background in classical music as well, when did that begin?
Quite early on. That’s actually where I started I suppose. My parents always wanted to give me the chance to play so they got together what money they had and put that towards me going to this Saturday school when I was about 5. I didn’t pick up an instrument until I was 8 because the Saturday school was a classical music school, but it was all about learning rhythm and movement through music at a really tiny age. So I picked up the cello when I was 8 and I suppose the informed a lot of my experiences through music, right through to when I went to university. I was playing in orchestra and singing in choirs, so in terms of performing music that was always my experience of it. But it’s funny because I wasn’t really engaging in that kind of music outside of that. I wasn’t actively going to listen to Vaughan-Williams unless I needed to for homework. So it’s been interesting because I’ve moved away from that since leaving university and I would like to do more of it, but going as far as university and doing wasn’t perhaps the best thing for me. I came out a singer-songwriter who was happier doing open mic nights in Manchester than I was playing the cello. But it certainly informs the way I arrange songs, the harmonies I use and my love for a lot of vocal harmonies and the use of strings, that kinda thing. It’s ever present. And the way I use melody as well and the way I choose to resolve, is perhaps informed by that side of things.
How much of your classical background fed into the album?
There’s a song on the album called “And It Goes” and it has this moment where it strips back to just vocals and layered vocals. And that feels very inspired by that, not just in terms of the fact that there’s vocal harmonies, but in the way that the harmony is employed. I think i’ve ripped off a classical composer in the way that it moves because it’s quite a lullaby. But it’s fine when they’re not alive right?
Haha yeah sure, why not. They’re not gonna know.
But yeah the way the strings moves are quite classical.
“Work Of Art” is about having those connections with people in a room appreciating music. Does it feel nostalgic looking back at concerts now?
Yeah! Isn’t that strange? I don’t really know what it’s gonna be like when I do go back. And it’s strange to be looking back at only last year. I was lucky enough to tour at the beginning of last year before it all happened. There’s definitely a sense nostalgia.
What is it about people gathered in a place to appreciate art that makes it so magical?
I’ve never put it into words. But I think it’s the thing that gave me the bug, even when I was performing in a more classical sense as a kid. Maybe it’s because I’m a Leo and I like to be the centre of attention secretly haha. There’s just something about that exchange. And even when i’m watching music there’s something so moving about music and it’s the fact that you’re all experiencing it together collectively. And again it’s about getting to the root of what makes us all human. It’s become apparent to me, especially in the last year that that is collective experience as we’ve almost become shadows of our former selves without the ability to exchange with one another. Wether that’s the ability to just talk about something to each other face to face. Experiencing art is great, but experiencing it with other people, you don’t even have to be talking about it, but there’s something about the presence of a lot of people in a room. There’s studies about the psychological impact of it, people experiencing something together communally. And also if there’s shared themes then you’re bound to be connecting with someone on some level subconsciously. Either you’ve gone through the same thing that that person is singing about, or you interpret from it what you can.
At the core of it is just having those connections with people.
Yeah absolutely. And it doesn’t need to be as literal as people talking in a room. We can be an audience facing a band and that can be a moment of communication.
How are you feeling about getting back to playing shows? Are you nervous or excited?
A bit of both essentially. It’s really strange announcing shows for one because I think I, along with a lot of fellow musicians this year, have gotten out of the habit of getting hopeful because we’ve been let down so many times. It’s weird knowing that that’s on the horizon in October for me. But there’s part of your brain going “But is it really going to happen?”. I’m just really excited to get back in a room playing. For me doing this as a job is wonderful, but it’s not fulfilled completely unless you get to go out and share it with people. There is part of me that’s a little apprehensive because I think everything has changed now and I don’t know how it will be to interact. It will probably be fine because humans are amazing and resilient, but I’m very sensitive to people who are more reticent to go out and interact with people.
Finally, if anything, what would be something you would change about the music industry?
The word “democratic” keeps coming to mind. I would free it from the grips of big corporations and make it a little fairer in that way. The majority of it is still a preserve of people who can afford to do it. People who can afford to live in London for nothing whilst they pursue their music career. And I would say it’s not very accessible, so across the popular music industry and the classical music industry I would love it if more people could access it and experience it. Not to say that everyone should make a career out of it, but they have the chance at it.
Where Shall We Begin is out now, available to stream everywhere and buy here.
Maple Glider aka Tori Zietsch has today shared new single “Baby Tiger” from her upcoming album To Enjoy Is The Only Thing, set to be released on June 25th via Partisan Records. This follows on from “Good Thing“, “Swimming” and “As Tradition”, released earlier in the year.
Encapsulated by lo-fi guitars the new single is even more stripped back the Zietch’s previous offerings. Her hauntingly beautiful vocal flows and falls with an undying intimacy.
Speaking on the new single Zietsch said:
“‘Baby Tiger” was written soon after I’d returned home from Brighton. I was really struggling with my mental health, but I was going out and kind of using dating as a distraction from dealing with it. It never really worked. I’d just end up feeling worse when I was alone. Coriander hates closed doors. She’ll always want to know what you’re doing on the other side. It kind of became comforting to hear her scratch at my door. It was something that felt constant and unwavering and regular at a time when I was a bit vacant. Her energy made me feel lighter. I’m very detached from the ‘man’ I address in the song, but I beg for him to comfort me. Though I am feeling unwell, I am pretty certain that it is temporary. I know that ‘I’ll come back to me soon.’ My housemate says she sees this as a kind of happy song because it features Coriander, and I really love that perspective, because even though I was in a bad place when I wrote it, there is an element of hopefulness.”
John Myrtle has today shared new single “Spider On The Wall”, the third track from his upcoming debut mini-album Myrtle Soup which is set to be released on June 18th via Sad Club Records. The new single follows on from “How Can You Tell If You Love Her?” and “Get Her Off My Mind”. Revisit our interview with John here to learn about the creation of the upcoming album.
Filled with a natural warmth, the new single radiates the homely energy that has been found all over Myrtle’s latest singles. With its organically catchy melody and swinging groove you’ll be sure to have this track stuck in your head all day.
Francesca Brierley aka heka exists in a world of her own. A place that borders between gently plucked guitars one moment, gliding synthetic harmonies the next and then landing back down on a subtly immersive bed of beats. There’s not a moment that you’re listening and you don’t feel lost in the soundscapes and rich sonic palettes that seem to dance and twirl around the melodic mountains she creates. She’s now returning with her latest project since 2019’s Other Drugs EP, in the form of (a) EP, released today via Ballon Machine Records. We caught up with heka to learn where she draws sonic influence from, the story behind the EP and her parallel growth with Bon Iver.
Over what time and whereabouts was the EP recorded?
Mostly in my bedroom over there! (Points to desk) I had some demos of the songs that were from different times but I started recording the new versions in October. I was doing uni stuff as well so I was pretty much just in front of my laptop all the time haha. It was during the lockdown, so pretty boring just me and the old laptop.
So the songs on the EP are older songs that you re-recorded?
“(a) dab” is probably the oldest one at 4 or years old and “(a) mask” and “(a) wall” are about two years old. So they weren’t the newest things that I’d written but they were songs that I’d been wanting to record as a bunch for a while and finally it happened! I always feel like with everything I do I plan something and then two years later it finally gets done.
Going back over them after so long did you change anything drastically? Or are they fairly true to their original form?
I think the one that changed the most was “(a) wall”. Mostly because it wasn’t just me working on it, I collaborated with Ed Tullet on the arrangement. So the way he interpreted it was different and I thought “Oh that’s really cool, let’s take it into this direction”. I was a bit scared at the beginning about going back into having to figure out these songs again, as I had them in my head as what i’d recorded in the demos. You have to deconstruct that a bit to think “What is good to keep and what is just my lazy brain thinking that this is the only way this can be done”. So I was a bit scared that I wouldn’t understand them anymore and I wouldn’t understand the version of me that had written those at the time. I think the fact that I was recording alone in the dark like a vampire probably helped recreate that connection of intimacy with the songs even though it felt distant at the beginning.
With the main theme of the songs being about relationships, was it weird looking back and seeing how you viewed those situations then?
It’s definitely always that sense of “Oh god” haha. A lot of the stuff I write is personal and it’s a snapshot of a very specific time that I write in. It’s like looking back at old pictures and thinking “Oh god what are you wearing!”. It’s a very funny thing, but I didn’t feel too far away from them that I couldn’t relate to them anymore. That was a worry a little bit.
Is your songwriting more diaristic or therapeutic?
Definitely therapeutic for me to write in general. I think it’s probably a survival situation where I would be insane if I didn’t write haha. But it is also diaristic in the sense that it’s conversations that I’ve had in my head or things that I want to say and I can’t. It just comes from my everyday life I guess.
What was the story behind “(a) dab”?
It’s mostly about when you’re in love with someone and it’s unrequited, so you fall into this pattern of addiction to that person and addiction to the situation and it’s this whole toxic thing going on. I had this very visual idea of the lyrics. I had this scene in my head and I wrote it down which is not something I do very often so I don’t know where it came from. But it was just trying to express that feeling of helplessness and also wanting to be helpless which is what’s the most fucked up about those situations haha.
The song structures for the EP begin with electronic samples and field recordings and then transition into the ‘folky’ ballads. What’s it about those combination of sounds that draws you to them?
I think that’s partly the fact that I went and revisited the songs that were initially very folky and I wanted to create this tapestry of sound that’s a bit more current for me in what I like to listen to and what I like to make. So it was me trying to make those songs more contemporary to how I felt and what I liked. I don’t know if it’s something I accomplished but I really love when there’s a collection of songs, whether it’s an EP or an album and you feel like you’re on this journey where all of the tracks are connected. It’s like a mini symphony. I remember when 22, A Million by Bon Iver came out, that completely changed my life. I remember thinking “Oh my god, this is exactly what I want!”. I want the tracks to feel cohesive and part of something organic and fall into one another. Which is probably the conscious part of why there’s an ambient connection between the songs.
Did Bon Iver influence the folk side of your sound as well?
I have this really funny relationship with Bon Iver where I feel like we’ve grown up together. We haven’t though haha! But I feel like the stages that I found myself at within songwriting were the same as his. When he was doing the more folky side of things I was definitely doing more folky sounding things. And then I gradually evolved into something a bit more hybrid, which was the same with him. He definitely influenced me, but I feel like I was ready to be influenced by him in that specific time. I was like “Yeah you get it! This is what I’ve been trying to say”. So that’s why I love him so much as I have this ‘in my mind’ connection to him in a way.
Are there any other artists who also inspire, even just for the sound?
I’m always really bad at this question. I really like Feist, James Blake and Alt-J. I was really obsessed with Laura Marling at a certain point. But at the same time I don’t say “Oh I’m really inspired by this person I’m gonna do the same thing that they’re doing”. I just really appreciate what they’re doing. It almost feels like we’re contemporaries and we like the same things and I think “Oh you get it”. I don’t know to what extent they influence me, I think I’m influenced by all sorts of stuff. I listen to a lot of different genres and my discover weekly on Spotify tries to keep up but I can tell that they’re struggling haha. There’s house music and then classical, hip-hop or folk or rock. I really like a lot of different things so I can never say for certain what exactly goes into what I make.
It’s interesting you said Laura Marling because especially with her latest album the key part I took away from it was there’s a lot of harmonies. With quite a few of your tracks harmonies play a key part, is that something you try to build in or just the way you write?
So I feel that doing harmonies is probably the most natural thing that I think of when i record. I think it comes from early days of trying to figure out Logic for the first time and what can actually make a song sound better. Just having more voices because it’s the only thing I know how to do haha! At the beginning you play with your voice as a singer and think “Okay this is how I can enrich this sound and this is what I can do”. It’s just kind of stayed I guess. I like to use the voice not just as a vocal. It’s corrupting it haha. So the sound of the voice and making into something that isn’t the voice. In “(a) wall” there’s a line of a really high pitched sound. I don’t know that it’s immediately obvious that it’s a voice, I mean I know. But I thought “How can I make this sound like some weird synth that you don’t know what it is?” but it’s actually a vocal. I think that’s really interesting to play around with the vocals and sound because they just make everything better.
Is that manipulation of sound something you try to achieve in each song? Are there any more easter eggs hidden throughout?
I like to manipulate the sound into something a bit weird. Sometimes when I’ve recorded with other people I’ll be like “Make it darker!” and they’ll say “You can’t hear this now!”. So I have a bit of a weird idea of how things sound and I’ve certainly learnt how not to make everything dark and weird, but I do enjoy it.
There’s a moment in “(a) mask” with this eerie synthesiser that takes a turn from the rest of the song, do you try and hide those eerie moments in there?
I feel like the eeriness comes naturally to me. I don’t necessarily try and be eerie but it just happens. I don’t know that I always love it but I definitely recognise that it happens. It wasn’t on purpose, I think I found these sounds that are cool then afterwards looked at it and thought “Oh that’s really eerie”.
Is there a reason you chose to use the simplistic title of (a)? Or is it from the songs?
It’s from the songs. I like patterns where “Oh these three things are the same and that’s not” so let’s just call it that. So it’s really just a joke.
Your music has been described as entering VR. Do you agree with that? And does virtual reality influence your music at all?
I don’t necessarily write with VR in mind. I’m just about to finish my degree which is in computational art so I do think about that stuff a bit as I do it at uni and enjoy that aesthetic of it a bit. But I definitely think my songwriting is personal intimate stuff rather than technology. I think it comes from trying to explain the idea behind why I don’t necessarily love being pigeonholed in one genre. I like the hybridity of producing music that sounds a bit in-between things. So I guess the relationship between VR and reality being in-between worlds maybe has something to do with that.
With shows hopefully on the horizon, what’s it been like releasing this music without shows to back it up?
It’s been a bit strange. I’ve been quite lucky that a few people have asked me to play in June out of the blue but I don’t have a release gig booked which is usually what I’ll do so that’s strange. I don’t mind having gigs that aren’t necessarily release gigs and just playing the stuff. Hopefully it happens now, I’m itching to play now!
What’s your usual live set up?
It’s usually just me and my loop pedal. I had really wanted to put together a small band for this project and in general I feel like it’s a lot more fun and you’re not alone. You get to share music ideas for arrangement and I think it would sound really cool so I’ve been wanting to do that. It hasn’t been the ideal time though yet, but it will be. I decided to release an EP on the last year of uni and this is my last month of uni so up until now I haven’t even been able to think about what I want to do in a live setting. But I would definitely like to have at least another one or two people to just balance it out.
Thinking back to Bon Iver’s live set up, is that electronic set up of thousands of pedals something you’d want to have?
Yeah! I went to see him in Edinburgh on the tour of 22, A Million and it was so cool. He had this tiny stage above the main stage where he had all his equipment. And all the other musicians were surrounded by equipment and they all work like cyborgs where they’ve got one instrument with 200 keys. So that’s definitely the 10 year plan. For now I quite like simple set ups. I get a bit apprehensive with having too many things to move around. I like to have that connection with the audience which isn’t just me frantically trying to figure out what button to press. I want to look at people and sing with them so that’s my priority, to have the time to connect. And have the mental capacity to focus on that. I like that loop pedal because of that because it’s really intuitive and adds that bit of atmosphere and that minimal arrangement lets me be in the room. And that’s why it would also be amazing to have other people play as it would mean then I can delegate some stuff, the sound would be rich but I wouldn’t have to think about all of it.
If anything, what would be something you’d like to change about the music industry?
There’s so many things. I was just talking to someone about this the other day and I was saying “How is it even legal to not pay musicians when you have live gigs”. Maybe their could be someone who says that’s actually illegal. I’ve been feeling this a lot recently, that we’re such a huge industry but there isn’t that class consciousness of musicians in the same way there is for other employments. Where you have rights and you fight for the rights of that specific job for example. It feels very disconnected. It’s a network but it’s hard to unionise and mobilise in the same way that other industries do.
So for example the whole thing with Spotify is absolutely insane if you think about it. It’s this illusion that we’ve all bought into. Don’t get me wrong I actually really love Spotify and it lets me find loads of music and it’s an easy to use app etc. But they have the money to pay everyone better, and they don’t. And we haven’t been able to do anything about it. It’s insane if you think about it. I would hope for a stronger class consciousness, for a stronger union of people that say “We’re not going to have this anymore”. And big acts saying “I’m gonna take all my music off my service if you don’t make changes”. If hundreds of big acts do that then it’s gonna get to the point where Spotify’s gonna say “Okay, you called my bluff!”. So why isn’t that happening? There’s really rich musicians that can afford to not be on Spotify and help make the change for the little guy. It’s not going to make a difference to them if i’m not on it. But for me it would mean less people get to listen to the music.
Chloe Foy has today shared new single “Work of Art”, the latest offering from her upcoming debut album Where Shall We Begin, which is set to be released on June 11th.
The new single has a timely release as Foy sings of music fans being joined together in a live setting on the week that music venues are allowed to re-open in the UK. Through blissful and melancholic instrumentation Foy captures that glorious feeling of sharing passion with others. As her melodic vocal line dances over the backdrop you’re immediately captured by the swaying beauty of the collective sound.
Speaking of the track, Foy said:
“For me, music can’t fulfil its true meaning without sharing it in a room with others. That is the magic. When I’m singing “Bodies glow, you’re a work of art”, I’m talking about music lovers together in a room.
“I had a bit of an epiphany while on tour with Jesca Hoop when I realised you’ve either got to let go and enjoy it or go through life never enjoying the moment. This was all because of this beautifully warm reception of the crowd each night and their willingness to take me as I was”.
Multidisciplinary artist heka has shared her latest single “(a) dab”, which is the second single from her forthcoming EP (a) which is set to be released on May 19th via Balloon Machine Records.
The new single builds through slow passages of distorted samples and echoing sounds until heka’s gentle plucked guitar taps in. Her vocal performance is emotive and vibrant whilst keeping in line with heka’s usual flairs of subtlety. It’s easy to get lost in this dreamy and intimate single on a rainy day, gazing out as the layers build and fall just like the rain outside.
Raised in the Italian hills but now residing in London, Francesca Brierley aka heka seeks to explore the connection between sound, space and memory by assembling recordings from different time zones and different eras to produce a compelling composite. Sharing a similarly haunting feel to its predecessor, heka’s flair for integrating found sound with her experimental folk comes to the fore here along with a grotesque lyrical quality.
Speaking on the track heka says:
“Sometimes being in love can feel like being on drugs. There is a similar kind of influence that we willingly, and then inevitably, accept to be under; where we choose to give ourselves up. “I guess there is a desire, in a sense, to be weak and vulnerable, and sometimes the wrong person can take advantage of that. This is what this song means to me.”
Smoothboi Ezra, the songwriting project of Greystones, Ireland based Ezra Williams, have today announced their new EP Stuck, set to be released on June 11th. They have also shared a tender new single of the same name with an accompanying music video directed by Arthur Studholme and starring non-binary couple El and Lauren.
Ezra’s latest EP ‘Stuck’ takes a closer look at the intricacies of relationships. Written during lockdown to a soundtrack of Angel Olsen, Soccer Mommy and Haley Heynderickx, the EP recalls a formative relationship with sensitivity and maturity scarcely attributed to young people. Speaking about the title track, Ezra says:
“‘Stuck’ is a song about being in a relationship with someone you care a lot about but you know it’s not going to work out. It’s an unsaid mutual agreement that you can feel the relationship ending but you’re both waiting on the other person to end it.”