John Myrtle on his new home-made, homely album

Photo by Marie Dutton

John Myrtle creates the kind of music that is infectiously catchy. Through home recordings he’s developed a style that both draws from the past whilst being simultaneously fresh, warm and welcoming. Upon the first listen of his music you soon realise that the melody is each songs core, and these melodies are sure to be swimming around your head for days. He released his debut EP Here’s John Myrtle in 2019 and now has returned with his latest singles “How Can You Tell If You Love Her?” and “Get Her Off My Mind”, both cuts from upcoming debut album Myrtle Soup. Exploring themes of longing and loneliness, the album is packaged like a tin of soup to bring some home comfort. We spoke to John to learn about the new album, his songwriting process and what he’s looking forward to in the days to come.

Over where and what time was this album written and recorded?

Part of it was written in London and the other part of it was written in Birmingham where i’m from originally. I feel like some of the songs which were written back at home are more reflective. I mean the ones in London are more just pop songs haha.

You used the album to document the last year or so within isolation. What were some of the themes you were trying to explore within that?

I think I wanted to have an album that would document it more so in the process and ways in which it didn’t talk about the pandemic. So there’s a song on there called “Spider On The Wall” in which I assume the identity of a spider. So I talk about being at home with this spider, seeing everything you do and the spiders just as repulsed by humans as humans are by spiders. So I guess it was more looking at observations from home in that way rather than just being sad about being locked in. Although there’s one called “Ballad Of The Rain” which is essentially about someone who’s isolated in their house and all they can do is look outside, and they think of a tune which the rain has created haha. There are a few instrumentals which have quite weird noises like bubble sounds which is supposed to be someone making a bowl of soup. It’s all home spun and the home spun nature of it has been amplified by the fact that everyone including myself has just been indoors.

Is that why you chose the name ‘Myrtle Soup’ for the album?

I guess so, I thought it fit quite nicely! And I thought it was quite funny to call it Myrtle Soup. It’s homely, everyone likes soup. I think.

What made you sing within these characters rather than have them be from a personal perspective?

Even the love songs are me assuming a character in a way. I try and be personal but I always end up imaging different situations. Writing as someone else or thinking of different situations which you might not have experienced yourself gives you creative freedom to do whatever you want. If you’re just writing from your own experiences then there comes a point where you go “Yeah but that didn’t happen to me” or “That place doesn’t really exist so I feel like a fraud, I can’t actually write this” so you stop. So pushing yourself out there to try different identities just helps you write songs.

A theme that appears in some of your songwriting, especially older tracks is love and feeling uncertain about it. Why is that something you tend to write about?

I love pop music, older pop music mainly. And I like love songs, I think that’s what i’ve always been drawn to the most because I like trying to relate my own experiences to those songs. But I always feel that songs that are so sure about love aren’t reflective of how people actually feel. Everyone likes to write their own film for themselves with their own feelings and their own story and I feel it’s good to question that or at least acknowledge that in some songs. There’s a song on the album actually on the album that talks about actors playing parts within love.

What were some of those songs that inspired this sound?

I like a lot of 80’s and 90’s indie bands. I really like The La’s, with “There She Goes”, but I guess they’re not normally like that focused on love. The Servants, Shack, I just like all that British rubbish. I like the Kinks and The Beatles. When I was just starting out to record my own music I went to do “How Can You Tell If You Love Her?” and I had the song and I thought “Well everyone goes into a studio right?”. So I booked to record at a studio and it just sounded awful and I just felt like theres a better way of doing it. So I realised that with Ween, a band I really like, a lot of their early albums are just recorded on tape and as stupid as it sounds I never really knew you could record things on tape on your own. So I started researching different recording methods you could do at home. So now i’m described as “a 60’s guy” but its just tape! Sometimes I do want to sound like 60’s people but not all the time.

Do you think discovering that ability to record at home unlocked more freedom within your songwriting?

Yeah with going to a studio there’s usually other people there, and I always behave differently with other people and I feel the way you interact with them is gonna have an impact on what you’re recording. Whether it’s your performance and you feel a bit self-conscious about singing. Whereas if you’re on your own you can just do stupid stuff. You can probably sound really bad to eventually get really good, just let your hair down. In the long run it’s also probably cheaper. I think as well everyone does record from home to a certain extent but it’s the use of tape that people are put off with. Especially some label people they just think it sounded so old. You either sound like a computer or you sound like tape. I’m just ranting now haha, but it’s like if you’re a painter and everyone’s saying “Everyone’s using MS Paint now, why are you using paintbrushes?”.

Another part of your sound is having a juxtaposition between the upbeat feel of a song and the downbeat mood of the lyrics. Do you sometimes try and hide the lyrics behind this sound?

Yeah usually I will get the tune first and the lyrics come next. I struggle to write lyrics so the tune and sound of a song will come first a lot of the time.

The video for “How Can You Tell If You Love Her?” has you singing back in your hometown, what was your reason for going back there to film it?

Lockdown haha! But also recently i’ve also embraced things other than boring London. It’s nice that i’m from a different place and I thought people haven’t seen Bourneville in a music video!

Without shows at the moment what’s it been like releasing this music not having them to back it up?

It’s sad. It’s a lot of just having plans for the future. Thinking “Maybe in a few months we’ll book a tour” but it until it actually happens it feels very much like pipe dreams. Which is the same as doing music anyway, having people listen to it is a bit of a pipe dream anyway so it’s just that amplified.

What do you think that first show back will be like?

I hope it sounds good! I think everyone’s gonna be going crazy, glasses thrown everywhere!

What’s something else you’re looking forward to doing once everything’s a bit freer?

There’s a pool club that I play pool in with my girlfriend and we’re obsessed with playing pool! I’m awful but this place is cheap and quite lowkey so we thought we’d get a members card, which just means you don’t pay for entry when you go in. It’s not some sort of exclusive club though haha. It’s really fun and i’ve really missed it. I’ve also really gotten into snooker during lockdown and there’s something comforting about having it on the screen with all the colours. So playing it will be next.

What are your hopes for the album and beyond?

Well I hope it puts smiles on faces! It’s only supposed to sooth and please. I just want to keep making good happy music with maybe a bit of sadness and a bit of weirdness thrown in. I just want to keep writing songs, I just enjoy the craft of songwriting and it’s really fun to learn more about it and to keep going and hopefully other people will come on the journey with me.

Myrtle Soup is released digitally on June 18th and on vinyl on September 17th via Sad Club Records, pre-order here.

Grandmas House are Bristol’s newest powerhouse of punk

Holy shit. That’s your initial reaction to hearing Grandma’s House for the first time. And every time after that. The Bristol based, surf-wave infused queer punk outfit have some of the hottest riffs coming out of the South West right now.

Made up of Yasmin Berndt (vocals, guitar), Poppy Dodgson (vocals, drums) and Zoë Zinsmeister (bass) this three piece delivers punchy, chaotic and unforgiving tracks that are as ferocious as they are introspective. Having played most of Bristols renowned venues such as The Louisiana, Rough Trade, Exchange, The Old England and appearing alongside big names like Stef Chura, Frankie Cosmos and Rita Lynch, they have secured themselves as a force to be reckoned with already. Yesterday they released “Small Talk”, a furiously raucous track that relishes the small talk of entitled men at the bar (Available to buy as a 2-track cassette here). We caught up with the band to get to know the people behind this new powerhouse of punk.

How did the group form?

We all met at uni, and Poppy persuaded Yas and Zoe to move to Bristol. We started playing all together and then finally braved our first gig and the rest is HISTORY. 

Is there a story behind the name “Grandmas House” ?

We spent so long trying to think of a name – to the point where we were just shouting random things we could see like”lamppost” or “foot”, and our old bassist has a tattoo of her grandmas house on her arm! As soon as we said it out loud we knew it was the one, it encapsulates the homely vibe that we want people to feel with us perfectly. 

How would you describe your sound? 

We would describe our sound as loud, sweaty, fast and punky! 

What was the inspiration behind “Always Happy” ? ‘

Always Happy’ is a song we wrote about the social anxiety we all experience in some way or another particularly concerning social media. It’s a kind of sarcastic take on how you can easily convey a certain vibe that might not necessarily be the truth. 

What’s the creative process behind a song?

 A lot of the time we just jam and an entire song flows out of us, lyrics and all! Other times we will have lyrics that we know we want to use, or a lil instrumental that we wanna incorporate and it just goes from there. 

Who are some of your biggest influences? 

Some of our biggest influences are The Slits, Sleater Kinney, L7 and X-Ray Spex. We also LOVE Courtney Barnett, Nova Twins and Idles at the moment. I think we constantly get influenced by all kinds of genres though, which inspires our music a lot. 

If you could be a support act for any artists who would it be and why?

 Miley Cyrus!! She’s been going for a more rock n roll and punky vibe and we love it – think we’d be an amazing match tbh 

Favourite concert you’ve been to?

 We saw Shame and Fontaines DC at SWX a while ago and it was amazing!! Real sweaty and frantic, just how we like it. 

Favourite show you’ve played?

 One of our favourite ever shows so far was at The Lanes in Bristol, and was actually a socially distanced seated gig! It was our first headline show and the energy in the room was electric – everyone was proper jumping in their seats. 

What will it be like playing that first show once shows are allowed again?

 Incredible. Life-changing. Unforgettable. We’re going to be absolutely buzzing to be back on stage and I think people coming to see us will feel the same. Everyone’s just gonna go MAD.

Any future musical plans after the new single? 

Yesss we’re working on an EP at the moment so that’s very exciting indeed. We’re going to make lots of visuals for it too so lots of fun things to look forward to.

Where would you like to be in a years time musically? 

I think our sound is constantly developing so we’re just excited to keep working on new stuff and just see what happens innit! We love all genres of music so we love bringing in various aspect of each genre into our own music. 

What’s a cool fact about you that people might not know? 

We adopted two guinea pigs during the first lockdown and we are absolutely OBSESSED with them. They’re called Joan (Jett) and Bean and they are the cutest little ladies in town. 

In Earnest share two new singles ‘Your Dog’ & ‘Good Boy’

Southend-On-Sea based indie folk trio In Earnest have shared two new intimate singles, “Your Dog” and “Good Boy”. This comes after the release of their debut self titled EP in earnest released last October. Revisit our interview with the band here.

Speaking on the new singles the band explain:

“The first track was written while sitting on the floor with our dog Murph – it’s made up of all the questions we would ask her if she could talk. The second track is about our other dog Doug who passed away in 2019, detailing how heartbreaking it is to lose a pet.” 

Captured live in their living room with an analogue recorder, the self-produced tracks feature delicate double vocals from both Sarah and Tom throughout. A lockdown collaboration meant that Toby added harmonium and violin from his home. 

We recorded the songs spontaneously with Murph by our side and the dog paintings hanging next to us on the wall. We wanted the homely feel of the recordings to seep into the tracks – complete with chairs creaking and Murph’s collar jingling in the background!” 

The new tracks take a more intimate, stripped down approach to the bands sound. As the harmonies build and violins slowly croon on “your dog” you can feel the deep love for the pets they sing of; emotion pouring out of every part of the tracks. Capturing the sounds that were found all over the likes of Phoebe Bridgers’ debut album Stranger In The Alps, the band have returned with two tracks that are small in sound, yet infinitely emotive.

Listen to the new tracks below.

Introducing: REAVE

Reave are the new synth-pop trio you need on your radar. With influences ranging from some of the contemporary greats to classic artists, they hone in their sound with familiarity whilst simultaneously being immediately captivating. Made up of Brandon Darby, Rory Ward & Enya Philips, based in Manchester and London, together they join to make the type of music that just makes you want to get up and boogie as soon as it comes on, whilst concurrently being heartbreaking at their core. Backed by glistening beats and swaying synths, lead singer Enya’s dreamy vocals wash through and shine out of every mix, evoking similar stylings to that of Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser. They released “One More Night” back in January, the band’s fifth single and are already planning for what’s next. We spoke to the band to get the lowdown on what they’re all about.

What drew each you to music and how did you get into it?

Brandon – I grew up in a very music loving family, my parents had been going to gigs all their lives and were also into the early 90s house/rave scene, going to the hacienda etc. So I think that has had probably brought me towards music. Apart from that it’s just a type of creating that attracted me.

Rory – I listened to the Smiths a lot when I was younger and I was fascinated by the melodies of Johnny Marr, since then I had to learn every Smiths song.

Enya – I grew up in a very musical family, I watched all my siblings perform and make music growing up. They taught me everything I know and I’ve got them to thank for being able to do anything music related. My parents were in a band together and threw us into pretty much every musical class when we were younger! So I think the familiarity drew me into it, it’s all I’ve ever known and is kind of a safe space for me. 

How did the band form?

It started out as a project to create synth music and we eventually saw the potential of having a female vocalist over the music. Once we met Enya and we tried a few ideas, REAVE was formed.

How would you describe your sound?

We try invoke a certain danceable and evocative energy into our music and nostalgic sounds, if that’s even possible. Electric but soft and moody. A Concoction of multiple influences but rooted in the synth-pop music and soundtracks of the 1980’s (without being too cliche 80’s) but with quirky and modern sounding lyrics/vocals. Make of that what you will, haha.

What’s the creative process behind a song?

When we’ve developed an instrumental, Enya has a go at the melody and lyrics from the feelings/vibe she gets from the track. When we’ve decided on something, the vocals are recorded and anything else that fits the track with the new vocal (like new guitar parts) are added before mixing. We spend a lot of time perfecting the sounds but the idea for the track can come really quickly and after that it’s sort of a blur how each song comes to fruition.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

Enya – There are way too many to list but to name a few: Tame impala, Euthrymics, Grimes, Talking Heads, Happy Monday, The human league, New order, Yazoo, Modern talking, GL, Sylvan Esso, Methyl ethyl, Porches, Harvey Causon, Robyn, Jack Garratt, James Blake, Franc Moody, Duo Mundi 

Rory – The Smiths, Gorillaz, Pixies

Brandon – Its ever changing and there’s always new ones im picking up on but to name a few: Bowie, Beach House, Cocteau Twins, Depeche Mode, Johnny Jewel, Vangelis, Julee Cruise, Pure X, Michel Berger, Sharon Van Etten, Pink Floyd, Future Islands, Austra, Brian Wilson, Arthur Russell, P. Cowley, John Maus, Moroder, MBV, Ride, Erik Satie, Tamaryn, Wire, Black Marble etc. Mostly dark, melancholic music with gothic undertones 

If you could be support act for any artists who would it be and why?

Brandon – Beach House would be insane because I feel like the vibes could compliment each other nicely, even though we are different. The lights and effects at their gigs are so cool too, would love to play while being engulfed in blue mist.

Rory – MGMT because it’ll be a good show.

Enya – Tame impala because they are such an inspiration. Almost wouldn’t feel worthy to support them hahaha.

Favourite concert you’ve been to?

Brandon – Hard to choose one – my top three are Beach House, John Maus & Tamaryn

Rory – The Cure

Enya – James Blake but Jack Garratt / Franc moody are a close second.

Favourite show you’ve played?

We unfortunately haven’t had the privilege yet, although individually we have all played live as solo or with bands before.

What will it be like playing that first show once shows are allowed again?

Well it’ll be our first gig as REAVE so it’ll be a great experience we reckon.

Any future musical plans after the new single?

Release more singles, an album & play shows eventually. We can’t wait to get together and have a jam in person.

Where would you like to be in a years time musically?

Brandon – Be in the middle of nowhere in a studio recording new tracks

Rory – I would like to own a grand piano!

Enya – Playing and making music together!! In the flesh!!  

If people want to find out more about you where should they go? 

Check out or Instagram, Spotify or give us a search on google.. 

Introducing: Gutter Girls

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Gutter Girls aren’t your average punk outfit. In their own words they’re a “coupla gals playing songs about hot chips n heartbreak coming to a bar near u”. But behind this laid back ethos is music that is as enticing as it is raw. Smoking riffs, groovy beats and knock you down vocals that’ll be bouncing about your head all day long. Releasing their latest single “Skin 2 Skin” in November, Gutter Girls have continued in their streak of fully charged bangers, we spoke to the group to learn about their collective love of Joan Jett, recording in isolation and where to get the best chips in Melbourne.

What drew each of you to music and how did you get into it?

I grew up surrounded by music but always assumed I’d just be a fan as I lacked any musical talent. I gave up piano after briefly learning as a kid and by the time I was really into seeing live music, I figured I had missed the boat to learn an instrument. It is never too late!!!

How did the group form and where did you meet?

In 2018 we all met through the local Melbourne music scene but didn’t know each other too well before deciding to join forces and start a band. None of us played any instruments beforehand except Amada, who only didn’t play drums. So naturally we got Amada on the drums and Alicia on synth, Bec on bass and myself on guitar and roughly learnt a few Joan Jett covers to get us going. We’d only been practicing (to learn our instruments) for a few months before we agreed to our first gig and quickly got a few tunes together in time.

How would you describe your sound?

Hot chips left out in the sun too long.

What was it like recording the new single whilst separated from each other?

It was challenging recording separately in lockdown as we would normally record live together. It felt a bit more serious when you’re alone to critique yourself. Recording separately meant that I had to record vocals with my housemates stuck at home to suffer through the takes, so to take the pressure off myself I made them drink whisky with me and sing along which turned out to be a very fun afternoon.

What was the inspiration behind “Skin 2 Skin” ?

GG songs never have much meaning or strategy behind them, I usually just have a silly thought and try to expand on it enough to call it a song. The lyrics rarely make any sense, but the great thing is that they don’t have to. You can definitely leave it up to the listener to interpret however they like. So the inspo for this track was just to have a new song for the collection really haha.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

All of our friends who play in rockin bands and inspired us to rawk with them.

Favourite gig you’ve been to?

There have been so many, but just before the first lockdown in Australia we luckily had the Golden Plains music festival. Screaming along to the Pixies with my BFFs will forever be burned into my brain.  

Who would you love to be a support act for? 

The Runaways Japan tour in 1977 please

Favourite show you’ve played?

There’s been so many favourites, but just before lockdown we got in a gig with Constant Mongrel at Cherry Bar. We are all big fans and it would have been a gig we’d attend anyway, so getting to play with them (and then dance afterwards to Springsteen with them) was a huge highlight.

What will it be like playing that first show once shows are allowed again? (Here in the UK shows aren’t happening currently) 

It’ll definitely be a little strange until it’s back to normal capacity shows. In Melbourne, shows have returned to a seated, limited audience but with restrictions easing it looks like we will be able to stand and hopefully dance in near-future shows. We might be lucky and hopefully life will be semi-normal by the time we play our first gig back. 

Any future musical plans after the new single?

Excited to get back under the same roof to start working on new songs and hopefully release something physical in the next year. 

What are your favourite type of chips?

Hot ones, super soggy and covered in sauce. Shoutout to Tramway Hotel in Melb that has ripper ones!!

Introducing: Sweet Dream

Sweet Dream is the musical project of North Carolina based multi-instrumentalist, singer songwriter and producer Julian Creech-Pritchett. Taking influence from some of Indie’s biggest names Julian has created a sound unique to himself whilst still retaining elements of his inspirations. His debut album ‘Caricature’ is set to be released on June 5th via Yacht Club Records. It will be available to stream via Spotify, Itunes, Soundcloud and Bandcamp, to pre-save click here. or you can purchase a physical copy here. We spoke to Julian ahead of its release to get to know the man behind the music.

When did you start playing music?

I first picked up a guitar in the fourth grade. I have obsessive compulsive disorder, more commonly known as OCD, and I heard the AC/DC record High Voltage in the backseat of my dad’s 2002 Toyota Camry and got hooked. I begged my parents for a guitar, and one day not too long after my uncle, a lifelong guitarist and instrument collector, showed up at our house with a surf green Fender Stratocaster and an early 60’s Fender Pro Jr. amp (it only has volume and tone knobs, both of which go to 12!).

How would you describe your sound?

I take pride in describing the sound of Sweet Dream as unable to fit in one genre. An easy classification would be to call us a rock band (when I say us, I am referring to myself and my band mates who I perform with, but to be clear the studio output from Sweet Dream is 100% me creating every sound, save for any featured artists which I will always list) but if you listen to Caricature you will find that there are only a handful of tracks on there that could be classified as actual rock and roll music. In performance, were a quartet with myself on lead guitar and vocals, James McLaughlin on keyboards/rhythm guitar/backing vocals, Ramon Garcia on bass/bass synth, and Nick Moshinski on drums, so I’d pretty much call that a rock outfit. I challenge every listener to decide what they think Sweet Dream’s genre is, and reach out to me and let me know!

Who are some of your biggest influences?

Some of my biggest influences are Fishbone, Tame Impala, The Replacements, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Mac DeMarco, The Beatles, Pond, Gum, and recently I’ve really been digging Hether, Anna Burch, The Quarter Roys, and JTB n Co. I may take sounds from a lot of these groups and incorporate them into Sweet Dream music, but when I don’t I’m inspired by other things, such as the eclectic and diverse nature of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s or Fishbone’s discography, inspiring me to want to make whatever I make and not allow myself to be creatively stifled by any genre boundaries.

If you could be support act for any artist who would it be and why?

I would love to open for Pond! I think that our music would work well together in a live show. Sweet Dream’s sound has enough in common with Pond’s to make it compatible, but also enough of a difference for there to be a distinction between the sets! I feel like Pond fans would like Caricature.

Is there any artist you would like to give a shoutout for people to listen to?

I would probably say I’d go check out The Quarter Roys. The group is based in the same town as me, Greensboro, North Carolina, and some of the band mates have been my friends since I was a freshman in high school. Their debut record If You Think I Should is a fucking fantastic example of DIY garage+psych+pop+rock n roll and is worth listening to for sure. Their more recent stuff is taking a bit of a classic rock, 70’s FM turn and I’m enjoying every second of it.

Favourite concert you’ve been to?

I can’t decide which concert I’ve ever been to is my favourite, I’ve seen so many over the years, so I’ll list three: King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard at the Tabernacle in Atlanta 2019, Roger Waters at the Greensboro Coliseum in 2017, and Big Ole Team (Charlotte NC -> Nashville, TN based band) at a house show in a packed sweaty living room in Greensboro sometime in 2018.

Favourite show you’ve played?

My favourite show I’ve ever played has got to be when I sat in with jazz fusion group GrayScale Whale (check out their record Beyond Aphelion) at the 2015 Apex Jazz Fest – they played for upwards of six hours and I joined them for every set that day except the first one I believe. My favourite show with Sweet Dream was probably playing the Nest at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, during our October 2019 tour. The mountain homies know how to fuckin party!

What’s the creative process behind a song?

The creative process behind a song is pretty concise for me. Being that I play every instrument in every song (save for listed featured artists, who will obviously not be me – that’s the key to a good feature, find someone who can contribute something great to a track that you can not), I may do the initial composition of a song on any given instrument, even on drums sometimes. When I’m working out a beat or a riff or some chord changes, I use my imagination to allow myself to hear what all the other parts of the song will be, and then once I’ve got the changes set in stone I will go ahead and record whatever the composing instrument is first. I tend to lay down drums second to last, and vocals last, but otherwise no particular order for tracking instruments. Sometimes I just happen upon some cool changes or a nice riff, other times I’m inspired by things I hear and take elements from them to create my own version of a certain sound or feel. For Caricature in particular, I tried to create characters for the songs, some appear on multiple tracks, and I’d sing about what they might want to write a song about, rather than a literal relation of something going on in my life directly. 

Any future musical plans after the album is released?

After Caricature, I’ve already got a brand new EP of material in the final mixing stages, so I’ll probably record a couple music videos for that and then start planning a release for late 2020 or early 2021. I will likely wait until concerts are socially acceptable to release it, so that Sweet Dream can do a proper album release show and tour. We had a proper 9 day tour booked in support of Caricature, including stops in New York City, Toms River NJ, Philadelphia PA, Washington DC, Richmond VA, Greensboro NC, Raleigh NC, Charlotte NC, and Chapel Hill NC, but we will sadly be unable to make the run for obvious reasons. We’re having some frank band discussions now about trying to do a full band live stream at some point this coming summer, so be on the lookout for something along those lines!

If people want to find out more about you where should they go?

If people want to find out more about me and all things Sweet Dream they should follow me on all social media @juliancpmusic! I am most active on Instagram, where you can always find links to the latest Sweet Dream material on my page.

Photos by Spenser Davis (@darkroomdavis on Instagram)