Sunday, 29 November 2009

Song of the Week | The Breeders


Cannonball

I've got the flu. The rotten stinking flu, accompanied by an infection of the chestal area, and I am feeling very bloody sorry for myself. So I shall cheer my spirits with one of my favourite songs from my favourite bands. The Deals, oh how I heart you...




To hear more SOTW selections by Little Miss B, click below:

Penny Lane Has Got A Lot To Answer For...

by Steph, 29th Nov 2009...


My friends have already heard this mini-tale now turned into an article, mainly due to the fact I regale in telling it.

It all starts with my big sister Olivia, who used to live in LA. She worked as a model and Laker Girl, enjoying a totally fabulous blonde hair, tanned skin life or so I thought. I am ten years her junior and was only a teenager then. Any lifestyle in the Santa Monica sunshine would have appeared glamorous and fabulous to me.

So, during a rather poignant West Coast visit, big sis give me a piece of advice that has stuck to my conscious ever since, "Steph, promise me you'll never date a musician. Musicians go on tour and fuck groupies."

The hard line; in your face little one! Or so I thought. Some hot, musically gifted band member had broken her fragile heart and she wanted to save her little sister from a similar future hardship.

Unsurprisingly, the sentiment later extended to actors. In this case, a Beverley Hills 90210 alum with a serious narcs habit. Then of course artists; she still cringes if she stumbles upon his name in the paper and equally laughs at the lengths he goes to shock. And finally photographers (she came to 'protect' me when I did a shoot with him in later years).

Interestingly, the message has obviously stayed with me because I have never had a relationship with a musician. I've been on a date with one or two, but never had a serious tie to any and I'm sure this is because somewhere in my psyche, there was a little Liv tap, tap, tapping on my synapse; "walk away from the guitarist. He may be hot, but he'll go on tour and..." "Walk away from the drummer! For all you know he's got a wife and three kids in NYC." Needless to say, lead singers never even had a look in, with or without Liv's advice, I'm not that stupid!

And that's where my article is going, the women who are happy not knowing or simply don't care; Pro Hoes, Band Rats, Groupies, Band Chicks, Fan Girls, Band Whores, Star Fuckers, Snuff Queens and the most famous of all, Band Aids. Oh please. Let's turn this on it's head and look at the ladies who are so willing to offer themselves on a sweaty dressing room platter.

I've done a bit of research (God bless the Internet), to extend my understanding and have discovered a rather disturbing underlying epidemic. Do you realise there are groupie websites? Groupie forums dedicated to discussing tactics on how to get noticed, getting backstage and the like. Even Rolling Stone magazine dedicated an edition to them in 1969 entitled; Groupies: The Girls of Rock. A celebration of the groupie. It's an interesting title in terms of female genre representation, but I'll get back to that.


These days it seems there's a new breed of groupie, an elite. The lady bait has got better. The caliber of clunge has got a bit more 'celebrity'. A rather beautiful young lady presenter, model, actress, photographer or a clever filly multitasking all of the above with a penchant for all things band boy. The serial band boy girlfriend. The more famous ones tend to date the front man. FACT!



What's the draw, though? Is it the talent? Or the creativity? The buzz of the occasional fan stopping them in the street asking for a picture? Sweaty pheromones? On the flip side, the band members could be likened to a lady's accessory. Instead of handbag envy, they get to parade their boyfriend and dangle his status. Instead of a look screaming 'my Sergio Rossi boots are so much hotter than your Office rip offs', it's become 'my boyfriend is so much cooler than yours.' The scene backstage at festivals is hilarious; it's like boyfriend trump cards. Front man beats bassist, but lead guitarist of a 'super' band beats pretty much everyone else and so on.

Are these women our generation's women of rock? I don't think so! Groupies and serial daters aren't what they used to be. Looking back at Pamela Des Barres, The Plaster Casters, Jenny Dean and Emeretta Marks, their roles weren't simply as gratuitous sex objects, but far more. They were substitute wives, washing clothes, making sure their tour husband ate properly and it goes without saying, provided the sexual wares, too. It stands to reason that lots of wives join band tours now. It's not uncommon to see the kids running around at sound check. How times have changed...





In Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, author John Shepherd touches on the subject of groupies with an interesting take on the scene; "a lot of groupie identity and activity had to do with female support and most importantly, competition".

This of course, is a given. Every human has a competitive streak, to varying degree. Though taking it further, we're all aware of the groupie heyday being the 60's and 70's. The era of male super group tours. In fact, Shepherd and Sheryl Garratt, a certified and heavily experienced groupie, believe this groupie phenomenon to be closely linked with the secondary role of women during that era."It is best understood in terms of the lack of opportunity for women in 1960's rock culture. With so few role models to follow, to fantasize about being on stage as a female performer may be almost a contradiction in terms. Instead, most of us dreamt of being a pop star's girlfriend; fame and recognition by proxy." Shepherd questioned whether or not, given time and with more women performing on stage, the attitude of 'I can't be on stage, so I'll get as close as I can and date the guy on stage instead', might change. I'm on the fence, Sheppy-boy.

Admittedly, Continuum was written in the early 80's, but can groupies still be summed up as women lacking talent or simply lacking the courage and conviction to follow their dreams, willing to supplement fame and recognition by association? Even now there are wives and girlfriends of band members who are guilty of this... Sad, isn't it. Can we really say it's moved on?

Having said all that, there are some fantastic band girlfriends and wives; genuinely wonderful women and they're the ones who are safe. Their men don't cheat. Why would they? The women they've been blessed with are beautiful, funny, friendly and most of the time very smart cookies. They know the risk they take in their men, but there's obviously something worth doing it for. Love. It gets us all in the end.




So if we can take something from this, I look up to the women of rock, the ones who created a female noise and did it for themselves, without having to suck a lead singers cock in the process. They fought for their dreams and talent. The trailblazers; Joan Jett, Debbie Harry, Diana Ross, Janis Ian, Pat Benatar, Alannah Myles, Patti, Dolly, Dusty, Gloria, Joni, Karen, Stevie and Tammy. We owe you big time, ladies. So if you're a girl, are you simply going to kneel down to get a slivered glimpse of the fame and creativity you crave or are you going to forge it for yourself?

And always remember; never date a musician. They go on tour and fuck groupies. 



To read more articles by Steph, click below:
Ipod God



Girls in the Garage | The Case of Char Vinnedge and the Luv’d Ones

by Sini, 29th Nov 2009...

The Wikipedia entry for garage rock defines it as a ‘raw form of rock and roll that was first popular in the United States and Canada from about 1963 to about 1967’. Nevertheless, garage rock was not a recognised genre in the 1960s, and the term only came into being in the 1970s. The style had been evolving within regional US scenes since the late 1950s, but the triumphant appearance of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 and the consequent British Invasion marked a huge increase in the number of bands. The stereotypical garage band comprised of amateurish but enthusiastic youngsters who rehearsed in their parents’ garage (hence the name). The groups did their best to imitate the sound and approaches of their British idols, but frequently ended up with a rawer, more urgent sound and songs that reflected their own, often very adolescent, concerns. Significantly, the garage rockers’ ‘Do It Yourself’ attitude towards music-making anticipated the ideals of 1970s punk – anyone could play an instrument, and more even importantly, anyone could be in a band.

The DIY aesthetic mainly inspired teenage boys to pick up instruments and attempt world domination. However, there were several all-women bands that were well-known live attractions within their regional scenes in the 60s – Detroit’s the Pleasure Seekers (remembered for being Suzi Quatro’s first band), Chicago’s the Daughters of Eve and Minnesota’s the Continental Co-ets to name a few. Unfortunately, these bands are not properly recognised in the garage rock canon, and girl combos are still today a rarity on garage compilations (with the exception of Romulan Records’ Girls in the Garage series). A good example of this exclusion can be found on Rhino’s 1998 box-set Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968. Although a staggering 118 tracks are included, the box-set features the talents of four women (three vocalists and one session bass player; no all-female bands)!


The Luv’d Ones were an all-female American garage rock band in the 1960s – this makes them, already by definition, a true rarity. However, they were not a novelty act playing on the ‘gimmick’ of being girls with guitars (which was how all-women bands were frequently seen at the time), but a musical force that had to be taken seriously. Active between the years of 1965 and 1968, the band featured the considerable talents of Char Vinnedge (vocals, lead guitar) with Chris Vinnedge (bass), Mary Gallagher (rhythm guitar) and Faith Orem (drums). Char was the undisputed leader of the gang; not only did she sing lead vocals, play lead guitar and write the original songs, but also took care of their equipment, bookings and artwork, and even drove the van when required. The Luv’d Ones were signed to Dunwich Records, but they never got to make an album – only seven songs were released in the 1960s. Their recorded output (three singles and previously unissued demos) was released as Truth Gotta Stand by Sundazed in the late 1990s.

The band’s repertoire consisted of covers of popular songs with some originals added to the mix (this is in line with most garage bands’ repertoires during the period). What set them apart from other groups – except for their obvious ladyism! – were Char’s moody and dark, but melodic originals. From the Beatlesque ‘Yeah, I’m Feeling Fine’ to the bittersweet ‘Dance Kid Dance’ (‘Dance kid dance, have your fun, winter is coming, summer’s gone…’) the Luv’d Ones sound like no other band. Char had a habit of tuning her Gibson SG down a full step, which played a huge part in why the group’s music has frequently been described as ‘dark’, ‘gloomy’ or even ‘haunting’. In addition, Char’s preference for minor keys, her lead vocals (she usually sings in her lower register and hardly ever uses any expressive singing techniques) and the accompanying harmonies contribute to the ‘darkness’ often heard in the music. Compared to most garage rock from the period which often celebrated directionless teenage angst and partying, the Luv’d Ones sound rather grown-up. In fact, even though Char had started playing the piano as a child, she only learned to play the guitar and formed the Luv’d Ones in her early 20s – the stereotypical garage performer is considerably younger.




In addition to the unusual sound, the Luv’d Ones had something else going for them too: Char Vinnedge was a true guitar hero at a time when female guitarists were an extremely rare breed. This lady was very accomplished on her instrument (just listen to those fuzz guitar solos!), and she was always tinkering with her equipment, looking for new sounds. The last song on Truth Gotta Stand, the psychedelia-influenced ‘Your Mind Is’ with its screeching Hendrixque guitar solo was an indication of things to come: after the Luv’d Ones disbanded, Char went onto play with Billy Cox (of the Band of Gypsys fame) on 1971’s Nitro Function. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any information on what happened to her between the early 70s and her premature death in 1998. I assume that if she had actively been making music, it would have been at least mentioned somewhere. What happened?

The Luv’d Ones were not only a great girl band; they were a great band, full stop. Nevertheless, I am not surprised by the fact that they did not ‘make it’ – the world was not ready for an all-female group like the Luv’d Ones in the 1960s – but I do wonder why they are still a mere footnote in the history of garage rock.





Monday, 23 November 2009

Happy Birthday!



Our lovely contributor Jane Bradley had a birthday on Saturday, and we just wanted to wish her a happy weekend full of cake and celebrations and lots and lots of alcohol.

Bisous bisous.

From the girls at The Girls Are...

x

Thursday, 19 November 2009

I heart... Eilen Jewell

by Kim, 19th Nov 2009...



Eilen Jewell occupies a complex mis-mashed space between americana, alt country, jazz, blues and singer/songwriter and a million genres in between. Sounds terrible, huh ? The first time I tried to describe it to someone I watched their face contort at trying to imagine what in the hell that could sound like. Strange thing is, it’s not terrible. In the slightest. It’s intoxicating, beautiful, soulful, and the kind of music that you slip inside like an already occupied bed - and have listened to twice before you even know it.

Eilen cut her performance teeth busking on Venice Beach early this decade, before heading back to her native Boston and becoming a part of the city’s folk community. She has to date recorded one self released, two studio albums and one with her gospel side project The Sacred Shakers (you really should check our their rendition of John The Revelator, it certainly puts one Mr Billy Childish’s version into perspective).

The music she makes draws from so many different influences, it’s not firmly entrenched in any one scene and therefore is the definition of accessible.

Her first solo studio offering 2007's Letters from Sinners & Saints was my introduction to her and I fell for it in a big way. Coming on like some kind of prohibition era sultry songstress her honey dipper vocals purr through the songs. She’s either the female Greg Dulli, or the woman who would prove to be his match. The record oozes with booze and men and turning bad after being wronged. It’s uber-cinematic and wouldn’t feel out of place as the soundtrack to a Tennesse Williams play or even some vintage David Lynch. Stand out tracks include Too Hot to Sleep and High Shelf Booze. One play and you’ll be hooked.

Her second studio album, this years Sea of Tears ditches the fiddle playing prevalent on her earlier works and replaces it with an altogether more rock and roll edge. Suddenly you can hear The Animals, The Byrds and a whole lot of Rockabilly thrown in the mix. Her cover of Shakin’ All Over is the sexiest damn rock’n’roll song you will ever hear.

She’s currently mid way through an epic US tour with no UK dates in sight: pick up a copy of her record (both are available on emusic) and join me in writing her embarrassingly fangirl-ish emails begging her to come visit.





http://eilenjewell.com/
http://www.emusic.com/artist/Eilen-Jewell-MP3-Download/11829318.html
http://www.last.fm/music/Eilen+Jewell

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Conversational | iMMa

by Little Miss B, 18th Nov 2009...

To know me is to know my inability to fib, to know my scorn of sycophants. I don't do polite for polite sake when it comes to opining on any given subject. Rude: never. Honest: always. So, I'll be honest folks. iMMa should not be my cup of tea. I tend to gravitate towards a more low-fi sound, a more low-fi aesthetic. Skunk Anansie, Garbage et al have never been my bag - that's not to say I think they are crap. It's just not my thing.

So, when I went to see iMMa play live last week, I expected to leave the show nonchalant. Nonplussed. Apathetic. Well holy shitola: imagine my surprise when I turned out to be... impressed. First of all, this girl has a VOICE. I can only describe her vocal as utterly flawless. (Jealous). Secondly, she has an on-stage presence that is so natural, so genuine that one cannot help but be engaged. Lastly, this unfeasibly lovely young lady has a refreshing and enormously endearing level of self-belief and determination that manages to never appear arrogant or earnest. Personal musical taste aside, one cannot argue with how incredibly, ridiculously, stupendously talented this girl is. If this genre of music IS your kind of thing, then iMMa is basically your wet dream. Metaphorically of course. Here at The Girls Are, we always applaud those who have sufficient knackers to DO rather than merely talk about. I spoke to iMMa to find out more...










iMMa - thanks for talking to The Girls Are....
Is this all you've ever wanted to do?



i: Hey! No, when I was younger I wanted to be a ballet dancer, then a horse racing jockey and then at the ripe age of 16 decided that singing was what I wanted to do more than anything! But it took me a while to figure out what genre - as I loved so many different styles!




You've had a busy year touring as Mika's backing singer - how does it feel to concentrate on your own material again?


i: I love singing with Mika and playing to his amazing audiences, but there is something really special about singing something that comes from you. I love my music and I love my boys in the band and get a really raw feel with us all playing our hearts out. I miss writing, since being on the road with Mika, I haven't written as much as I would like to, but whenever lyrics pop into my head I write them down on whatever is handy (generally after a long flight, when I'm going slightly delirious).




You still write and play with ex-band member Jonas Jalhay and yet iMMa is very much your project: do you feel more comfortable being out there 'on your own' or do you miss being part of a 'band'?


i: It's weird being a "solo" artist since I play with a band on stage and we all hang out together, so from that aspect it still feels very much like a band. The first time I really noticed the difference was on my first photo shoot. It was so strange to be doing shots without the guys, I felt uncomfortable and self-conscious. When you're in a band you feel invincible, there's a real camaraderie, but on your own you have to muster up that feeling, which can sometimes be tricky!! But am settling into it a lot more now!




Describe your songwriting process.


i: Well it kind of depends on the song, but generally myself, Jonas or Kate (KillaK, another girl I write with) come up with a riff or line and we jam round ideas together, until we have the final song. Writing is a deeply personal process for me, it's strange; I will sing on a stage in front of countless people and be fine, but when it comes to writing I am still very insecure about it. Tears generally make an appearance, but I get through it! After it's done I am not overly critical and I sit with the song and rarely change it. (Although I have been known to completely re-write the lyrics of a song twenty minutes before recording them (God Send - track 8 on album)!!)




Everything you are currently doing is self-funded: do you feel this affords you more freedom as an artist?


i: Yes and no. In one aspect you have more freedom since you are your own boss and you get the final say and complete creative control, but on the other hand life does take over and you need to earn a living, pay bills, rent, feed your shopping habit........cough cough... and pay for your album, rehearsals, gigs, flights, etc....Whereas if you have a label behind you, they give you an advance so that you don't have to work and can purely become, "the artiste", at the expense, usually, of some creative control.I have loved seeing my project develop. My manager Laura and I have learnt so much on the way as we have done literally everything ourselves. From writing the songs in a room to seeing it on Spotify, you really feel like you have achieved something. It's a great feeling and I wouldn't change it for the world!






You've said that your performances are a genuine reaction to how you're feeling in the moment: in an era rife with hyper-styled and considered artists, do you feel there is a need to get back to basics in terms of performance?

i: No I don't, I think that performance has evolved and you may get super styled pop artists that have been choreographed to the nines, but you also get those gutsy raw performers too. I think people pay good money to see acts, they wanna see a show and if great singers or certain manufactured artists are not natural performers, then why not turn to choreographed moves and props? At the moment the music industry relies heavily on live performances for income, the element of performance has never been so important.
Personally I prefer seeing something more real. When you see an artist totally stripped of all props and choreography, it makes them more human. I don't think there is anything more beautiful than seeing somebody in a state of raw emotion.


You have a very distinctive vocal: at times you can sound like a blues artist, at others you remind me of Kate Bush. Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?

i: My musical influences vary; when I grew up I listened to Carly Simon - I love her great low range and her song writing is magical, it really paints a picture. I listened a lot to The Beatles and the big Soul singers like Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan. Later on in life I had and still have huge respect for Skin from Skunk Anansie. Her vocal strength is amazing and I think I developed my big range by singing along to Skunk songs!


Given the recent influx of male indie bands, and female pop stars, where do you see yourself fitting into the current musical landscape?

i: I am neither indie nor pop and I think the market that I am trying to slot into is smaller and more underground and, as a result, more unpredictable. Having said that, music is constantly evolving and there is plenty of space for a female rock artist to create her own niche.


Do you feel women are under-represented in the music industry? What importance, if any, does your gender play in your identity as a performer?

i: There are more and more strong female artists now than ever before in the music industry, whether it be in terms of their performance, production or every aspect of their career. I don't think women nowadays have to compromise artistically as much as they may have done in the past. Personally I don't feel restricted as a woman on stage and I don't feel the need to use my sexuality to appeal to the audience. At the end of the day I am on stage to perform my music - I don't think too much about the rest!!


And now for some questions we ask everyone....

Which current bands do you rate?
5 artists/bands I rate - so tricky......
Biffy Clyro, Regina Spektor, Skunk Anansie, Queens of the Stone Age, Amy Studt.

Describe your sound in 5 words...
Strong, Vulnerable, Melodic, Honest, ROCKIN!!

What are your guilty musical pleasures?
Definitely Disney - O my God, I love Disney, whenever I'm feeling down put on a Disney song get a kazoo and play them - I'm telling you..... AMAZING!! Fuck Prozac; Disney songs and a kazoo is all you need!!!

What the world needs now is....
More iMMa.....obviously........ or er....World Peace?

What's next?
Sell more albums. Write more songs. Record songs. Play my little heart out. Sell more albums. Write more songs. Record songs. Play my little heart out. Sell more albums. Write more songs. Record songs. Play my little heart out.

You are headlining your dream, all-star tour: who would your tourmates be?
Skunk Anansie, Sevendust, Biffy Clyro, Marylin Manson.



video

Poison Eyes filmed at Brighton Concorde 2 back in April 2009.


Poision Eyes features on iMMa's debut album 'The Clue's in the Title' which is available through iTunes and her two websites:


To read more interviews by Little Miss B, click below:
An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump
Cold In Berlin

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Conversational | An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump

by Little Miss B, 15th Nov 2009....

We’re all well-versed in my ‘there are virtually NO good female bands at the moment' rant, so it comes as a pleasant and long-overdue surprise when I can hand on heart, say I am a proper fan of An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump. Huge fan. Bit of a stalker. Not only are they three talented and charismatic multi-instrumentalists making raw, bass-heavy dark rock, but they also happen to be lovely, interesting and intelligent ladies with something to say. Brilliant songwriting, brilliant live performances, brilliantly atmospheric, An Experiment are the kind of band you see/hear, and then can't get out of your head. I caught up with the girls to discuss EP launches, songwriting and London’s current musical landscape.






Your name references a painting by Joseph Wright of Derby: what's the story?

D-Bird: We were only meant to be a band for one night to play my Decasia Club and so we picked an outrageously long name which still had meaning and relevance in conveying we are into all mediums of art besides music. We had an overwhelming response at our first gig and decided to continue as a band and the long name stuck....
X-Bird: The painting really stood out for us. Personally for me what I find most intriguing about this painting is the human psychology behind it. In the painting spectators surround the air pump as the bird suffocates… I feel humans have a fascination with death as we constantly contend with our own personal conflict with mortality, nothing lasts forever and as depressing as this sounds, our own impending death whether it be tomorrow or in 40 years time highlights this.
C-Bird: The play on light and darkess which the painting conveys is extremely poetic. It mirrors all aspects of life. When you feel moments of darkness it can be sometimes hard to see the light. Life is a cycle and something we should move with. Living is all about change.


You've gotten some great press this year and have your EP launch in December: how has 2009 treated the birds?

D-Bird: It's been a bit of a strange year. We came into 2009 on the back of intense press coverage and the year continued with the same. It took us a few attempts to find the right producers for our music (in the end, we worked very well with both Tim Burgess and Steve Albini) and the delay in not releasing any material was quite frustrating so we fought this frustration by gigging very heavily. I'm excited about the release and very glad we managed to put the EP out this year.
X-Bird: 2009 has seen The Birds flying about here and there. We’ve been abroad quite a bit this year and it has been pretty exciting doing gigs all over Europe. It’s always good to step out of your comfort zone and play to completely new crowds and so far the reception we’ve got has been really good. We're playing Transmusical in France in December which I'm really looking forward to!
C-Bird: We have been playing abroad quite a lot and has been great to get out of the country and take our music to different audiences. So far the response has been positive.




What are your musical backgrounds? How did you get together?

D-Bird: I'm a trained drummer, guitarist and pianist and have had music lessons from the age of 11. I feel it is very important to understand music instrumentation and theory. Music is no different to English or Maths. The more you learn and the more you practice, the better you get. It is a very complicated discipline and that's what makes it so challenging. The more you put in, the more you get out.
X-Bird: C-Bird and I started out a couple of years ago when we were at art college, we bought a really crappy drum machine and a guitar with the money we saved up from our weekend jobs and just wanted to make music. At the time, I suppose we let our work at art college (we were both studying Video Art) slip as we completely immersed ourselves in it. I attempted to play the guitar, coming up with one string riffs and programmed the drum machine whilst C-Bird sang over the top. What came about were short part electro, part female angst songs about whatever we were busting our gut over at the time. Usually hangovers and current crushes… Nothing materialised over these songs… I suppose it was more of a personal test to see if we could do it even though a well known producer at the time expressed interest in recording us our heart wasn’t in it and we felt we needed to concentrate on finishing our degrees at Uni. We didn’t dust off the drum machine until 2 years later when we formed our electronic band Eve Black/Eve White, except this time I traded in my guitar for a synth. We met D-Bird through playing her club night Decasia and the rest as they say is history! I’m not really musically trained, for me it has always been about honing in ideas and finding creative ways of making them a reality. If I have a sound in mind I’ll try and work out how I can get that sound or tune on the bass, drums or vocals. Everything creative is a learning curve and I am constantly learning!
C-Bird: X-Bird and I are sisters and had already formed Eve Black/ Eve White. An experimental, electronic doo wop band. It was always about experimenting with what you've got. I taught myself to sing by listening to my favourite records. It all stems from confindence to believe in what you have already got. Everything is a learning process. I love to learn and explore. There are so many things I like to do. Nothing is impossible unless you give it a try.


As one half of the songwriting team for The Backlash, my partner and I swing between blissful genius and alarming conflict: what is your songwriting process like?

D-Bird: I would say ours is the same...moments of pure creativity mixed with frustration. I think you need to have a bit of both to keep you writing and exploring.
X-Bird: The music that we have written together was formed through jam sessions. When we first started our aim was to pick up, play, go with the flow and let the creation happen. The reality is that with anything, you have to put in a lot of hard graft and completely exhaust every creative bone in your body to make a partnership like this work. It takes a lot of mental strength to keep going.
C-Bird: I tend to write my lyrics alone as they are from a personal level. Everything i write about has something to do with my past and present experiences. The music side of things normally consist of jamming sessions in rehearsal spaces.


Who would you consider your biggest musical influences?

D-Bird: Nirvana, Mazzy Star, Sonic Youth, The Carpenters, The Breeders, PJ Harvey and Hole. X-Bird: I’ve recently been listening to Mahalia Jackson. I will continually be inspired by a raw quality in vocals. With Mahalia Jackson each emotion is accentuated through how certain words are sung. It takes a rare talent to be able to get that kind of passion and emotion out of a song through vocals alone. Try and find Mahalia Jackson singing Motherless Child and Summertime on youtube…it nearly reduced me to tears!Although I love music my inspirations vary and are not exclusively musical. I love the films of Kenneth Anger, Maya Deren and Pipilotti Rist- they’re all video and film makers who have used sound in someway to express the symbolism in their visual work. Kenneth Anger for instance used 60’s girl group soundtracks in his film, Scorpio Rising, Maya Deren had a gut thumping sparse tribal soundtrack for Meshes Of the Afternoon and Pipilotti Rist twisted the lyric, ‘I’m not the girl who misses much’ from the John Lennon song ‘Happiness is a warm gun’ in one of her early videos. All used pop culture of the time to add an extra layer of symbolism in their work.
C-Bird: When i first listened to The Strokes it was like a lightning bolt to the brain. I hadn't heard anything quite like them before and there was this other world I hadn't even explored. They were the first band that opened a door to a range of other mystical and intriguing bands like the Velvet Underground. Nico's voice enchanted me. There was a real pain and meloncholy in her voice which is real and distinctive. I'm always in the search for something real. Its an obssesion of mine. Voices that truely inspire.


Which current bands do you rate?

D-Bird:The Raveonettes, Selfish Cunt, Battant, Veronica Falls, Male Bonding and Hatcham Social.
X-Bird: I’ve always been a fan of The Strokes and ‘Is This It’ would most definitely feature on my Desert Island Disks! Usually during times of crisis I delve through my record and cd collection for bands I got into a few years ago. Music in this sense really does have that therapeutic quality to it; I can listen to a song and transport myself to that particular happy moment in time. It’s like I’m time travelling. The Strokes especially that album in particular has that affect on me. The first Yeah Yeah Yeahs Bang EP has the same effect too- they remind me of sneaking out of the house to meet my friends in London and partying all night. They take me back to a time when being able to sneak a couple of beers into a club and partying till sunrise was the most important thing in the world. As much as I love hurtling towards the wrong side of 25, you realise in adulthood that some of the things you dreamt about when you were 17 are completely unrealistic. It’s a pretty hard knock for any daydreamer but everything in life is a learning curve and listening to these bands helps me ease into this realisation.
C-Bird: The bands that seem to have struck a chord in me are the ones that influenced me from the beginning like The Strokes, Yeah Yeahs Yeahs, PJ Harvey, Ike and Tina Turner. My taste is quite eclectic. They all move me in a certain way.




Do you feel women are under-represented in the music industry? How important, if at all, is gender to your music and identity as a band?

D-Bird: Particularly in 2009, there has been a massive surge in female solo artists on both sides of the Atlantic ranging from Lady Gaga to Little Boots. Personally, these acts mean nothing to me...I can't connect with their synthetic music and image. It makes me feel even more inadequate about myself. Growing up I connected with artists like PJ Harvey, Kim Deal and Hope Sandoval. If I hadn't heard the music of such expressionate female musicians then I think I would have been a deeply troubled person. It sounds cliched to say that music saves but believe me, it does. I had a very transient childhood in the sense that my family moved every 18 months and I ended up living all over the world. I went to 15 schools. The only constant I had in my life was playing instruments and listening to music. I will seek solace in music until I die.
X-Bird: I once said in another interview recently people tend to ask us either about our fringes or our gender. Fringes and vaginas, both completely based on the visual aspect of who we are. One is something we can control whereas the other is a biological aspect we have no control over. Our gender is completely biological and of no consequence to how we make music. Being a woman has no bearing on how I continue to live my life, creatively or in a personal sense. I am who I am because I want to be. I always wonder why people are so drawn to the fact that we’re women as it’s a question that is always raised. I think in this instance as it seems to be something people are drawn to, I don’t think women are under-represented in the industry because its questions like this that bring women in the industry out to the forefront purely as the gender is continually highlighted. If people kept the whole idea of gender quiet in the industry, it wouldn’t be an issue at all. What is important to me overall is that people do what they want to do without any social constraint, if you push yourself to the limits, gender, social class, NOTHING will stop you and will essentially be completely irrelevant.
C-Bird: Gender only becomes an issue if you let it become one. I never saw myself as a women who plays music. I'm simply a human being who happens to have an interest in all aspects of art and who now happens to be part of something exciting.


You've spoken out about the lack of community and spontaneity of musicians in London, and the wish to form a transient and fluid band. To what do you attribute the more secular and marginalised spirit (or lack thereof) in London town?

D-Bird: I put it down to one thing - namely nepotism. After being in this industry for 18 months, I have seen that unfortunately it is not talent that gets you anywhere, it is all down to who you know. It really troubles me to see this hence I often rant about it in blog posts. People are also deeply competitive - I don't understand how you can be competitive in this industry as no two bands sound the same...some may sound alike but every single band is totally different so why the need to be jealous?! I am in another band called Oral Oral with Princess Julia and Dee Fodor - we are a completely unrehearsed, improvised band and always invite someone to join us onstage - someone who we have never played with before so the fluid band has begun to roll!
X-Bird: I watched the Bill and Ted film the other day and the tag line for the film was ‘Be excellent to each other and party on dudes’. Unfortunately life will be a constant battle ground, even in the most idyllic of situations Darwin’s theory will come to bite you on your skinny jeaned arse. We need to take a leaf out of Bill and Ted’s ethos in life I think…I feel that it is always important to enjoy life but to not get consumed by the bullshit of ‘the scene’ whatever it is. Its important to continue to do what you want but ALWAYS on your own terms, don’t get swayed and OVERALL continue to, ‘be excellent to each other’.
C-Bird: The lack of community is only felt by those who feel left out. You need to get out there and start breathing in everything but not treat London like a village.


And finally, questions we ask everyone....

Describe your sound in 5 words...
D-Bird: 'I want love and codeine'
X-Bird: Raw, spontaneous, gut-wrenching, heart.
C-Bird: Change, power, battle, heartbreak, storm


What are your guilty musical pleasures?
D-Bird: All 80s pop - Erasure, Bronski Beat and Boytronic to name a few!
X-Bird: I’m really getting into X-Factor…
C-Bird: I can listen to the same song on repeat for weeks on end and forget about anything else.


What the world needs now is....
D-Bird: ORIGINAL, genuine music
X-Bird: Free travel! Why is train travel so expensive? And love, sweet, love.
C-Bird: Snow


What's next?
D-Bird: SXSW and America next year....
X-Bird: It’s a Sunday so possibly a good book and bed. I'm currently reading about the supernatural behind Kenneth Anger films!
C-Bird: To be myself always.


You are headlining your dream, all-star tour: who would your tour mates be?
D-Bird: People we get on with - Lydia Lunch would be great and I think we'd get on very well with Sonic Youth. I'd love to get the secret of eternal youth from Kim and Thurston whilst
watching them explode on stage every night.....
X-Bird: I think it would be cool to have a giant band of 100 randomly selected people on tour with us. During the tour we would all have to share a HUMGUNGOUS tour bus so it would be like big brother but with music. It will be a giant musical social experiment!

C-Bird: Anyone who knows how to hold their drink and have a good converstation. I would bring all my close friends and rock around the world.



An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump will be partying and launching their EP on Thurs December 10th 2009, at The Victoria, Mile End - Free Entry all Night.

Pre-order Buy A Life from Rough Trade
here.






http://www.myspace.com/anexperimentonabirdintheairpump
http://anexperimentonabirdintheairpump.blogspot.com/

To read more interviews by Little Miss B, click below:
Cold In Berlin

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Song of the Week | The Gossip

by Little Miss B, 14th Nov 2009....

Heavy Cross

I just love this song. I just love The Gossip.
It's all about me.




To hear more SOTW selections by Little Miss B, click below:

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Conversational | Amy Studt

by Dee, 10th Nov 2009...

Every seven years, each cell in your body completely renews itself, so it’s fair to say you are like a brand new person. It’s been seven years since Amy Studt first appeared on our tv screens, griping about her growing pains in ‘Just a little girl’. And in that time, it’s fair to say, that growing is something she has done a lot of.




Looking back on your first album , how does it make you feel?

A: I feel pretty proud of it. When I look back on it, it seems like it didn't happen. I have all these memories, but they are so ridiculous and abstract by any normal standards that I sometimes think I must have made it up. It was tough, and had a massive effect on me, but I don't regret anything.


The second album, or ‘follow up’ is notorious for being the most difficult for an artist to make. Did it take you the whole time between labels/albums to write ‘My Paper Made Men’ or was it written to a schedule when you signed with (her second label) 19 Entertainment?

A: I started writing straight after the first album. I took my time in the studio until I had a bunch I felt were right, and I was happy to put out there. The whole process from writing the second album to recording/mixing/mastering, and then beginning to get it out took about 6 years. It felt like an eternity.


Wow, that is long! The general response to it has been that it is quite a dark album, and not as accessible as your first. There are some recurring themes in the lyrics about damaging relationships on ‘One Last Cigarette’ & ‘Furniture’ in particular. What would you say has inspired you most on this album? And how do you feel about it now?

A: Yeah, I guess relationships. My experiences within them and what I have learnt about myself during the process has been a running theme. I don't really feel any way about it now. Each song is just a snap shot of me then, in that moment. When it’s done, I move on. I can appreciate it and sometimes I can relate new experiences to it and listen with fresh ears... that’s always fun.


Reinventing song meanings is positive. It’s not all been fun though has it? I read somewhere that you suffered a bout of stage fright. How did you overcome that/have you overcome it? how are you coping?!

A: Well I lost most of what confidence I had after my flirtation with fame. I was convinced that if i got up on stage I would get booed off. I went under an alias, Jane Wails, for a bit, so that people would listen to my music without having made any previous judgements, this was also useful as I was approaching different genres. Practice makes perfect and the more I have played the more comfortable I feel. Its funny actually as on this recent tour, my confidence has made a new leap and I am having a great time chatting to the audience and joking around and having a giggle.


That’s great! Tell me a bit about the tour and the line up?

A: We are currently on an acoustic tour, mainly southern UK. Its me on keys and vocals and my guitarist/best friend/housemate, Connor Mcdonald on guitar and backing vocals. We use a loop station on some of the songs where appropriate, where it adds rather than takes away. I reckon electronic equipment can be one of the great takers of sound sometimes. Sometimes it is wonderful! We are playing re-worked and sometimes very stripped back versions of my songs, some old, some new, some borrowed, some blue. Cons and I are also playing some songs that will appear on album 3, though that is a long way off yet.

Me and my best friend miss la la, have hand made some merchandise, nicknacks and things. We made these little booklets, there are only 100 of them in existence! I've been having a great time putting it all together and so far it has been such a chilled out lovely tour. I don't want it to end!


To catch Amy on tour & bag a limited handmade booklet for yourself, check www.myspace.com/amystudtofficial for dates and venues.

Picture courteousy of Thaddeus Rombauer Photography


To read other articles by Dee James, click below:
The Girls Are...Wanted?!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Introducing | Selah Sue

by Little Miss B, 9th Nov 2009...


I feel a little strange about writing an 'Introducing' piece on Selah Sue. I mean, surely everyone with half a brain already knows of her amazingness. Surely everyone with taste has already heard her scratchy voice and winning accent. Surely everyone who deserves to have ears has marvelled at her wondrous ragga medleys? Surely? Apparently not. To some people, this brilliant little belgian treat remains a mystery.... "Sue who??"

Egads.

So in the spirit of spreading joy, I am pleased to introduce Selah Sue. Born Sanne Putseys in 1989, Selah Sue was discovered by established Belgian singer Milow at the wee age of 17. Having caught her open mic night performance, he approached the tiny human and asked if she would be his support act. Since then, she has played many a festival, written an arsenal of rather good ditties and regularly appeared on Belgian TV. Her EP, Black Part Love was released in 2008. She is currently playing shows across Europe and appears to have no immdeiate plans to come to the UK. Damnation.




http://www.selahsue.nl/
http://www.myspace.com/selahsuemusic

Read All About It | Barbie does the 80's

by Little Miss B, 9th Nov 2009...


Ladies of the 80's Collection

Ok. Don't tell anyone but... Am dead excited about this.
Mattel are launching their Ladies of the 80's Collection this winter, featuring Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Harry and Joan Jett.

Admittedly, they look pretty crap, but the idea of owning a Joan Jett figurine really does appeal to me. If you owned all three, you could create your very own 80's tastic lady super-group. Hours of fun.

If only there was a Pat Benatar. Then my life would be complete.

Song of the Week | Comanechi

by Little Miss B, 9th Nov 2009....

Death of You


I'm not sure I need too much of a reason for this to be song of the week. It's just amazing.




To hear more SOTW selections by Little Miss B, click below:

Friday, 6 November 2009

Read All About It | Yeah Yeah Yeah's at ATP

by Little Miss B, 6th Nov 2009...


The Yeah Yeah Yeah's will exclusively play their 2003 debut album 'A Fever To Tell' in its entirety at next month's , sold-out ATP festival in Minehead, reports the NME.

Being a bit of a Yeah Yeah Yeah's fan girl, this is exciting news.
Being a pauper without an ATP ticket, this is rotten news.

Anyone feel like donating me their ticket?
Anyone?

(Read the full article
here)

Read All About It | Tom Tom Magazine

By Little Miss B, 6th Nov 2009....


Perusing my weekly BUST update, I came across the positively fantastical news about the launch of Tom Tom Magazine, a publication dedicated solely to female drummers. The brainchild of Taigaa drummer and creative percussionist Mindy Abovitz, Tom Tom not only aims to raise awareness about female percussionists and inspire ladies to get behind a drum kit, but also "strengthen and build the community of otherwise fragmented female musicians and to create a network of musicians around the world". We love.

Mindy, we at The Girls Are... salute you.


http://tomtommag.com/
http://twitter.com/tomtommag
http://tomtommagazine.wordpress.com/
http://www.youtube.com/tomtommagazine
http://www.myspace.com/tomtommag

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Song of the Week | Sahara Hotnights

by Little Miss B, 5th Nov 2009...

With or Without Control

Things have been a little bleak here at The Girls Are... namely due to the loss of my beloved laptop (and it's entire contents). The rotten weather does not help matters, and throw in poverty and we gots ourselves a pretty pissy pity party.

So what does one do when 'under the cosh'? Looks forward to better times, that's what: so, in honour of our impending NYE trip to Stockholm, I've been listening to some Swedish yum-stuff, in the form of Sahara Hotnights.





To hear more SOTW selections by Little Miss B, click below:

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Introducing.... Minnie Birch

by Little Miss B, 4th Nov 2009...



Good golly miss Minnie, I am joyous about making this introduction. Not only do this band produce the sweetest ear-candy in the west, but they also happen to be ridiculously lovely and talented lady-folks.

Minnie Birch, from me to you.... It's like Christmas. But better.

Minnie Birch are Emily and Claire, a teacher and a librarian hailing from the Watford area. Vocalist and guitar wizard Emily describes the band as "influenced by lots of different artists; I think the best way to describe our music is as WhinyAcousticPop? Which doesn't sound great but is hopefully ok." Yes Em, you sound decidedly and wondrously 'ok'.

The ladies just recently celebrated their one year anniversary, having played their first ever gig at the Amber Rooms in Watford on 2nd November 2008. Since starting the band they have had many an adventure; almost being snowed in at a venue in February, a UK summer tour in 2009, a feature in Art and Things magazine, recording a Minnie album (7 tracks) at Broadfields Studio, supporting The Doors Alive at their sold out London show.... A veritable smorgasbord of activity.

Not content with being busy AND awesome humans, they also happen to be a bit good. They've been playing together for a long old time so have great chemistry onstage, and put on notoriously good live shows ("entertainment value often comes in the form of one of us falling off our high stool!") Sit yourself in a quiet room, or perhaps take an autumnal walk (along a river. Or canal. yes, someplace watery), put on the pod and have yourself a good listen: bittersweet lyrics, ethereal melodies, and Em's beautiful voice (reminiscent of an early Laura Marling, but cheekier) make for happy ears.

The ladies are currently gigging all over our fair land ("lots, to sell copies of the CD") and are also putting together a small music video - mostly of footage from the summer tour. You can order the CD and merch (badges in boxes and hand mirrors) from the Minnie myspace page, which also has video footage, tracks and photos.

Join in the Minnie love.




Remembering… Ladies What Britpopped

by Jay, 4th Nov 2009...

Sometimes it feels as though just looking back at yesterday afternoon is going retro; slipping through a vortex of fuzzy memories tinged with alcohol, bad hair and detrimental friendships. One thing, however, always manages to claw through the gloom of these pallid cold memories, and plant a smile firmly on my face: the music which hangs it all together. Music adheres the snapshots of memory to the pages of the mental photo album. Ask me anything about my early teenage years and I can recall but two things. Gladiators and Britpop.

Whilst worrying over what to contribute to a new blog, I dug out a very old CD copy of Untitled; a compilation of nineties alternative sounds that was to gloriously drag some more fuzzy opaque memories screaming into these electro-synthed days.


Echobelly, Sleeper, Lush, Elastica, Republica, Sneakerpimps, Tracy Bonham, PJ Harvey, Beth Orton. Feminine pioneers of the nineties. Add a few gracious splashes of Kenickie and the sheer breadth of wonder that was, and still is, Skunk Anansie and I was blissfully floating away in remembrance, trying to recall which bag I‘d shoved my low-slung combats and old NMEs into. These female acts showcased anthemic tunes and iconic voices and snappy lyricism, not to mention providing the foundations for those who’ve so successfully followed.

Sneakerpimps’ Six Underground still makes me goosepimply, while Lush and Elastica unleashed unbridled passion and attitude. What of these pioneering ladies to ladettes, these alternative forerunners who have influenced the sounds of Lily Allen, The Ting Tings, and co? They’ve done more than influence, it feels like they’ve morphed beautifully into Ladyhawke, Bat for Lashes, and Florence and the Machine.

The one band that has made me yearn for some re-runs of TFI Friday are Skunk Anansie. Flicking through the plethora of music channels in my telly box, I caught sigh of Skin, looking not a day older than she did in 1996, screaming like she was gonna tear the place up. The same enthusiasm, passionate drive and amazing voice makes Skunk appear brand new. They don’t feel like an anachronism, she doesn’t feel out of place in the hyper-stylised, hyper-branded present. Skin and Skunk have transcended the nineties to naughties divide that others just couldn’t counter.

Britpop died when the nineties did, but the ladies who carried it and influenced the styles and sounds of the predecessors haven’t. Thank god. I still can’t find those combat trousers. I did find a copy of Smash Hits however. Can’t look myself in the eye.