Also inside: Shame High. O. Wombo Hello Mary Echo Northstar Mary In The Junkyard English Teacher Robbie & Mona THUS LOVE
28.04 - London. UK
In our first issue of 2023 we welcome London’s Heartworms back to So Young, and this time on the cover. The speedy rise from the Speedy Wunderground signed band will have been hard to miss recently. Ahead of the release of their debut EP, we caught up with frontwoman, Jojo, about realising her manifestations and the Tik Tok men who can’t come to terms with a woman in military dress. Gearing up for album number three are South London’s Shame. ‘Food For Worms’ was born out of the imminent threat of a management imposed ‘new songs only’ show with no songs to play. We chat to Charlie Forbes and Josh Finnerty about working under pressure, old YouTube videos and getting things done in plenty of time…for once. In London, via Yorkshire, are English Teacher. Following two very sold out London headline shows, we caught up with the band to chat about their recent work with Dan Carey, creating their own TV skits and their hopes for the debut album. Arriving in London from Ireland last year was Echo Northstar. After being hooked on recent single, ‘Silent Fears’ for waaay too long, we decided to reach out. In our conversation we work out who Echo really is and gather advice on how to be in the know and independent all at once. Mary In The Junkyard are playing a show a week, maybe more, unlikely to be less, and the rooms are filling. Despite their favourite show being the one which was empty (due to train strikes), we caught them after soundcheck, ahead of a packed out performance, to find out how they came to be and who’s responsible for the on stage knitwear!
Bristol’s Robbie & Mona will release ‘Tusky’, the follow up album to debut, ‘EW’, in March. They’ve collaborated with the likes of Bingo Fury for this one and even let the film, Bad Boys have an influence. We discuss that and more inside. A duo. A baritone saxophone and a set of drums. Plus eighteen pedals. That’s the starting point for new Speedy Wunderground singing, O.. How that works is a lot to unpack and we do just that. Issue Forty-Two heads over to the USA for its remaining features. New Jersey’s High. talk us through their wall of noise shoegaze, with a hint of mild pop. And in Brooklyn, Hello Mary tell us about how lockdown removed the noise and how they sit somewhere between Elliott Smith and Sonic Youth. Brattleboro, Vermont is home to THUS LOVE but they’re currently in the UK touring. Ahead of a very packed show at the Sebright Arms, we discuss them being a queer band, how they built their own studio and lockdown cooking. To finish us off are Louisville’s Wombo. Their brand of Psychedelic Post-Punk has had us excited for some months now and the news of their imminent arrival on our shores is the best news. We give them a tarot reading via zoom. We’ve written about Tatjana Rüegsegger’s incredible, immersive project, ‘Brexit Bedrooms’ and more recently it was her photos of Lime Garden that adorned the cover of issue 41. We thought we’d dig a little deeper into the Swiss photographer’s work and process.
3 High. Bomber
38 O. OGO
8 Heartworms A Comforting Notion
41 Tatjana Rüegsegger A Student of Rock ‘n’ Roll
14 Shame Food For Worms
43 Robbie & Mona Tusky
19 Echo Northstar silent fears
48 THUS LOVE Memorial
26 English Teacher Song About Love
53 Mary In The Junkyard Top to tail, head to toe
33 Wombo Fairy Rust
58 Hello Mary Spiral
New Jersey’s High. are a band who’ve been on our radar
C: It’s a bit of a blanket term now. It used to be super
a while. A gorgeous melding of lyrical consciousness and
niche, I’d say it’s less so now. It’s like calling a band
instrumental dynamism, the quartet, formed of guitarist /
“Indie-Rock” – it could mean anything. A lot of bands
vocalist Christian Castan, bassist / vocalist Bridget Bakie,
are doing loads of fuzzy guitars, and experimenting with
drummer Jack Miller and Danny Zavala on bass have
gathered all fuzzed-up-forces to join the new-age league of contemporary Shoegaze.
Jack: You can usually tell by the band name if they’re a Shoegaze act.
Having just released latest single ‘Bomber’ off of their forthcoming debut EP, and following the announcement
of their attendance at SXSW Music Festival in Austin this March, High. are on a no-stops trip to somewhere
B: Haha yeah... There is a wide range of bands- the term
undeniably special. A testimony to their friendship,
does make sense. There are some that are more noise
musicianship, and effortless ability to shift a genre built
leaning... others a bit more electronic... but it has all fallen
on adolescent-angst, into an age-less, boundaryless, and
environmentally unrestrained demonstration of classic It’s similar here in the UK. South London in particular,
there’s a big ‘Post-Punk’ revival that’s been happening for years. It has become a media term- or a way to
Christian: What time is it where you are?
describe something that would’ve inherently started off It’s midnight! I’ve had a lot of coffee so this might get
weird. Can I just start off by saying how big a fan I am of you guys! Shoegaze wasn’t really a genre I grew up
What I find really interesting in particular, is these
with- I’m twenty-four now, so it’s cool to have all these
blanket terms tend to be directed towards scenes
contemporary acts to fall in love with. I don’t know
of adolescence. The kind of music you’d access
what the landscape is like in the States as much, but I
when you’re in your teens, or early twenties- those
feel like in the UK there’s a definite Shoegaze revival
developmental years. But there’s a timelessness to that
Bridget: We’re twenty-four too. I feel like a lot of people
C: Definitely. But then you also get those old music nerds
I know are getting into Shoegaze specifically. There’re so
who hear our songs slightly differently. Some people are
many new bands it’s not really a classic genre – it’s like a
so into it they break it down into ways I’ve never known-
classic and modern genre now.
which is when it becomes less about adolescence, and more about timelessness.
As far as where we live... there’s a lot of Shoegaze bands in Philly, which is just south of us. Like an hour and a half away.
Words by Al Mills, illustration by Kim Blue
B: Yeah that’s also true. It’s surprising how many older
B: I like to listen to music on my way to work and just
people who were kids in the 90’s who are really into us.
We played a show locally and this older guy came with his son- who was maybe around fifteen. We thought he’d
J: It’s kinda trippy when we’re making music, you have
came because his son wanted to see us... but he’d actually
to listen to yourself so much throughout the various takes
just brought his son with him.
and mixes. I don’t listen to other music in that way.
Fifteen is such a formative age to be introduced to
B: I don’t listen to our songs just to listen to them, but
music – especially live music. My dad was really
I’ll listen to them mixed with other songs and try and
good at taking me to gigs early on. It’s definitely our
imagine it’s not mine. I’ll try and remove myself from the
primary source of communication.
memories and imagery associated with my own music, to gauge a better understanding of how the songs sound. I
Danny: It’s a great medium for that; people connecting to
love doing that.
each-other. A lot of good things happen through music in general.
D: It’s cool to be proud of something you’ve made. These are our first few songs. It’s a weird feeling, and so new.
B: My parents never really took me to shows... but I do
The band isn’t even a year old.
feel like the CDs they had in my house are the foundation of the music I started playing. There’s something about
B: This is the first band I’ve been in where the music
getting your parents CDs when you’re really young. I
hasn’t existed before the band. I’ve joined bands where
remember getting my dad’s ACDC CDs and that was some
I’ve loved their music, and I know what it feels like to
of the first stuff I played music to. It’s nothing like what
listen to their music and not be in the band as I’ve seen
I play now... but that energy you’re first inspired by does
them play. But I’ve never seen us play. I’ll see a live video
stick with you.
and think “oh shit is that what we look like”? It’s crazy.
It’s such an indulgent experience as well. Especially
C: Shoegaze lends itself to these very emotional peaks and
when it’s a physical product.
soundscapes that are so big they give you an out of body experience.
J: I love CDs. They’re still so relevant- I can play them in my car.
I can sense that. I think something you guys capture so beautifully is extremities. You have these big walls of
Barely anyone I know drives.
instrumental, abstract sound, and then you partner it with deeply human, lyrical narratives. It’s surreal and
C: Ahhh you’re missing out! New Jersey is all highways
relatable at the same time.
so you have to drive so much. But it’s nice because you can listen to music- it’s the only time I have for myself.
B: For me the instrumentals tend to really follow the lyrics. I think about the lyrics a lot- how the words sound.
That picture of music sound-tracking a highway, it’s such a universal experience. Even as someone who
J: When songs start we’re all trying to figure out our own
doesn’t drive and has never been to New Jersey. I can
parts- and then through that process we’ll start listening to
visualise that experience so viscerally. Do you listen to
each-other. It’s a very collaborative experience.
your own music when travelling? C: I listen to it on repeat.
C: We focus a lot on the melody- I think they’re exciting to lean into when playing live. And having a mild popy-ness which helps with the listenability of the songs. It might add a bit more substance. B: Rhythm comes naturally to all of us. Christian and I are really inspired by goth and new-wave beats, and Danny is into hardcore. It all falls into place. So do you write separately and then bring it all into one room? J: It’s all over the place. I joined the band later- there were demos on drum-machines, and I began by trying to mimic those. Some songs start with Christian having a lyric or a melody, and then we’ll all bring our individual parts to that. Sometimes they just come from jamming. B: We always start off practice with some sort of jam. There’s a great Lee Ranaldo interview where he talks about the “stigma of jamming” and how people often assume it’s all just hippie’s creating Grateful Dead style music. Everyone smoking loads of weed and coming together to create trippy music. He then flipped it and coined it “extrapolation music” – jumping off a place of exploration. There’s a freedom to explore, but there’s a landing point to it all and that has to be the music. All: That’s so good! C: That’s why Sonic Youth were so amazing live. They’re songs are literally written by playing together, putting everything down. They experimented so well. B: I could never just jam with another person. J: We also know each other so well at this point. It’s hard when you’re starting with a new group of people and you’re trying to get a feel for each other. We’re so used to each other’s playing we’re instinctively on the same page.
Only eight months ago, we sat down with Jojo,
Interestingly, donning Glengarry caps, berets and soldiers’
frontwoman of Heartworms, for her first So Young
jackets initially gave her an added layer of confidence
interview. With a handful of European shows and an
to navigate this landscape, yet now she no longer needs
imminent departure for SXSW under her belt, it’s taken
them. Heartworms is the world through Jojo’s eyes, and
less than a year for her goals to come true. The speed at
though this world may be bleak, it’s full of intrigue.
which she’s achieved these goals shares a trailblazing nature similar to the military aircrafts she has a well-
What’s happened in the past 8 months since we last
known fascination for. This interest is only one part of
her identity – an identity explored and excavated on Heartworms’ upcoming debut EP ‘A Comforting Notion’.
Everything’s been happening so fast. I’ve had a lot of high expectations for my EP because I worked so hard on
The EP name appears ironic – ‘A Comforting Notion’
it. The way it’s going is how I imagined it in my head,
suggests warmth and love, maybe even inner peace.
so that’s amazing. Shocking but also like – ‘ah yes!’
Unsurprisingly, the comforting notion in question is
Experiencing Europe has been amazing. It’s strange but I
monochrome, angry and uncomfortable. For the first
love it. Playing with my close friends makes it even better.
time, the listener will be able to hear the full range of Jojo’s vocals – on top of her biting inflections about
Can you tell me a bit more about your band?
the degradation of mankind, she sings and screams with heavier, more cinematic production. Yet underneath this
Marko’s on guitar and he’s been there the longest. He
heaviness lies a vulnerability – an honesty and will to
makes everything brighter. Lizzie is my bestest friend and
grapple with difficult past decisions and present current
bassist. I can’t really explain, she’s like the world to me.
affairs. As she herself says, if you’re going to say
I put all my trust in her. Then there’s Gianluca on drums
something bold, say it with your chest, and make sure it
and Simone on synths. They joined at the same time and
comes from an authentic place.
are wonderful. We’re all very different but that works well.
Musical history is fraught with bands co-opting militaristic imagery for subversive purposes – The Clash,
Playing Europe was your goal last time we spoke!
The Sex Pistols, The Libertines, The Beatles – the list goes on. Yet, Jojo asks an important question. Does her
I know! And I also mentioned wanting to play the U.S.
gender play a part in any backlash she might receive for
which is also happening.
feigning interest in the military?
Words by Poppy Richler, illustration by Inês Viegas Oliveira
South by South West?
‘This wild man grows, this wild man pays, consistent dedication, to get a fucking wage! Peaceful protests, yes!’
Yep…I didn’t know that was going to happen.
All of that is about current events I’ve seen on the news, including what’s happening in Palestine. My lyrics often
The only song Heartworms had out at the time was
consist of things my brain has absorbed subconsciously.
‘What Can I Do.’ I remember you saying it didn’t
The song also partially stemmed from reading the
represent what Heartworms was currently working on.
Communist Manifesto. I wanted to write something poetic
The latter is the music that’s now being released. How
would you describe this difference? You write in a way that’s political but not overtly so. The production and the style of singing are different. I’ve
You’re getting across what you want to say without
managed to demonstrate my vocal skills. ‘What Can I Do’
shoving it in someone’s face.
was a naïve release. I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew I wanted it to be dark. The newer songs are a lot
Exactly. I’m sometimes afraid to say certain things
harder, there’s someone shouting at you.
because I may be wrong. I want to know what I’m talking about before I blurt it out. I say things about how I feel
It’s noticeably danceable, with elements of trip hop.
without making it obvious. Sometimes I have no idea what
Talking about the first release off your upcoming EP
I’m talking about and I’m a bit embarrassed if people say
‘Consistent Dedication’, the song is loosely about the
it’s weird or wrong.
ugliness of mankind. Would you say that since we last spoke mankind has declined even more?
Does Heartworms still provide a platform for you to explore different characters within yourself?
There’s always something around that makes mankind evil and disgusting. But there’s also hope. I don’t like
Definitely. When it comes to how I look, I’m forming now.
to always think things are bad. But due to personal
I’m stepping away from the Glenngary and military beret.
experiences, I wanted to have a way to express that
I’m softly launching more of a Sisters of Mercy, all gothic
ugliness whilst incorporating what’s going on in the world.
vibe. I enjoy these drags I have and I love dressing up. I think over time, maybe in the future, I’d do Heartworms
There’s an elongated scream running through your
in colour…soft burgundys and navys. To have Heartworms
most recent release ‘Retributions of An Awful Life’. Is
as a platform to do whatever I want to do or feel whatever
this at all related to a catharsis that music gives you?
I want to feel is so amazing. I’ve always wanted that and I’ve never been afraid to express myself. Even separate
I do have this feeling of chasing a certain satisfaction
from Heartworms, I’m always wearing crazy things. A lot
when the music is released and when I play it live. I feel
of artists would agree that it’s nice to have that.
like I always need to do more, make more. But I express this in many ways. I’d love to always write as darkly as
Before we move on, what’s the history of the Glengarry
possible. But sometimes I see myself writing something
quite hopeful. There may be elements of hope in the music I write, but it always comes down to a dark synth, lyric or
It’s a Scottish military hat. I found out about it when I
a darkness in the way it’s sung.
was doing a photoshoot at Neil Anderson’s house. He has loads of military artefacts laying around. In all my promo
The song ‘Consistent Dedication’ is like a call to
shots I’m wearing that hat. I love its history. This one
specifically has a 42nd star division badge. It’s aggressive, formal and classy all at the same time.
Talking about live performance, I read somewhere
There’s a lyric in retribution that hits me in the chest
about your fascination with Aldous Harding’s live
every time I sing it. “When you’re young, decisions aren’t
performance. She’s totally magnetic, yet makes you feel
that fun, I hear you running from fear you worry about.”
Those lyrics stick with me because I’ve had to deal with that kind of thing since I was a kid. I always had to make
That’s exactly how I feel! I saw her play the Roundhouse.
big, adult decisions from a very young age. A lot of people
My friend Jay was saying how she’ll just stare at you
have probably had to do the same. I love that part of the
randomly, then pick up a mug and tap it. It was incredible,
song – it’s vulnerable but also aggressive and strong.
I can’t. She made me feel so uncomfortable but completely besotted with her. The way she performs and sings, such
Military is something you referred to a bit earlier, in
subtle movements and such a strange grin. When I went
terms of the Glengarry hat. When we last spoke, I got
away I thought, that’s how I want to make people feel.
the gist that your affinity for its aesthetic is linked to
That’s what I want to do – a bit of a stare but also a grin
creative control. Is that right?
so the audience know I’m having fun. I love history, world war history and aircrafts. I discovered Has the stare ever been broken?
myself when I was wearing military – a very heavy military jacket from a 6th division or something. I felt
No, not yet! I think if I saw someone I knew, then I would.
control – it was like a strong blanket. You’re completely
But the people I know are usually at the back. It’s the new
right – it was a form of control that helped me find that
people at the front who get it…
strength in me. It’s weird, before that military stuff I just wasn’t as honest or able to show my strength. But after I
Are there any specific characters you explored in this
started wearing military, I wasn’t afraid to say anything
or be anything. But now I can be like that without the military clothes, which is quite a beautiful thing.
The final song ‘24 hours’ is about having to get through secondary school. There was always systemic racism and
I find that interesting because the idea and aesthetic
bullying. I’d try to make myself look like my friends who
of military is very loaded. To pursue it so obviously
were white as fuck. They were completely different to
is quite bold. Have you ever had backlash because of
how I looked and I was just trying to get through a 24-
hour day. When I perform that song, it takes me back to being…I guess quite naïve and vulnerable.
Yeah – a lot of people on Tik Tok. It’s a place with many people and many opinions. I have friends who are very
The character in ‘Retributions’ is similar to the one in
old men at the RAF museum in Hendon. They’ve seen
‘Consistent Dedication.’ No one will mess with this
how I dress and they’ve listened to my music. They like
character. It’s now or never, keep fucking going. The
it but they think ‘wow this is very rebellious’. But on
music video shows that sentiment clearly. I put myself in
Tik Tok, you get men saying that it’s a disgrace to wear a
a situation that made me feel uncomfortable, but there was
Glenngary hat in a music video. It’s not a disgrace – I’m
a voice inside me telling me to go for it. I admire people
not spitting on it or doing anything bad to it. I like to wear
who put themselves in horrible situations – it’s an art, it’s
it because I’m proud of how it looks.
beautiful. This EP is all of me – straight up, no faking it. I’ve got a few vulnerable characters, a few strong ones. That sounds like a fully rounded personality – no one can be 100% strength all the time. A lot of the best music reveals vulnerability.
There’s a surrounding controversy, especially if you’re a woman wearing military. It’s a direct point for men who think they’re know it all’s. I understand people’s reservations, but at the same time, I’m not doing anything wrong to the uniform. If we think about other musicians – The Libertines wore the red jackets, The Clash wore berets. They’re almost all white men doing what they want. And they get looked up to! I kind of like that people think it’s a disgrace… Men being know it all’s…how unfamiliar? With artists like PJ Harvey who I know you’re a fan of, she’s a woman in control because she writes all her own music. If we think about this on a larger scale – engineering, touring culture etc. It’s still very male dominated. It’s annoying because men never have to answer these questions, but I am curious to know if you have any advice for navigating this frustrating landscape. Unfortunately, it’s going to happen. Always back yourself as being right. Without backlash it’s not as exciting is it? Fuck it, do what you want. We’re all going to die one day. There are so many things that will make you happy, so just make them happen. But be careful – don’t do anything really bad. Just do it…with good thought. Since you achieved the goals we talked about a mere eight months ago, do you want to voice any new ones? That makes me feel like I can do whatever I want if I work hard for it. My next goal would be to write a sick album and have Pitchfork write a review of it. Be on the cover of Rolling Stone. Support Interpol. I’ll manifest for sure. Last time you taught readers about the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress…can you give readers another interesting fact or insight into the future of Heartworms? There’s something aircraft related that’s going to come with the EP release. Something to do with spitfires and Airfix… Apart from that, lots of shows, cool new outfits, and meeting new cool people who love Heartworms.
Is it helpful to put deadlines and time-restrictions on
Firstly, I caught up with a lethargic Charlie Forbes from
creative processes such as song writing? After all, we
his smoky bedroom in South London and then later
can’t be productive every hour of every day. Should we
joined by a suitably chaotic Josh Finerty in transit from
still write music when inspiration is hard to come by, just
Streatham to Clapham Junction.
because our work schedule says we must? Hey, how’s it going Charlie? Before speaking with Shame, I would probably have said no to both these questions. But maybe it’s helpful to have
Charlie: Not too bad, enjoying my time off! Last year was
a bit of time pressure to actually force us to think outside
full on, so I’m enjoying a slow start to 2023, lying in bed
the box, to stray from our comfort zones where we often
till 1 most days.
fall into the trap of repeating ourselves. As Shame keenly demonstrate, inspiration is something which needs to be
You all live together, right?
created, not something which comes to you spontaneously. The image of the thought-provoked philosopher is dead,
Charlie: Yeah, It’s the GOAT squad.
what we need now, in all walks of life, is action. No good sitting on your arse all day, just get up and get shit done.
I was over just before your second record came out.
A fitting motto for Shame’s pragmatic approach to their
There was a huge scramble for assets, and everything
third album ‘Food For Worms’, which encapsulates so
was pretty hectic, so I hung out with your housemate in
enthrallingly their thirst for creativity, and their unfailing
the garden talking about World of Warcraft for a few
ambition to cook up the most phenomenal record they
possibly can; what Steen calls the Lambo of Shame Charlie: That is the Streatham experience. We indulge in
a lot of big fantasy board games which take like a day Having said all that, it becomes apparent through this
and a half to complete. It’s not my scene really, the others
interview that without a scope set for a new record, and
usually have to airlift in a few extras to help fill the space
with a bit of time to spare before the next worldwide tour,
in the dungeons.
some members of the band like to hibernate, as we all would, if our lives were as chaotic and relentless as life is
I would have thought they appear through some kind
in one of the greatest bands of the modern age at making
of portal, no?
our eardrums bleed. Yes, that was a Spinal Tap reference. Charlie: Or by parachute, yeah…
Words by Leo Lawton, illustration by Sergey Isakov
We’re lucky to have some really cool options now.
Josh: [Welcome aboard this Southern service calling at…]
Any good insults on the video live chat last night?
Hey guys how are we? Charlie: I was mostly just bullying Eddie, so wasn’t We were just talking about portals appearing at your
paying much attention to the insults. The live chats are
house in Streatham.
great though. At the end of the video when Thatcher was revealed the chat went mental! Then a robotic Osama
Charlie: You know, Josh, when people rock up to the
Bin Laden came out… Incredibly surprised the label had
house via portal? Quite invasive really.
nothing to say about that. To be fair, I don’t even think they’d seen it before it went live.
Josh: Yes, yes, I know very well. May I ask how that came into the conversation?
Josh: Super random to have Napoleon as the protagonist for the video. I think all the faces in the video are actual
[I explain album 2 asset scramble, World of Warcraft
historical figures who worked with Napoleon, apart
from Thatcher and Bin Laden, obviously. Although both may have cited him as an influence at some point, that
Charlie: The mere mention of trying to get assets together
wouldn’t surprise me. The beauty of someone else creating
for that second record puts me so firmly back in that covid
your video is that it’s just as much of a surprise to us as it
headspace. That was such a horrible time. ‘Drunk Tank
is for everyone watching the premiere.
Pink’ assets are possibly the most triggering set of words to hear.
How did you come across the artwork itself?
How’s it been this time around ‘asset’ wise?
Josh: We scouted out Marcel [Dzama] ourselves. We loved his style and knew it would suit the new songs. We sent
Charlie: Everything has come together so nicely on this
the music to him, and he drew out a few options.
campaign. We got ahead of stuff early, like the name, I can’t wait to see the real thing.
the artwork. We didn’t leave it all to the last minute, something we’ve done historically since the birth of Shame.
Charlie: Yeah, Steen was sent five copies, but I still haven’t seen mine yet! The record was finished in July,
Josh: [Almost inaudibly amongst a symphony of train
so it’s been a long time coming. Because this was the
horns] I agree!
first album that we’ve recorded live, there were plenty of pushbacks. It was great, but also really challenging.
I loved the video for ‘Six-Pack’. It’s throwing me
But that’s what you hear on the record, it really feels like
right back into our portal dialogue with its RuneScape
we’re all there playing together, because we are.
aesthetic. I found it super nostalgic. Josh: Most of our favourite album’s sound like you’re Josh: That was what we were going for! That merged with
there in the room. The early Modest Mouse records are a
the music video for ‘Californication’ - such a classic.
great example of that. When we went into the studio we passed on those reservations to Flood, our producer.
Charlie: We didn’t even get updates on the video’s progress; we just saw it when it was finished. With this record we have been much more specific about the kind of people that we want to take along the journey, whereas before we just let our label make all those decisions.
Charlie: Everyone has been telling us to do a live record,
What were the conditions which meant that you were
and initially it was daunting because it’s so hard to
struggling for material before then?
execute. Like, my perfect take could have been Josh’s shitty take. We were constantly finding ourselves back at
Josh: There were a bunch of different reasons. We had a
load of ideas, almost more than was fathomable. At that time, which was right in the middle of covid, nothing was
Josh: When there is the energy of the live show in the
certain, there wasn’t a tour to write for, an album deadline
recording studio, it’s massively picked apart because each
etc. Too much time, not enough direction…
take has the potential to go onto the record. When we play live, the music passes without judgement. That was a
Maybe you guys were getting a little complacent?
tricky adjustment. Josh: I wouldn’t call it complacency because we were all Charlie: We didn’t do anything to a click either, just to
still worried. There was an urgency to it, but none of us
replicate that live feel more.
were putting our foot down and saying that a track was finished. None of us wanted to tread on each other’s toes,
Josh: Yeah, that was great - our producer refused to use
but when the time restraint came in the form of two live
a click which was cool, he really understood the concept
shows set up by our management, we had to just get on
and fully ran with it.
with it and move on from one song to the next.
Charlie: Also, the songs we went into the studio with were
Those shows were at the Windmill, right? Is that venue
the least developed songs we’ve had before. There were
still at all relevant to you now as a band?
25 song ideas initially, which we tried. Some worked, some didn’t, and we ended up with 10 for the record.
Josh: It’s old news!
And they all came together through a couple live shows
Charlie: There’s this weird fetishization of the Windmill,
which is good in a way, I suppose... People have created this term, windmill-core. Pretty mental.
Charlie: Yeah, last year we found our own studio but for various reasons we couldn’t write. Then our management
Josh: There was a time when the Windmill was very valid
booked us to play a few low-key shows and told us we
for us, but once we’d released the first record, went on
needed to have two entirely new sets for each. We also
tour, we no longer saw the relevance. But it’s great that
went for a writers retreat in Rugby, a very average place.
there are so many bands now, and we’re just too old.
We managed to get five or six songs from the retreat, and the rest came together through merging scraps which we
Ok, enough of that then… Am I right in thinking
there’s been a bit more freedom between the five of you in terms of switching instrumental roles within the band? Quite a nice way to neutralise the dynamic?
Josh: It was the pressure really. The fact that we had to come up with two new sets forced us to approach the writing process differently. Plus, we didn’t have time to
Charlie: Yeh, it was nice. Steen started fucking around
analyse the songs too much. Once something was passable
with guitars, writing vocals whilst playing, that sort of
as a song, we just said, ‘it’s done’ and moved onto the
next. We didn’t have that mentality of ‘this could always be better’. That attitude has never been conducive for us as a band to make an album with. You need to put a few constraints in the way which force you to move on.
Josh: Also, I got covid just before our writing retreat, so
Charlie: Your eyes practically didn’t open for the entirety
even switching personnel helped. Less people jumping
of the video Josh.
on ideas helped it flow, it’s good to take things away occasionally.
Please can I include this?
I feel that with ‘Orchid’, it’s much softer than any song
Josh: You can, its fine. There are so many interviews from
you’ve written before, like something has been taken
that time equally embarrassing for me, painful almost. Its
away. Should people expect a change of tempo in the
only ever me making a fucking idiot out of myself though,
the others get off lightly in comparison! I genuinely think it should be illegal to be video interviewed until you are
Josh: A few of the new tracks add extra considerations
at least 23.
when it comes to production value, so there’ll be a new level to step up to now. Regarding our energy on stage,
Charlie: That one is just too good though. The one I can’t
nothing is going to change there.
watch is the Pitchfork Over Under, not that I’ve watched it recently, but fuck, I know it’s bad. I’m afraid to open the
Charlie: We’ve been playing every song off the record live
anyway, so they already feel engrained in the set. We’re just excited for everyone to know them.
Josh: Yeah, in that one you and Sean slag off the Chilli Peppers which I’m still annoyed about!
Do you base your single choices on crowd reception? Charlie: I know! Why would I do that! Charlie: Not really. We just pick a ‘meal deal’ of slightly different sounding tracks.
Josh: Because dude, I wanna be friends with Flea.
Josh: The singles tend to be our favourites. Usually there’s
Charlie: Poor, poor form from me. I apologise to Flea.
unanimity within the band when it comes to choosing
Please put that in the article Leo, this is my official
singles as well which is helpful.
apology to Flea.
So, what’s the press schedule like for you guys? Have I
Josh: Yeah, Shame’s official stance is that we love the
caught you at a good time?
Chilli Peppers. You heard it here first. That’s the headline. In fact, put that at the top.
Josh: Yeah, for sure, you’ve caught us at a good time. Only If I can put a link to bands buy records just underneath.
Charlie: It hasn’t been savage for us. If you’d called up Steen and Sean who are in the middle of a 4-day European press trip they might have something different to say…
Josh: Fuck, fine.
Me and Josh are chillin’. Annoyingly we’re going to run out of time, and I Well, you’re having a ciggie in bed so can’t be too
wanted to throw some hinge prompts at you. I guess
we’ll have to wait.
On a bit of a nostalgia trip this morning I re-watched
Charlie: Well, I’m a black belt in respecting my peers.
your bands buy records video… Josh: Ah jesus… Lol I think we’d had five minutes sleep before then.
On a bitterly bright January afternoon, I met up with
Do you find that if you’ve had a rough few days then
Echo Northstar for a chat over half pints, and notebooks
writing is what you wanna do?
filled with the concepts and characters behind the project. Shadowed by a clairvoyant guide which goes by the name
Yeah I think so, there’s a relief at the end of my writing
of Echo, the artist has been spawn-trapped by labels and
process which’ll take me out of it.
‘industry fellas’ jonesing for their brand of breathy indie. The Irish via South-London artist has released a handful
I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. What was the last
of cavernous singles so far; ’someone else’ is a bittersweet
concert you went to?
ode to what-ifs, and the hooks on ‘silent fears’ will marinate your brain for days on end. Yet, Echo Northstar
I saw The Cure in December, in Dublin. It was one of the
experiments with more than just the medium of three-and-
best gigs I ever went to.
a-half-minute singles. Venturing into ambient music on ‘someone else / distance / you are here / called you mine’,
I saw that your DJ sets seem to mostly be made up
and spinning influences from Crystal Castles to Dean
of 80’s indie (like The Cure and Siouxsie and the
Blunt in their DJ sets, the artist has put the time and effort
Banshees) and experimental electronic music. Are those
into world building which you’d normally expect from
genres hard to mix together?
a games designer. Atop of telegraph hill and under a sky bluer than January, they kindly unpacked the intricacies
I’m always trying things out, so it changes every time.
of Echo Northstar as a project, and how self promotion,
I tend to genre jump between tracks most of the time.
dreams, and innocence impact their creative process.
But it’s about finding that sound you think might have influenced another song twenty years later, and taking
Hey Echo Northstar, thank you for taking the time to
that chance. I used to do more sets back home before
sit down and chat. How’re you doing?
lockdown, but I’m planning to do some around here soon, I’d like to play Avalon Cafe.
I’ve actually had a bit of a rough few days, but I feel like Avalon Cafe’s a great venue. Have you been to Bunker
I’m kind of getting it over with.
in Deptford? January is awful, I hate it. Have you got any plans for the weekend to look forward to?
No I haven’t, is it an actual bunker?
There’s definitely a gig going on that I told people I’d go to and then have forgotten about… There’s a vague commitment for sure, but mainly I want to do as much writing as possible.
Words by Charlie Brown, illustration by Martha Verschaffel
It’s someone’s basement with a tin foil ceiling and a PA
I guess that’s what the start is for. Who would be in
in it. It’s weird but really fun. Have you got a favourite
your rap super group? You get three members, they
soundtrack or musical?
don’t have to be still active.
There’s one song off the Oliver! soundtrack called ‘Where
OK, probably Biggie, uh maybe… I know, Ol’ Dirty
Is Love?’ that’s one of my favourite songs, the melody
Bastard! And, uh, Yung Lean… you need a good Swedish
is just so beautiful. It’s all that stuff from those old
songwriter in there.
songwriting houses on Tin Pan Alley or whatever the hell. I also like ‘The Sound Of Music’, that’s got some good
Did you see that episode of ‘This is Pop’ on Swedish
songwriters? They talk about the Swedish word ‘Jantelagen’, it translates to ‘the rule of Jante’, but it
Great choices, I’ve always got a soft spot for The
basically means not boasting about your achievements.
Italian Job soundtrack. Am I right in thinking you
They talk about how humbleness is the reason behind
release your own music?
the success of Swedens musicians and producers.
Yeah, I’m independent at the moment. I do it all myself.
The one with Max Martin? That’s really interesting, like there’s a kind of stoicism there I guess. I feel like
What’s it like being your own label? Does it get
you have that in Ireland as well. If you do something
in anyway good, and you promote it or feel good about yourself, everyone’s like ‘who does he think he is?! Some
Yeah definitely, but I’ve been in different systems before
fuckin’ loser on the dole.’
with other projects where you’re restricted in certain ways, so the novelty of freedom - although I’m sure I wont
Is that something that you’ve experienced, people
have this level of independence forever - is something I’m
almost dragging you down?
really enjoying right now. I heard a quote saying that the best things happen when musicians stay up late with other
Yeah definitely, you have to deprogram yourself from it.
musicians, but it’s great being able to have the space to
You do get that kind of conditioning, growing up in some
develop my own artistic output at the moment.
places. But you know, Ireland is beautiful, there are good things as well.
Can you tell me some more about those previous projects you mentioned?
I suppose it must take some sort of self reassurance. What do you normally have to remind yourself about?
There were a few bands back in Ireland, in Cork. And I had a Soundcloud I would make stuff on, and I once
I have to remind myself, I don’t know how this sounds
released a song with my sister as well.
but, about my inner child. How you are the exact same person as you once were, running around, freely. I don’t
Being an independent artist definitely has pros and
know how to put it, but I find it a nice thought.
cons, do you have any advice for others wanting to release their music without the help of a label?
What’s the difference between Echo Northstar and Echo as your companion, within the story and lore
Only boring, logistical advice; make sure you know
behind this project? Is that something you’re able to
all about your third party distributor, make sure you
put into words?
understand where the royalties lie, and that all your forms are filled out so you can get paid. Not that you’re going to
Hopefully. Or I can show you, I’ve got my notepad of
get paid much at the start.
drawings on me.
Readers, this is the point where I’m taking out my book of dreams and nightmares… I had a crazy dream this morning. This man with no top on tried to jump in my friends car and steal it. Had to grab him by the legs and scream into his ear to stop. Then I threw him off a pier onto a beach. Did you recognise this guy? I thought it was me, but it wasn’t. Anyway, this is a drawing of Echo, and he’s kind of like your inner child and kind of like your creator, and I’m Echo Northstar, the physical person. You know when you’re in a creative flow and you’re trying to grab onto an idea before it disappears, Echo as a character represents that. Did you ever play Legend of Zelda? There’s that little guy who follows Link around? It’s similar to that. Like an omnipresent being? How did the idea come about? Yeah. I did this thing a while ago on a flight home; they had a load of free newspapers and I drew a picture of myself, and I drew Echo floating above me. All the words from the newspaper were surrounding them both, and I’d circle individual words and make sentences, as if the drawings of Echo and I were having a conversation. What ended up happening was something along the lines of myself saying ‘Oh no, I’m feeling so down, I’m in a hole’, and Echo responded with this childlike positivity, but wisdom at the same time. Echo is clairvoyant, they can see what isn’t there, which kind of comforts me. Sorry if I’m rambling too much, but basically Echo is the metaphysical version of myself. Wow, well thanks for taking the time to chat. Is there more to come from you and Echo? Well, it’s funny you asked. I’m currently working on my debut EP, it’s called ‘Things I Wish I Could Say’. I have one song out already, ‘silent fears’, that’s going to be on it, and there’ll be three or four more tracks too. Great, when can we expect that to be out? Summer, but that’s a bit of a lie.
In early conversations about English Teacher, there
Congratulations on ‘Song About Love’! I saw that you
was an influx of obscure portmanteaus and hyphenated
said the track couldn’t have happened under different
descriptors in a desperate attempt to label exactly what it
circumstances, what was it about working with Dan
is they bring to the table. Now, nearing two years since the
Carey and Speedy Wunderground that made you feel
release of ‘R&B’ and ‘Wallace’, it can be said that behind
the guessing game of categorisation is the excitement of ambiguity. English Teacher have an endearing habit of
Nick: Well we got there and started talking and then Dan
bending their sound just enough with each release to bring
was immediately like “let’s get into it”.
you something they haven’t before - a quality that makes pinpointing an exact genre hard, but also fantastically
Lewis: He only let us play it about three or four times, and
then he was like, “don’t play it again now until we do the take”. We went into it blind.
Made up of Lily Fontaine (vocals/guitar/synth), Nicholas Eden (bass), Lewis Whiting (lead guitar) and Douglas
Lily: It was very different.
Frost (drums), English Teacher’s knack for playful yet poignant wordplay has rapidly lifted them into our eye-
Lewis: The added pressure helped too. There was so much
line. In celebration of their latest single, ‘Song About
space in the song because it’s a really simple composition,
Love’, English Teacher played a release show at Soho’s
but he filled out so much of that space, and during the take
Third Man Records and secured the penultimate slot at
when we were doing vocals [Dan] was like…
the birthday celebrations for The (mighty) Lexington. It was hard to ignore the rush of hands from every direction,
Nick: He was scheming.
pulling them this way and that for a picture or avid complimenting. That visceral excitement, considered
Lewis: …Yeah! He was almost playing as a fifth member,
alongside their scheduled appearances at the tastemaking
he was playing modular synth. It was coming back out at
showcases SXSW and The Great Escape, is casting 2023
us while we were doing the take too so we could hear it,
in a promising light. With hopes of a debut album and
I’ve never had that extra element.
the inevitable opportunities that will follow, I’d say the anticipation that has been tailing them since their first run
Nick: It’s not a huge room either so we were all a couple
of singles is anything but far-fetched.
of feet from each other and I could hear everyone clearly. Acoustically I’ve never recorded anywhere quite like that.
Calling me from their current port of call, an Airbnb in Leeds, Lily, Nick, and Lewis took a break from prepping
Lily: Yeah, usually you’re quite separated. I reckon if we
for their imminent Independent Venue Week tour and
recorded with him again it would be so interesting to see
recapped their latest stint in London.
how far he takes it, because we only had the one day with him.
Words by Amber Lashley, illustration by Pauline Pete
You said when talking about ‘Song About Love’ that
Lewis: It was so small! I felt like there were so many
you think a lot of songs, even when not explicitly, are
cables around me! Couldn’t even step 10cm to the left.
about love (or lack thereof). What is your favourite not-about-love love song?
Lily: I think what [Nick] said about there being no support act is interesting. It was super small and busy. It was
Lily: I guess when I said that I was especially thinking
special to be releasing that song that we had been looking
of songs that are political or have a certain ideology they
forward to for so long at a sold-out London show, and with
want to present. A lot of songs I listen to have a concept
no support act to bring in tickets, it was just mad.
about society that they want to talk about. If a song is written about protesting something, like protesting the
Lewis: I still get surprised.
way someone is treated, then you’re showing love for that someone who is being mistreated. So if you write a
You guys are all living together now, and I know a
song that’s anti-racist, then it’s a love song, because it’s
couple of you lived together before, how does being in
showing love for a community that’s being attacked. Now
each other’s space change the dynamic? Does it at all?
that I’m trying to think of songs that could back up that opinion, my brain is broken.
Lily: I think it’s made us write better! Or at least write more. Since we’ve moved in here it’s been our most
No, it makes sense, I would say that is just true, there’s
productive writing time.
no need for any evidence there. Obviously, I came and saw you perform at both Third Man Records and The
Lewis: I think because there’s no pressure to fit it in a
Lexington this week, they’re quite different capacity-
specific time frame, it’s just like, if we’re feeling it we’ll
wise, is there a difference in approach or feeling for a
write a song. There’s no like “right, we’re gonna meet
smaller show compared to a larger one?
here, tomorrow, 3pm, and we’re gonna write a song!”. We’ve also had a lot of practice spending time together so
Nick: Well we didn’t really have a lot of time to think
it’s been quite a smooth transition.
about anything during the day, it’s just next thing you know it’s 8:15pm. When you’re playing to a really
Lily: Yeah it doesn’t really feel weird.
crowded room that’s only there to see you, and there are no supports, it’s pretty weird.
So this is temporary then?
Lewis: It’s always weird playing a gig that’s so small, I’m
Lewis: We’ll probably go to a different Airbnb after this.
way more intimidated there than at the big ones. You’ll
It’s really weird because we don’t have anything here,
literally have someone standing right in front of you and
everything is in a storage locker and this is just some
it’s just got a whole different atmosphere. Not necessarily
weird little pitstop.
added pressure but there’s just a different kind of vibe, you feel kind of exposed.
Nick: We’ll probably have quite a few more pitstops.
Nick: Yeah, you’re really presenting yourself.
Artists are usually quite creative across the board, obviously, people aren’t just interested in one thing.
Lewis: [Third Man] was a fun gig, and it was mad seeing
Are there any other mediums you are particularly
so many people there.
interested in or would like to get involved in?
Third Man was really intense. I was in the third row
Lily: Everything for me. I finished a drawing yesterday
and I was basically right in front of you, so I can
and I’ve started teaching myself to paint. I want to write, I
imagine that it was a lot…
want to make films.
Lewis: I think film as well. [To Lily] You know you were
Lily: Yeah me too, we just want the most concise ‘this is
talking about how we could make that silly little TV
our album and we’re proud of it’ album, ever. I want to
listen to it and be like, I would listen to that.
That you wanted to make a TV show? Or that you’re
Lewis: I want to listen to it and feel like I definitely
going to make a TV show?
couldn’t have put more effort into it.
Lily: Just like skits!
Lily: We don’t want to regret anything.
Lewis: You know when you’re just chatting shit, we’ll just
Nick: Which is sort of impossible, but that just spurs us
write down skits that are kind of funny and we’re like,
“we should just make a sketch show”. Lily: I’m really excited now about making this TV series, Lily: I see it as something like Tyler the Creator’s one, an
we’ve spoken about it for ages!
adult swim type, I don’t know… You know when people talk about those friends that get together and are like “we are so funny we should start
a podcast”, it’s just like that. Lily: Nonsense, but like, kind of jokes. Lily: And then everyone is like - this is just the worst shit Lewis: Doug really likes clay but birthday boy is not here
at the moment. Lewis: Stick to music! So I guess, inside of music, what are some things you’d love to do in the next year?
I reckon you could do it.
Lewis: Write an album.
Lily: We could do it, whether it’s a good thing that we should do, I don’t know.
Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky - the city that brought
It’s interesting we drew this as a past card. Listening
us such cultural stalwarts as Muhammad Ali, Slint, and
through the Wombo back catalogue, I feel like some
Bonnie Prince Billy - three-piece Wombo are sagely
of your earlier releases are a lot more wild and
levitating apart from the rest. Twirling psychedelic
unrestrained than your most recent album ‘Fairy
melodies across spidery post-punk webs, the combined
Rust’, which feels a bit more measured.
talents of Sydney, Cameron and Joel produce sounds at once preciously ethereal yet pointedly direct, like a spate
S:I think we’ve definitely refined it a little bit and matured
of lucid dreaming.
it. We feel like we’re growing as songwriters and trying to stay true to those instincts, but also make good songs
With songs that often draw their themes from realms
that we would want to listen to. The older I get, the more
of the uncanny - nightmares, folk tales and the like - it
refined I think we naturally become in songwriting. It
seemed as if the only way I would adequately plumb the
really can’t be helped in a way. It’s just different, y’know,
depths of their psyche was through suspicious and occultic
we’re just growing up.
means. And so, with a deck of tarot cards at my fingertips (A hastily downloaded app on my phone), and the vast
Joel: We’ve been playing together for a lot longer, just us
expanses of time as our canvas (zoom), let us interrogate
three. When we did [debut album] ‘Staring at Trees’ we
the passions of Wombo’s past, present, and future - a
had played music for a couple months together, and didn’t
simple three card tarot.
really have a good feel with each other musically. We were crazier back then, so the music was crazier.
Our first card, representing your past is…[laughs] “Lust”. Let’s talk about your ‘primal instincts’ as a
Especially on ‘Fairy Rust’ there’s a lot of references to
the uncanny, mythology and old fairy tales. Where does this interest come from and why put it into the music?
Sydney: I do think that in the band we’ve always tried to go with our gut instinct on music and songs. I’ve been
S:I think I just read a lot of stuff like that. I like to keep
hearing a lot about theory based art lately - about trying to
it vague to a point where everyone can relate to it and
make things fit into a certain category, or keep up with the
make what they will of it. I felt like these words had nice
times, or be relevant. And we’ve never really done that.
sounds and melancholy feelings. And I wasn’t trying to
We’ve always gone with, I guess, our ‘primal instincts’ on
be that deep about it, just trying to paint this picture with
where the music should take us. And I have a crush on our
these words, on top of the melodies, because the melodies
music so I guess there’s a little bit….[laughs] Our music is
always are the main thing for me. There’s a little bit of
lustful! You should see our shows. They get really raunchy
autobiographical-ness about it, but take what you will
and people just writhe around on the floor. It’s gross. I
from it. Read into it. Or don’t. Just enjoy the music.
don’t know why...
Whatever you want.
Words by Elvis Thirlwell, illustration by Eva Klemann-Kochhan
I guess we move onto the next card, representing the
This vaguely links, but not really, to something else I
present. It’s “The Five of Discs”, representing worry,
want to talk about. I want to discuss Louisville, and
stress and instability!
Kentucky more generally. I’ve not been there. I don’t know much about it. What were your experiences
J: oh no! [laughs] This is why we broke up!
growing up and being a band there?
I guess there’s a lot to worry about now, being able to
S: It’s a smallish city. It’s a place where there’s a
afford the ‘luxury’ of being a musician…
community, but also, you can keep to yourself too. I feel like places like New York and LA, there’s so much stuff
S: Definitely we worry about financial matters with the
going on all the time, that I feel like if I lived there, I’d
band a lot, because we don’t have money, we don’t have
be pulled left and right, and doing so much shit…oh my
families that are like “oh here’s this! Here’s that!” We
god… FOMO all the time! social stuff all the time! Here
don’t come from a super wealthy background. I mean, we
you can hide away a little bit, and I like that about it.
live in Kentucky. I grew up being pretty dang poor, and
There’s really pretty areas. Kentucky’s pretty poor, but it’s
not really having that much financial help. I read an article
beautiful. I enjoy living here.
the other day that was about this, about how the art world is becoming an echo chamber of this specific viewpoint.
J: It’s not tiny. Louisville is a big city relative to
Because a lot of artists who are really getting out there
everywhere around us. It’s over a million people. There’s a
are better off. There’s a lot of wealth in the art world now.
big art scene. It’s kinda nice. It’s big enough to have stuff
What are their experiences? What is their viewpoint on
happening all the time. But cheap enough that you can
life? I can’t relate a lot to that kind of shit, because I don’t
afford to go on tour and pay your rent when you’re not at
come from that. But we are lucky because we have [our
home. It’s pretty central. I mean, Chicago, we don’t even
label] Fire Talk. We have a lot of worry and stress, but at
blink travelling there anymore, it’s like a five hours drive
the same time, we just do it, we just keep going.
Joel: It’s definitely hard. The past couple of years working
5 hours in the UK and you’re at the other side of the
a full time job, trying to get time off for touring…
Eventually the goal is being able to tour long enough that you don’t have to work a full time job. That will be maybe
J: We’re coming to the UK for the first time in May!.
in the next couple of years, we’ll see
None of us have ever been to Europe, so it’s gonna be many firsts for us.
It’s weird how that’s the ambition for so many musicians. Just to be able to play music! That should
What are your perceptions of music in the UK?
be a starting point right? S: I’m always hearing cool bands and I’m like, “ooh I Joel: I mean, we’ve made it work really well. But yeah,
wonder where they’re from?” and it’s like, oh, they’re
it’s always something we’re worried about. Am I going to
from the London.
get time off? Do you have to say no to some opportunity because we need to work?
S: We love Dry Cleaning. Also Cate Le Bon.
J: She’s Welsh! Mandy, Indiana - We love them. It’s always felt like a big thing for UK bands to go to America. There’s an established history there. J: It feels the same. We’re like,“we have to go to Europe. It’s the promised land!” I’m sure it’s just a ‘grass is greener’ thing. You’re like “New York City!”, and we’re like, “London!” J: Lots of people have been hitting us up for years now being like, “hey, when are you coming to Europe?” Finally getting to go over…hopefully we get to see a lot of people who have been following the band and wanting us to go over us for a while Anyway, it’s time to look into the Future…we’ve got ‘The Princess of Cups’ - representing sensitivity, creativity and naivety. That sounds good right? Looks like you’re going to have a harmonious, slightly wayward, but ultimately fulfilling future! J: ‘slightly wayward’ is an understatement for me [laughs]. That tracks out for me I relate to that I’m glad you didn’t get ‘The Tower’ J: What’s the Tower? Everything’s shit basically. J:[laughs] I like how ambiguous this one was… I definitely feel like it’s promising for writing songs. That’s it. We’ve gone through the whole of time, and the whole of the world. And we’ve made it to the end of the interview.
Duos have broadened the barriers of sound since music’s
Tash: We want to capture the live show. The experience
inception. Take the free jazz collaborations between John
is energetic, heavy, weird. We chose ‘OGO’ because it
Coltrane and Pharoah Saunders, the Chemical Brothers’
shows off these qualities. The name alone is silly and fun,
fusion of electronic and rock music, Tom Morello and
showing that we don’t just take everything super seriously.
Zack de la Rocha’s anger in Rage Against the Machine. Each of these partnerships have added to the expansion of
How does this translate stylistically?
tradition. Today, O. do the same. T: We consider our sound to incorporate the heaviness of O. are Tash Keary on drums and Joe Henwood on baritone
rock, dub, electronica and hip hop.
saxophone. Meeting through bands they both played in, the two found a shared love of heavy rock, throwback
Joe: We both enjoy heavy music. That doesn’t necessarily
electronic music and sound system culture. Immediately
mean something heavily distorted, loud or super technical.
unconventional in their setup, the duo are accustomed to
We enjoy imperfections in music, and every time we play
being labelled ‘experimental’ or even ‘weird.’ Though 18
‘OGO’ live it’s different. Having Dan Carey on production
pedals for a saxophone only highlights this, O. argue that
was a wicked fit. In terms of the dub element, he knew
the music itself is totally accessible.
what he was doing because he went to Jamaica and studied with Lee Scratch Perry.
Released via Speedy Wunderground last November, O.’s debut single ‘OGO’ demonstrates how the duo
Is there a lot of freedom in your live sets?
overcome the limitations of monophonic instruments. Unsurprisingly, they’ve leapt over this hurdle, using
T: There’s already a lot of freedom when there’s just two
new stage technology to do so. Importantly, there is
people. Recently we played Eurosonic in Groningen and
no computer, no pre-programmed loop to play along
I was so nervous I played all the songs double speed. We
to – everything is done live. This may seem impossible
can also alter the set based on what the crowd wants – if
considering the almost robotic technicality that goes into
they want to mosh from the beginning, we’ll work to that.
each rhythm and riff. Yet, O. welcome imperfection with open arms and are calling upon the unpredictability of
J: All our effects on stage also bring a randomness. We
improvisation to launch them into 2023.
have no computer, it’s all live from our pedals, always unpredictable. Sometimes things break and we’re into it.
As O.’s first release ever, what do you want ‘OGO’ to
Except…once my saxophone broke and we had to stop the
say about you?
Words by Poppy Richler, illustration by Alice Meteignier
What’s your relationship with improvisation?
J: Saying that, Soccer 96 and Comet Is Coming are a big influence – the fact that there’s so few of them making
We start writing our songs by improvising. It might sound
such a big sound.
like we’re just jamming in the live sets, but the tunes are So, is heavy music your go to for dancing?
all pre-written. Improvising the whole set would take a confidence that I don’t think either of us have just yet.
T: I love dancing to weird rock music. We saw Gilla Band Have either of you ever feared improv or received
last year. That was one of the heaviest and best gigs I’ve
advice to conquer apprehension?
ever been to.
T: I love improv but it’s got to be the right setting. There
J: Neither of us are massive going out people. But we
are lots of jams in London, but they are very high pressure
both love dub sound system culture. The massive sound
and everyone’s trying to do their own thing. For me and
makes you want to move. When it comes to head-banging
Joe, most of our improvisations started during COVID in
mosh pits, I remember watching the crowd react to black
our bedrooms, unsure if gigs were ever going to happen
midi when we supported them on tour last year. People
again. It was a low stakes situation. That’s the best –
were just doing whatever they wanted, whether it be going
seeing what happens and not playing to impress anyone.
crazy or standing at the back with their arms crossed.
J: We like to not think about it. With a horn, improv is
That’s a refreshing perspective. People can be
linked to jazz and black American music. We are both
judgmental about crowd engagement.
greatly inspired by pioneering musicians within that, but also like to explore different improvisations in dub and
J: You never know – someone may look like they’re
rock too. We’ll often record a bit of our improv and that
having a boring time, but they’re actually having an out of
groove or riff could be the start of our next tune.
T: It’s always been important for me to be around
‘Weird’ has come up a lot in this interview. Your music
musicians who encourage you to listen to others when you
is also frequently referred to as ‘experimental.’ Why do
improvise. It’s easy to feel like you’ve got to play loads
you think this is?
of impressive stuff, but it’s best to just interact with those around you.
T: The instrumentation. It’s immediately ‘experimental’ because it’s just baritone and drums. But Joe and I agree
Your music reminds me of musicians like Shabaka
that if you ignored that, the rest of the music is actually
Hutchings, Nubya Garcia and Ezra Collective who
fuse jazz and electronic music to create a club sound. Did you always want your music to have a danceable
J: There are passages in the live shows that go
groove to it?
harmonically or rhythmically ‘out’. But we never rinse that for too long. We always return to the groove or
T: We’re both influenced by that music and played in that
jazz scene. I grew up drumming to loads of electronic music – a genre all about making rhythms people can
T: It’s also because of Joe’s pedals.
dance to. Joe and I shared quite similar tastes growing Can you tell me more about your technical setups?
up – heavy rock music that’s less dancey, but still has a pulse that you can head nod to. I don’t think there was a conscious time where we were like, ‘let’s make something
J: To get around the saxophone only playing one note at a
people can dance to.’
time, I split my signal so there’s two of me.
I put an octave on one channel to make it extra low. I send that signal to a bass amp and there’s your bass player. On the ‘main’ channel – the melody line or voice – I use a harmony pedal to create harmonies. Combined with bass, those two things create a power chord. Think Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ Rage Against The Machine. Then we’ve got distortions, filters and ‘dubs’ (reverbs and delays). These make the sound more electronic – they can replicate a synth or a wawa pedal. Though we might play to loops, they never have a pulse. That’s a key rule. T: My snare drum goes through a delay and reverb pedal. It’s more straightforward. But overall, we’re talking like 20 pedals on stage. Speaking of playing live, last year you had a residency at The Windmill. What was that like? T: We love jamming with and learning from other musicians. We’d invite someone we look up to musically to do a solo set before us. They’d do a solo set then come jam on one of our tunes. We had Edna from Goat Girl, Wonky Logic, Rosie Turton, Shunaji, Izzy Burnham, Tal Janes and Pete Wareham. And what does the future hold for O.? T: More releases, and we want to play more festivals – that sweaty 2am slot. DJ stages too. J: We’re looking forward to our first tour! I also want to get more pedals. Finally, if you could be another instrumental duo, what would you be? T: I’ve always said the second most likely instrument I’d play would be trumpet. J: If that’s the case, I’d take the rhythm. I don’t want to say drums, so how about a steel pan with loads of pedals? T: It can be called like ‘P’ or ‘M’…
To his last days in 2020 he guided me through photography, always had an input on projects I started and sent me to see exhibitions that he deemed important for “a student of rock’n’roll” as he used to say. I’d say that was my real photography education. Although I did leave Zurich to go to LCC for a while – which is where my love and connection to the UK started to grow. How did you fall into music photography specifically? After discovering Dorothea Lange and my passion for photography I thought about the fact that to be able to live off photography one had to be a massively successful one. I needed a sort of side hustle. That’s when the movie “Almost Famous” came in and it came to me: JOURNALISM. But it had to be music journalism. So aged 15 I launched the music section of a then-growing Swiss online youth magazine and started interviewing as many bands as possible. When I look back at that time now, it feels like a totally different life. But that’s how I started out: doing loads of interviews, going to loads of
After befriending Rolling Stone co-founder, Baron
gigs and asking if I could shoot them.
Wolman by chance at the age of 15, Tatjana Rüegsegger has forged a career combining her two passions, music and
What’s your average work day like?
photography. It starts with a coffee. That’s about the only consistency We’ve written about Tatjana’s incredible, immersive
of my day-to-day work life. Due to working as a
project, ‘Brexit Bedrooms’ and more recently it was her
photographer, a production manager for a venue in Zurich
photos of Lime Garden that adorned the cover of issue
and also being a tour manager no day is the same. It
41. We thought we’d dig a little deeper into the Swiss
usually comes in waves: Some months are a non-stop mix
photographer’s work and process.
between it all. Essentially, they’re similar though: coffee, meeting up with the artists and making them feel at home
Please tell us a bit about your background, education
wherever they are and comfortable so they look amazing
related to photography etc.
on the photo or can do their best performance on stage.
When I was 15, I was determined to contact Annie Leibovitz to interview her for my final school paper on the Rolling Stone Magazine. Didn’t get to her e-mail, surprisingly, but I ended up finding Baron Wolman’s address. Not knowing who he was apart from having taken photos for the magazine, I reached out saying I was a fellow photographer (wow) and I had a few questions. Turns out he was the first chief photographer and cofounder of The Rolling Stone. He asked to see a few of the photos I had most recently shot (my friends and my cat mostly) and that’s when he started to be my mentor.
What photographers have had the biggest influence on you? Baron Wolman through his mentoring. Aside from his own photography and all the exhibits he sent me to see, there’s a part of one of the early e-mails he sent me that’s stayed with me ever since: “The subject gives something of themselves and the photographer captures that moment of intimacy. It is important to harmonize with the subject, to try and bring out the soul of the subject. Too many photographers insinuate themselves into the picture; they think that they are more important than the person they are photographing. Wrong!!”. That’s influenced me a lot. Would you say there is one theme, however vague, that runs through all of your work? I guess there’s a certain music activism in it with my personal projects like my book “Brexit Bedrooms” where I portrayed musicians in their bedrooms talking to them about the realities of Brexit threatening their livelihoods. Maybe a feeling of strongly being on the side of the musician and wanting to empower them?
In an age where boundaries have become increasingly
The work on this record started not long after ‘EW’
blurred between genres, musicians have become more
came out in early 2021; how do you see the album now?
adept than ever at building worlds around their art.
Is it everything you thought it might be from the start
Whether turning to elaborate concepts or shrouding their
of the process?
work in layers of mystique, disregard for conformity has almost become the norm in some circles. This has allowed
Eleanor: I think because we played a lot of the songs live
both the creator and listener to delve to places that they
before it’s come out, there’s been two journeys. They’ve
may not have previously imagined possible.
been growing as songs in that sense and adapted to the context of where we’ve been playing them, but I haven’t
The world that Robbie & Mona take you to is one of
listened to the album for quite a while, so my memory of
a dream-like state; transient thoughts drift into focus
it is largely built around how we play it live.
before disintegrating moments later, with nothing quite making sense. Much like awakening suddenly from a
W: I don’t want to call it a lockdown record, but I guess
dream, you find yourself questioning the world you found
some of it was written during that time, and so there’s
yourself in, desperately trying to place yourself in that
little things in the record that show that. I was recording
fantastical realm again but without ever truly grasping its
piano at home, and the cat that we lived with at the time
true meaning. It’s this state that you find yourself in with
came in the room and was asking for food and screaming,
Robbie & Mona’s music, constantly searching for one
and I left it on the record because it felt like you were in
thing, and each time finding yourself somewhere new.
Speaking to the couple behind the project, Will and
There’s quite a big difference between this and your
Eleanor invited us into the bizarre world of their new
debut, and you’ve said that this is the record you
album ‘Tusky’, and shared some of the process behind its
initially wanted to make anyway. What things were
there about ‘EW’ that you wanted to elaborate on and what did you want to leave behind?
How are you feeling about the imminent release of ‘Tusky’?
W: There was a mood within ‘Tusky’ that we hadn’t explored on the first album, something a bit more ballady.
Will: We sat on it for ages, and it’s always a strange
‘EW’ was kind of a collection of ideas and not necessarily
process putting out music. It almost feels like nowadays
songs, so maybe that’s why it came out as more of a sound
you put up a post and it now exists in the world –
technically. It feels quite detached from real life. I got a message from a friend yesterday saying “oh, I’ve not been
E: We wanted it to feel more grandiose and eccentric.
on Instagram for a week so I didn’t realise your song came out”, and I thought, “is that how you find out now?”
Words by Reuben Cross, illustration by Michael Highway
W: On ‘EW’ there was always the feeling that a song
I suppose all of this is quite different from your
wanted to end sooner, but we’ve found ways to add more
experience of being in other bands as well, there’s
to the arrangements.
no escaping the fact that you’re working on stuff simultaneously.
‘Tusky’ feels like more of an album than ‘EW’, which had more of a mixtape feel about it. Something else
E: There is always that worry that I’m never able to hear it
you’ve added is a whole host of collaborators such as
fresh or for the first time. On one hand it’s good because
Bingo Fury and Monika from Nukuluk. What was it
you can really immerse yourself in a song, but it’s bad
like inviting others to join the process having just been
because you’re unable to just hear it for what it is.
working as a duo on the debut? You’re hearing it grow in real time. E: The second part of making the album was made once we were out of lockdown, so we were a lot more out and
W: It would be nice to wipe your brain of the music
about and able to share ideas.
you’ve made for six months and then come back to it with completely fresh ears, but that’s also why releasing
W: We just saw more people and valued people’s
music is weird. You’re putting something into the world
expressions and what they had to bring to the table. It
that you’ve listened to thousands of times before anyone
wasn’t a conscious thing, we just had these ideas we
else has listened to it for the first time. How they process
wanted to do and it required other people to make it.
it without having had the context is something I’ve never
Usually I’d do it all and it would sound a bit shit, but this
wrapped my head around.
album warranted actually having people do some cool What are some things that provided an unexpected
things on that they were good at doing.
influence on the making of ‘Tusky’? E: I feel like that was something that we didn’t have when we were making ‘EW’, but it brought a different feel to
W: The film Bad Boys.
this album. E: It’s such a small thing, but the last song ‘Always Gonna What new things have you learnt about each other’s
Be a Dead Man’ is a mixture of that and La Belle et la
ways of working in the making of this record?
Bête, because it’s an ode to the world-making in fiction but also how there is always a dead man.
W: One thing I’ve learnt from working together is that I can get quite obsessive with the musical side of things
W: We were listening to a lot of Drake for some reason. I
because I can spend all hours of the day on things, and
still do. It didn’t really seep into the record I don’t think,
maybe I wouldn’t give Ellie enough time on things.
because the album isn’t like that, but I’ve always wanted to make drill and trap music. Maybe ‘Wenders’ is my
E: In order to be creative and to go into that world I need
attempt at doing a Robbie & Mona drill/trap track.
quite a lot of privacy, whereas a lot of people can get there when they’re being collaborative. That’s why it works as
E: Mixed in with Wim Wenders films (laughs). It was
a duo, because it becomes a little bit like pass the parcel.
specifically inspired by This American Friend.
You have the ability to be private but also together if you want.
Robbie & Mona
W: In ‘Dolphin’, beneath the track is a load of electromagnetic frequencies going on because we’d been talking about how ghosts communicate through those frequencies, and so I got a load of these inputs around the room and recorded the currents running through the house. It also has recordings of wind from West Norwood graveyard, so it’s a mixture of these embedded supernatural concepts. What are things people mistakenly think influence you? E: Twin Peaks, except we’ve never watched the third series. I really want to, but whenever we do a live show, people always say it’s a lot like that. W: Also Beach House. That one winds me up. Everyone says we sound a lot like them, but I’d never listened to them. When I did it confused me, it’s probably because Ellie’s voice sounds similar. It’s a really uneducated take just because it has a reverb-y female voice. E: Someone’s dad once said we sounded like Goldfrapp. I guess that’s one of those things where you’ve got your pool of knowledge. If this is the record you wanted to make initially, what’s the next one you’d like to make? E: I think when it first came together it definitely was the record we wanted to make, but now we’re quite ready to pursue a different mood. I think it’s going to be something more to do with movement and sensuality. We’ve been talking about it not necessarily being a listen for headphones but more for a club. W: The stuff we’re writing is with the live show in mind, so we’re making it as we’re playing live. It’s a more immersive experience for everyone involved. The two albums have very much been ‘write song, perform song, change song’ in their format, but maybe now it’ll have a lot less chaos. Our idea of what sound can be has changed quite a lot since we made this album, so it might go back to the more fragmented style.
Small-town bands with big-city sound are a rare gem, and
We wanted something fun, unique, and representative
Brattleboro, Vermont’s THUS LOVE, shines brighter than
of where we are now for people to hear on this tour. So,
most. Melting, velvety vocals; intricate, hypnotic drums;
it’s definitely somewhat of a rebrand, heading in a new
and uniquely melodic basslines with tones to die for;
created the perfect recipe for the band’s brooding debut album ‘Memorial’ in late 2022. Feeling comfort in control,
Lu: Our songs are growing as we do.
the band has pushed their DIY spirits beyond limits, hand-printing their own merch and recording the album
Maybe it’s too soon to ask, but is album II on the way
themselves whilst simultaneously building the studio.
It’s a testament to their intuitiveness, innovativeness, and boundless camaraderie for each other, propelling them to
L: Yes, absolutely. It’s going to be garage rock as fuck, but
where they are today.
also a pop album?
New singles ‘Put On Dog’ and ‘Centerfield’ unleash a
E: It’s going to be really fun and different.
powerful, sultry beast that THUS LOVE tried protecting you from in their debut. But it’s far too late for that now;
L: But still very much us.
the cage door is wide open, and the collar is now tightly around you.
E: Because we’re playing it.
Right before jumping on stage for their debut London
When you recorded that first album, am I right in
show at the Sebright Arms, vocalist and guitarist Echo
saying you were all living in the same apartment? How
Marshall (she/her), bassist Nathaniel van Osdol (they/
did you find that?
them), and drummer Lu Racine (he/they) joined me for a pint to talk about what they’re all about.
Nathaniel: It was crazy, actually insane.
I absolutely adored your debut album, and now you
E: Our bathroom didn’t have a door.
have two new singles. They feel pretty different, got more of a bite to them. Do you feel yourselves
L: We got very comfortable with each other. Otherwise, it
gravitating towards a new era in THUS LOVE,
was so special and truly some of the happiest days of my
life. It was during lockdown, so there was nothing else to do but music. We had the gift of all the time in the world.
Echo: The record very much represented where we were at the time and what we had gone through, saying goodbye to
Go on then, if you could each assign yourselves a role
many special people, hence the name ‘Memorial’.
in that house, who’s who?
There are four instruments on the album, yet only three of us, so we had to start compensating for that lack of
E: Lu’s the stay-at-home dad. Nathaniel’s the working
synthesiser, especially live.
mother. I’m the closet goblin, working on the same guitar part all day.
Words by Will Macnab, illustration by Bahij Jaroudi
L: Making dinner every night was amazing. It’s important
Were you always into the production side, or was this a
to just nourish yourself in every way when you’re diving
way to help maintain that DIY ethos?
into shit like this. Nathaniel’s grinding out at work, bringing home the bag, and Echo’s in the studio shouting
E: I’ve never done something like this; we didn’t know
“Fuck!” over and over.
how to do it, and that scared me.
Nathaniel: It was a great way to unwind from work. Get
L: But also drove her.
home, and dinner’s on the stove, perhaps with a lovely martini. Seeing Echo hammering away on the laptop, they
E: It has become a new passion, simultaneously with
put the headphones on me, and I just melt into the couch
realising that it was necessary for us to enter that next
and listen to what’s been done for the day.
chapter. Now, I love it. I want to save up a little nest egg and open a studio for young bands to come in and record
Lu, did you have a special dish?
for nearly nothing, having that same opportunity.
L: Beef stew.
Got any DIY tips & tricks?
N: Noooo, it was the chickpea curry with lime.
E: Get Reaper! It’s a free DAW (digital audio workstation). We recorded our whole album on it. And get
E: Chickpea curry with lime, rice, and veggies; it was so
an SM57. You can record anything with it.
good. So, you identify yourselves as a queer band; what can you tell me about music as a form of self-expression
L: Well, my favourite was the beef stew.
and your thoughts on being labelled as a queer band? I hear you’re quite the studio magicians, too; you built your own studio in the apartment?
E: Verbal language is constructed and evolved through societal and political limitations. When you are verbally
E: Honestly, it was a hyper obsession with many articles,
trying to express yourself, it’s likely that you are not
videos, listening to every lecture: Steve Albini, Sylvia
well understood through those means. Music is versatile,
Massy. We did it with one microphone. Well, I used a kick
ambiguous, and broad; you can do anything. As a vocalist,
mic for the vocals, but then for everything else, we just
I have fallen in love with making up my own words. When
used an SM57. The soundproofing for the amp isolation
you sing it with a certain delivery, it becomes something
was just Nathaniel’s closet with all of their fur coats. In
new and beautiful. We identify as a queer band because we
the most literal of ways, we are absolute beginners.
don’t want to be misunderstood. But we don’t want to be
N: You deserve a little more credit; you put it together so
seen as queer musicians; we want to be seen as musicians,
fast. Echo approached us one day with the idea of making
as human beings.
the studio. The next day I got home from work, and there it was—the studio was done.
N: Music is personal when you’re creating it, and it is impossible to divorce that from who you are. So, of
L: That’s so her. When Echo has her mind set on
course, we would be making queer music. Of course, that
something, it’s fucking done. And that’s one of my
would not necessarily be at the forefront of what we’re
favourite things about her. Our friend Matt mixed it so
doing, but it is very much a visible part of it.
well and spent so much time on it too. Big shout-out to Matthew Hall.
E: A lot of our music is about being queer. A lot of the
L: I hope it makes you feel beautiful. I hope that for you
lyrics that I write are about my own personal experience
and everyone in the audience, there’s a point where we’re
or ours as a group. But it’s also just music. At a certain
all together, present in one moment. We’re all in one
point, we’ll just stop saying we’re a queer band because
room, sharing a beautiful memory.
it’s not like others say, “hey, we’re a cis-man band”. Lastly, seeing as your album is titled ‘Memorial’, And how do you feel about the relationship between
what’s one little thing you will never forget about this
being trans and the genre of music you fit into?
crazy journey you’ve all been on together?
N: Considering our fanbase is mostly older cis-
N: We played a show in Pittsburgh last summer, at The
heterosexual men, I feel like we are sort of introducing
this entire generation of people to queer identities in a way that isn’t shock value. It’s not tabloid headlines of,
(Everyone cheers for The Rock Room)
“Oh my God, trans women in bathrooms!” No, it’s more, “trans people on stage, making music you like”. And we
N: We pull up, and it’s a bunch of bikers and goth chicks.
get misgendered constantly. Many of them still don’t view
It was like being transported back to 1987. Everyone was
us as queer in any way.
smoking inside. We played in a room of maybe 10 people and made more money that night than any other on that
L: It’s essential to be seen. There are not enough trans
tour. Walking into a room covered in graffiti, red lighting,
people in the music industry. Trans people have been
and so much smoke that you could hardly breathe. It was a
around since the beginning of time, and we have a spot in
really good time.
this industry too. It’s not a trend. It’s just our life that we live every day.
L: Our friends, baby! And honestly, I want to give a shoutout to my mother. Her support as a parental figure and a
Are there other artists in the queer space that you want
mentor has been so important. I love her so much. The
everyone to go listen to?
same thing about our friends back home—that same crowd of 20 people who continuously showed up.
E: Absolutely. The first one is our best friends in the whole world, Lahnah. They’re fantastic.
E: Yeah, our fucking mums! I love my memory of the first time I spoke with Nathaniel at Marlborough College at a
N: Beetsblog. So sexy, an incredible lyricist and guitarist.
cowboy-themed party they threw.
L: Robber Robber.
N: Technically, it was a horse-themed party.
E: Dari Bay, and even the bands we are playing with now.
E: Okay, it was a horse-themed party…they are terrified of
Mhaol and Sprints, all diverse groups of people.
horses. I went up to them, my first question was, ‘do you play music?’. Immediately I asked them to join the band,
N: They’ve got some bisexual anthems, for sure.
and they said no.
I’m really looking forward to seeing you play later.
N: You gave me your number too, I didn’t end up texting
What am I in for?
E: Saucy, rambunctious, self-exorcisms.
E: You didn’t text, you did not call, but I was persistent. L: That bitch.
Mary in the Junkyard haven’t released any music yet, but
C: Yeah. I’m not a huge fan of this mug though (gesturing
they’ve become a recent staple in London’s independent
to the huge skeleton mug) because it’s quite scary. It
venues, playing multiple gigs a week and often pulling
violates the niceness of having a cup of fruit tea.
bigger crowds than the acts they’re supporting. Their intriguing sound balances moments of tender reflection
How did you guys come about as Mary in the
with cathartic bursts of release. The result is an
intoxicating live show that is so obviously enjoyable yet vulnerable for the band. Ahead of their set supporting
C: I’ve been writing songs for a really long time and then
Divorce at the So Young gig, we spoke to them on the
last summer we were in a different band together and
stairs (and eventually in the smoking area) of the Sebright
started writing together. Then we just sort of got a show
Arms about their songwriting process, knitting, and the
by accident and it started there.
slightly horrifying skull mug that singer Clari was sipping fruit tea from.
How do you accidentally get a show?
How did the warmup go?
C: Well I had this EP out [Clara FT] which originally was released as Mary in the Junkyard and the booker at
Clari: We think this is probably the biggest stage we’ve
the Cav listened to it and booked me as that and then I
ever played on so we’re pretty excited.
realised I didn’t want to do it by myself. After that we just kept doing it, we weren’t actually going to start a band it
What’s your favourite venue that you’ve played in
just sort of happened.
London so far? What made you decide to differentiate between that Saya: We love the Windmill! We’ve done quite a few
earlier EP and this new stuff, changing it from being a
shows there and it always feels so nice to go back. Our
Mary In The Junkyard release?
first show was the Cavendish arms and that was pretty cool as well. The sofas and the dog mugs *laughs* they
C: I think it’s because what we’ve written together is so
have these proper dog mugs.
different from my lonely acoustic tracks, even if some of them are the same songs.
I feel like you need to start stealing mugs from the venues you play.
Words by Eve Boothroyd, illustration by REN
So what does a standard songwriting process look like
Some of the songs she’s brought us have been a bit quieter
at first and then have become louder depending on how it feels when we play as a band.
C: *laughs* I usually just go on walks and sort of sing into my voicenotes. And then I get back and I listen to
So what’s the process like for you as the rest of the
them, or I listen to them on the train a lot, and I’m like oh
band, do you write together or in separate parts?
that melody sticks out to me. I really like writing lyrics as a sort of stream of consciousness, like almost mumbling
D: Together we tend to jam it out. Definitely in person,
lyrics, and I think that a lot of the beauty of lyrics are
always in person. It’s because we want it to be fun to play.
the sounds that the melody makes and the way it fits in together. I think words are very melodic so I like writing
S: We like that energy and the energy of playing together
in a kind of improvised way.
as a band. I think that the highlight of the end of 2022 was just a lot of playing together and playing as a band.
Do you write things other than lyrics, like poetry? You’ve been playing loads of live shows which is great. C: Yeah I do, I don’t really write books and things but I like writing my ideas down and I have loads of notebooks.
D: Yeah it’s been amazing and all so natural as well, like we play one show and then someone would get in contact
When you write the songs are they primarily about you
and ask if we fancy playing this. Definitely right now
or about characters?
we’re just trying to play as much as we can. Gigs just keep coming and we’re like “oh that’s nice”.
C: I literally write from random things that I’ve thought about. I have my book of thoughts and I’m currently on a
Have you noticed a difference in the way you perform
writing course so I just have little ideas and, I don’t know,
in comparison to those earlier shows?
manifestos. I would really struggle to be like “this is a song about time or… my childhood or something” they’re
D: We definitely have more energy and learned what we
more like this is the state of mind that I’m in right now.
enjoy playing most. What we enjoy about playing songs is
But I’d love to write more concept songs cause I really
how much we can do as a trio and within the format of the
like it when people have a whole rounded idea in a song.
song as well. That first show was just sort of… flailing. I think what we really enjoy, and hopefully what comes
The new stuff is a lot heavier, do you differentiate
across to the audience, is that a lot of what we’re playing
between the projects in tone or did you just naturally
comes from us just sort of looking at each other on stage,
start writing more heavy material?
noticing each other’s presence and trying to catch those moments. For every performance, especially on the drums,
C: I think there’s something I really love about playing
in terms of rhythm, there’s a lot of time signature changes,
cathartic music. It’s nice to have a place to sing in a
there’s a bit of danger and I think that makes it pretty
screamy way *laughs* but it can be intense.
David: I guess part of it is when Clari has a song and the
C: I imagine it’s like a dancer trying to time lifts, you
rest of us come to add our parts to it we get to figure out
have to kind of look at your partner and think “when am I
gonna jump?” *laughs*
Mary In The Junkyard
S: It’s really fun music to play, regardless of it everyone else hates it, which I hope they don’t, I enjoy the shows so much. We had one show, which was on the day of the ice and also on the day of the strike. There was literally no one there and I swear I had the time of my life. I think the capacity of the room was like 300 and I would say there were maybe nine people there. I was just like “why am I having such a good time?” and it was just because of the music we were playing. I’m not sure if you have recorded any tracks but is that difficult to translate when it’s so much fun live? D: I find recording quite weird. We did live takes and then redid the vocals and added extra bits. I think our style is quite minimalist so our recordings are trying to sound like a live session, we don’t want to add in too much. I think being in separate rooms when you’re recording is hard because we feed so much from being near to each other and the energy of each other. I guess it is difficult to record but I think we got a pretty good recording down, I’m happy with what we got and it sounds pretty live. What are your plans for the upcoming year? S: We’ve got a show on Sunday and then a show on Wednesday and then another show the week after that *laughs* so just lots of shows really, as many as possible. And we want to make more demos and record more. Tell me more about the clothes you wear. S: Clari is an amazing knitter and knits me my tops so that’s the uniform that I wear. But it takes a while so you only have four alternating outfits. Do you think you’ll all end up wearing knitted outfits? S: I hope so. Top to tail, head to toe. But I think that would be pretty sweaty.
You don’t have to listen that closely to hear the echoes of
It must have been a little weird being spread out for
NYC’s alt-rock greats etched across the surface of Hello
the writing process?
Mary’s output to date. The Brooklyn trio’s sound races with a nostalgic fuzz ripe for soundtracking chaotic house
H: Stella and I would hang out because we were both in
parties alongside the likes of Sonic Youth or Nirvana, but
Brooklyn. We didn’t see Mikaela for a few month’s but
perhaps vitally, the reclined gang of school pals never
then when she came back she had bass parts for every
stray far from the melody or the song.
song we sent her and they were just so fucking good. So much songwriting was happening because of the
Catching up with the band on the eve of their self-titled
circumstances. I was just really sad writing songs where
debut album which arrives this March, So Young hears
I was and then Helena was sad writing songs where she
why they’re more ready to cite Elliott Smith as an
was. We didn’t realise it was going to be a cohesive album
influence as they are Mudhoney, and how lockdown in the
Big Apple offered them the focus needed to deliver such a vital and compelling body of work, that effortlessly holds
S: It was such a wholesome reunion after all that time.
its own on a vibrant scene.
Something that I always bring up is the bassline on ‘Spiral’. I wrote that song in Helena’s house really
How did the new record come about and what was it
randomly, they weren’t even there, I was just alone for
born out of?
some reason. Then we started workshopping it during lockdown and sent it to Mikaela. She didn’t even send
Helena: It’s been in the works for a really long time so
what her bass part was, she just wrote it on her own and
a lot of the songs were written through the pandemic. It
sent it back, then we heard it in practice in person for
was really a product of that deep boredom and so much
the first time. I was like, ‘wow this is a thousand times
free time. It deals with feeling really claustrophobic and
better’, it was an awesome moment, it was completely
realising things about the people you’re always around.
Stella: I hate to admit it because it feels like every artist
Was it a strange time being in NYC without all the
these days is saying their record happened in quarantine
hustle and bustle?
but they don’t want it to be about that. It did really have a huge impact on the writing style that was happening.
H: Yeah, it was definitely weird. I think the only song on
Mikaela was upstate and me and Helena would write songs
the record specifically about lockdown is ‘Evicted’ which
and then send them to her and she’d write her bass parts
literally mentions being trapped inside. I think most of the
remotely. Then we’d all come back and play together, it
other ones are about interactions with other people during
was a pretty crazy way to write music but it worked out
it as opposed to the loneliness and boredom itself. It deals
with a lot of frustrations of the people you’re around. Stella and I were living with our boyfriends at the time and a lot of things became very apparent at that time.
Words by Rhys Buchanan, illustration by Alison Laing
S: It was a really bizarre feeling being in Brooklyn
I guess there’s a purity to it. We played this acoustic show
without all that noise of the city. Suddenly it’s just quiet
last year as well, it wasn’t announced or anything, it was
and you’re inside all day. All three of us grew up here and
really chilled but that was a cool testament to the fact that
we’re used to a lot of stimulation and a lot of stuff to do.
some of our songs could hold up. Like some band’s songs
It must have been even weirder for Mikaela because she
wouldn’t make sense in an acoustic capacity because that’s
was literally with her family twenty-four hours a day.
not what the essence is about, but with us I feel like it can work either way.
Mikaela: Yeah, it was boring and lame. For a long time I Do you feel like it’s a more grown up record?
didn’t know what the songs were about but I would just listen to them. I think being alone and bored made me really hyper-focussed because it was all I had. It was such
M: Definitely, for sure. We were talking to someone
a shock transition, going from having stuff to do in the
the other day who said it’s quite similar to our first EP
grind of the city like going to school, going to work just
‘Ginger’ which surprised me. We always talk about how
to doing nothing, all you have is playing music and I think
different it is, the songs are more mature, the recordings
the three of us were lucky to have that in our lives. I’m
are more mature and we’ve bonded so much since the last
grateful for it.
one came out. So it definitely does feel like a growing moment.
I find it really interesting how you’re just as ready to cite names like Elliott Smith alongside some of the
S: We were able to use the live shows to help develop
more discordant, abrasive touchstones of the nineties,
the songs as well. That’s quite consistent across our
is it important to cut to the heart of the song?
songwriting, we always play them live a couple of times at least before we record. It sounds bad but we’re already
S: I think that’s something that I’m really proud of with
sick of some of the songs coming out on this record in
Hello Mary. I think we do a really good job of that. I
March because we’ve been playing them so much. We’ve
think that our influences are pretty diverse and have only
had a lot of time to sit with some of these songs. We’re
gotten more diverse as the band has progressed. Our
always evolving and growing though so things can change
sound is shifting even now, like Mikaela is starting to
in the process.
figure out this midi keyboard thing and we’re trying to add all of this cool stuff. I think songwriting and noisy
It feels like the NYC scene is in good hands right now
distorted bands and techno stuff are all influencing us
with names like Been Stellar, Geese, Momma and
from different angles, on this record coming out it might
Gustaf breaking out, does it feel like a moment?
be harder to tell the diversity of influences because I don’t think we’d reached for that yet. I still think there’s strong
H: I think that the scene is pretty good throughout the
songwriting and instrumental interplay. Like Elliott Smith
country at the moment.
is a wonderful songwriter, then there’s band’s like Sonic Youth where it’s really about the noise, I think we do fall
Do you run around with any of those band’s or do you
somewhere in the middle.
tend to do your own thing?
I heard that all of your songs start on acoustic guitars,
H: Not really, I think we tend to open for a lot of older
it’s like that old saying, if it stands up on an acoustic
band’s. Like the best and biggest shows we’ve played have
guitar then it will work as a song basically?
been opening for like Quicksand and Sunflower Bean.
S: I think every song was written on an acoustic guitar to begin with on this album, I can only play acoustic guitar sitting down in my room.
That’s interesting you mention Sunflower Bean who
S: The important factor is that I’m a little bit older, when
have achieved so much on the scene and beyond, have
we started the band I was eighteen and they were fifteen. I
they instilled any lessons in you as a band?
didn’t feel phased at all and I think that helped.
H: Yeah, Julia from Sunflower Bean has been so great
It’s easy to get romantic about emerging on the
to us and so helpful. She’s always there for us and has
Brooklyn bar circuit and building momentum in a city
become a close friend. We definitely look up to her and
like NYC, was that as cool as it sounds?
the whole band. M: Yeah, I thought it was amazing at the time and I still S: I feel like we were in more of a scene before lockdown
think it’s amazing and super fun. I really love Brooklyn
with house shows and stuff, but a lot of those band’s
too. We were literally playing a show a week at one point.
dissolved through the pandemic. I think now a lot of the band’s that are part of the scene are transplanted from
H: Same. Even though we didn’t sound good, I think our
other places like LA or Philly. I always wish that we were
first show was one of my favourite ever experiences. It
part of a music scene, for some reason I’m hesitant to say
was a house show and people were trying to get in. I was
that we’re not part of one because I wish so badly that we
terrified and I thought it was the coolest thing ever, people
were. I love that community. There are definitely dope
were like, ‘you guys are awesome’.
band’s from here though like Pretty Sick, Clovis, Stella How big are you guys daring to dream then with the
Rose, Momma, there’s a bunch of exciting things.
record on the horizon, it would be amazing to see you Did you ever feel the weight of NYC’s guitar scene
on these shores soon!
suffocating? S: I would really love to go to Europe. I think it’s totally H: We formed a band in middle school as an afterschool
achievable, right now we’re focussing on trying to get
thing, so we were all so super young really. We definitely
loads of cool support slots outside of NYC. That’s been
looked up to some band’s but people were really sweet
a big focus for us, we’re trying to meet with more people
to us. I was terrified of performing and had terrible stage
over in Europe to explore the possibilities. I think it’s
fright but I didn’t feel intimidated at all.
totally possible that something is going to come up on the horizon for us. In terms of how big we’re dreaming,
M: I feel like we should have been more daunted than we
I think the sky’s the limit. The three of us are really
dedicated and excited, even just to have an album out is going to feel like a golden ticket towards something huge.
Editors Sam Ford
Poppy Richler Leo Lawton
Amber Lashley Elvis Thirlwell
Josh Whettingsteel Reuben Cross Will Macnab
Printed By Ex Why Zed
SoYoungMagazine (Facebook) soyoungmagazine (Instagram)
Josh Whettingsteel Inês Viegas Oliveira Sergey Isakov
Martha Verschaffel Pauline Pete
Eva Klemann-Kochhan Alice Meteignier
Tatjana Rüegsegger Michael Highway Bahij Jaroudi REN
Photos for Collage Camille Alexander Holly Whitaker Pooneh Ghana
Special Thanks Al Mills
Cameron JL West Jack Reynolds