Dreaminisfree's Album of the Week has had a hiatus for a few weeks - I promise you that this weeks album of the week, is probably one of the best debut albums you will hear in 2020. I shit you not!
London duo Girlhood (Tessa Cavanna and Christian Pinchbeck) are about to unleash their debut self titled LP on October 23rd via Team Talk Records. BBC Radio One, Radio 6 are big fans of this band already and if that isn't praise enough, if this isn't up for next years Mercury Music Prize, I will be very surprised.
The universe aligns every once in a while and something magical occurs - a chance meeting, or comment changes the course of your life and it's never the same again. That's exactly what happened to these two, who met in early 2017 one summer’s evening in East London.
Tessa was strolling past Christian’s narrowboat moored on the banks of the Regent’s Canal.
Her voice caught the ear of Christian who immediately hopped off the boat and persuaded her to record a song then and there in his makeshift narrowboat studio. They clicked immediately and, after working through the night, they had a batch of songs that would become their debut EP, released on Team Talk Records in 2018.
Following the success off of the back of their debut they decided to pause Girlhood for a while, with Tess working on her solo material (under the name Tiece) and Christian heading back to his native Bristol.
Thankfully, creativity always finds a way though and they started to make their music together again late 2019. Taking their influence from Fugees, late 80s hip hop, The Avalanches and 90’s neo-soul the pair recorded and produced their music on the aforementioned narrowboat.
The released singles from Girlhood prior to the album launch have all enjoyed massive success and rightly so - so what about the rest of the album? Honestly it is all golden - there are no fillers in this album whatsoever.
Stand out tracks for me personally that you've yet to get in your ears are 'Fever Sweat' which has a real Mary J Blige vibe to it; 'Keep On' which has a bass line that is perfectly juxtaposed in pitch to the piano; and then 'Fall Away' the penultimate track on the album - it's a tear jerker but feeling is healing and heaven forbid, if I was going through a bad time I would want to listen to this record.
I've also been lucky enough to have a quick catch up with Christian before the release of the album. We chatted about his influences, what 2020's been like for him and more.
Dreaminisfree: You say your music defies genre and i get that totally – Your influences sound so wide and varied. Who were the first band or artists who you feel in love with or made you want play/create music?
Christian: I’m a 00’s teenager, so my initial kick-start-a-band inspo was RHCP, notably Californication. Scar Tissue was the first riff I learnt on guitar, that’s for sure. I think I even bought a Squire Strat to replicate Frusciante back then. More recently, I just got my hands on a 1963 Fender Strat, so the initial influence was clearly ingrained. Weirdly though I totally fell out of love with the electric guitar when making Girlhood, Girlhood and used only a £10 nylon guitar I bought from a thrift shop for that.
The story of how you guys met is pretty rad – Do you still live on the boat?
Sadly not. I had a pretty rough experience when I moved onto a new boat that was basically ready to be used for firewood. I had no water, no toilet; I had to get a gym membership to even wash myself before work, and being surrounded by 10 swinging dicks grunting first thing in the morning is enough to put anyone off that lifestyle. That life is best experienced when you have to option to live on land or spend a few months travelling the canals, so I’m currently saving up to buy my own little boat project.
Obviously we had a lockdown and then some freedom and it appears we’re headed back to the same place. How have you guys been coping?
Well, I wrote another Girlhood album, got married and started a family. I think I can safely say I am one of the only people who have had one the best years of my life, and now we are right in the wake of excitement that our debut is dropping, I am really buzzing.
What have you been listening to in lockdown?
Burna Boy, J Hus, Andy Shauf, Colter Wall, Charlie Crockett, Fountaines DC, Khruangbin, Magnolia Electric Co/Jason Molina, loads of random 60’/70’s country records bought from charity shops by the nature of how ridiculous the cover art is.
Some people have picked up new things they’ve always wanted to do (I’ve even started to play bass). Have you guys started anything new in lockdown you’ve always wanted to do?
I grew a beard. Always wanted to, but I generally looked so scabby in the first months that I just give up and shave it off. Now, without the judgement of the outside, I have a fully fledged 5 months old chin strap.
Do you have any plans to do any socially distanced gigs with the release of Queendom?
Not at the moment. We had an album show scheduled and a few festivals but they obviously all got cancelled and it also means we haven’t had any rehearsal time. It would be good to try and figure something out like Noonchorus are doing, which has honestly been a saving grace over this period.
It’s a stunning album and I really can’t wait for the rest of the world to hear it – Do you guys have a favourite track?
I don’t really have a favourite tracks but more little parts of certain songs: The intro to Fever Sweat; the chorus of My Boy; the sax in Sister; the vulnerability that Tess gave in Fall Away; and the political but poetic lyricism of the album - it all sounds so pretty, but when you delve in, it’s really quite the opposite.
Finally despite everything 2020 has thrown at us, you’ve still managed to produce a stunning album. What’s the plans for 2021? I’m thinking a tour (possibly) maybe even a Mercury Prize nomination?
Plans for 2021 are all up the in air. We have a lot of music made over this period that needs somewhere to go, that’s for sure. Personally, I’m much more into the writing side of music than the performing. Mercury Prize… imagine! I’d be surprised if they are even aware of our little baby!
Girlhood is out October 23rd so you don't have too much longer to wait -
Summing this album up in one word - Sublime!
For fans of Fugees, Lauren Hill, Michael Kiwanuka, Arlo Parks, Oz, ROE, Baby Queen.
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