INTERVIEW: Girl Ray | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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After the success of Girl Ray’s debut album, 2017’s Earl Grey, the North London lo-fi pop trio are touring America, playing headline shows and performing at SXSW.

Girl Ray’s new single The Way We Came Back, written by their singer Poppy Hankin when she was just sixteen, has met with critical acclaim. “It’s a jolly rocker.” Bass player Sophie Moss explains. “If you have any plans to go for a skip in a field, then give it a listen. It’s a song we imagined would be rather pleasant to listen to on the motorway.” The accompanying video features sunset scenes of the band on a chilly day at the beach. “It was a nice excuse to go to the seaside but it was very, very cold. Rita [Conry] is a very casual director, and we stayed comfortable through the cold times. Although it might not look like we were having fun, we were.”

Their Earl Grey album takes the listener on a journey through Girl Ray’s romantic, gorgeously simple and subtly saucy songbook, from the tongue-in-cheek storytelling in Preacher to the dreamy repetition in Trouble, each track is soaked in soft soprano musings, and richly sun-soaked harmonies. Girl Ray present a unique, unmistakable and quintessential British sound, which is echoed in the nostalgic, painstakingly retro vibe of their music videos. To an untrained ear they could be mistaken for girlish waifs, but they show an appreciation for intrinsically weaved irony and dry wit beyond their years. These tracks form a contemplative soundtrack for a balmy English summer.

These tracks form a contemplative soundtrack for a balmy English summer

Currently touring the USA, it seems the band have immersed themselves in Stateside culture. “It’s been a corker. America is a very strange place but people are way nicer than in the UK on the whole. And the food is far supreme. It towers over the UK like a falling bookshelf on a child. That being said, I’m very homesick, and the British definitely have better duvet culture and a slightly more balanced way of life. But we’re having fun.” 

As an up and coming band, festivals rank highly on Girl Ray’s radar, but as a young all-female group, have they always felt welcomed? “For the most part it has been ok. But to be honest, sometimes you are made to feel like you can’t do the things that you definitely can, and often sound engineers assume girls have quiet voices when you don’t. We’ve been directed before many times to sing ‘directly into the microphone’ which is pretty shocking. Sometimes you can be made to feel like a token, like you’re only there to fill a gap.” When asked about advice they would give young emerging musicians following in their footsteps, Sophie jokes, “Turn back now before it’s too late! No, be persistent.”

Anticipating their Northern shows (at Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough on Sunday 15th April and Hit The North festival in Newcastle on Saturday 6th May), Sophie comments “People are slightly more loose there than in the South. They get more into it. The shows can be a bit more fun!” As a wry aside she adds, “There are a fair few more friendly lads there as well.”

 

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