WORDS Emily Phillips, Emily Blundell Owers, Seonaidh McGuire, Hannah Bertolino, Letizia Consiglio, Madeline Reid & Ellie June Goodman HEADER IMAGE Chad Heimann
This story originally appeared in the #9 ‘Make Noise’ issue featuring Phoebe Bridgers, Girl in Red and Bree Runway, which you can purchase now from our online store.
The portraits series of BRICKS print magazine has always been one that our team is particularly proud of. In every BRICKS issue, we feature a number of emerging talents and inspiring characters whose stories we believe are important to share. Throughout our different issues this space has been filled with a variety of faces, each tying in with the issue theme – including change-makers in #5 ‘The Future Issue’, body-positivity icons in #6 ‘The Body Issue’ and activist collectives in #7 ‘The Rise Together’ issue.
For #9 ‘Make Noise’ issue, we spoke with a number of young people working in the music industry today. To meet the amazing LGBTQ+ activists making noise, read more here.
MICHELLE is the New York City born and bred indie-pop collective tackling mixed-race experiences, city adolescence and more, one sunny indie-pop song at a time.
Made up of Sofia D’Angelo, Julian Kaufman, Charlie Kilgore, Layla Ku, Emma Lee and Jamee Lockard, the eclectic sextet forged an alliance sparked from a mutual need to make music and navigate their own narratives as PoC, LGBTQIA+ identities.
Taking inspiration from a diverse spectrum of artists such as Led Zeppelin, Noname, and My Chemical Romance, their 90s-style sound transcends the boundaries of a single genre. Think gender-blending dream-pop with elements of RnB and sleek synthetics, referencing rock, emo and funk. This amalgamation of influences creates a synergy of miscellaneous sounds for distinctly upbeat tunes.
The brainchild of producers Julian Kaufman and Charlie Kilgore, MICHELLE’s most recent drop, ‘UNBOUND’, is a colourful and nostalgic track about desire. However, as young creators in the Big Apple they’ve made it about so much more.
Emma tells BRICKS, “Sweet harmonies or funky riffs were not the noise we wanted to be making… As young people from a bold city, we didn’t want to ignore the reality of what it’s like to be a creative right now.” She adds, “So we highlighted the Black artists around the release, complied anti-racist resources… and continued to share them.”
At the root of it all, Emma explains, is “the fullness of the world, the fucked-up-ness of our world.” She explains how MICHELLE ‘makes noise’ about, “Beautiful and bold friends, [and] textures that transcend.” Layla says the self-defined ‘chaos collective’ is about love, passion, anxiety and New York unfiltered.
Denai Moore is an “artist […] more so than anything else,” making noise about her feelings, questions, and observations of the world with purposeful vulnerability. Her “special and raw” approach to her music has never been more apparent than on last year’s Modern Dread, a BRICKS favourite. Her third album explores themes of uncertainty and apprehension – that titular ‘modern dread’ that permeates our lives, from the minutiae of relationships to climate change anxiety – through sounds that layer up, melding pop-balladry with bassy electronica onto resulting tracks which are dense, yet perfectly formed.
Moore, who has previously described her work as “genre-free,” is interested in the multisensory nature of creating; “when I make a song,” she says, “I can see a visual world around it.” This ability no doubt informs her cinematic music videos, like ‘Too Close’, which marries the sonic with the visual in its journey between micro and macro, panning from a close-up of Moore into outer space as the track ascends into electronic ecstasy, and she repeats a truth too easily forgotten in this hyper-connected age: “I’m still me by myself.”
This self-assured characteristic of Moore’s lyricism is undoubtedly what’s made her such an industry fixture, from her vocal debut on SBTRKT’s 2014 track, ‘The Light’, to the three solo albums under her belt. As a musician producing consistently boundary-defying work, Moore’s advice for those coming up in the industry who make similarly genre-bending sounds is simple: “make without the fear,” leaning into what makes you “feel the most excited.” If she doesn’t feel “pushed […] nervous, vulnerable by the process,” she tells us, “something [is] missing.”
Alewya Demmisse is a true multi-hyphenate “creating a whole world.” Singer, songwriter, model, producer, painter, animator and metalworker – you name it, she does it. With no limit to her talent, this multidisciplinary artist’s candid Instagram stories demonstrate her dimensions: expect to see anything from her smoky late-night bedroom jam sessions to whipping up her special period cramp brew to soldering under a fume mask in a workshop.
The Ethiopian-Egyptian West Londoner has spent lockdown “remembering who the fuck I am” saying it has helped her “work through emotions and move through it back into my power, my love, my understanding.”
Initially posting on Soundcloud, she established a community of listeners and garnered industry attention. Early tracks that piqued interest include ‘The Chase’, ‘Slave 2 the rhythm’ and ‘Wait 4 who’, but it was her feature on Lil Simz’s critically acclaimed EP Drop 6 that pushed the London-based artist onto the world stage. A cocktail of sound, Alewya’s blend of snappy snare beats, sensual guitar riffs and husky vocals makes for an intoxicating infusion, exploring themes of femininity, sexuality, partying and heartache with a spiritual undertone. She bends genres crossing reggae sounds with trip-hop, RnB and alt-rock – Alewya can’t be pigeonholed.
Movement is equal to sound – she mastered Kikz Katika and Ikigai Chi Kaima’s choreography in her sexy summer 20’ anthem ‘Sweating’ which has amassed over one million global streams. Sharing her recording process during the pandemic, Alewya explains, “it made me feel really grateful that I was beginning and could have that reception during these times. However, it was my first taste at all that glitters ain’t gold, and really just existed on the internet. I’m a touch, smell, taste, see, hear kinda woman…I would love to feel it and connect in reality.”
With the hope of lockdown restrictions lifting, the glimmer of live shows – in whatever capacity – can’t come soon enough. Alewya gave a stellarperformance on Shy-fx’s stage at the last Notting Hill Carnival, who also currently manages her. It’s clear that she is only just starting to bloom…
Phoebe Fox is not often captured in front of the camera. Instead, she can be found beyond the barrier shooting Queens of The Stone Age from the photographer’s pit, hanging out backstage with Haim after a sold-out show at Alexandra Palace, or globe-trotting with Anne-Marie. “The past four years have been a blur between being on tour and at university,” she confesses. “Having this time off has really emphasised the interest I have in new music and developed my ear for it too. I appreciate it differently now, without the luxury of live shows.”
It was this intuitive interest in emerging artists that inspired her pandemic project, ‘Picks by Phox’. Taking centre stage, Fox enlisted the help of close friend and Absolute radio host Ross Buchanan to launch the new-music podcast. “The inspiration behind doing the podcast is to keep us and other music fans excited about new music in a time when it all feels very ignored, and provide a place for people to discover smaller artists as well as a dance along to the slightly bigger ones every now and then,” she says.
While Fox admitted to indulging her interest in presenting, her work – whether behind the camera or in front of the mic – ultimately shares one goal: to amplify marginalised voices in music and support the British music scene, and as it stands right now, there’s still plenty of work to be done. “With Brexit coming into place, the cost of touring for musicians is about to make the live sector extremely difficult and many European tours unviable. Writing to your local MP regarding this is a great way to help. There’s still so much we can do.”
The self-described Princess of Identity Pop, Josie Man, found space in the pandemic to slow down and focus on self-love and personal growth.
On her 2020 single ‘Grow’, Man sings: “I’ve been burnt, lessons learnt / But nothing ever grows, nothing ever grows without it.” This couplet alone encapsulates the journey the Pieces musician experienced through the recent series of lockdowns.
Josie looked at the last years’ enforced hibernation as a chance to heal and set herself free. Growing up shy and “different”, she has learned to find confidence in her disparities and is encouraging everyone listening to do the same, saying her lyrics are “about loving who you are just as you are, setting boundaries and moving your body.”
The 23-year old singer’s songs come from a place of warmth, giving you permission to be confident. The dreamy, upbeat rhythms hype you up better than a group of drunk girls in a club toilet and leave you not only filled up with self-love, but with a new perspective on evolution.
Josie acknowledges the achievement of mentally getting through 2020 and credits walks with her family and dancing for keeping her upbeat. With the world going through such a tumultuous period, she hopes her music can act as a vice for others, believing the kindness in her words can evoke happiness and make everyone listening feel loved and liberated.
Sasha Keable is the singer-songwriter reclaiming her artistic freedom and embarking on an independent journey guided by her soul-stirring sound. The 27-year-old musician distinguishes herself through her candid lyrics, powerhouse vocals and neo-soul elements influenced by an organic mix of her South London upbringing and Colombian heritage. Themes of love, desire and heartbreak are central to her music, including her latest track ‘Exception’ dealing with the naivety and blindness experienced during a break-up.
Sasha’s prospective career started early when she attended the renowned BRIT school and was quickly snapped up by a major label at the age of 17. A breakout moment for the young vocalist came from a collaboration with Disclosure on the 2013 single ‘Voices’. However, after struggling with the increasing demands expected of young women in pop, she made the brave decision to leave her record label and branch out independently. While such events could easily demoralise any emerging artist, Sasha remained focused on her passion for music and released her EP MAN including the hit single ‘That’s the Shit’ in 2019.
To reach one’s big break as an emerging artist Sasha advises to “do exactly what your gut tells you to do and don’t listen to old industry heads who think they know everything”. Trusting herself and following her instincts is what ignited Sasha’s trailblazing path.
Her experiences highlight the importance of creative autonomy and not letting conventional structures hinder your talent and artistic journey. In the future, Sasha wants to play more live shows and shows no signs of lowering her ambitions: “I want to release the best music that anyone has ever heard in their entire life.”
Lovelle is a sunbeam. The southeast London native is a vibrant powerhouse of creativity, with a voice like manuka honey, a deep, soulful sound and lyrics to match. “I’m on a journey,” she says. “I know what I want, but I’m letting the universe guide me to where I need to go.” After fifteen years in music, the singer-songwriter – and model/designer/music video director/producer – is launching her own label, Moody Inc., and speaking out on mental wellbeing. “I’m all about people really diving into themselves. My passion right now is to help people through my music and my voice, and speaking about us bettering ourselves as humans.”
Aside from her music and modelling, Lovelle runs a charity, The Give Back, with two friends, Tolu and Candace. For the last five years, Lovelle and the group have been raising funds and organising events to help people in need across London, donating vouchers, money, clothes and food parcels to the homeless and to families who are struggling to feed their children.
“I want to start a movement with Lovelle,” she says. That movement, her message, is love for ourselves and for each other. “It sounds so corny,” she laughs, but it is truly authentic to everything Lovelle is. In harnessing her voice and her creative energy, she is spreading that message every day and with it, making the world a brighter place. “I’m more than just a singer and I’m starting to understand that now.”
Carpetgarden a.k.a. David Sweet is the non-binary singer-songwriter challenging the music industry’s heteronormative clichés through queer-core bedroom-pop anthems.
The Los Angeles-born artist’s debut EP, entitled The Way He Looks, features a mixture of dreamy lyrics paired with lo-fi indie beats which encapsulate what it means to be Gen-Z in 2021. Carpetgarden tells BRICKS that music serves as their “diary” built on honesty and confessions.
Overall, their lyrics tell the sincere stories of common queer experiences. In the single ‘Can I Have a Ride Home? I’m at a Party and I Don’t Know Any1’ they sing: “Don’t tell your mom and I won’t tell your dad / We’re just two boys in love what’s so bad?” sharing a common narrative of two boys in a same-sex relationship despite homophobic parents.
According to carpetgarden, their motivation is to “make noise for the queer kids like me who don’t have the authentic representation they deserve.”
Otherwise, the bedroom-pop star – who credits the authenticity of younger artists (and also weed) as inspiration – forms connections with fans through off-beat social media posts in their characteristic emo style. Besides clips from their newest music video for the song ‘Beautiful Mind’, featuring a video-game style animation of themselves in a neon arcade dreamscape, their Instagram includes anything from TikToks of them skating and dancing around with friends like the cast of an indie film to creatively captioned mirror selfies paired with screenshotted memes.
“I try to play music on IG live and post funny content whenever I can,” says the musician. “Any interaction I can do to make someone’s day better.”
At 22, Jaime Sharp is at the precipice of his first musical endeavour. Having relocated from Manchester to London in 2020 to take up a job in music marketing, Sharp is hoping to break through in 2021 with his upcoming EP transit under the moniker ‘northclub’. “My proudest moment of the last year was independently organising and directing a new music video in a climate so rigged against new creative endeavours,” he proclaims.
Sharp admits the EP has been two years in the making, but he’s fine taking the long route if it means creating more considered music: “In a funny way, the hardest part of 2020 was trying to make music that wasn’t inspired by current events. I think we’re all preempting a wave of ‘covid music’, and one voice that really doesn’t need to be heard in a genre documenting struggle is a white boy living in London who’s lucky enough to be working throughout.”
Rather, Sharp uses his music as a storytelling tool. “It’s not as direct a form of catharsis as just writing about the things that are stressing me out. It’s more a vehicle of escapism,” he explains. Moving forward this year, Sharp is focusing on the small wins. “I just want to keep up the momentum I’ve built so far and regain the lost moments of 2020,” he says. “I think given the current circumstances, we should make our goals relatively unambitious and celebrate the small victories. I’m not trying to take over the world in 2021, I’ll just be happy to pay my rent.”
“I try to create familiar atmospheres with my music,” says Katie Lynch in her alluring Scottish drawl. The Dundonian musician pairs her soul-stirring vocals with transcending melodies with haunting lyricism. “I’ve always ‘suffered’ with intense emotions, although I don’t think of it that way. I like to write about things that have happened to me through the lens of those intense perspectives – people who are no longer here, my relationship, and big scary things like climate change.”
Having originally found success in bedroom-indie duo st martiins with bandmate and boyfriend Mark Johnston, Katie has spent the last year gearing up for her solo debut. “I think my greatest achievement of 2020 was letting go of my old band and deciding to start something new,” she says. “It was very hard to let go at first, but I trusted the process of loss. I didn’t realise along the way how committed I’ve been to this new project until I looked back over the last year of small landmarks. Only now are there tangible results and feelings of gratitude.”
But her path into the music industry hasn’t always been so smooth. Working as a songwriter, Katie has had to battle against misogynistic expectations and London-centric opportunities. “Some of the things I’ve experienced nearly ruined music for me forever – psychological and physical health support for artists of all backgrounds is paramount. Going forward, supporting artists and venues on a localised level will create safer environments for everyone. This year has shown that things can change if there is a will, and I’m hopeful that with this incentive things will continue to improve.”
Above the urban noise of catcalls and stagnant traffic, Loose Articles are four voices that demand to be heard. The “all feminine, all threatening, working and class” Manchester-based post-punk quartet was founded in 2019 to challenge the orthodoxy of the music industry – “the pale, male, and stale” – with a discography spanning hazy recollections of nights where the Stella never stops flowing (Up the Disco), to rants about public transport (Buses) and sexist pricks (I’m Equal), all grounded in their experience of working-class womanhood and radical politics.
For Loose Articles, this subversion is what post-punk is all about: “The alternative scene should be about breaking down barriers and subverting norms in gender, art, and fashion, so a more diverse set of voices are heard.” They are keen that alternative music spaces and venues adopt this same ethos, with the active promotion of trans musicians and tangible accessibility measures for those in wheelchairs. In their own words, their sound is “proudly discordant”, all “sarcastic drawl” and “ragged edges” – music that “speaks to all those determined to get through the age of austerity with tongue in cheek.”
In a post-pandemic world, Loose Articles dream of headlining Glastonbury. But for now, they dream of being allowed back in the pub. “If we’re being ambitious it would be to go on an all-inclusive band holiday to Benidorm. And if we’re going to be pushing our luck, we [would] go to Solana and perform at Neptune’s bar”. Whatever comes of the future, Loose Articles will be facing it with a pint in hand and two feet firmly on the dancefloor.
“I am a goddess finding her way in this world,” says London-based, American singer-songwriter Sabrina Kennedy. “I’m a healer, through my music and my artistry.” Raised in Salem, Massachusetts, Sabrina was moved by the morbid history of her hometown, where innocent women were tried as witches simply for subverting the accepted standard of femininity. “I make noise for the misunderstood, for people who feel like they don’t belong. I make noise for women. We’ve been burned at the stake for centuries, it’s about time women speak up and we’re seen and heard.”
Her latest video, for single ‘Silent’, is a testament to survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. “Coming from my own experience, the track directly targets that sense of going through a very dark time and the emotional facets that you feel, no matter how you identify,” she says. ‘Silent’is a battle cry, “it’s about not being silenced anymore, being heard, speaking out, even though huge institutions protect these abusers.”
Sabrina draws strength from her womanhood and from the women around her, which flows into each second of her sound and performance. In accepting her inner darkness and allowing herself to be vulnerable to it, she found power in her faults. “My weaknesses are actually my greatest quality,” she says. “Finding my dark side and integrating that into who Sabrina Kennedy is was my greatest achievement of 2020. I’m still bringing that into 2021, but my roar is louder now.”
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