Originally formed back in 2015, HAVVK is the musical vehicle of songwriter Julie Hawk. Splitting their time between London, Dublin and Berlin. After spending the last few year’s working on their sound with producer, Rocky O’Reilly, the band seem to be emerging into 2019 with a new found confidence and quality.
This was demonstrated with the release of excellent recent single, Always The Same, a snarling slice of guitar-rock equal parts Mothers and Mansun. The track was an attempt to spin female objectification on its head, as Julie explained, “everyday women are made to feel uncomfortable, exposed, or in fear because of their gender. Always The Same asks men on the other side of that equation, especially those who have ever taken offence to women not returning their attentions, to question their sense of safety and entitlement and imagine what it’s like to walk down the same street in someone else’s shoes”.
Today Julie has put together a mixtape featuring some of her favourite feminist artists featuring the likes of Dilly Dally, Dream Nails and Skunk Anansie.
1. Dilly Dally – I Feel Free
‘I Feel Free’ got an immediate reaction from me when I heard it – the droning overlaps of fuzzy guitar and scraping vocals make for a really striking sound. I was on my way to work when I first heard it, trying to keep my balance on busy bus in Berlin. I nearly missed my stop from getting so stuck into the album. ‘Heaven’ is start-to-finish gorgeous and totally immersive. The record explores pain in a way that really lets you relish in it but lifts you above it too. Katie Monks has talked really frankly about the challenges and doubts about making a second album and you can really hear that they’ve cut to the core of themselves to make it. I think being transparent about the day-to-day toil of touring and making music is really important to creating a healthier scene and one where we feel less pressure to look perfect and play up to a facade of effortless glamour.
2. Big Joanie – Fall Asleep
I am so happy this band have finally made an album. I’ve actually just listened to ‘Sistahs’ for the first time today and it’s even better than I could have imagined! Big Joanie describe themselves as a black feminist band and they make no compromises in telling their stories, and in creating more space for women of colour in punk. You can hear influence of decades of record collections in their sound from ‘60s girl groups to ‘80s new wave and punk. Fall Asleep is the first single from the album and is about to become my ‘getting ready’ anthem.
3. AE Mak – Love Flush
Love Flush is a radical act of self-love and one of my favourite songs to come out of Ireland this year. Aoife’s vocal and the intricate loops and lifts of the production are utterly infectious and have that same effect on me as Robyn’s ‘Dancing on My Own’. If I could describe AE Mak’s artistry in one word, it would be ‘generous’ – everything from her sound, live performance and visuals to the way she interacts with fans is bountiful, full of humour and unafraid of flaws.
4. Chorusgirl – In Dreams
I first heard Chorus Girl when we played with them at The Finsbury in London. Dream Nails and Super Glu played that night too! I left with their debut album on CD and it has become one of my go-to records when I need something to remind me to shake off the bullshit and take some time for myself. They have this pensive quality to their music that means you can’t rush through it. Their sound is dreamy and psychedelic but Silvi’s vocal has an up-close quality to it that keeps everything grounded, like it’s happening in the room with you. This is the first single from their latest album which is absolutely living up to the first! I’ve got my CD ordered in the post, just in time for hibernation season.
5. Sleater Kinney – The Fox
I know exactly where I was standing, in my parents’ kitchen in Galway, the first time I heard ‘The Woods’. This whole record legitimately changed my life. Actually, I think my reaction to it was pretty much ‘what the fuck is happening here?’ I didn’t immediately love it – but I had to hear it again and again. I had never heard a vocal like Corin Tucker’s before. After that, I would listen to the album cycling to college every day, and every time I heard her scream ‘Laaaand Ho!’, it was like a kick in the shin telling me there were so many ways that women could break the rules in music instead of being boxed in by them.
6. Pillow Queens – Puppets
Catchy, clever, unpolished pop-rock, writing about shit that really matters to young people and especially to young, queer women in Ireland right now. They are just as comfortable getting political as they are in writing about every-day, personal relationships and headspace, and they in no way gloss over their identity in the process, singing in Irish accents and using local slang. Each one of their songs has this candid quality that’s really validating to me as an Irish listener – definitely makes me miss home and the craic and complexity of Irish culture.
7. Party Fears – In the Band
I find it really hard to pick a favourite Party Fears song but this one sums up their mission as a band really well. ‘In the Band’ is about those moments at a gig when the sound engineer addresses your male bandmate instead of you or when a stranger assumes your guitar belongs to your boyfriend (yes, we all just live for carrying our boyfriends’ shit around). They are fantastic players, infusing unpredictable, intricate musical parts into straight-up infectious pop rock. Their lyrics are rich and ripe with side-jokes but also really sensitive and relatable. I know Maggie and Eilis – I’ve toured with them – and they are another example of a band not only getting their own music out there, but trying to change the scene around them as they go, especially for women.
8. Dream Nails – Merkury
This band are living and breathing intersectional feminism through every aspect of their career. They make powerful pop punk that tears apart patriarchal constructs, even taking a stance against problematic aspects of the DIY music scene. They are vocal about the importance of selfcare, friendship and support when running a band and they don’t cover up the fact that there’s hard work involved. ‘Girls to the Front’ is their mantra and they go to huge lengths to make their shows accessible and safe to women and queer people. And they do this all while being fun, loud, glittery, and filled with unshakable hooks and riffs.
9. Skinny Girl Diet – Yeti
Every time I listen back to ‘Heavy Flow’, I find something new that I love about it. It’s a remarkably passionate, honest, angry and fun record. The wiry guitar, rumbling drums, and slacker vocal make me feel like I’m hearing Nirvana for the first time again – except now I’m hearing it from a woman’s perspective. It’s also one of my favourite albums to listen to, when I’m going for a run – I’m pretty sure people can hear me snarling along to it and I’m pretty sure I’m okay with that. ‘Yeti’ is one of my favourite tracks. It’s about the demonisation of women’s sexuality, something I’ve thought about and also written about over the last few years. The video is also so, so good, and self-directed by and starring the band. It’s a spoof horror film about the cliché of damsels in distress.
10. Skunk Anansie – King Psychotic Size
About twice a year I frantically google this song to make sure it’s still on YouTube. When I was 13, I found it on a a free Kerrang CD belonging to my brother. I stole the CD, copied this track onto a mixed tape, and put it back in his room. But I totally forgot about it until a few years ago, and this video is the only trace of it I can find. I absolutely adore this band, but this was my first taste of them and I can’t find a SA track that tops it in my books. Can we take a few minutes to celebrate a hard rock band fronted by a bisexual woman of colour, and breaking through in the lad-saturated era of BritRock? Skunk Anansie have never shied away from brutal honestly and aggression whether they are making a political statement or a love song. I have such admiration for Skin. She was a huge influence on me as a vocalist and performer. She has an intensely dexterous and powerful voice, she uses every inch of her physicality and facial expressions to gut out the emotion of their music. If you haven’t listened to it ye, get on it. I’m scared it’ll get eaten by the internet void someday.
Always The Same is out now via Veta Records. Click HERE for more information on Havvk