When the UK’s annual music mecca, The Great Escape festival approached, we caught up with two of the artists performing on the She Shreds showcase stage; Cumbia cool Los Bitchos and post-punk pairing Sink Ya Teeth.
Sink Ya Teeth
Forming out of the respective fragments of the Norwich DIY scene – Gemma Cunnigham of cult art-rockers Kaito and Maria Uzor of solo endeavor Girl In A Thunderbolt – Sink Ya Teeth plotted their birth in the cosy back room of a local boozer. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind ride with James Lavelle choosing the band as part of his Easter curation at London’s Southbank Centre and live sessions at the coveted Maida Vale studios. Multi-instrumentalist and lead singer Maria Uzor speaks to She Shreds on scenes, surreal band moments and the importance of sounding human.
The band’s mission is to “write and produce good songs and have fun along the way”. Do you think the mission has changed at all over the last year or so? You’ve certainly taken in some impressive experiences as a duo!
Maria Uzor: Yeah, it’s been quite amazing. I don’t think the mission has changed though. For me, the most surreal moment was doing the Steve Lamacq session in Maida Vale last summer and just being in those studios. We were being interviewed through the headphones because I think Lamacq was in Wogan House and that was really surreal. I totally just lost my shit.
It’s weird to meet all these people you grew up with. It was another Maida Vale session when Paul Weller walked past and we got chatting to him. He thought we were called ‘Stinky Teeth’ but because he was in The Jam, you know, that’s fine…
Pitchfork commended your eponymous debut for its ability to “sound distinctly human despite modern dance music often being characterized by its computerized creation”. Do you think that’s true and why might that be?
I think we try to put personality into it. I love that stripped-down, mechanical, kind of caustic sound but it’s also important to remember that we are human. That’s what makes us beautiful and unique so if you can inject some of that, whether that’s through using live instruments instead of programming the bass or just in the way you swing the vocal melody a little. You’ve got these straight grids and then injecting a bit of imperfection in there gives it that human element and that’s what we try and do.
There are lots of references thrown onto you guys around the dance scene of the late 70s/early 80s. Do you think there’s a bit of a revival of dance culture now with bands like Confidence Man – who are also playing The Great Escape – and Bossy Love and do you feel part of that?
Dance music does seem to be really big at the moment. Confidence Man are brilliant. We played our first London gig with them at The Social a couple of years ago.
I think it’s just the technology. There’s just so much you can do without the standard two guitars, bass, and drums. You can knock up anything on your iPhone, so why not? Things are changing and the tools at our disposable are becoming more vast and varied and people are just picking up on that.
When we speak to Serra Petale of South London’s Los Bitchos, she’s whipping up some early morning eggs ahead of a little physio session later that afternoon. The multi-instrumentalist certainly deserves the respite, having already shared the stage with Sink Ya Teeth earlier this month playing percussion for alt-rockers Flamingods. But it was back in her former band days drumming as part of dream pop types Kid Wave where Petale would meet fellow Los Bitchos founder, Carolina Faruolo. Some four years on and the band has already shared the stage with Sussex troupe Toy and NYC’s Bodega, despite not having more than a home-recorded EP to their name. Petale talks to us about origins, Octavator pedals and owning that chicha sound.
She Shreds: Los Bitchos has such a distinct sound and definitely not one you would place in South London. When did your collective paths cross to create this cumbia cool sound?
Serra Petale: Carolina sent me this compilation called The Roots of Chicha, absolutely amazing stuff and then a little video with this riff. I took that riff and made our first song out of it, ‘Frozen Margarita’.
We got a message from the manager of The Parrot asking us to open for them in Oslo in Hackney (an 800 capacity venue) I remember the exact day that I said “yes” and Carolina was like “What the hell have you done, dude? We don’t even have a band. We’ve never rehearsed”. So I was like “Well, we’ll have to now…”
On a track like ‘Tripping Party’, there are a lot of layers, digital delay and maybe even vibrato happening on your guitar lines. Can you give us some highlights of your pedal board?
I’m a huge huge fan of ’80s hair metal and I love anything ’80s so chorus. I use a Nano chorus, a Boss Overdrive distortion and a Big Muff. I bought myself an Octavator pedal as well. It cuts out a little bit of the pressure to have that third guitar. I’m also aiming to get a little delay pedal because I want to sound like Eddy Van Halen.
Your guitar parts, in particular, are so intricate. Were you classically trained?
Well, my Mum did make me learn violin from age 4-17. She got straight in there; outta the womb and onto the violin so I guess ultimately, I have my Mum to thank for that. My brother played the guitar so I always end up maybe try to noodle around a bit but mostly playing chords along to Pearl Jam or Nirvana. But to be honest, it wasn’t really until this project that I was actually able to solo anything or work out any scales. It’s me basically giving myself a crash course in the last three or so years to learn how to play the guitar properly.
Sink Ya Teeth and Los Bitchos performed as part of The Great Escape x She Shreds showcase on Saturday night.