Artist: Heard Collective
Date: 23rd November, 2018
Location: St. James Church, Islington, London
Review by: Gary Smith (LCM)
It’s always exciting to witness the birth of a high quality and much needed new project. The recently founded HEARD collective is one which I think will gain many plaudits and be around for a long time. It was set up with the much needed aim of promoting and supporting women in music.
Singer-songwriters Daisy Chute and Cerian co-founded HEARD after they first met in the studio recording vocals for Radiohead album ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ in 2016 and then singing Ilan Eshkeri’s score for the Burberry fashion show shortly after. They quickly became friends and started performing together on the London circuit.
Both multi-instrumentalists with Celtic roots and renowned for their pure angelic voices, they decided to combine forces and form a new collective of female musicians who tour together, play together and support one another. The idea was born out of a desire for more female representation in the industry and was inspired by other collectives such as Nashville-based ‘I’m With Her’, British collaborations ‘Songs of Separation’, ‘Woman to Woman’ and music by indie folk/pop bands like First Aid Kit and The Staves.
“So often we were finding ourselves in the studio or on a lineup as the only female voice. When we investigated further, we discovered that online magazine Pitchfork had found that only 14% of acts in American festivals in 2017 were female, and according to UK collection agency PRS only 16% of all songwriters/composers registered were female. Rather than viewing this as a competition between each other for that small space, we wanted to ‘open’ the window of opportunity, creating a collective of women not working against, but with and for each other.”
Cerian and Daisy wanted to give a stage to the female voice and in this exciting new format they present gigs, tours and all female line-ups together as HEARD. Between them they play a dozen different instruments from classics like guitar and piano to the more unusual harp and banjo. They love creating vocal soundscapes inspired by their time as choral scholars and their subsequent musical projects; Daisy was a founding member of All Angels and Cerian has sung for U2 and Imogen Heap among many others.
Daisy and Cerian want HEARD to be inclusive, for all female creatives from singer-songwriters to instrumentalists to artists. A stage for the female voice and a community for female creatives.
The official HEARD collective launch gig promoted by Pink Bird Live was a very special occasion. It was held in the grand St. James Church, a short walk from Angel tube station. The wonderful bill followed showcasing the talents of Cerian Holland, Daisy Chute, Fabia Anderson, Hannah White, Jelly Cleaver, Meg Ella, Liskka and Rebecca Brewer. It was great is how each musician played with or provided backing vocals for each of the lead artists in turn.
The evening was opened by the couple of lovely original songs from HEARD founders Daisy and Cerian, quickly followed by ‘River’, an always welcome and with Christmas fast approaching a timely Joni Mitchell cover.
Liskka, a London based alternative pop band (this time in duo format) then took to the stage to play their latest single ‘Sad Joy’ with Daisy on backing vocals. This was followed by a timely cover of Kate Bush’s ‘This Woman’s Work’.
The much traveled and in demand Daisy and Cerian are just back from a working trip and mini tour of the USA plus a visit to the home of Country music, Nashville. It was next Fabia Anderson’s turn to shine on the piano mixing shades of Regina Spektor, Fiona Apple and Tori Amos. Founders Daisy and Carian returned to the stage for a great version of Cerian’s song Our ‘Love Is’ written by Cerian, Also written by Cerian and one of my favourite songs the beautiful ‘Wasteland’ and I was delighted to see it included in the launch set. She was joined by Meg Ella on cello plus Daisy and Flavia Anderson on backing vocals. The mini set was completed by another lovely song ‘Give Thanks’ written by Daisy.
Welsh born but London based Meg Ella is a very talented lady. She is a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, composer and arranger. She also sings with ‘London Contemporary Voices’ and the ‘voices of the world’ choir. A short but sweet mini set. London based singer-songwriter and The Sound Lounge co-founder Hannah White was the next very talented musician to take the stage. The first gig that Daisy and Cerian performed as a early version of HEARD was very fittingly at Hannah’s venue on International Woman’s Day. Hannah pointed out that rather shockingly just 6% of songwiters for the Top 40 are women, Something desperately needs to change and female focused collectives like HEARD are definitely a move in the right direction.
The co-founders then performed two more of my favourites Daisy’s ‘Troubadour Boy’ and Cerian’s very catchy ‘Let’s Sing’. Daisy is currently working with Rebecca Brewer on a theatre project about the Pendle witch trials. The trials of the Pendle witches in 1612 are among the most famous witch trials in English history, and some of the best recorded of the 17th century. The twelve accused lived in the area surrounding Pendle Hill in Lancashire, and were charged with the murders of ten people by the use of witchcraft. As a side point the trials were also the central theme of a recent Dr. Who episode. After a short introduction from Rebecca we were treated to a mini taster of the new show with a rain incantation leading into a powerful song about the witches tearing down society. The church’s natural reverb adding to the dramatic performance.
For the encore the full collective came together for a powerful cover of Tracey Chapman’s ‘Talkin’ About The Revolution’.
With the huge depth of rich talent in their new collective, it’s one that is sure to grow and provide many opportunities for female creatives. We think The HEARD collective will be one of ‘the ones to watch’ in 2019. #followtheHEARD
Next HEARD London gig: Supporting The Willows at their album launch gig on 5th December at The Half Moon, Putney.