Julie Riley aka I am HER is coming to play our Unplugged night at the Old Queen’s Head this Thursday 22 August! We got to know her better with our 10 questions …

1. For people who’ve not heard you play live before, what can we expect from you at the LOUD WOMEN gig? 

A bit of punk /alt folk hits the mark. I’ll play acoustic but that doesn’t mean it will be sweet, quiet folk.

2. Which is your favourite song to play and why? Tell us about it … 

I really like playing ‘Heretic’ as its very therapeutic, tends to connect a lot for other women (amongst other genders ) and it’s the song I am least likely to mess up live which means I can relax and actually enjoy it. 

3. Do some super-lazy journalism on our behalf please, and fill in the blanks:

“My sound is like the lovechild of PJ Harvey  and Patti Smith with a bit on the side from Taylor Swift”.  Well, that might be overstating it but basically  full of stories, dark, punky and a little bit pop/catchy. 

4. What’s your proudest musical moment to date?

I have to cite a moment in the 90s – I was recording a song at Abbey Rd studios with Clare Grogan singing my lyrics, Steve Albini on the desk and I even got to meet George Martin too. Our then band, Rosa Mota were recording our 2nd album and we were the first ones to use the famous studio the Beatles recorded in after it had been refurbished . George Martin was given the grand tour while we were there. I remember thinking at the time – well this is a moment and a half. Album was called Bionic, track ‘This Grudge’ if anyone wants to look it up!

5. Recommend a record and a book that you think our readers might not have heard of.

 Book: 2+2 = 5 by Viv Boot. Based on a true story by and about a friend of mine, falling in love, not coming out and spending time in prison (the latter not because of the former 2 points ). It’s funny, witty, easy to read and I’m sure it will touch a lot of hearts. 

Record: That Dog by That Dog – great crunchy, dirty guitars, low slung bass lines and discordant harmonies.

6. One for the guitarists … bore us with the details of your set-up please.

I am no guitar geek  – I keep it all as simple as I can. Up til now I have been using  a Tanglewood acoustic but have just got myself a vintage Yamaha hybrid electro acoustic that has an acoustic pick up and a jazz one. I keep it on acoustic as it has more grit. I have 1 pedal which I use very sparingly – a Big Muff.  My amp is an HH electronic, which apparently is the same as used by the Buzzcocks. I recorded with it but when playing live I just what ever there is.

7. Who inspires you? 

Where to begin? My daughters, Suffragettes, Michelle Obama, P J Harvey, Kristin Hersh, friends and family, young people, the organisers of Loud Women and She17 doing great work in their spare time to make doing music more possible for people like me. I also have to say Daniel Miller and all at Mute records who never stop putting out music because they love it and believe in it – not to make money. 

8. What are your musical goals? 

Musically to get a point where we are performing more – would love to get enough from it so that we can give up our day jobs and do it more. 

9. What’s the most important thing we need to know about your music right now? 

 We mean it and we are not going away. 

10. Pass the mic – who are your top 5 contemporary bands/musicians.

In no particular order….

Big Joanie – Sistahs (album) I just do not get bored of. It’s great. And these young women are pushing boundaries, which I love. 

Le Butcherettes – have you seen them live? Dear god they are beyond awesome. I should have cited their level of performance as 1 of our musical goals. 

Sit Down – fierce sound. I love ‘Mothership’. Duo, female drummer. They fascinate me. 

ARXX – these women are joyous to watch and their latest single, Iron Lung – I wish it was ours. 

Noise and the Naive – I saw these at a Loud Women gig (Hope and Anchor) and have been hooked ever since. Another duo (I seem have picked 3 – funny that). I find them inspirational. 

Catch Julie Riley/I am HER this Thursday 22 August at the Old Queen’s Head

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