Words: Casper Hughes
Picture: Cady Siregar
INAPPROPRIATELY HUNGOVER and so hungry it’s hard to string a sentence together, I meet Poppy and Iris of Girl Ray in a pizza restaurant in Nunhead. They are sympathetic to my predicament and we sit, eating wood-fired sourdough pizzas. Although they’re slightly shy, their natural warmth makes me comfortable enough to feel like less of an idiot. My brain capacity recovers after a while, and I scrabble around for my questions. What inspires Poppy to write music?
“Usually I’m just in the shower, and often I’ll start moving around to a tune I’ve just come up with in my head,” says Poppy Hankin, lead vocalist of North London trio Girl Ray. “I get out the shower, slap on some clothes – sometimes I don’t even have time to do that – then head to the guitar and work it out.”
Poppy’s songwriting process is strikingly uncomplicated. There are no hours spent slaving away over that one niggling half-lyric, slumped over a guitar for weeks on end. There’s no escaping to a cabin in the wilderness for inspiration. It all just seems so effortless. The untroublesome ease of writing lyrics can be felt in the band’s music; all catchy, charming indie pop. It’s the kind of music, quite fittingly, that you would find yourself singing along to in the shower.
Girl Ray – named after avant-garde artist Man Ray – is made up of vocalist Poppy, drummer Iris McConnell and bassist Sophie Moss. The trio excel in writing unabashedly honest lyrics, taken straight from the inner pages of their journal entries. There is a touch of youthful wistfulness to the “Dear Diary”style of their songwriting. It’s a melancholy that evokes your teenage years, where you felt that you might just burst with all the emotion inside you. Standout track “Stupid Things”, says Poppy, is about “crushing really hard on someone, and finding myself doing fucking ridiculous things to feel like we’ve got some kind of connection”. She sings: “I’m thinking of you/ Just to feel close to you/ I’ve never done so many stupid things to make you feel near.”
Though the three were until last summer still studying for their A-levels, they already have a finished debut album under their belts, a sold-out headline slot in a couple weeks at the Lexington and a festival-filled summer that includes the likes of Glastonbury and Green Man. It’s all the more impressive considering the three members are under the age of 20.
Read more on Issue 1 of GIRL FIEND, which you can purchase here.