Modern Woman’s performance at this month’s End of The Road Festival led Joyzine reporter Andrew Wood to proclaim them one of the surprises of the festival: “part Siouxsie, part P.J. Harvey” and to praise their “dark strangeness” (read the full review here). The multi-national London-based quartet followed up that performance with their debut EP, Dogs Fighting In My Dream, released by the festival’s own End of The Road Records imprint, and it more than lives up to the praise that was lavished upon their set.
We asked singer-songwriter Sophie Harris for her guide to the EP, track by track.
This song began in my bedroom as the main bass riff, and I worked out the vocal melody over the top. Originally, I intended it to be much more stripped back, weird – to allow for emphasis on David’s percussion and violin, and the cowbell I knew I wanted to use. We ended up playing a version similar to this for a stripped-back session at End of the Road. However, the loud dynamic shifts into the chorus were more energetic and worked better for louder shows, though it was important to make sure we kept a lot of space. After bringing it to the band, Adam’s rolling drums perfectly accompanied the staccato bassline, and Juan contributed a first-class outro bassline. Lyrically, I wanted to write about the idea of an obsessive voyeur, using my voice both melodically and percussively. I wanted to conjure the impression of a woman looking through a hole into her neighbour’s room – something expertly brought to visual fruition when working with Sandra Ebert on the Offerings music video.
I wanted to rewrite The Juniper Tree tale but try to modernise it. I was always drawn to this tale and its depiction of the power of maternal longing, metamorphosis and sorrow. I wrote a chugging guitar line to compliment the melody and the story-like heavily-rhyming lyrics, and so it would contrast to the ‘floaty’ chorus. I think the song was made particularly unique after I brought it to the band, and Juan arpeggiated the chords underneath on his bass. Adam’s distinctive drum pattern also contributed hugely to the energy – originally, he began with a different rhythm, but after breaking his arm and playing a few gigs one-handed, he decided that the elegance of the simplified version complimented the song even more.
This was written when I was staying in a cottage in North Wales a couple of years ago. Spending most of the time walking and swimming, I would play the acoustic guitar in the evenings. It rarely happens, but this song seemed to fall naturally into place. Whenever I sing it, the mental image of the lake near where it was written is imprinted in my mind. Before the full band, this is a song David and I used to play together. His violin layered over the top is tender and graceful, complimenting the song perfectly. He is inimitable when it comes to creating atmosphere in all the songs, whether through violin, percussion or tape manipulation. During recording, we extended the intro to Daniel in order to accentuate this.
I had written the guitar and bass for this a long time ago and it always hung over my head as something I wanted to use. During lockdown, I went through many versions on my computer until it eventually felt right. I knew that using delay pedals (I use Death By Audio’s Ghost Delay, which is three stacked delays in one) in the pre-chorus builds would add to the swelling energy and compliment Juan’s soon-to-be sax line. For the lyrics, it was important for it to have some filmic horror elements, something of a David Lynch-y vibe. When I finally brought it to the band, it was taken to another level; the song thrives under Juan’s twisting and turning saxophone, which was expertly improvised in Shuta Shinoda’s studio.
Modern Woman’s debut EP, Dogs Fighting In My Dream, is out now on End of The Road Records. Get it now on vinyl, digital download and streaming services here.
Catch Modern Woman on tour at the following shows:
15/10 – Margate – New In Town Fest
16/10 – Leeds – Live At Leeds
9/11 – London – Moth Club
13/11 – Glasgow – Stag & Dagger
Article by Paul Maps
Photograph by Ella Pavlides