Everything about Girl Ray feels natural, unforced. Live, the band’s ramshackle appeal has a rich sense of fun, while their songwriting dwells in bittersweet fashion on some profoundly personal elements. It’s as though they don’t place barriers in front of themselves, they simply reflect the world, and their feelings, as they stumble across it.
Sitting down with the London four-piece, it’s clear that this extends to everyday conversation. Humble to a fault, the band’s in-jokes frequently collapse into self-deprecating laughter, as contagious as it is revealing.
“My brother was in a band called Let’s Wrestle when he was a teenager, and I always just super jealous, basically,” says Poppy Hankin. “I’d see him getting ready for tour and just doing the coolest stuff ever.”
“Me and Iris were always super keen to be in a band and wanted to make it happen when we were in our young teens. But it never really worked out because there were only two of us. We were trying for a long time to look for someone to play drums, but it just never happened because all the people who played drums in our school were just total twats! These boys who were just horrible. But then we gave it a final try.”
Girl Ray clicked into gear when the band were studying for their A-Levels, balancing precarious visits to exam halls with rattling through new songs in the rehearsal room. A handful of live shows followed, before the band were snapped up by Moshi Moshi for enthralling debut single ‘Trouble’.
Fusing earworm melody with some painfully honest lyrics, ‘Trouble’ manages to dissect the end of the relationship from a refreshing perspective. Poppy explains: “Without getting too mushy about it, you’re in a relationship, and then you’re just turning into somebody that you don’t like at all because you’re not in a great place. Finding that you’re just being horrible for no reason. It’s not a happy song, in other words.”
Set to a wistful, incredibly contagious melody, ‘Trouble’ fuses the bitter with the sweet to a remarkably effective degree. “I guess that was just the songs that I’m drawn to writing – I prefer poppy songs, in some ways,” the singer continues. “But yeah, I guess that was just what I was going through at the time. I find it really hard to lie in lyrics. I find it really tricky to write about something that isn’t actually going on.”
Quietly independent, Girl Ray’s approach has resulted in something that doesn’t really sound like anything else around. “I think we just wanted to do it for ourselves,” Poppy muses. “For me, anyway. I guess everyone that we were inspired by are musicians. I find as well, if we’re writing a song that I’ll very definitely know who I’m referencing. To a dangerous extent! But it all comes out sounding quite Girl Ray-ish because there are things that we always like to do in songs, and chords we like to use.”
Currently working on their debut album, Girl Ray are aiming to provide a compendium of what they’ve achieved across the past 18 months. “I think this album will be an album of stand alone songs, because that’s a snapshot of where we’re at, I guess.”
For now, though, the band are adjusting to touring life. Snapping up support slots with some of their favourite artists, Girl Ray have already completed an eye-watering number of miles on the road. “We did something like… Glasgow down to Cardiff, up to Edinburgh, then down to Bristol in just a few days. A lot of seven hour drives! And lot of traffic on the M6.”
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