Circe doesn't do things by halves. The Londoner's cinematic, extravagant pop vibes are incredibly well-realised for a newcomer, channelling a no-nonsense, don't-mess-with-me attitude ready to take on whatever the world may throw her way. She arrives today with her new single, 'Ten Girls'. In keeping with the dark-pop theme, it's a song inspired by The Handmaid's Tale. Circe tells us more.
Hi Circe, how are you doing? Are you busy at the moment?
I am good. Today I am working on a sound installation inspired by the strange Hollywood Cults of the 70s. I have been researching it for weeks and have come across some strange relics. I've got postcards from surreal footage of The Source Family strewn across my bedroom floor right now.
What first sparked your interest in music, and what prompted the transition from listener to musician?
When was about 10 I wept at the beauty of someone I saw playing the pan pipes in the middle of town. I tried to explain to my mum what it was I had heard, and she incredibly got me a flute for Christmas that year. I never told her that's not what I had seen, but it started me off on my musical adventure, and I've just been adding all sorts of instruments over the years. I still haven't got pan pipes though.
Are you creative in non-musical ways too?
I build stage sets and light sculptures. A mixture of bacchanalian concepts and Catholic neon signs. Pissing off and pleasing all sorts of gods and goddesses daily… Like my name Circe, I take a lot from ancient greeks. Particularly defiance.
What else do you spend your time doing?
I read a lot of plays. I like how concise but emotional scripts are. It helps me with writing lyrics.
And my best friend and I are big Cindy Sherman fans, we dress up as characters and take photos. Over lockdown, we wrote some of their backstories. My favourite ones were Madam Bin-bag and The Angry Little Blokes.
What inspires you, both in music and in life?
Movies and television. I was brought up on TV; it was always on.
When I was a little kid, we didn't have a CD player, but we did have a VHS player for some reason. So my siblings and I would put on the movies and dance around to the soundtracks. Luckily we had the Twin Peaks boxset; I think that stuck. And Baz Lurhmann's Romeo + Juliet is still the most unbeatable soundtrack of all time.
I also write every song like its a soundtrack to a movie.
What's your favourite thing about being a musician?
I find the stage is somewhere shy people can be loud.
Tell us about your new single 'Ten Girls' - what's it about? Where did it come from?
I started writing it straight after I watched the first season of 'The Handmaid's Tale'. I was so affected by it because although it's portrayed as dystopian, these heinous things actually happen to women all around the world right now. So it kinda started from there as this angry gut-reaction song.
At the same time, #timesup and #metoo were massively taking off.
So I developed the lyrics about how I live as a womxn through our fractured generation's problems of cancel culture, swipes for sex, and revenge porn.
It's a dark song, but it's a defence song for womxn-kind: "There will not be Ten Girls Here after me, I will break this fantasy."
It feels pretty foreboding, are you drawn to dark themes?
I am, I think it's hard not to be drawn to them because of the times we are living in. I am privileged enough to have a voice as a womxn right now, where so many others don't. The anger and disappointment of where we are right now as a species and how we treat each other undoubtedly seep into my work.
What's your songwriting process like, where do you start?
I live with these big swinging emotions and whatever way they are going, a song will usually start to form. In tears or very manically.
I write on pure gut reaction, so my phone is my sonic diary because its always to hand. I have everything on it; melodies, lyrics, snippets from text arguments that I know I'll use for a song.
What's on your bucket list? What would you like to achieve with this making-music business?
To be part of an industry that is actually diverse, inclusive, and fair. The time is for black artists, brown artists, LGBTQ+ people, womxn and nonbinary people to have the centre stage. Be the headliners and more.
I'd love to play a festival that was genuinely all-inclusive. And those who don't like it can just stick to Reading & Leeds.
What are you working on at the mo?
I'm writing a soundscape for a videogame my sister is creating. Circe meets Zelda meets Jurassic Park. It's quite epic.
Circe's new single 'Ten Girls' is out now.