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April 2020
Feature

Girl Ray: A pop awakening

With their second album, Girl Ray are embracing pop in the name of loving your mates.
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Published: 11:22 am, November 04, 2019Words: Martyn Young. Photos: Laura McCluskey.
Girl Ray: A pop awakening

Girl Ray's 2017 album 'Earl Grey' was a debut that established the trio as supreme indie-pop songwriters with a knack for a melody and just the right slice of strangeness. On second album 'Girl' they've thrown the indie-pop songbook out the window in favour of their biggest capital P POP bangers that seems them following their purest instincts and throwing caution to the wind. We caught up with singer and guitarist Poppy Hankin to get the lowdown on Girl Ray's pop awakening.

Hey Poppy, how would you characterise 'Girl'? It's a little bit different than your debut, isn't it?

Yeah, it's a little bit more polished and more pop. We're more focused on pop. We're very excited to put this out. With the first one it happened more organically, this time we put a lot of thought into it so hopefully, that should come across.

How would you describe your process making the album?

It was quite difficult to write this album because it was such a dramatic shift in genre and style. It was a case of re-learning how to write a little bit. With the first album, I was writing more on guitar and piano while here it was more a case of setting up a little mini-studio in my room and writing on Logic with synths and midi keyboards. It was hard not to overthink it when you're trying to find a different style without making it sound forced.

"It was a scary moment when we began to realise it was going to sound a lot different"
Poppy Hankin

The album has some of your biggest bangers but also some of your most tender moments. How did you strike a balance between the two on the record?
We had to get rid of a lot of songs because they weren't quite sitting well together. There were a number of songs we had written in the first half of last year when we were still touring our first album and were still used to writing in that style. We considered putting them on this album but sitting next to these really poppy songs just didn't make sense. The ones that were more tender on the album were just too special to use to lose. We did the album all in two sessions with the same producer, so they all have the same sound.

Was there any trepidation in going all out on a new pop sound?

We hooked up with producer Ash Workman who's got such a great pop background, so that was exciting. It was a scary moment though when we began to realise it was going to sound a lot different and we were changing everything. That's what we wanted, but it was still a bit scary taking that plunge.

How has embracing pop influences opened up new creative possibilities for the band?

It's opened up things because we can tour with bands we're excited to tour with like Metronomy. We're such big fans of them. It opens a few more doors if your sound is going more mainstream and hopefully more people will enjoy it. It's exciting to think that more people can enjoy it.

"Love with friends is important, and needs to be spoken about"
Poppy Hankin

Are there any themes musically or lyrically on the album?
There are a few songs about friendship, not romantic love, but love with friends, because that's important and needs to be spoken about. When Ariana Grande put out 'Thank You, Next', we were like ok, right, we don't need to write about this kind of love any more we can just write about hanging out with your friends and having a good time. 'Friend Like That' is a feelgood banger about hanging out with your mates that represents the album for me.

What're your plans then, following the album release?

We'll be touring quite a bit, we have the support tour with Metronomy. We'll be going into the new decade in style with a headline tour in February. We've got some exciting stuff lining up, hopefully going back to America and Europe.

Taken from the November issue of Dork. Girl Ray's album 'Girl' is out 8th November.

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