“Electric”, “Exhilarating” and “Overwhelming”; these were the countlessly recycled words that appeared as I searched for Our Girl concert reviews. Usually veering away from heavy rock, grunge and the never-ending clash of aggressive guitar solos, my trepidation was proved misplaced. In the simplest of terms, watching Our Girl is like being swept away by the currents of a violent wave. You have no control over yourself, and for some reason you happily let it thrust you into all different directions. There is a depth and honesty in each strum, scream, bellow and beat, allowing the trio to successfully channel and remould grunge and punk rock.
Soph Nathan (vocals and guitar), Josh Tyler (bass) and Lauren Wilson (drums) formed in Brighton after university. Growing up in households that played, “All different types of music: soul, motown as well as lot of rock and punk stuff. Music was always very present and never really a choice.” Soph recounts that “Josh and I both lived in Brighton. We were friends and just started playing together. Lauren and I were in two separate bands. I knew who she was and knew she could also sing, which was important to me. Honestly, it was love at first sight.” Unity is the backbone which allows Our Girl to thrive. The trio creates what can only be described as a symphonic frenzy. Lauren mentions, “I think you work out quite quickly in a band if the dynamic is going to work out or not. It’s such a personal thing. Luckily with us, everyone just opened up and it worked out really well.” On stage, the connection was palpable. The trio are not only tethered to each other but are also so intrinsically bonded to their instruments. This intense synchrony captivated the audience as the band soared through a whirlwind of emotions, following the highs of companionship in ‘Being Around’ to the lows of conflict and the desire for reconciliation featured in ‘Josephine’.
Although there have been comments that the songs featured on Stranger Today are indistinguishable, after seeing the trio perform live, one can truly see that each song has such a unique and individual resonance, emerging from Soph’s lyricism. These lyrics are beautiful, honest and express the complexities of individualism, adolescent yearning and human connection. When she croons verses such as, “I forget that other people haven't been in my head” she renders an intensely personal, yet relatable, depth of truth. She comments, “My lyrics are very personal and emotional. I never plan for them to suit our listeners accordingly, it’s just kind of whatever I’m feeling. Interviews like this make me think about what I’m putting out there. It’s weird.”.
It is no secret that Soph Nathan has a certain talent which is hard to come by. Accompanied on stage by her Doc Martins and Fender Telecaster, punk rock seems to exude from her. Whilst performing, she possesses the stage with an unattainable dominance. Upon meeting her, this “edginess” fades and almost as if emerging through the curtain of her thickly cut bangs, a rather sweet and humble woman appears. We babble on about how great Pret’s Cauliflower and Kale Cheese is and how she’s disappointed the tour is nearly over. She mentions that you get less nervous the more you perform, “Your mindset changes. When you are less practised, you are really scared and feel like you have more to prove. It’s definitely a confidence thing. Once you are more experienced, you’ve already proved to yourself that you can do it and you feel great up on stage!” At The Garage, this confidence paid off. Despite questionable quality speakers which distorted and muffled Soph’s incredible vocal range, she moved effortlessly between soft and dulcet tones to a fierce and guttural sound routinely.
Our Girl is making leaps and bounds towards success. Lauren says, “We started off writing one song, then recording our first EP, and then our gigs got bigger and we started performing in different cities. These are all checkpoints and it’s great getting to them and ticking them off the list!” Soph adds, “Although, the more you do, the keener you are to do even more. Instantly it’s, ‘let’s do ANOTHER show in a BIGGER venue.’” This unquenchable thirst for more, whilst promising, poses difficulties for Soph who also performs in The Big Moon, shortlisted for a Mercury Prize in 2017. I enquired about balancing the two, “Jule’s, the singer of The Big Moon, writes the songs so there is less responsibility on that end. Both bands have really different styles and so provide different outlets for me. Usually, it’s quite fun but there are times, such as at festivals, where it is harder to juggle if I’m expected to play in both bands! Balancing out time is key.” Lauren seems convinced that a shared Google calendar and good communication skills are, “boring but means that neither band is hindered from doing what they want to.” However, with Our Girl gaining greater traction, unexpectedly almost selling out on their London stop of the Stranger Today tour, there is growing concern that Soph will eventually have to focus her energies onto one band. Her response to this was, “I just plan on plodding on and doing it all until I can’t do anymore and then, who knows? Sack them both off!”.
‘Punk, not prick’ seems to come to mind. In an industry dominated by young musicians, eager to please through boisterous and borderline silly personas, it’s exhilarating to encounter a band so humble and true to themselves in each lyric, each strum and in Lauren’s case, each head-bang. When questioned about the music industry they say, “It’s all about passion and engagement. I think you just have to put yourself out there as much as you can. I think it’s important to not be afraid or embarrassed. As long as you have a team who make you feel comfortable, you’re set. It’s so great that we have this connection with each other and our music. It’s certainly hard searching for it but it is incredibly worth it as it makes a world of difference.” Our Girl thrives on ingenuity, unadulterated honesty and friendship. I would highly recommend keeping tabs on this band and their upcoming gigs. Although they have finished their UK tour of Stranger Today, they have a few more European stops coming up to round off the year. So, grab a life jacket, jump into the deep waters of Our Girl and prepare to be swept away.
cover: The Line Of Best Fit