Whenever you’re down, if you can’t call on a friend to keep you sane, you can always call on music.
Meet Girlhood: producer and multi-instrumentalist, Christian Pinchbeck, and lyricist and singer, Tessa Cavanna. Brought together by a chance meeting on a west London canal, they are making soulful music to pick you up in your time of need, and appreciate the good times that bit more.
Their music is the soulful cousin of Basement Jaxx and Groove Armada, with nods to the era when Diana Ross and Love Unlimited were at their peak.
“Our music is about making you feel something close to you,” Tessa tells Fringe Frequency. “I don’t want to tell you what to feel. I’m just writing about what I’m thinking about, and if it resonates with you that’s cool.”
Strong feelings that come to mind are comfort (‘Say It’) and intimacy (‘My Boy’). That’s because Tessa brings bags of presence to Christian’s vivid compositions. Her voice rich and velvety, she has the aura of Gabrielle or Dawn Robinson (En Vogue). She draws from a plethora of stimuli, including make-ups and break-ups, Vivienne Westwood, Cindy Sherman, and thoughts of summertime and working late.
“As a kid, I was always singing and putting on shows at home, listening to all my mum’s cassette tapes, singing into hairbrushes,” Tessa says. “I feel like it’s the most honest thing, music. It’s such a great way to get how you’re feeling across.”
“Our songs work on their own as well as a collection, and we want each song to stand strongly on its own, but feel like a family when placed next to another” – Christian Pinchbeck
Christian explains that his own attraction to music started with him borrowing school supplies: “My love for songwriting began when my rogue, teenage self thought it acceptable to pilfer a bass guitar from my school’s music room and teach myself The Cure’s ‘Love Cats’, forcing myself to join arms with some fellow Marlingtonians to destroy such classics as ‘Enter Sandman’ and ‘Where is My Mind’.
As for how they got together, the two met when Christian heard Tessa singing as she strolled passed his canal boat, moored near Notting Hill. Enchanted by the singer’s voice, he asked if she’d come aboard and sing over some of the tracks he’d been working on. Instead of turning down the then-stranger and putting a good distance between them, she took him up on his offer of an impromptu jam session.
Since this chance meeting, buzz has steadily been building with each new scoop of their music. Their debut release, ‘My Boy’, is a warm blend of clip-clop piano notes, an ounce of The Go! Team’s fidgety energy, and brown-eyed soul. ‘Say It’ is slow-moving motivation in the vein of Groove Armada’s ‘Little by Little’. Meanwhile, their latest release, ‘Bad Decisions’, is the kind of self-reflective groove you reach for when you feel like giving yourself a hug.
Next, Girlhood plan to release their first EP in November.
“It’s basically the first selection of songs we’ve been working on since day one – nice and simple,” explains Christian.
“We concentrate on each song as its own entity – we’re not too focused on the packaged release format. Our songs work on their own as well as a collection, and we want each song to stand strongly on its own, but feel like a family when placed next to another.
“We’ll be releasing a series of EPs with this in mind, and we can’t wait to share the first with the world. The songs on the EP have a myriad of contributors – we really aren’t precious with instrumentation! I have so many friends who can play much better than I ever could, and it helps to keep things fresh when you pass your baby onto somebody else to have a crack. That’s my thoughts, anyway.”
Girlhood performed live in front of the public for the first time on November 3 at the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, London. (Tickets are currently sold out for the show, but you can register for the waiting list here.)
Affable producer Christian describes himself as a “nightmare to work with”. Only Tessa can confirm if that’s really the case. But what we can be certain of is together they make one hell of a team. Whether your dreams are coming true or fading away, you can rely on Girlhood and their smooth tunes to be there for you.
Group members: Christian Pinchbeck (Producer, Multi-instrumentalist); Tessa Cavanna (Lyricist and Singer).
- My Boy (Single, 2016, Self-released)
- Say It (Single, 2017, Self-released)
- Together (Single, 2017, Self-released)
- Bad Decisions (Single, 2017, Self-released)
- Vol 1 (EP, 2017, Self-released)
File next to: The Avalanches; Moby; The Fugees; Groove Armada
Girlhood’s four singles are available out now, and their debut EP is due in November.
Image: Phil Sharp