Petsematary – the solo project of Oxford-based musician Gaby-Elise Monaghan – is a name to pay close attention to over the coming months.
The newcomer, who also recently joined dazzling London dream-poppers Toothpaste, makes the kind of sound you might expect from someone named after a Stephen King horror novel: her forthcoming debut single reveals itself to be a brooding slice of melodramatic goth-pop in the vein of Anna Calvi, with lilting vocals, shoegazing jangle and a ghostly atmosphere.
How would you describe Petsematary to a stranger?
“Dark landscape pop/banshee sounds/heavily reverberated oversharing.”
Who are the biggest influences on your sound and why?
“Vocally, Jeff Buckley has always inspired me loads. His voice and lyrics are just super ethereal and come from some sort of dreamlike place which I find super inspiring. They’re songs that make you wanna laugh and cry and sing and love and I just find that really magical. I want to be able to create songs that have that kind of effect when you listen. The same goes for artists like Elliott Smith, PJ Harvey and Sparklehorse. They’re all such powerful songwriters who experiment with different sounds and vibes. Sonically, bands like Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Smashing Pumpkins and Emma Ruth Rundle are the main influences behind my guitar sound and my general approach to guitar. I’m more into creating soundscapes through different techniques like effects pedals/slides/tremolo etc. rather than just being able to shred like all the other guitar dudes, so those bands definitely inspired me in that way. That being said, as a band we all come from different musical backgrounds with different feels and tastes, so I think having such an open and diverse lineup really drives the direction of the songs.”
What was the best gig you’ve played so far?
“Ritual Union 2019 in Oxford was insane for us. We somehow managed to pack out The Bullingdon as a local band in the afternoon and it was just super exciting to see a new crowd of people watch our set. We were super stoked to be on such a great lineup alongside bands like Bo Ningen, The Soft Cavalry and Self Esteem, as well as a bunch of our pals’ bands too.”
You’re based in Oxford – what’s your local music scene like?
“Wholesome, inclusive and family really. I’ve met most of my best friends through the local scene and it’s brought so much to my life. We have a lot of great DIY promoters like Divine Schism, Snuggle Dice and Freak Scene which are so important when you’re just starting out, as well as Simon from Crosstown who always brings really great opportunities, especially Ritual Union festival which I mentioned above. It’s all very wholesome and lovely and I’m super grateful to be a part of a community of such talented and generally NICE people.”
Who are the THREE other new artists we should listen to right now and why?
“Self Help will change your life. It’s amazingly fuzzy garage-pop from Oxford and also happens to be comprised of some of the best people I know. Their live show is also insane and they will genuinely make your life better by listening.
Premium Leisure is also one of our favourite Oxford acts at the moment featuring musician Chris Barker who happens to be one of the best songwriters I know and who is currently producing some new Petsem tracks, as well as Be Good’s Ash Cooke, local legend Willie J Healey and our very own Petsem drummer Casper Miles. I’d describe it as jazzy indie-pop with the catchiest vocal and guitar hooks you will ever hear.
You should also listen to London four-piece Toothpaste not just because I (Gaby) am also in that band, but because they make the mintiest fresh ethereal dream-pop and are just the best really.”
And finally, what does the future hold for Petsematary?
“We’ll be going into hiding for the last few weeks of the year to finish off the tracks we’ve been writing and recording over the past couple months. We already have a couple of super cool live dates for 2020 as well as a single release planned, so expect some super cool Petsem content for the new year.”