Love Letter To A Record: Pillow Queens On Gemma Hayes’ ‘Night on My Side’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Rachel Lyons, Pillow Queens – Gemma Hayes, ‘Night on My Side’ (2002)

I was the tender age of 16 when I first discovered Gemma Hayes. I had a mixed minidisk (blast from the past) that a friend had made for me which included one of her songs ‘Back of my Hand’ on it, along with a load of other Irish indie music. I didn’t realise it at the time, but Irish music was having a moment then, much like it is now.

I was on a summer holiday in Italy with my family. I was angsty and troubled, and I was obsessed with that song. I couldn’t wait to get home from that stupid holiday so I could rush off and buy the album. I was obsessed from the first listen. Nowadays, every listen brings me back to my teens and at the time I felt like that album was written purely for me. I used to get stoned (sorry mam) and lie on my bed and have the album whisk me away to a land of melancholy.

It’s only in recent years as a musician myself that I have come to appreciate the production. Her louder songs hit hard through a wash of distorted guitars and thrashy drums, while her quieter, more reserved songs are tender and delicate and warm. The song Lucky One opens softly yet blows you away by the end through layers and layers of guitars and feedback, and close vocals. If you’d told me that 16 years later I’d be referencing that track on our debut album I wouldn’t believe you.

In an interview, she said she called the album Night on my Side because night was when the songs made most sense or came together – night was on her side. I loved that and it’s stuck with me ever since.

Listen to Pillow Queens’ new single ‘Handsome Wife’, out now. New album, ‘In Waiting’, is out September 25th.

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