BEFORE indie pop band Girl Ray play a Brighton gig as part of their Get Lucky tour, singer and guitarist Poppy Hankin tells JOELY MCEWAN about touring the US, her favourite place in Brighton and love of ABBA

GIRL Ray are relatively new to the music scene but they possess impressive levels of confidence.

The band – consisting of Hankin, Sophie Moss (bass) and Iris McConnell (percussion) – are about to head out on their biggest tour yet.

Far from feeling the pressure, they have no overriding anxieties about the dates. “Somehow, the nerves are non-existent for this tour,” says Hankin.

Perhaps their calmness has something to do with their relentless gigging over the last few years – they’re no strangers to the stage. The girls have just returned from supporting American rockers Porches in the US and Canada, which gave them a boost.

“I think after a huge US tour we’re all feeling pretty tight as a band,” says Hankin. After two months stateside, Girl Ray didn’t really want to return home.

“Coming back to London was hard,” Hankin says. “It was just the most fun ever and Porches were all such sweeties. We all miss it badly.”

Girl Ray released their debut Earl Grey in 2017 and already have plans to release more music next year.

“I’ve written just over half of the songs for the next album, so it’s definitely on its way,” says the singer. “We’re going to play a new tune [at the Brighton show] as well which will get us all pumped.”

Like a lot of Londoners, Hankin has been holidaying in Brighton “since I was a kid”, and she is excited to return to play the gig. She adds that her go-to place every time she visits the city is Japanese restaurant Pompoko, on Church Street.

Joining them on tour are Fake Laugh, real name Kamran Khan, and the Girl Say say he’s a lot of fun as well as an accomplished musician.

“He’s the singer-songwriter of the century and an absolute legend on the side,” says Hankin. “He’s our really good friend. We played shows together in Germany last year and it was truly legendary.”

The singer admits that touring as a headline band will be a whole new challenge to being the support act, as they were in the US. “It’ll be strange to be headlining after two months of supporting but I’m looking forward to it,” she says.

The band released their first EP, Trouble, in 2016 and have been compared to the likes of alternative rock band Neutral Milk Hotel and Welsh songstress Cate Le Bon by the alternative music press.

Girl Ray, however, are more inspired by indie acts of the 1960s and 70s. ABBA are a big influence. The trio have even covered the Swedish pop group’s Ring Ring and they’d love to span out further into their repertoire.

“If I had to choose again I would probably go for If It Wasn’t For The Nights or One Of Us, but there are far too many bangers to choose from,” says Hankin.

Standards like The Beatles, The Beach Boys and David Bowie also get a name-check from Hankin, as well as “Cut Worms, Ariana Grande, Natalie Prass, Neil Young and Kali Uchis.”

In their music video for Don’t Go Back At Ten, the band give a nod to the garish fashion trends and dance crazes of the early 2000s.

“Prepare your retinas for some greasy magic with themes of unity, friendship and heartbreak,” they wrote on the video’s caption.

Hankin, Moss and McConnell look like they are having a whale of a time in the footage as they groove to their own music in a semi-ironic way. The singer says the trio “just crack each other up all of the time”.

Talking about the group dynamic, Hankin adds that she “gets annoyed when I’m referred to as ‘group mum’ – but I think I am going to have to admit it”.

Girl Ray have come a long way in just a few years. Looking forward, Hankin sets out her band’s aims in typically light-hearted fashion.

“Hopefully we’re still nailing it – we’re aiming for a jacuzzi with champagne in snowy mountains.”

Girl Ray
The Haunt, Brighton, April 19 Visit