intro by emily reily
photo by neil thompson
Poppy Hankin, drummer Iris McConnell and bassist Sophie Moss, all 19, founded Girl Ray (the name a nod to artist Man Ray) when they were 16 – during that magical, maddening time in your life when everything is completely wrong, yet you’re having the time of your life. Seeing existence through that lens, it’s easy to see why they’ve chosen these myriad precious influences – among them The Beatles, Pavement, Cate LeBon, ABBA and the Beach Boys. But instead of leaning on lavish, grandiose production similar to other soft rock/pop trios, Girl Ray is often introspective, painting scenes of subtle observations through a dreamy pop guise of ‘60s wistfulness, centered around a heart of ‘70s teen angst and wryness.
Here, the three friends have a chat about life and death, TV shows, their inner-animal, what they like about themselves most and who would win in a fight if it came down to it.
Sophie Moss: Between me and Iris?
PH: No so I think –
Iris McConnell: 3 MAN FIGHT
SM: 3 man fight. Woooow…
SM: Well… no offence Iris but I think you’d be down pretty quick
IM: I’m literally already dead
PH: I’m already standing on your throat
SM: Yeah… I think you’d give up. Oh god just me and you Poppy
PH: I think you’d actually win
IM: You’re sporty Sophie mate
PH: You’ve got strong legs
SM: Nah but Poppy could knock me out with one massive headbutt or something
SM: Or like a kick in the head
IM: I don’t think she has it in her
PH: I might like kick you…over. That’s my technique.
IM: You’ve got strength
SM: Also you wouldn’t be afraid to bite me and … I would never do that
PH: I think I would be afraid to bite you
SM: You always bite us
PH: That’s in a love way. But no, it’s just not in me. I wouldn’t want to hurt you guys
SM: Well of course but … in this situation. What would actually be you’re strategy?
PH: Thing is we’d probably be wrestling for a while, but then I’d have to stand aside and kick you. Then pin you down. Then suffocate you.
IM: I’d just like poke you’re eyes and maybe it wouldn’t work
PH: Like a shark
SM: Feel like a good strategy would be to kick in a place unexpected
PH: Like a vagina
SM: Yeah. You know what actually I’d grab you by the hair then swing you around like Ms Trunchball then drop kick you
IM: …You’d get you’re tennis racket and force Poppy’s face through it
SM: Yeah straight through like play dough
PH: That’s horrible
SM: Mmm. Pretty satisfying actually
PH: Personality or looks?
SM: Both. Can be looks though I’m not gonna think you’re shallow
IM: You know what I like my feet! Did you say 3 things or just one?
PH: You can’t say just your toes
IM: I quite like my handwriting when I put myself to it
SM: It’s nice when you even don’t. Would like to come across it in… many… years… to come. If my grandma had that handwriting I’d be happy about it
IM: And the third thing [Long pause] I like my friends
SM: NAH That’s not you
IM: I like my taste in friends
PH: You’ve got so much good about you!
IM: Yes but I can’t say it
SM: That’s not true
IM: I’ve got good taste in trainers
PH, SM: NO
IM: I don’t know what I’m supposed to say… I like the way I was brought up
SM: That’s really nice. Poppy?
PH: [shy voice] Well… I was thinking…. my eyes
PH: Um yeah they’re like little olives you know what I mean? The black ones
IM: From the tin. They’re not that special
PH: Well the tinned olives are the blackest so YEAH that’s what I was imagining. What else do I like?… I think I’m generally,… quite generous. I like people who are generous so I think I’d like me. I think I’m quite empathetic maybe? That’s what a teacher once told my mum. She was an Irish woman. Ms McFarlane. I was 8. She said the most empathetic child she’d ever met. She also thought I was being bullied though.
SM: I like the way my skin tans
PH: YES you look like you’re in S club
SM: You know what, I like my voice. Not my singing voice my speaking voice.
IM: You’ve got a lovely nose!
SM: I like the feeling I get when I get things done that I’m proud of
IM: That’s not a quality
SM: Ok maybe it’s not.
PH: You know what I’d probably just do it right and wear a white t shirt, with jeans. Maybe a flannel shirt flung on over like “oh, I don’t really care, this is just gonna keep me warm”. If it was an American Aparrell T shirt and really expensive Levis that wouldn’t do it for me. But if the shirt was his dad’s or something, that is what I would wear. And shoes… just converse
M: That’s really close to what I was gonna say. Maybe some Jack Purcell’s or something
PH: That shows you care too much
IM: MATE you gotta care about fashion sometimes
PH: Maybe if it was like one day or something
SM: (kinda laughing) what is it with you and boys caring about what they wear
PH: (laughs) I just have a downer on boys
SM: Yeah so, comfy, plain. Socks with a nice stitch. Some high waisters probably. Denim, that’s a given
PH: Denim trousers ?!???
SM: Probably a polo neck. Because guys in polo necks can look really good. I’d want to look good. No piercings
IM: I’m imagining a really skinny boy wearing some high top converse and it just. Looks. good. I’d want to get my chest out to be honest. I’d go out in some Levi’s 501s, a belt… a studded belt. Also probably a cowboy hat
SM: Got a few context questions. Do we know them?
SM: Have you got good reason to kill them or did you do it by accident?
PH: We’d got in a domestic and somebody got out a knife and I got out a gun. Self defense but I’m not completely innocent.
IM: I’d say fucking do it yourself
PH: Remember that question we weren’t gonna ask, who do I prefer? IT’S SOPHIE ALRIGHT
IM: I’d be like: mate, I’d love to help you, but I haven’t got the muscles!
SM: I’d want to help you, of course –
PH: You’re gonna help me. You’re actually the person I’d come to first
SM: Oh god don’t say that
IM: You definitely would get into it. You’d get some gloves on
PH: It would be a mission
SM: Pretty sure I’d believe you’d get found out then think: what’s the point in both of us going to jail, you know? It’s not an act of unity at all because we wouldn’t end up in the same jail – we’d both end up with shitty lives. I think when it came to it I’d be like I’m here for you, but I can’t actually help you
IM: I’d send a cleaner around. A blood cleaner. Yesterday I watched an episode of Jackass and they had a scene where they got around a blood cleaner to clean up fake blood and she did it
IM: That’s kind of a no brainer for me, because I’d steal your Beatles rug
PH: Right. Weren’t you going to buy one on eBay?
IM: It was 13 pounds I didn’t have
PH: I’d probably steal that nice camera that’s actually your dad’s Iris
SM: That’s a shout. I’d steal Chris the Korg Kross from whoever owns that now.
PH: It’s ours
SM: I’d steal it forever
SM: A dolphin. Was gonna say a whale but I’d feel quite self conscious being that big and also fuck consuming that much krill.
PH: Think I’d be a wild horse. Really great life just running about. The weathers always nice when you’re a horse
SM: feel like these questions always come down to whether you want to be at land, sky or sea
IM: This is gonna sound really depressing now, but a little puppy Dalmatian that never grows up, and I’d rather stay that than be myself because it would be so much funner
SM: Would you have your own thoughts?
IM: No just lovely doggy thoughts. Would be so much easier
SM: Do you like the aspect where nothing is in your control
IM: I don’t like thinking for myself. I just think it would be a better lifestyle.
SM: To be fair we’d definitely be happier
IM: Wouldn’t have to think about the world atrocities
SM: I used to try and break my bones so I could get a cast or crutches or something
SM: Yeah I think we both had the same problem… so I used to hate going to the hospital and them telling me it’s not broken. And to have that feeling from lying to my family about an ‘accident’ that didn’t actually happen.
IM: I hated many things but mainly horses
PH: Getting combed with a nit comb. I also hated pretending to know about football to get down with the boys
IM: I also hated non branded shoes
SM: Oh wow you were one of those. Also, when my mum forced me to wear girl clothes.
PH: YES THAT IS WHAT I HATED THE MOST.
IM: We were all the same child
SM: Except I didn’t hate horses. Probably liked them more than I do now!
IM: People think because I didn’t used to speak much, I still don’t speak that much, but people think I have loads of crazy thoughts. I don’t have loads of crazy thoughts, I don’t have many thoughts, that’s why I don’t speak much
PH: When I feel misunderstood I’m just confused with myself anyways
SM: Yeah I get that. You can’t go out and say ‘I feel so misunderstood’ in an argument or something because you don’t know what you’re actually angry about
PH: I used to feel really misunderstood because I didn’t like secondary school much. I always wanted very much to not be there, which is like the biggest teen movie ever. Yeah I really didn’t want to be there.
SM: Maybe this isn’t being misunderstood but I always get my personality changing around different people… Sometimes you feel misunderstood because when you’re mirroring someone and you don’t necessarily agree with what they’re saying or how they’re acting. I dunno, don’t think that answers the question
PH: How could it not be worth it
IM: Makes me sound really depressed
PH: I think you wrote it half jokingly
SM: Depends who you are probably. But for me, yes!
IM: Usually once you reach the end it’s worth it, because you’ve lived it and it’s fine
PH: See you do have deep thoughts! Yeah course it’s worth it! Otherwise what would I be doing in space? Just cotching on a cloud. No guitars in space are there?!
IM: I was about to say Wuthering Heights but in my head it was Wimbledon Heights
SM: What about that Laurie Lee book you read recently? Or did you just like it?
PH: Oh yeah… I learnt stuff and I liked it. I liked… what he stood for. What about you Sophie Moss?
SM: Gilmore Girls taught me to be nicer to my mum, even though I’m not that nice still, nicer than before though.
PH: Any movie with Winona Ryder in it made me realise I was quite gay
IM: I learnt a lot about Francis Bacon’s painting techniques recently… Watched a housing programme where they made a tree house, learnt I’d quite like to do that
PH: We’re not very smart are we?
Girl Ray’s debut album, Earl Grey, is out August 4th, via Moshi Moshi
You can buy it here