The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Friends Of Mine: Rachel Aggs' Favourite Music
Stephanie Phillips , February 24th, 2021 10:14

Rachel Aggs takes Stephanie Phillips through the albums that made her the musician she is today, from Smokey Robinson to Robyn, Mahotella Queens to Sleater-Kinney. Portrait photo by Stephanie Gibson

While the pandemic raged on and tours became a thing of the old world, post punk guitarist Rachel Aggs decided to make the most of her time. Aggs was imbued with a new–found confidence in herself following the release of her first solo release Visitations 0202, the result of a week–long residency on the Isle of Eigg for Lost Map Records. Aggs is known for her dexterous guitar playing in all of her respective bands (Trash Kit, Shopping, and Sacred Paws), but after a decade being part of an extended punk universe, Aggs decided to keep digging to hear more of what her own world would sound like.

“Having nothing else to do meant I was like, 'okay, I'll just lean into this,' and found it really rewarding and cathartic,” Aggs told me from her home in Glasgow. “It's been difficult to get a handle on what my life is now that I don't tour. I really have been touring for the past decade. A big part of my identity has been wrapped up in that, so it was important to me to find something constructive to do with music.”

The result of her efforts can be found in the 2020 release Tape 1, an inward–looking, bedroom DIY pop record, which combines Aggs' love of earnest synth pop with wonky drum machines and spindly folk influenced riffs. Self–released on a limited cassette run via Bandcamp, Tape 1 gave Aggs the chance to not only showcase herself as a solo artist but also in these lonely Covid times, gave her a chance to connect with her community. “I can send them out by hand and write notes to my friends. I definitely want to work on tapes and maybe do a series of these self–release tapes because I can just record stuff and release it straight away.”

Aggs' deep connection to her community is reflected in her list of artists. As we talked through her choices, which range from Zimbabwean music, Appalachian folk, Motown, and her own contemporaries, I'm amazed by how many artists she describes as idols who later became her friends. It is this search for musical kinship which continues to inspire her path as a musician and her appetite for creativity. “I do think there is something to music that, it's not just that you idolise them, it's more like I can connect with them and that's why it's like, 'I will make you my friend'. Music to me is about community to me. I wouldn't know anyone if I didn't play music.”

You can find Rachel Aggs' Visitations record via the Lost Map website and her recent tape release can be found here. Click the image below to begin reading her Baker's Dozen