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  • Photo credit Stuart Simpson / Penguin Books

The unparalleled writer, Paris Lees, picks 10Trax for Notion that she has on repeat.

An inimitable journalist, presenter, campaigner, and now author, Paris Lees began her writing career by founding the first magazine for trans readers, META, as well as acting as assistant editor of Gay Times. Not too much later, the talent was singled out by the most pioneering editor of Vogue yet, Edward Enninful, to receive the coveted role of contributing editor.


Writing everywhere from The Guardian to The Telegraph, Lees was also the first trans woman to present on BBC Radio 1 and Channel 4. To top it all off, Lees is also an active campaigner and co-founder of All About Trans, which works to promote greater understanding and respect for the community.


What It Feels Like For a Girl is Lees’ funny and fearless account of growing up in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, and eventually breaking free. Her first book has been widely tipped as one of the most unmissable releases of 2021.


Also a fervid music fan, Lees has celebrated the release of her memoir by exclusively picking 10Trax for Notion that are sinister, sombre and synthy; all these tracks sound better at night.


WHAT IT FEELS LIKE FOR A GIRL is out now via Penguin Books.

"Light in The Dark" by SpectraSoul, ft. Terri Walker

This song reminds me of a uni friend’s birthday party I went to in Bristol. My friend’s sister was off her head and kept pulling her knickers down. I left my mates to go back with some guy, but when I told him I was trans he wasn’t interested anymore. He was really nice though and I said I could stay – he went off to another party, but I ended up sleeping with his housemate for two days. He was really shy and sexy and all I remember is he had thick armpit hair and I scrubbed their bathroom clean so I could have a bath. And he played me this song.

"Breakaway" by Basement Jaxx

This was one of the first album’s I bought. They used to do student night at NG1 nightclub in Nottingham on Tuesdays and I’d take the album with me – on CD for fuck’s sake – and hand it to the guy behind the bar. They’d play the whole thing. I was still listening to it years later as I did sex work at uni and I remember I’d alway put this on with the fit clients. I’m not sure how people feel it’s aged because I’m biased and just thought they were the coolest thing ever. They had a really particular style that just takes me back to 2001 like no other band.

"Vide" by Hier Soir

So I’ve been listening to a lot of French electronica during lockdown which makes me sound like a pretentious twat, but I’ve been learning French in lockdown. Which may also make me sound a bit pretentious, but the point is I’ve discovered loads of stuff I’d never have heard otherwise, that reminds me of bands like Air and Modjo that were in the charts when I was at school. I can’t really understand why this doesn’t have more hits on YouTube, I feel like it’s the sort of song that would get used in a film or video game and then everyone would love it.

"Hit Em Wit Da Hee" by Missy Elliott

Have you ever listened to this after midnight? Life-changing!

"That Other Girl" by SEVDALIZA

Another one for after dark. I just love music that has a sinister vibe, or makes me feel a certain way, and I love how moody this is – for me the music perfectly reflects the longing, disappointment and resentment hinted at in the lyrics. It’s like the sonic equivalent of sleeping with someone you know will never care for you.

"Ghosts" by Japan

I’m kind of obsessed with songs about self-doubt and this is such a strange little track. I’m not sure the vocals would pass muster today, but the production is amazing for something that’s just turned 40 – it reminds me of Bjork and the Knife, plus more recent stuff. Have no idea how I came across it, but it’s so eerie and otherworldly. For me it’s best enjoyed nursing neuroses by candlelight.

"A New Error" by Moderat

My brother took the piss out of me for listening to some of their more recent stuff – said it sounded like something they’d use in Love Island, which I’ve never seen by the way so he’s only shaming himself there – but I maintain that this album and this track in particular is electronica at its best. It makes me feel sadness and dread by turns, hopeful, isolated, but in motion, a motion I don’t want to stop. As someone commented on Youtube: “For some reason it reminds me of everything I’ve ever experienced.” Only music can do this!

"Dark Sunrise" by Om Unit, ft. Tamara Blessa

This song makes me want to burn a city down. This is what I’m going to play in a few years when I smear my face with ashes and go and join the resistance when climate-change-induced societal breakdown kicks in.

"Désenchantée" by Pomme

Another French find. Pomme sings a lot about her insecurities and I love the sombre tone she’s brought to this cover of a classic pop song by Mylene Farmer. It’s about feeling disillusioned. I spent all of last year wishing I could visit France, and this just about sums up how miserable I felt when we went back into lockdown last winter.

"90 Degrees" by Yazmin Lacey

If you’re ready for a pallet cleanser, may I suggest Yazmin Lacey? This track is like slipping into clean silk sheets, it’s so warm and light and freeform. I love the fact that she’s got exactly zero fucks to give for trends, this is just good, honest music making and that beautiful voice. Are we both from Nottingham? Yes. Have we shared a shared a large hot tub with about twenty other women at my sister’s hen night, that we hilariously renamed ‘Pussy soup’? Also yes.