INTERVIEW: THE WLDLFE

INTERVIEW:

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PHOTO CREDIT: Nitish Durbha

THE WLDLFE

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THIS week is already off to flyer…

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PHOTO CREDIT: Nitish Durbha

as I now get to speak with THE WLDLFE. I have been wrapping my ears around the new song, Towel, and was determined to find out more – and discover what it was like filming its unique and sensational video.

I discover how the Indianapolis band are progressing and what they have coming up; whether there are tour dates coming up; the sort of artists, new and past, they are reacting to; when the guys all got together – they each select a cool track to bring the interview to a close.

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Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?

We are doing well! It’s been a busy couple of week since releasing Towel and such - but a good kind of busy.

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?

For sure. We are a band called THE WLDLFE and we are from Indianapolis, Indiana. My name is Jansen, and the four other members of the band are Carson, Geoff; Jack, and Jason. We’ve been together for about two-and-a-half-years now and we aren’t planning on quitting any time soon.

Towel is your new single. What is the story behind it?

Towel has gone through a lot of different phases but I think that’s why we like it so much and one of the reasons why it feels like one of the tracks we’re most proud of. I wrote the verses a year or so ago and couldn’t figure out a good hook and a few months ago the chorus came to me at like 2 A.M. and it just was the perfect fit. Even though it’s a bit of a ballad, I feel like it’s kind of an anthem for those who have felt what it’s like to be in love with somebody who drives you crazy.

What was it like shooting the vertical video for the song?

It was definitely a little bit of a different process than a lot of the other videos we’ve done. We found a gem of an Airbnb in Muncie, IN which is a pretty small town and it turned out to be the perfect setting for the visual. We didn’t really shoot the video much differently than any other video and the vertical-ness of the video was brought together in post-production. We’ve been working with Brad Wong on all of our visuals for a while and he just keeps getting better and better.

The Towel video definitely feels like he took it next level and we really couldn’t be more pleased with how it came out.

Was it cool working with (director) Brad Wong? He seems to have a pretty good sense of concept and visuals…

For sure. Like I said; we’ve worked with him quite a bit and he’s always been great. He’s supe-open to what we have envisioned for the project and I think that’s why we keep calling him back. He certainly knows how to get the most out of what we want the video to look and feel like.

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How did THE WLDLFE get together? When did you start making music together?

This will sound like a joke, but we all kinda met at ‘Camp Rock’. Jason, Jack; Geoff and I all met each other at a camp called Orangehaus at Anderson University when we were in high-school and that all led us to attend college in Anderson. We all reconnected there and that is where the band was born. Carson is my younger brother and so I met him when he was born but he joined us in January of 2018 - and having him on the road with us has been awesome. He really felt like the missing piece for us and he has really helped us kinda reach where we wanted to be as far as live performance goes as well.

 Do you remember when music first came into your life? Which artists inspired you all?

We really all grew up listening to different music. Carson and I grew up on Journey and John Mayer. Geoff’s second cousin in Rick Allen from Def Leppard so he grew up listening to ‘80s Hair Metal. Jack and Jason both were into Hardcore bands like Underoath and Dance Gavin Dance - so, there is definitely a wide range of influences for all us. I think that plays to our advantage in a lot of ways though and it helps us look at music through, maybe, a different lens than maybe bands who grew up listening to the same music.

You are based out of Indianapolis. Is there a pretty healthy music scene there?

It’s growing and there are lots of plans to help improve the music scene in Indy. We’re excited to be one of the bands that are helping that expansion.

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Where are you heading on tour? Where can we catch you?

We are headed out to the West Coast in July and we’re super-pumped for it because we haven’t been able to get out there until last summer…

7.6 - Memphis, TN

7.7 - Kansas City, MO

7.9 - Houston, TX

7.11 - Phoenix, AZ

7.12 - San Diego, CA

7.13 - Anaheim, CA

7.15 - Dallas, TX (SAY INDIE! FESTIVAL )

We are working on more dates in the fall as well but we are excited for this week in July. It’s gonna be a fun trip.

Might you come to the U.K. and play?

Hopefully, soon! We would love to make it across the pond. Geoff’s family is actually from London so we know we at least would have a place to crash.

What do you hope to achieve in 2018?

It sounds like the boring answer but we just want to be better than we were last year. We want to grow and reach more people obviously but we always want to put the best records we can and put on the best show we can. That’s what we pride ourselves on.

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Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

I would say our favorite moment to date was this past April. We were playing in Lynchburg, VA. We had heard that we had a good following in the town but I don’t think any of us expected the kind of response we got at that show. It was just a special night in a packed record store and we definitely will not forget that show anytime soon.

If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?

I think all of us might answer this question differently but I would love to support Jon Bellion. I think he is just a creative genius and a good example of how hard work and dedication to your craft pays off. He’s not the flashiest but he always puts on a good show.

As far as a rider goes, I think we would all agree on a lot of pita and hummus. Like a lot of it.

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What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

One thing (I think) I’m super-happy we did off the bat was to invest in good-quality production. When you have a professional-sounding product, it’s easier to promote your music. Bloggers pay more attention and so do online publications. Making music can be expensive but I would definitely encourage people to make that investment because it definitely pays off.

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IN THIS PHOTO: PHANGS

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Our buddy, PHANGS, is a guy out of Nashville who has been killing it lately. Super-genuine dude as well.

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

Lots of NBA 2K18 and Mario Kart. If we aren’t on stage, when we are on the road we are usually pretty glued to those games. We all have jobs on the side and, when we aren’t touring, we are usually preoccupied with those as well.

Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Phangs (ft. Truitt) - Dry Eyes

Dwilly (ft. Kyle Thornton) - Birds & The Bees

Charlie Burg - Phlliip’s Bicycle (Dan Sagher Remix)

Ry-Lo - New Friend

Kacey Musgraves - Lonely Weekend

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INTERVIEW: MYLK

INTERVIEW:

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MYLK

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IF your Monday lacks any fizz and hope…

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then do not give up just yet! I have been speaking with the variegated and captivating MYLK about her latest track, Haiku, and where she sources inspiration from. The Manchester-based artist tells me about music entering her life and whether we will receive more material this year.

MYLK shares her ambition for the coming months and tells me how she relaxes away from music; what advice she would give to new songwriters emerging right now – she ends the interview by selecting a rather colourful and energised track.

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Hi, MYLK. How are you? How has your week been?

Hello! I am good, thank you! My week has been okay; just the usual production and songwriting!

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?

I am a U.K.-born, Japanese producer/singer/songwriter! I generally make J-Pop-influenced music mixed with a variety of E.D.M. genres and styles! I like creating a bubbly, happy vibe with my music.

Your single, Haiku, is out. What is the story behind the song?

It has a personal meaning. I went through a lot in my past. The light in the song refers to my goals and my life - as well as the fact that I never gave them up! I want the same for everyone else to value their life and goals.

It was written in the 575 haiku format. Was it difficult to fit the world around that format?

Although I took some time to think about it, I didn’t find it too difficult. Perhaps, because I used to like writing poems including haikus when I was young; so, maybe that helped the process.

Might there be an E.P. or more singles coming later in the year?

I have a collaboration with Michael White coming out on NCS this month! I have other collaborations that need finishing up and I do also have an E.P. on the way!

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Were you very young when you caught the passion for music? Was there a reason you stepped into the industry?

When I was fifteen, I was bullied a lot in school. Ultimately, I ended up dropping out because it got really bad and it affected my mental-health. It was around then that I found a passion for music production as an escape. I remember spending five-days-straight wondering what all the dials did on FL Studio 5 (which was my first ever DAW).

After a few years, I initially I gave up on my dream to become a successful producer. But, when I met some friends who were full-time in the music industry, I decided to give it a shot!

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You have come a long way and amassed a huge following. How important and encouraging is that support to you?!

I love all my fans. It's nice to have dedicated fans, too! They really lift my spirit up when I’m reading lovely comments from them (or messages)!

Which artists inspired you back then? Do you remember the first album you bought?

Around the time I discovered music production, I listened to a lot of Pop/J-Pop/Trance/commercial Dance music - and I was actually a Metalhead as well. I don’t actually remember the first album but I do remember my first single and that was Clint Eastwood by Gorillaz.

Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?

I don’t have any upcoming gigs and I’m not sure if I will tour yet, but I definitely would love to tour someday!

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Do you have any ambitions to fulfil before the end of the year?

Yes. I would love to release all my unfinished tracks this year! I’ve held onto some of them for a couple of years now!

Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

My favourite memory is definitely my trip to Japan to play my first-ever show!

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Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?

Ironically, I don’t actually listen to music that much; especially not albums: I tend to listen to a couple singles here and there. I feel like, if I listen to music too much, it would interfere with my creativity – so I like to keep it minimal!

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Be yourself! Experimentations is always a good thing because it’s a great way to find fresh sounds. Don’t be afraid to be spontaneous and try something new! I know that certain set of genres follow a certain set of techniques or structure (or style) but music is art and there are no rules! I always like to go with the flow when I’m producing.

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IN THIS PHOTO: kirakira

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

You should definitely check out kirakira – I met her when I went to Japan for my show with Moe Shop (who you should check out, too) I don’t meet many female producers and this girl is super-talented and adorable too!

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IMAGE CREDIT: Moe Shop

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

I do! I used to unwind by snowboarding regularly but I haven’t been regularly for the last couple years. These days, I like Netflix and chill and I also like the odd walkies outside – and I love eating out! I love food.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Kirakira -ずっと好きLおRDおFSHAKE

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FEATURE: Young Hearts Run Free… Studio 54: The Music, Mayhem and Majesty

FEATURE:

 


Young Hearts Run Free...

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IN THIS PHOTO: Studio 54, New York City/PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Norcia/Getty  

Studio 54: The Music, Mayhem and Majesty

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THERE is a lot of talk about…

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IN THIS PHOTO: Studio 54/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

and renewed interest in the legendary Studio 54. It was a mecca for excess, lacking inhibitions and debauchery in the 1970s. Perhaps it is the years between 1977 and 1979 where its glorious first era began and ended (that is subject to reinterpretation and expansion!). The club existed previous to that but the celebrity-attracting years put the space on the map and was the go-to club in New York. For those who need a brief history of Studio 54; Wikipedia provides a neat and handy breakdown:

Studio 54 is a former nightclub and currently a Broadway theatre, located at 254 West 54th Street, between Eighth Avenue and Broadway in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. The building, originally built as the Gallo Opera House, opened in 1927, after which it changed names several times, eventually becoming CBS radio and television Studio 52.

In the late 1970s, at the peak of the disco dancing and music trend, the building was renamed after its location and became a world-famous nightclub and discotheque.[4][5][6] The nightclub founders spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on professional lighting designand kept many of the former TV and theatrical sets, in the process creating a unique dance club that became famous for its celebrity guest lists, restrictive (and subjective) entry policies (based on one's appearance and style), and open club drug use. Founded and created by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager in 1977, it was sold in 1980 to Mark Fleischman,[7][8][9] who reopened the club after it had been shut down following the conviction of Rubell and Schrager on charges of tax evasion. In 1984, Fleischman sold the club, which continued to operate until 1986”.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Steve Rubell, Michael Jackson; Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Cherie Currie of The Runaways at Studio 54 on 31st May, 1977/PHOTO CREDIT: Bobby Bank/WireImage

You listen to stories from those who survived those heady days and would think it was Caligula’s stag party! The rampant drug-taking and loose sexual morals – the awareness of H.I.V. and other S.T.D.s was not as acute as it is now – and there was a sense of the 1960s’ free love and looseness that was transposed and reignited in those four walls. In fact, it was not only the dancefloor and main arena that played host to coming-together and outrageous activity: every toilet and corner of the building witnessed sexual lewdness, wild drinking and drug-taking. It sounds like the sort of club Satan would frequent if he has a bucket list but, in actually, Studio 54 was a space where people harmonised and shared a love of music. There was drug-taking and sex and, whilst moral indignation and outrage closed Studio 54; when the lights were up and the music was on; it was a church for Disco-lovers and those who wanted an escape. I will end with a soundtrack/playlist that collates some quintessential Studio 54 jams but there seem to be two sides: the music played there and the evocative score; the goings-on of the patrons and the reputation it gained. There is a new documentary out that looks at the club and what went on behind closed doors. Whilst some critics have accused the piece of being dry and lacking real revelation – if it were not a documentary then more liberties would be taken and it would be more explicit – but it shows why it was such a sought-after destination and how the club progressed and, sadly, ended.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Grace Jones at Studio 54 in March of 1979/PHOTO CREDIT: AP

A film was released in 1998 and, whilst it did not get too many hot reviews; it was an interesting interpretation of the club and what it was about. I guess, even with all the money in the world and an 18 certificate; could you truly capture the magic, murkiness and haze that wafted through the floor in the 1970s?! Maybe it would be too crude and voyeuristic showing how things really were at Studio 54. There is another documentary that looked at Studio 54 but, in actuality, there is no single and unifying representation that authentically and adequately distilled the true essence. Who were the types of people who were being let in (and excluded) from the club in the 1970s?

Celebs in the late 1970s pretty much had to go to Studio 54 or risk being left-out and permanently excluded.  The nightclub had its regulars: Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Halston, Cher, Diana Ross, Brooke Shields, Michael Jackson, Calvin Klein, Bianca Jagger, Liza Minnelli, Rudolf Nureyev, and Debbie Harry…. but to list every celeb who graced its disco floor would be nearly impossible: Stallone, Beatty, Travolta… it was a who’s who of the disco-era’s “beautiful people”.

But a special place was reserved downstairs for the most beautiful of all….

Rumors of Studio 54’s exclusive basement are the stuff of legend.  The club, famous for excluding the huddled stinking masses of normal people, had an even more exclusive area downstairs!  God only knows what sort of debauchery took place down there, because there was plenty of debauchery to be found even on the main floor…”.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Studio 54 (circa 1970)/PHOTO CREDIT: Waring Abbott/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

There is a lot of legend and rumour regarding some events that supposedly happened in the club. Bianca Jagger, in fact, did ride a white horse through Studio 54 during its birthday celebrations and there were enough illegal activity and carnality to offend even the most conservative New Yorker during that time. It is a shame the noise and essence of Studio 54 extended past the building and created this bad reputation. What we did get, away from the celebrity and illicitness was a booming and evocative soundtrack that remains peerless and effortless inspiring. The Disco giants congregated through the speakers and exhilarated the hungry club-goers. It is a shame there cannot be a Studio 54 active and remaining today. Maybe Disco would seem a bit kitsch and short-lived – the novelty of a genre that has all-but-died might wear thin – but it might not be the worse idea! Perhaps there could be a Dance or Pop club but, in New York, there is nothing like Studio 54. In 2018, laws are tightened and there are noise curfews; there are strict checks at doors and we could not expect a loose-lipped and ethically ambiguous 1970s hangout to appeal to authorities during this time. It would be closed very soon and it would be a very bitter lesson.

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IN THIS PHOTO: A woman dancing at Studio 54 in 1977/PHOTO CREDIT: Waring Abbott/Getty Images

I guess we have to celebrate what it was and, for a brief moment, what it gave to the world. Steve Cuozzo, writing for the New York Post last year celebrated forty years of salaciousness and sensation:

“…No Big Apple nightlife venue of the last half of the 20th century ever made as big a splash on the popular culture as Studio 54, which opened 40 years ago this week. As an editor who worked in the same room where Claudia cranked out story after story about the latest antics there, I was near-desperate to explore the belly of the beast myself.

The sidewalk was a scary zoo of drunk and drugged clubgoers jostling for position. Everyone under the giant marquee was yelling, “Steve, Steve” (for ­co-owner Steve Rubell) or “Marc, Marc” (for all-powerful doorman Marc Benecke).

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov with Bianca and Mick Jagger at Bianca's 1977 birthday party/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images/AP

…Studio 54 was a seductive engine of denial that the city was inexorably sliding into a tailspin. We hadn’t heard of AIDS yet. There were half as many murders in 1977 as there would be in 1990. Even so, omens of doom were all around. The broke municipality had to fire thousands of cops. A power blackout prompted looting and arson that laid waste to much of my childhood Brooklyn neighborhood. Hundreds of thousands of residents flew town on the heels of Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” move to Los Angeles.

Forty years later, the city hasn’t collapsed — quite the opposite. And a new Studio 54, or anything like it, would be impossible today”.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Bianca Jagger rides in on a white horse at during her birthday celebrations at Studio 54. PHOTO CREDIT: Rose Hartman/Archive Photos/Getty Images

How many of those fabled and seemingly-exaggerated tales are actually legitimate?! One of the most famous events, Bianca Jagger riding on a white horse in 1977, has been confirmed:

Bianca Jagger riding through the club on a white horse in 1977, Schrager says, actually happened as people retell it.

"It wasn't planned for Bianca to get on the horse," he says, adding they had intended for it to be ridden solely by a nude model posing as Lady Godiva, led by another nude model in painted-on clothes. Press photographers invited to capture celebrity guests sent the image far and wide. "That was the mother of all photo ops," Schrager adds.

It also began what would be a series of live animals brought in for special occasions, including doves for Jagger's birthday, livestock at a party for Dolly Parton, an elephant that posed for photos with Linda Blair, and, in December of 1977, a leopard and a panther. Included in the book is a letter from New York City Department of Health reminding Schrager and Rubell that wild animals in bars violated two different health codes”.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Diana Ross at Studio 54 in New York City in 1979/PHOTO CREDIT: Bettmann/Getty Images

Rolling Stone documented a few of the best-loved and most notorious stories from Studio 54’s history:

Although their songs were must-plays on the dance floor, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of Chic found themselves unable to clear Benecke's ultra-strict door policy on New Year's Eve 1977. "We were invited to meet with Grace Jones at Studio 54," Rodgers told Sound on Sound in 2005. "She wanted to interview us about recording her next album. At that time, our music was fairly popular – 'Dance, Dance, Dance' was a big hit – but Grace Jones didn't leave our name at the door and the doorman wouldn't let us in." They waited around until the early morning hours. "We stood there as long as we could take it, until our feet were just finally way too cold. We were really totally dejected. We felt horrible."

The men sulked back to Rodgers' apartment just a few blocks away. "We grabbed a couple of bottles of champagne from the corner liquor store and then went back to my place, plugged in our instruments and started jamming." Aching from the rejection, Rodgers and Edwards poured their anger into the music. "We were just yelling obscenities: Fuck Studio 54 ... Fuck 'em ... Fuck off ... Fuck those scumbags ... fuck them! And we were laughing," Rodgers described to Haden-Guest. "We were entertaining the hell out of ourselves. We had a blast. And finally it hit Bernard. He said, 'Hey Nile, what you're playing sounds really good.'"

Within half an hour they composed a song called "Fuck Off." After some lyrical tweaking they arrived at a slightly more Top 40–friendly title. "First, we changed it from 'fuck off' to 'freak off,' and that was pretty hideous. ... Then, all of a sudden it just hit me. One second the light bulb went on and I sang 'Aaaaahh, freak out!'" Released as "Le Freak" that September, the song would become Chic's first Number One and biggest hit. Perhaps understandably, Rodgers now considers Benecke a friend”.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Jerry Hall, Debbie Harry and Palmona Picasso were among the celebrities who frequented Studio 54/PHOTO CREDIT: Ullstein Bird via Getty Images

The sex-filled imaginations and nude-hipped partnerships were not all that exaggerated it seems – although there was a ‘special area’ where one could go:

Once you found yourself inside the hallowed grounds of Studio 54, the next place you wanted to go was the fabled basement; a cavernous, dingy, decidedly unglamorous space decorated with damaged banquets, pillars of rolled carpet and set pieces from past parties. It was down here that the privileged few were invited to indulge in their wildest desires. "Celebrities headed for the basement. Getting high low-down," Grace Jones wrote in her 2016 memoir. "Not even those who got inside the club could all make it into the basement. You'd stumble into half-hidden rooms filled with a few people who seemed to be sweating because of something they had just done, or were about to do." Security men brandishing walkie-talkies discreetly patrolled the area, removing any uninvited gawkers. The secluded corners furnished with mattresses quickly became a popular feature”.

There have been endless stories and testimony from those who were there and others who wished they were! I would love to see an exhibition open, in London or New York, that replicated the setting and sounds (and smells) that would have been experienced first-hand in the 1970s. It would not only act as nostalgia but a beautiful glimpse into Studio 54’s glory, history and sad demise. It was always doomed for closure – it is no shock people took umbrage and did not want the club near their doorstep. In any case; the most affecting and important memory from Studio 54 is the amazing music that was played and cherished by everyone who visited. Go and see the latest documentary/film about Studio 54 – it is gaining some great reviews, too – and get an idea of what the N.Y. space was all about. I wonder, in these safe and unsure signs we will ever see anything as meteoric, controversial and magnetic…

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IN THIS PHOTO: The New Year's Eve party of 1979 made headlines around the world/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

IN our lifetime.

INTERVIEW: The Lighthouse

INTERVIEW:

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PHOTO CREDIT: Thomas Ost 

The Lighthouse

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I am new to the wonders of The Lighthouse

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but it has been great investigating their music and talking with the guys. They have been telling me about their single, Headlights, and what it is all about. I was eager to know what it was like working with Huub Reijnders on their E.P., Joyride – they tell me what gigs are coming up and whether a U.K. stop is coming.

I discover how the band got together and how their music has evolved; if there are new artists we need to keep our minds open for; whether there is any sage advice new artists need to take on board – the guys each select a song to end the interview with.

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Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?

Hi, Sam! We’ve had a fun week so far. It’s pretty calm on the band’s side because we have some students in the band who are preparing for their finals - but we did a show for national radio yesterday and we got back the mixes for some new songs we’re working on. So that’s always nice!

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?

We’re a five-piece Indie outfit from Belgium Our influences include artists like The Wombats and The 1975 but there’s a lot of different genres creeping in left and right. Overall, we’re quite the sucker for a good Pop song but, from time to time, we do find ourselves writing songs that don’t necessarily really fit the Pop structures or sounds and these tend to be our personal favourites.

So, we’re curious where that road will take us. Headlights, definitely, is one of those! We had a break-through year in Belgium last year and now we’re aching to branch out to other territories.

Talk to me about Headlights. What is the inspiration behind the song?

The song is mainly about how closely love and fiction are connected throughout the night and regards nightlife romances as if they were a bit unreal because they are experienced in a haze or a foggy state of mind. It’s hard to say where we picked up inspiration: most of the time we start off from a musical idea. In this case, the song sort of developed around the almost choral repetition of that main sentence: “Shut off all the headlights”.

When working on the arrangement, this song really took off in a totally different direction in comparison to what we’ve been doing up to that moment. But, we all instantly liked it. It’s a little more synth-based than our previous work and also a bit less cheerful and more ambivalent. That’s definitely a side of our sound that we want to explore more in our new work. Lyrically, Willem (Keys) matches the mood of the song to the right words once the arrangement is done; so they draw inspiration primarily out of the overall vibe of the composition, infused with impressions and feelings you pick up in everyday life.

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It is from the E.P., Joyride. Was it cool working with (producer) Huub Reijnders on the E.P.?

Definitely! We discovered Huub through mutual friends who had recorded with him in the past and, although they play a totally different style of music, we knew Huub is a really versatile producer. If you look at his track record, he really did it all; from Punk-Rock to the biggest mainstream acts, but he always manages to find the right colours to make the songs shine.

We all think that’s really important: the song comes first. It’s a thin line between favouring sound or song but Huub keeps us on the right side of that line without neglecting the other side. On top of that, he’s really cool and fun guy to work with too.

How do you think your new material differs to the stuff you were producing at the start? Have you brought new elements into your sound?

We started out as a typical five-piece listening to late-2000s Indie-Rock like Two Door Cinema Club, Vampire Weekend and the likes and that’s also where we got the first inspiration for our sound: mostly guitar-based with a single piano or synth-line. Along the way, we incorporated other influences; mostly by adding more electronic or synth-based sounds to our guitar-based framework. We also took a slightly different approach to writing. Whereas we used to write while jamming, we now take to the DAW in a much earlier stage. This allows us to experiment with different sounds and layers early on in the writing process and this resulted in more intricate, less straightforward songs.

But, it’s an ongoing process. We’ve succeeded in creating a pretty recognizable and coherent sound with our last E.P. but, as we’re working on new material, we’re discovering new sounds and using some new instruments. So, our sound is still evolving and our songwriting skills are still maturing.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Diederik Craps

How did The Lighthouse get together? When did you all meet one another?

We’re in a steady formation for about three years now but, before that, there have been some other formations. Bram (Vocals) and Willem (Keys) started off as an acoustic duo and, along the way, they added more musicians and instruments to the band; changing out a bandsman every once in a while to eventually end up in the current formation since 2015. Everyone knows each other through mutual friends one way or another. We all live or lived in and around Leuven around that time so it wasn’t that hard to bump into each other.

Belgium is where you are based. Is there a pretty active and opportunity-lean scene there?

It’s a pretty strange country music-wise, because the linguistic border between the French and Dutch-speaking part also divides the country culturally and, definitely, musically in two very distinct markets. The French-speaking south of Belgium tends to look very much to France for their musical preferences while, in Flanders, we’re a little more U.K./U.S.-oriented.  Because of this, there’s almost no exchange of bands/artists between the North and the South and, as a result, the Belgian market is very small. This makes it very hard to make a viable living out of being a musician.

Even with frequent national airplay and playing the big venues and festivals, it’s nearly impossible to earn a living as an upcoming band without looking to venture abroad (and that’s a really big step). At the same time, there’s a pretty vibrant scene being infused by several professional music-education programmes and a lot of ‘amateurs’ with big aspirations (like ourselves). This makes for a lot of ‘competition’ but also for a good breeding ground for a melting pot of styles and scenes. There are quite a lot of opportunities for gigging but there are only so many top venues that can host a decent club show. So; once you’ve entered that stage, the options are way less manifold. We’re still spoiled with a lot of world-class festivals, though, so that kind of makes up for it.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Jokko

Where are you heading on tour? Where can we catch you?

We actually just finished a club tour through Belgium and the Netherlands. We do have some festivals lined up for the summer but the main focus is on writing new songs at the moment.

Is a small tour of the U.K. a future possibility?

It’s definitely a future possibility. We’ve had some U.K. fans asking us to come over a while now. We even had some of them make the trip to our release show in Brussels last November so we can’t wait to return the favour! But, there’s nothing planned at the moment. Hopefully, 2019 will expand our touring range to the U.K.

What do you hope to achieve in 2018?

As said, we’re currently focussing on writing and we’re slowly working towards a first full album but it’s too early to tell when that would actually see the light of day. We do feel our debut album should be a sticker. We want to leave our mark with this one, so everything has to feel right about it. We’re aiming for the first half of 2019 but we really can’t make any promises there.

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Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

There have been a couple of definite highlights so far.

Playing the Sziget Festival in 2015 is surely one of them. This happened pretty early on in our current formation and immediately made for a pinnacle of our young musical careers. But, last year was really one long-lasting rollercoaster. Our music got picked up by national radio, giving us the opportunities you dream of as a kid. It’s really hard to pick one favourite. Playing Pukkelpop for almost 10,000 people was really awesome - but our first sold-out headline show in the legendary Ancienne Belgique club was also very fulfilling experience!

Every time a fan expresses that our music means something to him or her; the thought that your music really has an effect on peoples’ lives…that’s always special as well.

If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?

It’s difficult to choose between an artist that we greatly admire or ones with a huge crowd. We’d love to open up for Bon Iver or Phoenix just to let them know how much we love their work. But, in terms of an enormous superstar audience, we would have to wait for Oasis to reunite or the next Daft Punk show, whenever that will be.

As for our rider, we’re pretty satisfied already. A few beers to lighten the mood are all we need! But, when we really can push the limits a masseuse and a personal cocktail guy would be nice.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

When you’re in a band, your bandmates are not just the guys you happen to make music with: they’re also your best friends. When practice is over, or after a show, don’t go home and get a beer together: have a party and dance the night away! Also, play as many shows as you can because it’s the best way to keep growing as a group - and you get to know so many interesting people.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Kid Astray/PHOTO CREDITMarius Midttun 

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

We’ve been jamming out to Kid Astray, a band from Norway. Their latest E.P. has a couple of great earworms. (Shout-out to Joanne!). Talking about Norway, we’ve taken a great liking to Sigrid and songs like Don’t Kill My Vibe or Plot Twist!

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IN THIS PHOTO: Sigrid/PHOTO CREDIT: Jonathan Vivaaskise

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

Well. We don’t, actually. But, we can honestly say that, even though it’s a lot of hard work, music is the unwinding for us. I don’t think we’ll ever get tired of writing new songs and trying out new ideas. There’s nothing like starting with a blank canvas and ending up with something that could eventually reach an audience of thousands. It’s like a proud sense of accomplishment you can’t really compare with anything else.

Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Yannick (Bass): Ultralight BeamKanye West

Nick (Guitar): Bonfire - The Hunna

Bastiaan (Drums): Press RestartWalk the Moon

Bram (Vocals): Only We’re NakedZak Abel

Willem (Keys): Don’t Dream It’s Over - Crowded House

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Follow The Lighthouse

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FEATURE: Spotlight: IAMDDB

FEATURE:

 


Spotlight

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IAMDDB

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IF you are looking for an artist who brings…

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plenty of power, attack and amazement to music then you do not need to look much further than IAMDDB. She is a stunning artist who first came to my attention with her incredible 2017 E.P., Hoodrich Vol. 3. Songs explode from the speakers and you are helpless to refute the drama and force that is coming through. Standout cuts like Conjouring and Trophy have the authenticity you’d expect from a decades-lasting artist. One might listen to the street-smart and raw vocals of IAMDDB and think she is from The Bronx or the Manhattan. In fact, the brilliant artist is based around Manchester and is one of the finest new talents we have. She was born Diana Debrito and her Angolan father was a musician. The upcoming star has been writing since a child and taking influence from all sectors of music. After a hard relationship split, she travelled to Angola and immersed herself in the Jazz scene over there. Even though she is a new name to many people; IAMDDB has been recording for a while now and is making her way through the scene. Eyes and ears are turning her way and you cannot help fall for her music. One looks at the songwriter and is struck by her beauty and fashion. You are intoxicated by her movements and incredible sounds; floored by the sheer confidence and skill that projects from every line.

I mentioned the U.S. familiarity and how she rivals the finest and freshest R&B/Rap artists from there – she is ours and we are not going to give her up! Her songs are typically one/two-worded and they have a sense of focus and economy that many artists lack. The spits and flows and vivacious; the rhymes and wordplay are amazing and you can hear a wide and eclectic musical upbringing come through in every song. There are Jazz moments and elements but you get a real smack and attack of American Rap and modern-Britain Urban sounds. Although based in Manchester; you know IAMDDB could easily slot into the South London fold or survive over in the U.S. for a few years. Her name is growing legs and I have heard IAMDDB played on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 6 Music. Her 2016 E.P., Waeveybby, Vol. 1 is an early sign of brilliance – songs such as Childsplay showing a rare soul and incredible sense of belonging. There are no nerves – none I can detect – with IAMDDB and you know she is going to go all the way in the industry. We have some great R&B/Rap artists like Nadia Rose and Stefflon Don but, to me, nobody has the same qualities and abilities as IAMDDB.

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There has been a lot of talk concerning the young artist: she has not given too many interviews herself and is letting her music do the talking. The video for Drippy is out and is an arresting and alluring video that perfectly supports the song. She came third in the BBC’s Sound of… vote for this year and was interviewed by them. Asked when music came into her life, and when she started writing; she told the BBC this:

“…Around high school time, and I did music at college. But when I went to Africa, that's when I started really understanding, OK, music is actually what I want to do. I started producing, engineering, learning the in-betweens of music, not just lyricism and the beat.

Writing's always been second nature - I can write anywhere, under any circumstance. Anything can inspire me. It feels very natural to write”.

She extolled the virtues of being an independent artist – not having any sh*t from labels and being controlled – and is acutely aware of a certain shyness and where she came from. IAMDDB talked about being independent and why it means so much to her:

I believe in myself enough to not let anybody take control of what I do with my art. I'm always up for taking criticism that can improve it, but with regards to creative control, I feel like that's so essential for any artist to have.

For me, music is my therapy. That's where I express myself. That's why I'm so honest with it. I speak about personal issues. I speak about other people's experiences”.

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It is illuminating and wonderful listening to her create music and talk about her life. Her influences include Bob Marley and why his music is so significant – everything she does is influenced by him and the way he used to move. Although modern artists like Jorja Smith, Jordan Rakei and Tom Misch are important to her; Bob Marley seems to be that icon that is behind everything she does and what she is about. Another interview she conducted (last year) talked about her as a female artist and she talked about having a strong presence and the fact it can be quite intimidating being around people. IAMDDB is not someone who alienated but she has this strong and independent vibe that relies on nobody and comes through with intensity and no crap being thrown in – it is not ego but a self of assurance that might put some off. It is the passion you get from IAMDDB that amazes and fills every sense. She is a genuine artist and true talent that cannot be taken for granted and is set to take the music world by storm. I have not met IAMDDB but she is someone I am keen to interview and find out more about.

There are few who can make Trap/Hip-Hop sounds that have so much spark, colours and energy. Her rhythms are phat and there is sexiness in the voice that draws you in and can take the breath. Someone who has that Jazz-like sound and can seduce; turning into a full-on street warrior who owns the concrete and can take you off your feet…it is an intoxicating concoction that we need in the music industry right now. I have been listening to IAMDDB for a while and wonder whether we will see another E.P. this year. She is heading out on tour and people are falling over themselves to get close to her. That independent spirit means, unlike her peers, there are few collaborations. IAMDDB has worked alongside others and been remixed but, when it comes to her strongest material, there are no other voices but hers. We are hearing of female artists being overlooked and being taken for granted right now. It is true they have fewer rights (compared to men) and imbalance continues to cause arguments and debate. IAMDDB is one of those artists who blows away the argument and shows what amazing music is being made by women right now. She is not one to get drawn into the debates: her spirit is pure and she makes music that feels natural to her; she will succeed and is as strong as any male artist out there. Watch her grow and see the Manchester-based artist conquer the world. Bob Marley may be gone but, strangely, you seem to get embodiment through IAMDDB and some of his qualities running through her blood. However you see IAMDDB; you cannot deny she is an artist who is ready to do things her own way and…

DOMINATE the world of music!

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Follow IAMDDB

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INTERVIEW: Christopher Haul

INTERVIEW:

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Christopher Haul

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HIS new single is released tomorrow…

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so it was a great time to speak with Christopher Haul about If You Found Love. The songwriter explains its story and what it was like shooting the video (out tomorrow); what inspired his debut E.P., Something's Changed - and the artists who are important to him.

Haul reveals his influences and when music arrived in his life; what sort of gigs are coming up; what advice he would give to new artists; a few albums that are special to him – he ends the interview with a pretty rousing track!

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Hi, Christopher. How are you? How has your week been?

Hey. I am really good, thanks. I’m enjoying this lovely weather but my hayfever is really suffering. Urgh!

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?

I am Christopher Haul; a singer and writer from South Wales – I am releasing my debut E.P. called Something’s Changed.

What can you tell me about If You Found Love? What is the story behind the track?

If You Found Love is a feelgood song about coming across that someone or something you have a strong connection with and, essentially, love. It’s about holding on to it and not being scared of giving it your all.

It seems like the video was pretty cool and interesting to shoot. How much fun was it to make?

Thanks. Yes; the video was fun to make. It was in Central London on a Saturday and we filmed it right in the middle of all the tourist attractions in London. People were stopping in their tracks to watch what we were doing. Some people came up to me for an autograph and a photo which was quite sweet.

Phil Whitehead co-writes. Was it a good experience working with him?

Phil is a great guy and we both get on really well, which makes it much easier to share ideas and collaborate; then, neither of us feels like we are not adding to it or feeling left out.

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Can we expect any more material later in the year?

ABSOLUTELY! Now I have my first E.P. ready, I am back in the studio recording my next one. I am listening to a lot of '80s Synth-Pop for inspiration. 

You have modelled and worked in musical theatre. Was music a natural move for you? Was it nervewracking making your first moves?

Growing up throughout the '90s, music seemed to be a natural thing for me. I loved all the big boybands, girlbands and film soundtracks like Titanic (My Heart Will Go On), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (Everything I Do) and The Bodyguard (I Will Always Love You).

 How has your music tastes changed through the year? Does your background in music theatre go into your own music?

I would say I have always loved Pop music: you could say I am a bit of a ‘Pop Tart’. But, I have found myself listening to more old-school sounds like the Eurhythmics, even ABBA. The music is pure genius. I don’t really mix the musical theatre stuff with my music. I had so many people telling me over the years how good I would be in musicals as well as on stage performing my original music that an agent of mine asked would I be up for it. I thought, ‘You know what. I would try anything once’; so I did it and I loved it!

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Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?

Yes. I am currently doing gigs throughout U.K. and Europe. I will be performing in Sitges this Sunday (17th June). I am in at the East Barnet Festival on 7th July; Croydon Fest 14th July. I’m in Hamburg at The Paul Schmidtchen Theatre and Cardiff Pride in August. 

 Do you have any ambitions to fulfil before the end of the year?

I am always setting myself goals and pushing myself. I would love to release my next E.P. before the year is out and get a number-one record from it (you have to think big, right?!). Also; I am working on my own clothing brand called House of Haul which I am hoping to launch in the next couple of months.

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Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

My most favourite memory with music was probably when my cousins and I used to put cassette tapes in our little mini-stereos and plating What’s Going On by Four Non Blondes and scream at the top of our lungs: “WHATS GOING ON!”. Hahah! 

Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?

The three albums that mean the most to me are probably:

Backstreet Boys - Millennium

Whitney Houston - The Bodyguard (soundtrack)

SiaA Thousand Forms of Fear

(If you ask me in twelve months this might change).

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Keep focussed and work quietly on what it is you want to do. Depend on nobody and don’t take things so serious - and enjoy the ride. Oh…and believe in yourself: the universe will work it all out.

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Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Other than ME?! Haha. I saw a great artist called Bekah at a gig recently and Valerio Lysander. He has is quirky and great!

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IN THIS PHOTO: Valerio Lysander

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

I do try and unwind by taking time out at the beach and listening to the waves. I fell asleep at the seafront in Aberdeen the other day and the waves were hypnotic. It was so relaxing. I like to unwind by lighting as many candles as I can and just playing music and relaxing.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Ahh. Thank you!  Could you play Sia’s Alive. That’s the sort of mood I am in right now!

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Follow Christopher Haul

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INTERVIEW: Gg

INTERVIEW:

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Gg

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MANY of us have had…

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rather unconventional lives and experiences. Gg has been involved with Russian mobs and had the sort of ‘excitement’ many of would not even dream of! I have been talking with the Russian artist about her latest track, Freezing, and how she is getting on.

She lets me into her world and discusses future material and whether she has progressed as an artist; if there are any tour dates approaching; whether she gets time to chill way from music – Gg tells me what the scene is like in Russia right now.

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Hi, Gg. How are you? How has your week been?

Hey! Kind of obscure, to tell the truth. I’ve been totally drunk at a Russian film festival; had a fight with a taxi driver (and had to defend Theresa May from an Armenian taxi driver in Moscow; no kidding) and all week have been trying to oppose being brainwashed by my fiancée’s mother. She’s a lovely lass, although Putin knows nothing about brainwash compared to her…

So, as you say in the U.K.: I’m fine, thank you…

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?

Well. I’m Gg. I play Electro-Pop songs. I’ve got long legs, ginger hair; deep texts, a rich voice and poor friends from Russian mobs. I’m timid, modest and s*it but, if people ask “Who’s your daddy?!” - scream my name, God save the queen!

What can you tell me about your new song, Freezing? How did the song come together?

Well. I could say about broken hearts, recite some John Clare; but, to tell the truth - it was damn freezing in Moscow and I had just watched the last season of Game of Thrones.

Is there going to be more material later in the year?

Oh, yes: my third single and an album. I’m going to release a new album with some weird stuff. I don’t know how I came up with it….

Do you think you have progressed as an artist since your earliest days? Do you grow more confident with each release?

I’d say that I’m getting closer to my secret dream: an E.P. all in cockney.

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You are a Russian artist. Is there an active musical scene there right now?

I've just released an album. It’s kind of different in my mother tongue; kind of makes one think about how, in different countries, you become a different person - a nice, comfortable schizophrenic feeling. Generally, nothing is going on (on) the Russian stage. Let’s forget about politeness for a second: modern music belongs to the U.K.

Do you remember how you got into music? Were there particular artists that influenced you?

Bach. My parents took me to a Bach concert in my hometown. It was the ‘90s; we were in Russia; there were people dying all around, people got nothing to eat - and here it came. I haven’t caught my breath since that night, to be frank. It almost felt like Bruce Wayne – although, he would break in Russia.

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Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?

I wish I could answer ‘yes’, but we’ll see...

Do you think you’ll be playing in the U.K. at all?

Definitely. I’m honoured to have the chance.

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What do you hope to achieve in 2018?

I’m going to make my own movie. As for music - the last few months were too busy; I’ve got to have some time off. Also, build a house; give birth to a son, plant a tree and all this - while looking gorgeous.

Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

Yeah. I do: every time my tour manager Steve begs me to bring him a Russian wife. It's nice to feel powerful; what can I say?!

Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?

‘The White Album’ (The Beatles) by The Beatles; Highlands by Halsey and Blood Sugar Sex Magik by Red Hot Chili Peppers.

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What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Stop. Reflect on yourself. Understand yourself in this particular moment. Accept that you can’t do it; not now, not later…not ever. Cause it’s all mine. Joking. Play your own music.

Never give in.

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

No. I don’t, actually. To unwind I write screenplays and sail; sometimes, simultaneously. I adore sailing.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Well. It’s going to be Scooter’s Fire, then! My sweet childhood memories of Russian Disco-Dance. My favourite lullaby…

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INTERVIEW: Suzi Island

INTERVIEW:

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Suzi Island

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THE youthfulness and ambition of Suzi Island

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is almost sickening but, given how nice they are, you can't get too depressed! I have been speaking with Hugh and Matt from the band about their single, Show Me the Way, and what it was like having Pete from The Vaccines produce it!

With a new track only a few days away; the guys talk about that and reveal what it is like living down in Brighton; whether there are new acts we should get our ears around; what gigs they have coming up – they select some great music to end the interview with.

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Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?

Hugh: Hey! We’re great. How’re you? We’ve literally just been finishing up the final touches for our next release. It’s sounding crazy exciting. 

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?

Matt: So. We’re based in the sunny seaside space of Brighton and we get to spend our time making the music we want to listen to. 

How did Suzi Island come together? Can you reveal the inspiration behind the name?

Hugh: So. Basically, during our first year of uni, we misheard a quote on an episode of Friends. It sounded like a cool band name and it really just stuck ever since then. 

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Show Me the Way is your new track. How did that song get started? Was there a story that started the process?

Hugh: I always think that emotion is always the biggest part of a song. With Show Me the Way; it’s just this overwhelming outpour of emotion I had to get out into a song - it’s just that feeling of not knowing where you stand with someone when you’re so crazily in love with them. 

Pete Robertson of The Vaccines produced the track. What was it like working with him? Did you learn a lot of new skills?

Matt: Pete is crazy-good at what he does: we’ve learnt so much from creating stuff with him. I don’t know about specific skills, but he always has a good book recommendation; we have a good book recommendation thing going on.

Hi, Pete if you’re reading this and thanks for all the book recommendations…also; you definitely should check out his latest release, Aflame, under his artist name ‘Sunan’. Such a good song.  

Was it cool shooting the video? Whose concept was it?

Matt: Yeah. It was really good fun! Especially, working with the Brighton Film School. They were so incredibly professional to work with and loved the music too, which is such an important thing. It was such a beautiful day as well! Spending it on the beach wasn’t something we were gonna complain about.

The idea came about through a few brainstorming sessions with the students and the rest is history as they say. 

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Can we expect to see any more material later in the year? What are you working on right now?

Hugh: We’ve got a really important song called Actor that’s coming out on 27th June. It’s going to reshape what is expected of us. We can’t wait. 

You are a teenage duo from Brighton. Is it the perfect place to make music and find the inspiration you need? What is the scene like there right now?

Brighton’s always been such a cool environment. We used to live in a dark and gloomy basement flat but we’ve recently flipped the record and moved up to a top-floor apartment. The view makes the morning coffee taste better.

Matt: As far as the scene goes, I think musicians and bands will gravitate towards Brighton as it’s got the practicality of somewhere like London but with the addition of a naked cycling race every year. Who doesn’t love an annual naked cycling race?!

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Where are you heading on tour? Where can we catch you?

Hugh: We’ve got such a cool new live performance lined up for our next gigs. We’ve got some brand new tracks we’re dying to play! We’re also playing a night set up by Abbie McCarthy from BBC Radio 1 on 28th June which is going to be so great. Here are the live dates in full:

28th June - Good Karma Club (London) at the Sebright Arms

13th July - London, Notting Hill Arts Club

20th July - London, The Finsbury pub

27th - 29th July - Chiddfest, Chiddingly

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What do you hope to achieve in 2018?

As far as we’re concerned, we want to be the biggest band in the world. We know that’s a bit of a stretch before 2019...but, hey; we’ve got no choice but to make sure as many people hear our music as possible. 

Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

Matt: Definitely. When we were younger, a couple got engaged whilst we were busking one of our tunes. That was pretty magical! 

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If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?

I guess, if we really wanted to set the bar, supporting someone like Coldplay would be pretty crazy. Just as they’ve had such an incredible ability to stay at the top of their game.

Then, probably something quite tame in our rider…an ice-cold Pepsi Max for me; maybe a Coke for Hugh…and a life-sized cut out of Christopher Biggins.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Hugh: I’d love to be all philosophical here but, in all honesty, we’re still breaking through ourselves! Have you got any advice for us?? Haha! 

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Naaz/PHOTO CREDIT: Valentina Vos

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Matt: I personally have been really into Naaz’s new album Bits of Naaz. She has a really cool sound; deffo check her out.

Hugh: Youth Sector also have a couple bodacious tunes out.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Youth Sector/PHOTO CREDITJodie Canwell

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

Yeah. I mean, I think for us the highlight of living together and doing what we do is that music has become intertwined within everything we do. It’s funny because we seem to relax the most when we are just doing what we love - making music that we feel matters.

Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

I think we’d have to go with…

Fujiya & Miyagi - Collarbone

Milo (ft. Hemlock Ernst) - Souvenir

Absolutely amazing songs! 

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Follow Suzi Island

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INTERVIEW: Mercy Flight

INTERVIEW:

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Mercy Flight

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IT has been wonderful speaking with Steve…

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of Mercy Flight about the new track, Entropy. The band’s singer discusses its story and what tales and ideas go into their album, Humanizer. I learn how the band got together and whether there are any gigs booked in the diary – whether the Canadian group will also come over to the U.K.

Steve tells me about his start in music and influences; a new name we need to seek out; why technology, and the way we interact, is a key source of inspiration; how he spends time away from music – he provides advice to songwriters coming through right now.

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Hi, Steve. How are you? How has your week been?

Great, thanks! The record release party was a huge success last night: a packed house at the Piston and the band was on fire! So excited to be releasing the new album this week! So amazing!

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?

I am the lead singer and songwriter of Mercy Flight. We are a dream-inspired Indie-Folk band from Toronto.

How did Mercy Flight come together? How did you find the musicians you play with?

Tony Rabalao (A.K.A. Lehlo) and I started running an open mic, Freefall Sundays (and making records), together about ten years ago which has been a galvanizing force in the evolution of the band.  Tony’s close friend and bandmate from Joydrop, Thomas McKay (also played in Moe and the Nightcrawlers), ended up producing and playing on the last three Mercy Flight records.

He brought in Ricky Tillo (Lady Gaga) and Dan Miller (Valerie Dour) on the last two records and Katey Morley (Gypsy Soul) joined the band a few years ago and sings B.Vs on our new record, Humanizer.

Entropy is the new single. What is the story behind it?

Entropy explores the importance of human connection in a disintegrating world; technologies designed to bring us together are tearing us apart and destroying our physical realities. Entropy is a reminder to connect in the moment.

Humanizer is your album. Are there overriding themes and ideas that define the record?

Humanizer explores the relationship between humanity and technology. The modern world is fraught with dehumanizing technologies. For example, one song is about breaking this cycle and getting outside “while the sun shines”. Another song is about an angel that wants to become human because he’s tired of immortality: “He wants to feel love”.  

It seems technology and the way we connect is important to you. Are we becoming more detached as a population?

Yes. I believe that modern technology is actually isolating us from each other. We can communicate with people from across the globe but we are not connecting well with the people right beside us, the people in our lives,  as well as we could.

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Tell me about your influences and what sort of music you grew up around…

My father was into Classical and Jazz. My mother sang me to sleep at night. I played the piano from a young age; violin and trombone as a pre-teen and later got into singing and playing Blues harp as a teen. I played in bars around town and eventually starting writing and singing my own songs. That was the beginning of what has been a lifelong pursuit of expressing myself through music.

I have had such a variety of influences. For example, Gustav Mahler and Erik Satie; The Psychedelic Furs and Tears for Fears; the Broken Bells and Tame Impala; David Bowie and Neil Young. My most recent influences are some of the emerging artists that I witness each week at my open mic. Lots of talent!

Where are you heading on tour? Where can we catch you?

We are definitely heading to Montreal and New York. No plans to go much further afield just yet. Although, that’s definitely something I’d like to do!

Have you performed in the U.K. at all? Might we see you here?

I haven’t, personally. I know other members of my band have. In fact, a few of them tour Europe and the U.K. with other bands. Lucky!

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What do you hope to achieve in 2018?

More of the same, really: keep writing music and playing live; maybe make a video.

Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

So many great moments at the open mic every week; spontaneous collaborations etc. and great shared energy and community-building with musicians from all over the world. It’s hard to pick one memory! I’ll have to think about that one.

If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?

I’m not sure what you mean. You mean be a patron of the arts and support someone else’s career in music? There would be quite a few candidates! I wish someone would do that for me! (Laughs).

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Keep playing. It’s hard when life gets in the way, but stick to it! Music is its own reward.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Rose Cousins

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Rose Cousins.

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

For me, music is a way to unwind. I also like to get out into nature.

Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

I’ve really been enjoying Tame Impala these days. Anything from the album, Lonerism - or the Broken BellsAfter the Disco.

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Follow Mercy Flight

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TRACK REVIEW: Dan Rawle - Matter of Opinion

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Dan Rawle

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Matter of Opinion

 

9.2/10

 

 

The track, Matter of Opinion, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/album/6yyiEccw7G3s52xhNBQpaU

GENRES:

Folk; Singer-Songwriter

ORIGIN:

Oxford, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

3rd June, 2018

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WHEN I look at Dan Rawle

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I get a sense of optimism and revelation I have not experienced in a while. I will talk about his latest track in a moment but, right now, I wanted to address a few things about his music. I want to address emotional subjects in music and pouring your heart out on the page. I will also look back at Folk and Acoustic music and what beauty can be unearthed from the form. I will chat about consistent songwriting and artists who manage to provide warm spirit; a look at overhauling the mainstream and what Rawle can achieve in the future. Let us look at the first point and discuss emotion and how that is brought into songwriting. Dan Rawle is known for a slightly sunnier and upbeat aspect to his songs but now, on Matter of Opinion, there is something a little more inward-looking and emotive at the heart. If we look around music; there are plenty of artists who put their soul onto the page but, in many cases, it comes across as dishonest and forced. I am a bit miffed why some would go to lengths to record songs with such urgency and emotions without showing any authenticity and depth. Rawle is a man who has experienced the same as all of us – lost love and disappointment; wasted days and the need to achieve dreams – but he manages to distinguish himself by showing that honesty and realness. It can be quite hard listening to songs that are open and hard-hitting. Whilst Matter of Opinion looks at experiencing loss and having that spirit and love remaining – trying to keep someone’s memory alive – it has plenty of range and colour that will keep you invested. I hear songwriters who talk about lost relatives or broken love but their words are quite trite and clichéd. With Dan Rawle, he mixes intelligent and thoughtful words with beautiful composition notes and brilliant production.

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One of the reasons I have been featuring more female artists in my review section is a need to step away from a sense of weariness and sameness. I find a lot of male artists are replicating what is out there or they are producing music that does not linger in the mind. I feel we have reached a point where female artists have stepped out in front – and not been given the recognition they deserve – and are providing music that is more interesting. The more compelling male artists of the mainstream are away from Pop and playing in genres like Jazz, R&B and Hip-Hop. There are some unique acts in Pop and Rock but most of them are outside this realm. Female artists tend to have a more adventurous style of music and wide-ranging voice; a passion and soul the men do not. This might sound like a shot at Dan Rawle but it is the opposite: he is one of those songwriters that show there is grace and plenty of style to be found in male artists. Although the mainstream needs to a shake – I will come to this a bit later – Rawle is among the more interesting and personality-rich that is capable of keeping you hooked. I feel a lot of male solo artists suffer is because they are too concerned with heartache and being as explicit as they can. Maybe I have generalised things but I see a definite split that is spilling into the mainstream. Newer artists fare better and they are producing sounds that have a lot more lyrical variation and nuance. Dan Rawle is a songwriter inspired by the likes of The Beatles and Passenger but does not step into commercial territory. I have a very sceptical and wary sense of adventure when it comes to mainstream Pop/Folk and how credible the music is. Rawle is much more credible and strong than most artists out there because he can write about his life and experiences without causing depression and seeming false.

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I will come back to that subject a bit in the conclusion but will move on to Folk and Acoustic music. Yesterday, when assessing IAKO, I looked at an artist in the same genre as Dan Rawle. His sound was closer in tone and flavour to James Blake – it has Electronic elements and was more energised and choral. Now, with Rawle, we have someone who takes from the roots of Folk. His music mixes in Pop sunniness but there is that acoustic guitar-based sound that reminds one of older artists. I have been investing a lot more time in Folk because of a need for music that seems to understand me and what I am going through. That sounds strange but I am at a point where I need to bond with emotional sounds and bare-naked songs; a chance to feel a little vulnerable but bond with sounds that I can relate to. I have been listening to a lot of Joni Mitchell’s Blue and wondering why we have seen very few similar albums since 1971. A lot of modern artists write about the ups and downs of life but I have heard nothing as striking as Blue. If modern-day artists like This Is the Kit and Laura Marling have the same vocal elements as Mitchell; their music is different in terms of its poetry and potency. Although Dan Rawle writes about different areas of life (to Mitchell); I get the sense he included her in his rotation and takes guidance from her. I have been yearning for a modern-day Blue that exposes scars and is as stunning and revelatory as that record. Whilst Rawle might not have gone through the same experienced as Joni Mitchell did in the late-1960s/early-1970s; I feel he has encountered hard times and broken love that would lend itself to Mitchell-esque music. I feel he has the potential to be a fine a lyricist and wants to connect with the listener in a profound way. His music is exceptional and memorable and will stand the test of time.

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What I am seeing with modern music is a proffering of genres like Pop and not a lot of attention paid to Folk artists. I wonder whether we still look for artists that have endless energy and can make us dance; those who can bring fizz and slam. Maybe the days of Folk’s dominance has passed but I wonder why have such a restricted view when it comes to the genre. Maybe tastes are changing or the average listener wants music that moves the body or they do not have to think too heavily about. It is a shame there is a lack of respect for various styles of music but, with artists like Dan Rawle splicing in Pop tones, there is a chance Folk and Acoustic sounds can make a bigger impact in the mainstream. Rawle is someone who writes about what he is going through and has that vocal prowess. I feel a lot of modern artists lack any real power and prowess when it comes to the voice. Rawle’s vocals bring the music to life and show so much wonder and brilliance. You get soul and passion together with tenderness and emotion. It is a complicated blend that pricks the ears and gets the heart involved. Couple this with lyrics that are in turns touching and original and you have an artist that stands away from easy labelling and prediction. Matter of Opinion deals with some tough and sad avenues but it is not delivered in a manner that would make you feel cold and overwrought. There is, as I said, always a lightness and sense of the accessible when it comes to Rawle. All of these ingredients mixed together makes for an artist that has the tools for success and longevity. There are other reasons why Dan Rawle can go a long way and make an impact in the scene. Every new release we hear from him seems to improve on the last and show new aspects of his songwriting.

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It is that consistent that gets to me. It’ll All Come One Day, his E.P. released last year, was met with positive reception and won Rawle a lot of fresh fans. Whilst the core of his music has not shifted and there is that reliable central sound; you get something new and unexpected with Matter of Opinion. A lot of artists tend to make radical shifts between releases and lose what made them special in the first place. Others do well for a couple of albums and fade when it comes to further material. It is good finding an artist who can appeal and hook you to start but then, down the line, that magic can fade. Although Rawle is still pretty new; I hear that consistency that will not disappear anytime soon. He is a solid songwriter who has happened upon a great sound and will not abandon that at all. Rawle has been playing for years and honed his skills. The Oxford-based songwriter has worked the local scene and gained reaction and feedback from the stage. Growing up around artists like The Beatles and tuning his ears to what is happening in modern music; he has stirred all of this together and come up with something that is distinctly him. The reason why his songs are constantly engaging and strong is the passion and determination he has to succeed. Rawle want to take his music to the masses and has found his calling. Many songwriters are trying to be commercial or too afraid to attempt anything new and striking. You get, with Rawle, someone who can keep solid and dependable but add and layer his music. Right now, you get that acoustic bliss coupled with personal lyrics and a pleasing aura. I mentioned Joni Mitchell as a guide, I feel, most songwriters should adhere to. Her music is the template of what Folk music should be and I think it resonates in Rawle’s eyes.

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Some would say that, if Rawle wanted to get Blue, then that would involve a bit more cloud and rain. The songwriter is known for getting the spirits elevated and bringing us music that shines and glistens. His latest cut has some darker and sadder aspects but still manages to keep its smile and movement. Maybe that is the best thing about Dan Rawle: he is able to give us songs that can connect with everyone but does not have to get too heavy-handed and teary. A lot of musicians I encounter feel pressured by big labels or what they think people want. Because of that, they are caught in two minds between doing what feels real and natural and what the market desires. It is hard for modern musicians but that does not mean you will alienate listeners if you release music that means a lot to you. This is what we get with Dan Rawle. There are a lot of modern songwriters who have talent and can go quite far in the industry. I think Rawle has the promise and variation to do a lot of good in music and make his way to the top. We need to embrace artists that have something real to say and can keep your mind invested. I like modern Pop and Rock bands but there is not enough variation at the top for my liking. Let us move onto a new subject but it is great investigating all the sides to Rawle’s music and what he is all about. I wonder what he will come up with next and whether there will be another E.P. – I will investigate that in the conclusion. I have alluded to what is happening at the very top of music and why we need to change things up a bit. There is a staleness coming through and a lot of the best artists are not receiving their due.

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One could easily look at Acoustic and Folk and think of Ed Sheeran. He has his fanbase and crowd but, to me, there are too many new songwriters trying to be him. That is understandable if you want to follow his path but I feel there are few merits that come to mind. There are some great Pop/Acoustic artists but there are far too many out there who lack a sense of interest and personality – too eager to follow in Sheeran’s footsteps and get to play big stadiums. That may sound like a shot at Sheeran but I feel we are highlighting and elevating artists who can sell venues out and bring in the streaming figures – rather than those who can genuinely shape music and inspire future generations. The mainstream is, or should, be there to promote the finest artists around. I feel things are getting more and more about appealing to a narrow demographic and emphasising the wrong elements. Rather than encourage the most daring and brave to come through; we have this scene that is quite timid and commercial. Maybe that has always been the way but I’d like to think we can do better and make some real improvements. Dan Rawle is someone I would like to see higher up the ladder and has more substance and appeal than a lot of artists who are turning heads right now. It is difficult deciding which musicians are worthy and those who can make lasting impressions. Look at songs like Matter of Opinion and you have a sound that could easily capture those who love what the mainstream is putting out: those who like their music more credible and original will find much to love and react to it. That is what I mean when I say we need to retune the mainstream: artists being given the biggest props are not really remaining in the memory and doing anything spectacular.

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Perhaps I am sounding bitter and not really given people a chance. It is a strange time for music and I believe we still need to make some changes and push things forward. I know Dan Rawle can remain for many years and it will be good to see what direction he takes. There is a great support behind him and he has captured something great in his music. You get an artist who has grown up around some terrific music and assimilated that into what he does. I know he has played hard and put his music out to the locals. He has gone further afield and is determined to get to as much of the nation as he can. All of this experience and exposure will elevate his standing and get his music to more ears. He is working hard on social media and perhaps there are other avenues that could be explored. I am not sure if there is an official Twitter account but I know there are a lot of potential contacts and fans there. It would be a great way to get to radio stations quickly and have your tunes spun by the very biggest influencers out there. By the same token; maybe a more regular video series or a look into his songwriting process would push the music into new directions. I am not sure whether Matter of Opinion will get an official video but I feel that is a good way of teasing in new people and showing a visual side to his music. Rawle has the promise and songwriting talent to go as far as he needs and is building his foundations as we speak. There are enough great songwriters out there but I think the more commercial – those who appeal to a teenage demographic – are getting undue prominence. Let us break this mould and look at musicians who are able to deliver solid gold and more interesting music.

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Whilst the weather is a little mixed and today will not be an overly-sunny one; I am listening to music and looking for an escape. The opening notes of Matter of Opinion are gentle and soothing. If you did not see the single’s cover art – it shows a young Rawle on the shoulders of, what looks like his dad (I could not find a good-sized image to include here – then you might think the track had romantic and love-based origins. I guess the song can be taken that way but it seems, as the lyrics unfold, someone special has been lost and memories have been treasured. Our man walks along and is incorporating aspects of the departed in what he does. I am cheating a bit because I have interviewed Dan Rawle and know the song is about his dad who he lost to cancer when he was five – that was twenty-five years ago. He did not want to be too soppy about the subject but wanted to write a song that paid tribute to the man and how much he means. Today is an especially emotional day as it is Father’s Day and he will be thinking about his dad. Rawle was young when his dad died but he would have learnt a lot from him and has him in his blood. Those lessons he taught and the interaction they had was special and pure. The fact he is not around anymore does not matter: his dad is with him everywhere and his legacy remains strong. The song’s chorus/title relates to the opinion as to whether he is gone or not. His dad is not physically with us but that does not mean to say he has been forgotten. The hero remembers what he has been taught and is the embodiment of his dad. Because of the emotion coming through in the song; I was expecting something quite depressed and closed-off. Instead, we have a song that lets the listener in and casts images of Rawle’s dad.

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Maybe an early strings section might have heightened the mood and given the song extra emotion and potency – perhaps some piano would have also helped. I feel Rawle would have considered this but wanted to keep things quite sparse and basic. Rather than crowd the song and take away from the vocal; Matter of Opinion is more of a sermon and conversation between Dan Rawle and his dad. You do not want too many elements in there that can distract the mind from the core and root of the song. Rawle’s voice remains solid and unbroken throughout – which is a hard feat – and you get a lot of dignity and respect coming out. Those stings do come in but, when they do, never intrude or come in too hard. What we get is a brilliant combination of that vocal and some delicate, stirring string. I was involved in the song from beginning to end and picturing scenes of Rawle and his father. I am not sure whether there will be more songs from Rawle concerning his dad but I feel his memory and impact goes into everything he does. Rawle believes his dad is still here and everywhere around him. So long as he keeps his memory alive and thinks about him; can we ever say someone has truly left us?! It is an impactful song and one that means a lot to the hero. Matter of Opinion will get people moved and make them think about loved ones they have lost. It would be easy to be overly-saccharine or teary but that is never the case here. Rawle always keeps his nerve and does not sonically weep. He has dealt with the loss and is not looking for sympathy from the listener. What we are hearing is a loving tribute to a great father and someone who has made a big impression in Rawle’s life – even though he has been gone for a long time. Matter of Opinion is a fantastic song that will take a few listeners to sink in. It is a song that has that emotional weight and quite difficult to absorb the first time around. You might need a few swings around but, when you give it time and more attention; all of the strands and aspects come together and sink in the head. It is a great offering from Dan Rawle and proof he is a songwriter that deserves more acclaim and opportunity. The more material he puts out, the more ears will come his way. I know he will travel far in the music industry and it cannot be too long before he is playing some rather prominent festivals. Matter of Opinion is a song that can resonate with the masses but has that credibility and sense of depth that seems to be missing from a lot of modern music. Let us hope radio stations and labels get behind Daw Rawle and get behind his music.

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I have spoken a lot about Dan Rawle and various dimensions of his craft. There is a long way to go but I can hear the consistency and how strong his music is. He played Woodstock Social Club (Oxford) on Friday and is planning more gigs this year. Festivals are coming up and, whilst the competition is hot; we have someone who can easily pack the people in and deliver a great set. Rawle is playing a lot of gigs around Oxford but I feel there is a broad market that would love to see his music come their way. I wonder whether there are any London gigs or he is travelling further to the north. I guess demand comes when you push your music and people start responding. Matter of Opinion is getting a lot of heat and it cannot be too long before the talented young songwriter is getting his rewards. Maybe it will take another E.P. before he gets huge gigs but you feel it has to happen. I have not asked whether the new single will lead to an E.P. but one feels there is something just around the corner. Keep your eyes on his social media camp and discover what is going on right now. I predict some good things for him and, before you know it, he will transcended beyond the Folk clubs and local joints to play bigger venues around the nation. I think we often put Folk and Acoustic artists in boxes and assume they can only play venues set up for them. Rawle shows there is a lot more to his music than meets the eye and it is capable of capturing the wider imagination. He brings a lot of emotion and personal experience to his music but pairs it with a sunniness and energy that keeps the listener involved and smiling. That is a hard act to pull off and respect to him for doing that. I will leave things now but wanted to recommend people give Rawle a good listen and, if the music appeals, put it out there and spread the word. These are good times for Rawle and, if anything, the next year will be even stronger than the one he has just gone through. The man has solid material under his belt and a great local standing. Looking ahead, I feel he can move and shake with the best out there and prove himself to be a terrific future star. Matter of Opinion is a song that is striking a chord and, in my opinion (sorry!), there is no denying the clout and potential…

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OF Dan Rawle.  

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Follow Dan Rawle

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FEATURE: The Rebel Girl Who Rolls Her ‘Rs’ to the Fight: The Riot Grrrl Rebellion and Its Striking Legacy

FEATURE:

 


The Rebel Girl Who Rolls Her ‘Rs’ to the Fight

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IMAGE CREDITJulia Scheele  

The Riot Grrrl Rebellion and Its Striking Legacy

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RIGHT now…

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IMAGE CREDIT: Pitchfork

there is tension in the air and a sense that equality, as we want it stand, is a way off. I keep reading news reports that cause reaction because women are being overlooked. Whether it is to do with pay or something around sexual abuse – we haven’t evolved as much as we should. Given the weight of sexism and the struggle still ahead; one might assume female artists would feel reluctant to strike forward and take charge. The opposite is happening: there are some fierce and attacking female bands that are showing what spit and determination they have. I think about things happening in music and how female artists are getting on with things. From REWS and Goat Girl to Melkbelly and Palberta – there are a lot of great female/female-fronted bands that are capturing the spirit and attitude we saw back in the 1990s. The reason I wanted to explore riot girrrl and the role of innovators like Kathleen Hanna was to illustrate the sort of energy and desire that was in the air back then. One can say things have gotten worse since the 1990s when it comes to inequality and the role of women in music. It does not have to be all about Punk and aggressive music: brilliant female Pop and Folk artists are producing wonderful work; some great Electronic minds and those adding their touch to R&B. I will conclude with a playlist, but there are some great articles that chart the birth of riot girrrl and the sort of feelings that were stirred back then. The movement was more than music and the sort of D.I.Y. Punk aesthetic that was present among the best acts. There was the fanzine culture and a wider support for women in music. There was something inspiring in the air back in the 1990s:

Riot Grrrl was an underground feminist movement that began in the early nineties, which was closely tied to punk music, radical politics, and a DIY aesthetic. Riot Grrrl activism involved meetings, the creation of zines, and a nationwide network of support for women in music. While some say the movement lasted until the mid-90s, others contend it never ended. With the popularity of Sara Marcus‘s recently published book Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution, it seems there may be some truth to that statement. And there are many zines, which tell the tale of the origins of the movement. In 1993, according to a Canadian newspaper (as mentioned in Girls to the Front), 40,000 zines were published in North America”.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Bikini Kill/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

So, then: who were the articulators and innovators who defined the movement? Many have their own views as to the pioneers and crucial figures who brought riot grrrl to the underground. There are many modern female Punk groups who take seeds from that movement and are continuing the great legacy that was laid out:

Groups like Perfect Pussy, Joanna Gruesome and Potty Mouth frequently invoke comparisons, apt or otherwise, to the Riot Grrrl movement that began in the early ‘90s. Riot Grrrl was a loose collection of women-driven bands born of a thriving do-it-yourself, activist punk subculture that directly addressed third-wave feminist concerns, like sexual autonomy and violence against women, in their music. Kathleen Hanna of the Olympia, Washington-born Bikini Kill is widely viewed as the movement’s trailblazer, paving the way for today’s punk women with her fierce charisma and politically-charged lyricism. Popular songs include “Rebel Girl,” “White Boy” and “Don’t Need You”.

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IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images

Alongside the music were fanzines and publications like Action Girl newsletter and Snarla; Runt and Manifixation. It was an exciting and productive era that was fed by the notion women’s’ voices were not being respected and understood. I am drawn to the music at the time – and bands like Bikini Kill – but understand there was a whole community and identity that was enforced – one that carries on today and, in hard times, needs to be highlighted. It seems strange we are surprised to find female musicians project power and read instruments. The term ‘riot grrrl’ was often applied to any female musician who had a voice. Back when the movement started; it was applied to a specific culture and style of music. Although it was a largely white movement – black female artists created a movement of their own that best articulated their struggle – it has mutated into today’s music. Artists like Beyoncé are seen as modern-day examples of the riot grrrl sound and ethos. An interesting article explored the birth of riot grrrl and a particular song that is seen as the movement’s clarion call:

The term “riot grrrl” tends to come up as soon as someone with a vagina starts a band. There are countless women considered riot grrrl figureheads: Kim Gordon, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, the Slits, X-Ray Spex and modern musical figureheads like Beyoncé among them. Even Haim have probably been called riot grrrl at one time or another. But this list is specific to the riot grrrl scene that erupted, fanzine in hand, in the 90s Pacific Northwest, and the bands they directly inspired. The original movement ended not long after it began, as magazines started putting girls dressed in the grunge kinderwhore style on their covers and “riot grrrl was conflated with girl power”. Riot grrrl’s DIY, punk philosophy opposed alternative music’s dominant bro culture and created, through gigs and pamphlets, spaces where women could discuss issues of gender, race, sexuality, equality and enjoy being able to crowdsurf without being groped. As outlined in the manifesto that appeared in the fanzine by riot grrrl linchpins Bikini Kill (which I had pinned to my bedroom wall for all of my teens), they saw girls as a “revolutionary soul force” with the power to change the status quo.

Bikini Kill’s Rebel Girl was the scene’s rebel yell, a short, sharp shock of serrated, anthemic punk that’s an ode to attitudinal, give-a-fuck females. The titular Rebel Girl holds her head high despite people calling her a “dyke” – or, in another recorded version of the song (there are three), a “slut” – disparaging the notions of sexual ambiguity and promiscuity that the riot grrrls kicked against. But she also rides “the hottest trike in town”, imagery that matches how singer Kathleen Hanna sings the song in the style of a girlish playground taunt. Musically, it’s the ultimate riot grrrl walk-on music, with Tobi Vail’s strutty, Dr Martens-stomp of a drumbeat, guitarist Billy Karren’s crunchy, lip curl of a riff and Hanna’s exorcism-strength screech of “in her kiss, I feel the revolution”. It is, in a word, badass”.

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IN THIS PHOTO: L7/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

The scene might have shifted and spilt into genres like R&B, Pop and other genres. Whilst there is not the same concentration and intensity as the 1990s. Whilst there are some incredible female artists in the scene right now; the fight continues and many have been looking around for a riot grrrl-like movement that kicks up the dirt and sends a shot to the world. Riot grrrl – if we want to keep using that term – continued past the 1990s but now, in 2018, I wonder whether some of the anger and community has gone away. There might be fanzines and publications but fewer then there was. The feminist movement is strong but it has altered its makeup and appearance. Maybe a new movement will not override the sexism and imbalance we see but there is a desire for unity and a definite shot across the water. I know of so many great female groups, Punk or otherwise, that have immense skill, intensity and talent. I look back at the notion of riot grrrl and why it came about: the need for female artists to be heard and feel they were being listened to. It was more complex than that but I wonder whether lessons were learned and those in positions of power took notice of what was happening. I will end by collating a riot grrrl-inspired playlist that looks at some of the movers and shakers that let their voices shout proud. It was a fascinating and wonderful time that achieved a lot and gave maligned and overlooked female artists a forum and voice. As we look forward to music and wonder whether things will change for the better; I wonder whether we need to look back at a movement – some hate the term ‘riot grrrl’ and others applaud it – and rebellion…

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IN THIS PHOTO: Sleater-Kinney/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

WHOSE echo is still being felt.

FEATURE: Self-Service Checkouts Will Destroy the World: Overcoming the Fear and Setting Sights High

FEATURE:

 


Self-Service Checkouts Will Destroy the World

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ALL PHOTOS (unless otherwise credited): Unsplash 

Overcoming the Fear and Setting Sights High

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TOMORROW

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I will look at a few different things when it comes to features. Among them are (pieces about) design and cool new fashions in music; maybe there will be a look at Meltdown festival and, if there is time, a great new act to watch closely. This is a semi-personal feature that I can spread to the larger music world and, hopefully, compel others. I am looking around and there are a lot of musical people holding back and not taking charge. They have ambitions and lofty dreams but, after a bit of pushing and excitement; that seems to wane and they retreat back to their routine. I have seen many think big regarding album concepts and where they want to tour; others who are determined to gig in countries around the world and many others who want more than what they have. It is natural and understandable we would get into this mindset. Music is an industry that promises much and seems like a golden ticket to artists and those with creative ambitions. I got into journalism as a starting-point to other ventures. I have been doing this for years and, as the time elapses, I am getting more and more restless. It is a vague assertion but I love what I do but there is that hunger to do more.

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IN THIS PHOTO: IDLES/PHOTO CREDIT: Adela Loconte/Rex/Shutterstock

I have written about dreams and desire in music but, to me, I should be taking my own advice. I have recently pitched a music T.V. show to a production company in Manchester and have set my visions on something huge. In years past, I have held back and not had the confidence to actually do anything about things. Rather than go for broke and really put my all into everything; fear has come through and I have retreated back to something safe and familiar. I am not sure how far my T.V. show idea will go this time around but, even if the company says ‘no’; I will push it to someone else and keep the ball rolling. I have started ventures before and submitted the first time a rejection came my way. I am also, very soon, moving to Manchester and going somewhere that is new and very different. My thought process revolves around ambition and finding a city that offers a lot more chances and music than where I am right now. I am a big fan of what is happening in new music and there are artists I really want to interview and follow. I do not feel like I have the clout and substance, where I am, to approach these acts and make a bid. Among my target demographic are IDLES and Kate Nash. They are very different artists but both producing music that is getting under my skin; saying something important and determined to make some changes in the world.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Kate Nash/PHOTO CREDIT: Charlotte Patmore

Although I have a little bit of money behind me; a lot of my new objectives and strength comes from a sense of frustration and fatigue. I have battled long to elevate myself to a different platform and get my work to a new audience. You have all seen my write about music T.V. goals – so I shall not expand here – but you have to keep strong and focused when you really want something. Whether it is something as simple as a girlfriend/boyfriend or a new job – giving in and thinking you are worth less than anyone else is not the way to approach things. Every new year of music brings fresh challenges and hardships. More and more acts are coming through; stress and anxiety are on shoulders and it seems harder to actually survive – let alone do something extraordinary and expand. I will nod to fashion and music tomorrow but I have seen people talk about designing their own T-shirts/boots and subsidising themselves that way. They have the talent and tenacity to make it happen but stumble when it comes to consistent energy and financial impetus. The market, in any corner of music, is competitive and people can get down and resigned when they think of the impossibility of big success. It may sound rather unconstructive and easy for me to say you need to have strength and abandon the fear: I am not in the same position and can make any statement I want.

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The music industry, now more than ever, is looking for innovators and those willing to take a stand. From fighting against injustices and imbalance to creating businesses and setting up cool record labels; there is that market and opportunity ahead. I read interviews form artists who talk about their start and how they had to struggle to make it where they are. Whilst people said they couldn’t do it and there was a poverty of expectation around them; they battled and defied all the odds and keep that dream healthy and shining. There will always be challenges and bad days – but the only way you will be able to achieve what you set out to do is by being resolute and believing in yourself. Morale and personal happiness is decreasing and we are acutely aware of musicians struggling when it comes to their health. Maybe our horizons are narrow and flickering because of music itself. You look at genres like Rock and wonder where the big acts are. Where are those ground-breaking and epoch-defining artists that we saw decades ago?! We are witnessing great musicians come through but one wonders whether music is as compelling and exciting as it was back then. There are little boutique labels and interesting projects happening in music but few of them get proper oxygen and attention.

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If you want to do something musically original and unexpected then you should get out there and do it. I feel we are all aware of people’s expectations and what negative comments and stuffiness will do to our psychological composition. Every bold soul has had to endure negativity and those dismissing their ideas. If you want to create music-based fashion and try something new then it is not up to anyone else to dissuade you and think it is a bad idea. Going back to my music T.V. show pitch and you wonder why nobody else has come up with a new format. Maybe there is this culture to suggest music T.V. is a spent force or it is a thing of the past. There are those who know this is false and feel there is a gaping vacuum that needs filling. There is a lot of dissent in the industry and people that will shoot down any ideas (and things like music T.V. shows). Putting a format onto the air takes money and being rejected quite a bit! I am prepared for some refusals and will have to contact every production company I can to get the idea lit. What I am finding it other, similar-minded people are hesitant to take the first step. It seems, when it comes to those big ideas and breakthroughs; it is down to the big names and famous artists to get things done.

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Whether it is streaming services or record labels; technology inventions or anything else – all we see if the elite artists pushing these forward. Maybe that is denting confidence and creating this feeling: I need to be in their position before I can make any changes and do anything great. Even if you want to make music that goes beyond the normal or you have desires to set up your own business – it is possible to do and it will take its time! Maybe you will need to get a business loan or start quite modestly at the start. Fear seems to dictate everything we do and we often wait too long before we try and realise dreams and do what we always wanted. By then, it might be a bit late or other people have stolen our spotlight. Never assume things cannot happen and you have to be an established artist to be taken seriously. I am clear-sighted and realistic when it comes to my endeavours and will not get too carried away. It will happen one day and I am not going to quit when a few people slam the door in my face. It has come to a moment where I cannot hold off and need to grab the chance to do something big. Others are telling me about their hopes and keep revealing hesitations and doubts. We need to break out of this assumption that things cannot happen and the music industry is only willing to accommodate the big and famous. The business needs the brave and striking to shake things up and add their colours into the mix. I will keep my dream intact and not submit upon the first sign of resistance. It is all very well for me to say we need to shake off this negativity and modesty but I think, once we assume we can achieve anything and our voice is needed; that will start a revolution that will…

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LEAD to incredible changes and breakthroughs.  

INTERVIEW: Places Erupt

INTERVIEW:

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Places Erupt

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I have learned a lot…

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speaking with Places Erupt about their music and the new single, Bloggers. Lee from the band takes up most of the responses and tells me how the guys came together and what we will get from their upcoming E.P., 45 – I ask whether we need to punish those who are trolling and attacking people on social media (Bloggers looks at trolling and its effects).

I discover the type of music the band respond to and, given the choice, which artists they love to support; if there are some new acts we should turn our attention to; if there are gigs booked in the diary – the Canadian band tell me whether a U.K. jaunt is a possibility.

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Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?

Hey! It’s been exciting. We premiered our video on a projector screen at a wicked venue in The Junction; a neighbourhood in western Toronto.

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?

We describe ourselves as a tempestuous sextet. Visualize orchestral music, Rock; Shoegaze and Post-Punk swirling about in a tornado and this band is at its centre; flanked by defiant, dancing black swans.

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Can you tell me how your single, Bloggers, came together?

Lee: I wrote the words and vocal melody and they instantly clicked with Greg, who matched a guitar part to it in minutes. The song came together very quickly. Content-wise, I had been meaning to write about trolling for a while. Once I had the first line written, the rest flooded out. Bloggers was the first of the family of new songs that comprise the E.P., so marked a significant sonic turning point for us.

Its themes of trolling seem ever-more relevant. Is it something we need to be more hard-line on – when it comes to punishment and prevention?

It’s hard to support hard-line punishment because you would be wading into free speech territory - and free speech is a sacred thing. In extreme cases, where people feel threatened, people can be prosecuted in Canada and the U.K. Regarding prevention, then absolutely; engaging with kids from a young age on the harmful effects of cyberbullying is crucial.

Similar to when you don’t feel like you’re spending money when you use a credit card; a lot of people are disconnected from the consequences of their actions online. There’s almost a sense that their words go into the cybersphere and stay there, apart from the everyday world. The more we talk about the adverse effect these actions have on people and on public discourse, the more we can hopefully discourage it. It’ll never go away entirely but maybe it can be like smoking - where many people still do it but significantly fewer people than before.

There’s an interesting podcast called Conversations with People Who Hate Me in which the host contacts people who have sent him hateful messages online and has a civilized conversation with them on the phone. In each of these conversations, the people he speaks with express regret and embarrassment at having written such terrible things to him. But, they likely never would have second-guessed their actions if they didn’t actually engage with him in a direct conversation. This behaviour can change but it requires a full societal effort.  

What was it like working on the video for the song? How did you come to select Pedja Milosavljevic as the director?

I was in a video that he shot for another band and met him that way. We were all so impressed by his work ethic, enthusiasm and dedication to the project. The most hilarious part of the process was going to a Rage Room in northern Toronto to shoot the footage of smashing plates and bottles that you can see in the background (in the bridge section of the video). Dressed in protective gear, we were given baseball bats and golf clubs and a couple boxes filled with breakable objects: plates, bottles and old stereos. We blasted the Pixies and Snapped Ankles and went to work for an hour.

Probably, the only time I’ll ever go to a Rage Room but I have to admit it was an incredibly entertaining and satisfying sixty minutes. So, yes; it was tons of fun working with Pedja. Ha.

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Your upcoming E.P., 45, explores various issues. How would you define it? What sort of thing will you be talking about?

Our music has always tackled serious subject matter: our previous work is a bit more sombre. This E.P. marks a shift with our sound in which the songs are feistier than any of our previous material. The songs cover everything from tourists to Tinder; to trolling to entitled film producers; to the current and forty-fifth President. The lyrics tend to both laugh at and lash out at the terrifying times in which we live.

Of all potential things to be anxious about in this world, the President sits right at the centre of it all. So much pain and anxiety can be sourced back to him, so we felt it was appropriate to acknowledge that with the title of the E.P. Never mentioning him by name, of course - because he doesn’t deserve that much.

How did Places Erupt get together? When did you all start playing together?

Greg and I started writing songs in a grimy apartment in Little Italy a few years ago. I met Anna backstage at a concert we were playing with our previous bands, where she was serving people caviar. Anna brought her lifelong friend Katie into the band and we all performed as a quartet; practising on my balcony in Baldwin Village, where passers-by would stop and listen in the street and applaud. We shared a few bills with Mike Legere’s other band, Century Thief, and he offered to join. Finally, Mike Johnsen joined the band last summer to help heighten and diversify our sound…

Where are you heading on tour? Where can we catch you?

We’ll be performing Canadian tour dates in the fall. Show dates will be posted on our site: www.placeserupt.com

Will you come to the U.K. and play at all?

 We would absolutely LOVE to. Fingers/toes crossed we’re able to pull it off.

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What do you hope to achieve in 2018?

We have a couple other videos we’re preparing to film that we’re REALLY excited for. Releasing the E.P. in the fall, after which we’re ready to take our sound anywhere. Maybe we’ll petition Elon Musk to be the first band to play in a Martian desert.

Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

One of my favourite memories is from when we were on tour in northern Quebec up in Gaspesie. We performed at a place called the Sea Shack, which is a series of tepees, yurts and cabins right next to the Atlantic Ocean. We were put up in a huge yurt for the night, which was heated with a wood stove. We played two sets, during which I spoke broken French the entire time - and we all saw the Northern Lights for the first time ever. It was unbelievable.

Greg: I saw Nine Inch Nails on their Year Zero tour. I still can't understand how they pulled off the huge transparent digital screen that Trent Reznor used to physically program the drum machine for Zero Sum at the end of the set…and that was in 2007!

Mike J: We have this festival in Toronto called NXNE and it used to be a club-hopping dream! Every venue in the city would have five or six bands playing each night for a whole week from all over the world. The first time I went, when I was nineteen; my friends and I biked around the whole city and must have seen about fifty bands. Never forget that summer!

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If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?

Lee: I’d love to support St. Vincent. She’s been a HUGE inspiration over the years. She’s five albums-deep and her music hasn’t lost any of its richness or lustre.

If I could choose my own rider, it would contain smoked salmon, Montreal-style bagels; raspberry and lemon gelato, freshly-squeezed pineapple juice; concord grapes and Hamilton microbrewery Collective Arts’ Mash Up the Jam dry hop sour beer.

Greg: I’d love to tour with the Philadelphia band Man Man. They’re creative and accessible and they always get the crowd moving!

I’d need a Soda Stream, limes and single-malt scotch - and an endless bowl of original Ruffles chips (crisps).

Mike L: I would support Wye Oak.

My rider: soda water, craft beer; veggies and hummus.

Mike J: I’m not too particular with who I’d play with. I’m happy to hang with anybody.

As long as the venue has a seven-foot-long couch for me to nap on and a pair of long black socks (can’t have enough) then I’ll make it through alive...

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Lee: Capture the music while it’s fresh - and don’t look back.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Wye Oak

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Mike L: Wye Oak.

Greg: He’s not brand-new, but Nick Hakim has been on all of my playlists for the past six months. The Green Twins album came out last year and it’s perfect.

Lee: I loved the Snapped Ankles album, Come Play the Trees, last year. Waylon Jennings’ album, Dreaming My Dreams, is one of my favourite discoveries of the past year. It was made in 1974 but was new to me. Nils Frahm’s All Melody, released this year, is excellent as is his new E.P., Encores 1. Also, Pusha T (Daytona) and Tinashe (Joyride).

Mike J: I’ve been listening to the new Bombino album on-repeat. That guy has got some serious talent, I’ll tell ya.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Tinashe

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

Lee: I actually spend a lot of my free time screenwriting, which isn’t always relaxing but is one of my absolute favourite things to do. As far as unwinding, reading a Tennessee Williams or Martin McDonagh play; watching classic films, catching Shakespeare in the Park; going to arcade bars, dancing at D.J. sets and playing Frank Ocean and T. Rex on my organ (music relaxes me too).

Greg: I take my chill time just as seriously as I take my music. If it’s summer, I ride bikes and jump into lakes. All other times of the year, I brew and drink beer and listen to Beastie Boys with an old friend.

Mike J: Playing in three different projects leaves me with almost zero time to chill away from music. But, that’s cool because music is my chill space…or a very long R.P.G. (role-playing game) that I play through over a couple of months.

Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Lee: Elvis Presley - Early Morning Rain

Greg: Nick Hakim - Bet She Looks Like You

Mike L: Wye Oak - The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs

Mike J: WHOOP-Szo - Another Show

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INTERVIEW: WNT-AL-N

INTERVIEW:

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WNT-AL-N

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NOT many people have chatted with Missy Elliott…

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and gained kudos from her! Not only has WNT-AL-N received praise from one of music’s titans but there is a lot of interest around his new single, Leave It on the Floor. I talk with the Atlanta-based songwriter about his current song and where he goes from here – he reveals his influences and what the scene is like where he is.

WNT-AL-N discusses working for a charity called Blue Dragon and work outside of music; why he has moved over thirty times; if we will see him in the U.K. at all – he picks a few albums that have helped shape who he is.

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Hi, WNT-AL-N. How are you? How has your week been?

Wonderful. I’m in Singapore at the moment; getting ready to head back to Atlanta.

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?

Hello, world! It’s pronounced ‘WENT-ALL-IN’. I'm just a kid from Atlanta that wanted to get out and experience the world (and did). Music is my first love and is what drives much of what I do. I also have a Dance background and art and human expression is what speaks to me the most.

I've lived overseas for a lot of my adult life and travel, history and culture has always been a part of life since a young age. I'm a drummer and percussionist first. What you see is a reflection of my life experiences. I love people and want to touch and inspire as many as I can.

What can you tell me about your new track, Leave It on the Floor?

This record is about finding a place where you can release and be fully yourself without being influenced by life's pressures. It’s about goin’ hard and leaving it all on the floor. Clearly, it's a record that moves so, with dance as a major part of my life, I definitely want it to make people dance, feel good and celebrate. It's what I do. I go hard in everything I do so WeNT ALl iN = Leaving It on the Floor

Is there going to be more material coming down the line? What are you working on?

Yes, indeed. I have a ton of music and I'm dying to put it out. We are stepping out with singles but, definitely, an E.P. and some mixtapes will be put out soon.  

How did you get into music? Were there particular artists who inspired your sound?

I'm a drummer first. I started playing when I was five and started in church from seven-year-old. My mom was the music minister pretty much my whole life and everyone in my family plays at least one instrument and sings. It's always been a major part of my life. I've been inspired by tons of artists: Chopin, James Brown; Andre 3000, Michael Jackson; Louis Armstrong, Missy and Timbaland; Gene Kelly, Pharrell; Tracy Chapman, Bob Marley; Busta Ryhmes, Stevie Wonder; Roger Troutman, Ray Charles; 8Ball & MJG - and my mom and God.

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You have moved over thirty times! What was the reason behind so many moves?! Do you think you are a bit restless as a person?

We were poor growing up. Like, in fifth grade, I moved four times in six months cause we had no home; so we bounced around living with family friends. I was kicked out when I was sixteen and lived where I could.

As an adult, I've moved because I want to see and be inspired by different things. Different perspectives and being a bit uncomfortable has allowed for a different kind of growth and understanding. I hate moving, actually, but love traveling. It allows me to talk about things in a different way – so, I wouldn't say restless but I do have large goals and I.O.L.O. (I only live once). 

If you had to describe your aesthetic and sound to a new listener, how would you respond?

It's Eclectic, authentic, honest and colorful: I got something for everybody. 

You work alongside Blue Dragon – a charity that assists children who are homeless, disabled or victims of slavery and human trafficking in Vietnam. How did you get involved with them? Are these issues the government in Vietnam is ignoring?

Yes. The first time I was there, I led a group to work with B.D. A lot of these kids don't have homes or a proper place to receive education in the most basic sense. Sex trafficking and slavery are very common in this part of the world - and the main focus is getting them off the streets where there's a high risk. It's also providing a sanctuary to any survivors.

I've been working with them over the last few years using dance, music and art to inspire and educate. There's so much potential in these kids and most in their position will never have these opportunities - so any chance I get to do things for the kids I'm there!

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Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?

I'm working on that as we speak. Now that I have some music out that is THE PRIORITY! I can't wait to get the chance to share and bring 'em into my world.  

What do you hope to achieve in 2018?

I'm brand-new, so I just want to get in front of people. Def touring, festivals and features. I am always ready to build with the right creatives. 

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Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

I remember the first time I talked to Missy Elliott on the phone. She had seen my E.P.K. and our managers set up a call. You know when you've grown up hearing someone's voice...when she answered the phone, I was like: ‘Damn! This is really Missy!’. I don't really get star-struck but it def was a moment for me.

Another was the first time we met at her crib in Atlanta.

Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?

ATLiens & Aquemini Outkast; Thriller Michael Jackson and Tim's Bio: Life from da BassmentTimbaland...

But, there are many that could take that last spot. Tim's Bio’ inspired me, sonically, cause Timbo was experimenting and really had found his sound. 

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Start with the Ps: Patience, Persistence; Passion and Prayer. Put the time into your craft and never stop tweaking and growing. Be humble and surround yourself with people that are passionate about you and/or your vision. 

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IN THIS PHOTO: Sharaya J/PHOTO CREDIT: @haroldjulian 

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

My girl Sharaya J isn't that new but she's about to start really emerging. Check her out on The Four: Battle for Stardom on Fox (Season 2). She's the real deal. We got some ones together, too (smiles).

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

I try and stay balanced: sports, reading; travel, movies; making fashion and other artsy things and, always, family time.  

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Kanye West & Kid Cudi (ft. Louis Prima) - 4th Dimension…that's where I stay. 

 

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INTERVIEW: RUN iN RED

INTERVIEW:

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RUN iN RED

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TIME to speak with the mighty RUN iN RED

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about the single, Fade Away, and what its story is. I learn how the band got together and what the scene is like in Dublin right now; if there are new artists we need to look out for – they talk about gigs and future plans.

I discover whether the guys will come to the U.K. and what they hope to achieve before the end of the year; if they have favourite memories from their time in music; what advice they would give to fellow artists – the guys select a song each to end the interview with.

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Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?

Hi, Sam. Great, thanks. We’ve been getting all the final prep work done for Fade Away - the video and single - which we just released yesterday!

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?

We’re a three-piece transatlantic band with members from the Dublin, New York and U.K. music scenes. We have a lot of experience in the music industry and are channeling that into RUN iN RED - to take it as far as we can. We released our debut E.P., The Revelled Theory Mind, in 2017 and are about to release our next single, Fade Away, on June 14th - and will celebrate that with our own show in The Sound House, Dublin on June 29th.

This will be the first single off our upcoming second E.P, Undercover, Overthrown. We like to describe our music as having an urgency and importance in realising one’s self in relation to the experiences life gives you. ‘Run’ represents urgency; ‘Red’ represents a passion for life: ‘Run in Red’.

What is the tale behind your latest single, Fade Away?

As you may already know, RUN iN RED is a transatlantic band with Neil being from Baltimore in the U.S. Fade Away was written about being homesick and in love at the same time and the choices you must make that will affect every bit of your life ahead.

Is there more material coming a bit later this year? What are you working on?

Yes! We plan on releasing at least one more single and video from our second E.P., Undercover, Overthrown, in August and are working to gain a slot at one of the later summer festivals. After that, we are releasing the full E.P. and will then be back to record again come the autumn.

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How did RUN iN RED get together and start life?

Neil and Paul met through an audition and kept in touch with some rehearsals and writing. Following that, RiR started initially as a solo project with Neil, and then, by connecting with Paul again in 2016, the two started to record demo tracks and improve the sound of the band. Jim joined the band last August to complete the line-up and fill the sound - and we have been going strong ever since.

Dublin is where you are based. What is the city like for an upcoming young band?

We have a lot of previous experience in music scenes, in cities, all around from the likes of Baltimore, New York; Derry, Belfast and, of course, Dublin. The benefit with Dublin (is it) being a smaller city with a global reputation. We are able to cut through a lot of static media to reach people in this town who appreciate our music.

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Do you remember the musicians that inspired you growing up? Are there any key discoveries that stand out?

We are inspired by good quality songs and production - songs that connect and make you feel something. Ones that you can still get something out of even after ten listens. Because we three have different backgrounds, it adds to the complexity of our sound. From Dave Matthews Band, John Frusciante; Beach House and Yeasayer to Pink Floyd, Radiohead; Primus, Jeff Buckley; Van Morrison, The Police…we could go all day!

Where are you heading on tour? Where can we catch you?

We want to capitalise on this new release by getting our name out there more and then work hard to get a slot at one of the later summer festivals in 2018. As we have a member from Baltimore in the U.S., and all have experience in the industry, we would like to get our music to audiences stateside as soon as we can. We have also been offered slot at a festival in Basle this summer.

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Have you performed in the U.K. at all? Might we see you here?

We have two members from the North of Ireland and, playing in previous bands, we have played in Derry, Liverpool; Belfast and London - and will definitely be booking more dates in the U.K. this year.

What do you hope to achieve in 2018?

We'd love to gain a larger following through our releases and some support slots and then set up a modest autumn tour. Additionally, we will be recording our new tracks for release in late-2018. We have our own recording studio in Dublin city centre, so we are constantly writing and working on our music and stage show.

We have also started setting our studio space up to film a series of cover and original songs, primarily for our YouTube channel. We have built up a very strong following on Instagram, Facebook and Spotify as an independent act and will continue to grow that fanbase; planning to capitalise upon this with constant engagement, live shows and releases.

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Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

Jim: My favourite gig ever was with a Blues band that toured the North of England. A friend of ours ran a little Staffordshire pub and we played the last night before he gave the keys to a new landlord. Seemed like the whole town turned up - it spilt out into the street and, as everyone nipped home for their instruments, we gained about a dozen extra members with harmonicas and brass, accordions and all sorts. Not so much a lock-in as a block party; until everyone fell over. Great night.

Neil: Performing in The Rock Shop in Brooklyn, N.Y. was a highlight because I spent time living in N.Y.C. and would always go and see my favourite bands perform there; then, one day, I found I was on stage…

Paul: Playing at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin as a relatively unknown act in 2013 was a great experience.

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If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?

I think the Weeknd because I really like that tune, I Feel it Coming, and that guy seems pretty chill. U2 would be an obvious one, but to watch them closely and learn how they do things and bring their audiences on a journey would be amazing. Not to mention the opportunities and people you could reach.

As for the rider: a warm-up rehearsal room would be great…and then some basics; plus, alcohol and a PlayStation would keep us happy!

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Record any way possible, release often...and promote the hell out of your music. Don’t wait for perfection: get out and take the risk now. You can always get a nine-to-five again or play in a cover band - but some opportunities only come around once.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Stone Sea/PHOTO CREDIT: Kelly Levacher

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Stone Sea, who we supported recently, as well as The Barefoot Soldiers and Daniel Sean Kenny.

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Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

At the minute, things are very full-on in the lead-up to the release and headline show so, right now, even when we’re not playing, there is constant work going on behind the scenes. We love it, though. When we do get time away it’s great to just do nothing and have no deadlines for a while.

Then, before long, we usually find we want to be back and playing!  Neil was recently on holiday with his wife in Malta and ended up on stage at a gig at a show in Valletta - so that is a form of relaxing for us in itself!

Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Yeasayer - Henrietta

Glass Animals - Life Itself

EditorsA Ton of Love

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Follow RUN In RED

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INTERVIEW: Abi Wade

INTERVIEW:

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Abi Wade

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THERE is a lot to love about Abi Wade

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and I was excited to ask her about the recent single, Laws & Mankind. Her debut album, Beautifully Astray, is out and it is picking up a lot of attention – I ask what it was like recording the album and whether there was a story behind Laws & Mankind.

Wade discusses working and recording in Brighton; moving to London and changes she noticed; which artists she takes guidance from; some new acts we need to get behind – she tells me the three albums that mean the most to her.

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Hi, Abi. How are you? How has your week been?

Great, thanks. I'm busy prepping for some exciting new projects (smiles).

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?

Yep. I'm Abi Wade. I'm a multi-instrumentalist and work a lot with the cello - and exploring different techniques. I also sing and play the piano. My debut album, Beautifully Astray, was released this year.

Laws & Mankind is your new single. Is there a story and inspiration behind the song?

Laws & Mankind is a questioning of human nature; it explores different themes around profit, power; the history of human rights and morals. But, there is a narrative within the track as well and it's written from the first-person…

Beautifully Astray, your debut album, has been out for a few weeks. What has the reaction been like to it? Was it a good experience recording the songs?

It's amazing to have it out in the world. I have been creating and developing the tracks for quite a while - the project became a bit of a cocoon which has its pros and cons. It's great to finally be able to release it. I have had such lovely personal responses to the tracks - which is really touching – and playing out live again is great: you get much more of an immediate response to the pieces.

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You employ Classical instruments and create a unique sound. Did you take to music very young? Was the tactility and physicality of instruments the reason you were curious and passionate about playing?

I don't remember beginning to play the piano, so I must have been very young. My grandmother played and, although she lived in another country, she would play duets with me whenever I saw her. I do remember having my first lessons, though. I begged to have lessons and a brother of a boy at school taught me a few things on an old Casio keyboard (I think it must have been a Casio). Then, I began Classical lessons with the most amazing piano teacher. I think, from a young age, I was intrigued by musical instruments; full of so much potential that could be unlocked by the player...

So, yes, I think the physicality was definitely something that appealed to me. That connection and power of the physicality of sound, alongside the concentration it takes to play, can be completely engulfing and very therapeutic.

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The songs on the album were written in your Brighton flat. What was it like recording in the flat? Did a lot of the field recordings we hear come from Brighton?

Yes. A lot of the album was written in my Brighton flat in Norfolk Square (or in Sticky Mike's Frog Bar) in The Lanes. I would set up for the day and write in the basement there until that night's band came to soundcheck - and I would have to pack up and move on. I continued to develop tracks when I moved to London, too, and had my little studio set up in a room in my Camden flat.

I recorded a lot of the location sounds in Brighton; I had moved to London at the time but I wanted to go back to Brighton where I knew I could capture sounds that I either couldn't get or didn't know how to get in London.

How important was it moving to London? Did you notice a change in sound and ambition when you relocated?

I love living in London. There are so many exhibitions and events to go to - it is kinda crazy. I don't know if it changed the sound for my album but I think moving to a different place means you make the effort to make new acquaintances…and I am so lucky to have met some amazing people in London who have taught me a lot.

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Are there particular musicians who you take guidance from when it comes to your voice/lyrics/music?

I meet up with a group of wonderful musicians every month or so. We share a lot of thoughts and discuss all sorts of things about music and releasing work, so I definitely get a lot of guidance from them. I also have a few friends who I share records I love with, and vice versa, that definitely inspires me. Dan Copeman (Esben and the Witch) guided a lot of the process of creating the album; as I wrote demos, I would meet up with Dan and chat through tracks and possibilities. He was really amazing throughout.

Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?

I have a gig on 23rd June in Cambridge; Brighton on 31st July and London on 1st August. I will also be touring the U.K. in September, so definitely check out abiwade.com and sign up to the mailing list for updates.

What do you hope to achieve in 2018?

I have a new A.V. project called Gestalt I am currently writing tracks for based all around London with installations etc., so that is going to be really exciting. I have a new Abi Wade track to write and release in response to the anagrams received from my interactive album artwork. I am also working on a set of tracks in July which I will be travelling away for. Details for this will be announced very soon.

It's going to be a super-busy 2018!

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Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

I have so many favourite memories: it's impossible to choose just one. Some highlights would be supporting Patrick Wolf at The Old Vic or Poliça at The Old Market - and CoCoRosie at The Dome. So many amazing festivals experiences, too…and writing. I love composing music, so those rare times I can just write without distraction those are very special to me too.

Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?

Again; an impossible question...but three of my faves are...

Paul SimonGraceland

Arthur Russell - World of Echo

Kate Bush - Hounds of Love

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Try to balance things out. It's a very fast-paced industry so you have to be pretty pro-active and self-driven, but you also need to give yourself time to reflect and seek out opportunities to create work that inspires you without being too overly-influenced by others. Patrick Wolf said to me that the most important thing is to have a great team around you. That always stuck with me.

I think choosing the right team to work with is very important: people who will support your vision but also guide the process and give new insights and momentum to projects.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Oliver Coates/PHOTO CREDIT: Gaelle Beri

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I am loving Smerz and Oliver Coates; Sudan Archive's incorporation of strings I find really inspiring; Mary Ocher...actually; you can listen to my June radio show where I play a load of new artists that I would definitely recommend checking out (smiles): Totally Radio Celebrating the Female Voice.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Sudan Archives/PHOTO CREDITTheo Jemison

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

I have to admit; most of my life is taken up by music and everything that that entails but I do love to swim and, when I can swim in a lake, river or the sea, that is my truest unwind I think...

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Ok, great. Can you play a track from either Arthur Russell's World of Echo or Julia Kent's Asperities. If you haven't heard these albums before definitely check them out - excited to see which song you choose (Sam: I’ll go for both albums…)

FEATURE: The June Playlist: Vol. 3: Sharp Glass, Familial Cannibalism and a Blue Girl

FEATURE:

 

The June Playlist

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Let's Eat Grandma

Vol. 3: Sharp Glass, Familial Cannibalism and a Blue Girl

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EVERY week, as I keep saying…

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IN THIS PHOTO: Alice Glass

brings an assortment of music that hits the senses and leaves you hugely satisfied. The incredible Let’s Eat Grandma release a single ahead of their album, I’m All Ears; Alice Glass cuts to the core with Mine; IAMDDB and Slaves have new material out – Cigarettes After Sex and All Saints are not to be overlooked!

It is a productive and eclectic selection that will keep you busy and hooked for today – make sure you dip in and investigate all the treasures and treats from this week’s musical chest…

ALL PHOTOS (unless credited otherwise): Getty Images/artist

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Let’s Eat GrandmaAva

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Slaves Cut and Run

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Alice Glass Mine

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Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - Leave a Light On

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Christina Aguilera Pipe

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Arcade FireChemistry

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ChromaticsBlue Girl

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Alessia Cara – Growing Pains

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grandson Stick Up

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All Saints Glorious

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Dirty Projectors That’s a Lifestyle

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IAMDDB Drippy

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Amy StroupStare

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Bebe RexhaI’m a Mess

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Betty WhoFriend Like Me

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Catherine McGrathLost in the Middle

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Pales Waves Kiss

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Chaka Khan Like Sugar

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Sigrid Focus (Demo)

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Cigarettes After SexCrush

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Mura Masa (ft. Octavian) - Move Me

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Death Cab for CutieGold Rush

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Freya RidingsUltraviolet

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PHOTO CREDITSequoia Ziff

Jordan Mackampa - One in the Same

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GorillazFire Flies

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Gaz Coombes Wounded Egos 

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Grace CarterSaving Grace

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whenyoung Heaven on Earth

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PHOTO CREDIT: Stephanie Sian Smith

Hannah Jane LewisFrozen Frames

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Ina WroldsenMine

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Spiritualized I’m Your Man

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Island ClubTalk It Out

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Nicki Minaj (ft. Lil Wayne)Rich Sex

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Ruel Say

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VillagersA Trick of the Light

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SigmaAnywhere

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Johnny MarrBug

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Melody’s Echo ChamberDesert Horse

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal FeverThe Hammer

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PHOTO CREDIT: Kelsey Hart/The Little Ghost

Deap VallyGet Gone

TRACK REVIEW: IAKO - Paint

TRACK REVIEW:

 

IAKO

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Paint

 

9.6/10

 

The track, Paint, is available via:

https://soundcloud.com/iakomusic/paint-1

GENRES:

Folk; Singer-Songwriter

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

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The E.P., Queen of Balance, is available via:

https://open.spotify.com/album/2apqA5PlUkepn0frmALnNk

RELEASE DATE:

25th May, 2018

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I have been given the chance….

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to explore an artist who has stuck in my mind and made my heart race and conspire. I will talk about the solo songwriter and how new revelation and light continues to be explored. When it comes to IAKO; I wanted to look at the soundscapes one can produce and balancing quiet and loud; lyrical themes that are melodramatic but realistic. There are contrasts to look out for – so I will address them. I will look at unique life experiences and how they explore music; deconstructing works to get to the root of them; artists who have more to offer than simple songwriting and the cliché – I will end by looking at cross-pollinating cultures and music that has a gentleness to it. Looking at IAKO and he seems like the sort of man who might produce something Electronic and Pop-based. That sounds judgmental and stereotyping but there is something about the young man’s appearance that suggests that sort of music. That might be me getting all narrow and seeing too much – people who look like IAKO who play that sort of music – but it is pleasing discovering an artist who goes deeper and delivers so much more. I will talk about Folk edges and something softer later but, right now, let’s look at the way the British-based artist looks at dynamics. IAKO mixes the frantic and frenetic pace of life in London, where he is now, and the space and beauty of Venice (where he is from). The production is stunning whereby you get an interaction between the quiet and loud. He paints soundscapes and has a canny ear for balance and texture. Not only does IAKO write the songs and present to the people; the composition and production are so detailed and create their own little universe. What gets to me is the constant movement and how everything is physical and engrossing. You get a real view into the songs and are involved in each and every step. The artist knows a simple and uneducated production would not give the music the same depth and wonder it deserves.

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What we get, indeed, is music that draws those close and tender aspects of life with the city-exploring and vast. Every note is put together supremely and this is a really personal and inspiring form of music. I want to talk about the songwriter’s transition – you get a great sense of where he came from and what he is all about. The man explores those gaps between notes and the huge divisions in music. A lot of artists are good at producing raw and energised songs: others are better when it comes to the serene and quiet. IAKO is someone who can interlock and weave those polemics into a song and not have things lose control. What I also love is the way the songs sound unique and new. A lot of artists sound like someone else and it is rather hard to distinguish from the pack. IAKO does not want to copy the pack and creates his own style and sense of personality. You get that care and attention regarding composition and sound; there are detailed and interesting stories that get into the heart and provoke thought. Paint, which I shall come to, looks at relationships and a sort of ‘end of the world’ as we know it. The song’s title is fitting: the songwriter has his canvas out there and paints brushstrokes of vivid colour and expression. That might all sound a bit pretentious and silly but there is something to be said for the sounds one gets through and how brilliantly everything is realised. I will move on from this topic but it is interesting looking at the young man work and how his music comes together. He works hard to get everything right and ensure the sounds are as spellbinding and addicting as possible. If you have not encountered his music and dived into his world of sound; ensure you get involved with the Queen of Balance E.P. and realise why so many people are so excited. I am a bit late to the reviewing party but I was keen to investigate IAKO’s work and what it is all about.

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I listen to Paint – and songs on the E.P. – and there is that fusion of realistic and exaggerated. The song investigates a relationship after the end of the world. That could mean the ‘world’ as the personal and romantic. It could mean a literal ending and extinction. The song is never too hot and accelerated: the vocals are whispered and you are sucked into a brilliant story that gets into the brain and stays in the head. IAKO is like many songwriters; the need to explore the personal and romantic and resonate with the general public. If you write songs that are too oblique and strange then you are not going to get people involved. I have been looking around for musicians who write from a common perspective but can integrate new and unusual elements into the work. I am a big fan of those who are able to strike a familiar note but offer the listener so much more. IAKO has studied the market and, rather than conform with expectations and demographics; he realises what the listener wants from music and puts his personal spin on it. Someone who has such a grip on sonics and sound textures; a man who can balance extremes and make them work – this all comes through in his music. The lyrics are sharp and interesting and, as I said, look at something personal. There is nothing to suggest IAKO cannot go onto great things and make some changes in music. There are similar-minded artists like him out there who are getting some serious love and creating big waves. What I do expect to see if more material from the songwriter and further investigation of sound and lyrical possibilities. I have seen so many songwriters whose lyrics are full of tropes and really do not go beyond the average. It is a shame so many artists are being timid and unadventurous when it comes to words.

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The reason IAKO sticks in my memory is down to his way with words and how they tangle with sound. Rather than compose a song and have the words sit separate, you get music that pulls everything tenderly together and leads to something wonderful. Those words relate and connect with everyone but there are phrases and expressions that are new and unexpected. It is a real listening experience and everyone is touched in a different way. I have not heard a lot of IAKO’s previous music but am compelled to check him out and follow his plight. There are a lot of songwriters out there but he seems to stand out and is venturing into fresh territory. Those contrasts and extremes are what makes his music so engrossing. I will use these words – ‘extreme’ and ‘engrossing’ – but that seems to hit the mark. You are sucked into a wonderful world that carries you a long and gets you thinking. If he were to write in rather average terms – looking at love and life like everyone else – then you would not be too moved and involved. I will shift to another subject but it is interesting seeing where IAKO has come from and what he is writing about. There were occasions, when he was growing up in Venice, where he had to be rescued from canals by his mother. There are plenty of them around so one can forgive the odd slip and fall. It seems there was a fascination to water and the beauty of the city. The young IAKO would go exploring and wanted to get closer to his surroundings. That tangible connection was, perhaps, a little too much but his mother was there to save him. The young man has retained that intrigue when it comes to canals and the natural world. There is more to IAKO than a few childhood experiences and being saved from the brink.

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Literature and philosophy come into his work. Greek and Roman works are important and the talented artist borrows semblance and words from the masters. He has that interest when it comes to old-world figures and how life was back then. As such, one gets a new songwriter whose mind and spirit is bonded by what came before. I am not suggesting he lives back then and is trying to cast himself as a Roman writer. You do get a sophistication and classical mind in the music, though. I love how IAKO can mix the urgent and modern with something from long ago. He is great at those world fusions and drawing disparate plains into a whole. IAKO is still young but he has experienced movement and change. All of these details and colours come through in the music. It has been a life lived well and one that relies on a curious mind and determination. IAKO did not find a viable route into music until the age of nineteen – he has been making up for it since! You feel music was always part of his life and engaged his brain from childhood. I was struck by music around the age of six or seven and have followed it ever since. I am one of those people who remembers when and how music arrived and the sort of artists I fell for back then. I assume IAKO is the same when it comes to those early memories. I can imagine there was a blend of local and national artists together with the best of the U.K. and U.S. Given his love of literature and culture; you have that sophisticated edge – that is paired with an accessible and relatable sound that we will all be familiar with. Folk artists such as Lisa Hannigan and James Vincent McMorrow come through; you get touches of Erik Satie and Yann Tiersen in there. Mixing the modern wonders with established icons is a hard balance to pull off. The man is all about balance and has made a career out of unifying disconnection and creating a fresh and extraordinary world.

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Before I come to look at the music itself; I want to address a couple more things. I am interested in music that is made up of so many different strands and ideas. Yesterday, on BBC Four, I was watching a classic album series that featured Graceland as its subject. This documentary was filmed in 1987 and interviewed Paul Simon and the artists involved in that record. It was fascinating seeing Simon play various parts of songs and explaining his lyrics. Tracks like Graceland and The Boy in the Bubble were taken apart and explained. He was in the studio and fading various tracks down. He would isolate the bass or a drum part; he would chat about Ladysmith Black Mambazo and how they managed to add their magic to the album. Various members of the group explained their role and it was great seeing how the songs came together. The reason I mention this is down to IAKO and how he approaches recording. You get the sense he puts as much of himself into the music as Paul Simon did back then. Rather than farm his songs to someone else to control them and add their print; the songwriter is curious to know how various elements can sound better and what the song means. Simon, in the documentary, looked at songs changing form and slaved over details to get a sound that was perfect. Modern songwriting is something we associate with quick turnaround and speed. We do not consider artists locked in a studio and spending a lot of time over the material. That might be true in some quarters but there are plenty who put effort and serious time into their work. IAKO has that tactile fascination with the natural world and history; he loves to explore and is interested in the human condition and psychology. One would expect a man, who has all this on his side, to be involved with every process and angle of recording.

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IAKO does not sit back and provide minimal interaction. The man knows what his music will sound like and, whilst not as busy and layered as stuff on Graceland; you do get real attention to detail and phenomenal results. It would be good to see IAKO pull apart tracks and explain how the music came together. It is the lyrics that get to me and I wonder how they started life. We do not often question and study music these days – because there is so much rushing to the mind – but there are occasions where songs and artists warrant more time and focus. It is a great experience watching an IAKO song form and how it gets into the senses. I can imagine he would sit at home and gradually build a work. Starting with a germ of an idea; that would then grow and mutate as we go along. Whether inspired by an observation or favourite literary work…from there, we see the song flourish and get stronger. I want to go back to the start, with artists, and discover where songs come from. When I interview people, I always ask what the story is behind their material. IAKO is one of those people who has already led a vivid and rich life – he is entering a new phase and about to step into a whole new world. His fan numbers are growing and it seems more and more traction is being created. I am a new fan but can see how he has grown and the evolution visible. If you feel IAKO is rather ordinary and easy to understand then you are not listening to the music closely enough! He brings together his young life in Italy and what he saw around him with the bustle of London and how things have changed.

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I will tip my hat to Italy and how he manages to retain some of home and that world with the modern-day sound of London. A lot of artists try to stretch their music and put as much detail into the work as they can. They may have lived in various countries and want to bring that in through the music. It is good to see that happen but many of them fail to create anything long-lasting and new. With IAKO, you have this man who has grown up around culture and taken it all in. He has had these close-call experiences (in canals) but involved himself with art and great works of literature. Then, when music became a big part of his life, he has come to the U.K. and followed that passion. I am sure there were times when he was doubting his career choice and did not think he would make it. You get a man who is always pushing boundaries and keen to step into new ground. Because he has had these experiences and learned a lot through time; he has managed to bring this to the music and explain to the listener where he has come from and where he is headed. The ambition comes through and one can hear how much music means to IAKO. It is not about sounding like everyone else and going into music because there is nothing better to do. You get real passion and defiance in every track. Even if the music is whispered and low-sung; you can hear and feel the intensity and meaning of the songs. I am a fan of Folk and the new artists coming out right now. We often overlook singer-songwriters and what they are all about. Assuming it will be rather bland and stale; we move past and go elsewhere. That is wrong because, as IAKO shows, there is a lot to be taken away and adored. So much emotion, richness and life come through in the music. You get depth and nuances we would not see in other forms of music. Let us leave it there – I hope I have covered enough ground – and look at the fantastic single, Paint.

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Paint is a song that has been out a little bit and collected some passionate reviews and words. The song comes up lightly and there is a tender and sunlit mood that comes in. Projecting images of passion and touching realisations; the opening moments are gentle and get under the skin. There are touches of Bon Iver when you hear the vocal comes in. That same way of expressing words and projecting mood – you get that coming through with IAKO. The lovers, it seems, found room on a flame. There has been some confrontation and heat coming into the scene; they have struggled to find common understanding and it seems the sweetheart need some space. Our hero looks around and wonders what has happened. The words are teased out and you get such passion and tenderness emerging. I mention Bon Iver, not as an easy name and an insult, but as a genuine compliment. IAKO does not copy the U.S. songwriter but, instead, incorporates some of his vocal sound and songwriter into his world. I am a fan of those artists who can take time and let a song breathe. Although there is tension and something fractured coming along; there is immense beauty and sense of understanding. There are few angers and recriminations coming out in the lyrics. The songwriter keeps his language tight and interesting throughout. There are relatable strands and expressions that are new and stunning. IAKO has a way with words and ensures the maximum amount of wonder and brilliance is uncovered. You can hear how much heartache has come in and how things have worked out. There are no colours anymore, it seems, and one can feel the sadness come through. IAKO has a beautiful voice and create something sumptuous and graceful in Paint. You are involved every stage of the world and feel sympathy for the man. The vocals flow and soothe; the composition remains light but manages to elicit serenity, hardship and moonlight in equal measures. We do not know who the other party is but assume there is no way back and things have reached the end.

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As Paint continues and goes through stages; you wonder whether things can be salvaged and there is time for things to heal. The composition rises and then falls. The heroine is painting scenes as she wishes but the heart of our man belongs to her. Things go forward and percussion and piano gallop. Grey butterflies are in the sky and there is that need for the heroine to close her eyes and have faith. The rain beats down and there is that sense that there are two people on different plains. All the colours they used to see have dried and has been replaced by something empty and faded. It is a heart-aching song that instantly gets into the mind and inspired thoughts. You swim in the song and see everything that is happening. I was stunned by the professionalism and immediacy of the song. It is a luscious, full and emphatic work that has so many different layers building and working alongside one another. The composition is wondrous and dexterous. The lyrics look at faith being given by the hero but the heroine not willing to reciprocate. The emotion and sense of strain that comes towards the end leaves one believing things might not see the light of day. They have had their moment and maybe it is best leaving it as things are. You are hooked by the full and changeable composition that projects so many scenes and emotions. What I was saying earlier, about quiet-loud and mixing polar worlds, seems to come to life right through Paint. The song begins softly and then builds into a rapturous and grand thing! The lyrics are stunning and you wonder whether our man is able to get over what has happened. I am one who believes songwriting is cathartic and you can move on. Whatever inspired Paint and its movements mean a lot and still shows its scars. You can relate to what is being said in the song but realise the words come from a man who has seen a lot and given his all.

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Let us look at Queen of Balance and the reception it is getting right now. Many sources are excited by this work and celebrating IAKO. I have not had time to review all of the tracks but I would urge people to get behind them all and dive into this extraordinary collection. It seems odd to think there are some who would not give IAKO much time and feel the music lacks any heart. What you get, and what people are saying, is the emotion and textures that go into the music. It is a hugely impressive work and one that resonates with everyone. You cannot listen to songs on Queen of Balance and be unmoved. I realise how much attention and energy was expended by the young songwriter. He wanted to create a work that touched lives and explained where he came from and what he is all about – that has been achieved and the results are fantastic. I wonder whether there will be touring dates and new movements from IAKO. Keep an eye on his social media pages and keep updated with all of his movements. You can guarantee there will be a lot more to come from him and serious love thrown his way. People are responding to his latest E.P. and the music is making its way around the world. The London-based artist is hungry and excited to get his music out to people. Rather than remain passive and let people do the heavy lifting; he is promoting hard and ready for the next stage. IAKO has a lot more to come and is keen to explore the full spectrum of music. He has come a long way in a short time and created his own little world. I am keen to see where IAKO can go and what he comes up with next. Paint is a great song and one that announced a promising and unique songwriter into the world. Surrender to IAKO and let yourself into his sea of music. It is warm and enticing water and, when you are in, you will be reluctant to get out anytime soon! 2018 has been a busy and good year for him but, looking to 2019, and I predict…

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EVEN bigger and brighter things!

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Follow IAKO

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INTERVIEW: ABQ

INTERVIEW:

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ABQ

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THE Belfast band ABQ (Albuquerque)…

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discuss their current single, Takes So Long, and whether they will follow it with more material; what the scene is like in Belfast right now; if they have any gigs lined up in the diary – which artists they are inspired by and draw guidance from.

I learn what their live set consists of and which new artists we need to back; which musical memories stick in their mind; what they want to achieve before the end of the year; the advice they’d give to upcoming musicians – the guys end the interview by selecting some awesome songs.

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Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?

Hi, Music Musings and Such. Thanks for having us. ABQ are all, collectively, in good shape. We have all recently all moved to new digs so we have spent this week settling in and rehearsing for a stripped back gig we have coming up.

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?

We are Albuquerque - or ‘ABQ’ for short. We are Paul, Adam; Kit and James: four Irish fellas living in London playing music together. Our sound is full-frontal Indie-Pop. Vocals with an Irish twang; stick-in-your-head melodies, anthemic guitar riffs and a pumping rhythm section. It all comes together for an energetic and genuine live show.

Takes So Long is your current single. Can you talk about its background and inception?

The song came from the frustration that most people feel at some point in their lives that the good things are taking a little longer to appear. This, I think, can lead to the temptation to just cash in and accept where you’re at; so we wrote this song as an anthem for those who keep on moving forwards - to champion that person who is constantly told that it’ll never happen.

Is there going to be more material coming from you guys this year?

Yeah. We have more songs in the pipeline to be released in the near-future; the first of which is a song that anyone who has been to an ABQ gig will have heard: it’s called Edge of the Earth and has been a personal favourite of mine for a while now.

What is the scene like in Belfast? Is it easy to get gigs?

It’s extremely difficult to break out of the Belfast music scene. It’s a small city with funding and opportunities hard to come by. It’s very difficult to get over to the mainland U.K. to play shows and promote yourself. In that sense, Belfast definitely gets overlooked and it’s one of the reasons we decided to relocate.

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In terms of sounds and influences; which artists inspire you most?

We’re a pretty varied bunch in terms of personal influences but, when it comes to ABQ; I think we’re pretty much uniform in our aspirations. We love the energy and production of bands like Imagine Dragons and Twenty One Pilots: they’re constantly surprising and changing with their sound and it makes them exciting bands to follow. We also have a huge love for Irish bands like The Frames, Bell X1 (and) And So I Watch You From Afar, which we listened to a lot growing up and helped shape the music we make.

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Where are you heading on tour? Where can we catch you?

We’re doing a show with Sofar Sounds in London on 19th June and, following that, we’re in the midst of sorting out our next U.K. tour for autumn (to coincide with our next single). I can’t share any details just yet but, if you keep an eye out on our socials over the next month or two, there will be a lot more details coming.

In terms of your live set; what might we expect if we come and see you play?

The goal we set ourselves is a ‘stadium-esque’ show, no matter the venue size. Whether we’re playing the O2 or a flat stage in a day-lit pub, we will treat it exactly the same. Our songs are anthemic: they’re easy to sing along to, even if you’ve never heard them before, and they pack a bit of a punch.

It’ll get loud…

What do you hope to achieve in 2018?

2018 is a foundational year for us where we want to elbow our way into the U.K. music scene and create a bit of a buzz for ourselves; releasing our first couple of singles and playing as many shows as we can whilst still being patient and choosing the right opportunities for the band.

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Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

My favourite memory is the time we spent at Rockfield Recording Studios in Monmouth - especially the late-night sessions; sitting in this beautiful incredibly historic studio, writing and recording with my best mates; having a few beers and playing a piano Freddie Mercury had frequently used…can’t get better than that.

For me (Adam), touring with The Rocket Summer last winter was cool. It was our first proper tour together and, with a bit of luck, we started with a biggie; getting to play some really nice venues around the UK. Finishing the tour in O2 Islington was a treat.

Kit: Playing The Great Escape in Brighton this year was a real highlight for me. I had always heard of amazing bands going there every year; so, to get the invite for 2018 and play three great shows over three days by the sea?! Incredible!

Mine (James) is a recent memory of playing this year’s Great Escape in Brighton. Usually, with any gig, there will be a great deal of sitting around and waiting to be done for soundchecks or doors to open. With the nature of The Great Escape, this was not the case: we were able to play a few shows and (be constantly) spoilt for choice with who we could go and watch next.

If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?

Just because their music has been with me my entire life, I’d have to personally choose Radiohead or Thom Yorke to answer the question more appropriately…I think that would be an unforgettable experience. For our rider, I’d have to insist on burritos being shipped directly from Boojum in Belfast. Since moving to London, I’ve yet to find a burrito to rival them - and then we’d have a selection of Brew Dog drinks on-tap. There would also have to be a Nintendo Switch and a copy of Mario Kart. That’s a deal-breaker.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

The most important advice ever imparted to me in this industry was to learn how to be patient. If you can master that and apply it to situations which may feel very exciting, it can save you from rushing into the wrong deal, wrong team and any other number of bad calls. A bit of patience in order for the right people or time to be found is essential. That being said; this isn’t something that can easily be learnt if it doesn’t come naturally.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Joshua Burnside

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

We will stick to our roots and champion a few artists with an Irish background who are creating some really nice music right now. Joshua Burnside, who released a debut album last year, is receiving some well-deserved acclaim. He is one of the best lyricists we know. JC Stewart, with his devilishly silky Pop vocals...and Blue Americans, who are full of style and creating some ultra on point, minimal Electronic-Pop.

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IN THIS PHOTO: JC Stewart

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

I read a lot. I feel a bit off if I don’t have a good book to read. Same goes for comics and graphic novels. I also swim a lot. Makes me sound a bit like a dad on holiday: “A good book to read by the pool” but, in all honesty, that sounds incredible.

Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Paul: High Five - Sigrid

Adam: MGMT - Little Dark Age

Kit: Psycho - Post Malone (ft. Ty Dolla $ign)

James: EASYFUN (ft. Iiris) - Be Your USA

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Follow ABQ

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INTERVIEW: Corey Durkin

INTERVIEW:

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Corey Durkin

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FROM the London-based wonder of Charlotte Black…

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PHOTO CREDITEmily Swift Photography 

I move my scope to the wonderful American, Corey Durkin. The unique artist talks about his single, Rest My Bones, and how his skills as a speaker and entrepreneur bleed into his music – he recommends some new artists and talks about plans relating to U.K. appearances.

Durkin tells me about a few albums that are dear to him; some new artists we need to champion; how he spends time away from music; whether it is true he lost a boxing match with Orlando Bloom – Durkin completes the interview by suggesting some legendary, cool-as-hell Boyz II Men.

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Hi, Corey. How are you? How has your week been?

My week has been amazing because I bought a pair of space cat parachute pants AND a matching windbreaker - I honestly don’t know how it could get any better.

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?

Hi. Those of you who are new to my music, I’d like to introduce myself: my name is Corey Durkin and I’m a coffee-house arena-rocker from the woods of Connecticut where we just got running water installed two years ago.

Rest My Bones, I guess, is your most-recent single. Is there going to be more material later in the year?

Yes, indeed! My next E.P. comes out on August 1st and I’m hoping to have a new album out by the end of the year (which is called New England).

I know you are a speaker and author. How did you get into music and get bitten by the bug?!

The music came first, actually! I started seriously playing the guitar in eighth-grade and then, two years later, decided to leave high-school to pursue a career in music. That’s generally regarded as a bad idea by all musicians but it led me on the journey into the world of biz and now, here we are!

Do disciplines and skills needed to be a great speaker and entrepreneur help when it comes to music and your songwriting?  

Eh. On the music biz side of things, certainly, the same principles apply. Business is business, after all. As far as songwriting, I don’t think the skills are very similar, at least, not for me. I don’t have a rigid discipline around songwriting in the way that I do with, say, writing email marketing campaigns.

Music-wise, it comes in waves for me: I just let it happen and when something cool comes out of the clouds, I’m lucky enough to catch it and know what to do with it. It sometimes helps to wear a raincoat when catching cloud-matter, because you never know if it’ll start raining.

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When did music get into your life? Which artists did you grow up around?

Well. One of my earliest memories is of my dad playing Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen in the car…and pretty much, that’s all I needed to hear in so much as that song contains a deep commentary on the trials and tribulations of the people in and around the Roman province of Arabia Petraea.

Freddie wrote a lot about the Byzantine Empire, though this is unbeknownst to most. Lots of the '70s in my life when I was growing up - my dad played a lot of Led Zeppelin, the Eagles; Billy Joel, Jackson Browne; James Taylor…

Is it true you lost a boxing match to Orlando Bloom?! How did that happen?!

I’m really not at liberty to talk about the specifics regarding this boxing match, but I CAN tell you that, afterwards, I ate an entire six-person meal from Boston Market which only consisted of their mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese. It’s a common misconception that you should carb-load before a big event when, really, doing so AFTERWARDS produces the best results…

Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?

Well. You can SEE me on tour but you can’t HEAR me on tour because what I do is I play silent shows where you can visually enjoy me singing into a microphone and playing a guitar but no sound comes out. (Silent films had a big impact on me as a kid).

But, no, I’m not much for the touring. I host a concert series in Connecticut that’s gotten pretty big and that’s a great live outlet for me…but in terms of touring, not for music. For SPEAKING, yes. But, that’s another story. Which, apparently, I’ll answer in the next question!

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Will you come to the U.K. and play here?

It’s funny you mention that because I’ll be headed to the U.K. to speak in the fall! I’ve developed a new program called Money Mastery which teaches people how to take control of their finances in a way that none of the ‘supposed’ financial gurus has ever taught. It’s completely based off of my experience as a young entrepreneur who had to figure out WHAT IN THE WORLD to do with my money and I decided that I’d rather have control of it instead of just giving it over to someone else!

So. That program has caught fire and I've been asked to speak at a ton of incredible events and conferences - and I am SO passionate about helping people understand the best ways to run their finances and having total control. The U.K. talk(s) are going to be amazing and, perhaps, we’ll have to work on booking a U.K. show while I’m there! I mean…why not?!

Do you have any ambitions to fulfil before the end of the year?  

Well…now, I want to play a show in the U.K.! (Smiles). Yes. I have a new book coming out in the fall and, hopefully, will have the New England record done by the end of the year as well! I also want to go on the Connecticut taco trail which is, apparently, a thing, and, if you Google it, you’ll see that it is, in fact, a trail full of tacos…and how could anyone not want to do that?!

Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

Yes. This one time, my good friend and keyboardist, Peter Inzero, sang the fourth verse of Only the Good Die Young by Billy Joel with, let’s call it, ‘a cursory knowledge of the cadence’. But, his voice was so magical and angelic that it lifted the roof off of the concert hall and we all levitated for about thirty-seven seconds.

Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?

Running on Empty - Jackson Browne; Honkey Chateau - Elton John and A Night at the Opera - Queen.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Write a song. Then write another song. Then write another song. Then write another…and use better grammar than the answer I just gave…

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Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Yes! My friend Cal Kehoe is an unbelievable musician and you should definitely check out his stuff. We have an amazing music scene here in Connecticut and in the Northeast in general. An artist named Gracie Day is amazing, as is a great artist named Frank Viele - who just put out a new record a few months ago!

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IN THIS PHOTO: Gracie Day/PHOTO CREDITAnna Lennard

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

Ha. Yeah, actually; most of my time IS spent away from music so, actually, my ‘unwinding’ usually involves sitting down at an instrument and playing! I play a lot of drums in my studio, so that’s always a good unwinding thing for me.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

I would like you to play something by Boyz II Men, please.

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Follow Corey Durkin

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