INTERVIEW: Firewoodisland

INTERVIEW:

FIRE2.jpg

Firewoodisland

________

IT has been a riot speaking with…

single.jpg

Firewoodisland about their past work and the stunning new single, Dearest Brother. Their current single is among their finest work so I was eager to learn about their progression and how they have come on as a band. They talk about the musicians that have helped shape their own talent; I hear more about their future plans. Dearest Brother was recently played by D.J. Mark Radcliffe – I ask the band what that felt like.

Firewoodisland have been making music for a bit but are preparing their debut album - so I ask what we can expect from the record. They tell me about what Bristol is like as a base; whether they will get any time to chill before the year is through - each member picks a treasured song to spin at the end…

BAND PHOTOS: Matt Gutteridge  

________

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

Hello. We are good!

Feeling alive..if you can imagine what it's like to run a marathon at the same time as eating the best cake in the world - that's a bit how we all feel. We're all super-pumped, but super busy, and sleep is a sweet, sweet thing - but so is being awake…because it's crazy!

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

We are Firewoodisland. We play Mountain-Pop. If you're into Indie-Pop music with an epic, mountain-grandeur feel; that is what we aim to accomplish! To compare to other bands, we are often likened to Imagine Dragons; Of Monsters and Men; Fleet Foxes etc.

We are a four-piece, comprised of wacky Norway-boy Stian Vedøy; crazy Snowdonian Abi Eleri; naked pike-bait Dylan Jones and Steve (A.K.A. ‘Steeva the Diva’).

guys.jpg

Before I go on; what is the background to the band-name, ‘Firewoodisland’?

Firewoodisland is actually Stian's surname: ‘Vedøy’ translated to English.

We liked the sound of It; it's got a nice ring and we thought: "Hey, that would make a cool band name!" It was a natural choice because Stian actually started out playing and writing music by himself - and he acquired the rest of us on his journey.

He's always gone under ‘Firewoodisland’ - so none of the rest of us really got a say. HA!

Dearest Brother is the new single. Tell me about its origins and how it came together…

This is actually a funny story!

The song was inspired by a certain band member...we won't be mean and say who... but they went through a period of many, many mishaps - and it inspired Stian to write about watching a friend getting hurt by life choices; wanting to reach out and help - but needing that person to help themselves back.

The whole situation is totally fine, now, though! Nobody is hurt, anymore - and we are all happy as Larry!

It was played by Mark Radcliffe on his BBC Radio 6 Music show. How did that make you feel hearing that?!

It was quite surreal...

Twitter made some noise, so we naturally looked to see what was going on - and next thing; we're tuning in to hear ourselves on the radio at prime-time, Monday. If our friend wasn't around, we would have burnt the bacon! I think we're all still very excited about it and looking forward to what's next for us.

3.jpg

Dearest Brother has already collected a lot of love and buzz. Does that give you encouragement and reward?

Of course, it does. We are all very encouraged.

Band practice has been really good fun the last couple of weeks; full of buzz and banter...as well as working hard for our shows in London, Bristol and Bath later this month, of course! It's great to see hard work paying off.

We have had this song in the pipeline for a long time and been itching to release it. Keeping secrets is hard!

prints2.jpg

IN THIS PHOTODearest Brother/Soldier Hahnemuhle Archival art prints by Firewoodisland'sAbi Eleri

There are embers of Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver in your music. Who are the artists that have inspired you? What kind of music were you all raised on?

Collectively, when we started out we were really inspired by Mumford & Sons - and we have always been inspired by Justin Vernon as a songwriter and producer. OMAM have been an inspiration and, in particular, their journey as a band. We also have big love for Jónsi.

More recently, we are digging Aurora, Oh Wonder; Ásgeir and Amber Run.

Stian was brought up on the hip beats of Michael Jackson and the soaring sounds of the Electric Light Orchestra. Unfortunately, he stopped listening to Michael Jackson because he heard a rumour Michael loved all the women on the planet - and he thought he'd fall in love with his mum! But, his biggest inspiration through his whole life has been Norwegian singer-songwriter Thomas Dybdahl - who he's seen in concert many times.

Abi grew up convinced that Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel's song, Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me), was all about her. Queen and Bowie filled the car on long journeys as a family. Bat for Lashes was a favourite when she found her own feet.

Steve was brought up listening to the haunting sounds of Simon and Garfunkel. From a musical family; many nights were spent jamming out the tunes of The Beatles and Bob Dylan.

Dylan grew up with the Eagles and listened to Jack Johnson. His first album was Kasabian by Kasabian!

gang.jpg

Bristol is your home. Is it a great city to make music in? What is the local scene like?

Bristol is awesome. There is always something going on; friends and fans want to come out and hear live music; there are loads of musicians and artists in the city as well as some great places to play. For Dylan, it's always been home: for the rest of us, it quickly became home.

We really enjoy being here…

symbol.jpg

Stian Vedøy. You moved to Cardiff and started Firewoodisland as a solo venture. How did you meet the other guys and get the band fused?

I moved to Cardiff for university back in 2010 - and I actually met Abi because, on my first night in Cardiff, I broke her guitar; playing it too enthusiastically in the Common Room at Halls! We met Steve a few months later, but we were never really a band…we occasionally played together. After a year in Cardiff, my mum was nagging me to put one of my songs up on this Norwegian website daily; so I did it to shut her up...

Life went on as normal and I forgot about the website, until four months later, I get an email saying: “Congrats, you are a regional finalist". That is how we ended up playing at Bandwagon Norge and coming runner-up for a record deal with Warner Music Norway.

Firewoodisland became a band after that - and Dylan joined that journey when we moved to Bristol a couple of years ago.

That was back in late-2013. How has the music changed and what have been the biggest changes since then would you say?

We would say the sound has definitely developed...

We started off down a more Acoustic-Folk-y road and moved to the multi-instrumental-synth-infused-Mountain-Pop. Everything has gotten bigger: the sound is more atmospheric. We moved our lives to Bristol, where we met Dylan - which was also a big game-changer.

Stian grew a beard, finally!

high.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: Highasakite/PHOTO CREDITStian Andersen

Who are the new artists you suggest we check out?

If you don't know Norway's Highasakite, you are missing out in life. We would totally recommend them.

ARY.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: ARY/PHOTO CREDIT: Ida Bjørvik

We are loving the sweet sounds of ARYBears Den and our friends Axel Flóvent…and Long for the Coast.

Make sure you also check out our buddies from over the pond, Cold Weather Company.

cold.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: Cold Weather Company

If you each had to select the one album that means the most to you; which would they be and why?

Stian's most influential album would be Thomas Dybdahl's Stray Dogs

It was a huge inspiration during his teens when there was a lot of terrible Pop around in Norway. It was the first album he saved up and bought with his own money - and was the album that made him plunge into writing his own songs.

For Abi; it would be The CorrsIn Blue

Although it is not her favourite Corrs album; it was the first Corrs album she heard and lead her to her first-ever concert: The Corrs in Liverpool (in 2003). These guys were one of her favourites growing up - and have seen her through adolescence.

For Steve, it would be Eagles - When Hell Freezes Over

Because he discovered them in Africa. It was his sound backdrop to a life-shaping, epic-adventure year.

Dylan's album-biggie would be I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose by Bombay Bicycle Club

It's got some bangers - and it helped him survive flying the nest.

stand.jpg

What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?

Keep fighting the fight…and pushing.

Don't compare yourselves to other bands because everyone's journey is unique. Get yourselves a great manager who knows their stuff. Take advantage of all the online platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. Get on BBC Introducing because they are a bunch of massive dudes: there are so many opportunities out there...

You've never been able to do more for yourself, before. Connect with other musicians and bands - and play shows together. Work with people; not against them. Always be polite and friendly to everyone.

Make sure you love what you are doing.

Do you have gigs coming up? Where can we come catch you play?

Yes, we do, as a matter of fact! We are in London's Servant Jazz Quarters on Monday, 16th October; in Bristol's Exchange on Saturday, 21st October - and in Bath's The Nest on Saturday, 28th October.

These are our ‘Dearest Brother release shows’ - so we are very excited about these.

Christmas is approaching. Do you all have plans already or will you be busy working?

Probably a bit of both: definitely some relaxing and lots of eating. We have a band Christmas do each year... a bit of a tradition with a Secret Santa. This is in the pipeline and is always a blast. Our manager Nick, always receives either something Star Wars-related (or Lego)…

If the present is both - double brownie points!

Finally, and for being good sports; you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

Stian: Rain Down on Me - Thomas Dybdahl

Abi: Breathless by The Corrs

Steve: Your Body Is a Wonderland by John Mayer

Dylan: Turn & Leave by Samantha Lindo

_________

Follow Firewoodisland

fire.jpg

INTERVIEW: Four Dead Crows

INTERVIEW:

FDC-EDITED0803.jpg

 Four Dead Crows

________

THEY were described as a cross between The Black Keys…

FDC-EDITED0693-1.jpg

and Royal Blood by Classic Rock. The Gloucestershire-based boys tell me about their latest single, That’s What You Get, and how it differs from previous numbers like Destitute Blues and No Great Shakes. I wanted to know more about their formation and how Four Dead Crows got their name; why the 1960s inspire their music – and whether they have a plan of attack for 2018.

The guys each select a song that means a lot to them; the albums that inspire their music; why this week has been especially busy – and what live gigs they have approaching.

________

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

Hey. Good, thanks!

We`ve just been practicing hard for some upcoming gigs – and we’re getting new material together. We’re playing the 100 Club (in London) on 20th October which we`re super excited about. To be playing on a stage where some of our biggest influences have played is awesome.

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

Well. Classic Rock recently described us as the Black Keys-meets-Royal Blood - which is awesome and really flattering.

For us, that’s the best introduction!

That’s What You Get is your new single. Can you tell me about its origins and story?

Well. The idea for the main riff came from a Doors song that Danny changed around. He showed us at practice and we really liked it - and just jammed it for hours. Danny had some lyrics he`d written previously that suited the theme of the song. So, we actually finished the song pretty quickly; which is unusual for us as a band as, when we usually start a song, we never end up finishing it!

Thats what you get  LARGE.jpg

The single follows Destitute Blues. Would you say you made big changes since then – or have you felt the need to radically alter your music?

No, not really. Our music is quite big in terms of the spectrum: at one end, we have songs like Destitute Blues - which is more on the slower, softer side - then, on the other; we have heavy stuff like Broken Bones or No Great Shakes.

We are currently experimenting more with synths and organs but we`ve never really limited our sound or felt we need to alter it - as we have such a large area we can fit into.

Will we see an E.P. this or next year? What do you chaps have in mind?

We’re currently touring and promoting our latest record and we have another single - which is coming out at the end of the year. We`ve got a few ideas we`d like to record so, maybe, next year we will get back into the studio...

As a band, we’d love to record an album.

Can you tell me how Four Dead Crows got together? How did you all find one another?

Paul and Rob were in a covers band covering Red Hot Chili Peppers and Creedence Clearwater Revival songs for a while and, when that fell through, Paul contacted Dan (our bassist) - who he knew through friends at college - and we jammed for a bit. We put an advertisement out for a singer online and Danny responded.

He came to a few practices and everything clicked from the go.

I wanted to ask about the band’s name. Is there a particular inspiration behind it?

Well. A lot of people believe that seeing a dead crow is some sort of harbinger of death, but It can also symbolise the end of bad things and the beginning of all things new and good. We felt this reflected where we all were, personally, at the time - and suited the theme of the band.

four.jpg

Gloucestershire is where you are based. Is there a strong music scene there?

Gloucestershire has a great local music scene with some really great venues.

Places like the Guildhall where they hold the Underground Festival - which supports up-and-coming acts.

Also…Café Rene. They organise the annual Blues festival.

There are so many cool places to check out great live music. We have some really great local bands that all look after and support each other.

It seems the 1960s and good-old-fashioned Rock/Blues is vital to your sound? Who are the artists you all grew up to? What is it about the decade/genres that speak to you all?

Yeah. It’s had a profound effect on how we approach playing. I think it’s a time when music was being revolutionised; new sounds were being made and the yard-stick was constantly being shifted. We try to adopt this ethos within the band. We don’t want to take the easy option on writing: we are always pushing ourselves, musically, to do something different.

It’s the reason we`re all influenced by bands like The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Doors; The Beatles: bands who weren’t afraid to try something that little different.

creeper.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: Creeper

Which new artists do you recommend we check out?

Rob and Paul are currently listening to Creeper - who are a Horror-Punk band. Danny is listening to Shakey Graves.

What tour dates do you have coming up? Where can we catch you play?

We’re Playing the 100 Club (in London) on the 20th October; The Firefly (in Worcester) on 26th October - and the Cleeve Sports and Arts Centre on 5th November.

shows.png

If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?

Paul’s would be Origin of SymmetryMuse

It’s such a massive, grandiose-sounding album. It feels like an event listening to it in its entirety.

Rob: Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin

Every song on that album is a masterpiece; all of the songs are crafted so well.

Danny: Tom Waits - Mule Variations

The beats and the opening riff to Big in Japan is fu*king great. Come on Up to the House is a masterpiece.

FDC.jpg

What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?

Network!

As a band; we`ve been to gigs where some younger bands are perhaps too shy to speak to the other bands on the same bill. The best advice we can give is to speak to the other bands. That way, you can organise gigs with each other; promote one another's releases etc.

Also; get out and gig. Gig as much as you can!

Christmas is not too far away. Do you all have plans already or will you be busy working?

I don’t think any of us have even though about Christmas just yet. I’d imagine it will be spent celebrating with family, though! We are going out for Hallowe’en dressed as The Rocky Horror Show with Rob (our bearded drummer) in drag - so there is that to look forward to…I guess...

Finally, and for being good sports; you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

Paul:  New Kind of Kick The Cramps

Danny: Big in Japan Tom Waits

Rob: Blossoms At Most a Kiss

_________

Follow Four Dead Crows

FDC-EDITED0859-1.jpg

INTERVIEW: ZoZo

INTERVIEW:

9.jpg

PHOTO CREDIT: Steve Shotonwa

 ZoZo

________

HER debut single is out, so…

3.jpg

it was a good moment to speak to ZoZo about I Won’t Leave Your Bed Tonight. She talks about her studies and what she has planned next in her career; the music she was raised on – and those artists she is listening to right now. I was eager to learn more about her music and the themes that go into it; what compelled her decision to get into music – and what London is like with regards inspiration and creativity.

ZoZo looks ahead to Christmas and talks about gigs; how she feels about the situation in Catalunya (as she is from that area) - and why she moved to the U.K. years ago.

________

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

Hi, Sam! Great thank, you.

I’ve just released my first official single, I Won’t Leave Your Bed Tonight, so that’s all that’s on my mind really! I’ve also just started studying a Masters in Songwriting and Production at Tileyard - so I have quite a lot there, too.

Busy time of the year!

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

Yes, sure. My name is ZoZo. I grew up in Catalunya and moved to the U.K. six years ago to pursue my love for writing and music. I describe my music as Dream-Pop with lots of synths layers and cinematic sounds. My lyrics touch on everyday life - along with stories and secrets we don’t tell.

DMb6AfeXkAAPsOR.jpg

I Won’t Leave Your Bed Tonight is your new single. What is the story behind it?

The song revolves around having a connection with a guy but you only seem to meet up and hang out at night. I only ever knew him while he was drinking and, as a non-drinker myself, I was aware of the way he/we came across to others in venues. I woke up in the middle of the night, once, and realised I didn’t know this person at all, really, and wanted to leave - but I didn’t until he had a clearer mind and ‘remembered who I was’.

Will there be a video for the song coming up?

Yes! There’s currently a lyric video on my YouTube, but there will be an official music video coming in a few weeks, around November!

Excited for this one!

The song is released via Killing Moon. What is it like working with the label and are there more song coming?

They’re great and I’ve been free to express myself the way I wanted to. There’s more singles coming after the music video - no dates set yet but more singles from ZoZo coming soon yes!

How did you first get into music? Was it something you got into at an early age?

My dad is a Classical pianist and always played beautiful music all-day-long, echoing through the house. I grew up with a lot of cheesy ‘bad’ Spanish Pop - which I loved as a kid and would pretend to be on stage dancing in front of the mirror! It was never something I thought I’d end up doing until I bought a guitar the day I finished school at eighteen and just couldn’t stop writing songs.

I’d always written lyrics and sang to myself in the woods but, finally, really got into music properly in my late-teens.

paint.jpg

Who are the artists that inspire you most, would you say?

I love artists like Christine and the Queens, Aurora; Lorde, Rhye and Shura. I only discovered them in the past four years. Earlier on, I used to listen to a lot of ABBA and Coldplay. I think all these artists portray their art so genuinely - and are just great musicians with amazingly catchy songs!

Recently, you modelled for Ofio (and their autumn/winter collection). Will you be doing any more fashion shoots and what was the experience like?

Yes. It was great!

I’ve known them for a year or so. I did some modelling when they first launched last year. I specially loved this last shoot as it captured the warm autumn colours, which I love. It was a great shoot in Holland Park; the colours are so vibrant at the moment! I hope to do more with Ofio in the future. I used to do theatre and have always been fascinated by visuals, so I’d love to more modelling. There’s a lot you can express in a photo and I feel visual art and music go hand-in-hand.

Always up for collaborating with photographers and interesting brands!

7.jpg

You are a Catalan/Scottish girl living in London. Why did you decide to come to the U.K. and what do you think about Catalan’s fight for independence at the moment?

I decided to move for music. I studied music in Brighton for two years and then moved to London because I was getting more and more gigs here. I think it’s one of the best places to be for what I want to do. I developed my sound over the past years while living in this crazy place - and I’m really happy with everything surrounding me.

Catalunya…I grew up there, so I feel strongly about the whole situation that’s going on right now (and over the past decades). I’ve never been very political or patriotic so my views come from having grown up in the country; living with the local people who have lived through Franco’s dictatorship. It’s horrible what happened three weeks ago when the Catalans went to vote; horrific.

Spain has to change and independence definitely seems the way forward for Catalunya.

What is London like in terms of opportunities and inspiration? Is it a city you feel alive and comfortable in?

I adore London!

Yes. I love people watching and discover new places every day. There are lots of opportunities but I also think you really have to go out there and chase them (like everything). It’s an amazing place for new music and every type of artist to express themselves.

I couldn’t see myself living anywhere else (for a long time, for now!)

5.jpg

Next month, you will be playing at The Old Blue Last. Are you looking forward to that gig and are there going to be any more gigs before 2018?

Yes. I’m really looking forward to it! I haven’t played a live set in a few months, so it will be exciting to perform some new songs and upcoming releases on the 7th. I don’t have any other gigs planned before 2018.

We’re putting on a Xmas showcase with my MA. on the 14th December at Nambucca - so you may catch me playing some songs there; more info closer to the time on my socials!

billie.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: Billie Eilish

Which new artists do you recommend we check out?

I love Billie Eilish and Sigrid: really catchy songs with great production and attitude!

If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?

These three albums mean the most to me because they just transport me to another, strange world - I’ve listened to them on-repeat at certain points in the past two years - and I can remember exactly where and what I was doing.

Music is amazing!

Christine and the Queens - Chaleur humaine

I just love the textures and simple, but really catchy, production on all her songs. I’m fascinated by androgyny and love that she portrays that freely in her music, videos; dance and lyrics.

10.jpg

Lorde - Melodrama

Lorde and Jack Antonoff, who co-wrote most of the album, are just brilliant songwriters! I love this album because of the amount of experimenting they did in the production. There’s similar piano parts in a couple of the songs - which made me go back and re-listen to them again. They’re very clever at putting strange, interesting sounds and vocal/harmonic changes together.

It’s a whole journey I was listening to on-repeat at the beginning of the summer as I made the decision to release my first single. It takes me back to feeling excited but nervous!

Aurora - All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend

Runaway was the first song I heard off the album. The middle eight made me cry almost instantly. All of her songs have that strange feeling where you’re smiling, but could almost cry at the same time. Her lyrics are both childlike and very profound (and grown-up) which I love. I feel like I connect very well with her quirky ways and enchanting music.

I think my music could be a mixture of all three - they’re very inspiring.

8.jpg

What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?

Write loads, all the time. Go out and meet people. Perform a lot and network.

Record every little idea and start producing simple demos. I really found my sound after I started producing and I started writing differently. ‘Persistence’ is probably the best word to describe artists: you just have to do it.

I’m still trying: we’re all trying!

6.jpg

Christmas is not too far away. Do you have plans already or will you be busy working?

Yes. I’m going home to Catalunya for a few days. I’m in the middle of planning my next single and thinking of the video concept - so I may be filming and editing that over the Xmas period.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

Yes. Billie Eilishwatch

Such a cute, catchy wee tune!

Thank you! ZoZo

_________

Follow ZoZo

4.jpg

FEATURE: Unlocking the Music Box: Music’s Role in the Fight Against Alzheimer’s

FEATURE:

 

Unlocking the Music Box:

explosion.jpg

IMAGE CREDIT: Denise Cole  

Music’s Role in the Fight Against Alzheimer’s

________

THIS is not the first time I have explored…

music.jpg

PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

music and memory in the past couple of weeks. Last week, in fact, I looked at the connection between music and memory; how certain songs bring back fond recollections and put us in a safer space. I argued, when looking at my musical tastes, how I always pine for the teenage years. The years before then, I’d say, was the last time I was truly content and happy. Remembering the music from that time brings those times flooding back – all the adventures and happenings from around that time. I wonder whether there is a part of the brain where we store certain songs: connect them to memories from the past so they do not get lost with all the trivial nonsense we filter on a daily basis. There is a lot to be said on the subject and more exploration to do. In my mind, music is the most powerful form of communication we, as humans, have. It is harrowing when one reads the statistic around Alzheimer’s. Before going on; the statistics on Alzheimer’s – from Alzheimer’s Society:

What is dementia

Dementia describes different brain disorders that trigger a loss of brain function. These conditions are all usually progressive and eventually severe.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting 62 per cent of those diagnosed.

Other types of dementia include; vascular dementia affecting 17 per cent of those diagnosed, mixed dementia affecting 10 per cent of those diagnosed.

Symptoms of dementia include memory loss, confusion and problems with speech and understanding. Dementia is a terminal condition.

pi.jpg

Who is affected?

There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. This will soar to 2 million by 2051.

225,000 will develop dementia this year, that’s one every three minutes.

1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have dementia.

70 per cent of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems.

There are over 40,000 people under 65 with dementia in the UK.

More than 25,000 people from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups in the UK are affected.

How much does it cost?

Two thirds of the cost of dementia is paid by people with dementia and their families.

Unpaid carers supporting someone with dementia save the economy £11 billion a year.

Dementia is one of the main causes of disability later in life, ahead of cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke. As a country we spend much less on dementia than on these other conditions.

How does the UK compare to other countries?

There are an estimated 46.8 million people living with dementia and the numbers affected will double every 20 years, rising to 115.4 million in 2050.

Another 7.7 million people will develop dementia around the world every year.

What about treatments and research?

There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease or any other type of dementia. Delaying the onset of dementia by five years would halve the number of deaths from the condition, saving 30,000 lives a year.

Dementia research is desperately underfunded. For every person living with dementia, the annual cost to the UK economy is over £30,000 and yet only £90 is spent on dementia research each year.

There are not enough researchers and clinicians joining the fight against dementia. Five times fewer researchers choose to work on dementia than on cancer.

Alzheimer's Society is committed to spending at least £150 million over the next decade on dementia research to improve care for people today and find a cure for tomorrow. This includes £50 million to develop the UK’s first dedicated Dementia Research Institute

Those are shocking statistics and the fact so many of will be vulnerable to the disease should compel the government to generate more investment into finding a cure. I am sure there will be a cure one day but, until then, it is sad seeing how the disease takes hold. Alzheimer’s is no longer a disease that affects the elderly: more middle-aged and younger people are being affected by it. Alzheimer’s leads to nerve cell death and tissue loss throughout the brain. It leads to, over time, a shrinking of the brain and a complete attack of all its functions.

Admiration goes to those who care for those with Alzheimer’s as it is tough dealing with someone who has the disease. It is hard to know what to say and one needs patience and compassion in that situation. If it is difficult for those charged with caring for Alzheimer’s: the toll it takes on their loved ones is staggering. Watching someone you love succumb to the disease and lose a lot of who they are is too emotional to put into words. Many – who see relatives go through it – feel helpless and unsure how to talk to the person. Alzheimer’s is not a binary disease and takes on many different forms. Everyone’s case is unique so it can be hard formulating a cover-all therapy and treatment for people who suffer from it. I wanted to look at Alzheimer’s because, as we are aware, new studies are coming to light...

brain.jpg

According to a study that looked at translational neurodegeneration - there are scientists and medical professionals expounding the therapeutic and augmentative powers of music. I will quote from an article written early in the year – one that talks about musical therapy and results seen when used on patients:

Increasing articles have demonstrated that MT can improve multiple domains of cognitions in AD patients, including attention, psychomotor speed, memory, orientation and executive functions [10232526]. Bruer RA and other scientists found that listening to the music could increase the global cognition of AD [2534]. And Ozdemir L pointed out the effect of MT for AD could last for at least 3 weeks after intervention [26]. After 6-week intervention, Gómez Gallego M et al. found that listening to the music which patients like could significantly improve the memory and orientation of AD. At the same time, improvements were observed in depression and anxiety in AD patients. In addition, anxiety was reduced in mild ones, and delirium, hallucinations, agitation, irritability, and language disorders were reduced in moderate AD ones [22]. Kim HJ et al. demonstrated that multi-domain cognitive stimulation including music therapy could improve the word-list recognition and recall test scores”.

woman.jpg

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty  

Maybe the results and transformative powers of music are not going to change the course of Alzheimer’s and cure the disease. Every brain is different but we do know people who do not suffer from the disease lock special music memories away. When we hear that piece of music; it brings images to mind and a lock that no other stimulus is capable of doing. It is profound watching how a mind can be opened and lit up when listening to music. I theorised how we unconsciously store music we love to a special part of the brain – attached with that is a collection of unique memories and times associated with that piece. Alzheimer’s is not something we are afflicted with from birth - so every patient would have accrued a bank of special music memories and kept them tight. It is hard to say how Alzheimer’s changes music perception and remembrance but it is clear those who suffer Alzheimer’s will not completely forget music and those sounds they connect with past times. I will continue but, when thinking about music and memory in Alzheimer’s patients; an article by Live Science spiked my thoughts:

Music's ability to tap into procedural memory and pull on our emotional heartstrings may mean it can do more than simply allow dementia sufferers to access pristine memories from the past. In 2010, the researchers discovered that Alzheimer's patients had a much easier time recalling song lyrics after the words had been sung to them than they could after the words had been spoken. "It suggested that music might enhance new memory formation in patients," said Nicholas Simmons-Stern, also at Boston University and lead author of the study.

heart.jpg

 PHOTO CREDIT: Haley Zapal

Since then, the researchers have been investigating whether patients can learn vital information, such as when to take their medication, through song. According to Simmons-Stern, as-yet unpublished results lend hope to the idea, suggesting music will be a powerful tool for the treatment and care of dementia patients in the future. However, to have the intended effect, the music must ring true: "The lyrics need to fit the music in a way that's natural and enhancing, and the process of fitting is extremely important," he said. Repetition of the lyrics is also crucial.

Despite this progress, the scientists still aren't sure whether music aids in patients' ability to form new memories by harnessing procedural memory, strengthening new knowledge by tying it emotions, or doing some combination of the two. It may not be surprising that they are only now getting a handle on music's influence on the minds of elderly people; they have barely studied its effects on the rest of us. "I think that music as a scientific area of study has not been thought to be legitimate or mainstream until very recently," Budson said.

Even in the firm hands of science, music is slippery: Like love, it is such a complex neural stimulus that scientists struggle to determine the interplay between lyrics and tune, sound and meaning. Simmons-Stern said what they know is this: "Every patient, and pretty much anyone, could benefit from having more music in their lives."

This research shows that, not only can Alzheimer’s patients remember stored musical memories and find comfort through it – music, in itself, can act as a diary and alarm clock; it helps with daily routines and can be a helpful pneumonic device. The battle as to whether music can help form new memories in Alzheimer’s suffers is raging on. With medication and traditional therapy; music therapy is an experimental tool that we are learning more about. The benefits have been shown and it is clear, through the years, more research is being carried out. The articles I have already source chart the years between 2012 and 2016. This year, new studies are coming to light. Bodies like Alzheimer’s Association are continuing to probe and bring new evidence to light. Alzheimer’s robs the sufferer of the ability to retain information short-term: that frustration that comes where the person repeats themselves and forgets the person in front of them. It is cruel and indiscriminate but it is the long-term memories that could be unlocked through music therapy. If a patient can recall a selection of long-term memories (some people who have the disease can) then can that ability, help improve short-term memory? Music is brilliant when it comes to unearthing those oft-forgotten times – potent enough to connect us to very specific locales and scenarios. So, then…are there other benefits when it comes to music aiding those with Alzheimer’s?!

brains.jpg

A piece by The Arbor Company – who quote from the Alzheimer’s Association – talks about live music and how dancing (and exercising at these events) can provide further benefits:

Researchers believe music stimulates many parts of the brain at the same time, such as those areas affecting language, mood and movement, along with the senses of hearing, sight, sound and touch. Research at the University of California at Davis pinpointed an area of the brain which stores memories by linking them to familiar songs and the emotions associated with those memories. The affect a song will have on someone can often be determined by a person’s past emotional experience with that song. If the song reminds someone of breaking up with an old boyfriend, their response could be less positive than a song associated with happier memories. Alzheimer’s patients might show distress in such a situation by acting agitated, tense or making grimacing facial expressions.

Music popular when a person was between the ages of 18 and 25 often promotes the most positive response. However, typical childhood songs or music that is unfamiliar may also be effective, often due to a lack of an emotional connection. Depending on the type of music, music therapy may help accomplish a variety of things. Stimulating music with a quick tempo and percussion songs can motivate patients to take action or stay awake. Sedating music might prove more soothing. This type of music works well with patients who feel agitated or overloaded by their environment. In later stages, the disease causes patients to stop showing affection to others, but through dance or swaying to the music they may move closer to others or make affectionate gestures.

Patients in early stages may benefit from going out dancing or to hear a concert. Respect their likes and dislikes, even about music they once liked. Brain changes may affect their perception of the music. Playing an instrument may be enjoyable for those who once played. Note and play favorite pieces, such as songs played at a wedding, which serve to spark happy memories. As the disease progresses, playing music may help improve balance while walking. Music can also be used boost the mood of a person suffering from Alzheimer’s, while more soothing music often helps with nighttime behavior issues. In later stages, the same favorite pieces might jog a person’s memory when discussing past events. Music often motivates advanced Alzheimer’s patients to participate in exercise. Relaxing music also soothes and provides comfort.

We know music is invaluable to those going through anxiety disorders and depression. Not only can a variety of songs produce different emotions/reactions: a consistent and structured exposure to music – in a suitable environment – can help relax the sufferer and help with their recovery/treatment. Not only that but music is a sociable industry: getting out to gigs and picking up an instrument can be really helpful and pivotal when it comes to coping with mental illness. There is a lot more work to do but the rise of Alzheimer’s means action needs to be taken. There are great charities and bodies directly involving themselves with sufferers.

getty.jpg

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty  

Money is being spent and there is daily research carried out to help fight and cure the disease. Until the day comes everyone is free from it: what other forms of therapy and education are there?! Music’s role in the siege is growing and more is coming to light as to how it can not only help recover some memories – it has a physical component where the disease sufferer can, through attending gigs or listening to music, remain active and improve their mental health. The eradication of memories and the sense of self is one of the most disturbing and poignant sides to Alzheimer’s. Seeing some, who goes through Alzheimer’s, lose their nature and identity can take a lot away from loved ones and those who care for them. There are no easy answers and quick fixes but, year by year, we are learning more about Alzheimer’s. Medicine and therapy are developing and people are getting a better sense of what Alzheimer’s entails and its complexities. I feel music has a real place and importance to play. I have sourced articles where know what effect music has and how it is being utilised to help those who go through Alzheimer’s. I feel there is, even more, utility available from music: greater physical, emotional and cognitive benefits from the full spectrum of the art. I feel, with every breakthrough and discovery, those who have to live with the brutal reality of Alzheimer’s are being afforded…

poster2.jpg

IMAGE CREDIT: Denise Cole  

A small, but crucial, ray of light.

INTERVIEW: Jessica Murae

INTERVIEW:

jess3.jpg

 Jessica Murae

________

IT is exciting discovering a talented…

single.jpg

young artist from Watford. I have not featured a Watford musician since I wrote about The Staves – that was over a year ago, now! Jessica Murae has provided me an excuse to dig into Watford and find out about its music. Murae herself is an emotive voice who is inspired by singers like Stevie Nicks and Florence Welch. I ask her about her latest single, Wild, and the story behind it; her previous track, Still Cold – and how it feels having that song included in Salute Music Makers’ Top-100. Murae talks about her creative process and whether she is making more music at the moment; the gig dates approaching – and whether she will get any downtime before the end of the year.

I ask Murae what her fondest memory of the year has been; the new artists she would recommend to us – and a trio of albums that have inspired and influenced her own music.

________

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

I’m all good, thanks! I’ve had a busy week trying to organise a gig I’ve got coming up - but it’s been a fun one.

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

I’m an Indie-Pop singer-songwriter from Watford with an obsession for vintage clothing and Instagram-ing. 

main.jpg

PHOTO CREDIT: Charlotte Epstein

Can you give me a sense of what you’re working on at the moment? Will there be any new material this/next year?

Yes! I’m currently finishing my last single of the year called Like Magic; it’s in the final mixing process and I’m hoping to release it in November with a visualiser video. It’s quite different to my previous tracks: it’s very ambient and does not have a lot of lyrical content; I’ve been mainly focusing on the production this time.

Your song, Still Cold, made it into Salute Music Makers’ Top-100. How did that make you feel and how is the voting coming along?

It’s been a crazy experience.

I was surprised, at first, but I honestly feel very honoured. There have been some artists in the final-hundred that I have followed for a while just as a fan - so, to be in the chosen alongside them has been a great honour. I’m working hard on the voting process. I have a strong group of loyal people around me who are helping me.

Wild, released in June, is your latest. What inspired the song and how has the (positive) reaction to the song affected you?

I wrote the song at a time in my life when I wanted to do something spontaneous. I wanted the song to feel very free and open: the ending is a huge representation of that where I’m mostly ad-libbing. The reaction has been incredible. It’s been pushing me to get more music out there this year - and I’m very excited to get working on the next E.P.

How do songs come together? Do you set time aside to write or is it more natural?

Both.

Sometimes, I will keep a day or two free in the week just to sit and write music: other times, I will wake up with a melody in my head or overhear something someone’s said - and feel inspired to write a song about it.

It’s not often a very structured process for me.

Can you tell me how you got into music? Did you grow up around music as a youngster?

I started singing from a very young age with, mostly, musical theatre in mind. This came from my dad, who is an actor. It wasn’t until my late-teens that I started writing music. My taste in music has always been indie pop with a huge 1970s influence - which came from my parents.

My dad was always playing Pink Floyd in the car - and I came to love that music from a young age.

jess2.jpg

You have been compared to the likes of Stevie Nicks and Florence Welch. Are these artists you look up to?

Absolutely! They’re fabulous songwriters and have a very spiritual side to their writing which, I think, makes them so different to modern Pop artists. Their lyrics are have been constructed in such a way it’s like you’re reading a poem - and not just a generic song.

Watford is your hometown. What is it like for a musician there? Is there quite an active scene for musicians?

It’s definitely growing...

We have a Watford Musicians Collective on Facebook and have the loyal The Horns pub - where The Staves and Chasing Grace have come from. It’s one to always turn to if you’re looking for new people to work with. The LP Cafe is also a popular venue which is seeing more and more live music - and is a perfect hub for local musicians.

jess5.jpg

If you had to select a memory from this year that sticks in the mind – which would you select?

Filming the video for Wild.

It was a CRAZY day. I had some great people helping me; however, I really blew it when I forgot the costumes. The polka dot jumpsuit you see in the video was definitely not supposed to be in there…

pard.jpg

Which new artists do you recommend we check out?

I’ve really been enjoying an R&B artist called Sabrina Claudio. Her voice is like velvet.

Girl band Paradisia are another incredible group who I found through Spotify. Their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark is insanely beautiful.

What tour dates do you have coming up? Any U.K. dates coming up?

I’m performing at Notting Hill Arts Club on Wednesday 18th October and then taking a little break to work on the new E.P.

gig.jpg

If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?

Tapestry by Carole King

It taught me a lot about songwriting. Her voice is so honest: it’s like your listening to her personal story each time.

If You Wait by London Grammar

This album has taught me that simplicity is beautiful and okay. Hannah’s voice represents that perfectly. It gives me goosebumps every time.

Rumours by Fleetwood Mac

You knew this one was coming…there’s not much more to say other than that I’ve been listening to this album since I was seven-years-old - and I’ve never grown tired of it. 

jess4.jpg

What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?

I really feel like I’ve still got a lot to learn but, I guess, if you’re just starting out then go to as many gigs as you can and learn from them. Network and build a strong set of songs to get started. 

Christmas is approaching. Do you all have plans already or will you be busy working?

I’ll be writing over Christmas. I don’t like to stop: I’ve always got new ideas on the go.

jess6.jpg

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

Yay! Give Paradisia a go - Dancing in the Dark

_________

Follow Jessica Murae

jess.jpg

TRACK REVIEW: Farrago - Better Than Real Life

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Farrago

Lead.jpg

Better Than Real Life

 

9.1/10

 

 

Better Than Real Life is available via:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fs6ZVwNzYEU

GENRES:

Alternative-Rock; Folk

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

 10th September, 2017

L.P..jpg

The E.P., Oh, Beautiful Darkness is available via:

https://farrago.bandcamp.com/album/oh-beautiful-darkness

___________

THEIR name might translate...

L.P..jpg

roughly, into ‘a confused mess’, but there is little obfuscation in the ranks of Farrago. I will talk more about the band soon but, before then, a look at a few aspects. This review was pushed back a week because Ian, their founder and lead, was in hospital – not injured or sick: becoming a dad, it seems. If that weren’t enough; he has been getting band promotion sorted and organising everything else. I want to talk, strangely, about workload and balancing commitments; blending Indie, Folk and Rock into something new and inspiring; London bands and why it is hard to tear myself away from the city; releasing on a band’s/artist’s own label; the interesting start some acts have – how a rare opportunity for recording history can drive an act forward. Let’s start with workload and how tough the modern industry can be. I, myself, have been inundated with requests – and will talk about it in a feature next week – and find it hard tackling everything effectively. There is one of me but, regardless, it seems popularity is a bittersweet thing. On the one hand, it is good having attention and making it to people’s minds: on the other; it can be hard committing effectively and not burning out. I fear a lot of modern artists are being asked to do too much and that, in turn, is causing physiological and physical ramifications. I am not suggesting Farrago are bursting at the seams but it seems their life is as busy as anyone’s. Are we, as a business/industry, expecting musicians to do everything for themselves? In other industries, there is more care and less pressure. It has got to the point where artists are going all-out in an effort to gain success and attention. I guess competition is high – and the Internet means there is a larger choice – but does that mean artists should go to such extremes to get their music heard? Every artist has a certain workload and commitment but those who do not have a label behind them have to work extra hard regarding promotion and campaigning. Farrago are on their own label but the effort required to get their music out there; gigs booked and keeping on top of everything is staggering.

band1.jpg

Each campaign-cycle consists emailing, constant contact and vigilance. It is a staggering amount to do, often, to promote a single work. The Farrago guys seem together and happy but, I wonder, whether artists need more time to focus on their material and kicking back when possible – extra support and finance provided when it comes to the other side of the business. That would make sense because I am seeing so many acts stress and tire unnecessarily. In any case, there should be more money and resource set aside for our musicians. The government is severely lacking and ignorant when it comes to the realities of the music industry. Maybe there is no instant fix but I am concerned music, today, is taking too much away from people. That might sound like a negative and scary way to start a review – Farrago are coping wonderfully and not letting things get on top. The thought occurred when communicating with Ian and the work ethic it takes getting an E.P./song to reviewers. With Farrago, of course, there is incredible musicianship and a lot of detail in their tracks – the desire to have people hear them is strong, for sure. The attrition rate in music, coupled with the hefty competition, is having a detrimental effect – is there something that can be done?! I have mooted there should be financial support provided but we need to go further. People do their best work when they can balance work and personal life; when there is room to breathe and as little stress as possible. That might sound like an impossible task but I am worried we are putting too much pressure on the shoulders of the new breed. Let’s hope changes can come about because, looking at a band like Farrago, and you know how much work and time was expended creating a song like Better Than Real Life.

band2.jpg

What has disappointed me about this year’s mainstream best is the lack of quality albums that blend Rock and Folk. Last year, when extolling the benefits of Billie Marten’s Writings of Blue and Yellow, I was impressed by the combination of sounds and angles. There were traditional Folk embers – acoustic guitars and something pastoral – but some electric strings and cellos; a violin here and there; incredible piano ay times – a voice capable of swooning, striking and sweetening. It was no wonder that record became my favourite of the year. This year, for some reason, there is nothing that rivals that or creates the same impressions. I have yearned for something emotive and beautiful that bonds me to a rare talent. Maybe that will come in the next couple of months but I worry this year’s best albums have lacked a Folk-cum-Rock/Indie album that gets into the heart. To be fair; Billie Marten’s album erred a lot more on the side of Folk (than Rock) but, even considering that, how many genuinely stirring Folk albums have there been this year?! Lucy Rose’s latest record is a contender but there are not many joining that. Farrago are an interesting band who create music that satisfies my demands. Looking at them and they do not – not in an insulting way – have the same kind of look and style of a modern-day Rock act. The guys vary in age and, thinking about that, it is interesting looking at the demographic and variations in Farrago. To look at them and they have a real down-to-earth and relatable side. That is not meant to be insulting: the band are easy to connect with and not your marketed, slick bands you seeing grinning from the pages of a music magazine. Farrago are real and candid; they are normal and without ego and pretention. If Farrago appear grounded and tangible in terms of their image then their music is on a different plain. It mixes Folk, Indie and Rock and seems unlike anything out there.

Bsnd3.jpg

What amazes me about their music is it has a tenderness and heart but can elevate, rouse and dizzy without warning. The players are exceptional and there are few others out there who have the same blend in their locker. Cinematic sounds, lush guitar and soaring violins; silky bass, expressive percussion and soulful vocals – every component is considered and expertly performed. A lot of the band music I have been hearing (in the mainstream) has been straightforward Rock or Indie. That is okay to a degree but I have been searching for an album/E.P. that integrates Folk and Alternative sounds into one. Farrago have been working hard and honing their sound since the beginning. That beginning came in 2009 when Ian and his partner, Ruth, played their way through Australia, New Zealand and India. They came back to London in 2012 where Ruth decided to move into books – Ian played solo before getting the band together. I will talk about that band start later but, before moving on, a further word on Farrago’s unique mixture. To look at them and it is almost like they are a stringed assortment – albeit, a modern-day equivalent. There is a Classical edge and elegance to them that is backed by music that stirs the soul and situates itself into the heart. Many will say there are other bands out there like this but nobody has the same sound and sensation as Farrago. There is something about the guys that elevates them above the competition. The incredible music has come through years of performance and practice but there is a natural instinct to Farrago that impresses me hugely. I wonder what the next move of the band will be. Whether they decide to record an L.P. – or spend next year releasing singles – I am not too sure. They have achieved a lot this year and it will be interesting to see where they go from here. I wonder whether they will add new layers and colours to their sound; how their music will evolve – whether the guys will change anything as they go forward. What they have now is their strongest collection of songs – the Oh, Beautiful Darkness E.P. is a scintillating and stirring work from an incredible force.

Ian.jpg

Uncle Onion Records is the label releasing Oh, Beautiful Darkness. It is Ian’s/the band’s own label and gives them the freedom to release what and when they want. I have spoken about artists being put under pressure and how much expectation is put at their feet. A lot of new acts chase record labels and want that backing and finance. Getting under the radar of a big label is not all it’s cracked up to be. On the one side of the fence, the artist gets professional support and has people on their side helping get the work out there. I think record labels exert too much influence and force on an artist. It is good having commercial support - but are artists being stripped of their freedom and thoughts?! The autonomy some labels exert is scaring some off. There is a lot of work required when setting up your own label but the benefits can be obvious. A band/artist can put out music they want – and not have to conform to the mainstream or fit into a particular ethos – and release it when they like. A lot of modern artists, when signed to a label, have to undergo a promotional campaign that means endless interviews and teasing songs; releasing lots of music from an album before the complete product sees the light of the day. Music, in that condition, is less about organic and personal revelation and more about marketing and strategy. I worry, because of the sheer weight of competition on the scene today; artists have to release their music this way. Say what you want about artists forming their own labels but it is brave and gives them a say in where their music goes. Farrago would probably fare well signed to a Folk label and would not be controlled and directed too firmly. I feel they would still have to compromise too much and might not have the flexibility they warrant.

Drum.jpg

It is interesting discovering why artists establish labels and the reasons behind it. For Farrago, they are a special band who all have their own commitments and are not the sort that wants to be under the thumb of a label. I am not saying all big labels are supervillains and unscrupulous but it can be tough negotiating a situation where both parties have equal say. Under Uncle Onion Records, the group are free to gig when they want and bring their music out when it feels right. I am curious whether that lack of big-money input means artists – who create their own brand – have to work extra-hard to find the money to promote their music. Remaining unsigned is no longer scary for modern musicians: many favour it and find the lack of commercial pressure refreshing. Starting a small label provides others with the chance to put music out on their own terms and not have to follow the schedule of a big label. So many artists are turning against the supposed dream and following their own path. There is no denying Farrago have a sense of freedom and movement and are creating music that means a lot to them and is what they want to do. I feel big labels often steer artists towards the mainstream/a particular mould and that can lead to homogenisation and familiarity. I shall leave this subject alone but I am glad Farrago have their own say and are making music with intense character and personality. Long may that continue as they head into 2018. I have alluded to the rather interesting start Farrago has a few years back…

Newbie.jpg

Back in 2009, when Ian and Ruth started busking around the world, they couldn’t have imagined they’d be releasing an E.P. in 217. That seems like a long gap (eight years) but the fact they began as duel buskers; getting a band together and reaching the level they are now – that is quite an impressive feat and accomplishment. I wonder what compelled the couple to travel around New Zealand, Australia and India. It seems rather sensible but one speculates whether there was a need to find new musical meaning and see whether their sounds could translate further afield than the U.K. I am not sure how profitable their busking expedition was but they would have learned a lot from the time there. Not only did they drink in the vivid sights and sounds of the nations but would have heard local sounds – some, you can hear in the new Farrago E.P. India, especially, plays an important role and I sense a degree of the mystical, peaceful and spiritual in Farrago’s songs. The panoramic and wide-ranging sights of New Zealand and Australia would have made a creative impact. There are few who can deny the beauty and captivation of the three nations. India has that legendary quality and, although it very crowded, there is something extraordinary everyone takes away with them. The same can be said of Australia and New Zealand: incredible nations that spike the imagination and inspire the mind. This would have been the case for Ian and Ruth; they would have taken a lot away and been compelled to strive forward. I wonder whether the band is tempted to return to these nations very soon – as a tribute or way of coming full-circle, almost. In any case; it is when Ian and Ruth came to London (in 2012) things started to crystallise and solidify. Farrago is the result of experimentation and discovery; bringing together members who have shared intentions and passions.

Farrago 1 landscape.jpg

I want to get down to the music itself but, before I do, a word about Abbey Road Studios. Farrago’s E.P. was engineered by two students from the Abbey Road Institute – which started as a chance meeting at an open mic. at the Magic Garden, Battersea. That is quite an honour and I can imagine Farrago spending a lot of time at Abbey Road. They have the orchestral grandeur and serene beauty that seems perfect for the legendary studio. The fact the E.P. was engineered there means the band will want to get into the space and record in the future. I am not certain whether they have plans for new material next year but is Abbey Road a possibility? Stepping into that epic studio-space is the height of any musician’s career. The history and legacy of the place is enough to scare many off but it is hugely inspirational and compelling. There is a blend of larger and smaller studios and some of the world’s best engineers under one roof. Maybe it is expensive laying down tracks at Abbey Road but it seems Farrago have a real taste for the studios. I feel, if they were afforded the chance to record an album at Abbey Road, they would be able to add more elements and instruments to their music. That might sound like changing the line-up but, in truth, it is bringing additional musicians into certain numbers. Farrago’s music is epic and extraordinary as it is but I wonder what they could create were they to really take advantage of Abbey Road’s size and technology? To me, the band is strongest when they balance intimate and humble with those bigger moments. Maybe recording all their material in that studio might take some of the former away – it would be too grand and fulsome, perhaps?! Anyway; it is amazing the band has experience with Abbey Road Studios and let’s hope that association continues. I am not sure whether they are in contact with the engineering students but those are useful contacts to have.

Guitar.jpg

Better Than Real Life suggests a degree of fantasy and escape. The opening strings are spirited and racing. Acoustic guitar and harder elements push away from a traditional idea of Folk - and provide a more accessible frame of mind. By that, I mean the band lace in Pop elements and Rock contours to give a more lustrous and engaging sound. It has a definite skip and sense of intent as the song gets underway. The hero, whether casting himself in the lead role or not, sees the man on the mountain staring at the stars. Perhaps, from a lyrics viewpoint, there is more ‘Folk’ there - in the way we associate traditional Folk to concern itself with nature and something a bit dreamy. The man has no need to question why he is there and why he is looking from the mountain. Maybe there is a metaphor and a sense of searching for something bigger in life. Before long, the hero gets lost in waves of sounds and is taken to another land. The song starts to provoke images of fantasy and drifting off to another land but, to me, the song concerns fulfilling dreams and getting that start in music. Considering how Farrago began life; it is tempting seeing Better Than Real Life as those pre-conception days. Part of my mind was in areas like India and New Zealand – where Ruth and Ian spent time busking and exploring years ago. From there, via more traditional jobs, they set the band up and made their way to where they are now. If one follows the song, it is forgivable why one would draw those conclusions. Whatever the reality behind the song, it seems the hero wanted to disconnect from a certain way and embrace another one. Dreams and escape are better than real life/the world and those brief moments of darkness are brought into the light. The guitars keep strumming and racing forward but the band brings together different shades and elements; the composition gets richer and bigger as the hero’s voice strikes hard. There is a definite need to make things better and evade all the worst elements of life.

Main.jpg

Maybe things, pre-music, were causing a huge strain. The composition is kept fairly sparse – they have introduced more Classical elements into other songs – but does pack quite a punch. The song never loses its energy and there is a constant skip in the step! Again, whether looking at his own life or someone else, our hero (Ian) is keen to dispose of the negatives and all the baggage that surrounds that. I am not certain whether Farrago are talking about the disposal of a ‘regular’ life and stepping into music. Many see the profession as a gamble but it is more fulfilling and nourishing than the mundane. Allowing music into your everyday life in such a direct way is perfect when trying to find real meaning and direction. Perhaps it is that realisation that has led to the song but, whatever its origins, one cannot help get caught up in the thrall and dance. Better Than Real Life is all about trying to make something better and making the most of the positives – that is what I got from it, at least. The vocal is constantly engaging and delightful. It goes through different emotions but retains its positivity and determination. Violin makes a big impact and gives the song another dynamic. Percussion and strings unite to keep the kick and merriment strong to the very final note. There is an addictive quality about the song - that means it gets in the head and will have you singing along. One of the great things about the song is the fact it can be reinterpreted and still sound awesome. As it is; it is brilliantly engineered but has a certain lightness and lack of polish. Better Than Real Life could, by the band or another act, suit a bigger sound or a different genre. It has that flexible quality that would do well on the road – Farrago giving the song a new take every night. As it is; the song does what it intends to do: it gets the listener involved and intrigued and provokes discussion. On one hand; there is a simple interpretation: fantasy and that outside of real life is easier to deal with (and more pleasant) than the normal and regular. I feel there is something deeper working away that is personal to Farrago. Their formation and development has been a unique one and I think Better Than Real Life is an exploration of their time in music and where they are now – how they are living the life they want to and, although it is not a boring nine-to-five job, it is much more rewarding than that.

Gig.jpg

I did not really discuss London much and why it is hard to disassociate from the city. I have been interviewing a lot of artists from other parts of the world but always find myself coming back to London. I am keen to demonstrate music is more than London: there is the assumption everything revolves around the city and that is where all the best music comes from. That is wrong, obviously, but we need to get away from the London-centric mindset that is seeping in. Farrago are not a band who prattle on about London – nor did I select them for review because they come from here – but there is a definite allure when it comes to the capital’s musicians. I am not sure what it is, to be honest. Farrago are among the hardest-working bands in London. Their E.P. launch was organised by Ian and had Tom Hyatt and Russell Joslin with them; featuring Sarah McCaig in support. The video for Better Than Real Life was played at the gig for the first time. The launch was at The Finsbury – organised by Chris and Lost in the Manor – and there has been a lot of hard work ensuring Oh, Beautiful Darkness made a big impact. The band are making waves at the moment and their numbers are rising. The year is coming to an end so they must be thinking about the future. Ian’s recent paternal responsibilities will impact the amount that can be created and shared in 2018. I know a new arrival will affect a creative mind...but let’s not hope it does not have TOO much of an impact. One of the most distressing things about music is how being a parent influences songwriting. The artist always says how much meaning and direction it gives their life and, whilst I have particular opinions on that subject – it only gives THAT much meaning if you lived quite an empty life beforehand – it does creep into music too strongly.

Violin 2.jpg

I know a son/daughter is going to affect the mind but I hope Ian and the band use that experience as a way to get their music to more people – rather than dominate the lyrics and direction. What I mean is the leader has a new role and responsibility in life. Whilst he will want to be dutiful and there; he has a band and there is music to spread to the masses. Having a child provides a burst of inspiration and energy – amazing considering how little sleep he will be getting! – and will broaden the horizons. I hope Farrago take advantage of the world and get to perform at some fantastic locations. Their E.P. being out there means a lot of new faces will be familiar with the Farrago sound. London will be fascinated and many venues will open their door to them. The band has a strength and translatable quality that means they could easily get gigs in Australia and areas like that. Who knows how successful they could be if they did a mini-tour over there?! The U.S. seems like a great country to get attention but, I wonder whether the lack of resources will affect ambition? Being self-released means Farrago have to deal with all the runnings and costings themselves. Oh, Beautiful Darkness is a fantastic E.P. that deserves a lot more listening and exposure. The group are still hungry promoting at the moment but, when the New Year beckons, they will be thinking about their next move. They have a great opportunity to keep the heat on and mark themselves as one of the best bands around London. It is great the city has love for them but there are so many other parts of the country the guys could find love in. I hope they consider more U.K. dates in 2018 because, once you get a burst of Farrago’s special and memorable music…

Stage.jpg

YOU become an instant and firm fan.

_______

Follow Farrago

Mono.jpg

INTERVIEW: Kim Logan

INTERVIEW: 

kim.jpeg

 Kim Logan

________

THE Nashville-based Rock and Roll artist Kim Logan

kim6.jpeg

has brought us her newest double-sided release, Pseudoscience: Chapter 3. From it, we have the tracks Ladyboy and Hitch Your Wagon – Logan explains and talks about both tracks and how they fit together. The 'Pseudoscience' series has been going a while so I ask how the third volume came to be – and whether there is going to be a fourth. She tells me about her musical background and attending Berklee College of Music; spending a decade in a Classical/Opera setting and how her unique music – that sits in an intersection of past Rock and Roll with present Americana fetishisation – formulated.

Logan discusses Nashville and working with great local artists; the new tour dates she has coming up; whether she will come to Britain in the coming months – and what her live shows will entail.

________

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

Hey! I’m well - and my week has been BUSY!

I’m about to take on the biggest show of my whole career in original music: a night at Nashville’s Marathon Music Works, producing and starring in a  Hallowe’en-themed Rock and Roll circus with the Music City Burlesque

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

Well. My name is Kim Logan and I’m a Florida-born songwriter and musician; raised on Opera and theatre, but now, on the road with my band playing our takes on Soul, Psych; Blues, Jazz - and many other genres fused into Rock and Roll. I am also the owner of my record label and publishing entity, Swamp Thing Records, and I’ve put out a pretty extensive - though, young - discography of my original recordings. 

The double-sided Pseudoscience: Chapter 3 is here. Can you tell me what inspired the work and the themes it explores?

Ladyboy, the first track, was inspired by this relationship I was in, on-and-off, for the past three years with this androgynous being - who is also an intensively touring musician. I just tried to paint the image with words of what it feels like when we’re together…it was complicated, as all artist relationships are, but it was FUN and never feels quite over. He’s actually quite an archetype that I have watched myself be drawn to almost constantly.

I was explaining some of the poetic ideas I had about this guy to my guitar player and producer Gyasi, who is also this dynamic androgynous presence, and the song just kind of came out of that part of my mind - that’s living in the East Village of Manhattan in 1977.  Gyasi’s riff was perfect. We go way back to the freshman dorms at Berklee together, so he just gets me. 

Hitch Your Wagon - the B-side, if you will - was something I wrote a while ago - and breathed new life into when I paired it with this project with Gyasi. He played every instrument on the recording and, like Ladyboy, we laid it down on a 1984 Tascam 388 analog tape machine...so it just sounds warm and sparkly (and perfect). I wanted to take a Country song I had written in earlier times and give it the full and heavy psychedelic treatment - so we jumped into that space. 

Ladyboy and Hitch Your Wagon are the new tracks. Will we see any more material in the coming months?

Yes! Chapter 4 is in-the-works for recording at the top of the New Year - and there will probably be one more after that (before Pseudoscience becomes an L.P.).

I’m hoping to have that all tied in a bow by the end of 2018. 

kim5.jpeg

I get a sense your work has got more ambitious and varied as your career has progressed. Have you felt yourself growing as an artist over the past few years?

It totally has.

I’ve always (just) been absolutely honest about what I put out. I can write and sing all over the map genre-wise but I only release what is speaking to me loudest at the time - what generally goes along with what I have been most interested in hearing, wearing and reading during the recording process. My first record was Southern-Psych./Rockabilly stuff. What I’m doing now is, essentially, from the same skeleton - but I’ve developed my songs, lyrically, into something closer to what I naturally write as poetry…so, that feels good.

My backing-band, whom I take on the road (‘The Hydramatic’) has been a huge inspiration for me on the technical side of playing and finding old records. They can play absolutely ANYTHING and have widened my scope into areas I had never gone deep enough into with Motown, Hip-Hop; Disco, Funk and Jazz. That came out in our-sort of impromptu E.P., Fresh Juice, which we put out earlier this year. 

That’ll eventually be a full L.P., too... 

Berklee College of Music is somewhere you must have learnt a lot. How important was your time there in regards your musical development and education?

Berklee has been a long road for me; one that has been difficult to officially wrap up because of my busy touring schedule - which has begun to include international trips and longer periods away from the normalcy of office-type work. But, I’ve learned skills and tools for almost every facet of my music career from Berklee - and have met some of the most extraordinary partners and connections through the larger community.

Whenever I think I would go back and do life over again, and not go to Berklee because of the RUINOUS student debt...I remember that just the sheer fact of meeting Gyasi, alone, was worth the price of admission. 

kim2.jpeg

How did you get from a Florida-raised classically trained singer to a Rock artist in Nashville? What was the decision behind embracing the city and genre?

Jdhfljkasdlkjfhas.

Give me a flavour of the artists you grew up with. Whose music got in your heart at an early age?

I’ve always been surrounded with a super-worldly music education; being fortunate enough to have a large family that turned me onto different genres constantly but, of course, there were the standouts that really blew my mind: The Rolling Stones, The Beatles; Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin were my earliest consciousness of records, thanks to my parents.

Bonnie Raitt, Amy Winehouse; Jack White and Lady Gaga all played formative roles in how I began to see myself as an artist and songwriter at various times in my stages of life. 

gyasi.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: Gyasi

Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?

My friends are my favourite bands - and some of the best Rock and Roll and songwriting in a very long time - and bubbling up in my haunts of Nashville, New York; Oxford, Atlanta and Chicago. Gyasi’s debut solo record is coming out this November. The JAG, Lucille Furs; Low Cut Connie, The Yeah Tones; Sara Rachele, Ron Gallo; Mojave Nomads and Loud Mountains are all buddies that make music I really believe in. 

sarah.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: Sara Rachele

What tour dates do you have coming up?

This huge show in Nashville is tomorrow night (20th October), and then, I’m headed down to my home state of Florida (and around Georgia, too!) for some dates over the holiday season - including a few Sofar Sounds events and an opening slot for John Prine in my hometown! 

All dates are kept up-with on www.facebook.com/kimloganmusic!

Will you be coming to the U.K. soon?

I toured to the U.K. three times in the last year so I definitely think I will be returning in the near-future. I’m scheming a plan right now: to ride out my full allowance - of ninety days’ time - overseas with a massive solo, AND full band tour, of the U.K./E.U. in spring. 

I can imagine your show would be quite an extravaganza! What could one expect if they came to our one your shows?!

Basically, a Rock and Roll Opera...

There are so many variety arts in the background of all of my band members and collaborators - and I definitely run the thing like a mixture of an Opera diva and a circus ringleader. It’s interdisciplinary, it’s multimedia: it’s weird and sexy; loud and really fun. 

Come see us!

kim3.jpeg

If you could select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?

I think Back to Black by Amy Winehouse; Elephant by The White Stripes and Exile on Main Street by The Rolling Stones 

That’s my desert island list - and I’m sticking to it. 

What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?

Stop looking for a record deal. Get help from label services people who believe in you and help you on a case-by-case basis. Don’t sign away the art you extracted from your brain. It’s precious.

The music business is a free-for-all right now - and just do ‘you’ in the best way you can…

Christmas is not too far away. Do you have plans already or will you be busy working?

I’ll be hiding in my hometown in Florida, like I always do.

It’s a surreal Christmas down there; resting somewhere around eighty-five/ninety-degrees-Fahrenheit with all the oranges and grapefruits ripe on the trees. Christmas, to me, means the beach; mimosas and time to myself - away from the world to write and sleep.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that). 

I’ve been obsessed with the song Love Me Forever by The Black Angels for a long time. (Go ahead and give it to 'em). 

_________

Follow Kim Logan

kim4.jpeg

INTERVIEW: Nicola Hardman

INTERVIEW:

hard.jpg

 PHOTO CREDITRichard Taylor 

Nicola Hardman

________

IT has been a while since I have featured…

songs.jpg

an artist from Liverpool. Nicola Hardman tells me about the fantastic new music coming from the city; back-story regarding the songs Little Fish and Just Human; the artists she was raised on – and why she decided to release a double A-side. I ask her about the albums that mean most to her; what she would say to any new artists emerging – and the tour dates we can all look forward to.

Hardman talks about her creative process and how her music has changed in the last couple of years; why Just Human’s lyrics were penned in two parts – and whether we can expect a music video (or two) given the release of new material.

________

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

Hi, thanks for asking. It’s been a total bag of mixed emotions - mainly excitement, stress and lots of honey, lemon - and herbal tea to keep the voice soothed!

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

I’m a Liverpool-based musician, of sorts. I play the piano and sing songs I write. I do play some covers too - but I’m mainly interested in writing music and performance.

Tell me the stories behind the songs Just Human and Little Fish

These are two very different songs of mine I have released this month (on 14th).

Just Human is a new political track which I wrote in the wake of Brexit and shares my concern for the future - not just of the U.K. but for the mentality and idea that ‘nationalism’ may becoming something that is causing so much hatred, generally.

Little Fish is an original re-release which featured on my debut album, Full Beans, in 2015. It is a theatrical and experimental track with various imagery and messages.

Is it true the words/music for Just Human was written in two separate parts?

Yes! I had written the hook/music on the piano a good few years ago and exhibited it in a short film of mine. The music, itself, fitted with the emotions of the short film scene - but it wasn't until the ‘Brexit’ circumstances that I wrote the words to the song - and then realised that they were the words I had been waiting for to fit my song.

This is not something that usually happens when I write songs at all - so I couldn't be happier the two found each other.

singles.jpg

What was the reason behind launching a double A-side?

When I released Full Beans, it was the only option for me, mentally, at the time. I did not want to release a single, first, as the build-up to the album was extremely cathartic for me - and it was necessary to have an album at that time. As my career has progressed, I have discovered myself more as an artist and really homed in on my sound as the type of performer that I am with my keys and vocals.

As I have been performing in this way for the last two years, I wanted to release my new song Just Human as a single in my solo style - and I had always known that Little Fish would be released as my first single outside of the album.

So, I just decided that it would be both fun and exciting to have a double-launch as my Little Fish song has become known and supported throughout my career.

Do you plan on releasing videos for either/both songs?

As a matter of fact, yes!

I’m working on one as we speak but, for now, it is a little secret to be excited about sharing!

full.jpg

 Last year was a busy and memorable one for you. How has this year been? Do you have any particular standouts?

I knew this year would be a great one - no matter what level of ‘great’ that meant to me - because I knew that I would be working very hard to release the singles. For me, starting the year with the N.Y.E. party at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic alongside my friend and peer Ian Prowse (who had been so kind in giving me the opportunity after me bugging him to play regularly at his Monday nightclubs at The Cavern), was a cool start.

I really worked hard to ensure some festival performances, too, and getting shortlisted to play at Threshold festival - supporting the great Kalandra - was thanks to Liverpool Acoustic. That was an immense gig! It was really exciting to be featured on MADE in Liverpool TV - and my song, Little Fish, got to number-two on an unsigned artists music chart too - which has all been wonderful experiences and confidence building material.

Who are the artists you grew you listening to? Give me an idea of the musicians you count as influences…

Weirdly, I was a bit of a musically-sheltered child, to be honest with you, as we didn’t have MTV or any music channels like that in my family! So, I had to depend on other people’s music such as friends and family - and it wasn’t until I was about sixteen that I got a hold of my friends’ music channels at their house when I stayed over - and started playing music with other people.

Some of my very first influences were Alanis Morissette, the Red Hot Chili Peppers; Sting, Fleetwood Mac; The Rolling Stones, The Beatles; Radiohead and Michael Jackson! After this, I then found a plethora of various artists to fall in love with - and the list is endless.

I love so many types of music.

back.jpg

Liverpool is your base. Is it quite an active city - and what is it like recording and gigging there?

It’s very active: especially now, more than ever. Having only really properly moved back to the area three years ago, I’ve never known it to be more receptive to live music, especially. Yes, there are circles and cliques - and you still hear people churning out Beatles covers in every corner of Mathew Street – but, if you look, there are more open mic. nights than ever. I feel we are seeing more opportunities for original artists to do their thing and share their music with a more vibrant and supportive network of artists.

It’s really great when you realise that people putting on these nights actually want to hear original music more than covers - and some of them still pay you for it!

rach.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: Rachael Jean Harris

Which new artists do you recommend we check out?

In Liverpool? I’m lucky because I actually got the opportunity (through being in the scene a lot) to host one of those open mic. nights I was talking about; so I have been able to meet quite a few brilliant local musicians and singer-songwriters. My night is strictly for female performers - called We Want Women - hosted in Lennon’s Bar. I’ve met so many wonderful artists for various reasons; artists like the ones who supported me at my launch: Rachael Jean Harris, Vanessa Murray - and others such as Camilla Sky, Maddie Stenberg; Sara Wolff are all excellent.

sara.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: Sara Wolff/PHOTO CREDITAlex Stephens

Some other artists on the Liverpool scene who challenge and push boundaries like Jamie Clague, Faniel Dord and Jon Coley have been intensely interesting to encounter.

I’ve been taken away with intrigue in the music of bands like Lilium, OVVLS; Three from Above, Acadian Driftwood and, more recently, Lunacorona.

It sounds like I just love everyone, but sincerely, there are so many talented musicians out there…and that’s just Liverpool!

lillium.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: Lilium/PHOTO CREDITRebecka Slatter Photography

What tour dates do you have coming up? Where can we catch you play?

So; here’s my confirmed list so far!

Sat 21st Oct – Northwich – House of Quirk

Fri 10th Nov - Liverpool - The Pilgrim

Friday 1st December – Liverpool – The Epstein Theatre

Sat 2nd Dec – London – Maddens (East Finchley)

pian.jpg

PHOTO CREDITMatthew Lally Photography

If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?

This is super-hard (and mean) to only give me three -  so I’ve gone for initial finds!

Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill

One of the first albums I listened to that really spoke to me on a personal level which I could understand and make sense of - also, one of the few strong female artists to inspire me.

I love the honesty contrasted with the metaphorical scenes she creates - as well as just pure brilliance in her songwriting.

Radiohead - The Bends

As for (undoubtedly so many people) this album from Radiohead just hits every single emotion - and plays it over and over until there is no more left until you reach the end of the album…and then immediately have to put it back on. I adore this band and they were one of the first (bands) I really felt were performing those songs for their listeners to engage with and share in.

What I love about the album is the perfect combination of small and personal with huge and evocative.

AFI - Sing the Sorrow

This album really is one of AFI’s best pieces of work. I don’t love everything they have offered but this album is an exception-and-a-half. I love the enveloping darkness and acceptance of sadness (or frustration) in this album.

The songs are crafted beautifully and transported me to a dark place of support through some hard times.

HANDS.jpg

What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?

1.  Have the confidence. You don’t think you have to write your songs and get out and share them because, if you weren’t so reserved about it, then you probably wouldn’t be as good (as you probably are).

2.  Be great at what you do and own it: don’t copycat or follow what someone tells you is the ‘new sound’.

3.  Do it because you want and need to…

ncik.jpg

PHOTO CREDITRichard Taylor

Christmas is not too far away. Do you all have plans already or will you be busy working?

I am going to be performing on Xmas Eve, but then, I’m lucky to be taking some time to see my loved ones and rest this year.

Do you have any goals for 2018? What do you hope to achieve in the coming year?

I have a number of mind-brews that I’d like to do: one will be the release of at least one music video and the rest will happen with the strength of intention. I know that I want to tour further afield next year - and write, write, write!

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

Excellent. After the advice you just asked me to give about musicians coming through now, I thought of a gorgeous Cat Stevens song called If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out - which always makes me smile.

I’d love for everyone to listen to that and feel really good and inspired. Thank you!

_________

Follow Nicola Harman

PPAPAPA.jpg

INTERVIEW: The LaFontaines

INTERVIEW: 

wall.jpeg

 The LaFontaines

________

IN a world of dilutes and flukes (sounding like Dizzee Rascal, here)…

cover.jpeg

it is refreshing encountering a band like The LaFontaines. Kerr (from the band) speaks to me about their new work – Too Late was released yesterday; Common Problem was already out – and what it was like playing the legendary Barrowlands. I ask Kerr about the band’s new album, Common Problems, and how they have progressed as a unit – and what Glasgow is like as their muse and home.

He talks about the future of the band and the inspiration behind their music; the great venues they have played this year; the music they are all into – offering some unique advice for artists emerging onto the scene…

________

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

Kerr: Hi. It’s just Kerr answering this - but I would imagine that we are, collectively, fine. My week, on a personal level, has been a solid six-out-of-ten. Still got a full bill of health and I’m no less skint than I was last week – result.

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

We are The LaFontaines and we come from the very beautiful, but equally dark, town of Motherwell. We’re all local boys from roughly the same area who happened to have an interest in music – albeit, at vastly different ends of the spectrum. Myself and Darren (the guitarist) were the main instigators in getting the ball rolling, I suppose: the other two were just daft enough to jump on-board.

You are signed to Wolf at the Door Records. How important is that for you guys? What is it like being on the label?

Not that important: nothing has changed other than the fact we get to put a cool wee Wolf symbol on the back of the album artwork.

We still move, act and shake like the independent titans we are.

How did it feel selling out Barrowlands so early in your career?! That must have been incredible, surely?!

The Barras is, hands-down, the best venue in the U.K.! Selling that place out on our last headline run was the pivotal moment of our debut album, for me. It validated everything we had been building up to over the years as a band. Going from King Tuts’ to Classic Grand; to selling out the O2 ABC then, finally, the Barrowlands was something special.

That’s why it was so important that we went there again on this run - there’s just something about that room, man!

longue.jpeg

Your debut album got into the top-ten in Scotland. Common Problems is your new album. Have you made any changes to your sound for this one?

This record is probably a lot darker.

CLASS, we had all our lives to write and, up to that point, everything was pretty new and exciting. This time, we’ve seen a lot more of the world as a band; we’ve toured pretty much everywhere you can go, and the world is in a pretty shaky state at the moment. So, lyrically, there are a lot of changes. Musically, because we already have a pretty unique sound: I’d say it’s just more of the same.

Just some good f*ckin’ tunes, man.

chaps.jpeg

 PHOTO CREDIT: Ryan Johnston

What themes and topics inspired the songwriting throughout?

Life!

I don’t understand how, in 2017, people are still writing about being in the club. There is so much f*kin’ chaos going on that, surely, somebody should take a weekend off from getting ‘turned up’. Na; each to their own and all that, but I’d say I am inspired by what I see and live through. So, everything is pretty socially-conscious and currently pretty dark…with some humour to soften the blow.

Can we expect any singles from the record do you think?

Yeah. We have just dropped Common Problem - and Too Late comes out Friday 20th Oct. I encourage everyone to illegally download them now.

blurry.jpeg

So far, you guys have already played some great gigs and created memories. What has been the fondest moment for each of you?

By far, the best place we’ve been as a band has been Morocco.

We went to film a video for our track, King, in the Sahara Desert and it was unbelievable. Only spent the one day and night in the actual desert - and the rest of the time was spent driving about seeing the most unreal scenery - the snow-capped ruggedness of the Atlas Mountains to the manic streets of Marrakesh. It was a total culture-shock. We were there for one week and it was never boring at any point. I loved the people and all the different types of music I was exposed to over there.

Ten-out-of-ten.

spray.jpeg

Glasgow is where the band is based. How important is the city and its people to your music?

It’s everything.

We’ve been to a lot of beautiful places, met some amazing people from all different backgrounds and cultures; but still, my favourite city in the world is Glasgow. It just feels like home. I love the folk and I don’t even mind the utterly s*ite weather: it makes the four days of summer that much sweeter.

Which artists all inspired you when you were growing up? Do you come from musical backgrounds?

As a band, I'd say we draw from all our individual preferences - rather than a collective interest in one type of music. Darren is all about his synths; Jamie is the Soul man; John loves a bit of Pop...and I listen, exclusively, to Nickelback.

Do you have any future gigs planned? Where can we catch you play?

We are going on a U.K. headline tour this November - Leeds, Cardiff; Manchester, Milton Keynes; Glasgow, Newcastle; Birmingham, London; Sheffield and Nottingham.

It would be really nice if you came and seen us play.

ander.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: Anderson.Paak

Who are the new artists you suggest we check out?

Anderson.Paak. We toured together throughout Europe and the U.K. He is, by far, the coolest human I’ve ever met.

What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?

The music business is a cruel and shallow money-trench; a long, plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free - and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side...” If that quote appeals to you, get involved.

If not, stick in at school, kids.

boys.jpeg

Christmas is approaching. Do you all have plans already or will you be busy working?

There are rumours that we’ll be playing the New Year’s celebrations in Edinburgh this year – but those could just be vicious rumours. Apart from that, I am going play computer games for two weeks-straight and not feel guilty about it once.

Finally, and for being good sports; you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

Kerr: Francis and The Lights (ft. Chance the Rapper) - May I Have This Dance

The others will be more than happy with your selections, I imagine.

_________

Follow The LaFontaines

yellow.jpeg

TRACK REVIEW: Glassmaps - I’m Sorry

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Glassmaps

glass.jpg

I’m Sorry

 

9.2/10

 

 

I’m Sorry is available via:

https://soundcloud.com/glassmaps/im-sorry/s-mZvDp

GENRES:

Rock; Alternative

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

1st September, 2017

___________

IT is interesting so much of my current…

joel.jpg

endeavour revolves particular areas. At the moment, I am (mostly) caught between London, Canada and Australia. Now, when looking at Glassmaps, I am back in Australia – and London, too. Although Joel Stein’s moniker is stylised – not something I can easily produce on a keyboard – there is a lot to love about the man. I will look at his track, I’m Sorry, soon, but, for now, an investigation and insight into the songwriter. I wanted to talk about artists from Australia and leaving that life; stepping away from a successful band; making relatable aspects stand aside from the competition; how hard work ethic can lead to incredible live dates; looking at love through music – and having to accept the truth – and mixing different colours/decades into an album. So music, for Joel Stein, is dispositive and reaffirming. He has changed a lot since his band-days in Australia. From the 2004 formation in Sydney – through to the London dislocation a couple of years ago – Howling Bells enjoyed a successful and inspirational career.  I will talk more about the band but it seems odd so many Australian artists are coming to the U.K. For Glassmaps’ creator, that happened quite a while ago, now. I am idealising Australia – I know it is not all sun and sea – but I am pining for the draw and allure of Australia. I have reviewed artists from Melbourne and Sydney through to Brisbane and Hobart. There is something about the nation that attracts me and beckons the reviewing side. A lot of Australian acts are coming my way and, each time I look at an act from there, there is something unique and engaging. Not to stray too far from the path of focus but looking at Joel Stein’s past and one can understand why he wanted to join/form a band in Australia. It is a great place for musicians and somewhere that intrigues the imagination. The incredible landscapes and varied areas; the fantastic people and wonderful history. So, then…why are many artists coming to the U.K.?

joel2.jpg

I guess there is greater wealth and variation here in Britain. Maybe there are more creative and commercial opportunities available over here. Naturally, many come here because that is where life takes them: other times, there is the need for greater stability and progression. The weather here, especially today, would suggest there is a lack of judgement when abandoning the clement and calm of Australia. Maybe we are in that mindset that suggests people would tire of the U.K. and chase the warmth and adventure of Australia. There are benefits of both countries but I feel, in the case of Joel Stein, there is more of a career for him here. Although there are a lot of great Australian acts, we do not often associate the nations with big labels and the best new acts. Maybe that is due to the fact our media does not spend a lot of time there. I feel, however, there is great music in Australia but nothing that rivals the finest of the U.K. (and U.S.). Here, we have some huge labels and radio stations that broadcast over the world. Australia has international brands but their scope and popularity are not on the same level as here. Many artists go from somewhere like Sydney to London because there is a richer and more stable fanbase ready here. For Joel Stein; he would have weighed up (years ago) the benefits of both nations and made the decision to come here. Now he is here; he is embarking on a new path and reaping the rewards of the British music scene. Not in a cruel way but there is nothing THAT standout regarding Joel Stein. He writes subjects that are similar to a lot of songwriters and has a story that does not leap from the page. The reason he is so special is how he has adapted from one way of life and created a new one – a big leap and fantastic new project that is among the most compelling at the moment. He is firmly based in the U.K. and is seen as a talent who can go very far.

drum.jpg

In explaining and rationalising Glassmaps; it is important looking back at Joel Stein’s previous lifestyle. Howling Bells is a band many of us are familiar with. The band formed in 2004, in Sydney, and gained moderate success in the U.K. following their self-titled debut in 2006. Juanita Stein, Glenn Moule, Joel Stein and Gary Daines recorded the album, Heartstrings, in 2014. Although there is no word of any follow-up album; it seems Joel Stein is engrossed in solo work and has no intention returning to the fold. It seems their ‘current’ album did not fare as well with critics than their earliest work. Critics felt there was a listlessness and repetitiveness in Heartstrings; a sense of weakness at times and a lack of focus. Although there are great moments, the L.P. lacks the bite and nuance of their debut, for example. Despite the slight decline; the lifestyle of Howling Bells would have been something to envy. Every band has a great story but it seems the Australian band were ones to watch. That is still the case but imagine those early days and the adventures they would have had. Getting attached and engrossed in that mould would have been easy and comfortable. In Australia, Howling Bells enjoyed success and performed some incredible gigs. In fact, when I talk about the band, I give the impression they recorded all their material in Australia. They started life there and would all have been based there in those early days. By the time their debut came out, they were in London and aware of the landscape here. It seems, therefore, not a huge leap to go from a popular band like Howling Bells to a solo life. Joel Stein knew the pace and makeup of the U.K. and what was required as a solo artist. It is still hard to fathom why so many come from Australia to here; go from a band into a solo life – it seems an opposite attack would be more romantic.

glass3.jpg

I am not down on this country but have yearnings to visit Australia and capture a lifestyle that is less hectic and stressed. What is interesting about Glassmaps is it is a natural development from Howling Bells. The Glassmaps template is not an enormous departure: Stein takes colours and skills from his band and brings it into his new work. Maybe he has got all he can from the band – and not completely detached from the guys – but it is still quite a risky move. If you are in a group that has enjoyed popularity and has an established lifestyle – leaving all that and stepping out on your own can be nervy and hazardous. You do not have the stability and backing of your bandmates and have to start anew, in a way. Stein is an experienced musician and knows the landscape of the business. Even so; he as to re-establish himself and grow from the ground, up. Whilst Glassmaps does inherit blends of Howling Bells: so many different contours come into Stein’s solo output. I will step away from this point but have seen other artists go from a band to stand on their own feet. It is impressive to see and I am always drawn to their bravery and need for a change. For Joel Stein, based in London, he would have learned a lot from Howling Bells and that, in turn, would be the foundation on which he launched Glassmaps. Now, away from the Sydney-formed band, Stein is venturing out and putting his music to the world.

glass4.jpg

Strangely Addicted is Glassmaps’ new album and one that is full of stories and revelations. It is one of those personal records that seems to resonate because we can all appreciate what is being said. I will talk about I’m Sorry but consider another release like Hypnotised. That song bursts with harmonies and Beatles-inspired bursts. There are 1970s elements and Classical hints; a real array of sounds and sights. The key theme is being captivated by the charm and sexuality of the girl and not being able to step away from that. If the composition dynamic is rare, the story being told is one many of us would be aware of. A lot of my reviews have been about the familiarity of music and how few manage to distinguish themselves. One of the worst things about modern music is how many artists attach themselves to something ordinary and overdone. We have all felt the pangs and twists of attraction; the heart-skipping rush of love and the sting of loss. These are not new aspects and many songwriters are not adding anything original to the party. This means a mass of new songwriters are failing to stand out. Glassmaps might be written off when reading the stories behind the songs. There is nothing staggering about songs like I’m Sorry and Hypnotised – their inspiration does not shout at you and really lodge in the mind. It is just as well the music and lyrics themselves transcend the predictable and remain in your thoughts. The greatest trick is writing music that connects with the average listener but does not repeat what is already around. This is really hard to do because there are so many songwriters around. Many are doing the same and it is always challenging deciding which are worth listening to. Although a lot of Howling Bells’ music was written by Juanita Sein: Joel continued a lot and would have learned a lot from his sister. Coming out on his own; he is taking from his personal life and what he has gone through in the past couple of years.

hyde.jpg

I wonder how much of his solo material would have started during the band’s time. A few of the songs would have gestated then and grown into something recordable. It is only when he stepped aside from Howling Bells when Strangely Addicted took full shape. Hypnotised is a song that documents the addiction of love and attraction but laces so many interesting aspects into the blend. It is not surprising many have hooked onto a song like this. It has a solid and familiar core but – and why it stands aside – is the personality and unique insights that come from the song. Stein has his own perspective and is someone who does not repeat everything that has come before. He has a love of 1970s music and earlier stuff; a full chest of records and genres at his disposal – all unified and conspiring in a terrific track. Other moments on the record stand aside and one gets a really personal and intense workout. Away from the sweaty and lust-filled songs; there are times for introspection and some wondrous offerings. I shall not go into too much detail – I have not the time to review the whole album – but I know there is nothing cliché about Joel Stein. He will not be seen fitting into the mainstream too readily: keen to explore his own path and write music the way he wants to. He understands the commercial need for relatable themes but never compromises his own music and water things down. The lyrics and vocals will connect with many people but it when one throws the composition in the songs rise above the rest. I have talked a lot about the D.N.A. and anatomy of Glassmaps’ music but not explore the live dates and how well Stein has done as a performer.

close.jpg

One might associate Glassmaps with being a solo venture but, when stepping onto the stage, there is a red-hot, slick band. His summer has been notable with some incredible dates and memories. Stein provided main-stage support to The Killers at Hyde Park and The Great Escape festival in Brighton. That is a pretty big deal and for a new outfit; few manage to scoop those accolades so early. The fact Joel Stein has spent years in Howling Bells would have helped secure that slot. The band Stein has assembled is slick and organic and helps expand the music. One gets that when hearing the Glassmaps album but there is something different about the live performances. Rather than provide rather samey and repeated sounds: Glassmaps transform slightly and add something new to the songs. It is small wonder they are a popular live proposition and have secured those big dates. I guess streaming services and radio promotion is key when getting your music out there but one cannot underestimate the relevance of live performance. Seeing Glassmaps share the stage with The Killers would bring the music to a huge amount of people. Many of us ignore how important live music is when getting the music to labels and new fans. Glassmaps is already a popular force but those big summer gigs would have introduced unfamiliar listeners to the music of Joel Stein and his crew. Not only would the huge gigs have brought Glassmaps to new people but it would have helped secure new dates for Joel Stein. Many promoters and venues would have seen the performances and been gripped by what they saw. I am not sure how Glassmaps’ 2018 is looking but one knows there will be some great dates in the diary. Glassmaps has supported Michael Jablonka at The Lock Tavern and had an eventful year. This will only grow and I know Stein is looking ahead. I am not sure whether he plans on remaining here in the U.K. – his album was recorded in the U.S. – but there is a chance to tour internationally and spend a lot of time overseas.

kilelrs.jpg

In terms of his home; he is settled in London but will want to stretch his wings when it comes to gigs. Having spent a lot of time in Australia - that must be somewhere he is keen to return to. Melbourne and Sydney are big areas and many will want to see him play there. Having recorded in the U.S., one can imagine Las Vegas (where Strangely Addicted was laid down) and L.A. are going to be in his mind. America is going to be a big market for Stein and I wonder, when he gets gigs out there, that will bring his music to the international forum. Glassmaps is gaining traction but one feels 2018 will be a pivotal year. I am not sure what Joel Stein has in mind but gigs and big dates are highly influential when it comes to getting the music to the masses. This year has been a really exciting one for Glassmaps. I will move on now to look at the subjects that are tackled on Strangely Addicted. The reason I wanted to champion I’m Sorry is because it carries a sense of heartbreak and confusion. I’m Sorry is tackling the realisation you are not with the one you want: the need to get with someone else or readdress your life. I have spoken about the danger of addressing common themes and how hard it can be standing out. What I love about the song, and will show, is the real sense of emotion and physicality in the song. Its story is not like anything out there. The strain and turmoil going through the mind of Joel Stein comes out in a song that gets into the heart. It is a song that connects with me because, although I do not have the same love conundrum, the sentiments of being in the wrong place speak to me. I cannot connect with that sense of being somewhere not ideal and wanting to move on.

recorfd.jpg

I am in a situation where I am pining for someone and unable to articulate that desire to her. It is a situation that is causing a lot of hurt but, when hearing the likes of Glassmaps share experiences, it gives me some motivation and guidance. I am not one who takes his lead from music but it is always interesting seeing how musicians address concerns we all have. Love is the most popular and represented subject in music: every artist has a different slant but there is a sense of the unspectacular in many corners. Those who can write something tangible and keep the listener compelled must be congratulated. Joel Stein has taken a lot from Howling Bells but, when listening to Glassmaps, there is new inspiration and sounds. He would have gained songwriting experience with the band but gone through changes and personal challenges since the formation of his pseudonym. Accepting the truth and reality of things is not easy to take. Many of us have to accept some hard truths and aspects in life but Stein has found himself in a relationship that seems like a compromise – not the girl he really wants to be with. That yearning for someone else is something I can get behind. Love is a common comestible but talking about it with new light is much needed in a music industry that is showing some staleness and overfamiliarity. One of the reason I’m Sorry – and songs on the album – benefit from a blend of decades and sounds. I have alluded to it but, rather than write something too commercial and ordinary: Stein brings a compendium of different shades and ideas to the music. This will see him succeed and grow as we go into 2018. Many musicians are making strides and stepping out. I feel Joel Stein’s solo project is going to be among the chasing pack in the coming year. He has already achieved so much and, with his album due, that will only expand and evolve.

rach.jpg

PHOTO CREDIT: Rachel Lipsitz

The stirring and impassioned piano introduction to I’m Sorry reminds me, in a sense, of Coldplay. It possesses the same drama and emotion one will find on a record like Parachutes. Regardless of any familiarities; it is a perfectly hard-hitting and rousing way to open the song. Even before Stein approaches the microphone, it seems the introduction offers a sense of apology and argument. It is a strong and solid sound that gets into the bones and projects images of strains and debate (among lovers). Stein, when talking about the song, suggested it was not a wallowing and explosive song but one where he finds resolve to progress and move forward, Taking this all in; the opening seconds of I’m Sorry take all of the swirling emotions and questions together and feed them through the tender (yet firm) opening. Aside from some needless tautology – “It’s 3 A.M. in the morning” – the hero is sitting alone and weighing things up. It appears the lovers are on the same property but he has stepped away to get some space and think about things. It quickly becomes apparent the heroine has left and walked out the door. Maybe she is not happy with the way things are going and wants to get away. Stein is making sense of all of this and taking things in. She can see it in the hero’s eyes: things are not going well and he wants to be with someone else. Stein’s voice rises and holds under the pressure of everything. It is a beautiful and quivering vocal that is backed by that rousing and Classical piano. I wonder whether there has been conversation concerning the break-up or they are taking time aside to breathe. Neither party is happy with events - and it might be best they spend time away from one another. The introduction piano comes back in and seems to visualise the walk-out and fall-out. The hero apologises things are the way they are and he feels like he does. I am not certain whether it is a mutual decision but it appears things are beyond easy repair.

guitar.jpg

Whilst the early-hours-lament gets into his skin; the heroine is walking the street and getting away. The piano splits between the hero thinking about things and deciding what he needs to do: the girl walking through the night and wondering where she goes next. It is hard accepting a relationship has outlived its utility but that seems to be the way things have gone. The girl was sure Stein was the one for her; that everything she believed in was true. Maybe he has been unhappy since the start but there is that desire for future contact and reconciliation. Although the hero does not want to be in a relationship; he does not want to sever ties and abandon her. He might not be able to have it both ways and, when love does hit the rocks, it is hard keeping a cordial and friendly vibe between former lovers. Anyone who has experienced breakups will know the struggle adjusting and moving past the fact. Stein seems more comfortable with the situation but his voice continues to question and tremble. He is sad things have taken the turn they have but is relieved he can now move on and be with the one he wants. Evolution and progression are top of the thoughts – maybe having time alone or being with a girl who is better suited and compatible. Stein’s vocal – backed by the piano and percussion – remind me of John Lennon’s solo material in the 1970s. There are elements of The Beatles’ best work with a sprinkling of contemporary R&B. All of this together is a heady brew that gets under the skin and provokes the listener to think carefully – what they think about the situation and the images unfolding. Many will relate to what is being said and can empathise with the hero. Towards the closing stages; little tingles and whistles work in the background. Stein has raided the room of unusual instruments and brings an array of sounds into the fold. The composition boasts more colours and turns; there are backing vocals and wordless chants; the chorus keeps coming back and the emotions still run hot. Flecks and shivers bring the song down and, when reviewing the story, one wonders whether things worked for the best and both were able to move on. I guess Stein needed to be away from his girl and be with someone else. It is a hard realisation but one he has to broach. The aftermath is quite severe but Stein will see it as a positive and freeing situation.  

road.jpg

Strangely Addicted is a ten-song record that will arrive on 10th November. Make sure you get a copy and experience all the different stories and sensations available. I have heard the L.P. and can recommend how strong and stunning it is. Joel Stein began his recording life in Australia but has moved to the U.K. and gained huge success as part of the band, Howling Bells. I am not sure whether he is still part of the band and what plans he has with the guys. Maybe the band will record another album but it seems Joel Stein is busy with Glassmaps right now. Critics are raving about songs like I’m Sorry and Hypnotised. They are offerings that draw you in and keep you mesmerised. I am a fan of songwriters who manage to talk about everyday emotions/stories but bring something fresh to the plate. The narcotic decrescendo of I’m Sorry sits alongside the unique threads on songs like Inner Place and Summer Rain. Strangely Addicted was recorded and produced by Stein in Las Vegas. It was captured at the home-studio of The Killers’ bassist Mark Stoermer – where Stein was recording with Howling Bells. When he was there, he saw a room filled with unusual instruments like double bass and a three-stringed banjo. Recording the whole album on an old Telefunken microphone; one gets a real vintage blast throughout. Members of Howling Bells feature on Glassmaps’ album so it is highly likely the group will be involved in the future. Maybe he has the best of both worlds right now. He is able to connect with his band but steps away and record his own material. Stein’s obsession with those instruments and that space meant he lacked sleep for weeks and was engrossed in that world. It was new to him and a different way to record. Stein brings some established and esteemed faces to the record and, released on Lost in the Manor Records, Strangely Addicted showcases a hungry artist who wants to build a huge legacy.

brix.jpg

I feel Stein has a lot to say in 2018 and, when his album is out there, there will be big gigs requests. THAT is the moment when his career will really take off. Once a record is out, the songs will feature on radio and spread across the world. I wonder where Glassmaps will head next year. London is still a big base and there are many venues he has not explored yet. Stein is familiar with the city and will want to go to other areas. So many terrific spots around the U.K. will want to bring him in. Brighton, Manchester and Leeds are areas I know would love to see Glassmaps perform; Glasgow and Liverpool other choices. The international market is where he can really cut his teeth and gain followers. I have mentioned the U.S. and Australia but the European market is big right now. One only can imagine which nations will line up to have Glassmaps come visit them. It is exciting to wonder and I will watch Joel Stein’s progression with great interest. I’m Sorry is a song that perfectly articulates the themes of the album. There is that struggle against misplaced love and the desire to be somewhere else. There are less stressful offerings on the record and the London-based musician takes the listener through an array of situations and settings. Make sure you get the album and discover why Glassmaps is gathering huge momentum. That trajectory and popularity will rise as 2018 comes into view. From his days with Howling Bells – whether he is still with them or not – Joel Stein has grown into a confident and stunning musician who has gained fresh impetus with Glassmaps. An amazing artist with plenty more to say – now is the time to get involved with a man who…

bands.jpg

IS among the best U.K.-based artists right now.

_______

Follow Glassmaps

glass.jpg

INTERVIEW: Gabriela Francesca

INTERVIEW:

pink2.jpeg

PHOTO CREDIT: Elena Kulikova  

Gabriela Francesca

________

LOTS of colour and energy is what one…

black.jpeg

experiences when they hear and see Gabriela Francesca. I ask the U.S. artist about her new single, Blah Blah Blah, and whether there is a personal derivation. She tells me about its creation and whether she has any plans regarding a visit to the U.K. In addition; I wanted to find out whether her Mexican heritage plays into her music and how she has developed as an artist – and which musicians have helped shape her.

Gabriela Francesca talks about her upcoming material and how she will be rounding off this year; why she is keen to head to Big Bear – and what she would say to any hungry young musicians coming through.

________

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

Hey there. I’m fantastic, thanks! It’s been great.

I’ve been getting in the Halloween mood, but L.A. is still nice and warm…so I had a gorgeous beach-day on Sunday.

It’s a nice balance!

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

I’m Gabriela Francesca. I’m a singer and songwriter working and living in Los Angeles. 

I’ve heard your new single, Blah Blah Blah, and it is pretty hot! Can you tell me the story behind it?

Thank you; I appreciate it!

Blah Blah Blah was written after hearing some interesting rumors about myself through the grapevine. I’ve always kept my head out of and above gossip, but it got a little ridiculous, so I decided to entertain the trash-talkers and write a song! I wanted to write a theme for anybody who’s been gossiped about or picked on - to remind them that they are so above the hate and that at the root of it - those people are so bored with their own lives that they have to seek excitement in someone else’s.

It has a summer-time vibe but seems to convey deeper messages. That is quite a hard balance to strike. Was it an easy track together and what was it like working with (producer) GEO?

I feel like, with the cheery Disco vibe, we were able to include really hard-hitting and honest lyrics without making it a sob-story - or a song about being salty. It’s more of a song where I’m poking fun at people who gossip about me - and telling them I see through them - that I know they’re my biggest fans! It was actually a very easy song to write. It was something that was on my mind when I came into the writing session with GEO and co-writer April Bender.

We discussed it and had a good chat about the general frustrations of the rumor-mill; decided that a Disco vibe would fit really well - and then we just got to work! It was a blast and came together really smoothly.

When listening to the song; I had thoughts of gossiping and back-stabbing; the sunshine of L.A. and blowing off those who perpetrate rumours. Did you have a clear storyline when writing? What was it like writing with April Bender?

You nailed it!

We definitely had a scenario in mind when we wrote it. I’m a very visual learner and writer, so it always helps for me to imagine scenes; almost like in a music video. I could just imagine girls sitting down at brunch somewhere very Instagram-able; drinking their mimosas and spewing gossip. That’s what happens when you have nothing going on in your life: too much time on your hands and daddy’s credit card set loose in Los Angeles!

Trust me...those people are everywhere.

Gossip always gets back around to whoever started it, and, that’s another message I wanted to share in the song: people who gossip really hate to be recognized. They’re not comfortable with confrontation or being called on their actions (that’s why they do everything behind people’s backs); so it was really a blast to create this whole scenario of me calling out the "Bitches who brunch". April is an excellent writer and just all around great person, and we’d written together before, so it was a total blast. We’re always on the same page - and I absolutely love what she brings to the table.

She’s such a pleasure to work with. 

arch.jpeg

PHOTO CREDIT: Jon Adjahoe

This will be your third single. I guess, it’s fair to say, personal relationships and experiences go into your music – they are not cliché and like anything else. Is it easy tailoring common themes and making it very much your own?

What’s funny is, I usually am worried that some of my themes or topics are TOO personal to me - and will not resonate with a larger audience. They’re all from real-life experiences and feelings I’ve had, real moments, and, when I first start to write a song, I often worry whether it will be relatable to anyone but me.

As the song comes together, I realize that my sentiments and stories are not just my own: they’re shared commonly by many, many people and can fit many scenarios, even if they seem different than mine. My first single of the year, Hallucinate, was written about a very specific relationship in which I felt I had been abandoned and left high and dry - and as the song unfolded, I realize it kind of became a theme for anybody who’s been ‘ghosted’, or who has mourned an unfinished relationship.

I think, as long as writers write from a place of truth - instead of trying to concoct a story that people will think is ‘cool’ but has no truth behind it - there will always be someone who resonates. A songwriting mentor I had always said: “Don’t write about a cake you haven’t tasted”. Truth always comes through in songs to an audience.

Human experience is not a solitary thing: we, as human beings, share so much more than we think...

You are on a roll. Can we expect an E.P. later in the year/next, perhaps?

I think, for now, I’m focusing on putting out singles.

I have a ton of songs ready to go and so much in-the-works; so, I think, next year, I’d be open to putting out an E.P. with a mix of new and released songs - just to have a body of work that all gels together. Right now, however, each single is a special individual story and world - and, so, I’m enjoying crafting and releasing each record one by one. 

jacket.jpg

PHOTO CREDIT: Elena Kulikova

As a first-generation Mexican-America, raised in Chicago – how much of your family background and heritage informs your music and sounds? What is it like working and recording in L.A.?

I grew up with a ton of Latin music so, although I don’t particularly make Latin music or Latin pop, Latin rhythms and rhythmic influence is definitely present in my music. I always love to incorporate them whenever I can. Overall, I just grew up with an appreciation for other cultures different to my own - and I think that openness and appreciation is there whenever I search for new inspiration for my music (or new directions to explore). 

Working and recording in L.A. has been great for me. I’ve always appreciated a good change of scenery and L.A. has presented a lot of new possibilities for collaboration and opportunity. 

Give me a sense of the music you grew up listening to. Which artists did you fall for at a young age?

In my household, I grew up listening to a lot of 1970s songwriters; Latin music, Country music and 1950s Pop music: James Taylor, Jim Croce; Harry Chapin, Simon and Garfunkel; Celia Cruz, the Gipsy Kings; Shania Twain, Elvis Presley; The Beatles, Connie Francis; Paul Anka…artists I still love to this day.

My brother, Justin, however, gave me my first two C.D.s when I was ten-years old: Songs About Jane by Maroon 5 and X&Y by Coldplay. That’s when I truly knew what it felt like to fall in love with a band or artist: to feel like they were speaking straight to you through the music. I must’ve listened to those two C.D.s, on-repeat, for two-years-straight. 

pink.jpeg

PHOTO CREDIT: Elena Kulikova  

What tour dates do you have coming up? Where can we all catch you play?

Right now, I’m very focused on putting out new music for people to hear...

The issue of playing shows without a lot of music released is, if you play a great song, people are going to ask where they can hear it or buy it and if it’s not released - that’s kind of the end of their relationship with your music. Hopefully, this summer, I can start looking at tour dates! I’d love to play some shows in L.A. later this winter or in the spring - because the shows I have played out here have been a blast. 

Does the U.K. feature in your plans? What do you think of the artists over here?

Absolutely! I am a traveler at heart.

I was in the U.K. for two weeks last winter exploring with my best friend and we had the time of our lives. I’d love to come back to play music and explore the scene. Some of my favorite artists are from the U.K. (Coldplay, Amy Winehouse) so my opinion of U.K. artists is very high!

If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?

X&Y by Coldplay

The Best of Gipsy Kings by the Gipsy Kings

The Boy Who Knew Too Much by MIKA

What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?

We’re all in the same boat! It’s not always easy to stay inspired or motivated but we’re in it for the love and all we can do is shoot for the moon: we owe it to ourselves and to our art. Remember why you chose music in the first place. Remember, somebody out there NEEDS your work: it deserves a chance to touch someone. 

I’d also say that it’s important to dismiss comparisons to others. One thing that has really helped me has been making sure I have time away from work and the music industry as a whole. Find things that make your inner-child sing; find ways to be selfless and help others and find ways to escape. Changes of scenery and new experiences will always feed your creativity.

Artists are storytellers - and you can never have too many stories to tell.

outdoors.jpeg

PHOTO CREDIT: Jon Adjahoe

Do you get much chance to chill away from music? What do you do in your free time?

I do, absolutely.

Consciously stepping away from music and my work helps me to replenish creativity and find inspiration. I am an avid yogi and I also love to dance. I take samba lessons twice a week. I also study French privately with a teacher. I’ve been vegan for nearly half-a-year now, so I love exploring new restaurants in the area and trying out new recipes in my own kitchen. Of course, in L.A., we have some beautiful scenery; so I do love a good hike or beach day - but my favorite way to escape is to drive a few hours out of L.A. into the San Bernardino mountains and (spend) some time in Big Bear: one of my favorite little towns on Earth.

Who knew I was a mountain girl?

Christmas is approaching. Do you all have plans already or will you be busy working?

Speaking of Big Bear, my family and I have some plans to spend some at a cabin in the mountains for the holidays.

I guess I’ll get a white Christmas right here in Southern California! I’ll, hopefully, have some music lined up for before and after the holidays for release - so I can take some time to enjoy family company during the actual holidays. I figure everybody else will be doing that too - and focused on celebration - so that’s another reason I’ll probably refrain from releasing music or performing those weeks. 

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not yours as I'll do that).

I Got a Name by Jim Croce.

I listen to this song every time I drive up to Big Bear so, recently, I’ve been playing it every morning while I walk my dog. It’s a song I’ve loved since I was very young - so it really helps me start my day with a lot of love and warm positivity. 

_________

Follow Gabriela Francesca

banner.jpeg

INTERVIEW: Beth McCarthy

INTERVIEW:

main.jpg

Beth McCarthy

________

HER new single is fresh off the press

single.jpg

so it is the perfect time to speak with Beth McCarthy. She tells me about her new single, Mr & Mrs Brown, and why Cottingham Folk Festival was a highlight of the year. I learn more about McCarthy’s musical past and how whether there will be an E.P. arriving soon. She tells me about some of the artists/albums that have inspired her and what she has planned for later in the year.

I find out about upcoming gigs and what it was like appearing on The Voice; what the music scene is like in Yorkshire (where she is from); how she got into music – and whether her parents’ tastes influenced her own direction/sound.

________

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

Hi! I’m really well, thanks. My week has been a little crazy. I’m over in the U.S. playing shows in Chicago and Florida - so not your average week!

Exciting, though…

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

My name is Beth McCarthy and I’m a singer/songwriter from York. I’ve been singing and…well, songwriting with my acoustic guitar (who is called ‘Jeff’, in case you wondered) for seven years now. I was a contestant on The Voice U.K. in 2014 as part of Team Ricky Wilson (Kaiser Chiefs) - and have, since, been doing all I can to make this crazy music dream a reality!

So far, I think it’s going pretty well. 

Tell me more about the single, Mr & Mrs Brown. What is the story behind it?

Back in February 2017, my big sister got married...

Being the musical maid-of-honour; it became my job to write her first dance for her (the pressure of that, by the way, was HORRENDOUS). I asked my sister and her future-husband to write a letter to each other that they would read after the wedding - and wrote this song from those letters. I wanted it to be personal to them: not just another love song. So, Mr & Mrs Brown is the story of my sister and her husband!

The title is what they are now called - as man-and-wife…original, I know.

Listening to the song and it captivates me with its loving and passionate vocal. There is something soft and sensual about it. Has it taken a lot of hard work creating a voice that carries so many emotions?

That’s very kind of you! I’d say it’s taken a while for me to really get to know my voice and how to use it. I’ve never had the most technically brilliant voice, or a big ‘diva’ voice, and I think a pivotal moment for me was when I stopped trying to compete with those kinds of voices and started to appreciate what I could do with my own!

It’s easy to pick apart the imperfections and cracks in a vocal but they’re what make it real - I’d choose making somebody feel something with my voice than impressing them with it any day.

Can we expect any more material later in the year? Are you planning an E.P. or album?

I’m touring the U.K. in November, so you can definitely expect another single release around then. After that, I’m making big plans for 2018. I don’t want to say too much about what’s to come but, right now, is the most excited I’ve ever been about my music so...

Keep a look out!

shot2.jpg

It seems the Cottingham Folk Festival was a year-defining highlight for you. What was it about that gig that stuck in your heart?

There are some shows that remind you what you’re doing all of this for - and that was one of them.

The gig was a support slot for Lucy Spraggan - who is a truly incredible artist and songwriter - and I really have to give credit to her because she has created the most amazing fan-base. Everyone in that room was there to listen and support anyone who stepped on the stage; not just Lucy.

It’s like the whole audience was rooting for you before you’d even started singing and that’s one of the best feelings.

I guess appearing on The Voice would have been a highlight, too? How important was that experience with regards your ambition and drive?

The Voice is definitely a highlight.

It’s a strange experience as it really doesn’t compare to anything else - but it was a huge positive for me.  It gave me a great platform to build from; introduced me to some great people and taught me a lot about the industry - the good and the bad parts! Thing is, a lot of people think that when you go on a show like that, you’ve made it - that you come off and you’re given management/record deal - and everything is worked out for you - but that really isn't the case.

It’s almost like you’re sky-rocketed up into success that you’ve never had before and then, as soon as you’re out of the competition, you’re left to figure out where to go next - and most of the time, the only way is down. It taught me a lot about staying motivated and, actually, how important it is to love what you do - because it’s HARD to keep going sometimes!

But, if you continue to love what you do and enjoy the journey you’re on… you really can’t fail.

tour.jpg

What has this year been like? It seems like you have been pretty hectic…

Hectic is probably a good word to use! Hectic but amazing.

I started the year with a number–two single in the iTunes Singer-Songwriter Chart - which was just insane. I, then, played a U.K. tour and have been out to the U.S.A. twice - to play shows in Chicago and Florida. I started working with Ont’ Sofa as my management, who have already made such an impact on my life, and I’m so excited for what we have to come.

All the while, I’ve been writing my heart out into a load of new songs that I really am so proud of. So…this year has been amazing: but next year will be even better!

shot.jpg

Talk to me about how you got into music? Was there an artist that inspired you heavily?

I actually got into music because I wanted to perform!

I’ve loved being on stage since I was young and went through all sorts of outlets of performance - from acting to musical theatre; to being in a crazy Rock band as a pre-teen. I ended up settling on singing and writing with an acoustic guitar (a little mellower than electric guitars and heavy drums!) and went straight into playing gigs at thirteen.

I can’t really pinpoint a particular artist that made me want to do what I do: I think I was always more inspired by great performers than I was music. I loved people like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury - who were all incredible frontmen - so I guess it goes back to that love of performance and (just) wanting to get up in front of people!

Was there a lot of music in the house as a child? Did your parents expose you to a lot of music?

My dad has always been really into Rock music so I grew up listening to AC/DC, Meatloaf; Deep Purple and Queen. My sister always loved acting, so I think I got into doing shows and performances because of her. Other than that; I wouldn't say we had a hugely musical household. My parents have always been super-supportive of my music, though, and come to almost all of my gigs.

I think I got them into music rather than the other way round!

You are based in Yorkshire. It seems a lot of our most promising artists come from the county. Is there something in the Yorkshire water, do you think?

Yeah - or maybe it’s in the Yorkshire puddings…

another.jpg

What are you doing this Christmas? Do you visit family or have other plans? Sorry to bring it up…but have you made plans?

I always take Christmas off to spend time with family.

There’s such a huge clan of us that it takes the whole holiday just to see everyone! It’ll also be the first Christmas with my new puppy - so I think I’ll be spending most of my time snuggled with him on the sofa watching Love Actually!

tal.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: Talmont/PHOTO CREDITHarvey Pearson

Who are the new artists you suggest we check out?

I know so many talented people that – but I could be here all day listing them!

You should definitely look out for Scott Quinn, Isaac Tyler; Talmont and Ella Grace - they’re all part of the Ont’ Sofa team and have some really exciting things coming up. Also, a good friend of mine, Antonio Lulic, is about to drop an E.P. - so keep an eye out for him, too.

ella.jpg

What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?

Just love what you do; be yourself and don’t give up. Also; let yourself be happy: life is better that way.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

I’ll say Here We Are Again by Ella Grace - because it’s her new single and it’s BEAUTIFUL (so, people should hear it)

__________

Follow Beth McCarthy

shot3.jpg

INTERVIEW: LEXIS

INTERVIEW: 

main.jpg

 LEXIS

________

DRAWING from her love of Eastern and Western music…

single.png

LEXIS is someone who fuses a blend of sounds and sensations into the pot. Back to the Start is lo-fi and hushed and beckons the listener in. Lexis discusses her Persian background and the variety of music that has experience and the D.N.A. that goes into her own music. I learn more about how LEXIS almost became a doctor and decided to pursue music; how the 1970s and influential and pivotal in regards her creative drive and tastes – and the music she grew up on.

LEXIS looks ahead to new music and gigs; I ask whether mainstream music lacks real spark and imagination – she talks about albums like Rumours and how they have influenced her.

________

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

I’m good, thanks. I’ve had a great week releasing the single and I also moved out of my flat - so it’s been pretty busy.

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

I’m LEXIS. I’m a singer-songwriter from Solihull, near Birmingham.

Tell me a bit about Back to the Start. How did the single come together and what inspired it?

Back to the Start is a track I worked on with a Dutch producer called Coenraad Dingemans. It’s one of four tracks we recorded for my forthcoming E.P. The song reflects on a personal experience of a relationship growing apart - and I wanted it to deliver a message of hope that things could go back to a time when things were calmer and more straightforward.

I was lucky to work with some very talented musicians and old friends including Rikki Glover and David Klinke on Guitar; Philippe Clegg on Bass Guitar; Simeon Rodgers on Drums and Zartosht Safari playing the Persian Ney - which is a type of flute.

It was a really fun record to make...

The song has a 1970s sound and some Persian elements. Did it seem natural blending those elements into the song? What is it about the 1970s, especially, that appeals?

I think the 1970s was such an inspirational decade for modern music.

I love how sugary Pop artists shared the charts with artists like Fleetwood Mac and Bob Marley. My parents moved to the U.K. in the 1970s and I was lucky enough to listen to vinyl records they had kept hold of from that era - so it felt really natural blending the different elements into the song.

You have Persian roots and were born in Solihull in the 1980s. What was your upbringing like and what was it like growing up in the area?

I had a pretty normal upbringing. I loved my childhood and I’ve got so many great memories growing up in the area.

new.jpg

How much of your heritage and parents’ D.N.A. go into your music, would you say?

I feel very British and I identify a lot more with Western music than Persian music. However, the Eastern blend makes the record more true to me and distinctive. 

Did you grow up in a musical household? Typically, what type of music/albums would you be listening to?

My brother and I were really musical. I played piano and guitar and he played piano and violin; so there was always music being played at home. My parents had this vinyl record player in their kitchen and a large collection of vinyl records. I remember; I would play Queen and Fleetwood Mac o-repeat when they were out.

They also had some traditional Persian music - which I remember them listening to.

Is it true you almost became a doctor? What compelled the decision to pursue music instead?!

So, I actually completed my medical training but I’ve always had a passion for music - and I couldn’t live without it! I won a songwriting competition whilst doing my medical degree in Birmingham - which led to me to move to London to study music and songwriting.

DL9XCAmWsAA5qUD.png

You studied at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in London. How important was your time there and what did it feel like being surrounded by so many like-minded artists?

It was a hugely influential and poignant time for me.

I made friends for life and met so many talented musicians; some of whom have helped me put together my forthcoming E.P. I don’t think I would be where I am now if it wasn’t for that experience and meeting so many talented and inspiring people.

Can we expect an E.P. very soon? Can you reveal anything about the titles and stories on the E.P.?

My E.P. is ready to go so keep your ears and eyes peeled. The stories reflect on personal experiences and my roots - and you’ll hear Persian and string instruments.

I can’t wait for people to hear it.

car.jpg

Your music has a unique edge and is a lot more ambitious than what is out there. Do you think the mainstream lacks real character – or are you a fan of the artists playing at the moment?

Thank you. I think there are a lot of talented artists in the mainstream who are also great musicians and songwriters. There will always be trends in music but it’s really challenging for independent artists to compete with the mainstream acts who are backed by big record labels.

Having said that, I believe there’s always space for something new and different to come along!

What tour dates do you have coming up? Where can we all catch you play?

I hope to arrange some dates in the run-up to the E.P. launch - so watch this space.

If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?

Fleetwood Mac’s – Rumours is a timeless masterpiece and reminds me of my childhood

I feel that OasisDefinitely Maybe defined the Britpop era and growing up in the 1990s

Laura Marling’s Alas, I Cannot Swim is a beautiful acoustic Folk album which really inspired me to get into songwriting

What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?

Be yourself, have fun. Never give up and support fellow artists.

Christmas is approaching. Do you all have plans already or will you be busy working?

I’ve not made any plans yet but I’d like to focus on more songwriting over the winter months (and releasing my E.P.).

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

Saharan King is a cool record from an unsigned Birmingham band called Lycio

_________

Follow LEXIS

snap.jpg

INTERVIEW: Amber Donoso

INTERVIEW:

amber.jpeg

 Amber Donoso

________

AS she has roots in Chile…

amber2.jpeg

I ask Amber Donoso about her heritage and how she is acclimatising to the London lifestyle. She tells me about the new single, Get Off, and the inspiration behind it. I ask her about upcoming material and how self-sufficiency is a mantra of hers – and the musicians who have made an impact on her. I learn more about Amber Donoso’s fashion modelling and how she blends style and music; what the remainder of 2017 has in store; the albums that mean most to her – and where we can catch her perform in the coming weeks/months.

________

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

I’m very well, thank you. How are you? My week has been fantastic so far, thank you.

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

Yes. My name is Amber Donoso. I’m a singer/songwriter.

amber3.jpeg

Get Off is your new single. What can you reveal about its title and story?

Get Off is about my relationship with an ex-boyfriend. The theme of the song is being unable to move on from someone you are still in love with. It was important for me when writing the song that there was a clear storyline for people to follow. I wanted people to be able to understand my thought-process in and after the relationship - and how that left me feeling. The song is about love. I’m a big romantic.

There is also a sexual meaning behind the song - which I don’t think needs further explaining. Haha. 

The video was shot in Margate. Did you film it yourself and what was it like to film?

It was amazing! So much fun.

It was a massive video to shoot as we had so many locations and shots to film. I had spent months and months planning for the two days shooting; so the morning of the first day, I took a very deep breath as I knew it would be a very long day. I felt really lucky to have such a wonderful team to work with as they made everything really smooth sailing. My dancers were lovely as was my love interest Keudy. Thankfully, I speak Spanish as Keudy spoke very little English - so that would have been a bit of a challenge trying to communicate on set.

Both Michele Du Verney (my Creative Director) and I directed the video - whilst Chas Appeti was head of D.o.P. 

Is it quite nervous releasing a debut single? How have you been feeling about it?

It’s a wonderful feeling.

It feels surreal to work on something for a year-and-a-half and then release it into the world. It’s been amazing to see what a positive reached everyone had to both the track and video. It’s really humbling. 

amber9.jpeg

You are a model and have promoted fashion across the world. How, would you say, your love of fashion and music interweaves? Is there an inherent connection between style and music?

Modelling, for me, was short-term and my way of financing my music career: music has always been my first love and passion. I love fashion but in a way of using it to express myself. My style is definitely a clear representation of my personality and character. I like to experiment with what I wear and push boundaries of ‘the norm’.

Down the line, I’d definitely like to design my own collections and have my own makeup line. 

You are Chilean-born. What compelled the decision to relocate? What was it like being raised in London?

My parents divorced when I was very young; my mother is English and my father was Chilean - so the move to London was for educational purposes. However, I’d once I moved to London, I’d spend my holidays in Chile with that side of my family. I feel very blessed as I’ve had the best of both worlds: living in London then growing up on a farm in Chile. Nevertheless, growing up here I have always felt London is my home….

I’m a London girl through and through. 

It seems, already, you have confidence and star quality. Are there any artists you idolise and incorporate into your own music?

Thank you; I really appreciate it. For sure, my music has been massively inspired by many of my favourite artists. I absolutely love Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill due to their beautiful songwriting and storytelling - not to mention they’re incredible voices. Gwen Stefani and Madonna are other artists who have inspired me.

amber4.jpeg

It appears you have been raised on a mantra of self-sufficiency. Do you think your success, so far, is a result of your hard work ethic and determination?

Yes. I think if you want something enough you’ll get it.

So far in my life, I would put my successes down to persistence. Sometimes, it may feel like pushing a brick wall but if you love and believe in what you’re doing, you’ll keep pushing until you’re on the other side. I’m a very driven person and I won’t stop until I get to where I am heading. 

Tell me about your music and what sounds you were raised on…

I grew up listening to all genres of music: from Alternative-Rock, dreamy Pop; R&B, Hip-Hop; Reggaeton to Dancehall. So…a lot. My music has been inspired by all of these genres. I feel I get the best out of my music if I’m as well educated as much as I can be. For example, I sing in the style of R&B and Pop, yet I’ll put a hard Hip-Hop beat in my track (or dreamy Pop samples).

It, obviously, really depends on that track I’m making - but these are all things which go through my mind when I’m in the studio. 

amber8.jpeg

Can we see an E.P. or more music in the coming months?

For sure.

All I can say right now is I’ll be releasing my next single early next year. I will say that this is gonna be a BIG track for me. I’m excited for everyone to hear it!

Do you have any tour dates approaching? Where can we see you play?

I’ve just been confirmed to perform at Cuckoo Club (in Mayfair) on 4th November. I’m also looking to perform in Glasgow in the next few weeks. 

If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?

So many people will probably be shocked by my variety of choices...

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill - Lauryn Hill

This is one of my favourite albums of all time. Lauryn Hill’s vocals, writing and performance on this album is mind-blowing. 

SweetSexySavageKehlani

Man, she got a beautiful and sexy voice. I love this album as it has a song for everybody and for every mood you are in. 

The 1975The 1975

I’ve been a massive fan of The 1975 for years. I think they’ve bought something fresh to the table. Their first album, The 1975, played a massive part in my teenage years. I’d listen to them ALL THE TIME...and I still do. I love every single track on that album as they range from beautiful, romantic love songs; to sex and heartbreak. 

amber10.jpeg

What advice would you give to artists coming through right now? 

PERSISTENCE. Keep pushing.

No one wants what you want more than yourself. Do as much as you can to make your dreams reality; it’s so possible…you just need to work hard and believe in yourself. 

Christmas is approaching. Do you have plans already or will you be busy working?

I was hoping to head over to New York but I think I’ll be occupied working here in London. However, I’m not complaining as I love London around Christmas time…

Winter Wonderland is my jammmm. 

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

Like a Prayer - Madonna (that’s one of my favourite songs of all time)

_________

Follow Amber Donoso

amber6.jpeg

INTERVIEW: Big City Cough

INTERVIEW:

hotelsilhouette.JPG

Big City Cough

________

ANOTHER day; another excellent Candian artist…

album cover.jpg

to get my teeth into! I have been learning more about Big City Cough and his new track, Before This There was Everything. He discusses the album, Born at Night, and the standout track from that album; how his parents helped bring a touch of the personal to a particular number – and whether there are upcoming tour dates before the end of the year.

I learn more about Big City Cough’s music tastes and the artists he was raised on; why his week has been a particularly busy one – and a few new artists for everyone to investigate.

________

Hi, Big City Cough. How are you? How has your week been?

Hey! I’m doing well, thanks.

This week has already been pretty bananas, but I’m sitting outside in twenty-degree-centigrade weather in Toronto in mid-October - so I’m pleased as punch.

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

I’m Sean Beresford; guitar player and lover of all sounds that are weird. I’ve been playing electric as a sideman with many bands for years but recently taught myself finger-style acoustic and some songs appeared in my hands - so Big City Cough was born.

Tell me about the new single, Before This There Was Everything. What is the song about and how did it all come together?

This song was the first one written while I was trying out finger-style acoustic guitar.

It was the seed that started it all. I guess I was going for a sort of meditative vibe that could snap the listener out of all their preoccupations for a bit (this includes myself). I didn’t know it at the time, but that would become the underlying theme for the record.

Born at Night is your debut album. What as the recording process like? How does it feel having the songs out there?

The initial recordings took place by myself in my living room late at night - with a tiny little mobile recording setup and a few decent mics. It was a totally natural process – no clock to watch or anything. Then, I got some of my good friends to play on the songs and they totally killed it. It was a positive experience all around.

Having the songs out there is really gratifying. I’ve been getting feedback from people I haven’t chatted with in ages; so it’s been really special – and a long time coming! It feels like I’ve been making this record forever. Haha.

standard hotel LA.jpg

Is there a song from the album that stands out as especially personal/striking?

I guess Eventually I’ll Dry Up and You’ll Have to Throw Me Away would fit that criteria.

There was a spot in the song that felt empty to me so I was thinking about what instrument to have in there to sweeten it. Then for some reason, I considered spoken word. Spoken word has never been a go-to for me but I thought I’d give it a chance. Since I’ve never considered myself a lyric-writer, I messaged a friend of mine who is an incredible songwriter and asked her if she would mind penning something. She respectfully declined as she was too busy with her own record. Friends were saying “Why don’t you just write the words yourself?”.

So, one night, I had enjoyed a bottle of wine and put pen to paper and wrote the whole thing in about twenty minutes. It involves two elderly lovers chatting to one another about their mortality because the man is on his death-bed. I got my parents to record the speaking parts and they got pretty choked up doing it; so I figured it was good enough to make it on the record.

Giant redwood.JPG

What are the main themes and stories that inspired the album?

Well, again, it’s an instrumental record…but the main theme is quiet, peaceful night-time reflection, I guess. I recorded most of the bed tracks in the middle of the night by myself. I’m a night-owl and my folks told me recently that I was born at night…so was the record.

Is music a career you felt destined towards when you were younger? Who are your idols, in terms of the artists you grew up listening to?

Yeah. I think music was always gonna be it for me. Somehow I’ve made it work! I grew up listening to Rock ‘n’ Roll, thanks to my dad and older brother. I guess I’ve always had a penchant for the unusual because one of the first bands that really stuck for me was Pink Floyd. Once I started playing music, I got into all sorts of genres. Miles Davis is a favourite.

I guess I gravitate to the boundary-pushers.

Do you have a game-plan for 2018? What are your goals for the coming year?

More shows! I’m doing a November residency at a local club to release the record locally. I’ll be putting together some shows elsewhere starting in January and I already have five or six songs started for the next record.

ryley.jpg

 IN THIS PHOTO: Ryley Walker

Which new artists do you recommend we check out?

So many

William Tyler is terrific.

I’ve been getting into Ryley Walker’s stuff recently; local hero Brendan Canning always has something cool going on.

Nightlands is totally awesome (David from The War on Drugs).

bcc_poster_print.jpg

What tour dates do you have coming up? Where can we catch you play?

Every Tuesday in November at the Dakota Tavern here in Toronto, from 6-9 P.M. A different awesome opening act for each one - and a band playing with me.

J anuary dates in parts/elsewhere T.B.A.

Do you have any plans regarding playing the U.K.? Have you ever visited us before?

Haven’t fully hatched the game-plan for 2018 yet...

I have visited the U.K. before. I have roots there so it’s near and dear to my heart - particularly the cask ales.

Tofino B&W.JPG

If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?

Wow! Tough one.

Let’s start with the earliest influence: Pink Floyd’s - Dark Side of the Moon

I got into that album as a kid, via my dad. I guess I was probably just listening to whatever was fed to me on the radio at the time; so, this one really expanded the universe of possibility for me from a very young age.

Miles Davis - In a Silent Way

I enjoy just about every phase of Miles’ career but the weird fusion stuff is totally from Mars and I love it. This one evokes that peaceful, night-time listening thing I was talking about before; so let’s go with it.

Jim O’Rourke - Bad Timing

This record was a big influence on what I was going for on Born at Night: traditional acoustic guitar melodies with a generous serving of weird. Sublime.

BCCface HI REZ.jpg

What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?

Follow your heart…always.

Don’t be swayed into doing anything that doesn’t follow your vision of your art. Don’t give up. This has all been said before, and it sounds corny, but it all comes back to this every time.

Christmas is not too far away. Do you have plans already or will you be busy working?

Visiting family and keeping warm.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

How about Highway Anxiety by William Tyler

Thanks!

_________

Follow Big City Cough

40 red_yellow_green.jpeg

INTERVIEW: Jennifer Ann

INTERVIEW:

jen3.jpeg

 Jennifer Ann

________

THE excellent Jennifer Ann is a Minnesota-born…

jen6.jpeg

artist, now based in London. She discusses her new E.P., Take Me Home (out December), and has released its title-track. I find out about the transition from the U.S. to Britain; why Fantasy (from the E.P.) is a song that struck me – and how she has gone from a Classical artist, when young, to develop the sound she has today.

I hear more about Jennifer Ann's tastes and plans; how she is settling into London life; how her music and lyrics come together – and some advice she would offer new artists.

________

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

Hello! My week has been really good.

I’ve been busy working on promoting my latest single,  Take Me Home, and have been doing a few demos. for some ad campaigns.

It’s been fun.

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

Yes, definitely. My name is Jennifer Ann. I’m a singer-songwriter/pianist/producer originally from Minnesota, U.S.A. and now London-based. I create music that is an intermesh between contemporary Pop and Classical elements. I come from a Classical background so working with strings, piano; choral and orchestral elements is second nature to me. I also do music for advertising and have created music for brands like Lloyds Bank, Boots; Pampers and Unicef.

Take Me Home is your new song. Tell me a bit about its formation.

Take Me Home was written after a trip back home. I miss home on a regular basis but it’s always harder when I go back to visit and then return to the U.K. I was feeling inspired by memories I’ve had growing up in Minnesota and started writing a lot of the lyrics on the train on the way to a writing session with my friends Nick and Edd. We worked together on it and it just seemed to flow so naturally.

I knew I wanted it to be incredibly evocative as well as emotional. I wanted to make others envision the beauty of Minnesota - as well as feel the intense longing I often have to be there.

It is from the E.P. of the same name – out in December. If you had to define the E.P. and what it is about; what would your response be?

The E.P. is about being human - from the angle of my own personal experiences.

It’s about my life over the last several years: from leaving home in a small suburban town to living in a huge, sometimes lonely city. It’s also about my observations of humanity; how similar we are to each other. We all struggle, we all feel pain; we all just want to love and be loved.

My songs are essentially my diary - I can’t write about something unless it’s personal and relevant to me.

Nick Atkinson and Edd Holloway (and yourself) produced. What was it like working with them?

Nick and Edd are awesome to work with and have been truly supportive of my project from the beginning. I co-wrote both Take Me Home and Fantasy with them. They knew exactly how to help me achieve what I was envisioning and were very patient along the way. Additionally, their creative abilities as writers enabled them to give a lot of their own creative input. We worked together on the production for four of the tracks and Let Me Love You was produced solely by me.

Are there particular tracks that strike your heart – or are they equally important to you?

Take Me Home is definitely the one that tugs at my heart the most, simply, because of how much I miss my friends and family. My husband and I filmed the music video for it at my home where I grew up and in my favorite places of Minnesota back in June this year. Watching the video makes me emotional every time. There’s something about writing a song though that helps you deal with that specific situation or emotion a little bit better.

It’s truly cathartic.

jen2.jpeg

You are from Minnesota originally. Why move to England? What is it about the nation that attracted you?

There were a few reasons why I moved to England. First off is that my husband is English and lived in London - so that was a big reason. I originally met him when I studied abroad for a term in London during my Bachelor’s degree; fell in love with both him and the city and had to move back when I finished my degree.

I also decided to study for my Masters degree in Music Therapy in London when I moved over and the approach in England is very different than the approach in the U.S.A. Music Therapy practice is much more based in psychodynamics and interpersonal therapy in the U.K. - which I was more interested in than the behavioural approach taught in the U.S.A.

Was it hard to leave Minnesota? Do you plan on going back any day for a visit?

I feel like it wasn’t too hard at first but the longer I’m here the harder it gets - because the longer I go without being able to regularly see my friends and family. I do genuinely love London. It’s an incredible city with so many opportunities and amazing things to see and do. But, I think, for a lot of people, it’s always hard to leave your childhood home and the people you love the most.

I’m quite an outdoorsy person so I also really miss having all the wilderness and space as well as having real seasons! Thankfully, I do go back usually a few times a year to visit and sometimes do a few gigs.

So, that does make it a bit easier on me.

Classical music is where you started out. What was the reason for moving into Pop?

Yes, it is. I come from a classically trained background having studied piano and flute since I was eight - and then achieving my B.A. in Classical Music at university, where I also studied Voice. I started writing both Pop and contemporary Classical music when I was a teenager. Sometimes, it’s easier to express myself through the piano non-verbally and sometimes I prefer to write it all out and sing about it…it really depends. So, it’s not that I’ve moved solely into doing Pop music as I will continue to write and release more piano compositions in future - but that I really felt I needed to also explore and share this other side of me as an artist.

Your music has already gone down a storm on platforms like Spotify. Is it quite humbling knowing it resonates with so many people?

The best part of making music is connecting with other people who I may not have met otherwise and getting to hear their stories and experiences; hearing what my music has evoked in them. The fact that my music has connected with people is an incredibly fulfilling feeling to me. This is the true beauty and power of music - it has this almost mystical ability to bring people of so many different backgrounds together. In a world that feels so divisive at the moment, we need more opportunities to come together and understand each other.

Music can show us that at our core, we are all far more similar than different.

jen5.jpeg

Fantasy, from the E.P., is a track that mirrors the political songs of your father’s heroes. Is Trump’s election, and the change in the nation, responsible for the song? What do you think about the way things are going in the U.S.?

I wouldn’t necessarily say that Fantasy was intentionally a political song but it did come about after the U.S.A. election happened - and several months after Brexit had already happened. The world felt very uncertain and scary for some time and I, instinctively, felt this pull to protect myself by not thinking about it. It takes a lot of energy and courage, I think, to truly face this kind of uncertainty head-on - and it’s so tempting and easy to just not think about it. That’s kind of what Fantasy ended up being about - this need to hide away and be left alone in my own world. In reality, this isn’t something I could ever allow myself to do because I’ve always been very politically engaged. In general, I’m really sad by how disconnected and divisive people seem to have become.

Unfortunately, it has seemed at times that Trump has fostered some of this divisiveness but it had already been steadily growing - even before he became President: it’s not like this just happened overnight. If there’s any positive out of any of this, it’s that it has inspired more people to become politically engaged than before and I can’t say that’s a bad thing - no matter what your political beliefs are. It’s brought a lot of important issues to the forefront: issues about money in politics, corruption; lobbying, etc. that I think people may not have been as aware of as they were before. I still hold a lot of hope that my country will find a way to grow from these dark times and come together even stronger than before. Sometimes, in order to grow, things have to get worse and fall apart first.

If nothing bad ever happened, we’d never grow and become better people - because we’d have nothing to learn from.

Talking about your dad; how influential was he, and his musical, tastes to you?

My dad has always been a music aficionado and many of the artists he used to play on his big stereo system while I was growing up now serve as some of my greatest inspirations. Artists like Crosby, Stills, & Nash; The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel.

Crosby, Stills, & Nash are still among my all-time favorite bands - Graham Nash, especially, has been such an inspiration lyrically to me. I read his biography last year and he spoke a lot about how he doesn’t waste time writing about things that aren’t important - he only writes about genuine issues and experiences and in accessible ways that people can relate to.

I feel the same way about writing and find that I often write sad and dark songs - but that’s because life just isn’t always happy and carefree! I feel that my time here is far too short to spend it not being who I am genuinely am. I don’t believe in faking anything. There is so much fake everything out there right now: fake news, fake media.

I think we’re all yearning for something more real to hold onto.

Aqu.jpg

 IN THIS PHOTO: Aquilo

Who are the new artists you suggest we check out?

Semi-new artists that I’m really into right now are AquiloRY X and Woodkid. I’ve also been listening a lot to Rosie Carney whom I’ve just discovered. A lot of her lyrics are about mental health and she’s open about her own struggles.

It’s this darker, more vulnerable side of artists that I seem to connect with and appreciate the most.

rosie.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: Rosie Carney/PHOTO CREDITDeborah Sheedy 

Do you have gigs coming up? Where can we come and catch you play?

I do!

I’m playing Liverpool at The Brink on Nov. 17th; Limerick, Ireland at The Stormy Teacup on Nov. 18th - and London at The Bedford on Nov. 28th (where I’ll be playing with a few strings!).

If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?

This is such a hard one!

Crosby, Stills, & Nash - Crosby, Stills & Nash

Because it’s one of those albums I grew up listening to and, also, because the lyrical and melodic genius is exemplified in so many of these tracks. Probably my favorite album of all time.

Norah Jones - Come Away with Me

Started listening to this one also because of my dad - but genuinely fell in love with it when I was a teenager. Whenever I couldn’t sleep or was feeling anxious, I’d always listen to this album - even now, I still do when I’m feeling stressed. She’s also such a Classic artist and an inspiration to me.

David LanzNightfall

My first inspiration for starting to write music. Leaves on the Seine will tear your heart apart with melancholy. This album reminds me of Sunday afternoons after getting back from church; lounging around the sunny living room with my family. One of the first albums I can remember that made me cry when I was a child without understanding why.

jen1.jpeg

What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?

1. Be prepared and willing to do a lot more than just make music. The modern music business is all about knowing how to operate independently. This means that you often have to be your own manager, P.R.; accountant, photographer; videographer, producer - and so on - before you might be able to start to afford to take other people on board.

2. Be genuine - people will connect with you more if you show them you’re a real human being like them.

3. Do not underestimate the power of interacting with your fans! At the end of the day, they are the most important part of all of this. They are the ones who will support you. Foster those connections and relationships in a genuine way. I make an effort to try to respond to everyone who comments or messages me. This takes a lot of time but is well worth it, plus I get to have truly fulfilling and meaningful conversations with people whom I may not otherwise have met.

Christmas is approaching. Do you all have plans already or will you be busy working?

Ah man…it’s only October!

I’m still preparing for Halloween. For Christmas, I will be in Liverpool with family - so not working over the holidays! However, as soon as the holidays are over, I’m back in the studio to start recording E.P.-two ….

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

London Grammar - Oh Woman Oh Man

Their new album is incredible! Hannah’s voice is just other-worldly.

Amazing.

_________

Follow Jennifer Ann

jen4.jpeg

INTERVIEW: Sonia Leigh

INTERVIEW:

SONIA2.jpeg

 Sonia Leigh

________

I have been lucky enough to spend some time…

sonia.jpeg

with Sonia Leigh. The Nashville-based artist talks to me about her new single, Walking in the Moonlight, and the tour dates she has coming up – there are a few U.K. dates she is especially pumped about. I ask about her music tastes and which artists, she feels, have contributed the most to her.

The Country singer-songwriter assesses the state of the U.S. and how she feels the nation is doing; artists she advises we listen to – a bit about how she will be spending Christmas and the remainder of the year.

SONIA LEIGH PHOTOS CREDIT: Anna Webber

________

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

Hi! I am just getting over the excitement of my first leg of shows in the U.K.!

Had a lot of band rehearsals: getting the band ready for the upcoming tours. Friday night was a blast - it was the first show kicking off my U.K. tour with Country Music Week. I got to headline at the Borderline and we had one hell of a show! The turnout was fantastic and everyone was in high spirits - was a great start! Last night was my first show on the Broken Witt Rebels tour. We kicked that off in Liverpool at Studio2 Parr Street.

Seriously; a smashing night - and it’s just the beginning! 

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

Hi. I’m Sonia Leigh; I live in Nashville, Tennessee. My music is a bit like Bruce Springsteen, Joan Jett; Fleetwood Mac, Johnny Cash - but with a Pop twist. I guess you could say I’m a wildcard in this music industry.

I’d say I’m the Mad Hatter. 

 

Walking in the Moonlight is your new single. What can you tell me about its background?

I began writing and engineering Walking in the Moonlight in my bedroom. I have a fascination with the moon. I crawl onto my roof all the time to look at the moon, drink wine and just think: it’s my happy place. This song has such a sweet, simple and innocent approach to love - it’s cute yet passionate.

It has very poetic lyrics and kind of paints this scenario. It’s probably the most ‘Pop’ song I’ve ever released. I wanted to put this song out as summer comes to an end. The solar eclipse just came and went - and we’ve had some beautiful full moons this year!

It felt appropriate. 

You have written big songs for the likes of Zac Brown Band. You are now a solo artist. Do you prefer stepping out on your own or do you still write for other artists?

I love performing and doing my own thing - but I do still write for other artists; I’ve got a song called Funk in the Country on Big and Rich’s new record! I’m excited about that. I’ve had my songs recorded by other artists, as well (that you will soon hear about). I love writing music: it’s who I have always been and who I am. 

Can we expect an E.P. or album in the coming months?

I’ll release a couple more singles and then my new record, Mad Hatter, which I co-produced and co-engineered. I am hoping to release by the end of this tour. I’ve just launched a Kickstarter campaign. You can get involved and help to support the record release and my U.K. tour. You can reorder the record along with loads of goodies:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sonialeigh/sonia-leigh-is-tryna-make-a-record https://www.kickstarter.chttps://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sonialeigh/sonia-leigh-is-tryna-make-a-record

sonia3.jpeg

The U.S. has seen a lot of turbulence and upset the past few days. How does it make you feel, as a musician, seeing the kind of scenes that have been in the news recently?

I am heartbroken and angered....

I’m embarrassed by (some of) humanity right now: we as PEOPLE should be. This is out of control everywhere - not just in America. However, I refuse to live in fear. I won’t be cornered into a cave. My love goes out to all that are lost every day all over the world due to violence and hatred. All we need is love.

I am sad to say my hope for harmony has taken a hit.

Steering away from that and I am interesting finding out how Country music came to you? Which artists were you exposed to as a child?

I grew up listening to Hank Williams, Willie Nelson; Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn; Alabama etc... and as time went on…Hank, Willie and 1990s Country were how I learned to play the guitar. My father played the guitar and I begged him to teach me chords. He taught me G, C and D and, once I got those down, I immediately began writing my own songs. My whole family were musical so I was surrounded by music.

I took the ball and ran with it as soon as I learned how to play the guitar. 

Nashville is where you are based. I guess it is the perfect place for an artist like you. What is the vibe like there?

I moved to Nashville five years ago from Atlanta, Georgia. I have made so many wonderful friends in the music industry there - so much talent in one place. It’s a very tight community. There are certain places the songwriters go after their day of songwriting to unwind. I like knowing we all have the same heartbeat. Nashville has its own heartbeat and its music - and a good night out drinking, of course. L.o.L.!  

Most everyone out there knows each other - because we’ve written songs together at one time or another. You get close to someone real quick in a room writing about some serious subjects, sometimes. It’s kinda like we’ve all seen each other vulnerable.

onia4.jpeg

Is it easy to put into words what it is about Country music that hits your heart? Why, do you think, the genre resonates inside of you?

All genres resonate with me...

What is great about Country, in particular, is the storytelling; the vulnerability and directness of a lyrics. If you notice the difference between Rock and Country are the poetic elements. If you get too fancy with Country it doesn’t work.

Best to just keep it simple and come right out and tell it like it is.  

I believe you are coming to the U.K. to tour with Katy Hurt and Friends and Broken Witt Rebels. How did that come about and are you looking forward to it?

I met the 'Rebels about a year-and-a-half ago when we were on a bill together for a Time Out magazine event at the Jazz Cafe. We hit it off. When they asked me to be a part of this tour, I jumped and the chance - because I knew it would be a blast and I’m a big fan. Those guys are going all the way. Katy Hurt and the Healers are like a family to me. We had a blast playing shows together this summer so we decided to make it a small tour in between our 'Rebels dates. They will be my band on the 'Rebels tour. We had our first run of shows with these guys and they are just an incredible band and individuals. They’ve treated us like gold. 

We are kicking down ass together on this tour!

Have you been to the U.K, before? Any particular dates you are especially looking forward to?

I have toured the UK quite a bit: it’s kind of become my second home! I am really excited about all of the dates - especially the Broken Witt Rebels...because this is the first time

We’ve gotten to tour together. We are having a blast so far!  I am excited about our Birmingham show and to see where Danny (the lead singer for B.W.R.)  is from. He’s offered to show us around his hometown - so I’m looking forward to that. 

dav.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: David Borné/PHOTO CREDITJason Lee Denton

Who are the new artists you suggest we check out?

Katy HurtDavid Borné; Jacob Thomas Jr., Jason Martin; Kree Harrison, Priscilla Renea; Shelly Fairchild, Crouss and Paul McDonald.

jacob.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: Jacob Thomas Jr.

There…that should keep you busy for a minute. Ha!

If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?

Darkness on the Edge of Town - Bruce Springsteen

Because it’s honest it’s raw - and it’s Rock and Roll. I learned a lot from listening to and watching Bruce perform.

Blood on the Tracks - Bob Dylan

It’s one of the greatest, most well-written records ever. I never get tired of it.

All Eyes on Me2Pac

I relate to the struggles of 2Pac - plus the production on this record Is dope! 2Pac was a fantastic writer. He was a poet he just wrote about what he saw - and he was brilliant at connecting that with all kinds of audiences. 

These are my go-to records - although, it’s so hard to leave out Fleetwood Mac and Sia etc... just so much great music that inspires me in different ways.

What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?

 Be you: there is no one else like YOU. Speak Your truth - and don’t apologize for your art.

sonia5.jpeg

Christmas is approaching. Do you have plans already or will you be busy working?

I am planning to go to Lucca, Italy to spend with my friend Carmen Vandenberg and her family! I went the year before last and it was the most relaxing, beautiful time.

I figured it would be the perfect ending to a long tour.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

Hurricane - Bob Dylan

It’s one of the most well-crafted songs: it’s a movie in a song. You wanna learn how to write a song?! Study the imagery in Hurricane.

Thank you very much for having me today!

__________

Follow Sonia Leigh

tv.jpeg

INTERVIEW: FEHM

INTERVIEW:

gasgsgsds.jpg

 FEHM

________

THE guys of FEHM have been pretty busy…

fehm3.jpg

which is why Human Age is actually their latest single – Last Breath was out when the questions were pitched. It doesn’t matter as the two songs are part of a double A-side. I get a glimpse into the background and stories of both– and what we can expect before the year is through.

The Leeds-based band talk about important albums and artists; how they have evolved in the past few years; what Leeds’ music scene is like right now – and what to expect from their upcoming L.P.

________

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

Paul: Aye. We’re all good, ta. Week’s been fine.

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

We're FEHM; a five-piece band in Leeds consisting of Paul, Amy; Ben, Chris and Darren (Denzel).  

Before I go on; can I ask what the inspiration behind ‘FEHM’ is?

I guess our inspiration is connected to bands and musicians coming out, predominantly, around the 1980s - from Post-Punk to Goth; to New-Wave etc.

It's the sound we're most connected to as a whole band.

 

Last Breath is out. What can you reveal about its story and start?

When we became a five-piece; we had a few songs separately. I had a song I'd written - and so did Darren. We changed the key of my song and merged the two together to fit for a verse and chorus. Ben went away and wrote the guitar riff the same night; myself and Amy worked on the vocal melody that week. The overall process of that song was generally extremely easy: it all just happened really quickly. After we had the shell and basis of the song; we started to go over it with a fine comb; the arpeggio intro. on the synth came around then.

We were also very close to recording the song, maybe a day or two, before and Ben had the idea of - after the breakdown - everyone stops and the guitar riff just plays by itself - and everyone kicks back in on the second bar. 

The lyrics I wrote over a period of time: some, when we first started making the song; some later. I work in a hospital and the song is fundamentally about seeing people in a lot of pain during their final days - they're looking for a release but, if they let go, it's the end. 

Human Age is the other side of the single. What was the idea behind a double A-side and is it good to be back after a bit of a break?

There wasn’t any specific idea behind doing a double A-side. When Ben and Denz joined the band, we just wrote these two songs pretty quickly and then recorded them. So, we’ve been sat on them for a while and we wanted something to bridge the gap between the Circadian Life E.P., and then, our album to come - so thought it was perfect.

It’s great to have the songs up and about for people to hear - as we’ve had them for months. 

Your debut L.P. is out later in the year. Can you tell us about the title and songs that will be on it?

We don't have any titles yet: we don't even have song titles.

Last Breath was called 'Merger' because we merged two songs together - right up until about a month ago when it became Last Breath.

Regarding the album; it'll consist of about ten/eleven songs. We've become a lot more Electronic in the past year - which is where our sound is pushing more towards. We have a saying that if the song doesn't feel 'hearty', then we scrap it. We want the songs to connect with you; make you feel how we feel when we write them...we're trying to find a euphoric sound that encapsulates sorrow with joy. 

So far, for the album, we probably have around six-eight songs: some, at the very (very) early stages; some closer to completion.

Darren: We've been concentrating on expanding our sound to write the album and developing ways of introducing new ideas and concepts. We want each song on the album to have a heart so, to achieve this, the chord progressions and melodies are designed to invoke certain feelings and different atmospheres. 

fehm8.jpg

How does your current material differ from your previous stuff? Have you made any changes since your earliest work?

Paul: Considerable changes...

Our last E.P. was when we were just a three-piece; which was myself, Amy and Chris: one guitar, one bass and drums. Now, with Denzel and Ben joining, we have a whole new arrangement of instruments - we collectively think about the progression and melodies of songs differently, too. 

Leeds is where you hail from. What is the city’s music scene like right now? Is it one of the best places to foster and evolve your music?

The music scene in whole is very good. Regardless of genre, everyone is connected to a few certain places like Wharf Chambers, The Brudenell; Temple of Boom etc. Some places cater a little more to a certain genre but, generally, everyone goes to all the same places - and everyone in Leeds gets behind each other a lot. 

Darren: From one perspective; I sometimes worry Leeds may be losing its industrial aesthetic. With an ever-increasing skyline of sparkly high-end developments and the abandoned 1970s high-rises; old factories almost all demolished - a strong source of inspiration that produced some of the world’s greatest Goth bands will disappear forever. I suppose we've always got the Roger Stevens building for our Ballardian dystopia fix.  

fehm2.jpg

Can you tell me how the band came together and what those early sessions were like?

Paul: Myself and Chris are brothers and we were in another band many years ago. After it ended, I took some time just writing a load of new music. Me and Amy have been together for around six years so us three decided to start the band around three year ago with a friend of mine. It was very aggressive early on. I used to pace around the stage and shout a lot. It was quite fun for a bit but, when you're writing quite basic music, it becomes tedious rather quickly. We even have a bunch of recorded tracks no one’s even heard before from around that time. I listened to one of them the other day - it's terrible.

My friend left the band and we just became a three-piece - and I went on the guitar. We started thinking more about the arrangements and melodies and spent a lot more time on each individual instrument - which is when we wrote the Circadian Life E.P. 

Funnily enough, even before the Circadian Life E.P., I was asking Ben and Darren to join. I've been asking them for a few years. 

Then, it finally happened: we became a five-piece. 

jsjsjhds.jpg

PHOTO CREDIT: Francesca Tirpak

Do you all share the same music tastes? Who are the bands and artists you were all raised on?

Darren: I'd say we all have a common interest in music from the 1980s but, maybe, prefer different versions of the 1980s. For instance, I'm really interested in the whole Synth. Britannia movement with bands like Depeche Mode; whereas others may be more inclined to the Post-Punk and avant-garde side of the era.

We've got all the bases covered and there's so much to explore from the decade. 

Paul: We all have a general love of everything 1980s: the style and culture, the way it was; the sound etc. So, we could list a million bands and musicians that we all love like Depeche Mode and New Order etc. - but we also all have different loves too. Some of us are into experimental music; some of us are into Rap music etc. I think if you pigeon-hole yourself into just liking a certain genre you’re subjecting yourself into missing out on something that could potentially be amazing. 

culture.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: Culture CT/PHOTO CREDITAaron J. Villa

Who are new acts you recommend we check out?

Beta-Blockers; Culture CT; Treeboy & Arc; The Boxing.

treey.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: Treeboy & Arc

If you each had to select the album that means the most to you; which would it be and why?

I’m afraid we just can’t do an album each…it’s too hard. This is a list of bands and artists that mean a lot to us; either collectively or singular.:

Lowlife, Sisters of Mercy; Cocteau Twins, Radiohead; The Cure, New Order; Depeche Mode, Protomartyr; The Horrors, The Sound; David Bowie; Siouxsie and the Banshees. 

WOMAN.jpg

PHOTO CREDIT: Francesca Tirpak

What tour dates do you have coming up? Where can we see you play?

28th Oct - Wharf Chambers – Leeds

5th Nov - The Brudenell - Leeds (w/Autobahn)

10th Nov - Off the Record – Manchester

19th Nov - The Brudenell - Leeds (w/Protomaytr)

22nd Nov - Broadcast - Glasgow (w/Autobahn).

Does the band have any time off scheduled for this year? Do you get a chance to disconnect from music?

We don’t really take time off, per se. We’ve shared a practice room at Temple of Boom in Leeds with Eagulls for a few years as we’re all mates - but we’ve just recently got our own room due to us writing an album and them writing their new album. We go down a few times a week as a band and we also go down in pairs or by ourselves - to work on certain parts etc.; so it’s pretty full-on in that sense. I wouldn’t say we get the chance to disconnect - but I don’t feel any of us want to do that either.

It’s just a part of who we are. 

fehm4.jpg

PHOTO CREDIT: Luke Hallett Photography

What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?

Listen to each other.

You could have the best guitarist in the world but, if you’re not gelling with everyone else, then what’s the point?! Be open: multiple minds are better than one. Don’t be too precious over something you’ve written. Don’t be afraid of letting someone else take it to somewhere you couldn’t think of.

Experiment and try new things. 

Finally, and for being good sports; you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

Darren: O. Children Heels

Paul: Lowlife - From Side to Side

Amy: The Sound - I Can’t Escape Myself

Ben: Cocteau Twins - A Kissed Out Red Floatboat

Chris: Vitas - 7th Element 2002

__________

Follow FEHM

fehm1.jpg

INTERVIEW: Adria

INTERVIEW:

promo.jpg

 Adria

________

I am envious Adria has the experience of Australia’s…

single.jpg

Gold Coast under her belt. She talks to me about moving from there to the U.K. and how life differs here. I ask her about the stunning new single, Gold Water, and her attachment to the ocean – her name derives from the Adriatic Sea. Gold Water is the hotly-anticipated follow-up to (2015’s) debut E.P., Shell. Adria discusses her musical rise and how much affected her from a young age.

I was curious to find out what the next step is and, in looking forward, a nod back to those artists that helped shape who she is.

________

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

Hey! It’s been great, thank you.

I am so happy to be able to finally release Gold Water into the world!

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

I’m a singer-songwriter from Australia - but I now live in London. I’m not quite sure what genre I fit into; so I’m just going to say ‘I write honest music’. Everything I write about is from personal experience. I’ve been writing music since I was super-young and I suppose that’s naturally evolved to who I am today and what I do.

Gold Water is your new single. Can you tell me about the song and how it came together?

The song was written in Sweden with music producers who I absolutely adore and are collectively known as Jane Rain. It started off as a beat and I just layered vocal ideas and melodies from until it felt right. The bones of the song were written quite quickly.

That usually happens with tracks I like the most.

The song follows a two-year break from music. What is the reason for the gap?

Life happened, I suppose.

I moved to London (from Australia) and went into hiding for a bit to travel; meet new people and experience new things.

I definitely got all that.

Was it natural returning to music or was it quite a long process putting Gold Water together?

No, it was very natural. Writing music is where I most feel like myself.

1W2A2659a look1 new2.jpg

Your name, ‘Adria’, is taken from the Adriatic Sea – your new song is about water. Do you have a connection to water/the sea? What is it about that setting that speaks to you?!

I’ve always had a deep connection with the ocean/the sea. I am unsure why that is the case, though. I was born in Perth, Australia - which is a coastal city - so I’ve always felt calm and at-peace whenever I’m surrounded by water.

My parents named me after the Adriatic Sea - which is probably quite fitting.

Even though you are based here; you were born in Australia. Why did you relocate over here?

I relocated for a change...

I don’t like to let myself get too comfortable or content - and I wanted new things to write about. 

As a teenager; you moved around a lot and spent time in various areas. Was music the solace and constant focus for you during this time?

Music has always, and will always be, my safe space and constant: it’s the one thing I know I can rely on no matter what is going on.

spotfy.JPG

Tell me which musicians are most important to you? Who do you look up to in terms of the impact they have made in music?

Natasha Khan (Bat for Lashes).

I think I listened to Two Suns on-repeat for a year; maybe, even two. She really taught me to have no boundaries and be a fearless and honest writer. I never knew that Pop music could truly be so creative and push the boundaries in the way that she did it. I love how involved she is in the writing process of her music and artistry.

That’s really important to me.

Is there going to be an E.P. next year, perhaps?

I hope so!

Which new artists do you recommend we check out?

I’m loving a rapper that goes by the name 6LACK.

black.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: 6LACK

If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?

Bat for LashesTwo Suns

Mariah CareyMusic Box

I had this album on-repeat for years when I was only just a child - so I could learn how to sing.

Amy WinehouseBack to Black

Her music was really something special. The honesty in her lyrics gets me every time.

banner.jpg

What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?

Keep doing what you love.

Christmas is approaching. Do you all have plans already or will you be busy working?

I will, most likely, be working!

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

Amy WinehouseLove Is a Losing Game

__________

Follow Adria

Adria GW promo 2.jpg

INTERVIEW: NATHASSIA

INTERVIEW:

pic.jpeg

NATHASSIA

________

SHE commands a huge fanbase and makes music that…

pic2.jpeg

gets people together and moving. I talk to NATHASSIA about her current single, Light of the World, and whether there will be new material soon. She reveals her musical tastes and how it feels being compared to Kate Bush; what the music scene is like in the Netherlands (where she originally is from) – and when music first came into her life.

I ask Nathassia to name albums that have been influential for her; whether the music industry lacks any real spark – and any other musician she recommends we check out.

________

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

Hi!

A bit hectic as I had a live show in Hull!

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

I like to transgress borders and mindsets with my music - by infusing traditional World music instruments with electronic sounds.

Can you reveal the story behind your new single, Light of the World

You've probably heard about A.I. and robotics. The song is about our future: when love merges with technology.

The video is quite trippy but features recorded street footage. Can you tell me more about how the video came together and what we are watching?

The street dancing was at Notting Hill Carnival - which was great fun. I chose that because it celebrates multiculturalism.

You self-produced your debut album alongside leading producers. Was it quite a challenging process – or did you learn a lot along the way?

It was actually a very enjoyable process - because I worked with producers I know well.

pic4.jpeg

Will there be more songs coming before next year?

Not this year: I've got a new album coming early-2018.

Your voice has garnered comparisons to the likes of Kate Bush. Is she someone you grew up with? What is it about her that appeals to so many singer-songwriters?

I have a memory, when I was a young child, when I saw the video for Wuthering Heights for the first time and was impressed and mesmerised by the way she was dancing - and loved the way she was singing.

I thought she sounded like a cat! (But I do love cats!)

Netherlands is where you were born. Did the country provide a lot of musical inspiration and what motivated the move to the U.K.?

Because of my mixed background; I grew up listening to classical Indian sounds and exotic South American music - whilst the Netherlands was a hub for Electronic music. I first moved to London for work experience for my studies (International Music Management).

After I completed that, I moved to London permanently to set up a recording studio and work on my album.

pic3.jpeg

Can you tell me how music first came into your life and which artists you grew up listening to?

I did my first show when I was three-years-old with a microphone from an old lorry that my dad brought home for me to play with - singing along to Gloria Estefan, Madonna; Bob Marley, UB40 and classical Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar (and Dutch artist Herman Brood).

Your music mixes Electronica and Pop (with other genres). It is fun and energetic. Do you think music lacks a certain spark and sense of fun right now?

Thanks! I don't think current music misses spark and fun - but I do feel that there aren't so many risks taken anymore.

san.jpg

IN THIS PHOTO: San Holo

Who are the new artists you suggest we check out?

Lost Horizons, San Holo and Satori.

If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?

Kraftwerk Radioactivity

Gloria Estefan - Alma Caribeña 

Nitin Sawhney - Beyond Skin

I (just) simply love all three and have played them a million times!

What advice would you give to artists coming through right now? 

Find local fans and work your social media incredibly hard.

pic5.jpeg

Do you have gigs coming up? Where can we come and catch you play?

The last two shows, as part of my Feel the Future Now U.K. tour, are in Brighton and Southampton.

In 2018, I will start my world tour.

Christmas is approaching. Do you all have plans already or will you be busy working?

I have plans to shoot a video in Spain for the next album.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

I'm very much into Progressive-House. My current favourite track is Emi Galvan - Memo

__________

Follow NATHASSIA

piv6.jpeg