INTERVIEW: Crimson Calamity

INTERVIEW:

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Crimson Calamity

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IT has been great speaking with Crimson Calamity...

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about their new single, First Snow, and why they decided to write something wintry. I discover how Crimson Calamity got together and whether there will be more material next year; what sort of music they are driven by and which rising artists we need to get behind.

Lauren and Mallory share favourite memories from their career and tell me what tour dates are coming up; the artists they’d support on the road if they had the chance – they select some cracking tracks to end things with.

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

Hey there! We are well. Thanks for asking. Just super-excited for the release of this single and the Holiday season!

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

Absolutely! We are Lauren and Mallory, a Roots-Rock/Americana duo called Crimson Calamity, living in Nashville.

First Snow is your new single. Was there a particular moment that inspired it - or did you want to create something with a winter/Christmas vibe?

We had wanted to write a Christmas song for some time and, when we finally sat down to do it, this idea of a loved one waiting for a soldier to come home developed. We wanted to make it somewhat timeless and not from one particular person’s perspective because love comes in many forms and so many people can relate. The Holidays can be such a wonderful happy time, but they can also leave people with a yearning or melancholy and we wanted to write something for the ones who wait.

Do you think there will be more material next year?

Absolutely! We are currently writing for our next E.P. and we will be back in the studio March 2019.

How did Crimson Calamity start? What brought you together?

We met in college and did a lot of collaborating over the years. We decided to form our band in 2014 when we were participating in a monthly songwriting challenge that led to us writing two songs inspired by Calamity Jane. They would give us different themes to write about. One particular month’s theme was to write about a historical event or person. The songs sparked the idea for the band so we decided to use her as our namesake in tribute.

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In terms of music; which artists are you drawn to?

We are both drawn to artists in many different genres but as an influence on our band we are drawn to old-school stuff: Fleetwood Mac, Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash. However, there are also artists in our generation that we love: Brandi Carlile, The Civil Wars; The Lone Bellow, Jamestown Revival; Grace Potter, Jason Isbell and Cam - artists who are telling stories and creating unapologetic, organic and timeless music.

As Christmas is coming; what one present would you each like if you could have anything?

Lauren: If I could have anything?! I think I would ask for a new car...probably a Tesla SUV. Is that selfish? Should I have asked for world peace?

Mallory: Teslas ARE really nice! I think, for me, a gift card to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods - large enough for me to buy healthy food from for a few months. I’ve been naughty lately. Too much sugar.

Do you already have plans for 2019?

We do! We have a show at The Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles on 1/22 at 7 P.M. and then we are headed to the Sundance Film Festival. We are going to be touring, writing and recording the new record in March.

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

Recording our last record was a pretty special memory. We had original band members out from the West Coast and we recorded for the first time at The Sound Emporium here in Nashville. Everything came together in such a special way and we were just pinching ourselves because we felt so lucky.

Which one album means the most to each of you would you say (and why)?

Lauren: I feel like I have had different albums mean the most to me at different times in my life but one that sticks out would have to be Mumford & Sons’ first record, Sigh No More. The lyrics on that record just hit me like a ton of bricks and really resonated with me. That time in my life wasn’t the easiest and it helped me through. One of my favorite lyrics of all time is “There will come a time you’ll see, with no more tears/and love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears/Get over the hill and see what you find there with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair”.

Mallory: This is such a hard question! There are so many albums I love top to bottom. I’m not sure I can pick just one...I think it might be a tie between Aerosmith’s Nine Lives because it’s a symphony of Rock and Roll and I love Steven Tyler…and I still think Sheryl Crow’s self-titled album is a masterpiece. Every single song is absolutely killer. Redhead by Bleu and the ’90s Romeo + Juliet soundtrack are honorable mentions.

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

It’d be so fun to open for an artist like Harry Styles or Chris Stapleton. They’re both amazing writers and vocalists. We also are huge into supporting the ladies so someone like Cam, Kacey Musgraves or Grace Potter would also be amazing. As far as a rider goes, please have whiskey, wine or both. Neat and red respectively.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Calamity Jane has a quote: “If a girl wants to be a legend, she should just go ahead and be one”. That really resonates with us because being a woman in the entertainment business isn’t always a walk in the park and we oftentimes have to fight twice as hard to even get heard. It’s so important to hone your craft and know your business. Don’t let anyone try to tone down your voice and don’t be afraid to take up space in this industry.

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

We do! We will be at Knoxville’s Blue Plate Special WDVX on Dec 15th. We are also playing a show in Franklin, TN that night at The Pond. At Truck & Tap in Alpharetta, GA on Jan 13th and, again, you can catch us at The Hotel Cafe in L.A. on 1/22 plus more to come! The best way to keep up with our shows is to follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@crimsoncmusic).

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Lennon Stella

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Lauren: I am loving Lennon Stella’s new music. She is so talented and I can’t wait to see where she goes.

Mallory: Totally agree. Lennon Stella’s new record is fantastic. Also, local Nashville band The Foxies. They totally rock. Look out for them.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: The Foxies

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

Fortunately, we are both obsessed with music so we don’t need much chill time away, but I’d say we both like to hang with our significant others and our dogs. We love to go see shows and go out for dinner and drinks too. Taking time for self-care is something we are both trying to be better at. We’re definitely guilty of energizer bunny mode.

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

Lauren: Mockingbird by Ruston Kelly

 

Mallory: Horns by Bryce Fox

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INTERVIEW: The Fame

INTERVIEW:

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PHOTO CREDIT: Avalon Mohns 

The Fame

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I have been speaking with The Fame...

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about their debut single, Wide Awake, and what its story is. They tell me how the band formed and what we can expect from their approaching E.P. – the guys reveal albums important to them and rising artists that are worth a shout.

I was keen to discover which artists influence them and whether there are upcoming tour dates; what they would like for Christmas and which artists they’d support given the chance – they select some cool tracks to end the interview with.

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

Really busy. We just released our debut single - and we’ve been swamped with lots of things that need to get done. But, other than that, it’s been good.

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

Yes. We are a four-piece Indie-Rock band from Toronto, Canada. We have been around for about two years, and we all come from different backgrounds and walks of life.

Wide Awake is your debut single. Is there a story behind it?

Not really. It’s just a song about how people perceive themselves and the world around them. The happenings of everyday life; walking around in your own shoes...especially during hard times or the periods in your life when you feel like you have nothing good or redeeming to grasp onto.

I know an E.P. is coming next year. Can you reveal any themes or ideas behind the songs?

The songs are just about real things. Real emotions, real feelings and real thoughts; stuff everybody goes through. Besides that, there isn’t really a theme behind the E.P.

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What was it like working with Brian Moncarz on the E.P.?

It was a great experience. Brian saved us as a band. We had tried recording about seven or eight times before working with him and it was going nowhere until we sent him our demo tapes - and he loved them. He gave us a new perspective and did an amazing job with this E.P. He’s experienced, and knows what he’s doing. Can’t say enough good things about him.

When did The Fame get together? How did you find one another?

We were four best friends in high-school who grew up on the same street together and decided to form a ba…nah. Our story is far from that. I, Brandon answered an ad on Craigslist looking for a rhythm guitarist for a new band and, in that band, I met Yu, who was the lead guitarist. We became friends and, when that band was falling apart we decided to leave and start our own band. We put ads up online looking for a bassist and, through one of the people who answered the ad, we met Andrew who joined the band full-time after subbing in on bass for our first show.

After trying out a succession of drummers, we met Rodrigo who had just moved from Chile to Canada and became roommates with Yu in the same house. He was a music educator in Chile. Our current drummer at the time quit and the rest, as they say, is history…

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In terms of music; which artists are you drawn to?

We all have our own preferences and influences but, as a band, we’re most drawn to artists like: The Beatles, Velvet Underground; Neil Young, Nirvana; Oasis, White Stripes; Strokes, Arctic Monkeys; Smashing Pumpkins and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

As Christmas is coming; what one present would you each like if you could have anything?

I think we would all like some new amps and some Long & McQuade gift cards. Haha.

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Do you already have plans for 2019?

Yeah. We’ve got two more singles to drop in the New Year and then the full E.P. which we are expecting to release around March/April. We’re also starting to line up a bunch of shows for the New Year as well.

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

Touring is always the most fun but also anytime we’ve got to play at the Horseshoe in Toronto is great. Especially the time it was nearly sold out; that was incredible.

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Which one album means the most to each of you would you say (and why)?

There are SO many albums we could name but, for the sake of this interview, four albums that are important to each of us are: The Beatles - The Beatles (White Album); Oasis - Definitely Maybe; Nirvana - In Utero and Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

Each of these albums has its own distinctive identity - and that’s part of the reason why they are so important to us. Each has inspired us as composers and as musicians. There are so many more we wish we could mention like The Strokes, Velvet Underground; Arctic Monkeys, Smashing Pumpkins; Sonic Youth, White Stripes etc., but we’ll save those for the next interview sometime down the road.

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

Paul McCartney or Neil Young, for sure. Who knows how much longer they will be touring, so we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to open up for one of them. They are both huge inspirations for us. Oh...and definitely NO brown M&M’s.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Write lots of songs and play as many shows as you can.

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

Nothing we can announce yet, but lots of dates in the works. We are just coming off a sold-out show at the Cameron House in Toronto.

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Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

We’ve been listening to The Beaches, Dirty Nil; MIGHTY, DIIV; Ready the Prince and Crown Lands recently. All very good.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Crown Lands/PHOTO CREDIT: Kurt Cuffy

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

We each have our own ways of unwinding. But, mostly, just hanging with friends or family. Going to shows or concerts; taking in the art/film scene in Toronto. Music is an important part of each of us, so we never really get away from it.

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

Sounds good! Here’s what were all feeling today:

The Strokes - Automatic Stop

Red Hot Chili Peppers - My Lovely Man

The Beatles - I Want You (She’s So Heavy)

Black Sabbath - Hole in the Sky

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INTERVIEW: The Yacht Club

INTERVIEW:

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The Yacht Club

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THE guys of The Yacht Club...

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have been revealing how they found one another and what we can expect from their upcoming album, The Last Words That You Said to Me Have Kept Me Here and Safe. They discuss the emotional and personal story behind their single, Heigham Park, and what it was like putting together its video.

The chaps highlighttheir favourite albums and the music that matters most; which rising artists we need to get behind and whether there are any gigs approaching – they each pick a great song to end the interview with.

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

Jack: Stressful but good! Some friends of ours opened a new recording studio on Saturday (@thebookhousestudio on Instagram) and I spent a lot of last week helping them get the space sorted for the opening day.

Marcus: Very busy, very tiring! I had a lovely chat to the Such Great Heights podcast about all things musical which should be out in a couple of weeks. I’ve also been rehearsing with another band I play in (Employed to Serve) for our upcoming tour.

Alex: Good, thanks! Been getting some artwork ready for the band’s Japanese release.

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

Jack: I’m Jack and I play guitar and sing.

Marcus: I’m Marcus and I also play guitar and sing!

Alex: Hey, I’m Alex - I play drums live and also do keys on our recordings.

How did The Yacht Club form? What attracted you to one another?

Jack: I actually only joined the band two years ago, but I went to school with Alex and know the rest of the guys through him. I covered bass duties whilst Alex was away on another tour, so when our old guitarists left, I guess I was an obvious choice for the others.

Marcus: T.Y.C. was a way of writing songs for myself and not for anyone else. I had spent a few years doing the session musician thing in London and had really been neglecting my own artistic expression. I just wanted to make music like all my favourite bands and I think my own words to Tom (who has recorded all of our music to date) were “I wanna be just like Pennines!” I met Ali (Alex who plays drums) on a music course we were doing and played in a band together briefly, so when T.Y.C. came around it was a perfect fit.

Whilst I say it was a solo project, Ali has been there for every recording; played drums and keys on it all and been there since pretty much the very start.  I lived with Alex (bass) when I was at uni and met Jack through him! Whilst the line-up has had people come and go, this one feels very natural.

Alex: Myself and Marcus met at ICMP in 2011 for a Live Event Management project. We’ve been writing music together ever since! Marcus got me on-board for drums on ‘A’ in late 2012 (initially a solo project). Also, Marcus looks more like my brother than my actual brother. P.M. us for proof.

Heigham Park is out. What is the story behind it? What was it like putting the video together?

Marcus: Heigham Park was written about dealing with losing one of my closest friends, Blythe, to suicide. The park itself is somewhere we would go after school and during the summer. There are a lot of special memories associated with that place and now there’s a bench there in his memory. It’s one of the most honest and upfront songs I think I have ever written, let alone one that appears on the record. The idea and demo for the song has existed for about three years in its most basic form. It went through a few stylistic changes before arriving at its current form! I’ve had the second half of the chorus and the first verse since the start though.

The video was fun to do! The live shots were taken in this really cool space we hired out off of Brick Lane. However, the drums were far too loud so we could only get two takes! The woodland area was the same day as another video shoot our director (Andy Curd - Kamaji Studios) was involved with the same day! It was a tight squeeze to fit it in with our schedules but I’m really happy with how it has turned out.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Alfredo Guzman

The Last Words That You Said to Me Have Kept Me Here and Safe is out in January. What sort of themes and ideas inspired the record?

Marcus: The whole album was written over a period of immense grief and sadness following Blythe’s death. He was the only one of my friends who I could talk so openly about mental-health and the problems we shared and, when he went, it was like that lifeline was severed. Towards the end of the writing process, I also lost my father very suddenly too and this made its way into a few last-minute lyrics and musical ideas. Not only do you start questioning your own mortality when losing someone so suddenly, but it brings every life choice you have made so far into question.

So, naturally, my writing reflects this. It’s an album of recovery and realising you do have people there for you, even if the ones you thought would stand by you didn’t - and making your way through to the other side.

In terms of music; which artists are you drawn to?

Jack: I grew up listening to a lot of Metal and Hardcore, which is something I’m still very much into, but I guess my main interests musically are Punk/Emo bands and singer-songwriters. Death Cab for Cutie are a massive influence on all of us and I really love bands like Joyce Manor and Charly Bliss. In terms of singer songwriters, boygenius and each of the members’ solo projects are huge sources of inspiration for me.

Marcus: I will always and forever go back to City and Colour. Dallas Green really shaped my songwriting and singing from a young age. I like a lot of bands that can instil emotion and have clever production such as Death Cab For Cutie, Jimmy Eat World and a lot of Owen records. But, then again, I’m a big fan of that noodly guitar playing! Into It Over It do this so well whilst maintaining excellent choruses and not being over the top with it.

Alex: For me, Jimmy Eat World was the first band that I got obsessed with. The first song I heard was Sweetness when I was twelve. I used to be into far more ‘technical-for-the-sake-of-it’ music; now, I’m more drawn to creatively-simple artists. A teacher once said “The simplicity on the other side of complexity”.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Simon Treasure

As Christmas is coming; what one present would you each like if you could have anything?

Jack: If money (and space) weren’t a problem I’d have a Fender Quad Reverb.

Marcus: I’m a boring adult; so really valuing good kitchen equipment these days...

Alex: I really want to get back into drawing, so a new drawing pad and a set of pencils. That or a cast iron pan.

Do you already have plans for 2019?

Jack: We absolutely do! We’re looking to play a load more shows once the album is out and are all really desperate to get on the festival circuit!

Marcus: Touring and playing a whole lot more. I just want to get this record out to as many people as I can! Already a few demos deep into the next release, so I’m excited to get that started.

Alex: We’ve been working on some piano versions of the tracks, so potentially a cheeky acoustic release could be in the works in between albums.

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

Jack: Recording gang vocals for the last track on the album. We did a lot of overnight sessions with our friend, Tom Hill, and the (sometimes-stressful) late nights made things quite difficult, as well as the distance between us whilst we were recording. It was the first time we’d all been together in such a long time and there was such a sense that everything had come together and had clicked.

Marcus: Sounds cliché and obvious but listening back to the first bounces we received from the album. Recording this album was such a landmark moment not only for the band, but for ourselves as well. With an unsteady line-up, we had not really been a band on the outside world for the best part of a year. I had recently moved to Norwich after my father passed whilst everyone else was back in London so recording and writing was plagued with delays due to distance and me touring heavily with a band called Ducking Punches. But we did it. I’m super-proud of everyone for making this the best thing we’ve ever done.

Alex: Tracking drums for this album at Holy Mountain Studios in Hoxton last August. Four days of drum production geekery and storming off saying “I hate this track”; forgetting I was on my own in public wearing my favourite Chuckle Brothers T-shirt.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Alfredo Guzman

Which one album means the most to each of you would you say (and why)?

Jack: For me, probably Casually Dressed & Deep in Conversation by Funeral for a Friend. That was the first album that I was ever super-into and it got me into a load of music that I still really love today. Their farewell shows in London were the same weekend as my birthday and being at those shows with my brother are really special memories to me.

Marcus: Bring Me Your Love by City and Colour. This was the album that really pushed me into writing and singing and really shaped my musical tastes. It was the album that taught me it’s ok to not be ok and I am so thankful for that.

Alex: Always a tough one. Easy answer would be Clarity by Jimmy Eat World because I was at the right point in my life to be listening to that album. De-Loused at the Comatorium by The Mars Volta opened my mind as to what was possible with drumming and also music.

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

Jack: Julien Baker. Both her albums are incredible and she puts on an amazing show. I’d also love to know what her live setup is!

Marcus: Jimmy Eat World, for sure. They’ve had such an impact on all of us and it’d be a truly bucket-list moment. For the rider, I’d have a crate of Vego bars and Temple of Seitan burgers.

Alex: Been loving what Lianne La Havas does for a while - pure talent; otherworldly.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Alfredo Guzman

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Marcus: Have fun, be positive and keep an open mind through the whole process. You might start making music in one genre and decide another one is more to your liking! Listen to as much music as you can, and be respectful to everyone.

Alex: Cliché, but have fun! That’s why we all started loving music, keep it that way. Keep curious and actually listen to music, not just background noise.

Jack: Say ‘yes’ to as much as you can - you never know where an opportunity will take you; be willing to compromise with other musicians you work with and have fun!

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

Marcus: We have a couple of launch shows for the album coming up! 26th January at the Sebright Arms in London and 2nd February at The Steam Packet in Norwich. We’ve also got an intimate acoustic show on the 14th January which you’ll hear about soon.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Dryjacket/PHOTO CREDIT: @walk.into.the.light

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Jack: No Stranger, Dryjacket and Don’t Worry.

Alex: Christof van der Ven.

Marcus: Spanish Love Songs, Marigolds and Shadowboxer.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Marigolds/PHOTO CREDIT: Tom Seago

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

Marus: Music is my full-time job, so it really does take over all parts of my life! If I have some time to unplug, nothing beats lasting an afternoon playing Skyrim with multiple cups of tea.

Alex: Loads! I unwind with a casual run around parks in N.W. London. That or lose myself in a book at a new café I’ve discovered on a random walk.

Jack: I don’t really do much else, honestly. I left my job last year to go back to university and study music and also to give me more time to focus on making music. Unwinding for me is usually putting something relaxing on and hanging out with my dog - City and Colour’s most-recent live album is a current favourite for this

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

Jack: Great Grey Towers by No Stranger

Marcus: Friends in Theory by Tommy Boys

Alex: London by Third Eye Blind

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INTERVIEW: RØMANS

INTERVIEW:

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RØMANS

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I have been chatting with RØMANS...

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about his current single, Oxygen, and how it started life. He shares a precious music memory and tells me what he has in store for next year; a few approaching acts we need to look out for and the albums that have inspired him.

RØMANS tells me how he spends time away from music and how he feels he has developed since the start of his career; what advice he would give to new musicians coming through and the artist he would like to support on tour – he ends the interview by selecting a great track.

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

Hi, there. It’s been a great week so far (1:45 P.M. on a Monday).

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

Sure. I’m Romans; a songwriter, producer and singer. I’m from London but spend most of my time in L.A. writing and producing for other people. I can’t really put a label on the music I make for myself: it’s just an output for my personal taste; I don’t really have a specific genre that I make. I just love music and try to do whatever I’m feeling like at the time. 

Oxygen is your latest single. It is a slightly softer sound. What is the inspiration behind it?

To add some light to dark. I try and avoid repeating sounds so the piano ballad is always a good option to mix things up a bit. I wanted to play around with old sounds, hence the Mellotron. I was listening to I Don’t Believe in Miracles by Colin Blunstone that day.

Will there be an album or E.P. next year?

The music I’m putting out at the moment is an album; I’m just putting it out separately. I feel like no one has the time for a body of work anymore. I’m working on a new album that will come out in some format next year too.

How do you think your work has developed and evolved since the start of your career?

I think I’ve just owned being androgynous with my sound. I was always concerned with being considered a confused artist and then I remembered I literally don’t give a f*ck.

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Can you give me an idea of the artists, older and new, who inspire you and compel your own sound?

Absolutely. There are so many. From Rachmaninov and Chopin to The Beatles and Dylan to Stevie and Donny Hathaway; to Kanye and Childish Gambino. There’s not really a great deal of music I don’t like and get inspired by. 

Do you already have plans for 2019?

I do indeed. It consists of writing for some great artists, developing some newer ones and finishing my next album. 

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

Sitting at the piano with Elton John and writing a song will probably never be topped. 

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Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?

The BeatlesThe Beatles (‘The White Album’)

This was probably my awakening as an ‘artist’. It’s the first time I ever looked at songs as more than just melodies I liked. 

Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life

Offensively-brilliant album. Every song is a work of art. One of the greatest artists in history in his absolute prime.

Kanye West - The College Dropout

Played it until the C.D. warped. Mind-blowing album. Possibly the greatest debut album ever.

As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present what would it be?

Great question. I want the Back to the Future sneakers. The original ones.

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IN THIS PHOTO: RØMANS alongside Lewis Capaldi (left) and Ghosted (centre)/PHOTO CREDIT: @RØMANS

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

I want to support Susan Boyle. My rider is as follows: three cans of Appletiser - cans not bottles. Hummus (avec crudités). A PlayStation V.R. headset (I will provide the PlayStation). A golden retriever puppy. An ornamental bullfighting statue. Four blunts. A Funfax organiser. A Chicken Salad sandwich from M&S.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Do whatever you want. Only listen to your gut and pray to God that you have good taste.

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

Not currently...

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IN THIS PHOTO: Aj Mitchell

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Aj Mitchell, Maisie Peters; L Devine and Eyelar

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IN THIS PHOTO: Maisie Peters  

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

Not a lot of time - because it’s my job and hobby. I do eventually get burnt-out and take a forced holiday which I always end up enjoying. 

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

Thank you! I choose Dunes by Alabama Shakes

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INTERVIEW: Alex Parvenu

INTERVIEW:

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Alex Parvenu

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THE excellent Alex Parvenu...

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has been telling me about his new single, It Wasn’t Me, and what its story is. I ask which artists and albums have made an impact on him; which rising musicians we need to watch out for – he reveals plans and ambitions for 2019.

Parvenu talks about his approaching E.P., Blue Summer, and tells me which artist he’d support on tour given the chance; the advice he would give to artists emerging and how he relaxes away from music – he ends the interview by selecting a great song.  

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

Hey. I’m good, not too bad thanks. My week has been alright; I mean, I’m trying to live my life like it’s golden but, right now, it’s sort of bronze, so you know...but I’m alive; that’s the most important part.

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

Sure thing! I’m Alex, the parvenu; also known as ‘Alex Parvenu’; also known as ‘Mr. Contemporary Soul’, A.K.A. ‘MC Aleco’; A.K.A. ‘Roots, Rock, Reggae’; ‘Mr. in Slow Motion’; also known as the ‘Black Bohemian’ and sometimes referred to as ‘Mr. It Wasn’t Me’.

It Wasn’t Me is your latest track. I assume it wasn’t inspired by the Shaggy track?! What is the tale behind your song?

I love the Shaggy and Rikrok record but, no, my ‘It Wasn’t Me’ tells a completely different tale. Musically, it was inspired by Motown classics - most notably My Girl by The Temptations. Lyrically, it’s about falling in love with somebody, but their family; their parents, particularly their father, doesn’t approve of you or your perceived influence on their kin.

Blue Summer is out next year. What might we expect from the E.P.?

Yes it is - and I’m excited to finally put out a body of work. You can expect some contemporary Soul; some Roots-Reggae; a little Hip-Hop and a young, black man from London wearing his heart on his sleeve. And, while I’m definitely excited about putting out Blue Summer, I’m even more excited about the body of work that’s coming out after that and new collaborators I’m working with.

Can you give me an idea of the artists, older and new, who inspire you and compel your own sound?

I grew up listening to whatever my dad was playing...so, Paul Simon, Fela Kuti; Bob Marley, Aretha Franklin; Peter Tosh, James Brown – all great artist, playing with live bands. Being a kid in the '90s, meant that I was exposed to the biggest records and artist of the day: TLC, Spice Girls; Fugees, Lauryn Hill; Tupac, Big; Michael Jackson and OutKast. I’ll say their work is all interwoven somewhere in my musical D.N.A. In my late-teens, I was listening to Amy Winehouse, Kanye; Mos Def; Talib Kweli and John Legend.

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I guess I also revisited more vintage records made by The Temptations, Curtis Mayfield; Donny Hathaway, Chaka Khan etc. Contemporary artist I’m excited about are Solange, CeeLo Green; André 3000, Raphael Saadiq; Leon Bridges and Jah9. If I had to narrow the list of musical influences down, I would probably go with Lauryn Hill, the Fugees; Paul Simon, Bob Marley and the Temptations.

Did your family encourage your musical talents? When did you get into music?

Unfortunately, I can’t say they did...although my love for music was definitely inspired by dad’s taste in music and the fact he was an aspiring pianist. Both my mum and dad pushed academia; they did this with love, so I’m not mad at them. I can’t help but wonder sometimes, if I had their support behind my musical endeavours, how much of a difference this would have made. This is something that can’t be changed, so I’m not holding a grudge but it will be important for me when I have my own kids to ensure I encourage the things they are passionate about.

Obviously, one must exercise tact and discretion here, but if you’re able to support your children’s dreams, goals and aspirations, they grow up with a confidence and a self-absurdness that is unparalleled. I’ve been into music and around music for as long as I can remember. My parents tease me all the time about how obsessed I was with Paul Simon’s Graceland album, which I guess my dad was playing a lot when I was a kid.

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Do you already have plans for 2019?

It Wasn’t Me has two more versions which we’re putting out…

Essentially, they’re remixes but, because they’ve been produced by solid producers I like to call them Part II and Part III. Chevi JReid produced Part II. He’s best known for producing Chun-Li and Barbie Tingz for Nicki Minaj and Rory Stone Love, from legendary Jamaican sound system Stone Love, produced Part III. I’m going to be doing more work with these guys in 2019 so I’m hyped about that.

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

Oh, so many but, right now, the first thing that comes to mind is the first time I connected with Tom Elmhirst. This was before he moved to N.Y., so he was working out of Metropolis Studios in London. He had heard one of my demo records and invited me down to Metropolis and asked me to bring more of my music. I remember being in awe as he took a break from mixing a Florence and the Machine record to listen to my stuff; seeing him rock back and forth to my music playing through the studio monitors was a magical moment for me.

Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?

Paul Simon’s Graceland

Because this is the first music I remember hearing; I don’t remember life without this album. My parents say, as a baby, I wouldn’t get in the car unless they had the tape playing.

Secondly would have to be Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Because this was a defining moment for me as a kid. All my friends were listening to Craig David or Another Level...or whatever else we young kids were listening to at the time. But I, for whatever reason, took a liking to Lauryn Hill and used my pocket money to buy The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It was the first record I ever bought. And it became the soundtrack to my growing up. I never understood the lyrics then as I do now, as an adult, but that record is a true celebration and amalgamation of genres I love: Soul, Hip-Hop; Reggae...all fused together with stellar musicianship and great lyricism.

As for number-three; I can’t choose a third as there are too many other albums to choose from that I love - but Graceland and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill definitely left their unparalleled mark on me.

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As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present what would it be?

I think now, as an adult, if I wanted something (a gift), I’d just go and buy it myself. The best part about receiving presents is definitely the spontaneity of it all and the thought that goes behind a gift. However, if I had to make one Christmas wish, I would wish I could feel how I felt last Christmas: being in love during Christmas is magic to the nth-degree.

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

Well. Lauryn Hill is always touring. I think it would be dope to support her and the Jay-Z and Beyoncé tour, OTR II, looks incredible.

As for my rider; I’m pretty easy-going. Loads of fresh fruit and veg, healthy snacks and a kettle and a teapot. I’d try and keep all other tempting beverages and stuff away as ‘moderation’ isn’t a word in my dictionary.

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

Keep an eye on my website and my social media (@alexparvenu). 2019 dates will be published on there.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Focus on making incredible music. expect nothing and appreciate everything.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Tara Harrison

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Yea. Check out Tara Harrison. I’m loving her vibe.

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

Absolutely. Music is just one facet of my creativity; I’m writing a children’s book and a memoir, so those pieces are keeping pretty busy. I also enjoy long walks; sometimes I do up to ten miles a day – walking definitely helps to clear my mind.

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

Thanks, okay. So, I’m going to select Bob Marley & The Wailers(Baby We’ve Got a Date) Rock It Baby, because it has special meaning to me and reminds me of somebody who was special to me

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INTERVIEW: Mauwe

INTERVIEW:

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Mauwe

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IT has been cool speaking with Portia and Jay of Mauwe...

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about their new single, Balcony Dreams, and what its story is. They tell me how Mauwe came to be and what sort of music they are influenced by; the rising artists we need to follow and whether they have anything lined up for 2019.

The guys select albums important to them and tell me about how they chill away from music; what advice they would give to any musicians coming through and what they would each like for Christmas.

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

Portia: Great, thank you! Just recovering after a couple of shows this week and looking forward to continuing with writing in a few days. 

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

Jay: Sure. We're Jay and Portia, A.K.A. 'Mauwe', and we make something between Electronica and Indie-pop. We released our first E.P. earlier this year and just released our newest single, Balcony Dreams, in November. 

How did Mauwe get together? When did you start making music?

Portia: Haha. Well, we'd known of each other for years - having both grown up in the same town in the Midlands. We played a couple of the same shows with separate projects, worked at the same restaurant for a little while and I think maybe even did the same course at college but never really talked about music or writing.

Then, we ended up in Bristol separately about two years ago and decided to just jam together for the first time. We recorded a cover of Elvis' Can't Help Falling In Love for fun that first day and decided we should see what we could come up with. I think we wrote our first song, Smoked a Pack, about two weeks later. 

Balcony Dreams sounds like a positive song! What inspired it and does it relate to personal experience?

Jay: Yeah, definitely. We naturally tend to write mostly from experience, like, things we're going through at the time. This one's about chasing that dream, whatever it might be, and having the strength to defy anyone who says you should 'get a safe job' because it might not work out. I based the production around that recording of the London Underground and we kind of grew the lyrics around that. 

Do you think there will be more material next year?

Portia: 100%. We've got a few new tracks that we can't wait to share as well as some that we're currently working on. Definitely feeling pretty inspired at the moment.

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In terms of music; which artists are you drawn to?

Portia: It's quite eclectic; especially combining both our tastes. But we love Jon Bellion, Vallis Alps and Louis the Child to name a few. Definitely going through a massive Nao phase - I never caught on when she first burst on the scene.

How important is Bristol and a base and its music scene?

Jay: Love it here. It's always got something going on but there's also space to chill and be yourself/clear your head, which I think is pretty important for creativity. So many great artists come through here too and it's got its history of introducing really good music to the world. Generally, a really inspiring place. 

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As Christmas is coming; what one present would you each like if you could have anything?

Jay: Haha, I don't know. Is a tour bus too much?

Portia: I keep getting bullied by various friends saying I'm a musician who doesn't have a Hi-Fi in their room, so I'm planning on changing this once and for all!

Do you already have plans for 2019?

Jay: Yes! As we mentioned, we've got some new music on the way, as well as a couple of music videos. We're also in the midst of expanding our live set-up, which we can't wait to show off in the New Year.

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

Portia: I think our show at Sixty Million Postcards in Bournemouth was pretty spectacular. Some people had travelled for several hours to get there and it was the first time we really saw how the music had actually connected with real people. It's one thing to see plays on Spotify and YouTube or whatever, but it's obviously amazing seeing real people singing our songs back at us.

Which one album means the most to each of you would you say (and why)? 

Portia: That is such a hard question. I'd say probably either the first or second 1975 album. When I first learnt to drive and I was going through a break up, I would only listen to those two albums on-repeat and I feel like they saw me through exciting times (peaceful times) and also gut-wrenchingly sad times. They were both the soundtrack to freedom for me in so many senses. 

Jay: This is impossible to answer, but if I have to choose it's probably Jack Garratt's Phase. It's got such a good balance of energy and great song writing, and most importantly I'm still yet to get bored of it. 

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

Portia: Oooh. Jon Bellion? And rider would include hummus at the very least. Probably some honey J.D.; a couple of meal deals and definitely some chocolate. Maybe some pain au chocolate for the morning? (Jay's obsessed).

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Jay: Don't sit around and wait for inspiration to hit you. Those moments do come and they're magical but so many great things have happened when we've just sat down and started creating or writing. Sometimes, nothing comes of it but at the very least it keeps your head in that space and keeps you practicing your craft. 

Portia: Believe, believe, believe in yourself and focus on your own journey.

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

Jay: Until we've finished creating our new set-up, everything live is on-pause, but we've got some great plans for the New Year!

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Another Sky

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Jay: Another Sky are making waves at the moment; their songwriting and production is great. FARR also have some smooth tunes that deserve a lot more attention. 

Portia: Pinegrove. They're not particularly new but I don't think enough people know about them. 

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IN THIS PHOTO: Pinegrove

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

Jay: I kind of feel like music IS unwinding. There's a whole lot that is connected to it that requires what could be considered 'work', but crafting, creating and writing...that's all stuff that I feel most relaxed and at home doing. 

Portia: We both love books and films too. There's a lot of inspiration to be found in escapism as well as real life. 

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

Portia: Haha, thanks - and thanks for having us! California by The Lagoons

Jay: Stephen - Fly Down

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INTERVIEW: Chloe Foy

INTERVIEW:

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Chloe Foy

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BECAUSE we are inching closer to Christmas...

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it is a good time to speak with Chloe Foy about her cover of In the Bleak Midwinter. I was eager to know why she chose that song to cover and whether she is influenced by carols; which artists and albums are important to her and whether there are some great rising artists to look out for.

Foy tells me what gigs are coming up and whether she has a favourite musical memory; if she gets time to chill away from music and what plans are in place for 2019 – Foy picks a great song to end things with.

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

Hi! I’m okay, thank you. My week has been good - I’m trying to fight the desire to hibernate as it gets darker and damper in Manchester.

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

I’m Chloe Foy; a singer-songwriter from Gloucestershire, based in Manchester. I write songs with my guitar and have a weakness for strings and lots of beautiful vocal harmonies.

You have released a cover of In the Bleak Midwinter. Was there a reason behind covering that song?

It’s one of my favourite Christmas songs. I’m not religious but there’s a certain nostalgia that comes with Christmas carols and some of them carry beautiful tunes. It’s a setting of a Christina Rossetti poem - and some of the imagery used is very beautiful.

I am surprised more artists are not inspired by Christmas carols when writing their music – in terms of tone and sound. Do you find songs like that inspire you?

Yes. I have a classical background and often sang in choirs as a kid and I think I can’t help but be influenced in my writing by the melodic and harmonic inflections contained within choral music. I think it’s probably why I’m such a sucker for vocal harmonies.

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Might we see material next year? What are you working on?

I’m currently working on lots of new material to be released next year and I’m excited to get in the studio and record it. Watch this space… 

Can you give me an idea of the artists, older and new, who inspire you and compel your own sound?

This has been said a lot but I love both Laura Marling and Sharon Van Etten and think my sound lies somewhere between the two. I’m constantly inspired by female artists who are out there writing beautiful music and making a living from it, for example Jesca Hoop; Maggie Rogers, This Is the Kit. I grew up listening to The Beatles, Dylan and Neil Young so there’s definitely some influence there too. Mainly I just listen out for a good melody.

Do you already have plans for 2019?

Yep. The aforementioned release of new music, plus touring the U.K. and hopefully some gigs further afield.

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

I’ve had a great year this year what with going to SXSW and supporting Jesca Hoop, so it’s hard to pick. But, recently, on a little tour of the U.K., I took a full band to London to play Paper Dress Vintage in Hackney and I think it’s one of the best shows I’ve ever played. Everything just came together and the crowd had a really good vibe too. There was something quite magical about it.

Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?

Revolver by The Beatles. Because it was played so much when I was small. It evokes a lot of happy memories.

Laura Marling’s Once I Was an Eagle. Because it taught me what an album could really be.

Fleetwood Mac - Rumours…just because.

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As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present what would it be?

No Brexit please.

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

I’d support Paul McCartney…because how else am I going to meet him? And being used to a few beers on a rider, it’s hard to imagine what I could ask for…three-course meal? Champagne? Guitar tech? Full orchestra? That’s a good start.

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

I have a show in Manchester on 9th December at the Kings Arms in Salford and another in Sheffield on 21st December. They’re my last for the year but I’ll be back on the road in the spring.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

The usual. Don’t give up, don’t forget what’s at the heart of what you’re doing and don’t compare yourself to others.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Katie Mac

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Katie Mac is a new artist from Liverpool with an incredible voice and Caoilfhionn Rose is based here in Manchester and has just released her debut album. They’re both pretty special.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Caoilfhionn Rose

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

Usually, I unwind by playing guitar and writing a song - it is my therapy. But, I also like a bit of yoga now and again and long walks. And, to contrast with this wholesome picture, I also enjoy terrible T.V. - like, really terrible.

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

Raven’s Song by Aaron Embry

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INTERVIEW: Fí

INTERVIEW:

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THE superb ...

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has been telling me about her new track, Feel Better, and how it differs from her previous song, Éalú; whether there is more coming along in 2019 and which artists/albums have made an impression on her – she selects a great song to end the interview with.

The Irish songwriter recommends some artists we need to check out and tells me what it was like working in L.A.; if she gets time to unwind away from music and whether there are any gigs booked in the diary – Fí gives some advice to musicians coming through the ranks.

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

Hi, Sam. I’m great, thank you - and yourself? My week has been manic, stressful; loaded and exciting. Happy to take a breather after assignments and my single just released.

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

Yes, of course. It’s Electro-Pop, commercial but tinged with dark, Alternative and atmospheric elements. It’s important though that, stripped back on piano or guitar, the song is strong without all the production. I love a good, anthemic chorus built on a story or personal experience.

Can you tell me about your new single, Feel Better? What is the story behind it?

It’s basically about deflecting all that’s fake and embracing the real truth. It’s  a dark and self-deprecating song being true to yourself, not getting too caught up in the façade of who we think we are meant to be and (the humdrums) of what it means to lead an extraordinary life instead of just being who we are. Chase the unknown; we chase to find the spark that may ignite that fire of desire or ambition within us. Whether that be music, alcohol…whatever we need to distract ourselves to make us feel ‘ a little better’.

There’s highs and there’s lows; ups and downs, and not every day is significant or extraordinary. But, it’s how we perceive the little things that happen which help make us appreciate our individual  journeys that little bit more.

How does it differ to your previous track, Éalú?

I feel like they’re very different, sonically. I wanted to test myself, vocally, as I usually sing in my upper range so it was a change for sure. There was about five hours worth of harmonies on the track too so it’s definitely more built up and stacked in that sense. Both have Dance elements but I guess it’s more pop than Éalú which probably leans towards the electronic side. But, Feel Better still embraces the dark production elements.

I believe you have been recording in L.A. What was it like working over there? Tempted to move over there one day?

I was. I booked a mad, spontaneous trip to L.A. one night back in March.  I definitely regretted it after but, thankfully, it all worked out and ended up being a really amazing experience. Everyone loves Pop and everyone is so, so talented. It’s a bit surreal but also easy to get wrapped into it. I felt like that was my real life when I was over there but it’s also consuming; like everyone is trying to be somebody. I think every session I was in they were a bit like, ‘Who is this Irish girl?’; but every experience was enjoyable and I definitely learned a lot over there.

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The atmosphere is so collaborative and fun and sometimes pressurizing to get the song completed in the given time. (There’s a vibe off of bouncing ideas and finishing a song when it comes together in the room). Sharing your experiences and thoughts with songwriters you have just met is, in theory, kind of unusual but it can be cathartic and it was a really refreshing change from writing on my own. I think, if my circumstances were different, I possibly would but I also like the idea of going there for short writing trips. It feels like a transitory place; idyllic and exciting, but I was happy to come home to reality and non-industry world after six weeks.

I love London, though. I had plans to move there but it’s still in my sights.

Can you give me an idea of the artists, older and new, who inspire you and compel your own sound?

My influences have really changed over the years, so I guess it’s a combination of all of them. My first influences was ’90s Pop. I had a major obsession with Britney Spears and loved Spice Girls and Samantha Mumba. When I first started out, naturally, I started in the real Singer-Songwriter/Folk sound. Alanis Morissette and Gabrielle Aplin were definitely on replay. I love a wide range of music but I guess you’re drawn to listen to the music you create.

I’d say Halsey was a major influence for my change in sound. I used to follow blogs on a daily and I heard her first single years ago and instantly loved her music, which was well before her hit with The Chainsmokers. I love how poetic she is and the way she tells a story: it’s clear she has something to say. Other artists like Dua Lipa, Dagny; Verite, Allie X and Tove Stryke are absolute Pop queens who are doing their own thing in their own right but all still different within the pop genre.

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Do you already have plans for 2019?                                 

I have a lot of songs to release in the coming months - I’m aiming for January for my next release. Hope to write more, gig more and perform more and just keep building and gaining more traction with my music. Hopefully, I’ll start writing more with other artists and do more songwriting too.

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

I feel like releasing Éalú was a highlight - just as I put it off for so long and I didn’t know if anyone would like it. I did everything myself so it’s a scary thing just putting yourself on the line after putting in so much work into it. You hope people will love it. Hearing it on your favourite radio shows is just such an amazing feeling and, when people hear it spontaneously in the car or shop, that is like mind-blowing.

Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?

Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill

I was working in a school and I had just started putting up demos of original songs a few years ago. One of the staff members told me I needed to listen to Alanis Morissette. My style of music was very different back then and the next day he burned me a C.D. of Jagged Little Pill and I really loved it. Her songwriting is so true and her voice is amazing.

Gabrielle Aplin - English Rain

I was watching so many YouTubers a few years ago; how they played and wrote music and I wanted to do that. I found Gabrielle online and loved her music. She was self-taught too so it inspired me to buy a guitar and teach myself to write and play.

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I was writing really poetic, folky songs but also had written a lot of Pop songs. I wasn’t sure what style of music I wanted to record but, when I heard Halsey, I was drawn to her kind of style of Dark Pop. I love her stories, her lyricism and how she just did her own thing. She was not getting radio plays until Closer and she was building fans online long before her radio hit.

As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present what would it be?

Ohhh, this is tricky. I used to ask Santa for karaoke machines for as long as I remember. I’d get any and every type of karaoke machine. I’ve probably developed a bit since then! A new iPhone would be lovely (hint hint). I’ve had the worst year for phones and technology. I think I’m on my fourth.

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

I think Britney Spears. I idolised her when I was like when I was, like, six and I think it’s that case of mad dreams coming through life full circle. Dua Lipa, though; like I’ve been obsessed since her demos years ago. It’s crazy to see her blow up. Supporting her would be pretty magic. 

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Patience, persistence and perseverance...

Don’t compare yourself to others: just keep on going in your own lane and somehow, somewhere along the way the pieces start to fit together. Write every day. You’ll write awful songs but really great ones too. The more you write, the better you become. Surround yourself with people who encourage you and support you. It eases the load and pressure. It’s important to not compare yourself because every journey is so different; people break out and get discovered in different ways.

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What you don’t see is the team of songwriters, pluggers; managers and producers behind one ‘hit’. Someone can have instant success but a short-lived career whereas someone could take years to gain traction and then have a lifetime of success. I guess success is also measured by how you perceive it and what you want to achieve. There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Where doors close, others will open so stay with it. Stay positive and keep on going.

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

I have a headline show in Whelan’s on 13th December as part of Midnight Hour. I’ve only recently started performing again so I’m finding my feet with how it’s all done and the best way to perform the songs. I’ll definitely have more to come in the next few months. Keep an eye out.

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Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Yes. Loads and loads of great new artists. Xo Mo are from my hometown and are killing it - also the nicest guys in the World. FLYNN is from my hometown too and he’s just blown up recently. I love this new artist called GRAACE. I have her music on-repeat. Also loving ORKID and Charlotte Lawrence at the moment.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: GRAACE

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

Ironically, music is my chill time. I started studying a Masters recently, so I haven’t had much chill time. Though, I’m looking forward to a Christmas break where they will be plenty of chill! I’ll probably spend that time writing and I love a good book. I go out with friends and I also love the gym. Apart from music, I find it’s important to take time to yourself to do something completely different to take your mind away from it.

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

Yes. I’ve had this on-repeat lately…

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Follow Fí

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INTERVIEW: ECKOES

INTERVIEW:

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ECKOES

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HUGE thanks to ECKOES...

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for telling me about her latest track, Without Prejudice, and how it came to be. I ask her whether there are plans for more material and whether we can see her on the road – she highlights a rising name to watch and a few albums that are very important to her.

I ask which artists inspired her growing up and whether she has a favourite musical memory; what she would like for Christmas and the advice she’d give to any artist coming through – ECKOES selects a great song to end the interview on.

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

Fabulous to both.

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

Clash Magazine just described me as “A multi-dimensional artistic entity” and I don’t think I can ever top that sentence. So, I’ll just leave that there...

Your new single, Without Prejudice, is out. Can you reveal how it started life and its story?

I’d love to say ‘the song just wrote itself’ but I’d be lying. I sat on those piano chords for about half a year before I could find a top-line that did them justice. My producer, David Ezra, almost stopped listening to my ideas: he was so sick of the hearing them. Then, one day I knew I had something; sent it across and we were like - this is it.

I’ll never forget the feeling that day in the studio when we both knew something magical was happening and you have to work quickly because that vortex to wherever inspiration comes from doesn’t stay open for long. Our responsibility is to let it flow through us and not get in the way. Two-three hours later, we sat back to listen and I’m pretty sure I cried I was so proud of it.

Might we see an album or E.P. next year do you think?

Absolutely. There’ll be an E.P. next spring.

Can you give me an idea of the artists, older and new, who inspire you and compel your own sound?

Artists like James Blake and SOHN give me life because they create experimental Electronic music that still manages to be beautiful yet unpredictable. I listen to Björk when I’m slipping back to my comfort zone; a Dutch Iranian artist, Sevdaliza, for her brave use of instrumental space. I have an old-school R&B core so you can often hear a deep Missy Elliott drum.

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Do you already have plans for 2019?

Yes! I was selected for as an INES 2019 artist (Innovation Network of European Showcases) so I’ll be performing at a bunch of festivals abroad. I also just signed a deal to take my music to China, so the first trip to Beijing will be in January. I’ve never been before and it’ll be a massive adventure in general. And I’ll be playing a Spotlight 2019 Session for Ticketmaster on 14th Jan - a few days before I leave for China -, so it’s already looking like a great year.

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

Getting play-listed on Apple Music’s ‘Best of the Week’ two weeks ago was an outer-body experience, because I scrolled down and it was Meghan Trainor, Sean Paul; ECKOES, Muse; Bastille, Coldplay…and it’s not that I’m striving for Pop success (or Without Prejudice wouldn’t have been 5:30 minutes long); it’s more that they have the machines and teams to get them there, to get them heard, and I have just me and my song. I was so proud.

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What does music mean to you? How important is it in your life?

Ha. Well it’s the reason I think I’m alive, so I guess pretty important yeah. I feel super-lucky that I’m someone who music/art comes down through. I get to create things that connect people; that connects me to people. However hard work it is. I’ll always be so grateful. 

Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?

JUST THREE?!

Paul Simon (and Ladysmith Black Mambazo) - Graceland

Pretty much raised me. My dad played the video of their Zimbabwe concert (that couldn’t be in South Africa because of Apartheid) on-repeat. The harmonies, the songs; the context - just everything about this album is beauty.

Whitney Houston’s (double album) Greatest Hits

It was a lesson to us all on piercing people’s hearts with your voice.

Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill

It was so, so raw. It was magical.

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As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present what would it be?

A few more hours in every day?

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

Oooooo. I’d open for Michael Jackson FOR SURE, just to be in his presence. And anything I ask for will look basic and normal compared to his rider, so I’d go all-in.

My band, Max and Luigi, would love random things like bumper cars and a carousel. I’d get mountains of lightly salted Kettle Chips to wade in. (Post-show of course; I’m not mad).

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What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Make sure you love the process. The making the music itself, the performing and the practicing. Because, if you do, you’ve already won, every day. But, if you don’t, then this industry will break you.

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

I’m playing a Spotlight Session 2019 for Ticketmaster on 14th Jan at Camden Assembly (formerly Barfly). Tickets are free on their website.

How important is it getting onto the stage and delivering music to the people?

It’s massive. Live is Queen - and everything else just serves her. It’s where we all get to experience this one moment in time all together. It allows me to bring my recorded music to life; share the visual aspect and connect with people in a magical way. I absolutely love it.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: THABO

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Not so new, but I just discovered THABO. His voice gives me chills. It’s so divine.

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

I don’t get much time to be honest, but when I need to reboot I go and see my little niece and nephew - who I am obsessed with. Little people are so all-consuming and joyful. I have to get out of my head and just enjoy the present  because, to them, nothing else exists.

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

A friend of mine and inspiration, Terri Walker, has just re-blessed the music industry with her presence. Her new track, Breakout, is a must-listen

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INTERVIEW: Catherine Marks

INTERVIEW:

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Catherine Marks

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THE wonderful Catherine Marks...

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has been talking with me about her work as a producer and offering some useful insight and advice to those thinking about following her footsteps. As someone who has produced for the likes of The Amazons (she produced and mixed their debut album - it included the hit, Little Something), Palace (she produced and recorded their album, Heaven Up There); Big Moon and Sunset Sons; I was keen to learn how she came to producing and, given gender imbalance in the industry, whether she is seeing improvements.

Marks selects a few albums that are important to her; whether she has plans for 2019 already and whether there are rising producers and artists that we need to check out and follow – she ends the interview by selecting one of 2019’s best tracks.

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

Hi! My name is Catherine Marks and I’m a record producer/mixer and engineer.

What are you working on at the moment? Might we see a Catherine Marks-produced album very soon?

I have worked on several albums this year and they are all coming out in early-2019. I’m currently in Wales at an amazing residential studio working on The Amazons’ second album! It’s sounding monumental at the moment and we’re only halfway through!

How did you get into the production side of things? Was it something you always wanted to do?

I didn’t initially know that production was what I wanted to do but I always knew I wanted to work in music. Especially early on, I had no idea what production meant and also didn’t understand you couldn’t just walk into a studio and say “I’m a producer”! But, in the early days, I had a lot of doors open to me and I just made the most of those opportunities. 

I’d originally studied architecture and came to London when I finished my degree. Like a lot of interns/assistants, I started working for a producer rather than studying. It was tough but I enjoyed it and so kept going. This eventually led to engineering and then producing. It’s been many years of building up experience and then it was a natural step to production.

There are more female producers coming through, but the industry still is filled with male producers. Do you think it is harder for women to be accepted - and does more need to be done to turn the tide?!

I think we are in the process of the tide changing. There is, of course, always more that can be done. Having these kinds of conversations helps. The Music Producers Guild have also done a lot to give recognition to the women who are doing well in their field and hopefully that will inspire more women to be involved. I’m looking forward to the day when this isn’t a question that needs to be asked and it’s not about being male or female - just about being awesome at your job. 

But, it’s important that we keep having these conversations to raise awareness but also to highlight those who are kicking ass and doing well to encourage and inspire. It’s a tough job irrespective of gender but can be incredibly rewarding.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Laura Marling/PHOTO CREDIT: Tom Oxley/NME

Which fellow female producers would you recommend to us to check out? 

Olga FitzRoy, Marta Salogni; Heba Kadry, Steph Marziano; Anna Laverty, Laura Marling; Sylvia Massy, Linda PerryRhiannon Mair, Lauren Deakin Davies and Alex Hope just to name a few...

Do you feel D.I.Y. artists and those producing their own work encourages them to work in studios, or do you feel a lot of newer artists are going down the self-produced route?!

It varies. I like the artists who are using the D.I.Y. approach to develop who they are without the time restrictions and pressure that booking an expensive studio can often bring. But also when an artist knows it’s time to bring on another point of view, and perhaps another environment, is also important.

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Your job involves a lot of different aspects and roles. What is the most rewarding part of working on an album and seeing it come to life?

The most rewarding aspect is the relationships you build in this really unique context and usually in a really concentrated period of time. Watching an artist grow confidence or seeing what they had in their head all along fully realised. 

It’s usually when the plan that I’ve had in my head comes together. Just making music that everyone involved loves!

Would you have any advice to anyone looking to become a producer? How does one get started?

There are many ways, but one suggestion is getting in touch with producers who you like and ask them if they’ll let you come and make them tea...learning on the job is how I started.

Also, don’t be discouraged if your first experience working for a studio or producer is a disaster. It’s all part of the learning process. It’s a very unusual working environment. People working in close proximity where emotions are much more magnified and heightened. Be prepared for your first situation to be horrible and trust me when I say the next person you work for will be infinitely better.

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Do you already have plans for 2019 - and albums you are producing?

Yes, I have plans...I have three or four albums already in the diary...and a long holiday to Australia. 

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

There are so many.... 

But one moment in particular (because it was the first of many to come) was when I was in ICP with Wolf Alice making an E.P. and we listened back to Moaning Lisa Smile after having recorded it for the second time (it was the first track we’d recorded and we definitely did not hit a hole in one) and we all laughed and jumped around and danced because we were so happy that it sounded so amazing. 

I think there was an Oscar lying around and we pretended it was a Grammy. It was the sense of relief and elation; the anxiety and tension completely dissipated. It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced.

I’ve had similar since but that was the first.

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Which three albums (from other albums or ones you have produced) mean the most to you would you say (and why)? 

This is such a hard question as I could answer this differently another day of the week - but today...

Talk Talk - Spirit of Eden

I found the C.D. in one of the first studios I was working at as I was packing down a session. It was a late Saturday afternoon and there was no one else in the building. It was still very early in my career and I’d kind of switched off from listening to music for enjoyment and, as I was starting to learn how the magic was made, the magic had gone from my listening experience.

This changed that. I put it on and it made me stop. There was a little stream of sunshine coming through the window and I lay on the floor where the sun landed, closed my eyes, and listened to it all the way through. It changed everything.

The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses 

This album represents a series coincidences and serendipitous moments for me. I didn’t discover this album until 2002. This was a few years before I decided to move to London. It reminds me of the band I played with in Melbourne who introduced me to music other than what was on commercial radio. 

And I have ended up doing most of the albums at the studio where it was recorded.

Paul Simon - Graceland

Mum and Dad had it vinyl. I still have it on vinyl. I still love it!

As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present what would it be? 

Guitar lessons.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Jade Bird

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

She might not be new but I’ve only just come across her: Jade Bird! I also like Jerry Williams. Roman Lewis is incredible! YAK are pretty bloody awesome too.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: YAK

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

The past eighteen months have not left much time for ‘chilling’ but mostly lots of naps...and then after I’ve sufficiently napped. I catch up with friends...engage with the world outside the studio.

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

Comeback Kid - Sharon Von Etten 

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INTERVIEW: Hybrid

INTERVIEW:

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Hybrid

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I have been learning more about Hybrid...

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and his latest track, Make a Move. He gives me the lowdown on its origins and talks about upcoming plans and the sort of music he grew up around; how he mixes Spanish and Latin sounds into his work and whether there are some rising artists we need to keep a look out for.

I ask Hybrid if there is advice he would give to approaching musicians and how he spends time away from his work; what he would like for Christmas and which song he wants to end the interview on.

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

I’m great. Still buzzing from the release of my single. It has been a great week producing, training; writing and getting ready for what’s coming.

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

Hi. My name is Hybrid. I’m a Latin/Pop and R&B artist. I’m from a little town in Spain called Torrevieja and recently moved to London to work on my music.

Make a Move is your debut single. Is there a story behind it?

It’s a long story but, basically, it’s about me being attracted to this really hot girl and we couldn’t keep our eyes off each other - but we both didn’t make a move, so she left and I thought I’d lost the chance to meet her. Luckily, later she came back so I decided to make the move and talk to her.

While I was talking to her, she kept complimenting me with this and that; saying “You’re so handsome” so I asked her “If you think I’m so handsome, why didn’t you come over and talk to me?” and she replied “It’s not a good look when girls approach guys”. It’s an issue for both sides and there are probably lots of missed opportunities out there. So basically just make a move.

Might we see some more material next year?

I’ve got a couple of new tracks lined up for early-2019 and been working in the studio on new songs with some top producers and writers shaping my sound. So stay tuned!

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As a Latin artist who resides in the U.K. and Spain; sings in Spanish and English...do you think that opens you up to worlds and fans other artists are unable to touch?

Yes. It allows me to relate to both English and Spanish listeners and opens up a broader world of creativity to express who I am. Besides, I’ve been listening to Latin and American music most of my life so it’s a part of who I am.

Can you give me an idea of the artists, older and new, who inspire you and compel your own sound?

I was inspired by Michael Jackson, R. Kelly; Usher, Justin Bieber at a young age and, more recently, The Weeknd, Pnb Rock, and Ozuna.

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Do you already have plans for 2019?

2019 will be the best year yet! I’m coming back to London to get ready for bigger things to come.

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

Yeah. My first performance. When I was twelve-years-old, my best friend had this crazy idea of performing at a school singing contest for fun - thinking it wasn’t going to be big. But, when we got there, the entire school was present. So just imagine the experience of a twelve-year-old kid starting his first year of high-school, having no idea if he could sing. But, when I opened my mouth and started singing, everybody went crazy which shocked me because I didn’t realise that I would have that effect on people.

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Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?

There is one particular record that means the world to me and that is Me and My Guitar by Tom Dice, a Belgian artist. It was a gift from my grandma. 

As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present what would it be?

I want a new, shiny Touch Bar MacBook Pro to work on my music and future projects.

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

It would be The Weeknd.

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What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Just keep fighting and do what you want to do in life.

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

Coming soon...

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Johnny Yukon

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Johnny Yukon (Lies); anders (Undone) and Reo Cragun (In Too Deep).

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 IN THIS PHOTO: anders

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

I like to chill doing music but, when I’m not doing music, I’m always skating with my mates.

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

Me and My Guitar by Tom Dice

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INTERVIEW: Brad Byrd

INTERVIEW:

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Brad Byrd

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THANKS to Brad Byrd...

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for discussing his latest single, Lovesong, and why he decided to tackle The Cure’s classic. He talks about his love of the band and which artists are important; albums that mean the most and when he got into music.

Byrd highlights some rising acts to watch and tells me what is coming next; if he has favourite memories from his time in music and who he’d support on tour if he had the chance – he selects, no shocks, a Cure song to end things with.

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

I’m well, thanks. I’ve been busy getting back into it after our Thanksgiving, but all is good.

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

Sure. I’m a singer/songwriter that grew up in New England and I currently live in Los Angeles, CA. My sound is mainly Indie-Rock/Alt-Country. I’ve released three full-length albums, plus a handful of singles and covers to date.

You have released a cover of Lovesong. What prompted you to tackle The Cure’s classic?

I’ve always loved The Cure since I was very young. A few months ago I heard Lovesong on the radio and it just hit me: creating a cover at a slower tempo might be interesting. I dug that concept so much that I decided to record it!

Are they a band you are a big fan of? What sort of sounds did you grow up around?

Yeah. The Cure’s music was like the theme to my high-school years. I basically grew up on Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me and Disintegration. I also was into so much of what was on the radio at that time and certainly had love affairs with certain records like Def Leppard’s High ‘n’ Dry and Pyromania; Van Halen’s Jump; U2’s Joshua Tree and even Kiss’ Double Platinum. My parents played a lot of The Beatles, Crosby, Stills & Nash and John Denver records…and my brother was super-into Punk-Rock like Bad Brains. So, I was kind of exposed to the full dose.

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Can you remember when you knew music was the path for you? Did something trigger that?

I was always drawn to the drums and bought my first kit when I was a freshman in high-school. My brother played guitar and we would jam after school constantly. My mom would always flick the cellar lights on and off to signal dinner time or, as New Englanders say: “Suppah time”. Drums are my favorite instrument but it wasn’t until my college years, at Syracuse University, that I fell in love with writing songs on the guitar.

After college, I lived in Brooklyn and worked in N.Y.C. as a technical recruiter (because I never thought of music as a career choice). After work, twenty-three-year old me would light a bunch of candles and record myself on a tape recorder in my studio apartment. Man, I wish I knew where those tapes were! I vividly remember one day having this weird feeling come over me - my ‘A-ha!’ moment...’This is what I want to do...be a singer/songwriter for the rest of my life’. It came out of nowhere really and the passion for it has never subsided.

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Do you already have plans for 2019?

Yes. My team and I are releasing a full-length record called Phases in the spring and there will be live shows and videos surrounding the release. No specific tour dates set in stone just yet but we’re hoping to make it to the U.K./E.U. as well.

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

That’s tough; so many things. Just this month, legendary Los Angeles radio D.J. Nic Harcourt has been spinning my cover of Lovesong during his morning show on 88.5 FM (KCSN). That’s a standout for me!

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What does music mean to you? How important is it in your life?

Outside of friends, family and health, it’s basically everything to me. As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to write songs, record them and share them with as many people as possible. It’s a passion of mine that really runs deep.

Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?

Another tough one! Hmm…U2’s Joshua Tree really got me thinking about melody and song-craft. Later on, albums like Nada Surf’s Let Go and Lou Reed’s Transformer blew my mind in terms of simplicity, melody; groove and arrangement. Those three were all game changers for me.

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As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present what would it be?

Peace, man. The world needs to come together and we’ve got to stop fighting everywhere.

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

I’d love to go out with The War on Drugs. I really love what they are doing right now. My rider would consist of mainly vegan/gluten-free options, plus a case of lime flavored LaCroix Sparkling Water for each gig.

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What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

One: don’t take yourself too seriously. Two: know that making it and having a career in music is a long, slow burn. Three: don’t be an egomaniac.

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

Aside from a few quick Holiday appearances, we don’t have finalized tour dates to share just yet. But, we’re currently lining things up for 2019 and I’m looking forward to playing the tunes off Phases to lots of new crowds. If your readers are in Los Angeles, they can find me at the renowned Hotel Cafe in Hollywood or out in the desert, rocking the saloon at Pappy & Harriet’s.

How important is it getting onto the stage and delivering music to the people?

It’s so important…there’s nothing more fun and powerful than being on stage and affecting people with music.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: David Poe/PHOTO CREDIT: Marina Chavez

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I recently did a show with wordsmith, and N.Y.C. transplant, David Poe. He’s been at it a long time and his catalog is definitely worth deep-diving into. I also recently caught Misty Boyce with Grand Canyon here in L.A. It was a night of solid songs and great performances. Check ’em out!

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Misty Boyce/PHOTO CREDIT: Deborah Farnault

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

My wife and our two dogs love to get out of the city and go to Big Bear Lake and the desert in California a lot. I use our trips to gain perspective and enjoy down time.

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

Cool! Yeah, how about a song by, um…The Cure?! Let’s go with Lullaby?

 

Thanks for your time!  Happy Holidays and all the best to you in 2019.

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INTERVIEW: Bree Taylor

INTERVIEW:

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Bree Taylor

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I have been speaking with Bree Taylor...

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about her latest single, You Played It All, and what its story is. I was eager to learn what is happening next for her and whether there are plans; the sort of music she was raised around and which albums ranks as personal favourites.

Taylor talks about the role plays in her life; what advice she’d give to rising artists and which new names we need to get behind – she ends the interview by selecting a great track and reveals what Christmas present she would have given a choice of anything.

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

Hi, Sam! My week has been great so far! Found out my dad booked me a surprise trip to Nashville for the first week of June as an early Christmas present, so I am super-excited about that.

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

My name is Bree Taylor. I am a singer-songwriter from Toronto, ON (in Canada) and I recently released my six-song E.P. called Unbreakable in August 2018 and am currently promoting my single, You Played It All, off the E.P. This E.P. is a Pop record that I have been working on the past three years that I am excited to finally have released.

You Played It All is your new track. What is the story behind it?

This new single I wrote a few years ago as a sad piano ballad but, when I took it to my producer this past summer, we started playing around with it in the studio and we ended up turning it into this fun, upbeat yet-emotional Dance ballad. I absolutely loved the entire creative process of this song and where it ended up. It turned into something so special that I didn't see coming when I first wrote it - which is the coolest part of being a musician and songwriter.

It is a song about dating and relationships in today's dating era where many guys play games and lead girls on and don't take relationships seriously. They get scared of commitment or just purely enjoy the chase and are emotionally immature; but a lot of great women get hurt by them in the process. What I want people to take away from this song, however, is that if someone is playing with your emotions in any dating/relationship scenario they aren't worth your time or energy and you're better off without them. So, what seems like a hurtful situation is actually a blessing in disguise because you deserve so much better than that.

Are you looking ahead to next year in terms of material?

YES! I am already doing a bunch of writes (sic) and working on new music and will be releasing a Pop-Country single in the New Year and taking my music a bit more in that direction. My roots are originally Country; that’s what I was writing before I started on this E.P. but have always had a love for so many genres that I wanted to put out a Pop record. I’ve since been getting back into my roots and also have gotten so much feedback at my shows that I have a killer voice for Country music, so it seems that’s where things are taking me and my music next.

Can you give me an idea of the artists, older and new, who inspire you and compel your own sound?

I have honestly listened to so many different artists of different genres of music my entire life that I couldn’t quite give a direct answer to that. I have always just been me. I am sure all the different musical interests I have had my entire life have influenced me and my sound in one way or another. I grew up loving Shania Twain, Amanda Marshall; Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson; Taylor Swift, Faith Hill; Sade, Avril Lavigne...the list goes on and on!

My current sound is just me - I write and sing from the heart and whatever comes out is where we take things. I love being able to experiment with my music!

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Do you already have plans for 2019?

Well. I kind of spoiled this bit already by mentioning that I will be taking my music in a new direction in 2019 and releasing a Country single early-2019. I also mentioned earlier that I will be down in Nashville for about a week or so the first week of June 2019 so I am planning to set up a bunch of writing sessions and meetings while I am down there and take advantage of my time in town.

I also have plans to be doing more shows and festivals in 2019 and am hoping to potentially plan another tour as well. I have some things being planned behind the scenes that I am hoping will work out that I can’t talk about just yet - but I will update everyone on my social media once I am able to.

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

My favourite memory thus far in music would have to be being on my first tour this past May 2018. I did a twelve-show tour across Canada sponsored by Silhouette Eyewear that was absolutely a great experience for my first ever tour. It was very low budget and wasn’t the most lavish experience per se but it was great experience. Myself and all the other artists on tour had a lot of fun; bonded and made friends for life.

My ultimate favourite moment would be getting to perform on stage at the Hard Rock Casino in Vancover, BC. That is the biggest stage I have yet to perform on and it was a stage that several dozen incredible artists and bands that I admire have performed on like Pat Benatar, Michael Bublé... the list goes on. Their sound system and team were incredible too - it was a great performance experience.

What does music mean to you? How important is it in your life?

Music is everything to me. I don’t know how I would function without music in my life - it has been so ingrained in me that it is vital to my existence. Creating fuels my soul and music is every part of that. Listening to music has always been something my parents surrounded me with and creating it is such a deep part of me that not being able to sing or write would probably kill me or, at the very least, my spirit. I can’t see myself doing anything else and that is why I work so hard - because I really have no choice.

I have invested so much time, energy and money into my career but it is just something that doesn't feel like work to me. I even love things like this - interviewing, press; performing, writing; designing my website, acting in and creating a music video. Every angle of this industry and my career in music I adore. It’s second nature to me and is so enjoyable it just comes naturally and is everything I want for my life.

I also love that it gives me the platform to be an advocate for things I care about. I can not only write songs about topics that mean so much to me and writing very much is therapy for me...but I can bring awareness and share my story with mental-health as someone who has suffered with anxiety and depression almost my entire life as well as bullying in school, body-image issues and eating disorders.

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Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?

Shania Twain - Come on Over

I would steal this album from my mom growing up and dance and belt out along to her tunes. It reminds me of all the happy times in my childhood when everything was blissfully happy and unaware of the stresses of adult life. Before I was bullied in school when things were easy and fun.

Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin

I went through a lot of teen angst and was bullied really badly throughout my school years and this album really stands out to me because it had a lot of deep and emotional lyrics that I could connect to. It got me through a lot of hard times growing up.

Michelle Branch - The Spirit Room

This album stands out so clearly to me because Michelle Branch inspired me to pick up the guitar and want to sing professionally and have a career in music. I had always dreamed about being a professional musician but, when I fell in love with her music and saw the passion she had and heard her lyrics, I knew it was how I wanted to spend my life. I can’t quite explain it but this album took me dreaming of having a career in music and gave me the drive and ambition to really go after it and make it a career.

As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present what would it be?

One present I really want this Christmas is love: love for me and for everyone. I want everyone to feel loved and wanted and to know how much they are valued especially at this time of year; especially those who don't have anyone or are going through hard times. This time of year is hard for many people, especially those who have lost loved ones who can't be here with us.

Since losing people close to me, the holidays have become a hard time for myself and my family and my heart goes out to everyone else dealing with similar things. So, all I want is love. I am a simple person and my pursuit of love and happiness has been a long and tiring one - and it's all I want in life but especially this Christmas.

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

I would want to tour with either Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood. I admire them both so much as women, artists and businesswomen. I love their music and everything they represent and would LOVE to be able to open for either of them on tour.

In terms of my own rider - I am fairly easy going and modest so I don’t expect much. Haha. I would probably want some essential oils with a diffuser; hot ginger/lemon tea, a comfy couch to relax on; some good lighting to do hair and makeup and a little bed and treats for my dog - who I would want to bring with me on a big stadium tour like that.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

I always say that, for anyone wanting to get into this industry, you not only have to eat, breathe and sleep music but you also need to educate yourself on the business end of it as well. It is such a highly competitive industry that you not only need to have talent and passion but you need to run your own business and build your brand along the way. Music isn’t just about music anymore and there are so many area’s to this industry that are vital to your success. You need to find a way to stand out from the rest and set yourself apart.

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

The only current show I have booked for 2019 is February 22nd, 2019 - a charity event for Team Dog Rescue; Part with a Purpose at Chateau Le Parc. I am booking shows and festivals right now for 2019 and will post on my website any upcoming shows or people can join my mailing list to find out.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: The Reklaws

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I really am loving The Reklaws. They are a brother-and-sister Country duo and I saw them this past summer at the Mississauga Waterfront Festival and really fell in love with their music. I also love Kira Isabella - and her new single, Little Girl, is killing it. I just love her lyrics and the powerful messages behind her music. She also has a great voice!

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IN THIS PHOTO: Kira Isabella

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

Music is pretty much my life and I am constantly surrounded by it because my drive and determination to make this a full-time career for myself is relentless so I never give up. However, I do let myself socialize with friends and family and I date when I get the chance as well, which not only fuels my music creatively but it had given me a lot of experience to give advice to my fans on my YouTube channel or upcoming podcast.

I like to unwind at home with my dog, in my P.J.s, with a good blanket and either a good book or show on Netflix. Or, I love doing yoga or going to the gym to help me de-stress and help me with my anxiety.

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

Halsey - Without Me

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Follow Bree Taylor

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INTERVIEW: Passive

INTERVIEW:

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Passive

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THANKS to Passive...

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for telling me about their new single, Like This, and what inspired it. I ask how they all got together and if they already have plans for next year – they reveal some albums important to them and select some rising musicians we need to get involved with.

With some tour dates coming along - 15/12: Zigfrid von Underbelly, Hoxton; 18/12: The Horns, Watford; 22/12: The Camden Assembly, Camden; 31/12: Trinity, Harrow; 10/01: The Dublin Castle, Camden –, I was eager to learn more about them and the music they’d drawn to; the advice they’d give to upcoming artists and how they spend time away from music.

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

Hey! This week’s been good! Looking real forward to Xmas and the gigs we have coming up.

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

We are an Indie-Rock band originally from Watford, London. We've all known each other since school and have been playing with each other for years, but started up Passive in the summer of 2017.

Can you tell me how Passive began? When did you find one another?

All four of us met in school and we've been playing together since the age of seventeen. At this early age, we'd all been in different bands with other musicians but came together once recognising we enjoyed the sound we made together. It was only last year (July 2017) we formally announced ourselves as Passive. We all knew from early on that being in a band was what we wanted to do with our lives and we've played every gig possible since.  

 

Like This is your new single. Is there a story behind it?

Like This was a song that Elliott wrote about a particular relationship a long time ago. Originally, the song had quite a positive meaning - that ‘when (relationships are bad) it's like this, I'll do what I do best (to fix things of course)’. Upon reflection, Elliott may have been putting his head in the sand a little. We wanted the album art to represent this. The Burial of Atala by Roussy-Trioson depicts a man who's closing his eyes, gripping his partner's legs and hoping for the best. 

Might we see more material next year?

We've got loads more material to record and a couple of things ready to release, so more singles are on the way and, if we’re lucky, eventually we should smash out an E.P.!

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Is North London a great area when it comes to influence and musical peers?

North London is great. Like many others, we started out playing home town gigs in Watford and Harrow and have now moved onto venues in Camden and Shoreditch, all north of the river. We've met a lot of great bands on the way and predict we'll meet many more! You realise early on that London’s a pretty tight-knit community of musicians. 

In terms of music; which artists are you drawn to?

Seasick Steve, The Strokes; Jamie Cullum, John Mayer; Travis Barker, Peace; John Mayer, Florence and the Machine and Noel Gallagher. Coldplay…?

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As Christmas is coming; what one present would you each like if you could have anything?

Elliott: Boots with no holes in.

Phil: A free hot yoga class.

Josh: Some LUSH bath bombs.

Matt: A Liverpool season ticket.

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Do you already have plans for 2019?

We are playing The Dublin Caste on Thursday, 10th January! 

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

We did a New Year’s Eve gig at our local pub/club - the Trinity in Harrow. It gets pretty packed and sweaty but it was a great set; we had a great time and it was certainly a top-notch mem!

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Which one album means the most to each of you would you say (and why)?

Elliott: Back to Bedlam - James Blunt. It was the first album I bought from HMV.

Phil: Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane. Mum always plays it in the car.

Josh: I love the first Two Door Cinema Club album but Elliott borrowed it and broke the case...

Matt: (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? It made me wanna join a band.

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

I think we can all agree that we'd love to support Peace and that we'd want four shots of tequila beforehand.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Go to pubs, see some live music, find out who's putting on the night and then ask if they’ll put you on in future!

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 IN THIS PHOTO: YONAKA/PHOTO CREDIT: RORY

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Loving things from YONAKA, CHILDCARE; Anteros, Connie Constance; SEA GIRLS and Pip Millet right now!

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Anteros

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

We. Love. The. Pub. Also...we’re huge Peaky Blinders and Peep Show fans. 

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

Elliott: Hopopono by GoGo Penguin

Josh: 5 dollars by Christine and the Queens

Phil: Stop This Train by John Mayer

Matt: Little by Little by Oasis

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Follow Passive

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INTERVIEW: In My Days

INTERVIEW:

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PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Halangk

In My Days

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I have time for one more interview before the day’s end...

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Halangk

so I have been speaking with In My Days about their new single, Counting Up the Nights, and how it came together. They talk to me about their formation and the sort of music that influences them; which approaching artist they need to get behind and what is top of their Christmas wish-lists.

I ask the guys if there are any albums especially important to them and whether there are tour dates coming up; what advice they’d give to rising musicians and whether they get chance to relax away from music.

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

Hey, there. We’re really fine, thanks. This week has been great so far. We have spent lots of time in the studio composing new tracks. What about you?

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

We are In My Days; an Indie-Pop band from Magdeburg, Germany.

Counting Up the Nights is new. Is there a story behind it?

Counting Up the Nights describes an exciting journey into the unknown, combined with the feeling of coming home. Like being caught in a time loop with an unattainable destination but still holding onto dreams.

How did In My Days get together? Did you bond over similar musical tastes?

We have been friends since childhood and started playing in a band at school. That sound was horrible. Fortunately, we have improved ourselves a bit. Haha.

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Halangk

In terms of music; which artists are you drawn to?

Bastille, Coldplay, Alt-J and many more. 

Might we see more material coming next year?

Yes, definitely. We are going to release a new single in spring 2019.

As Christmas is coming; what one present would you each like if you could have anything?

Dennis: It’s time for a new piano.

Charly: Cool boots for the stage.

Tino: Some friends.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Christoph Eisenmenger

Do you already have plans for 2019?

Yeah, we are going to play a tour in several German cities in February. After that, we’re planning to release some new tracks. 

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

This summer, we really enjoyed playing on a huge stage in front of more than 10,000 people.

Which one album means the most to each of you would you say (and why)?

Dennis: Fenech-SolerZilla. Every track has its own story of wonderful moments. I have to thank these boys for those nice tracks.

Charly: In My DaysDream Out Loud. Maybe it’s stupid to choose my own album but it has been a crazy experience composing and recording it.

Tino: There are too many tracks/albums that inspire me.

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  PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Halangk

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Compose some tracks (maybe four-five), record them; play some newcomer contests and never stop being ambitious.

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

We do. We are going on the Dream Out Loud Tour - February 7th in Berlin; 8th in Cologne; 9th in Brunswick and on 10th in Hamburg.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Arionce

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Arionce is a pretty cool band from Berlin.

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

No, not really. At the moment, we don’t want to chill away because we have to do exciting university stuff.

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

Dennis: Empire of the SunHigh and Low

Charly: Amber RunI Found

Tino: Willie NelsonOn the Road Again

Thanks for having us,

Dennis, Charly & Tino.

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Follow In My Days

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INTERVIEW: Hayes & Y

INTERVIEW:

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Hayes & Y

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 THE chaps of Hayes & Y have been telling me...

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about their single, BLUE, and what compelled it; whether there is anything more coming along and whether they have any favourite albums/artists; how the scene in Manchester has changed and what it is like now – they tell me when the band started life and look ahead.

I wanted to know whether they get time to chill away from music; which artists they’d support given the chance; what they want for Christmas and whether there are rising artists to look out for – they select some great songs to end things on.

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

Blago: Pretty great. Our new track came a month ago and we’re still enjoying the amount of attention it’s getting.

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

Ivo: We’re an Indie-Pop/Rock four-piece. Blago (vocals and rhythm guitar) Rado (lead guitar and keys) and myself, Ivo (bass guitar) all hail from the distant lands of Bulgaria and along with our Finnish drummer Dennis we have moved to the U.K. to soak up the music culture, get inspired and create some fine tunes. Even though we are sometimes labelled as Yacht-Pop or Rock, we don’t own any yachts. Dennis has a small boat though, so we are slowly getting there.

What is the story behind your new single, BLUE?

Ivo: It’s the product of our continuing efforts to take control of as much of the production process as we possibly can. It’s also a testament to our evolution as music creators. All in all it’s sort of the ultimate D.I.Y. project for us. Everything apart from the drums was recorded at our apartment in Manchester. We even converted our attic into a vocal booth to track the vocals. The artwork, created by the talented Sofiya Dobreva, was inspired by our trip to the Bulgarian seaside earlier this summer.

Blago: BLUE is about loneliness and imaginary friends. It’s a very ambitious track composition-wise, with very different and distinct mood changes.

Do you recall when the band started life? What attracted you to one another?

Ivo: Wow…that was so far back. We actually started playing together in high-school as a sort of something to keep us out of trouble and to pass the time after school. I think it’s because we grew up together that we had such an easy time getting along and starting the band. Our current drummer Dennis came on board three years ago while we were in London and, being a beast behind the drums as well as a naturally awesome dude, he immediately fit right in with us.

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If you were to select influences; which artists would be in the list?

Rado: We try to listen to as much music as possible and incorporate different concepts and ideas in our own songs. We can definitely list as inspirational and influential artists like The 1975, Fleetwood Mac; Blossoms, Parcels; Michael Jackson and many more.

Dennis: I find it funny how Ivo and I have very similar tastes in music, but they are very different from Rados and Blagos. But, this difference makes our approach to playing and coming up with parts and sounds for songs very interesting in my opinion. Ivo and I are very into Funk and Neo-Soul like Lettuce and Hiatus Kaiyote.

Manchester is where you are based. Is there a pretty good scene there at the moment? How has it changed the past few years?

Ivo: We’ve only been here for two years so far, so I can’t really say I’ve noticed any drastic changes. That being said, it is an awesome scene. We actually started off in London for a year and didn’t really take to the scene there, whereas Manchester is so much more personal, intimate and welcoming that we immediately felt at home. Not only that, but there’s so much amazing stuff happening here almost every night.

Blago: It’s a very cool place to be for a young band. There are so much other great bands here and we try to keep track of them all. We are pretty competitive and ambitious and think we can leave a mark in Manchester.

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As Christmas is coming; what one present would you each like if you could have anything?

Rado: I think we would all agree that we always need to improve on our gear, so anything coming that way would be great.

Blago: Musicians always want new toys to play with; the list is too long to even get started. I’m in the process of considering if keytars are cool or uncool.

Dennis: I wish to have enough money to go on vacation with my girlfriend, no snow in Finland during Christmas and world peace.

Do you already have plans for 2019?

Ivo: We have a couple of shows lined up already: a trip to Bulgaria to play on 23rd March and also a gig at The Castle in N.Q., Manchester on 5th April. Not only that, but we’re also planning on visiting London, Leeds; York and Liverpool around that time as well. Then, after this sort of micro tour, we’ll be buckling down at our home studio to finish up and record at least two new songs.

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

Ivo: I’d have to say when we first found out that our song Always So Simple, Always So Cold was featured on BBC Introducing Manchester and then we promptly celebrated with one too many drinks at home.

Rado: I would have to mention our support slot for Kasabian at the biggest Bulgarian music festival in the summer of 2015. Definitely a milestone for us, which came a bit too early maybe - but it was a day to remember, amazing memories from there.

Blago: For me, it’d have to be one of our sold out gigs. There’s nothing like playing to a crowd of hundreds who have come just to watch you.

Dennis: For me, it is the same as Blagos. To play a gig full of fans that are there for you and them telling you after the gig how much it meant to them or how much they enjoyed it. Hearing that makes me super happy.

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Which one album means the most to each of you would you say (and why)?

Rado: My first childhood memory from listening to music is The Wall by Pink Floyd and that baby crying in the beginning of The Thin Ice - it always made me think that someone is actually crying from the neighbours’ apartment. My parents got me into Pink Floyd when I was very little, so they remain my favourite band up to date and that album especially.

Blago: The 1975’s debut album opened my eyes and ears a lot. I haven’t listened to it in a few years, but back then it was really a game-changer. One of the best debuts of all time.

Dennis: Toxicity by System of a Down. This album really shaped my taste in music from the first time I heard at an early age. John Dolmayan used to be my favourite drummer and really influenced me as a kid. This album made me want to pick up my drumsticks and has contributed a lot to the drummer I am today.

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

Rado: Maybe The 1975. Their show is amazing. Here in the U.K., we’ve been to a lot of concerts and the support bands have been always well prepared and carefully selected to fit the main acts’ style.  

Blago: We’d love to support a local band like Blossoms. They are one of our faves and it would be a great occasion. As for the rider, if we could support someone like that, we’d be perfectly fine to not even have one.

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What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Rado: We’ve been a band for a while now and I think the most important thing is to be focused and have a goal that you strive to achieve. What has kept us as a band, apart from being friends for a long time, is that we always set targets and little milestones that constantly keep us moving and improve us as a group of musicians.

Dennis: Practice, network and just don’t be an asshole (smiles).

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

Ivo: As mentioned above, we have some tour dates lined up for 2019 already. But, for the more curious and impatient you can catch us at the Night & Day Café in Manchester on 4th December.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Parcels

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Ivo: I’m a huge fan of Parcels. Even got the chance to watch them live here at the Academy a couple of weeks back. Phenomenally funky!

Rado: Yeah. We were all at this concert; it was a great one! I recently got into No Vacation. Chilled vibe and really nice guitar melodies there. Yam Yam is my favourite of theirs.

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IN THIS PHOTO: No Vacation/PHOTO CREDIT: Christine Ting

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

Ivo: Personally, I like to read fantasy novels and play video games even though I sometimes get carried away a tad with the latter.

Rado: I am into sports, so I enjoy watching football games or even play it myself if I have to chance to.

Dennis: Being from Finland, and always being surrounded by nature, I love unwinding by going fishing and being in the forest; picking berries and mushrooms. Unfortunately, you can’t really do that in London - so here I mostly watch movies and do a lot of practice on drums.

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

Ivo: Tom Misch (ft. De La Soul)It Runs Through Me

Rado: The Neighbourhood - R.I.P. 2 My Youth

Blago: ParcelsGamesofluck

Dennis: Hidden OrchestraDust

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Follow Hayes & Y

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INTERVIEW: Nominjin

INTERVIEW:

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Nominjin

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I have been speaking with Nominjin...

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about her career and how she came into music. She has been telling me about her latest track, Kiss Me at Midnight, and how it came together; what sort of sounds/influences have affected her and whether we might see some more material coming along.

She reveals a few albums that are important to her and talks about her heritage; whether there are plans in place for next year and when she knew music was the career path for her – Nominjin picks a classic track to end things with.

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

I’m doing wonderful. Thank you for asking. I’ve had a fantastic week recording at the studio and we also wrapped up production of my upcoming music video for my single, Kiss Me at Midnight. The single drops on Nov 30th worldwide and the music video will be released in the middle of December this year.

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

Hi, everyone. My name is Nominjin. I’m a Soul, Pop and R&B singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles. I started my career at age twelve and since then I’ve performed in more than fifteen countries. I was born in Mongolia and raised by an American father and Mongolian mother. Growing up, I was exposed to many different cultures and learned at an early age to recognize myself as a global citizen. I lived in countries such as Russia, Caribbean; India and the United States. I am in awe of the inherent beauty in all the people and cultures that I had the privilege of spending the formative years of my childhood.

Some of the highlights of my music career are being in a John Lennon tribute album by EMI at age sixteen and also being in an EMI love song compilation album alongside multi-platinum selling artists such as Norah Jones, Christina Aguilera and Toni Braxton. Also, thanks to my ability to sing in many languages and genres; I had solo performances in five-ten languages at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium and Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall.

It was also a great honor to be invited to perform at the Gala Concert at Llangollen with the Welsh National Opera Orchestra where legendary vocalists such as Pavarotti previously performed at. I was also appointed by South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se as a Public Diplomacy Envoy and worked with the Korean government for two years.

 

Kiss Me at Midnight is your latest single. How did the song start life?

It all started with a melody. I said to myself: “Hmmm...this has a little bit of a Latin influence”. Not sure where it came from but I like letting the songs flow out of me instead of setting out to write a specific song. So, I roped in my father who speaks fluent Spanish to help me come up with the line “La vida nos inspira”. Then, I wrote the English lyrics and turned it into a song about dancing all night with the love of your life.

As the producer; I had to challenge myself and figure out a vocal and musical arrangement that would build upon the melody to create a sound that is Soul/R&B with a dash of Latin. So, I sat down with my arranger/co-producer and told him that I wanted a production that is musically rich and super-old-school.

Are you thinking ahead to an E.P. or album? Is Kiss Me at Midnight the start of a new project?

Kiss Me at Midnight is a start of a new project. My upcoming E.P., Free Soul, is a tribute to the classic American Soul/R&B and traditional Pop music that I grew up listening to because of my American father. I’m the creative director of the entire project overseeing every aspect of the music production and vocal production. I’m so blessed to have complete creative freedom in this project and to have collaborated with a great team of co-writers and arrangers.

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Can you give me an idea of the artists, older and new, who inspire you and compel your own sound?

Growing up, I loved listening to and learning from artists such as Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder; Etta James, Aretha Franklin; Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. I love contemporary household names such as Alicia Keys and Bruno Mars. My writing is mostly influenced by the classic Soul and Pop sounds of America. When you listen to Free Soul you might hear that my songwriting style is inspired by the love songs of The Great American Songbook and I add a twist of Soul/R&B to that.

You found music early and have been performing since you were a child. Was there a moment you knew music was for you?

I started singing when I was a year and a half. I remember, when I was eleven-years-old, I declared to my parents that I’m going become a professional singer. I saw that being an entertainer is a wonderful way to make the world a brighter place. So, I’ve been working hard ever since and haven’t had a summer break since I was eleven.

I became really popular in Mongolia during my teen years and learned to use my celebrity as a tool to give back to the community. I wasn’t driven by the urge to become famous but was motivated by the desire to be in a position that allows me to give everything I have, including my talents.

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Do you already have plans for 2019?

Well. I’m very excited to be releasing my new songs to the world. Free Soul is coming early-2019. I’m also working on writing and producing more songs to be shared with everyone. Besides promoting my original content, I’ll also be more active on YouTube and will be covering songs for my fans.

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

Wow. There are too many to choose from. I’d say the most memorable moments are the times when you perform live in front of an audience. Seeing smiles on people’s faces or tears in their eyes when they are touched is what make me want to keep up my training and put on a better performance than the last.

Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?

That’s a tricky question because there are countless masterpieces that I’ve enjoyed over the years. I’d say the following three albums had a deep influence on my upcoming E.P. At the Close of a Century by Stevie Wonder has all the collection of mind-blowing songs by him you can’t miss. I’m in so much awe of Stevie Wonder’s songwriting and singing. Bodyguard (soundtrack) by Whitney Houston was a huge influence for me as a singer as well. Frank Sinatra’s Greatest Hits. Because it awakened the romantic songwriter in me.

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As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present, what would it be?

I would like to keep developing my ability to be content in any situation. I really believe that peace of mind is the key to true and lasting happiness. I would also like to include everyone else in this Christmas wish of mine. May all beings live in everlasting joy and love.

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

Oh. It would be a dream to open for Bruno Mars who is bringing back and re-introducing old-school music to the younger generation.

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What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Be fearless and authentic in your art. Be unapologetically yourself. Then, go find the audience that resonates with the sound that comes from your soul. I have written Rumi-style lyrics and music when I was nineteen-years-old because that is what came out of me at that time. Don’t be afraid to evolve and change and grow - and never allow yourself to be defined by one thing. Art is about freedom and being completely creative. There is no right or wrong.

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

There aren’t any tour dates set at the moment. I’m currently putting together a live show and I hope to get on the road soon.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Ella Mai

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I’ve been so busy writing and recording so I haven’t had the chance to discover many new artists. But, I am enjoying Ella Mai’s voice these days.

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

When I was a little girl, a fellow musician and singer told me that, if I think of music as work I will never enjoy being an artist. So, I try to create music from a space of upliftment and joy; which means I don’t necessarily feel like I need to chill away from music. I also don’t listen or follow musical trends but focus mostly on going inward and bringing forth the melodies that comes out of my heart.

Most of my musical ideas are born when I’m unwinding and alone in my creative space. I love hanging out in nature, meditating and doing yoga. Last year, I had a two-month creative retreat in the mountains of Taiwan.

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

Please play Spanish Harlem by the incomparable Aretha Franklin. Forever the Queen of Soul

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INTERVIEW: Moderate Rebels

INTERVIEW:

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Moderate Rebels

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MY one and only interview of the day...

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is with Moderate Rebels who have been talking about their new track, The Value of Shares, and the album, Shared Values; the artists and sounds that inspire them and how the band found one another – they recommend some rising artists.

I ask what they have planned going forward and whether there are any gigs coming up; the advice they’d give to emerging acts and whether they get chance to chill away from music – the group select some great music to end the interview with.

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

Hello. We're well. We're doing a couple of gigs and the album is coming out - it's a good week. 

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

We’re a bunch of friends who get together (whoever is available at that moment - so the line-up can up to nine or ten people in different combinations) to make noise we like. We intend to think, or try, as little as possible about it so it feels very natural.

The Value of Shares is your new track. Can you explain the story behind it?

Like a lot of things so far, we just did it…then we tried to find out what it meant. That’s a fun exercise. We have theories but it’s much more fun to hear what anyone else thinks it’s about.

Shared Values is the album. Are there particular themes that inspired it?

We think we’re living in an era when lots of people feel they have lots of questions (perhaps  that’s every era?) and we seem to touch upon that. Doubt, uncertainty; vague language, conflicting information and opinions are all inspirations. 

Do you recall when Moderate Rebels got together? What is the secret of the band’s solidity and longevity?

We did one song and did one gig and then things took on a life of their own. By not being solid (flexible line up) and having no long-term plan, apart from making some music we like, perhaps that helps us work quickly and have fun with it. I’m sure it’s different for everyone.

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In terms of music; which artists are you drawn to?

You can imagine, across ten people who like music, that there is no easy answer to this question. We could give some names but they would be true for some people and not for others. It’s a big mix up and we don’t really worry about it.

As Christmas is coming; what one present would you each like if you could have anything? 

Surprises are always good, generally. We like people using their imagination.

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Do you already have plans for 2019?

Next Moderate Rebels album is well under way and it could well be a double-album. Ideas don’t seem to be a problem just now.

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

It’s always a good feeling when you hear a song you did on the radio next to people whose records you buy. Live shows have all been fun, too. The first gig, especially, when we played the only song we had at the time (God Sent Us) for twenty-eight minutes continuously could have gone really badly, but the crowd really went with it.  

Which one album means the most to each of you would you say (and why)? 

Blood Orange has been pretty popular with some of us this year. Great, modern Soul record. Again, though, this is a big question for ten people and, honestly, we’ve never really talked about it. We just do stuff; we don’t really discuss the reasons why or the influences we have.

We’d spend most of our time talking if we did.

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

St. Vincent would be fun. We’d ask for a quick guitar lesson from her. She makes it look very easy.

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What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Don’t take anyone’s advice about anything: make your own way and see how you feel about it.

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

5th Dec: Aces and Eights Saloon Bar, London 

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Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Gelatine (in Glasgow) we liked recently. Uncle Tesco are great as well.

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

If we are playing music, in the right way for us, then it should be relaxing to play (doesn’t have to be necessarily relaxing in sound). If we feel we need to unwind from playing music then something is going wrong somewhere.

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

Gorgeous Bully - I’ll be True

Planningtorock - Beulah Loves Dancing

Death in VegasDirge

Little Simz - Boss

Uncle Tesco - Meal Deal

Spacemen 3 - Dreamweapon

Sophie Hunger - I Opened a Bar

Crass - Merry Crassmas

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INTERVIEW: River Meets Sea

INTERVIEW:

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River Meets Sea

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IT has been great...

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talking with River Meets Sea about their debut track, Won’t You Stay, and how it came together. I was curious to know if there is more material coming next year and what they have coming up – they recommend some rising artists that we need to have a listen to.

I ask what their favourite memories are and whether they get time to chill away from music; what one Christmas present they would each like and the albums that are important to them – they select a great song to end things on.

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

It’s been a great week, thanks! We’ve just released our debut single and video, Won’t You Stay, which we are really excited about! We have put a lot of work into it and it feels great to finally show what we have been up to.

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

We are River Meets Sea; a four-piece ambient Indie-Rock band. Joe Osborne is the lead singer and guitarist. Liam Lovegrove also plays the guitar, giving the tracks their atmospheric feel, as well as contributing to backing vocals with Luke Remon, who is the group’s bassist. Jamie Howard is on the drums laying down the beats. All four of us come from different parts of the country with different musical backgrounds, which we like to try and incorporate into the music we do.

Won’t You Stay is your new track. Is there a story behind it?

The song is about living in London and how lonely it can be. It’s about how cold the city can feel but also how freeing too and the tension between those two aspects. It’s about trying to decide whether to leave a situation or to stay put.

Might we see more material next year?

Of course! We already have another couple of tracks lined up ready to be released early next year. We are in the planning stages of a creating music video for our next single, which we hope to release around February/March.

How did River Meets Sea get together? Were you bonded by similar tastes in music?

Joe, Jamie, and Luke all met at university. We met at uni all playing in different-styled bands or solo work. Except Liam…he came out of nowhere. The styles of music we all played differed from each other, but it was the love of music itself that brought us together.  

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If you were to select influences; which artists would be in the list?

It would be such a big list of influences we all have, ranging from Folk, Hip-Hop; Punk Rock, Indie and Soul. Musically, you can hear a lot of Ben Howard, Tycho; Hammock, This Will Destroy You and Bob Dylan influences in our music.

As Christmas is coming; what one present would you each like if you could have anything?

Joe: Good Question. I’d like a house.

Jamie: I’d never say no to some new speakers. I want to feel that heavy bass.

Luke: I need to get some tattoos covered up. Tattoo fixers, where you at?

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Do you already have plans for 2019?

As well as releasing a new single in early-2019, we will be doing shows throughout the year around the U.K. and, hopefully, Europe too. We have also started writing some new material that we are all feeling really strong about. We will be going into the studio to record it.

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

Joe: Seeing Dylan in 2011.

Jamie: Watching A Tribe Called Quest’s final show was pretty special. Also, performing live on national German T.V. was a pretty crazy experience!

Luke: The first time I saw the Pixies, they ended with Into the White and they filled the venue with white smoke!

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

At this moment, the only date we have confirmed is Saturday, 1st December at the Tooting Tram & Social. We are playing a headline show to celebrate the release of our new single Won’t You Stay. We will be announcing more shows in the New Year.

Which one album means the most to each of you would you say (and why)?

Joe: I Forget Where We Were - Ben Howard. It's probably as close to a perfect album as I can think of. Listening to it is therapeutic, uplifting; devastating, never-boring and always thought-provoking, all at the same time. Musically, it's a masterpiece.

Luke: I can think of two; the first one being (A Tribe Called Quest) The Low End Theory. I didn’t really listen to much Hip-Hop before this, but Jamie put it on in his car once and it completely opened my eyes up to the genre.

The other one would by ...And Out Come the Wolves by Rancid. It was the first album I became obsessed with and got me into loads of good Punk-Rock.

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

It’s a different genre, but supporting Anderson .Paak seems like it would be a riot.

Our rider would have loads of cheese, grapes; hummus and Tzatziki. Probably, a few bottles of expensive wine from the South of France. We want our backstage feeling like we’re in Monaco.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Keep it consistent and don't give up. Make sure you have the basics covered and do as much as you can yourself. The music industry is setting itself up with a more D.I.Y. mentality.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: The Beths/PHOTO CREDIT: Mason Fairey

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

There are loads of great artists out there! The Beths, Sam Fender; Ivy Sole, Gus Dapperton; Cedric Burnside and Thelma Ball just to name a few.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Ivy Sole

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

Joe: Going to the gym and escaping to quiet places in the countryside.

Luke: Going on Bumble.

Jamie: Skateboarding when the weather’s warm and going on Luke’s Bumble.

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

I Have Lost My Pearls by Gus Dapperton

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INTERVIEW: Jay Putty

INTERVIEW:

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Jay Putty

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I have started today by speaking...

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with Jay Putty about his new single, Trouble, and what its story is. He talks to me about his musical influences and a few albums that are particularly special; what he has coming up next year and whether there are any rising artists we need to have a look out for.

Putty provides advice to new artists and tells me how he spends time away from music; what the music scene is like in Nashville and what sort of music he grew up around – he ends the interview by selecting a cool track.

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

I’m fantastic! Just starting the day with my coffee and dogs.

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

My name is Jay Putty. A dog-rescuing, coffee-loving; Acoustic-Pop artist from Nashville, Tennessee.

Trouble is your new single. Can you explain the story behind the track?

So. That song came to be writing with some writers here in town that I’ve written quite a few songs with not just for me...and I wanted to write a song that summed up how I feel about my wife, whom I just recently married. I really just wanted write something about how, even if it’s hard work, finding that one you want to be with is worth all of it.

You have already achieved a couple of top-ten releases. How important is that sort of success and recognition?

It’s weird because it’s important in the sense that it helps legitimize yourself as an artist but with or without that validation the song would still be the same. It’s humbling to be able to achieve at all but it’s just the power of the support I’ve received from people which is flooring.

Did you grow up around a lot of music? Which artists did you follow at a young age?

I grew up fairly sheltered with Journey, the Eagles and contemporary worship music, but it wasn’t until I heard John Mayer on the radio that I was like: ‘Whoa, what is this and how can I do it too?!’. Which led to Metal, Pop-Punk and other bands; finding myself as a solo artist four years ago doing Pop and eventually coming back to what inspired me in the first place.

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Being based in Nashville; how important are the city and its musical heritage regarding your ambitions?

That’s another, almost-loaded, question because Nashville is known as the home of Country music, which I can’t deny parts come out in the songwriting but I myself don’t fit into that category of music or the circle. The Pop scene here is great and growing but I’m also too ‘Country’-sounding to fit in there.

So, it’s a great musical city that challenges me and surrounds me with incredible people but also is somewhere I don’t feel like I have a home yet, musically, which that musical discomfort I think really helps sharpen my sound.

What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?

Trouble is marking the last release of the year for me and, honestly, I’ve almost tripled what I had done a year ago this year. So I think, by the end of this year, I wanted to watch this song grow into itself while taking December off to enjoy the holidays. I can worry about next year, next year.

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Do you already have plans for 2019?

There’s stuff on the table like a European tour hitting the U.K., Ireland; France and more that we are finalizing - as well as two singles with an album. I’m finally glad that we are finalizing tour dates and hitting the road mostly.  

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

Man. I remember the first time I heard my song on the radio on Kiss FM. I was taken completely aback and thought to myself if this reaches one person and hits them the way it is me I could die a happy man.

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Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?

John Mayer - A Room for Squares. The first time hearing Why Georgia absolutely changed my life.

The Greatest Showman Soundtrack. My wife walked down the aisle to Rewrite the Stars. I can’t listen to it without crying now.

Ed Sheeran - +. That album sparked something in me when I was writing all this other kind of music. It called to the soul of the artist I could be instead of who I was trying to be.

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

That is so difficult to choose who I would but, if I had to, it would be John Mayer. My rider would be super-simple. Food for my kickass band that plays with me - because they make me sound good - and a place to decompress after playing

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Write every chance you get, even if it sucks. You have to write the bad songs to get to the good ones. You have to write the good ones to get to the great ones.

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

No tour dates right now but, come 2019; I’m hitting the road hard.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Jonny Zywiecel

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Jonny Zywiecel, Khalil Poore; Khiana Meyer and Pagentri. They are absolutely incredible.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Pagentri

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

I try to get time away, but my wife calls me a workaholic because I don’t know how to disconnect. But, when I do, I love to cook and go to the movies.

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

Check out Jonny Z - Hard to Breathe

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