INTERVIEW: Jamie Hannah

INTERVIEW:

Jamie Hannah

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THIS is a bit of a hold-over interview...

but it has been nice finding out about Jamie Hannah and his music. He discusses his latest track, Sound of My Youth, and future plans working with Boy George; counting Dame Emma Thompson as a fan and which albums are important to him and which rising artist we need to watch.

I ask Hannah whether there are tour dates coming up and who he’d support on the road if he could choose anyone; how important it is being up on the stage and whether he ever gets chance to chill – he selects a really good track to end the interview with.

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

What a busy week I’ve had. My debut video premiered on Billboard in New York this week. What an amazing reaction I have had. I have also been busy preparing for my first tour. I am the support act for Heather Small on a nine-venue tour around England – so lots of rehearsals with the band, sorting out sessions on the local radio stations and arranging interviews with the press. There is so much to do!

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

I am a classically trained Pop singer writing and performing my music. My music is Pop music with lots of Classical influences.

Sound of My Youth is your current single. Can you reveal its origins?

This song is about memories of first love that ended badly. I use the illusion of water and the feeling of drowning to try and explain how I felt about the break up.

You have famous fans including Boy George and Emma Thompson. How does that feel? Have you met them both?

I met Boy George through my producer, Benny D, as they are long-term friends. George and I then met for lunch and we took it from there. We have worked together writing a new song. He is a great mentor and very generous with his time and advice. My next single, House of Truth, is one he has written and we have collaborated on.

Emma is the mother of one of my very good friends. We have met many times and she is great fun and very supportive.

Might there be more material coming later in the year?

My next single is ready to go and I also have an E.P. of tracks on tape waiting to be released.

Do you think your sound has changed and evolved a lot since the earliest days?

Originally, I was a trained countertenor Opera singer. I still use those techniques to sing Pop music. I sing different types of music and my sound is still evolving.

When you were growing up, which artists/records did you hold dear?

I love all kinds of music: Popular, Music Theatre; Jazz, Classical. If I were to single out any one genre it would be the big pop divas such as Arianna Grande, Elton John and Freddie Mercury.

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?

So many amazing memories. Probably working with Boy George was a huge highlight. I was also part of a small group of singers that sang with Kylie Minogue at a series of her Christmas concerts at the Royal Albert Hall two years running. She is a superb performer and is really in touch with her audience.  What an experience.

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

SongbirdEva Cassidy, SweetenerArianna Grande and Back to Black - Amy Winehouse. Stunning voices, amazing talents; all masters of their genres.

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

I am touring this month supporting Heather Small. This is such an honour and I am hugely looking forward to it. I would love to do a big arena tour with someone like Rita Ora, Little Mix or Dido. That would be mega.

Are you planning any gigs in the coming months?

Yes. I have a tour with Heather Small around England until 26th April. In May/June, I will be promoting my new single with Boy George at a variety of gigs, festivals and other events.

How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio?

I love both. When I am performing, I am understanding and reacting to the audience itself. When I am in the studio, the band and I are working and combining to get down on track how I want my music to sound. Both are hugely satisfying.

Can you describe the feeling being on stage and feeling the music connect with the crowd?

I just love it. There is no better feeling than when you and your music connect to an audience.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Freya Ridings

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I am always listening to lots of new artists but Freya Ridings really stands out to me.

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

Not at the moment! If I were to take time out it is to go to the gym or walk my dog…and meet up with friends for meals. I also love travelling and sunshine!

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).

Eva CassidyAutumn Leaves. My granddad was an amazing Jazz pianist and he played this. It always brings a lump to my throat

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INTERVIEW: Mako

INTERVIEW:

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Mako

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ON this Good Friday...

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I get to present Mako, who has been telling me about his new track, Coyote, and how it came together; a few albums that mean a lot to him and how the music of Mako has changed since they were a duo to now – where Alex is a solo artist.

I ask about Mako’s talents and endeavours in T.V. and film; how he manages to unwind away from music and whether there are going to be tour dates – he ends the interview with a great song selection.

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

I’m good (smiles). I just moved into a new apartment, got on a dating app for the first time; released some new music.

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

Yeah, definitely. I’m sure I’ll butcher this, but picture a Classical French horn player who got distracted by EDM and Pop music for a few years and listens to a lot of Indie Rock.

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

I was honestly super-burned-out, creatively…

I asked my team for a couple months off just to write purely for love (sadly, it’s not always the case) - and I started thinking about what I really have to bring to the table as an artist. I got on this kick…of ‘What would happen if you crammed your entire life of music into a record?’. Not only was Coyote born soon after, but my entire album materialized right in front of me. I haven’t been this purely happy and focused with my work in years.

Is there going to be an E.P. or album coming later in the year?

Yep (smiles).

I know Mako started life as a duo before just you, Alex. How has the music changed since inception?

The music has changed drastically, but the creative experience has always been the same. Even as a duo, I was always behind the wheel with our material - and my good buddy Logan would pilot our D.J. sets and help navigate the corridors of business for us. My taste in music has shifted so much since then - taking a tour through our discography will reveal it pretty clearly.

Were there particular artists that inspired you to get into music?

I was a diehard Gustav Mahler kid growing up (play along with the recordings to his symphonies in my garage all through high-school, meanwhile speaking with zero girls the entire time). I was caught up in the EDM craze out of college - and now I’ve settled into a strong IDM kick with artists like Moderat, Jon Hopkins; Atoms for Peace/Radiohead and a lot of the cinematic composer/artists like Ólafur Arnolds and Max Richter.

It seems your musical talent extends to T.V. and film. How important and informative is it working across various mediums?

It’s a huge enjoyment for me; the role of music in those mediums shifts dramatically. Everything is generally in service to a larger idea; the scope of collaboration can be immense and a successful day’s work can mean your music won’t be noticed (by design). It brings me a lot of happiness to glide between those projects and the egomania that is a pure artist project.

Can you describe what music does to you? Is it a form of emotional release?

A billion-percent emotional release. I, very sadly, don’t find myself connecting often with lyrics in any form. I don’t use music as a way to feel connected with pop culture. It’s just pure emotion for me.

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?

So, so many. Recently, working with League of Legends the past two years on their ‘Worlds’ events has been an all-time life highlight for me.

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

In Rainbows (Radiohead) through-and-through is my favorite artist album: it’s got everything I like about music. Interestingly, John Powell’s score to How to Train Your Dragon is the album that convinced me to quit the French horn and pursue a career in writing music. And I was heavily affected this year by Jon HopkinsSingularity - both in its contents and how captivatingly unique a piece of art can be, led by one singular voice.

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

Haha, wait. So, a rider…as in like a hospitality rider? I’m gonna give this one to my good mate Charles Yang - one disgustingly talented violin/guitar/singer. He gets infinite gin and tonics in his rider because he just bought me a few and I owe him.

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What are your plans regarding gigs/touring?

A tour after this new album (smiles).

Is there any advice you’d give to upcoming artists?

Make a ton, ton, ton of music - it’ll get better, I promise. I’d also recommend finding a unique voice but sometimes I get a little pessimistic about that and I’m adventuring for the first time on this bullet - so check back with me in two years if I’m happy about this decision.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Josin

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I stumbled upon this hauntingly lovely artist called Josin.

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

I’m really super-sh*tty at this. Partial evidence of this is that I’m just typing right now as a means of buying time to think about a decent answer. I run late at night, which is a biggie for me. I can dig myself into some strange pockets of extreme isolation. I do wonder if this is just the reality for people who looove what they do. Balance is important.

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).

You asked...play Romantic Flight from How to Train Your Dragon

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INTERVIEW: Hailey Knox

INTERVIEW:

PHOTO CREDIT: Shervin Lainez

Hailey Knox

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TAKING us towards the long Easter weekend...

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Shervin Lainez

is Hailey Knox, who has been discussing her Hardwired Mixtape and what inspired it; whether there are going to be gigs very soon and some of the albums that have made an impact on her – she chooses some approaching artists that are worth investigation.

I ask Knox what music she grew up around and how important touring is; which artist she’d support if she could and what the rest of 2019 holds – Knox selects a great modern track to bring the interview down to a close.

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

Hello! I’m good! I've been working on new music this past week and hanging with family. I’m very excited to release new stuff and get new music out very soon.

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

I’m Hailey Knox! I’ve been singing since I was really young and playing guitar since I was seven. I’ve spent the last few years touring and creating music! My last tour was my first headlining tour which was a really interesting experience. I just released my mixtape, the Hardwired Mixtape, which has songs from a lot of different times in my life. I’m going on tour this summer supporting Bailen on the West Coast which I’m very excited about!

The Hardwired Mixtape is out now. What sort of experiences and stories inspired the music on the collection?

I talk a lot about life as a touring musician, missing home; self-doubt and relationships. A lot of the lyrics talk about emotions that I don’t show.

Is there going to be more material coming later in the year do you reckon?

Yes! I have a lot of songs I’m working on. New music real soon! 

How has 2019 been for you so far? Has it started pretty hectically?

2019 has been awesome! I had my song, Hardwired, on Grey's Anatomy, which was very cool! It was the first time I had a song on T.V. I am working on new music that I’m very excited about and I went on my first headlining tour!

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When you were growing up, which artists/records did you hold dear?

So many. I grew up loving Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber; Ingrid Michaelson, Tyler, the Creator and a lot of different artists and genres. My first concert was Hilary Duff!

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far? 

All of my touring experiences have been very cool and different. I feel like I learn something new with every tour and the people I work with. Seeing people online cover my songs always makes my day. It’s so cool that people connect with my lyrics and sing/ create their own versions. 

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

I really love DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar. I think the production is unreal and the tone of his voice - and melody/flow in every song is amazing. I am also really into Billie Eilish’s album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? I love the harmonies on all of the songs and the sounds in the production that Finneas uses are so great. I love how she ties in all of the songs at the end. Jon Bellion's album, The Human Condition, is another favorite of mine. He also incorporates all of the songs into one song at the end which I love. His lyrics and melodies really pull you in. 80’s Films and Guillotine are some of my favorites.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Shervin Lainez

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

I would love to support Billie Eilish! On my rider, I would put grilled chicken, sea salt and vinegar chips and tea!

What does the rest of this year hold for you?

Releasing new music, writing more music and heading out on tour during summer!

Are you planning any gigs in the coming months?

I am going on tour during June! I’ll be supporting Bailen on the West Coast. I’m very excited!

 PHOTO CREDIT: Shervin Lainez

Might you come to the U.K. and play for us here? 

I would love to! I have never been but would love to travel there. 

How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio? 

I really love both. I love creating in the studio and just jamming, coming up with new ideas. However, playing live is also really cool. I get to meet the people who listen and relate to my lyrics. A lot of my songs are emotional and the lyrics are very personal so if you come to my show. I hope you feel that. 

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Tierra Whack/PHOTO CREDIT: Notion

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out? 

I love Tierra Whack, Jack Harlow and Atticus Thatcher!

 IN THIS PHOTO: Jack Harlow

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

I feel like I’m always creating wherever I am. I think my way of unwinding is other forms of art. I love drawing, watching movies and exploring.

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).

ilomilo by Billie Eilish is one of my favorite songs right now. The melodies, lyrics and production are all so interesting. She’s the coolest

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INTERVIEW: Phildel

INTERVIEW:

Phildel

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TAKING us into the middle of the week...

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is the mighty Phildel. She has been telling me about her latest track, Glide Dog, and her upcoming album, Wave Your Flags – she tells me about some albums that are important to her and whether there are rising acts we need to look for.

I ask how a strict childhood impacted her and what effect music has; whether there are tour dates coming up and how she manages to unwind away from her busy career – Phildel chooses a great Elbow track to end the interview with.

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

Great, thank you. I've spent most of it wrapping string around a life-size mannequin. It’s a prop for my next music video…. 

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

I’m a British music artist who focuses on creating unique sonic landscapes. My songs are emotionally driven - inspired by my experiences. 

What can you tell me about Glide Dog? How did the song come together?

Glide Dog arose from a number of things...

For a while I’d had an image in my mind of a song. It was like an abstract diagram where each line represented a different instrument in the arrangement. It was a sparse image. I’ve sketched it below…

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I translated the image into music and assigned different instruments to each part. For example, the blue represents the consistent foundation of the bass-line; the black are the toms; the red is the striking programmed snare; yellow for the piano - minimally placed and green for the vocals. 

Then, when it came to vocal recording, I was sitting improving at the microphone and, for some reason, the music lead me into a playful, vampiric zone...and from that place I wrote the verses. The choruses were written in a different mindset. I think, on one hand, I was finding the darkest places within myself where there is an enjoyment of destruction and carnage. I think, especially as a woman, the playful, dominant power-play of the song, with a mix of sinister yet sexual overtones, feels like an interesting space to embody. It has a sentiment of ‘I’ve been sexually objectified all my life by casual onlookers’. It has been painful and horrible. And now, deep down, I just want to inflict f**kloads of pain on people who have any sexual interest: “Skin don’t mean a thing/your skin don’t mean a thing, no”. “I need more blood than you could pour, love”; “I need more pain to remember your name”. 

It’s easy to assume I might be talking about myself wanting to feel more pain - but the pain I’m looking for is the pain I can successfully inflict in others. 

Just to point out, this isn’t me in my day-to -day life! (I’m in a solid, fifteen-year loving relationship with a wonderful man - we have two kids and plenty of harmony). But, this is some deeper, darker part of myself that has been injured and carries this voice which I’m expressing in this song. 

Wave Your Flags is your upcoming album. What sort of ideas are expressed throughout the record?

There’s some incredibly reflective and philosophical moments in the album. Glorious is about moving on and thriving despite some of the worse injustices and betrayals. Lamb is about being there to take responsibility for and heal the wounds of your inner-self. I think, to sum it up, the album is about human resilience. 

It is your first album in five years. What was the reason for the slight gap?

It usually takes me about eight years to put an album together (I spend a long time experimenting with arrangements and sometimes I need to wait to grow as a person before I can, say, write a middle-eight), so, actually, this is fast work for me. In the five years I also had my twin boys, Dylan and Finn. That’s been an amazing new journey.  

Is it true you had quite a strict childhood? Were musical and artistic desires not encouraged?

Yes. My mother re-married a religious man when I was eight. He believed music was against his religion and all music was banished from our home. I left there at seventeen to pursue music. 

Can you describe what music does to you? Is it a form of emotional release?

Absolutely. And I think it’s the most effective way in which I can communicate. Which is why it feels so satisfying. We all want to be heard, empathised with and understood. And I feel with the complexity of both difficult and euphoric life experiences, music is one of the best mediums to convey the full feeling in a way that others will deeply feel also.

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?

There have been so many. I think going to the album signing table at Vancouver Festival after playing to a completely new audience of about one-hundred people and then seeing a hundred people line up to buy my C.D. and get it signed was a truly touching experience. 

I know you have been supported by various stations and outlets. How does it make you feel knowing your music resonates and connects with people?

It feels wonderful to know it’s out there being heard. Although, I should mention that music is more a creative journey for me, as opposed to a fame-seeking thing. The audience/exposure aspect is not nearly as significant as the process of creating. I think where I find real reward, though, in terms of reception, is when someone lets me know the music has helped them through a difficult time. 

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

I tend to take a year to listen to an album and I’ve probably only heard about ten in my lifetime. I loved Elbow’s The Seldom Seen Kid. There were a few songs in that I felt represented a real milestone. Such as the loving intimate caring communication between two men that are friends in Friend of Ours. Most of all I loved the musical arrangements and lyric writing in the album. I think it’s the best album ever to win the Mercury award. I enjoyed Imogen Heap’s album, Speak for Yourself, for her unique production. And I also loved The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, again for songwriting and production. 

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

Elbow. In terms of rider: loads of chocolate. 

What are your plans regarding gigs/touring?

We’ll be playing a U.K. tour later this year with a possible couple of U.S.A. dates too. 

Is there any advice you’d give to upcoming artists?

Enjoy and savour every moment of the journey. No matter what level you are at. 

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Richard Fairlie

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Richard Fairlie, Cub Sport

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Cub Sport/PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Andersen Jnr

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

Nope, I never stop really. When I’m not working I’m chasing my two-year-old twinados around. A few times a year I like to visit the spa...

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! I’d choose Elbow’s The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver

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INTERVIEW: CHARLOTTE

INTERVIEW:

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CHARLOTTE

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MY Tuesday interview is with CHARLOTTE...

who has been talking about her track, Nervous, and why it holds personal weight; what we can expect from the E.P., Nowhere to Hide, and which albums mean a lot to her – CHARLOTTE selects a few artists we need to look out for.

I ask what it was like putting her E.P. together and whether music came into her life from an early age; what she does away from music and whether there will be gigs approaching – she picks a great track to end the album with.

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

Hey! I’m great, thanks. I’ve been in L.A. for the past week so I am very much enjoying the sunny weather.

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

Sure. I’m from Hull in East Yorkshire, England. I released my first single, I Tell Lies, on 22nd Feb which was also my twenty-first birthday. I’ve been writing for myself and other artists since I was seventeen, so I’ve spent a while crafting my sound. It feels really great to finally be releasing stuff now.

Nervous is your latest track. Can you talk about the story behind it?

It’s inspired by my pretty appalling excuse for a love life. I’ve found myself completely incapable of letting anyone close enough to get into a relationship with them. This song specifically talks about those people I’ve pushed away or potential relationships that I’ve single-handedly screwed up before they could blossom into anything serious, despite still having feelings towards those people.

It is from the E.P., Nowhere to Hide. What sort of themes inspired the E.P.?

Growing up, insecurity and loneliness. Learning how to navigate becoming an adult and learning how to love myself. Releasing this music is scary as it’s all such personal stuff.

What was it like putting the E.P. together? Did the songs come pretty naturally?

Each of the songs are attached to really intense emotions that were all written in the moment. There were definitely some incredibly tough sessions. I was not a happy person at all when I wrote these songs but writing each of them helped me begin figuring things out.               

Do you remember when music came to you? Did you always grow up around different sounds?

I grew up watching my grandparents perform Soul music. I’d join in their rehearsals and invite myself up onstage from as young as four. I was completely captured by the music they played. I feel really lucky to be from a family of music lovers. I was exposed to so many amazing artists from all different genres. That’s definitely given me a great sonic foundation to draw inspiration from when I’m creating.

Which modern artists do you take guidance from? Do you listen to a lot of current music?

I listen to old and new music in equal measure. I think there are some unbelievably exciting artists making music at the moment. I’m a huge fan of Leon Bridges, Maggie Rogers; Bon Iver, Sam Fender; Frank Ocean, Lewis Capaldi; Ry X, H.E.R. and Billie Eilish. I’m taking huge inspiration from seeing authenticity getting the recognition it deserves. It makes me feel like I can be braver with the things I share in both my music and online when I see other artists baring their souls.

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Are there any ambitions for the rest of 2019 in terms of music and plans?

There are plenty of things I wanted to achieve - although I’m trying to make the most of every moment as it happens rather than falling into the vicious cycle of always chasing something better. I’d love to get to the end of this year and be able to say that I’ve played over one-hundred shows. I’m playing show number thirty-eight tonight, so I’ve made a good start on that I think. 

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?

I do. I had the most unforgettable weekend in Ireland last week. I was asked, last-minute, to guest appear on a song with a band called Picture This for five nights at the 3Arena in Dublin. I got to sing for a total of 65,000 people over the five nights. The story is a bit longer and more complicated than that but a series of weird and wonderful events led to it all happening and I will carry the memories with me for the rest of my life.

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

The albums that mean the most to me are the ones that have sentimental value. Hand Built by Robots - Newton Faulkner reminds me of car journeys with my mum; O - Damien Rice reminds me of my first festival experience and it’s an album I listened to a lot with my brother. Then pretty much every memory I’ve made in the last year and a half has been soundtracked by Leon Bridges - Good Thing…because it’s pretty much all I’ve listened to. Haha.

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

I am THE most low-maintenance person ever. It takes very little to make me very happy. All I require is carbs and hummus. I also love taking naps. Maybe I’d ask for a sleeping pod like they have at the Google offices. Oh…and I’d ask for my dog to be transported to wherever I’m performing.

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What are your plans regarding gigs/touring?

I have more tours coming up that I’ll be able to announce soon. Including some headline shows that I am SO excited about.

Is the stage somewhere you love to be? How important is it being up there?

Being onstage feels vital. I start to feel a build-up of energy and weight on my shoulders that can only be released by performing if I don’t have shows for a while. I don’t even have an explanation for why that is. Playing my own songs instead of covers has added another level to shows for me. Singing my own lyrics and having crowds connect with what I have to say is amazing.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Koffee

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I doubt I’m listening to stuff you haven’t already discovered but I highly recommend Koffee, Joesef and a band called Vistas.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Vistas/PHOTO CREDIT: Ellen Offredy Photography

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

At the moment, no. It’s been properly hectic since the beginning of this year.

I’m scheduling in a week off at the end of May where I plan to go home and just establish a bit of routine for myself again. Go to the gym, eat proper meals; walk my dog and spend time with my family. They’re all things that I’ve missed out on whilst touring over the last few months. I tend to operate at 100 m.p.h. until I can feel that I’m physically or mentally struggling a bit, then I make sure I take some time to reset.

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).

Saturday Night - Whigfield. I listen to this before I go onstage. Do the dance. It’s a banger

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INTERVIEW: Bailey Tomkinson

INTERVIEW:

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Bailey Tomkinson

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THANKS to Bailey Tomkinson...

for chatting about her current single, 7 Minutes in Heaven, and its story. I ask about her musical past and the sort of artists who inspire her; she talks about St Ives and what the scene is like there – Tomkinson highlights some rising artists worth following.

I wanted to know what comes next for her and whether there are gigs; if her parents exposed her to a lot of music when she was a child and what she does when she is not recording and playing – she selects a great song to end the interview with.

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

Action-packed! And a bit weird!

I’ve spent a bit of time in the studio, which was fun, and then I watched another local girl, Molly, win The Voice! We both actually were invited to audition at the same time but I turned it down as I didn’t think it was a good fit for me and I’d just signed a record deal but Molly only went and won it! I’m really pleased for her! 

Hell of an unusual week really!

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

So. I’m Bailey. I’m a nineteen-year-old singer/songwriter from sunny St Ives in Cornwall. I like to write Country melodies that hopefully even people that don’t normally like Country music will want to sing along to! I’m signed to German indie label FBP Music and when I’m not performing you can usually find me in the surf!

7 Minutes in Heaven is your new track. How did that song start life?

It was a combination of things, really.

I love movies like Dazed and Confused and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist for the sense they have where in one crazy night anything can happen. I thought it would be interesting to try to capture that feeling in a song. I’m nineteen years old, so you know I love a good party and we have some GREAT parties down here in St Ives. We’ve got the beach, bonfires; surfers and guitars so I thought why not write about some of them!

Are there any ambitions for the rest of 2019 in terms of music and plans?

Oh, yes, loads. I have a couple of London gigs coming up which I’m really looking forward to. I’m playing Boardmasters in August and a bunch of other festivals too which I’m really excited about; a new single and E.P. at some point to cram in too! I’d very much like to get on the road later in the year as well.

When you were growing up, which artists/records did you hold dear?

I’m part of the generation that grew up listening to Taylor Swift. I think Red is a brilliant album but I love all sorts of stuff. I listen to Sinatra. I love John Denver because he’s my grandad’s favourite. Also Sam Cooke, ABBA; the Dixie Chicks, Sugarland; Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Jewel - honestly, I just love music.

It sounds like you have a wide variety of musical tastes. Would that be a fair assessment? Were your parents influential in that respect?

Yes. Good music is good music, right? Irrespective of genre. Our house has always been full of music. In fact, the way my dad tells it the only way to get me to sleep as a baby was for him to carry me around in my car seat singing Elvis songs! He reckons he had a left arm like Hulk Hogan back then! As I got older, they introduced me to more and more diverse music so, one minute it’d be the Eagles, then The Stone Roses, Jann Arden or Lucinder Williams…our house is never silent!

Country music is evolving at the moment. Do you think the genre is at its most open and inventive right now?

I think it’s always been an inventive genre but there’s definitely so much going on within Country music at the moment. Kacey Musgraves is a great example and Golden Hour has been a huge influence on me. My brand of Country music has a fairly big Pop side to it and she’s inspired me to not be afraid of letting that show. There are other artists too like Kane Brown and Lil Nas X who have fused different sounds and genres in with Country music - and it’s very exciting to see that growth and broadening of appeal. It’s how we can reach new people.

I definitely feel that nothing is off the table - and that’s very inspiring to an artist.

PHOTO CREDIT: Megan Hemsworth Photography

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?

One of my favourite memories was my E.P. launch gig last September. We wanted something small and intimate so we picked a place called The Queen’s here in St Ives. It was so full that people were pretty much queueing to get in! It’s where I did my first open mic and my good friends and mentors The Amigos backed me; they’re fantastic! Lots of friends and family were there; everyone was singing my song, Hey Ace.

The atmosphere was so amazing and it was one of the venues busiest nights.

You are based in Cornwall. Is there a big music scene where you are?

It’s small but mighty! Here in St Ives, there’s a bunch of young musicians that are doing well and we’re all friends and support each other! Hell, one of us won The Voice this year! We’re not a big town but you’ll find live music here pretty much every night of the year. Keep your eye out for a local keyboard player called Joe Duke. He’s like the second coming of Jerry Lee Lewis.

There’s lots of local events and festivals too, including one of the biggest festivals in the U.K. in Cornwall, Boardmasters! I’ll be playing there this summer alongside Florence + The Machine, Jorja Smith; Foals, the Wu-Tang Clan; Rudimental and Sam Fender to name a few - I’m buzzing.

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

Love & Forgiveness - Courtney Jaye

This was the first album that I loved every single song on. The album was Pop-Country and had this Hawaiian twist to it. I absolutely love The Beach Boys and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, so I felt as though it was everything I loved in one album. It has certainly helped shape my music and probably me as a person! I listened to it religiously for years. It’s very hard to find now as it was taken off lots of music streaming platforms - that just adds to the appeal in a way. It’s taken on this ‘was it a dream’-like quality.

Taylor Swift - Taylor Swift

This album was the reason I do what I do. The first time I heard Mary’s Song, I was so arrested by the story. I engaged with that song on a deeper level than I had before. I started writing music after I heard this (when I was about eleven). That album kinda opened a door to Country music that I hadn’t really explored before. I grew up with John Denver and the Dixie Chicks (more traditional Country) but I soon discovered artists like Deana Carter, Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood.

Gold: Greatest HitsABBA

I couldn’t really decide which album as I love them all. Every time I listen to them it puts me in the happiest mood - I could listen to them forever. I’ve been collecting their vinyl for years. My favourite songs by them are Hasta Mañana, Super Trouper and If It Wasn’t for the Nights. They make me feel as though I’m spinning under a disco ball in a sparkly dress.

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

I would love to support Kacey Musgraves or Taylor Swift. They’re two of my biggest inspirations and I’d have the usual stuff on my rider but, if I could be very picky with my rider, I’d have some Pan di Stelle biscuits ordered in because they were my favourite when I was little and living in Italy. They’re very hard to get a hold of in the U.K.! I’d have some potato waffles! Maybe just a drop of whiskey for after the show. Haha. I’m very easily pleased though.

Are you planning any gigs in the coming months?

Yeah! I’ve got some really exciting gigs coming up. I’m really looking forward to the London ones as it’s such a change in environment to the beach town I live in! I’m also buzzing for Boardmasters as I’ve been going to that festival since I was sixteen. I’ll be playing on the stage I really wanted to perform on too!!  We put everything up on my website so folks can always check out what I’m up to.

How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio?

Honestly, I love both! The studio is great because it’s where you can experiment. I’ve been playing around with an ’80s Cyndi Lauper/Madonna vibe recently and really like how it’s sounding, so having that space to just try new things is great. But there’s nothing like the buzz of playing to an audience; the interaction, the chance to just go where feels right in that moment. You can’t replicate that in a studio. 

I love that with live music: every single gig you share with an audience is a unique moment. I saw Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs last summer and she said something that struck a chord with me. She said: “Don’t get your cameras out and film everything: let’s just share this experience and let it live in our memories”.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Maggie Rogers/PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Buckner/Variety/Rex

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Yeah. Definitely Maggie Rogers. I’m really into Camera Obscura and Alvvays at the moment too! And Jenny Lewis has just released an album. I have it on-repeat! On the Country scene, I think Runaway June are superb. There are loads of British Country artists emerging that I think shows a really healthy and developing scene.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Alvvays

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

I’m so lucky to have such loving and supportive friends and family! One of the best things about living in a small town is that your friends are never more than fifteen minutes away! One of my favourite things to do is have a surf and then lie on the beach with my friends under the sun and listen to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole!

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).

Light On by Maggie Rodgers is such a tune!

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INTERVIEW: Izzie Derry

INTERVIEW:

Izzie Derry

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MY final interview of the week...

is with Izzie Derry who has been talking about her new track, Learn to Grow, and its background. She reveals a special musical memory and which three albums mean the most to her; some rising acts we need to watch out for and where we can catch her perform.

I ask how important it is being on stage and whether she grew up around a lot of music; who she’d support on the road if she had the chance and whether she gets time to chill away from music – Derry selects a classic song to end the interview with.

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

I’m really good, thank you. How are you?

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

I’m a twenty-year-old Folk/Country singer-songwriter from Coventry, now based in Brighton.

When did the song, Learn to Grow, come to you? What is its story?

I wrote Learn to Grow about a year ago now. Things kept going wrong and I think I was feeling a little bit lost, so I wrote Learn to Grow to kinda say that, no matter what’s thrown at me, I will carry on, learn from my mistakes and become a stronger person for it.

Is there more material coming down the line do you think?

Yes. Learn to Grow is just a little taste of my new E.P., Lost At Sea, which will be release on 24th April.

Did you grow up around a lot of music? Which artists were your favourites?

My parents are massively into music, so there was always something being played. I think my favourite when I was small was Melanie. My mum had a cassette of hers in the car and we’d sing along to Alexander Beetle on the way to school. Then, when I got a little older, it was James Taylor, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.

PHOTO CREDIT: Russell Whitehead Photography

What does it feel like when a great song comes to you? Is it easy to describe that moment?

Sometimes it can be a very short release of emotions and, other times, it can take a lot longer and I get a little bit obsessed with it. But, once I’ve finished writing something, I always feel a lot lighter.

 Can you describe what music does to you? Is it a form of emotional release?

It’s definitely an emotional release for me; it feels so positive to turn potentially negative experiences into songs that people can find joy in.

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?

I’ve been lucky enough to support some pretty awesome artists but I think the most incredible moment was just a few weeks ago. I’d just played a really intimate gig in Leamington Spa and the organiser came up to me and asked if I’d like to support Fairport Convention. I think my mouth hung open for a solid five minutes.

Being asked to support a band I’ve listened to and loved since I was a kid was just a massive shock to the system.

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

Firstly, Sweet Baby James by James Taylor

He’s a personal hero of mine and I was lucky enough to meet him when I was sixteen. When I met him, that was the album I took for him to sign - and it sits on my bedroom shelf to this day.

Secondly, Trouble by Ray LaMontagne

There is just so much emotion in every single song; it’s my go-to-album whenever I’m feeling sad. I can just belt out the lyrics and instantly feel better.

Finally, Harvest by Neil Young

It’s just so raw: nothing is there that doesn’t need to be. I think, sometimes in more modern music we try and put as much stuff in as possible but I really love how much space there is on this album.

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

I would have to say James Taylor and (for the rider) probably something simple like hummus and carrot sticks.

What are your plans regarding gigs/touring?

I’ll be doing a small release tour when the E.P. comes out…

24th April - Brighton; 4th May – Coventry; 5th May - Tynemouth; 7th May - Leamington Spa; 11th May – Stafford.

Is the stage somewhere you love to be? How important is it being up there?

I always love going back home and playing shows there because there’s always so much love in the room. So, I guess venues back home such as The Tin, Temperance Bar and anywhere else really.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Courtney Marie Andrews/PHOTO CREDIT: Laura E. Partain

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I would definitely recommend Courtney Marie Andrews and John Craigie.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: John Craigie

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

I don’t get much time to chill as I’m studying for my degree; I have a job and doing music too but I live on a boat so, when I do get some free time, I like to spend some time out at sea.

A lot of musicians find little space to detach and relax. Is this a problem that we need to address or do you think it is good having that passion and drive?

I can’t speak for everyone but I feel quite lost when I’m not working towards something in music so, for me, that passion and drive gives me a purpose and makes me feel positive.

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).

Let’s go for a Fairport Convention one given the recent news: Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

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INTERVIEW: Fletcher Pilon

INTERVIEW:

Fletcher Pilon

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I have been finding out about Fletcher Pilon...

and his new E.P., Thoughts. He discusses his musical tastes and upbringing; a few albums that are very important to him and what the music scene is like in Australia at the moment – he picks a few rising artists to look out for.

I wanted to know if there are going to be any tour dates coming up and whether he will come to the U.K. at some point; how he relaxes away from music and which artist he’d support on the road if he could – Pilon chooses a classic cut to end the interview with.

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

I’m fantastic, thank you! This has been such a great week with releasing my Thoughts E.P. and playing the release show with my band in Indy Linzbichler and Grace Labrum at the Avoca Beach Hotel on the East Coast of Australia the next day. It was actually my eighteenth, so really the best way to spend it!

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

Hey. I’m Fletch! I’m from the Central Coast, Australia and play singer/songwriter music with some Rock influence. I’ve recently started playing with a band and bringing in some more riff-based songs as well as the Folk-influenced songs. I wrote from a place of contemplation and thought and always want to comment on something in my music.

I love poetry so elements of that come through my songwriting.

Your E.P., Thoughts, is out. What was it like putting it together? Was it quite a rewarding experience?

It was an incredibly rewarding experience. I wrote these songs by myself in my bedroom, so seeing how they came together with the band in a recording sense was just awesome. I’m just so happy that people finally get to hear all these things that I’ve wanted to say.

Are there any songs that stand out as personal favourites?

All the songs hold a deep meaning with me. In terms of lyricism, Thought Song is one that I’m really proud of. From commenting on corruption of innocence in modern media, to mining; the education system, politics and a whole lot of other things…I’m so lucky to be able to release music like this song - that is a reflection of how I approach life.

Do you remember when music came to you? Did you always grow up around different sounds?

Since I was young, I’ve always been drawn to music. I remember being only three or four and knowing all the words to a Play School album. Haha. My dad also plays guitar, so that definitely helped get me into it when I started playing and writing songs at about twelve.

Are there any ambitions for the rest of 2019 in terms of music and plans?

We’re playing some shows with the band soon and looking to add some more for June/July. I’d love to potentially record some more this year but, at the moment, I’m stoked to see out this Thoughts E.P. and the things that come with that.

Being based in Australia, what is the music scene like there? Which towns and cities do we need to look at regarding the best talent?

I’m from the Central Coast - which is about an hour north of Sydney, Australia. Sydney has an awesome music scene with lots of new bands and awesome venues. Melbourne is also hugely music-orientated; Australian music feels to be in a fantastic place at the moment.

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?

Winning Australia’s Got Talent in 2016 will always be a monumental highlight for me. It was such a moving and special experience in dedicating my performances to my late little brother, Banjo. I was so honoured to be able to share his story and spread his positivity for life.

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

Definitely Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changin’. The lyrics on this album and the way he approaches songwriting inspires me tremendously. I teared up when I first listened to the song With God on Our Side and that weight of emotion is something that I’d like my music to bring to someone.

The BeatlesAbbey Road is one of my favourite albums. I was on the train to Sydney when I first listened to it and I had an epiphany-like experience. From the emotion and craft in writing it just cut straight through to me.

Another album that I just admire is Jeff Buckley’s You and I. It’s a collection of demos he did as live takes that was only released a couple of years ago. His voice is just magnetising and honest. I love Julia Jacklin’s Don’t Let the Kids Win for the same reason.

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

Bob Dylan and a bottle of kombucha for rider. Haha.

Are you planning any gigs in the coming months?

Yes! Playing a few shows around the East Coast of Australia:

Sunday, 14th April - Going Off at The Swamp (Central Coast)

Sunday, 21st April - Seaview Tavern (Woolgoolga, N.S.W.)

Friday, 3rd May - Some Velvet Morning (Melbourne)

Sunday, 5th May - The Newsagency (Sydney).

And also more shows to be released soon…

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Might we see you in the U.K. this year at all?

Potentially, I’d love that! I’m planning on coming next year - once I finish school - for a bit of a music holiday with my girlfriend.

How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio?

Performing is my favourite thing to do in music. I love being in the studio but nothing compares to interacting with an audience and sharing that experience - especially when playing my own songs.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Julia Jacklin/PHOTO CREDIT: Nick Mckk

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I love Julia Jacklin’s music and fully recommend that. Didirri and Joel Leggett are also sick.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Didirri

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

Music can often be my chill from music. I love coming back to sitting in my studio and writing songs. I also love surfing, so the ocean is where I turn to reset.

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).

Awesome, cheers! With God on Our Side - Bob Dylan. I think the more people that appreciate Bob Dylan the better the world will be. Haha.

Thanks heaps!

Fletch.

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INTERVIEW: Caswell

INTERVIEW:

Caswell

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TAKING us into the weekend...

is the fantastic Caswell. She has been telling me about her new E.P., Blindside. I ask if there is a favourite track from the collection and when music came into her life; how she views a very busy 2018 and what plans are coming up.

I wanted to know if there are going to be tour dates coming and which albums are most important to her; if there are particular artists we need to be aware of and who she’d support on the road given the chance – Caswell picks a great song to finish the interview on.

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

Hey! Yes. All good, thanks. I had my hometown E.P. launch on Thursday and the E.P. release on Friday. Then, afterwards, typically got struck down with some form of spring lurgy. Now, I’m on a potent diet of ginger and lemon tea.

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

So. I’m an independent London-born, Suffolk-based singer-songwriter with a killer live band and I guess I make what you’d call Alternative-Electro-Neo-Soul-Pop? Or something?

 

Stay the Night is your latest single. Is there a story behind it?

I wrote this when I was seventeen and, as I wasn't a hugely strong keys player, I found I'd spend hours trying to find inspiration on the piano but fall into the same limited chord progressions and get frustrated. I then went through a phase of writing over YouTube instrumentals and found one by The Weeknd that just fitted this dark/sexy/lonely vibe for Stay the Night. That was my first proper heartbreak song - so it’s always, always gonna be one that sticks.

The song is from your new E.P., Blindside. What inspired the songs and how does it differ from your debut E.P.?

So. I wanted to amp the energy up from my previous E.P. and make it more synth-heavy. I did a lot of my biggest shows last year and I just felt I needed some more high-energy tunes for the live set as I love getting the crowd hyped at a festival. During the writing of Blindside, I had also been playing with the band a little while and the production definitely translated this.

 

Is there a track from the E.P. that you favour/prefer above the rest?

I love Control just because it feels so raw and I get to go a bit mad with the vocal - and that’s super-fun to do live. There’s an anger in the song too and that’s something I’ve not really explored before.  

2018 was a pretty busy one. What are your impressions of the year?

Yes, it was mad! The tour with Arlissa and playing Latitude were the best; I even got listed as a live highlight on the official Latitude website so that was another kind of crazy. I was also awarded the Women Make Music grant from the PRS which helped enable me to release this Blindside E.P. so massive love to them!

Do you remember when music came to you? Did you always grow up around different sounds?

So. I will forever hear the stories about how, at two, I would call myself ‘Madonna Spice’ (a merger of my two favourite acts, clearly); apparently I also took a shining to k.d. lang and Suzanne Vega as a toddler. I was always into music but weirdly a musical episode of Buffy I watched when around the age of ten inspired me to start writing! (Strange child). My mum is also a vinyl dealer so that doesn’t hurt.

Are there any ambitions for the rest of 2019 in terms of music and plans?

Absolutely. Next week I’m headed to Berlin for a week of sessions writing with BMG artists, so that’s very exciting! We’ve also got a jam-packed summer of live shows and festivals which are always the most fun.

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?

Crying whilst singing my song, Brother, at an open mic at my local. It was an intense emotional experience.

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

Mama’s Gun by Erykah Badu

Memories of teenage years.

In Rainbows by Radiohead

Nostalgic, emotional perfection.

Grace by Jeff Buckley

Limitless beauty.

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

I think Tame Impala, just because I’ve seen the live set and I know how epic it would be! I was obscenely obsessed a few years back. For the rider, all I know is socks are a must (according to the band, a spare change is absolutely essential…)

What are your plans regarding gigs/touring?

So. I haven’t announced some stuff as of yet but it’s going to be my busiest summer yet by far, with returns to old favourites and ventures to new live territory. Keep them peeled.

Is the stage somewhere you love to be? How important is it being up there?

Absolutely. Although it wasn’t always that way. I had terrible nerves and a little but loud voice in my head telling me everyone was bored and I should finish the songs early. It took a lot of practice but that voice only makes very occasional appearances now - and I spend the majority of the shows having the time of my life with the support of my amazing band.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Nemi

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

So. I’m really feeling the new tune by friend/artist Nemi called Can’t Get Through to You and my producer’s band KYLYPSO are sick. I’m not biased- promise!

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IN THIS PHOTO: KYLPSO/PHOTO CREDIT: Jordan Woods

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

Finding life/work balance is such a constant struggle. I work a normal day job then music is a whole other life/job on top. I’m usually doing emails until 11 P.M. and there's not a day I switch off - but on the weekends I do definitely like to be social and enjoy a few cheeky bevs.

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).

After You’ve Gone - Nina Simone

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INTERVIEW: Rayon Nelson

INTERVIEW:

Rayon Nelson

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THE brilliant Rayon Nelson has been telling me about...

his new track, Freedom, and what it concerns; how music came to him and the role his family played; if he has a standout career memory; what is still coming up in 2019 and the rising artists we need to get behind and spend some time with.

I ask Nelson whether there are gigs afoot and if there are any albums that stand out to him; whether there is more material coming along and the advice he’d give to approaching musicians – he selects a cool track to end things with.

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

Hi, I’m good, thanks! My week’s been ok; somewhat intense but trying to chill out and enjoy moments!

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

I’m a soulful singer and songwriter. I am self-produced so all my songs I produce but I am open to working with other producers. My music is a mainly Acoustic-Soul but I have some vibey tunes as well. I write about any and everything, but I try to be meaningful - i.e. Memories, Get Up and Freedom.

Freedom is your latest single. Is there a story behind it?

Yes, there is! So I found myself wanting to write about freedom and the issues with the killing of young youths in America i.e. the Ferguson killing. So, I started writing about that. Then, I performed at an inspiring event where I was then speaking to a friend who told me a story of a really young refugee girl who had fled a country because her father was killed. Her mother then died of starvation and she ended up travelling with strangers to Europe.

He then brought her story to Parliament as his way of doing something. I felt challenged by that conversation as I have always wanted to do things to help people in similar situations but my excuse was that I didn’t have money to donate etc. But then I realised that I may not be able to give financially but I could write a song and bring about some sort of awareness!

So that’s how the song came to be! 

I understand you took some time off of music. Was there a reason behind that?

After I released my latest E.P. (independently), I had a lot of industry interests etc. which I realise I wasn’t ready for. I also felt I was compromising my sound for labels to satisfy their wants. So, I had to just chill out and get organised, clear my mind…try sort out a team. I was having label meetings with no management, no lawyer etc. It is good that I could handle myself - but having a strong team around you is better!

Are there any ambitions for the rest of 2019 in terms of music and plans?

I have a second single coming out 26th April and my E.P. on 31st May. So, hopefully these will do good. Then I will release a few more singles at the latter part of the year!

When you were growing up, which artists/records did you hold dear?

I had quite an array of artists that I liked and listened to but, to name a few: Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley; Smokie Norful, Usher; Donnell Jones, Mali music etc.

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It seems you take inspiration from various different sources. How important are your family and upbringing to that?

Well. My family played a lot of Soul, Reggae and old-school Gospel music in the house so I grew to love people like Jimmy Cliff, Buju Banton and Sister Nancy. This is like my foundation in terms of influence, not only because of their sound but because they spoke about real things. I was born in Jamaica on a farm in a family who ate what they grew…there were great times but also some tuff (sic) times. In one of my songs on the new E.P. I talk about this a bit and I dedicated the song to my grandparents and aunties.

I remember this one Sunday we never had enough money come in that week so we had to drink ‘pumpkin soup’ on a Sunday instead of the typical full-plate chicken/rice and peas etc. So, I understand what it means to struggle and I sing for this reason: to help my family and people out there struggling alike.

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?

Uhmm. Performing at the Isle of Wight Festival was great! It was my first major festival experience to both visit and gig. But, what makes me happy most is intimate gigs where I can connect with audience.

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

Ohh…this one is hard! Haha. I don’t usually listen to whole albums so this might not be an accurate answer…but here we go:

Confessions by Usher

Because this reminds of college days when I started to sing. There was a guy from my school who inspired me to sing. He was so dope at that time and the first song I heard him sing was from Usher - so that’s how I started to listen to Usher. Confessions is a vibe! I loved how the album was all a confession!

Freudian by Daniel Caesar

This was released in 2018 and it has been the only new artist album that I have had on-repeats for a while. The musicality and the vibe captured me. It’s just dope.  I hope my album to come is as dope!

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill

Again, because of the vibe! It’s just a great album.

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

I would love to support D’Angelo! I also would love to jamm with him! That would be vocally epic! As long as I have a comfy dressing room with plenty of water (and lemon/honey-infused) then I am good. Also, no-phones policy! I want people to enjoy the moment and not caught up on their phones.

What does the rest of this year hold for you?

Pushing my E.P.; loads of gigs and collaborations.

Are you planning any gigs in the coming months?

I only plan to have one gig in April (details will be on social media). I am performing at Sofar Sounds at Orbit Sounds UK on 16th May and then at my E.P. launch on 30th May at The Finsbury.

How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio?

Performing is my favourite part of this music life. It’s never the same. I love intimate gigs. It allows me to connect with people, share myself and be authentic. It also allows moments to be created! Can you remember or imagine being in a crowd listening to your favourite artist and saying one day that this will be me!

It’s a space for dreamers to be inspired and motivated. 

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 PHOTO CREDIT: TEEKS

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I have just discovered TEEKS! Love his voice and his sound is that old-school Soul sound.

Jackson Lundy - Calypso (recommended track). I just discovered this dude as well. Chilled, dreamy Soul. He is also up-and-coming!

Koffee - Toast (recommended track). It’s like a Dancehall-Pop-kinda style. I like her because her lyrics aren’t typical of Dancehall: she’s a really young artist from Spanish Town, Jamaica and she has unique sound.

Hablot Brown - She Said. They are just great! Great sound! They are still climbing the ladder!

Dayo Bello - Mine. Because he’s my friend. He is great and have so much potential!

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 IMAGE CREDIT: Jackson Lundy

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

I still work full-time to pay rent so I don’t get enough time to really chill. I am trying though to chill! Haha. Hopefully, this year I will do music full-time! That’s the goal!

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).

Home Again - Michael Kiwanuka

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Follow Rayon Nelson

INTERVIEW: Eleri Angharad

INTERVIEW:

Eleri Angharad

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IT has been wonderful speaking with Eleri Angharad...

about her album, Earthbound (out on Friday), and how it came together; whether she has a standout song from the set and what it was like recording the album in Cardiff – Angharad tells me about her favourite artists and music.

I ask whether there are gigs coming up and why she takes guidance from Nashville and its artists; the musician she’d support on the road given the choice and which approaching artists should be in our sights – she selects a great song to end the interview with.

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

Hello! I’m good, thank you - tired but very, very excited! So far it’s been a busy week getting everything organised for the release, but I think I’m just about ready!

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

I’m Eleri Angharad, a Country/Pop artist from South Wales, U.K. My music is influenced by a mix of Welsh and Americana musicians such as Cerys Matthews, James Taylor and Taylor Swift. I was really drawn to Country music both growing up and after a road trip I took around the U.S., playing in Greensboro, Nashville; Chicago and New York.

Your debut album, Earthbound, is out soon. Can you reveal what inspired the songs and what it was like to record?

I chose the title, Earthbound, which is also the name of one of the tracks because it really tied in with the themes of home that run through the album - whether home is your hometown or a person or just a feeling of belonging somewhere. I travelled a lot around the U.S. and Ireland, so a lot of places feel like home to me. I’m lucky to have friends all over the world that keep really grounded, so Earthbound encompasses all of that. It’s the most honest collection of songs I’ve ever written.

I love recording music and I’ve worked with the same producer on my last two records - a fantastic guy called Lee House. We work really well together and everything seems to flow.

Is there a song from the pack that stands as a favourite?

Oh. I change my mind on this every day! At the moment, I think Stronger Stuff really stands out to me as it’s so upbeat and empowering. It’s also got a great harmonica solo blended with electric guitar, so I really love how the sound turned out!

I also love Chicago as it’s such a nostalgic song to me. It’s like a time capsule.

What was it like recording the album at Woodcroft in Cardiff?

It was a new studio for me so that was exciting. It’s a really chilled space with lovely carpets and fairy lights so it’s quite magical and relaxing - it makes me feel really creative! It’s always an absolute pleasure to work with Lee House as producer too. He always listens to my vision for the songs and makes them sound even better than I could imagine!

It was difficult at times especially playing the same guitar parts over and over but it was amazing to see myself grow and improve as a recording artist during the process and I can’t wait to see what my next project will be.

When you were growing up, which artists/records did you hold dear?

I grew up listening to a ton of my parents’ music collection including welsh artists like Cerys Matthews/Catatonia and Amy Wadge. I have always loved storytelling songs like those of James Taylor and Dolly Parton - I’m a self-confessed Taylor Swift super-fan too and her album, Fearless, really got me into Country music. These days, I really love the modern Pop twist on Country - with artists like Kacey Musgraves, Jillian Jaqueline and U.K. country duo Ward Thomas.

It seems like you take guidance from Nashville artists. What is it about the city and sound that captivates you?

Nashville is wonderful because there’s music in absolutely every bar - almost 24/7 - and yet there’s always an audience. The people there just adore music and it attracts music lovers and artists from all over the world. What struck me most was the heartbreaking honesty of Nashville artists, each one with their own story to tell and being completely unafraid to sing it to a room full of strangers with often just a guitar in hand. I really wanted to incorporate that stripped-back integrity into my own music and this record reflects the Nashville magic for me.

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?

One of the best gigs I ever played was completely unplugged in a bookshop in Stockholm, Sweden. I got to meet Izzy Young - the man who booked Bob Dylan his first-ever gig - so that was pretty amazing. It was absolutely filled to the brim with people who were so supportive and attentive - I even sang in Welsh and I think that was their favourite song!

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

Fearless - Taylor Swift

This album really got me into Country music and exploring more and more artists.

Catatonia - International Velvet

My mum used to play this in the car all the time when I was growing up and Road Rage was my ultimate-favourite song for years. I know the whole album off by heart and I still love it. I got to write with one of the band members for my Earthbound album and that was an incredible experience.

9 to 5 and Odd Jobs - Dolly Parton

I was in a play in school where this was the soundtrack and it really got me into older Country music; it holds a lot of memories for me. I just adore Dolly in general. I think she’s wonderful!

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

Oooh, wow! I’d actually love to support Kacey Musgraves as I feel like the show would be magical and full of sparkly things! On my rider I’d definitely have some pink gin, watermelon and strawberries.

What does the rest of this year hold for you?

Well. I’m going on a U.K. tour this month to promote the album release - playing in York, Brighton; Manchester, Bristol and London as well as some more along the way! I’ve also got a busy summer of festivals coming up, too: How the Light Gets In, Live on the Wye and Home Farm Fest (which have already been announced), so I’m also really excited about those. Maybe some more music videos, too; they’re always so much fun to release!

Are you planning any gigs in the coming months?

I’ve got my album launch next week in Cardiff – 13th April (which is now sold out). I’m playing there with my full band, The Blue Js, and I’ve got the tour. Also doing a big hometown show in Swansea on 3rd May. After that, I’m supporting Ell South in Porter’s, Cardiff on 8th May and Sarah Birch in The Cellar, Cardigan on 14th June.

How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio?

They’re very different. I love the experience of chipping away at a record in the studio and seeing my songs come to life, but I also love the buzz of performing! I’m so excited to be playing some full band shows this year as the atmosphere onstage is great. I can’t wait to share my album live with an audience. 

 IN THIS PHOTO: Violet Skies

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

There are some really great upcoming artists from South Wales. I’d hugely recommend listening to Pop acts like Violet Skies and Emilie Merry and, for some Country, my favourite new acts are Jillian Jacqueline, Natalie Jones and Rosey Cale.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Jillian Jacqueline

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

I love to keep fit and go to the gym, although I haven’t had much time for that for a while. I also really love cooking new vegan recipes and baking. I find it so relaxing! I even have my own food blog on Instagram, What Eleri Eats.

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).

Oooh. I think I’ll pick Space Cowboy - Kacey Musgraves. It’s absolutely heartbreaking and I love a good sad song!

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Follow Eleri Angharad

INTERVIEW: Kat Cunning

INTERVIEW:

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PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Trivett 

Kat Cunning

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THE superb Kat Cunning has been discussing her great single...

Birds and how it came to life. I was keen to know if there is more material coming and what sort of music Cunning is inspired by; how important it is to be an advocate of L.G.B.T.Q.+ rights and body positivity – she picks a couple of rising artists that we need to get involved with.

I wanted to find out if there are tour dates coming up and how, as an actor, that discipline blends with her music work; how she relaxes outside of music and a few albums that mean a lot to her – Cunning selects a great song to end the interview with.

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

STELLAR! Played a showcase in London where David Bowie used to track; released my single, Birds, and I’m gearing up to release the video to follow. Most importantly, I got to watch plane movies on my way back...Heaven.

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

Alt-pop? Inclusive? Sexual? Soul influence? Hot fire? It’s so hard to describe yourself but I’m often compared to vocalists like Florence and The Machine and Fiona Apple. I think it’s less about how I sound and more about the feel of the music. I write songs that mean something to me and I put my heart into them.

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

When I wrote this song, I didn’t even know what it was about: it just fell out of my mouth. It felt like a nursery rhyme until the symbolism of the birds revealed themselves to be a metaphor for anxiety and insomnia. This song is for anyone who has ever been agitated, bothered or gone completely mad.  

Me, personally, I sing the song to combat the voices in my own head and the structures that are built inside and outside of me, designed to hold me back. Metaphor is cool that way. It doesn’t really shove my experience at you. You can hear your own story in the song.

Might there be more material coming later in the year?

Lots of stuff cookin’. I have two songs in particular that I’m already so excited to release and a forthcoming E.P. THIS FALLLL! I’m dead.  It’s been so long; I can’t wait to share it.

PHOTO CREDIT: Marc Harris Miller

You are an advocate of body positivity and the L.G.B.T.Q.+ community. How important is that to you?

I am a curvy and strong person. I am always being reminded that my body is weird, extra: specifically female or utterly sexual. I don’t see women like me on T.V. that play anything other than hookers and vixens. Body positivity is important to me because I feel underrepresented and I know and love so many women in more extreme cases that feel the same. The Internet is starting to turn the tides when it comes to user-generated imagery - we’re showing you what we want to show you and affirming what we want to see. That’s cellulite, scars; different ages, colors and abilities.

The same goes for queer people. I am a queer person. I want to see examples of same-sex couples and gender-fluid people thriving. I see them and love them in my life. I want to see more diversity and fewer stereotypes represented in the media. It would be more realistic, interesting and helpful to the kids that aren’t so lucky to have the colorful community I’ve found. All it takes is one character on primetime; one song that speaks to you, to motivate you to find your way.

As an actor, how does that work blend with your music? Do you bring acting disciplines into your music?

Ya. Acting helps me to be a brave performer. It also inspires me to be empathetic when I write. It’s cool to step into other people’s shoes.

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How influential is the diverse New York scene when it comes to your own sound?

Hugely! I come from a really small town in Oregon. I value space in music like my hometown. I value color in music like my community here.

When you were growing up, which artists/records did you hold dear?

I was a weird kid, man. I had a record player that my grandma saved and would play old records which were mostly show tunes and The Beatles. I think I was just as in love with the sound of the record scratch as I was with the songs themselves. As a teenager, I was into Neutral Milk Hotel, Interpol; Modest Mouse, the Ramones; The Clash and Dandy Warhols. I discovered Soul and R&B in college…

Erykah for life.

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?

Getting to open for LP on tour was a dream.

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

James Blake - James Blake

I danced alone to this album every day for a year.

BeyoncéBeyoncé

She presents every part of herself in this album. It’s what made me really want to dive into this industry.

Rihanna - Anti

She f*cks with every genre, sings in her own dialect; the imagery for the album is so androgynous; she champions other artists and overall doesn’t seem to care what you think.  

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

I would love to open for Christine and the Queens, Sia or Lady Gaga. I think they all draw freaky crowds that love strong women and they put on huge shows. My rider would include tequila, popcorn and Blue Point Oysters…cus I’m classy.  

Are you planning any gigs in the coming months?

Yes! Come see me in N.Y. on April 17th at Elsewhere space and I might be back in London the following week. Stay tuned!

How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio?

I need to perform. I love to write. I much prefer to sing my records on stages for people than alone in a booth. I kind of hate that and it makes me want to die. My manager is always laughing cus I have tried singing in every corner of the studio.

IN THIS PHOTO: NSTASIA

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Obsessed with NSTASIA and my friend Katie Von Schleicher!

 IN THIS PHOTO: Katie Von Schleicher

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

I take myself dancing. Not the bougie venues where girls stand in cocktail dresses waiting for someone to buy them a cocktail: the places you go to sweat and grind.  

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).

Love in This Club by Usher! Xoxox

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Follow Kat Cunning

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INTERVIEW: Sahara Beck

INTERVIEW:

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PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Andersen Jnr.

Sahara Beck

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KICKING off the week is Sahara Beck...

PHOTO CREDIT: She Is Aphrodite

who has been discussing her latest track, I Haven’t Done a Thing Today. I ask about its start and whether the Australian artist has more material coming up; whether she might head out on tour and what sort of music she was raised on.

Beck suggests some rising artists to watch and talks about the past year; what advice she’d give to artists coming through and the albums that mean a lot to her – she ends the interview by picking a great song.

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

My week has been good! An exciting first week of life for my new single!

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

I'm Sahara Beck. I've been playing and releasing music since I was thirteen. I grew up on the Sunshine Coast but have been based in Brisbane for a few years now. I've just released my new single, I Haven't Done a Thing Today, which I wrote with my brother last year.

What is your new song, I Haven’t Done a Thing Today, about? When did it come to you?

It's about taking a seat and having a look at everything in my life and objectively without judging myself and, instead, just putting love into those areas. For example, in one part I speak about how my brother has always been very smart and good at everything. I used to feel competition towards him, naturally.

But I am proud of him that things come so easily to him these days. I speak about love being everywhere because I truly believe that and sometimes I forget to see that when I get caught up in mine and others egos. 

I understand more material is arriving later in the year. Can you tell us anything about that?

I guess what I can tell you is that I have been spending a lot of time writing and pushing my abilities and boundaries in that sense - over the last eighteen months. This is why I chose to travel to Los Angeles to work on the new material with Tony Buchen. He’s worked with Montaigne, Courtney Barnett and Mansionair to name a few.

We’d never worked together before and I had a strong sense he would be able to understand my vision and help me to reach that ultimate creative goal on this project (smiles). It was exciting to take that big step to work outside my comfort zone - and also really frightening!  But I am incredibly proud of what I have written and created and I am so pumped to finally release these ones to the world.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Andersen Jnr.

Over the past twelve months, you have been very busy – including a support slot with Bishop Briggs. How crazy has it been and has it all been fun?!

The Bishop Briggs support was amazing. She is an incredible woman and I learnt so much from watching her perform! It was a pretty cool way to kick of the year! Around that, I've been writing a lot with many different people, rehearsing the new material with my band and it's generally been a very creative time and I've been loving it.

Did you always know you wanted to get into music? When did that passion start?

Actually, I always wanted to be an actress growing up! I started playing music as a natural progression of that expression and just started loving it so much I couldn't stop. There have been many moments in my journey that have continued to excite me and motivate me to write and perform. I remember seeing The Cat Empire for the first time at a festival and they had the audience completely in the palm of their hand - with nothing but a single vocal note and that just crushed me. I just knew I was driven to that experience.

PHOTO CREDIT: @thomasjamesisaac

When you were growing up, which artists/records did you hold dear?

I grew up listening to a lot of dramatic music of all genres, mainly Classical on my mum's side or Motown on my dad's side. My music taste growing up and even still now is so wide I am struggling to raise any particular names above others.

Being based in Brisbane, what is the music scene like there? How does it compare to cities like Sydney and Melbourne?

I think the Brisbane music scene is extremely supportive. I'm not sure what it's like in other cities as I've always lived either on the Sunshine Coast or Brisbane. 

PHOTO CREDIT: She Is Aphrodite

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?

My standout memory is getting an eight-piece band together for BluesFest several years ago and performing my album to a packed-out tent! I think I was eighteen at the time and it just felt insane!

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

Lou ReedTransformer

Because it's so real, lyrically and musically, to me.

Violent Soho - Hungry Ghosts

Because it's always a huge release for me listening to it.

And anything by Tame Impala

Because Kevin can do no wrong plucking my heart-strings with his beautiful melodies.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Andersen Jnr.

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

Maybe, like, Beyoncé - and then I’d request to have the same rider as she has. I reckon that would be interesting to find out (smiles).

Are you planning any gigs in the coming months?

I have a couple of announced shows coming up and some not yet announced!

I’m playing the Ipswich Festival on Friday, 12th April with Regurgitator. This will actually be the first show with my brother (who has joined the band)! And then I will be playing AltFest in Adelaide on Saturday, June 29th with some kick-ass women Dallas Frasca and Z-Star Trinity!  I haven’t been back to Adelaide for a couple of years so I’m super-excited about that show. You can expect to hear a lot of my new material in these sets - a handful of which I previewed on my single tour late last year.

How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio?

Performing is my favourite part of all of this. I love writing and recording but there's nothing like performing something that is so vulnerable and true to yourself.

 IN THIS PHOTO: The Jensens

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

The Jensens and Pink Matter. Pink Matter is a four-piece all-female Neo-Soul act. So great live and the best people!

IN THIS PHOTO: Pink Matter/PHOTO CREDIT: Georgia Wallace Photographer

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

I like getting hooked into a good animated series to unwind my mind. I'm re-watching Rick and Morty at the moment for that reason. That show always helps me get perspective.

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).

The JensensMt. Mura

That's my mate’s band and I'm loving their new direction.

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Follow Sahara Beck

INTERVIEW: Tally Spear

INTERVIEW:

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Tally Spear

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I have been talking with Tally Spear...

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about her new song, City Girl, and finding out more about it. She reveals when music arrived in her life and which albums are important to her; which modern artists she is inspired by and how her new work compares to her earlier stuff.

I ask Spear why she took a break from music last year and what comes next; if there is a rising artist we should look out for and how she spends time away from music – she selects a great song to end things with.

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

Kind of you to ask. It’s been super-busy but exciting! I can’t wait to release my new track this week.

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

So. I started out as a lover of Americana and Folk music when I was around eighteen. I was pretty determined to be a Folk singer myself but last year something changed quite significantly for me. It was like the click of a switch. I suddenly started writing music with a new vision and sound in mind and it finally felt like me. I got to work in British Grove Studios with an incredible producer I was introduced to and it all started falling into place. Now I would say I’m an Alt-Pop artist, writing music about life as a twenty-three-year-old Londoner…

What can you reveal about your new single, City Girl? How did it come to mind?

This song is kind of like a patchwork…

It has a few different themes woven together. It is inspired by the fact that you can be living in one of the busiest cities in the world, like I do, yet you can feel totally detached from the people around you; modern-day loneliness is an issue that I think hasn’t been spoken about much. It’s about sitting back and observing the world as it goes by, almost from bird’s eye view…but it’s dressed up as a love song about someone who can’t commit. Intrigued? (Winks).

How do you think your latest single differs from your earliest work?

This single just feels like me. I’m not saying my earlier music wasn’t me; at the time it was but this song marks the transition that I feel was inevitable in my journey as an artist and writer.

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Last year, there was a period when you needed to take a step back and focus on self-discovery. How important was that decision and do you think it has revitalised your music?

This decision was just an essential next step for me - it didn’t feel like a decision, it just was the way forward. New sound, new image - I think I was just growing up and the music was growing with me. Sometimes, you just need to take some time out, to be creative and consider what you actually want…and there really is no shame in starting again.

When you were growing up, which artists/records did you hold dear?

Hannah Montana? Kidding. (Not kidding). Nah, I’m pretty lucky. My dad has been working in the music biz since he was a teenager and he’s kept all of his records growing up. We now have an entire room in the house dedicated to housing these records. So, I was fed some good stuff. I absolutely adore Carole King’s Tapestry and a load of Bob Dylan albums have a forever place in my heart!

In terms of modern artists, are there any that you take guidance from?

I take inspiration from lot of different artists. It’s like when I listen to new music, new artists; it fuels my own writing. It’s such an inspiration to listen to others. At the moment, I’m really intrigued by Billie Eilish and I’m also into Sigrid and Alice Merton.

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?

Stepping into British Grove Studios for the first time to begin recording City Girl. I just felt like there was no other place I was meant to be in the world at that moment but there. I’m really grateful for that time.

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

Tapestry by Carole King

I think every song on this album is pretty flawless and I think it’s very unusual to be able to say that.

By the Way by the Red Hot Chili Peppers

This takes me back to being a young teen at college. I rinsed this album.

Bringing It All Back Home by Bob Dylan

It contains some of the songs that I listened to all night long at university when I couldn’t sleep!

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

Oh, my gosh. Joan Jett?! That’d be an absolutely historic night. Massive band behind me, lots of flashing lights. And definitely singing I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll alongside her. My fingers are crossed.

What does the rest of this year hold for you?

In the music industry, I feel like everything is a surprise for you and for me. But I am planning on releasing more of the new music than I’ve been recording! Hoping to release a single every three months.

Are you planning any gigs in the coming months?

I’ll be playing with Sofar Sounds on my single launch day, then at Track Record London on 20th April! I’ll be sharing ticket info online for the second gig.

How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio?

It’s a totally different experience to studio life! At the moment, I’m in the process of transforming my live set into more of a full, band experience rather than always solo. But, being in the studio is a magical creative experience as you watch a song come to life.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Caitlyn Scarlett

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Caitlyn Scarlett! She’s awesome.

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

I’m a bit obsessed with being busy I think. I like to feel like I’m always being proactive, so switching off is difficult. But, when I go out with my friends for dinners and walks or spend time with family I definitely feel chilled. A candlelit bath (with some chocolate) is always a good shout too.

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).

Let’s go with Caitlyn Scarlett - Ornaments. She’s the artist I mentioned earlier. I love her voice! Enjoy!

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Follow Tally Spear

INTERVIEW: Alessandro Ciminata

INTERVIEW:

Alessandro Ciminata

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MY final interview before the weekend...

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is with Alessandro Ciminata. He discusses his new track, Kings, and explains its story. I ask when he got into music and the artists he followed; whether there is more music coming along and which rising artists we should get behind.

Ciminata reveals his gig plans and states which three albums are most important to him; the musician he would support on tour above everyone and how he relaxes outside of music – the songwriter selects a cool track to end the interview with.

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

Hey, Sam! I’m good thank you! How are you? It’s been hectic so far; busy is good! Haha.

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

I’m a London-based singer-songwriter and solo artist. I do what I call ‘retro-tinged Indie-Pop’. I like to write songs that people can relate to. I was born and raised in Italy but London-based since 2012.

Kings is your new track. Is there a story behind the song?

There is a story behind it. We watched a documentary on Netflix about celebrities being addicted to social media and all of that. I love social networks; looking at my phone is probably the first thing I do when I wake up so I’m probably the worst example but have you ever tried not to look at your phone for the next ten minutes, look around your room and outside your window instead?

Try it…now…how do you feel? We are missing out so many moments in our life by looking at a screen.

Can you recall when you started out in music? What inspired that decision?

I’ve started to record on tape music that I was listening on the radio and that I liked. I was probably a five-six-year-old kid. Then, after unsuccessful trials in football and basketball, I bought a guitar and started to play music. When I was a teenager, I suffered anxiety for a while. Playing my guitar was my escape from it.

When you were growing up, which artists/records did you hold dear?

Definitely John Mayer – Continuum is my favourite album. He changed my musical mind. The fact I decided to become a songwriter is his fault!

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?

When I supported Dustin Tebbutt at a sold out show at Omeara (London) with the crowd supporting me all the way through my set; applauding me and then asking me to play one more song when my set was over.

Might there be more material arriving later this year?

Sure thing!

In terms of influence, do you think modern music plays a role? Do you feel inspired by what is happening around you?

Yes, I do. As a songwriter, it is vital to remain up-to-date with music trends. This is a great time for finding inspiration in what’s around us. We can find inspiration every day from the Internet.

Having won support from some big publications, does that give you drive and confidence?

It does but, at the same time, it makes me think I should work even harder. They can support you once but then it is hard to keep that support constant and ongoing.

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

John Mayer - Continuum

The album that changed my musical mind.

Jack GarrattPhase

Jack Garratt’s music has played a big role in my life since I moved to London. I was impressed with what he was doing.

Kula Shaker - Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts

I’m not a big fan of them, not even of the album, but I remember my dad buying the album, playing it in his car a lot when I was little. This is a memory of my childhood that I can’t forget and evokes positive feelings every time I think about it.

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

Good question. Supporting John Mayer would be a dream for the teenager-me. I’d probably ask him to play me an intimate version of Slow Dancing in a Burning Room.

Are you planning any gigs in the coming months?

I’ll be playing London shows for now. We’ll see what the future holds.

How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio?

It is vital nowadays. I like to perform and to go to gigs as I think it’s what defines an artist identity and what can truly connect an artist to an audience.

 IN THIS PHOTO: M w S/PHOTO CREDIT: Amalia Navarro Photography

 Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Yes. My friends M w S. They are working hard too and deserve attention. Carmen Rosa, too as her voice is incredible. She recently released a song on Spotify that gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Carmen Rosa

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

I don’t, really. At the moment, I have to find a balance for all the things that I do and it’s quite hard. In my free time (whenever I get some), I like to spend time with the people I love, eat new things; watch Netflix, go to gigs; football…life can be good (smiles).

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).

John Mayer - Slow Dancing In A Burning Room. It’s my favourite song ever

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INTERVIEW: Cameron Hawthorn

INTERVIEW:

Cameron Hawthorn

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I have been speaking with Cameron Hawthorn...

about his latest song, Dancing in the Living Room, and what it is all about. Hawthorn talks about the song’s personal message and reveals whether there is more material coming along – I ask what music he grew up listening to.

Hawthorn tells me how he got into Americana and Country and which artist he’d support if he could; whether he will play the U.K. at some point; which albums are most important to him and how he spends his free time – he selects a pretty cool song to end things with.

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

My week has been great, thank you! 

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

I am an American singer-songwriter who fuses elements of Country, Americana; Folk and Pop/Rock. I come from a small town in Kansas and find a lot of inspiration from my time in the Midwest. My new music is my most honest to date and I'm singing openhearted about who I am.

Dancing in the Living Room is your new single. What inspired you to write the track? 

I remember always thinking how special it was to dance freely with my boyfriend in the living room of our apartment - being gay, it's not as easy to dance as a couple in public together as it is for a straight couple. I wanted to express how special that moment is for a couple; when it's just the two of you in the privacy of your own four walls.

Is it difficult to talk about the pride of being in a gay relationship at this time in America? Is it liberating or was it scary discussing your experiences through music? 

The difficult part is putting it out there. But once that's over with, it feels extremely liberating. 

How did you get into music? What attracted you to genres like Americana and Country?

I've been into music from a young age. I grew up doing a lot of musical theater and learned piano pretty young. I started songwriting when I was in high-school and it was just a hobby then. When I graduated from college, I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life. I grew up on Country music. I'm from Kansas and all of my family is originally from Oklahoma. Country music is in my blood and it just feels like home to me.

Might there be more material coming later in the year?

Definitely. Be on the lookout soon for more songs that will be leading to an E.P. 

When you were growing up, which artists/records did you hold dear?

One of my first C.D.s was the Grease soundtrack. I was also obsessed with The Wizard of Oz from a very young age and would sing along with Somewhere Over the Rainbow every time I watched it. I honestly loved old musicals so much growing up. My parents would have Country radio on in the car and, on Saturday mornings, in the living room and my mamma and pappa would always have old Country tunes blaring from their little radio out on the back porch.

I didn't really get to know those artists and songs until later but that was where the roots were. As a teenager, I loved singer-songwriters like Missy Higgins, Gavin DeGraw and The Fray.

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?

The release of Dancing in the Living Room has been incredible. The response from people has just been so overwhelmingly positive and it inspires me to read the comments and messages from people that have been inspired by the music and my story. That really means the world to me and more.

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

Grease: The Original Soundtrack from the Motion Picture - first C.D. ever.

Chariot by Gavin DeGraw - first time I was attached to an artist and every song on an album.

Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves - I'm so inspired by Kacey as an artist and this album is so poetic and beautiful.

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

Kacey Musgraves. All I'd ask is that she'd do a cover of Somewhere Over the Rainbow with me.

Are you planning any gigs in the coming months?

I hope to play an L.A. and Nashville show very soon!

Might we see you in the U.K. in 2019?

That would be a crazy adventure and I would love it. We'll see!

 How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio?

I love both. They're very different. I absolutely am addicted to the energy of being on stage and the element of the audience. It's electric. But the studio is often where my creativity flows as a songwriter and I love the collaboration process with producers and musicians.  

IN THIS PHOTO: Kelsy Karter

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

One of my best friends, Kelsy Karter, is on fire right now with her new music. I'm really digging Jade Bird and Ruston Kelly as well. 

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IN THIS PHOTO: Jade Bird/PHOTO CREDIT: Austin Roa

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

I try and make time to relax. I think it's really important to have a balance of work and relaxation because I'm often inspired in moments of relaxation and ‘chillin’ - and just for my own health and sanity. I love conversation over good coffee with friends and new people. My happy place is by the water; whether that's a pool or a beach or a lake.

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).

My guilty pleasure is girl Pop. I adore an artist named Sigrid and her song, Don't Kill My Vibe, is one of my sing-it-loud-in-the-car anthems. Enjoy (smiles).

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INTERVIEW: Bay Ledges

INTERVIEW:

Bay Ledges

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IT has been interesting speaking with Zach of Bay Ledges...

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about the band’s latest track, I Wonder, and whether there will be a follow-up to that song at all. I was curious regarding the band’s origins and what it is like taking to the road; the albums that mean the most to Zach and whether there will be tour dates.

He discusses what it is like being based in Los Angeles and whether the band all share musical tastes; the artist he’d support if he could choose anyone and what he does when he gets some free time – Zach selects a top song to end the interview with.  

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

It’s been a good week so far. Been working on some new music, which always feels good.

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

My name is Zach Hurd and I have a band called Bay Ledges.

I Wonder is out now. What is the story behind the song?

I went in and worked with writer/producer Christian Medice on this song. We’d never worked together before and we’re drawn to different production styles so it was cool to talk about where I wanted the song to go, sonically. When you’re making music on your own, you don’t really stop to think about why you’re making certain choices.

I wanted the song to feel like tape from a cassette, kind of wobbly; so we messed around with some synth sounds to find those textures. Lyrically, I had recently gone through a breakup so those feelings just ended up becoming the theme.

Might there be more material coming down the line?

Yes. There’s definitely more material coming...I’m not totally sure about a release date yet but it’s on the way!

How did Bay Ledges come together and what were the early sessions like?

I started Bay Ledges about four years ago when I moved to Los Angeles from New York City. I got a job at a restaurant and started recording songs in my bedroom. At the time, I was feeling pretty lost and working on this music became something I could really throw myself into, even though I didn’t really know where it was going. Working on B.L. reopened a creative freedom I hadn’t really felt since I was a kid. I was just having a lot of fun with it.

The sessions consisted of me sitting at my desk for hours. I’d record my acoustic guitar and chop it up to see if I could make it sound different. I’d record my sister singing and then play around with her vocals too. It was basically me coming up with a song idea, recording it and then seeing how I could mess it all up in a way that sounded more interesting to me.

Do you all share the same music tastes in the band?

We don’t all listen to the same stuff - but there’s always some overlap which is good for long van rides (smiles).

Being based in L.A., how important is the scene and people there regarding your sound?

L.A. feels like a great place to be for making music right now. I lived on the West Side of town for my first couple years, right next to the beach (which was amazing). I think that drastic contrast of environment, coming from NYC, was really helpful for me at the time and I’m sure it seeped into the music. Now, I live on the East Side which is closer to a lot of venues and other musicians I collaborate with. I feel a little more accessible to what’s going on, musically.

I’m not sure if Bay Ledges would’ve happened if I hadn’t moved to Los Angeles. There were so many things that clicked for me when I got here. Both of my sisters were living here too - having that support really helped me feel a sense of ease and confidence.

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?

A big one was going on tour this past fall and getting to meet fans. We live in a time where it’s easier than ever to release your music into the world but actually connecting with the people who are listening seems a bit rarer...especially for smaller artists like me. I was so humbled by how honest some people were about certain songs helping them through some really dark times. That kind of honesty inspires me to do the same in my life and in my music.

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

Ugh. There are so many but, if I have to narrow it down:

Odelay by Beck

This album got me thinking about songwriting in a new way. Realizing you don’t always have to write a specific story with your lyrics; that you can create a musical/lyrical collage that’s equally as meaningful. The Dust Brothers worked on this one too and all the different sampling going on is so amazing.

Thriller by Michael Jackson

It’s hard to think about MJ’s music the same way after everything that’s come out recently. That being said, Thriller was the first album I ever got...my aunt gave it to me for my fifth birthday. I was obsessed with it: the songs, his dancing…all of it. That album had a big impact on me.

The Last Waltz by The Band

This used to play in our house all the time growing up. My dad loved The Band. He was a teacher and used to have his classes come over to our house every year to watch the film by Martin Scorsese.

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco

Jeff Tweedy writes beautiful songs and Jay Bennett’s instrumental contributions gave the album so much more depth. I was a little late to this album but listened to it nonstop when I got it. It sounds like they gave themselves freedom to try anything in the studio but were also able to stay true to the songs. It’s got Pop elements, Rock and Americana...it’s so many things blended together.

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

I’d love to open for Kendrick Lamar - that guy is incredible. For a rider, I would just want a tour of how his show is put together; it’s such a huge undertaking. I’d love to see what goes into putting on a show like that.

Are you planning any gigs in the coming months?

We’re working on some tour dates for May/June. Still in the works but we’ll have the dates up on bayledges.com soon.

Might we see you in the U.K. in 2019?

I really hope so!

How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio?

Performing is really important to me. It allows me to connect with an audience in a different way. In my experience, music has so much more of an impact when it’s happening right in front of you. Having the opportunity to express yourself on stage is a chance to show part of who you are as an artist. I love performing and working in the studio...both things satisfy different parts of me.

What is life like on the road with the band and touring? Are there lots of highs regarding touring?

I really love touring. It’s a funny existence. You spend most of your time in a van just waiting to get to the next town but the high from a great show makes you want to keep doing it. As a band, you become a little family because you’re spending so much time together.

Last tour, we got stuck in a four-hour traffic jam and decided to make up a ghost story together...it was a terrible story and so hilarious. You end up going home with all these little jokes and realize they don’t really make sense to anyone else.

IN THIS PHOTO: Mk.gee/PHOTO CREDIT: Erica Hernandez

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

A few I’ve been loving lately are: Mk.gee, Still Woozy; Neil Frances and MorMor.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Still Woozy/PHOTO CREDIT: Palmer Morse

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

When your work is something you love it’s easy to never step away from it, so I’m trying to get better about taking breaks. I love meeting up with friends, hitting up a good coffee shop; going surfing or just being at the beach. I also really like taking trips out to the desert.

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 for having me! Can you play Goodie Bag by Still Woozy. That song makes you feel good

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INTERVIEW: Tommy Ashby

INTERVIEW:

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Tommy Ashby

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I am starting off the week...

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Fraser Taylor

by speaking with the Scottish songwriter Tommy Ashby about the track, Cocoon, and its origins. Although he has released another track in the time between the interview being conducted and published, I wanted to know what we can expect from the upcoming E.P., Golden Arrow.

Ashby discusses albums important to him and whether there are tour dates coming up; when he began writing music and which artists inspired him growing up; how he relaxes and unwinds away from music – he picks a cool song to end the interview with.

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

Hi. My week has been a bit mental. I was up in Scotland shooting a music video and supporting a lovely band called Skinny Living; then I hightailed it down to Cornwall for rehearsals and photos. To shoot the music video, we hiked twenty kilometers up to an abandoned reservoir in the snow and up the side of a waterfall in the hail, all carrying our equipment. I felt very sorry for the cameraman. Yesterday, I was in Oxfordshire recording a session doing a few songs for Bob Harris. I was very excited about that. Bob is a legend! So, it has been some week…

Also, lots of hours spent eating biscuits in my car.

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

Ehh, hello everyone. I’m Tommy. I am a songwriter from Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders. I came down South to do a PhD in Acoustics and ended up playing a session guitar for a few artists and staying here for a bit. I’ve recorded a couple of E.P.s down in Cornwall with Sam Okell.

What is the story behind the single, Cocoon?

I wrote Cocoon in a beautiful little studio called La Frette just outside Paris having been on the road for two months straight. I was there to record guitar for another artist but, while they recorded drums, I snuck upstairs to one of the bedrooms and started tinkering on the grand piano in the corner. This was apparently the room where Nick Cave stays on his trips to the studio and I like to think some of his inspiration rubbed off because the song just fell out in one go.

I ran downstairs and grabbed a mic and started recording it on the spot. A lot of it was also recorded using my laptop microphone, super lo-fi! You can hear the birds singing outside and Olivier, the studio owner, pouring the dish water out of the window toward the end. We tried to re-record the vocals and piano but the atmosphere just wasn’t there, so the birds and splashes stayed. I think this song captures a wee moment in time, which I think is pretty cool.

It is from the E.P., Golden Arrow. What sort of themes go into the E.P. would you say?

I think the general theme is the disconnection a lot of people feel in modern society. I was definitely feeling disconnected as a result of being on tour for such a long time. I think it is a thank you to the people who make you feel needed.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Fraser Taylor

Can you tell me what sort of sounds you grew up around as a child?

My dad is a musician so we were all immersed from a young age. We had jam sessions every few nights in the house, I played guitar for my sister at various musical events around the villages and our area is a bit of a bluegrass/country music enclave, so there was lots of general pub jams too. In terms of music, mum and dad always had music on, Neil Young, Simon and Garfunkel, Dixie Chicks, John Martyn, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings and Jeff Buckley to name a few.

When did you begin writing? Was there a reason for stepping into music?

I have played music for as long as I can remember so I can’t really imagine not doing that. As for writing, having played for other people for a while, I began to feel like there was some stuff I wanted to say.

Your songs have been used in some pretty big T.V. shows. What does it feel like hearing one of your songs on the screen?!

To be honest, it still feels pretty weird. You know all the little quirks in the track, how some of it was recorded in your bedroom; some in a little box-room in deepest darkest Cornwall, sounds recorded by stamping on a cardboard box or just generally wailing into a microphone. So, to see it shown in a super-polished, amazing T.V. programme is quite a contrast. Who am I kidding, though. It feels amazing as well!

PHOTO CREDIT: Fraser Taylor

How does your music come together? Do you experiment on the laptop and gradually work on it - or does it depend on the song?

I think I come from a more songwriter-style approach: I try to get my song in shape with just a guitar before approaching the computer. It just means I know it hangs together as a song. I can get very excited about silly sounds and production but, if the song isn’t there, then it ain’t worth much! I try to record as much as possible before heading down to Cornwall with Sam to add all the extras. That is a fun experience; tinkering with sounds, having as many gadgets linked up as we can.

Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?

My first night supporting Rhodes in Utrecht a couple of years ago. It was my first gig outside of the U.K. and the audience was just incredible. It was the moment where I thought that maybe I could do this music malarkey.

I played four nights at Wembley Stadium last year as a session guitarist. That wasn’t playing my own stuff but it did feel pretty mind-blowing. Though a week later, we played the Stade de France in Paris just after they had won the semi-final of the World Cup and the atmosphere was electric. I remember glancing across at the drummer to see him crying with happiness. That sticks in my brain too.

PHOTO CREDIT: Fraser Taylor

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

Revival - Gillian Welch

My sister and dad do a duet on Annabelle – track-two on this album - so it always shoots my straight back to sitting in the living-room as kids singing around the fire. It’s a heartbreaking song; the whole album rings with the excitement of a first record too.

This first lines of Barroom Girls floored me when I heard them:

“Oh the night came undone like a party dress/and fell at her feet in a beautiful mess/The smoke and the whiskey came home in her curls/and they crept through the dreams of the barroom girls”.

It’s just so full of images….

Also, Jason Isbell, another artist I am a huge fan of, tweeted reviews of this album when it first came out and they were pretty bad - which is inspirational as it leaves you thinking that, if this album can get a bad review, then any album can. Pretty questionable reasoning from me but there you go.

Graceland - Paul Simon

This is just a joyous album for me. It reminds me of uni. I don’t know why I wasn’t listening to The Killers or Kings of Leon or the Arctic Monkeys like everyone else. Lyrically, he is a bloody genius.

Grace - Jeff Buckley

Ahh, Jeff. I am aware that most male singer-songwriters cite him but it would be false if I were not to include him. When I first heard Hallelujah I was transfixed. I can remember getting ribbed in school for listening to a religious song while everyone else was listening to Kanye West. Then, my player kept going and I discovered Lover, You Should’ve Come Over and I learned to love that even more. Grace, Last Goodbye and So Real: harmonically, he created a whole new palette of colours which people have been stealing from ever since. And the whole thing is just raw and beautiful!

Jeez, I need to get a bit more modern but there you go!

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

I think I would want to support Jason Isbell. He seems like a stand-up guy. His songs are brilliant and he is an amazing guitarist, so I dream that we might have a jam onstage one night!

Rider: I once got a one-pack of fig rolls for my birthday and I think that might be my ideal rider.

PHOTO CREDIT: Fraser Taylor

Are you planning any gigs in the coming months?

I have my own headline show in London on 10th April at The Slaughtered Lamb. In the lead up, I’m supporting Luke Sital-Singh in Southampton (6th), Cardiff (7th); London (8th) and Manchester (9th).

How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio?

When performing on-stage is going well, it is the best. It’s just that those moments are rare and they can disappear in seconds and I think that why people often prefer the studio. I love both. You can lose yourself in the studio for hours and hours without thinking about food or the outside world but the high you get during and after a good gig is like nothing else. Plus, things happen in the moment when playing with other musicians that you can’t replicate with overdubs in the studio. That is why I am all for live studio recordings as much as possible!

 IN THIS PHOTO: Eliza Shaddad/PHOTO CREDIT: Melanie Tjoeng

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Eliza Shaddad, Tusks; RHODES, Phoebe Bridgers, Isaac Gracie; Bad Honey and Tom Speight.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Phoebe Bridgers

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

I run a lot. When I was a teenager, I thought I would make a career out of athletics but injuries scuppered that. I can just concentrate on something basic like doing 400m laps in a set time. It quietens my mind. It’s not always easy, though, as people who always find exercise easy are either mental or not trying hard enough!

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).

Dylan Thomas - Better Oblivion Community Centre

It’s been my driving bop this week (smiles).

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Follow Tommy Ashby

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INTERVIEW: Lady Jane’s Revenge

INTERVIEW:

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Lady Jane’s Revenge

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IN a change of sonic direction...

the raw and heavy Lady Jane’s Revenge have been talking about their new cut, Pure, and what it concerns. I ask how the band formed and the music that inspires them – I discover whether there are tour dates coming and where we can catch them.

I was curious to know whether the guys had favourite albums and if they have time to chill; who they’d support on tour if they could and whether there is more material coming along later in the year – they each select a great song to end the interview with.

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

Hello! We have been very well; very busy too as the new video for our single, Pure, just released last night so we have had messages and emails galore in return (which is very exciting).

The band, work; uni and children keep us very tired indeed. Haha. Shout-out to our loving partners who are the real superheroes to us!

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

We are a Rock/Alternative band from South-West U.K. For fans of The Used, Incubus; Faith No More. We feel we are unique and refreshing for our genre because we incorporate each of our different favoured styles and create something unexpected with each song. Our vocalist has an unusual voice for Rock due to growing up in inner-city London surrounded by many wonderful cultures. If you want motivation and a real look at the world then check us out on your fave music platforms.

Pure is your new single. Can you reveal the story behind it?

The message is one that tries to invoke the memory into the listener, of a time when they were young; free of judgement and behaviours against ‘different’; therefore reminding them also with the chorus, that we have opinions and views forced upon us by elders in our lives and mass media propaganda. We just wanna help keep pushing an open-minded and morally-good existence which, fortunately, in recent times has grown magnificently towards gender, race; species and beyond.

You know...”Unite! Not separate”.

In terms of artists, do you take inspiration from particular bands/corners?

Oh. We are an amalgamation of various inspirations. Haha. Vocally, Billy grew up on Motown, Soul; ’60s/’70s and Country music before discovering Michael Jackson - so a lot of his melodies come from those wonderful catchy, poppy vocal runs and harmonies that really delivered songs from that era. Sam, our guitarist, is absolutely mad for the true six-string icons: your usual Clapton, Page; Slash and Tremonti types, whereas our bassist James also takes influences from the technique of the Sabbaths and other originals...but he finger-picks with an added bounce and energy that the good feels of R.H.C.P. (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Blink-182 do simply with an extra big smile on their face.

We are still learning about Adam, our new second guitarist, and our drummer, Ash, is a heavy hitter emulating the groove and power of Vinnie Paul and the amazing groove bands that followed: Pantera, Korn; Limp Bizkit etc...

How did Lady Jane’s Revenge form and find one another?

We first connected via an advert post Ash (drums) created on a musicians’ website (joinmyband.co.uk) at the very tail-end of 2014. Billy (vocals) had been tracking the opportunities on there while working solo on YouTube covers and he approached him. The two hit it off very well over the phone and continued to do so upon meeting up in person.

They then sought out a guitarist and recruited an online friend, Lorna, to be the focal main vocalist and keyboard player. Within two weeks, Sam had contacted the three and they all arranged a jam practice mid-February 2015.

Things were going well but, unfortunately, coinciding with the time James had arrived to join on bass in April; we had to make the sad decision to let Lorna go due to other instances. We then adjusted our sound and proceeded to record as a four-piece. That is until Adam added to our line-up in mid-2018: he originally was a fan of the band and we had spoken with him at shows or bumped into him occasionally due to mutual friends. We always got on well with him so, naturally, he was our first port-of-call before auditions.

Thankfully, it worked out nicely.

 Might there be more material coming later in the year?

Yes. Our intention is to release three singles in 2019! Pure is the first - and we have a few demos in our back pocket that need to be recorded properly. In which order we will release, we are still unsure. We plan to record them A.S.A.P. and we have been jamming fantastic new ideas too. We just struggle to find the time to do it all quicker - perhaps a record label can help us go full-time? Wink, wink. Hahaha.

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

Hahaha. We have memories for everything in the past four years!

A favourite would have to be when we played Fuel in Cardiff (2017). We were unable to park the van near the venue after load-in. It was a busy Bank Holiday, so we had to put the van into a car park which stated a closing time that would be after our set...so the plan was for Sam to jump off stage after our set and go get the van out the car park. He really needed to change his contact lenses as his eyes were sore. Also, we thought nothing of it and mingled with the guests...until he returned, panicked that the car park was locked until 7 a.m. the next morning! We began to fret because we slept in the van and it had our belongings and we would need to load out all our backline of gear onto the street shortly, with nowhere to put it.

Massively, the venue was kind enough to arrange for us to pick up our gear the next afternoon when they reopened. Some friends of ours that had come to the show allowed us to stay at their house for the night. But they lived in The Valleys, fifty miles from the city, and we had ten minutes to reach the last train in time; so having to leave early and miss the headliners we were touring with...we bolted to Cardiff station and got our tickets as the train arrived. Fortunately, we made it on with just what we were wearing and travelled to Bargoed and spent the night.

Sam was fretting that he would receive a massive parking fine from the car park and ensured we left at the crack of dawn to get the first train back and remove the van before it got ticketed. We arrived at 7:20 a.m.; no ticket, luckily, and had do sit around the city until 2 p.m. when we could load up our gear from the venue and then race it in time for the next stop on the tour! Hahaha.

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

Adam: Holding on When Moving on - Dependence

Because it helped me release negative emotions after coming out of a long-term relationship.

James: Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath

Due to discovering them (and all of their wizardry) when a young teen learning the bass guitar.

Billy: Hybrid Theory - Linkin Park

I stumbled onto their song, Crawling, by accident while watching MTV and somehow was mesmerised by this style I had never heard before. I waited four hours for it to be shown again to see the name of the song and band as I’d missed reading it the first time. The next day, I had my friends sit and wait for it to show and we were all won over instantly; walked down to Virgin Megastore and bought the album immediately. I began my life in the Alternative scene from that day.

Ash: By the Way - Red Hot Chili Peppers

That entire album was pretty much my childhood on a C.D. I listened to it every day!

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As you are Lady Jane’s Revenge, if you could choose a Jane to seek vengeance on someone, who would the Jane be and who would she be hunting down?

As we have used her name as a metaphor for our band name, it would have to be Lady Jane Grey and her revenge on King Edward VI and Lord Guildford Dudley for setting her up against her will; in a weird loophole that intentionally made her Queen in order to continue Edward’s religious theme of Catholicism in the U.K. and cut out his next-of-kin, Mary, a devout protestant. This treacherous fraud of law that Jane was forced into led to her being imprisoned and eventually beheaded as a pawn of the ‘system’.

It just seems fitting. Haha.

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

James: I would support Rise Against or Volbeat and my rider would be two pint-jugs of beer and a cigarette Cheech & Chong would be proud of, if you catch my drift. Hahaha.

Adam: Don Broco for me, with a bottle of single-barrel J.D. and a bag of large ice cubes!

Ash: I’ve been waiting for COLD to comeback and I’d love to support them! A jug of beer and chips on the side for me please.

Billy: I’d reckon Panic! at the Disco for me. To be able to be as huge as they are right now and still, technically, Alternative is a huge achievement. To play a show with them would be phenomenal. I like a good curry personally and I can’t operate without a proper cup of tea.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Save, save and save up your money before starting a project and, of course, naturally during the band’s life. The expenses are huge! Rehearsals, travel to and from them; travels to shows (you don’t always get paid or earn enough), instruments and their upgrades over time.

Then, if you move onto in-ear monitoring and wireless packs, demoing; recording producer/studio, graphic designers and onto social media marketing; P.R. companies for exposure and booking agents. Quality over quantity with what you put out...and a desire to read as many blogs about managing a band as possible.

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

Plymouth: Fri, 19th April @ The Hub/Dbs

Glastonbury: Sun, 28th April @ XPO South-West

Bridgwater: Fri, 17th May @ The Cobblestones

Yeovil: Sat, 22nd June @ The Royal Marine

Northampton: Sat, 29th June @ Hop Fest

Bristol: Sat, 10th August @ The Stag & Hounds

Manchester: Sun, 11th August @ Jimmy’s Bar

Royal Cornwall Showground: Sat, 31st August @ Cornwall Tattoo Convention

St. Ives: Sun, 29th September @ The Guildhall

With more being confirmed, follow our events via Facebook or Bandsintown.

If we came to one of your live shows, what might we expect?

You would be greeted by lots of beards, dreads and long hair (laughs). We are all very sociable and approachable and we like to get the energy high once on stage. We pride ourselves on breaking the barrier between artist and audience, by getting into the crowd where we can in our set and bonding - usually Billy can be found climbing or jumping off something when in the moment. Haha.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Bathub Sailors/PHOTO CREDIT: Youthscreams

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Bathtub Sailors for fans of Sublime. They have new music imminent. Follow them guys for sure. A New Hope from Newbury have something very special to release soon. They have music up right now for Pop-Punk lovers and so will our buddies in Fear the Atlantic. Punk Rock Black Anchors are taking over the South-West at the moment and for good reasons...alongside our mates in Last One Home. There’s a brilliant female-fronted Australian band in the vein of Paramore; pulling up roots big time named Yours Truly.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Yours Truly/PHOTO CREDIT: Brooke Harley

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

Hmm. Not a lot really. Every day there are more things to work on or plan; responding to messages and emails, putting up post updates or trying to book shows. It is seriously full-on and extremely draining most of the time to be honest, especially added on top of our parental duties or regular jobs.

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).

James: Black Sabbath by the band...you’ve guessed it, Black Sabbath!

Ash: Hell Is Home by our friend and the headliner of that tour we had the parking mishap; ex-Judas Priest and Iced Earth vocalist, Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens from the Judas Priest (Demolition) album

Adam: Never in the Cards by Dependence

Billy: Forever Stuck in Our Youth by Set It Off

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INTERVIEW: Mesadorm

INTERVIEW:

PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Cresswell 

Mesadorm

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THE fantastic Daisy Palmer and Blythe Pepino of Mesadorm...

have been telling me about their new track, When She’s in That Mood, and what it concerns. I ask what we can expect from the upcoming album, Epicadus, and what the scene is like where they are in Bristol – Palmer and Pepino recommends some rising artists to look out for.

I ask if there are tour dates approaching and the sort of music they (Palmer and Pepino) grew up around; who they’d support on the road if they could and how they unwind away from music – they each select a great track to finish the interview with.

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

Daisy Palmer: A good week so far - we’ve just been at our stylist’s house who has been finding us a new look for our acoustic tour. She made us a pie: highlight of the week. We are also starting to promote our new single and tour documentary directed by the legend that is Tom Jacob.

Blythe Pepino: My week has been spent mainly doing interviews on morning television representing the movement Birthstrike. My life is now split between working on Mesadorm and working as an activist within Extinction Rebellion.

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

Daisy: We are a genre-bending Alternative band from Bristol probably to be found occupying the ethereal space between Kate Bush, Björk and Sylvan Esso. Blythe used to front Art-Pop trio Vaults and I’m Paloma Faith’s drummer. Jo (cello) has played with Frank Turner and The Unthanks and David (bass) and Aaron (production/guitars/synth) are ridiculously talented musicians in their own right.

Blythe: Mesadorm is a project based on the true expression of art, an old-fashioned regard for a great melody and the solid bonds of friendship.

When She’s in That Mood is your latest single. How did it come together?

Blythe: When I was living in Bridport, Dorset during early-2017, I fell head over heels in love with my now-boyfriend, Joshua. At the time, I was also having an intense relationship with a woman, a dancer and musician who I found incredibly inspiring. Lost in the heady atmosphere of love and the epic English coastline at Bridport, I mused on the idea of losing yourself in another and of the beauty and free-ness within that.

Daisy: It’s a beautiful thing.

It is from the forthcoming Epicadus L.P. What was it like recording the songs and being in Eype Church?

Blythe: Eype Church has a wonderful acoustic and its dramatic setting on the Dorset cliffs is totally awe-inspiring.

Daisy: The place just has an incredible magic about it. We have performed there many times as Blythe used to be local to the area and, when the idea of recording an acoustic album came about, we all agreed that it had to be at Eype. We worked up some alternate arrangements of the existing songs from Heterogaster within the space. We then recorded the songs live with expert engineer Tim Allen. It was truly a breath of fresh air.

Do you recall when Mesadorm got together and started playing?

Daisy: Blythe, Jo and I began playing some of Blythe’s songs as an acoustic trio around 2015. At that time, Aaron was also working on the electronic production for the songs which we slowly built into the live set, with help from David on bass.

Blythe: It was a gradual and organic process achieved in our down-time which enabled us to spend time focusing on how we wanted to sound. All five of us had played together in many different combinations over the years, so we trust each other’s taste implicitly.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Cresswell 

What sort of music did you all grow up on?

Daisy: Mainly Steely Dan, David Bowie & Stevie Wonder.

Blythe: Everything! But Mum was always playing the BIG vocalists, so mainly Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin but also The Beach Boys, Labi Siffre and lots of Classical music.

How inspiring is the Bristol music scene right now?

Daisy: Bristol has always had an ace scene for left-field musicians and bands. But now there seems to be more industry infrastructure that wasn’t there when we starting playing together on the scene.  IDLES and their team are an excellent example of just that: supportive musicians with an excellent manager (big up, Mark Bent!) all based in Bristol.

Blythe: The scene has come on massively and I’m so pleased there’s a hub for the industry outside of London now.

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

Blythe: We’ve been having some magic times in the studio recently jamming for our next album which has made me very happy!

Daisy: ...And performing together at Maida Vale for BBC Introducing in January was insane! I’ve recorded in M.V. three many times but never with a project of my own - so it was life-affirming, truly.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Cresswell 

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

Blythe: Bette Midler - Bed of Roses

Because she kicks ass!

Daisy: Duet - Doris Day and André Previn

It’s just so atmospheric and I’m a massive Doris Day fan.

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

Both: Björk - with a rider of cheesy chips.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Cresswell 

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Daisy: Work really hard.

Blythe: Don’t do it for the money.

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

Blythe: We are touring Epicadus from 24th April - 26th May. Here are the dates:

24th April - The Forge, Bristol

25th April - The Barrelhouse, Totnes

26th April - The Rose Hill, Brighton

27th April - St Mary’s Music Hall, London

28th April - Cobalt Studios, Newcastle

29th April - Hug & Pint, Glasgow

30th April - Secret Location, Edinburgh

1st May - Burton Arms, Manchester

11th May - Rodborough Church, Stroud

25th May - Kino, St Leonards, Hastings

26th May - Poltimore Festival, Exeter

If we came to one of your live shows, what might we expect?

Blythe: Laughing whilst crying.

Daisy: Acoustic wonderment/‘Melt your face off Phatty Bom Batty’-bass.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Laura Groves/PHOTO CREDIT: Suzie Howell

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Daisy: Laura Groves.

Blythe: BAS JAN.

 IN THIS PHOTO: BAS JAN/PHOTO CREDIT: Kuba Ryniewicz

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

Blythe: I find meditation extremely useful in order to deal with my neurosis and anxiety. A healthy balance of work and time off is good and you need to make sure you are laughing enough.

Daisy: Laughing is the key to 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).

Blythe: Grizzly Bear - Mourning Sound

Daisy: Mighty Sparrow - Music & Rhythm

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