INTERVIEW: Victory Chimes

INTERVIEW:

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Victory Chimes

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MY final interview of the day…

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is a talk with Jeff (Keys and Vox) of Victory Chimes who tells me about the new single, Halos. I ask him what sort of themes are addressed on the forthcoming album, Spinning Wheel, and if there are particular albums that are especially important to him – I discover how the Victory Chimes lead spends time away from music.

Jeff recommends a rising artist to have a look out for and reveals what tour dates are coming up; which artist he’d support given the chance; how the music has evolved since the early days and whether there are any goals to achieve before the year is through.

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Hi, Victory Chimes. How are you? How has your week been?

Doing great, thanks! Busy rolling out this record.

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

After playing in a long list of bands in Montréal, I started Victory Chimes in 2008. It’s my outlet for some more creative and experimental ideas in songwriting. It’s been my platform to investigate long-forms, synth soundscape texture; new vocal styles, drones and general hypnosis.

Halos is out. Can you reveal how it came together and what its background is?

The seed of the song, the original inspiration and core can come from different places. A lyric, a bassline; a drum loop etc. In Halos; it started with a piano bassline. It was eventually replaced by two sub bass synth lines working against and with each other. This part became the hook of the tune as it came to represent the message of the song which developed later when lyrics were written.

The song is about the daily contradictions we live by, changing hats and wearing different faces to get by and get ahead. The interesting thing is that, through the tension of these contradictions, something new, unique and beautiful can be created. These two battling subs are literally playing out this phenomena during the song.

Spinning Wheel is your new album. What sort of themes and experiences inspired the music on the record?

There is a general theme on this record of growing up and getting yourself together. Hopefully, rising out of some of the confusion of youth and coming to a deeper understanding of the self and learning how to express that honestly. Still craving a good time, though - for better or worse.

How do you think your music has evolved and changed since the early days?

I think I’m getting closer to finding my sound and voice. In the early days, I was determined to be original and may have even written some inaccessible music in my efforts to get there. I’ve learned that true originality rather comes from a lot of self-investigating, experimenting and practicing.

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Can you tell me what sort of music you grew up around? Which artists struck your ear?

I grew up listening to a bit of everything. I learned about sonic textures from Radiohead, groove from Led Zeppelin and beats from Beastie Boys.

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

We just want to get this album to as many people as possible and get on the road and bring the live show everywhere we can.

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

I remember hearing OK Computer by Radiohead for the first time when I was hitchhiking around Australia in ‘97. Heard sounds I had never heard before and had no idea where they came from. Really opened my ears up. Turns out most of the sounds were made by electric guitars. 

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

The Beatles‘The White Album’

For pushing the limits of songwriting.

Radiohead - OK Computer 

For sonic textures and production.

Nick Cave - Push the Sky Away

For vibe and space. He’s a dark preacher; no one can do his thing.

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

That last couple Nick Cave shows I’ve been to have been insane. He gets such a vibe at his shows and his audiences are total pyschos. I was asked to move four times in a standing room venue because I was obstructing people’s view of Nick. Would be fun to be a part of that as the opening act for sure.

For rider…just natural orange wine.

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What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Being an artist is like being an athlete: you have to work at it every day. You have to build your creative muscles. You have to enjoy this as well because like a lot things it’s really about the journey rather than the end goal.

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

Next show is the album launch at the Bar De Ritz PDB in Montréal. We’re working of a Toronto and N.Y.C. release shows now.

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

Would love to. No set plans yet but we are talking to European bookers.

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Check out Parker Shper. He’s the other synth player in the band and he’s doing a solo synth instrumental project that’s pretty cool.

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

Not really. I play Jazz piano in clubs every night of the week to pay the bills. Love it, though. I run to unwind. We live near the Jacque Cartiers Bridge in Montréal, so I run over that and around parc Jean-Drapeau every other day. Good for body and mind.

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

How about Get Real Paid (on Midnite Vultures) by Beck. It’s pretty awesome, right!?

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INTERVIEW: Ivy Mairi

INTERVIEW:

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Ivy Mairi

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THIS interview finds me talking with Ivy Mairi

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about her latest song, Strange Love, and what its background is. I learn what we can expect from her upcoming E.P., Polarity, and what else she has coming up; if there are particular albums that mean a lot to her and which approaching artist we need to look out for.

The songwriter tells me about her musical progression and why Pop appeals to her; if there are tour dates coming up and if she has any words of advice for new musicians – she selects a great song to end the interview with.

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

It’s been a good one. I’ve been enjoying all the lovely words coming in about Strange Love - it’s always a good feeling to put out new music.

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

I’m a singer and songwriter based in Toronto, Canada. Born and raised here, too. I’ve been singing professionally for ten years as a Folk singer and a backup singer in Indie-Rock bands but this is my first real dive into Pop music. Feels good so far!

Is there a story behind your latest track, Strange Love? How did it come to life?

Songs tend to come to me in pieces - and once the foundational piece is there, the rest gets built around it. The chorus to Strange Love came to me during a bike ride (I ride my bike everywhere and use the idle time to tinker with songs in my head!). I thought it was a great hook but that it was way too Pop for me, so it seemed like something I should pitch to someone else to sing. But, as the song came together, I just liked it so much that I decided I had to sing it myself.

Your forthcoming E.P., Polarity, sounds exciting. What might we expect in terms of themes and song ideas?

I am very excited to share the full E.P. It is a collection of five songs that explore the highs and lows of love and personal growth - and getting older and seeing life as the complex thing that it is. Over the period that I wrote these songs, I went through some really incredible times and also some very hard ones. The songs reflect both.

Do you recall your earliest musical memory? Which artist or song first struck your mind?

I have many early musical memories. My mother is a musician and was always playing instruments and singing with me and my sister. As a kid, I was fairly Type-A and I was really good at memorizing song lyrics - it used to annoy me when my friends and I would try to re-enact a Spice Girls or Alanis Morrisette music video at school and I would be the only one who actually knew the lyrics. I taught myself how to harmonize in middle-school by singing along with the radio and just harmonizing every note.

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It seems Pop music and the freedom it offers is important. Would that be fair to say?

I think Pop music is free in the sense that it allows people to be unabashedly enthusiastic or sassy - to take up space and be yourself, unapologetically. As a songwriter, though, I enjoy the constraints of Pop music as opposed to the freedom. Pop song-forms are very specific - and writing a good Pop song is all about figuring out ways that you can make your song weird and different, while still working within the Pop boundaries. 

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

To build some good momentum in the lead-up to the release of Polarity in early-2019. And to put together an amazing live show to celebrate the release.

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

There are so many; it would be hard to pick. Mostly, I am just grateful for all the amazing people I’ve been able to collaborate with over the years. One of the best things about making music is getting to create and have fun with people you love and respect.

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

I’ve never been much for having ‘favourites’ when it comes to music - there is always so much to discover and also so much to return to. That being said, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was a very important album for me as a young person. It is such an amazing mix of styles and such a singular piece. The last couple of years, I have really connected with Hejira by Joni Mitchell as well. It gives a beautiful look into the mind of a woman entering her thirties. And, in terms of Pop music that I love right now, I am a huge fan of Charli XCX.

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What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

It takes a long time to find your voice and get your chops! I am always learning new things by exploring other music and watching other singers - I am always working to get better. Also, just being out in the world and in your community of peers is so important - a chance run-in can lead to a meaningful collaboration or an important opportunity.

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

I am planning a big release show for my E.P. in Toronto in the New Year. Until then, I’m laying low!

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 IN THIS PHOTO: IDER/PHOTO CREDIT: Lottie Turner

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

They are definitely already on the rise but I love the new music that IDER is putting out. I’m excited to hear what comes next from them.

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

I love time spent in nature. I go out on canoe trips and hikes; long bike rides. I love the movement through each Canadian season.

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 song Messages (Garden Edition) by my good friend Isla Craig has been buoying me up during moments of doubt the last little while. That’s my choice!

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INTERVIEW: Jerrica Alyssa

INTERVIEW:

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Jerrica Alyssa

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I am starting the day by speaking with Jerrica Alyssa

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as she tells me about her track, Those Cherry Lips, and what inspired it. I ask when music came into her life and who she is inspired by; whether there might be more material arriving down the line; if the Nashville-based artist has plans to come to the U.K. at all – she reveals three albums that mean a lot to her.

Alyssa tells me about the scene in her home of Vancouver and explains when music arrived in her life; which rising artists we need to get involved with; if there are going to be any gigs coming along – she ends the interview by selecting a rather good song.

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

Awesome. My new single dropped today!

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

I’m Jerrica Alyssa; born and raised Vancouver, B.C. I just moved to Nashville! I must admit, the musical community here totally feels like home!

Three things you might find interesting about me: I started as a Polynesian touring dancer at a very young age; I’m a conservatory-trained pianist and as a singer/songwriter I feel most comfortable straddling the worlds of Pop/R&B/Soul.

Can you reveal the story behind your latest single, Those Cherry Lips?

The story behind Those Cherry Lips is about the beautiful, gentle and sensuous connection between two lovers. More than a love song, it comes from a feminine sensitivity about two lovers meeting with passion. The lush color of those cherry lips describes the mesmerizing nature of someone’s beautiful lips when they speak and kiss. 

Do you think there will be more material coming next year? Are you always working on new ideas?

Absolutely! I’m so excited to share many of my new songs - the next one drops in November.  We are also putting the finishing touches on a new live performance video and a lyric video for Those Cherry Lips coming in the next two weeks.    

Can you recall when music arrived in your life? Were there particular artists who inspired you?

As a young child, I remember my home being filled with music playing all the time. When my parents would play classic Pop & R&B records by legends like Michael Jackson, I’d always put on a show to sing and dance for my family. This was the beginning of my musical journey: exhausting my family with my singing, piano and dance. Music has always been the center of my life, now expressed through my own music. 

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Some of my biggest inspirations include my musical idols Alicia Keys and Lady Gaga. In my eyes, they are fierce, passionate and dedicated. I’ve grown up listening to their powerful music and watched them take on the world non-apologetically and with purpose. As an artist, I am in awe of their achievements in songwriting; playing the keys, singing and performing. Their work has inspired me from a young age to work my ass off; to push myself to better my craft every day. They give me confidence and love to strive to be the best version of myself as a woman. 

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As a Vancouver native; how do the people inspire you? Is there a strong scene there at the moment?

I still intend to travel back and forth doing co-writes with my musical friends there. I already miss the seafood and the ocean of my hometown

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

I hope my next few songs and videos help people to get to know me better!

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

This last year, my first recording session in a Nashville studio with incredible players blew my mind!

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

Songs in A Minor by Alicia Keys

Off the Wall by Michael Jackson

Raise! by Earth, Wind & Fire

Each one of these albums represents a turning point for me, as a kid, in my musical journey.

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

I can’t lie: I support artists that write, live and breathe their own music. 

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Just get out of your own way and do you. With love and confidence, be exactly who you need to be. Always remember your self-worth. 

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

Right now; I’m finishing my new songs so I will be not be touring the rest of 2018. However, before year’s end, I will be playing a few dates in Nashville to test new songs. I’ll keep you posted. 

Do you think you’ll come to the U.K. and play next year?

I would love to! 

How important is it being on the stage and playing your music to the people?

I live to perform. I’ve been a performer since I was a kid. The interaction with the audience means everything to me. The thing is; I’m so excited because I will now get to connect with the audience with my own music. 

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 IN THIS PHOTO: The New Respects

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

The New Respects. I’ve just recently found their music and really love it! And, Sampha - are you guys a fan?

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IN THIS PHOTO: Sampha

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

You’ll find me in dance class getting physical! 

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).

(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano by Sampha

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Follow Jerrica Alyssa

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INTERVIEW: The High Points

INTERVIEW:

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The High Points

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I have been speaking with Ethan and Matt of The High Points

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who discuss the latest track, Need Your Love, and what we can expect from their upcoming E.P. I ask how The High Points formed and they reveal which artists they grew up around; whether there is any rising talent we need to get behind – I was keen to know whether the guys are on the road soon and whether we can catch them play.

The Norwich-formed group are making strides to I ask what they hope to achieve before the end of the year; what advice they would give to artists coming through; if they get chance to unwind away from music – Matt and Ethan each pick a song to end the interview with.

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

Matt: Hey! We’re great, thanks! The sun's been shining and this week has been fine and dandy.

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

We sure can! We’re The High Points; an Indie-Funk trio from Norwich blending the sweet sounds of the '70s with more modern-sounding Indie; formed by songwriters Ethan Keens-Soper and Matt Cranswick

 

Need Your Love is your latest single. What is the story behind it?

So. Need Your Love is a track about someone instantly falling for someone else in a second and them both having no regrets. It’s a true, upbeat and happy song which we hope warms people's hearts when they hear it.

Your E.P. is coming up. Can you reveal the stories and themes behind the E.P. at all?

We can give you an insight...

The theme of the E.P., Instant Love, is all about times when you’re certain of something and want to seize it straight away (instantly, if you will). The tracks all tell a story and have themes of summer, happiness; love and also times of struggle and sadness. It’s definitely something we’re very proud of and hearing it together really tells you a story.

Do you each have a favourite song from the E.P.?

Definitely. I, myself, absolutely love the track Summer's Day. For me, it’s the perfect blend of our sound. It’s got a constant groove showing off our more funky side but also has this amazingly clean tone and feel to the song. It’s so happy and it’s one of them tracks that just sound great to drive to on a lovely day.

Ethan: For myself; although I agree with Matt’s choice, I would have to choose Coast to Coast; purely for the lyrical content and the dynamics within the music and between the instruments.

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I believe The High Points emerged from Norwich last year. How did you connect with each other and realised you shared the same tastes in music?

Matt: So. Myself and Ethan have actually known each other since we were seventeen. We met at 6th form and actually formed our previous and first band back then. We never did anything Funk or Indie-based in that band though which was something we both realised that we loved doing. So. After stopping the first band, we formed The High Points and started writing completely different things to what we had done before.

Which artists did you all grow up around? Do you have any personal musical idols?

We’re both lucky enough to have been brought up with musical families, so we both have a huge selection of bands and artists that we were introduced to at a young age. I was always hearing my dad’s records such as Queen and ELO, as well as music from my brother and my mum like Green Day, the Red Hot Chili Peppers; CHIC and other Disco tracks.  The blend of these, for me, was perfect when I was first learning bass. A personal idol for me and Ethan would definitely be Nile Rodgers.

Ethan: For my musical inspiration, as a young guitarist, it was most definitely Jimmy Hendrix. I just couldn’t get enough of his unique style. I then got heavily into John Mayer, which started my love and Interest in singing but then I found myself being a true Kings of Leon fan and idolised the lead singer Caleb a lot. I learnt to admire the licks and melodies of Nile Rodgers at later age with Matt.

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

Matt: We hope to achieve a bigger status - we’re still relatively small in the huge pool of bands so we’d like to grow our fan base and have more people enjoying our music.

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

One that sticks in our mind a lot is actually the first time we played a gig back in 6th form. We’d both never done a live gig before so it was really one of them moments where we were either going to absolutely love it or be too nervous and end up hating it! Thankfully, we both loved the buzz of playing live in front of an audience. Although it wasn’t a huge gig, it’s always meant a lot to both of us because it gave us confirmation that is what we want to do.

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

This is a hard one…

So many albums mean a lot to each of us. For myself; I would say Rubber Soul by The Beatles (means a lot to me). It’s just got that perfect blend of everything I love and there isn’t a single song on that album that I don’t love.

Ethan: For myself; I quickly fell in love with Aha Shake Heartbreak by the Kings of Leon. It was an album which helped me out a lot in a tricky part of my life and love It. I still have it playing in my favourite playlist.

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

We both would jump at the chance of supporting the great Nile Rodgers. Not just because we love him but also feel like we would be a great warm-up and support as we like to bring the funk to all of our live shows.

We definitely wouldn’t be picky when it came to our rider. Maybe a candlelit McDonald’s on arrival - a bit of comfort food always breaks the ice.

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Can we see you on the road this year at all?

You sure can! We’re doing a tour in November and the dates will be available via our Facebook page and on our Spotify gig list!

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Try be unique as possible; have your own image and your own style both online and in person. It really goes a long way if you’ve got something special about you that makes it clear to your fans that there’s only one of you and not several bands or artists that sound and look the same. Also, it’s a bit obvious, but always be nice to everyone: try not to have an attitude as being friendly will always get you further and you’ll make new contacts etc. much easier.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: The Renadeans

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

There’s a great band in our area called The Renadeans. Like us, they’re a three-piece band with a Punk/Rock sound but they’re absolutely fantastic when they play live. They really give a good show and their music is brilliant and unique for that genre!

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

Yeah. We both like spending times with our girlfriends and we’ve got a great group of friends as well, so we always manage to spend time to go out for a drink or even just play on some games online to relax.

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).

Matt: Girl - The Beatles

Ethan: Peg - Steely Dan

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INTERVIEW: Novul

INTERVIEW:

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Novul

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MY last interview of the day…

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is with Novul as she talks to me about her single, Boys Like You, and the story behind it. I ask her whether more material is coming and ask why she moved from Canada to L.A. – she talks about that relocation, the music she is inspired by and a rising artist we need to get behind and spend some time with.

Novul discusses her plans going forward and how important it is getting attention from press and radio; what she does when she is not making music; what advice she would give to musicians coming through – she ends the interview by selecting a great song.

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

Hi. Thanks so much for having me! My week has been amazing. I released my new single as well as my music video for Boys Like You.

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

I’m Novul - check out my story. 

Boys Like You is your new single. What is the story behind it?

The story behind it is basically asking yourself ‘Why do girls like me love boys like you?’ (Bad boys).

Do you recall when music came into your life? Was there a moment you knew it was the career for you?

I always knew I wanted to do music. I remember walking home from elementary-school and I would always come up with these melodies and freestyle lyrics singing to myself. Haha! I then started dancing, doing musical theater and vocal lessons. From my first live television performance at age ten, for Gloria Lorin, I knew I wanted to do this as my career.

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You started life in Canada but moved to L.A. Did you always know you wanted to move to the U.S.? How quickly did you settle in?!

I didn’t always want to move to the U.S. but, in high-school, I realized that’s where I had to be to do this. I started flying to L.A. once a month for vocal training. After high-school graduation, I officially moved. I settled in pretty quick and easy. People would always tell me that I never looked like I belonged in a small farm town. Looking back, I would have to agree!

Which artists do you consider to be role models and inspirations?

Lady Gaga is my role model, 100%. She’s so talented and smart! Also, Cher is a big influence on me. 

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Your music has gained a lot of support from radio and the press. How important and motivational is that support?!

So important! Getting support from radio and press just makes it clear to me that I’m doing the right thing, especially being independent. It confirms that I am connecting with people and I can be that voice. 

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

I’m going to be releasing another single and video in November, so I will end the year with that. My end goal for this year is to be performing locally in L.A.

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

I would say one of my performances that I have done in L.A. because will.i.am came to support me!

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

That’s so hard because it depends on my mood and my feelings. They all touch me in a special way! 

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Never change your artistry. Stay true to yourself because that’s what makes you different. 

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 IN THIS PHOTO: NF

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I would have to say this upcoming rapper named NF. His art is amazing and he spits the truth. I love that about him. My dream would be to collaborate with him. Shout-out NF!

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

At the moment, I’m pretty good at balancing myself. Every morning, I take my dog Diana to the beach. That alone time really grounds me. By the way, Diana is in my music video for Boys Like You and she was featured in Rich the Kids’ music video for Dead Friends

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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).

Everything Is Embarrassing - Sky Ferreira 

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INTERVIEW: Chloëbeth

INTERVIEW:

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Chloëbeth

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THE wonderful Chloëbeth

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has been chatting about her new song, Take Control, and what its story is. I ask whether we will see any new material next year and if there are tour plans ahead. Chloëbeth discusses her favourite music and albums that hit her hardest – she recommends a rising artist we need to follow closely.

I was eager to learn whether her Classical training/background aids her current music and what she wants to accomplish by the end of the year; how she spends her time away from music and the advice she would give to artists coming through – she ends the interview by selecting a great current track.

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

Helloooo. I'm not bad, thanks. Ups and downs ya know - how it goes! Hope you're all good.

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

Yeah. Well. I'm Chloëbeth - a singer and songwriter from West Yorkshire. If you've never listened to my music before, I guess you can expect relatable lyrics and catchy melodies…with deep meaning behind the sometimes 'mainstream' sound. But, all my songs differ quite a lot in the genre. I'm full of surprises.

 

Take Control is your new track. What is the tale behind it?

The tale behind my new track Take Control is about certain lads who feel threatened by a girl's independence, confidence or success. The message is about being yourself and not letting a lad use and abuse you or put you down.

I mean; I'm not particularly a mad feminist at all: I'm a laid-back gal but just seeing some guys in the club or on Instagram stood there posing made me wanna write a song about how pathetic some guys are (as well as some girls of course!). It's not a bitter song, though. It's just about embracing your true self and beauty inside and out and not letting anyone put ya down!

Might we see more material in 2019? How far ahead are you looking?

Oh, yeah. Definitely more stuff coming in 2018, never mind 2019! This is just the beginning.

Can you reveal what sort of music you grew up around? Who did you idolise?

I grew up around all sorts. I remember, as a proper-young kid, my dad used to listen to dance and Trance in the car...and The Clash - whereas my mum was into musicals. But, like; I sang on my first bassline song when I was sixteen. I used to like chavvy music too as a young teen - when I was fourteen – but, at the same time, I loved Rock music! Pretty, juxtaposing genres floated my boat to be honest. As well as chavvy beats, I was also really into Nirvana as a young kid. I loved them.

Also; I idolised Mariah Carey as a kid. Her voice is outstanding. I used to look on her website all the time at high-school instead of doing work. Haha.

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How did your Classical training prepare you? Do you incorporate any of that teaching into your current work?

My Classical training has prepared me in so many good ways as it trains your voice to really reach new heights: I can sing any genre well now and can sing in seven different languages as, during my Classical training, a lot of the Classical songs I was practicing and singing in competitions and exams etc. were in Italian, Latin; German, Spanish etc. I think my Classical training has helped me have the range/purity of vocals and control that I have today.

Yeah. I guess you'll hear glimpses of my Classical high voice in the odd note here and there. Kind of like the tone in Hannah Reid’s voice (lead singer of London Grammar).

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

By the end of 2018, I hope to achieve recognition as a singer and songwriter on a much larger scale.

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

Being invited in to do a Live Lounge to premiere a couple of my songs for BBC Radio is a good memory. Also; I love the way I can just sit down unexpectedly when I’m all alone and write a song so effortlessly that I feel could really make it.

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

Visions of a Life by Wolf Alice

Amazing album. A few songs on there really touch me deeply when I listen to them - to the point where this sensation comes over my mind and body like, just, pure dept. I don’t know how to describe it but I feel like I’m different and I go into this numb sort of state where I feel that something is going to happen in my life that’s going to be really unique.

Blink-182Blink-182

That will always mean a lot to me as I grew up listening to that on my C.D. Walkman (Discman) and it just reminds me of being so young and boys at the time. (Just) nearly every song on there touches me massively.

Nevermind by Nirvana

Love that album too.

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

I’d love to support The xx and my rider would be, hmmmmm. I was gonna say a big ass bottle of apple-flavoured vodka but I’m in recovery sooo that, probs, wouldn’t be a good idea. Haha. A more sensible rider would be loadsa fruity Haribo sweets and Chinese food. Ha.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Advice to new artists coming through would be: stay true to yourself; don’t copy anyone; have faith and keep going! Try not to give too many f***s about what people think of you.

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

No tour as of yet but, hopefully, someday soon!

How important is it being on the stage and playing your music to the people?

It’s very important being on stage and playing my music to people as, if people connect with the songs I’ve written, it’s just that feeling of like, yeah man, they’re diggin’ this! I just want people to connect and enjoy the words and music that enters their ears - and make them relate or, like I said, feel connected and good/opened up about sh*t.

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Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Yeah. I recommend you check out Kennedy Power. She’s my good friend and an amazing songwriter.

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

Yeah. I do get time to chill. I used to unwind by getting absolutely off my head far too much and dangerously but that ain’t healthy for my mental state and never progressed me in any way shape or form. In fact; it strips me of everything good in my life. Sooo…I’m trying to avoid that if I can. I love watching cooking programmes (haha) and spending time going on scenic walks outside embracing nature - or spending time with animals like dogs.

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

A song. Hmmmm. Play Silk by Wolf Alice. The beginning guitar and opening verse gets me every time, wow! Thank you xxx

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Follow Chloëbeth

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INTERVIEW: Machine Age

INTERVIEW:

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Machine Age

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IT has been good to chat with Adrian from Machine Age

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IN THIS PHOTO: Adrian with SLUMBERJACK

about their collaboration with SLUMBERJACK. I ask how the song, Daggers, came together and whether the two artists are working together again. Adrian discusses his musical upbringing and whether he has a favourite memory from his time in music – he recommends an approaching artist we need to get behind and support.

Adrian talks about plans going forward and which artist, given the chance, he would support; whether he gets chance to chill outside of music; what he and Machine Age want to accomplish by the end of 2018 – he ends the interview by selecting a cool song.

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

Hello, there. Super-well. It’s been a great couple of days - having dropped the new tune on Friday.

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

Adrian here from Machine Age. We’re based in Brisbane, Australia

How did the unity of Machine Age and SLUMBERJACK happen?! Have you known each other for a while?

I’ve been a big fan of SLUMBERJACK for a while. A great friend introduced us and we got together the day before they played Splendour in the Grass (Australia’s Glastonbury).

Daggers is your collaboration. What is the story behind the song? Can you describe how the song came together? Who came in with the idea?

At the time of our first writing session, the boys were living somewhere between Perth and L.A. and we only had a small window of time before they had to prep for their massive Splendour set. So, rather than working on a song from scratch I showed them a super-rough piano demo of Daggers as something we could work on.

They loved it and we got the bones of the track together that day. The rest of the production was a lot of back and forth sharing parts and arrangements ideas as they toured overseas until it was done.

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Will there be more work between you guys?

I’d love to work with them again one day for sure. It would be great to play Daggers live together.

Did you grow up around a lot of music? Which artists do you count as influences?

I’m the youngest of four boys and inherited my music taste from my three older brothers. One was into ’60s/’70s Psych-Rock; another Blues and Jazz and the other (into) Pop and Electronica. It wasn’t till I was fifteen or so that I started to distil that down into my own influences.

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

We have a stack of shows planed in the coming months around Australia and are planning to hit the U.K. and Europe early next year. But, before we get there, we’re also finishing a bunch of new material for our upcoming debut.

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

The first song I ever released a couple of years back got a spin and five-star review by the head of Australia’s national radio station, triple J. It’s pretty hard to go past that feeling.

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

That’s a super-tough question...

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

I would happily accept a solitary beer if I could support Radiohead. Maybe two beers.

Can we see you on the road this year at all?

Yep. In Oz. We’re aiming to hit the U.K. next year.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Make the music you want to listen to.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Willaris. K

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Willaris. K

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

When I’m home, I love walking my dogs and listening to music or podcasts.

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).

Ólafur Arnalds - re:member

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Follow Machine Age

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INTERVIEW: The Higher Planes

INTERVIEW:

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The Higher Planes

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I have been speaking with Adam and Jon…

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of The Higher Planes about their double A-side, Keep Your Lamplight Burning Low/You Know, and what the stories behind the songs are. They discuss how the band found one another and what music they are inspired by; what their plans are going forward and whether they each have favourite albums.

I discover how the band’s music gels and whether they get chance to chill away from music; what they hope to achieve before the end of this year; which rising artists we need to get behind and whether there are treasured musical memories that stick in the mind.

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

Adam: Hello. This week has been good; although I’ve spent a lot more time tragically hungover than I would have liked. We did meet an interesting new producer, though.

Jon: Pretty uneventful. We had the launch gig for the release last Friday and normal life is always waiting round the corner.

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

Adam: The Higher Planes are a kind of ramshackle Soul band: the kind you might have heard in the golden era. We are shameless revivalists with loads of hair, angelic singing voices; a no-synth policy and an ever-expanding line-up which now includes George ‘The Major Seventh’ Dimension on the trumpet and Richard ‘Suspended’ Forthe on the public saxophone. They might have real names, I don’t know. You could ask them.

I think our aim is to create a warm, dancy and soulful experience for the people in attendance. My concern is a lot of people seem to be on the slow slide to weary cynicism, losing all feeling in their feet. The way I see it, what we do is try to top the good feeling back up; let that joy and abandon grow back like leaves after winter - I mean for us as much as anyone listening.

Jon: We're The Higher Planes; a (mostly) six-piece....Garage-Soul band?! We used to say ‘folky’ but we've been doing our live shows on the principle it's gotta be super -groovy and deeper rhythms are a bit easier to get into.

 

Tell me about the double A-side release, Keep Your Lamplight Burning Low/You Know. What is the story behind each track?

Adam: Keep Your Lamplight Burning Low is for all the people creaking under the cascade of worrying information that’s taking a grim toll on our heads today; seemingly more invasively than ever (although, let’s face it; it ain’t exactly World War II right now). Or, maybe, it is for some people, in their minds Anyhow; I think it’s saying ‘Take it steady, try not to fret; all is unfolding exactly as it should be in the great cosmic comedy…’ 

You Know is an odd one. It’s an upbeat Soul banger that’s also a story about being burned alive in a giant psychedelic tribal ceremony - a bit like the remake of The Wicker Man with Nicholas Cage. Not the bees! What’s on me?

Jon: I guess the first one is about how to not get crazy and how not to fall asleep in these dark and murky times. A lot of the songs we do have contain a lot of apocalyptic lyrics and such and this one, I think, came about as trying to write a more positive kind of song, which only half-worked before it got derailed by mystical visions – but, basically, it's about keeping your eyes open.

You Know is just a bit of a fever-dream about being the guy in The Wicker Man + symbolism, irrational ideas; things like that.

 

What was the reason for releasing a double A-side? Will there be more material next year?

Adam: The shady characters at Super King Records who pull the strings said their projections were a few percent better doing it that way. Who am I to argue against the cold, hard data?

And, yes, there will be more soon, friend. We’re heading back into the studio in December to whip up some more metaphysically, nutritious soul stew. Probably another two tracks, given the time we have. Big room, recording live (ish); more feeling; more fuzz more of the time.

Jon: We're just trying to record when we can. There's quite a few of us and we're pretty busy, so two tracks were what we got out of our session, especially because they've got quite a few parts and we couldn't, on that occasion, just play them all live and have it done. It's probably gonna be a while before we've got an album of tracks done to a good enough standard.

Maybe we'll get an E.P. done before too long. Otherwise, I think we just thought they're both pretty cool and double A-side sounds fancy. And there's no one to tell us how releases are meant to go, so we just called it a double A-side.

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You have brought a horn section into your music and are working with Jazz drummer Angus Bishop. What was the reason for this employment and how do you think it is has altered your sound?

Adam: Brother Jon has always been trying to move in the souliest (sic) possible direction. The horns were a natural progression to the dream set up of a Wilson Pickett-type act. We’re just missing keys…and Wilson Pickett…

Angus Bishop is a long-time friend and collaborator of JJ Stillwell, player of the bass. They call him ‘The Bishop’ because he only moves diagonally. He was playing with us for a while some years back, but then left for some kind of mystic drum odyssey for some months. When he came back, he said he was up for it so we nabbed him. I should mention it’s not him on the recordings (that’s the inimitable Ginger Drage From A Previous Age) - you’ll have to wait for the new year to hear Angus’ particular brand of stick magic. He’s like the Rembrandt of drums. And he’s added gears and dynamics we didn’t know we were capable of before.

Jon: I think it's always made sense and been a bit of an ambition to put horns onto lots of our songs. Those two tracks were pretty down-the-line-Rock-‘n’-Soul rhythms so it was a no-brainer. First, the Soul influences and I know the sound in my head always has devastating horn blasts all over the bloody place. Some of it is just about having more options – having organs, pianos and theremins and all of that and go with whatever suits the songs.

With Angus, he and JJ studied music together and play together in other projects, so they know each other and each other's playing really well and there's something about Jazz players that make for great Rock ‘n’ Roll players – especially when we want a psychy feeling which we haven't yet done that much of. It's all a bit more technicolour.

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How did The Higher Planes get together? When did the band form?

Adam: Jon and I; we are brothers. So, we’ve spent most of a lifetime terrorising the neighbours with our raucous musical endeavours. I think we were playing as a three-piece a couple of years ago with a drummer (and having to switch between guitar and bass constantly) until we met JJ (the boyfriend of a friend of my ex-girlfriend). He took care of low notes. We roped our spectacular women in with promises of fame and glory - and the fact they didn’t really have to carry anything cumbersome or heavy…apart from us at the end of a particularly powerful show.

Jon: Me and Adam have been playing for ages and were just doing acoustic gigs around the place when we got together with Sarah, Deci and JJ to make a bigger sound. For a long time, we played with Ginger Drage, a drummer based around Brentford, and now with Angus. We've played gigs around London for the past few years with a few jaunts around the country.

Which artists did you all grow up around? Do you have any personal musical idols?

Adam: We were both mad on The Beatles and The Stones and learned to harmonise sat at Maggie the Piano blasting out Not Fade Away and Hey Bulldog. Musical idols would be many of the people on the Woodstock roster and also classic English Folk acts like Pentangle. I could go on. And I will. We’ve played with some pretty excellent bands lately. More on that later…

Jon: When I got to sixteen, I started getting into the Blues at the same time as San Francisco bands and just followed all the rabbit holes that opened up after. That's what remained, but we listened to most stuff really.

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

Adam: In the next three months? Not getting hit by a car or a fast bicycle; fulfilling everyone’s Christmas wishes; maybe even making a video for one or both of these songs.

Jon: We're trying to find a bit more studio time, so maybe one or two new songs down. After that, I think we've gotta think about 2019: getting a good E.P., properly done, and going round the country a bit.

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

Adam: Touring with Hurray for the Riff Raff last year. Eye-opening.

Jon: Well. Seeing as it's pretty fresh in the memory; I'd say our recent launch gig at Paper Dress Vintage. The first we've had with horns and some of the moments that we got to put in there were very cool. Playing the Joiner's Arms in Camberwell is always good times. And some of the recent practices where the whole arrangement comes together for the first time.

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

Adam: Oooh. Exile on Main Street by The Rolling Stones

Pure magic. And, also, I would quite like to swan off to Nice to live in a mansion, eat bread; drink wine and create music for the rest of my life.

Jon: Couldn't really say it's my favourite ever, because I don't think there is one, but Country Joe and the FishI-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die is cool because it's not that complicated; just a band being really organic sounding.

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

Adam: Alabama Shakes. Or Queens of the Stone Age… ah shucks, go on…The Stones! On the rider; 1 x giant pile of old-fashioned, 100%-proof medical chang. Nah; scratch that. 1 x largest possible bag of Twiglets. And two beers, cold.

Can we see you on the road this year at all?

Adam: This year, as in 2018? No. You’ll find us in the usual haunts, probably a few shows around South London. We’ll figure something out further afield in the summertime. I want to go back to the North.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Adam: Hahah! We are not qualified to give any. Apart from stay away from leechy ‘promoters’ who do nothing for anyone but themselves. Find the good venues and talk to them directly. If no one feeds the leeches, they might do us all a favour and go extinct.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Wax Machine/PHOTO CREDIT: Abigail Polaine

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Adam: Check out Jouis and Wax Machine. They’re two acts from Brighton I think and they’re both very good in very different ways. I don’t know if they’re fully fledged idols yet, but I respect what they’re doing. Also; ESE & the Vooduu People are pretty gnarly. And there’s a Scottish blues band called The Rising Souls that we’re big fans of. They’re like a Glasgow Audioslave! Come to London, lads! We’ll put on a show.

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IN THIS PHOTO: ESE & the Vooduu People

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

Adam: I relax in between rehearsals and gigs by being a full-time school teacher. Therapeutic as hell it is, trying to teach loads of children how to make graphs and read good, all the while knowing that, by the time they hit eighteen, they’re going straight into the Matrix to power robot Tory octopuses.

Jon: We have bags of time away from music as I think all of us have day jobs. We unwind by playing music. Maybe one day it'll be the other way around - and we can unwind with part-time office or factory 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).

Adam: Please Crawl Out Your Window (the Jimi Hendrix version). Thank you.

Jon: Nearer My God to TheeSam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers (the live eight-plus minute version - Great Shrine Concert, 1955)

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Follow The Higher Planes

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INTERVIEW: Ruby Randall

INTERVIEW:

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Ruby Randall

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THANKS to Ruby Randall

for talking about her single, The City, and what the story behind the track is. I ask which albums are most important to her and whether she has any goals to achieve before this year is through – she talks about a brief move from Canada to Spain and why she has relocated.

I ask Randall which aspiring musicians we need to follow closely and whether there are any gigs booked; if she has any advice for artists coming through; whether there is a special musical memory that sticks in her mind – she ends the interview by picking a cool track.

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Hi Ruby. How are you? How has your week been?

My week has been a bit wild. I’ve just moved from my home in Canada to Almeria, Spain. I’m here for nine months teaching English to high school-age kids and learning Spanish. I also really wanted to slow my life down and take some time to do the things that I’m always longing to do while in the city - making music being one of them! I’m a social worker back home in Toronto, so don’t get as much time as I’d like to make music. 

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

For those of you who are new to my music, my name is Ruby Randall. I’ve just recently released two new tracks - The City and Loaded Man - under my own name. I played in a band called beau for a long time in Toronto and this is my first solo release since the band’s split.   

The City is your latest release. What is the story behind the song?

The inspiration behind The City actually has a lot to do with my current move to Spain: I was feeling a bit resistant to Toronto’s pace of life. I was always feeling like I wanted to move more slowly and that I was only scratching the surface of things because I felt pulled in so many directions.

I was also really aware of how easy it was to keep myself distracted in a big city and how this sense of distraction kept me from being fully present, or landing on the depth that I so often crave from life. Since moving to Spain, my life has been substantially slower. I live by the sea. Nature just moves more slowly and gives you the opportunity to do the same. 

What sort of music did you grow up around? Did you have a varied upbringing?

I grew up around a lot of Canadian-made Folk music, perhaps unsurprisingly. My parents played a lot of music made by their friends. My mom also loved Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams. Every time I hear these women, I’m reminded of my mom cooking in the kitchen and the house being calm. My dad loves Bluegrass and played in a Bluegrass band. I still remember the words to most of the songs that his band would play. 

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What do you hope to achieve by the end of this year?

By the end of 2018, I hope to begin to learn how to produce my own music. This is a big task! A lot of my pals who are really good at producing their own music have been at it for the past decade. I don’t expect to be a master by the time I’m done in Spain, but I’d like to have a handle on the process so that I can at least make demos with fully-realized ideas to take with me into the studio.  

Is there a special musical memory that sticks in the mind?

The last show that my band beau played was really special. Perhaps, because we knew it was our last. We had a full house and my family and all my pals were there. We played a great show and the energy in the room was just really wonderful. It felt really good to be ending our time together as a band on such a high note. It actually felt a little bit like something was just beginning and, interestingly, it was the ending!

If you had to choose three albums that mean the most to you, which would they be (and why)?

I always find these questions really hard to answer! The three albums that mean the most to me... mmm….

Perhaps Land of Talk’s Applause Cheer Boo Hiss. Although, honestly, I love each of their albums. This album was just the first one that I fell in love with. Liz Powell, the frontwoman of Land of Talk, is a really good guitar player and I’ve always admired female artists who are both incredible singers and really good at their instruments.

Emmylou HarrisWrecking Ball; because it was played in my house for my entire childhood and immediately makes me feel at ease.

I still know all of the words to Destiny’s Child’s The Writing’s on the Wall, so this is my third choice. This album reminds me of how good I felt in my skin when I was twelve. 

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

If I could support any musician alive right now, I might choose Sharon Van Etten. I love her music a lot; it’s so painfully beautiful. Or Land of Talk or Feist. I also might choose someone like Maggie Rogers, because her music is so much fun and I feel like we could be pals. Haha.

My rider would just be full of yummy snacks. Cheese and crackers, olives; salami, fresh fruit and mango juice. Yum.  

What advice would you give to artists coming through at the moment?

My advice to any new musician would be to do your best to be kind to yourself. Putting what you have made out into the world can be hard - it makes you really vulnerable. Do your best not to compare yourself to others! This can be especially hard with social media. Stay connected to own relationship with your creativity - why you love to create things and what feels good about sharing what you make with others. 

Can we catch you on the road very soon? Where are you heading?

I have no tour dates coming up. I’m going to spend the winter writing music in Spain and working on some recordings I made in Toronto before leaving. 

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IN THIS PHOTO: Noname

Which new/rising artists do you recommend we check out?

New artists that I recommend you check out: Noname. She has a new album out called Room 25, but I especially love her older album Telefone. Also; La Force just put out a self-titled album that is so good. TBT, Lucky One and Mama Papa are my favourite songs off of La Force’s new album. Merival and Anna Wiebe are two of my good pals from Canada who make beautiful music and sing with me on many of the tunes on my upcoming E.P. Check them out!

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Le Force

Do you get time to unwind away from music?

I have recently set up my life so I get a lot of time to make music. Prior to coming to Spain, I didn’t have a lot of time outside of my day job to even make music, so this feels like a special treat to myself. Music is not my full time gig, although I would feel lucky if it was! Currently, I unwind by swimming in the salty sea, cooking, and spending time with one of my best pals, Maya, who lives in Spain with me. She’s magic. 

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose any song (not one of yours) and I will play it here.

Can you play TBT by La Force? I can’t get it out of my head! 

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Follow Ruby Randall

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INTERVIEW: Bertie Scott

INTERVIEW:

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Bertie Scott

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I am starting off this week…

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by interviewing Bertie Scott and asking him about his new track, Feel Alive. I ask Scott whether there is more material coming down the line and which artists he grew up around; if there are rising artists we need to get behind – I ask if we can see the songwriter tour at all.

Scott highlights a few albums that mean a lot to him and tells me what the scene is like where he is in Southend-on-Sea; how he unwinds and relaxes away from music; what he hopes to achieve by the end of this year – he ends the interview by selecting a great modern track.

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

Hi, Sam! I’m all good, thanks. Been a busy week getting everything all prepped and ready - new music out tomorrow; first track I’ve dropped in a while and there’s always last-minute things to rush and get sorted. It’s always the way. Haha.

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

So. My name is Bertie Scott. I’m a songwriter from Southend-on-Sea, Essex (just outside of London). Doing the Pop/Alt-Pop thing.

Feel Alive is your latest single. Is there a story behind the song at all?

So. The main chorus idea for Feel Alive actually came about when I was driving my car. I pulled over straight away and recorded a voice note on my phone – sometimes, when you get random ideas you’ve gotta get them down as soon as possible or they’ll disappear from your mind forever. It’s happened too many times and you always think you’ll remember…but 80% of the time they’re gone by the time you get back to your house. I was actually doing a co-writing session with Jack and Rob from a band called Holloway Road the next week. When we met up, I showed them and the rest of the pieces just fell into place.

The concept behind the song is literally about being alive. Most of the time, we’re so drawn in and programmed by society to do the same thing every day; work 9-5, get back; sit down, watch T.V.; same thing day in day out. It’s so stale. But, sometimes, you just wanna get that buzz from life and really feel something.

Might see more material in 2019? How far ahead are you looking?

Absolutely. I took some time out from releasing music recently and focused on writing. As a consequence, I’ve got a whole backlog of songs recorded up and ready to go. I should be good for the next six months and, at the same time, I’ll be writing and recording even more! I wanna put out as much music as possible. The next track for release is just around the corner as well.

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Can you give me a sense of the artists you grew up around? Who do you count as idols?

Michael Jackson - King of Pop. My mum used to play his stuff all the time when we were younger and still does. When I really got into music, though, I remember being fascinated by all the local bands in the area. Me and my friend used to go religiously every Friday to the local venues and watch/listen to music. It was wicked. Some of the bands were so good and I used to buy their C.D.s and go home and learn how to play the tracks and jam out to them on my own for hours.

You are based in Southend-on-Sea. Is there a strong music scene there at the moment?

Absolutely. It’s getting stronger all the time. Some great bands have come from this area. The Horrors went to my school; some of the Nothing But Thieves boys were in my class; Charley from Rixton is from Southend. There are some wicked under-the-radar acts here right now - it’s just a matter of time before some someone crosses over that line again.

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

More music released, more songs written. Honestly, I just wanna get the new tracks out as soon as possible. My favourite song I’ve written so far is still to come - we play it live in the set at the minute but the recorded version is even better. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

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

I played at Pride Festival in Southend this year and it’s the first time I’ve really heard people sing the words back at me when I was on stage. It was amazing and they were so loud as well. I could hear them over the music! It was only a short set, but so good.

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

Dangerous - Michael Jackson

It’s the first L.P. I remember seeing at home and the way it kicks into the first track is just so good. I always remember seeing it around at home when I was little. The artwork on the front is so cool too. It’s such a nostalgia thing and it takes me right back to when I was younger.

Avenged SevenfoldAvenged Sevenfold

Seems like an odd choice but, honestly, the first concert I ever went to and still one of the best. My sister got tickets for her birthday and we all went to Brixton Academy to see them play. I didn’t know any of the songs and wasn’t really into Rock music back then…but I literally had that record on repeat for weeks and weeks after we got back from London that night.

So difficult to choose: there’s so many I wanna pick. I’m gonna go with 1989 - Taylor Swift

It made me believe in Pop music again.

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

Probably Taylor Swift. I ended up getting last-minute tickets to her London gig recently and it was the biggest live show I’ve ever seen. So good. The energy in that stadium was insane. I’d love to be a part of that. Or play with Sia. I haven’t seen her before but I reckon she kills it…

Rider-wise; if anyone can slip in some avocado Maki…I’m in.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

I would say the songwriting is even more important than ever. There was a point when playing live and getting out there was more important, but I think it’s switched round again - especially in the age where social media seems to be ruling. The songs really have to come first and have to be really tight. And, also, don’t be afraid to collaborate!

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

Absolutely. I’m playing at Medicine at Royal Holloway University on 9th November; O2 Islington Academy on 29th November and Zetland in Huddersfield on 30th November. I’m doing some Xmas lights switch-ons as well in November/December. Type in ‘Bertie Scott Tour Dates’ into Google and follow me on Bandsintown for the full list.

How important is it being on the stage and playing your music to the people?

Very important. It keeps me going. I can’t imagine not having any shows to look forward to. Writing music and being in the studio is great too. I love both sides – but playing it live is very different (even if the music is exactly the same).

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Emma McGrath/PHOTO CREDIT: CK Goldiing

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

If you haven’t already; check out Emma McGrath. We played a show together recently up in London and she’s killing the game. Her songwriting is so good and she’s got one of those voices you could listen to for hours. If you haven’t heard of her yet, you will soon.

Also; TS Graye. I came across her as she worked with a producer I know but her voice is wicked too and I’ve got her latest track basically on-repeat at home.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: TS Graye

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

Sometimes. But, I if spend too much time away, I get an itch to crack on with stuff. Doing music is a 24/7, 365 thing. Once you’ve got the bug, it doesn’t stop. And, if it does, that’s the time to quit. Although, I have definitely learned you need to take a break sometimes as it’s good to reset your brain. My parents have got a little place up in Norfolk we sometimes go up to and, if you go out-of-season, there’s literally no one there in the town. It’s so good to rest and unwind there.

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).

Sucker Punch by Sigrid. Literally just came out the other day and it’s such a tune. Another track I’ve got on constant repeat on my Spotify playlist

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INTERVIEW: Maggie Szabo

INTERVIEW:

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Maggie Szabo

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THE wonderful Maggie Szabo

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has been telling me about her single, Don’t Give Up (she has just released the song, Wide Awake, alongside No Class), and how it came together. I ask her what we can expect from her upcoming E.P., Worthy, and which musicians are important to her; which three albums are important to her and how she got involved writing for other artists and T.V. placements.

Szabo talks about her plans going forward and how important it is being on the stage; what she does when she is not making music; the rising artists we need to check out and get behind – she picks a classic song to end the interview with.

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

Hey there! My week has been great! I literally just landed in Amsterdam and am writing this at my friend’s dining room table at their home close to Vondelpark.

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

My name is Maggie Szabo and I’m a recording artist and songwriter from a small town in Ontario, Canada but currently live in Los Angeles.

Can you reveal the story behind your single, Don’t Give Up? How did that come to be?

I was inspired by the lyric idea ‘don’t give up on love,’ and that’s where the song started. It’s a feeling we’ve all felt before and the lyrics and melody came very naturally. I wanted the lyrics to be really honest, which is where the first line of the verse came from: “Everyone knows this world isn’t perfect”. Once I finished recording the song, I knew that the video had to stand for something and I wanted it to stand for something I truly felt for.

I decided I wanted to make a video that shed light on transgender issues particularly trans kids. So many trans kids are being discarded by their family and are forced to live on the streets. I wanted the spirit of the video to genuinely portray the story of a teenager struggling with their gender identity.

It is from the E.P., Worthy. What sort of themes defines the E.P.?

I named it Worthy because I wanted the E.P. to feel empowering. I want it to be a reminder that everyone is worthy.

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Which musicians do you count as idols? When did music come into your life?

There are too many idols to name! Music came into my life at an early. Some of the first artists that I fell in love with were Carole King and Tracy Chapman. I really look up to them because they are such amazing songwriters and artists as well. Their lyrics feel really honest to me, so I think they had a huge influence on my writing growing up. I also sang in a Jazz band when I was a kid so Etta James definitely made an impact on me. I also love Justin Timberlake, Sia and John Mayer.

You have written for other artists and for T.V. placements. Was there a moment that you knew you needed to concentrate on your own material?

My own music has always been a priority for me but I have always loved writing for other projects. Songwriting makes me happy, no matter what it is for. It’s a very different feeling having someone else sing my material other than me because it’s such a great compliment and I truly feel honoured when someone else wants to use my music for their own. I try and balance both equally because some of my best material wasn’t necessarily written with myself in mind; it was more about just writing a great song.

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

I have some collaborations coming out with some amazing D.J.s and I will also be releasing a Christmas song! I will also start planning ideas for a tour next year.

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

I thought about this for a good few minutes…and I honestly can’t say I have one specific memory that is my favourite. Performances, being in the studio and landing in L.A. when I first moved here are all memories that will stick with me forever.

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

Tapestry by Carole King; Continuum by John Mayer and Justified by Justin Timberlake mean a lot to me because they all contain some of my favourite material from my favourite artists. Nowadays, I don’t listen to full albums as much because now the music industry is more focused on singles - but I definitely spent a lot of time listening to those albums.

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

Definitely Justin Timberlake would be someone I would love to support! If I could support him, I don’t care what my rider would be (smiles).

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

If you want to pursue a career in music, be willing to sacrifice everything you have for it.

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

I am playing on October 18th in Amsterdam as part of ADE and, on Nov. 4th, at the Palm Springs Pride!

How important is it being on the stage and playing your music to the people?

So important! I love feeling the energy of the audience in the room - it’s so inspiring. It’s also a great way for me to see what material people react to and that helps inspire my new music.

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Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I’m sure you already know him, because he is mega-successful, but I have been listening to all of Chris Stapleton’s music. I work a lot in the EDM world, so some of the D.J.s and producers I work with in Europe aren’t super-familiar with his music, but I definitely recommend everyone listen to Stapleton’s songwriting; there is so much to be learned.

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

I love health and fitness as it keeps me feeling good and it helps me to stay mentally focused on my goals. When I’m not in the studio, you can often find me in the gym or running outside listening to music!

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).

It's Too Late - Carole King!

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INTERVIEW: Jay Miners

INTERVIEW:

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Jay Miners

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I have been speaking with Jay Miners

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about her latest track, Something Alive, and the story behind it. The song’s video has just been released so I was keen to talk about the song and see where she is heading next. Miners discusses her path into music and which artists are important; how crucial N.Y.C. is a base and which rising artists we need to get behind.

Miners tells me about her upcoming E.P. and what she wants to accomplish by the end of the year; if there are any gigs coming up and which albums have influenced her most – I ask whether she is coming to the U.K. and how she spends time outside of music.

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

Hey, Sam! My week has been great, thanks! Working a lot and I’m adjusting to this weird fall transition happening in N.Y.C.

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

Sure! I’m Jay and I am what I like to say a songwriter singing her own songs. I grew up playing Classical piano, but fell in love with writing songs when I was about fourteen. It took me a while, but I started performing these songs on stage and found it exhilarating sharing them. Now, writing and performing music is my main work. I’ve just wrapped up recording an E.P., dropped the first single off of it and am gearing up to play some more shows.

Something Alive is your new single. Can you reveal the story behind the song?

I wrote Something Alive about a year ago and it’s inspired by the book I’m working on now. The story itself is about a young Asian-American woman who is both inspired and haunted by her mother, who was a renowned journalist and has presumably died. The book frames as a murder mystery, but it aims to explore the main character’s identity as an Asian-American woman today, very much trying to figure out who she is. It’s still in the works but its themes, as well as my own experience, definitely influenced this song and music video!

I understand an E.P. is coming along. What sort of themes and ideas influenced it?

Yes! The E.P. audio is done and we’re rolling it out with a few singles and some video/visuals - and the full thing will be released in January 2019. The record is very much centered around the theme of making, creating and art. These songs were written during a period of pretty big change in my life - I was in my first really committed relationship; I left a full-time job to focus on music and I was spending a lot of time alone just trying to write songs and stories.

I came to many realizations about my own work; like what inspires me and how to keep productive. That process - which is messy and uncertain and constantly changing but so, so fulfilling - definitely bled into these songs. 

Which artists do you consider to be role models and inspirations?

My parents’ C.D. collection definitely inspired me growing up; I gravitated towards classic singer/songwriters like Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell and Elton John. Vienna Teng had a great influence on me when I was a teenager - it was one of those things when you see someone who looks like you - doing the thing that you love to do, which was writing songs - and you think: ‘Hey, I could actually do this’. You don’t realize how much of an impact someone like that has on you until you start pursuing it, either.

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How important is New York regarding your style, songwriting and passion? Do you get driven by the people around you?

New York definitely plays a part in my songwriting. When I was a teenager, all I wanted to do was write songs about New York, which is honestly what fuelled my entire first E.P. I love living in New York: there’s a way it makes you feel both lost and inspired at the same time. There’s also this hustling feeling you get from living here,where you feel like you always need to be doing something more. It keeps you on your toes, for sure.

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

Release two more singles off of the E.P., each accompanied by visuals (both art and video) that really enhance the meaning of the songs. Play more shows and connect with listeners and other artists. Write new music. And, hopefully, take a really long nap in between all that.  

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

My first show at Rockwood Music Hall in April 2017. One of the most heart-warming feelings I’ve ever had on stage was when I played the last song, Sunlight in Your Eyes, and at the end. I directed the audience to sing “oohs” with me. And they were all singing, and I was singing, and the room just filled up. There’s a video on YouTube of this. I’ll probably hold that memory close for a long while.  

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

Tough question! It changes every other day. For now; these are my most beloved:

Rumours (1975) by Fleetwood Mac

Legendary album. Taught me good melody lines and harmonies. Every track on this album is strong. I play it pretty often and I’m never sick of it. There isn’t a favourite track off this, but right now I’m really feeling You Make Lovin’ Fun.

Inland Territory (2009) by Vienna Teng

When this album came out, I was sixteen and I remember, one evening, I was lying on my bedroom floor with headphones on and just had this album on replay. I gravitate back to this album often. Each song is intricate, well-thought-out and has something to say. St. Stephen’s Cross and Stray Italian Greyhound are my top off the album – although, this rotates often. 

Dearest Everybody (2018) by Inara George

This has been a recent favourite. Inara’s voice is heavenly and each song is sweet and interesting. Crazy is my go-to off this album – so beautifully crafted, lyrically and musically. 

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

Probably Joni Mitchell - and I’ll ask her questions about songwriting all day. Lots of tea and the occasional birthday cake - even when it’s no one’s birthday.  

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

I’m still a new artist myself and I’m still learning something new about the work and about myself every day. Two things I’ve learned that have really helped me stay on the ground are:

1) Keep working on your craft. I really had the opportunity earlier this year to focus on songwriting - I challenged myself to write a song every week for about three months (and I did). Most of those songs were thrown away (the good ones landed on the new E.P.). Scheduling myself to produce work continually was new, frustrating and exciting and it really gave me a chance to realize that there are so many ways for me to foster growth as a musician and writer.   

2) Have confidence in your work and don’t put anyone on a pedestal. Getting rejected is part of the game and getting a little discouraged by it is, too. But, get back up; move on to the next and keep fighting for your art…because you are your biggest advocate and you know you’ve made something worthwhile.

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

I’m planning to play a few N.Y.C. shows before the end of the year. All my show dates are available on my website at jayminersmusic.com/shows.

Might you come to the U.K. and play at some point?

I’d love to! That would be a dream. It probably won’t happen in the very near-future but I see it happening soon for sure.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Treya Lam

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Treya Lam’s album Good News is great. Joy Williams is dropping a new album soon. Artists that I’ve crossed paths with that are really great – Samantha Rise and Sarah Kang. Also; Alex Wong, who is working on his second album right now, is one I’m excited about that. 

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Joy Williams/PHOTO CREDIT: Andy Barron 

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

When I step away from music, I usually spend time with my family. If I get an evening alone to myself, I’ll snuggle on the couch and fall asleep watching Grey’s Anatomy. That’s the best.

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).

Geyser by Mitski. My recent obsession

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INTERVIEW: Maria Kelly

INTERVIEW:

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Maria Kelly

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THE last interview of the day…

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finds me chatting with Maria Kelly about his current single, june, and what inspirations/ideas are behind her upcoming E.P., notes to self. The Irish-born, Berlin-based artist talks about life in the German capital and which musician, given the chance, she’d love to support – I ask which three albums are most important to her.

Kelly tells me about her tour schedule and which memory from her career so far stands in the mind; the rising musicians we need to follow and check out – she ends the interview by selecting a great song.

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

Hello! I’m really good; thank you for asking. My week has been quite lovely. It’s been this beautiful autumn/winter-type weather here in Berlin at the minute and I am very much enjoying jumper season.

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

I usually describe myself as ‘Alternative-Folk’ - whatever that means – but, outside of genre, I just try to write introspective songs that allow for honest expression of feelings that I normally find quite difficult to express.

I’m also from Westport, a small town in the West of Ireland, but currently living in Berlin!

June is your new single. Is there a tale behind the song?

Specifically, yes, but that’s no fun to talk about…

In general; it’s about allowing yourself the space and time to deal with negative emotions that can be easily avoided. I wrote it when I first moved to Berlin and I was spending a lot of time alone. I found it quite difficult to lie to myself when I was alone, which led me to jot down this kind of angry, frustrated diary entry; full of things I wanted to say, but never did.

It is from notes to self. Can you talk more about that collection and how your move from Dublin to Berlin provoked the inspiration?

Notes to self quite quickly became the title because I had decided, as soon as I got to Berlin, that I would quite literally write notes to myself. Whether this was interesting phrases or thoughts I had gathered from other people; life lessons, pep talks telling myself to calm down or cop on… It allowed me to understand my mentality at the time and kind of ‘check in’ with myself - as you would with a friend. It allowed me to be honest with myself.

The rest of the songs on the E.P. capture other moments in time throughout the summer and deal with a general theme of ‘holding on; hiding behind and letting go’. That’s a lot of info to take in...But I think it will make more sense when it’s all out in the world. Haha!

How has it been moving from Ireland to start afresh in Berlin?! What are the main differences you have noticed?

It’s been amazing. It really has. I originally came for ‘just the summer’ but, after two weeks, I didn’t want to leave. It feels like a much slower pace of life here, which I love. There’s time and space to focus on things that you actually really want to do and it isn’t too expensive, so there’s not as much pressure to break your back just to pay the rent.

Getting to experience a new place and culture has definitely been great for my songwriting too - it feels like I have the confidence to push the boundaries a bit more than if I were at home.

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Which musicians do you count as idols? When did music come into your life?

Regina Spektor, for sure; Lisa Hannigan; Lucy Rose; Gemma Hayes; Wallis Bird - there are specifically a lot of Irish female songwriters who I would of discovered when I was younger. I had always been surrounded by music growing up and started playing guitar and writing when I was about ten.

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

I’m excited to get my E.P. into the world and I would feel fulfilled if it just reached as many ears as it possibly can. I have some exciting shows too - some after the November tour dates - that I really can’t wait to share. But, I don’t have particular goals by the end of the year- I have had a very lucky year that I am grateful for and I am just looking forward to releasing notes to self and seeing what people think.

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

Most recently; getting to play in St. Michael’s Church for Other Voices Ballina alongside Villagers, Sam Fender and Maverick Sabre. I just couldn’t believe I was in that line-up.

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

Lucy Rose - Like I Used To

Regina Spektor - Begin to Hope

Dido - Life for Rent (my mum’s fave)

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

I would have a lil’ cry if I got to support Lucy Rose. That’d be a teenage dream come true. Ha.

My rider…that’s a fun question! Honey, lemon; a kettle…and then a very nice bottle of gin for after the show and a packet of six teacakes. Wild.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Don’t rush it: spend time making music you really want to make. Let people help you. Be supportive of your music scene.

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

Yes - and I am so excited! I hit the road on 16th October with All the Luck in the World. I’ll be opening up for them here:

16.10...PAPIERSAALE, ZÜRICH (SWITZERLAND) 

17.10...SCHON SCHON, MAINZ (GERMANY)

18.10...GLEIS 22, MÜNSTER (GERMANY)

14.11...RÓISÍN DUBH, GALWAY (IRELAND)

15.11...KASBAH CLUB, LIMERICK (IRELAND)

16.11...THE ROUNDY, CORK (IRELAND)

17.11...THE GRAND SOCIAL, DUBLIN (IRELAND)

How important is it being on the stage and playing your music to the people?

In recent months, it has become one of my favourite aspects of being a musician. My songs are such personal things to me and, when I am really present in a performance, I feel very much back in the headspace of the time I wrote it. To get to do that, but in a room full of welcoming, attentive people is quite a strange healing process.

It’s then even better to realise that the song can then have a different meaning for each person in the room - allowing them to return to a particular headspace and to, hopefully, find healing in it too.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: LAOISE/PHOTO CREDIT: Lucy Foster Photography

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Loads. LAOISE, Ailbhe Reddy; All The Luck In The World, Good Ghost; Vampire Finch...and, if you haven’t hear of them; also loving Saint Sister, Lomelda and Haley Heynderickx.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Saint Sister/PHOTO CREDIT: Lucy Foster Photography

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

Writing is quite a chill experience for me but, other than music, I listen to a lot of podcasts; explore coffee shops, read; watch really crap YouTube videos…

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).

April Showers by Good Ghost - it’s beautiful (smiles)

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INTERVIEW: Sedric Perry

INTERVIEW:

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Sedric Perry

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IT has been great chatting with Sedric Perry

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about artists who inspire him and how music came into his life. Perry discusses his latest track, Naked, and the rather sexy story that compelled it; whether there is going to be more material along the way, too. The Philadelphia-raised, Berlin-based artist tells me about a few albums that mean a lot to him – I ask, as a black artist, if he has found it harder to get a footing in the industry.

Perry gives some useful advice to emerging artists and tells me what he hopes to accomplish before the end of this year; how he spends his time away from music; which rising artist we need to get behind – he reveals whether he will be coming to the U.K.

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

It’s been a good week. Been making music, hanging with friends from out of town and getting a lot of love on the project so far.

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

Sure. I’m originally from Philly - so I started with R&B and Gospel. I moved to New York when I was seventeen and started working on Jazz and House tracks with friends. Now, I’m in Berlin making what I call ‘R&Bounce’. I haven’t had that many solo releases so this project is kind of like my introduction to the world!

Naked is your latest single. What is the story behind the song?

Me and my best friend have all these little phrases that we use to talk dirty about strangers. Like, if we see a guy pushing a stroller and he’s kind of attractive, I’ll say: “Oo; he made that baby”. Naked’s about this one time I went to this wild party they throw every two months in Berlin. I was making such intense eye contact with a complete stranger from the end of the bar that, by the time we got close to each other, neither of us could actually speak. We just laughed and said “hi”. The only thing that came to mind was ‘I really wanna see you naked’.

Which artists did you grow up around? Were you raised in a musical family?

I grew up listening to a lot of Gospel and Jazz; Whitney, Sade and The Winans. My grandfather was a guitarist and my uncle sang. He was so confident and sensual with his performances, I wanted to be him…then I found out about Usher and wanted to be him too.

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As a young, black artist in music; do you take a lot of influence from Urban artists? Do you think it is harder for black artists to get recognised?!

Of course, I have a lot of love for our new generation. The range of music from artists like Daniel Caesar, 6LACK and GoldLink is so inspiring. I think, a few years ago, all music got funnelled into one genre and everyone was making EDM, i.e. ‘Dynamite’. Now; I feel like it’s spread out and anyone can do whatever they want. I’m sure there’s still prejudice, but I also notice that black artists on top have a reputation for pure excellence and innovation that you don’t see anywhere else these days.

What comes next in terms of material? Are you working on more stuff?

Constantly. I want my audience to grow with me, so the next thing they hear will have live instruments; different voices and more experimentation. I have a lot of new material coming soon!

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

I have a really wild idea for a music video. It’s probably going to cost a lot, so that’s a big goal for me. Beyond that, some performances, one more single and hopefully a cut with a major artist!

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

Yeah, actually. Haha. I’d just started singing. I had debilitating stage fright, so I always closed my eyes really tight whenever I sang. I was in church singing We Need a Word from the Lord and I just remember singing my entire little nine-year-old heart out. When I finished, I opened my eyes and saw the whole church standing and clapping. It was really sweet.

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

Some albums were with me through my craziest transitions in life. Lianne La Havas’ Is Your Love Big Enough? got me through my first adult break-up.

Choose Your Weapon by Hiatus Kaiyote is just legendary.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (Lauryn Hill) made me want to be super conscious in high-school and want to be intellectual about the way I love and create art.

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

It would be wild to go on a tour with Tyler, the Creator. I feel like we would get into so much trouble together. I’d use a live band - bass, keys; drums, guitar and backup singers and just go nuts. Of course, fog machines and good lighting, too.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Every individual path has its own rhythm. Sometimes, I get frustrated by not being as far along as I think I should be but that’s just comparison. The best thing I can say is put the time into it, the more you create; the more you’re inspired, the more you grow; the better you’ll feel about the process. You’ll be too grateful to compare yourself to anyone - especially in today’s world of social media.

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

No tour yet, but lots of shows here in Berlin! On November 9th, I’m doing Small Sessions Berlin. I’m really excited to present this music to everyone.

Might you come to the U.K. and play at some point?

Of course. I have a lot of friends in the U.K. It’ll happen very soon!

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IN THIS PHOTO: Noname

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

I’m really loving Noname right now. She’s getting quite a bit of buzz and I think it’s well deserved.

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

Not too much lately, but I usually like to just go to nature and shut my mind off. I’m also obsessed with water so, if I can hit a pool, a lake or the beach after a long week, I’m good.

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).

Everyone should check out Lil Wayne’s verse on Let It Fly

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Follow Sedric Perry

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INTERVIEW: Celia Palli

INTERVIEW:

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Celia Palli

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THE terrific Celia Palli

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has been talking with me about her new single, Complicity, and what its story is. I ask about her upcoming album, Technicolours, and what we can expect; which artists and albums have made a big impression on her – Palli reveals how Nelly Furtado forms part of her favourite musical memory.

I was eager to learn why she recorded the new album in Brooklyn and why there has been a gap since her last release; whether there are tour dates coming up and which rising artists we need to get behind.

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

Hi! I’m good. It’s been so exciting to read the reviews for my single and to see the release come together. I’m celebrating inside (smiles).

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

I’m a singer, musician and composer. I’ve been singing for other artists for over ten years and, in 2014, I took the big step and released my first album. I took some time away to hone my craft, write better songs and that’s how this new Technicolours record was born.

 

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

I was alone one evening, playing the piano, and began playing a chord progression. I thought to myself: ‘What if the melody goes to the highest part of my range?’ I gave it a try and I was vibing with this song. I kept saying the word ‘complicity’ in the chorus but I didn’t have much besides that. Just a feeling. I really wanted the lyrics to be special so I asked my singer friend Nashlyn Lloyd to write lyrics with me. 

I knew I wanted them to be about the complicity between partners which, in Spanish, is something extremely positive. In Spanish, being able to appreciate complicity between partners means that they have a deep connection. When presenting the storyline to Nashlyn, and hearing the confusion in her voice; I quickly learned that in English it doesn’t mean the same thing. Hahaha! This misunderstanding worked to our advantage. We used the criminal connotation that complicity has in English to describe the deep connection.

Technicolours is your upcoming album. Are there particular themes and experiences that influenced the music? 

Yes, for sure. I spent the last three years in New York and the time there really left a mark. I went out to see local musicians a few times a week and something about their fearlessness dared me to try new ideas.  

It has been a few years since your debut album. Has it been a case of taking a break and finding a new sound (in regards the gap)?!

Yes, it has.

After my first album, I wanted to know what I could have improved on. I set up a few meetings with people in the industry that I respect and listened to what they had to say. The one comment that really stuck with me was that I could still take the songwriting to the next level. That was very empowering to know because it gave me direction. I didn’t set foot in the studio until I felt my writing had changed.

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You recorded the new record in Brooklyn. What was it like being there and working with the production duo, LIKEMINDS?!

I met LIKEMINDS in Brooklyn where we did the pre-production, but we actually recorded the album in Montreal. And, I have to tell you; I have never worked with producers that were so synched with each other and so selfless. Their one and only goal is to elevate the music! I learned a lot watching them work together. 

What sort of music did you grow up around? Were you subjected to a wide range of sounds?

My parents would play vinyl every weekend, from morning to night. It was a ritual when I was young. We listened to The Beatles, Paul McCartney and Wings, as well as artists from my roots like Lluís Llach. These are my first musical memories. Growing up as a teen; I tried to listen to a variety of genres from Rock to Reggae. I think there’s greatness in each genre.

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

I want people to talk about and share my music. Word of mouth is the ultimate compliment for a musician. 

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

Yeeeeees. My first show with Nelly Furtado. I was twenty-four-years-old when I joined the band. Our first show was in Mexico City and we had had an audience of 150,000. I will never forget the feeling of happiness right before jumping on stage. 

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

Prince - Purple Rain

He poured his soul into those vocals and it reminds me to do the same.

Solange - A Seat at the Table

The sounds choices in production opened my mind and the visuals for the music videos were breathtaking. I find everything about this album inspiring. 

Any Beyoncé album!

I play her songs and dance like no-one’s watching!

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

Hahaha. That’s a fun question. Dark chocolate, mints; a kettle… chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Wifi and a couch - because being on the road needs to feel the most like home.  

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What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Be prepared to be persistent against all odds and then some.

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

I currently have a few months of releasing music and promoting, so no dates yet. BUT, when I do have dates, I will post them on all my socials. So; hit that follow button to stay up to date (smiles).

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Paris Monster/PHOTO CREDIT: Elizabeth Lauren West Photography

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Paris Monster, Nick Hakim, Kate Kay Es.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Kate Kay Es

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

I unwind with wine. Haha! All jokes aside…I kind of do. At night, a glass of wine and silence is very much needed. Other than that, music is playing when I shower; when I cook, when I’m on the bus… 

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).

Paris Monster - The Cause of It All

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INTERVIEW: LeBarons

INTERVIEW:

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LeBarons

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MY final interview before the weekend…

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is with LeBarons as they talk about their current single, Long Highway. I was interested to know what the song’s story is and what sort of things they address in their upcoming album, Summer of Death. They tell me how they got together and what the music scene is like over in Toronto.

I ask whether they will come to the U.K. and play and whether they have favourite memories from their careers so far; which rising artist we need to keep a watchful eye out for; if they get time to unwind away from music – they each pick a song to end the interview with.

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

Hi, there! It’s been going great; thank you for asking. It was exciting to finally release our single after all the preparation we did for the album. It seems like it has been well-received.

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

We are LeBarons; an Alt-Country band from Toronto, Canada. We have been together for roughly four years. Members include: Chris MacDonald – Vocals, Acoustic; Megan Tilston – Vocals; Casey Irvin – Lap Steel; Evan Levy – Electric Guitar; Po Karim – Drums and John Dinsmore on Bass.

Long Highway is your new single. Is there a story behind the song?

When I was younger, I wanted to be a writer - I still do. Haha. One of my first ideas for a book was going to be about two kids that live in a small, removed town somewhere along the coast. It’s a town where the only place to go is down to the lake and is where all the kids hang out. The two protagonists would soon venture out on the road in search of something bigger. Along the way, they get mixed up in a murder, ultimately forcing them to make a decision to run or face up.

They choose to run and the road trip continues only in a different context. I decided I would write it into a song; I just couldn’t put the murder in there because I’m not as good as Nick Cave. But, I think I captured the vibe of how I wanted the book to feel. I would love to write it one day.

Everyone put a lot (of input) into it and had a lot of creative ideas that really furthered the vibe; our songs come out best when that happens.

It is from the upcoming album, Summer of Death (out on 2nd November). What sort of ideas and experiences inspired the song?

Roots would go back to my love of romantic style stories - anything Springsteen, S.E. Hinton/Rumble Fish; Kerouac - anything along those lines is where I always want to be.

How did LeBarons get together? What attracted you to one another?

I made a few Craigslist posts, which landed Casey and Evan; I married the other singer; met Po through my work and then we were recording at John’s studio, Lincoln County Social, and forced him to play bass with us.

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

I’m sure Po has it all planned out for us. Haha. No, really…the fact that we have achieved all that we have is a marvel in its own. These recordings have just made me want to record and document more; I just want to play and have a lot of fun with my band. They are so talented, insightful and the best bunch of musicians anyone could ask to play with. Writing songs with them feels really good.

You are based out of Toronto. Is there a good music scene there at the moment?

Toronto’s music scene has always been thriving. It’s very lively and stocked full of talent that stretch across all genres. You can go out any night of the week and find a show to go to. I feel fortunate to live in a city like this, definitely.

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

Chris: We’ve played so many fun shows it’s hard to choose. But, last winter, we played a show in my shop as a part of a block party/music crawl. The crowd was handpicked because of space limitations. It was intimate and the vibe was just amazing. That is a fond memory.

Casey: When Chris brings a new song to the rest of us, it usually comes with a shortlist of notes for the feel. He might say “make it like American Girl” or he'll slouch down in his knees, sit back in space and air-drum a few bars. I really love interpreting these songs as a band; we each start from a different interpretation of Chris’ notes but, after a few runs and things start to click, it's such a wonderful feeling.

Evan: We had some terrific guest musicians on the Summer of Death record including a horn section playing a part I had created (a first for me). It's really powerful experiencing something you have in your head become music in the air, then on the record. I'll remember that for a long time.

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

 Chris: I can’t answer this…

Megan: (Shakes her head, ‘no’).

Po: If it’s a LeBarons record, it’s the new one Summer of Death. I think the songs are amazing and we had a lot of fun making it. We were able to branch out and explore some really creative ideas and sounds. We also took our time making the record - almost two years. That meant that we were able to spend time on each song and make them all sound unique based on the mood we were trying to create. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

Casey: Sweetheart of the Rodeo by The Byrds is definitely a key album for me. The first pedal steel line of You Ain't Goin’ Nowhere runs itself through my head on an almost daily basis. Really, though; anything that Gram Parsons had a hand in could be my answer to your question here.

Evan: Too many to mention…

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

I’m pretty fond of our hometown staples at the moment: give me Matt Mays or The Sadies and I’d be happy to follow them around for sure.

Rider? Hmmmmmm. I’m going to think long and hard about that. I’d take Springsteen, too.

Will we see you on the road this year at all?

I think we’ll definitely put a few miles into it when the dust settles.

Might we see you in the U.K. very soon?

Would love to. It’s a great place and haven’t been for a few years. Might be due for a visit and a pint!

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

I don’t know exactly...read books, try and stay off the phone.

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Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Alun Piggins. He’s not new, but I have no idea why he isn’t famous. He’s one of the best songwriters in Toronto and, if you don’t believe it, you will when you here his song Steel Heart.

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

Music is the unwind...music and beer.

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).

Chris: Living on the Moon - Adam Faucett

Megan: Bad Girl (Pt. I) - Lee Moses

Po: Appalachian Death Sigh - Bill Fox

Casey: Sleep with One Eye Open by Chris Thile and Michael Daves

Evan: 1952 Vincent Black Lightning - Richard Thompson

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Follow LeBarons

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INTERVIEW: Heir

INTERVIEW:

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PHOTO CREDIT: Portia Hunt

Heir

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THANKS to Tom from Heir

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PHOTO CREDIT: Portia Hunt

for chatting about the band’s new track, Restless, and what its story is. I was eager to know what comes next for the guys in terms of gigs and material and how they found one another; which rising artists we should keep an eye out for – Tom tells me how he and the band relax away from music.

Tom talks about the music he was raised on and how he feels looking back at a busy and exciting year for Heir; which one music memory sticks in the mind; what he/the guys hopes to achieve by end of this year – Tom selects a couple of cool songs to end things on.

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

Hi, man. What’s it to you?! Joking. It’s been alright, thanks. Currently talking to you via Microsoft Word 2017 with a mint tea.

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

I’m Tom from Heir. We’re a Pop band from Leeds, U.K. Sam, Tom; Harry, Ste and Samuel – the musical equivalent of The Teletubbies.

How did Heir start life? When did you all find one another?

We are from all over the U.K. but met in Leeds for uni. We started playing tunes together and, after a couple of years, realised that we got on alright and all enjoyed it (yes; that took two years). We then decided to form as Heir in 2015.

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

Restless is a tune that we wrote in Northumberland a couple of years ago now. It’s a song about being settled in your restlessness and overthinking. Obviously, with us being in the period of life post-uni, it’s something quite fresh on the brain.

Might there be more material coming this/next year?

Oh yeah, baby…

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PHOTO CREDIT: Portia Hunt

Last year was a busy and exciting one for you! How do you see the year looking back? How has this year fared in comparison?

Last year was bloody ace! Playing Reading and Leeds was fab and the big support gig at Scarborough Open Air Theatre were moments that you don’t think you’ll get early on as a band so it was a really great learning experience.

This year has been a little more focused on recording and writing - loads in the pipeline ready to put out into the world from Restless onward. Very buzzed to get it all going!

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 PHOTO CREDIT: Charlène Dosio

If I were to travel back to your childhoods; what sort of music would I find in your collections?

I can only speak for myself as the lads would probably not be too thrilled if they were also associated with The Chuckle Brothers’ cassette. That’s actually not a joke: I can still remember one of the tunes in full to this day.

I was actually quite fortunate to be brought up in a household that loved a lot of amazing songwriters. Most of our car journeys were spent listening to Eagles, Billy Joel; Carole King and Supertramp. Those, along with the She’s the One (single) by Robbie Williams were the highlights for sure.

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

I’d like to be able to beat my long jump P.B.

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

I think my fondest memory with the band is our second visit to Belgium and Holland. We go out once or twice a year to play some stripped-back shows. I just love the fact that we crammed all of our stuff into my parent’s people carrier and roof box. We must have looked like the least Rock ‘n’ roll band in the world (which we are, to be fair).

Great people, great fun.

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

Again…I don’t want to speak for the other lads but, when I was getting into music and working out why I loved the songs that I loved, I listened to The StrangerBilly Joel a lot. That’s probably one of the main albums of my earlier years as a musician. Can’t say that it means the most to me now but it was certainly important to me when I was younger.

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

Band: HAIM; Rider: seven-a-side football pitch; my mum’s homemade Sunday roast and Tropicana - because, times are tough at the moment and I miss it (that’s not too much to ask, is it?!).

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PHOTO CREDIT: Portia Hunt

Might we see some tour dates coming up? Where might we be able to catch you play?

Yeah! We’ll be doing a big headline next year. More recently, we are playing the following:

9th October - Hull

20th October - London

21st October - Halifax (acoustic)

30th October - Exeter

More T.B.C.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

We’d be asking them…

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Wild Front/PHOTO CREDIT: John Almando 

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

At the moment, I have been really enjoying Wild Front, Westerman and Greatest Hits.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Westerman

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

Absolutely. Some seriously good board games going on in our house - and a few of us play football. I know that Sam is a keen cyclist too. Thanks for your concern, m’dear.

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

Make You Feel - Wild Front

Easy Money - Westerman

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Follow Heir

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INTERVIEW: Megan Lara Mae

INTERVIEW:

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Megan Lara Mae

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THE fabulous Megan Lara Mae

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has been giving me the skinny regarding her new single, From the Ashes, and how the song came to be. I was keen to know whether more material was coming and which artists have inspired her to this point – she tells me what Brighton is like a base and how inspiring it is.

Mae reveals who she’d support on tour given the chance and recommends a rising artist we need to get involved with; whether there are going to be gigs coming up; which musical memories she counts as the most precious – I was keen to know how songs come together and whether she has a songwriting process.

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

Hi. My week has been great, thanks! My band and I had our debut London headline gig on Saturday at The Finsbury. The main support was Dutchkid - it was their first-ever live gig but they were insane and, if that’s what they’re like now, then we should expect crazy things from them by the New Year!

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

So. My name is Megan Lara Mae and I’m an unsigned Electro-Pop singer-songwriter. I’m originally from Birmingham but I moved down to Brighton a few years ago to start studying (I absolutely love Brighton and have no desire to move at the moment…). I was brought up learning and playing Classical music and within church choirs - I like to draw on this, together with my contemporary music training. My songs aim to have an uplifting and empowering yet sentimental vibe that can hopefully identify with many people.

I would say it’s for fans of Sigrid, Florence and the Machine and Bat for Lashes.

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

There is indeed...

So. It’s reflective of my own story but, essentially, the song carries the message of rising from a dark place and going into the light, while never dwelling on the past. So, for me, I had an experience in my life that hurt me pretty bad and put me in a really dark place and I could’ve kept following that path for myself, getting darker and darker… but, instead of dwelling on it and letting that define me, with a lot of help from some amazing friends, I was able to rise from it and be at peace with the situation. I hope that From the Ashes can help other people in similar situations.

Might we see more material next year? What are you working on at the moment?

Oh, yes! So From the Ashes is the final song to come out from my current project - my debut E.P., Into Daylight. But, my goal is to make everything I do a learning process so that the next thing is always bigger and better than the previous thing…so, at the moment, I am currently producing and finishing writing some brand-new material ready for a new project to come out in 2019…keep your eyes peeled!

How do songs come together for you? Do you set time aside to write or is there a particular process?

There’s no particular process. I used to fear writing lyrics, as I’d told myself I couldn’t do them, so I leaned on building my creative process for the melodic side of things. But, since moving to Brighton, I’ve loved going for bike rides and walks along the seafront, which is just the perfect time for me to think (and probably overthink) – but, usually my best lyrics come from these times. So, now, I try to go on a few solo bike rides and walks every week.

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Do you recall when music came into your life? Was there a moment you knew it was the career for you?

My first-ever musical moment was when I was six-years-old. The teachers at primary-school clearly saw something in me and gave me the lead role in the junior musical - I was the Frog in Frog’s Spring Party (so much fun!). From then, music was a process and I just constantly grew a love and desire to be involved in it more and more and I eventually studied classical flute, piano and voice all up to grade 8.  

We went on a family holiday to Corfu when I was twelve and my parents encouraged me to sing in all the karaoke bars. My favourite song to sing was Don’t Know Why by Norah Jones. When we were there, we met someone who asked whether I wrote my own music. With limited life experiences to draw from at age twelve, when I got home I tried putting together the piano and my voice and actually started improvising to films that I’d put on silent and out came some songs. By fifteen-years-old I was performed my original music and shows and festival across the U.K. and that’s when I looked back and knew that it was a career for me!

Which artists do you consider to be role models and inspirations?

I’m inspired by the works of legends, including Elton John with his heavy piano-led songs and Kate Bush, whose voice is just incredible! I love Kate Bush’s crazy attitude and sweeping melodies and this is has definitely become a feature in my own music. But, I’m also influenced by lots of current artists…the ‘Pop’ genre is massive so I try to listen to so many artists in this style by engaging with Pop playlists on Spotify. Some specific artists that I adore though include Sigrid (all her songs are hits!); Rae Morris (she just oozes ‘Cool-Pop’) and Lorde (everyone knows how brilliant her stuff is).

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

My 2018 goal was to release my debut E.P. I started recording and producing the tracks back in January and the first single off the E.P. came out in April 2018. Since then, I’ve been dropping tracks from the body of work and by the end of the year I hope to have achieved this goal. I’d also hope to have everything ready for the next project by the time the year comes to close. I’m just loving being in the creative head-space at the moment!

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

I have two…

Firstly, in summer 2017, I had the crazy privilege of playing a few sets at Glastonbury Festival. While it wasn’t a big stage or anything, just the opportunity to play at one of the most renowned festivals in the world was mind-blowing. The feedback was incredible and I’m praying that I get a similar opportunity to play at Glastonbury 2019!

Secondly, as I’ve said I aim to write songs with uplifting messages that can identify with audiences. Earlier this year, I released my first single from the E.P. called Caribou. The song is about not letting things chase us down but to persevere in these times. Just after releasing it, I got a message from someone saying how they’d been listening to the song during their mornings to help them not feel down but to encourage them to keep going, despite what their life’s circumstances was telling them. This is exactly what I want from my music - not to just release music, but to make a difference to people’s livelihood.

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

Sigrid! She is killing the game at the moment! To support such an awesome artist who has been noticed for her credible Pop songwriting would be an opportunity-and-a-half!

And, my rider…I’m quite a simple person (I like to think anyway). Before any gig I love having a hot drink of honey and lemon, so that’s pretty much all I’d request. I asked my guitarist what he would want too (his expectations are clearly way bigger than mine) - he would ask for a PS4 with a T.V. screen, probably with additional driving seats for specific games and then a coffee machine (we are Brightonians and therefore need good coffee).

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What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

This industry isn’t easy but, if you’ve got dreams and ambitions and are clearly gifted to make it as an artist or musician, then absolutely don’t let other people discourage you. Society tells us we must have ‘proper jobs’ or work at desk or whatever, but some of us just don’t function like that. I don’t believe we’ve been gifts in music to let those gifts become dusty and eventually forgotten.

If music is your brick in life, then put that brick in the bucket first; then you can add your smaller stones (e.g. money) and then the sand (i.e. all the little details in life)…don’t add the sand first or else there’s no room left for the brick. This was recently my advice to myself and it’s made such a difference in my approach to my music career – so, I hope that makes sense and can be helpful to others.

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

My next gig is in Southampton on 7th November at Heartbreakers with my gorgeous band and we will be supporting a very cool upcoming Indie-Pop duo called Deco. Then; I’ll be heading to my hometown of Birmingham on 7th December to play at the Cuban Embassy, so if you’re in one of the two cities, then please come along! (There is also potentially a little support tour lined up for the New Year with a super-cool artist, but that’s all hush hush at the moment…).

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Dutchkid

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Absolutely. Please go check out Dutchkid! As I said; they were insanely good when they supported us on Saturday in London. They are an Indie-Pop band with some killer-catchy tracks and I would not be surprised if they go massive very soon! Also; a Brighton-based artist called Lydia Evangeline - the voice on that girl is from another world. I’d describe her as Power-Pop, but she also has the ability to break chains with her lush intimate voice.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Lydia Evangeline

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

While I’m not brilliant at unwinding; I always make an effort to have one complete rest day per week. I usually do this at the beginning of the week so that I’m working from my time of rest, rather than resting from working myself into the ground. I love to channel my creativity into other things like making tote bags or finding some cute activity on Pinterest and seeing if my close friends want to try it out with me. I’m also a bike ride lover and get such a thrill from cycling to new places and seeing what else there is beyond what I already know.

Finally; who can’t unwind to a great Netflix series…?

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

I’ve mentioned them quite a few times now: but Dutchkid are epic so I’m going to choose my favourite of their songs, Glow

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Follow Megan Lara Mae

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INTERVIEW: Sam Dickinson

INTERVIEW:

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Sam Dickinson

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IT has been good to speak to Sam Dickinson

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as he has been talking about his new single, Wild Sun, and revealing its story. The songwriter lets me into his world and explains what music truly means to him; what we will get from his upcoming E.P., From the Glass House: Part One, and which artists have made an impression on him through the years.

I wanted to know whether there are going to be any gigs approaching and which three albums are most important to Dickinson; which rising artists we need to get behind; the advice he would provide to approaching artists – he ends the interview by selecting a great song.

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

Hey! I’m good, thanks. It’s been a busy week in fairness; some long days. I have been gearing up to release my first new music in a long time. I forgot how much you actually have to do! But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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

Of course! My name is Sam Dickinson and I am a singer-songwriter from Gateshead, which is just outside of Newcastle upon Tyne…and, yes, I have the accent! I released my debut album back in 2013 and that was a concept album; recreating the sounds of Stax and Motown with some big horn sections and big vocals. It was so much fun to record. I toured the U.K. with it and received some amazing airplay too. It was all self-financed, so you can imagine the pressure that came with that but, you know, I look back now and think: ‘Wow, you really did well!’. Although, at the time, I would constantly think I could do more, do better.

This time around, I took my time with new music and went with a different sound and vibe.  To be perfectly honest; just as the album was taking off - which was a year after its initial release -, I started suffering from anxiety and depression. Everything became just too much. So, I halted everything for a year or two. During that time, I went into radio, presenting my own show - something I still do. I just needed time to work out who I am and why I had these feelings. So, when it came to working on new music, I thought I’d take a different approach in sound and what I wanted to talk about.

Wild Sun is your new single. Can you talk about the story behind it?

Wild Sun is one of those feel-good tracks where you’ve come to the realisation that the person you’re with is no good and you just don’t want to deal with it anymore. We’ve all been there. You have that moment where you stop feeling like a failure in love and you say to yourself:  ‘What the hell am I doing with him?’. It’s the weight lifted off your shoulder moment: “We could try to start again, we could say that we are friends, but we’ve broken down” the song says.

It’s true.

It is from the E.P., From the Glass House: Part One. How much of your own emotions, experiences and struggles define the songs?

Oh, completely! Isn’t that when music is at its most powerful?! We can have similar experiences as each other and that’s why and how people relate to music.

How powerful and important is music regarding well-being and how you can strive as a person? Does it hold a lot of power and comfort?

Massively. You know, when I was suffering from anxiety and depression - and I still do to some degree. However, I was sitting with my counsellor, really digging deep and she said to me: “Sam, why don’t you try writing music again? It could really help you”. I thought she was talking rubbish to be honest but I tried it. I worked on a song called Therapy which is from a project coming next year and it just felt right. So, from a songwriter’s perspective, you can get so much off your chest and feel good but, when I listen to the music, I want to connect too. I feel like I’ve done that with my new music.

There’s a track on From the Glass House: Part One where I talk about my struggles. It’s my favourite and I’m so proud of it. I start by explaining why I appeared to quit music then I talk about how I feel now, looking back: “You won’t believe me now, but you should feel so proud/of everything you have done, life is there to be won”.

There’s also a song called All We Are on the E.P. It’s in acoustic form as the full version will be the next single and the first off From the Glass House: Part Two. I wrote it with my friend Hattie Murdoch after we watched a friend of mine, who is a drag queen, be vilified on national television and social media. She’s come back stronger and I sing about how we’re all human beings; we need to come together and work together - especially in this era of Brexit and Trump.

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Were you raised around a lot of great sounds? What sort of music did you grow up around?

Oh, my god! Yes! Aren’t we all influenced by what our parents listened to?! On the way to school in the car, I would listen to Gabrielle, Simply Red; Lighthouse Family, Beverley Knight; Everything But the Girl. I could go on but those artists have shaped my music and the sound I have. We used to listen on cassette! I think they’re starting to make a comeback. Haha.

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

The new E.P. will be released and I’ll start working on the release of the second. I just hope so many people get to hear it and enjoy it.

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

I have three...

The first was hearing my music on the biggest radio station in the U.K., BBC Radio 2. It was like I was on the verge of making it; I am so proud of that. The second was playing in front of 30,000 people at Newcastle Pride and the final was one of the smallest gigs I’d done. We were in a tiny venue in Newcastle but the vibe was electric. I was just relieved I didn’t have to pay for the broken chairs from people dancing on them all night!

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

Gabrielle Rise

This album is a lesson in sheer and utter class. Her heart had been broken; the father of her child was convicted of a hideous crime and she could have released an album slagging him off. She didn’t. She had class and that says a lot.

Anastacia Freak of Nature

This album is a lesson in self-empowerment and has some amazing songs on it.

Aretha FranklinGreatest Hits

Need I say any more?! It’s Aretha.

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

Literally, any of the artists I’ve previously mentioned. Although, I’m sure it’d have been Aretha if I’d been asked this six months ago.

My rider wouldn’t be crazy: just some food and a nice New Zealand or South African Sauvignon Blanc.

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What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Keep going! Keep plugging. Believe in your brand and always question if it’s the best you can give. With hard work comes success, so get to work.

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

My tour will be announced in the New Year for March 2019. So, follow me on social media for that announcement.

How important is it being on stage and performing? Do you love playing your music to the crowds?

I love it. It’s a bit like radio where people can get to know you and, after the show, you get to know them. Music connects so many people. At my shows, there’s a group of people who come to every show together and they met because of my music. I love seeing them at each show, enjoying themselves. I also love seeing new people at shows; you can tell at the beginning they don’t know what to expect then the music does the talking.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Beth Macari

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

My friend Beth Macari. You should also check out HATi.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: HATi

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

Not a huge amount, if I’m honest. I usually feel guilty if I’m not working. Is that the classic workaholic sign?! I do enjoy eating out and a nice wine. I also work out to de-stress and unwind - crazily, it works!

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).

Beth MacariClone

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Follow Sam Dickinson

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INTERVIEW: Derek Sallmann

INTERVIEW:

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Derek Sallmann

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I am ending the day by speaking with Derek Sallmann

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COVER DESIGN: Brennan Elias Alban-Springer 

about his latest single, Love, Future You. He reveals whether there is more material coming and what the inspiration behind his latest track is; whether there are particular albums/artists that have affected and driven him – Sallmann highlights a rising artist that is worth some time and we should be checking out.

Sallmann discusses when music came into his life and which artist he’d support given the chance; if there will be tour dates coming up and whether the American will come to the U.K. and perform at some stage.

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

Hey! I’m doing well and I hope you’re having a great week too! I’ve been busy planning out everything for the single release for my song, Love, Future You.

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

Definitely! My name is Derek Sallmann and I’m a twenty-three-year-old singer/songwriter based out of the Waukesha/Milwaukee area. I graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran College in 2017 with a Biology degree and I was a commuter, so I was able to work on my music and play shows when I wasn’t at school. Biology and music are my two biggest passions.

I released my first album, All Seasons, in 2016, which was composed of ten tunes produced by Tony Schueller of Anton Music Productions in Lannon, WI. After I released that album, I did a lot of co-writing and wrote a lot of different songs - over sxity in the past year alone. I got connected with producer Bill Lefler (Ingrid Michaelson, Dashboard Confessional; Joshua Radin) and we did one song remotely with me in Wisconsin and him in Los Angeles. I sent him the demo of a song and he liked it; he produced the track and sent it back to me to put the vocals on. It was a lot of back and forth, but that’s just kind of the nature of working long-distance like that. Since the track went so well, I decided to travel to L.A. to work with Bill in person on a few more tracks on the E.P.

The E.P. will be titled Love, Future You (the same title as the single) and will be composed of five tracks total. I would describe them as ‘Indie-Pop’ and each song definitely has its own personality. The official release date for the E.P. is December 14th, 2018.

Can you reveal the story behind your latest single, Love, Future You? How did it come together?

Totally! Love, Future You was the first song I co-wrote with my friend Kyler England and we wrote it over the Internet. I had been through this really bad break-up and we talked a lot about how, when you’re in a situation like that, nothing feels like it’s going to get better…even though you know in your heart that it will. We channelled those feelings into this idea of a love-letter from your future-self to your present-self; telling you that everything is going to be alright.

When Bill and I were in the studio we actually sampled a bird call in the song (I love birds and my brother and I run an educational birding show on YouTube called Badgerland Birding) which I thought was really cool. The track came out great and when we were in the studio we thought it would be cool to have Kyler sing background vocals on it. She agreed and added them in later on and it really helped pull the track together.

Might we see more material next year perhaps? How far ahead are you looking?

The rest of the E.P. will be released by the end of this year but, yeah, I’d love to be able to release new music on a consistent basis. I love songwriting and turning an idea into a piece of art. I think the whole process is incredible.

Do you recall when music came into your life? Was there a moment you knew it was the career for you?

My parents are both very musical and my dad taught me how to play guitar when I was thirteen-years-old so music has always played a big role in my life. When I was just learning how to play guitar and sing I remember hearing the song Smooth by Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas and thinking how amazing it would be to perform that song one day. It just really pulled me in and made me want to be a performer.

It’s amazing how much influence one song can have on your life. That was the moment I knew I wanted to be a singer and performer and it took a lot of work from that moment to get to where I am today.

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

One of my main goals is to get the new E.P. to chart on iTunes. People can help with that by pre-ordering it. I’ll be posting on my website www.dereksallmann.com and my social media pages when it’s available for pre-order.

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

Oh, man; there are so many good memories I have from music. One of the main ones is playing on the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage at Milwaukee’s music festival, Summerfest, with a full band. It was my first full-band show and it was a dream of mine to perform on a big stage at Summerfest. One day, I’d like to be a headliner there.

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

That’s a tough question...

Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind

It definitely has had a big impact on me because I listened to it a lot growing up. If I hear any of those songs it brings me right back to my childhood.

Yourself or Someone Like You - Matchbox Twenty

It is really influential to me as well. Matchbox Twenty was one of the bands where I just started liking every song I heard by them. I was a big fan of the song 3AM and listened to that whole album a lot.

I’ve also really enjoyed Lauv’s i met you when i was 18. (the playlist)

All the songs are so honest and catchy and I think it’s inspiring that he produced a lot of them himself.

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

Good question. There are so many options. I think I would have to say Ed Sheeran. I’m a big fan of his music and work ethic and he seems like a really fun guy to hang out with.

I think the rider (if it really can be anything) would include having puppies on the tour bus at all times; allowing me to talk about animal conservation at some point in the show and unlimited bottles of raspberry iced tea.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

I would tell them to write as much as possible and be obsessed. It’s easy to get distracted by what everyone else is doing, but do your best to stay focused on working hard every day and creating goals you can achieve on a daily basis. It’s definitely a grind and it’s important to keep at it.

Also; keep in mind that there’s not really anyone who is successful because of just luck. Those who are at the top (99% of the time) put in the work to get there. It’s not a mistake, even if it looks like it. Just keep in mind that if you put in the work you will get to where you want to be.

There’s that phrase “Everybody wants to be the beast, but not everybody wants to do what the beast does.” I think that’s a big part of it. Everybody wants to be successful, but not everybody wants to put in the work. Put in the work, show-up every day and don’t give up. 

Also, don’t let other people discourage you. Be able to take criticism but assess whether it’s valid or not before moving forward. There are always going to be people who don’t agree with what you’re doing and that’s okay. Surround yourself with other hard-working musicians. That way, you can all motivate and encourage each other.

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

I have a few shows coming up to finish off the year but most of them are private events. I’m taking part in a songwriting retreat at the end of October and will be planning an album release party in honor of the new E.P. I’ll be posting on www.dereksallmann.com about the date for that as well as my other social media pages along with a few other tour dates I’m finalizing at the moment.

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

I’d like to. I don’t have any plans to go there on my tour schedule at the moment but the future is wide open right now.

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 IN THIS PHOTO: Kris Angelis

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Definitely! My friend Kris Angelis just released a new E.P. that Bill Lefler actually produced as well. I really enjoy listening to her music and she has a great voice. Check her out.

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

I do actually. I work with an organization called The Friends of the Mukwonago River and part of my job is leading paddle events, bird walks and hikes. Additionally, my brother and I run the Badgerland Birding YouTube channel and I run my own called Badgerland Fishes. A lot of the work we do for the channels involves going out and exploring, fishing; snorkelling and other fun activities that help me relax and recharge.

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).

Sweet! I’d recommend Kris Angelis’ song, Stained Glass (smiles)

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Follow Derek Sallmann

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