Interview – The Clockworks

Drawn in by The Clockworks’ balance of angst, humour and spiky tunes, we asked vocalist James McGregor about their music, influences and what’s going on in their world right now…

How are things with The Clockworks, where and how have you been spending lockdown?

We’re all well, thankfully. Three of us went back to Ireland for a bit to spend some time with our families over lockdown, but all four of us are back living together in London again now and working as much as possible on music.

Your Galway roots are often mentioned alongside the flux of new bands coming out of Ireland – what do you think’s driving the Irish music scene at the moment?

I’m not sure to be honest. There just seems to be lots of great bands from Ireland at the moment. It’s funny because we were writing and playing for years in old sheds in the West of Ireland, oblivious to the world and planning how we’re going to someday ‘make it’. Now years later you realise there were loads of other bands in Ireland doing the same thing at the same time and not only that, but they’re starting to make it actually happen too.

You’ve been signed to Creation 23 by Alan McGee, how did that come about and how much were you aware of his previous work and reputation when he made contact?

Sean sent McGee an Instagram message the week we arrived in London. He was really enthusiastic and a couple of weeks later he was at a rehearsal, and that was it.

We were completely aware of his work and reputation. Sean and I had both read his book Creation Stories and were massive fans of his work. I think it was a complete shot in the dark to message him, but that’s the whole game isn’t it?

Tell us about your latest single Can I Speak To A Manager – what’s the story behind it?

The story is basically about being delivered a faulty laptop, and the existential crisis that follows. Lyrically it started off with “My God what a palaver, I swear you could not write it”. I just liked the irony and how dramatic it was and I knew the story that followed it had to be really prosaic.

You’ve been championed by the likes of Steve Lamacq and Annie Mac, how does it feel to hear yourselves on the radio and get that kind of support?

Yeah it’s great. We really appreciate the support from BBC, they’re playing us quite a bit now and radio still seems to have so much pull even in this modern, streaming world.

It’s nice to see John Cooper Clarke regularly noted as one of your influences – do you have a favourite poem or line of his?

Yeah, to be honest he was the first poet that bridged the gap between my love of words and my intimidation in the face of poetry. One line I always wish I’d had is from I Don’t Want To Be Nice:
‘What you see is what you get
You only live twice
A friend in need is a friend in debt
I don’t want to be nice’

What are some of your earliest music related memories and which artists have stood the test of time for you?

One of my earliest memories is from listening to David Bowie – Starman with my family and being swept away by it. I always loved it. I think his music has stood the test of time. My parents used to play a lot of funk, and I think Nile Rogers seems to be as popular as ever which says a lot. The Velvet Underground, The Rolling Stones, Gil-Scott Heron…

First and last gigs you went to?

The first gig I can remember was a Pride Festival “Big Gay Out” in Finsbury Park in 2004. My whole family went and Fun Lovin’ Criminals were playing. It was either that or Busted in Wembley. I think the last gig I went to was The Libertines in Brixton Academy with my girlfriend. It was mental.

2020’s been a harsh year in many ways, what’s been good for you despite everything?

To be honest, despite the tumult, we’ve had a lot of good moments and we’ve been lucky so far this year. We’ve had the opportunity to write loads which is great, and we’ve released two songs over lockdown which have both been received well. Our first Radio 1 play earlier in the Summer felt great. And it’s just been amazing to see our music connecting to people more and more.

And lastly, assuming restrictions continue to lift, what are your hopes and plans for The Clockworks in the coming year?

Keep writing and releasing, and hopefully get back on tour for some gigs. It’s impossible to plan too much at the moment. We’re just looking forward to gigging as much as we can.

Catch up with The Clockworks here and watch the video for Can I Speak to a Manager? below

Interview by Siobhan
Band photo © Oscar Ryan

21st September 2020

Interview – The Roly Mo

The wealth of talent surging out of Glasgow continues as four-piece The Roly Mo release their debut EP, full of self-assured sashays through the Reptilia style post-punk riffs of Control Yourself to the glam kickback of Diamond Doll. We caught up with Joe and Lewis from the band to find out more…

How are you all, how’s lockdown been treating you?

We are better than ever… thriving in this environment and currently writing our best music to date.

The scene in and around Glasgow right now is producing some real quality acts, what makes it such a good base for creating music?

Glasgow’s natural chaotic vibe seems to be perfect for any upcoming bands to start themselves off… a lot of people love live music in this city.

Your recent single Control Yourself has been getting some great reviews, what’s the story behind it?

I’d like to think of it as a song that plays in your head when you have a hangover and you did something the night before that you regret more than ever! It’s just a song about people with any kind of addiction.

Tell us about your new EP TRM

It’s a 6 track record which will take you on a roller coaster of energy and emotions. We wanted it to be that way, for people to have something to really sink their teeth into and ultimately we’re all very proud of this to be our first major release.

Looking back to your earlier days, what was the first gig you played together and how did it go?

The first gig we played was at a pub in Cumbernauld and was actually for a relative’s birthday party so it wasn’t even a proper gig. We played a mix of some early tunes we wrote and a few covers.

A lot of bands don’t last longer than a year, what were the key things that happened along the way that made you think you could make it work?

This is the first band we’d all joined, so there’s something cool about that I suppose. We also have really good chemistry when playing, sometimes that’s hard to find and I think we understood that early on.

If you could pick any two other artists to play on the same bill as now, who would you choose?

Probably The Strokes & Kanye West.

Apart from The Roly Mo, who else should we be adding to our new music playlist?

Right now it would have to be Rascalton, Spyres and Pleasure Heads.

And what are your plans for the rest of the year?

Just write as much new material as possible and practice in the studio once a week so that when we go back to playing gigs normally we’ll be potent.

TRM was released on Friday via independent label 7 West Music, produced by the esteemed local pairing of Johnny Madden (Baby Strange) and Chris Marshall (Gerry Cinnamon) – listen here and watch the lyric video for Diamond Doll below

Interview by Siobhan

16th September 2020

Interview – Annie Taylor

Ahead of the release of their debut album Sweet Mortality next month, we had a chat with grunge-psych-pop quartet Annie Taylor. Named after the first person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, the band are fast making a name of their own with their energy filled tunes and performances; get to know them better here…

Introduce us to Annie Taylor, who’s involved in the band?

We are a four-piece band from Zurich, Switzerland. There is Tobi on the guitar, Michael on the bass, Jan on the drums and I (Gini) am singing and playing guitar.

How are things with you, is lockdown still easing in Zurich?

Currently, it seems like people are getting aware again, that we are still in the middle of an ongoing pandemic. I guess everyone is longing to get back to their usual nightlife habits, but at the moment it looks like there will be no big events taking place anytime soon. But who knows? Could all be different by tomorrow…

And musically how have you managed to keep things going this year?

It was like being on a rollercoaster! We had so many plans in the beginning of 2020 that we were looking forward to: US tour, shows in the UK and festivals in Switzerland. Having the whole US tour and basically all festivals cancelled was a real bummer. And on top of that we also had to reschedule the release of our first album, which was not an easy decision… But on the other hand we suddenly had so much time again to spend with loved ones, writing music or just hanging around. It was a pretty busy time for us in the past year, so this ‘just hanging around’ phase was actually also pretty cool.

Your album Sweet Mortality is due for release in September – tell us about it, what have been the highlights of making the LP?

This was the first time that we actually recorded in a proper studio, where the sole focus was the making of this album. In the beginning of the band it was hard to pay for a studio, so on the previous recordings we got lucky to work with sound-engineering students, that needed some projects to work on in order to improve their skill set. This time, it was completely different. We recorded with engineer and producer David Langhard the first single of the album (17 Days) and it just instantly clicked. Spending time with him and recording at Dala Studios was a blast and I can’t wait to return! The whole production of the album recordings, artwork, music video and so on was really exciting and we also had a lot of support from very talented friends who helped us out wherever they could.

You have a vinyl option for the album, why do you think vinyl’s so popular again?

In our digital world, we are able to listen to whatever we want at any time. But I think it rocks when you go to a concert and buy a vinyl so you can actually hold the music in your hands. I guess it’s also a reminder of the good old times – vinyl forever!

Which other artists have been on your lockdown playlist?

We actually made a lockdown playlist and it turned out as a wild mix of everything! There’s songs of our favourite artists like Wolf Alice, Bleached or Amyl and the Sniffers on it, but also we discovered a lot of unknown artists during the lockdown, which made it on the playlist (I am very happy about getting introduced to Jessica Lea Mayfield!). You can listen to the playlist here:


And what’s your local music scene like, where have you rehearsed and played since the band started and who’s helped you along the way?

There are a lot of really nice venues in Zurich which are hosting a lot of amazing artists. So we are actually very spoiled, when it comes to listening to live music. A lot of touring bands make a quick stop in Zurich, which is awesome! We were lucky to open for bands that we are looking up to, like Sugar Candy Mountain or Sunflower Bean.

Thanks to the lockdown we finally cleaned out our rehearsal space, where we are practicing A LOT. It’s a shelter without windows, in an industrial basement. It’s not the nicest place to hang out, but it’s comfy. Sometimes we also have friends over and every once in a while our label daddy Piet (Taxi Gauche Records) or our booking and MGMT team from Young and Aspiring are popping round with some refreshments, i.e. cold beers.

Any album, any film and any book – what do you choose?

Jan’s pick: The movie Hidden Figures – it’s a very powerful movie about kick ass women and black community power.

Michael’s pick: Motörhead –1916, favorite album ever.

Tobi’s pick: The Ozzy Book. Why? I think this is the only book he ever read, lol.

Gini’s pick: I am hooked on the crime podcasts by GEO Epoche – it’s about historical crimes from the past.

Lastly, what are your hopes and plans for Annie Taylor over the coming year?

Right now, all we are hoping for is that the venues are surviving the pandemic and we can go play shows again.

You can pre-order Sweet Mortality prior to its release on 4th September via Taxi Gauche Records. Catch up with Annie Taylor here and check out latest release Where the Grass is Greener below.

Interview by Siobhan
Band photo © Piet Alder

13th August 2020

Interview – LEECHES

As psych-surfers Leeches release their singles collection Easy, we had a chat about musical influences, how they’re coping with lockdown and painting along with Bob Ross. At times like these it’s important to hold very serious conversations, and it’s highly likely that someone, somewhere is doing exactly that.

Leeches are Jack Pearce (bass/vocals), Ben Lowe (guitar/vocals) and Frank Waloszek (drums) and that much at least is true – probably. Here goes…

Hey, how are things with all of you – where have you been spending lockdown?

Jack: I’ve been in a shed in my parents garden keeping myself busy with my Only Fans account.

Ben: As I have not been able to drive my Porsche around the south of France lately, I have not been in the best mood.

Frank: I stay as far away from Jack and Ben as humanely possible, filthy cretins, they definitely have Coronavirus.

Your singles collection Easy was released last week, tell us about it…

Frank: Well actually… as far as I was concerned, it was supposed to be a Jazz Fusion album called Pints as an Act of Persistence but due to pressure from the record label, our manager, and Jack/Ben we had to scrap that idea and it became a heavy rock singles collection instead, but it’s still pretty good to be honest.

Jack: It was originally meant to be a pure Jazz Fusion piece but Frank insisted on making it more accessible, and kept threatening to leave the band so we settled on this.

Ben: It was always our (mine and Jack’s) dream to be the biggest band on Clarendon Road. Then Frank was enrolled as percussion I remember, and we moved on to Ascham Road. We progressed to barking on both these roads riff by delightful riff, singing and whistling as we strode. Alfie Tyson-Brown, a butcher by trade, took us under his meaty wings and turned our gaze to larger streets, upon which he showed us not only how to rock, but how to roll upon these new avenues, the likes of which we had never seen the like of which. Christian and Alex, the knights of Bristol at the time, the striders ahead,  knew of even brighter pastures. We now want to bark on these roads when Boris says “Yeah alright”.

How difficult is it releasing music when you can’t get out to promote it?

Jack: It is hard to know how it will land and would be nice to tour it, but it means we can work on stuff like the music video and go through old unfinished tracks. Every artist is in the same boat though, it’s been amazing seeing how people have worked around it.

Frank: About as difficult as it was playing to a venue full of debauched wasters who had no recollection of the gig the following morning.

There’s a track called Bob Ross, have you ever tried to paint along with him?

Frank: Of course.

Jack: Wouldn’t dream of it.

Ben: Due to an ongoing court case, I’ve been advised to answer no comment to this question.

You’ve been with Leisure Records for a while now, how did you first start working with them?

Frank: It all happened so fast. I was auditioned for the band, and when we were certain it was going to work the next thing we were travelling up to Bristol and London, just all over the place really, networking with all these real characters, you know… and somehow they were making it all happen. It was greatly uplifting to discover such a conglomerate of proactive, cultured folk. Jack and Ben had already done most of the hard work when I joined the band. I was quite literally the leech.

Ben: Christian and Alex from Leisured Recordings threw big money on the table and my accountant told me this was my only option after what happened with the last label.

Jack: Please see Frank’s answer.

Musical influences – what are your earliest memories of listening to music as kids and which artists do you count as long term favourites?

Jack: When I was little, my folks would listen to Euphoria compilations and REM while we drove around, I think that had a big influence on me. That and getting into all forms of dance and psych-rock, Sabbath’s first two albums and early Chemical Brothers got a proper rinsing.

Frank: Anything that was on cassette cause it got played in the car. Devo was the first band I ever really ‘got into’. After that it was Weather Report.

Is 2020 the weirdest year ever and can you pick out some good bits amongst all the mayhem?

Frank: Yeah, it is the weirdest year. On the bright side – I think the impact of this Coronavirus has overtly exposed a lot of serious inadequacies and hypocrisy in politics and the economy on a global scale, to say the least. There’s nowhere to hide it; we have to pay up and counter-weigh all the broken aspects of the system to make things work and it shows. Hopefully it’ll ignite a change for the better. Because I think people everywhere are beyond fed up with all the horseshit – we all share that in common, albeit with different agendas.

Jack: Frank put it really nicely. It’s definitely a catalyst of a year, I just hope things pick up in the right direction.

And assuming things revert to normal at some stage, what’s next for Leeches?

Frank: Who knows… I mean, beyond getting around to making that Jazz Fusion album we never completed… I don’t know.

Jack: We will be going under the new name of Scalping.

************************************************************

Easy is out now via Leisure Records, you can buy it here and watch the video for All of the People below.

 

Catch up with LEECHES here

Interview by Siobhan
Band photo © Rowan Allen

8th July 2020

Interview – The Red Stains

Making waves on the Manchester music scene and beyond, The Red Stains bring a fresh blast of energy with their spiky tunes and brusque, incisive lyrics. Get to know them better here, then keep them on your radar when live music kicks off again…

Give us a quick intro to The Red Stains, who’s involved & where did it all begin?

The Red Stains are a Manchester based contemporary post-punk band. We started playing together last year. Our names are Natalie Emslie, singer, Sterling Kelly, bass, Ella Powell, synths and guitar, Ben Dutton, drums.

How’s lockdown been treating you, are you all ok?

Thanks for asking, nobody ever asks us if we are okay in interviews! We miss the pub and we are looking forward to being able to play together soon for the first time in ages.

Tell us about your recent single Mannequin

It’s a song about objectification and more specifically the objectification that you experience when you are a woman. It takes the piss out of the way that women are judged solely by their appearance.

Ella: The synths are fun to play cause it’s not following traditional chord structures.
Sterling: This is the fastest bass line out of all the Red Stains songs in our set. It’s kind of gritty and I see it as controlled anger.
Ben: For me it’s opposite to Sterling. It’s probably the simplest song in our set. It’s constantly keeping time, being the metronome for the band.
Natalie: It’s a protest against all the arseholes that have done me wrong in life. It’s a very powerful and personal song to me. When I play it I feel bloody untouchable and reminded how strong we are. We are nobody’s mannequins, nobody’s toys!

There are lots of venues struggling to keep afloat right now, are there any local to you that you want to give a shout out to?

Yes, our local favourite is The Peer Hat in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. It’s basically our second home. There is also the Night & Day Cafe, which is where we are going to play our postponed single launch, hopefully in October. We can’t wait!

And where else do you like to spend your time around Manchester?

We like the Greggs at Piccadilly Gardens.

Mannequin reminds me of The Slits, who else have you been likened to – any surprises?

We have been likened to The Fall, but that is not a surprise. We have heard it said that Natalie has an Ian Curtis stare and Sterling’s bass playing has been compared to JJ Burnel.

Last album/playlist any of you listened to?

Ben: The Professionals – I Didn’t See It Coming
Sterling: Nova Twins – Nova Twins EP
Ella: Kelly Lee Owens – Kelly Lee Owens
Nat: Felt – Let The Snakes Crinkle Their Heads To Death

As well as the music, you’re also putting together a zine called JAM TARTS, what’s that all about?

We wanted our friends and wider community to be involved in making art with The Red Stains. It’s fun and care-free with the goal of making art accessible to everyone, contributors and readers alike.

I guess future plans depend a bit on how things progress with the easing of lockdown but what are you hoping the rest of the year holds for The Red Stains?

We hope to record another single, to play our postponed single launch and generally just go back to gigging and being a band.

Catch up with The Red Stains here and listen to Mannequin below

Interview by Siobhan
Photo © Andi Callen 

18th June 2020

Interview – Doomshakalaka

Introducing Doomshakalaka, maybe better known to some of you as Paul Rafferty, previously of Hot Club de Paris, the indie rock outfit once described in The Guardian as ’abstruse and charming in equal measure’. With his debut self-titled album set for release, we asked what’s gone into its 10 years in the making and got some top tips for a trip to Liverpool…

You’ve been involved in the music industry for a while now, how was the idea of Doomshakalaka as a new project born?

The idea for Doomshakalaka came about around 2011. I’d been writing bits of music here and there that wasn’t suitable for my band at the time (Hot Club de Paris) and once that folded, I wanted to make music without the compromises that you might encounter in a band. When you’re writing as a group you’re attempting to satisfy all the member’s creative visions. The reason the Doomshakalaka record took so long was because it turns out that those series of compromises is what makes writing quicker and easier.

Your album is out tomorrow, it feels like you’ve put a lot of yourself into its making – how personal is it and who else has helped you make it happen?

I guess all ‘solo’ records are pretty personal affairs but this feels particularly so as I recorded all of the material as well as writing and performing it. I mixed it and then designed all of the artwork so I’ve probably put more of myself into this record than a lot of people would. It’s certainly more input than I’m used to so there was a steep learning curve with regard to figuring out how to manage my expectations as a creative person, in line with a lot of technical stuff I was learning about how to record music. My friend Tom English played the drums and provided a much needed voice of reason / encouragement / enthusiasm, without which I might still be recording it now.

Is there a track that stands out for you and what’s it about?

At this point on a good day I love all of the songs in equal measure and on a bad day I hate all of the songs in equal measure. I’ll choose the song Black Balloons. I like the linear arrangement and organic space in it. It feels like I was writing in quite an unabashed, unconstrained way that I feel is a tough zone to get into. I think a lot of writers feel like they’re playing full-contact sport for Team Zeitgeist and it’s sometimes difficult to remember to make whatever the fuck you want. The lyric started as a joke; my girlfriend finds it amusing that I often mention people’s birthdays or birthday parties in songs, and I wanted to write something that might make her laugh. It all went a bit dramatic though and started to be about gunshots and dreaming about your house burning down.


Has lockdown affected your release plans at all?

There were no plans to play this record live as I don’t have a band as yet, so we’re just pressing on regardless of lockdown. It’s kind of tough to make videos for the singles in this situation but restriction often presents better ideas so I’m not too bothered.

Tell us about the video for lead track One Last Saturday Night which features you walking with your dog – is it right that it was shot by your girlfriend on an iPhone?

Yeah, we made it during the initial stages of lockdown. I was recovering from a particularly unpleasant surgery where I’d had a scarred nerve removed from the ball of my foot which is why I’m on crutches in the video. We needed to make something near the house, preferably whilst we walked our dog and not too strenuous, so it was the best we could muster in the circumstances. Turns out she has a very steady hand, plus we’re isolated together so she was the perfect choice for DOP.

And how’s your foot now, will we see you undertaking a series of increasingly difficult sports activities on subsequent videos?

There is 0% risk of me doing anything strenuous on camera.

Liverpool’s normally a pretty busy city – outside of quarantine where are favourite places to go?

Most of my favourite places to go tend to involve food or coffee or both. I really like eating at The Bagelry and most recently Meatless. I like the coffee at Belzan and it’s only a 30 second walk from my studio. I walk my dog everyday in Sefton Park which is beautiful at any point of the day. My favourite gallery is probably The Walker, so I’ve been missing going there during lockdown. If I’m in that part of town I love going to Lovelocks which has brilliant coffee and insane cake. Defend Vinyl is a great record shop in the south of the city and I often spend a couple of hours chatting with the owner about the second hand records he’s acquired. Venue-wise, everywhere I used to go when I was more into going out has been turned into flats, plus I barely drink now so I’m not particularly connected to any bars / pubs / venues. I have quite bad tinnitus these days, so I choose the gigs I attend quite carefully.

Once restrictions are lifted, what’s next for Doomshakalaka?

I’ve been writing a new Doomshakala record! I’m planning a different process this time; simpler songs, quicker bouts of writing and to record the material live with a band. I’ve got some excellent musicians lined up to populate my band and help me record the record so I’m very excited about it. We’re looking at recording it in October. I’m hoping the restrictions will be lifted without reinstatement by then, but you can never be too sure considering our government’s harrowing approach to protecting people’s health. Other than that, I’m thinking about getting a haircut.

Doomshakalaka is released tomorrow, 5th June, on Moshi Moshi Records. You can pre-order the album here and watch the video for One Last Saturday Night below.

Interview by Siobhan
Header photo © Nick Duckett via One Beat PR

4th June 2020

 

Interview – Winter

A trance-like treat for your ears, Winter’s new psych-pop album Endless Space (Between You & I)  looks set to be a perfect summer backdrop. We chatted about music, quarantine and influences ranging from My Bloody Valentine to Marisa Monte…

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into making music…

I am a Los Angeles based artist and make bilingual dream pop. I started writing songs when I was 12 and have been doing it ever since. My project Winter is the culmination of beautiful melodies, fluttering guitars and an other-worldly sensibility. Music is the air I breathe and everything I see. It’s been a part of me my whole life. 

Born in Brazil, living in LA, you must have an interesting mix of musical influences – who are some of your favourite artists past and present?

Yes! There’s such a spectrum of music and artists that I enjoy. I would say I’m greatly inspired by Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, Starflyer 59, Lilys and bands from Sarah Records but I also love Brazilian artists such as Boogarins, Marisa Monte, Caetano, Gal Costa… It’s a big list but I would say my taste ranges from Brazilian MPB to east coast indie rock to ambient and noise music and I’ve been recently really getting into electronic music.

Your album Endless Space (Between You and I) is now set for release at the end of July, how has quarantine affected your plans and how does it feel to be launching new music in the current environment?

It’s strange but I think there are some pros and cons to it. I think a big part of releasing music right now is coming to terms with it being a whole new playing field. The old formula of putting out a record and touring it isn’t a possibility, so it’s an exciting and experimental time to figure out what are new things you can do. Letting go and being okay with change is going to be really important. I see it as an exciting time but I’m also a total optimist, haha. My record title seems to fit perfectly with the quarantine themes so I think this context will actually benefit the music and the whole other-worldly escapism that this record can provide.

You’ve just shared the title track, what’s the reaction been like?

It’s been great! We’ve actually released three singles so far and it feels exciting to put each song out month by month. It’s a darker, more magical aesthetic for Winter. Both music videos so far I’m playing different characters and alluding to fairy tales or archetypes so it’s been cool to tell those stories through my music. I’m always making a different type of record so I don’t expect old Winter fans to all like it. I think if you like ambient, psych, dream pop this record will be a treat for you!

And how are things with you, where are you and are you able to see friends or family?

I’m in Los Angeles. I feel pretty lucky because I live in a neighborhood that has two parks and a lot of sunshine and space so I’m able to walk around and even talk with neighbours and friends from a distance when I’m in the outdoors. My family lives in different places so I definitely miss them a lot. I’ve gone through so many different emotional states during this quarantine but I finally feel like I’m comfortable in my own skin and accepting that I just have to take things day by day.

Talk us through a few of the album tracks – what’s the story behind them?

Well, a lot of the songs are inspired by nature, poetry and the tarot. The themes of this record are very expansive and I would say Healing is probably the only song that feels more like a nowadays sort of topic – it’s basically being ‘ghosted’. All the other songs have more grandiose timeless stories. In The Z Plane, Bem No Fundo and Constellation all talk about a Utopian dream world. Pure Magician was inspired by the tarot card of the magician. Here I Am Existing was inspired by a poem by Mary J Oliver. I’m curious once the record is out to hear people’s connection to the songs because I did intentionally leave room for interpretation. 

One album, one film, one book – what would you choose?

I’m so bad with this type of question because I’m always going through different phases, haha, but here goes!
Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One
Amélie Poulain
Bluets by Maggie Nelson

And what are your plans for whenever things get back to normal?

I don’t really have any! Play shows? See my family? Eat a delicious dinner at my favourite restaurant…

Endless Space (Between You & I) will be released on 24th July via Bar/None Records. You can pre-order the album here. In the meantime, catch up with Winter and watch the video for the title track below.

Interview by Siobhan
Photos via One Beat PR

28th May 2020

Interview – Charlie’s Hand Movements

Whatever your favoured genre, you’re likely to find something that pleases you in amidst the 38 tracks that make up Nuclear Tapes, the eclectic new album from Charlie’s Hand Movements. Intrigued by the mix of musical styles and amused by their bio citing them as a ‘deeply unsuccessful Ayrshire & Essex based alternative pop band’, we felt compelled to catch up with them to find out more…

Give us an introduction to Charlie’s Hand Movements…

Lance: Charlie’s Hand Movements are Adam Gardner and Lance Keeble; an alt pop duo from Essex, now split between Essex and Ayrshire. Met in art college, bonded over mutual taste in music, discovered we were each making weird bedroom pop on the sly, started making even weirder bedroom pop together, released our first record in 2013, a couple of others and here we are now.

Your third album Nuclear Tapes is out today. Not content with just being an album though or even a double album, it’s a triple album with a whopping 38 tracks. Where did it all begin?

Lance: The desire to make a long record was in part inspired by the excesses of 70s’ prog double albums, but equally a nod of reverence to recent hip hop records like Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly and Frank Ocean’s Blonde. Hip hop seems to really be paving the way for concept-style albums with an emphasis on overarching narrative told through diverse arrangements and production styles. Their willingness to throw in short skits to break up more complex tracks is something we’re fascinated by. We became pretty obsessed with 90s’ alternative rock band Mansun’s Six, with its spasmodic shifts in tone. I think we’ve always been interested in how humour and irreverence can lend a sort of relief to heavier themes too, and we’re not afraid to explore that, sometimes within the same song.

Tell us about the mix of genres involved and who or what has influenced you along the way?

Lance: I’ve always loved ambient music but for me it becomes particularly powerful when thrown into unexpected contexts. We use our quieter, atmospheric pieces as a tool to pull back the focus. They’re like little breathers I guess, little digestive aids for the more angular songs. There’s a silliness, a goofiness to a number of the songs, usually betraying a darker theme underneath. New Age Nuclear (which finds itself as an unfinished, truncated mix due to some kind of artistic mis-step in which we couldn’t capture its original energy) for example, was a kind of a Philly soul jam for an imagined evangelist church broadcast, set in the 1980s, complete with caustic gated drums and soggy synthesizers. We loved what The Flaming Lips were doing on Embryonic, throwing down some noisy jams and pulling songs out of the wreckage.

Adam: We were quite sure at the beginning that it was going to be some kind of ridiculously overblown concept album that, really, we had absolutely no right to make. Songs sprawling out and going wherever they wanted to, sometimes morphing into something else or just cutting out abruptly. Fleet Foxes put out Crack-Up around the time we were making this too – another big one for us – as they were really changing up what they were doing with song structures and the audience’s expectations for what a Fleet Foxes record should sound like. Not that we have ever come close to having an audience of course.

Some bands don’t stay together for as long as this project has taken, what’s your secret?

Lance: For us I think it’s always been about the thrill of recording, not knowing what’s going to transpire. Could be regrettable, could be beautiful. Some tracks like Suddenly…Fog! and Departures and Nowhere Near are instrumentally one-take improvisations. These moments have always acted as some kind of therapy for Adam and I; we just stop talking to each other, set-up a few instruments and just play whatever. Like actual musicians or something. Speaking of which – the brilliant Mick Gawthorp provided a number of saxophone performances, each illuminating and often steering the songs into new territories. 80% Bad Boy, for example, originally was a scuzzy stoner rock pastiche befitting of its title, but Mick’s sax left us no choice but to transform it into the haphazard slice of cosmic jazz you hear now.

So how will you celebrate the release – where will you both be?

Adam: Each time that we put something out into the real world we usually just message each other back and forth saying things like, ‘Is it crap?’ I mean, we barely have any followers and don’t shift many units so to speak, so it’s more just that anticipation and hope that somebody will connect with it. This is a project that has a lot of emotional baggage for us, I think more than each of us understood until very recently, so I’ll definitely be checking my phone. Knowing Lance, he’ll be in the woods looking at slugs or counting birds.

And how has lockdown impacted on you, in terms of making music and personally, have you found any positives

Lance: In some ways the lockdown may have been the catalyst for us to release Nuclear Tapes, a project we had somewhat given up on due to the perhaps over-ambitious nature of it. These times of fear and uncertainty maybe forced us to reflect on the project and see its merits as a work of spirited self-indulgence. There are mistakes, scratch vocals, rough mixes, strong ideas which fell apart, but there’s some heart there I think.

Adam: My wife and I have a one-year-old boy so it’s kind of like two months (and counting) of being held to ransom in our own home by a teething, unreasonable dictator if I’m honest. Days are long and nights are usually longer, but it does have its moments too. Ha. In terms of music, Lance and I are about to start swapping files remotely for the next project, so I think we’re in a good place.

To Zoom or not to Zoom?

Lance: I’m a zoom, I think Adam is a no-zoom. He sees the bigger picture better than me. I’m a details man, but I get lost in it more often than not and Adam has to pull me out.

Adam: I think Lance has fundamentally misunderstood this question. He knows surprisingly little about what’s happening in the wider world at any given time. I think we’re in the minority that haven’t Zoomed yet though, although we did video call over Messenger a few weeks ago with mixed results. I’m open to Zoom, but we haven’t even discovered Snapchat yet, so we might Zoom by 2030.

Fingers crossed that all our favourite venues survive, where would you love to play when things open up and who’d be on the line-up – you & anyone else you want?

Adam: I’m sure there are plenty of people far more qualified than us to talk about this, but it seems independent venues had things hard enough as it was before the pandemic hit, so it’s an especially cruel blow. We haven’t played to a room full of people for a few years now though, so in that respect the lockdown hasn’t changed much for us, but there are some great small venues we’d love to play. In Southend on Sea – which is where we’re from – there’s a really vibrant scene based around a really cool venue called The Railway Hotel. I moved to Scotland in January though, so I’m looking forward to seeing what’s about once/if we come out of the other side of this. As for other people, Cool Thing Records have some really interesting stuff going on in Essex, and we’re big fans of a guy named MG Boulter who’s well worth checking out (he’s also got a new record out soon!)

And what’s next for Charlie’s Hand Movements, how do you follow Nuclear Tapes?

Lance: Now we live far apart, we’ll be working in a different way; sending skeletal song ideas back and forth, adding and subtracting remotely from our home set-ups. It’ll be exciting to see how this moves our sound forward. In the meantime we’re looking to release a much leaner, more compact album later this year.

Adam: It’s exciting though… and in the same way that this project was kind of a reaction to stuff we’d done before, we now have no choice but to approach things differently again. Definitely something more concise too – Nuclear Tapes was our attempt at making a maximalist blowout that followed every idea, even the questionable ones (of which there are many) and it got way out of hand. I mean, it’s long, pretentious, and completely self-indulgent at times, but we’re not Radiohead (as much as we’d love to be) so we’ve got to at least please ourselves. I like that we don’t have any idea of what the next thing will end up being though… I think that’s how it should be. Having said all that, there is another, more palatable, 10-track album that we made alongside this one that might see light of day soon in some form too. I guess we just want to make stuff that we think is good, and that keeps going to places we haven’t been before.

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Find Charlie’s Hand Movements on Twitter and Instagram

You can listen to and purchase Nuclear Tapes now:
Bandcamp

Interview by Siobhan
Photos via Charlie’s Hand Movements

22nd May 2020

Interview – Genie Genie

Released on Friday, Genie Genie’s debut single Lust Over You is a majestic hybrid of glam punk with eastern influence – find out more here as we chat about the making of the track and plans for the future…

Give us an introduction to Genie Genie…

Genie Genie is a new project I have been working on over the past year, I’ve been involved in the music scene for about five years with a previous band and I felt now was the time to launch my solo project! It’s a weird and wonderful mash up of everything that’s inspired me over the past few years really. I wanted to be as expressive and creative as possible.

How long has the project been in the making and who has helped you to get things off the ground?

Genie Genie sprouted as an idea in my head probably about a year ago but that was literally just messing around with some shitty ideas, it more or less became a reality when I took my demos to Olympic Hall Studios in London. I worked with James Grant who runs the studio on the recording of the tracks and he was the most helpful guy I could have had, he was a huge part in this process, it wouldn’t be the final product without him! He woke me up from the studio floor every morning too so that was lovely…

Your debut single Lust Over You was released on Friday, what’s the story behind it?

The tune is one of the first things I ever got down as a demo, as cliché as it sounds I was just trying to write about how I felt, writing lyrics at this point was quite new to me so I needed to base it off some sort of experience. It’s sort of a story of affection. It focuses on how a lustful experience can affect you and how complex such emotion can be I guess.

Lust Over You feels like it has a mix of musical influences ranging across different eras, which artists have made a big impact in your life and who else are you listening to currently?

Yea, it’s definitely got a large range of influences has this one. Artists like T-Rex, Transglobal Underground and Jamouriquai inspire me and have a big impact on me, they are so different to each other so it’s cool to be inspired in different ways. Currently I’m listening to a weird range of stuff, really into Faux Real, Virgin Prunes and a load of Indian and middle eastern stuff too.

How has the whole quarantine situation affected the release of the single, were you tempted to wait or does this feel like a good time to get creative?

I was very tempted to wait but then thought if not now, when. I think after this is over so many artists are going to be releasing stuff so there will be a whole load of stuff flying around and it will be hard to make an impact. In terms of creativity it’s been wonderful. I’ve been writing a lot over the past few weeks for sure.

And when restrictions are lifted do you have plans to get out onto the live circuit?

Yes! I have plans for a show once this is all over, I’m so excited to get weird on stage again! Big Genie Genie party when we’re all back out…

Favourite venue and/or one that you’d love to play in one day?

My favourite venue would of course have to be The Brudenell Social Club, I’ve played and been to some crazy gigs at that place! I’d love to play Moth Club sometime soon, that venue is class.

Aside from music, what’s keeping you going through lockdown and what’s the one thing you miss the most?

I think music is the ONLY thing that is keeping me going through this. The thought of being able to go to the pub after it’s all over is definitely a helping hand too… I miss going to gigs massively, I need some live music asap!

And where can people find you and follow your progress?

Over on Instagram and Facebook…

Follow Genie Genie on the links above and listen to Lust Over You here

 

Interview by Siobhan

4th May 2020

Interview – In Earnest

Using the intensity of depression and loneliness to create a beautifully hypnotic song, In Earnest release their new single Put Me Under into the world today. We chatted to Sarah to find out more about what makes the band tick and their plans for new music and ice cream…

Introduce us to In Earnest – who’s involved and how did you get together as a band?

In Earnest consists of guitarist/vocalist Thomas, violinist/guitarist Toby and myself, Sarah, on keys/vocals, based in sunny Southend-on-Sea, Essex. Thomas and I are the songwriters, bringing our individual songs into the rehearsal room to work on as a group. We were all in a band beforehand, but our new outfit focuses on writing about mental health and encouraging conversations around the topic.

Your debut single Put Me Under is released today. It’s a very personal track addressing coping with depression – how hard is it to express this openly?

Having suffered with mental illness for 10 years now, I’ve got used to speaking openly about it over the years. I started a blog about 5 years ago on the subject and have written a lot of songs about mental health, but it is still a little daunting. My brain constantly steers towards negative thoughts all the time, so I naturally think no-one will like what I create!

Do you have a message for anyone struggling with their mental health under isolation?

I think, lockdown or not, it’s so important to look after your mental health, so now is a great time to sit back and evaluate. There are a lot of self-care guides out there, but what has helped me the most is doing a little bit of yoga each day and eating well. It has pretty much taken me 10 years of struggling and a month of isolation to make me realise this!

And how are you all doing – are you finding ways to still make music either together or separately?

Thomas and I live together, so luckily we get to play a lot of music with each other at home. We are currently working on a collaboration with Toby, remotely of course!

Put Me Under is the first track from your upcoming EP – can you tell us more about what to expect?

Our next single will be a song called Come Upstairs, which follows on nicely from Put Me Under. It is from Tom’s perspective and is the story of how he copes with me and my mental illness. The entire 6-track EP is due in the latter stages of 2020 – you can expect to hear deep lyrics, keys solos and most definitely our producer (Peter Waterman) singing backing vocals.

What were your musical influences growing up and which other artists have you been listening to lately?

I mostly grew up listening to The Beatles and McFly, so pop music was where I began. My Dad has been a drummer on the local music scene since before I was born, so I really looked up to him as I found my feet in the music world (between being dragged to soundchecks and being deafened by tuning drums!) Lately I admire the sombre tones of Phoebe Bridgers, Dodie and Elliot Smith.

Are you planning live dates when things start to open up again?

Absolutely! A few of our gigs have been rescheduled to later in the year, but we are so excited to get back into rehearsals and just being a band again.

And when lockdown is over, what are you most looking forward to?

Above all else, going down to Southend seafront and getting ice creams…

You can find more from In Earnest here and listen to Put Me Under below. If you’re staying in tonight and, let’s face it we all are, join the band for their single launch party on Instagram and Facebook at 8pm 

Interview by Siobhan
Promo photos by Soundcastle Media, single artwork by Thomas Eatherton

17th April 2020

Interview – Car Boot Sale

With the release of their latest single One of These Days, London based Car Boot Sale continue to add to their impressive catalogue of soulful indie-pop tracks. We caught up with them to chat about making music before, during and after isolation…

Introduce us to Car Boot Sale – who’s involved and does your name come from a love of haggling on a wet Saturday morning?

Jim and Ciaran here, we’re two housemates that have been working on music together for the past couple of years. Car Boot Sale started as a recording project but has become more of a band since we started playing live with our pals. (Shout out to Jamie, Tim and Bryn!)

Neither of us are really morning people, so the name came from the fact that our sound and influences were quite disparate and varied, just like the stuff that’s sold at a car boot sale. We also didn’t want it to sound too serious and thought Car Boot Sale was a pretty silly name for a band.

Your new single One of These Days is out now; you’ve described it as being ‘An ode to dreaming, about maintaining an optimistic view of the future that you can carry through difficult times’. That seems incredibly apt for right now – when did you write the song and what was the inspiration?

This song was written last summer, just after we’d spent the weekend at All Points East Festival. We’d been listening to Toro Y Moi on repeat around about that time and seeing him live was mind blowing, we both felt super inspired by his band and performance and came away wanting to write a song that reflected that. The line ‘One of these days I’ll be where you’re standing’ was sort of the inner voice that was in our heads during the set.

How are things with both of you – what’s helping you through isolation?

We’re all good, but currently quarantining separately, having to do the whole the online thing feels a little odd. Jim’s been tinkering away on some demos and has invested in some quite smart looking AstroTurf for the 2ft square balcony. Ciaran’s learning bass and bought one off Gumtree. When he went to collect it he had to post the cash through the letterbox and step away, luckily the guy was legitimate and left the bass outside for Ciaran to disinfect afterwards haha!

There are obviously no gigs or festivals happening now or any time soon. If you could play with any other artists who would you love to share a line-up with?

Jim – Lionel Ritchie would be amazing. We’re huge Tame Impala fans, or perhaps someone like Whitney or Tops or Parcels. There’s too many great bands to choose from!

You have Theo Verney mixing and mastering for you – are you fans of each other’s music, what influence does he have on your work?

We’ve been big fans of Theo’s songs and mixes for a while actually! Ciaran followed him on Instagram a couple years back and really hoped we’d get a chance to work together, so as fate would have it, Theo got in touch and offered to mix a track as a test.

When it came back we were both pretty blown away as we’d been doing all the mixing ourselves up until that point. It felt like we were hearing ourselves properly for the first time which was really cool. He’s also got a sick new band called Public Body.

An abridged version of Desert Island Discs – you’re allowed 3 albums, 1 book and a luxury item of your choice, what will you take?

We like our classic songwriters, so we thought we’d take some albums that have already stood the test of time:
David Bowie – Hunky Dory
Gerry Raffety – City to City
Neil Young – After the Gold Rush

We’re not really huge readers so perhaps it’s best if we take some sort of survival guide, otherwise I think we’d be in trouble.

Jim – Our old housemate left us with a huge painting of a sunburnt David Beckham. I think I’d bring that just to wind Ciaran up – he hates it! (I also reckon we could fashion a shelter out of it).

What are your plans when lockdown is lifted in terms of releasing more music and live dates?

We’ve got a bunch of songs demoed and we were planning to go into the studio with Theo around May, obviously that’s been pushed back so hopefully we’ll still get them recorded this summer. I can imagine we’re going to be really rusty after a couple of months not gigging, so as soon as lockdown is over we’ll be back in the practise room!

And what are you most looking forward to when we’re all allowed out again?

Playing gigs, watching gigs, beers in the park with mates, all the simple joys of life really!

Check out One of These Days below and more from Car Boot Sale here

Interview by Siobhan
Photos via Car Boot Sale

16th April 2020

Interview – Activity

With the release of their debut LP Unmask Whoever, Activity bring an intensity rarely found in such a new project. The tracks are at times darkly poignant yet also strangely reassuring with their cathartic brand of art rock. We talked to vocalist Travis about the album, the impact of lockdown and future plans…

Your album Unmask Whoever has just been released, tell us about it and how it all came together…

We started the band very loosely, having no idea what was going to happen or what kind of music it would be. Things came together through lots and lots of jamming. People would bring in little shards of ideas, or a sequence on a sampler or something, and we’d just work on it without ideas about what would be off limits. I guess we’d started to form some kind of identity for ourselves. When we recorded with Jeff Berner (of Psychic TV), he totally got what we were going for and made everything much better.

I imagine when you planned the release you had no idea of what would be happening in the world – how has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your plans and projects as a band?

Yeah, everything, our tour dates, etc. is on hold until it’s safe to resume. Obviously, for everyone’s sake we hope that will be sooner rather than later but it would be ridiculous to try and tour or play shows now. So, without being in a room with each other, we’re just trying to keep going, sending recordings to each other, like I imagine a lot of bands are.

And how are you all doing – what’s the situation like where you are?

We’re in New York and Philadelphia, so it’s intense and scary here and we know lots of people getting sick. I would imagine it’s pretty similar to anywhere that’s been hit (or will be hit) hard.

Unmask Whoever has a very filmic feel; if your music ended up as a soundtrack for film or TV where would you like to see it being used?

I suppose it would depend on the song, but maybe a montage of unsuccessful bank heists, or a party in a forest, or the end credits.

It feels like, more than ever, music is a really important thing to provide some familiarity and comfort – what are your go-to albums that you wouldn’t want to be without?

For me personally, a few all timers are:
Pastels – Illumination
Grouper – Alien Observer
John Coltrane – Crescent
Alice Coltrane – Monastic Trio
Faust – IV
They’re not necessarily the most emotional sounding records, but I get a lot of comfort from them. I’m curious what the other Activity folks would say actually. I’m gonna ask them.

Amidst the tough times we’re in, how can people best continue to support you as artists and the music scene in general?

I think this really applies at all times, but buying records or downloads and not just streaming things makes an immense difference for musicians who are just getting by. Ordering directly from Bandcamp, or a band’s record label, or an independent record store means the world. When we can do so again, going to shows is obviously great too, but in the meantime, ordering records is great!

And what are your plans when things head back to normal, what’s next for Activity?

To start working on the songs we were starting to write before we had to cut ourselves off from each other!

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Unmask Whoever is available now on Western Records
Watch the video for Calls Your Name below

Interview by Siobhan
Photo by Ebru Yildiz via One Beat PR

7th April 2020

Labelled with Love – The Popty-Ping Recording Company

Ever wondered how to set up a record label? When Andy Black had that thought he may not have taken the most conventional route but it’s working out well so far for DIY outfit The Popty-Ping Recording Company. Andy runs the label with two friends, Matt Jarrett and Dan Orton and together they release limited edition 7” singles, each as a one off project by a different artist. With flourishing music scenes developing around them in Wales and the North West, there’s a wealth of talent to choose from – artists featured so far are made up of the wonderfully eclectic mix of Shy and the Fight, Mowbird, Trecco Beis, Gintis, CHROMA and Red Telephone. We wanted to know how it all began, what’s driving the surge in great Welsh music and where it goes from here…

Tell us about Popty-Ping – how did it all start and who’s involved?

Andy: As with the best of such plans, it began as a drunken pub idea. A mutual friend had introduced me to Shy and the Fight (our first signings); after hearing a demo and seeing a gig I was amazed no-one had shown any interest in them so, after several beers, it seemed a brilliant idea to start a record label to put them out. We drunkenly wondered what the daftest name in Welsh could be, and the Popty-Ping Recording Company was born. Knowing nothing about records or graphic design, I persuaded Dan to design me a logo and sleeve. Radio 1 played the first record in the week it broke, so it seemed so much fun we’d do it all over again with a second band and they did a Marc Riley session for 6 Music. I couldn’t afford to pay Dan for graphics so persuaded him to join in with me and make it a partnership (his knowledge of Welsh music is pretty encyclopedic). Then I hit on an idea of setting a target of nine releases, and putting them all onto a compilation LP called Nine Modern Poets (my grandad released an successful poetry book of the same name – so a modern reflection on the same topic). By the time of the fifth record, we spoke to Matt so much about things it seemed wise to bring him in also. And so now there are three of us. The plan is to release nine of the current 7″ singles and then see what happens next I guess.

Have you got a wish list of artists you want to work with or does it just happen organically when it comes to looking at your next release?

Andy: Hmm kind of… there have been bands we’ve wanted for years and not got, some we’ve worked to develop a great release and others we literally heard a demo, reckoned it brilliant and begged them to let us release it.

Matt: I’ve usually got my eye on two or three but it’s usually down to timing I guess.

How did it feel back in 2012 when you put out your first single and what was the reaction like?

Andy: Both the scariest and proudest thing I’d ever done. I remember the records being delivered and just looking at boxes of orange vinyl and suddenly worrying, ‘What if I’m the only person who thinks this is any good?’… But then it got played on Radio 1 within a week, people all over the world we didn’t know bought it and Dan even heard it when he went to the Olympics that summer. The reaction to the Shy single was just lovely, I somehow thought it would take three releases to get it on Radio 1 and we did it in a week. I’m still really proud of it and think it’s a bloody great release, it’s probably my girlfriend’s favourite of our releases.

There seems to be loads of new talent coming out of Wales at the moment, what do you think is driving this and who should we look out for?

Matt: People. There’s amazing artists but also an outlet for them. I can only speak for South Wales but schemes like Forte Project and Horizons help highlight acts and are run by knowledgeable and passionate people. Liz and Sam at The Moon in Cardiff and Le Pub in Newport are willing to give new bands a stage and are hugely supportive in addition to the team behind Clwb Ifor Bach and Swn. There’s also a strong DIY ethic with bands and promoters that means that nobody sits around twiddling their thumbs. Things happen. You then have labels like Libertino and Bubblewrap consistently releasing amazing music. The common thread is wonderful human beings with a love of music, doing things for the right reasons.

Andy: Yeah, I think a really great developing network for artists and music seems to exist in Wales. From Horizons and Forte to Focus Wales, Adam Walton and Rhys Mwyn. And we’ve had a lot of help from our peers. People like Nicky Wire from the Manics buying our records has exposed us to a much larger audience. I don’t think my 19 year-old self would have ever imagined that could happen, it is amazing when we’re still so tiny and DIY. Finally every band we’ve put out have almost become family, which we’re also really very proud of. I don’t think I could have asked for nicer people in our bands which is a notable guide to anyone wanting us to release them.

Releasing on vinyl has had a big resurgence in popularity, is it getting easier to press and distribute?

Matt: Press, yes. Distribute? With 7″s, I’m not sure. The whole industry is changing and you just need to do anything you can to get people to notice you. Anyone want a tote bag?

Andy: Matt knows much more about vinyl popularity than me (he sells it every day, running Diverse Vinyl in Newport), the tote bags are bloody lovely too and highly recommended – and available on our Bandcamp. Thanks to the Welsh Assembly and Pyst, the process for 7″ distribution is much easier than ever before.

Your latest release introduced us to the wonderful Red Telephone – it must be satisfying to help promote artists you like?

Matt: Absolutely, it’s why we do it. We don’t make money from this. Anything in the bank goes straight into the next release. For me, watching five bands we’ve worked or are working with at our Christmas party makes it worthwhile. Five, fairly different sounding, brilliant acts and fantastic people that we’ve done our bit to push forward and to introduce to a wider audience.

Andy: Ah man, the Red Telephone record is probably the first release we all agreed from the instant we heard it. That Christmas party was so much fun, seeing a room of people you don’t know who’ve paid to come and watch a night of your record label was a really special thing. That’s why we do it I guess. Watching CHROMA continue to develop and grow after our release is also pretty amazing, the only thing I can compare it to must be your old school teacher seeing you’ve done good.

And what’s next for Popty-Ping?

Matt: The next big thing…

Andy: We’ve got three more singles in the Nine Modern Poets plan to release. There’s some more T-shirts coming (we’ve some collaborations in the pipeline on that front), and if Gintis ever finish their LP (they’re recording it with Bill Ryder-Jones) we’d be keen to try and get it a bigger audience.

You can check out all the singles and merch so far on Popty-Ping’s Bandcamp (those tote bags really are good) and give them a follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to catch the latest news and releases as they land.

Interview by Siobhan

26th February 2020

Interview – Odd Morris

Making waves on the Irish music scene and hitting the BBC 6 Music playlist, Odd Morris bring equal measures of intensity and vulnerability to the table. Their latest single Cold Water made Steve Lamacq’s track of the week and anticipation is growing for what the band do next. Get to know them here and check out their music if you haven’t already had the pleasure…

Give us an introduction to Odd Morris, who’s involved and how did you all come together as a band?

(Kris:) Just the four of us, Daragh, Kris, Mac & Sam. We all went to the same school and hung around in similar circles then came together to form the band a couple of years ago. It all happened quite naturally to be honest, just searching to play more music was all.

Your latest single Cold Water was released recently – what’s the reaction to it been like?

(Kris:) The reaction to it has been positive. It feels great to release music that people can connect with. Once you start to get more material out there it becomes easier for people to engage with your music and develop a better understanding of what the band is all about – more of a rounded picture of our progression and where we’re heading.

There’s been a resurgence of interest in new music coming out of Dublin lately – is it a supportive scene and who would you recommend we listen to?

(Kris:) The music community in Ireland as a whole is buzzing at the moment. Artists like Junior Brother from Kerry and His Father’s Voice from Limerick are two acts we’d definitely recommend checking out. Alex Gough is playing a blinder as well, it’s refreshing.

Dublin’s known as a cultural hive of activity and creativity – where are your favourite places to go in the city?

(Daragh:) Well it was Garage Bar, but it was recently closed down. That place was home to many of us. Trev, Fontaines D.C. manager, was responsible for its success. It was a tiny bar in Dublin’s city centre where we could just drink pints to great tunes, dance, and have the best laugh really. We made a lot of friends there, it was a keystone in social life for a lot of people with similar interests. Now that it’s gone, along with many other great spots, it feels like the end of an era.

If you could only listen to one album for the next month what would you choose?

Kris – Kind of Blue by Miles Davis
Daragh – Hung at Heart by The Growlers
Mac – Selected Ambient Works Vol I by Aphex Twin
Sam – To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar

What’s been the highlight for Odd Morris so far?

(Kris:) I’m sure we’ve all got our own individual highlights but, collectively, I’d say playing our first gig outside of Ireland (London’s The Old Blue Last, November 2019) was special.

What’s coming up for you in 2020 and where can we see you live?

(Kris:) More shows. We’re focused mainly on writing at the moment and plan to release another single before the Summer. We’ll be touring in May across the UK so do keep an eye out across our socials.

You can catch Odd Morris at The Windmill, Brixton on 5th March and Gulliver’s, Manchester on 19th May. Look out for announcements of further live dates and new music here – in the meantime watch the video for Cold Water below.

Interview by Siobhan
Photos © Jack Martin via Chalk Press Agency

24th February 2020

 

Interview – Deserta

Deserta is the new project from LA based Matthew Doty, a former mainstay of post-rock band Saxon Shore. Following the recent release of his debut shoegaze-tinged album Black Aura My Sun, we spoke to Matthew about going solo and his process for writing and recording…

Having been part of bands and collaborations, is it daunting to release a solo album?

The only unfamiliar territory that came with this album is having to sing. That’s something I’m still getting used to. In past bands I’ve always kind of fallen into the role of coordinating the behind the scenes work of being in a band such as booking tours, hiring publicists, arranging studio time, etc. All of that was a pretty natural transition.

You’ve said that you were inspired to write new material when you discovered you were going to be a father – what’s been the impact on your approach to making music?

My approach to making music has pretty much been the same. I think the fatherhood piece was more of an inspiration in the sense that there was a surge in confidence and decisiveness that came along with being a father. I trust my gut a lot more.

Black Aura My Sun feels like a very personal and powerful project, how long did it take to put together and, apart from fatherhood, what’s been the inspiration?

From the time I started putting Hide together until it was mastered that album was probably 2 years in the works. Musical inspiration isn’t something I’m able to pinpoint. The songs just kind of happen with a lot of patience, time, writing, rewriting, adding layers, simplifying… I mix my rough ideas down and listen to them inside the studio. I’ll then listen outside the studio while walking around my neighbourhood or something. It’s in that setting that I’ll often hear parts that aren’t in the song yet and make voice memos of whatever it is that I’m hearing.

What are your thoughts on streaming versus physical purchase of music?

Streaming has brought our music to a wider audience than would have been reached if we were just selling limited edition cassettes or something. I think/hope the people who buy records are always going to buy records.

You’re making an acceptance speech at an awards ceremony – who do you thank (for the album and your career so far)?

My wife – she keeps our house/life afloat and makes sure our kiddo is in the best hands so I can spend time in the studio making records, rehearsing or touring. Without that kind of support I wouldn’t be able to do any of it.

And what’s in store for you in 2020?

A good amount of touring and trying to finish LP2 for 2021.

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Black Aura My Sun is out now on Felte Records; you can listen to Save Me below and buy the album here


Interview by Siobhan

Photos and artwork via One Beat PR, promo shot © Jacob Boll

3rd February 2020

Interview – Mint Julep

With their beguiling new album Stray Fantasies set for release tomorrow, we caught up with electro-pop wife-and-husband duo Hollie and Keith Kenniff, collectively Mint Julep, to find out how their music has evolved and what to expect from this album and future projects…

Mint Julep formed back in 2007 – how does it feel listening to the music you’ve made over the years, does it just bring back lots of memories or do you feel yourselves critiquing it?

It’s a bit of both, we always make the releases the best they can be at that particular time. There’s a certain tug to think about what we would do now with different experience but it seems futile. There’s more nostalgia than anything, our first son liked to sleep to our first album, he really liked hearing Hollie’s voice, so listening back to that reminds us of that time a lot.

Stray Fantasies is out tomorrow – how would you say your music’s changed or evolved into this album?

I feel like the songwriting technically has gotten more solidified. We made a conscious effort to really think about song structure and melodic contour within verse/chorus relationships. Production-wise also it’s moved in a bit more of a synth-centric direction, but it’s been really fun to suss out a lot of textural differentiation using only a minimal array of synth resources.

Do you have a favourite track and why?

Keith likes Vakaras as it has a raw emotional quality. Hollie likes Iteration as she loves shoegaze stuff and it has that ethereal, textural, spacious vibe, and she likes how the chorus turned out.

I would say the album makes for a very cathartic listen, emotive but with a positive energy. How do you think or hope that people will react to it generally?

I think we want the music to feel relatable but unique. It’s not always about breaking new ground, but about creating a listening experience that’s enjoyable and has enough new things in there to propel the genre forward. Hollie’s lyrics are often dealing with issues people often face throughout most parts of our adult lives and we hope that people will connect with that in a meaningful way.

Aside from the two of you, who else has been instrumental in making the album happen?

Our record label, Western Vinyl, has been very supportive in taking us on (this is our first album with them, although Keith has done multiple releases as Goldmund throughout the years with WV), it’s a great home. Also Yuuki Matthews, who helped mix the album, was a great supporter and motivator.

Which other artists have you been listening to lately that you would recommend?

We both like Broncho, Girl Band and Ruby Haunt a lot. We are also enjoying seeing more female composers represented in the ambient genre, like Maria Somerville, Saariselka, Anne Muller, Felicia Atkinson, Mary Lattimore, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, etc…

And what’s next for Mint Julep?

We already have another release all ready to go, so we’ll let this one simmer for a bit and then release details of that within the year. Keith will be releasing some more piano/ambient music as Goldmund this year and Hollie also just released a solo album of ambient-ish material late last year and is continuing to work on new material for upcoming releases.

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Stray Fantasies is released on 31st January 2020 via Western Vinyl – you can listen to Escape below and pre-order the album here


Interview by Siobhan

Photos/artwork via One Beat PR

30th January 2020

 

Interview – Gork

If you were a garage-psych band from another planet with a predilection for cabbages, where else would you make your Earth home other than in Bristol? In a fortuitous turn of events, local labels Breakfast Records and Leisure Records have taken sextet Gork under their wings to release the band’s latest EP Class. You may find out more about the band here; at the very least you’ll find out more about tea towels and dressing up…

You’ve got a new EP out called Class, what’s the thinking behind the title?

It’s because it’s class mate.

The lead single That’s Plastic Mate is an ode to recycling, was it written with consideration of the climate change protests seen over the past year?

We live in a plastic world and it’s hard to avoid. The last year has seen an increased awareness of these issues and people are starting to change their habits but, if you’re not careful, you too could become a Evian bottle.

You’ve released Class on cassette and on a tea towel. Tea towels aren’t commonly used to distribute music, what made you opt for that particular washing up aid?

Not everyone has a deck or a cassette or CD player but pretty much everyone has a kitchen. We don’t want anyone to be left out, ya know?

You seem to enjoy playing around with a variety of sounds and instruments. Can you reveal some of the inspirations behind your creativity, perhaps those that are a little unexpected or unusual?

Recorders are a firm favourite, they can just sound so frantic when blasted. Also a selection of old Casio keyboards, the worse the sound the better they are.

I’ve heard that you enjoy raiding the dressing up box before performing, what’s been a personal favourite item that’s been worn on stage?

Our go to is the over-sized suit, but I recently enjoyed wearing a bin-man’s overalls found at a Sheffield market for £2. But perhaps the favourite is the chef outfit complete with Toque (big tall chef hat).

Much of what Gork produces seems to have a distinct sense of surreal humour – how do audiences usually respond to this, and what would be ideal Gork audience response?

People usually just don’t have a clue what’s going on which is great, the more freaked out the better. An audience that is up for it , and goes along with everything we throw at them, cabbage included, is super!

In your Bandcamp description you mention the inner small clown in all of us, and how your band has set it free and made it king – is there anyone of note in the public eye whose ‘inner clown’ you’d like to see freed?

100% Nicki Minaj ,she’s been papped a few times wearing a red nose but has always been shy to take the next step – I think she can do it.

And what can people expect to see from Gork in 2020?

New recordings, new faces, new videos, new instruments, new shoes…

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Class is out now on Breakfast Records/Leisure Records – you can watch the video for That’s Plastic Mate below and order the cassette or, more likely, the tea towel here.

 

Interview by Ryan Bell

5th December 2019