Interview – Sen Morimoto

Like a magpie collects shiny gems, Sen Morimoto has dipped into a treasure trove of genres and influences, fusing together jazz, hip-hop and soulful undertones on his new self-titled album. We asked him about his early experiences with music and how the record came together…

How are you doing, what’s life like in Chicago right now?

All in all I’m feeling grateful. Or at least always trying to feel grateful. Chicago’s Covid cases are spiking again, so we’re preparing for another lockdown. Today I’ll stock up on groceries and try not to leave home for a while. While as a country there’s been a brief sigh of relief after the election, Chicagoans are still protesting. The city government has made it clear that its loyalty lies with the police, and not the hundreds of thousands of protesters asking to defund the police and remove them from schools. It’s a big hill to look up at because these pleas are really only the bare minimum but the City hasn’t budged, and has instead consistently responded with violence. All that being said, everything is so uncertain these days that I remain grateful for what I have and the safety and wellbeing of my friends and family.

You’ve been playing music since you were a child, what are your early memories of hearing music at home or with family and friends?

I’ve always loved to sing, although for most of my adolescence I was too shy to try it in front of anyone so I used the saxophone. I remember singing Jackson 5 CDs straight through in the car at the top my lungs when I was really little. My siblings hated it. I did the same with the theme from That Thing You Do!. As I got older my dad’s CD collection became a treasure map of interests for me, and a kind of bible of music to study. I had obsessive phases with a lot of records, mostly stuff from the 60s and 70s. Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Neil Young, Carpenters, Kate Bush, and on and on. I taught myself piano and bass learning as many Stevie Wonder songs as I could. Super grateful for those CDs, they definitely shaped not only what I play but what I enjoy hearing in new music too.

Your latest album was released at the end of October, how long has it been in the making and how does it feel now it’s finished?

After my last record touring, my own music and others’ projects kept me pretty busy for a couple years. I would write lyrics or record voice memo ideas on the road and glue everything together whenever I was home. A lot of times when I sit down to record I’m just exploring sounds to come back to and use for a song I write separately, so it ends up feeling like I’ve been working on each record for years but it doesn’t usually start really coming together until a bit before it comes out. Some of the tracks have elements that I’ve been tweaking for years before I released the previous record even. It feels amazing to finally have it out in the world. My favorite part about releasing a body of work is how free I feel to make something completely different right after.

It’s hard to categorise your music but it feels like the soul/ jazz/ rap fusion holds lots of crossover appeal for listeners who might be less attracted to one of those elements on its own – do you get good reactions from a wide audience?

I think because the music I’m inspired by is so varied there’s something for everyone in some of my songs. But I also feel like that’s becoming more and more common in new music. We have access to so much music and art to draw inspiration from, and are exposed to so much of the same stuff online that it feels more and more like all new music is a combination of a few different genres. It’s something that I am actually pretty excited about. It’s like if all the genres that exist now are elements that have been discovered, then the only way to create new elements is to combine the ones we have. The tricky part is doing it gracefully so your music chemistry set doesn’t explode in your face.

What’s the best or worst review you’ve ever had?

The other day I was with some friends and someone put on Man Of The Woods by Justin Timberlake and said, “You ever notice you kinda sound like him”. Don’t get me wrong I love so much of his music and he’s obviously a legend but to say it while that song is playing and not like… idk Cry Me a River or ‘Pushaaaaa looooovee I’m just a Juj-juh-juh-juh-Junkie for your love…’ I was still flattered though, I’d say that was the best and the worst in one.

Tell us about the collaborations on the album, do you start these with a clear idea of the outcome or just see which direction things take?

I definitely let the song lead the way. I leave a lot of room for error and experimentation because some of the best ideas come from mistakes. With collaboration I like to maintain a similar looseness. I never ask collaborators to use their voice or instrument in a certain way, I just ask them to listen to the song a few times and try something that feels natural to them. We go back and tweak things afterwards that we mutually agree on but I try not to let myself get in the way of their expression. I think the other way of doing it where musicians become kind of instruments of your own expression can make for great art too but for me it’s about our minds kind of turning the Rubik’s cube around together.

You’ve mentioned that you had vivid dreams whilst writing the album – did these make their way into the songs?

Definitely, there’s a lot of reference to my dreams in the lyrics. Some are descriptive of the things I’ve dreamt of, like in The Things I Thought About You Started To Rhyme where the lyrics are almost all supposed to feel like a dream, or You Come Around and Nothing Isn’t Very Cool where I talk a little bit about how these dreams affect my waking experience.

Take us on a tour of your neighbourhood, what should we know about that’s not in the guide books?

There’s a Puerto Rican sandwich joint around the corner called Cafe Colao that I’m at more mornings than not. They’re cafe con leche motivates me to rise in the morning.

You’re receiving an award for the album, who gets a mention in your acceptance speech?

I’m definitely hitting the Cuba Gooding Jr. Jerry McGuire Oscar win speech “EVERYONE INVOLVED I LOVE YOU”.

And what’s next, what does 2021 hold for you?

Honestly I have no idea. I’m excited for a couple projects I’m helping put together on the production end and with my label Sooper Records here in Chicago. I want to make as much music as I can and use this time off touring to think about how I can help people more and continue learning.

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You can keep up with the latest news from Sen here. The album is available to buy digitally and in physical format on vinyl, CD and cassette on Bandcamp, through Sen’s own label Sooper Records. Watch the video for Woof below.

Interview by Siobhan
Photo via One Beat PR

17th November 2020

Interview – Ostrich

Having recently discovered the sultry sounds of Ostrich with the two sharp singles they’ve already released, we’re very much looking forward to hearing what comes next. In the interim, we spoke to the band about their music, living through lockdown and their local haunts in Liverpool. There may also have been mention of brandy and ostrich racing…

Hello, introduce us to Ostrich – who’s involved and what’s the story behind your name?

Will McTaggart: Hello Breaking Glass! So we’re Ostrich, a five piece from Liverpool. We have Stuart Wilson on drums, Lydia Thomas on sax and keys, Will Bowman on bass, Leo Watkins on guitar and myself doing the crooning. Sadly, there’s not really an interesting story in regards to the name ‘Ostrich’, apart from that I look like one with my long legs. 

You started performing together last year, how did it feel when things came to an abrupt halt in 2020?

Will McT: It was a real shame to be honest. We played our last show in March and I’m sure it was our best to date. We were getting really tight as a band and had quite a few dates in the pipeline. Not to worry though! We’ll keep ourselves fresh, ready to go again!

Lydia: It feels like we jinxed it with that gig! I really miss rehearsing as a band. Luckily, Will McT’s been churning out tunes and sending us demos. I can’t wait to work on them and add some saxy bits. 

You’ve taken the opportunity to release two singles this year, that can’t be so easy in current conditions, how did you make that happen?

Will B: Way back in the distant past – 2019 I think it was – we flew to Prague and recorded 4 tracks in 4 days. It was wild. We drank more Old Fashions than any humans should, became regulars at the local jazz club, and razzed around on scooters ‘til our hearts were content. Those were the days, and listening to these tracks really brings it back. We really want to go back to record some more, but given that we’ve not been able to do that, we decided to release some of them instead. Releasing was a lot less fun than recording, but hey ho, it kept us occupied through lockdown!

The tracks both have quite a different feel, I love the 80s electro leaning on Inside Out (Got No Doubt) and the change up to One Man Band – do you set out to make a particular sound on a song or just see where it takes you?

Will B: I’d definitely agree – Inside Out is all mellow and warm, whereas One Man Band is bitter and angsty. I wouldn’t say that we ever start out with a fixed idea. For us, it’s definitely a case of getting the bare bones of the song, feeling it out a little bit, and then building the sound around that feeling. 

Despite restrictions, you’ve picked up a solid amount of interest and airplay – how does it feel hearing your songs on the radio?

Stuart: Hearing Inside Out on 6 Music was a surreal moment for us; we all listen to 6 constantly and weren’t expecting it at all. It’s a shame any interest we have can’t be translated to gigs yet, but we’ll wait as long as it takes…

How are things with you currently, what’s been the reaction to Liverpool being back in local lockdown?

Will B: At the time of writing, fleets of army vehicles are rolling up the M6, coming to swab each and every one of us. A total, mass test of the Merseyside region. A UK first! News outlets herald a new technological breakthrough, but we fear something more sinister this way comes. We’re the last Labour stronghold and BoJo hates us for it. And we can only wonder – why us? What does he want from us? Is it our DNA? And then what next? Will he build huge steel walls around us, cut us off from the mainland, and strip us of our freedoms and our citizenships? We hope so, because quite frankly, this country’s gone to shit anyway.

Lydia: … my Animal Crossing island is thriving.

Tell us about your home city in better times, there always seems to be loads going on creatively, where are your favourite places to go?

Leo: In ‘normal times’ Liverpool is just the best place. It’s small, but there’s a lot happening, so it’s super concentrated. 24 Kitchen Street remains probably the best venue still going in the city, despite becoming surrounded by faceless student accommodation, it champions diversity and supports local causes. The Grapes on Roscoe Street is probably my favourite pub in the world, it has live salsa infused jazz on Sunday nights. Petit Café du Coin is just round the corner if you’re feeling fancy (their boozy Irish coffee is liquid crack). We’re also blessed with some incredible art galleries: The Walker and The Tate to name but two. Other than that, get yourself out of the city centre. Sefton Park is completely unique, and huge, and always inspirational to me.

Whilst none of us are likely to be popping off to a desert island any time soon, what would your picks be to keep you happy if you did – favourite albums or anything else you couldn’t live without?

Will McT: I’m a bit obsessed with Joni Mitchell at the moment, especially her album Hissing of Summer Lawns. I’m just in awe of her songwriting. I’d take a few of her records and a massive bottle of brandy. 

Lydia: I feel the same about PJ Harvey’s album, Let England Shake. 

Will B: I’ve recently taken to obsessively refreshing the BBC News app, drinking lots of brandy, and crying. It really does get me through the day and is not something I would recommend under any circumstances.

Can you plan ahead right now, have you anything in the pipeline for more new music or playing live again?

Will McT: We’re sitting on a couple of singles that are ready to hatch once the time is right. Just seeing how things go with the Covid situation. We should have a video coming out for One Man Band in the next couple of weeks too. At the time of writing I’ve been filming something that involves an overhead projector, jars of beetroot, and shower gel – so I’ll leave that to your imagination. 

And lastly, because it feels important to end with a serious question, in some countries people race each other on the backs of ostriches – if you were the ostriches who would win the race and why?

I think about this all the time. I’d say Will McT, he’s already got the hang of those lanky legs. Then again, Stuart has a real competitive edge… it could get messy.

Catch up with Ostrich here and have a listen to the singles below


Interview by Siobhan

Band photo © Daniel de la Bastide

5th November 2020

Interview – Better Person

Making music that transports you to the afterglow of nights out in the city, Adam Byczkowski, aka Better Person, has produced a sultry album full of hypnotic tracks in Something To Lose, quite the antidote to everything happening around us right now. New single Dotknij Mnie (translating into English as Touch Me) adds a cathartic wave to the lighter feel of some of the other songs, showing his ability to deftly capture different moods and styles. We wanted to find out more about the influences of other music, people and places and how deeply a brush with Covid is still having an impact…

Hello, can you give us a quick intro to you and your music?

Yes of course, good morning. My name is Adam, also known to some people as Better Person. I write music, record it, release it and then travel to perform it live whenever possible. The music I make sounds like pop ballads and most of the time it talks about my personal feelings and experiences.

What can you see from wherever you are right now?

I’m laying in bed in my apartment in Berlin. I can see a white wall and an open window. There are buildings and trees outside, the sky is blue. There’s this crispy early fall smell in the air that makes me think of too many things all at once.

AND hello again, I came back to this interview to edit it a bit and now it’s night time already. I’m also in bed again but now it’s dark and my girlfriend is next to me, sleeping. It’s quiet.

Your last single Close to You reminds me of UK 80s’ artists like Talk Talk and The Blue Nile, who or what’s influencing the music you’ve been making recently?

Thank you, I like Talk Talk and The Blue Nile!

Artists from that era and genre were a huge inspiration for me, especially when I started this project, as Better Person. For this record I was actually inspired by a whole range of different music, from old French and Italian movie soundtracks through Euro-pop hits and 70’s soft rock all the way to old school balladeers like Julio Iglesias. I think that because I use synthesisers and drum machines to make my music it often ends up being heard through the narrow lens of the 1980s. Ultimately though, I hope that my music sounds like it’s made in 2020 more than any other time.

Tell us about your upcoming album Something to Lose, what can everyone expect?

It’s nine songs, exactly thirty minutes of music. It comes out on October 23rd 2020. The whole album is a bit lighter in mood than my last EP and maybe it’s also my best work yet? I hope that it is! And that people can feel moved by it and use it for having a nice time in this shitty time that we all live in. Heartfelt ballads sung by a Polish man who fell deeply in love. I worked hard on this album and I think that I’ve managed to make something real.

If you could put the album in any one person’s hands to listen to, who would you choose and why?

When I write music I keep my friends and people close to me in my mind. This time I wrote an album specifically for my partner, Jane. She’s the person I made it for so it’s in her hands that the album belongs. She already was forced to listen to it about seven thousand times at different stages and claims to love it every time. So, mission complete!

What was the last book you read?

I re-read some of Raymond Carver short stories the other day, always a pleasure.

You contracted Covid back in March, that must have been pretty scary – how was it then and how are you now?

Yes that is true. Back in March both my partner and I got the virus. It has been a real ride, we ended up having to go to hospitals frequently and we haven’t managed to recover to this day. It’s been six months since I got infected and I still spend most of my days stuck in bed, crippled by extreme fatigue, heart problems and difficulty breathing. It is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with and it’s extremely punishing both physically and mentally.

How has the experience changed your outlook?

It’s made me really appreciate what a gift it is to feel healthy and be able to function normally. People that don’t believe in the virus or won’t wear their masks on (nose out = no mask) truly are idiots. There are online group forums for people who are still recovering and they have been the only valuable source of information and reassurance. I expect this to be a huge thing in the next couple months, more and more people simply not recovering from the sickness. I have no idea what the future holds and I can only hope that I get better in the next couple of months.

You’ve spent time in both Berlin and LA – those two cities seem so contrasting, what are the best things about each one for you?

Berlin is a place where I really came into my own, Better Person wouldn’t exist without it and I love the city for that. Los Angeles provides all the things that Berlin is lacking: great weather, amazing food, breathtaking views and a seemingly endless amount of inspiration and new connections to be made. It makes me devastated knowing that it will be a long time before I’m back again.

Looking forward, what are you hoping for over the next year?

I’m really only hoping to get better and be able to live normally again. After that I’d love to play lots of shows and make new music.

Something To Lose is released on Friday 23rd October via Arbutus Records – pre-order here

Interview by Siobhan
Photos: header image © Geoff Meugens, image on steps © Tess Roby

Date 19th October 2020

Clue Records – Music & Mergers: Interview with Scott Lewis

With the global pandemic robbing us of gigs, festivals and so much more, the music industry has had little to celebrate in 2020, which makes stories such as indie label Clue Records celebrating its eighth year of productivity and a successful merging with fellow Leeds label Hatch Records all the sweeter.

With new signings on the horizon and the boat party to end all boat parties envisioned for their decade celebrations, I spoke to Clue boss Scott Lewis over Zoom to discuss all things Clue, beginning with a brief back and forth bonding over a local record shop which led us to consider the sustainability of the independent music business in 2020…

RB: So, speaking of longevity in the music business, was that something you had in mind when starting Clue? Were you thinking in long term ideals, plans…?

SL: I don’t know really. It’s funny, I’ve just started lecturing about business enterprise at Leeds College of Music, and it’s got me thinking back – I didn’t set up a business plan for Clue, no five-year plan, etc. We started with little bits, like if we could release a record, a vinyl record, then that would be mint, but it was more – let’s do it and see where it goes from there really.

RB: I suppose that’s why Clue has been successful, because as corny as it sounds, you don’t necessarily get into these things for the money, or ‘success’ in business terms.

SL: No, that’s bang on. It gets a little more difficult down the line – there’s a mid-point as somewhere it goes from being purely a passion project to a feasible, financially viable thing. But I mean I’ve always been doing it ‘cos I wanna do it, ‘cos I love the bands.

RB: With that in mind, is there or was there a criteria for artists to be on Clue, other than first and foremost you being excited about them?

SL: Yeah, I’ve got to be a fanboy, the buzz you get when you find something new and amazing… it’s hard to capture really and actually if I find artists who I love, and I find out that they are working with someone else I won’t mind, I’ll still follow them ‘cos I’m a fan anyway! Perhaps in recent years I’ve become more knowledgeable and I want bands to work alongside us for the best results, bands that graft and work hard – I can put energy into bands like that.

The origins of Clue come from Scott and fellow boss Ste Langton, school friends from Stockton who bonded over a love of music and, after being in and out of bands and a brief stint in basic music marketing (Scott acted as marketing director for the Oxfam music festival ‘Oxjam’), felt as though they had something to offer some of the exciting acts they were following.

SL: I came across these bands who were great and, for whatever reason, struggling and I felt that I wanted to help, maybe some admin or boring backroom stuff. So that was it, backroom of the pub, back of a beer mat – let’s do it. That was in 2012 and Narcs was our first band.

RB: Both being from Stockton, how did you end up in Leeds and how much of that locality was a driving force behind Clue?

SL: Well I had been wanting to move out of Stockton for a while, and Ste had just got a job in Leeds and had a spare room and there was just a great scene at the time going on; NME termed it “The New Yorkshire” – bands like Kaiser Chiefs, !Forward, Russia! and The Cribs were all a big part of it and it just seemed like a cool place to go. It wasn’t too far from Stockton, and whilst Leeds isn’t a small city, it wasn’t London – so it felt tangible that we could do something.

Hatch Records was founded a year after Clue in 2013 by Tony Ereira, (whose surname I embarrassingly require Scott to help me pronounce – which he does, with a chuckle) and the relationship between the two began through the Leeds based independent music publication ‘Come Play With Me’…
(Header photo – left: Tony Ereira, right: Scott Lewis)

RB: So, talk us through the merging of Clue with Hatch, which is run by Tony Ereira – where did you first meet Tony? He’s involved in Come Play With Me, as are you I believe?

SL: I am! I’ve fingers in all the pies (laughs). I remember I went to the launch of Come Play With Me and so I met Tony then, and just kept bumping into him at events, gigs etc. in Leeds. We were planning to do a local profile on all Yorkshire indie labels, so Hatch, ourselves at Clue, (Wakefield based label) Philophobia, etc.

I had a job offer last year for another label, but it would have had to mean I would leave everything else I’d worked on; Clue, Come Play With Me and so on. And at that time Tony broached the idea of merging the two labels, and being in similar places it just felt like a natural thing to do and so we all sat down towards the end of last year, crossed the Ts and dotted the Is and it’s worked out brilliant.

RB: How does it work with the artists who were attached to Clue and the ones who were on Hatch, are they now all under Clue now?

SL: All previous Hatch releases are now under a Clue/Hatch heritage; we don’t ever want to pretend that Hatch never existed, they were two different things. I’m not sure what some of the artists are doing at the minute, but if the opportunities are there and it works out right for us to release with them then we’ll look at it when it comes round.  

RB: Was there ever an arm wrestle between you and Tony on which label would retain the name?

SL: No (chuckles) we never had to battle, it was very civil, I think Clue had more on at the time and it felt natural to move into that direction.

RB: I suppose if you’re all under the same umbrella and working as a unit the name is just for ego’s sake at the end of the day…

SL: Exactly and considering it’s Clue which has kept the name that must mean I’ve the biggest ego out of everyone!

RB: All of these new exciting opportunities and of course releasing Team Picture’s debut album The Menace of Mechanical Music, it must have been disappointing to have been restricted due to the pandemic; how have you found it, what are some of the difficulties Clue has faced? 

SL: Its hard, cos we are trying to get something across which is essentially entertainment when there is a lot of serious, heavy shit going on in the world and we’ve got to be considerate of that. In terms of Clue we’ve had a relatively quiet year, ‘cos a lot of the artists would have either been touring or recording and that just can’t happen. We’ve released Team Picture’s album this year and we’ve booked a tour for next year but with the way things are going, you’ve just gotta deal with it in the safest way. Some of our bands have been offered shows and come to me and the first thing I ask them is, “Do you feel comfortable with it? Do you feel safe? Don’t worry about the money or the need to perform, if you don’t feel comfortable don’t do it”. It’s more important for us to look after each other and focus on other things; write, record etc. Team Picture did something really amazing with their video for Handsome Machine, a 3D interactive space where if you watch it on your phone, you can walk around your room but you’re walking around in the video – which to me was brilliant innovation ‘cos everyone was obviously staying in their homes and it brought an experience to them.

RB: Aside from your own projects, what are your favourite things going off in Leeds now, what’s exciting you at the minute?

SL: In terms of bands, Yard Act are amazing. Culture wise, The Brudenell Social Club has just gone from strength to strength and what Nathan (Clark, owner) has done there is incredible, the community and culture created at Hyde Park Book Club is amazing and Chunk, who I think are looking at a new location, they had one of the best DIY spaces in Leeds, what they were doing was unreal.

A slight bias, but I’m working with a company called Music: Leeds, what they are trying to do is provide opportunities in Yorkshire for people who want to work in the music industry and I think what they are doing is accessible and vital for working class backgrounds. I’m from a working class background and one of the things that I do worry about in this pandemic is that money will come out of the industry and artists will massively struggle to be able to create, and so I think what Music: Leeds is doing is amazing.

RB: Mentioning money, I’ve just read today that apparently one third of musicians are considering quitting the industry due to Covid…

SL: I saw the post about that statistic, I have no idea if it’s accurate. I don’t think you get into making music or writing music to make money, it’s more because you want to do it, but I can see why it could be accurate in some respects, because it’s gonna be hard.

How do we make bands now? You can’t meet anyone to talk about putting a band together and even if you did, you can’t get in a room to do anything! The accessibility and the enjoyment found in the community of going to gigs is just not going to be there in the same way it was and it’s worrying.

RB: On a positive note, going forward with Clue, where would you personally like to see the label go? Any concrete plans?

SL: Well we are about to announce a new artist we have been working with which we are really excited about, and what would I like to see in Clue? Well in two years the label will be 10, and I’d like to have a big party on a boat with loads of bands playing! Open top deck boat party! In two years time it might be well needed after all this!

While we’re waiting for that boat to come in, you can check out Clue’s full roster of excellent artists here

Photos above – left: Van Houten by Sam Joyce, right: Yowl by Holly Whittaker

Interview by Ryan Bell

 9th October 2020

Interview – Funeral Lakes

With climate change at critical levels and a lack of action by world leaders, you might ask yourself how best to get the message heard. Amidst the cacophony of protesters waving banners on the streets, Funeral Lakes approach the subject through the wonder of music, their songs an ambient journey through hypnotic folk rock. Showing that a protest song doesn’t need to be shouted from the rooftops, the Canadian duo have plenty to say and make it a pleasure to listen. We chatted to them about their latest EP, Golden Season, and what’s happening in the world right now, for them musically, and for all of us on a wider scale…

Introduce us to Funeral Lakes, who’s involved and how did it all begin?

Funeral Lakes is Chris Hemer (he/him) and Sam Mishos (she/her). We started the project in the spring of 2018, self-producing music in our apartment in Vancouver, B.C., and then in Toronto, Ontario. The project started as a creative medium to express our fears and frustrations about the world we’re living in.

The world is in a bit of a mess right now, how are you both and how are things in Toronto?

Thank you for asking! We are both doing as well as can be right now. We’ve been reflecting a lot on the collective traumas we are all experiencing, oscillating between feelings of hope and hopelessness. We have just recently relocated from Toronto to Kingston, Ontario to start graduate school, which has made our personal lives pretty busy. It’s a much smaller city compared to Toronto, and we’ve come to appreciate the change of pace. It’s a real privilege to be able to get outside every day and access green spaces around where we live.

Your songs seem very much to be reflections of what’s happening around you, is it hard to stay creative at the moment?

Music has always been a way for both of us to cope and process the experiences in our lives. Our creativity is often tied to the realities happening around us, so our creative output hasn’t changed all that much. That being said, there are days where we don’t feel like singing about much at all. Ultimately, we try to relay whatever emotions we’re feeling – whether it be anxiety, sadness, frustration, hope – through our music.

Tell us about your new EP Golden Season, what was your inspiration for this record and who’s helped you bring it to completion?

Following our first album, which was a pretty somber collection of songs, we wanted to make something much more energetic and charged this time around. These tracks represent where we’re at, and right now it’s a place of transition, of restlessness and urgency, as well as a time of reflection. Many of the themes we address aren’t exactly new (i.e. environmental destruction, heteropatriarchy, petro-nationalism), but these things have presented themselves over the past year in extremely loud ways that have been impossible to ignore. We put some other material on hold as we had the opportunity to realize these tracks in the studio with our friends – Charlie Van on drums and Colin Spratt who engineered, mixed, and mastered the songs.

Do you have a favourite track that you could tell us the story behind?

Eternal Return is a track that is really meaningful for us. It has existed in various iterations for some years now, but took a long time to feel complete. It’s a song about boom-and-bust cycles, false promises, and rampant toxic masculinity – all those factors culminate into what some call petro-nationalism. We tried to paint a picture of this reality playing out here in Canada, but also around the world. The bulk of the lyrics aim to take the listener through a rationale, so that they are feeling the same anger as us when the song takes off at the end. It was exciting to realize this in the studio where we could make it sound as big as we had envisioned. Some of the vocals are done through an actual megaphone, and we had our friends join in with us to achieve a sort of rallying cry with the group vocals.

Who else have you been listening to lately?

There is so much incredible and inspiring talent at the more local level. We’ve definitely been enjoying the works of Zoon, Sunnsetter, Eve Parker Finley, and Tyler Jafelice, to name a few.

Favourite 3 albums ever?

It’s always hard to answer this sort of question, but 3 albums that we always come back to are The Velvet Underground – Self-titled, Typhoon – White Lighter and The Clash – London Calling.

If your music was going to be used for a remake of any film, which one would you choose?

There’s this really hilarious late-90s post-apocalyptic movie called The Postman with Kevin Costner. Tom Petty has a pretty bizarre cameo in it too. Not sure if you could quite call it a cult classic, but it’s become strangely relevant this year… If anyone’s planning to remake this movie, please give us a call!

If you had the power to change anything, what would you love to see happen to make the world a better place?

It would be great for our so-called leaders to stop politicking and address the climate crisis in a meaningful way. There is a terrifying lack of leadership on the issue. Canada has been a resource-based economy and an oil-rich country for a long time. Now that the world is changing in the face of a climate emergency, we’re having an identity crisis. Politicians are abusing this moment we are in for personal/political gains on both sides. On one hand, there is a promise of a clean/green future that never comes to fruition, as we’ve seen with Trudeau federally, or with Horgan in B.C. On the other hand, there is a promise of a future that no longer exists, as we’re currently seeing with Kenney in Alberta. There are too many promises and not enough action, and that needs to change.

And what are your plans and hopes for Funeral Lakes, what happens next?

This project has always been about voicing our thoughts and feelings, so that’s not going to change, but the realities of how we can share our music and play live shows has been put on hold for the time being. We’re always writing and recording in our home space, so you can probably expect another EP from us in the spring. We have another big project in the works that’s a way’s off, but we’re really excited about. Ultimately, making connections and feeling less alone in all this is our hope with this music – that’s why we started this project.

You can catch up with Funeral Lakes here and listen to Eternal Return below. Golden Season is available now on Bandcamp.

 

Interview by Siobhan

5th October 2020

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