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

 

Icebreaker Festival 2020

Icebreaker Festival, Southsea, 25th January 2020

Drawing a long, cold January towards its conclusion, Icebreaker Festival was back with a bang at the weekend, offering up another huge variety of live music from the freshest faces on the local and national scenes. Filling up The Wedgewood Rooms and a fine selection of pubs along Southsea’s Albert Road and Elm Grove, this year’s event certainly seemed to be the busiest so far with crowded rooms from early till late – brilliant to see so much support for new artists and independent venues as always.

Icebreaker is a great place to discover bands and singers who you haven’t seen before; this year starting with some sunny sax-filled pop tunes from Yasmin Natasha at the Edge of the Wedge while next door, Bella Estelle opened up the Wedgewood Rooms’ stage with a confident set full of big pop-rock songs, setting the tone for some huge performances over the day.

Along the road at the Wine Vaults, it was a pleasure to catch the chilled, soulful sounds of The Isle of CC – definitely one to watch.

Doing Littlehampton proud (and it’s usually only the cafe on the beach that can say that), Gloo took the volume up a level or five with their crashing punk antidote to traditional seaside living, making a big impact on the main stage audience.

A scoop for Icebreaker as Fast Trains played their debut at the festival – lots of local support on display for the already award winning project from Tom Wells, ex of Kassassin Street, bringing along some familiar faces to play with him on the day. An accomplished first performance boding well for the future.

Every time LibraLibra play they seem to up their game and another stand out set left the crowd in awe once again. Fabulous to see them on a bigger stage, their heartfelt punk-glam hybrid is just captivating. A very smart booking for any festival – can’t really recommend them highly enough.

Another two bands who are both firm favourites on the local festival scene, Drusila gave their usual energy filled performance and The Howlers never disappoint live – check them both out if you have the chance.

Locals The Stone Birds’ reputation is steadily building and they  definitely squeezed one of the biggest crowds of the day into the Wine Vaults. Their blend of 60s’ tinged blues and rock sets them apart from a lot of other new bands and, with new music and live dates pending, it will be interesting to see how things develop for them. Certainly on this occasion the big crowd was well deserved.

Closing the Edge of the Wedge stage, Currls brought some solid indie grunge tracks and a fitting party atmosphere to end the night on a high note.

Hot on the heels of this weekend’s success, Icebreaker have announced that there will be a new summer event – stick a star on 18th July in your diary and keep an eye on the website for updates…

More from Icebreaker here

Words and photos by Siobhan

28th January 2020

Exhibition – Masculinities: Liberation through Photography (Barbican, London)

Exhibition, Barbican Art Gallery, London, 20th February – 17th May 2020
Masculinities: Liberation through Photography 

Header photo: Rotimi Fani-Kayode – Untitled, 1985
© Rotimi Fani-Kayode, courtesy of Autograph, London

Across society there are many traditions and expectations; how we look, think and behave are all subject to comment by the press and the opinions of others on social media. Thankfully, views from the past about what should be perceived as ‘masculine’ are being challenged and are changing as a result. Still, there is huge disparity in this between different cultures and backgrounds and the chance to consider this in visual form makes up the subject matter for a new exhibition at The Barbican, opening its doors in February.

Photo: CatherineOpie – Rusty, 2008
© Catherine Opie, coutesy of Regen Projects, Los Angeles
and Thomas Dane Gallery, London

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography features a wealth of big name photographers as well as some newer names in the arena. Having begun to take photos as a child with a gifted Kodak Instamatic, LA based Catherine Opie has risen in stature to exhibit in galleries across the US and internationally, her portraiture and social commentary shots famed around the world and now displayed here. Also included is the work of Rotimi Fani-Kayode. Arriving in Brighton as a child having fled the Nigerian civil war, he went on to study photography in New York before returning to the UK to produce an esteemed body of work, both technically and socially, before his death in 1989. He is quoted as saying, ‘On three counts I am an outsider: in terms of sexuality; in terms of geographical and cultural dislocation; and in the sense of not having become the sort of respectably married professional my parents might have hoped for. Such a position gives me the feeling of having very little to lose’; a statement that underlies the essence of this exhibition as it sets out to encompass masculinity in all its forms and realities.

Photos: Left – Hal Fischer – Street Fashion: Jock from the series
Gay Semiotics, 1977/2016
courtesy of the artist and Project Native Informant London

Top right – Catherine Opie – Bo from ‘Being and Having’, 1991
Collection of Gregory R Miller and Michael Wiener
© Catherine Opie, courtesy of Regen Projects, Los Angeles,
Thomas Dane Gallery, London and Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York

Bottom right – Sunil Gupta – Untitled 22 from the series Christopher Street, 1976
courtesy of the artist and Hales Gallery
© Sunil Gupta all rights reserved, DACS 2019

Details from the press release below:

‘Barbican Art Gallery will stage Masculinities: Liberation through Photography, a major group exhibition that explores the ways in which masculinity is experienced, performed, coded and socially constructed as expressed and documented through photography and film from the 1960s to the present day. The exhibition brings together over 300 works by over 50 pioneering international artists, photographers and filmmakers such as Laurie Anderson, Richard Avedon, Rineke Dijkstra, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Peter Hujar, Isaac Julien, Annette Messager and Catherine Opie, alongside a lesser-known and younger generation of artists including Cassils, Sam Contis, George Dureau, Karen Knorr, Elle Pèrez, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Hank Willis Thomas, Karlheinz Weinberger and Marianne Wex among others.

With ideas around masculinity undergoing a global crisis and terms such as ‘toxic’ and ‘fragile’ masculinity filling endless column inches, the exhibition will chart the representation of masculinity in all its myriad forms, rife with contradiction and complexity. Touching on themes of patriarchy, power, queer identity, race, sexuality, class, female perceptions of men, heteronormative stereotypes and fatherhood, the works in the exhibition present masculinity as a largely unfixed performative identity shaped by cultural, political and social forces, with photography and film central to the way in which masculinity is shaped and understood.

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography is part of Inside Out, the Barbican’s year-long programme exploring the relationship between our inner lives and creativity.’

Photo: Peter Hujar – David Brintzenhofe Applying Makeup (II), 1982
© 1987 The Peter Hujar Archive LLC
courtesy of Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography runs from 20th February – 17th May 2020
Barbican Centre, Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS

Opening times: Sun-Wed 10-6, Thurs-Sat 10-9, Good Friday 10-9, Easter Monday 10-6
Standard tickets Mon-Fri £15, Sat-Sun £17 – please check the website for concession prices and for further details of this and other exhibitions before visiting

All images and exhibition details are reproduced with permission from The Barbican and are copyrighted as credited

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Unconnected to the exhibition but a valuable resource for those who may need it, The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is leading a movement against suicide, the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK and the cause of 18 deaths every day. Their website advises, ‘Anyone can hit crisis point. We run a free and confidential helpline and webchat – 7 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone who needs to talk about life’s problems’. If you need to speak to someone or would like to support their cause you can find CALM here.

Words excluding press release by Siobhan

21st January 2020

 

Live – Adam Thorn at The Globe at Hay

Adam Thorn / Nick Thorn – The Globe at Hay, Hay-on-Wye, 18th January 2020

Nestled away in the foothills of the Black Mountains, the Globe at Hay features some of the best local and national unseen talent. On Saturday night it welcomed Adam Thorn, a Welsh singer-songwriter studying a popular music degree in Gloucestershire. Adam’s soulful and acoustic music taste is highlighted in much of his original material and it’s clear to see as he takes inspiration from the likes of Lewis Watson, Nick Mulvey and Lewis Calpaldi. In addition to his headline gig Adam invited his father, Nick Thorn, as support and it’s clear where Adam gets his talented musical genes from!

As Adam continues to write and perform as a solo act, he also produces the lead vocals and guitar for Northern Ruins, a Welsh band who recently took to the main stage of the famous Young People’s Village in the summer of 2019.

Check out our gallery from the evening here…

You can find more from Adam Thorn here

Words and photos by Andrew Barrell

21st January 2020

Urban Festivals 2020

While the whole of the UK seems to be fighting with Storm Brendan (a rather friendly moniker for endless downpours and winds that blow you off your feet), thinking about outdoor festivals may not be top of your agenda. However, the rise in popularity of the multi-venue city festival offers the opportunity to plan some outings that don’t involve taking a tent along. We’ve picked out 5 across the UK that are well worth putting in your diary…

Stag & Dagger – Edinburgh 2nd May, Glasgow 3rd May

Picking up steam and recognition every year, Glasgow’s Stag & Dagger takes place across venues in a compact area of the city centre in early May. With much more to come, acts confirmed so far include the eclectic mix of Shame, Ezra Furman, Hockey Dad and Vanishing Twin. This year sees the festival extend to Edinburgh the same weekend for its own event, line up to be announced imminently.

Stag & Dagger Glasgow  /  Stag & Dagger Edinburgh

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The Great Escape – Brighton 13th – 16th May

The prototype of urban festivals, Brighton’s The Great Escape has been a fixture in the city since 2006. It’s by far the biggest of this kind of event and plays host to hundreds of artists from around the world. Given the extent of the venues involved it’s helpful to have some local knowledge or test things out with a dry run as you can cover some serious distances over the few days. The line up is still in progress; some of those already confirmed are Lazarus Kane, Girls in Synthesis, Molly Parton and Sinead O’Brien.

The Great Escape

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D2D – Manchester 22 May, Bristol 23rd May, Nottingham 24th May

Dot to Dot takes its line up to 3 cities in 3 days, making it a bit more accessible to more people with less travel. The lucky locations are Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham and this year a collection of venues across each of them will play host to the likes of Easy Life, Gracey, Spacey Jane and Drug Store Romeos plus many more to be announced.

Dot to Dot Festival

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Dials Festival – Portsmouth, 3rd October

Heading towards the end of the year for the next two which may seem a long way off but past events suggest they’re definitely worth a bookmark. First up, Dials Festival has built up over the last few years into an established showcase for a whole range of genres and talent. Raising funds for charity partner Solent Mind, this is music with awareness and that combination is surely something worth celebrating. Keep an eye out for announcements throughout the year.

Dials Festival

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Swn Festival – Cardiff, 16th – 18th October

Wales’ first and biggest multi venue metropolitan event, Swn Festival returns to maintain its reputation for bringing new music to the fore, with many past performers having gone on to much bigger things. Details of this year’s line up will emerge in the run up to the festival and you can sign up to their newsletter now to receive updates.

Swn Festival

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Words by Siobhan

16th January 2020

New Music – Mint Julep, Peaness, Bandaid Brigade

New releases and tour dates: Mint Julep, Peaness, Bandaid Brigade

Mint Julep – Stray Fantasies (album)

With the release of their new album pending, Mint Julep have shared its title track, a hypnotic layered synth-pop piece that evokes the past whilst bringing the production bang up to date.

Speaking about the track, Keith (one half of the couple who make up the ambient duo) says, ‘Stray Fantasies is a song about the confusion and inner struggle of a relationship at a crossroads. Musically, since the lyrics were so heavy we wanted to balance that with something bright, but with some imperfection and edge; even though there’s a lot of instruments layered throughout it feels tenuous with various textures coming in and out, lots of dynamic shifts and moments of tension and release.’

Stray Fantasies is released on 31st January via Western Records

You can pre-order the album here

Mint Julep

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Peaness – Kaizen (single)

Ahead of their UK tour, Peaness have released their first new material in a long while. Fans of the band will be happy to hear that new track Kaizen is every inch the perfect fuzzy indie-pop tune you would expect and hope for.

Bassist / vocalist Jess explains, ‘It’s a song to remind myself that with every act of kindness and every crime, we affect the future, and that those choices go on to shape others, and our beautiful planet, long after we’re gone. The word ‘Kaizen’ is a Japanese word that literally translates to ‘change for the good’, and that’s what we’re hoping for.’

Following live dates in January and February, Peaness will play a headline set at The Lexington in London on 6th May

January
27th – Leicester, Firebug
28th – Birmingham, the Hare & Hounds
29th – Guildford, the Boileroom
30th – Brighton, The Prince Albert
31st – Southampton, Heartbreakers

February
1st – Oxford, The Wheatsheaf
7th – Manchester, Soup Kitchen
8th – Leeds, The Lending Room

Peaness

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Bandaid Brigade – I’m Separate (album)

Bandaid Brigade is the musical project of Zach Quinn (PEARS), Brian Wahlstrom (Scorpios, Gods of Mount Olympus) and friends Paul Rucker (Armchair Martian, Street Dogs, Drag The River) and Chris Fogal (The Gamits). With the imminent release of their debut album, they have shared a taster in the form of Travel Light, a foray into an, at times, unlikely genre mix. The track kicks off sounding undeniably like it’s dipped into Odyssey’s Native New Yorker before heading into their more traditional punk / rock territory.

Bandaid Brigade say, ‘It’s quite possible that this is the best album ever made. We hope you like it as much as we think you think we think we do.’

The band play the following UK dates before heading out across Europe:

January
29th – Staines, The London Stone
30th – Leeds, Wharf Chambers
31st – Edinburgh, Banshee Labyrinth

February
1st – Dundee, Rad Apples
2nd – Stafford, Red Rum
3rd – Exeter, The Cavern
4th – London, New Cross Inn
5th – Canterbury, Lady Luck Bar

I’m Separate is released into the world on 21st January

Bandaid Brigade

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Words by Siobhan

Photos via One Beat PR and Wall of Sound PR

10th January 2020

Preview – Icebreaker Festival

Icebreaker Festival, Southsea, 25th January 2020 

Back in its regular January slot, Icebreaker Festival once again brings a plethora of new musical talent to Southsea’s Albert Road and Elm Grove, putting on over 80 artists in 1 day at 7 venues in the area. With a wide range of genres included in the line up, there’s an opportunity to discover some new favourites live and that’s just what we’re hoping to do, as well as catching up with some acts that are already making waves.

Returning after strong performances at last year’s event, look out for some lively desert rock from The Howlers (Wedgewood Rooms) and soul-infused garage from Currls (Edge of the Wedge).

Highlights at other local festivals this year, it’s also great to see mighty art punks LibraLibra and electro duo Drusila on the bill – both on the Wedgewood Rooms stage; neither of whom should be missed.

A few more recommendations for the day come in the shape of…

– Blues-soaked rock from local favourites The Stone Birds (The Wine Vaults)
– 90s influenced grunge-rock from Dutch Mustard (Edge of the Wedge)
– Some lovely laid back soulful sounds from The Isle of CC (The Wine Vaults)
– And what looks set to be a blow the roof off performance from indie punks Glossii (The Deco)

We’ve added tracks from all the artists mentioned to the playlist below so you can listen at your leisure…

*Edit – sadly, it seems that Glossii have decided to call it a day and won’t now be appearing but give their music a listen anyway and keep an eye on new projects from band members*


Check out the full line up complete with stage times for each venue on the Icebreaker website.

Words and photos by Siobhan

7th January 2020