Interview – Robbie & Mona

Will and Ellie who make up the band Robbie and Mona, sitting on a red armchair in front of a large window with heavy curtains

Bringing a Lynchian twist to their darkened dream pop, Robbie & Mona release their debut album into the world this month and propel themselves straight onto the ones to watch in 2021 list. The couple behind the band are Ellie Gray and Will Carkeet, both also members of consummate Bristol collective Pet Shimmers. We asked them about their music, what they’ve been listening to through lockdown and the cinematic value of trampolines…

How are you both doing, where are you right now?

Ellie: We are in Bristol, in Easton, in our bedroom. We’re both enjoying the Saturday sun, listening to / watching a funny old performance by a band called Butch Willis and the Rocks.

Your debut album EW comes out at the end of the month, how has it been recording and promoting it during lockdown?

Will:  We finished recording EW back in March in the first lockdown, but its been a bit of a rollercoaster, waves of frustration in terms of not being able to gig and properly show it to the world. But Spinny Nights have been very great at promoting it for us and being so supportive.

Tell us about the songs, is there a running story throughout the record?

Ellie: The songs have been opportunities for us to have fun going into a world of automatism and surrealism. Will makes his production potions that always get me going and are perfect foundations for me to freely dance with my thoughts and voice across it.

Will: The majority of these songs were written and recorded as we began seeing each other, we look back and kind of realise they were our attempts at impressing each other!

Album artwork for E.W. By Robbie and Mona shows the back of a person wearing a black leather bodysuit and head covering, kneeling on some grass

EW album artwork 

Your latest track Queen Celine packs a lot into a minute and a half, was there any temptation to make it longer or was it always meant to be a short, sharp hit to the senses?

Will: You find the track always tells you how long it wants to be and this one stopped very abruptly and it felt right being as short as it was, any more and we would have upset the song.

The video is like a little burst of film noir with added trampolining – it’s beautifully shot, what was the thinking behind it and who was involved?

Ellie: We saw some work by Max McLachlan and thought he had the perfect twist of humour and doom. He had this idea of trampolines, which felt great, then Arthur from Spinny Nights’ mum and dad ended up being star bouncers in the video. It felt like a really seamless collaboration where everything fell into place, all the right personalities came together. It’s a really satisfying feeling when two different artists get together and their mediums really expose and compliment each other.

You recorded a set for Rotterdam’s Left of the Dial Festival a while back, it looked like they were due to have a great line up – how did you get involved in that?

Will: We played with them in October 2019 with our other project Pet Shimmers, and then when we were on tour they kindly put us up in Rotterdam and invited us to a little gig on a boat. They are so hospitable and giving, since then we stayed in touch and when they heard mine and Ellie’s new stuff they were keen to get us involved. They are great human beings.

Realistically, live music isn’t getting back to how it was pre-Covid any time soon, how do you see it looking moving forward?

Will: From this pandemic I would hope that when things return to ‘normal’, that people approach it more ambitiously in the sense of not just playing a standard venue and standard support act, questioning the traditional way of how a show is constructed.

Who’s been on your lockdown playlist and what have you been watching to while away the hours?

Will: Drake – Dark Lane Demo Tapes, Butch Willis and the Rocks – The TV’s from Outer Space, the Notting Hill soundtrack, Jessica Pratt, Lou Reed – Coney Island Baby album, Yellow Man – Lost Mi Love…

Ellie: Leonard Cohen Various Positions album, Connie Converse, Brian Eno & John Cale, Cindy Lee,  Sean Nicholas Savage, Playboi Carti – @ MEH, Le Tigre, Beverly Glenn-Copeland , Peggy Lee…

Been watching Surviving Death on Netflix, a slightly cheesy but addictive series about near death experiences and life after the physical body, Unexplained series presented by the wonderful Tony Robinson talking about the Cathars and some spooky premonition stuff with amazing early noughties style dramatisations, Jan Švankmajer animator film-maker DVD set, John Cocteau’s 1946 La Belle et La Bête, and Breaking Bad, to which I was a virgin pre-lockdown.

If there were no restrictions and you could take us on a tour of your favourite places around Bristol, where would we go?

Ellie: We would take you to Greenbank Cemetery and give you the task of finding the most elaborate headstone and reward you with a hot flask of mulled wine.

And what’s next for Robbie & Mona?

Will: Kick ass second album on its way.

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EW is released on 29th January via Spinny Nights and is available to pre-order now – catch up with Robbie & Mona here.

Interview by Siobhan
Header photo © Ellie Gray

19th January 2021

Photo Galleries 2021 – Submission Info

The silhouettes of the backs of two ladies sitting on a bench in an art gallery looking at 4 brightly coloured David Hockney pictures

Photo Galleries 2021

Last year closed the doors (several times) on many photographers being able to access their usual subject matter. What was clear though was that you can’t curb creativity for long, and many of you shared your lockdown images with us, which was much appreciated and a source of inspiration. The introduction of themed photo galleries also brought some welcome relief from the ever-present Covid restrictions. As we’re still not quite out the other end of the tunnel, we’ll be compiling different galleries bi-monthly this year. Thanks for your suggestions for new themes; we’ve incorporated as many as possible. As each one draws near, there will be reminder posts on Instagram and Twitter and, for easy reference, all details can be found below. In addition to these, if you have a photographic project or mixed portfolio you’d like us to consider for feature, drop us an email to discuss, with a brief outline and link to your work.

February – The Animal Kingdom

Dachshund walking across grass

Subject ideas: Animals of all shapes and sizes, pets or wildlife but nothing in captivity please…

Text / details: Titles for images only

Submission Dates: 25th January – 5th February 

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April – The High Street

Black & white shot of a fairly empty high street in lockdown, closed shops, 2 people in the distance sitting on a bench, 2 more walking away talking, 1 person at the front of the picture wearing a face mask and talking on their mobile phone

Subject ideas: Your local high street in lockdown or from busier days, favourite shops, urban street art, people shopping…

Text / details: Required – titles for images, optional – up to 50 words max about your images

Submission Dates: 29th March – 9th April

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June – Toy Story

Black and whit shot of a traditional style curly teddy bear wearing a cable knit jumper

Subject ideas: Your favourite childhood toys or games (if you still have them), a child’s toys, structured toy photography, lost toys in the street…

Text / details: Required – titles for images, optional – up to 50 words max about your images

Submission Dates: 24th May – 4th June

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August – Back to Nature

Rolling green hills under blue sky with fluffy white clouds

Subject ideas: Landscapes, seascapes, parks, gardens, flowers, trees, birds…

Text / details: Titles for images only

Submission Dates: 26th July – 6th August

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October – Album Covers

3 album sleeves - Tigertown Pictures by Comet Gain, Love Bites by Buzzcocks and Fold Your Hands Clhild You Walk Like A Peasant by Belle & Sebastian

Subject ideas: Your favourite album covers in their natural habitat, whether that’s amongst other records, CDs, cassettes or in your arms! Images can be of single or multiple albums and MUST be photos you have taken of albums that have been purchased to avoid copyright issues…

Text / details: Required – titles for images, optional – up to 50 words max about your images

Submission Dates: 27th September – 8th October

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December – Best of 2021 / Best Music Shots

Lead singer of the band Creatures holding up a microphone, psychedelic lit up visuals behind him

Subject ideas: Our regular end of year features – currently we can only hope that there will be content for the live music gallery, the general Best of 2021 gallery will be an opportunity for you to submit your favourite shots of the year, any subject or style. See last year’s Best Music Shots of 2020 and 2020 Through the Lens for an idea of how these will look.

Text / details: Titles for images only (music shots should also include name of artist, venue and month taken)

Submission Dates: opening date to be confirmed, closing date 10th December

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All Galleries 

1. Everyone is welcome to submit; we want this to be as inclusive as possible, these are not competitions
2. Breaking Glass is not a profit-making publication; we can’t pay for contributions nor do we charge for entries as many sites do
3. Copyright remains with the photographer; by submitting your photos you grant us permission to include them in the stated gallery and to promote this and related posts on the website and social media with credit
4. To take part, email 1 or 2 images per gallery to breakingglassmag@gmail.com
5. JPEG files please – portrait / landscape / square / colour / black & white are all fine, any style
6. You can send with or without watermark
7. Include your name, how you would like to be credited and links you would like us to include to your work, e.g. website / socials
8. Please ensure there is no offensive content and that you have permission to share images of people not taken in a public place or including minors
9. The ideas shown are not exclusive, feel free to interpret the subject matter as you like, as long as it’s clear how your picture fits the theme

Any questions, just ask!

Photos © 16 Beasley St Photography

15th January 2021

New Music – Home Counties | Teenage Fanclub | Galactapus | Gary Numan

New releases – Home Counties, Teenage Fanclub, Galactapus, Gary Numan

Home Counties – Modern Yuppies (single)

Heading into 2021 in style, Home Counties’ spiky new single is just what’s needed to blow the lockdown cobwebs away. Taking a funk-fuelled approach with synths aplenty, the track sees the band lean away from a guitar-led stance and crank up the dance hooks, following in the footsteps of a Talking Heads style stroll along the road to nowhere. Modern Yuppies, out today, is the first of two self-produced singles released via the mighty Alcopop! Records.

Vocalist Will Harrison comments, “Synths and drum machines were already something we were very keen to explore and 2020 provided us with an unexpected amount of free time to experiment. We dialled the disco influences up to the max and totally embraced that 70’s-cop-drama vibe for this pair of stand-alone singles. It feels like a bold declaration of who we are and it definitely gives a clearer taste of where we’re heading for our next EP”.

Home Counties

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Teenage Fanclub – Home (video)

After much anticipation, Teenage Fanclub have confirmed their return with studio album number 10. Endless Arcade is set for release on 5th March via their own label PeMa in the UK and on Merge in the US. As a taster, the band have shared a video for the album’s opening track Home. In true TF fashion, the song proffers mixed emotions, an oxymoron of cheerful melancholy and laid back sophistication. The album looks set to be a welcome relief to the trials of the current environment.

“We were very comfortable with each other in the studio,” says Norman. “I think some of the playing is a bit freer and looser than on recent albums. Dave and Euros’ playing is amazing, and Francis on drums is really swinging. The whole process of making this album was very invigorating. Everyone in the band contributed a lot and the song arrangements came together really quickly. Everything felt fresh.”

Endless Arcade can be pre-ordered here

Teenage Fanclub

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Galactapus – I Intend to Stay (album)

Steeped in mystery with masks to put the rest of us to shame, Galactapus offer up psych-punk with a twist of Euro-pop and costumes straight from the house of glam. Relatively new out of the blocks, this sounds like a project worth keeping an enigmatic eye on.

Their PR states, ‘Galactapus is a recording group who plays and sings space-aquatica punk music. They have asked that their personal backgrounds not be provided, but are excited that their first album I Intend To Stay might find the right ears to hear it.’

If you fall into that particular section of the Venn diagram that captures fans of Can, early Doors and Serge Gainsbourg, then I suspect you may just have the right ears – bend them back and take a trip to the curious world of Galactapus.

I Intend to Stay is available to purchase on Bandcamp

Galactapus

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Gary Numan – (single)

Last but by no means least, Gary Numan still holds a hugely loyal following after 40 years in the business. Pending new album Intruder is due for release on 21st May and the lead/title single and video were shared yesterday. Debuted to live audiences on 2019’s (R)evolution tour, Intruder is a strong track and already a firm fan favourite. The intro takes a more industrial than electronic stance until the instantly recognisable vocal kicks in and there’s a message behind the music too.

Numan explains, “Intruder looks at climate change from the planet’s point of view. If Earth could speak, and feel things the way we do, what would it say? How would it feel? The songs, for the most part, attempt to be that voice, or at least try to express what I believe the earth must feel at the moment. The planet sees us as its children now grown into callous selfishness, with a total disregard for it’s well being. It feels betrayed, hurt and ravaged. Disillusioned and heartbroken it is now fighting back. Essentially, it considers human kind to be a virus attacking the planet. Climate change is the undeniable sign of the Earth saying enough is enough, and finally doing what it needs to do to get rid of us, and explaining why it feels it has to do it.”

Intruder is available to pre-order here

Gary Numan

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Words by Siobhan

12th January 2021

Podcast – Keep Talking

Artwork for the Keep Talking podcast, orange background with an avatar picture in black of presenter Stewart Baxter

Keep Talking with Stewart Baxter

So many podcasts but which one to choose? One thing that ongoing lockdown has provided is a swarm of new podcasts on subjects great and small, as online becomes the one consistent media outlet. Another prevalent topic amidst the pandemic is the importance of good mental health; an issue that has been hijacked a little by the ‘powers’ that be, but shows its real champions in a place where people genuinely want to support each other without looking for a pay off.

Music and mental health are no strangers and, happily, the move towards this becoming a more positive link is on the rise. There’s a growing recognition that life in the industry can be tough and an understanding that sometimes artists need to take a break for their own wellbeing. Equally, many of those same artists are using their platform to raise awareness about mental health, encourage people to talk about it more and make it less of a taboo subject.

So where does all of this tie together? Launched last year, Keep Talking is a new podcast centred around live music, lockdown and mental health. Chatting about these subjects is presenter Stewart Baxter (drummer in LIFE) with a series of musicians and friends. In the latest episode going live today, Stewart talks to Jehnny Beth; singer, songwriter, actor, producer and presenter, Jehnny is probably best known for fronting Savages and as one half of duo John & Jehn. It’s a lovely conversation and so natural it feels as though you’re sitting at a table in a café overhearing two mates having a natter while your chamomile tea slowly goes cold. Starting with the constant conundrum of whether to be bluntly honest when someone asks how you are or just auto-reply, “I’m fine thanks”, it’s a remarkably uplifting listen as the pair speak about how music has helped them at difficult times in their lives, Jehnny’s early life growing up in a theatre, and the release of her debut album and book amidst the uncertainty of 2020.

Commenting on the new episode, Stewart says: “Back in August 2020 I had the pleasure of catching up with one of my biggest inspirations, Jehnny Beth. I first witnessed Jehnny performing with her band Savages on the Jools Holland TV show back in 2012, a performance that made the hairs on my neck stand up, and that I talked about for weeks, months and even years afterwards. I quickly realised that everything Jehnny went on to do was going to blow my mind, and the respect I have for her as an artist was only deepened when she invited my band LIFE to perform on the pilot of her new TV show ECHOES and I had a chance to meet her in person. Jehnny is a sweetheart, and a kind soul. An unparalleled artist who doesn’t ask for permission, or forgiveness.”

If you have an hour to spare and can’t face another repeated quiz show, turn off the TV and spend some time in the company of friends.

Supported by funding from Disabled Entrepreneurs UK, Soundsphere Magazine commissioned a locked-down Baxter to record a series of podcasts with the simple goal to re-connect, catch up, and check in with musicians and friends he has met along the way. Previous episodes feature Primal Scream’s Simone Marie Butler and Lee Kiernan of IDLES; future guests to be announced.

Words by Siobhan
Details and images via Wall of Sound PR

8th January 2021

Breaking Glass Magazine – January 2021

A stone bridge over a river with this slogan stencilled on in light blue paint ‘No. I only sleep with girls I’m in love with’.

Breaking Glass Magazine – January 2021

Cover image © Ryan Bell

In the first lockdown back in the spring of 2020, I spent most of my government allocated exercise periods out and about on my bike, rediscovering my local area of Wakefield. Just aside a nature reserve, I came across this particularly striking piece of street art.

Upon first glance the text reads like a dramatic plea of innocence from some local libertine, more Jeremy Kyle than Jean Luc, but a quick google proved it was indeed pinched from Godard’s 1963 film Le Petit Soldat.

I was suitably impressed and finding Wakefield’s ode to 1960’s French New-Wave Cinema was one of the more welcome of the many surprises 2020 brought.

Words and photo © Ryan Bell

Here’s to many more welcome surprises this year. We will be running more photo galleries as well as individual photographer features – get in touch if you have images or a project you’d like to share. Wishing you all the very best for 2021.

1st January 2021