INTERVIEW: Roxi Yung

INTERVIEW:

 

 

Roxi Yung

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I have just come away from interviewing the multi-talented…

production master Jay Picasso: someone who helps nurture young artists and is among the vanguard of studio names that are making big impression on music. It seems like he and Roxi Yung could work with one another in the future. Her inimitable style and eye-catching fashion seem primed for the mainstream. It is her voice that really gets in the head and contains so much soul, heart and immense passion. A definite character and a D.J.-cum-musician that has clear goals and definite sights: how long before Yung is a big name?! I got a chance to ask her about music and what it means to her; how important Drum and Bass is and what her career goals are. Sit back and gain an insight into a wonderful young talent unlike any other.

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Hey Roxi. How are you? How has your week been?

I’m very well thank you; tired and sweaty but that never changes. My week has been hectic and I feel as if there is no time for life but it’s all good.

I know you are moving out of Surrey and migrating to London. What compelled the move and are you looking forward to it?

Yes, I have already moved now and I’m currently living in Brixton in my new place whilst working in Sloane Square at Emma Hope Shoes. Moving to London has always been my goal and now I’ve finally done it; moved to the big-wide, shitty city.

Do you think there are enough opportunities outside of the cities for young artists or is it a struggle to get your voice heard?

Yes, if you are lacking confidence, marketing and the obvious tools to gig with then it is very hard to get your voice heard.

I am lucky because I went from Brockenhurst College; to A.C.M. in Guildford and now I’m in Central London so my networking is probably what helps me out the most. It’s who you know not what you know nowadays.

You seem like a very vibrant and colourful person: someone who embraces life and would have fitted in with the ‘60s Psychedelia movement. Your fashion and style stand out. Is imagery – and standing aside from the crowd – important and do you think there are too many musicians/artists that do stand out?

I think in a world like today where everybody is trying to make it within the creative industry. It’s hard to be unique and original, but if you stay true to what you love and you believe in what you’re doing, then others will do too and you will stand out. I wish I was born in the ‘60s hahaha. Life is too materialistic today I like wearing wacky clothes because I don’t like to conform to society wearing whatever you are ‘told’ to wear: plus, life is more fun when you add some colour!🙂

Tell me about your D.J. work. How did you get into that side of music?

I studied Musical Theatre for 2 years at Brockenhurst College in the New Forest because I thought I could gain confidence and further my singing and acting capabilities that way. After realising (that) in the back of class – I always had Drum and Bass playing in my headphones in the middle of a dance class – I realised that I wanted to learn how to actually MAKE the music, and D.J. it etc.

I’m not saying that I can already sing but I’m saying after 2 years of singing warm-ups, exercises and singing as a choir; I wanted to take on some new skills under my belt. I always find myself searching for famous D.J.s on YouTube and just watching through their D.J. set as if I was there with them.

Being on a stage in front of loads of people having a sick night is what I want to be doing. Good vibes and good music.

In terms of your D.J. work: what have been your favourite gigs the past year and which venues do you particularly like to play?

I haven’t actually played much yet because I’m getting over that whole ‘I’m not ready yet’ thing. I played at Notting Hill Arts Club on my birthday and all my mates came and said they had a great night. I just have to get over the fear of playing to complete strangers. Now I’m living in Brixton: what better place than to start actively D.J.-ing here?!

My favourite gigs that I’ve BEEN to have to include Boom Town; O.M.G., Congo Natty was ridiculous and Sam and I loved it so much that he’s just booked tickets to see Natty next month at Electric Brixton (which is now on the same road as my place – get in!). Along with that… every Macky Gee concert I go to is insane and I always enjoy My Nu Leng.

 

 

How do songs come together do you? Are they inspired by any one event (break-ups or personal struggles) and do you have to get into a particular mindset when creating music?

When I’m writing lyrics I understand that I am in the end creating a Drum and Bass or House track; although I try to write lyrics about things I actually care about: not referencing drugs, relationships etc. TOO much just because those are the things that are usually relatable in music. I’m aiming to write lyrics that are catchy but also more meaningful than sex ,drugs and Rock and Roll.

You are, in addition to being a D.J., a singer and musician. Can we expect any new material or solo E.P.s from you in the future perhaps?

Yes! It’s taken ages trying to get everyone together that volunteered to help me prepare my E.P.; especially when you’re working with friends because you forget to be productive and you end up just going to rave rather than working on your own material .

I will have an E.P. coming out soon that I am not putting a specific ‘genre’ on.

I take a lot of inspiration from all Drum and Bass in general plus I loveeeee Bass House 140B.P.M. etc. I like groovy ‘feel-good’ House music; then I also like a little Grime and Hip-Hop so I’m going to add influences from all to try and finish with some music that everyone can get into.

Most of your work takes you into Drum and Bass territory. What is about the genre that inspires you and which artists, either past or present, are especially important to you?

OK… what do I like about Drum and Bass?

I like Drum and Bass because it’s forever growing, forever changing; incorporating different kinds of instruments, emotions and pop culture into it.

You can party to Drum and Bass! You can add a flute or a guitar or some nasty bass-y drums – or some weird synths.

I think at high school, when everyone was listening to whatever was in the top 40 U.K., I got really bored. I started listening to the stuff I wanted to listen to – Flava D, Cause & Affect; Macky Gee, Nero and Dimension. This kind of music gave me a rush like whatever emotion I was feeling, as long as I had this music playing, I could get rid of my mood.

Your vocals are particularly unique and standout. Were there any heroines/heroes that motivated you to become a singer and how much do you have to work on your vocals as an artist?

Thank you!🙂 So when I was in year 4, I was in hospital for a while because I had an ‘infection on the brain’ apparently. My parents both had to quit work (etc.) to come and spend every night in the hospital with me for a few months. I wasn’t myself for ages: I couldn’t eat, sleep or rid a bike. Gradually, I started getting better. My mum and dad prayed every day and the doctors said their medication wasn’t working but somehow I was beginning to recover. I would say I’m more spiritual than religious but I definitely believe something is watching over me and my family.

(I come off topic very often).

My biggest inspirations (vocals) are Amy Winehouse all the way! Whitney Houston, Etta James; Ella Fitzgerald, Christina Aguilera (I never used to shut up singing Christina Aguilera; my mum used to go mental); Becky Hill, Miley Cyrus (purely because she’s lived her own life and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks); a little bit of Duffy. I usually like listening to jazzy, laid-back (but powerful); soulful, husky voices.

Guys: I loooove George Michael, Phil Collins; Sam Smith and MNEK. Good vibes!

Having provided vocals (this year) to Optikx’s Blue Soul: are you collaborating with anyone else this year and can you give us a sneak-peak into any other songs you will be appearing on?

So, I am collaborating a lot at the moment with Cassi! She’s incredible and it’s soooo refreshing to meet a girl who is not bitchy; not two-faced; genuinely interested in music and her career and can give me real advice and direction.

Plus, we literally agree on everything. If I sing a bad note we will literally look at each other with this weird face and that symbolised that we both knew it sucked.

I’m working with a lot of students from A.C.M. because I loved my time there and I can’t believe it’s over already – I’ve got some awesome friends that that I’m not going to lose touch with.

I got an email the other day from a really huge label that manages some of my favorite artist – I nearly fainted when I saw it.

I’m not telling anyone until something real happens with it, though – I always get my hopes up and then nothing happens with it haha.

 

 

As both a D.J. and artist, you must have goals and ambitions unfulfilled. Moving to London will be a big help but what is there left to tick off on the ‘to-do’ list for you?

What is necessary to begin my journey is basic marketing and promotions, business cards; a lot of gigs -putting myself out there. I need to take every opportunity I can get and accept that every time something goes wrong or could have gone better, it’s just a learning curve.

If you could turn back time and offer your younger self some advice, what would it be?

Don’t follow the crowd: believe in your fucking self not what everyone else wants you to do. Particular members or my family or friends have not always believed that having this sort of career will be able to provide me with a decent income to live etc. etc. They think I should be doing something serious you know: accountant, lawyer (I get it something where I’m definitely going to get dolla). But it’s my passion for music that will drive my career. I can’t deal with a 9-5 job!

Were you only allowed to take three songs and three albums to a desert island: which ones would you choose?

I’d probably take an Amy Winehouse album to make me feel at peace and to keep me sane. I’d take a UKF Drum and Bass album hopefully with a few old Jungle tunes on there. Then, if I’m honest, I might take a Frank Ocean album to let me chillax. I LOVE the song Shrine by Artificial Intelligence: I find it so emotionally experimental. it’s beautiful!

Many will see what you are doing and want to follow in your creative footsteps. For those reading or hesitant about embarking on such a leap: what advice would you offer them?

To put the work in and believe in yourself. To use the tools around you in every way you can. To never miss an opportunity because that opportunity you missed could have been your ticket to success.

Also… read the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. That book was thrown towards me by my dad and it genuinely has all of the answers on how to follow your dreams and become successful in life.

Finally, and for being a good egg, you can name any song you like; I’ll play it here…

Play Sonder – Cassi ft. Roxi Yung. My mum even likes this one🙂

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Follow Roxi Yung

 

Facebook:

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Twitter:

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Soundcloud:

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Instagram:

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INTERVIEW: Jay Picasso

INTERVIEW:

 

 

Jay Picasso

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MUSIC is often about those on the stage and behind the microphone…

but we do not often recognise the important and relevance of those who make the music come together. Studio figureheads and impresarios at huge record labels seem all about the money and figures whereas those who truly love music and the great underground musicians trying to put their sounds down are to be commended. Jay Picasso is the boss at Starcity Studios and has taken a lot of great artists under his wing and help shape and promote their music. One of the busiest men in the industry; I was lucky to catch a few moments as he explains his role and some of the artists that have come through his doors – who we should keep our eyes out for in the coming months.

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Hey Jay. How has your week been? What have you been getting up to?

Hey Sam; I’ve had a very productive week so far. I have mainly been preparing content for Wayne Woodward’s album release next month and preparing for Signal’s (single) Down release next month (and launch party performance next week).

Can you tell us a bit about what you do?

I am a music producer. I run a recording studio Starcity Studios (London) and write music for artists both signed and independent. I am also an artist manager.

You are the director at Starcity Studios. How did you become involved with the studio and what does it offer potential clients?

I founded the studio in 2012; starting out working with local talent and producing music for bands. Then, a few years down the line, my name had spread a little further than my local town and started to receive offers of work from labels and film production companies.

The studio offers the complete artist experience from writing and rehearsing, through to production and mastering.

At Starcity Studios, we generally do all the work needed to prepare artists’ music for radio and distribution…..top 40 stuff!

It’s a confusing world out there for artists so we try and make the process as straight-forward as possible.

 

 

The name Jay Picasso definitely carries huge weight with regards producing and mentoring. When did you decide you wanted to help musicians achieve their dreams and what is the most satisfying part of your job?

It was a few years ago that I realised I wanted to assist artists in their development. It was probably only a year ago that I actually found myself in the position to do so. The most satisfying part of my job is seeing the development of an artist who has had to overcome the struggles of staying committed to something that doesn’t initially pay.

Being an artist is a tough job. For most, it seems like an easy decision to become rich and famous. Truth is, for a creative person it can be a very challenging path to walk.

So that and witnessing an artist go from a follower of a genre to a pioneer of that genre. It doesn’t always happen so when it does it’s amazing to have been a part of.

Signal – who recently recorded at the studios – releases Down very soon. What was it like working with him and can you give us any cheeky secrets or inside information about Signal?

Ha. Big Sig! He doesn’t like that name but it’s my duty to tease him. Yes, all is well with the project. Signal’s music keeps going from strength to strength. Down is a record I feel very strongly about. It feels like the product of patience and perseverance. Signal is a very hard-working individual with a very strong head on his shoulders.

I really can’t say much at the moment; however, I will say that it was only this morning we discussed the possibility of an E.P./album. It’s early days and we don’t want to put out the right product out at the wrong time. But that might be worth asking Signal about….

It seemed like he had a blast in the studio. How do you help artists like Signal with their music and bring the best from them?

I find the most important about bringing the best out of an artist is to listen to them. Knowing what matters to them, knowing what they are about; what music they listen to and enjoy. I just try my best to make them feel comfortable and in the case of Signal and a few others, I have had the pleasure of becoming good friends with them. This is always great. It makes studio session more like hanging out. Just good fun!

 

 

Which musicians – who have come through the doors this year – have impressed you most and would recommend to us?

Wayne Woodward was one of many that walked through my door. He has come such a long way. I’m very excited for the album release. Blynx is another rapper that I work with who, again, has come such a long way. He has begun to release his music this year (which we started recording in 2012) and has already started to generate quite a buzz on his videos.

You produce a lot of varied musicians and genres but tend to focus around Dance, Grime and Electronic artists. What kind of music did you grow up listening to?

I grew up listening to everything.

My parents both are very musical and had me listening to most popular records of the ‘80s.  I remember lots and lots of Motown. I got heavily into R’n’B, Hip-Hop and Neo-Soul in the ‘90s and then, when I started producing, strangely enough, I really only listen to music from genres I don’t produce.

It’s relaxing. I listen to the charts and Pop records for my own development and being relevant. But it tends to make my mind tick over with ideas too much. So, to relax, I listen to Jazz and Soul music mainly.

Are there any underground treasures you would recommend we listen to? Any artists that are not quite at mainstream level but about to burst through?

There are so many that come to mind. The first would be a young and talented producer King Kev (@KingKevsDCBM). If there were ever a producer who has truly impressed me I’d have to say him. He is an amazing musician and ploughing through the game just like me! I know he has produced some ‘hits’. I’m pretty sure it’s only a matter of time before he is climbing the charts.

Chang (@ChanyUK); a singer-songwriter working alongside producer Melodic Beats. They have some serious R’n’B that is just waiting to blow! I know they are working very hard at the moment.

Deamer (@DeamerArtist; London rapper from south-side of the bridge. Very talented young man. Lots of deep and controversial content; all about the mixtapes.  Deamer has lyrics for days!

 

 

You are a BRIT School graduate and alumni.  What was that experience like and do you think it is the premier birthplace of our up-and-coming musicians?

It was definitely a good start. I wouldn’t be who I am today or where I am today without the education and training I received at BRIT. These days, however, I feel talent is everywhere. Although attending the BRIT or any performing arts school might assist someone with their musical careers it’s not enough to make it. You have to have more than education. You need real raw talent and a motivation to succeed.

Skepta recently walked away with the Mercury Prize. What was your reaction to that and do you see Grime and Hip-Hop becoming more integrated into mainstream music – greater widespread acceptance, perhaps?

Skepta deserved it! It was good to read about! Honestly, yes I believe its Grime and Hip-Hop are becoming wider spread. Sometimes, however, I believe that wider spread can also mean watered down. Being acceptable in musical terms really means ‘popular’, which in my opinion kind of defeats the object of such a musical style. However, with production in the right hands, ‘watered down’ becomes ‘commercial’ and commercial allows more people to accept and hear. So, In a very long-winded way, what’s happening to the Hip-Hop and Grime scene is great. I just hope that the genres maintain their integrity.

The mainstream is still overrun and infiltrated by Indie bands and rather bland Pop. Do you think there needs to be a shake-up or do you feel it will become more varied and all-inclusive in future years?

I don’t think so. I think there is so much variety of acts these days that the ‘mainstream’ has always made itself superior to.

Although these acts are full of talent and often new fresh music – the problem they will always face in the U.K. is that there is only ONE chart for all music to compete in.

This simply means that if you specialise in genres like Hip-Hop or Grime, you will be directly competing against the Adeles of the industry for sales. In the U.S., they have a chart for each genre of music. Now although they are much bigger – with many more artist competing for chart positions – this alone means each artist creating a specific genre of music is competing against others within the same genre – makes things a little smoother in my opinion.

 

Being based out of London: do you feel it is the best place in the world for great new music? Has London become the go-to city for the freshest and most original artists?

Haha. Yes and no! London is a bursting scene. Something is always happening. Someone is always performing! It’s great! The only thing I would say is that the world has gotten a lot smaller now because of the Internet and this means artists and talent from all over the world can collaborate at the click of a button and be heard from the simplest of YouTube uploads. Lastly, people love what’s new and people what’s love different. You can find new and different anywhere in world. London just so happens to attracts many of those people.

What does the rest of the year hold for you? Any insight into the artists you’ll be working with?

Lots of release dates; lots of studio hours; lots of shows and hopefully lots of new music available. All the artists I am working closely with have some kind of strategy in place for the next few months. I personally like to have plans made up until Christmas for each of them. We will then take a little break and assess how to proceed in the New Year.

For any producers and creatives that are tempted to follow in your footsteps: what advice would you offer about getting started and making moves in the industry?

Get started now! In my eyes, I’m still on a long road towards where I want to be. Each month/year brings me a step closer but it’s important to know that progress is progress.

Some months can be longer than others but always keep moving towards where you want to be. On a practical note: anyone serious on becoming a producer or manager; work with new talent. Commit yourself to at least once project per year which doesn’t require payment. I find that this often means you’re working towards something you believe in and are seriously passionate about. Prepare for more work than you expect and keep in mind that for the majority of people trying to make it in this industry; it’s a slow game with some real rewarding moments. Lastly, and obviously: yes it can pay huge sums of money. But expect very little to start and know that like anyone else you will have to earn your wage, your promotion and your pension.

Finally, and for being a good sport, you can select any song (other than a Starcity artist as I’ll include one) and I’ll play it here…

That’s probably the hardest question you have asked. However, this song is one I heard a month or so ago, an artist from the U.K. and clearly working with some very talented producers…..

Thabo… World War Free

 

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Follow Jay Picasso (Starcity Studios)

Official:

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FEATURE: The Legends Are Mortal: 10 Dissapointing Follow-Up Albums

FEATURE:

 

The Legends Are Mortal:

 

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10 Dissapointing Follow-Up Albums

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The bands and artists who create fine work often have the unenviable task of following it up. The pressure can be immense – critical expectations and fans’ eyes on you – and many fail to fulfil the hype and keep the pressure on. It happens to the best musicians so I have been looking at some of the high-profile albums that have caused critics to screw up their faces and ink-up their red pens. It can be hard following on from such a celebrated album and creating something as important and strong. From Lady Gaga to The Strokes: a peek into the bands/artists who created sensational albums and then took their foot off the gas pedal.

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The BeatlesLet It Be

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There is never a truly bad album in the cannon of Liverpool’s finest, The Beatles. Not only one of the greatest bands ever to have lived: they inspired so many other artists to follow them and become more daring with music. Throughout their career you can chart the various phases and how their music evolved. By 1968 – following their eponymous album and its strains – there was hostility in the group. Various members leaving and coming back – Ringo particularly unhappy as a Beatle – many felt ‘The White Album’ would be their final call. Although Abbey Road was the final studio album recorded: Let It Be was the final release – recorded just before Abbey Road – and has an appropriate amount of fatigue and tension. Not as gleaming, wondrous and memorable as their previous work: band tensions and the omnipresence of Yoko Ono perhaps added to the problem. A few classic cuts emerged – including McCartney’s title track and The Long and Winding Road – but by and large, it was a patchy effort. The band did rectify things for their swansong but Let It Be is the product of a group losing their brotherhood and connection in music – only bringing some of their genius to the album.

 

OasisBe Here Now

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No band in the 1990s had such respect, acclaim and importance as Oasis. Definitely Maybe was their defining debut and gave the world such instant classics as Live Forever and Cigarettes & Alcohol. That record brought the Manchester band to prominence and showed they were arbiters of the modern Rock revolution – proper lads who knew how to pen a great tune and not give a f**k about anything. (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? Arrived in 1995 – the year after their debut – and can be argued to be a better record. More emotional depth and tenderness can be found: plenty of rock-solid anthems nestling alongside. No matter what your views on both albums there is a unanimous feeling towards (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?: one of the best albums of the 1990s and a natural continuation from a truly world-changing band. Be Here Now was under immense pressure to complete a staggering 1-2-3 and failed to do so. If the first two albums from Oasis were booze-tinged with a bit of marijuana: Be Here Now is a cocaine album from start to finish. Bravado, braggadocio and arrogance can be heard in every number – Oasis were never sort of self-confidence. If (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? suggested a call-to-arms and need for unity: Be Here Now was that message fed through a bulhorn. Songs went on too long – most of the tracks are over five minutes in length; four exceeded the seven-minute mark – and the production was too bland to do the finer numbers justice. Stand By Me could easily rank alongside the finest Oasis compositions – although that is essentially chorus-heavy and lacks depth – but it is the highlight from an otherwise average album. It was the fastest-selling British album at the time and the popularity and fond reviews bowed to public expectation. In hindsight, many have reassessed their views and recognise Be Here Now as the point where Oasis started to show cracks.

 

The Stone RosesSecond Coming

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It is hard to think of an album that was as celebrated and revered as The Stones Roses’ debut masterpiece,  Bringing together elements of the rave culture and sparkling gems of ‘60s Pop: the album captivated music lovers in 1989 and introduced one of the most influential bands of the time. Critical reception was positive when the album was released yet The Stone Roses has gained more retrospective acclaim and respect. Influencing so many contemporaries and still sounding fresh today. Hopes were high for their follow-up but several factors contributed to the sense of disappointment. A five-and-a-half year gap between albums was one; the fact the band withdrew from arena touring for most of that time was another. Second Coming boasts typical; funky workouts and tribal grooves but released in the Britpop era and it seems out-of-place. Not capturing the same imagination, zeitgeist-defining wonder of their debut: it is a record with occasional flashes but not much else. Not quite a disaster but not an album that you’d readily associate with one of Britain’s best groups. New material has surfaced the last year which gives hope of a third album from The Stone Roses – that will be exciting to see.

 

Michael JacksonBad

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Following the tremendous success and celebration of Thriller: many artists would crumble under that pressure and be unable to live up to that hype. Thriller has gone on to become the biggest-selling album ever and rightfully so. Its standout title track – and THAT amazing video – sits naturally alongside street-beat dramas Beat It and the slinky anxieties of Billie Jean. Throw in Human Nature and Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ and you have a legendary album by anyone’s standards. Bad arrived five years after Thriller and gained plenty of positive reviews from critics. There are those that feel Bad is less filler-heavy than Thriller and a more solid effort. That is true but Bad contains fewer true epics and standouts; its production is a little theatrical and its sounds treading the same ground as Jackson’s previous work. Bad is only a let-down in terms of Jackson’s standards – compared to any other musician it is a triumphant and sensational work. Dirty Diana and Smooth Criminal are two of Jackson’s best-known tracks and it is hard to fault his confidence and songwriting. What Bad misses is the same drama and accusation as Thriller. Leave Me Alone is the closest thing to a Billie Jean or Beat It – something Jackson would remedy on the remarkable Dangerous.

 

Terence Trent D’ArbyNeither Fish Nor Flesh

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At one point the British media were touted Terrence Trent D’Arby as the next Prince: in fact, the man himself was keen to make those comparisons and big himself up to the hills. His debut, Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby, gets near to fulfilling those lofty ambitions. Sign Your Name and Wishing Well are noted as true classics and songs, once heard, are very hard to forget. If D’Arby was claiming to be the most important artist/album-maker as The Beatles/Sgt. Pepper’s’ then some of that ego was fed into some remarkable songs. Two years after his debut and Neither Fish Not Flesh is a little too ambitious and some of its aims do not fully hit the mark. Middle East strings and an even more varied palette means the songs are a little too wide-reaching and unfocused. Neither Fish Nor Flesh does not contain the same instancy and consistency of its forefather. Perhaps pretentious in places and a shadow of the debut: D’Arby still proved he was worthy of close investigation; a musician that could never be boring or terrible. His 1993 album Symphony or Damn regained some of the command and brilliance of Introducing’ but Neither Fish Nor Flesh struggled to gain commercial foothold – the record company rejected it and compelled D’Arby to change his name to Sanandra Maitreya.

 

Primal ScreamGive Out But Don’t Give Up

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Like The Stone Roses; Primal Scream were another band that swung into music with an exceptional album and failed to keep that momentum going. To be fair, the Scottish band was on album number three by the time Screamadelica arrived. Not only (did that album) transcend the time and places it was recorded but ranks as one of the finest records from the 1990s. Kaleidoscopic, colourful and trippy: nobody I know has a bad way to say about the album. You hear songs like Movin’ On Up and Loaded and surrender to their charms and primal powers. Given the legacy and love that album cemented: one would hope its follow-up would at least contain some of the brilliance and sound of its predecessor. Give Out But Don’t Give Up draws its influence from classic Rock and Blues – Screamadelica took from Psychedelia and glistened because of it. Not only did Give Out’ lack the passion, flair and variegation of Screamadelica: it sounded like so many other bands at the time (1994). Rocks is the track we all associate with Give Out But Don’t Give Up yet how many other songs from that album will you be able to name? Primal Scream are still recording today but missed a trick with Give Out But Don’t Give Up. Too disciplined and well-mannered and missing that experimental touch: it is a record worth some attention but not one you will come back to time and time again.

 

Bob DylanSelf Portrait

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Bob Dylan’s career is so long and varied it is challenging keeping up – few artists are as prolific and surprising (even in his 70s). Blonde on Blonde arrived in 1966 and remains one of Dylan’s greatest achievements; following that, the marvellous John Wesley Harding arrived the year after. Nashville Skyline came out in 1969 and the political landscape had changed dramatic. The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and riots broke out in some major cities. Richard Nixon was sworn in as the new U.S. President (in 1969) and a great deal of hostility and tension ran throughout the nation. Dylan, renowned for his political statements and of-the-moment commentary, used Nashville Skyline to look at positivity and love – a dramatic commercial shift that was warmly received by critics and showed how nimble Dylan was. Given the times, a 1970 album from Bob Dylan (one hopes) contain political references and a reflection of the times. Self Portrait is a double-album of well-known songs and Dylan originals. Not since his debut album has Dylan received such lukewarm reviews. Upon the release of Self Portrait, many assumed Dylan to be a spent force. If the ‘60s had killed The Beatles then Dylan looked like following them. A few half-decent songs can be found but largely it is a forgettable record that ranks among the worst albums from Dylan’s (largely wonderful) career.

 

The StrokesRoom on Fire

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Like their British counterparts The Libertines, The Strokes are a band that capture the youthful Punk energy of the ‘70s masters and are easily capable of transfixing the listener with their cool, clout and swaggering bravado. Whereas The Libertines follow-up to Up the Bracket (their eponymous debut) was a phenomenal work that kept their legacy burning – although squabbles and fractions in the band meant it was not as meaningful and strong – The Strokes struggled to follow Is This It with anything as impactful. Their debut was lauded as one of the finest (debuts) ever. Simple, snarling and imbued with Punk bliss: music of the highest order a completely assured and perfect introduction. Critical favourites and darlings of the scene in 2001: its 2003 follow-up, Room on Fire, was always going to be a disappointment. In its own terms – and compared to any other band out there – it would have been a fantastic success and incredible achievement. Is This It was so singular, peerless and joyous, it would be have been near-impossible equalling it. The Strokes seemed to retread their debut on some of the songs and there is a sense of truly to repackage an album rather than create a progressive step and fresh-sounding work.

 

Lady GagaBorn This Way

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Love or hate her; you cannot deny how much of an impact Lady Gaga has made on Pop music and what a unique force of nature she is. A U.S. version of Björk perhaps: there is eccentricity and outlandish fashion choices but great music to back it all up – a million miles away from Björk’s sound, mind you. Joanne is her latest album out in a few weeks and will be fondly received by her devotees. If we look back at her first two albums – The Fame and The Fame Monster – one can find plenty of superbly-crafted Pop tunes and personality reigning from every note. They were records that introduced Gaga and just how good she was. Born This Way gathered plenty of praise but like Artpop (its follow-up) it seemed a little rushed and overly-excessive. Excessiveness and bloating defined Lady Gaga’s work but nothing on Born This Way rang as clear and proud as on The Fame Monster, let’s say. It is another case of negative-when-compared-with-the-rest-of-the-world on Born This Way. So far, the U.S. singer has not rereleased a poor album but Born This Way feels too desperate to please and perhaps keen to capture quick attention after The Fame Monster – perhaps some more time in the studio would have benefited it. Some critics noted the persistent sloganeering and strong-in-the-face-of-adversity tropes – a lack of subtlety and lyrical maturity perhaps. The sharp and body-rocking beats and moves were all there but Born This Way follows too close to her early work to provide a necessary evolution.

 

Led ZeppelinPresence

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It seems appalling to put the words ‘Led Zeppelin’ and ‘disappointing’ into the same article. The truth of the matter is Led Zeppelin are as mortal as anyone. 1976’s Presence was certified triple-platinum but is Led Zeppelin’s slowest-selling album and was received with mixed reviews. Perhaps it would have fared okay had it not followed the titanic, world-conquering beast that is Physical Graffiti. That double-album is perhaps one of the grandest statements in all of Rock history – the best Led Zeppelin album in a career that is not short of genius albums. Lead Robert Plant suffered a serious car accident the year before Prescene’s recording and was still recuperating at the time – Jimmy Page deemed the album the most important of the band’s career. Able to face turmoil and obstacles and still sound defiant: this attitude, connection and rebellion swam right the way through Presence. What was missing was the epic anthems and sheer impunity. The band sound almost forced and lifeless throughout an album that betrays their true potential and legacy. Nobody’s Fault But Mine is the album standout and could have easily replaced some of the weaker moments on Physical Graffiti – the fact that album is so astonishing despite poorer efforts says it all. Presence found Jimmy Page exerting more creative control and the band did not tour the album extensively. Not a write-off or terrible album: it is one you only dip into rather than truly absorb and fall in love with.

INTERVIEW: Liz Loughrey

INTERVIEW:

 

 

Liz Loughrey

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RISE Up! is a single that has been hotly anticipated and promoted by…

Toronto-based artist, Liz Loughrey. From a nation (Canada) that has provided so many of today’s best new artists; I am in no shock to find Loughrey being celebrated and creating serious buzz. Her voice has a silkiness and sweetness; a sexiness and strength – a combination few of her peers possess. Not only is Loughrey releasing Rise Up! as a single: she is popularising and touring the #RiseUpMovement. That sees her tour schools and provides inspiration videos and stories. It has captured imaginations already and seems like it can be franchised to other nations and other sectors of society. Liz Loughrey is clearly above the average musician: someone who gives back to the people and is one of the most mature and fascinating young women in music. All of this given; I was super-keen to talk with her and what we can expect from her new single and the months ahead.

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Hey Liz.  How are you? How has your week been?

Great thanks; spending a few weeks making music in L.A.!

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

Hey, I’m Liz. I’m a singer-songwriter from Toronto and I hope to make people feel united when they hear my sound. I’m half-Trinidadian and half-Irish.. so the last name is pronounced lock-ree (common misconception.)

I am interested in Rise Up! You will be featuring stories and photos from amazing people rising up in their communities. What inspired that idea and where about are you taking the concept in terms of towns and cities?

We turn on the news and are constantly bombarded with negativity and so it’s easy to feel powerless but the #RiseUpMovement is about spreading the message that we can do amazing things when we commit to positivity. The #RiseUpMovement is worldwide! There are people rising up in communities all over the world and the goal is to share as many of these positive stories as possible.

 

Your first Rise Up! talk occurred a few days ago. What was the reaction like from the school you visited?

Seeing the kids engage with the workshop was so encouraging. They were dancing, singing and even getting up in front of the school to tell their peers how they want to better their community. Seeing at-risk youths overcoming their fears of public speaking in that moment was really incredible.

Do you think young musicians have a duty to do more in communities and use their voice to help others?

I don’t think that duty is exclusive to young musicians: I think it extends to everyone. We have to do more because we can. I think young musicians have the unique opportunity to engage the world in that message through music and we should make better use of that.

Your latest single, Rise Up!, is out very soon. What can you tell us about it and the influence behind the song?

I’m so excited! I don’t think I had any idea how important this message was when I was writing this song in Miami. I didn’t write it so that I could start a movement or be an activist but that’s what this single has become for me. It has an island vibe: that’s my Trini. roots right there!

 

You are a classically-trained vocalist and one of the most original voices out there. When was the moment you decided you wanted to pursue music and have there been any challenges along the way?

I grew up hearing my mom sing in church; that’s sparked an early interest for me. There are ups and downs in pursuing your dream just like with anything in life. But the highs outweigh the lows, and one door always leads to the next.

When you sing, as you have said, people sit up and take notice. That is a rare power for any singer. Which artists have influenced you most and gone into that stunning voice?

I’ve learned so much from listening to the greats. Etta James, Billie Holiday; Amy Winehouse and Sade just to name a few.

You seem (if you don’t mind me saying) quite mature and vintage compared to your peers – more suited to life as a ‘50s Jazz singer, perhaps? Have you always had a fascination for older artists and how influential were your parents in that?

I’ll consider that a compliment🙂 I always say I was born in the wrong era. As I’ve gotten older my fascination with powerful female artists from days gone by has grown. Because now I feel like I understand. Now that I’ve known both love and heartbreak. Their sound, their stories, their style… so much authenticity to be inspired by.

After Rise Up! is released, what can we expect in the next few months? Tour dates or any new material afoot?

After the Rise Up! workshops wrap up I’ll be working on my E.P. and releasing a few more singles! I sense a few U.K. shows in the near-future too!

Toronto is one of my favourite cities for music (where you hail). Do you think the city gets the recognition it deserves outside of North America or is a place many music lovers are not aware of?

Toronto is taking the world by storm! You know those guys Drake and The Weeknd… they really paved the way for this generation of musicians coming out of the city.

I actually think other countries give Toronto more credit for its art than we give ourselves.

In terms of the local talent: who would you recommend people investigate?

So many gems! Here are a few of my faves:

If you want to get heavy, check the band Sate; if you’re into poetry check Mustafa the Poet

and local to the county: Montreal native Kaytranada will always be a fave.

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Your music seems to be influenced by some British acts and has quite an anglicised aspect. Are you a big fan of British music and can we see you perform over here anytime soon?

British music is the best! Huge fan of the sound and the energy there in general; definitely going to be spending some time there in the coming months! I’ll keep you posted on show dates!

Looking at your social media posts, you seem like a positive person keen to give energy to others. As a young woman who has a busy career: where do you find that energy and how do you remain so positive?

It’s my greatest joy as an artist to reach people in a personal and positive way. It’s much more draining to be negative so positivity comes naturally most of the time. Nice to hear that’s reflected on my social media sites🙂

There will be young artists looking at your rise and wanting to follow in your footsteps. What advice would you offer them?

Sometimes you’ll have to fight for your vision so make sure that vision is clear and surround yourself with people who get it. Also, never get too comfortable. Bowie said it best: “As soon as you feel like your feet can touch the ground, go deeper”.

Finally, and for being a good egg, you can name any song you like (not one of yours as I’ll include that); I’ll play it here…

Currently playing as I write this: Estelle – Come Over

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Follow Liz Loughrey

Official:

http://www.lizloughrey.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/LizLoughrey/?fref=ts

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/lizloughrey

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/lizloughrey/

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheLizLoughrey

Soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/lizloughrey

FEATURE: The September Playlist: Vol. 5

FEATURE:

 

Musicmusings THE SEPTEMBER PLAYLIST andsuch vol. 05 

The September Playlist: Vol. 5

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NOT only is there a spate of brilliant…

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new songs and albums out now – and the coming weeks – but some of the old masters have brought out work. David Bowie’s Who Can I Be Now? collates his 1974-‘6 work – showing the shift between Young Americans and Diamond Dogs – during his ‘American Phase’ and the brilliance and transitions of his work. Nirvana’s Nevermind and Primal Scream’s Screamadelica celebrate 25 years of existence; Weezer’s Pinkerton is 20 today. Beck has decided to release his back catalogue on vinyl and we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix arriving in London. In terms of new music coming through – cuts from Dirty Projectors, Emilie Sande and Fenech-Soler are all included – plus the artists releasing albums in the coming days (or last week) and a lot of sonic goodies. Sit back and enjoy September’s 5th Playlist.

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The Old Guard

 

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Weezer El Scorcho

 

 

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Primal ScreamMovin’ on Up

 

 

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Nirvana Lithium

 

 

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Jimi HendrixFreedom (Live)

 

 

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Beck Loser

 

 

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David BowieYoung Americans

 

 

The New Breed

 

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WarpaintWhiteout

 

 

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Daft Punk and The WeekndStarboy

 

 

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Tor MillerAll Fall Down

 

 

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Hamilton Leithauser + RostamIn a Black Out

 

 

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Deap VallyGonnawanna

 

 

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Boxed InJist

 

 

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Dirty Projectors Keep Your Name

 

 

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The Slow RevoltLean

 

 

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Will Joseph CookSweet Dreamer

 

 

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How to Dress WellCan’t You Tell

 

 

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Billy Bragg and Joe HenryGentle on My Mind

 

 

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Merchandise Lonesome Sound

 

 

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MarillionThe New Kings

 

 

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TrentemøllerRedefine 

 

 

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PassengerWhen We Were Young

 

 

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Fenech-SolerKaleidoscope

 

 

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Slaves (ft. Mike D.)Consume or be Consumed

 

 

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Malone (ft. Ismael Sankara)Dream Big [Remix]

 

 

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Gold ComplexBackbone

 

 

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Emelie Sande Hurts

 

 

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ShamirTryna Survive

 

 

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DZ Deathrays Pollyanna

 

 

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Bloc Party Stunt Queen

 

 

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Green DayRevolution Radio

 

 

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Joan as Policewoman (ft. Benjamin Lazar Davis) Broke Me In Two

 

 

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DayaSit Still, Look Pretty

 

 

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Bon Iver –  10 d E A T h b R E a s T

 

 

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Craig David & SigalaAin’t Giving Up

 

 

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The Divine ComedyThe Pact

 

 

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MousesHollywood

 

 

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HindsBamboo

 

 

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Raf Rundell – Right Time

 

 

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Beach BabyAtom Bomb

 

 

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It is going to be exciting seeing what else the month offers and the singles that will arrive. October is looming and there are some wonderful albums in the pipeline. I shall keep you abreast of them, but for now, re-enjoy the gems of September and all the awesome music about. The nights are getting cooler and music’s warm glow is something we all need to embrace. Keep your attentions set to the music press as some very notable bands are preparing to unveil new albums in the next weeks.

E.P. REVIEW: FloodHounds – Look What You’ve Started

E.P. REVIEW:

 

FloodHounds

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Aimee Catt

 

Look What You’ve Started

 

9.5/10

 

 

RELEASED:
16th September, 2016

GENRES:
Blues-Rock; Alternative; Rock ‘n’ Roll

ORIGIN:

Sheffield, U.K.

The E.P. Look What You’ve Started is available at:

https://play.spotify.com/album/5vohM1D0qs36jqxLqfc18p

TRACKLISTING:

A&E9.5

State of Mind9.4

The Fear9.5

Soulmates to Cellmates – 9.5

End of the Road 9.4

Greatest Mistake 9.4

DOWNLOAD:

A&E; The Fear; Soulmates to Cellmates

STANDOUT TRACK:

Soulmates to Cellmates

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THERE is a lot to recommend about my featured band…

who are looking to the future – having been playing for many years; there is no sign they are ready to call time. Before I come to them, it is worth looking at bands from Sheffield (and Yorkshire; they hail from here) and the Indie-Rock genre; looking at groups who manage to survive and succeed when changing their membership. At the start of last month, it was Yorkshire Day: a chance to celebrate everything about the county. Whether you consider it God’s County or a part of the world rather gentle and scenic: you cannot deny how many great bands have come out of Yorkshire. I have mooted this point before (many times) but we have misconceptions about Yorkshire. Often looking at the likes of Alan Bennett as the archetypal symbol of the county: images of cardigans, soothing narratives and a nice cup of tea always come to the fore. You can apply the same stereotypes to any county and would be overlooking the reality. Yorkshire is a huge county with many distinct areas and people: those who live in Leeds are distinct from those in Harrogate; Sheffield is separate from York. The same distinctions should be made with regards music – such a varied and busy area for wonderful talent. If you put a cursory search through Google – ‘the best Yorkshire bands of 2016 – the results would be a little scarse and limited – why are there not polls and articles dedicated to this type of things? Apply the same question and replace ‘Yorkshire’ with ‘London’ or ‘Los Angeles’ and you’d have ample reading material – so why does Yorkshire get overlooked?

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It is an interesting question that has never been adequately answered. The big cities – in terms of legacy and media glare – get the kudos and attention whilst Yorkshire has to bubble beneath the surface. ‘Older’ bands Sister of Mercy, Soft Cell and Embrace come from Yorkshire: The Long Blondes, Pulp and Cribs represent different parts of Yorkshire – Sheffield (Pulp and The Long Blondes) and Wakefield. Arctic Monkeys are perhaps the most synonymous and famous Yorkshire band at the moment but there are plenty of terrific unsigned and away-from-the-mainstream artists that deserve credit. There will be local journalists (in Yorkshire) that are going to gigs and discovering fantastic bands. I feel there needs to be more exposure and blogs dedicated to the best and brightest artists in Yorkshire. I have been trying to find comprehensive lists that point me in the direction of some wonderful Yorkshire musicians – you have to go by instinct and haphazard fortune. Billie Marten is a 17-year-old prodigy whose voice capture the heart and is one of the most beautiful you will hear – showing Yorkshire is more than bands, Rock and a certain image. It is impossible to unearth every great Yorkshire musician but cracking the surface is needed – ensuring we do not miss out on some terrific music.

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FloodHounds are a band I have reviewed before and find their music to be among the most interesting and energetic. Before I raise some new points, looking at the band’s previous work, I will introduce them to you:

Jack Flynn – Guitar/Vocals

Rhys Owen – Bass/Vocals

Lauren Greaves – Drums

 “FloodHounds are a fast-paced 3-piece British indie-rock band from Sheffield – Layered in Blues.

FloodHounds’ “gloriously guitar-heavy rock,” takes you from British Indie/Rock to raw American Blues and hits you like a British Black Keys, crossed with The Rolling Stones, fed on a diet rich in Band of Skulls, The White Stripes, Blur and Kasabian.

Floodhounds were picked (out of 1,200 unsigned bands who applied) to play at Sheffield’s iconic Leadmill.
They join an exciting Tramlines Saturday 2015 line up, headed by Fat White Family.
http://www.tramlines.org.uk/lineup/floodhounds
BARE BONES, the title track of the band’s second EP currently streaming on Soundcloud; has attracted Radio play from BBC INTRODUCING Sheffield, Sheffield Live and a host of other local/online radio shows around Europe and America.

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A video of the band recording of “Bare Bones” at Sheffield’s iconic 2FlyStudios is atyoutu.be/24xT906F1kU.
Following storming local gigs at the Rocking Chair and Plug Sheffield (supporting October Drift) and strong positive reviews in the local music press, FloodHounds are now playing further afield. Some successful London gigs in Camden and Shoreditch in April and supporting DJ sets by the likes of Gus from alt-J at 229 The Venue’s Mayday Festival.

The band’s new 3-piece incarnation emerged in late 2014, when founder members Jack Flynn – the vocalist, guitarist, songwriter of the band – and bass player Rhys Owens, were joined by drummer Lauren Greaves.

There is an honesty and reality to the band that is missing from a lot of their contemporaries. So many bands are about image and ego; trying to be as exposed as possible in an attempt to side-step the issue their music is not that strong or original. There are enough artists that do not distinguish themselves enough and are all talk and no action. FloodHounds get on with music and are as raw and open as you’d imagine. They are three normal (are extremely talented) musicians that do not need to create waves of hyperbole and self-hype to get people talking. Few bands are capable of surprising and existing after several years – the demands and hardships of the industry scare many off – and have evolved since their formation. Lauren Greaves (drums) joined the band in late-2014 and has added new relevance and inspiration to FloodHounds.

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Groups that bring in new members or shift their members often face losing solidity, consistency and quality. I have seen many artists slim-down or replace members and their music has suffered as a result. It can be challenging and risky introducing new musicians and changing dynamics, but in the case of FloodHounds, it has enhanced and benefited their music. Since late-2014, FloodHounds have been building their fan-base and ensuring they keep putting out great material. Critics and radio stations have highlighted their Indie-Rock, guitar-heavy sounds that are a nice blend of familiar and fresh. They are inspired by everyone from The White Stripes and The Rolling Stones: unifying Blues and Rock from ‘90s U.S. and ‘60s U.K. By mixing America and Britain; splicing genres and styles together: their music has that depth, variation and quality. Even though they have hints of others, you get plenty of unique perspective and originality from the Sheffield band. It seems like there is a little bit of a gap left since the ‘brief hiatus’ of Royal Blood. I know I have used the Brighton two-piece as an example before – they are recording new material but been off the scene a little while now.

PHOTO CREDIT: BACKSTAGE:UK

It is always risky coming in strong and creating a solid and impressive debut album: leaving too big a gap after that risk the energy and fascination waning; many will go looking for other bands. Little snippets the duo have released (since their debut) suggest their sophomore L.P. is going to be titan, mighty and meaty. In the meantime – assuming they put something out in the next year – I have been looking for bands to fill that void. FloodHounds have a little bit of Royal Blood to them but are more varied and everyman in a sense – Royal Blood a little grittier, harder and straight-out-Rock. As I listen to the radio of a day – 6 Music is my drug of choice – you hear a few promising bands but not many that are straight-ahead Rock. Too many synths. and introspection; gloominess and a lack of directness. It is frustrating hearing artists like this – you need some but it seems like radio playlists are packed full of them. One yearns for something driving, spikier, and let’s face it, more interesting. Royal Blood are just one example of what we need more of in music: musicians that know how to bring something biting and body-moving to music but keep it personal, disciplined and universal. FloodHounds are masterful when it comes to crafting loveable anthems and music that gets straight into the head – free from tinsel and distractions of many of today’s artists. A good old-fashioned band who know how to rock and keep it simple but compelling. Look What You’ve Started follows from their previous work and adds new themes and urgency. It seems, like all great and eager bands, they are at their peak and suggest even better are just around the corner. The E.P. is picking up plenty of appreciation and love. The six-track E.P. is impressive with its emotional balance and standout cuts – the video to Soulmates to Cellmates is gathering particularly strong acclaim.

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The trio has released two E.P.s previously and is a band who always capture the spirit and energy of live performances in their collections. Cuts like Motivation and The Fall from their eponymous debut rattled with urgency and a wonderful band performance. Always tough, spirited and electric: a wonderful duo of songs that defined the E.P. and brimmed over with life and evocativeness. Moving Pictures had that swagger and confident vocal. The hero was wearing out his mind (“Trying to keep up with you”) and it had that spirit and defiance of the Britpop era. Acts like Oasis came to mind and one was transported right back to the heydey of their rivalry with Blur – maybe shades of Arctic Monkeys creeping in. Bare Bones (E.P.) followed a couple of years after their debut and contained more variation and threads. It is hard to pin down but you can sense a little more confidence and assuredness in the music. The compositions are more nuanced and the production a little more polished – really bringing the best from the music. In both E.P.s, the gang display clear influences yet very much have their own voice and sound. The three-track E.P.s were tight and memorable and every song compelled you to come back and reinvestigate. If you look at Look What You’ve Started and it is a six-track E.P. that displays yet more confidence from the band. Having toured a lot and picked up new skill (and inspiration) on the road: FloodHounds bring all this into the new work and expand their sound once more. You get little tastes of Oasis, Arctic Monkeys and The White Stripes but they are less obvious and the band is embracing their own voices more. Keeping the Blues-Rock template strong and carrying on from where their previous E.P.s left off – their most solid, variegated and complete work to date. You immerse yourself in the music and notice a distinct skin and personality in each song. Unlike Bare Bones and FloodHounds, one senses more distinction between the tracks and the trio seem a lot closer and more adventurous with the compositions and lyrics. Perhaps the confidence and faith in the ranks are high but FloodHounds are at their peak right now and seem unstoppable.

A&E begins with twang and a definite defiance. Cool-edged and rebellious; it hoves into view. All the people “look so small” when you are down and out says our hero. Perhaps directing to a friend or someone in need of comfort – the song seems to deal with someone who is struggling with some hard times. The hero offers that comfort and support if needed and you wonder what is behind the song and its lyrics. The guitars chug and race whilst bass and percussion keep everything tight and authoritative. Always bonded and together in every song they release: here, there is even more solidity and FloodHounds are at the top of their game. Despite the excellent production values, there is still a sense of loose and raw live-sounding elements creeping in which means it will appeal to a wider sector. Many bands over-produce and polish their music which takes its edge off and sounds rather fake. FloodHounds attempt to reproduce their live sound and that energy. Throughout the song, the lyrics are clear and you start to piece the storyline as it unfolds. I got the impression of a colleague or friend that was going through some tough times and that suits the song’s title. Maybe things are at a low but it seems like there is a way out. When Flynn sings about there being a better place to be – a question that is posed by the subject – you feel it is a cry for help and a way out of a bad town/situation. Throughout the song, you are hooked and scintillated by the unfolding drama and the combined strength of the band. It is an excellent and fiery opener that does not come in too hard but shows what a unit FloodHounds are.

State of Mind begins calmer and boasts woozy Blues strings before ramping things up and coming out of the block. The hero sees his friends working 9-5 and cashing cheques; maybe caught in a mundane and predictable way of life. He poses questions like “Why do we try?” and seems to be aghast at the sameness and routine nature of life. Perhaps balking against anything that boring and workaday: one hears the dissatisfaction and annoyance in the vocal; bereft and fatigued by what is unfolding. Wondering if you’re “going to make it in this world alive” it is a cautionary tale and warning to the generations. You speculate whether the lead has seen too many of his friends go through the motions and not learnt from those lessons. State of Mind is a song for everyone and people that might be stuck in a rut and unwilling to get themselves out of a hole. Few can deny the emotion and conviction that goes into the song and the way the band support the hero. The composition remains funky and kicking but able to kick and spit when needs be. The malaise and miasma is a state of mind and a funk that can be remedied. Our hero knows things can change and you can escape the pressure. One of the more inspirational and defiant songs the band have created: it is surely going to be a live favourite and get the crowds singing along. Maybe there are elements of debut-album Oasis but the influences are less obvious than the band’s debut E.P. What we find (compared to albums like Definitely Maybe) is the sense that things will be okay and we will get through things. Completing a rousing and glistening 1-2: a perfect way to get Look What You’ve Started into the mind.

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The Fear arrives and does so with a bit of menace and attack. The bass hops and skips whilst the guitar is definitely laden with trunks of funk. Sassy and hip-shaking; the song instantly gets inside the head and distinguishes itself from anything FloodHounds have done. Images of stepping out of the light and staying in sight lead you to believe some rather tense and anxious experiences are being assessed. Whether turning the lens on himself or addressing a friend: there is that motivation to escape fear and run away from something that is torturous and weighing. “I don’t want to watch it bury you” defines this sense of urgency and the fact someone might be in peril. It is hard not to be intoxicated by the constantly swing and addictiveness of the composition that will get crowds jumping and dancing along. The Fear balances serious and heartfelt messages with a fun and frivolous composition that makes it one of the E.P.’s standout numbers. It is another song that will resonate well live and is hard to compare it with any other band. You maybe hear a little essence of other acts but FloodHounds are starting to emerge as their own group and separate themselves from their influences. More confident and assured with their music and talent: terrific to hear them embrace their own voices fully. Like A&E; one wonders if a sweetheart is being assessed. Maybe a girl has a point of view that threatens to swallow her and the hero is reluctant to watch it all go down. You do not want to see it happen and you speculate what the origins of the song are. Maybe it is just self-destruction or someone with an ego; a person who is blind to their faults and not listening to advice.

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Soulmates to Cellmates intrigues with the title alone and that is before experiencing the stunning introduction. It is another typically catchy and funky parable that shows the band getting out of the pure Rock ‘n’ Roll and adding more Soul and Funk into their music. Able to stay strong and gritty but imbued with sway and merriment; it ensures the song begins hot and captures the imagination. Stepping to the microphone and asking “What have we become?” the hero is unable to relate (to the subject’s) smoke and mirror games. It might be a relationship that is breaking down and cracks starting to form. The song’s title leads you to believe the duo is caught in a small space but instead of being lovers they are prisoners that are trying not to kill one another. You sense that claustrophobia and sense the walls are coming in. It appears the girl is at fault and is lying and deceiving the hero. Keeping her feelings guarded and not willing to be straight – the end of the road for the pair it seems. The girl is trying to remonstrate and beg for some sort of forgiveness. Asking for another chance and time so she can explain things: our man is not letting her off the hook that easy. Time heals everything, it has been said before, but not when the heroine is around. The track has just had a video made and it perfectly explains and illustrates the tensions, emotions and imbalance in the relationship – typically humour from the band being shown throughout. Calming things down and casting himself in the guise of his other half, there is that desire for things to return to normal and wait for understanding to come in. It is not clear what has caused this split but the girl seems to be reluctant to walk away – perhaps to the dismay of the hero. Soulmates to Cellmates is a song you will come back to as it has that charm and shows the band at their very finest.

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End of the Road starts with plenty of grumble, gravel and verve. It is yet another song that starts with force and catchiness and spares no time in laying the table and showing manners – right into the action and getting down to things right away. The band have really stepped it up when crafting their music and ensuring every note gets into the head and evokes reaction. Look What You’ve Started is altogether tighter and more muscular than their earlier work. End of the Road find the hero clinging to the breeze and in the midst of a storm. Maybe it is another relationship drama and tension but one that is not bogged down with lyrical cliché or snarling strings. FloodHounds ensure even the heaviest emotions have a little bit of lightness and accessibility as not to put the listener off. The dust and smoke and settling and our lead is keeping his eyes closed. “There is no easy way out” and it seems like whatever is ascribed – a girl that is baying for blood – will take no more from her man. Metaphors are laid out and vivid images presented: the hero is being left by the side of the road and fed up with being exploited and taken for a fool. Not as predictable and obvious as you’d imagine: FloodHounds address a common subject without loading it with bland lyrics and hyperbole. It is a great balance of regret and defiance as the hero tries to make sense of everything. Once again – and common words for this review – you do get hooked by the music and the trio come together splendidly. Taut and leading basslines propel the tight and smacking percussion that, in turn, aids the funk-ridden and sexy guitar. By the song’s end, the hero has expended a lot of emotion and one feels the relationship is doomed and beyond repair.

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Completing the E.P. is Greatest Mistake, and one feels, another song that trades in some rather harsh and regretful emotions. Unlike its E.P. counterparts; here we get a more restrained and contemplative introduction that brings some genuine heart and sensitivity into the mix. A lot of bands structure E.P.s this way and end things with an emotional and touching number. In the first few seconds, it is a song that has elements of ‘60s Blues and a rather sensual start. The strings are cool and slight; they evoke all kinds of images and possibilities. Another departure from the band’s previous work it effortlessly fuses Blues, Jazz and Soul in a teasing and shivering coda. The lead does not know if he should reach out further – the girl has her will and he has his – and you feel love is under the microscope again. Feeling blue at times and only relying on his own thoughts and truths: maybe it is the continuation and reflection on a love story that has had quite a bitter end.

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One feels the entire E.P. could be seen as a concept and each song represents a different stage in the relationship. From the supportive and hopeful arms of A&E via the contrasts and mood swings of Soulmates to Cellmates – we now arrive at the aftermath and the hero looking back on things. “Over and over I replay the steps” and it is a sentiment that seems to define the song. Maybe both parties have made mistakes and the black box is being pulled apart and studied. All the while, the composition is light and breezy but replete with a Blues soul and a sense of romance. Percussion adds a heartbeat and certain tension whilst the bass adds fluidity to the song – ensuing myriad emotions and layers come to the precipice. Here, we see some self-examination and doubts from the hero as he states that the greatest mistake is making no mistakes at all. Wanting to change things and turn back the clock: maybe it is not as one-sided as one assumes. FloodHounds show they have depth and are capable of presenting something quite emotive and revealing without crowding it with noise and anger. Greatest Mistake brings things to a close and ensures Look What You’ve Started ticks every box the listener has in their survey. Jack Flynn, Rhys Owen and Lauren Greaves are one of the most solid and talented group of musicians around and have developed and grown from their earliest days. They sound much more like themselves and ensure FloodHounds are not easily compared with other bands. Their latest E.P. shines with memorable moments and highlights how much more is still in them – I would not be surprised to see another E.P. from them next year. One feels an L.P. could come and they have so much life and energy in the camp. A tremendous effort from a band that are going to be mainstream artists in very little time.

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The guys are excited about the coming months and one can hardly blame them. Look What You’ve Started is being championed by the media and fans: that will give them impetus and motivation to keep recording and carry on in music for (let’s hope) many years to come. They’ll be playing a string of dates – check out their social media pages for more details – but take their music to Spice of Life (Soho) on 29th October for the Animal Farm. It will be great to see the guys in the flesh and the capital seems like a perfect place for them to play – lots of new fans and stations that will lap their new E.P. up and spread the word. Mixing their usual heartfelt emotion with humour, candour and passion: a triumph from a band that keep on surpassing and evolving what they do. The trio are a properly solid and galvanised unit whose natural talent and chemistry goes into everything they produce. It will be interesting seeing where they go now and what their next moves consist. Of course, touring will be in their mind but surely new music is in the back of their minds. It will be good seeing what materailising but there is good spirit in the camp and a lot of energy among FloodHounds. I started by looking at Yorkshire music and what a history the county has – how undervalued it is compared with other parts of the world. It is fairly harsh the county is not as exposed and focused-upon as it should but that has not deterred musicians (there) making a big noise and creating some of the finest music on the underground. FloodHounds are one of Sheffield’s finest but have no intention in remain localised and sitting still. Look What You’ve Started is their most impressive, full and strongest work to date and you get the feeling they have many more releases ahead. Ensure you check their E.P. out and catch them live if you can. They are another terrific young band that have been playing for years but have many more to come. With many of their peers struggling to remain and survive; it is imperative we do our utmost to encourage…

Photo by BackStage:UK

PHOTO CREDIT: BACKSTAGE:UK

 

ARTISTS like FloodHounds.

 

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Follow FloodHounds

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Official:

http://www.floodhounds.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/FloodHounds/

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INTERVIEW: Lánre

INTERVIEW:

 

 

Lánre

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IT is hard properly defining yourself and standing aside from…

the crowd I guess. Music has so many different entrants and acts it can be a minefield situating yourself away from the rather faceless mass: showing character, light and originality without coming off insincere, faked and forced. Lánre is an artist for whom I have a lot of respect and time for – one of the noblest and warmest musicians around. Her live performances are talked about in passionate tones and her music channels spirituality, faith and common experiences through something we can all relate to. I was excited to see how the year had been treating her and what upcoming gigs she was looking forward to – how her heritage and African roots have influenced and enforced her music.

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Hey Lánre. How are you? How has your week been?

Hiya, I am well. Week’s going great. Just got back from a family holiday and preparing for autumn gigs and projects.

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

I am a singer-songwriter currently based in London. I released a new E.P. a few months ago: it’s my third project.

You have just played a gig in Guelph (Ontario). How have you found Canada and what are the audiences like there?

It’s my second time of playing in Canada; first time in Guelph. I love sharing my music with new audiences. I get to meet new people and other creative people as well.

PHOTO CREDIT: Janssem Cardoso

Are there any upcoming gigs you are especially looking forward to?

I have a few gigs coming up – it’ the 80th Anniversary of Cable Street and I’ve been commissioned to write a new song and perform the song live at Rich Mix on the 1st of October. I also playing at an event supporting a great cause called Thumbs UP for Uganda on the 27th Sept and on the 5th of October, I’ll be playing at The Troubadour.

You seem to have a special bond with your audiences when performing. Is playing your music to people vital for your growth and confidence. Do you feel a direct companionship with your audience? 

The feedback I get is that people love when I tell the stories behind the songs. I love to play in intimate space. Writing helps me to figure things out in my mind. Not necessarily provide an answer but helps to let those thoughts out and to then get to share that with an audience is a blessing. So I’d say yes, writing and singing has helped me grow as a person.

In July, you ran two interactive storytelling sessions called Finding Your Voice. It was held at Africa Writes and brought together poets, translators and authors. What was it like being in such rarified company and is it something you want to continue next year?

If the invitation comes again I’ll be honoured to be a part of it. Helping people find their voice through storytelling and writing is new for me but I enjoyed doing that.

Human was your E.P. released this year. What were the themes and inspiration that drove and defined the album’s lyrics?

Life; dreams deferred; love, humanity and purpose. It’s all wrapped up in those 4 songs. All I try to do is pay attention and then write from there.

Fire is my favourite song from the E.P. Can you remember the day you wrote it and what was the story behind that track?

Thank you, I love that track as well. It all started with words ‘will you light a fire for me’ when I first heard about a friend who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Then it grew into the idea that we all want to be remembered, to be seen; to know that our time here on Earth counts for something. When you live in a city like London, with the fast-paced day-to-day grind, you tend to forget to look around you; to pay attention ‘til something tragic happens that forces you to take a min. to reflect. So Fire is all about that.

Can we expect to see any new music coming into 2017?

I’m always writing, so who knows… when it’s time for new songs to be heard, it will come.

As you have performed in Canada: are there any other areas/nations (as-yet unticked) you’d like to play.

Oh yes! Oh dear! I have dreams traveling the world playing music.

You are a very positive person and often inspire others with your inspirational messages. How do you remain so positive in a world that is very fraught right now?

I am? Thank you. I try to stay grounded and positive through my faith. I know we live in the world where it’s so difficult to believe that there’s a divine force at work. So many questions unanswered but it’s what makes the search interesting. I have a little light deep inside me that represents hope. I think that’s what keeps me grounded. I have rough moments and times of doubt ALL THE TIME but I also believe and have faith.

How does your African heritage and upbringing go into your music and the way you perform?

My heritage goes into everything; my food, my fashion; it filters the way I see life. So it comes through my music naturally I think. I love the Yoruba language: I think it’s one of the most beautiful languages in the world and I’m proud to introduce a lil it of that to my audience.

Are there any artists and musicians that you would recommend we investigate?

I just bought LA Salami’s album Dancing with Bad Grammar. Have you heard it?

What have been your favourite albums from 2016? 

The Dreaming Room – Laura Mvula

The Wild Swan – Foy Vance

Martyr Loser King – Saul Williams

What advice would you offer new musicians coming through?

Get on with it, persevere and enjoy the ride.

Finally, and for being a good egg, you can name any song you like (not yours as I’ll put one in); I’ll play it here…

Meshell Ndegeocello – Oysters. This song goes for your heart

 

 

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Follow Lánre

PHOTO CREDIT: CK Goulding

Official:

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