FEATURE: Queens of the Stone Age: Kings of Modern-Day Rock

FEATURE:

 

Queens of the Stone Age:

 

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Kings of Modern-Day Rock

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IT may sound unusual and outdated….

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extolling the virtues of the Palm Desert band. The reason for doing this feature is two-fold. For a start, I have debated whether Rock, as we know it, has died – or changed to the point where it is unrecognisable. I debate there are plenty of new artists who are bringing guitar music back to the forefront: there are others who argue against that assertion. One of the biggest reasons was to show how influential Queens of the Stone Age are to modern bands; how enduring their music is and what an impact they have made. They are releasing an album later this year and will be a great opportunity for the Californian group to come storming back. We need them now more than ever. There are great new Rock/Alternative bands all around the world keeping gritty Rock and hooky riffs alive and strong. With the proliferation of chart music and bland Pop; a rebellion is required of Queens of the Stone Age-levels grunt and muscle. The band started life in 1996 and consisted frontman Josh Homme alongside Troy Ven Leeuwen, Michael Shuman; Dean Fertita and Jon Theodore. Queens’ formed following the disbandment of Homme’s former band, Kyuss. Queens of the Stone Age took the Stoner-Rock, desert-crawl of Kyuss but incorporated other styles including Blues and Funk – they have become broader and more diverse as their career has developed. Even from their first official release, 18 A.D. – featured on the complication Burn Up! Music for Stoners; it featured members of the Dutch band, Beaver – they have been making their voices heard. Up until 1998, the band were putting songs out there and honing their sound. Formed from the remnants of other bands; there was a transition period and need for adjustment. Ready and rocking, the boys put out their eponymous debut in 1998.

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Whilst, not considered the finest collection in the band’s catalogue; it was well-received by critics at the time. Those fuzzy groves and primitive urges compelled and struck the heart. Unlike many Stoner-Rock bands, there was a sophistication and diversity to the music which elevated it about standard-fare. Regular John perfectly kicks things off: all manner of riffs, teeth and head-buzzing grooves. Standouts Avon and I Was a Teenage Hand Model show real promise from a band coming into music at an odd time. It was before Grunge (the explosion of) and after the great wave of U.S. guitar music – the likes of Pavement, for example. Because of that, Queens of the Stone Age was an odd and beautiful collection that provided plenty of epic riffs and tight performances. Not confined like many of the brainless bands at the time: here, we heard a real songcraft and talent in Josh Homme. Queens of the Stone Age were joined by Nick Oliveri and added that all-important Kyuss link – at that point, the band consisted entirely of former Kyuss members. That epic, screamed vocal and stunning bass work was a pivotal factor in follow-up album, Rated R. For me, this is the finest Queens’ album. Many would debate that but I feel it was the band at their most essential and innovative. The membership line-up of Queens’ would change over the years, but at this point, there was a solidity and certainty in the ranks. Certainly, you can hear that confident and connection come through in the music. The album’s two big songs – Feel Good Hit of the Summer and The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret -have that anthemic quality and build from their earlier work. The compositions are tighter, more nuanced whilst the songs are more memorable and epic. Feel Good Hit of the Summer is, essentially, a list of Rock ‘n’ Roll drugs: a hedonistic cocktail reserved for those with willing veins and a sturdy constitution. Despite it being a bit of a jokey song; its mantra and ‘chorus’ is impossible to ignore. The riffs are meaty and barbed whilst the vocals (from Homme) pack plenty of punch and conviction.

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The album is a mellower, better-arranged collection than Queens of the Stone Age. It is trippy and strange; new instruments and a broader palette are brought in. Leg of Lamb is almost nursery rhyme-like and is a stoner classic; various songs see Homme on drums and other instruments – there is not a solid structure which gives the songs a looser vibe.  The band, at this time, were pushing their sound and incorporating new ideas. Better Living Through Chemistry starts and races before it fades down – there is a long pause before the composition comes back in. It is a wonderful move and shows the band far exceeded the predictable fare many were becoming tired with. Maybe the album was a little less heavy and Grunge-like than their debut. It is a more focused and cleaner sound but one that benefits from a depth and sonic diversity. Were they to follow up their debut with a sound-alike it would alienate critics and show little potential. Screamathon belters like Tension Head put Oliveri at the front – that throat-shredding voice and intensity adds another layer to the album. Rated R employed a roster of guesting musicians – Judas Priest’s Rob Halford contributed to Feel Good Hit of the Summer – but was, resolutely, the incredible sound of Queens of the Stone Age. The success of Rated R helped earned the band opening slots with The Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters and Hole. Homme recognised the robotic nature of their music: how riffs repeat and the metallic nature of the strings. He stated how the band were set-up to play anything they want – not restrict themselves and be able to throw in any sound they liked. This was started to show and inspired other bands coming through the ranks. Controversy was starting to encroach into the band’s rider. Nick Oliveri was busted for performing naked during the band’s Rock in Rio show. Not realising it was a crime in Brazil – technically it is a crime in a lot of countries – there was that definite Rock ‘n’ Roll attitude and swagger to the band. Aside from Oliveri’s genitals, Queens of the Stone Age welcomed Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan to the fold.

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Following a succession of gigs and building acclaim, the period leading up to Songs for the Deaf was pivotal. The band were showing they were an incredible live band and gathering fans around the world. That third, and to many, best album was starting to take shape. A natural evolution could be seen between their basic but brilliant debut; the progressions and compositional variegation of Rated RSongs for the Deaf would build on that and take the band to new heights. By 2001 – when recording for the album started – Grunge was truly dead; the 1990s were over and there and there was a need for a band to step up and embrace the need century. Queens of the Stone Age created a modern masterpiece with Songs for the Deaf. Nirvana legend Dave Grohl joined the band and would be a huge asset with regards Songs’ success. Troy van Leeuwen was in the crew and it seemed like the band was at its most galvanised and impressive. If you thought Rated R’s twin-stompers Feel Good Hit of the Summer and The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret were epic then that is nothing compared to Songs for the Deaf’s colossuses, No One Knows and Go with the Flow. Those two songs showed just how intense and extraordinary the band were. The former is, perhaps, the most-famous Queens’ song. Few bands since then have come up with anything as intoxicating and primal. The multi-limbed percussion from Grohl seems impossible and muscle-shredding; the guitars are riotous and cool-as-crap; the bass melodic, flowing and funky. It is a standout track from a concept album that showcases the band’s full talents. Based on a fake radio broadcast – a Spanish-language show – it proves the band were always keen to push themselves and evolve their sound. The group wanted the album to sound bizarre and strange. The radio intrudes, as Homme stated at the time, were meant to represent a drive from L.A. to Joshua Tree – something David Lynch-esque that makes you let go. The group recognised they were in a tense, fuck*d-up time: Songs for the Deaf reflects a sense of chaos, disconnect and fear but has beauty and reflection in various moments.

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The album was a huge critical success and was certified gold in 2003. Singles Go with the Flow and No One Knows were staples on MTV: huge songs that took the band to new heights and elevated them to be seen as one of the most influential bands in the world. Despite the band’s success and meteoric dominance; there was trouble lurking beneath the surface. Oliveri became involved in a fracas with his girlfriend. It led Homme to figure him from the band and sever a long-time friendship. Lesser bands would overlook such an occurrence but Homme was keen to send a message: the band would not be associated with controversy or condone domestic violence. The two would eventually rebuild their friendship but there was a moment Homme considered ending the band. A Queens of the Stone Age without him would be a pointless exercise. Against the turbulence and rift came a determination to continue and create. Out of the chaos came the recording for the band’s fourth album, Lullabies to Paralyze – the title was taken from a song on their previous album, Mosquito Song. Mark Lanegan refused an invite to return to the band but did lend his voice to the opening song, This Lullaby. ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons guested on the album and helped give it a certain charm. The 2005 album was a hit on the charts and was the highest-placed album until …Like Clockwork. To me, the album is underrated and should draw as much praise as Songs for the Deaf. After such a harsh lead-in – where the band was threatened and almost extinguished – such a cohesive and fine album would not have seemed possible. Medication is a classic Queens’ cut that gets to the point and delivers a missile; Everybody Knows That You Are Insane was not about Oliveri as many thought – no matter what its origins, its chorus is one of the catchiest and most instant of the band’s career. Burn the Witch shows the band were able to break from the stadium-sized jams of Songs for the Deaf and produce something more hip-swivelling and stomping.

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It is a fantastic song that shows just how malleable and evolving the band were. Fitting into that pagan/twilight mood of the record, it is a centrepiece that shows the band were resolute and astonishing following near-implosion. In My Head shows Pop sensibilities and a more successful attempt at repetition – the chorus’ words and wordlessness never becomes grating or tiresome. Funky, grooving and nuanced; powerful, intense and unforgiving. An immense album that took the band up another notch and cemented them as the world’s premier Rock band. Following the album’s release, the band toured extensively where they would perform Queens’ songs in addition to Kyuss classics. Although the Lullabies’ sessions were the band’s lowest points, Homme claimed it took some restraint off. They were not getting any lower and needed to fight their way back. In February 2007, the band announced their new album would be called Era Vulgaris. Keen to throw new bodies into the mix; the band used vocals from The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, Mark Lanegan and Billy Gibbons. Following on from Lullabies to Paralyze’s dark and disturbed moments – Era Vulgaris would be a harder and more twisted affair. Whilst it was not as well-received as the band’s previous albums; it did prove they had immense stamina and invention. If Burn the Witch was the predecessor’s jewel: here, Sick, Sick, Sick filled that slot. It’s fuzzy, jumping chorus guitars were a work of art; the chorus – with Casablancas chiming in and added new colour – is sensational. It is a swaggering, tight performance that paints dark and suffocating images. Homme was keen to push the band once more and explained the record was a grower – perhaps not as immediate and instant as Songs for the Deaf. Few bands like Queens of the Stone Age could provide albums as different and consistent – let alone having break-up and troubles to deal with.

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There was a gap after Era Vulgaris which gave the guys a chance to regroup and recharge. Homme would form supergroup Them Crooked Vultures with Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones. Their eponymous debut (and only album) was released in 2009. After Era Vulgaris, the band performed in the U.K. – more than they previously had – and were keen to get the material out there. Everything from an acoustic set in Germany to a headline slot at Reading and Leeds followed. Homme teased news of a new album but nothing transpired until years later. Following the album’s promotion, the band members engaged in side-projects and Homme underwent a knee operation – one that was botched; he almost died due to asphyxiation. He was bedridden for three months and suffered major depression. This experience was highly influential in regards their follow-up album, …Like Clockwork. Cheating death would put most people off music and exertion but Homme used it as a chance to get up and keep going. Queens of the Stone Age released a re-mastered version of their debut in 2011 and toured that quite extensively. Throughout 2011, there was rehearsals and plans for new material: by August 2012 the band announced, on Facebook, recording was ongoing. Joey Castillo left the band and Dave Grohl returned to drumming duties. When …Like Clockwork did arrive in 2013, it featured collaborations with, above all, Nick Oliveri. Not a permanent member of the band; it did prove there was no bad blood at all. Other collaborators included Elton John and Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys) – brief cameos that helped give certain songs a distinct personality. The album was released in June (2013) and featured Dean Fertita (back in the band, for a bit) and bassist Michael Shuman. If Era Vulgaris was seen, by some, as a dip in form; you cannot deny the intent and return of …Like Clockwork. Tracks like I Sat by the Ocean took their sound in new directions. The Vampyre (sic.) of Time and Memory is a strange and beguiling thing; If I Had a Tail a swamp-lurking beast that stomps and crawls. It is a beautiful and immense song that perfectly sits against calmer moments like the title track. That song is Queens of the Stone Age in rare ballad-mode.

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Featuring a gorgeous Homme falsetto performance and (mainly) piano backing; it is wise, philosophical and self-referencing – like many of the songs on the album; you can tie it to personal issues and health scares Homme suffered. Once more, the band changed course and brought something new to their music. Since the debut in 1998, they had not stuck to a template and rigidly upheld a law: every new album brings different genres and ideas to the plate. On …Like Clockwork, there are traditional Songs for the Deaf-worthy anthems like My God Is the Sun – one of the finest songs in the band’s cannon – and Smooth Sailing. That song, with its incredible video – Homme partying with Japanese businessmen as they engage in a rampage of drugs, karaoke and, um…murder – burrows into the brain and takes you back to the early days of the band. Kalopsia, featuring Elton John, is a stunner of the highest proportions whilst I Appear Missing and If I Had a Tail swim in the swamp with their teeth showing. There is so much colour and variety on the album. Crossing genres, decades and periods of the band’s history – a marvellous, solid collection. It contains all the band’s hallmarks whilst bringing in new inspiration and ideas. There has been a bit of a gap and a longing for a new Queens’ record. In January 2014, Homme claimed the band would start recording a new album after the …Like Clockwork tour. As time passed, it was cleared the band were on a break and keen to, once again, recharge. Josh Homme and Dean Fertita contributed to 2016’s smash, Post Pop Depression, and accompanying tour whilst Troy van Leeuwen joined the supergroup, Gone Is Gone. Luckily, as 2017 began, there was an announcement a new album would be forthcoming. There are photos of the band recording the new record: they announced they will play Fuji Rock Festival (their first time where since 2003).

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The fact they are preparing a new album got my typing and the mind racing. There has been talks of true Rock dying: fewer bands like Queens of the Stone Age doing the rounds. The bigger guitar bands – Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys; Muse, perhaps – have all been a bit quiet or producing less-than-terrific work. There is a great new breed with a few really promising bands poking through. To me, there is nobody quite like Queens of the Stone Age. They have endured and continue to inspire legions of new artists. In Josh Homme, they have a funny, tattooed frontman who is as cool and respected as they come. Sure, he has got into trouble once or twice – some on-stage rants and disagreements here and there – but that is the spirit of Rock. Were he to be a tame and cardigan-wearing, then that would reflect in the music. He is a true icon who continues to create phenomenal, forward-thinking music. I cannot wait for a new Queens of the Stone Age album and what it might contain. They have not released a bad album and always bring something exciting to the party. With a surfeit of established and dependable guitar bands; Queens of the Stone Age are as relevant and vital as ever. I have not heard a lot from Josh Homme so would expect a lot of creative energy and inspiration to burst out. It will be great hearing that album come and will give impetus and inspiration to other bands. They are, to me, the epitome and definition of classic, PROPER Rock. They fuse Grunge, Pop and so many others genres into songs that stay in the head and obsesses the mind. From those varied and stunning riffs to powerhouse percussion and exceptional band interplay – one of the most important bands of our generation. Whilst we await the return of the mighty Queens of the Stone Age, revisit their immense back catalogue and prepare yourself…

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FOR something immense.

INTERVIEW: AFFAIRS

INTERVIEW:

 

 

AFFAIRS

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UNSIGNED bands can be, by and large, a rather mixed bag.

In regards the very finest, you always wonder why they have not been snapped up – the average and poor, you hope, improve their game before labels come a-calling. AFFAIRS (another band who feel the need to uppercase their name) are in no short supply of talent, strong tunes and confidence. I talk to frontman James about the band’s formation and how it all began. He discusses the new single, Life of Leisure, and what it is like being picked up by national radio stations – plays from BBC Radio 6 Music’s Chris Hawkins and BBC Radio 2’s Janice Long among them. The boys are preparing for a busy summer so I ask James about future plans and where they are touring. He gives me an insight into AFFAIRS’ songwriting process and whether there are any more songs/E.P.s arriving this year. James talks about Manchester (their base) and how important it is – the band play Manchester’s The Castle on 1st April – and the artists he recommends for big things.

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Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?

Hello. Good, cheers. It’s been pretty busy, to be honest. Got a few live shows coming up so been busy in the studio getting pumped for that!

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

AFFAIRS is Liam (guitar/backing vox), Dan (guitar/synth); Jack (bass), Michael (drums) and James (vocals). We’re based in Manchester and make ethereal Doom-Pop that some say is pleasing to the ear.

How did you guys all come together in the first place? When did it all begin?

We used to make up all kinds of daft stories about how we met. For ages, we told people it was on a coach trip to Whipsnade Zoo – which a few people actually believed!

The truth is we all met at Hull University – Dan and Jack were in the same halls and started jamming together. Dan knew Liam already and they then recruited Michael and myself. We always all had similar music tastes so it just worked really and we’ve been together ever since. Always been proud to be associated with the Hull scene and buzzing that it’s now being recognised with the City of Culture celebrations.

Life of Leisure is your latest single. What can you tell us about it and its creation?

Life of Leisure started off as a very different song. We had the chorus already but with totally different lyrics with different verses, riffs – the lot. We rewrote it a few times but always kept that chorus melody. We decided on a still very raw version as a single and went to record with a very beautiful man called James Kenosha in his very beautiful studio in Fraisthorpe. Whilst there, we rewrote bits again – while taking romantic strolls along the beach.

You boys have played on a lot of different radio stations and been backed by Janice Long, Radio X and Amazing Radio. What has been your fondest memory and is it a bit mad with all that attention coming in?

We’re obviously chuffed with any backing we receive: it’s always nice to know other people dig your stuff. It’s difficult to nail down a particular fondest memory as there have been quite a few now. One that stands out is having one of our earlier tunes get played on Tom Robinson’s ‘6 Music show – it was the first time we’d ever been played on national radio and I can remember us all crowding around the radio in Dan’s room in Hull; sharing some beers and thinking ‘we’ve done it’. Good times.

What would you say is the secret behind your success? Maybe something AFFAIRS offers that nobody else does?

I don’t think we have a secret formula as such. We’re all close friends and our line-up has stayed the same since we started, so I think we just all understand each other well and how each other works, both musically and as mates.

That, and we’re bloody musical geniuses. That also helps.

You spent three weeks on the C-List of Amazing Radio. Did that give you confidence and how important was that backing to you chaps?

Again, it’s always awesome to get any kind of support or backing in that sense. We’ve always had a very strong belief in what we’re doing as a band and when someone in the industry shares that belief and gives you a bit of airplay, it vindicates that belief. Definitely spurs you on to keep working and keep plugging away.

I know ‘6 Music have picked up on your music and love it. How important is the station and have you found a different kind of fan being drawn to your music – now that you have that ‘6 Music patronage?

We’ve all been big fans of ‘6 Music for years now so I think it still feels a bit special whenever we’re played on there. I wouldn’t say we’ve necessarily had a ‘different’ kind of fan being drawn to us. Our music has always maintained certain almost retro elements to it, meaning our fanbase has always been quite diverse.

Stained Gold is your previous E.P. How have you developed as a band since then and can we see any new material this year?

Stained Gold was a massive learning curve for us. Working with Ed Buller taught us so much about the creative process and how we structure our songs. I think we’ve all become more mature as musicians since then and I think the new material we’re working on really reflects that. Expect to see more of AFFAIRS coming your way in this year!

AFFAIRS are based in Manchester. How important is the city to your creative process? What does Manchester mean to you five?

Growing up, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all been influenced at some point by the plethora of great Manchester bands we’ve seen over the years. It might sound cliché to some, but hearing The Smiths for the first time as a teenager changed the way I thought about music.

Living here and being involved with such an amazing music scene – that still churns out great band after great band – is inspiring.

The rich musical heritage of the place really does have an influence on what we do.

I know you just played The Finsbury (18th). How exciting was it to be back and can we see you perform anywhere else this year?

We’ve always loved playing London shows and The Finsbury is definitely one of our favourite venues, so big love to the Born Music guys for having us down. After that, we’ve got a hometown show in Manchester at The Castle on 1st April which is going to be huge.

Being in a band must be an eventful and memorable experience. Who is the biggest character in AFFAIRS? That one person that causes a bit of mischief or turns up a bit late?

Being an egotistical frontman, I’m always going to say I’m the biggest character!

To be honest, though, I think we’re all big characters in different ways and that’s what makes the band work.

I would recommend checking us out at one of our live shows and deciding that for yourself.

Which album has meant the most to each of you?

It’s difficult to choose just the one album that means the most to me as I have connections to different albums for different reasons. Dan and Liam (both guitar) are behind most of the music we write and I think it’s fair to say that Foals’ Total Life Forever is one album that’s had a massive influence on them both as guitarists and songwriters.

Who are the new acts we should keep our ears tuned to?

Would definitely recommend checking out Low Island, Dantevilles and The Hubbards. Great bands.

Have you any advice for songwriters coming through at the moment?

If you believe in it, do it.

Chances are someone else will believe in it, too.

Finally, and for being good sports, you can each select any song you like and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

Cheers! Our five are:

Tennis – Modern Woman

The Hubbards – Cold Cut

Big BalloonDutch Uncles

Dantevilles Graffiti 

Low Island  Holding It Down

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Follow AFFAIRS

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Official:

http://affairsband.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/Affairsband/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/affairsband

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/affairsband/

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/affairsband

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIUoHO_csXw-EqQXrjAUIxQ

INTERVIEW: DIDI

INTERVIEW:

 

  

DIDI

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THE sensational young artist DIDI has just released a gem of a debut…

track in Sorry. It looks at being betrayed and having to say sorry; how putting your heart out there and being trusting can often lead to undeserved hurt. She explains it a lot better and talks to me about future recording plans. I was keen to know how she got into music and talk about her other, real-life persona, Lauren Deakin Davies. She is a respected and talented producer and boss at The Den studio. She has worked with, among others, Laura Marling and Kate Dimbleby. I ask about the experiences and what it was like being involved with Marling’s project, Reversal of the Muse. DIDI talks about inequality in the music industry and how more needs to be done. She chats about the advice she would give to new artists coming through and whether being a producer – and working closely and personally with musicians – has helped her as a songwriter. I was keen to learn more about the lo-fi, Grunge aspects of Sorry and the albums/artists that have influenced her style.

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Hi DIDI. How are you? How has your week been?

Hello! I am ok, thank you. It’s been a really full on week preparing for my launch. It’s a self-release so I’ve have had fun doing all the artwork myself – but I had help with the photography and abstract background (I hurt my arm on a photoshoot the other week but it’s feeling a bit better now!) – as well as finishing the mix for Sorry; doing the banners and promotional G.I.Fs; getting my website and socials set up; uploading the track onto the digital aggregators such as iTunes and Spotify. In-between times, I’ve been recording other artists too!

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

Hello. My name is DIDI. Everyone is going to be new to my work, I think! I am a solo artist from Hertfordshire. My music has a deliberate raw and real sound: some people have called it ‘Punkish’. I produce, write and perform it all by my little self.

You have a new single out. What can you tell us about it?

This is one of the first songs I have written that I have actually connected to.

I have been songwriting for years in all sorts of collaborations but this one really resonates with what I am going though at the present time.

It isn’t directly aimed at a particular person – but at the repetitive patterns I seem to go though in my relationships with other people. I always wish the best for everyone else and sometimes that leaves me by the wayside. I have got very hurt and unintentionally hurt other people in the past by always trying to make everything right but inevitably making it worse. The aggression in the track is more about me finally ‘putting my foot down’ and saying “I don’t want to do this again”. The light and shade of the track is meant to represent the contrasting thoughts when you are nearing the end of a relationship and the extremes that your mind takes you through.

It’s not intentionally meant to be a ‘heavy’ song, musically, but this song came out when I thought, ‘I am just going to write a song for me and see what happens’. I don’t regard myself as a very strong singer so it was definitely about the music and lyrical content for me. I decided to keep it quite simple production-wise: there is only one electric rhythm guitar, with overlay high guitar in the verse and bass – with the additional sounds of me hitting my desk to get a kick-drum sound! I really wanted to keep a rough-and-raw edge to it because I have been spending my whole musical life so far making sure everything is pretty and perfect.

It looks at the way relationship patterns repeat – hurting others unintentionally and seeing the same results. It talks about the feelings one experiences when a relationship ends. How much of the song is based on your personal relationships and how much is taken from observations?

If I am being perfectly honest, it’s pretty autobiographical. It was one of those songs that just sort of escaped out of me.

I was messing around with a new guitar sound and next thing I know, about an hour later, I essentially had this song!

It has quite a lo-fi, Grunge sound to it. How did you manage to capture that particular sound?

I like micing-up amps. Part of this particular sound was achieved by using my busted semi-broken Marshall practice amp. I tracked the guitar on my Danelectro (which I acquired from friend and super-musician, Minnie Birch) and this, combined with my pedal board, created this sound. I wanted to keep it super simple but ‘big’ so distortion and Octaver pedals were the way forward! A massive advantage of being a producer is that I have my own studio and the knowledge of how it works – so I can experiment and basically do what I want – which I think is what has led to this sound.

Can we expect to see any more songs or E.P.s coming this year?

YES! I will be releasing a second single next month and hopefully (an) E.P to follow.

People may know you best as studio head Lauren Deakin-Davies. What compelled the decision to record your own music? How influential were the artists you recorded in regards that decision?

I have been gigging and writing with so many artists recently and I just got the bug back. I’ve been in bands of various sizes and genres since I was ten years old – until the final incarnation ended just over a year ago. When I wrote Sorry, I couldn’t stop myself. It was like a flood and now I have a whole set of originals! It was a classic case of “Mum, come listen to my song” and her liking it and being so supportive saying, “You should release this”. So, here we are!

In the studio, you have worked with the likes of Kelly Oliver, Youth Club and Emma McGrath. Who has been the most memorable artist you have worked with?

Ahh, man: you can’t do this to me!

They are all memorable in their own way, although, one that really sticks out is recording the Kate Dimbleby (layered) a capella album, Songbirds. I have never worked on anything like it before.

It was entirely vocals on different loops and we made all the tracks just using her voice and the occasional sound of my beatboxing (or the tambourine) The fact that it got great reviews in The Times, Sunday TimesThe Guardian, a feature in The Daily TelegraphAlbum of the Week from Mail on Sunday – and six plays on BBC Radio 2 (so far) is an added bonus!

Many musicians have provided laudatory words concerning your passion and professionalism. Does the fact you’re a musician (and producer) give you greater empathy and connection with artists you work with?

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t think it made a difference. I think, knowing what it’s like to be on the other side of the glass, really changes the way you approach the session. You are a lot more attentive to the artists’ needs because they are pouring their heart out to you. You know what it feels like to be that vulnerable so you have to make sure you respect that and give them the reassurance they need.

I was excited to see that Laura Marling connection. You have worked on Reversal of the Muse. Did you get to meet Laura and is she someone you are a fan of?

Yes. I did get to meet Laura: not gonna (sic.) lie; I was quite the fan growing up so it was a strange but exciting experience working with her: tracking her recording; sitting next to her and chatting; her trusting us to make sure her music sounded good!

It was great getting to work with Shiva, too. I did the session with another awesome person called Rhiannon Mair. Laura is much taller than I expected and the picture of the four of us is really funny because of the height difference!

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That project, Reversal of the Muse, brought together women in music and discussed themes of gender imbalance and lacking job opportunities (in music) for women. As a studio head, you must relate a lot to what was discussed. Do you think there is a big gender divide in studios and in record labels?

In all honesty, yes. There is a massive gap, purely because there are not as many women doing it – although I am speaking more on behalf of the production side of it than the label side. It’s possible I have a skewed view on that though because my mum runs a record label! I don’t think it will be that way for long, though: I am seeing so many new faces; younger girls getting into production and that is because the technology is so much more accessible now. It really excites me!

I know a lot of female P.R. bosses but few women based in studios. Why do you think there are so few behind mixing desks, producing artists? What can we do to change this?

This is the million-dollar-question I get all the time. It’s definitely not down to one thing. I believe it’s a hangover from an older way of thinking and a subconscious thought process where girls are encouraged to be singers before they are encouraged to be engineers. It doesn’t necessarily come from a place of malice. I just think it’s not directly encouraged.

There are so few role models and seeing a woman in the studio behind the desk is so rare (I have been given the tea orders more than once when I have been behind the desk!). It’s usually men who are featured and photographed in the industry magazines.

Although, there is a definite desire to change this which I’ve noticed especially within the Music Producers Guild – of which I am a full member (and for sure, there’s not that many women members yet: but we hope to change this!).

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PHOTO CREDIT: Bellanova Photography

So, all this means is that a girl has to really like techy stuff at school and want to get into it before the support kicks in. But, on the whole, I just don’t think people see it an option for a job! Interviews like this will start to help change things, so thank you!

If you each had to select three albums that have meant most to you which would they be and why?

Ok, here we go…!

Two Door Cinema ClubTourist History 

This was one of the first albums I really stuck my teeth into a teen and I have never found a sound that I like more since – the music, the guitars; the vibe: it’s just perfect! I was also lucky to get the opportunity to assist on sound for part of their U.K. tour this year which was just a dream come true!

Ellie GouldingHalycon

This, to me, is the perfect Pop album. The production, well, it’s just right, you know? It builds and delivers where you want it to and the dynamics are just so on point. The choice of instrumentation works perfectly for her songs. Jim Eliot is a legend. He literally produced all my favourite tracks on that album. I would strongly recommend a listen if you haven’t already!

Honourable mentions:

Bombay Bicycle ClubSo Long, See You Tomorrow

Tegan and SaraThe Con or Heart Throb

HaimThose Days Are Gone

… But, finally….

MuseAbsolution

It just gets me really pumped and it’s so musically-technically brilliant! The articulacy of the musical direction within just one track is astonishing. It constantly keeps you guessing about what is coming next and it’s never a disappointment. I love how they weren’t afraid to cross genres: it’s such a mix and done so elegantly. They really get the Grunge but, also, the clarity and passion of their songs – not to mention the top-notch lyrics!

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Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?

I am not sure who is already on your radar so I am going to suggest some you might not know – and one you probably do know!

Stevie Parker – She sounds like London Grammar mixed with (a cool) Ellie Goulding.

Gothic Tropic – Throwback, Grungy ’80s vibe. Upbeat. Really love it!

Alex Lahey – Super-funny lyrics; straight-to-the-point Australian.

Declan McKenna – Local guy; really different. Really unique and super-catchy

What advice would you offer songwriters coming through right now?

From the standpoint of my career so far, not necessarily as a solo artist, I would say explore the areas you enjoy that make you feel excited. Don’t worry if you feel out of place or that you are not good enough – because you are good enough!

If you are not, you soon will be as there is no better way of getting better at something than doing it! There are a-million-and-seven opportunities out there: you just have to keep your eyes and ears open and find them, even if it’s searching online.

Overall, it’s about connecting with people and keeping to your roots (as corny as it sounds!): you know, your core self and identity.

Don’t be tempted to blow with the wind just because that’s the new sound everyone likes. If it’s not you, don’t do it. It won’t come across as genuine. Don’t be afraid to fail because you probably will be caught out a couple of times. But there is nothing wrong with that: you just have to keep going; respect where you have got and respect how hard the people around you have tried to get where they are.

Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name any song you like (not one of yours as I’ll do that) and I’ll play it here.

Declan McKenna – Isombard

or 

Stevie Parker – Siren

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PHOTO CREDIT: Bellanova Photography

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INTERVIEW: WOLF KASH

INTERVIEW:

 

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WOLF KASH

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THE brothers of WOLF KASH

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have already had their new single, Slow Burn, endorsed by BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens. One-half of the duo, Harry, is only fourteen and shows an immense amount of talent and maturity. I have been speaking to the twosome to see how that brotherly bond contributes to their exceptional music. They discuss where that WOLF KASH name emanates and whether Crouch End, where the brothers reside, is one of the busier musical corners of London. With the duo’s E.P. out in the ether, I ask what other songs can be found on Slow Burn and the sort of inspirations that went into it. Harry talks about what it is like being a teenager and getting attention so soon whilst Jordan discusses WOLF KASH’s and some rare songwriting inspiration in Germany.

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Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?

Hello there! We are doing well. Super-excited to introduce our debut E.P. to the world!

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

We are WOLF KASH! It is myself Jordan and my younger brother Harry. We also have the help of middle brother Max on vocals and creative direction. We are predominantly producers but Harry plays guitar and drums – and I am normally fiddling with buttons and hardware synth parameters.

WOLF KASH is your duo name. What is the origin of that particular name?

The name WOLF KASH was thought up by myself and Max years ago. The name (initially) was created for a clothing brand we were starting up. That project fizzled out pretty quickly: it wasn’t meant to be. WOLF KASH resurfaced again late-2016 as a name for our band as we liked the way it sounded so much!

Crouch End is where you are based. What is the scene like there and how does it differ to other parts of London?

To be honest, there is not a music scene in Crouch End. It is a small part of North London. The music scene in London is extremely forward-thinking, however, and I think our music is being picked up on nicely by a good collection of London-based taste-makers.

Slow Burn is a track that received attention from BBC Radio 1 and was recorded through analog. What was the decision behind that and is that a methodology you’ll be employing for future recordings?

Yes. We were very excited when Radio 1 picked up on it. It originally went through BBC Introducing and made its way to Huw Stephens’ team. Every track is different, but, with Slow Burn, it was just begging to be more ‘analog’. Running it through tape really gave it some life: however, that honestly doesn’t work for every track. Some music wants to be a little more digital.

That song is the title track from your new E.P. What can you reveal about songs and ideas expressed on Slow Burn?

The other tracks on the E.P. are very different to Slow Burn.

Slow Burn speaks for itself but the vocal in it is used just for musical purposes – as it is cut in a way that does not make any sense.

The other three tracks, however, we recorded our own vocals and they do all have their own message. Although repetitive and sparse, the vocal plays a key part in all of the tracks. We treat the vocal parts like a chorus but the verses are purely musical. This is a formula that just came together and it worked for us. Personally, I like to create my own image when I listen to music. I very rarely put myself in the position of the singer. I think that comes across when we write music as the music takes you on a journey that you want to go on. We create the feeling and vibe but the listener can create the vision.

One of your songs, Wasted Under Berlin Gate, has a drunken inspiration involving too much Glühwein. Can you go into a bit more details about how that song came together and why it is so special?

Wasted’ was based around a field-recording I took whilst I was in Berlin. I was visiting the city with my girlfriend just before Christmas 2016 – doing the whole tourist thing. If you’ve never been to Berlin around Christmas, let me tell you… It is Christmas market over-kill. I mean, there are Christmas markets EVERYWHERE. They all sell Glühwein which is basically just mulled wine. It is fairly easy to get carried away and drink too much of that stuff (well it is for me).

I was face-numb-drunk at the Brandenburg Gate and I heard this amazing street-performer playing a hang drum. I love the sound that comes from those things – it’s truly magical. I recorded some on my iPhone and thought no more of it.

I opened that file by accident in the studio months later and we started building a track around it. Pretty weird to think that the bloke playing that has no idea he’s on our E.P. now (didn’t get his name; let’s call him Mr. Magical Hang Drum Player). Thank you, Mr. Magical Hang Drum Player… wherever you may be!

You are brothers so can imagine you must have grown up in a musical household. What kind of music did you hear as children?

You know what, we didn’t. Our dad has always had excellent rhythm and would always be tapping and singing, but he is no musician. I think Harry got involved in music because I have been producing for such a long time. Max has just always had an awesome voice.

Saying that there is quite an age gap between you. Harry, you are still a teenager. Is it quite nerve-wracking coming into music so young or does it feel quite natural? 

It has been cool so far. It was weird telling my music teacher that my song was being played on Radio 1.

My friends have all bought the E.P. and have been supporting; so that’s nice. Just taking it one step at a time. I love making music with Jordan and creating new ideas. We are just trying to be ourselves and create whatever comes naturally.

You must be pretty close to go into music together. What is the bond like between you? Are there any ever sibling squabbles?

I think, due to the gap being so large between me and Harry, we tend not to argue at all. He is literally me ten years ago – but he is way, way ahead of his time. I wouldn’t be able to work on a music project with any old fourteen-year-old. Big up the H-Dog. Talented guy.

After your E.P. is released, what other plans have you got for this year?

We have LOTS. This E.P. is literally just a taster of what’s to come. We are already well into our second E.P. that has some amazing collaborations with some cool artists. That is looking more like an album at this point with eight tracks already confirmed. But I think it will go into double-figures, for sure. We will be working on a music video for one of the lead tracks for that. We have also been asked to remix one of Monster Florence’s tracks. They are a band out of Essex that are making movements at the moment. Check them out! Something huge is also happening in April (on 8th and 9th). We can’t talk about it. It’s a secret. Just check out our socials on that weekend.

It is almost the festival season. You guys playing at any or will get a chance to attend any at all?

We are still a very new band. We are concentrating on producing music in the studio.

Performing live is something that is coming closer and closer and we have had to turn down offers already. We are not ready for that, though. As we are producers, we need to work out a way to bring our sounds to an audience live in an interesting way.

If you each had to select three albums that have meant most to you which would they be and why?

We all listen to a lot of music and our tastes differ here and there but, without going all deep and telling you that, The Eminem Show helped me get out of depression when I was young and confused, blah blah blah.

Here are some recent albums that we are feeling:

A Tribe Called quest – We Got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service 

Jamie xx In Colour 

Sampha Process 

Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?

Off the top of my head…

Monster Florence, Sonder; THEY., Barclay Crenshaw; Syd and Rye Shabby.

What advice would you offer songwriters coming through right now?

Sounds so damn cliché, but be yourself. I was producing House music for years before I started this project under the alias Dirty Mango. I am not cutting that off completely but I really felt suffocated in that scene and needed to give it a break. It wasn’t allowing me to be different and try new things. All the labels I sent music to expected a certain sound. It was only when me and Harry got in the studio and made whatever we wanted, with no rule, that good things started to happen.

If you’re true to yourself, things just start going right. People really respond well to it.

Not everyone will like your music: Maybe (not even) 96% of people but you will have a loyal fan-base. Even if it is small!

Finally, and for being good sports, you can each name any song you like (not one of yours as I’ll do that) and I’ll play it here.

(Jordan chooses)

Rye ShabbyKate Moss (Produced by Muckaniks)

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INTERVIEW: The Boy Least Likely To

INTERVIEW:

 

 

The Boy Least Likely To

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FOLLOW Your Heart Somewhere is the first single release in four years…

from the always-impressive The Boy Least Likely To. That said, Pete and Jof are hardly what you’d call ‘slack’. They are about to release their fifth album so I was keen to find out about it. They discuss the new single and the inspiration behind that standout duo/band name. The boys are long-time friends and have a great love of 1980s bands like Aztec Camera and Altered Images. I ask them about how they have developed since their debut, The Best Party Ever. They tip some artists primed for greatness and explain what they have planned for the approaching months. The Boy Least Likely To play London’s Lexington on 24th April so I was eager to discover if they were looking forward and touring plans for this year. It has been great getting to know one of the most charming and hard-working acts working at the moment.

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Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?

Pete: So far, so good: but it’s only Wednesday, so who knows…

Jof: Oh my god! Is it only Wednesday?! I’m exhausted. Being in a band is so tiring sometimes. I need a spa break. I’m going to have to take the next month off. Cancel everything.

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

Pete: I’m Pete and I play the guitar and write the tunes.

Jof: I’m Jof and I write the words and then I sing them as best as I can.

I’ll get my ‘hack’/’jokey’ question out the way early. Given your duo name, The Boy Least Likely To; for each of you, complete the following: “I’m the boy least like to…

Jof:wrestle

…listen to Jazz

…wear a tracksuit

…knowingly eat a tomato

…climb anything

Pete: find a witty end to this statement.

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On a serious note, though, that name. Where does ‘The Boy Least Likely To’ come from and how did you two find one another?

Pete: Jof thought of the name. I originally thought it should be called Billy the Kid but, luckily, Jof overruled me.

Jof: Yeah, we were originally called Billy the Kid and The Hole in the Wall Gang but we Googled ‘hole in the wall gang’ and it came up with loads of stuff about men who put their penises through holes in public toilet doors – so we decided to go for something else. There are probably some early demo. C.D.s of the first single we released with the wrong name on somewhere in the world. In the end, we just thought The Boy Least Likely To was a nicer fit for us. It’s kind of how we felt about our place in music at the time. I don’t think anyone ever expected us to amount to anything, least of all us – and anyway, we’re not really into all that toilet stuff. Not anymore, anyway.

I do know you two used to watch John Hughes films and collect weird instruments from second-hand shops. Is that something you still do? It seems like it is becoming harder and harder, as the world become more modern, to enjoy that kind of quirky/fun experience?

Pete: I never thought we were quirky: I just wanted to sound different from everything else that was going on.

Jof: We just kept trying different instruments out until we found the one that fitted: the banjo, the glockenspiel; the recorder… whatever it was.

No one else was really using those sorts of sounds when we started out. But we just wanted to make a record that sounded completely unlike anything else that we were hearing at the time.

It wasn’t us trying to be weird or quirky, I don’t think. We just tried everything until it sounded right to us. It probably sounded completely wrong to everyone else. We were just really aware that we didn’t want to make a traditional ‘Rock’ record. I still think the same way really. I just want to make records that sound like they could only have been made by us.

Follow Your Heart Somewhere is your first track in four years. What was the reason behind the ‘downtime’? Did you need to get in a particular headspace to create a track like this?

Pete: We just needed a break from each other and to step away from the band. Jof recorded the Legends of Country album which reinvigorated him. I realised I wanted to get back to playing music rather than slavishly recording, editing and piecing it all together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Jof: Sh*t, it doesn’t feel like four years – it feels like six months! We’ve only ever made records when it felt right and I guess it didn’t feel right until now. It’s always better if you feel like it’s something you actually want to do – instead of something you feel like you have to do.

Can you tell me about the song’s inspiration and how it came together?

Pete: It wasn’t difficult to write. We were both excited about working together again. We hadn’t written a note together for three years but it was just the right time to start again. I had the riff and we just took it from there. I can’t really remember how the rest of it came about.

Jof: I just remember hearing the riff and knowing it was the song I wanted us to come back with. I was so excited about it: I just wanted the rest of the world to hear it. We recorded it in a couple of weeks, which is unusually fast for us, but we just didn’t want to lose that excitement that we had for the song.

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I know Follow Your Heart Somewhere track tackles growing old and becoming distant from someone. Was there a particular person in mind (in respect of the concept) and do you feel, as you guys progress, there are any regrets at all?

Pete: Haha. Don’t all of our songs have that theme?! They used to be about growing up. Now, they’re about growing old!

Jof: I guess, as you get older, you just start to see relationships fall apart. People you thought would always be together break up. It’s a sad thing but it isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. It’s just sad, that’s all.  We’ve all got regrets, I suppose.

There are always going to be things we wished we’d done but didn’t and things we did but wished we hadn’t. We made a lot of mistakes as a band but we’ve had some amazing times, too.

There are things I’d probably like to change but then we wouldn’t be where we are now – if we hadn’t made some of the mistakes we did. I’m happy where we are right now. So, no regrets.

You will release your fifth album in autumn. What can you tell us about titles/music on it? What kind of themes and issues are addressed?

Pete: Expect more of the same but different!

It has been twelve years since your debut, The Best Party Ever. How do you think you’ve developed as artists since then and what is the secret of your longevity?

Jof: I think a lot of the time I’ve just been trying to get back to the way we were when it started out. There were no expectations for us then. It’s so much easier when no-one expects anything from you. I’ve enjoyed recording the new record as much as I did the first album and I think you can hear that in the songs. If you’re not enjoying it then people can hear it in the music. I don’t know how we’ve lasted so long. Maybe we just didn’t give up when other people would have.

That album gained support from Rolling Stone and Rough Trade. Did you expect to get inside the minds of the big boys that early or was it quite a shock?

Jof: It was a weird rollercoaster that we suddenly found ourselves on back then. Frightening but really exciting at the same time.

Sometimes we’d want to get off but then as soon as we got off we’d want to get straight back on again. We definitely weren’t ready for it. We didn’t know what we were doing back then and we still don’t really. We’re just a couple of chancers. We’ve been getting away with it for a long time now.

Pete: Looking back it was really exciting. It didn’t feel shocking that we were taken seriously but I didn’t necessarily expect it.

Your new track has crunching, dirty riffs and C86-indebted Soul-Funk. Quite a mixed bag of sounds and moods is included. Who are the artists that inspire your music? Who did you guys grow up listening to?

Pete: I love guitar music. Whether it’s Johnny Marr, Eddie Van Halen or Edwyn Collins; it doesn’t matter- it’s where it all started for me. I’ve always written all the music on a guitar and then transferred it to other instruments.

Jof: My record collection has always been a mess. I never used to differentiate between different types of music growing up. If I liked it I liked it. I used to put Betty Boo on the same mix-tapes as Big Black. It all fitted together in my head. I thought they sounded great next to each other. I guess this song is just another product of that mess of sounds that we have inside our heads.

In a way, your wide-eyed, optimistic sounds are just what the modern world needs. Given the political unrest and general state of affairs; are you making music to inspire people and lift the mood? How influential are the ‘negative’ aspects of the world to your creative process?

Jof: I think I’ve always written as a response to what’s happening in the world around me – but it’s always been more personal than overtly political. If there’s a war going on then I’m always going to be writing about buying tins of baked beans and building an air raid shelter – instead of writing more obviously political songs. It’s not that I don’t like those sorts of songs, I just couldn’t write them.

Pete: Of course, it’s impossible not to be affected by the world and the general state it’s in but there’s always negativity and bad stuff happening.

To me, our music is mainly inspired by our own lives and experiences: you can’t write for other people or an audience in mind; we just try to please ourselves and hope others like it.

In April, you play Wales Goes Pop in Cardiff (16th) and London’s The Lexington (24th). Any more dates or plans for the duo in the coming months?

Pete: Yes, when the album is out you won’t be able to get rid of us!

Jof: I’ll still get to go on my spa break though yeah?

Who are the new artists you recommend we investigate?

Jof: Little Bandit has made one of my favourite albums of the year. It’s called Breakfast Alone and it’s all lo-fi sweeping countrypolitan melodrama and heartbreak. I can’t stop listening to it. The lyrics are amazing. Light Country by The Kernal; I love that record so much. I fell in love with the Courtney Marie Andrews album a few months back too. I fall in love with new records all the time. I’m really easy.

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Have you any advice for songwriters coming through at the moment?

Pete: Just do your own thing and remember that nobody knows anything – even if they tell you they do.

Jof: I guess just don’t forget how it feels to fall in love with music and make the sort of music you’d want to fall in love with.

Finally, and for being a good sport, you can select any song you like and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

Pete: Kiss – Detroit Rock City.

Jof: Love Triangle by RaeLynn. Because some of the most exciting Pop music being made right now is being made by Country singers. Also, just because it makes me cry almost every time I hear it – and I want everyone else to hear it and cry too. Shit, I can’t believe it’s only Wednesday!

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INTERVIEW: Bare Traps

 

INTERVIEW:

 

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PHOTO CREDIT: Low Key Collective

 

Bare Traps

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THE charming and funny lads of Bare Traps

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have been celebrated and championed by BBC Introducing and Radio X. The guys, in an attempt to avoid real work, formed the band – they have been on a noble quest since then. All in You is the new song and one the guys are really pumped about. Small wonder once you hear it: your heart and brain will be hooked and seduced. Waiting Outside is the B-side and, whilst not as immediate as All in You, it is a song that shows Bare Traps have plenty of confidence. I ask how influential London is to them and whether it drives creativity; which new acts of the minute they’d single out for success. I was curious to know whether we could expect any new material later in the year: this is reveal alongside plenty of witty quotes and humorous filthy. Few acts really stand out in the mind but with Bare Traps you get bags of personality and chest-loads of brilliant music. One of the most impressive propositions currently working in London; sit down and get inside the world of the always-brilliant Bare Traps.

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Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?

Busy, busy, busy! We just had our release show at The Victoria in Dalston on Friday – so we’d spent a lot of time getting ready for that. We really wanted to put on a good show rather than just play a bunch of songs. We’ve been practising our scissor-kicks, knee-slides and stick twirling. Fortunately, once we got on stage we remembered we’re an Indie band and not AC/DC – so stage tricks were kept to a minimum. There was definitely some guitar-shredding, though. We filmed our first-ever music video a couple of days later and that was really fun!

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

We’re four young men that met through a shared love of making noise and delinquent behaviour. We do our best to be well-behaved these days, though – honest mum! Originally, we’re from various parts of England, but we all call London home; the typical non-London Londoners.  For the most part, we make good-vibes guitar music that sounds like summer. It’s all about hooks and danceability for us.

I am intrigued by your band name, ‘Bare Traps’. Not just because of its homonymic qualities but the images it compels. What is the reasoning behind that name?

Well, we like to attempt to be really deep and tell people it’s a play on words that refers to the kind of potentially damaging situations we allow ourselves to get into in life; when you get yourself involved with something that you know is going to eventually bite you in the arse – but you do it anyway. That’s a bare, exposed trap. But, really, that’s horsesh*t and we thought it was more identifiable than ‘bear trap’. If you really want a laugh then type ‘bear trap’ into Urban Dictionary as we did recently. You’ll never look at us the same again…

Can you tell me how you all got together in the first place?

We met on Tinder Socials. Did you know that thing’s for orgies? We were shocked – we’re all so innocent. After some consideration, we opted to just make music together rather than bang. That’s probably not a true story but we’ve told it so many times we’ve confused ourselves.

All in You is the new single. What can you tell me about the concept and meaning of the track?

All in You was written from start-to-finish in about an hour – which is, by far, the quickest we’ve ever written a song. It stemmed from the main guitar hook which just inspired us to go all out sun-drenched tropicalness.

So, we threw in some Caribbean steel drums for good measure. It’s about falling in love (yawn!), but really, we wanted to try and sonically replicate the feelings you get when you first fall for someone: sunshine, happiness and all that nonsense. We’re all influenced by Math-Rock so pretty stoked that we squeezed a time-signature change and tempo change into the middle of the song. It still managed to keep it sounding like a Pop song.

You have a B-side, Waiting Outside. It is quite rare bands putting out B-sides these days. Why did you feel motivated to do so? Do you think more artists should keep the tradition alive?

We don’t feel that Waiting Outside is quite as immediate as All in You but still feel that it’s a strong track. It sits really well with the single and actually creates a bit of a story arc in terms of narrative. All in You tells of a blossoming romance whereas Waiting Outside describes a relationship that has matured. We do think that it’s a shame that the death of physical record formats has led to standalone tracks becoming the industry standard now. Releasing more than one track at a time gives the listener that bit more entertainment and allows artists the means to express themselves to a higher degree. We should try and keep some of those traditions alive.

BBC Radio 6 Music and other huge stations have featured your music and helped you reached new fans. How important has that airplay been to you and how do things like social media help get the Bare Traps sound to the masses?

The support we’ve received from BBC Introducing has been amazing. A benefit of us being from all around the country means that loads of different BBC regional stations, as well as BBC Radio 6, have played us.

We’re trying to collect the full set. Come on Radio One – catch on! Social media is our main means of spreading our brand and has been since the band’s inception. We’ve all played countless shows in other bands and fallen victim to crooked promoters and sh*t deals in which we’ve basically ended up paying to play. In Bare Traps, we said from day one that we wouldn’t be willing to do that – so we’ve used social media as our primary means of building a fan-base. It’s worked because, now, plenty of people come to every one of our gigs and we get paid like we should! Well, most of the time.

I think you have said All in You is the best thing you have come up with. It is sunny and filled with imagination. When did you realise the song hit those heights and will future songs contain the same sort of elements?

We felt that All in You was a banger from the moment the first guitar riff was played in practice. We were supposed to be rehearsing for a gig but we just jammed on this idea instead because we were all so into it. It was one of those instances of the songwriting itself – it was just so intuitive and natural. I think that’s the main reason we knew we were on to something special with this one. It just made us all feel great and we hope it does the same for other people. We’ve already written a whole bunch of stuff with similar elements which we’re aiming to record very soon.

Does this mean we can expect to see an E.P. or album anytime soon?

Despite what we said earlier about releasing more than one track at time, we don’t see ourselves releasing any extended-plays in the near-future. As an independent band, it’s not really cost-effective to do so and that’s all it boils down to really. Sh*t, we’d love to release an album – we’ve certainly got enough material but reality’s a bitch and we don’t have a record deal to fund it. Unfortunately, with the way the music industry is now, you generally have to start off with a shed-load of cash to be a success which doesn’t make a great deal of sense, but, whatever. We don’t have rich mummies and daddies to help us out but, hey, don’t hate the player, hate the game, right? We’re not bitter, honest.

Are there any musicians or albums you listening to growing up that has helped shape and define the band’s direction/music?

We’ve been compared to Foals a number of times – and we’re certainly all fans of that band – so we enjoy that comparison. The angular-guitar-style and dance-music-style beats from their first two albums have definitely influenced our sound.

Bloc Party are probably the biggest one for us, though. It’s safe to say that without Bloc Party there would be no Bare Traps. Silent Alarm is a seminal album, in our eyes.

It introduced a very Math-Rock-type sound to an Indie audience and it’s probably safe to say that every Indie band since has been influenced by those guys. We’re really into Dance music too and that definitely shows in our sound. We have our heavier moments, but – at the risk of sounding like a naff D.J. at a wedding – we’re more about grooving and getting people to get on down.

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In the coming weeks, you are playing a few gigs – London and Birmingham included. Any you are particularly looking forward to and what can we expect from a Bare Traps live show?

We’re definitely looking forward to the Birmingham show – as it’s our first show as a band in that town. The Actress & Bishop is a cool venue and we know we’ve got a fair few fans in the Midlands – so we’re hoping it should get pretty lively.

The band is based in London. How influential is the city to your music and what does London provide that nowhere else does?

We’re a pretty London-centric band in terms of our identity but we don’t really feel that it’s reflected in our sound. Being ‘London’ has become synonymous with being cool and we’re under no illusions: we’re not very cool. We just make music to please ourselves and we’re all suckers for catchy Pop music, so that’s what we write. It’s been said that our sound isn’t current and we’re not exactly what radio is looking for at the moment. But we give a grand total of zero-fu*ks about that. Yeah sure, we’d be lying if we said we don’t want people to like our music but we’re not going to change our sound because of what some people think.

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London can be quite an oppressive environment in that respect (well, in many respects) but Bare Traps is about giving London the middle-finger and just getting on with it.

London is a fickle mistress – one we can’t live with and one we can’t live without.  It’s tough living in London and Bare Traps provides us with enough good vibes to keep afloat.

If you had to select an album each that have meant the most to you; what would they be and why?

Sam: Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here. I had heard the single but I found the album a few years ago on vinyl and couldn’t believe how good each song is.

Luke: This is a ludicrously tough question to answer as there are just so many albums I love. I’ve got a lot of memories that are sound-tracked by Bloc Party – Intimacy, though. I feel like I came of age to that record, and I kind of feel that band really found their sound on that album too – so it coincided nicely.

Liam: Red Hot Chili Peppers – By the Way. Along with Californication, this is one of the first albums I can remember listening too. My dad was obsessed with the band and that this album was on constantly in the car.

Scott: Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. It came out around the time I first began to learn drums and really influenced my playing. So much so that I sacked-off my drum tutor and just taught myself to play by playing along to that record.

Who are the new artists you recommend we investigate?

One of our best mates, Poté. He’ll blow your balls and/or tits off! He’s receiving loads of love from Annie Mac at Radio One at the mo. He’s super-original and there’s so much soul in his production and writing. The guy’s going to be huge. Our drummer, Scott, also drums for him when he does his live show. Watch this space!

Have you any advice for songwriters coming through at the moment?

Errrm, no. But, if anyone has any advice for us that would be great. Actually, stay true to yourself (is probably the best advice we can give). Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll be happy if you just get that record deal – not that we’d know, but anyway, sack that! Just make music that makes you happy; maybe your mum. It’s nice when your mum genuinely likes your music.

Finally, and for being good sports, you can each select any song you like and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).

Sam: Homeshake – Call Me Up

Luke: Will Joseph Cook – Take Me Dancing

Scott: Palace – Live Well

Liam: Clean Cut Kid – Leaving You Behind

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Follow Bare Traps

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Official:

https://baretrapsband.tumblr.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/baretrapsband/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/BareTrapsBand

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/baretraps/

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/baretraps

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs2zViHbPM4M-9JThwqgApA/feed?view_as=public

 

INTERVIEW: David Mark Bulley

INTERVIEW:

 

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David Mark Bulley

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MORETON’S very own David Mark Bulley is, without having to dig too much…

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a hugely impressive and passionate artist. He has accumulated a strong following in Poland and created interest in countries as far-flung as Japan and France. Already a headline star in Poland; he played the Torwar Arena as part of the 2016 Young Stars Festival. If that weren’t enough, he has performed his song Sunlight with Polish artist Sylvia Przbysz. It might be strange seeing a British artist have that affection in Poland but he is not just limited to that nation. Here, there is an enormous and devoted following that will take him as far as he needs to go. I ask him about new song, Where Do We Go from Here and what it means to him – the origins and inspiration behind it. It follows from previous singles Wonderful Life and Lions – all three will appear on his forthcoming debut album. His previous E.P., A Thousand Bonfires, was released in 2014 so I ask him how he feels about his new music. Bulley discusses issues of depression and how they affected his songwriting; whether he will be returning to Poland and any words of wisdom for new artists.

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Hi, David. How are you? How has your week been?

Hello! I’m really good, thank you. It’s been crazy busy!

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

Of course. My name is David Mark Bulley and I’m a singer/songwriter from London, England.

Where Do We Go from Here is your new track. Can you tell me about the inspiration behind it?

Sure.

The music industry can be a very daunting and lonely place. It’s like high-school, but harder!

There are so many bad people who have hidden agendas and this is exactly what this song is about: not always trusting those people who surround you.

The video is an action-packed mini-film that seems like it was a ball to film. What was that experience like?

Legit, the best thing in my life – I cried at least six times. I wanted this video to be badass and I wanted my fans to see a side of me that they haven’t seen yet. It was about one-degree that day, though, and shooting took ten hours – so it was cold but so much fun!

For the video, you borrowed thirty-five actors from the London College of Music. It is an ambitious visual. Have visual arts and music videos always been a passion?

Firstly, I just have to say; the actors in this film were incredible and left me so inspired by their passion and hard work. You know, as an artist, when you write a song, it should come from the heart (for me, anyway). I spend so much time writing and recording my music. I want that to portray in the video, too.

The track (and video) looks at a sense of escape and trust. With the world changing as it is – Brexit and division – is there a sense of reacting to the times or is it a more personal, spiritual message?

You know what; I never thought about it like that but now that you’ve said it you just hit the nail on the head!

Times are changing and I think it’s about time we started acting and not just speaking about it.

I wanted this video to send a message to a lot of people: to let them know that it is ok to be different.

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How did you get into music in the first place? Was it always something that resonated in you?

I grew up surrounded by music my entire childhood. My brother was in a Punk band -which I thought was epic and then it made me want to start writing.

Who are the artists you grew up listening to?

I grew up listening to such a diverse genre of artists. NSYNC (no shame), Stevie Wonder; Bob Dylan, Celine Dion and Kiss. It’s such a diverse list but that’s what I love about music.

How important is London as a Muse and city? Are the people of the capital important when it comes to creating music?

London is so artistic. From its buildings to its street art/performers. I think it’s a very inspiring place to be.

So, yeah, I’d definitely say that the people within London hold a major part in being a muse when it comes to writing music.

Wonderful Life and Lions are your previous songs. They appear on your forthcoming debut album. Can you tell us about that and any other songs/themes we might discover?

I’m seriously excited. I was actually in the car with my best friend (like) two days ago and he said: “Will you stop sitting on these songs and just release them!

It’s so frustrating because I just want my music to be out there but I want it to be right. These songs are from the heart and the most honest material I’ve ever written.

I can’t wait for you to hear it!

A Thousand Bonfires was released in 2014 and an E.P. that was well-received. How do you feel, as an artist and person, you have changed since that came out?

I’m not going to lie – when I wrote that record I was suffering from depression, self-harm and the loss of my mum. I was in a very dark place and that reflects in the songs that I wrote. Now, I feel I’m in a really good place and that shows in the music. Even though it still tells stories of what I’ve been through, it has a lighter tone to it. Hope.

What other plans do you have for the rest of this year?

I’m currently touring in Poland which is awesome! I’m also heading out to the Philippines in May to do some writing and then summer – GETTING THIS ALBUM OUT!

You have a big following in Europe and performed a headline show in Poland. Will you be going back to Poland or touring Europe at all?

It’s so crazy! I have no idea how it happened. Poland has been so good to me and I’m completely blessed.

I’d love to head out and visit other places such as Spain, Germany and Italy.

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Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?

You should totally check out my friends LEJON – they are so unique. Also, Sylwia Przybysz – she’s amazing!

What advice would you offer songwriters coming through right now?  

Stay true to yourself and never lose that passion as to why you’re doing this.

Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name any song you like (not one of yours as I’ll do that) and I’ll play it here.

Firstly, can I just say thank you for taking the time to interview me? It really does mean the world to me.

My favourite song right now is Paris – The Chainsmokers

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Follow David Mark Bulley

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Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/DavidMarkBulley/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/DavidMarkBulley

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/davidmarkbulley/?hl=en

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/david-bulley

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/user/DavidBulleyMusic?feature=watch