Feature: A Day In The Life of A Musical Youth.

FEATURE:

A Day In The Life of A Musical Youth.

Words by Sam Liddicott. 30 November, 2013, 08:00 GMT.

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As 2013 draws (nearer) to a close, I investigate six very different musical stars.  I look into what they are currently working on; what this year has brought them- and what is in store for 2014.

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MUSIC has been on my radar, shining brightly.  In fact, it is a radar it itself….

Twitter and Facebook have been awash with music-themed protestations; manifesto and raw ambition.  I have been wrapped up inside of lyrics and music: obsessed by its variable meanings and mysteries.  I know of many different musicians, all of whom are making big plans for the rest of the year (and 2014).  And whilst it is exciting making your first (and subsequent) steps in the industry, it is also quite nerve-wracking.  The amount of money, time and energy needed to make your mark in the modern scene, can take its toll.  I see many status updates, expounding the anxieties of fulfilling musical ambitions; the way it can devour and enslave.  I have been very proud to see- in spite of the hardships- the affected artists are all keenly hardworking; all with their sites set firmly on the horizon.  The five different music acts that are detailed below, go to show the ambition and fortitude that is displayed amongst the eager young musician sect.  Over the last few months, I have heard many new tracks as well as plans for E.P.s and albums: the artists all excitingly campaigning for votes and listens.  It is the hard work and steadfast resolve that is shown by these artists, that gives me so much thought and inspiration.  Having found it a little hard to ease myself from the vicissitudes of procrastination, the effort and enthusiasm that the musicians have shown, has compelled me to make plans of my own- and aim high and as far as possible.  We are in the tail-end of 2013, and it is a year that has seen much activity and mobility amongst my keen musician friends.  They are a great example of how a lot of planning, hard graft and passion can lead to great results.  The following year is going to be exciting for each and every one of them.  It is probably fitting to see what is happening with them now, and reflect on the events and highlights that 2013 has produced…

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ISSIMO:

Northern stars with their eyes on the heavens.

PERHAPS it was an inauspicious introduction to the music of Issimo…

I encountered Abi Uttley.  Having appeared in Coronation Street, she caught my eye playing a vivacious and brassy character.  Sexy and full of life, Abi came across as an engaging and alluring figure.  Through her music, there is plenty of similarity.  The sexiness of her voice, the engaging and stunning looks she possesses is perfectly complimented with the multi-talents and fortitude of her partner-in-crime Marc Otway.  At the present moment a music video is very much in their minds.  The latest single Pretty Simple is going to be released early next year, and the duo are in the midst of recording the promotional video.  On the evidence of their track Things About You, the twosome have lost none of the compelling glory that captured my imagination.  It is a predictably-incredible slice of brilliance from a duo growing in stature and confidence.  They have recently supported Mark Moriss, and have been playing live across the north of England, as well as farther afield.  Abi’s voice is a mixture of seductive soulfulness: capable of dropping your knees and making hairs stand on end.  There is also a sweetness and coquettishness to some of her delivery; in abundance there is power and potency, as well as a host of variable moods and turns.  It is quite an incredible facet, and one that makes her above most of her peers.  Her natural beauty and sex appeal are tied with an engaging, warm and bubbly personality: marking her out as a logical poster girl for every new musician starting out at the moment.  There is no air of pretence or faux celebrity about her: she is genuine and has a burning passion for what she does.  Marc Otway shares many similarities.  He is incredibly hard-working and devoted, and has recorded many solo songs (as well as Issimo numbers).  Dapper of dress and possessed of a rare talent, he is a perfect sweetheart to Utley’s enticing Siren.  Otway is a multi-talented and prodigious musician, whom can pretty much handle any instrument you throw at him.  His song writing is mature, intelligent and poetic, and future years will mark him out as a writer as celebrated (and striking) as the likes of Alex Turner.  He mixes motifs of modern life, and mixes them with tales of love to deliver a incredible and diverse workbook.  Both he and Abi have been honoured to have played Latitude this year: a hell of a notch on their musical love bed.  Gathering positive and salivating reviews (including myself), I have been settled and uplifted by their rise to prominence.  Phil Cass of Cuckoo Records has been keeping his eye on them- I hope they are signed to the label next year.  Our intrepid two-piece have been enlivening and thrilling the environs of Yorkshire, the cities and towns of the north- as well as taking their brand of uplifting music to many a-venue.  I can see 2014 being a clear-cut banner year for them.  London will be hungry for them, and I am confident that an E.P. or album will be in the works.  In a music scene where quality seems to be divorced from quantity, it is a rare treat to witness an act that are so deserving of praise.  In the past few months, the intrepid duo have marked themselves as a potential U.K. White Stripes equivalent.  Whereas the gender alignment has been transposed, our northern stars bear many familiar birthmarks.  The voices of Abi and Marc blend superbly: our heroine has a vocal prowess that says so much in so few words.  Otway is an incredible musician and can summon up the style, sensation and emotion of a five-piece act all by himself.  The tableaux and stories that the two write are diverse and consistently stunning.  Their themes change and their lyrics take you in various different directions (and convey a host of vivid scenes), yet their quality is unimpeachable.  Keep your eyes peeled in the next few months, as Otway and Utley will be names engraved to the tip of their tongue.  I cannot wait to imagine what their debut album will sound like, or whether they are planning a string of singles or E.P.s.  Two things are for sure.  For one, they will be playing many gigs, and will be commanding the attentions of festival organisers and fans alike.  The second (point) is this:

THE future will be very bright- as well as busy.

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Things About You is available at:

http://www.issimomusic.net/listen.html

Follow:

Official:

http://www.issimomusic.net/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/issimomusic

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/ISSIMOMUSIC

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/MarcAndAbi

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CHESS:

Smart-moving Queen topples the King: takes the night.

When it comes to new talent, Chess (Fran Galea) is certainly making huge waves.

It was Chess that got me into music reviewing in the first place.  It seems like only a few weeks ago that I was reviewing her previous E.P. Babygirl.  I was stunned by the quality of that collection.  Not because I was stereotyping all young artists as ineffectual; it was for a very different reason: there was so more confidence contained within.  Chess has since moved on to complete her 2nd E.P., Tuxedo.  The two releases are testament to a young artist whom is eager and ambitious.  The Maltese-born artist has covered a lot of ground in the months between E.P.s.  Babygirl had influences of the likes of Christina Aguilera, Etta James and some of her male heroes: Michael Jackson and Prince.  The trio of tracks were templates of honest emotion and love: tied together with inspiration messages and uplifting codas.  Together incredible projection, the debut set was a stunning example of the talent that Galea possesses.  After the release of Babygirl last winter, Chess has been promoting it and gaining plaudits from fans and the media- in the U.K. and Malta alike.  Gigs in London have followed, and our gorgeous young heroine has embarked on a campaign of personal endeavour.  The as-yet-unreleased E.P. (Tuxedo) takes off where Babygirl finished: there is essence of the positivity and uplifting lyrics, as well as a fierce talent at work.  However, the new E.P. promises different directions.  There is a harder edge and more sexiness and soul.  In the way that Michael Jackson followed the sweetness and edge of Bad with the harder and more diverse Dangerous, Chess has completed an accomplished 1-2: she has retained her core talents and components, yet infused elemental strikes and new influences into the melting pot.  I shan’t- and can’t- give too much away, but have been fortunate enough to hear the E.P. before most others, and can confidently say this much: it is a tremendous achievement and will see the 21-year-old very much in demand over the next year.  The results are hardly serendipitous, as Fran has worked exceptionally hard to make it happen: raising money through Kickstarter, as well as tirelessly writing, planning and location-hunting.  A new video is being shot…well, pretty much as we speak, which will introduce Tuxedo to the world.  Chess has been plotting her moves carefully and has spend a great deal of time and consideration making sure that the music we will hear is of the highest order.  Miss. Galea has a natural charm and smile that will melt most and a stunning beauty and sex appeal.  She is capable of turning heads and hearts, and has proven herself to be a prolific and thought-provoking songwriter.  It is certainly going to be an eventful and exciting next couple of months, as Chess continues her evolution and rise for the top.  The embryonic moves showed what a voice and artistry was contained within; and current footsteps further enforce this, as well as making a bold statement: Fran is ready to conquer the scene.  Within Surrey (Chess is based in Guildford) there a few names that are poised to crack the big time- and it is clear that Chess is amongst them.  Having enjoyed a taste of the London gig scene, I would expect that bigger and more prolific dates and gigs await.  I have known of several lesser-talented musicians (of a similar age) performing in the U.S. as well as across Europe, so it would be fitting if our young star was to be seen on American and European stages in the coming months.  I know that Fran has some anxieties and nerves ahead of Tuxedo’s release.  She has put so much hard work and personal time into its development, that there is a maternal concern as to how it (the E.P.) will be perceived.  The following sentiment need not be expressed, yet I will do so anyway (as the world awaits her new music):

MISS Galea: the very best of luck!

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The Babygirl Remixes E.P. available from:

http://chessofficial.bandcamp.com/

Follow:

Official:

http://chessmusic.co.uk/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/chessofficial

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/chessofficial

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/cesca18

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UNIVERSAL THEE:

All-encompassing makers of beautiful music.

When one thinks of bands and acts beyond the climbs of London…

There can often be a temporary mental block.  It is systematic and endemic of a lack of musical education.  The pages of Facebook and Twitter are aware of the presence of Universal Thee: although far too many are unaware.  The Edinburgh-based band are supported by two supporters of mine: Lisa and James Russell.  The patriarchs of one of the best bands on the scene have been relentlessly positive when it has come to my music writing: in turn they have encouraged me to continue writing and being far-reaching when it comes to my ideals and aims.  In the past few months, I have been lucky enough to review and absorb several of the band’s songs- which make up an impressive and mighty back catalogue.  Robin Spivey, Andrew Perrie and Kevin Haddow complete the quintet, and the five have been plying their trade- and delighting crowds- in their native homeland.  As well as the Scottish crowds, the husband and wife-led band have also been invigorating crowds throughout the U.K.  The band are synonymous with a quiet-loud dynamic: the likes of which Pixies and Nirvana have popularised and canonised.  Our Scot warriors are capable of penning beautiful melodies, as well as hard-hitting anthems: underpinned and augmented by the multifarious vocals of the inter-gender kind.  As well as the likes of Queens of the Stone Age being considered as influences, Universal Thee have been leaning towards a gentler, folk-ier sound as-of-late: hoping to mingle more soothing tones amongst their core tones.  A grand tour and debut L.P. are mooted for early-2014, and it arrives as a tail to a musical beast that has been growing by evolution: stronger and more developed with each passing song.  As well as previous tracks including Wolves of the Netherworld (love the title!), the band have been planning the video for Aranis Natas.  That song continues from where their previous work lead; displaying all the trademarks and hallmarks of the group: swirling and crunching riffs; compelling and intoxicating vocal duet.  To my mind the song is the epitome of the Doolitle-era Pixies.  You can hear Black Francis/Frank Black and Kim Deal in the way that James and Lisa combine: there is a similar growl and power from James; a comparably fiery spark from Lisa.  The song has elements of modern-day Q.O.T.S.A., as well as Pixies: it bridges the ’80s and ’00s with ease.  I have been fascinated and tickled pink by the band’s innovative titles: they can go from the humorous (Bear In The Hospital), ambiguous (Bone Collector), to the neo-Byzantine.  The quality that shines through is axiomatic, and one senses that it will not take much for the everyman Scots to transcend the local scene with ferocious menace.  They have a chest filled with glorious sounds, beauty and grace, as well as ear-catching memorability.  The tracks that I have heard are a salivating glimpse as to what the forthcoming album will hold.  I would urge that you head to their SoundCloud page and investigate further.  In addition, they need a few more ‘Likes’ and ‘Followers’: so please do so.  I tend not to (or not at the moment), give my thumbs-up and gold standard to too many musicians.  Universal Thee employ the gilded threads of some of their heroes, yet act as a ballast to a consecrated individuality that is a rarity in the current climate.  The likes of Edinburgh are initiated to the swagger and seduce of the quintet- how long before the rest of the U.K., nee world, follows suit?  With some liberal affection and some level-headed distributing, the band will see their hard work pay off.  The south will embrace them with open arms, and their transatlantic sound means they could well be playing the clubs of L.A. and New York this time next year.  With new singles being teased and a new L.P. in the near-distance, it is time that a lot more people are in tune to the beat of Universal Thee.  They have seduced me wholly, so I am in no doubt that a horde of like-minded folk will soon be cast asunder and compelled by their sonic spell.  I have no hesitation in my mind saying this:

THE next few months will be some of the best that the quintet have ever had.

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Aranis Natas is available at:

http://www.reverbnation.com/universalthee/songs

Follow:

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/universalthee

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/universalthee

Reverb Nation:

http://www.reverbnation.com/universalthee

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-C70-KSoSJXgNifHO_Ip_A?feature=watch

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LYDIA BAYLIS:

An artist who has inspired me more than any, caps off a bounteous 2013.

In my recent review of Lydia’s single Life Without You…

I may have come over as a little tumescent- in terms of the written word.  I apologise to her, but the effect was profound as well as it was genuine.  Such was the uniformity of Baylis’s charm, that it is helpless to resist.  In interviews she is the epitome of friendliness and vicariousness: coy as well as charming.  Her voice (spoken) is at once light and sunny, as well as being silky and husky.  Lydia is also possessing of immense beauty and has an encapsulating smile.  Whereas a lot of modern musicians comes across as quite boring or inarticulate (in interviews), Baylis is cognizant and engaging: she always seem to be in a good mood and keen to gives as much to the interviewer as possible.  My first experience of Lydia was whilst listening to her track Mirrors.  Its combinations of rippling and lacustrine guitars and orchestral lustre meant that the song was a statement that defined Lydia’s intentions.  Her voice is an instrument of curious intrigue: both soft and powerful; alluring yet empowered.  That track sparked my interests, and compelled me to investigate more of Baylis’s history.  Lydia studied history at Oxford and grew up several miles from where I was born.  There is a lot of chatter around Surrey, Hampshire and London concerning Lydia’s music: many are hotly-tipping Baylis to be a permanent fixture of the festival scene.  She is an artist that can just as easily play a set on Later With Jools Holland, as well as headline a summer festival.  Over the last few months Lydia has engaged in the Coffee House Sessions: playing at various different cafes and venues to students around the U.K.  I would urge you to check out the videos and reviews concerning those performances, as it is clear that Baylis has a clear love of performing, and is a compelling artist to watch.  Near the top of my wish-list for 2014 would be the opportunity to interview Lydia, as she comes across as a mature and focused young woman whom has all the necessary ingredients for a luminescent and long-lasting career.  When Lydia was growing up there were influences of the ’60s and ’70s masters such as Joni Mitchell and Fleetwood Mac were oft-heard.  Baylis is keen to state that she would not try to emulate or appropriate any of the tones of those particular artists: she has a very individual and unique stamp.  It is clear that a high quality of music was presented to a developing child, and it has reflected itself in Baylis’s current work.  The single Life Without You was possessing of an inspirational and f***-you coda: our young heroine experienced heartbreak and sadness, yet has a very potent and direct message (to her former sweetheart).  Lydia has confirmed that she is drawn to subjects other than love-gone-wrong.  Within several of her tracks there are darker and more anxious themes: influenced by the works of Virginia Woolf and the Bronte sisters.  Mirrors contained enough brooding and irascible wonder to show that our heroine has a shades of darkness in her soul.  It is refreshing and inspiring that an artist can cover so much ground and contain so much range- upbeat and light songs mingle alongside more shadowy mandates.  Lydia will have a busy 2014 ahead of her.  Her Mirrors E.P. was met with critical acclaim and heaps of praise throughout the social media channels.  It has recently been remixed (and is available on iTunes): it displays the affection that collaborators have for her music, and the results are appropriately fascinating.  I am confident that the album A Darker Trace will be met with even fonder approval.  It began (life) in 2012, and is a project that is will soon come to full fruition.  After a string of recent performances, there is a definite demand for her music and voice: many are keen to hear as much as possible from her.  As a lyricist, Baylis is mixes literary touches with personal openness, and marries that to some cinematic and widescreen (perhaps thanks to production cohorts Richard Cardwell and Owen Parker).  I have been beleaguered by a recent spate of hollow and insipid ‘talents’ whom have approached the music scene with nary a whimper.  I stated in my last review (https://musicmusingsandsuch.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/single-review-lydia-baylis-life-without-you/) that Lydia had inspired me to write quite a few lyrics.  I have gone out and bought a new lyrics notebook (yes I am a geek); I have also designed a photograph that I cannot get from my head, and made strides in a song that I am writing.  It may seem improbable that one artist can have such an impact on another person, yet that is what Baylis is capable of.  She is still taking her tender, infantile steps in the music business, but has shown what a class act she is.  There is no good reason not to check out her music, share its majesty and eagerly await her forthcoming work.  I will not end this particular piece quite as flirtatiously (is that the right word?).  I am keen to meet Lydia and give personal thanks, as she has brought about reinvigoration in me.  For those whom are looking for an ideal paragon and common muse, then they would do good to investigate Baylis with considered passion.  If songs such as Mirrors and Life Without You have demonstrated anything is…

THIS young talent will be a huge fixture very soon.

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The Mirrors Remixes E.P. can be purchased from:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/mirrors-remixes-ep/id663578254

Follow:

Official:

http://www.lydiabaylis.com/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/LydiaBaylis

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/lydiabaylis

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/LydiaBaylis

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/lydiabaylis/

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ELENA RAMONA:

A stunning talent and huge prospect to watch in 2014.

Elena is someone that has impressed me more than most as-of-late.

When I interviewed her recently, I was struck by how enthusiastically she spoke of music- and how much it means to her.  I was bowled over and overwhelmed by how naturally she talks about music and what inspires her.  In addition to possessing stunning beauty, Elena also has a down-to-earth quality: she is a ubiquitous artist that wants to be identifiable because of who she is naturally.  There is no façade or costume design with Elena: she strives to be the embodiment of an everyday and modern-day role model: someone who speaks to young woman and all other sectors, just by being completely natural.  Within Surrey, she is building a name for herself as an artist to watch with great interest.  Elena has been working hard to ensure that she brings life to her musical imaginations.  Her single Rise was meet with a wave of adulation and fanfare.  People were struck by the quality of the song, as well as the clear and simple messages that were being put forth.  At the moment, Elena is preparing the music video to her latest single, and has been speaking excitedly about her forthcoming E.P. (Hold On).  Although it is has been a steep and endless climb, Miss. Stathaki is not a woman who is ever ready to quit or compromise.  She promises that her E.P. will be a collection of varying themes and sounds.  In the past, Elena has been involved in dub-step as well as pop, and has marked herself as a boundless performer and writer.  The E.P. will contain some sexiness and sweat-inducing lasciviousness; there will be some honest and heartfelt directness, as well as mystery and motivation.  It is clear that friends and family mean a great deal to her, and have compelled Elena to work hard to achieve her dreams.  She has a drop-dead-gorgeous beauty and a vote-winning personality that means she will draw in a huge number of supporters and fans.  At the moment she is a one-woman army of publicity, promotion, planning and perfection.  Everything that is being done and plotted is done so with as much sweat as love.  Elena has been speaking with desire when it comes to her music video present: she is excited to be able to release videos as well as her tracks.  In the present climate, there are so few musicians that are prepared to put in the hard graft: in the age of reality T.V. most expect success and fandom to put on a plate ready-made and pre-heated.  The future of the Greek-born starlet will be bright, because Elena is unflinchingly direct and strong when it comes to her own music.  I know from speaking with her that success means a great deal.  Elena has put a lot of her money, as well as time towards making music that she wants too: on her own terms with no public funding.  There is a homemade and predetermined logic to Elena’s music.  She is making sure that she differentiates herself from her peers and contemporaries, and wants to separate herself from the rest.  Rise showed what a mature and talent songwriter she is; showing that she has a voice that is as compelling as it is memorable.  Whilst it is easy to compare most current artists to a pre-existing idol, Elena seems to resonate with originality: it is near-impossible to compare her directly with anyone else present or past.  She is a woman that is doing things on her own terms, and does not want to be compared with any of her local contemporaries.  The past year has seen Elena mature in terms of her confidence and talent.  She has told me that her producer Martyn Corbet has helped her to hone and develop her voice.  Before lengthy recording sessions were conducted between the two, Corbet insisted that our heroine practise and make her vocals as strong as possible.  The results that have been shown in Rise (as well as subsequent recordings) have shown that Elena is getting better and better.  It is a busy whirlwind for the 23-year-old at present.  Whilst she balances her daily job (in retail), by night (and days off) she works on music videos; lyrics and songs are written; the future is planned.  The E.P. Hold On is not too far away, and it will act as testament to, and summation of, a bright and vibrant talent whom will be beyond compare.  There will be a myriad of diverse steps, as well as surprises and quality.  I hope that London venues prick up their ears, and give Elena a chance to shine in the capital: making it easier for her to win a London-based fan base.  I am sure that the release of her E.P.- as well as the coming year- will mean that she is in hot demand.  As much as anything..

I am confident that 2014 will be Elena Ramona’s year.

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Rise is available at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8smsMbqXxo

Follow:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elena-Ramona/323928237668916

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/elenaramona90

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/TheStathaki1

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/elenaramona90

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NIGHT WOLF:

Ambitious maestro is filled with crepuscular menace, brave ambition and a beautiful heart. 

THE past year has been quite a hectic one for Ryan Wilcox.

The man behind the Nightwolf has been collaborating, writing and conspiring with a breathless canter.  I encountered the Nightwolf moniker a few months ago, and was fortunate enough to (be able) to review Watts the Time Mr. Wolf- the previous E.P. from Wilcox.  I was mesmerised by the fusion of different sounds and styles.  Our curator seemed deftly able to be able to weave together pulsating and jumping piano rolls; dark and cinematic orchestral waves as well as menacing dub-step (steel toe-capped) kicks.  Amidst mini-operas about financial decay in the U.S. there were hard-hitting anthems.  It was clear that the man behind the menace had a tender heart and creative mind-set.  As 2013 closes its curtains, a final glimpse of light emerges from a restless talent.  Hot off of the heels of ‘Watts’ arrives Night Wolf Presents The Co-Lab Vol. 1.  Move It On ()featuring Elsadie Smith) opens the current E.P.  With a throbbing and stirring beat, Smith coolly intones: “”Just move it onto me“; her voice displaying sexiness and a seducing charm.  It is a slinky number that parabonds classic strands of Destiny’s Child and En Vogue; tying in some of-the-moment R. ‘n’ B.  Smith is a alluring and engaging voice, showing hints of modern singers such as Rhianna and Ciara; but having a distinct and memorable personality.  The song’s title is used as an infectious coda: repeated by our heroine to create a hypnotic pull.  The steady and punching beat that backs the voice lynchpins the two vocal stages.  As Smith departs, a staccato and syncopated rap enters- its darker hues contrasting strikingly following a sweet and light vocal.  It is a syncopated stream-of-consciousness that implores: “Focus on the destination”.  It is a great location to begin our travelogue.  As with Abbey Road or Rated R, Work Rate (featuring LIV The Pilot and J.A. (Soul Rhymaz) immediately follows the opening track.  With no room for breath, J.A. continues his prophetic mandate, as a twinkling electronic tapestry is woven.  J.A.’s voice has elements of Tine Tempah, containing a similar tone and delivery.  The song’s messages deal with the potency of a redemptive spirit; how you can get through the worst days if you focus: the power of ambition, music and fortitude can keep you strong.  The arpeggio electronics (and beat) propel the song and create a bow-wave of force, perfectly supporting the twin vocals.  With a dominating and stormy electronic heartbeat, Sucker Free (featuring J.A. (Soul Rhymaz) will be familiar to anyone affiliated with Nightwolf’s previous E.P.  The sound of modern Britain; the hard street life and reality of modern youth is laid bare.  The sonic backdrop acts as a physical presence: it glares and stalks; beats and retreats to create a sense of (violent) reality.  The vocals are once again rapid and powerful, as J.A. (once again) spits truths such as: “you’re such a wannabe“.  The vocal trips and waits; stutters and rolls to keep the atmosphere engaging and compelling.  The penultimate track Enemy List (Remix) (featuring Gregory Style and LIV The Pilot) begins as a soulful and stunning track.  The sonic elements are well-composed and subtle.  The vocals take prescience as you are drawn into the smooth and tantalising vocal delivery.  Towards the end of the track a coda of “run away” is delivered: implored as a direct message, a paen to choosing the right path- it is at once inspiring and chilling.  Downgraded (featuring Centrist) brings the E.P. to a close.  It is a swansong that begins its embryonic climb as immediately as anything Nightwolf has produced.  With classic strings and pummelling electronic beats duet-ting, there is a different element at play.  The emphasis is on the sonic atmosphere (sans vocal interjection).  The strings bow and constrict, romantically swaying as a savage- yet restrained- beat crackles into view like a boa constrictor on the hunt.  That light-dark contrast symbolises the song’s majesty: your mind and heart is drawn in, and your breath halted.  It is a perfect way to end a scintillating and fascinating E.P.  I have known Ryan Wilcox for a few months now, and know how much music means to him.  A great deal of attention and consideration have been put into the E.P., and I hope it reaps (its just) rewards.  Few artists are as daring and prolific as Nightwolf, and the future will be busy and exciting indeed.  Given what we have just received- and what has come before- it begs the pertinent question:

WHO knows what is to come?

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Various Artists- Night Wolf Presents The Co-Lab Vol. 1 is available via:

http://www.digital-tunes.net/releases/night_wolf_presents_the_co_lab_vol__1

Follow:

E.P. Launch:

https://www.facebook.com/events/537238406361069/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/nightwolfuk?directed_target_id=0

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/nightwolfuk

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/ryanwilcox6

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Biography: Second Hand Poet

 

Second Hand Poet:

 

 

Second Hand Poet is the moniker of Jamie- a Surrey-based musician sure to make huge waves very soon.  The music scene around Surrey and London is producing some notable and exciting prospects for 2014, and Second Hand Poet ranks alongside them.  Jamie’s acoustic tales have captured many hearts and minds, and will continue to win support throughout the coming years.

   I experienced the magic of Second Hand Poet through the appropriately-named Bedroom Acoustics (I reviewed one of its tracks, Little Sun: https://musicmusingsandsuch.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/second-hand-poet-little-sun-track-review/).  That E.P. demonstrated a sound that was sparse and captivating.  There was no clutter or over-production: the songs came through clean and pure, and you could picture yourself, sitting in the room with him.  It was a live E.P. that layid down the foundations that have been firmly built around.  Our hero has since gone onto play The Boileroom (in Guildford) (http://secondhandpoet.bandcamp.com/album/boileroom-radio-live-session), performed at acoustic nights throughout London, as well as being interviewed for Boileroom Radio.  A local folklore and legend had been laid down, and the personal themes and poems displayed a sensitive heart with a resilient and optimistic soul.  Within the Bedroom Acoustics E.P. was a haunting sound characteristic of Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, and there was a flavour of the ’70s, married to a modern-day coda and ambition.  The voice that radiated from the songs was a unique and unheard-of instrument, and earmarked Second Hand Poet as an original voice (in a homogenised scene).  Second Hand Poet has recently played Oxjam in Clapham (supporting a fight against poverty), as well as playing shows around London and Surrey.  There are more tantalising dates to come, but the main focus is the debut album.

   In an appropriately homemade fashion, Second Hand Poet is making the album ‘D.I.Y’: there are no shiny gimmicks or needless over-done polish: the album will pick up where the (Bedroom Acoustics) E.P. left off and give our young hero a full-length disc to display his craft.  The 12-track L.P. will be debuted in December, and will promise much to love: the same haunting and breezy mix of the E.P., as well as a whole host of fascinating tales of modern and personal life.  Cards are being kept close to Jamie’s chest, as the details and touches are still be added and amended.  The track Lost At Sea is a glimpse of what to expect.  Its intro is a cacophony of flowing beauty; it bounces and flows.  It brings to mind Nick Drake (circa Bryter Layter)-cum-Think Tank Blur.  Romantic interplay between acoustic guitar and piano sets hairs on end, and images where “fish dance” are scored by a far-off and effecting vocal performance.  There is blood on the rock; the sea crashes and home seems far away.  The song is based around a dislocated tale: a wife sitting at home not knowing whether her husband (serving in the navy) is alive or dead.  You can hear the ache and anxiety in the vocals; the sonic backing adds chills and beauty to each word.  Second Hand Poet’s vocals is a symphony of drama and tenderness: there is no need for histrionics as the plaintive and direct delivery strikes hard.  It is the combination of effecting vocals, backed by beautiful finger-picking and delicate piano, that makes the song such a triumph.

  Based on the evidence of Lost At Sea- and knowing what I have witnessed during Bedroom Acoustics-  there will be some much-anticipated talk and excitement when the debut album arrives.  Second Hand Poet has been making impressions on the local scene and reaching out to as many people as possible, and the following year will see a lot more from the bright young talent.  In a generation and decade where there are few genuine and worthy talent out there, Second Hand Poet is deserving of a wide audience and considered ear.  Check out what is already on the official BandCamp page (http://secondhandpoet.bandcamp.com/track/heaven-knows), and follow Second Hand Poet on Twitter (https://twitter.com/SecondHandPoet); as a bedroom-dreamt, modern-day acoustic star is preparing an L.P. (and future) that promises much rewards…

 

And that’s a first hand guarantee!

Feature: Kate Hollowood

FEATURE:

KATE HOLLOWOOD:

A future prospect to watch very closely.

Words by Sam Liddicott. 16 November, 2013, 09:00 G.M.T.

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As the year nears its end, I focus on an actor whom has her sights firmly set.  I look back on a diverse and important year; signalling what is to come in 2014.

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I can remember clearly the first my first encounter with Kate, and the word that stuck out:

‘Force’.  It seems a perfect word to sum up the essence of Kate Hollowood.  An actor whom is a meteorological whirlwind of focus and foresight.  In all the time I have known her, she has never quit on her goals- nor will she ever, I hope

  That word (force) came to my attention via her blog post called Music: Its Power’ (http://mylittleponderings.com/2011/01/15/thepowerofmusic/).  That blog post was posted back on 15th January, 2011 (It was seventeen days after that blog entry was posted, that I found Kate).  Within the post, Kate talked of her passion for music; how she daydreams to it; how it soundtracks her life, and how- certainly at the time- it gave her some (much-needed) hope.  It was a particular phrase that struck me:  “Music has always been a passion but in the past two years, it has become more a way of life”.  For me- at the time, and more so now- music is very much a “way of life“.  Not in the sense that it is my steady job: more that it fills my mind completely.  For me, it is something that dominates my passions and desire; and- like Kate said- it is a passion that is hard to live without.  It may seem like a digression (given the fact that Kate is an actor); yet sums up this feature perfectly.  Before I’d even found out anything more of Kate- her interests, job, favourite song, what she sounded like- I was already hooked.  It was that one blog post that compelled me to go after her; to mail her and say how much it meant to me.  The post showed so much openness and honesty; so much genuine passion as well as a vulnerability as well.  It acted at once as a perfect metaphor for Kate as a person; and as an actor: there is modest present as well.  On 1st February, 2011, I mailed Kate (via Facebook), telling  her how struck I was by her words, and- given what I had read in her previous blog posts- how impressed I was by her fortitude, bravery and focus.  I had never done this with anyone else: never felt so bound to pay tribute and kudos in such a way- it was a moment that changed my life…

   It has been thirty-three and a half months since I sent that email.  Kate and I have been in communication ever since, and to this day have not met face-to-face; but do you know what: it is not something I would ever rush (to resolve).  From such a serendipitous initial encounter I have found so many common threads; so much shared familiarity with her, that has meant that I want the friendship to last for as long as possible: it has meant that much.  The reason for this feature was not to say “look how great my friend is; isn’t she great etc…”.  She is (of course); but my intentions are two-fold: to demonstratively show what a talent we have in her; as well as leave you with an indelible and crucial coda (which will arrive at the very end).  Through various different stages of my life- mainly through studying in Cambridge- I have had the pleasure to see a fair few actors )who have gone on to appear in Downtown Abbey and The Inbetweeners amongst other things) blossom.  I remember watching them eagerly, thinking about where they would be years in the future, unsure of what path their careers would take.  In retrospect, it is hardly surprising that they made it big and are having such an illustrious time.  When I watch Kate’s performances (and look back at the experiences she has been through), I am in no mind that similarly brilliant opportunities are awaiting.  The industry (acting) is phenomenally tough to crack (and flourish in), yet windows open for those whose focus is strongest and most inflamed.

   My mind- even now- floats back to that blog post (Music: Its Power). As I type now I am listening to music (a kick-ass selection of Radiohead’s finest); I am thinking about it (lyrics are springing to my mind); I am singing (in my best Thom Yorke-esque impression).  It is rare in this age- a digital age- that a human being has such an instantaneous connection with another; often connections are subjugated; forced down in favour of banality and the trite ‘connection’ usually only occurs when meeting in the flesh.  It was from Kate’s impassioned manifesto that I learned a few things.  She was- and subsequent blog posts proved- that she was someone who was determined to succeed; someone keen to connect with as many people as possible, and above all: someone who would never let obstacles stand in her way.  Marilyn Monroe said: “Fame doesn’t fulfil you.  It warms you for a bit.  But the warmth is temporary”.  Kate is someone who wants genuine respect: to inspire and encourage others.  It is what she has worked at for years; and something that she will work tirelessly towards.  In her there is a genuine talent; someone worthy of close introspection.  I have had many a conversation where Kate has modestly downplayed any adulation I have given.  I know how much her career means to her, and how high she sets the bar for herself.  The past few years have seen her make an impact; change events and leave some sizeable footprints.  Foundations have been laid down, and we have in our midst a talent that has proven a lot already, and has a limitless amount of firepower and potential waiting to be unleashed.  Let us get down to business then…

   Kate Hollowood is a (recently turned) 26-year-old actor, hailing from Dorset.  Having attended the Arts University College at Bournemouth, she has achieved a great deal since graduating.  Her acting work has taken her all across the world, and spanned several continents.  As I type this, she is currently on her way to South Africa, and I am wondering if Kate will be embarking on any acting projects whilst out there.  There is something alternatively quintessential English, yet at the same time international about Kate.  Her voice is perhaps as soothing and calming as they come.  She has a great talent for accents, but her natural speaking voice is warm and intelligent.  Obviously music is a source of happiness and inspiration for Kate, and I have heard few that are as passionate about it than her.  She has a great affection and respect for lyrics, and is a big fan of The National, yet has an ear for a wide range of genres and bands.  Our young idol also displays an enthusiastic and detailed eye for photography, and has a keen visual eye and imagination.  Through Instagram updates and Facebook posts, Kate has captured many a beautiful and stunning image, and I feel that directing is something that would come very naturally to her (would be quite a double major).  In the months I have known her, she has faced a deal of stresses and pains of the heart (both physical and emotional); yet has soldiered doggedly through, making sure nothing gets on top of her.  It is her positive attitude and energy that enforced her ambition and hardy work rate.  In addition to extra circular interests and pursuits, modelling is also another string to her bow.  Her heartbreaking beauty is something that is emblematic, and her smile incredibly infectious.  Kate divides her time between London and Dorset and has a love of the bustle of city life, yet is possibly at her happiest when encapsulated by the coastal splendours of Mudeford and Christchurch.  There is a utilitarianism in her personality as well as her abilities that means as a person- as well as an actor- range and diversity will be synonymous bedfellows.  Many actors can be typecast and honed in by limitation, yet Kate has an adaptability that will see her moving in many different- and multifarious-directions.  It is early days (still) and the infant steps are starting to evolve, yet a great swathe of land has been covered.

    Kate’s showreel is something that shows the range of our young heroine (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JczdeHpvv9M).  As well as appearing in a number of different advertising campaigns (for the likes of Arena Flowers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpZQ5SEF9Jg and Comedy Central: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJMcJiMbaAE), she has also leant her name and talent to the likes of The Underwater Realm and Toploader (she appeared in the music video for their single Never Stop Wondering: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-6_0YIQ6-w).  It is not just her work in advertisements, music videos and T.V. spots that has impressed me: there is a whole host more!  Recently I smiled broadly as I witness Kate on BBC One’s Doctors.  There she played a ‘promiscuous’ and flirtatious patient, Ellie Barratt.  Appearing over the course of two episodes (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dycMogl-3zc and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4o450CtVsLg) Kate’s performance was solid and scene-stealing, and was an important foothold.  I remember discussing (and praising) her performance on Doctors.  As well as being a little nervous about seeing herself on-screen, I sensed some doubt in Kate’s mind.  Modest to a tee, she had nothing to fear.  The feedback and praise received from social media demonstrated what a great job she had done, yet I know one thing for sure: she wants to challenge bigger and bigger projects; stage shows and hard-hitting dramas.  It is always great seeing the lighter side of Kate, whether it is in Doctors; as the heroine in advertisements; or in music videos.  As much as that smile can intoxicate, the straight-faced side of our heroine can be equally if not more- powerful and potent.  Kate has appeared as Sarah Goddard in the Internet-based series Steffi, as well as the forthcoming Still Waters (appearing alongside John Hannah).  There is one character that strikes me; one role Kate has inhabited that has struck me hard: Myra Hindley.

  This is a woman who has been portrayed by the likes of Maxine Peake; had biographies and documentaries dedicated to her; as well as on-going news focus and scandal.  Even 11 years after her death, Hindley is still portrayed on-screen and stage: many are keen to try to understand the mind of one of the U.K.’s most prolific murderers.  Kate played the role of Hindley back in 2011, in the self-penned play, We Made It Happen.  Showcasing at the Southwark Playhouse, it was a production- and performance- that received positive reviews and proved what a fine dramatic actor Kate was (and is).  Since then Kate has also appeared in Myra: a short film where again she portrayed Hindley (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lszl7HE2SiU).  I know how proud Kate is of the film, and how much time and effort she has spent honing the characterisation of Hindley and given her unique take on a much-discussed figure.  If you look at the film (above), it is scary just how convincing the portrayal is: there is something quite terrifying and unsettling; yet gripping and compelling.  The role of Myra Hindley is something that I am sure Kate will be giving life to in the near-future.  A drama or film similar to See No Evil would be a tantalising prospect.  What Miss Hollowood has in mind with regards to a third outing, will be wonderful to see.

   Perhaps even more impressive than her chilling turns as Hindley, is Kate’s activism for gay rights.  Last year Mike Buonaiuto directed the short film Invisible Parents.  It was a film that helps promote equality for gay couples hoping to become parents.  In a 21st century society where racism, sexism and homophobia are rampant and- sadly- too common, it is a campaign that has helped to redress the inequality gay couples face (when it comes to adoption).  Kate leant her voice to the film (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeBy_q4i40s) and tirelessly promoted and supported the campaign; as well as giving the film’s images and scenes emotion, life and huge resonance.  Over the last few weeks, the film #LoveAlwaysWins has been viewed over 900,000 times on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AeqOFo7MRw&feature=youtu.be).  In spite of some truly disgusting and shocking YouTube comments, the campaign is striving to overturn a hard fact: that animalism and prejudice is still so widespread.  It is still illegal in Russia for gay couples to publicly show their love: a shocking fact in a modern-day society.  Russia will be hosting the Winter Olympics next year, and have a lot of growing to do.  As well as a homophobic ignorance, the country has been the subject of negative press due to racism in football as well.  #LoveAlwaysWins has received support and praise from the likes of Stephen Fry, and features Kate as one of the leads.  I was immensely proud of her, and- judging by the hoards of positive comments on Facebook and Twitter- many others are as well.  The issue of gay rights is something dear to Kate’s heart, and something important to many millions.  So many actors are overly concerned with shallow endeavours and hollow projects, Kate has spent a lot of time and effort promoting and supporting worthy causes: something that has earned her an enormous amount of respect.

  The woman behind the characters is someone I admire hugely.  She is someone who is incredibly modest, with a restless ambition.  Our shared love of the likes of The National and Arcade Fire have fuelled many a pleasant conversation, and it is Kate’s passion for music which has inspired a lot of musical inspiration in me.  She is someone who loves to encourage ambition and drive in others and has spent a great deal of time and energy helping friends (actors and non): spreading their messages, promoting their causes and pushing their ambitions farther and wider.  I have written a comedy with Kate in mind (as my blog post The Equality State highlighted); and have a grand music video idea (that she would be perfect for).  It is the talent that she has laid down, allied to the faith she shows in others; tied with the limitless potential, that has inspired me- and many others- to up their game; put their minds to use and write their little behinds off- with our heroine in mind.  With her immense beauty, down-to-earth and all-encompassing personality as well as her modest and drive, Kate will be working hard and striking high: a determination that will reap rewards and plaudits.  I know how hard she has worked this year; how many auditions she has been to- she has worked harder than anyone I know to make her voice heard.  The body of work that she has put out prove a tantalising glimpse of what the future holds, and what dedication she has to her craft.

   Of course all of my effusive words and proclamations are not to be taken lightly.  Over the last thirty-three months I have watched Kate go from an ambitious young actor, to someone who has done a great deal of important work- and helped a great number of people.  In a world- and an industry- with so much unspectacular talent (most of whom take their opportunities for granted), I am excited to see exactly what Kate achieves throughout 2014.  Whether it is starring roles in huge comedies and dramas; opportunities in the U.S., or appearances on the London stage: we can only guess.  She herself has clear goals.  I know how much the business means to her, and how strong a love she has for what she does.  Acting is not just a job (to make ends meet): it is something that she wants to dedicate her life to, and be as busy as possible.  I have known of very few actors whom have such a versatile adaptability.  The facets that Kate has in her arsenal, mean that future opportunities will come flooding in.  In the U.K., we are producing some quality dramas, and getting a lot more prolific and confident with regards to new comedy.  I hope that a mixture of theatre, drama and comedy will be featuring on Kate’s C.V. in the coming years, and it will be exciting to see what is forthcoming and what adventures are ahead.

   Our heroine has already proved her versatility and set our her stall.  I would not be too surprised (far from it) if she were to appear in something as gritty (and mind-bending) as Breaking Bad; a huge long-running comedy, as well as some terrific films: her previous work demonstrates her versatility and abilities.  So keep your eyes peeled dear readers- as well as hungry casting directors!  It was Kate’s blog (and her post Music: Its Power) that brought her to my attention; and now her to yours.  It is always worth taking risks; to connect with people and giving credit where its due.  If it hadn’t been for that afternoon in February 2011, I would not have met Kate (and missed out on a great friendship).  Too many people are overly concerned with celebrity movements, fame-chasing and self-absorption.  There are a lot of great actors out there that will be coming through the ranks, and Kate is someone who will be making big impressions very soon.  I hope that broadcasters, directors and T.V. companies (at home and abroad) prick up their ears and open their eyes (and minds), as here is a young talent with the ability to do pretty much anything.  Acting means a great deal to Kate, and it is a passion and career that she is devoted to: and one which she wants to grow and grow- as the months and years pass.  If reading this compels or influences you in any way, it should be towards the realisation that leaps and risks should be taken; thinking and attitudes should be reassessed: it can lead to incredible things.  I know the subject will read this and demur (modest to praise); yet the plain truth is this: I have followed her trajectory for a while and immensely proud.  Many, many others are as well.  I am in no doubt that my prophecies and predictions will be fulfilled: you only have to look at what has been to know exactly what will come.

   I shall leave you with a final quote from Kate’s Music: Its Power post, that perfectly distils our subject.  It described honestly her feelings about music- in January 2011, as of now- yet can equally be attributed to her desire to perform.  I hope that there will be a lot more blog posts coming from Kate very soon, as I have always found something personal and relatable in her postings.  Her infectious and undeterred resilience and determined soul will bring its rewards.  In terms of Kate’s passion for music; her strength and fortitude in life; as well as her goals and desires towards acting, perhaps no one but her can say it better:

It’s a passion and a need that I don’t think I would be able to live without”.

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All blog quotes are sourced from:

http://mylittleponderings.com/

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Follow Kate:

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/k8hollowood

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/officialkatehollowood

Official Site:

http://www.katehollowood.com/

Official Blog:

http://mylittleponderings.com/

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/kisses2usir

Spotlight:

http://www.spotlight.com/interactive/cv/5495-7861-4508

Single Review- Lydia Baylis: Life Without You

Lydia Baylis

Life Without You.

9.7/10.0

Life Without You is available at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZWyalFqNCI

The E.P. Life Without You is available via:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/lydia-baylis/id308029239

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The London-based young sensation has been providing a breath of fresh air (into a stagnated market); her current footsteps promise to leave indelible (and staggering) indentations.  The effect one is left with: heartbreak.

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ALAS dear reader, for it has been a while since I have done this…

So forgive any waffling or dewy-eyed ramblings.  I have postulated- on more than one occasion- the reasoning behind my blogging celibacy.  I have been aghast recently by a number of things.  In the course of my duties- as a blogger; as a friend- I have always been surprised- both good and bad- by the imbalance of appreciation.  I have given a lot to many- through words, deeds or material wealth- and received (from a few) very little.  On the other hand, I have been fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of some very generous words- from people I have never met.  It seems that music- and music writing- is as unpredictable and inscrutable as music itself.  For all those I have spent a lot of (wasted) time on, I feel angry; for those I have given scarcity to (yet feel honoured) I feel very proud: the point is on its way.  I am in the process of nailing down my music ambitions and credos.  Being a 30-year-old, one would expect- in musical terms- an evolutionary development.  For me, I am the amoeba crawling from the swamp.  Because of personal misfortune- depression, lack of finance, neurological issues etc.- as well as some musician-in-training clichés- nervousness, self-doubt, needless perfection, my canvas has remained (for now) blank.  Today, in fact, I am taking a (brave) step: advertising for band members.  I have been writing since I was 18, and have been ‘honing’ my voice for just as long.  I feel proud because of what I can do, you see.  I consider myself to be above-average as a lyricist (no Alex Turner or Bob Dylan but no slouch) and an ambitious singer (insanely so); and all the ideas are in place: the band name; album cover design; song titles; most of the lyrics, too.  I always feel regret by procrastination- it makes me feel sombre.  As much as I know what I can achieve- and what I want to- I am held back by financial, psychological and logistical limitations.  I am working hard to rectify this, but it leads me (not balletic) to my main thesis: the determination of others.  I have always been impressed by the ambition and steely-eyed drive of new musicians: it seems to be an art form that brings out quite a heroic foresight.  It seems that many (new musicians) would sacrifice their home and hearts to do what they love: writing and performing ‘their visions’.  I have never been of the attitude: “Why the fuck them and not me”- I have always been immensely proud.  In my itinerant travels as a blogger (and music obsessive) I have reviewed, surmised and theorised a great many bands and solo artists.  And while there has been a disparity of quality and a variable see-saw of memorability, there has been a gravitational constant: the determination of the associated artists.  I have reviewed dub-step artists, pop purveyors; the European disco-cum-rock machinations of Swedish goddesses; as well as U.S. rock manifestos.  I have always felt about ambivalent towards one particular sector of new music: the band market.  I have been concerned that too many, for too long, are too concerned with sounding like too many others.  In the north: Manchester, Liverpool, there has been homogenisation.  With the success of current thoroughbreds such as Artic Monkeys, many bands have tried to- bafflingly- emulate their potential through borderline-plagiarism, and at the very best shown a total lack of innovation and personality.  So too, many groups (in the north), have attempted to recapture the magic of Oasis and the ’90s heroes: not with feint brushstrokes but sodding tins of grey paint.  I can understand the appeal of influence; every band or artist is influenced by someone and there is a temptation to employ a little similarity.  The issue is thus: if you are trying to be someone else, why bother making music at all?  The likes of YouTube and iTunes are awash with historical music: you can access ’50s and ’60s rarities and modern-day wonder: there is no need or desire to hear a counterfeit.  My concern is not geographically universal: there are areas (of the U.K.) where there is a pioneering diversity.  Up in Scotland bands such as Universal Thee, solo artists such as Steve Heron and main stayers alike are flying a very bold flag.  Down near my way (in Brighton) there is elliptical and calypso multifariousness courtesy of sunshine pop and bonhomie- without a hint of sarcasm or irony.  Calliope would be proud of some of 2013’s musical entrants.  In spite of my subversive mutterings I have been taken aback by the sheer force of some acts.  I shall not name-check (check my previous reviews), but bands and solo acts from the U.K.- as well as the U.S., Europe and Australia- have rekindled my faith in originality.  I have been endlessly trying to pull a double-edge sword from Camelot for a while now; it is entitled: ‘The Fate of the 21st Century Solo Artist’.  Unlike a band, solo artists have to helm the workload by themselves.  With your average group the stresses and anxieties are divided triplicate (into four; or five-fold).  Your lone star has the responsibility of making all the moves; shouldering all the weight, and putting all of the creative energies forth.  In the modern scene, there are quite a few solo artists: each of whom are putting their own stamp on the landscape.  The XY D.N.A. is represented by some spectacular progeny: wunderkinds such as James Blake and Jake Bugg; less-than-spectacular moppets such as Justin Bieber: there is ‘something for everyone’.  For the XX there are the glib and unremarkable: Lady Gaga and Katy Perry spring to mind; as well as the perennial market leader: Laura Marling.  With the spate of X-Factor cretins spraying their lipid residue all over the airwaves, a lot of genuine and deserving talent gets overlooked.  In any solo artists the market needs- and expects; I also desire- a number of imperishable ingredients: great words; variegated sounds and a beautiful- ethereal or entrancing- voice.  I have been depressed by the large number of bland and anodyne voices: many of whom have sound-tracked John Lewis adverts (take a bow Thoroughly Modern Milly).  It is a rarity that you are truly staggered by the alchemy proffered by a solo artist.  The music market is a sardine can at the moment: bright new things tend to follow the projection of population growth.  I admire the statements, bromides and song sheets that are produced, yet if there is little to linger in the memory, the poor subjects risk being buried- and forgotten about.  In a respect it is bands that lead the way with regards to the upper echelons.  The best albums of this year (aside from Laura Marling’s latest) have been band-made; the great musical forces of all time (with a slight majority) tend to be bands: it is a safer and more glamorous lifestyle for the wannabe musician.  I have always been admiring of the human whom forgoes company and fraternity- making music the way they want it.  If the patron abides by the golden rules- making music that is truly memorable- then they can grasp a much-needed foothold in Music Mountain- and remain at the peak for considerable years.  As I type I am listening to three different bands.  The video for Radiohead’s Jigsaw Falling Into Place sees Thom Yorke- one eye half-closed; head a-wobbling- proclaiming “Words are a sawn-off shotgun”.  The Beautiful South’s Paul Heaton is seductively crooning: “Either you are simply beautiful/Or I am simply dumb” (in the much underrated Dumb).  Nirvana are rattling Pennyroyal Tea riffs, via a coda of: “I’m on my time with everyone”.  There is no shared lineage between the three disparate acts, yet there are two very relevant points.  The diversity outlined by the three groups summon up crepuscular and mind-altering majesties.  The defunct Hull-based legends are fronted by a genius wordsmith: witty, sarcastic and endlessly quotable.  The Seattle grunge idols were fronted by a idol with an admirable attitude towards music, and what is considered a ‘credible career path’; whilst the (hopefully no defunct) Oxford icons are synonymous with gorgeous vocals, monumental songs and endless creative scope.  The tectonic plates are not mutually exclusive to the band market: solo artists have been remiss in their recruitment.  There are too few that push the envelope (for want of a better phrase); there is little vocal diversity; too few quiet-loud dynamics, and an overall sense of ‘playing it safe’.  I shall return to this point later, but a second point is to be made: the lyrics quoted could be attributed to, and be affiliated with the personality, intent and musicianship of one: Lydia Baylis.

Before I get down to the bedrock, I want to make a frank admission: I am incredibly jealous of Lydia.  There are a number of different reasons. For one- and with nary an ounce of hyperbole- she is possibly the most beautiful human I have ever seen.  Although it bears no relevance to music itself, she is an entrancing and heart-stopping portrait.  With flowing blonde hair and an infectious smile, she has the looks of a ’50s and ’60s U.S. movie idol (Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn) yet has a very modern beauty.  She is the kind of woman that is devoid of any arrogance and can drop jaws with very little effort.  It is perhaps peripheral to my objectives but it is worth noting: here is a heroine that can seduce, psychotropically.  I shall put my testosterone into Alice’s (of Wonderland) Shrinking Potion and say this: her personality is even more mesmeric.  I have not met Lydia in the flesh- I would be rendered a babbling Hugh Grant-esque floppy-haired mess if I did- but I have read (and heard) several interviews Lydia has done.  Very few solo artists whom have a gorgeous voice have an ‘appealing’ speaking voice (Paloma Faith and Adele spring to mind).  It is not me being a Home Counties snob, I just find it important for music idols and forbearers to be as influential through interviews (and in the flesh) as they are in their music.  Lydia’s speaking voice is honeydew and caramel; calming and soothing.  If you listen to any of her interviews (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK9avt9SBN8 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=438kazm_d-w); you can not help but smile.  Lydia always seems to have a smile on her face and speaks passionately about her music.  Unlike many of her peers, Baylis has a remarkable intelligence: there are no ‘umms’ ‘ahhs’ ‘like’ or faux positivity: the artist is a down-to-earth and everyday icon.  Baylis has the starling beauty and personality that can sway undecided voters and dedicated acolytes alike.  There are a few solo artists (sorry to mention her again…) like Laura Marling whim display a similar intellect and wit; yet I have always been left a little cold by Marling: she seems very detached and unconcerned with the act of winning new support- there is a dislocation abound that I hope can be abated as she has relocated to L.A.  Lydia Baylis is a British songstress with an arsenal of ballistic weaponry.  As well as her chocolate voice, she comes across as very humble and coquettish in interviews.  She is a confident and strong woman, yet someone whom has split sides: she has a pre-deterministic game plan, yet goes with the flow; she is sweet and positive yet has darker tones in her lyrics.  She has a personality and appeal that is capable of ubiquitous election victory: someone who can draw in the metal heads and rock-lovers as well as those familiarised with the paragons of jazz and soul.  There is a great sense of reality about Baylis.  She wears leather and cotton; she speaks fondly but modestly: there are no shock tactics; no fake plastic trees and no twerking.  Baylis recently gave a short interview to Channel 4, in reaction to the various Miley Cyrus controversies: her twerking disgraces as well as her feuds with Sinead O’Connor.  I have no sympathy for Cyrus: many feel sympathy towards her.  Cyrus is a grown-up (supossed to be), whom can make her own decisions.  Smoking pot on stage, bending over in front of Robin Thicke (possibly the most nauseating dickweed on the planet) and taking pot-shots at O’Connor are not befitting of a- supposed- role model for women: she is a disgrace.  She is one of several solo female acts that are setting back women’s rights 10,000 years.  Her U.S. counterparts such as Gaga are no less to blame.  There is too much ‘look at me’ histrionics and attention-seeking: too little focus on music.  It is important to forge a personality when you enter the music world, yet the likes of Cyrus have no business being anywhere need it.  Luckily, Baylis has a head on her shoulders enshrined with maturity and a clear mantra: ‘Music is the focus’.  The latchkey child of a ‘media personality’ is not an issue: Baylis is genuine and dignified.  With the emperor’s new clothes being strewn over the charts and airwaves, Lydia is a refreshing sea breeze that deserves huge adulation and longevity.  As well as audio interviews, I have been reading several other interviews (she has recently given).  When chatting with The Huffington Post (this summer), Lydia (with her “wonderfully throaty” voice) discussed many things with David Spencer.  One of the things I am jealous about (with regards to Lydia) is her youth: she is in her early-20s, yet is confidently assured and focused.  She explained to Spencer (when quizzed about why it has taken her 24 years to record an E.P.) that: “You have to have a conversation and dialogue going on about what you want to sound like”.  Lydia has spent her adolescence and music life honing her voice: perfecting and moulding it; she has been making her initial moves to lay the foundation: the foreplay has been teased and shivering.  The results of Lydia’s labours are scintillating.  Her E.P. Life Without You contains themes of love and life; and- as she explained to The Huffington Post- “darker music”.  Baylis went on to explain that she is influenced by the likes of Joni Mitchell and Fleetwood Mac, as well as having a great love of the current scene (“I love watching live music“).  Lydia has been speaking with Female First as well.  In June, Lydia discussed the process of recording: The recording is interesting because you do have to sing the same thing again and again and again and then sing it like you mean it; by the time you have sung the same line for the seventy fifth time you are like ‘I don’t care anymore’ (laughs)”.  She also recalled (fondly) her father’s love of music and how Van Morrison and David Bowie were common muses: her honest and confessional lyrical style has been enforced by these heroes.  Lydia has also explained how social media can be a mixed blessing: how Twitter etc. can be useful providing you are in the right place at the right time.  I can emphasise fully with that assumption.  Twitter, Facebook and SoundCloud are a great way of pushing music into the ether; but it is hard to connect with too many people: unless your ‘followers’ or ‘friends’ listen and share, music can often go unnoticed.  Lydia is an artist whom is going to be around for many years to come.  Her father served during The Falklands War, and experienced hardship and horror during the campaign.  After coming back to England, it was a few years later that Lydia was born; in the Hampshire town of Aldershot (being Guildford-born myself, I am familiar with the surroundings).  Within the environs of Surrey and Hampshire, Lydia was only 2-years-old when the family relocated to Germany.  In fact, Lydia’s early life was a little nomadic and born of frequent relocation.  Having spent time in Russia, Lydia returned to England where she studied (until the age of 18, when she left school).  It was not too long until Lydia was on the move once more, and spent time in New York: she was lucky enough to perform in theatre productions; whilst there she fell in love with the city- and has made frequent trips back there.  The second-born Baylis child eventually went on to study history at Christchurch College, Oxford (I studied history up in Cambridge, so can appreciate her fascination with it).  Perhaps it is unsurprising that Lydia is so worldly (and wordy).  She has studied and lived in various different countries; straddled Europe, North America and Asia, and has a prestigious degree from a phenomenal college to her name.  It is the mixture of encompassed nationalities (and environments); married with a constitutionally British soul, that has epitomised and driven her musical ambitions.  Lydia’s debut album ‘A Darker Trace’ will showcase the potential of Baylis.  The tracks contained on the album mixed meditations on love and modern life, but also channelled the works of the Bronte sisters and Virginia Wolf: darker subjects and anxieties lingered within several of the tracks.  My favourite track from the album is called Into The Water, and was influenced by the works of Virginia Woolf (https://soundcloud.com/lydiabaylis/08-into-the-water).  It is a touching and haunting track that is helmed by Lydia’s incredible voice.  Backed by a stirring and emphatic backdrop she tells of: “The stones inside your pockets/Make confusion melt away” (a reference to the suicide of Woolf).  The debut album marked Baylis as a major talent to watch and highlighted a range of influences and styles.  I was first made aware of Lydia’s music through her song Mirrors: another terrific and atmospheric hymn.  The route to here and now has seen a steady and promising trajectory; Lydia has incorporated her past (her musical influences as well as upbringing); fused it with her very distinct personality; sprinkled some literary greats (into the pot) and come up with a new E.P. that is alive with wonder and layers.  Before I get to the single Life Without You I will make two more points- if that is okay?  My green-eyed envy extends concentrically to another subject: her Coffee House Sessions tour.  With A Darker Trace being almost completed, Baylis has had an opportunity to take songs to the public: mixed together with some choice cover versions she has been road-testing and displaying her sonic plumage to the noble public.  Lydia is still arrange the tracks for her debut album (she wants them in the right order; I am a man who listens from start to finish and getting the tracks sequenced just-so is vital in order to achieve maximum evocation); but the E.P. is a beautiful introduction to a wonderful talent.  Lydia has been touring venues such as Curiositea (sic.); performing to public and student audience- and receiving a whole heap of adoration.  I have been fascinated by the idea of performing in coffee shops, tea houses and cafes, solely because of my music idol: Jeff Buckley.  Back in 1992/3 Buckley was a sensation around Manhattan and the Lower East Side of New York.  Performing in venues such as Sin-e and CBGB, Buckley would often play to audiences of a dozen or so- yet the recordings captured are truly staggering.  If you get a chance to get a hold of his double-disc release Live at Sin-e, do so: it is a testament to a sensation talent with the voice of a love-struck angel.  When Buckley’s spine-tingling falsetto floated over songs such as The Way Young Lovers Do, Sweet Thing and Calling You, I would lean into my speakers: wishing I was there; that I could applaud; that I could fall in love.  Lydia is- perhaps vicariously- turning into a potential musical sweetheart (for me):  someone whom has a lot in common with myself, yet a person I can aspire to be.  The caffeine-fuelled travelogues are still in progress, yet festivals and prolonged tours will be something Lydia can enjoy before too long.  Anyway, I digress.  The final reason why I am jealous of Lydia is her tremendous cannon of music: Life Without You ranks amongst the very best…

The title track to her E.P. has hallmarks of, and is a bedfellow to previous songs such as Mirrors and Into The Water.  With a staccato and syncopated juddery beat, the intro. clatters and broods.  To my ear there are echoes of Portishead’s work during Third.  In the same way as Machine Gun and Hunter propel and beat box, there is a comparable fascination and quality within the first few seconds of Life Without You.  As well as having some comparable Portishead markings, there is a soussance of synth pop and mid/late-’90s club music: a veritable cauldron of bubbling emotions.  Backed by the bouncing and perpetual beat-and-electro-combination, Lydia portrays heartache: “Love won’t make you stay”.  Within the first minute the mood is slightly subdued: the emotion and sadness are evident.  Within the contemplation and recollections, Baylis is tender of voice, emotion and conviction at the forefront.  In the video, Lydia- at first- has an upside-down-smile; her eyes are cast downwards and her smile missing at sea.  When the chorus rises above the waves the atmosphere changes.  The smile comes into life, and the mood of our heroine is lifted (and more enlivened).  Lydia proclaims (to her unnamed former-beau) that life without (you) is like “every other day“.  Our heroine has said in interviews that the single is one of the most confessional and direct songs she has ever written.  There is little literary reference; no mysterious and ambiguous tones- her words cut to the core and are forthright and honest.  It is unclear whom has affected Lydia’s inspiration, but it seems that her former suitor is better forgotten about.  Baylis explains that she is “slowly falling away“; and that although her mind has been eaten away, she reveals one thing: “I don’t want you this way“.  It is hard to call to mind a direct comparison- when considering Lydia’s voice.  There are some slight hints of current artists such as Florence Welch, yet the tones, intonations and evocations are very much Lydia’s: you would have to be spectacularly annaly-retentive to compare her too closely with anyone else.  It is the unique and spectacular voice that emphasises her mandates.  The production is sleek and tight and the musical backdrop is subtle yet punctuating: adding extra meaning and punch to her words.  The video features our heroine in a number of different settings.  She appears misty-eyed with mascara running; stylishly dressed with a frown, as well as standing in the sunlight, casting her gaze asunder.  The visuals show Lydia as a contrast.  At one moment (when the lyrics suggest a heavy heart) she can be seen in a bath, tears running and her thoughts very much pointing towards the bleak.  As the song rises and the mood lifts (in the chorus) she can be seen dancing gleefully:  a smile evident on her face.  It seems that whatever happened during the failed romance has lead to better things.  As the chorus reintroduces itself, Baylis states that: “I’m finally making my own way“.  She seems to be a stronger woman for the experience, and although there have been scars left, the abiding dictate is thus: no one will get me down.  Lydia’s voice floats and annotates; it mesmerises and strikes.  Whereas many contemporaries fail to inject any emotion or plot into a song, our heroine unveils a multitude of turns.  When the lyrics indicate heartache and anxiety, Lydia’s voice is appropriately mesmeric and heartfelt.  As the mood lifts and a positive coda is unveiled, her voice is hugely atmospheric and uplifting.  As much as the sonic backing does its part superbly, it is the central voice that lingers in the mind: Baylis’s voice is tender and soft, yet powerful and potent.  Our heroine confirms that tears she has cried have long since dried; she is in a better place (emotionally) and has overcome the fallout from a bad situation.  It is not just the lyrics and voice that encapsulate during Life Without You.  Before the 2:42 marker we have just witnesses a wonderful musical passage that connects the verse to chorus: it is soothing at once, yet cinematic (as well as the electronic notes I swear I could hear some strings forcing their way into the soundscape).  In the video, our heroine is seen in a bath cradling and clasping her knees.  When we move into another room (with Lydia dressed in white) her head starts off bowed, before looking up to camera (as the chorus comes to view).  Satisfied grins and merriment have replaced sadness and self-reflection.  The story of the song has taken us on a spellbinding course.   To begin there was turbulence and discontent as Baylis painfully trod over the embers and broken shards from a broken love story.  As the track progresses there is redemption and an emotional rebirth: happiness seems a very real prospect.  Baylis combines a natural charm and seductiveness with a talent for memorable lyrics.  The chorus will not budge from your brain for months, as the repeated lyrics of “feels just like any other day” and “finally making my own way” surmise and summate the mind-set of our inspired heroine.  Baylis lets it be said that any doubts- any fear or tears- “belong to yesterday“.  By the end of the song you are very much left in no doubt that Lydia has emerged from a chrysalis with strengthened wings.  The anonymous ex-love has done her wrong and caused her a lot of pain, yet she has not let it get to her- far from it in fact!  In the way that the song is honest and direct, it is also openly honest and universal: nearly everyone can relate to Baylis’s words and experienced.  Whereas A Darker Trace and (the E.P.) Life Without You will deal with suicidality and depression, the messages put forth here are clear: darkness can lead to (greater and stronger) light.  The lyrics are memorable yet not too cluttered.  There is great concision and a taut ear for storytelling that means there are no wasted words: instead a great impact is made with as few words as possible.  The combination of an uplifting and catchy chorus, as well as stunningly-tender vocals during the verses, are incredible twin pillars.  The overall sound is very much unique to Lydia.  Her tracks such as Mirrors and Into The Water show what a diverse palette she has.  Our heroine is as adept and skilled during paens of love-gone-wrong as she is when recounting the horrid fate of a beloved literary figure.  It is the diversity and originality that Baylis offers that sets her aside from her peeps.  I dare say- very soon- she will be receiving the same acclaim as the likes of Laura Marling and Adele.  Lydia has a huge talent for evocative and inspiring words; which she ties together with a stunning and planet-straddling voice.  When this is fused with interchangeable and sensational sonic tapestries the effect is blinding: not something you can say about too many people.  Life Without You is a suitably brilliant representation of a brilliant E.P.  Baylis has spent a lot of time and energy getting the songs just right and on the evidence of the title track, she has a lot of praise and appreciation coming her way.  Baylis confirms that the track (Life Without You) was therapeutic to write and perform, and you can  hear the burdens melt from her shoulders.  The song will speak to young women, as Baylis is a heroine whom has galvanised her spirit and resolve in the face of acrimony and heartache.  Men and women alike will be inspired by the core message and the scintillating vocal performance, which casts itself in its own light.  In my previous reviews I have always been able to compare a song or band with another: I can always clearly hint at influences within a track.  Baylis takes the themes and colours from Joni Mitchell and Florence Welch without sounding too similar to either: she incorporates the strongest facets and ensures that the central voice is very much her own.  In a year- and decade- where originality is hard to come by and distinction is even rarer, our heroine has pulled off a wonderful trick: she creates music that is beyond compare yet instantly relatable.  I finished viewing the video to Life Without You with a huge smile.  I was constantly enamoured of, and rooted for Lydia; entranced and pulled in, and have been listening to the song on repeat for a long time now.  It is axiomatic to say that Lydia is a talent that will be picking up awards and playing festivals for many years to come; so I will leave you with this: seek her out without delay.

In the past I have reviewed a lot of talent from Leeds-based record label Cuckoo Records.  Their stable is abound with electro-swing wonders as well as folk pearls and I hope that their ears prick up, as the likes of Baylis would do them very proud.  I am a boy with a vinyl soul, 8-track heart, radio face and digital mind, and Lydia appeals to each contour.  She has evocations and reminiscences of ’60s and ’70s legends such as Joni Mitchel and Van Morrison; she has the intelligence and passion of literary great such as the Bronte sisters and Virginia Woolf, and a sexiness and vote-winning personality that is unequalled.  The Pentacostalism that one experiences when hearing her speak; and the diluvial awe one gets from hearing her sing mark her out as a major future prospect.  The current state of music can be seen in the same terms as Schrodinger’s Cat: there is uncertainty and ambiguity with every passing second.  There is never going to be a time period that rivals the early-late ’90s: where a flood of variable talent ruled the scene.  There is as much Schadenfreude as there is admiration: artists have a tough time establishing themselves and making their name.  In spite of the disparate range of quality and sustainability, artists such as Baylis should be held tight to the chest.  Music can be seen in terms of the a mechanics matrix interpretation (when speaking of The Uncertainty Principle) as equally as you can see it as a Kobayashi Maru scenario.  Lydia’s words and songs have renewed faith and ambition in me.  Whilst listening to her music and hearing her interviews, I penned a few lyrics:

“The third-rate joke; second-hand smoke and first-class bitch/I’ve blown them all to scratch an itch”

“Well you’re unafraid to chase ghosts/Because they won’t come back to haunt you”

“I got a Christmas card from the local morgue/Speaking of New Year plans and enquiring about my health”

“I’m the murderer in the romantic comedy/The mime artist in the film of the great war/The extra in the lavish musical/Hangman in the epic story of the lord/You can laugh at my condition/If you think it makes you tall/Although my scream is never heard/My silence says it all”

“My final words were the very same as my first/Silver nights in satin regard oh how I long for you!”

“As the angel of Battersea she’d heard every line in the book/But the cover to the rules of love is never judged by its looks”

“For us wallflowers hanging in the Tower of Babel, I didn’t have a choice/I know too well I was born with the burden of a platinum voice”

“My mother tongue slipped undone to sing the farewell midnight kiss/In the distance between the Jasmine Chorus and the edge of the abyss”

“Love and faith are double-blind /Their truths the diving rods/When bad point towards the vengeful man/When good a loving God”.

There are many more (I won’t inflict them upon you), but it makes a point: an artist that good should be idolised.  She is my ideal woman; the perfect counterpart; and the most sought-after collaborator.  I have formulated a music video I am besotted with that would be perfect for her: although it will probably never happen.  She has inspired me to write new songs and complete an album’s worth of material.  The fact that I am band-hunting this week; continuing a design of a huge music café/bar, as well as willing myself into the studio is because of her: so too is this review.  I hope it does not come over as too effusive or sickly; for it is not my intention.  I have spent many a day giving too much praise to those undeserving; too much time has been dedicated to those whom proved to be unremarkable in the long-run.  The Drake Equation can be applied to music: there is a wonder that extends beyond our own consciousness that postulates what sort of extra-terrestrial life is out there.  Humans are always searching for further meaning and seeking not to feel so alone.  As a music-lover, writer and singer I have always felt the need to find connections with a musician that seems similar to me: that has the same ideals and similar ambitions.  Lydia Baylis is a woman whom is as inspirational a writer and artist as she is a human.  I hope that anyone who reads this are compelled to study Baylis at greater length.  Myopia is a common side-effect of a jaded and fickle industry and it is prescient and essential that the best talent is given their dues.  The ensemble within Life Without You is testament to a truly focused and communal talent: someone whom can attract fans from all walks of life.  There are a lot of barriers and obstacles the new musician faces.  Market forces and trends are unpredictable and subject to entropy and profitability.  Predicating the future musical climate is as difficult as predicting the future meteorological and financial climates.  There are a lot of bands on the scene: some spectacular; most not so.  The solo market is similarly-inconsistent: there are some truly great artists, yet most seem rather unspectacular.  I have always been more in awe of the established acts and most of my record collection contains the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, Queen, Bob Dylan, Kate Bush, Radiohead, Pixies, Nirvana, Nina Simone, Tom Waits etc.  I have fallen in love with London Grammar and am fondly ensconced within the camp of James Blake, yet am a man whom feels that music peaked (and saw the last great wave of wonder) towards the late-’90s/early-’00s.  I feel that a re-appropriation is in order; that a recapitulation of the ’90s sea change is forthcoming.  Baylis is a talent that is the definition of engaging: her smile and words can melt you; her song entice and overwhelm.  The Welsh-born starlet is going to a fixture of the festival scene and- I know this is an ambition of hers- will appear on Jools Holland’s ‘Later…’ in less than a couple of years.  These are not hollow proclamations and predictions: I know great music when I hear it.  Over the last few months I have heard a great many words spoken by Baylis and encapsulated her audio profferings into my brain.  Her songs have inspired me and made me grin with Cheshire Cat proportions.  Baylis has some cafes and coffee houses to conquer, and is putting the finishing touches to her debut album.  Her E.P. is a bold and stunning statement and not a self-fulfilling prophecy: it is a stepping stone that cannot be faulted.  Baylis will be bringing her voice and thesis to many venues over the coming months, and she will be attracting the attentions of many publications and reviewers.  I hope I have done her full justice and represented her fairly.  Absorb her beautiful words within Life Without You and investigate her back catalogue.  I will leave these final words for miss Baylis:

Diolch i chi!

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Interview quotes from The Huffington Post sourced from:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/david-spencer/lydia-baylis-interview_b_3819800.html

Interview quotes from Female First are extracted from:

http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/music/interviews/lydia-baylis-interview-298651.html

Follow Lydia:

Official site: http://www.lydiabaylis.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LydiaBaylis

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lydiabaylis

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/lydiabaylis/

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/LydiaBaylis

MySpace: https://myspace.com/lydiabaylis

Tour dates available at:

https://www.facebook.com/lydiabaylis/app_308540029359

Interview- Elena Ramona

 

 INTERVIEW:

Elena Ramona: ‘I want to make an impact… be a bit of a legend in my own right’.

Words by Sam Liddicott. 03 November, 2013, 13:00 GMT.

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The Greek-born 23-year-old ‘Rise’ sensation reveals the title (and themes) of her forthcoming E.P.; her future ambitions- and how simplicity is the key to her success and memorability.

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Elena Ramona: Surrey-based songwriter Elena Stathaki is poised for the future.

Photograph: Martyn Corbet

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AS I sit stirring a half-drained cappuccino and ruminating on life- my mind wanders ….

There is a sense of nervousness and trepidation as I prepare to meet Elena. I have known her for a while now, and spent many (happy) hours in online conversation- yet never met her face-to-face. Through Facebook (and Twitter) conversations, I have felt a connection and admiration of Elena: her passion for music and her individuality are a breath of fresh air, considering the manufactured and plastic nature of a lot of modern music. She has always been appreciated and enamoured of anyone willing to appreciate her music, and spread her gospel. Having reviewed her last single ‘Rise’, I found myself an instant fan of her music. The ensuing plaudits and feedback that that track received from online channels must have been pleasing for Elena; and I was keen to pose that question to her. Arriving at our interview, Elena is dressed casually; there are no layers of make-up and distractingly-overpowering perfume. In the flesh she is incredibly striking; possessed of a startling beauty and a very cheeky smile, it is very relaxing being in her presence. In conversation, Elena is incredibly down-to-earth; someone whom you could chat to for hours. Her natural warmth and friendliness will separate her from many of her peers.

My initial question focused upon Elena’s forthcoming E.P.: how was it to write, record and prepare her innermost current ambitions. Leaning back, the question is given a little consideration: “Quite stressful” has been the experience, yet it has been a necessary process of perfectionism.; some sections have had to be rewritten, and ideas changes. With a smile, Elena stresses that it is “definitely happening”. She was keen to state that she did not want to rush a release. Elena has made sure that her first E.P. is one that is distinctly ‘her’ : time has been taken to make sure that the quality is of the highest standard. Elena realizes that by unveiling her work in stages: interview; review; E.P. etc., there will be a gradual build-up; and hopes that the overall effect will be more potent ; that her music will reveal its charms and will remain in the memory for a long time.

The E.P. is to be entitled ‘Hold On’, Elena tells me, named after one of the tracks from the release. Also included within the three-track release will be ‘Rise’. When I ask what one can expect from the E.P. Elena has a think, but then sits straight up. The overall sound of the E.P. will be “very different to Rise”. That track, she states, is a “ballad/ pop song”- simple and effective. To compliment ‘Rise’ there will be a track which is “upbeat and poppy” and well as a more “emotional/sexy” number. It is obvious that a lot of hard work and focus has been paid to ‘Hold On’. As exciting as her first step is, Elena emphasizes that she has not gone “too crazy”. She does not want to make her work too diverse and fragmented; whilst the E.P. promises range and surprises, the abiding coda is one of personality and individuality. Elena explained that she is happy with the overall sound of the E.P. and how it is coming together (“I am where I want to be right now”). Elena’s voice is all her own: a distinctive and personal tone will run through the E.P.

As we relax into conversation a bit, I ask about ‘Rise’: whether she was surprised by its success and popularity (to date the music video has gained 1,696 views on YouTube). There is no hesitation as she answers: “Yes”. Elena did not expect to make a video for it, and was taken aback by how much the song resonated with people. Happy that it “meant a lot to people”, it has provided her with impetus to go on recording and aiming high (“It shows that there is a fan base out there”). Regardless of the success of ‘Rise’, Elena points out that her career is in its infancy. She has been singing for only a year or so, and has not as yet been gigging.

I was made aware of Martyn Corbet a few months ago. He is a close friend of Elena, and- as she attests- someone who was the “only person that believed in my passion”. Elena slyly grins and points out that Corbet was pretty firm with her, with regards to getting her voice and talent to its peak. Before embarking upon the E.P., Corbet advised Elena “go away and practice for 3 months”. Having collaborated with and produced Elena, her friend was eager to make sure that she was at the peak of her power before setting down songs on tape. Elena used the three months (or so) to work on her vocals, hone her talent and make sure that she was fully ready to record. It is clear that Corbet’s influence- as a producer and friend- has meant a great deal to her. He is someone who clearly has a lot of belief in the budding star, and is as determined as anyone to make sure she gets the credit she deserves. I am keen not to interrupt as Elena praise Corbet’s legacy and influence. He is an important figurehead for her that has helped to mould the music that Elena is making.

The coffee shop starts to empty slightly, as we approach 3:45pm. I notice that the rain outside has abated, and there is a relaxing stillness about us. Elena is a genuinely positive and good-natured conversationalist. She is someone who is happy to talk about her music, and provide as much information as possible (she was worried she may have talked too much- I was quick to point out that she did no such thing). It is a comfortable conversing with her. Answers are full and complete, and fascinating titbits and factoids are interspersed with personal recollections and insights. The voice that encapsulated and seduced ‘Rise’s wonder; is one that sounds like no other. There is no histrionics nor emotional overacting: it is straight-forward and stunning. I was fascinated to know where that voice came from; whom influenced Elena’s sounds and consciousness. The Beatles are an influence for Elena. She explained that growing up in her family home on Skiathos Island, her mother used to play ‘Yellow Submarine’- a song that she adored for its childish silliness. She goes on to say how much she respects what The Beatles did and achieved: a magnum of gilded songs that were simple, memorable and life-affirming. It is the way in which the ’60s legends managed to burrow into your skull, that Elena hopes to achieve with her music. ‘Rise’ was built around a repeated coda of “Thank-you”; a sentiment that sums up the song’s themes, and one that remains in your memory for a long while. It is the way in which effectively simple tunes and lines can get into your brain, that Elena hopes to accomplish with her music. Her lyrics have a brevity and directness that she hopes will be quoted and talked about for years to come. If the sound or words are too complicated or cluttered one runs the risk of being passed over. As well as the Liverpool quartet, a wide-range of artists are beloved and remembered fondly. Pink Floyd were big names in the Stathaki household.

I was very keen to know what Elena has planned for the rest of this year- as well as 2014. She is keen to get E.P. number two (and three as well) released “hopefully by next summer”, and says that she “wants to play as much as possible and collaborate with as many different people as possible… I want to get my name out there a bit further”.

After we finish the recording we, linger for a while. Elena is a bluster of adorable smiles, humour, intrigue and layers. She talks fondly and openly about her personal life and family. I listen fondly as she paints pictures about her childhood in Greece. She is a very honest person whom wants to embrace as many people as possible. In spite of setbacks, heartaches and a lot of hard-work, her diligence and determination are starting to pay off. In spite of our pre-existing friendship, I have gleamed and learned more about Elena in our interview than I had done previously. We discuss the local scene (in Surrey), and it seems that as far as the future goes, Elena may be setting her sites far and wide when it comes to gigs. But as she has stated on many intervals, we are witnessing her first steps. In the coming months we will be seeing and hearing a lot from Elena, as she begins to reveal her songs to the world. In a way she has little in common with her contemporaries, as she favours a natural look; being who she is all day- not hiding behind cosmetics and fake clothing. Our heroine wants to appear as a role model to young women, men and everyone else. It is not a publicity trick; nor a cheap ploy. It is who she is, and who she will always be. By being genuine and natural she appeals more real and relatable; so if you see her in the street you can say:

THERE’S ‘El’!

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Elena Ramona’s single ‘Rise’ is available at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8smsMbqXxo

The E.P. ‘Hold On’ is available shortly.

Follow Elena Ramona:

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/elenaramona90

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elena-Ramona/323928237668916

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/TheStathaki1