INTERVIEW: Jasmine Rodgers





Jasmine Rodgers


WHEN a critic labels a musician ‘special’ or ‘original’ you always have to…



take that sentiment with a pinch of salt and appropriate cynicism. Often hyperbole-driven and too-eager-off-the-block-effusive: there is no such quibble or debate with regards Jasmine Rodgers. Growing up on everyone from Led Zeppelin to Hip-Hop (Free frontman Paul Rodgers is her father): it was a varied and expansive musical upbringing.

An Alternative-Rock artist with a Japanese poet mother: it is hard to think of anyone quite as individual and fascinating as Rodgers.

Blood Red Sun is released on October 28th and a self-released, 11-track album from Rodgers. It shows the breadth, depth, and beauty of her voice; her stunning, evocative songwriting and heartfelt performances. Having experienced such a whirlwind and fascinating 2016; I was keen to catch up with her and see what was in store – the themes and stories that influenced Blood Red Sun.

Underwater will appear on Jasmine Rodgers’ forthcoming album, Blood Red Sun


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

Hiya. Very well thanks: just spent a week in California with the flu but I’m sunburnt so it’s all good.

For those new to your music and influences: who were the artists that compelled you as a child?

Led Zeppelin, Ella Fitzgerald, Nick Drak; Inxs, Prince, Aretha; Miles Davis, Plenty…. these were some of the ones that were on repeat when I was little.

Of course, being the daughter of Free’s Paul Rodgers, you must have had quite an unorthodox and memorable upbringing. Was it quite unconventional and are there any particular memories that stand in the mind?

That’s the thing, you only realise that it might have been unconventional as you get older. Dad was away a lot but when he was around then the house was filled with music and musicians. Ahmet Ertegun was a regular visitor and I loved the smell of his cigars. Lovely man.

Your household was obviously very artistic and creative. Do you think you would have become a musician were it not for your parents’ influence?

Maybe not. I’m equally drawn to writing and painting, but also to zoology and I did pursue that quite seriously; but music is the one for me that allows me the greatest room for my kind of expression and I look at everything with music in my mind. For me, life without music would be colourless.

You are based in London at the moment. How does the city and its people inspire you as a songwriter and woman?

I like London people. I love the sense of humour and actual helpfulness. You only need to ask and people will help. I think we get a reputation for being cold but a good joke or authentic interaction and we’re right there. We’re mixed and I love that. As a woman, that’s great too. It is hard to live here in that it’s fast-paced and expensive and there are so many people that I think people can get a bit lost but in terms of inspiration there are so many stories being played out every day.



Icicles and Sense formed part a double A-side. What compelled you to write those two songs and were you surprised by the huge reaction they received?

Both have really different reasons for being written. Icicles was done in one go and it was kind of a prayer for resolution; but also, whenever I sing it I see huge waterfalls and beautiful scenes. Sense was about not being heard/understood and how crazy it made me. I always imagine singing that one to the dark. I was touched by how well they have been received but I love them too.

A lot of artists tend to focus heavily on love and heartache. Your music looks more at nature, the land and the world around us. Do you feel too many musicians too refined with their music and ignoring the simpler, tranquil side of life?

I think I do focus on love and heartache too but I draw relief from nature and the things I see around me, so in the end, I always end up cheering myself up.

like people who are refined in that way – I think as a listener that I tend to seek out certain types of music that I can release to; so Jeff Buckley is great if I want to throw myself into feeling blue for a while.  

Do you set time aside to write or is it quite a spontaneous thing? How does the city/people around you feed into your  songwriting?

It’s quite spontaneous really. Sometimes, things play around in my head before I commit them to a song. Sometimes, I didn’t even realise the themes that were there until I do. People are always inspiring to me. I love that they are.

PHOTO CREDIT: Anne Campbell


You have an album out in late-October. What can you tell us about it and the sort of songs/themes that will be contained within?

All of the above. Some are about love and relationships, some are about the landscape and some came out of my head when I wasn’t expecting them. All have stories behind them and are part of the greater story. 

How has the songwriting process been for the album compared to your previous material? Any notable high/low points along the way?

Honestly, it’s been fun. They’ve been brewing for a while so it’s been quite easy. Collaborating has been fantastic too, I’ve enjoyed hearing the songs with all of the musicians on them and seeing the songs grow bigger than what I imagined.

Music is a very stressful and demanding thing. How do you unwind and given the attention heading your way; is it possible to detach from that spotlight?

It’s all good so far. The music itself, and the performing, are an absolute joy.

PHOTO CREDIT: Maria Aragon


Looking back at your career so far: which gigs or achievements have you been especially proud of?

The latest ones that I’ve done with the band have been achievements for me. The more that we play together the better it’s sounding. Having said that, performing at the Royal Albert Hall was amazing. Very intimate even though there was a big audience.

Aside from the album coming out: what does the rest of 2016 hold for you?

I’ll be supporting Bad Company in October in Cardiff, Leeds, Nottingham and Birmingham so I’m getting ready for that!

In terms of new musician or mainstream artists at the minute: who are you listening to and would recommend?

Peaches. As the years go by I like her more and more.

PHOTO CREDIT: Maria Aragon


Would you offer any advice to young musicians/bands coming through looking to make it big?

Keep going.

For being such a great sport you can select any song – not your own: I’ll pick one of those – and I’ll play it here.

Rag’n’Bone Man –Healed



Follow Jasmine Rodgers


PHOTO CREDIT: Anne Campbell








FEATURE: Electric Vinyl: The First Steps



Electric Vinyl:




The First Steps


I have mooted the concept and idea of a new interview show…

Image result for vinyl djs


called Electric Vinyl. In the original pitch – – I introduced what the series would look like and the format it would take.

There are very few (if any) modern equivalents that bring together musicians and people who work in the industry: not as a promotional opportunity but the chance to discuss important issues and explain the music and artists that have inspired them.

The one-hour episodes/editions will unite two, perhaps disparate figures, who will be able to share tales, chat, and songs – against the backdrop of the ‘Electric Vinyl’ bar. Before it goes to Kickstarter level, and the pitch begins, I have been thinking about the first show: the camera/style employed; the locations that would best suit it – the two guests I hope will kick things off…



The series will be shot in London and have a bar setting: either a real-life one or designed equivalent. Most of the filming will be fairly low-key and the guests will be sat down for the most part. That said; there will be some action shots and fast-paced craning and actions shots. Because of this, the cameras have to be right for the specifications and affordable too. Because budget will be a big issue (limited early on) the cameras will be fairly basic but able to a sense of modern cutting-edge style and clarity. I mentioned, jokingly but with some relevance, how Made in Chelsea is a reference point. That clean, filmic and modern look needs to come across but there needs to be fluidity and the opportunity for different styles – black-and-white in addition to colour shots. The cameras might need to be hired but up to the task – assembled are the three cameras (it will be a three-camera show) that I have in mind.

CAMERA: Sony HXR-MC2500E Camcorder-1080 pixels


CAMERA: Canon Legria HF G25 Wide Angle High Definition 3.5 inch Touchscreen LCD Camcorder


CAMERA: Action Camera, Waterproof Sports Camera Action Cam Gizcam GZ10


Image result for shoreditch


Before coming to guests, the location is an important and vital consideration. It might be expensive to rent a studio or warehouse and design a set – making it look like a London cocktail bar. For authenticity, an actual bar is probably going to be the best way of going forward. I feel hiring/using an existing bar is the easiest route. Because the series has a cocktail bar theme – whilst being fairly trendy and Hoxton-esque – I have a particular set design in mind – the bar will be the backdrop and location rather than what the finished set will look like. I want to bring in my own seating and props in addition to extras. In terms of the location – useful to guests coming in and to get a feel of the look of the series – I have narrowed down to three possible destinations.


ADDRESS: 129 City Road, London, EC1V 1JB


Image result for nightjar bar

Image result for nightjar bar

Image result for nightjar bar

SECOND CHOICE: Looking Glass Cocktail Club

ADDRESS: 49 Hackney Rd, London E2 7NX


Image result for looking glass cocktail club

Image result for looking glass cocktail club

Image result for looking glass cocktail club


ADDRESS: 1st Floor, 68 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3AY


Image result for NOLA london

Image result for NOLA london

Image result for NOLA london


In the 10-part first series: I want to bring together a wide range of creatives and musicians together. In terms of episodes/editions 2-10, I am looking and bands, solo artists, and duos; D.J.s, music venue employees and website designers; club owners and P.R. people – ensuring every avenue and side of music is represented early on. On the first show, I want to bring together RKZ and Carly Wilford. Two people who work in different areas of the industry. RKZ is musician and poet and spokesperson for mental health charity CALM. Carly is a D.J., businesswoman, and creator of I Am Music and SISTER. I am not sure they have ever met (wouldn’t imagine they have) but would be a perfect pairing – and their choice of music will be fascinating. I have a short-list of other names; keen to have the two open proceedings and provide insight and window into their respective roles.

HEADER PHOTO CREDIT: Kabilan Raviraj-Photography


IN THIS PHOTO: Carly Wilford


I will launch the crowd-funding campaign in the coming weeks but am determined to get a general impression of popularity and potential. I have all the basics figured and know where I would like to film and the type of series it will be. In coming posts, I will be revealing different aspects and sides to the show: the set and design with a little bit on the title sequence and future guests. Keep a track of all the developments and…

Image result for nightjar cocktail club

WATCH this space.


TRACK REVIEW: Kamikaze Girls – Ladyfuzz



Kamikaze Girls


Meet Kamikaze Girls, A Riot Grrrl Band You’re Going to Love  





Ladyfuzz is available at:

20th August, 2016

Riot Grrrl/Alternative


Leeds/London, U.K.

The E.P. Sad is available on 2nd September via:




I Hate Funerals


Black Coffee 

Tonic Youth  (Bonus Track)


THERE are not many acts out there…

that are made quite like Kamikaze Girls. Before I come to the duo, I wanted to look at acts addressing deeper issues through their music; rare influences and pushing music forward; looking at musicians that seemed primed for the mainstream and how they have achieved it. The first point is one that I always look forward to raising. A lot of music is defined by selfishness, or in a less severe way, a fixation with love and relationships. This debate issue is a trope of mine (so I shall not bore you too much) but it is always pertinent. I suppose it is easy and personal talking about love and seems to be something we can all relate to. That need to be relatable and relevant is causing music to be a little homogsenised. Whilst sounds and genres and cross-pollinated: the lyrics are a little samey and tend to talk about the same thing in a number of different ways. Relationship splits are always sad but it is like the old adage: if you’ve heard one you’ve heard them all. For that reason, I am always willing to provide spotlight to musicians that move away from weary cliché and challenge something fresh and original. Kamikaze Girls address mental health and anxiety in their new E.P., Sad. It is a brave move creating music that not only moves away from common ground but addresses something hard-hitting, sensitive and stigamtised. The fact mental health is such a taboo topic (even in 2016) speaks volumes about society and an unwillingness to discuss something that affects most of us at some point. Away from charities and forums: how many musicians are using their songs to challenge and tackle the subject; go deeper and rebel against stuffy attitudes and ignorance? Music is a platform that reaches billions of people and it is a shame so many people squander their chances. It might be easier writing about love and personal woes but it is much more meaningful moving away from that and looking at issues like mental health.

If you open up about subjects like mental health it is not only a way to unburden yourself and be open with your audience but it will inspire others to follow suit and discuss their problems without fear of recrimination and judgement. Before I move on, and tie this in with my featured duo, let me introduce Kamikaze Girls to you:

Lucinda Livingstone – Guitar & Vocals

Connor Dawson – Drums

What makes this pair tick? First and foremost, Kamikaze Girls want you to know that it’s okay to be sad. Since 2014 the Riot Grrrl duo, consisting of vocalist and guitarist Lucinda Livingstone and drummer Conor Dawson, have used music as a means to challenge attitudes and taboos surrounding mental health. Their aim has always been to show their strength and solidarity to other young people in the same position, through their vitriolic fuzz-rock and to work alongside other bands in the scene to help stamp out gender stereotypes in music for good.
KG’s sound is an amalgamation of their own pop sensibilities and 90s Riot Grrrl, citing the likes of Bikini Kill, L7 and Sleater Kinney as their main inspiration. The band’s raw live shows have become synonymous with the DIY/punk scene and since the release of their first single – ‘Tonic Youth’ last year – they have played shows across mainland Europe, America and the UK with the likes of Muncie Girls, Pup, The Menzingers, Me Without You, Modern Baseball, Moose Blood, Lemuria, Petrol Girls, Personal Best, Great Cynics, The Winter Passing, Nai Harvest, The World Is A Beautiful Place… and Woahnows, to name just a few

Kamikaze Girls, and Lucinda Livingstone especially, used to feel uncertain and hesitant discussing her mental health issues and when she was surrounded by guys (in fuller band territory) it was hard to bring up the subject. Maybe it is sheer numbers of the all-male dynamic: perhaps not as supportive and understanding as female peers. It is only since she has got better and sought help that talking about mental health has become easier. Livingstone knows the D.I.Y./Punk scene is established to help those that go through mental health problems and is much more open and understanding than other areas of music. One of the reasons you go into such genres and scenes is because of the larger understanding and brother/sisterhood of the musicians. It is always wonderful hearing about musicians that have gone through bad times but feel more secure – healthy and happy enough to talk candidly. Livingstone feels touring is a great way of not only addressing mental health through music but finding comfort and support – the rush and rawness of playing to crowds is a natural and blood-rushing way of finding release and kinship. With crowds behind you and the euphoric feeling of the live arena: something that helps her feel less alone. Away from Kamikaze Girls, and there are a few bands and artists that are not only addressing mental health but political concerns and lesser-discussed subjects like transgenderism and racism. It is not good enough pretending these kinds of things don’t exist or assume they are resigned to the individual alone. Mental health is everyone’s concern and we will have exposure to it through varying degrees of separation. When musicians push away from convention and expectation and actually talk about something real; it is going to lead to evolution and more people feeling they are not on their own – their musical heroes actually understand what they are going through and they are cared about. Kamikaze Girls are going to inspire others to follow suit and have no doubt helped a lot of people in their lives.

Kamikaze Girls take in Bikini Kill, La Tigre and Riot Grrrl-influenced bands as guidance and heroes. It is unusual finding too many bands/duos that are inspired by the Riot Grrrl genre/movement. The movement began in the early-1990s and started in Washington State and the Pacific Northwest as a way of combining feminist consciousness and the style/politics of Punk. Even for Punk and Alternative bands, I feel there are too few that actually surprise you with their choice of influences. Perhaps The Ramones, Sex Pistols, and their contemporaries are obvious choices but those that have probably been done to death. Hearing Bikini Kill and Riot Grrrl-themed artists in the mix is always going to capture the imagination and soul. There are other bands that blend these styles/bands but few in the same way as Kamikaze Girls. Tie this together with subjects of fear, mental health problems and anxieties and you have a duo that has very few equals. One of the deepest and most conscientious acts playing in the U.K. – they deserve a lot of support and success going forward. Their stunning sounds and blend of Punk, Pop, and Alternative/D.I.Y. make them an intriguing and long-lasting prospect. They have not quite hit the mainstream radar yet but surely that is just around the corner. It will be exciting seeing how they grow and how their unique pairing of sounds and styles reflects with the mainstream critics. I mentioned how very few musicians actually mix things up with regards their lyrics and subjects: the same can be applied to compositions and genres. It is always quite shoulder-sagging hearing a new band tipped and hyped: when you discover they are pretty run-of-the-mill and average you wonder why they are so proclaimed and celebrated. Normally, these acts that are heralded, fit into a commercial mould and have that consumer appeal and profitable sound. It does not mean they are daring, original or fresh. Kamikaze Girls are a genuine duo that should be lauded and set aside as genuine innovators. Not only combining Punk and Pop of the ‘70s and ‘90s: they have a very modern aesthetic and sensibility that makes them a beguiling and fascinating act.

Before moving on to their past music and present endeavours: one is compelled to see how far they have come and why they are in the position they’re in. One of the reasons they have gained thousands of fans and struck a nerve is their stunning sound and relentless touring. Sad is their first full release but previous singles have been toured extensively around the world. Not just confined to the U.K., the duo has appeared in the U.S., Canada, and Europe – the two have given up viable careers for music and have put their all into their passion. It may seem like a risky venture but this complete focus and unyielding attention has seen crowds and fans flock to their shores. It is their live energy and interaction that has helped them gain a solid fanbase and they are one of the most scintillating and memorable live acts in the country. One of the most obvious and notable reasons behind their success and reputation is the blend of organisation/professionalism and strangeness. In terms of their careers and output: they have management and P.R. bodies behind them but take control of their social media and output. They are keen to speak with their fans and keep them updated. Photos, statues, and interviews are published: informative and of-the-minute news for those following Kamikaze Girls. Their official website is full and well-designed while their social media pages are packed with information, photos and wonderful insights. Too many musicians rock into music and do not provide attention to websites and their social media. They assume the music alone will take care of things and negate the importance of giving fans easy access to biography, photographs, and links for the group/act. If you have to struggle to find out about the artist then you are likely to become frustrated and bored. Those that take time to provide a full and varied portfolio are those that understand are going to succeed and last longer than those who don’t. Kamikaze Girls have some unusual but wonderful influences and it seems odd and unusual against the raft of predictable artists. The duo takes time with regards their music videos and ensur they are as vivid and memorable as possible. Cover art and designs are also eye-catching and this is the case for their E.P., Sad. The cover’s heroine (recognise the face but can’t think of a name) is beautiful and alluring but has a sense of enigma, sadness, and vulnerability – everything that goes into the E.P. itself.

The duo performs in Manchester on August 27th (The Star & Garter) whilst heading to D.I.Y. Space for London on 23rd September. Leeds and Portsmouth will be on the docket and chances for the E.P. to get to a wide crowd and span several counties. To be fair, the reaction to Sad will be huge and it is likely to bring plenty of new fans and followers to Kamikaze Girls. Sad is their first full work but follows on from singles likes Records & Coffee (released two years ago). Most of Sad’s material is in the ether and the duo shows how they have developed over the last couple of years. Their recent work is their most confident and compelling and shows how touring has sharpened and heightened their attack. Earlier work and initial singles showed what a talent and proposition they are but I feel they have improved and come along wonderfully since then. After touring abroad and various crowds: this exposure and performance experience has fed directly into their E.P.; know what the crowds react to and how they like their music. The subject matter is more personal and affecting and shows Kamikaze Girls are in a space they feel they can discuss their illnesses and addictions. Not really shying away or suppressing it: Sad is a catharsis and revelation that will give them confidence to address such topics in future work and inspire other acts to follow suit.

I wanted to focus on Ladyfuzz as it is their latest single and one of the most entrancing cuts from Sad. The song begins with a happiness-inducing and spirited introduction that brings together elements of Punk but has a semblance of The Strokes and The Libertines – two of the most influential bands of the past twenty years. It is the performance and composition that strikes me most about the song. It is one of the most determined, vitriolic and anguished deliveries of their career. Under the pain, weight and gravity of emotion: you can hear so much come from Livingstone’s voice. The song’s video looks at addiction and pill-swallowing. A cavalcade of medication, numbing and fear. Being left out in the “cold of night” and the rain: it might be a metaphor for depression and anxiety but there is such a vivid and physical aspect to the lines. Pills are being crushed and booze swallowed down: perhaps as a coping mechanism or a way to forget about life’s negativities. When the chorus comes in (you wonder what the song title refers to) the full force and anger come out – a blood-curdling scream that emphasises just what pains and agony is at heart. Maybe looking at the cycle of prescription medication and depression: the ways of getting through the day and having to bare the cross of depression – a song where every listener can come to their own conclusions. It is not a surprise that some of the lines get buried down under the ferocity and intensity which might see a few of the puzzle pieces missing. What you get from the song’s early stages is a young woman trying to make sense of things and get some sense of perspective. From the first half of the song, which looks at inner-pains and anxiety, the second half sees the vocal calm and mutate into wordlessness and refrain. The composition remains sparked and spiked but does start to come down in the final minute.

What one notices about the track is how primed and appropriate it is for the live crowds. Like a lot of Kamikaze Girls’ previous material (and that on Sad) the songs are perfect for mosh-pits or those who just want to lose themselves. Such energy, force, and rage come through but there are subtleties, genre-balance and plenty of sweetness to be found. The music is always complex and never as straightforward and basic as you’d imagine. Ladyfuzz’s video gives you a true sense of the song’s cycle and story. We see a vinyl spinning with medication on it: a bottle of Bombay Sapphire and fast-moving camera work and blur. It might be a metaphor for the haziness of life and that routine of medication, destruction and getting by. Kamikaze Girls address addictions and mental health in their music and you feel Ladyfuzz is the most rounded and truest sense of all their themes, concerns, and strands – distilled and mixed in an explosive and dynamic song that has Punk heart and a deep soul. You will want to hear it several times just to get to the root of it and let its primal abandon and savage moments hit you. As I said with regards their music: it has depths and multiple sides to it and you should never think you have it all figured out. The duo said they feel discouragement and abuse – Livingstone has faced Internet trolls before – and the way to react to that is impressive. Livingstone is a woman in a male-dominated industry and music is a way of showing how important her voice is and she should not be ignored. Ladyfuzz is not just a song that deals with harsh and personal insights but is a bold and defiant offering from a singer/guitarist who is one of the most exciting and impressive musicians out there. Together with Dawson’s incredible percussion and pummel; the duo should be watched very carefully. Not many artists touch on sensitive and harrowing sides but it has taken a while for that to be a reality for Kamikaze Girls. Ladyfuzz, as with the other songs on Sad, is their way of reaching out to people and showing how important it is to talk about issues like bullying, addiction, and depression: this will give other people (going through it) comfort and should motivate other musicians to suppress obvious inspirations for music and touch on something a lot more important and serious. We need pioneers and duos like Kamikaze Girls on the scene as they have the promise to affect real change.

It has been great discovering Kamikaze Girls and their world. Reading interviews they have done recently, you get a peek into two very special musicians that are very different from their contemporaries. Away from the shallow and faceless artists we all know and avoid: Kamikaze Girls are deep, meaningful and hugely impressive. They are brave enough to challenge convention and stigma and ensure their music addresses important subjects and breaks taboo. Mental health, addiction, and anxieties are not subjects we hear a lot in music – that should change and is not something we should hide. Seemingly clandestine and resigned to the shadows: Kamikaze Girls will give impetus and inspiration to other acts to talk about these things and feel less alone. If you listen to Sad and the songs throughout; you get a glimpse into the duo’s psyche and what they have faced. Livingstone especially has faced mental health problems and addiction: someone who is starting to recover and improve but still affected by depression and anxiety. The songs, as a result of this, bare scars and were hard exercises in self-acceptance and honesty. Hexes begins with clattering and eeriness. Like a nighttime stillness – where there are just odd noises in the air – it opens into explosive, bellicose territory. Yowling and elongating guitars and rampant percussions give the song a shot of danger and nervousness. Before long, a head-banging riff and huge energy come through and you are under the spell of the track. The riff reminds me of Nirvana’s Breed in the way it is so addictive and familiar yet you cannot help but throw your body in its way. Kamikaze Girls have taken influence from a range of sources but remain singular and personal throughout. The ‘90s Grunge sound comes through to look at psychosis, mental anguish, and torment. The heroine’s head is being messed with and she is unable to escape the dread and torture of her captor. Vocals slightly traumatised and fatigued: there is an anger and stiffness that suggests she has reached a plateau – no longer willing to cope with this miasma and fear. Whilst psychosis is asleep in bed: she is there pulling her eyelashes out; being kept awake by the demon of ill mental health. The song has a very raw and lo-fi sound and one that puts you into live territory – you can practically feel the moshing and smell of beer flying through the air. Combining rampant and avalanche percussion with heartbroken, animalistic and intense vocals and it is a song you cannot forget in a hurry.

Stitches and I Hate Funerals keep the momentum going. The former has a constant drive and purging energy that will make it a live favourite and get a great response at gigs. The duo is tight and assured throughout and whilst some of the lyrics do get buried by the composition – a little hard to decipher against the purity and intensity of the emotion – is a song more synonymous with feeling and attitude as opposed to what is being said. The sentiments and revelations of the song get into the head but it is the duo’s kinship, musicianship and vocal brilliance that make it what it is. I Hate Funerals lurches and stomps into view and has plenty of attitudes. Mantra-like and petulant to an extent; it is a slower-pitched song that whilst not funeral, has a certain weariness. The composition is among the most intense and fiery on the E.P., mind, whilst the vocal has a definite sense of aggravation and boredom. Once more, you feel the heroine is trying to crack a smile and not a fan of those around her. Maybe wanted to run away or get out of the situation: you try and envisage what is being sung and where we find herself. I Hate Funerals has that lo-fi quality which does make intelligibility a bit of a concern, but once again, you are hooked into the song and affected by the mood, performances, and rawness that emerges. Black Coffee is one of the clearer and less heavy-surging songs and has a mix of Pop and Punk sensibility. More melodic and restrained than previous numbers: it has a certain catchiness and accessibility to it. The duo shows their flexibility and variation; able to switch between genres, sounds, and ideas. Here, our heroine is being kept awake by addiction:  “I found the cure for these aching bones / I’ll breathe you when I just can’t hold it up”. You can visualise the drugs and drink; the need to escape a depression and numb that pain. Unable to get to sleep and shackled by a harsh addiction: it is one of the most heartbreaking and soul-baring songs on the E.P. It is possible those past days are gone for good but they still burn and ache badly. The vocal has a definite helplessness and anguish that seems in need of balm and comfort. Tonic Youth is a B-side and bonus track that finds the heroine feeling alive and up: maybe a side-effect of youth or a drunken haze. It is a song that deals with contradictions as you have that vivaciousness and sensation of energy but self-destruction and illness. Stomach and headaches are keeping her inside (when she wants to be out) and again, you start to speculate what is causing this pain.

Sad is an E.P. as complex and simple as its title. On face value, there are a lot of harsh emotions and depression unearthed and evaluated. It is the abiding take-away from the lyrics and does look at anxieties and mental health. Sad is more complicated and investigates addictions and subjects many musicians do not touch. That title might be a dig at people who underestimate and simplify depression as just being ‘sad’. The music shows just how wrong they are: it is a minefield and deeply personal thing and should not be undervalued and overlooked. The music and sound Kamikaze Girls is among the most bracing and electric you’ll find in modern music. The Leeds/London duo have a very clear bond and the songs are incredibly tight, nuanced and will go down terrifically with the live audiences. Some of the lines get mixed down too much or a bit hard to understand but overall you hear what you need to – Livingstone’s voice is consistently exciting, raw and emotional and makes sure the music connects and gets straight into the head. Riffs and electric lines that are gritty, catchy and dirty: adding atmosphere, contours, and vivacity to the music. Connor Dawson ensures the percussive backbone is strong and granite-like. You are always at his mercy and he is not a mere backing player. Always intensely focused and skillful: so many different sides to his armoury and wonderful moments.  Sad is not just an E.P. for fans of Kamikaze but those going through the same experiences as the group. Both suffering ill mental health and struggling issues like addiction: it is a personal and hard E.P. that shows bravery in spades. Unlike the tough subjects and tense emotions it explore: with regards to Sad, you will…

NOT be afraid to embrace it.



Follow Kamikaze Girls







FEATURE: The British Music Venue: The fabric of Society



The British Music Venue:


 The fabric of Society


IN a digital age where music is commonly available through a variety of…



platforms and sites: what places for the physical side of music? Vinyl is seeing a revival but in an ironic sense. Most people I know (who buy vinyl) never play them and keep them as memorabilia and artwork – how many D.J.s still use vinyl as part of their sets today? I am buoyed to learn C.D.s are starting to gain a foothold against the digital download market. It is a shame to think we are losing what music is all about: something physical, tangible and real. Given the change in the method we buy music, something troubling is happening in our high streets. At the beginning of this year, an Independent article revealed 27 U.K. pubs are closing each week. Alongside our bars, there is a similarly alarming thing happening with music bars and clubs. Is this a sign of things to come and what can we do?


 I am committed to using the influence of my office to overcome the numerous challenges facing the night time economy. However, it is important to note that City Hall does not have the power to intervene in licensing cases like the current situation with Fabric.”

The following was a statement by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan following the closure of the nightclub fabric. At present, at the time of this feature, the petition to save fabric had reached 94,609 supporters – 55,391 more signatories needed so the issue can be debated in parliament. You can put your name to the petition here. It is worrying to see an icon and institution of the London club scene threatened and targeted: not only denying loyal patrons and new faces the chance to revel in its environment but jeopardise the economy of the local area. It is unsurprising the club drew criticism following drug-related deaths at the venue in recent months. Mayor Khan went on to say:

My team have spoken to all involved in the current situation and I am urging them to find a common sense solution that ensures the club remains open while protecting the safety of those who want to enjoy London’s clubbing scene”.

the British music venue tHE FABRIC X  Society

As part of his plan for the capital: Mayor Khan plays on appointing a ‘Night Czar’ who would be a champion and voice responsible for not only promoting the wonderful nightclub and music scene in London – helping to preserve clubs whose safety and existence is in danger. In response to the incidents at the club; a spokesperson from fabric explained in a statement:

The safety of all our customers has always been at the core of what we do, so right now we’re working with the relevant authorities and looking at everything we can to make sure that we can continue to operate after the 6th September”.

Farringdon itself (where fabric is located) is one of the most varied and popular areas for nightlife in the capital. Wine bar Vinoteca reappraises the stuffy image we all have and offers the customer over 275 different wines at very affordable prices. Pubs such as The Jerusalem Tavern and Café Kick are just the tip of the iceberg. Fabric hardly sits outside the sphere; conversely, it is at the beating heart; part of the tapestry of Farringdon and London. It is always tragic and regrettable when you see drug-related deaths or similar incidents at any club or pub. Whilst part of modern life (unfortunately) there has to be awareness raised and repercussions. It seems like fabric has been a sacrificial lamb: not given a fighting chance and tarred with a bad reputation. If you look on search engines and type in the words ‘Incidents at fabric nightclub’ the results returned pertain to the two deaths there. It is not like the club is a problem child who has not rehabilitated and is a constant burden of the community. I have heard of pubs near me who have seen drug-related deaths and continue to trade – a fine might be levied or a stern slap on the wrist. If there were a fire or safety breach at the club then a temporary closure would be appropriate – to ensure they get their act together and comply with legislation.



Unless you frisk everyone who goes through the door and watch them with eagle eyes: how are you going to prevent this sort of thing?

The deaths that occurred are apparitions and are not the norm. of the club and London night scene.

The government is becoming a middle-aged, finger-wagging parent who sees a couple of bad boys throwing punches in the street and decides (their son/daughter) is so precious and fragile they should not be left outside. What does it say, in 2016, when fabric’s closure is seen as acceptable and justified? The club did not allow a mass fight to erupt and it is not violating noise abatement protocols (or polluting Farringdon). It is an established and legendary spot that has seen musicians, D.J.s and public figures come out in force to save its doors – making sure it is not closed for good.

An article on the BBC last year highlighted how 40% of London’s small venues have closed in the year (prior to that report). It is startling to think this is a sign of things to come but is not a London-centric issue. Nottingham student favourite The Forum is to close according to the Nottingham Post. How harrowing it is to find so many venues going out of business by the week. The small clubs and music venues are a vital part of the British economy and responsible for £3.5 billion in revenue. A recent article in The Independent cut to the core of the debate:

It isn’t just about the artists, either. These venues provide jobs for hundreds of thousands of people, from bar staff to promoters and technicians. To snatch away the livelihoods of so many for the benefit of some bourgeois group of property developers is a disgrace at a time when unemployment and poverty levels are so high. In fact, spaces for live music and culture can be great community adhesives in times of socioeconomic hardship”.

The only way for musicians and new artists to get their work heard is for these venues and clubs to continue. If we lose our club culture and small venues then we threaten the security and liberty of the music industry. Can you picture a scenario where bands and acts are forced to premiere their wares via YouTube or town halls? The large arenas and venues continue to thrive but the smaller localities are looking over their shoulders. They are the staple of the music industry and the platform on which the hottest and hungriest musicians enthrall crowds and lay down their gauntlets. The legendary, unforgettable gig is a shared experience and right-of-passage. A new generation faces approaching adolescence without access to these venues. What of their future?

Large parts of London are becoming gentrified which is part of the problems. In tandem to the public need for cleaner, brighter and more refined surroundings: the small music venues and clubs do not fit with the facelift and want to remain authentic and pure. If you start putting wine bars and coffee shops into the entrance to fabric, then what the hell will music become? Perhaps there are sectors of London who want to turn everything middle-class and trendy but there is a fervent and loyal group of music-lovers who share no such view. If we overhaul venues in order to appease the gentrification crowds and, not offend the eye, then we are denying music-goers the fundamental right to live music and freedom. There are plenty of bars and venues who experience fights and aggravation on a nightly basis: why are they not open to criticism, reprimand, and controversy? Fabric is a sacrificial lamb that has not caused any major sin or crime. As I said earlier: this is not a London problem and is happening all around the country.

Living in an area with easy access and proximity to venues like Boileroom (Guildford) and Green Door Store (Brighton): I can see what great work they do and how important they are to the local communities. It is not just live music that brings people through the doors. Small music venues and clubs work to engage the community and public and are often multi-denominational and multi-tier. Norfolk’s The Owl Sanctuary ran the Norwich Soup Movement – a D.I.Y., not-for-profit incentive that provided food and shelter for the city’s homeless. A lot of ignorant people assume music venues are about trouble, drugs, and loud music: they cause trouble and offend the ear; no conscience or maturity. The truth couldn’t be further from that assumption. Most small venues and clubs run programmes and incentives for charity and underprivileged sectors. These places engage with charities and the lesser-off and have a deep-rooted sense of mortality and activism – helping multiple sectors through the pulpit and universality of music. Deny the public of these places – this is starting to sound like Charlie Chaplin’s famous speech from The Great Dictator – and you threaten the very fabric of our society – an apt choice of words given the fate of London’s current whipping boy. Politicians and authority figures are not the ones who rely on these places and understand the wider implications. They sit in their offices and three-piece suits and are ignorant and clueless with regards these places – I doubt they have even been within 500 feet of any of them. If you are never more than 6ft from a rat (not sure if that is an urban legend) then you know a politician is more than 500 feet from a small music venue. They are so closed-off from the public and real life and this has to stop.



It may sound like I am having a rant but my views and substantiated and supported by the majority. Every county of the U.K. is fearful and there are no guarantees in the modern climate. When you close a club or music venue you do not just create cultural and social dents – the economic ramifications are significant. Clubs employ a lot of people and the trickle-down effects of their unemployment cannot be underestimated. Shine the spotlight out at a 90-degree angle and what of the musician who relies on these venues as their bread and butter? You rob them of a live setting and you threaten their very existence.

Take it out another 90 degrees and the state of modern music will be harshly affected. In the same way as the death of cassette and vinyl is a product of the modern age: is the dying away of the small clubs and music venues a natural evolution and after-effect?

We cannot sit by idly and allow this to happen: will we ever see fabric’s doors reopen and stay open? Make sure you sign the petition and ensure it is not another casualty of the overly-protective and hysterical nature of British politics. Mayor Khan is someone who understands the importance of the London music scene and nightlife but you feel there is a certain sense of inevitability and helplessness. Our nation is synonymous with its wonderful, rich and indefatigable music scene. Music brings people together and bonds communities: this is exemplified and evident in our clubs and minor venues. Without these stalwarts and bastions of live music then future stars and mainstream acts will take years to hit their strides. Artists like Foals, Wolf Alice and Coldplay (a trio among thousands) who began their careers playing the charming and wonderful clubs around the country – many of whom have closed since. We need to act and ensure our wonderful music scene…

Image result for fabric london outside



IS not threatened and damaged forever…

TRACK REVIEW: CASSI (ft. Luna Ward) – That High



CASSI (ft. Luna Ward)



That High




That High is available at:


29th August, 2016


Drum and Bass


Surrey, U.K.


EVERY time a new musician or artist comes my way it…

provides an opportunity to look at new genres and considerations. Such is the case today with my featured artist – but before I come to her – I wanted to look at Drum and Bass (the genre CASSI plays in); young, upcoming artists/producers and the true power of music and creativity. I feel, when we hear the words ‘Drum’ and ‘Bass’, a certain misconception come crop up. We all, not me though, feel a certain heaviness and lack of tactility to the music – compositions and vocals that suffer a surfeit of necessary restraint and are primarily geared to the late-night club revelers. Whilst Drum and Bass does have that tribal power and is intended to unify the dance-floor revelers: it is a more sophisticated and multi-layered genre and is as accessible and variegated as any other you care to mention. Having grown up lionising the Dance music of the late-‘80s and early-‘90s – where Snap! and Culture Beat were considered quite hip – I have seen it mutate, evolve and mature in a way I couldn’t have predicted back then. Perhaps the ’90s Dance/Trance music was a bit more esteemed and long-lasting than a lot of contemporary equivalencies: that is not to say some future-classic artists are not playing in our midst. Drum and Bass has the unerring power to get the listener hooked, baited and entranced in a world of fantastical beats, stridulating electronics and a psychotropic mood – far too heady for the senses to resist. One of the reasons (among many) I open my mind to music’s power is just what we choose to ignore – like a child turning their nose up at food they’ve never tried. You cannot approach a genre and think you have it figured out. If you have heard a rather savage and violent song: that does not represent and embody the true sound of Drum and Bass. The same goes for the likes of Metal, Country, and Soul – there is no such thing as a ‘typical sound’. What Drum and Bass provides, that is not as immediately true of other sounds, is how developed and complicated it is. We all assume, because it’s technology-based and digitally-formed, it is a case of pressing a few buttons and twiddling faders – something of that sort anyway. An awful lot of care, thought and consideration go into the genre: it is reserved for those with true passion, expertise, and patience. It would be all-too-easy to fuse together some vaguely pleasing strands and think the club-dwelling public will lap it up – those with a lack of discernment might. The same with regards any style of music: you rush into it and you can create something messy, hurried and wanton.

2015 Drum and Bass classics like Diversified (Tantrum Desire), Next Generation’s Bensley and City of Gold by The Prototypes have been lauded and cannonised by the likes of Drum and Bass HQ. A cursory exploration of those albums shows you just how much emotion, skill, and talent is required. A lot of the time – but not always – the music has to rely on composition alone: modern-day Classical arias that have to win the crowd without a single word sung. My general point is that there are too many stuffy-nose-turners that balk at Drum and Bass because they have clichéd definitions – without investigating it sufficiently. Still regarded as a niche genre and something largely confined to clubs and bars: it will not be long until it receives greater representation in the mainstream. We are seeing acts like Sigma, Noisia and Chase & Status well-regarded and received by many of the mainstream’s best stations and publications. In terms of the new crop coming through: there is much promise and fascination on display. CASSI is the moniker of Surrey-based producer Louise Vineeta. That High is the debut offering from CASSI and shows what a force she is: just how prosperous the future will be. It is hard to truly predict an artist’s trajectory from a single cut but the signs are all very positive – a young talent who is highly capable of making waves in the mainstream (in years to come). Before I continue to another point; let me fully introduce CASSI to you (in her own words):

CASSI is a thought-provoking and assured producer/artist who is proving why we should not be so beholden to chart-approved music. As I stated a little while back: write-off or overlook Drum and Bass and you are liable to miss out on so much. Away from the tribalism; overly-hedonistic producers that can come off one-minded: CASSI is an example of someone who can create accessibility and intelligent music whilst remaining true to the demands of the Drum and Bass aficionados. That is no mean feat and not something that has arrived through serendipity and dumb luck. Upcoming Drum and Bass/Dance producers Mania and Next State are contemporaries of CASSI: similarly ambitious and assured producers who are, in their own campaigns and ways, likely to put their stamp on music down the line. Drum and Bass, like other genres, is not confined to the cities: it has popularity and patrons around the world and is one of the most amendable, transportable and wide-ranging forms of music in the world. CASSI is based in Surrey and is in the heart of a busy and vibrant music community. In a town (Guildford) that houses A.C.M. (The Academy of Contemporary Music) Boileroom and G. Live: it is not a shock that the conviviality, creativity, and variegation of Surrey (Guildford especially) has affected CASSI. With music become more expensive and less attainable for bright-eyed hopefuls: more and more producers and artists are turning to bedroom-made, D.I.Y. sounds. You do not need a lavish studio and exclusive technology to create music of the highest order – the spark of inspiration, discipline and passion are the most important tools (and free from charge). So much attention is paid to mainstream bands and critical favourites: those acts that preen and pout from magazine spreads with needless hubris and self-assurance. Producers like CASSI are true artists that do not seek glamour, column inches or the nods of record executives – she is someone who burns with the desire to create fine music and get her passion onto the page. Vibing and conspiring with the creative community and peers: it has provided a basis for CASSI and her debut, That High. Knowing her, and the work that went into the song, it is a singular triumph from a producer who has consecrated so much time and energy to music – ensuring it as good as it can be before dissemination to public ears. That quality control and patience has paid dividends and ensured That High is a banger: a song that is sure to find affection and support beyond the realms of social media and music-sharing platforms.

Knowing CASSI’s creative process and what songs might be released in the future: it got me thinking about inspirations behind music. Drums and Bass, again there is a stereotype, is not just concerned with excess, sweat, and libidinous, prurient obsessions. Even the compositions, as hard-edged and pulsating as they are, are a lot more nuanced and deep than that – never simple-minded and basic. That High is a mantra-like, head-swimming song whose chorus line builds a number of possibilities and origins – a simple paen to a lover or feeling of something else. Unlike other genres: Drum and Bass artists address deeper concerns and societal problems. I have seen artists (in Drum and Bass) document class imbalance, urban squalor and political tyranny – the stress and disenfranchisement that the young feel today. Expand that out, and everything from mental health struggles and tragedy has been represented through the lens of Drum and Bass. If one educates oneself more about genres like this: you find it is much more complicated and perspicacious than is perceived. CASSI is a producer who will go on to prove that point and use her platform as a chance to address issues away from love and euphoria: common themes that many of her peers document. That High is her debut song and an accessible and anthemic slice that announces a special talent – one who intends on making music for a long time to come.

It is at this point of a review I usually compare an artist’s previous work with current: charting their evolution and deciphering whether any changes have occurred. Of course, this being CASSI’s opening salvo; it makes that a little harder. What I can say and do know – without giving anything away – is that more music will come and is likely to be met with acclaim and huge affection. Few artists and producers charge out the gate as hot and assured – even those in Drum and Bass. I have reviewed a lot of debut-era acts that are kitten-like and anxious on their first track. Some impress and create a sense of personality: it can be tough deciding which artists will make it and which won’t. Luckily, it seems CASSI is fully ready for the demands of music and ensures her debut track is instant and addictive. It will be interesting to see what the next few months hold in store and how she develops. I know CASSI is releasing an E.P. soon that is going to contain another version of That High – other snapshots into her creative mind. Momentum, impression, and intention have been laid down, and with it, an insight into a fresh and hungry producer who can add her unique voice and artistry into the Drum and Bass oeuvre.

Ghostly, balletic high-noted electronics open That High up. Part-cosmic, part-mystical: it is an eerie and earth-orbiting sound that prepares the listener and builds fascination right away. Oddly, there is something romantic and seductive to be found in the opening seconds. Rather than rushing in hard or needlessly build up: That High has instant effectiveness but does so with subtlety and the things it does not say – allowing the listener to come to their own impressions and look between the notes. Befitting of a film score: one that could open a tense and nervy flick: there is a certain sense of danger and rush that is lingering. You sense something big is about to happen and the tension and sweat is almost palpable. As I say: there is a counterbalance of affection and gentility in the opening passage; ensuring it is hard to second-guess and come to easy predictions. By the 10-second mark, a far-off, spectral vocal floats and echoes in the background. “That high” is delivered almost as a coda or truth: it does not need any fleshing-out and seems to be a complete thought; a truth that is yet to be revealed. Any thoughts That High would remain calming and relaxed is erased within a few seconds. Warping, growling electronics add darkness, shade, and teeth to the song: it is not too vicious but a definite authority and jeopardy is introduced. The beats get harder and demonic – like a bad vision that keeps coming to the mind – but when joined with the vocal the song takes on a new light. Rather than being hardened and attacking (that remains) but a sensuality, heat, and sexiness comes out. Given the song’s title and the possibilities of the words: your perspectives change to ideas of romance, coming-together, and a certain recklessness. Whether a free-from-shackles celebration or declaration of a pure love: with every mounting projection (of the words “That high”) the song grows fuller and more meaningful. Few producers or artists are able to repeat and reintroduce a vocal line or chorus whilst keeping it engaging, fresh and unpredictable. Part of your mind is fixed on the composition which creates its own gravity and colours; the other looks at the vocal which is lost in a state of delirium and trance. Coming together; the overall effect is quite something.

Organically and freely, That High starts to accelerate and smooth out. The foreboding and dark-hewn electronics subside and the beats start to race and trot; the vocal comes fully into the light and it is almost like waking from a dream – or perhaps a nightmare, depending on your take. “It’s all about that high” is a line that, one would imagine, has quite obvious and carnal origins. Provided what has come before and the inscrutable nature of the song so far – you do wonder if it is obvious as that. Of course, CASSI knows the true inspiration behind the lyrics but one still suspects that a) something positive and affirmative is being exposed and b) it is either based in the heart or the club – submitting to the serotonin-release bliss of the music or the knee-bucking touch of a lover. Whichever camp your mind is in so far: it does not quite prepare you for the unleash and release that is to follow. Just after the one-minute mark, once again, That High starts to shift up another gear and accelerate. Ward’s vocal remains concentrated and focused on that single thought – you wonder who/what is being sung about and imagine all sorts of possibilities and variations. In my mind, however near the mark it might be, I was looking at two sweethearts/friends in the club and bonded by the music. Surrounded by others yet joined in one another’s arms: something free and liberating. With that being considered, there is the suspicion something deeper and purer is being described. It might be cheating, but CASSI herself states it is (the inspiration) the pure pleasure and nourishment of music that is in her mind – the listener is free to decide upon their own interpretation. That reflection and revelation become clearer as the song progresses and the composition-vocal combination more spiraled and tangled. The vocal is peppering, stuttered and intoxicating; the composition introduces every proceeding variation into a dizzying whole. Rather than focusing purely on a physical unity or a club-set throng: it becomes less physical and more spiritual.  That High works because of the mix of simplicity and complexity. The lyrics are simple and centered around that gravity: the power and vitality music provides; the undeniable high and satisfaction it gives the soul. Most singers might look at the page and not be able to eek necessary nuance, range, and emotion from those words. Credit to Ward (and CASSI’s production notes) that the vocal finds new space and possibilities; brings new life and spirit from the words. Ward’s vocals are never too intense or insincere: able to perfectly deliver that message of devotion and affirmation whilst projecting ample sexiness, rawness, and soul. CASSI does not needlessly distill or process the vocal and keeps it natural and unblemished: simply tweaking and repeating it; creating a rollercoaster (sure there is a better word) of emotions – perhaps embodying the unpredictability of music’s essence and how it affects different parts of the body. Not content to simply ride it out to the finish: CASSI ensures fascination and attention is held to the very end. Rather than fading down or keeping the same pace: That High starts to calm and restrain. That is perhaps indicative or a lack of energy – music has had that very physical effect – but you sense the pull and allure of music have completely ravaged and obsessed the heart and soul – this is the result of it.

That High is not simply about the pure joy of music but the release and freedom music-making have provided CASSI. She has faced trials and stresses and had some uncertain times in life – music has been a way to help channel fears into something positive and productive. Often, we can get buried under life’s strains and demands: never quite know how to cope and portion the burden out without harming ourselves. Music is a forum that anyone can turn to and asks for nothing but dedication in return. The possibilities, avenues and potential one can get from music is limitless – that determination to exploit every nook and hook is infectious and all-consuming. That High also looks at life’s highs and the satisfaction and safety from a true love and solid friendships. Knowing the people around CASSI – her boyfriend Mania is a D.J. and producer; Next State is a close friend – that can help make life a lot more positive and easy. All of these thanks, considerations and positives go into That High – that will connect and be understood by the listener. Few producers or artists concentrate on pleasures and the positivity of music/life. A lot of songs/artists focus on relationship perils and break-up; self-negativity and something quite angry – it is unusual discovering someone who wants to embrace and pay tribute to the powers and spiritual nature of music, life and love. Future CASSI work is likely to mix in some negative and darker elements in but that is natural for all artists. By starting out upbeat, positive and uplifted: That High is a song that wins you over on many fronts – not least the important and relevance the lyrics have on its author. A stunning and compelling song from a producer who has plenty of inspiration and stories: she has come into the music with a huge and strong statement that will win many fans.

I, for one, have never been too sure just which artists will emerge victorious and prominent from this year. It may say strange for a journalist to confess such a thing but it is understandable. We are exposed to so much music and that is a good thing. It is always brilliant having easy access to all kind of bands, sounds, and genres. The issue arises when trying to make predictions about the future. You might discover an artist that seems like they have the tools to succeed and the energy to keep pressing on – before long they have fallen or fatigued. Perhaps it is the demands of music or false promise: either way, it is a tricky thing predicting longevity and those who will reign in years to come. On the other hand, there are enough musicians and artists you just know who have the legs, talent, and originality to take it all the way. CASSI is a brand-new name to music and ensuring the Drum and Bass world – beyond the local borders – knows about it. Of course, we can race ahead and make proclamations but she will want to stay focused and grounded. It is all-too-easy promulgating an artist and putting a burden of expectation on their shoulder. CASSI has proven on That High she is a producer and artist to be taken seriously – she is fully committed to music. It is rare, although maybe not in the underground, to see a female Drum and Bass producer emerge. It may be a sign of imbalance or not enough ready exposure: many still see certain types of music as gender-exclusive. There is little ostracism or prejudice in Drum and Bass but we often associate the genre with men. That is an attitude and perception that should and needs to be changed. When you look at the end-of-year lists from Drum and Bass magazines and sites: a lot of their top-10s or whatever (seem) to be male-dominated. Perhaps it is just a quality decision but one feels like the women of Drum and Bass are not being represented as fervently as they should. It is foolhardy pointing fingers or creating accusations but a sense of familiarity and laziness has crept in. One feels the likes of CASSI will not only bring about reappropriation and discussion but help to promote the fantastic female producers that help make the genre as strong, varied and exceptional as it is.

That High is a song that can convert undecided voters and fence-dwellers who would otherwise skim the surface of Drum and Bass without dipping their toes in. I know there is still a lot of work to be done ensuring the genre is on a level plain with Pop and Rock for instance. That rebalance does not occur overnight but I am starting to see positive changes and reapportionment occurring. Away from mainstream stars like Chase & Status, there is a vanguard of nimble and exceptional producers that are gathering acclaim and praise. The sun is out and it is hot out: there is a time and place for the gentler side of music but one yearns for something that reflects the season. The summer is not through, so woe betide anyone who speaks idly of autumn and shorter days. We used to go to Rock musicians for excitement and those scintillating jams. I feel the tide has shifted and too many bands are becoming sanitised and tame. Step forward those who understand how important forceful, body-moving music is – an elemental and primeval desire that has been coded into D.N.A. since the dawning of time. Artists, producers, and musicians that are capable of creating bangers and jams – songs that unify crowds and eradicate bad moods – should be applauded. That High is a tsunami of joy that is fully able to get the clubs bouncing and sweating but that would be doing the song a disservice. It goes back to my early point of easy labeling in Drum and Bass. The finest and most promising producers expend time and huge energy ensuring their songs are appropriately nuanced and deep – not just one-dimensional songs that are easily disposable. My early points looked at young producers and how Drum and Bass is not centralised to the cities – it is inherent in any town or place that has a nightclub; throughout bars and venues across the land. Given the popularity and necessity to embrace a more cost-effective form of recording: we are going to see genres like Drum and Bass rise in popularity. CASSI has spent a long time working on her debut song and you can hear that dedication and tireless pursuit come out in every note. A head-rush that gets into the brain and rearranges the senses – the body and limbs unable to resist movement; the voice ringing and singing along to the song’s chorus. Kudos must go to Luna Ward who brings gravel, guts and power to That High. At times spectral and distant; at others up-front and intense: a passionate and perfect performance that brings every possible emotion and shade from the lyrics and composition. Let’s hope CASSI and Ward collaborates in future as it seems like a very natural and promising partnership. I will end by looking at CASSI’s future and how she will slot into the market.

It has been wonderful not only hearing an incredible debut song but learning more about Drum and Bass – a genre I have not spend a lot of time around. CASSI resides in Surrey and has a prestigious and impressive musical network around her – about to enter A.C.M. very soon. She has the support and backing of friends, peers, and musicians but That High is a singular vision and unique perspective from a producer we should follow closely. There are few things harder and more nerve-wracking than taking your first steps into music and finding your feet – it can be an excruciating experience that has seen many quit. CASSI has that inborn love of music and it will not be too long before we get to see her debut E.P. – that will be exciting to see. Free from nerves, weak moments or any loose ends: That High has been leant a lot of consideration and focus: the results are obvious and immediate. Ensure you take time out to listen to CASSI and see just where she is heading. On the evidence of debut track That High shows: she has…

PLENTY more to say.



Follow CASSI







INTERVIEW: Katie Buxton



PHOTO CREDIT: Sam Polonsky


 Katie Buxton 


A few days ago, Nashville-based Indie-Folk artist Katie Buxton…



released the video for her latest track, You Flew. The song’s gorgeous vocals and heartbreaking lyrics make it one of her very finest tracks. Written on a snowy January day in Nashville: a wonderful, hugely evocative song that takes you away with it. I have been a fan of Buxton for a little while and am excited to see just how far she can go. Eager to find out whether she has future plans (for new music) and how Nashville is treating her: I caught up to discuss her childhood influences and whether we can expect her in the U.K. any time soon.


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

Hey! I’m doing great. my week has been crazy but the good kind.

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

Of course! I’m a twenty-year-old Indie-Folk singer/songwriter living in Tennessee. My songs are pretty mellow with intentional and reflective lyrics – everything I write has some sort of conscious intention behind it.


PHOTO CREDIT: Linda James Parrott


You are based out of Nashville. What prompted the move from Philadelphia to Nashville?

I moved to Nashville a little over two years ago to start college there. I study songwriting at Belmont University, and when I was looking at different universities to apply to, Belmont was one of only a few in the States that had a commercial songwriting program. I also had been to Nashville a few times before and loved the laid-back but lively feel of the city, and just how central music is there.

In terms of comparative music scenes: are there more opportunities and a richer music culture in Nashville?

I’d say definitely – the really cool thing about Nashville is that everyone assumes it’s mostly Country when in reality there is a little bit of everything. There’s a huge Indie scene, as well as Pop, Rock, and even Reggae.

Since the town is made up of mostly people working in the music industry, it’s so much easier to make connections here than it is almost anywhere else – especially since most are pretty open to helping up and coming musicians.

Your first songwriting experience was at the age of 12. Did you grow up in a musical household and when was the moment you realised you wanted to become a musician?

The funny thing about my background is that the only person I shared a household with growing up was my mother and she’s absolutely tone deaf (sorry mom)! Besides an uncle who plays guitar, the rest of my family has never been musical; I grew up in a school that placed a lot of importance on their music classes and training us vocally from the time we were four-years-old. I think that was a huge part of it. I’ve sort of always known that music is meant to be a part of my life, but I never knew in what capacity until around a year ago when I had a pretty sudden and intense realisation that being an artist is something I want more than I’ve ever wanted anything.




Who were the artists and bands you fell in love with as a child?

Oh man! This is going to be embarrassing. When I was super-young I was really into Play, Hilary Duff, Aly &AJ; Evanescence, artists like that. Aly & AJ were actually the reason I started playing guitar! It’s so funny to me. As I got a little older I went to my first concert when I was nine, which was the Country duo Big & Rich (I know…I know). It was so random and unexpected but for some reason, I just loved them from that moment on, probably for way too long.

What was it like being selected as a finalist for the 2016 American Songwriting Awards? What was the inspiration behind Painted Hearts (the song that got you there)?

The funny part about this was I didn’t even realise I had submitted a song to be considered until I was told I was a finalist. I just had totally forgotten but it was an awesome surprise!

The song I submitted, Painted Hearts, is written from the perspective of a Native American chief. A few years ago I was attending a summer music program in Boston, Massachusetts when I heard a Native American chant performed live. I’ve always had a really deep and unexplainable connection to the culture, so it immediately resonated with me (and just stuck with me).

About a year-and-a-half later I was sitting in my room and for whatever reason, that chant was just playing over and over in my head when I thought: “what if I write a song around this chant?” I think the whole song came out in ten minutes. It felt effortless and like it came from a very special and sacred place. It’s a really important song for me and has opened so many doors.


Your debut E.P. From Songbirds was released in March.  What has the reaction been like from critics and social media? What sort of events and experiences defined the E.P. for you?

Since releasing From Songbirds, the response I’ve gotten has been really encouraging and heartfelt. To hear from people that my E.P. is what’s playing when they turn on their car is the most special thing. When I was putting those songs together I wanted to focus on creating a project that had a purpose, songs that were reflective and would bring light to others. Each song focuses on something totally different, from sending love to those who hurt you, to letting go of control and embracing wherever it is life is taking you.

You Flew, the current single, is about caring for someone who is not ready to love. Did the song arrive from a fictional viewpoint or was there a particular inspiration?

There was definitely real inspiration for this song. It’s actually not about one person in particular but came from a couple very similar experiences I’ve had with different people: most recently right before I wrote the song. I think the fact that I’ve experienced this more than once honestly allowed me to put more emotion behind the lyrics because it was such a familiar feeling.

The song has a very gentle sound; your voice beautiful and aching. Was that sound/dynamic enforced by the strong Country scene in Nashville? Any particular singers helped to shape your vocal style

Thank you so much! I didn’t consciously take any influence from the Country sound – Country is not something I ever listen to, even here in Nashville. But as far as influence from other singers go I really love Liz Longley – her vocals are always so emotive and strong but delicate. I also really love more soulful singers like Lianne La Havas and Matt Corby and the way they use dynamics to add feeling to their lyrics. I really try to emulate this kind of style, because I think the way in which the vocals in a song are delivered is one of the most important things, and it’s what really allows the listener to connect to the lyrics.

PHOTO CREDIT: Linda James Parrott


Can fans here in the U.K. expect to see you soon? Any plans to tour Europe and the U.K.?

I would absolutely love to tour Europe and the U.K.! It’s something I’ve been talking about lately and I’m hoping to start planning a leg for next summer. So yes, hopefully very soon!

You often write messages to your fans and motivational messages. They, in turn, throw a lot of love your way. How important are your followers on social media and how important with regards to your energy and passion for music?

I truly appreciate every single person that follows me and shows even the smallest amount of support, so much more than I can say. It is such a gift when someone chooses to follow my journey and take the time to listen to what I have to say. It’s something I don’t take for granted and knowing I have the ability to positively influence even just one person gives me purpose and drive.

I know you have just released an E.P. but are there any plans for more music this year? How does the rest of 2016 pan out so far

Looking forward to the remainder of 2016 I don’t have any releases planned yet but I’m hoping to get back in the studio really soon. I would love to have another single out by November. Right now I’m in the process of getting a band together so that I can start playing full band shows, and I’m looking forward to a couple festivals I’m playing in September, one of which my favorite artist, Trevor Hall is headlining, so it’s very exciting and pretty surreal.

You must see a lot of great local artists around Nashville. Are there any you would recommend to people? Which mainstream artists have excited you this year?

So many! I have a ton of favorites because there is so much talent here but a few of them are Suzy Jones, Addison Mills, and Stephen Day. As far as mainstream artists go, this year I’ve really gotten into Allen Stone, as well as Jon Bellion after his newest release this May. I think the way he writes is genius and his songs are the kind that makes me wish I wrote them.

Having had such a varied and busy career so far: which times and moments have been the most precious and important?

The moments that have stuck with me the most are the ones where people have told me how much of an impact my music has had on them.

To hear that what I create and put out there is leaving a significant and lasting impression on someone is so surreal to me because that’s always my goal, but to know it’s actually happening is the most encouraging and humbling thing.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

I think one of the most important things as an artist is to find what makes you different than everyone else and really use it to your advantage. It’s something that’s allowed me to really connect with listeners, like with Painted Hearts for example – the song is really unique (and possibly pretty out there to some) but it’s made people pay attention because it doesn’t sound like anything they’ve heard before, including the concept itself. I think it’s easy for artists to fall into the trap of trying to sound like other musicians they look up to – I’m guilty of this too – because they figure it must mean success. In reality, though, all of the greatest artists got to where they are because they were the ones who did what everyone else wasn’t.

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

Does You Flew count? 🙂


Follow Katie Buxton


PHOTO CREDIT: Sam Polonsky








FEATURE: The August Playlist: Vol. 5: Rarities and Round-Up



The August Playlist: 



Vol. 5: Rarities and Round-Up


I sort of guessed there might be another installment…

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in this series, and if has proved to be the case. It is always great hearing new songs and unexpected singles: so many of the best albums from this month have not made their way to mainstream papers and websites. Having a dig through Metacritic and their list of albums has shown me what is hiding away from the spotlight of the music big-players. Some charming tracks and wonderful artists: musicians that deserve a lot more attention. I compile them here and – because it is 22-years-old today – a track from Oasis’ seminal debut, Definitely Maybe.


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Bon Iver33 “GOD”



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Cold PumasOpen Mouth at Dusk



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Dead RingersLion Killer



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The Pineapple ThiefNo Man’s Land



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Thee Oh SeesTicklish Warrior



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Black DylanHey Stranger



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BaysideNot Fair



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Dolly PartonPure and Simple



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Lisa HanniganOra



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Sam CoomesStride On



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Banks & SteelzAnything But Words



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The Album LeafNew Soul



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The ParrotsLet’s Do It Again



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The HunnaSycamore Tree



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Blue PillsI Feel a Change



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Against Me!Haunting, Haunted, Haunts



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GrouploveDo You Love Someone



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The Wytches C-Side



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GrimesMedieval Warfare



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Kate NashGood Summer



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Tove LoCool Girl



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OasisCigarettes & Alcohol



That is it for August: September is a few days away. Unless something great appears in the next few days: it is on with September and the songs/albums being teased and speculated. It is impossible representing all the great tracks from August’s albums and artists but I hope the 5-part feature has brought most of them to you guys. Enjoy the music and see you (for this feature) in a few days.

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TRACK REVIEW: Tamu Massif – OK



Tamu Massif






OK is available via:




Weston-super-Mare, U.K.


July 2016


SCANNING about the wave of solo artists emerging right now…

and there is, it goes without saying, enough variation for everyone. I feel today’s music is a confusion battleground where we are only really exposed to a small percentage of artists out there. In order to establish who the very finest out there are: radio and the Internet are the best two options; it can be tough getting on top of it all and keeping track. I am an ardent fan of 6 Music and find their proffered artists are among the best in the world – I do wonder how many artists they miss out on, though. It is impossible playing every fantastic artist out there but I guess that is the good side of doing a blog: you get to see another side of the music world that escapes a lot of radio stations and press outlets. Before I come to investigating my featured artist: I wanted to talk about emotion through music; artists from less-known counties of the U.K. and inspirations for song subjects. We all love a musician that digs deep and presents something emotional and introspective. So long as the music is not too heavy and draining: getting a glimpse into an artist’s soul is one of the finest aspects of music. Too many artists write about love dislocation and inner-searching but hide it behind heavy beats and electronics – it can distill the true emotions of the song and come off somewhat cheap and insincere. One of the problems about being truly open and tender is losing people’s attention. It is a hard balance to assess something raw and harrowing whilst keeping the focus of the public. As such, a lot of new artists coming through are changing their pens away from deeply personal (and harrowing) subject matter and concentrating on other concerns. It is a shame but I guess having lyrical diversity is only a good thing. If we go back to the theme and seeing what the solution is: new artists like James Blake (although he’s been around for a few years) is a good example of how it should be done. Take his current album, The Colour in Anything, and it is rife with deep and textured songs that are among the finest this year. Previous Blake albums have been more maudlin and romance-based – assessing damaged love and trying to piece it together. Never one for direct lyrics and obvious storylines: metaphors and oblique touches are sat aside tremulous, atmospheric vocals. The Colour in Anything yearns for happiness and self-improvement; spaciousness and drama run throughout but above all is sheer beauty and majestic shimmer. He is one of those musicians that not only takes control of his songs, and does not let scores of producers tamper with them, but is able to pour his heart onto the page and keep the listener entranced. For those musicians that want to balk against acoustic guitar-led sounds and a one-dimensional approach: Blake has shown what can be achieved with compositional variation and intelligence. I bring up this (rather lofty) aspect up because of my featured artist, Tamu Massif. That name is actually a moniker of Weston-super-Mare artist Dave Dixon and he has got me thinking more about music and standing out from the crowd. His latest track, OK, recalls a rather upsetting time – more on that later – but the way he puts that on the page goes beyond the routine and predictable. Not quite putting as many elements into the mix as James Blake: he manages to elicit a range of ideas and possibilities through the composition; mixing sound effects and harder sides with elliptical, light-seeking moments.

OK casts its inspiration to a dwindling friendship and fractious time for our hero. Relationship break-ups are common concerns for musicians but usually centre around love – friendship erosion is not as widely covered as you’d imagine. We all experience times when treasured acquaintances and mates drift away or there is an argument. I feel too few songwriters do not cover these kinds of topics because they fear it is too personal – damaging a friendship beyond repair perhaps. If a relationship ends, you are not looking to get back with that person – so it is okay to put it down in a song. Maybe trying the same with a friendship drama is risky business? I am not sure but Massif has shown bravery and insight but capturing a stressful and fraught time, and in the process, bringing something new to the realms of break-up and split. What stuns me about a lot of modern artists is how rigid they are lyrically: often going for lowest-common-denominators and easy answers. We all have busy and complicated lives so one would imagine there is enough food for thought? Of course, love is important and we all can relate but that is not to say the consumer wants to hear about it all the time. You do not need to look too far away or reinvent the wheel: just take the time to concentrate on something less expected; something nobody else is covering. Those musicians that stick in my mind are the ones who introduce you to fresh horizons and rebel against formulaic topics. Massif has looked at love in the past, but as his latest single proves, he is an artist that captures of-the-moment events and places them on the page. The only way music will push forward and inspire future generations if we become less rigid and defined. It is an area I want to go into more depth about but it might have to wait for another time.

It is good finding a musician that comes from outside of London. I love London but have focused quite heavily on the city the last few months. Massif will be playing a lot of London shows in the future but his base and home is Weston-super-Mare in Somerset. I have reviewed acts from around the U.K. but is has been a while since I have stepped outside of London and its environs. When we think of upcoming artists, perhaps Somerset is not top of our considerations. I feel we often get too obsessed with the big cities and forget there is a whole world of towns and villages with fantastic musicians in. Historically, there are not a lot of legendary musicians that hail from Somerset – I might be wrong but I am struggling to think. The likes of Tamu Massif will not only help put Somerset in the mind but raises a good point. Music is not exclusive to the cities and London and we all need to realise the full scope of British music. I said early on how difficult it is to discover all brilliant new musicians coming through but one imagines a little dexterity and flexibility will go a long way. I had never really thought about Weston-super-Mare for music but am compelled to look more and see what other musicians come from there. Further than that: I will look at other less-represented musical counties and discover what is out there. It is vital we support artists from all over the country and ensure we do not overlook areas outside of the city. I feel one of the reasons we get obsessed with cities like London and Manchester is that is where so many musicians end up. Personally, I know a lot of musicians who flee to London due to the lack of opportunities where they live. Maybe there are not enough platforms or too few people: how realistic is it remaining in villages and towns if you are an artist? Naturally, the more people that pack into cities the harder it is to find opportunities: the cities become compacted and it leads to musicians being squeezed out and suffocated. It is difficult making it in the industry so can appreciate the lure and attraction of the city. Tamu Massif records at his Weston-super-Mare studio but gigs in London too: seemingly striking a wonderful blend and not too overwhelmed by the rush of the city; finding inspiration and creative outlet at home. I am digressing but it is another point that we need to address: providing more money to towns so musicians do not have to move out; easing the burden in the big cities to ensure musicians there have chances.

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Looking back on Massif’s work and you can see how far he has come in the last couple of years. Azora was released just over two years ago but showed a promising young talent and someone who differentiated themselves from the mass of artists out there. The composition is quite sparse but the racing beats and delicate piano notes create a lot of emotion and story on their vocal. When listening to the vocal, you are hard pressed to compare it with another singer, and instead, are introduced to a soulful and emotion croon. A singer that is capable of delicacy and power in the same breath: Azora is a song that gets into the head and has so many different layers and sides to it. Perfect for contemplative times or a solitary drive during sunset: it has that self-assessing mood and tranquility to it but enough energy and spirit to stand up to repeated plays. An impressive song no doubt. More recent work like Holding Back has shown how adaptable Tamu Massif is. A more traditional, acoustic-based number: its emotional resonance and gorgeous vocal get the hairs standing up. Despite a certain pastoral mood: Massif injects fizzling electronics and colours into the song to ensure it never becomes sonorous, boring or unengaging. The song draws processed, hypnotic female vocals in and warped sounds: juxtaposing against the reverent beauty of the opening; Holding Back grows into something complex, busy and spectacular. Listening to the opening minute and you assume you have the song figured out. Each line and verse find Holding Back grow and expand; taking in new sounds and ideas and demonstrates what a talent he is. OK takes that a step further and is, in my viewpoint, the best song Massif has created so far. It has strands of Holding Back’s D.N.A. and is a new phase for the artist. Alba was wonderfully received last year but I feel the 2016 output from Tamu Massif is stronger, bolder and more arresting. I am not sure if certain influences and experiences have led to this evolution – you can definitely hear a slight improvement and new inspiration. I am sure the upcoming E.P. will contain similar songs to Holding Back and OK and be up to that level. Early on, I mentioned James Blake and you can detect that as an influence in Holding Back and OK. The Electronic/Alternative/Post-Dubstep musician is compelling a lot of new artists and that is to be commended. Tamu Massif does not replicate Blake’s themes and sounds: using him as a bit of a guide; he creates his own version of that foregrounded Post-Dubstep sound and put his own stamp on it.

OK is the latest song from Tamu Massif and recalls the closing phases of a fading friendship. While visiting friends in Naples (last New Year’s Eve); that is when inspiration struck. Hearing and watching the fireworks burst from his balcony: he got thinking and ensured he captured the sounds and explosions of the night. Rather than dwell on the pain and loss; it has gone into a song that is mature and intelligent. Massif (or Dave Dixon, I should say) knows relationships and friendships can be temporary and unpredictable at the best of times. OK begins with oddly child-like, processed vocals that make you think straight away. Perhaps the sound or sample of the friend in question (it is a female voice) is a weird and machine-processed opening that gives you an insight into OK’s mindset. Distorted, hazy and confused: such an instancy and urgency can be discovered straight off. There is little time to reflect and predict as the song comes straight to life. Subtle but powerful electronics create a brewing storm whilst the beats crackle without becoming too heavy and insistent. That vocal opening seems like the other side of a conversation of a voicemail being played – not quite real but very relevant to Massif. When approaching the microphone, the voice is typically emotive and powerful – power and strength seem to define the work of Tamu Massif. Although some of the early vocals suffer some intelligibility issues – slightly drawled which means it can be hard to pick up on the lyrics – it is the fervency and passion of the vocals that matters most. A stunning voice that has ample beauty and grace to it: our hero does not want to settle down and rush in life. You get thinking about the dynamic of that friendship and what has caused this drifting apart. I am not sure whether our hero’s friend is male or female but one senses it is a female. The two used to be close but have not been in touch for a while now. It is not necessarily anyone’s fault and perhaps they are different stages of life. I sense the bond was quite important and perhaps has romantic possibility. It seems like the two were serious at one point, but now, they are reduced to scant conversations and the odd communication. Our man might not have been that smart and a bit lackluster; maybe remiss and ignoring the importance of the friendship. “Is it okay?” our hero asks if he doesn’t settle down: it gives you impressions of romantic domesticity or a shared agreement. Perhaps the two had plans or she was getting a bit too firm – perhaps wanting him to commit to a way of life or spend a lot of time together. Massif is a free and creative young man that is dedicated to music and this might have been a breaking point. Unable to commit to a time and place and predict the future: it seems like differing interest has found them separated and on barely-speaking-terms.

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OK has two distinct halves to it. The first is reflecting on what has happened and asking pertinent questions (whether they can start over again); trying to piece things together and wondering what went wrong. The lyrics, those that are clear and come through, sort of offers apologies and explanation but seems confused and lost – it was a pure friendship but has just drifted away out of control.  The vocal and lyrics are placed in focus and our hero wonders if he is becoming sentimental and over-thinking perhaps. The second phase of the song places more emphasis on the composition: perhaps our hero is spent and too emotional to carry on; steps away from the microphone. After the first couple of minutes, we learn a little about how the friendship broke down. There is a regret but no real answer as to what happened. It just seemed like the two were on different pages but there is that desire to rekindle things and regain that closeness and connection. Knowing it is beyond repair or slipping away: the second half of OK lets the music speak. Electronics trip and persists; they trip and swoon and shimmer – occasional beats add a little spark but keep in the shadows for the most part. A song that has sensuality and loneliness to it: you imagine the time that inspired the song and what Tamu Massif was thinking about. After the pitch-shifted vocals and melancholy of the opening: it all develops and changes. There is chaos and celebration in the street, but on the balcony, a sense of twilight eeriness and thoughtfulness. You transpose yourself into the song and are stood alongside the hero – looking down from the balcony and lost in his own thoughts. Towards the closing stages; that New Year’s Eve celebration and rapture comes more into the song. Before that, there are twinkling and odd electronic notes: they ping and twinge; quite a strange but inviting sound that makes you wonder what influenced them. Oddly, you get a flavor of Japan and Asia in some of the composition: as though you were walking through a Tokyo night and the local sounds, strangeness and beauty of the city. Against that, some more defined and sturdy beats come in and OK gains new light and traction. It is difficult creating a song that is composition-heavy and pulling it off. So many modern musicians lack necessary inventiveness and intellect to captivate the listener. Tamu Massif presents a composition that has so many different stages and elements together but retains a singularity and focus. Into the final minute, the hero comes back to the microphone and seems like he needs answers still. Maybe his friend was kinder and purer; their paths never meant to continue together but it seems painful none-the-less. Despite the fact there are decipherability issues to some of the vocals, that is part of the appeal. The sheer emotion and weariness are more potent and memorable than anything: our man aghast and tired in the night; weighed down by the heartache and emotion on his shoulders. OK ends things with firework samples and crackling: those Italian firecrackers provide a suitably authority and appropriate finale. You have to sit back and take it all in when the song ends and might take a while to listen to it again. It is a personal and important song for Tamu Massif and one that will surely strike a chord with listeners who have gone through the same sort of experience. The finest and most compelling song in the Tamu Massif catalogue: let’s hope it features prominently on the new E.P. It is commendable pulling away from relationship dilemmas and concerning something else. OK is a fascinating number and one that will see Tamu Massif exposed to a wider audience and gain lots of new supporters and radio attention. Already, the song has picked up some great reviews and that will give it creator heart and inspiration. Mixed by Youth Lagoon & Perfume Genius associate Ali Chant (produced by Tamu Massif): OK is a stunning song that announced a very fine talent.

Tamu Massif has already achieved quite a lot in his career to date. Having been tipped by NME and enjoyed airtime on 6Music and Radio 1: not many new musicians can claim that. It is hard to get recognition and exposure on the nationwide stations so when it happens that honorific should not be underestimated. Massif will be doing no such thing and capatilsing on that momentum and patronage. There is an E.P. out soon and plenty of excitement and expectation surrounds it. Following his well-received E.P. Alba, I am sure his upcoming E.P. will build on that early promise and show new inspiration and influences. OK shows Massif is not a musician that stands still and is always developing his work. Supporting the likes of C. Duncan and The Japanese House live; there will be headline dates and key gigs in his calendar. All exciting times for the young artist. Dave Dixon’s alias is an intelligent, emotional character whose music has registered with a lot of people already. I feel Massif is deserving of more attention and followers. His social media numbers are solid and building but, when compared with some artists, one wonders whether his forthcoming E.P. will redress this. I see a lot of lesser artists with thousands of supporters and they do not deserve it. Perhaps they are image-heavy or get more focus on radio: Massif is a more honest and hard-working musician and I am sure his talent and graft will be richly rewarded. He will not quibble over social media numbers and such concerns: the demand and appreciation he is receiving prove how much love and support there is. OK is a fascinating glimpse into a wonderful musician who has taken a harrowing deterioration and turned it into something strangely gorgeous and inspiring. OK is not just a simple, acoustic-based song where the hero pours emotion out and is tear-stained and wracked. Massif understands this approach is likely to appeal to a certain listener, and because of this, consideration, intelligence and innovation have gone into his latest single – ensuring it registers and appeals to a wide range of music fans. It is a brilliant window into the as-yet-untitled E.P. and is certain to put Massif firmly in the musical forefront. He has already had his music played on our most influential stations but I have the sense he will grow even bigger and be afforded more chances further afield.

One feels Tamu Massif has an audience waiting internationally and is capable of breaking into new countries and continents. I am sure he will want to focus his attention in the U.K. for now: finance might be an issue and it is not practical jaunting abroad and performing around the globe. That said, one gets the impression it will not take too long before fortunes change and international gigs are going to be a reality. I say this with a lot of British musicians but there are U.S. opportunities and audiences who are latching onto our best acts. Looking about social media; I have seen a lot of British artists put their songs out and get heady praise from U.S. listeners. Perhaps there are quite a few British musicians playing across the U.S. but I am wary not as many as there should be. Again, perhaps another discussion for another day. It is hard to sum up Tamu Massif as there is a lot of mystery and intrigue about his music. That nom de plume is the name of a dormant subaquatic volcano: it gives you an insight into the emotional blend and dichotomy of his music. You have that beauty and safety but always feel like there could be an explosion at any moment. Thinking about the volcano, and where it is situated, it seems like a very apt name for OK’s author. He splits his time between Weston-super-Mare and London and is one of those artists you know is going to be playing for years to come. It is hard to stand out in the industry as there are so many like-minded musicians aiming for the same goals. Tamu Massif seems stress-less and relaxed against the pressures of the modern age. Although OK looks at a friendship on the rocks: you feel, away from the studio, Davie Dixon has a plan and knows where he wants to head. I urge people to go see Tamu Massif live and be brought into a very magical and entrancing world. The reviews he has already accrued speak for themselves. I have talked about cliché and predictable subjects in music and I feel it is a problem that will blight a lot of new music. We have all heard the Pop star talking about bad love and these tropes are putting people off – many of us want something new and less obvious. Tamu Massif has gone through relationship quandaries and knows it is important to assess that. OK stands out because it moves away from that and addresses a unique and idiosyncratic event. Not only does the originality stand out but the way it is delivered. Not just confining himself to vocal-and-guitar easiness: sound effects, bass, and electronics are weaved together to create a tangible and evocative number. If you have grown weary of the unsophisticated and simple musician that is incapable of connecting with the heart and soul then you should definitely spend some time with Tamu Massif. The dormant-volcano-under-the-water-cum-Somerset-innovator is a curious blend and incredible young talent. OK will lead to an E.P. and that E.P. is going to mutate to future releases. It is a good time for Tamu Massif: his latest single is…

THE start of some very big things.



Follow Tamu Massif







FEATURE: When Music Ruled the World: 14 Essential Albums from 1994



 When Music Ruled the World:


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14 Essential Albums from 1994


DEPENDING on when you were born will often determine…

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which albums and artists mean most to you. I was born in 1980-something (let’s just say Duran Duran were big back then) and grew up on a combination of ‘60s master like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones with plenty of Steely Dan, T-Rex and sounds of the day – running through New Romantic darlings and pop kings such as Michael Jackson. I feel I was born in the absolute pinnacle time: when the ‘90s hit I was 6-years-old. When 1994 started to throw up some truly wondrous albums I was 10, and just the right age to let music seduce and conquer my soul. The 1980s, by and large, was a little variable but there were some stunning albums from the time. The ‘90s, unlike any other decade, seemed unstoppable and completely beyond reproach. Sure, there were bad albums and songs like any other time but in terms of sheer quality: can you think of any other decade that gave us so many classic albums? I am not sure what was in the water and how influential the 1980s was: musicians were producing new genres and pushing boundaries; helping to create movements (Britpop among them) and change the face of music.

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I have covered the topic before – – but felt compelled to revisit – plus, I included The Bends on the list despite the fact it was released in 1995 (close enough, eh?!). That being said; Radiohead were working on The Bends and just about to release their (in my view) finest album ever. They were the outsiders of the Britpop move but an essential band who contributed so much. It is hard to distill a phenomenal year into 14 L.P.s, and it might be an arbitrary number, but a way of showcasing just what variation and quality came along that year. If you prefer today’s music or the bands of the’60s: few can deny just how astonishing and peerless 1994 was. No single year has produced so many world-class albums and game-changing creations. Sit back and let the 22-year-old time of wonder flood back: a collection of the albums and songs that shaped 1994.


Jeff Buckley Grace

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Jeff Buckley did not arrive out of nowhere by the time of his debut, Grace. A celebrated fixture of New York’s café/bar scene: he had a loyal and awe-struck following fully aware of what he could create. Released on August 23rd, 1994: Grace remains (sadly) Buckley’s only completed studio album – he died three years later. Only reaching 149 in the U.S. charts and suffering poor sales figures – a record that gained huge popularity after Buckley’s death. Critics were not aware at the time but Grace remains one of the most impressive albums by any singer-songwriter and the introduction of a truly peerless talent and golden voice.


Download: Grace, Last Goodbye, Lover, You Should’ve Come Over, Dream Brother



Manic Street Preachers The Holy Bible

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Manic Street Preachers were well under the critical radar by the time The Holy Bible arrived. The group’s third album was the last to feature lyricist and rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards. Fighting severe depression and self-harm: the enigmatic figure would disappear soon after the album’s release – Everything Must Go was the first album after that not to feature Edwards. Perhaps the album’s subjects of anorexia nervosa, depression and anger were a cry for help from a young man suffering the weights of the world. In musical terms, it is a stunning album whose lyrics and stories draw you into a strange and dark world – compelling and utterly engrossing some 22 years after its release.


Download: She Is Suffering, 4st 7lbs, Mausoleum, P.C.P.



Hole Live Through This

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The sophomore album from American Alt.-Rock band Hole: the record was released a week after the death of Courtney Love’s boyfriend, Kurt Cobain. With Grunge’s godfather departed (Hole’s bassist Kristen Pfaff died two months after the album’s release), it was a difficult time for Hole’s lead. Live Through This is not hardcore, hard-hitting and unrefined – the band’s debut album played very much in this aesthetic. Instead, there is polish, refinement, and thoughtful song structures. Love, infatuated by notions and ideals of beauty, turns her pen to subjects of motherhood, anti-elitism, and domestic violence. Despite the tragedy that would befall her after Live Through This was released: the album itself remains a beautiful, beguiling and one-of-a-kind offering from a tremendous songwriter.


Download:  Violet, Asking for It, Doll Part, Softer, Softest



Green Day Dookie

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Still going strong and about to release their album Revolution Radio: it hardly seems like the boys have changed at all. Dookie, although some might agree, remains their finest creation and a Punk-Rock classic. This was the album that put Green Day into the public forum and truly elevated them to superstardom. It would reach number 2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and helped put Punk-Rock firmly in the mainstream. Dookie has since exceeded 10 million copies and, even in a year like 1994, topped many critics’ end-of-year polls. Listen to songs like Welcome to Paradise, Longview and album-highlight Basket Case and it is not hard to see why. Electric, intense performances, and complete conviction from a band with plenty of attitude and anger – all brought together a truly remarkable album.


Download: Longview, Welcome to Paradise, When I Come Around



Suede Dog Man Star

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Another one of those bands that perhaps were slightly outside the Britpop movement happening in 1994. Whilst contemporaries Blur and Oasis were releasing their career-defining albums – and embroiled in spats and rivalry – Suede sat outside of that and got on with their own thing. The sophomore album from the Alternative-Rock legends: this was the last album to feature guitarist Bernard Butler. Tensions between him and frontman Brett Anderson reached untenable levels – you can hear on the album – and Dog Man Star’s themes, not a shock, were dark and juxtaposed the optimism of Britpop – bringing influences like David Bowie and The Smiths together. Suede would make more harmonious albums but none better than this.


Download: We Are the Pigs, New Generation, This Hollywood Life, The Asphalt World



– Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

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What is striking about this compilation (unintentionally I might add) is how many sophomore albums appear on the list. New York’s Pavement followed from their equally-brilliant debut Slanted and Enchanted with Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. This, unlike their debut, was a more accessible fare and less lo-fi – their debut was more ragged, raw and undisciplined. Going on to sell more than 500,000 copies: it was a critical success but did not achieve high chart placings and sales. Showing how irrelevant show considerations can be: Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is one of the ‘90s’ greatest albums and a bold statement from a band who helped redefine the scene at the time, and with it, influenced scores of upcoming bands. A priceless and treasured album from a band whose relevance and genius should not be undervalued.


Download: Cut Your Hair, Haunt Me Down, Gold Soundz, Filmore Drive



Weezer Weezer

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Not a sophomore album this time but a (defiant) debut from Rock band Weezer. Released in May 1994 it entered music at a busy and competitive time yet remains one of the year’s best albums. Produced by Ric Ocasek (front-man of Cars) and recorded at the legendary Electric Lady Studios, N.Y.C.: the album saw Undone – The Sweater Song, Buddy Holly and Say It Ain’t So as singles. Buddy Holly’s innovative, groundbreaking video helped put the album into the history books but the band’s slice-of-life tales and witty suburban conversations – the fine pen of Rivers Cuomo – helped it to be a chart success and set the band aside from their peers. Their similar-minded, ‘70s-Rock-aping contemporaries went for obvious influences whereas Weezer favoured Bubblegum Power-Pop acts like Cheap Trick. Geekdom has never sounded so divine and universal.


Download: My Name Is Jonas, Undone – The Sweater Song, Only In Dreams




Portishead Dummy

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Portishead came into music with an emphatic album in Dummy. Released in August and released by Go! Beat: the album went on to win the 1995 Mercury Music Prize. Not only did it single-handedly help to popularise and promulgate British Trip-Hop but it stands as one of the landmark albums of the 1990s. Although Dummy was certified gold in 1997 and sold millions of copies: when it was released, it enjoyed modest chart success. What we can discover from this list is how slow the public of 1994 was to embrace stunning albums. Perhaps too forward-thinking or unusual: thankfully, subsequent years and generations have been far fairer. Of course, we all know where Portishead would go and the effect they have had on music. Massive Attack – another Trip-Hop band that helped shape music – would bring their brand of dark and dramatic elements to the genre – Dummy is an album that helped launch Portishead’s career and is often seen as one of the essential albums of any genres and year.


Download: Sour Times, Numb, Roads




Nirvana Unplugged in New York

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Unplugged in New York was released following Kurt Cobain’s death and one of the final recordings he ever undertook. Acoustic versions of classic Nirvana cuts were interspersed alongside band favourites and legendary Blues songs. Unlike other Unplugged shows; Nirvana went for a lesser-known set-list that put mood, emotion, and variation ahead of hits and radio-friendly gems. Going on to win the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 1996: it is regarded as one of the greatest live albums in history. You are mesmerised by the band’s performances (Cobain especially) and the reaction from the audience – alternately delirious or awe-struck by what they were seeing. Cobain’s death might have put a tragic dimension on the album but nothing can distill or dampen its legacy and brilliance.


Download: About a Girl, Jesus Don’t Want Me for a Sunbeam, The Man Who Sold the World, All Apologies



Blur Parklife

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Blur’s third and most exceptional album: Parklife was released the same year as the equally-amazing Definitely Maybe. With Blur and Oasis entrenched in competition and civil war: you were even in Camp Blur or Camp Oasis. Oasis’ northern influences and songs of youthful optimism and Rock ‘n’ Roll excess were contrasted by Blur’s southern suburbia and more emotional insights into love and domesticity. In truth, both bands help define Britpop for very different reasons. After Modern Life Is Rubbish’s disappointing sales the previous year: Parklife was the rebuttal that showed just what Blur were capable of. Over five million copies have been sold and, alongside Definitely Maybe, it places Britpop/Cool Britannia on the map.


Download: Girls & Boys, End of a Century, Parklife, To the End




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Superuknown was Soundgarden’s fourth album and their greatest achievements. Few bands hit their stride that late in their career but hardly surprising given its background – especially the death of Kurt Cobain. Grunge’s leader was gone and Nirvana contemporaries Soundgarden reflected the mood of pessimism and fear in the music industry. Employing a greater range of influences and sounds than before. Although Cobain died a month after Superunknown was released there was something in the musical air: a sense that the troubled genius was not long for the world. Songs about suicide, depression and turmoil are not often easily digestible. Soundgarden’s incredible performances and exceptional songwriter – Chris Cornell’s planet-straddling voice at its most raw and unshaven – turned the album into a strangely uplifting and hopeful experience.


Download: Fell on Black Days, Spoonman, Limo Wreck, The Day I Tried to Live



The Prodigy Music for the Jilted Generation

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By 1994, the rave scene in Britain was becoming corrupted and ruined: Music for the Jilted Generation was a vivid and angry reaction that. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 criminalised raves and put the kibosh on a lot of clubs at the time. Fueled and incensed by this insanity: The Prodigy reacted with a blitzkrieg record that rebelled against the stupidity and ignorance of the establishment. Lead songwriter/producer Liam Howlett has gone on to disassociate himself with the idea (Music for the Jilted Generation) was political – he hated the title and felt it petulant and misleading. Raw, dark and carnivorous from start to end: Music for the Jilted Generation is seen as a Big Beat/Rave masterpiece.


Download: Poison, No Good (Start the Dance), One Love



Beastie Boys Ill Communication

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Following the genius of Paul’s Boutique (1989) and Check Your Head (1992): pressure was on to repeat the trick on Beastie Boys’ fourth album. Ill Communication responded with a typically assured, mesmeric and cross-pollinating set of songs from New York’s finest. Perhaps not up to the lofty heights of Paul’s Boutique and License to Ill: there is plenty to recommend about the album. The rhymes – one of the elements pushed back in previous albums – was hard and firm in the mix. Renewed with a confidence boost and fresh intention: Ill Communication’s sharp lyrics were all present and correct. If the album as a whole doesn’t quite match their best work; you cannot argue or call the album a failure. In fact, it is one of the best albums from 1994 and boasts plenty of standout moments – not less the sensational Sabotage.


Download: Sure Shot, Root Down, Get It Together, Shambala



Oasis Definitely Maybe

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Few band’s since Oasis have created a debut album as confident and world-class as this. Definitely Maybe took everyone by surprise and helped to revive British guitar music – making it super-cool in the process. Alongside Blur’s Parklife: Definitely Maybe scored 1994 and proved British music was some of the finest in the world. More optimistic, celebratory and excess-reveling than some of more dour, hopeless and moody U.S. albums – Grunge and Alternative-Rock bands culpable – it was just what the public needed. Live Forever has been listed as one of the best songs ever for good reason. That optimism and hope; the simple message to live while you can and make anything possible – few bands or artists have penned a song like it since. Oasis would go onto split not long after 2008’s Dig Out Your Soul but they never sounded as fresh, inspiration and together than on Definitely Maybe. No doubt about it: one of those albums that should be in every record collection.


Download: Rock ‘n’ Roll Star, Shakemaker, Cigarettes & Alcohol, Slide Away



It is clear just how truly spine-tingling albums arrived out of 1994 and I cannot fathom why. Perhaps one of those inexplicable years or just a general feeling running through music – when its best artists really stepped up and shone. I would love to hear of suggestions and albums people think should be on this list. What a joy re-discovering some of the best albums of my formative years. It may be 22 years ago, but the finest albums of 1994…

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ARE still inspiring to this very day.

TRACK REVIEW: Gold Phoenix – Oh So Hard



Gold Phoenix




Oh So Hard




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Oh So Hard is available via:




Surrey, U.K.


8th August 2016

Recorded at Rockfield Studios

Lyrics and Music by Gold Phoenix

Produced by Nick Brine

Engineered by Jon Constantine

Mastered by Pete Maher


I have been meaning to review Gold Phoenix…

for a while now and for good reason. I shall introduce the boys soon, but at the moment, they bring up topic around real Rock; characters and personality in music and the difficulty in squeezing life from certain other bands. Many have been debating whether Rock and all its sub-genres, really has any life left and is as good as it was. I feel there are a lot of bands coming through but you have to wonder how many actually have the guts and glory needed to give Rock a good name? Many play Alterative-cum-Indie sound which is an excuse for crowd-pleasing choruses and songs about love and heartbreak. That is all very well, and we all need that, but you yearn for a bit more grit and power in the music. I admire bands that can whip up some meaty riffs and 10,000 volt charges but ensuring there is melody, emotion, and discipline in the music. There may be a lot of those bands around, but for my two-cents-worth, they are few and far between. I suppose there have been so many Rock bands through the ages; it is challenging doing something new and differentiating from what has come before. Bands think too literally when they approach Rock and decide what their music will sound like. They get it into their heads that audiences want it loud and sweaty without much nuance and intelligence. The modern consumer is more intelligent and discerning and demands something a little more layered and structured. That, as a band, gives you more breathing room and chance for maneuver. Indie and Blues-Rock are ways of taking a solid template and adding new shades and sounds into the mix. One of the reasons some say Rock is dead is due to the one-dimensional nature of some groups. They are too rigid and defined and do not understand what can be achieved by pushing the genre slightly and mixing other elements together. With so many new artists entering the fray: we are seeing a turn away from Rock and Alternative bands (as the majority) and welcoming a lot more solo musicians in.

Perhaps there is more to be found in other genres or (bands in general) are less stable and long-lasting than they used to be. I have seen so many groups call time due to the demands of the modern industry – the strain on the relationships becomes too much and they have to break up. It would be foolhardy to assume Rock and bands are a dying commodity as that is not the truth. The fact of the matter is, and why critics raise that heated question, is a watered-down, safe approach to Rock music. So many artists lack that necessary spark and fire which is sad to see. My featured act understands this and is responding by bringing Rock back to its roots. They are not just an un-distilled, straight-ahead Rock band, but instead, lace Blues into their work and come up with something popular but unique – packed with vitriolic riffs and exceptional performances.

I will continue – and raise a new point – soon, but for now, it is worth getting an insight into the awesome Gold Phoenix:

Jamie – Guitar – Vocals

Fred – Bass

Ed – Drums

Surrey’s Gold Phoenix expresses large doses of raw, riff heavy Garage-Rock. The trio release their upcoming single, Oh So Hard, on August 8th with a video to accompany it, filmed by Joe Parker, at Full Tang Visual. The band were contacted by Producer Nick Brine (The Darkness,Oasis, Ash,Thunder) which followed in the recording of the single at the legendary Rockfield Studios in Wales, and mastered by Pete Maher (Jack White, U2, The Rolling Stones). Musically, Oh So Hard pays a powerful homage to the bands that have influenced their sound, with flicker of Queens Of The Stone Age, Placebo and She Wants Revenge, the seemingly dark lyrics pray amongst a heavy fuzz fuelled bassline that
drives the song through its powerful mapped out arrangement. Oh So Hard is the follow up to the bands debut self titled EP which gained great reviews, airplay and recognition. The single Back To You was played on shows including BBC Introducing South’s saturday show, and Belgium’s Equinoxe FM.

Following the successful response of Gold Phoenix’s debut self titled EP in late 2014, the band spent the year playing shows around the UK. This included shows with international touring bands such as The Weeks and Thomas Truax, a London show supporting WWE Legend X-Pac and they supported UK upcoming bands Dolomite Minor, Eva Plays Dead and Armchair Committee. The band also toured the UK in August 2015 playing prestigious venues including The Jacaranda Club in Liverpool, Bannermans in Edinburgh and The Boileroom in Guildford”.

One of the reasons some of mooting Rock’s future is the bands/artists that are representing the genre. In a social media age you have to wonder: how easy it for personality to shine through? We hide behind screens and communicate electronically; it makes it hard to forge any sort of human identity and that can affect the music. One of the best things about a truly great band is the characters and personalities of the members. It is not sufficient to make your music connect: the people making it are expected to stand in the mind and connect with their audiences. Social media is a mixed blessing and double-edged sword with regards that side of things. Many musicians assume they can get away with a lack of character because they are speaking behind an electronic platform. So many bands put minimal information and biography on Facebook and Twitter; they do not give you a glimpse into their influences and, when it comes to the live setting, have a weak connection with the crowds. I am not suggesting all bands should be happy-go-lucky, in-your-face types that proactively throw themselves into the spotlight. There used to be a time, perhaps towards the Britpop/’90s era, when you got some truly exceptional bands – those whose members were as interesting as the music. In the last couple of decades, there are fewer and fewer band that get into the mind and can charm you with their personnel – perhaps the Internet is to blame or maybe it is sheer numbers. Music is becoming packed and crowded so it can be hard truly defining yourself and getting into the memory. Gold Phoenix have shown you do not need an army-sized P.R. campaign to register in the imagination. The three musketeers or Blues-Rock are hirsute, down-to-earth and funny: their personalities shine and they are as real and genuine as one would expect. Not hiding behind egos or letting other people speak for them: the boys captivate with their humour and true Rock spirit. They have a, as their Facebook page attests, a fondness for goats and cowbells – who doesn’t, I say! The boys are almost a trio you can see coming out the Deep South of the U.S. They have that façade and demeanor: good ‘ol boys who live the simple life; drink merrily and raise havoc – ensuring their music is a ball-kicking, groove-laden and in the impure side of things. You see what I mean about personality coming through – they have created these personas, to an extent, that makes them a fascinating prospect. When playing live, they connect with the audience and do not just bluster through the songs: keeping things light and upbeat; a good rapport with the audience. It goes a long way when putting your music and brand out there. If you can make the prospective fan smile and spike their curiosity then you have already won half the battle.

The other half of the fight concerns influences and the overall sound. Few bands/artist come into music and are completely original. There are a few, but for the most part, you can always hear a little bit of someone in their work. Everyone, whether you are a musician or fan, is inspired by other artists and takes them to heart. When embarking on a music career, you are always going to have them in your back pocket. So long as you do not replicate them or water them down enough – and are essentially ripping them off – then it can make the music cross-generational and wonderful. Everyone yearns to discover music that is fresh but has some familiar, legendary elements to it. Gold Phoenix are a trio that prefers their music hard-hitting and Blues-inspired. As such, they have a gamut of bands and artists that they could bring to mind. Unsurprisingly, it is the American heavyweights Queens of the Stone Age and The White Stripes that leave the lasting impression. I have discovered so many bands, local colleagues Gelato among them, who use Q.O.T.S.A. as a guiding point. To my mind, Gelato are a little too close to Queens’ and that sort of begs the question: if you duplicate another band then how original and distinct are you going to be? Gold Phoenix, like me, are fascinated by the band. One of my favourite albums is Rated R (an underrated Queens of the Stone Age gem) and I have plenty of time for Songs for the Deaf – I even love the much-unappreciated Era Vulgaris. Josh Homme’s crew always bring the goods and are among the most innovative, macho and talented bands of our generation. The White Stripes, sadly defunct, are another of my all-time favourite bands. I cannot imagine my record collection with Elephant and White Blood Cells nestling in there. Gold Phoenix must have been drooling in tandem: listening to these titans and being in awe of their majesty and musicianship. As such, it would be understandable to copy the bands to the letter. Given how many other bands are influenced by Queens of the Stone Age and The White Stripes: Gold Phoenix know there is not a lot of mileage left in that particular tank and are not a band who want to toss off some sub-Queens’ sounds. They use the boys as a starting block and then take it out: putting themselves into the music and ensuring they are not a covers band.

Starting off with a military step and sense of authority: Oh So Hard begins life quite light and rhythmic. The percussion patters and rolls and provides instant gratification and appeal; the listener hooked by the catchy drumroll and kick. Not going for a simple riff and adding too much energy straight on – instead, you get restraint but enough intrigue and fascination too. Just then, a buzzing, hacksaw fuzz emerges to add lightning to the thunder. Juxtaposed against the dignified and imperious percussion: the guitar and bass swing in without much seduction and restraint – they aim straight for the throat but ensures the song does not get too heavy-handed and loud. Oh So Hard has drawn comparisons with Smashing Pumpkins and you can hear a little bit of Bullet with Butterfly Wings/Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness in there. That is not meant to contradict my early points or do a disservice to the band. It is great hearing something that emotional, dark and grand. It brings together ‘70s Heavy Metal with Blues into a rictus of avalanche and harsh weather. Without a word being sung, you are in the kung fu grip and helpless to shake it off. The first minute-or-so is designed for the live crowds and seems like a set closer. You can play the E.P. tracks and they know what to expect – stunners that are familiar and they can sing along to. As Oh So Hard is new, it takes time to bed-in and register. For that reason, open with an appealing and head-banging riff that does not require sing-along and chorusing. For a glorious minute, you are caught in a riptide of strings and percussion. The drum smacks and keeps firm whilst the guitar spirals, snakes and stings its way through the undergrowth – bass keeping the song moving, together and fluid. You never get bored or think you have heard it before: a stone-cold sizzler that packs punch and groove in equal measures. Once you have surrendered to the balkanised attack of the introduction: you prepare yourself for what is to come in the first verse. Our hero steps up to the microphone and ensures his vocal hits the mark without delay. The song’s subject, whether a friend or foe, is strung-out and abandoned – perhaps overwhelmed by a situation and unable to keep their head together. I often jump to themes of love and romantic untangling when I approach any new song. Here, it seems like a friendship is being attested: the fall-out and struggle one person is facing at the moment.

Photo: Joe Parker

Given the song’s artwork – the black lipstick dripping down against a pink-and-yellow background – a femme fatale seems a likely explanation. Her “black heart” and red lips are firmly in the mind. If the crimson-coated lips have been telling lies and deceiving: her coal-dark, murky heart has been causing pain and upset. Not your average, idealised heroine: here is someone undesirable but strangely alluring at the same time. The anti-heroine is not a fairytale queen but a bit of a double-crossing vixen. Oddly, our man seems to find common ground or some sympathy with his subject. Maybe the two have a backstory that is hard to ignore. You wonder, given the song’s lyrics, whether an old romance is being described or a friendship. There is never too much negativity or bile; strangely, you get a sense of relaxation and seductiveness in the vocal performance. With the other two players stepping back slightly – to allow the voice to be high in the mix – it is a dramatic and confident without losing intensity and focus. Most songs of this kind would sharpen the vocal and polish it: putting it right in the centre and putting it on level terms with the instruments. Here, the voice (whilst high in the mix) does have a bit of a somnambulist quality and slight weariness. It is like our lead is fighting against the composition and battling to be understood. Maybe a conscious move by the band or a note from the producer: by putting the vocal where it is and delivering a certain way; it gives Oh So Hard a wonderfully delirious tone and wins you with its unique delivery. Our man is struggling against his thoughts and instincts. It is hard to walk away and move from this woman. She is clearly quite toxic but perhaps not intentionally so. If you look back (or up) to the song’s artwork; it gives a little glimpse into her looks and fashion. She is a sexy and eye-catching woman but someone who has some poison on her lips and acid on her tongue. Whether a shake-up against conventionality and boredom or a rather addictive love: it is not easy getting (the muse) out of the head and making a clean break. I may be overreaching and looking too hard but that’s what I get from the song.

Oh So Hard is the new single and one that did not appear on their eponymous E.P. Perhaps (the new track) is the signal another E.P. is coming: perhaps just a one-off track to keep fans happy and show how the trio has evolved. Look at the Gold Phoenix E.P. and you witness some stunning riffs and lightning-strike performances. Anyone thinking they are the sum of their influences needs to listen carefully and realise how original the boys are. You get nods to U.S. Blues-Rock and Desert-Rock bands but it is never too obvious or strong in scent. Gold Phoenix’s songs sound like live jams and have that loose and ragged appeal. Complete with solid and professional production sound and it is quite an intoxicating and heady blend. Oh So Hard, as opposed to tracks like Mortal Man and Where Did You Go, say, is the change of sound. The trio has moved slightly away from the Queens of the Stone Age-cum-intense blend and moved towards (a song) that brings more depth and darkness into the agenda – perhaps artists like Placebo and Smashing Pumpkins are more evident. As I say with regards influence: they are just spices and flavouring rather than the majority; the trio knows the importance of originality. Oh So Hard has the same straight-ahead attack of their E.P. work but goes through stages and seems more developed. The song shows how much their live experience has fed into their recording. Completely engrossing and packed with details, lovely little asides and nuance: the sound of three musicians hitting their peak and stepping up. Their E.P. was a terrific five-song work that has a variety of lyrical inspirations and colourful riffs: plenty of fantastic performances and wonder. Oh So Hard could easily sit on the E.P. but sounds like it is Gold Phoenix 2.0. It could be the sign of a new stage for them and fresh influences in their sound. Whatever the trio has planned, it is great to hear them productive and not standing still. Not content to just continue what they did on their E.P.: Oh So Hard proves how amenable and malleable Gold Phoenix are. Throwing another biblical riff into the mix: the band manages to emphasis the harsh emotions and stress with one of their most compelling instrumentals yet. It is though the strings represent the tangled and painful feelings inside; the stress headaches and racing heartbeats. Guitars yowl and strain; they stretch and race – so many different sides that bring life to the song and keeps the listener hooked and imagining. Not your simple, knuckle-dragging riff: Gold Phoenix have expended time and thought and come up with something quite special and multi-layered. Oh So Hard is just shy of six minutes, and as such, some might see it as over-ambitious and long. That would be the case were the band not up to the tasks and the lyrics were too vague and stereotyped. In fact, the track is instrumental-heavy and spends a lot of time telling story with strings and percussion. After the intriguing and curious first verse: the boys open up the taps and go on the charge. You are dragged into the performance and the impressive kinship of the trio. Guitars are fierce but agile; bass leading and tying each element together; percussion sturdy and meaty.

PHOTO CREDIT: Brennan Woollands

It may be a bar-set song or a date: our lead comes back in and reveals more pieces of the puzzle. The girl is drinking red wine (or both) and caught in each other’s web. Furtive glances and sly smiles are coming out. “Your place or mine?” is the question posed and you can feel the heat rising. Maybe it is an ill-advised ‘liaison’ about to occur but one that our hero is not refuting. It is hard resisting such a woman and something we can all relate to. It seems like mistakes have occurred in the past and the two have gone through the doldrums. Maybe that bond and connection between them is so strong they fall back into bed. It seems we “burn gasoline” as it’s said. That can be taken one of two ways. The combustibility and unstable nature creates possibilities of fire and explosion- harming others and ravaging everything around them. That suggests a rather flammable and harsh relationship that does not seem to benefit anyone – just scold and affect those outside of the lovers. On the other hand, gasoline propels the internal combustion engine and creates well-timed sparks in an engine – me being a motoring bore. Because of that, it seems like this love is productive, necessary and life-enhancing. You cannot listen to Oh So Hard without thinking of sex and a hungry desire. The title itself suggests engorged double-entendre and raw passion. Lyrics are kept quite simple and honest but get the listener wondering and guessing. Each line seemingly has double-meaning and does not reveal itself too easily. The hero is the ghost in a machine and almost like he’s having an outer-body experience. I mentioned how the vocal seems quite faded down in the chorus but that adds to the effect of the song. Were the song title to be delivered too sharp and angrily then it would not be as effective. By leaving it quite drugged and tired it emphasises the pure confusion and pain our man feels. Like the conclusion of verse 1: the next verse is followed by another gritty riff that keeps the story going. The verses suggest sex and imminent togetherness but never fully revealed and exploited. The composition goes for the gut (or bone) and is the sonic representation of the passion and flirtations. By the end, you wonder how things worked out between the two and if they got into things too deep. It is clear there is past and history that has caused scars and torment. Unable to resist and listen to his mind: our man is following his gut and embarking on something quite dangerous and compelling. Gold Phoenix keep things simple and intriguing in the lyrics whilst creating a composition that has complexities and multiple shades. The trio has crafted another stunning song and one that is sure to get the live crowds jumping and together. Oh So Hard would suit a larger venue and one imagines thousands moving and singing along to the chorus.

It has been long-overdue coming to Gold Phoenix, so I am glad I finally got there. Being a local band, there is no real excuse to overlook them and there are many reasons why they will become a mainstream proposition. In a sea of Rock-inspired bands: you are always looking for that act that shines above and distinguishes themselves. The trio has been travelling the nation and bringing their music to a variety of audiences. The future is looking assured by they know the graft they have to put in. Every modern band, unless you are in the mainstream, tirelessly works and gets themselves out there. It is impossible to arrive in music, release a few songs and has a record deal fall in your lap – unless you are biblically good. As such, the promotional side of things can take over from the creative one. Touring and the demands of the road have swallowed so many bands. It is a harsh and severe industry that demands its players be resolute, thick-skinned and fit. If you arrive and assume the odd gig will get you into the public consciousness then you are in for a shock. Gold Phoenix know the demands in front of them and are responding with plenty of spirit and ammunition. Gigging across the U.K.; there is no stopping their juggernaut right now. The fans and crowds are responding and there is a great buzz surrounding the trio. Of course, it is a tiring and draining process and the guys need their downtime and relaxation. Oh So Hard is going down well and getting a lot of love right now. Hardly shocking when you hear the song: that gives them another live gem in their treasure chest. Where do the lads go from here, then? Well, there is going to be more touring throughout 2016 and they want to capitalise on their recent form and reception – getting as many gigs as they can. As the year ticks to a close, they will be looking at what 2017 has in store. I have not heard any rumours of an album but you feel the boys have an L.P. in them. Knowing the work that has come before – including their eponymous E.P. – one feels the lads might look at another E.P. next year. Perhaps a full-length record might be too costly and there are not enough new songs to put on there. Oh So Hard would be a great lead-off track to any E.P., so it has to get you thinking. That will be down to them but exciting to see what next year holds for them. In their career so far they have played some great gigs and conquered quite a lot of ground.

PHOTO CREDIT: Brennan Woollands

There is a lot of brotherly love and bond in the Gold Phoenix camp so you know they will go the distance and last many more years (often a curse but I can feel it). That desire and hunger has already seen them accrue a solid fan-base and talked-about in fond tones. Although they are inspired by the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, Placebo and The White Stripes: it is their individual, gold brand that stands in the mind. They work hard on their music and have exceptional musicians in their ranks. It would be encouraging to think they can go onto to get international dates and carve some influence across the U.S. and Australia. Maybe it is money that is the issue as I feel there’s definite demand and audiences that would eat their music up. For now, their touring is a bit more modest and they are making sure they put their songs out in the ether and pick up invaluable live experience. I opened the piece by looking at Rock and whether it is on life support. There are a good many bands that try to write hooks and riffs and, finding they have nothing, copy someone else’s. Those bands that are adding fuel to the debate – and those who think Rock is dead – are muddying the water and doing a disservice to the genuinely great bands that are keeping the spirit alive. Of course, Rock is not dead and has plenty of life left in it. I feel the real issue is the lack of originality and the easy temptation to copy a band in order for vicarious success and fandom. We often underestimate how difficult it is writing a hook or coming up with a compelling three-minute jam. Bands that have true talent and guts have patience and know the moment will come: they do not rush their music and have a resilience and faith in what they do. Too much fear and impatience rules modern music. Perhaps the consumer is too impatient and fickle and will abandon an act if they do not keep cranking out great songs. It is a hard debate to settle and one for another day. I just know the drama and swagger of Rock is not dead but definitely needs to proffer its finest examples. Gold Phoenix are one of those bona fide bands that have started promisingly and have many years ahead of them. Battling and slogging it out to get their music heard: their sheer work-rate and passion for what they do will find them rewards and mass appreciation. Oh So Hard is a typically impressive cut from the boys of the Deep South (of Surrey). Aside from their cowbell-appreciating, cider-swigging, pig-tipping (maybe me going to the hillbilly cliché well) antics: plenty of music will arrive from the trio. What form that takes is up to them but many eyes are on them right now. Given the fact bands like Royal Blood are working on new material: there is a hunger and zeal to hear like-minded, similarly hard acts fill the (temporary) void. If you have not discovered the beardy brilliance of Gold Phoenix then you owe yourself to get involved and latch on. Building a solid local reputation: they are not going to be confined for long; their legacy and abilities will resonate across the country and abroad. Oh So Hard is a song-title with many meaning, but at its heart, the raw energy and powerful aftershocks stand out – just how intense and commanding the trio is. If you think Rock is under palliative care…

I know a three-piece that can bring the genre empathically back to health.



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