INTERVIEW: Jasmine Rodgers

INTERVIEW:

 

  

 

Jasmine Rodgers

_________________________

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

PHOTO CREDIT (AND PROFILE PHOTO): Maria Aragon

 

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

 

Official:

http://jasminerodgers.com/

Facebook:

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

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/JRodgersmusic

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_lrUSBkNMg

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/jasminerodgersmusic

 

Advertisements

FEATURE: Electric Vinyl: The First Steps

FEATURE:

 

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 – https://musicmusingsandsuch.wordpress.com/2016/08/26/feature-electric-vinyl/ – 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…

_____________________

FILMING EQUIPMENT:

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

WEBSITE/SPECIFICATIONS: http://www.sony.co.uk/pro/product/broadcast-products-camcorders-nxcam-avchd/hxr-mc2500/specifications/

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

WEBSITE/SPECIFICATIONS: http://www.canon.co.uk/for_home/product_finder/camcorders/high_definition_hd/legria_hf_g25/

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

WEBSITE/SPECIFICATIONS: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Waterproof-Gizcam-Camcorder-Batteries-Accessories/dp/B01E6TSP7A

Image result for shoreditch

LOCATION:

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.

FIRST CHOICE: Nightjar

ADDRESS: 129 City Road, London, EC1V 1JB

WEBSITE: https://barnightjar.com/

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

WEBSITE: http://www.lookingglasslondon.co.uk

Image result for looking glass cocktail club

Image result for looking glass cocktail club

Image result for looking glass cocktail club

THIRD CHOICE: NOLA

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

WEBSITE: http://nola-london.com/

Image result for NOLA london

Image result for NOLA london

Image result for NOLA london

GUESTS:

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.

IN THIS PHOTO: RKZ
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

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Kamikaze Girls

 

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

Ladyfuzz

 

9.3/10

 

Ladyfuzz is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFVg5Lr7Do0

RELEASED:
20th August, 2016

GENRES:
Riot Grrrl/Alternative

ORIGIN:

Leeds/London, U.K.

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

http://kamikazegirls.limitedrun.com/

TRACK LISTING:

Hexes 

Stitches 

I Hate Funerals

Ladyfuzz 

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

 

Official:

http://kamikazegirls.limitedrun.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/kamikazegirlsuk

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/kamikazegirls_

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/kamikazegirls_/

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/kamikazegirls

FEATURE: The British Music Venue: The fabric of Society

FEATURE:

 

The British Music Venue:

  

 The fabric of Society

____________________

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

PHOTO COURTESY OF NICK ENSING

 

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.

PHOTO COURTESY OF NICK ENSING

 

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.

PHOTO COURTESY OF DANNY SEATON

 

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

PHOTO COURTESY OF GOOGLE STREET VIEW

 

IS not threatened and damaged forever…

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

TRACK REVIEW:

 

CASSI (ft. Luna Ward)

 

  

That High

 

9.5/10

 

That High is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pi8P34IRBQQ&feature=share

RELEASE DATE:

29th August, 2016

GENRE:

Drum and Bass

ORIGIN:

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

 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/cassiofficial/?__mref=message_bubble

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/cassi.official/?hl=en

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/user-188189449

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNeAvsX4c_nhIM0314JZuPg

 

INTERVIEW: Katie Buxton

INTERVIEW:

 

 
PHOTO CREDIT: Sam Polonsky

 

 Katie Buxton 

____________________________

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

PHOTO CREDIT: Liz Burley

 

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

 

Facebook:

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

Official:

http://www.katiebuxton.com/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/ktbuxton

YouTube:

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

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/katiebux/

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/katiebuxton

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

FEATURE:

 

The August Playlist: 

 THE AUGUST PLAYLIST: VOL. 5: rarities and round-up MUSICMUSINGSANDSUCH

 

Vol. 5: Rarities and Round-Up

______________________

I sort of guessed there might be another installment…

Image result for tove lo
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.

_____________________

Image result for bon iver

Bon Iver33 “GOD”

 

 

Image result for cold pumas band

Cold PumasOpen Mouth at Dusk

 

 

Image result for dead ringers lion killer

Dead RingersLion Killer

 

 

Image result for the pineapple thief band

The Pineapple ThiefNo Man’s Land

 

 

Image result for thee oh sees

Thee Oh SeesTicklish Warrior

 

 

Image result for palmistry band

PalmistryLifted

 

 

Image result for black dylan

Black DylanHey Stranger

 

 

Image result for bayside band

BaysideNot Fair

 

 

Image result for dolly parton 2016

Dolly PartonPure and Simple

 

 

Image result for lisa hannigan

Lisa HanniganOra

 

 

Image result for sam coomes

Sam CoomesStride On

 

 

Image result for banks and steelz

Banks & SteelzAnything But Words

 

 

Image result for the album leaf band

The Album LeafNew Soul

 

 

Image result for the parrots band

The ParrotsLet’s Do It Again

 

 

Image result for the hunna

The HunnaSycamore Tree

 

 

Image result for blue pills band

Blue PillsI Feel a Change

 

 

Image result for against me band

Against Me!Haunting, Haunted, Haunts

 

 

Image result for grouplove

GrouploveDo You Love Someone

 

 

Image result for the wytches

The Wytches C-Side

 

 

Image result for grimes band

GrimesMedieval Warfare

 

 

Image result for kate nash 2016

Kate NashGood Summer

 

 

Image result for ebba tove elsa nilsson

Tove LoCool Girl

 

 

Image result for oasis 1994

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.

Image result for bon iver