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Things we like.. Royal Blood’s chunky as f**k single “Out Of The Black” released on Black Mammoth on 11th November.
So, a few weeks ago a preview track drops into our inbox on a (probably) rainy and certainly not summerfide morning. We probably flagged it. We probably had some tea and biscuits to celebrate the end of the “flagging of the emails” part of the day. We might’ve left it flagged for a month or two and then quietly unflagged, a little guilty that we never got round to it. But we didn’t, we played it.
Then we went "MOTHERF****ER!" and heads began bobbing up and down around the office (not in that way, filthy) and big smiles were shared round and shameless robot dances were done with bandy legs and tip-toe trainers and macs quacked up to thirteen. For this was no ordinary email stow away, this was Marc Houle and Miss Kittin’s “Where Is Kittin” and it is a big fat bastard!!
So, of course not only do we have to tell you that - now you know - and tell you you should probably buy it to make your life better, but we also had to have a chat with Marc Houle and ask questions and stuff to put on our magaweb. And they go a little something like this..
Hi Marc, how’s your day?
It’s a sunny beautiful day in Berlin….I’m of course in the studio working. I did take an early morning walk along the canal to see some swans and ducks though.
Doing anything exciting?
nothing specifically… I went to a BBQ in the park yesterday and always making tracks.
The “Where Is Kitten” EP came out at the end of May. How’s the response been?
I’m not too sure really - I don’t usually check the charts or read reviews. But when I play it, they people love it.
In the office, we love the bass line and claps! It reminds us of Donkey Kong and early Daft Punk. How about you?
There’s always some elements of old video games in my tracks - either consciously or not. They’re some of the sounds that make me happiest because of some sort of passive/active reinforcement behavior i suppose. As for Daft Punk, never really got into them.
How did the collaboration with Miss Kittin come about?
She dropped by my place, heard some stuff I was working on, and went to work making it better. It was a really fun and had a nice flow to it. She really knows her way around a studio so it was quite easy for me to sit back and relax.
John Foxx remix. Nice.
He’s a legend who still is making great dark minimal stuff. I was quite fortunate to have worked with him this way. So much of his style and early Ultravox! stuff found its way into our type of music.
Who’s in your top 3 music heros list?
I have like 60 dependent on the genres…John Foxx, Moderne, Black Sabbath, Kraftwerk, Prince, Aphex Twin, Beatles, King Tubby, The Spoons, The Cure…. Anything without too much midrange I really go for.
You’re label boss at Items & Things. How are things?
Going good - we just grabbed a new office so I’m really thinking i need to go buy some plants for the stark white office. We’re working hard on the release schedule at the moment to maintain our level of what i think are great releases. And of course we’re always going through demos and looking for some new, fresh talent.
Can you give us a brief history of the label?
When we were on Minus, we wanted a vehicle to put out some weird, new music that we ran across during our adventures - stuff that didnt really fit the Minus sound but needed to be heard so we started the label just for that. After leaving Minus, we used the label as our main platform.
What’s up next for you and Items & Things?
We’ve just released the Seph record and coming up is a great bunch of tracks from our old friend Tomas More. After that I’m gonna try and sneak in another EP of some cool tracks if i can get them polished in time.
You’ve gained a reputation as being all about live performance. I remember the Jeep Girls used to write all their tunes in front of a crowd to get the vibe right. Is that how it is for you?
I’ve made so many tracks all over the sound map that I can sorta play what I think the crowd wants or needs by exploring different directions on stage. I sometimes start housey and slow but will build it up to some harder techno based stuff or dark melodic depending on how they people react. It does depend on the crowd and you really do need to be flexible I think.
You’re wiki’d as being inspired by early video game sounds and soundtracks. Where do you stand on Chiptune?
Though I did grow up on that stuff and it is a part of my wiring now, I’m not a purist like some of the people out there. I’m just as happy with a sid chip emulator than running it through the real thing. I’ve dabbled with trackers here but I’m too in love with a warm analogue Juno-60 to make exclusive 8-bit stuff. I do have a bunch of playlists from famous commodore 64 pioneers and I have made some stuff in the past but ya - it’s a world I only want to visit.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Mathew Jonson just stopped by yesterday and left me his new CD so I’ve been listening to that along with the new Miss Kittin album and all the old synth pop stuff I always listen to. For that stuff you can listen to my 2 synth pop mixes to see what I mean.
Tell us a secret?
I like hacking apart Pillsburys bread rolls to make mini garlic sesame burger buns.
Grolsch or Brooklyn Beer?
Beer sucks :P
The "Where Is Kittin" album is on iTunes here. Go buy it, then we all get to eat.
Things we like…
Thanks to Cool for Cats for turning us on to this great track from London singer Mercy & Toby from Hatcham Social. Top of our playlist today!
Living in a box may not be everyones taste, but Alex Martin and Danny “LC” Pickering are happy to take up the space. Together they form the backbone to Box Frequency FM, a newly formed internet radio station catering for deep house, techno, electronica, funk and all things soulful. Since its inception in 2012, Box Frequency FM has opened the lid to a host of radio jocks from the UK and beyond building an impressive mix of talent both established and new. There are regular shows from Scorp!o AKA Steve Alex, a long time stalwart on the London club scene, Desyn Masiello, a world renowned global DJ from the electronic music collective Faciendo and Los Grandes who are based in Madrid, Spain.
Alex and Danny are no strangers to the electronic music scene choosing to immerse themselves in clubbing from a young age. They became DJs, started playing at parties and hosted numerous radio shows in the process. Alex spent his formative years living in Brighton where he was a regular visitor to the infamous Brighton Zap Club and Positive Sound System parties during the early 90s. He has also produced and released his own music, most notably alongside Neville Watson as Midnight Steppers. Danny spent many years cutting his teeth as a DJ and producer acquiring a variety of music tastes along the way including house, funk and soul. He has also produced music with fellow cohort Alex Martin as well as a string of remixes and re-edits; as expected both host their own regular shows on the station.
Can you tell us about the concept behind Box Frequency FM?
Well, it’s all about good music really; relatively simple. We have hosted several radio shows before, some positive and some slightly more challenging! At that point we felt that we could go off on our own and cater for a vibe that isn’t really being catered for in a big way. We are huge fans of the deeper end of the electronic music spectrum be it house, funk, soul; call it the slightly more esoteric side of dance music. The station isn’t genre specific though, the DJ’s can play a two hour Trojan set if they like. We want to create a platform for other like-minded DJs that can channel their art and share it with as many people as possible.
Tell us more about the people and shows on the station.
We have a guy called Johnny Eyeball who plays mainly soul music. He has a roster of DJs himself who all do guest slots for the station on a weekly basis. Then we have Steve Alex AKA Scorp!o who has been around for a long time and is one of the original Kiss FM jocks. He was also involved in Garage City and is now a big name on the London after hour’s scene. Next up we have Dynamicon from Spain - who runs the label Los Grandes - doing a regular show. We host our own shows Frequencies and LC Sessions (Liquid Country) There are a whole host of other talented DJs who all bring something unique to the table or box in our case!
Now that the station is fully operational, what else do you have planned for it?
We are now offering streaming through iPads, iPhones, Android and other similar devices. This is a big step for us, as before all people could do when they wanted to listen to the station was sit in front of their computer which was impractical. We have just hired a young, knowledgeable web developer who has proved to be quite successful. The future for us is where we’ve garnered a significant regular listening base to the point where we’ll be able to steam through iTunes, and it’s getting there. We just want to grow, get our presence up and be a successful independent station. We‘re not trying be a huge commercial entity or anything like that. We’re not charging the DJs or trying to sell things to people. It’s a lovely, uninterrupted radio station that gives people an unlimited listening experience. We want each show to have its own unique personality too. Some people have been sending us mixes only without any presenting as such; we’re not looking for just a two hour mix. We want to get to know the person behind the show and are encouraging people to present their shows and not be afraid to let their own personality shine through.
Tell us more about your own backgrounds in dance music
Danny: I started off DJing at the after party scene in Salisbury and got into music that way. I was actually into the hardcore gabba techno scene and a bit of drum and bass of the time. I’ve mellowed out over the years and discovered house music and Detroit flavours. I’ve been at it for the past ten to fifteen years. Production wise I’ve just started up a new outfit called 54th Street Hustler, with which I now have a record deal. Radio wise, I started out playing at a station based in Portsmouth that specialised mainly in trance music, I was the only one playing deep house at the time and have continued with that trend ever since.
Alex: I was into music from a very young age. I grew up playing the piano, guitar and drums. I was in a band during my younger days. I discovered the rave scene when I went to Brighton and did my degree. I frequented the Zap Club which was like a mecca for me for two years and became a part of the after party scene there. I always wanted to make music so I bought a Yamaha QY70 and started making records with it. At a party I met a guy called Neville Watson who was a DJ on the acid house/house scene and we produced a few records together on The Mighty Atoms record label; in a nut shell I caught the bug for studio life. About three years ago I started to up my DJ game again. Danny introduced me to radio and I was hooked back in. I think in a club you’re restricted to what you can play as the objective is to keep people dancing. With radio you can loosen up and play what you want to a degree – I’m a musical purist I guess.
Where else can we see Box Frequency? Are there any parties planned or events?
We have got an event in the pipeline and are looking at venues around London at the moment; negotiations are going on as we speak. Sometime over the summer they’ll be a Box Frequency party. It will be small and intimate to start with and expect to see all the Box Frequency DJs in attendance. We need to build our profile up so hopefully these club nights will be a regular occurrence. It will also be a great opportunity for all the DJ’s to get to know each other and bring their friends along. We will have people coming from Scotland, Spain, Liverpool and London so it will be quite something!
Many people now upload their podcasts and mixes to Soundcloud or Mixcloud. Do you feel that the influence of radio still works in this day and age?
We feel there is a definite need for radio despite the advent of modern technology. Many people still want that human element and interaction rather than simply going to a website and clicking a play button; you don’t have that interaction with the person playing the tunes. This is one of the reasons why we encourage interaction during our shows. We can get immediate feedback from the listeners to see how the show is going and hopefully that they’re enjoying the music we’re playing. We also feel that live radio makes the listener feel a part of something, that they might hear their name mentioned over the airwaves or they can meet like-minded people in the chat room. There can be too much talking on the radio of course which could have adverse effects by discouraging the listener, not to mention ruining a great record. There is a fine line to tread in regard to presenting and as DJs we have to except that we have limited stage time; the music must be allowed to talk too!
Can you both tell us about a funny thing that happened to you whilst on the radio or playing at a party?
Alex: I was playing at a friend’s party once and it was getting completely out of hand, a bit crazy. I was invited to play in the back room and by that time was the only person fit to man the decks. I remember seeing this Trojan records double pack twelve inch on the floor with four tunes on. I then proceed to play a two hour set using just these records. At the end of my “set” loads of people came up to me and said it was the best dub set they’d ever heard!
Danny: I couldn’t possibly comment…well actually I can remember when I was eighteen years old playing at an afterhours party until midday. The police raided the party and they swarmed all around me; I never did finish my set!
Alex: Can I just add that we’re a really friendly station that encourages a wide variety of music with some amazing talents that are really passionate about music they play; it comes from the heart.
Many thanks to Alex Martin and Danny LC Pickering for the interview.
Interview by Pete Rann
It’s around two thirty pm on a Friday afternoon and I’m not sure what to expect when I speak with Adam Dewhurst and Earl Gateshead from The Trojan Sound System. Thinking they may be taking break from the studio, it turns out the boys are down the pub supping a pint. Who can blame them? It’s been a hard day of radio shows and taking part in a feature for the Guardian Newspaper. “We’ve just done a mix for them” Adam enthuses who is also the band’s manager, “a bit of an odd one, It’s for their travel section about England with us relating reggae tracks to different cities basically”
It’s not just the national newspapers that are eager to get a piece of the Trojans; the likes of Toddla T, Lee-Scratch Perry and Tippa Irie have all collaborated with them at some point and for a good reason. Between the collective that is Earl, Daddy Ad (aka Adam), Super four, Chucky Banton and Jah Buck, there is a wealth of musical history between them that stems all the way back to the 70s. Earl has been a respected DJ for the last twenty years, having held residencies at The Dive Bar in London and The Blue Note. Adam has also been on the DJ circuit for just as long, proudly boasting about playing the odd reggae track during a house set. He has been heavily involved in the music industry previously running lifestyle magazine Sleaze Nation and dance music cult magazine Jockey Slut. Vocalist’s Chucky and Supafour are member of London Sound systems; Taurus, Sir Coxsone and Saxon. Lastly, Jah Buck is a respected singer songwriter.
Forming in 2004 out of the legendary reggae label Trojan Records, it can be said that the bands success and cult following could be attributed to the fact that each member has something different to bring to the table. With this in mind, The Trojan Sound system have spent the last few years touring the globe as a DJ/Vocal collective ensuring that the medium is strictly vinyl and music policy reggae in its purist form. They have also graced the studios, producing deep rooted rhythms and pounding bass lines, most recently on their own imprint TSS. The latest offering “Africa” did some extensive damage on the dance floor with an underlying message to reflect the deep felt need which all people of African descent feel for their homeland.
Tell us more about your label TSS, and any new releases you have planned.
Well, we’ve released three singles so far and two EPs. The first single My God featured a Toddla T rhythm and we also did a version after performing it live a few times. With the next single Look to the East featuring Superfour we were trying to make a modern version of roots reggae but somehow it ended up In the grime section! It is however, quite contemporary in our opinion. The third single Africa has a message which relates to a black audience primarily, a sort of plea against repression but we hope that all races can identify with it. With Africa we were trying to do a modern take on the Bunny Lee sound; Ashley Beedle and JFB provided some great remixes. The fourth tune, yes, there’s a fourth actually, was done by Jah Buck called Life in a Day. It’s a slow ballad, almost Gospel sounding so we didn’t think it was appropriate for a single but we released it on the original Africa EP. With that, it is our most listened to song on iTunes which we didn’t expect. Our next release will be Revolutionary written by Supafour followed by The Bomb which we think is our best so far but then, who are we to judge!
You have a musical background which goes way back to the 70s. Can you tell us more about your history and how this gels you together as a band.
We all come from different places really, different skills and slightly different perspectives. Jah Buck is the only one that was actually born in Jamaica so he has a really Jamaican perspective on the music. Supafour was in New York for about seven years as a part of an underground hip-hop collective and they used to perform at many New York venues. Chucky is a respected singer who’s been around for a long time. He’s performed with Dennis Brown and other influential reggae artists so has a very strong musical standpoint. Daddy Ad started as a drummer so he has a rhythmic perspective and is the most technical minded of the collective. I come from a DJ background having started in the 70s. I think like a DJ so that’s what I add to the mix. Outside the music, we all have our separate lives and understand each other’s values.
You’ve worked with some influential people in reggae. Who has been a favourite and why?
I love working with Big Youth definitely because he is massively talented. In my opinion, he is the best lyricist ever in reggae music, an innovator; it was such a huge privilege to meet him. I became his tour DJ so we got to know each other very well and I learned to like him as a person.
Reggae has played an active part on the London music scene. When you play abroad what do you notice about the scene compared to the UK?
It doesn’t really work like that with reggae; you’d be surprised how big the genre is abroad. It’s huge in France and they know the music really well. We’ve noticed that Italy in particular has an equally huge scene which I guess you wouldn’t expect. Spain is up and coming I’d say and Germany also has a very big culture of reggae and its mutations. Each country is slightly different; of course it’s not the same as the scene here but globally it’s a huge market.
What can people expect to hear when they come and hear you play live? Tell us about your performance.
A lot of it is rehearsed, often containing songs we’ve made in the studio which we’ll then transfer to vinyl and play out during our sets. It’s a strictly vinyl affair with a mixture of our own material and people we like. Although we play instruments they’re not used in a live setting so in essence, it’s a DJ set with our vocalists toasting and singing over the top of the records to get the crowd warmed up. For us, it’s all about the sound system vibe and we go right through the whole range be it roots, reggae, dub, or dancehall.
Most musical genres have their golden era before they fall out of fashion but reggae seems to have remained a staple musical diet here, particularly in London. Why do you think this is?
Bob Marley said a thing about reggae “them who feels it knows it” and I think if someone hears reggae and it resonates them, then they’ll say “I like that!” It has the African vibe about it of course but it also has a certain otherness and a certain separateness which a lot of people seem to like. Musically, it’s a third world form not first world. It looks at the world from a third world pint of view. It’s also a more spiritual form of music and it has a different view point that is totally separate from hip hop, house and similar genres; people like that separation.
What are your ambitions for 2013?
For me personally, I love playing on the big stages. I like every live show but when you walk out and there’s thirty thousand people out there waiting for you, that’s pretty exciting – it’s what you want you know. So we’d like to make some very successful records to enable us to keep doing that. We are also playing at Bestival this year so really looking forward to playing there. Our gig diary is pretty healthy although I can’t remember what else off the top of my head; you’ll have to check our social media sites for that! I’d like to play another gig at Koko in Camden, it’s always a good gig; the technical guys are great and we always get a full house. Hands down, one of our favourite venues to play – it seems to work for us.
“Reggae was always such a passion for me “says Adam “Earl and I would always try and slip in a late 70’s steppers tune in one of our house sets back in the day and people would come running up to the decks and say, wow what’s this brand new track it’s amazing? Actually, it came out 30 years ago mate…It just shows you how much influence reggae has had on contemporary music – it sounds like it was made yesterday”
Thanks to Adam Dewhurst and Earl Gateshead for the interview.
Africa EP by The Trojan Sound System and the Africa remixes is out now in all good stores on TSS Records. Click here to buy from iTunes.
Written by Pete Rann
With debate raging around the future of the Eurozone, namely whether Great Britain will stay or go, and issues of independent sovereignty among the other partners, another pertinent question has recently arisen. Given that the whole situation seems to reek of pomp and circumstance, what will happen to each country’s musical bastion, the national anthem?
Indeed, is the concept relevant any more? In a world seemingly destined to be run by Brussels, ‘God Save The Queen’ seems to ring ever more hollow. Does dear old Lizzie deserve eulogising for being little more than a figurehead?
Perhaps it is time to adopt Karlheinz Stockhausen’s ‘Hymnen’, or a similar piece, as an anthem for a fully integrated Europe. The German electronic composer unleashed his collage of the anthems of the world in the early Sixties, blurring national lines which had been in place for centuries: the oldest national anthem being Holland’s ‘Wilhelmus’, written during the Dutch Revolt, 1568-72.
Listening to ‘Hymnen’ today, it is striking how forward-thinking Stockhausen was being at the time. His treatments of the fragments of various anthems that he collects on his sonic travels appear to pre-empt the current notion of a unified Europe. Stockhausen manages to convey this message via music, whereas the politicians of today are seemingly unable to do so, even with the aid of speechwriters and spin-doctors.
The idea of creating a European anthem has also been explored by Czech composer Zbigniew Preisner, with his ‘Song for the Unification of Europe’, which is attributed to a character in ‘Three Colours: Blue’, the first film in Krysztof Kieslowski’s well-known trilogy. It is revealing that the concept of a European Anthem has only been explored in art and fiction.
The other side of the argument would be to defend the national anthem, preserving national independence from the influence of the Eurocrats; a defiant two fingers to the uniformity that a European anthem would represent.
National anthems are surely intended to celebrate what makes each country unique. Is it possible to represent the achievements and idiosyncrasies of an entire continent in one hymn, without being overly reductive? Whoever may be given the task has quite a job to do if the situation ever arises, but it is an interesting question to ponder.
Download the music today:
Between supporting Ethan Johns on his February tour and headlining her own UK tour in March, Marika Hackman’s debut album That Iron Taste is released today via Dirty Hit.
On the night of the album’s release, Marika gave a haunting and thought-provoking performance at the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room. Marika’s lyrics are richly poetic, vivid with imagery and suggestive narrative, whilst remaining sparse, direct and presented with an unnervingly restrained and self-controlled vocal delivery that makes it hard to believe this artist is only 20. What comes across most strongly from speaking to Marika is her almost childlike sense of playful experimentalism. The quietly surrealist and psychedelic quality of her music sets her apart from an industry saturated with singer-songwriters, providing somewhat of a folk-antidote.
Marika reveals some of the ideas behind her enigmatic music in an interview with Beat below.
The first thing that strikes me about your music is the rich poetic quality of your lyrics. Cannibal in particular reminds me of Sylvia Plath’s poem ‘Cut’.
Yeah, I’m a massive fan of Sylvia Plath. In fact, my mum gave me loads of her books for my birthday! Literature has a big influence on my music.
You obviously have an incredible imagination, your lyrics are so vivid… and morbid!
Yeah, it’s weird that that side of me sort of comes out in my lyrics, maybe it’s good that it does through song rather than anything else.
Haha, rather than anything else? Like an axe?
Yeah, like that film Psycho haha. But yeah, we lived in the countryside and my mum was very strict about how much TV we watched, and she’d literally force me and my brother outside and then we’d go off and run around and start inventing things and playing games and spying on people and stuff like that.
I was going to say, I think there’s a quite a childish imagination at play in your lyrics.
I think I must be quite immature!
No! The thing that’s incredible is that your lyrics are so imaginative and vivid and morbid, which is brilliant, but you have this very mature, minimal delivery.
Yeah, I also think that you can use the simplest words to convey meaning, so I don’t use fancy words. It’s about the imagery you can create with basic language.
There’s no point just alienating an audience is there?
Yeah, and also, longer words are harder to fit into a lyric. I definitely think about the sounds of words and the amount of syllables they have. When I write the words have to just ‘fit’ in the line. So for instance, with Cannibal, I came up with the melody, and usually when I come up with the melody I say words randomly that sort of fit, and literally the first thing I said was: ‘have you seen my nose?’
Ah, and then it just comes from there? So it’s a very organic process?
Yeah, and the same with ‘Here I Lie’, coming up with it I just said ‘I have no head’ and it went from there.
That’s interesting. I think your singing has a very luxurious quality, where you let the lyrics almost take over. I think that you really tap into the musicality of language
Well it’s a major compliment that you said that because that’s what I try and do. Even though people always comment on my lyrics, they are there because they are, in effect, the melody. They are the music, it’s the same thing.
Yes, I recognise certain recurring melodies, but really your music is quite paired-down, it’s quite raw.
When I find a melody I like, I stick with it and keep it quite simple. Even though something like Mountain Spines changes key continuously, I set myself the challenge to stick to and end up with this quite strange melody. If I take the guitar out from underneath it, it’s actually quite hard to sing.
Right, because you haven’t got anything to guide you? The guitar is almost like a ladder?
Exactly. Everything has to go together and with the lyrics all coming in at the same time, it just means that you get the layers without having to be really fancy with what you’re doing.
It’s a really interesting quality to be complex and minimal at the same time. So yeah, spot on!
On the topic of setting yourself parameters, I’ve read that you’re quite experimental with some of your songs, like Retina Television, using only sounds made with your body rather than relying on instruments.
It’s just one of those things where you sit down and think ‘let’s try something a bit different, let’s do something fun’. If you put parameters on things, it tends to make you more creative. I was on an art foundation and they would set projects that were so vague and I found that really hard. But if someone had said: ‘Ok, you’re only allowed to use this, and you’ve got to do it like this’, then you have to find a route out of it.
You referred to your art foundation, and we spoke previously about how literature feeds into your lyrics, I wondered if there’s an exchange with art?
I think there probably is. Everything goes into it in some way. I love Egon Schiele, and Klimt obviously, but I prefer Schiele. Bosch, because he’s mad. I love Turner, I love Heemskerck, do you know Heemskerck?
No, I must look him up!
He’s a Dutch painter. There are these rooms with lights and the figures are always from behind. It’s very still, but it’s mysterious and very calm.
That mysteriousness definitely translates in your music. I’ve heard that you’re thinking about getting a band?
Yeah, we’re in the process of doing that. Just a couple of guys who are multi-instrumentalists. We’re not going to try and recreate the records, we’re going to try and do a live show. So many artists have a record out, and then when they do their concerts they basically have a backing track so it makes it sound identical to what you hear on your radio or whatever. But I want the live show to be different. Even if people have bought the record, they should come and see the live show because it’s going to be something different, because the song’s performed in a different way.
Of course, like ‘Retina Televison’ had to be different, I was really interested to see how you would translate that into a live performance.
I think I’m going to keep that stripped down, with me hitting the guitar.
After talking about songs like ‘Mountain Spines’ being quite complex, how do you think that would work with a band coming in? Do you think you’d have to change your sound a bit?
Maybe. We’ll see how it evolves. We’ll maintain quite a natural, organic process and play around with it. I mean, there are obviously things we can recreate from the record. But it would be fun to play around. Again, it’s a case of setting parameters. Having a live band, there’s only so much you can do, there’s only three of us. So that’s where the creativity starts over again, working on top of these songs. So it’s going to be really exciting to see what we come up with.
Yes, your music has such an experimental, and quite psychedelic, quality. I was thinking your music is almost anti-folk. Would you say that?
Yeah, people try and bracket you straight away and label you as ‘the new folk singer-songwriter’, so you’re the next Laura Marling, or the next Lucy Rose or whatever. And it’s kind of like, have you actually listened to my records? I love Laura Marling, but I don’t think our music is the same.
It’s so different. I think it’s almost sexist, because people wouldn’t make those comparisons between two male artists.
Yeah that’s true.
Obviously, it’s really exciting that you’ve got this EP launching today! And your tour. You’ve been on tour for a while haven’t you?
Yeah, since the 1st of February with Ethan.
And you’re headlining your own independent tour? You must be really excited about that.
Yeah, it starts on Thursday the 28th. I love doing supports, especially at a venue like this (Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room) with Ethan Johns, where people actually listen.
Yeah, you’re not competing with a rowdy crowd.
But with the headline tour there’s added pressure because people have actually paid to come and see me. But it’s very interesting to see, at this stage in the game, how many people turn up. And chatting to people afterwards, I really love doing that.
That must be really helpful.
Yeah, just like, ‘inflating my ego’! But yeah, it’s nice to mingle.
Well yes, because you are really quite new on the scene, aren’t you? You’ve only released three songs before this EP, right?
Well, I had released ‘You Come Down’ and ‘Mountain Spine’. ‘You Come Down’ was a single, and ‘Mountain Spine’ was an AA side, and then ‘Cannibal’ has been played as the sort of preview to the album, but it hasn’t actually been released to buy. It’s released today.
So you’ve been active for just a year? And you’ve just rocketed! It’s exciting.
Yeah, it’s exciting. I just take each day as it comes.
Find Marika’s tour dates here: http://www.songkick.com/artists/5015008-marika-hackman
We love the eclectic images that make up the video for Hyperreality - EP - Soft Bullets. The video is a compilation of extracts submitted by the band’s fans.
Soft Bullets, a transatlantic collaboration between Chris Wall (UK) and Dan Capaldi (USA), produce beautifully ethereal alternative indie music. They released their debut EP ‘Hyperreality’ in November, which drew comparisons with Radiohead, Portishead and Muse.
The video for ‘Hyperreality’ is composed of video clips submitted to them by their fans, an interactive collaboration which gracefully accompanies the ethereal track.
Things we like… Mooli’s ‘Love Hurts’
(OK we’re not so keen on the video, but love the song for it’s This Mortal Coil meets The Lightning Seeds jiggery hookery)
On Sunday evening I meandered along Bristol’s harbourside – by now shrouded in dark and cold – and headed over to the venue-on-a-boat that is Thekla, to watch Julia Stone. The Australian singer had come to our little city in the South West on her international tour. And no amount of fragile beauty and striking timbres on her two solo albums – The Memory Machine (2011) and By The Horns (2012) – prepared me for what she showed us in tonight’s live setting.
Incredible. Her voice is simply incredible. It has a real strength that recordings do not do justice to. But, at the same time, it is so delicate and distinctive that you fear it will break, were it not for the conviction of her lyrics and performance style. Unlike many artists, she has the power to open with a very still and reflective song; The Shit That They’re Feeding You is a commentary on the all-too-common discrepancies between what a lover says, and a lover does.
Popular numbers were And The Boys and For You, both tracks she created with her brother, Angus. And her cover of You’re The One That I Want – which appears on an advert for Sky TV – was well received. The entire set was perfectly balanced and reflective of a girl who really has been there; who is unafraid to tell us that her heart has been stomped on. And to counter any tragedy was her sharp wit. Julia Stone is irresistibly funny. She charmed us into laughter when she described being rejected (the subject of Here For The night) and we fell in love when she was able to end a rant against an unfaithful ex (the stunning By The Horns) with a brief ‘What a w***a’.
It was appropriate that Stone was relaxing with a post-gig cigarette as she waved us off the boat. I left with my head full of tales of love that I can relate to, and with a feeling of having seen true magic between a group of brilliant and very clever musicians. And I feel lucky that she came to a small boat in Bristol, of all places.
Rosie Pentreath is a writer, performer, composer and artist, working and freelancing for BBC Music Magazine and Homes and Antiques Magazine, living between Bristol and London.
By Lydia Hughes
Lady Leshurr, who has been previously dubbed as the UK’s female version of Busta Rhymes, performed at SB.TV’s first live event at Koko in London this week. Other contributors included Labrinth, Tinchy Stryder, Meesha B., Ms. Dynamite and Cher Lloyd. Whilst the event was about promoting young entrepreneur Jamal Edwards’s SB.TV, it was also a chance for up-and-coming artists as well as those who’ve already made their mark in the industry to use the event as a platform for their music in 2012. Lady Leshurr talks about SB.TV, what she’s been up to so far and where she’s going.
How on earth do you manage to breathe? You rap so fast.
I think I was born with three lungs, seriously. You know what, I don’t even know. When I hear my lyrics back I breathe in unusual places, so I don’t even realize I’m doing it myself.
When did you start rapping?
I started pretending to rap when I was 6 years old to Bam Bam by Sister Nancy — a reggae track my mum used to play around the house. I started doing the voicemails on my mum’s house phone saying ‘pick up the phone, leave a message after the tone.’ When I was about 12 that’s when Eminem came out, and when I first heard him I thought ‘oh my god, I want to rap,’ so I just started rapping. I knew it wasn’t just a hobby, it’s what I wanted to do.
And you started touring around the UK from about 12. How did your mum feel about that?
To be honest, I didn’t really tell my mum that I was doing music. I just did it. I felt a little embarrassed because I didn’t want her to think that I wasn’t going to have any money, or not going to have a job. I don’t think she would have understood it. But now she understands, because things are actually happening for me. She’s proud of me.
So did you miss school to go touring?
Ooh, I never missed school, I was a good girl in school. But what I did do in my Maths lessons — because I was terrible at Maths — I just used to sit at the back of the class and start to write my lyrics in the back of my book. That was my lyric lesson.
Tell me what your debut single “Lego” is all about?
[Laughs] People think it’s about Lego, the bricks. But, no, basically I got Lego from when I did the cover “Look At Me Now” by Chris Brown. He says it before the start of the track. I initially thought it would be great for him to do a whole track on it, but then I thought, “Do you know what? I want to do it.” But it was never meant to be my first single. I got in the studio with Wizzy Wow, he played me about three beats and then I knew: “That’s the one.” I got in the booth and recorded it. It’s about letting go and having fun with life, basically.
So how long does a track take to write and learn for you?
I’m terrible. My brain is terrible. I cannot even remember any of my lyrics, so I’ve always got them in my phone. It doesn’t take me long to write, depending on what the beat is and what the concept is. If I’m really feeling the beat it’ll take me less that 10 minutes.
And how do you remember everything?
Unless the track is recorded it’s really hard to remember. I know with SB.TV, when I first went on there, I kept forgetting the lyrics — one: because I was frightened, two: because I was thinking about the verse too much instead of just letting it flow, so it depends, it depends on whether I’m confident with it or not.
You’ve worked with quite a few big names in the industry, and featured on quite a few of their tracks, right?
Lethal B (Lethal Bizzle), Ms. Dynamite, Tinie Tempah … yeah, back in the day I worked with him and I’ll be working with him again soon.
Do you get to have a lot of input?
Basically, If I’m featured on the track they’ll just send me the track and ask me to do a verse on it based on the concept, but other than that I haven’t really sat down in a studio and worked with an artist yet, and that’s what I want to do. And that’s what’s going to happen on my album (to be released Spring 2012).
And who do you want to work with you on your album?
I want Tinie Tempah again. I listened to him when I was younger and he’s different to all the other MCs that were out there back then. Everyone else was all about guns and stuff, but he started doing wifey tunes — that’s what gets the girls — and that’s what I liked. I’ve always respected him, so it was a privilege working with him.
So are you 23 now, right?
Ahhh, I don’t like to say my age [laughs].
The point I’m trying to make is that you’re still so young and have done so much. You have your own record label and have produced too, haven’t you?
Yeah, that’s right. I always said when I was younger that I wanted to be my own boss, and I wanted to have my own record label. I’ve got that now; it’s called Gutterstrut, so I’m happy about that.
What can we expect from you in 2012?
I’m going to do a school tour next year and write songs specifically about violence, guns, abuse and their consequences. I can tell the kids to stay in school through my music. I’m also going to start up some short films as well. I’ve got so many things planned. I’ve also got a clothing line called ‘Friggin L.’
Named after one of your tracks?
Yeah, I had a mixtape called ‘Friggin L,’ but the clothing line was bigger that I thought it would ever be. It got flown over to the states to meet with a label because of it. It was amazing. All the t-shirts sold out within a week.
So did you ever choose to be a rapper with the intention of making it big?
No, I never knew I was going to make it big, I just did it because I loved music. I just want to change at least one person’s life with my lyrics. And if I can aim to do that then I feel like I’m needed, I’m relevant in the scene. I’ve always wanted to do that.
By Lydia Hughes
At the SBTV Xmas party I caught up with Ms.Dynamite. She’s been on the down-low for some time, a lot of us wondering what she’s been up to, but now she’s ready to make a comeback.
An event host to top names in the current urban music scene such as Labrinth, Tinchy Stryder, Wretch 32 and Chipmunk, Ms. Dynamite performed several times throughout the night. She made a joint appearance, too, with Yasmin, but not with her MOBO Award-winning brother, Akala (Kingslee Daley), who also performed that evening. When I asked her whether there were any plans to work with her brother in the future she said:
"Yeah, but it’s not something that we want to do right now… he’s doing his thing, which I respect, and I’m doing my thing, which he respects, and we’ll come together naturally when the time is right. I don’t want to do it, and he doesn’t want to do it, just because it’s an expectation."
Since a considerable break between her last album Judgment Days back in 2005 for the sake of family time, Ms. Dynamite has been making a steady return to the music scene. Since 2010 she’s featured on Katy B’s second single ‘Lights On,’ — her first top-ten hit since ‘Dy-na-mi-tee’ back in 2002 — Magnetic Man’s ‘Fire,’ and in August released her newest track ‘Neva Soft.’ In terms of what’s next, Ms. Dynamite confirms that she has lots planned for the coming year; “singles, albums, loads of shows, a tour… just as much as possible, really.” Whilst a date hasn’t been set for a tour, she says it is sure to take place during 2012, and that she’ll be performing songs from the newest album she’s been working on (produced by Labrinth). Ms. Dynamite seemed reserved about revealing when the album is to be released, saying, “I don’t have a specific date yet, but it’s there, it’s ready. We’ll just see when the time feels right.”
Ms. Dynamite won the Mercury Prize back in 2002 for her debut A Little Deeper, but what can be expected from the new album?
"[There’s] loads of energy, loads of different concepts, different sounds. It’s very eclectic, lots of different stuff fused together."
Her inspiration for the new album: life. Whatever happens to her day-to-day inspires her: “whatever I see, whatever I hear or whatever I go through, and whatever I see other people go through.” Her son, Shavaar, is also one of her other obvious inspirations.
A comeback that she seems quite relaxed about, Ms. Dynamite gives the impression that she’s happy to just roll with it and see what happens.