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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.
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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 Chris Morley
If falling could be translated into music note for note, what would it sound like? The question seems to have haunted Mark E. Smith for years; so much so that the leader and sole constant member of The Fall has seemed to push people in and out of his revolving door so often that most are unsure as to where he turns from record to record, and indeed how it might sound.
But the story is as compelling as it is downright odd in places: ‘they are always different, they are always the same’ said noted fan and Radio One legend John Peel, as good a summary as any. Our journey begins in Manchester in 1976, when Smith formed the first incarnation of the collective alongside keyboardist Una Baines, bass player Tony Friel and guitarist Martin Bramah as an extension of drug-infused performance poetry readings, with inspiration courtesy of the likes of Can, Captain Beefheart, the Stooges and the Velvet Underground helping the decision to move into music.
Their first live outing came in 1977, with early favourite Repetition outlining a simple manifesto as the Bingo-Master’s Break Out EP confused and enthralled in equal measure the following year. As will become apparent, change then came quickly: Friel and Baines quickly bailing out, Marc Riley (yes, that one) and Yvonne Pawlett taking their mantles after a chaotic succession of brief stand-ins.
Smith’s autocracy was blamed for the disruption, his decision-making processes as enigmatic as his lyrics, the turmoil reflected in the perfectly disjointed music he and his rogues gallery were making from their first album Live At The Witch Trials to around Hex Enduction Hour (1982), and The Classical. Ramshackle in places perhaps, but rationally so? The debate starts here…
Looking back over an extensive history (29 albums in all, from 1979 to last year’s Ersatz GB) so full of change, the supporting cast never the same as the editor chops and changes seemingly at will ( listen to any Fall album and no two songs sound the same), it can be something like walking in on the tail end of any given conversation having not heard the preceding points, a sort of haphazard journey to who knows where with a motley companion you’re not sure you entirely trust.
And if further proof were needed of the iron grip on power maintained by the erstwhile front man, consider this: there have been around 66 members of the group since its inception, with around a third of those lasting less than a year before either getting the boot or leaving, making Mark E seem more like a football manager than band-leader.
But who are the star players in all of this? Kay Carroll (1979-83) must be worth a mention. Providing percussion and backing vocals as well as serving as band manager from Dragnet to Room To Live before her romantic relationship with the founder petered out on a 1983 US tour. Next in our rogues gallery is Marcia Schofield, former keyboard player from 1987-90 departing after a group jaunt to Australia and a four-album stint from The Frenz Experiment to Extricate, though it is hard to edit so many interesting stories across many years to fit this article. However, Dave Simpson’s ‘The Fallen: Life In And Out Of Britain’s Most Insane Group’ is recommended as further reading.
To get The Fall’s latest album click here
Things we like… The Coronas ‘Dreaming Again’ video.
By Pete Rann
It seems that every musician moving to Berlin undergoes a creative transformation of some kind. Fresh, exciting ideas are formed and new avenues explored; writer’s block is a mere folk tale. Alex Niggeman has become an important part of the city’s ever expanding musical arsenal, soaking up its electronic heritage whilst keeping a firm grip on the sonic road ahead. From his humble beginnings in Dusseldorf as a young man trying to break into the scene, Alex is now leading it, taking on the role as music producer, label owner and global DJ.
Although he spent the majority of his youth playing classical piano and listening to hip-hop, it was when his older brother took him to a techno party that Alex knew he’d found his life mission. He set up a small studio and started to DJ in and around his home town. For a man with a big ambition, this wasn’t quite enough so Alex decided to make a bold move to Berlin where he studied audio engineering and worked as a runner for a local DJ. This gave him some important connections to other producers and labels including the influential Get Physical.
Being somewhat of a perfectionist, after finishing his degree it fell to a friend to eventually submit some of his work to numerous house/tech-house labels and with great success. Alex suddenly found himself sitting at number 8 on The Resident Advisor “Top 20 Charted Artists” at the end of 2009 and gracing the decks from Asia to Brazil. The next natural step was to start up a label. Soulfooled was officially launched the following year with friends Marc Poppcke and Oliver Fritsche covering deep house, Detroit techno and Chicago house. With respected artists such as Audiofly and David Durango on the books, the label has become a major force in electronic music partly due to them having to reach the ‘Niggemann standard’ first.
Alex, your new album Paranoid Funk is out now, tell us more about it? How has the reception been?
My intention from the very beginning was to produce an album which you can listen AND dance to in the club. I also tried to combine modern elements with the roughness and coolness of dark old-school stuff. This makes for a special combination, as these different things might not fit together when you think of it at first. This is also the reason for the name Paranoid Funk, two totally different words that do not really have an association with each other, but still fit well. Paranoid stands for the dark and clubby part of the album. Funk for the laid-back, groovier and musically orientated part.
I get so much positive feedback from in and outside the dance music scene, which really makes me happy as this was one of my intentions with the album; to not only reach people who are familiar with EDM. Sales and great reviews are topping my expectations.
On reading your bio, it says that you are idiosyncratic, impulsive and self-critical which tells me that you are a very unique individual. How do you feel your character has helped you in the industry?
Honestly, sometimes it didn’t really help! I’m not a yes man. It can be hard to work with me sometimes as I’m trying to have as much influence as I can on everything which has at least a little bit to do with me. It was new for a lot of people I work with but right now most of them are really happy with it, as I’m a hard worker and always aiming for the best. The results are showing me that it’s the right way to do it. Sometimes it doesn’t help me when producing tunes as a song is usually never finished. I’ve had to learn to just let go at some point.
What has been your favourite destination/venue that you have played so far and why?
That’s a tough question. It would be really unfair to point out one or two. Every destination has its charm. Sometimes it’s just the venue or the city, but mostly the crowd. People are partying in a very different way all over the world, so it’s just interesting to see these different impressions. I love playing in South-America because people really celebrate music and themselves.
I love coming home to Berlin or to play in cities like London or Barcelona as people are really interested in the music. They come to listen; but they are pretty critical as well. But I’m also always really surprised when coming to more eastern countries, how much people appreciate to hear me there. It’s just such a big advantage to be able to do what I love as my job.
You undertook an Audio engineering course in Berlin. Do you feel this has helped you with your music and would you recommend it to others?
Yes, absolutely! Before I studied I was only the creative guy that knew how to compose music. The technical knowledge was taught to me in my studies. For example, you’re taught how to construct a tune so the sounds fit together perfectly without losing their power and it’s helped me to place the sounds at a certain space in my “picture”. You also learn the right way to record and mix.
If I have to recommend something, I would always say learn an instrument first. That’s the basis of becoming a musician; even as an electronic music artist. If you feel you want to boost the quality of the sound, learn the technical background in any way by studying, reading books or simply by trial and error.
You run your own label Soulfooled, tell us more about it and the other artists you have on board.
I always wanted to have my own thing. One day, my partners and I just decided to start it. You know, we did the label just for fun. I mean we put a lot of energy into it but only release tracks we are really feeling and there is no a tight schedule with releases; roughly every 6 weeks or so. It’s just a cool thing to publish a record that I’m really feeling. I think it’s becoming less often that I find a record like this. In times where records sales are diminishing, you really have to care about releasing quality because this is what makes people still buy records.
Our first intention was to release whatever we liked, whenever we liked! First it was only a fun thing, but right now we’ve come to the point where more help is required. The schedule is getting a bit tighter despite what I said previous and we are so happy that we have built a family with high class artists on board. By that, I don’t mean only big artists, I mean people who are really producing great music even if they aren’t that famous. We want to give something back and support them. For example, Salvatore Freda, David Durango, Sebbo and Nico Lahs are really brilliant producers without receiving much attention. We are also trying to push our main talents Francys and Balcazar & Sordo.
Thanks to Alex Niggemann for the interview
Paranoid Funk by Alex Niggemann is out now in all good music stores on Poker Flat Recordings
Check out Alex Niggemann on soundcloud - http://soundcloud.com/alexniggemann/
Check out Alex Niggemann on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/alexniggemann.official?sk=app_178091127385
Article by Pete Rann - www.peterannmusic.com
By Sarah Blythe
A bustling back street Bethnal Green pub was the setting for the debut album launch of Sweet Sweet Lies – a refreshingly innovative, image conscious band from Brighton.
Having listened to a few of their tracks before the launch, I knew they were something special. Their records are musically diverse and exciting, a rarity considering the current appetite for mass produced music.
It is approaching 9.30pm. There is a definite buzz about the place as eager ears arrive, and the warm up acts, of which there were two, kick start the evening. Disappointingly, warmed up we were not, as the crowd were left more than a little chilly by their sub-par performances. However all was not lost, as at last, Sweet Sweet Lies took to the stage; and somehow, as if influenced by some magical phenomenon to which I was oblivious, the audience more than doubled in size. “This must be a good sign”, I thought to myself, and yes, yes, it was.
Front man Dominic stepped onto the stage oozing a rare masculine elegance, and as he commenced proceedings it became obvious he has a voice to match the persona; a voice that is unrivalled by many efforts on the scene of late, with a naturally melodic quality to it. This front man has a powerful voice full of promise, and one that doesn’t shirk away from a challenging range of genuinely beautiful harmonies.
After just a few songs it becomes starkly apparent that as individuals they are all accomplished musicians in their own right, producing some exciting and varied material. Strong drums and shrill horns lift the tempo and inject a welcome jazz like quality.
It is too difficult to select one stand out song – there are many that make the grade. ‘No-one will love you (like I do’) is the lead single, integrating a contemporary waltz and a hint of folk to accompany lyrics that are untraditionally romantic. Another contender is ‘Overrated Girlfriend’- it is fresh, upbeat and light heartedly misogynistic; a definite crowd pleaser. ‘Capital of Iceland’ also feels rather special with its distinctive, gritty tone; a melodic and lyrical success.
Sweet Sweet Lies are clearly story tellers at heart, and revel in their theatrically inspired set. I would even identify them as a demure musical offspring of the Tiger Lillies, as their shared passions for Brechtian theatricality and quirky melodies are clearly visible.
I find it interesting that the band is promoted as being “driven by melody and narrative rather than radio playlists and passing fads”. It is their honest melody and narrative that will inevitably guide them to the radio playlists, but they need to find that fire in the belly, that obsession about getting picked up by national radio pretty sharpish as they are already a well-constructed package, ready for distribution. In fact, play their album, and you will be forgiven for thinking you are listening to any of the national radio stations out there. Sweet Sweet Lies have the potential to become front runners, and I for one hope they do. A passing fad, they certainly are not.
Sweet Sweet Lies debut album ‘The Hare, The Hound & The Tortoise’ is out now Click Here to buy it!
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.