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EP Indie Interview New Music Singer-Songwriter single

Q&A with Singer-Songwriter JJ Draper ahead of his New EP “The Theft and The Flight”

After working with Ed Tullett (Novo Amor, Hailaker) on his previous Silhouettes EP, garnering praise from Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and opening for Rhye at London’s KOKO, JJ returns with a delicate and emotional selection of tracks.

JJ’s new single ‘…if you’re awake in the night’ and the upcoming EP “The Theft and The Flight” has all the tenderness and artistry of Sufjan Stevens, Nick Mulvey and Bon Iver while also capturing its own voice and tone. Acoustic guitar-led with soft falsetto vocals, incorporating subtle, dappled sampling, electronics and piano, the new work is an exploration of JJ’s rich and intense, emotional soundscapes.

Following his first EP, JJ went back into the studio to arrange a new body of work. Having spent the early years of his career as a top-liner and collaborator, he thought it time to take a considerable catalogue of songs to his band and work with singular vision to create the sound he wanted.

Speaking on ‘…if you’re awake in the night’ and the new EP JJ said:

“Returning home in March last year to a police cordon around the car park of my flat, I turned on the news to discover that a young man had been brutally murdered on my doorstep. Not having a real insight into the growing culture of gang violence in London, I wrote ‘…if you’re awake in the night’ to chronicle the surreal experience of those who come inadvertently into contact with a troubling world they don’t understand.

I wanted all my new music to be honest and grounded, both lyrically and in the way it was recorded. I spent months experimenting at Natural Habitat Studios working with many great musicians to make something I hope feels homespun, authentic and vivid.”

Listen to JJ Draper’s new single “…if you’re awake in the night” here below and read on to get to know the mind behind the music.



Looking back, what were some of your earliest entries into music appreciation? And music production?

My earliest memories of loving music are in the family car, probably. I’ve got 3 older brothers and we had this enormous space wagon (Toyota Previa RIP) that took us all down to Wales for holidays. We listened to loads of Travelling Wilburys, Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix.

When I first started to think about music making more deeply-focusing on HOW it was made – I was in my early teens. My brother had introduced me to Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, Elliott Smith, Nick Drake and it set the wheels in motion toward an obsessive listening period where I absorbed every influence I could.

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?

It’s a very loose process but is consistently the way I write best so I suppose it’s a formula! I improvise on a guitar (and sometimes piano), often in deranged tunings, and find a progression or part that excites me. Then I’ll begin making melodies and improvised lyrics over that. At that point, the melody and mood start to determine how the progression develops from section to section. I’ll record all this in voice notes until a whole structure is complete and only after that do I sit down and write a structured lyric, often incorporating the nice parts of any improvised moments of attitude and creativity. I write prolifically ‘til I have a load of stuff to record then lose interest in it ‘til I’ve cleared the decks in the studio.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Difficult to say. I have an internal motor that is always running and a restless energy. My friends and family will do impressions of me “flapping” which is a collective term for all the various pacing, arm waving, hand twitching stuff I get up to when I’m visualising. I sort of black out and have these intense periods of focus and creativity and move around a lot. It’s odd. Although I write honestly about things that happen to me or around me, I think the inspiration is more from the feel and sound of the arrangement I’m imagining. The desire to reach that “goosebump” feeling, that moving unique ambiguous feeling that great musicians have given me my whole life. The song can really be about anything but I’m looking to initiate that ecstatic release for myself and for others.

As a musician, it becomes apparent that there is a huge difference between the art and the business. Is there anything about the music scene that you would personally change?

Where to start? There’s a lot I’d change about myself, society, humanity, people! Nah, to be honest, I understand the things I find frustrating in the music industry – there’s a lot of fear and a lack of ambition. For instance, an example of what I deem to be bad business, is the pop industry’s obsession with trying to replicate the success of another artist by finding soundalikes. It’s astonishing to me that a lot of money (and there still is a lot of money out there, no matter what people hear) gets poured into artists who are the “next Adele” etc. It’s a sure fire way of getting a quick, decent return on an investment but shortsighted, lacking in ambition and real creativity. I hate the thought of great singers or songwriters being forced to mould themselves around something that has already been. The audience wants new things. Of course you have to trust in the development and packaging of a new thing, but that’s what the industry should be investing in. I don’t mean everyone needs to be a radical, but an honest perspective will always be “new” in some sense, have a unique sound and voice. That and the fact that labels etc are so risk averse that artists often have to be at the stage of self-sufficiency to attract them – like “hmmm, there’s a captive audience that we can jump in on and take a cut of” rather than giving talented people the infrastructure to succeed.

Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?

Impossible question! I’ve been performing since I was 4, was an actor predominantly til I was 21 and the “golden glow” of being on stage, the charged silences and the roar of applause is heaven. I love making people laugh, too, there’s no better feeling. BUT, it does have a tendency to leave you hollow and on a downer, like any drug. The studio and writing, however, is a much more lasting pleasure. The songs continue to make me proud and excited to share, and there are definitely some real moments of ecstasy when you start to realise a sound and it’s just as good as you imagined. I can’t say. I think I prefer performing, JUST.

What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?

I love hearing people have had shivers or tears because that’s always how I’ve judged how much I love something. I have to say, though, at one of our last headline shows at The Grace – having an entire audience belting out the chorus of Gwythian so loud I stopped singing, and turning to my band who were all grinning, was incredibly special. It just felt such a positive thing to share with people.

What’s on your current playlist?

Big Thief UFOF, Wilco Ode to Joy, Todd Rundgren Can We Still Be Friends? I should say I tend to listen obsessively to a few things and not go through reams and reams.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?

I’ve got an EP out on 3rd July which includes two new tracks and the two singles I’ve released in the past month. I’m so proud of it, particularly excited to share one of the songs which I think is my favourite piece of production/arrangement that Joey Walker and I have done. After that I’ve got what I hope is a bit of a belting single which is a deliberate and violent diversion in style and then another 4 songs to release whilst recording a full album. At some point, I shall get back to gigging with the band and make 2 videos that were in planning before COVID 19.

Famous last words?

“I told you I was ill” – Spike Milligan got there first unfortunately…

Follow JJ Draper
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Indie Interview Music Pop Song

Q&A with Bristol-based pop music duo Yard Arms

Bristol-based jangle-pop powerhouse duo Yard Arms return with their promisingly melancholic new single ‘Mantra’. The single was described by lyricist and frontman Villeneuve as a ‘triumphant love letter to the anxious’.

The track exudes the playful exuberance of Psychedelic Furs and INXS combined with the romantically morose lyricism ala Ben Gibbard or Paul Buchanan. Think John Hughes movies if they were soundtracked by Tim Burton. A pulsating stadium-sized emo-anthem to soundtrack your summertime.

See our exclusive interview with them below:


Looking back, what were some of your earliest entries into music appreciation? And music production?

I think for both of us, some of our earliest musical memories come from the television, whether it be Match of the Day highlight reel soundtracking, or the amount of time we spent glued to watching MTV2, Kerrang, Q, VH1, Kiss and The Box. Very importantly, the impact of certain artists’ imagery that still lasts with us now like The Prodigy, Marilyn Manson, Nirvana, Blink 182, 50 Cent, Weezer, Eminem, Red Hot Chill Peppers, Spice Girls, Sean Paul, the list goes on. Our appreciation for music production came a little later, I think it started to make more sense when we found ourselves being a lot more hands-on with the way our songs and sonics were being handled in the studio. Certainly for myself, I became more engaged with the importance of production in my late teens when I found myself listening to a lot of projects involving Daniel Lanois, Nigel Godrich, Brian Eno, Karl Hyde and Vince Clark. My eyes and ears became open to how you can create complete musical landscapes and environments for albums and carve out a ‘sound’ for artists rather than just a voiceless vehicle for radio or streaming.

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?

We try not to stick to the same formula every time for the sake of creativity, I believe that comfort or routine doesn’t always provide the best results musically. Music does tend to be the starting point for us, followed by melodies and lyrics later. I will usually have some version of a song shape and colour to bring to Billy and we mould it into something more tangible in the rehearsal room, sometimes ideas will take half an hour to flesh out, sometimes they’ll take a year, there’s no real pattern for us and we like it that way.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Human connections, romance, grief, guilt, happiness, sadness, life, death. I find the art in all its manifestations to be inspiring, something as pure as a change in the skyline’s colour can trigger my emotions to create.

As a musician, it becomes apparent that there is a huge difference between the art and the business. Is there anything about the music scene that you would personally change?

There’s a point in every artist’s career where they need to try and learn how to divide their brain into artist mode and business mode, it’s not pretty and it’s not cool, but it’s the truth. I don’t think we’re an artist with business ideas above our station, we’re not approaching this project with any secret plans to overhaul the way in which this beast functions. Every industry has parts that will be agreeable and disagreeable to all individuals within it, we can all choose to involve ourselves as much or as little as we want or think we need. There will always be the game changers in music who we have the utmost respect for, however, we are not trying to reinvent the wheel, we’re just happy to be here and have our creative freedom.

Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?

It’s such a chicken-egg situation for us, both feed into the other but they are such completely different beasts. Both are important for such different reasons. We pride ourselves on our live performances, this is definitely where we feel more of a powerful synergy with our fans, where our music has an instant impact that is so incredibly palpable.

What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?

We’ve had a lot of beautiful reactions to our music in the last couple of years in a variety of fashions so hard to pinpoint a most memorable. However, we played a show to Michael Eavis at the start of this year, and for him to shake our hands and compliment us on the performance was very special and dear to our hearts.

What’s on your current playlist?

Childish Gambino, Caribou, Yves Tumor, Soccer Mommy, Sufjan Stevens, Pool Cosby, Phoxjaw, Chatham County Line, Girlpool, Scout Niblett, Wilco, Heatmiser, China Bears, Teenage Fanclub, Lauran Hibberd, The Lemon Twigs, When In Rome, The Hotelier.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?

We’re so excited to kick off this campaign with our next single ‘Mantra’, that is out on May 8th. Following that up we have our isolation anthem coming out early June followed by a full EP at the end of June, more details to follow, eyes peeled. Lots of exciting live announcements in support of this record for the last quarter of 2020 too!

Famous last words?

I’m coming up so you better get this party started.

Follow Yard Arms online 

Soundcloud | Spotify | Facebook | Twitter

Categories
Interview Music New Song

Q&A with Cork-based music producer Mechner

Cork based artist Jack Ahern, described as “Radiohead meets David Lynch”, completely self-funded and self-produced, he had great success with debut single “Surfacing”, notable for it’s music video which garnered over 25k views and was included in Indiecork Film Festival to a great crowd reaction.

Apt considering Mechner’s debut launch show, it was held in an old converted Art-house cinema.

See our exclusive view with him below:

Looking back, what were some of your earliest entries into music appreciation? And music production?

My earliest memories of music appreciation are of my mother singing and playing guitar to me, of me and my sister learning the violin, though I hated the violin, and still kind of do.

I do remember singing to myself constantly and making up songs about my toy cars and other such things, there was a lot of watching and listening to “Disney renaissance” and other animated musicals, being introduced to The Beatles in my dad’s car, and watching Marty Mcfly rip a hole in my mind with his rendition of Johnny B. Goode… I appreciated it all, but I was too young to really get anything from it.

For many years I actually found music boring, I just wanted to play with video games and toys… when all my friends started talking about their favourite bands and artists… I actually found their interest in music annoying, which is incredibly ironic to anyone who knows me.

I didn’t truly appreciate music and production until I started to learn the guitar at 10 or 11, I have a tremendous obsessive streak with music that I like and I tend to live and breathe that artist or song for months on end, much to the dismay of those around me. The positive is that my ear for picking apart arrangements and individual parts of a song is well tuned.

My first real appreciation for music and production was when I first heard a song called “Bad Penny” by Rory Gallagher, it changed the course of my life.

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?

My process is always evolving and forever changing, I can go through months and in the past years without writing a single thing, though not due to writers block (I don’t believe in writer’s block), then I can sit down and say to myself, “everyday this week 9am to 2pm I will write and complete one song”, and I do. Other times it is very fruitful and creativity flows well as songs fall out of me regularly.

Sometimes it exclusively starts with the melody, sometimes just a riff or a chord progression, or even a dream.

Sometimes it’s a development of an idea that has sat with me for years.

One step that seems to happen nearly every time is I will strive to complete a first draft of a song from start to finish, even if I have dummy lyrics or don’t quite like the structure or something. Then I will pick away at the lyrics and melody in particular, trying to find more eloquent ways of saying a line or to give to my melody a more interesting harmonic structure behind it.

It’s similar to an artist doing a sketch or rough outlines, then filling in the detail after. It’s helpful in actually getting songs done, for me.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Late night driving, the monotony of the road markings spinning under the car, the numbers on the dashboard mechanically ticking over, the headlights struggling to reveal the black river of tar in front of the car and the relative quiet and empty roads open my mind to many thoughts and lets my brain gestate ideas. There is something so appealing to me about driving at night time… something mysterious, forbidden and sexy. It feels like being in another world.

Also creativity itself gets me going, watching others around me falling for their passion of ideas and concepts.

Finally “work” itself gets me flowing. Once I can get over the hump of actually sitting down to do the “work”, the “work” itself ends up feeding the “work”, and then I feel unstoppable as I tick the boxes and move on to the next project to complete.

The problem is mustering up the courage to actually sit down and do it all.

As a musician, it becomes apparent that there is a huge difference between the art and the business. Is there anything about the music scene that you would personally change?

I am not sure I fully agree with that statement… as there is an “art” to certain aspects of business.

For example, I used to be all doom and gloom about things like social media, everyone told me “you have to be on this platform”, “you have to post 7 times a day” and “you have to have that platform to be successful”. I just really felt it did not represent me in any truthful way. Then luckily after much internal searching, I found a way to approach things like marketing, updates and posts artistically, to make it all part of the “art”, if you will, to add layers to what I am trying to say to the world.

As for something “about the music scene I would personally change”… I would love to see more variety of music pushed to the masses, I do feel that the majority of music these days that is pushed hard on media platforms and favoured by the algorithm is all based around 3 or 4 different sounds, it’s all too homogeneous. It would be wonderful to have more variety pushed on the radio and other platforms. Open others to new sounds and different ways of thinking. Music is powerful and never meant to just fade into the background and blend all together into a forgettable mush

Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?

Whilst nothing “quite” beats a live show where the audience knows your music and is fully engaged with your performance.

I have to say I think I prefer the “quiet” contemplation of studio work and creation, it feels like a calm before the storm.

What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?

Still to this day the most memorable response to my music is when I had the opportunity to play live in front of none other than Morrissey in The Workman’s Club in Dublin.

It was a showcase gig and absolutely no one was there, until after our first song 3 people walked in and sat down at a table right in the middle of the venue, the lights on the stage blocked my vision from seeing who these individuals were, but we continued unfazed. Afterwards as we sat down in the green room, when the gig organiser entered and said there was someone upstairs who wanted to talk to us, and that we shouldn’t miss the opportunity.

I felt tired and didn’t really want to go upstairs, though after some cryptic coaxing from the organiser, I came upstairs and was introduced to Morrissey, his manager and his friend.

I would be lying if I said I was “impressed” or “blown away”, as at the time I had little to no interest in “The Smiths” or Morrissey’s music. I remember we sat down with him and his entourage and I was seated next to him off to the side, he was wearing a simple tweed suit and he looked me dead in the eye and said my song was “Simply Brilliant”.

What’s on your current playlist?

I don’t tend to listen to playlists or much music on my phone per se, I generally listen to a lot of vinyl, I have a reasonably sized collection of maybe around 70 or 80.

This makes me really sit down and give the album my full attention, this morning I was listening to the 1979 Joy Division classic “Unknown Pleasures”. Shadow Play is powerful. I have a real taste for older music in production and songwriting, in fact the majority of music I listen to regularly is pre-1970’s.

Other vinyls that currently are getting revolutions on my deck are:

“Grace” – Jeff Buckley
“Odeysse and Oracle” – The Zombies (Yes, that is the way Odeysse is spelt on the album)
“The Doors” – The Doors
“Pet Sounds” – The Beach Boys
“This Old Dog” – Mac Demarco
“0” – Low Roar

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?

This year is big for me, it’s kind of do or die, I am aiming to release 4 more singles all with music videos, following “Do you wanna go?” over the summer months, before releasing my conceptual mini-LP “Club Idem” sometime near autumn, the music videos are integral to the body of work as a whole. This is extremely exciting for me to finally see all this work go out to the world after working on it in (ironically) complete isolation and near complete secrecy till now!

Famous last words?

OK, That’s it, Turn off your computer and do something constructive.

Follow Mechner online 

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

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Band Interview Music News Song

Interview with five piece alternative rock band Ruby Dutch

Five piece alternative rock band Ruby Dutch has created a ferocious sound, culminated with prominent bass and drum lines to groove to. This band have embodied a harmonic relationship between two guitars that are complemented by flowing use of vocals and synthesiser.

The perfect mix between indie and alternative that delights any musical appetite, generated through compatible and organic songwriting that results in a compelling and engaging sound. A sound distilled by influences such as Nothing But Thieves, Foals and Everything Everything.

How has your musical background helped shaped your sound?

The majority of us have done a fair degree of classical tuition growing up, which has helped us to be open to various influences (not just the usual contemporary sounds.) We all met at music uni, each with something contrasting to offer – which kind of blended together into this weird, and hopefully unique sound we’re bringing to the table now!

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?

It’s a real natural way of writing, each of us respectively has come up with an idea, whether it’s a hooky riff or melody line, or even a simple harmony, and we progress from there. It’s almost always in a rehearsal environment when we’re all together. Occasionally, we spark an idea at home individually (usually a fuck up when we’re practising) which can also be thrown in the mix. Jess (vocals) establishes a theme from the sound of the instrumental parts to base her lyrics around.

We’re very much a band that are gripped by the idea of rising and fall in music. Take Muse as a primary example. We love to build momentum progressively by chucking stuff in and pulling back on parts at the appropriate times – Jess builds the energy of the lyrics as the music ebbs and flows.

What are or were some of the challenges for you in producing or performing while keeping true to your vision of your music.

We’re trying to tackle a heavily saturated area of music, by instilling powerful, female-fronted vocals, with the catchy indie rock that has made bands like Foals and Everything Everything so prevalent. It’s not always been easy to achieve this – we’re set in the ways that we want to do all of the above but with more atmospherics, however, we have learnt to adapt the preliminary ideas. Not being too attached to the initial ‘finished product’ of the music! We allow a producer with a different ear to adapt a track where needed, for the sake of the overall quality.

I don’t think the energy that is portrayed in the music itself can be questioned. Some of us have had personal issues over our time playing together, that has impacted our level at gigs. Translating that anger and negative energy into delivering a peak performance on stage has actually really helped to deliver what Ruby Dutch are striving for.

Who are three musicians you think the world needs to hear right now?

Franc Moody, Kid Kapichi and Kudu Blue. All bloody brilliant in their own way

Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?

Performing, 100%. The recording side of things is great fun and instils the ability to nail respective parts down, but nothing will beat the adrenaline rush of playing to a crazy crowd. We matured on stage, not in the studio!

Any “strange tales” or things that may have happened during a show that seemed too weird to be true?

Playing an entire set as the Mystery Gang for a Halloween gig, and our drummer sweated half his body weight out in a full Scooby-Doo outfit…

Do you find that social media and keeping up with your fans has become overwhelming? Or do you rely heavily on others to take care of that for the band? Which platform would you say that you enjoy engaging with the most?

Victor takes care of all things social media and the whole ‘branding’ side of things, acting in a manager capacity. It does take its toll at times, more so because there are always 100 different ideas he has at once to enhance exposure than just doing the simple tasks! It has been an around the clock job, keeping on top of things.. we hope to have more manpower on that front as we progress.

What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?

One person who came to our first ever London gig, said after our performance, that she runs a bar in Utah, and would love nothing more than to put us on when we hit the states! A distant dream yet, but it’s all about building those contacts 😉

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?

Naturally, with the whole pandemic, it’s halted all our plans for festival slots and a lot of recording this year. However, we are aiming to have 4 singles out this year, and a massive 2021.

Famous last words?

2020 is OUR year !!!

Follow Ruby Dutch online 

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Categories
Interview Music News

Q&A with Sheffield-based Four Piece band PUREST

Sheffield-based Four Piece band PUREST consisting of James Rollings (guitar/vocals), Danny Davidson, (bass), Richard Bithrey (guitar) and Ashley Platts (drums), has already built up a large fan base.

The reason for this is, among other things, their loud, exciting live shows, which also brought them attention from some labels, including that of The Libertines drummer Gary Powell, 25 Hour Convenience Store.

See our exclusive interview with the band

How has your musical background helped shape your sound?

Listening to records that my dad played around the house growing up has inevitably seeped into my subconscious, although sounding unfamiliar at that time once I came of age and started making my own music I instantly knew that I wanted to explore different sounds. We’d liken ourselves to early Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen’s pop sensibilities.

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?

Often it can start with a hook or a melody on any of the instruments, then the lyrics and structure are something we work on overtime until we’ve fleshed out the track to a place we are all happy with.
What are or were some of the challenges for you in producing or performing while keeping true to your vision of your music.

I think it’s hard to complete your creative vision on the end product exactly how you wish. There are so many avenues to explore that it’s difficult to let songs go or to not want to make improvements to live sets and constantly develop tracks.

Who are three musicians you think the world needs to hear right now?

If you mean in terms of new bands we think the Pale White are fantastic also October Drift have a top new album out! A more under the radar discovery we have made is a song by Dream Ceremony called ‘Hearts on Fire’ which is great, definitely check that out.

Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?

It changes from time to time, we love being in the studio, and the creative process involved in writing but there’s nothing like connecting to an audience especially when it resonates with people and makes a connection.

Any “strange tales” or things that may have happened during a show that seemed too weird to be true?

We did once have a fan that travelled across to all our UK dates which seemed crazy at the time as we had just started but they were dead nice.

Do you find that social media and keeping up with your fans has become overwhelming? Or do you rely heavily on others to take care of that for the band? Which platform would you say that you enjoy engaging with the most?

It’s definitely something we’ve got more involved with over time you almost have to embrace it in today’s culture of social media, in a way I guess it’s positive, we’ve been able to connect with people all over the world from our recent tour which normally you’d never get the chance to converse with.

What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?

When we went on our recent European tour with The Libertines meeting fans in Germany and France was pretty surreal I guess you write in a confined space of four close people and when that translates to other countries it’s surprising in the best possible way!

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?

They’ll be a new single we’ve just recorded with Gary Powell that we’re really excited about that will be out in April/May time, then possibly an album.. we’ll keep you posted.

Famous last words?

Listen to us and help spread the word, we hope to see you at a show in the near future!

Follow PUREST online 

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify | Soundcloud

Categories
Interview Music News Song

Interview with France-based folk duo Racoon Racoon

France-based folk duo Racoon Racoon are often compared to The Paper Kites, Fenne Lily or Imaginary Future, their honeyed harmonies are like two beautiful souls dancing between an acoustic guitar and fluttering violins.

The ten-year couple began to compose together when living in Belgium, in 2016 and soon released a first EP “Our Love’s Funeral” in February 2017 on the German label Majestic Casual Records. Early 2018, they released their second EP “Dawn Chorus”, written in the heart of the Italian Alps.

See our exclusive interview with them below:

How has your musical background helped shape your sound?

Léa : Leonard has been playing and making music since he was a teenager, though he was more into teenage rock when he first began… But he was always influenced by The Beatles obviously, and artists like Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Townes Van Zandt… He’d always wished to create something in that register. So when we moved to Belgium in 2016 to work in a recording studio and brought with us nothing but an acoustic guitar, that was our chance to start creating this project.

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?

Léa : Our songwriting process varies from one song to another… The first EP was mainly written by Leo, because they were songs he wrote a long time ago, except for Our Love’s Funeral and Young Wolves. The second EP was written more equitably, and the third was mainly written by myself.
For us both, writing is something very personal, we almost never write together, side by side. The only song that was written this way is “A Wave of Goodbyes”.

We always need to be a bit far from each other, trying things on our own, looking for a spark, and when we have it, we are then ready to share with each other.

When we do, there’s always a fight “Nah I don’t like this, this yes, this no…”, and we eventually come to an agreement. That’s how we know a song is born 🙂

What are or were some of the challenges for you in producing or performing while keeping true to your vision of your music.

Leonard : The most complicated part for us had always been the acoustic folk guitar sound.
I’m still not happy with what we got so far, it was either too roomy, boomy, or the signal to noise ratio was shit.

So I’m still pursuing the quest of a nice and balanced fingerstyle sound, I’m confident we’re gonna get there one day !

Who are three musicians you think the world needs to hear right now?

Bedouine, whose soft voice and production is really soothing in these dark hours we’re all going through, Theo Lawrence who’s only 22 and sounds like some folk band from the 70s, really impressive work ! And then Andrew Bird and specifically his track Pulaski at night which we listen to on repeat because this track is just perfection. Voilà.

Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?

Léa : Studio work is always more comfortable and secure than live performance… You have time, a thousand chances to do it right, there’s no risk, no pressure.

Live performance is the exact opposite, one time, one chance to do it the best you can.

We’ve rarely played live with Racoon Racoon, but every time we have, the reaction from the audience was really worth the risk. There are (almost) no emotions when you record in studio, it is “work”, whereas playing live doesn’t feel to be “work”, and that’s were the true passion unleashes !

Any “strange tales” or things that may have happened during a show that seemed too weird to be true?

Léa : As we just said, we haven’t had a lot of opportunities to play live yet (one was supposed to be next week on a Festival but obviously it’s been canceled…), but we are playing a lot of shows with the solo project of Léo called Camel Power Club, and I think we can both agree on our weirdest moment to also be one of the greatest : in Tecate Pal Norte in Monterrey, Mexico. It’s one of the largest festivals in America, it has 5 or 7 stages I don’t exactly remember, but something really out of this world, enormous.

We were booked on an Electro-DJ scene. Because we are playing live, and actually singing, we couldn’t plug the stage monitors that were placed behind us and could have caused larsen in the mics. The results was that we had zero feedback, so we played the whole show hearing more of the concert that was taking place in the biggest stage 500m behind us (I believe it was the 1975), than our own sound. And the worst thing is that you don’t know if your singing is in tune, and the only moment when you finally hear your voice you realize it is absolutely wrong haha… (Since then we’re using in-ears !) But the audience didn’t seem to care and was absolutely on fire, that’s why I think it was the best concert we played in the worst conditions ever !

Do you find that social media and keeping up with your fans has become overwhelming? Or do you rely heavily on others to take care of that for the band? Which platform would you say that you enjoy engaging with the most?

Léa : Social Media has indeed become a huge part of a band’s activity and communication… Especially Instagram. It can feel overwhelming at times, I think I’ve spent 2 or 3 months without posting almost anything since December, which felt great. It actually really depends on your mood and if you have things/news you wanna share. I think we shouldn’t force ourselves to post anything if we don’t feel like it, unfortunately, because of algorithms and all, you always have to be active if you don’t want to end up in the limbo… And that’s quite irritating.

Today if you take care of everything yourself, like we do, you almost spend more time creating materials for socials than actually creating music, so it’s a bit of nonsense to be honest… But one gotta play the game I guess !

What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?

Léa : One day, someone reached out from China, saying our songs were buzzing in a streaming platform we never heard of called NetEase, which is a kind of Spotify mixed with Twitter or Facebook… Meaning every listener can put a comment on a song, share it etc. So we looked into it and realized that our song Our Love’s Funeral had indeed several thousands of comments from people sharing their stories, either it was about break up, love, friendship, they were just sharing their lives, with nothing but kindness to each other. That was something incredible to discover ! I think it’s a marvelous feeling to realize your song actually doesn’t belong to you anymore because it has become something else, that has a special meaning in someone else’s life.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?

Songs, songs, songs and songs ! And live sessions 🙂 We have a few singles we’re gonna release in the coming months, with an EP planned end of 2020. We also shot a couple Live Sessions with a super talented filmmaker called Danny Feng who lives in Berlin. We’re really looking forward to have these out ! The first will come out around mid April, for Deep Brown Eyes.

Famous last words?

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” Mark Twain

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Interview with the indie-pop rock trio AutoPilot

Indie-pop rock trio AutoPilot blend huge synth hooks seamlessly with distorted guitars and combine them with anthemic vocals to create instant, contagious choruses guaranteed to have the audience singing along after the first listen.

With a sound as polished as pop, with the bite of punk and live performance packed with energy, AutoPilot is rapidly building a name for themselves both locally and across the UK.

How has your musical background helped shape your sound?

We all have different tastes in music. Andy’s background in ‘The Enemy’ alongside his love for Punk compliments well with Jack’s Indie lyrical style and Chris’s Alternative inspired beats. We draw from different genres making music we would listen to ourselves. There is enough doom and gloom in the world at the moment, so we write songs that offer escapism.

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?

We love performing live and that’s always at the forefront of our minds when we write songs. Our tunes are melody-driven and written to be enjoyed on first listen. We all write, which gives our tracks variety, but the common themes are big synth hooks with distorted guitars. Jack is a big fan of wordplay, so his lyrics are usually fairly witty (or he likes to think so anyway). Whatever we end up with is then “AutoPiloted up” by which we mean adding our signature blend of synth and guitar and making sure that the energy of our live performance comes across in the track.

What are or were some of the challenges for you in producing or performing while keeping true to your vision of your music.

For a guitar band we are very synthy, so not having a synth player is a slight problem – we work with samples live which is great because it guarantees a massive sound in every venue, and a sample pad is much cheaper than an extra band member (and makes less mistakes!). Another challenge is that because we spend so much time touring around the UK, we sometimes don’t have the energy to write as much as we would like. Overall though we love what we do, and it’s all worth it when we see crowds of people enjoying our music.

Who are three musicians you think the world needs to hear right now?

Jack – Without a doubt, the world needs Lizzo right now. She oozes positivity and is spreading a really important message about loving yourself. She’s creating really interesting music and I just think she’s great

Chris – I think Billie Eilish is killing it at the moment, she’s definitely making the music she wants to make without being influenced by anyone else. For someone so young to do that is mad, and I’m excited to see what she does next.

Andy – AutoPilot.. obviously. Because we’re mint and we need the money to eat.

Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?

Live shows hands down. We have probably spent too much time touring, rather than in the studio, but we just love gigging so much! Nothing compares to hitting a different town every weekend and seeing people connecting with the music we have written. Beats sitting in a dark studio listening to Chris hitting the kick drum, or Jack messing up a guitar solo over and over again.

Any “strange tales” or things that may have happened during a show that seemed too weird to be true?

Andy’s favourite thing to do is break his bass string on the first note of a gig – it has happened three times! Luckily he always has his spare to hand.

Do you find that social media and keeping up with your fans has become overwhelming? Or do you rely heavily on others to take care of that for the band? Which platform would you say that you enjoy engaging with the most?

To be honest the admin side of band life is exhausting. People think being in a band is all rock and roll but we probably spend more time on socials than we do on stage! It is awesome to keep up with fans and see their responses to our tunes, but it takes a lot of work to keep a constant stream of content coming. We do enjoy showing fans what we’re about though, and we have some fun with it.

What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?

We played The Big Feastival last summer, and during our set, a young kid came right up to the stage and was headbanging away. We ended up inviting him onto the stage and little dude air-guitared his socks off. It was incredible to see someone get completely engrossed in the songs and reminded us all about the power of a great rock show.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?

We’ve got a lot planned for the summer, and we’re hoping to get a few more releases out before we hit festival season. You can expect more high energy indie bops and gigs across the UK.

Famous last words?

One more red wine and I’ll be fine!

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Interview News single

Q&A with ‘Empty Swimming Pool’ band Voodoo Bandits

Photo Credit: Christopher Brew

English indie rock band the Voodoo Bandits have released their new single ‘Empty Swimming Pool’ via Superblue Records. They have been featured on rising Youtube channels like Fancy Melancholic and Sounds New Sounds Good. Their debut single was voted as track of the week on Indie Rocks Radio Manchester and featured on Spotify’s ‘Hot New Bands’ Editorial Playlist. They have a collective stream count of 140 000 plays. ‘Empty Swimming Pool’ was produced by Dave Armstrong (Back Door Slam), and the mix and mastering were done by Jamie McIntyre (The Covasettes and The Flitz). We find out more about the four-piece indie rock group in this interview.

How did the band form?

The band as we know formed sometime late 2018, not becoming active till we released our first song in March 2019! However, our roots go back. Myself (Ben), Corey (guitar), and Nathan (drums) played together back in 2016 as teens. I met them at an after-exams house party. A few months later I went from being terrible at guitar to halfway OK, I wrote a couple of songs and fancied forming a band. I hazily recalled that they played instruments (I didn’t know them before this!), so I hit them up! We then went through many singers, cover gigs, and previous releases with different folks, until I became a frontman and Charlotte (bass) joined, where we became the band as we know it!

How has your musical background helped shaped your sound?

Although two members have a pretty musical background growing up, I don’t think it has shaped our sound much!

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?

Always starts with a riff! Sometimes it feels like the right riff will never come, but eventually, it does. After this, I make sure we can get a sick lead going, and get bass and drums to link the whole song together and drive it home. Once an idea gets established and feels strong enough, I’ll add other parts, such as verses, middle 8s, and solos. I tend to get the vocals finished last. I really enjoy creating emphasized rhythms on our songs, as they feel fun to play and listen to. ‘Empty Swimming Pool’ is no exception, giving a very big in your face part played by everyone, counting you into the song right off the bat!

What are or were some of the challenges for you in producing or performing while keeping true to your vision of your music.

It can be hard trying to replicate records live! But we mostly stay very close to the elements we have, and try to use a technique to create dynamics, making ourselves sound as big as possible! I also think it’s important for us to remember to let loose and have fun live, I write music designed to be fun for us to play; being so new, with not so many live shows played we are coming into ourselves, trying to convey our energetic and happy sound as 4 people on stage!

Who are three musicians you think the world needs to hear right now?
Hockey Dad, Marsicans, Sports Team.

Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?

I actually love the creation of the songs. Catching an idea and seeing it come together; I then can’t wait to record it and eventually perform it!

Any “strange tales” or things that may have happened during a show that seemed too weird to be true?

We once played alongside John Otway and saw some things man!

Do you find that social media and keeping up with your fans has become overwhelming? Or do you rely heavily on others to take care of that for the band? Which platform would you say that you enjoy engaging with the most?

We don’t get an overwhelming amount, but we do get enough to be really encouraging! It’s enough for a couple of people to handle as long as our phones are handy. We do make a point of being quick and being meaningful with responses. We really like to talk and interact with fans and make sure to leave no-one ignored, as we truly appreciate anyone who’s taken the time out to reach out to us! Instagram is favoured for interaction and keeps us the busiest!

What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?

We’ve not played that many shows yet, so seeing people sing the words and dancing is still amazing to see. Reviews online and what people say about us very much sticks in my memory too and fuels us to keep trying in this industry. However, It was awesome when a few of the crowd ended up on stage for the final track when we played in Manchester!

Besides two members currently in college, does the other half have 9-5 jobs or projects that they are busy with on the side?

Charlotte (bass) is a full-time Ship Registrar, and I am a part-time Fire Fighter and occasional pint pourer at the pub.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?

You can expect a few songs in 2020 for sure, more shows in the UK, and our first step into festivals.


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Interview Music News

Q&A with Indie-pop band Belles

Brighton based Indie quartet Belles have had a fast start since forming in Early 2018. They make music that is both nostalgic and current, focusing on catchy choruses and powerful drops.

Having already received acclaim from the likes of BBC Introducing and Indie Central Music, Belles are undoubtedly proving their talent with anthemic melodies that combine their indie roots with pop sensibilities.

How has your musical background helped shape your sound?

We all come from families that are into/at least enjoy music, so our parent’s musical tastes have naturally had an impact on some of the music that we listen to. We’ve all also been playing in bands since we’ve been physically able too, and we think having such a long background in live music definitely affects our sound.

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?

We like to write together fundamentally. Often one of the lads will have an idea and bring it into a room, or produce a rough demo for us to listen to and then we go from there really. When writing a song we’ll make sure to pay close attention to rhythm and when not to play. We think this is a really good way of making music sound interesting and is a bit of a signature of our sound.

What are or were some of the challenges for you in producing or performing while keeping true to your vision of your music.

With some of our songs, we layered quite a lot of synth parts. Performing this live without hiring a keyboard player (we’d have to feed them/they take up a lot of space and we’ve only ever had tiny cars) was always a problem initially. We addressed this however by using backing tracks and having Alex play along to a click.

Who are three musicians you think the world needs to hear right now?

Three bands we think the world should know better are Marsicans, Palace and Bellevue Days

Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?

As much as we love the process of creating new music, performing live is the big one for us. There’s genuinely no feeling like engaging with a room full of brand new faces through music. Once we’ve finished a track we can’t wait to share it with the world, face to face.

Any “strange tales” or things that may have happened during a show that seemed too weird to be true?

Turning up to show to play and realising the venue was the back of a truck in a field was a pretty strange one. Great fun though! We’ve also had certain members of the band (who will remain anonymous) Veet their legs before going on stage because it was a really hot day.

Do you find that social media and keeping up with your fans has become overwhelming? Or do you rely heavily on others to take care of that for the band? Which platform would you say that you enjoy engaging with the most?

Absolutely not, there’s something amazing about being able to reach out to people that wouldn’t have been able to access it so easily in years past. We really enjoy how informal Twitter is, and how eager to engage with new bands that a lot of its user-base is.

What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?

The novelty of hearing people sing back our lyrics to us will never wear off. It’s genuinely one of the best feelings in the world.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?

We have a release coming on the 13th of March, with a music video to follow. We’re pairing these with a run of headline shows including stops in Southampton, London and Brighton.
Tickets for London and Brighton are still on sale and dates/ticket information is available on all our pages ✌🏼

Famous last words?

It’ll be alright on the night.

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Interview Music New

Interview with singer Claudia Jonas

South African born singer Claudia Jonas, with moving to Sweden she had been influenced by different cultures and languages she started to create her own music at the age of seven.

She is currently writing music for a vast variety of genres and assignments, while also performing live. She has been involved in many different projects over the last years and has always strived for experiences that intertwine various musical cultures and expressions.


How has your musical background helped shaped your sound?

In my early years my family moved to Sweden from South Africa, which was a big cultural change for me. With two different mother tongues and Swedish as a third language, music became my most important means of expression. I initially started creating music at the age of seven. At the age of twelve I started recording in our home studio that my father and uncle built for my sister and I.

I always had a really clear image of how I wanted my music to sound and what I wanted to express. As I started university at The Royal College of Music in Stockholm in 2011, that vision changed somewhat. I realized I was being influenced by my growing knowledge of the technical side of music, as well as teachers- the “do’s and don’ts”, or “rules of music”.

I then took an active decision to not let myself be too influenced by outer influences and have ever since. It is normal to evolve and inevitable to be influenced, and that is growing, but it is also important I think to be aware of the choices one makes while creating music and stay true to oneself.

Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?

It often starts with a melody that comes to mind in my sleep, on a plane or during work. I then record myself singing it on my phone and will start working on it within the next few days on the piano. I have sometimes composed while trying out a new instrument, where the sound inspires me to a melody.

Most of the time an event will inspire the creation of a song. In this case ‘Best Thing’ was inspired by my constant travelling back and forth to London to be with my love. My next song coming out was inspired by a particularly unfriendly character I came across one day near my house…ironically it later became one of my favourite songs!

After putting the song together on the piano, I generally move into the studio where I start producing and I see where that takes me.

What are or were some of the challenges for you in producing or performing while keeping true to your vision of your music.

To be honest I don’t really struggle with keeping true to my vision of a song. Usually I know exactly what I’m looking for in my music. If I struggle making that happen in the studio in the production phase, I then will turn to one of my producer friends that I know will get it right.

Who are three musicians you think the world needs to hear right now?

That is a tough question as I think there are so many amazing artists out there.
Definitely my sister Julia Jonas though, I think her music is absolutely fantastic and extremely inspiring.

I am a huge fan of Susanne Sundfør, she has one of the most beautiful voices I know of and creates unique and magical music.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Dido, her music to me is nostalgic, dreamy and always makes me feel good.

Studio work and music creation or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?

I love both for different reasons but I do prefer performing to an audience. The exchange one has with the audience and the fact that what is happening is happening right there and then, involving so many people, that is just the best feeling.

Any “strange tales” or things that may have happened during a show that seemed too weird to be true?

Not hugely weird, but I did have a surprising encounter at one of my gigs… We were approached and thanked by a really friendly guy who’d been sitting in front of us during the gig. After exchanging a few friendly words we realized it was Björn Borg. That to me was really fun and exciting as I’m a big fan of tennis and grew up while he was at the forefront of the sport. He was lovely and left us quite a tip!

Do you find that social media and keeping up with your fans has become overwhelming? Or do you rely heavily on others to take care of that for the band? Which platform would you say that you enjoy engaging with the most?

I have never been a social media person and really struggle keeping up with it. I literally hate it and actually hardly ever use it. I love being in my world, in the present with the people around me there and then. I love telling a story in person and I hate posting things about myself. That’s why I think live performances are great, a moment where you really are present and you are sharing that moment with hundreds or thousands of other people.

What is the most memorable response you have had to your music?

I wrote this song a while back and one of my best friends had the demo on one of her playlists. When I recently sent the new version to her, she told me that re-listening to the song brought up so many special memories from that period of time… Her praise made me so happy, having written a song that could create such strong feelings in somebody.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?

I have created a lot of new music and can’t wait to get it out there! So definitely more songs on the way!

Famous last words?

I am so grateful to all the support I have received so far and to have been given the opportunities to do what I love most in the world, making music.

Follow Claudia Jonas online 

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