Indieterria meets Raptor

Hi, hello!

It is true that good AnR falls in love with a band at least once a week. After all, this is what we do – our job is to find a new talent, recognize its potential and bring it to the public/record label/press attention. We are constantly on the move. From one venue to the other, from Soundcloud to Youtube to Bandcamp. Our feelings change like a kaleidoscope. A band we saw few weeks earlier and we thought were rubbish will win our hearts at the next gig. A singer we heard today and we thought was excellent, will be deemed pale and stale next week when somebody better comes along.

Panta Rhei, a great philosopher once wrote. Everything has to flow, change and improve. In normal circumstances, we will come to see a band several times before we make up our minds. One bad gig will not cross our your chances, several good ones will only strengthen our resolution to help.  Sometimes, however, magic happens. This is what we wait for, why we roam the darkest, smallest dive – bars and open mic nights. Very, very rarely, a band will enter the stage and within 10 seconds we know we have found a gem. It happened to us with The Blinders, The Americas and Children of the State. And with Raptor.

Raptor self titled EP

The first time we saw them live, it was an electrifying feeling. Like a thunderstruck or a solid punch in the guts. Your hair stands on ends, there is a chill running up and down your spine. You gasp in an absolute awe, with your mouth open and you watch the pretty colors and listen to the most beautiful music in your life. We exaggerate a bit, but the feeling of surprise and amazement is real – this is an act you know you will be working with. Call it a sixth sense – we can spot a good material for rock and roll greatness from a long way and assess them in a matter of seconds.

And once we are in love, we do everything what’s in our power to help. In majority of cases, we invite the chosen act to sit down with us and talk about their beginnings, music, influences and plans for the future. We learn more and more about the band. We research, gather links and materials about them. We become experts. This is the only way we can help – you need to know the band like a back of your hand. Talking to Kurt and Adam Fletcher was a pure pleasure – another proof that our intuition was correct.

Ladies and gents, please welcome the masters of psychedelic rock to our humble blog.

We give you, Raptor!

Brothers Adam and Kurt Fletcher

Official bio:

Raptor are a psychedelic rock trio comprised of brothers Kurt (guitar/vox) and Adam Fletcher (drums) and Nick Osborne (bass) based in Bristol. The band formed in the quiet depths of rural Herefordshire, released their first offering simply entitled “E.P” on Friday, 13th February 2015 to critical acclaim, showcasing their fuzz driven guitar grooves and hard-hitting drums. June 2017 saw the release of Raptor’s double single “Ultraviolet/Haight Street” that has since received raving reviews from BBC Introducing Hereford and Worcester, Bristol Live Magazine, Bristol 24/7 and Rock Radio UK among others. Their electric performances won them acclaim from Scott Holiday (Rival Sons) and Verden Allen (Mott The Hoople) and allowed the band to open for Robert Plant, Mick Ralphs (Bad Company) and Dr Feelgood.  In May 2018, the band signed to Don’t Tell Anyone Records (DTA1) and their new single “Dynamite (is Freedom)” was released on 31st July 2018. Raptor have currently completed writing of their full-length debut album and the record is set to be released this autumn via DTA1.

According to your biography, Raptor is a trio consisting of two brothers and a friend. You formed in 2014 in Leominster but currently reside in Bristol. Please introduce yourselves to the readers of our blog.

The sleeve to Raptor`s debut single Double A side Ultraviolet/Haigh Street

Kurt Fletcher: Hi guys! We are Raptor and the band is made up of me (guitar/vocals) and my brother Adam (drums), currently we’ve got our friend Nick Osborne on the bass.

Psychedelic rock seems to have a certain fondness for reptiles. There was T.Rex, Thin Lizzy, Tuatara and now, there is Raptor. Did you chose the name to fit right into this trend or was there any other reason to come up with it?

Adam Fletcher: I’ve never really though of that! Kurt once told me the name appeared one lunchtime in his alphabetti-spaghetti (laughing)

2015 saw the release of your 5-track extended play curiously entitled “E.P.”. To make it even more unusual, you have decided to publish it on Friday the 13th. It received very favourable reviews. Can you tell us more about it?

Kurt Fletcher: We spent a long time searching for a studio and decided to record at The Forge in Warwickshire with Tom Gittins. Tom’s place is really cool and was  haunted by a friendly ghost called Millie! She’d mysteriously move the camera that was facing Adam whilst we were recording drums on Get Down…. Spooky!

Raptor fans must have the patience of a saint, as you made them wait for nearly two years before you released any new material. Your next double single “Ultraviolet/Haigh Street” was very different than your debut. It was more aggressive, more edgy and less bluesy. Your style also evolved considerably  and we can hear obvious prog-rock inspirations such as early Genesis or  even Van Der Graaf Generator! Where were you doing during the break? Practicing, getting better and recording?

Brothers Adam and Kurt Fletcher

Kurt Fletcher: Thank you! To be honest it has all felt like a really natural progression as both before and after our EP release we were gigging hard. We were only 17 and 19 so Ad was starting college studying studio engineering and I was about to go to the BIMM Bristol Uni studying all aspects of music performance.  Because we had such a gap between recording we listened to so much different music – we made a conscious decision to really push what we were doing in the studio, Adam was getting more into production while I was getting more interested in songwriting.

Your new sound has been compared to King Gizzard and Lizard Wizard, Jefferson Airplane, King Crimson with a lot of Oasis and psychedelic Arctic Monkeys thrown into the mix. Are those your influences? What type of music are you listening to at this moment?

Adam: I’ve been listening to some Queens of The Stone Age, Tame Impala, Joe Walsh(Eagles), Nirvana and a little funk like James Brown and The Meters… lost of very different genres.. all far too loud.

Kurt: I’ve blasting a lot of Frank Zappa, Uncle Acid and David Bowie. Tom Waits, Demob Happy, The Stones and Santana are favourites of ours.

Raptor received praises from the biggest names in the industry such as Scott Holiday of Rival Sons, Verden Allen of Mott The Hoople and even legendary Robert Plant. He invited you to open for him. Do you remember this gig well?

Kurt Fletcher: It’s always amazing to meet people you respect so highly and it’s an honour to play with them! Scott and Verden are good friend of ours, we’ve had some great nights out with Verden, he still parties as hard as back in the day! Go check him out playing blistering Hammond organ in the All the Young Dudes vid on YouTube.

Adam Fletcher: The Robert Plant gig was so fun! He lives relatively close to where we grew up, there were rumours all the time about Planty showing up at someone’s gig. I remember on the night half way through a drum solo turning around and seeing Robert Plant watching me through the curtains… I lost my mind. He graced the stage after us and opened with When The Levee Breaks.. it doesn’t get any better than that! I spoke to him after and he was so kind and great conversation…. what a night!

Cover of Dynamite (Is Freedom) – Raptor`s current single

Just last month, you have been signed to a proper independent label. Congratulations! How did your co-operation began?

Kurt Fletcher: Alex Andrews, who runs Don’t Tell Anyone Records (with his business partner Sam) asked us to play a show with his band Stone Cold Fiction in Bristol this April and we got on great! After meeting with Alex again we started making plans. DTA1 is an independent label and is all about helping one another out – He put out King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s record last year and released our new single ‘Dynamite (Is Freedom)’ in July this year.

You have new record deal and a brand new single “Dynamite (is Freedom) out right now. What is the song about?

Kurt Fletcher:  It’s difficult to give Dynamite (Is Freedom) a direct meaning as it was written over a period of months – soaking up different inspirations along the way. There are cynical parts to it as well as elements of dystopia, it talks about accepting the situation you are in and learning to come to terms with things.

Did you have fun recording it?

Adam Fletcher: Recording this record has been some of the most fun we’ve ever had and we are extremely pleased with what we’ve done. It was recorded at Bink Bonk with Mat Samson (Turbowolf/Kasabian) in Bristol with analogue and digital gear… We  chose to track live without a metronome to capture the sound and energy of our live show. Mat is as mental as we are which meant for a lot of sonic experimentation using a collection of vintage amplifiers, effects and audio rarities including vocal mics owned by The Beatles used on their last three albums (and the rooftop gig), guitars amps owned by Motörhead and a Reverb unit owned by Pink Floyd and used on The Wall!

If we’d like to see you live, where do we go? Do you have anything lined up?

Kurt Fletcher: We’re going on tour at the end of September with Stone Cold Fiction & Don’t Tell Anyone Records so you can catch us across the UK! Here are the dates:

Wed 26th September – London – The Lighthouse
Thur 27th September – Bradford Upon Avon
Fri 28th September – Leeds – Verve Bar
Sat 29th September – Newcastle – Little Buildings
Sun 30th September – Manchester – Wangies

What can we expect from Raptor in the next few months. Go on and surprise us!

Kurt Fletcher: We’re set to release an album this September, other that that we’ll be collecting strange gear, drinking around Bristol and working on new songs!

Social media:

Website: http://www.raptorliveandloud.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/raptortheband
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/raptortheband
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/raptortheband
Bandcamp: https://raptortheband.bandcamp.com/
Soundcloud: https://www.soundcloud.com/raptor-the-band
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nV7i9Wyx1ko
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/5nkHHW45RyoYv10FmjpaRD

We are going to see Raptor play live in Manchester on the last date of their tour, so please be prepared for an massive update to this interview. There will be pictures, filmed performances and maybe a flash video-interview!

We love coming back to the Kingdom of Mancunia and we know we will have a fantastic time.

Please join us and have a good day .
Until we meet again,

R+M

Indieterria review – Drusila Want You single

Dear Readers

Logo

Writing reviews is not always as glamorous as it looks – most of the times you have to sit though excruciatingly bad demos or records that offer very little, even to a die-hard music fan. After a while to save your ears, you start to develop a skill to spot good material without hearing a note.  Pro-tip:  look at the name. You can learn quite a few things from the way a band named themselves. It can be poetic (“Collective Soul”), abstract (“Talking Heads”) or can hint at close ties among the members (“The Ramones”). So if you see an original and intriguing name  – grab that release. Nine times out of ten you will be right.

So, last week when I found in my inbox a single by Portsmouth based duo Drusila,  I knew I had quality material for the blog. Just by their name alone. Pop cultural knowledge is your friend when you review music. And a band that chooses a name after a prominent female figure from ancient times will surely indicate an ambitious project.

Drusila: these charming men

I can hear  the moans – Drusila is just an old fashioned name. What is there to get excited about.

A little bit of history lesson for you then, before we get to the music.

Drusila (Greek for “morning dew”) was a young and tragic figure in the times of Roman Empire, boasting of  incredible political heritage. Her father was famous general Germanicus (seen by his people on par with Alexander the Great for his military conquests) and  her mother was Agrippina The Elder (grand -daughter of Emperor Augustus and a powerful persona of Roman society). Drusila`s siblings included: Julia Livilla (“princess of Lesbos”), Agrippina The Younger (empress), emperor Caligula, Nero Julius Caesar and Drusus Caesar (heirs to emperor Tiberius). Her grandmother was empress Julia Augusta. Pomponia Graecina (venerated in Catholic church as St Lucy) was her aunt. After the death of Germanicus at the age of thirty three,  Agrippina The Elder returned to Rome with six of her children and started a series of complex political and military intrigues against Emperor Tiberius, whom she blamed for poisoning her husband. The power struggle was so bloody and so intense that it took lives of all six children of Agrippina The Elder before any of them reached age of forty.

In her life Drusila was a prominent member of the royal family and skilled political player. She was also known to be more beautiful than legendary Cleopatra. She had such a close relationship with her brother Caligula that she was seen as his wife and a lover. She divorced twice at Caligula`s request and shared his household. During his illness Caligula named Drusila as the only hair to all his possession and titles. Had he died, Drusila would inherit the throne and would become the first woman to solely rule Roman Empire.

Melancholic visuals are part of the band`s charm and carefully crafted image.

However, it was Drusila who perished first, during a famine at the age of 22. She would not witness executions, assassinations and starvation of all her other siblings. Caligula who was obsessed with his sister to the point of naming himself her husband (and probably marrying her against all rules of the empire) – proclaimed her a goddess and reincarnation of Venus and buried her in a huge public ceremony. Drusila`s death changed Caligula into a tyrant, who pillaged public funds and drove Roman Empire on the brink of collapse.

If you find this somehow familiar – you are right. Drusila and Caligula serve as a blueprint for Cersei and Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones.

You see – a good name can squeeze volumes of information  for a reviewer to decode and it is such a intellectual pleasure to meet a band who are ambitious and dig history and even have a good taste in picking up a TV show. They would surely be great to interview and maybe that`s what we will do in the coming weeks.

But now – to the point. The single, “Want You” just came out and I am more than happy to lend my ears and my pen to review this song.

“Want You” is a sultry electro-pop ballad for the romantics on the indie circuit. You can clearly imagine a club night full of kids on the floor dancing to it, and maybe using it to let their secret crush know how they feel about them. But the single is so much more than a perfect Fresher`s Week club filler. Drusila are very clever – they take elements from their contemporaries (like Hurts) but also from older genres: cold wave, 80s synth wave and electronic music to forge their own unique sound. It is hard to believe that George William Robert and Hugo Seckington (who form the duo) started out this year. They sound like a band with at least two-three years of touring and recording experience with a good understanding where they want to be in five – ten years time.

Single cover for Want You – red roses and suits, some very clever references to Morrissey and Depeche Mode. We approve.

Judging from previous singles and videos (“Forget”, “Something For Nothing”) Drusila have a liking for theatrics on stage and spiky hair that would make Robert Smith right at home. Combine that with ability to write beautiful pop melodies and you have a very interesting mix.

Forget single cover – we do love the spiky hair (and eyeliner!)

On reviewer described Drusila as a “strange affair between The Cure, Hurts and Pet Shop Boys” and I am a bit jealous that I didn’t come with this line myself. It summarizes their sound so nicely. From my end I will definitely add that they have ambition and talent to back up their impressive influences.  So it seems we have a duo that we need to keep an eye on. Those boys will be here for a long while. Lucky us.

Something For Nothing single sleeve – bringing to mind the 80s cult series The Twilight Zone. We said. we love the references Drusila envoke in their visuals.

You can follow the band on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/DrusilaWeAre/
https://twitter.com/DrusilaWeAre
https://www.instagram.com/drusilaband/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE9ry-OOi9EB_UXrHoEoyxA
https://soundcloud.com/user-970258778
https://open.spotify.com/artist/1Lc5UFs2kwrs8HxGLjoIp7?si=W9I4XTBARnmc6eWQMqvQFQ

Or you can listen to them here:

That`s all for us this time around. I will leave you with one more stunning visual from Drusila – in the studio. As this blog goes live, the band has been featured on BBC Introducing and has a session at Rough Trade.  The only way up for them boys is up.

Purple haze – Drusila in the studio.

 

Cheerios,

Malicia

Indieterria review – Guitar Music Is Dead by The Americas

“Not scared of no darkness” – The Americas “Guitar Music is Dead” review


When I look back, there is a cinematic quality to it. I can see it in my mind unfolding like a film. A girl is walking into a local venue, wrapped in her over-sized winter jacket. She`s very nervous to the point of feeling lightheaded. Yet, she is very determined. She came to this place to find bands to promote. She is about to rebuild her life from actual scratch and it’s the music business with no plan B. She will find herself some local acts to promote and it will snowball from here. It`s a Phillip Hall or Tony Wilson type of thing. You would not understand.

The bar is half full with some people talking and listening to songs played via PA system. There could have been an open mic night but it ended. The girl was late. She loiters with a glass of cola for a while and then strikes rather awkward conversation with two guys at the bar. They seem like a perfect target. And the conversation goes like this:

– Sooo, are you in a band? – she asks
– Yes – one of the boys is irritated because he has just been mistaken for his twin brother
– We are … ummm a five piece…
– And have a female singer  – interrupts the brother and they do look identical
– Would you describe yourself as a good band?

The boys stare at each other:

– Suppose so? – says the first one measuring words – But if you want to find a good band in this town there`s The Americas…

The Americas

The boy is Fergus Brazier – lead guitarist of incredibly potent indie pop/shoegaze act named nth cave. His hair is still not dyed blue, he is months away from departing to London to work at the Beeb. His brother is Hector Brazier, drummer in the same band. They recorded a session for BBC Hereford and Worcester but have no idea that it will become one of the most popular sessions for local chapter of BBC Introducing. They are unaware that in the future they will co headline Musicians Against Homelessness in Worcester collecting more funds than a similar event in Birmingham. It is also too early for their demos to end up on Steve Lamacq`s desk. It`s only winter 2016 and we have just met.

Similarly, the entire local music scene is yet nameless. It will take several more months before Andrew Marston of BBC coins the term “WorcesterWave” to describe our collective push to be recognized. But the stars are aligning. The nth cave boys just introduced me to The Americas.  I don’t know many people in town so it is hard for me to name others in the room. But it is full of people with whom I will work and whom I will call friends. Jesse River Dylan Murray is packing up his guitar – dressed in his fashionable coat, Troy Tittley of Nuns of the Tundra is out in the little garden in the back of the venue. Hanna Webb is saying good bye to her mates from Population 7 by the doors, there is a song by Soeur on the speakers…

 

The EP banner

The girl goes home quite ignorant that she accidentally stepped in to an environment that resembles Seattle in the late 80s – where local music scene is full of incredible talent and it is ready to make itself known to the country. So far the girl has just learned names of two local bands. One of them will change her considerably. She gets home and puts The Americas into Google…

It took 547 more days (I have been counting, not sure what it says about me) to finally see the band live – on 16th September 2017 during Worcester Music Festival. By then, The Americas had three singles out and they toured the country playing all the important festivals. They rounded up the year being featured by Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music during his Christmas program.

Second time I`ve seen them was on 30th March 2018 (tendency to remember life events by the gigs), they played to a sold out crowd in the same venue when I first heard their name. They were dressed in matching red suits and white shirts. They debuted some new songs and taunted an upcoming EP.

If I can conjure some more of this nonexistent film about the Worcester scene. In March 2018, I am now at the side of the stage screaming out America`s lyrics and having a very emotional time. Over the two years period The Americas found a way into my soul and into my playlists. I interviewed them for my blog, I discovered their previous  project (Holy!), I have their song on my ringtone and I march into work at a local authority to their beat. If allowed – I am harping about them (and The Blinders) to anyone who was unlucky to show interest in anything music related.  The band kind of become friends since we all live in the same town.

The WorcesterWave is in full swing – local artists have been on BBC Hereford and Worcester, BBC West Midlands, Black Country Radio, Radio Brum, XS Manchester, BBC Radio 1 (including a Maida Vale session for Soeur), 6 Music, Radio X, Amazing Radio and festivals around the country. Local press (Worcester News, Malvern Gazette, Hereford Times), big rock magazines (Louder Than War, Kerrang, NME), independent zines (Leather + Denim, Some Might Say) have featured artists from the scene.  It becomes the norm to see local bands regularly gigging in London, Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, opening festival stages and even being considered for labels. If a movie about us is ever going to be made – there surely will be a scene of Fergus (with his now trademark blue hair) pitching local acts to some indie labels at a music fair in London for an hour and forty –five minutes. Or The Americas singing their hearts out at The Lexington while opening for The Blinders…

Our combined efforts, support from Beeb and DJs such as Andrew Marston, Steve Lamacq, John Kennedy, Daniel P Carter, Huw Stephens, Mary Ann Hobbs, Lauren Laverne or Tom Robinson and simple luck pushed WorcesterWave further than anyone of us would dream. But one thing remains certain: The Americas seem to be ahead of everyone. They set trends and go places like they have found a crystal ball and can see the future. Whatever they do today, the scene will try out tomorrow.

And here we get to the meritum of this longish essay – the debut EP from The Americas aptly entitled “Guitar Music Is Dead”.

Signed copy of Guitar Music Is Dead

On September 7th 2018 The Americas debuted a six track EP – their first offering to the world. Recorded at a secret studio located in Oxfordshire countryside, “Guitar Music Is Dead” has been mixed and produced by Mike Hill and the band, using tape instead of digital technology. It gives the record unique, old fashioned feeling – something that you don’t hear on other indie releases. However this is not nostalgia for the golden era of rock and roll. The EP feels very modern, both in sound and output. It just has that “thin mercury sound” that Bob Dylan spoke about – for a lack of better definition.

Analogue approach brings forward the beauty of The Americas that could have been overlooked before – that of honesty, that comes from hearts and experiences of the members.  The band does not shy away from hard topics on the record: loneliness in “Come on Out”, political and economical mess of the world  in “American Morning” or drug use in “I Don’t Wanna Go Home”. But everything is delivered with a dose of sadness and poetry, rather than a blunt force. The Americas look at the world and  see what surrounds us and react to it in their own ways. They do get angry in “Bad News” that seems to be directed at people in music industry (or any industry where you work and struggle) but also deliver a beautifully crafted song about getting away in “Backyard Love Song” and a love song in form of “Rosanna”. This is my personal favourite. If I may dedicate few lines of text to it.

Front Cover of the EP, Photo by Holly Elizabeth Beson-Tams (band`s official photographer)
https://www.facebook.com/DenimnLeatherMagazine

“Rosanna” closes the record with a bang and a wonderful jam at the end of the track. But it is the lyrics that won me over.  Perhaps I am wrong, but this is not an ordinary love song. This is a “love beyond the grave” type of a story – where two people have each other for ever, no matter what.  “Rosanna” is a possessive, us vs. the world, Bonnie and Clyde, True Romance kind of a feeling. The one that each of us dreamed of but very few will ever experience.  And then there is this passage “I am not scared of no darkness, as long as I’ve got you here in my heart”.  For a whole list of personal reasons that should not go into the review  – this line got to me and became some sort of a mantra in times of trouble. It is nearly a protective spell, and I don’t believe in magic. I do however believe in power of music and “Rosanna” is one hell of a powerful statement.

The EP also brings in a new element to band`s repertoire. For the first time, both Harry Payne and Aaron Whittaker share vocal duties.  Aaron takes leads on “American Morning” and “Backyard Love Song” – both compositions he authored. While Harry Payne`s vocals are expressive and at times cutting like knives (last minute of “I Don’t Wanna Go Home will leave you with deep emotional scars), Aaron vocals are soothing and gentle. Harry and Aaron complement each other, when one sings leads, the other does backing parts and it works like magic. I have yet to find an indie record that has this sort of chemistry and fellowship between band members.

Back Cover of the EP, Photo by Holly Elizabeth Beson-Tams (band`s official photographer) https://www.facebook.com/DenimnLeatherMagazine

That partnership is very much visible on stage when The Americas play live. They instinctively know what the other person will do, where the music goes, what songs follows. Off stage, they sit together like a family unit rather than a bunch of mates.  I have seen other acts being fiercely jealous of the unity in The Americas. Come to think of it, “Guitar Music Is Dead” would not be such an exemplary record if it wasn’t for the brotherhood shared between Harry, Alex and  Aaron.

And I have to mention something about Alex Bradshaw`s drumming. The legend has it that he was “stolen” by Aaron and Harry from his mother group and was convinced to join The Americas instead. I`m not particularly sure this is what really happened but Alex`s input in the band is crucial for the sound. He hits the tubes like there is no tomorrow in “Bad News”, only to bring delicate textures of “American Morning” next and contributes groove to the phenomenal jam at the end of “Rosanna”.  How many times you get to listen to a record and say – yep, the drummer is the right one for the band. The chemistry between Aaron and Harry is kept in perfect balance by Alex and there is no doubt about it.

“Guitar Music is Dead” is a great EP, lasting about 30 minutes and it’s one of two records of the year for me, alongside with “Columbia” from The Blinders. What is a small disappointment to me, unlike “Columbia”, “Guitar Music Is Dead” doesn’t fully capture how the band sound when playing live. You still need to see The Americas on stage to fully understand their powerful mix of Americana, soul, gospel and classic rock. The EP is an excellent record but The Americas are capable of so much more than the format could handle.

If you can get yourself a copy of the EP, do so. It will be exciting for me to see where the band will go from here. And perhaps for the entire WorcesterWave scene as well.

 

Cover of Come On Out – first single to promote the EP.

***

It was very hard to write this review. Took me about a week.  I wrote at home, in a hotel at 3AM when on a trip to Manchester, on buses and in bed. I reviewed “Columbia” in about 5 hours from start to finish and required four revisions. The Americas took about thirty. This record hits so close to home that I had to take chunks of text out not to make it too personal. Morrissey once said that we should never forget the records that saved our lives. “Guitar Music Is Dead” did just that. On at least three occasions this year.

Alex, Harry and Aaron – thank you.

***

Cover of “American Morning” – second single off the EP

“Guitar Music Is Dead” was released on 7th September 2018.

TRACKLIST:

1. Come On Out
2. American Morning
3. Bad News
4. Backyard Love Song
5. I Don`t Wanna Go Home
6. Rosanna

Order:

https://theamericasyeah.bigcartel.com/product/guitar-music-is-dead-cd-pre-order

Cover of “Rosanna” – third and final single to promote the EP

Interview with the band:

https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/indieterria-meets-the-americas/

You can follow The Americas using the links below:

http://www.theamericasyeah.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theamericasyeah/
https://soundcloud.com/theamericasyeah
https://twitter.com/theamericasyeah
https://www.instagram.com/theamericasyeah/
https://open.spotify.com/artist/1QxPYzki5ME5mHztKXbEir?si=AC1ZwAdZSUemXwrCC3u3TQ
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/guitar-music-is-dead-ep/1422754052

Or listen online:

The EP has been promoted by three singles that were released throughout the summer. You can find them on band`s YouTube channel with respective lyrics.

Reviews:

Please do not take just my word for granted how good The Americas` EP is. Here is a whole bunch of other reviews (and this is just a small fragment of what`s out there) if you cannot make up your mind if you shall get your own copy of “Guitar Music Is Dead”:

Gigslutz:  „Every track varies from the last, showing the incredible talent and individual sound the band is bringing to the table, and this just the start of what The Americas are capable of”

http://www.gigslutz.co.uk/ep-americas-guitar-music-dead-2/

This Feeling track of the day: “Anthemic, groove laden guitar music you can dance to – and no one’s doing it better right now”.

http://www.gigslutz.co.uk/feeling-track-day-americas-come/

Oddscene (French online magazine):  “The Englishmen of “The Americas” start a brand new chapter with their first EP that will see the light of day in September”.

https://oddsceneblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/08/the-americas-on-veut-creer-quelque-chose-qui-soit-hors-du-temps/

Words For Music: “EP packs a whole load of guitar in one place. The ring of the classic bluesy vocals are complemented by rock and country guitars while hats are surely tipped towards indie music, making you really question the Midland origin of the band”.

https://wordsformusic.blog/2018/09/08/ep-review-the-americas-guitar-music-is-dead/

The review was followed by Q&A by the magazine:

https://wordsformusic.blog/2018/09/04/interview-the-americas-answer-10-questions/

Counteract:  The Americas are ensuring guitar music is in rude health”.

http://counteract.co/interview/interview-the-americas-come-on-out-for-new-single/

Northern Exposure:  “The Americas are a British guitar band trying to make it pay in the 21st century. Taking influences from 70’s Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and American pop-culture.They put on their suits, strap up their boots and take their rock and roll gospel to anyone who’ll listen”.

http://northern-exposure.co/the-americas-announce-three-new-singles/

North Exposure:  “These indie rockers cause quite a ruckus when playing and have taken that riot on tour with a slurry of festival appearances last year which were all well received”.

http://northern-exposure.co/daily-exposed-the-americas-come-on-out/

We Close Tonight: “If you can find me a trio of blokes from Birmingham who are better at making Americana music than The Americas, I’ll buy you a pint of something bitter.”

https://weclosetonight.com/2018/08/08/the-americas-rosanna/

One Great Song:  “From indie infused country guitar to melodic piano and bluesy vocals, the trio’s debut EP is shaping up to be a refreshing offering of proper guitar music with a nostalgic twist”.

https://www.onegreat-song.com/single-post/2018/07/30/The-Americas—American-Morning

One Great Song:  “Heavenly melodies meet with bluesy, soothing vocals  to create a classic rock n roll edge”

https://www.onegreat-song.com/single-post/2018/06/04/The-Americas—Come-On-Out

One Great Song: “Nobody else is producing a sound quite like theirs right now, and the Guitar Music Is Dead EP is all the evidence you need of that. Traditional but quirky, nostalgic and powerful; The Americas are proving that guitar music is in fact thriving”.

https://www.onegreat-song.com/single-post/2018/09/13/The-Americas—Guitar-Music-Is-Dead

Indie Central Music: „The Americas have just released six-track EP ‘Guitar Music Is Dead’, and prove in 29 minutes of 60’s-flavoured rock’n’roll that they are one of the new wave of UK bands making sure guitar music is very much alive”. (also user rating for the band is stated at 8.2 out of 10)

http://indiecentralmusic.com/moder-age-music-song-of-the-week/

Reyt Good Magazine:  “With their reputation and fanbase rapidly growing across the independent scene, the band look to be a definite hit this summer”.

https://www.rgm.press/review-the-americas-come-on-out/

Popped Music: “Once again the guys have smashed it and given us a summer anthem that we can listen to all day, every day. “ (about “American Morning”)

https://poppedmusic.co.uk/2018/08/09/just-listen-the-americas-american-morning/

Popped Music: “Have been a big fan of The Americas since seeing them gracing the stages at some small venues and then smashing their set at Isle of Wight Festival (…) Judging from this release, the EP, “Guitar Music is Dead”, is something to look forward to”. (about “Come On Out”)

https://poppedmusic.co.uk/2018/06/03/just-listen-the-americas-come-on-out/

Indie For Bunnies
(Italian Indie Blog): “For lovers of that sound of the ’70s but also for those looking for a half hour of great music: do not waste your time and listen to it, guitar music will never die.”

http://www.indieforbunnies.com/2018/09/15/ep-the-americas-guitar-music-is-dead/

Denim+ Leather: “Beautifully refreshing in a sea of indie rock and their songs truly mean something”.

http://denimnleather.blogspot.com/2018/06/the-americas-come-on-out-single-review.html

Indie Radar added “Bad News” to their playlist showcasing the most important guitar bands in the UK

On 7th September 2018prestigious service Indie radar added “Bad News” to their Spotify playlist

Till the next time.

Malicia

“Everyone can enjoy the sun on their face. It’s a basic privilege even the plants have.”

Indieterria review – Columbia by The Blinders

 

“Dream the most dangerous of dreams” – The Blinders “Columbia”

Dear readers,

So, I have got copy of “Columbia” – the debut album by The Blinders. When I am writing this review (or rather an essay), it is exactly three weeks to physical release of the album and the world is buzzing. Tickets to upcoming tour start to fly out, the performance at Leeds and Reading festivals put the band on radars and lips of thousands of people, series of record store performances and signing sessions has been unveiled for September. Their songs are Radio 1 and 6 Music singles of the week, Guardian mentions, 300-400 tweets generated a day, real talk among A&Rs and business insiders that the album may go into top 40, every indie band I know looks up to them – you get the picture.

This is a young, promising act on the edge of great things to come. They are the new Manic Street Preachers – throwing intellectualism, poetry and art at the world, loudly commenting political reality, wearing war paint and messages on their instruments.

They are once-in-a-generation band, a trio of working class lads from Doncaster with vision, balls and talent to offer the jaded, over-saturated world of pop music something fresh.  And people are drawn to it. You will see more and more fans jumping on The Blinders bandwagon as the time goes by. I`m old enough to see this happen several times in the past. It is exciting and scary, both for the writer and the band. I`ll get to that scary part at the end of this essay.

The Blinders headlining BBC Introducing stage at Leeds Festival 2018, photo by Sam Crowston https://www.facebook.com/sam.crowston

But back to the task at hand. How do you review “Columbia”? A deeply personal record for me for myriad of reasons. Do you do a regular review about the music and the cover and lyrics? Do you do a more in-depth account throwing some of your personal experiences into the mix?

I`ll write the emotional account – because I can`t do otherwise. It would not be honest. Especially since I have been championing and shouting about The Blinders daily for the last 2,5 years. And I don’t want this review to look like it`s written by a PR person for the band.

This review is done because The Blinders won me over.

Because we share the same background and love for high art.

Because we have similar determination in life.

And because we have “met” in a “right” moment.

In store appearances scheduled after Columbia comes out on 21st September 2018

“Columbia” is an angry album.  It`s written by musicians who come of age in a dark period – full of corrupted figures that divide not just people but the world with walls and borders, planet full of CCTV cameras and reality shows, party identities, wars, destruction of the environment, zero hours contracts and social media aka Big Brother.

The band grew up in a post industrial town with outdated architecture (“granite building and 1960s concrete bridges and the factories – they were just making electric fridges” from “Orbit”), read Orwell at school (1984 is a constant motive though out several songs on the album such as “Where No Man Comes” or “Ballad of Winston Smith”) and looked carefully around to witness modern poverty (“men and women worked to death”, “darkness seems to take its hold over both the poor and old”), saturation with news (“forgotten stories on the news”), refugee crisis (“fox hunt the refugees”) and general hopelessness (“feel so helpless all time”).

This will lead to righteous anger at previous generations and the state of the world. “Who will stand against them all?” ask The Blinders in “Ballad of Winston Smith” and follow up with a passionate soliloquy in “Free The Slave” against religious leaders, political figures and society in general.

Bleakness takes the center of the stage next to anger on “Columbia”. “They gonna build the Berlin Wall, divide us in two, and kill me and you” – screams Thomas Haywood at one point and this is not the only violent moment. Police brutality is referenced on “I Can`t Breathe Blues,” dragging people in the middle of the night from their beds is mentioned in “Where No Man Comes” and  there is talk about having your throat slit in “Brutus”. “Rat in a Cage” goes as far as to offer us an apocalyptic vision of devastated earth (“polluted and poisoned and dying race, our god doesn’t want to see the end of days”).

Columbia Tour poster for Autumn 2018

It is enough to make any young man pick up an instrument and scream into the void. And this is what The Blinders are doing with exceptional skills.  Their younger listeners will agree, but what about you older, more established members of society? Do you feel the same anger and hopelessness? Do you remember yourself from the way back when you were twenty – something and  you too wanted to change the world? What do you see and what do you feel when you listen to “Columbia”?

I almost forgot how it felt when I breathed anger at lack of prospects, walls and crazed political heads. Until “Columbia” arrived in its 12 track glory and hit me right in the chest. The album caused me physical pain – at the memories of growing up in a rundown mining town (to which I hate to return even now),  living in a Grenfell Tower like building in the middle of a council estate. In a world behind the Iron Curtain at a time when Berlin Wall was still standing and people were shot for trying to get to the other side.  Give or take, The “Orbit” or “The Ballad of Winston Smith” can be about me – for I too read 1984 in class, as art and literature were the only forms of escape. In desperation to have an impact on the world I even picked a tool of trade, but it wasn’t a guitar. It was a camera…

Cover artwork for Columbia Photo by Sam Crowston
https://www.facebook.com/sam.crowston

“Columbia” was recorded in winter of 2017 at the Magic Garden studio with Gavin Monaghan as producer. It is the final stop in a long journey the band went though in the last two-three years.  It captures the spirit of their live performance to the last sparkle. If you have seen The Blinders live you will notice immediately that “Et Tu”, “Brutus” and “Berlin Wall” come one after another on the record, in the same order as they come on stage. The band likes to use all three compositions to end their shows with a proper punch. Two older songs “Brave New World” and “I Can`t Breathe Blues” albeit in newer versions made it onto the record. “ICB Blues”originally appeared on the 2016 EP “Hidden Horror Dance”, while “Brave New World” was previously released as a stand-alone single in 2017. If one follows the band, there is very little new material you can hear on the record. All three main singles “Gotta Get Through”, “L`Etat C`Est Moi” and “Brave New World” have been on the radio since March. “Brutus” and “Hate Song” are in regular rotation during live performances since last year.  If you watch Pirate Studios performance from 2017 you can see early version of “Hate Song” being named “March March March” (19:00 mins mark). “Rat in a Cage” and “Orbit (Salmon of Alaska)” appeared in live versions on socials in recent weeks, so  the only new compositions that have not been heard are “Where No Man Comes” and  short “Free The Slave”.  Is it bad? Not at all in my eyes.   I regard “Columbia” as crowning achievement of the bands potential so far.  They evolved so much in such a short time that it is incredible to observe. “Columbia” brings and ties all the ends from their career so far in one spectacular album.

Do yourself a little favour  and listen to very early demos from Thomas Haywood`s SoundCloud account. Songs such as “Ballad of Johnny Dream” and “Wither” (or even “Death of Narcissist”) had a huge influence on “Orbit” and “Ballad of Winston Smith”.  There is also a very early demo of “Ramona Flowers” and “You`re So Cold” aptly entitled “The Darkest Thing I Ever Did Feel” on the account for those who are familiar with band`s older repertoire.

It is a privilege to see any band develop, less alone a band that will define the voice of a generation. I`ve been very lucky to discover The Blinders in May (?) 2016. Music Business is a cut throat industry, there are more bands that break up than those who make it. It takes determination, sacrifices, and being single minded to stick with being in a band.

I recently interviewed The Blinders and asked them what profession they would pursue if they haven’t been making music. “We’d probably all be butchers or something” came an answer. And then they added: “At the end of the day without signing a deal [with label Modern Sky UK] we wouldn’t be talking to you about our debut album. We’d still be scrapping around trying get Brave New World recorded. We were given the chance and we took it, and we can’t more grateful for that. We are now in a situation where we can pursue art and writing for a living, so you can’t complain”.

Those words stayed with me and returned to me when listening to “Columbia”. The band put everything what they had into their music and stayed on course despite heavy odds. Both Thomas Haywood and drummer Matthew Neale left university without a degree. They were also lucky to land a recording deal. Without it, who can say how things would turn out?

If I can be very personal for a short moment again. Here comes another reason why I have such an emotional relationship with “Columbia” and the band. I mentioned that we “met” in a “right” time.  Like them, I was pursuing a dream despite heavy losses, ridicule and scrapping by. In ten years I did not manage to break into the industry I loved despite being ready to sacrifice everything for it. Even my personal safety. Even life. Then trauma came and put the end to my chosen career. I relocated to UK in February 2016 with a life long illness and lack of direction. I put together whatever was left of “old” me and started all over again slowly building up a path as an A&R on the indie circuit. Another country, another  career with apologies to David Bowie.  The Blinders were one of the first bands I took notice of. And their music stayed with me since. In an ironic twist of fate our paths seem to cross on the indie circuit. If I seen them live at a venue, the next week one of the bands I worked with would be playing  the same stage. To me and to me only “Columbia” is not just an album that shows true talent of three young lads. It is a soundtrack to my own personal journey to where I am now. The record entangled itself (or maybe I made it this way) with what happened in the last years and will always remind me of the bleakest and most victorious moments. That’s my own “concept” behind the record.

Thomas Haywood (“Johnny Dream”) performing with The Blinders (“Codeine Scene”) at The Sunflower Lounge on 16.02.2018

To anyone else it can be a striking concept album telling a story of a dystopian state of Columbia, where people disappear at nights, where police is free to murder and oppress, where population live in poverty and the young feel anger and solitude. Where Johnny Dream is calling to break out from mental cages and to support one another. Where despite the evil and the suffering there is still place for compassion, love and will to survive.

It can also be a set of twelve songs without any story behind them that try to make sense of the messed up world we live in.

It is guitar orientated  album that is true to the live performance.  Songs are fast and yet catchy, with haunting back ground vocals and  hypnotizing drums. Sometimes there`s spirit of Jim Morrison there in the spoken parts, sometimes you will hear Oasis or The Beatles or even Pink Floyd flirting with David Bowie. You can hear Mark Bolan`s groove.  There are some oriental musical themes that make me think of Kula Shaker. But mostly, mostly it is the fresh perspective on what music should be in 2018 – direct, poetic, enigmatic, political, tearing out your soul  and different from what is happening around. And that is what Thomas Haywood, Matty Neale and Charlie McGough bring to the table.

The album may be bleak as the abyss but I can see The Blinder`s future in quite a positive light. At the end of this review I`d like to refer to one single thing I  find worrying.  Here`s a small appeal to fellow music press folks – please do not treat the bands members and especially the vocalist as some sort of rock gods. I find the comparisons to “messiahs” or “Jim Morrisson” absurd and dangerous. Stage persona is not necessarily how artists are in real life. Please enjoy the show and leave the whole rock god icon in the past.  4REAL.

Columbia is out on 21st September 2018 via Modern Sky UK.

TRACKLIST:
1. Gotta Get Through
2. L’Etat C’Est Moi
3. Hate Song
4. Where No Man Comes
5. Free The Slaves
6. I Can’t Breathe Blues
7. Ballad Of Winston Smith
8. Et Tu
9. Brutus/Berlin Wall
10. Brave New World
11. Rat In A Cage
12. Orbit (Salmon of Alaska)

Introduction to the band:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/indieterria-presents-the-blinders/

Interview with The Blinders:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/08/24/indieterria-meets-the-blinders/

You can follow The Blinders on inter-webs:

https://theblinders.tmstor.es/
http://facebook.com/theblindersband
http://twitter.com/theblindersband
https://instagram.com/theblinders
https://soundcloud.com/theblinders-music
https://open.spotify.com/artist/3Z8Y3Ek99rukRa1Hdo14GE?si=yx5j8oK-RpG6qE7MQtVU5Q

Or their label Modern Sky:

https://modernsky.uk/
https://modernsky.uk/blinders-debut-album-columbia-now-available-pre-order
https://twitter.com/ModernSkyUK
https://www.facebook.com/ModernSkyUK/

Till the next time,

Malicia D.

Indieterria meets Inwards

Dear readers!

Oh, it was a very frustrating beginning of the month! The WordPress went down, their SSL broke and our publishing schedule got delayed by a week and a half. Luckily, Rita is a miracle worker, found the right script, implemented it and voila – we are back in action. But it took a long time and we do apologize for the technical issues. They were outside of our control!

So, in span of just several days, you can enjoy two brand new blogs. The first one is our view/review/official waffling post about The Blinders (you can read it Here) and the other is a brand new interview with the electronic music prodigy, Inwards.

Inwards in another dimension (or maybe just on the stage!)

Of course, we don’t have to tell you that Inwards (aka Kristian Shelley) is the pride and joy of Worcestershire and we are extremely proud of his achievements. And there is a lot to be proud about! His music receives praise after praise and super favourable reviews from journalists, media and radio stations. Kris is going places and he is going to the top at an impressive speed. Before you blink, he will be there at the top of the charts with Burial, Aphex Twin and Chemical Brothers.

Talking to Kris is a rare pleasure. He is entertaining, kind and very pleasing to interview. He is curious about the world, culture and popular heritage. We sat down with him after his session for BBC Introducing in Hereford and Worcester and grilled him about his equipment, music and having his music played on the national radio.

Official bio:  Inwards is the alias of Kristian Shelley, a multi-instrumentalist and music programmer from Worcestershire, UK. His work exists in the experimental domain and draws influence from the far borders of dance music, using modular synths with acoustic and electronic sources to create a nostalgic and colourful sonic palette.  Crackling with the freedom and spontaneity that characterises his studio productions, Inwards live performances vary from one environment to the next, taking on organic forms through the manipulation of his electronic instruments. Gaining a reputation for his absorbing shows, which are often complemented by live visuals, he has played alongside the likes of Lapalux, Adam Betts (Three Trapped Tigers), Tyondai Braxton (Battles) and Ulrich Schnauss, and at festivals including The Great Escape and Brighton Digital Festival. Signing to Small Pond in 2017 after capturing attention with a series of DIY releases, Inwards invites you into a dark yet playful and psychedelic world of sound on his debut album.

According to your bio, Inwards is a moniker of producer, multi-instrumentalist and music programmer – Kristian Shelley. We are intrigued. Can you introduce yourself to readers of Indieterria?

Inwards: Hello readers of Indieterria! I’m Kris and I play instruments and use computers to make music.

Inwards is very poetic term. It describes someone “orientated towards the inside” or something “existing within the mind, soul or spirit, often not expressed”. It can also be applied to a person that is private or even shy. This is not a name that was chosen accidentally, isn’t it?

Inwards:  No, it is not an accident. The music I make is an introspective experience for me so I arrived at the name “Inwards” and it felt right. I stuck with it.

Before becoming a DJ, you played in several alternative and funk outfits. Is working on your own much harder than being part of a group? Do you feel more comfortable relying only on yourself on stage?

Diesel album cover

Inwards:  Working on your own can be a very freeing experience. It also makes you question whether what you are doing is a good vibe because you don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off. Being on stage alone is much more daunting than with a band but I like it. At this moment, I’m looking forward to a new project I have started with some musicians friends this year. I really miss playing in a band and miss the band vibrations!

It is not always possible to meet your musical heroes, but you were lucky to speak with Aphex Twin (aka Richard D James) at Bangface Festival in Cornwall in 2012, right at the beginning of your career. Are you still in touch? If so, did he say anything about your newest compositions?

Inwards:  This was just before I had started making electronic music and the whole festival was very inspirational! We didn’t exchanged details but I was lucky enough to bump into him again last year at a small festival in Cornwall and we had a good chat about modulars and living in the countryside. I don’t know if he has listened to any of my stuff, but it would be great to give him something back for his early support!

You have performed alongside Lapalux, Forest Swords, Adam Betts (Three Trapped Tigers), Tyondai Braxton (Battles) and Ulrich Schnauss (of Tangerine Dream) and at festivals including The Great Escape and Brighton Digital Festival. If you could share the stage with just one artist or a band, who would you choose?

Inwards: (laughing) Slayer! It has to be them!

On 19th of January 2018 you released double single entitled “Amsterdam”/“Computertalsk”. In one interview you mentioned that both tracks are based on your personal experiences.  Can you tell us what events from your life inspired each song?

Amsterdam/Computertalsk double single cover

Inwards: Well, the first track “Amsterdam” kind of gives me that feeling of freedom you get when travelling. It is mixed with undertones of wanting to return home and chill. “Computertalsk” represents a different feeling, the one of trying to make the computer to express itself. It is like giving the machine a voice so it can tell you what’s going on. For me, this tune is like the computer is learning to talk because it’s got something really emotionally potent it needs to tell you. I really like making the machines feel like they have a personality and trying to give them a voice and this was me exploring these possibilities.

You are the only Worcestershire based artist who has been championed by so many DJ across BBC 6 Music: Mary Ann Hobbs, Don Letts, Stuart Maconie, Lauren Laverne, Tom Robinson, Steve Lamacq and Tom Ravenscroft. Your single “When she flashes her smile on me” was named a Song of the Week. That’s a complete take-over of national radio station! What`s your secret?

Inwards: (laughing) I don’t really know how to answer this question. I don’t think there are any secrets to making music! Just do what feels right for you.

We have seen the equipment you use to create your music during your session for BBC Introducing Hereford and Worcester in Pershore. It looks very impressive and very complicated. We are sure that outside of music, it is also capable of answering phone calls and making a cuppa. Help us out and tells us what are all those cables, wires and boxes?

Inwards: I will try to make it easy! So, the main box with the wires is a modular synthesizer. It is basically a synthesizer that you can choose what component parts are inside it. Basically, you can make it your own instrument. The other stuff is a mixer, drum machine and a Delay Pedal which I use alongside the modular and my computer to create the vibes. I wish it could make drinks but not quite there yet (laughing). Would be cool to make a phone module that could randomly call people in a contacts list and then use the audio from the call in the system. Or a prank call module with customizable soundbank for all your favourite prank calls. If you are a modular synth developer and reading this, you’re welcome!

Tell us about your relationship with your label – Small Pond

Kristian at work

Inwards: I met the Small Pond crew through living in Brighton. I remember going to a great party at their studio on Castle Street. I think it was the opening evening of the studio that the Small Pond team had been building for 2 years. I met most of their employees that evening, although I didn’t back then think I would be working so closely with them in the future! Samuel Organ asked me in late 2016 if I would be interested in working on a release with them and if I had any music that I would consider submitting. I put everything I made that I thought was decent enough and sent them a file with about 60 tracks in it. It was quite nerve racking experience really. It felt like sending of all this precious stuff that I wasn’t even sure was any good anymore because I had listened to it so much. I think they were a bit taken back by the number of tracks included! Obviously, they couldn’t make a 60-track album (or could we?). It took some time for us to work out the best combinations of tunes but we got there in the end. The album turned out to be a belter and I’m super proud of it. Yeah in short, the relationship is ace, I had a great time so far working with the whole team and I look forward to future projects with them.

Your music is classified as general electronic /dance but we hear so many elements and inspirations: from Aphex Twin, Ian Pooley, The Orb, Orbital, Future Sound of London, 808 State, Sven Vath to Atticus Ross. At times you cross into territory inhabited by Boards of Canada, Unkle, Bjork and all the way to Radiophonic Workshop. You seem to be familiar with incredible amount of popular music, how do you retain your own distinctive identity?

Inwards:  I think the identity of music comes from chasing a sound or vibe that makes you feel a certain way. For me, it’s like there are massive spaces in music. Almost like big gaps or territories that haven’t been discovered yet. Making music is my way of bridging these gaps and getting to these sonic landscapes that I feel are missing from my current musical world. I think this is perhaps where musical identity comes from. When you are trying to chase an idea or feeling that exists only in your mind and you try to make it into something tangible. It has your own stamp on it.

Your debut offering via Small Pond – “Diesel” was released on 27th April 2018. How did you approach working on that album? Did you enter the studio with prepared material or preferred to compose there and then?

Inwards:  My approach varies to each song individually. Each track is like an experiment where I am exploring music possibilities within a framework of equipment that I set up in different ways each time. When I experiment, I am chasing a vibe or sound that makes me feel in a certain way. Sometimes I can be making music and listening to the same cycle for an hour and not realize it because I am totally sucked in. Some tunes are made in a methodical sequenced way on the computer and others may be coming straight out of the hardware live or a combination of the two methods. I didn’t sit down and said to myself: “Right, I’m going to make a 13-track album this month”.  Every time I make music, I just do it in certain moment. Only afterwards I try and fuse tracks together to make larger works.

Last question – where can we see/hear you next? What`s in your calendar for coming months?

Inwards: I have a live show in London coming up at the Pickle Factory on the 16th of August with my visual bro Irie Pixel. We have been working on a live AV show that I am excited to perform. I’m very excited that the show will take place at the Pickle Factory as they have really good club system. Also, I have a show coming up in Bristol soon and some other very cool things to announce but can’t quite tell you about them yet! You will have to watch and see!

You can follow Inwards on social medias:

Label: Small Pond
Contact: Rosie James
Website: https://smallpondrec.co.uk/
Bandcamp: https://smallpond.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/inwardsuk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/inwards_
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/inwards_92/
Bandcamp: https://smallpond.bandcamp.com/album/diesel
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/inwardsuk
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/542nHHjo4wRmP3AbeJWkse?si=I3pj6B1DSyqchOJ45fV8uw

On 29th April 2018, Inwards visited his home town of Pershore to record BBC Introducing session. We have been there and made some recordings and videos on the day. It is only fair to share some of our materials with you.

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You can also see our videos on Youtube (yes, we have our own channel with a lot of goodies here)

Well, that’s all folks for today, but stay tuned and we will be back shortly with even more news, reviews and interviews!

Please stay beautiful!
xxx
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz

Indieterria meets Andrew Marston

Dear readers!

We always have fun speaking to bands, singers, songwriters and artists. Discovering new music is what we love to do and we will never miss the opportunity to ask few questions and direct your attention towards a good tune or an album that is worth listening to. From time to time, however we have a special guest at our blog and today’s entry will be dedicated to a man we all know but whom nobody interviewed yet (we know it is a shocker!)

It is with the biggest of pleasures, we are able to announce that Indieterria has interviewed the man who not only came up with the name for Worcestershire music scene but who has been tirelessly working behind the stages of biggest local radio programmes, festivals and concerts – Andrew Marston of BBC Hereford and Worcester and BBC Introducing! We sat down with Andrew to discuss the impact the BBC Introducing has on the UK musical map, the best songs he has ever received through the Introducing Uploader and his brand new exciting show.

Think globally, do locally  – Andrew Marston Interview

The right person for the job!

Official press release: A BBC programme, dedicated to supporting up-and-coming musicians, is to launch a second show this weekend.

 BBC Music Introducing in Hereford & Worcester, which broadcasts every Saturday from 8pm, is to double its airtime in its new timeslot on Sundays from 6pm. Since its launch in 2005, the team has been overwhelmed with the amount of musical talent coming out of Herefordshire & Worcestershire with more than 15,000 demos sent in, during the last decade, from the local area.

 Presenter Andrew Marston says: “We have such an incredible music scene right here on our doorstep – and I looked down the pile of music that I’d earmarked for broadcast and realised, if I never received a song again, I still had enough to carry me through the next decade without repeating a single track!

 “The picture, nationally, is also very similar – with 170,000 artists now registered and 500,000 songs submitted. It would take 3 years to listen to every song currently on the Uploader and the number of musicians registered now exceeds the number of people who went to Glastonbury last year.”

 Originally broadcast as the Friday Session, the programme has gone on to discover acts such as Ellie Goulding, Becky Hill and Peace. John Peel’s former manager, Clive Selwood, said: “John would have loved the programme – it would have pleased him enormously.”

 As well as the superb quality of music the programme showcases, there’s a weekly gig guide, local music news, interviews with movers and shakers, a Musicians’ Masterclass, a local history of great gigs and musical legends, coverage of our local festivals plus live sessions on the show every week.

The team has also been responsible, in recent years, for sending Leominster’s AKA George to Glastonbury, Hay-on-Wye’s Cherryshoes to T in the Park, Sœur to Reading + Leeds and flew Bromyard’s Remi Harris to perform at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Other successes include Sam Isaac at Glastonbury and the BBC Electric Proms, Pencil Toes, Luke Leighfield, The Anomalies and Pegasus Bridge at BBC Maida Vale (and Radio 1’s Big Weekend), while securing the brother/sister duo Muchuu a support slot with Florence & The Machine and the Temper Trap alongside a spot on the BBC Radio 1 playlist. Other Radio 1 opportunities include Riscas and Lauren Wright, while FREnchfire, Georgina Upton, Kamos & Tripbuk and Scarlette Says ending up on the BBC 1Xtra playlist. Andrew also landed The Roving Crows a place on tour with Jamie Cullum, AKA George two spots on the Radio 1 playlist, as well as a place on stage at Glastonbury and Radio 2’s Live In Hyde Park.

 Andrew continues, “Every month, we record our sessions at a variety of festivals – including Hay, Wychwood, Nozstock, Lakefest, Worcester Music Festival, SXSW, T In The Park, Montreal Jazz Festival, The Great Escape, Radio 1’s Big Weekend, The Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds.

“When artists upload their music for airplay, they often don’t realise they’re being considered for these incredible opportunities.

 “With such a diverse range of music, the new show makes it really easy to plan – and sharpens the focus for our audience: ‘Is this more of a Saturday night track?’ or ‘is this more of a Sunday night track?’”

You can listen to the new show on Sunday from 6pm on 94.7FM in Hereford, 104FM in Worcester, 104.4FM in Redditch, 104.6FM in the Wyre Forest, 738AM across Worcestershire, 1584AM in Tenbury Wells, on DAB Digital Radio, Freeview channel 720 and online at bbc.co.uk/introhw. The programme will also be available via the BBC iPlayer Radio App for free download for 30 days.

***

Andrew Marston at the mixing console

You are very well known in the West Midlands, but in case somebody spent the last decade on the other side of the world, please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria. Who is Andrew Marston and how did you get involved with BBC Hereford & Worcester?

Andrew Marston: Hi, I’m Andrew, a 36-year-old radio presenter from Hereford who’s now spent more than half a lifetime behind the record decks and well over a decade at the helm of BBC Music Introducing. In fact, I’ve always been surrounded by music having had keyboard and piano lessons since the age of 6 and have wanted to work in radio since discovering my first cassette recorder as a toddler. Somehow I’ve managed to combine both passions in a way that I’ve not played piano in public for 2 decades and haven’t played a cassette since I was at Hereford Sixth Form College!!

In fact, I was gigging regularly at Whitecross High School (mine – I didn’t just break in!), also touring the country with my brothers’ band – but I was being asked more and more to DJ between sets; something that ended in me landing my first residency at the Jailhouse Nightclub aged 14! Slowly, but surely, my gigging time was filled with playing CDs rather than keys – and I eventually tried to claw back some of what I’d “lost” by organising weekly band nights at the Imperial in Hereford. At the same time, I was presenting a non-music show (!!) on Hereford Hospital Radio, focussing very much on bringing news to life. I finished college on the Friday, had the worries of ‘what to do next’ for two days and went into the BBC’s Hereford office for work experience to be greeted with the words “how would you feel if we’re to train you up as a Broadcast Assistant?” I still haven’t had my training…

Outside of Dj’ing and music production, you are heavily involved in the BBC Music Introducing programme, looking for new talents. Tell us more about it.

Andrew Marston: I spent from 1999-2005 working behind-the-scenes at the BBC, including several stints on BBC Online. Back then, we were writing album reviews and gig features – very much like Vanadian Avenue and Slap Mag, but we kept saying to the boss “let’s stop talking about music – and let’s play it”. 12 months later, the boss came to us and said “I’ve got a great idea! Let’s stop talking about music – and let’s play it!” and the Friday Session was born. It made a lot of people very nervous thinking there wouldn’t be enough music to sustain a 2-hour programme every week and “is local radio the right place to be breaking new acts”. In fact, the bosses of Radio 1 came down to see how this was impacting on their audiences and some of the people in charge of local radio. I think they weren’t keen on the idea, before they arrived, but within 6 months the BBC Introducing brand was launched nationally!

In 2017 BBC Music Introducing celebrated 10 years since its conception. If you look at the official stats, nearly 130,000 bands submitted more than half a million songs. That’s nearly 3 years’ worth of music if one would like to listen to them all. How is BBC Introducing in Hereford & Worcester looking compared to other local shows? Do you know how many bands submitted their songs and how many played a live session for you?

Andrew Marston: Since we launched the uploader seven years ago, more than 10,000 songs have been uploaded from Herefordshire & Worcestershire alone. We’ve also just finished ripping all of the CDs sent into us 2005-2010 and that’s another 4,000. But – in those early days, tracks that didn’t get a spin after a couple of years were deleted from the uploader to save on server space – so I’m guessing that figure is much, much higher. In fact – I’m going to keep my eye on that! In terms of live sessions, we’ve now had more than 1,000 acts perform live on the show leading to countless opportunities. Last week, the whole Introducing family (that’s what we call it) got together at Broadcasting House in London before heading down to Maida Vale for our annual get-together. Everywhere in Britain is powering forwards, but it’s interesting to see how the poor folk in London are swamped by acts claiming to be from London when they’re not. Geographically, you have more chance of “making it” if you’re from a rural area than somewhere that’s overrun with musicians (who’ll also play for free. I lived in London for a couple of years and, despite playing 137 gigs in one year, struggled to find any paid opportunities in the capital as everyone would do it for nothing).

Andrew Marston preparing to go live

You were one of the first DJs to play Ellie Goulding, The Voice UK alumna Becky Hill, Peace and the alternative outfit This Wicked Tongue. Do you remember the artist or a band that made the biggest impression on you as part of the BBC Introducing?

Andrew Marston: Muchuu made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Sadly they’re no more, but their music was haunting, full of space and left you wanting more. Somehow it drew you in and I still go back and listen to those tracks when I want to reflect. They were one of the first acts to use the Uploader and I instantly passed it onto Huw Stephens at Radio 1, who claimed there was “something in the water” with so many artists going national from our neck of the woods. They’d go on to support Florence + The Machine and the Temper Trap at the BBC Introducing staff Christmas party (those were the days!) and turned down a slot at Glastonbury because they were going on holiday – I know, right??!

Worcester music scene is going through a real cultural renaissance at this moment. Many local acts receive fantastic reviews from the critics and you are credited with coining the name for it – “WorcesterWave”.  Do you think Worcester is going to be the next musical hotspot after Manchester, Cardiff and London?

Andrew Marston: I think we actually have a greater music scene than all of those cities. Having lived in London, everybody that claims to be from there comes from somewhere else. Sadly, these big cities are so swamped with bands (from across the region) they’re embracing the “pay to play” culture, meaning you’ve either got to sell tickets for your show or actually pay the promoter for stage time. It’s a very sad state of affairs, especially when musicians have learned their craft since a young age having music lessons at £20 per hour.  I also lived in Manchester for a while and everybody tours there, but Manchester bands rarely get the chance to play their own city because of the competitive nature. Every city has its own music scene – but often it’s cut-throat. The thing with Manchester is if you’re 15-years-old and you get bored, you go out. But if you’re 15 and living in Clifton-upon-Teme, you form a band. And when there’s nowhere to play, you organised your own gigs. This whole cottage industry, where everybody supports everybody else, is what’s getting this city noticed.

You have an eye to spot future stars. Many artists championed by you frequently receive national coverage. The list is very impressive: The Americas performed on Georgie Tonight, a prime-time show across the whole of BBC Local Radio, Soeur recorded live session at the legendary Maida Vale studios, Nuns of the Tundra reached second place in nationwide “Battle of the Bands” competition sponsored by Firestone, Tazmin Barnes’ EP “Powerful” debuted at number 11 at iTunes Pop charts, nth cave and Thousand Mountain were played by Steve Lamacq while Population:7 and Chavy Chase Stole My Wife were noticed by Tom Robinson. What qualities are the most important for future success? Song writing, catchy melodies or stage presence?

BBC Introducing

Andrew Marston: The song is always key. It doesn’t matter how good your biog is, who you’ve toured with, where you’ve played and how good you are at playing guitar, the 3-minute song is the thing that will get you everywhere. In fact, it’s your best advert. In commercial radio, a 30 second commercial could cost you £150. A 3-minute song is effectively £900 worth of airtime. If you were recording speech – you’d tell people to download your music, advertise your shows, sell some merch and ask them to friend you on Facebook. So make sure your demo isn’t a demo – it’s the polished product.

As a presenter, if you get too involved with a band, it definitely impacts your decision making. I’ve seen many bands who’ve blown me away, jumping all over the stage, but I’ve listened back on iPlayer and they’ve failed to jump out of the speakers. I will score every track based on the first listen – as that’s exactly how the audience will hear it. There’s no such thing as a “grower” unfortunately – that’s a phrase coined for bands that have had so much money invested in them, they’ve got no choice but to champion that track. First impressions count.

Rumour has it that there is a brand new Sunday radio show being prepared? Can you please tell us more?

Andrew Marston: Exactly that! We have so much music coming in that we want to play, 2 hours a week just isn’t enough. In fact, it’s a really simple thing to do – the gig guide still exists, we still want to cover the same number of festivals, enjoy live sessions – but the canvas is now twice as big. The thing we’re accused of, most of all, is using a too-bigger paint brush. At one end of the spectrum, there’s tonnes of classical musicians and folk artists in the Malvern Hills; at the other end of the spectrum, Kidderminster produces the heaviest of death/screamo metal and Bromsgrove unearths a lot of dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass. The balancing act is to aim to the programme at everyone – otherwise you risk broadcasting the X-Factor to only the people who queued up to be on the X-Factor! Being blunt, musicians provide the raw material for the show – it’s my job to then expose it to as wider audience as possible, so I have to be careful not to make the show sound like a fanzine. That job just got a little simpler; I can now ask “is this more Saturday night or more Sunday night”. So Saturdays will be a lot louder, a lot more raucous with a real edge. Whereas Sundays will be a lot more accessible, focussing a lot more on those acoustic/soulful/folk/jazz/blues/country styles with “candlelit” stripped-back studio sessions. I’m hoping there’ll be a fair bit of crossover, meaning audiences will feed between both programmes – but the idea is you’ll definitely have your favourite, all, of course, available for 30 days to download and listen via the BBC iPlayer Radio app!

What advice would you give to the kids who are just starting out and would like to send their music to BBC Music Introducing for consideration?

BBC Hereford and Worcester: Guitars and great tunes!

Andrew Marston: Here’s my top three…

  1. Always disappoint your audience!! Keep your music short. Your favourite song will never be long enough; loop play is the greatest compliment. If they hear it on the radio and want to hear more, they’ll have to go out and buy it! If you play a gig, don’t give them an encore. If they want more, they’ll have to come to another show! Take pictures of every gig – especially the audience having fun – and host them online afterwards. People will be disappointed they missed out and will come to your next show. If you’re on the door, don’t let every Tom, Dick and Harry in! An exclusive audience will grow punters; letting in those who don’t particularly care will distract your die-hards. Remember that time you couldn’t get into your favourite nightclub because your mate was wearing trainers? You didn’t particularly want to go in – but the moment the bouncer said no, you were desperate to be in there!
  2. Properly release your music. Set a release date. My best music I’ll save for a “rainy day”. I’m hoping it’ll never rain. But that means I might not play it for 5 years! Setting a release date ensures everyone is across your track on that particular date. Nobody likes to back the last horse in the race, so if everyone else is championing your music on that date – others will follow. Make big events even bigger. I remember booking Remi Harris for the Montreal Jazz Festival a couple of years ago and just as I was ending the phone-call, he said “oh – did you hear I have a new album?” If I didn’t know, nor would any of his potential audience. I told him to stop being a fool and to release it at the festival! Forevermore you can say “I launched my debut album at the biggest gig of my life”. The festival will be happy you saved such a special moment for their event – and, with any luck, will also do your promo for you! Whenever Remi rings up a venue, he can now say “and here’s a copy of my album I officially released at the Montreal Jazz Festival”.
  3. Write music you believe in. You’ll be amazed how many people I interview who write rock music who go out every Friday and Saturday night and listen to dance/RnB then wonder why nobody comes to their gigs. Take a look around and see what people are genuinely listening to. If you’re really into electronica, you’ll probably write better electronica than trying to form a band with people who don’t really share your passion. The most common reason bands split is because of “musical differences”. If you wouldn’t be happy to drive around town with your windows wound down and your track blaring out, you’re possibly not being true to yourself – and if you’re not 100% behind what you’re writing, what chance does anyone else have?

But most importantly – have fun! If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, you’ve probably forgotten the reason you got into music in the first place. If you become the best at what you do, the money will somehow find its way to you. But just remember it’s not always this cartoon version of “write a song, get signed, achieve #1 then headline Wembley”. There’s money to made in writing theme tunes, being a session musician, writing for video games, weddings, playing the piano in hotel receptions, writing for other people and one of the most lucrative “revenue streams” is writing lift music! But that’s just page one of an ocean of opportunity. Remember, I learned piano and I now host a show on the BBC. So music can open all sorts of opportunities – just make sure you grab them with both hands and never let go!

BBC Introducing:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p001d72q
https://twitter.com/bbcintroducing
https://en-gb.facebook.com/bbcintrohw/

Andrew Marston is very active on social media and you can find him on many different platforms:
http://www.djandrewmarston.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Marston
https://twitter.com/DJAndrewMarston
https://www.facebook.com/djandrewmarston
https://www.mixcloud.com/djandrewmarston/
https://www.youtube.com/user/DJAndrewMarston
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/dj-andrew-marston/id983733498

Vanadian Avenue would like to thank you to Andrew and the crew of BBC Inroducing in Hereford and Worcester for their time, hard work and answering the questions.

Keep on doing the good job!

Please come back soon as Indieterria is meeting a really cool band next week and we will be back shortly with another interview for your enjoyment!

Bye for now,
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz

Indieterria meets Nic Evennett

Nic Evennett – A Song to a Siren

 

Nic is also a skilled photographer doing all her publicity shots herself.

Welcome to the new chapter of Indieterria, where we profile artists on the unsigned/independent circuit that bring something new to the audiences. We want to introduce you to incredible artist, poet, photographer and composer based in Kent – Nic Evennett.

Nic not only records and mixes her own compositions, staying true to DIY ethics of the genre. She also built quite an impressive profile as a studio based artist. She is not touring, not playing the popularity games on social media. And yet appears on national radio and enjoys a wide network of collaborators. She is passionate and driven. Talking to her was a privilege. Please read on.

***

You have the most unconventional biography we have ever seen. It reads: “I bash the piano and stuff”. We were expecting few home-made demos but found a whole catalogue of songs, an established artist who have been on national radio and comparisons to Kate Bush. Not exactly just piano bashing! Would you like to introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria?

Nic Evennett: Well, firstly, thank you so much for interviewing me! I’m all flustery and excited! It’s a real honour, and it’s my very first proper interview.

I remember Tom Robinson saying something about the “I bash the piano and stuff”, commenting that is was self-deprecating, and I think self-deprecation sums me up quite well! Your question is one that always makes me (pauses) clam up, somewhat. I find talking about me incredibly hard. I doubt that’s uncommon. It’s much easier for me to just quote what somebody else has said about me. But I’ll have a go here: I am Nic, a singer-songwriter from Kent, United Kingdom. I’ve been bashing the piano since I was 7, studied music for a while, had a long break, and then really only turned to song-writing about five years ago, or so. I also love photography, being out in nature, listening to Buddhist talks,  meditations, and eating cake, in no particular order. There. I did it. (laughs)

Nic Evennett through her own lens

Your song “Outside” debuted in January 2017 on BBC Introducing Kent  to very favourable reviews.  Listeners described it as “outstanding” and “mesmerising”, while BBC staff was also visibly impressed. Not a bad start of the year. Did you expect such reactions?

Nic Evennett: No, not at all, and certainly not for that particular song. It was a lovely surprise, and I am so grateful to Abbie McCarthy at BBC Introducing Kent for including me in that show. It’s funny. Many of my songs are kind of dredged up from some depths – something that needs exploration, then gets twisted and turned into music and poetry, trying to find some resolution, and then splattered out into song. And I come out the other side thinking, whooof, I needed to get that stuff out of my head. “Outside” didn’t work that way, which is very rare for me. I just liked the riff! And I think it was the riff that got me a foot in the door. I think my music generally tends to be more meandering, more spacious, and that doesn’t always lend itself well to radio play. But this one is a bit livelier. And yet, I reckon it’s probably in my own bottom three! Funny how it works.

“Outside” also found itself on the rotation at the Channel Radio and Strange Fruit Radio. Your next offering – “Hurry” – went even further and was voted “Song of the Week” at the Strange Fruit at the recommendations from listeners.  We know it was a digital release but we will still call it a beautifully crafted ballad. Any inspiration behind that song?

Nic Evennett: “Hurry” is much, much more from the heart. Like all my songs, well, bar “Outside”, they really are little windows into my heart and mind. And as somebody who loves words, loves playing with and manipulating language, and somebody who in many ways is quite private, my lyrics tend to be deliberately ambiguous. I suppose it’s a little safety net for me in some ways – only those who truly, truly listen can see through the windows. But also I love the idea that the songs can be whatever you want them to be about. Once they are out in the world, I really don’t see them as my songs any more. They just float about for people to borrow and use and sink into when they need to. So some people have questioned the lyrics to “Hurry” – mainly asking what in the world does it all mean. Which is a good question that I’m not sure I have the answer to! I think it’s about somebody reaching a point where they want somebody else to intervene; take away bad memories, tough stories. “Hurry” has a funny time signature too, which is meant to depict waves rolling in and out. The sea features quite a lot in my songs. Or rather, nature does. Sea, rivers, the moon, the seasons, the sky, trees. I can’t think of a song that doesn’t mention nature, actually.

Collages created by Nic often include poetry or lines from her lyrics.

You have been featured several times on national radio BBC 6 Music (singles “Somehow” and “Where We Are The Forest”) and by Tom Robinson himself. Now this is not just mere luck. It is quite hard to get through all the vetting for the “MixTape Show”. You did it more than once.

Nic Evennett:  I think that Tom is just blimming lovely and kind! In fact, that was a lovely surprise too because neither “Somehow” nor “Where We Are The Forest” got short-listed! It was picked by a few people, but not enough, and I felt thoroughly deflated. But I think Tom ultimately decides what he wants to broadcast and added me both times, which was so lovely of him. It’s people like him that truly help the likes of me. I think there are two strong divisions in music – those who will push hard at the self-publicity bit and have a lot of confidence in what they do, and then folk like me, where none of that comes naturally or comfortably at all. I worry that the folk in the latter never get heard, never get found. There is a difference between being confident and wanting to be heard. An artistic voice can be so, so important for people who lack confidence, self-esteem, or who just struggle generally. So having a platform where you can submit songs and they are judged in their own right, without the need for self-promotion or long-winded bios, is essential. And wonderful. The Fresh Net team do a superb job. Love ’em.

You have about sixteen songs on your Bandcamp and Soundcloud profiles and they are produced and recorded to highest quality. Moreover, we see that certain songs are mixed by other artists. Are they really home recordings or have you invested in professional studio?

Nic Evennett:  Well, that made me beam! Know why? Mixing is the bane of my life! I never feel I get it right. Or I think I have got it right, and find it’s completely wrong. My ‘studio’ is the spare bedroom and I share it with drying laundry, stuff that should be in other rooms that I haven’t got round to putting away, and the dog. In most recordings you can hear the birds in the tree outside. Most songs have had a few dozen takes after bikes decide to whiz up and down the road, or somebody has slammed a front door, or somebody has yelled at somebody else, and then there is much quiet swearing from me and we go again. I tell myself that there is something…lovely and organic in home recordings, which in truth I think there is, but that only seems to apply to everybody else but me. I really love listening to songs with other sounds going on in the background. I love listening to songs where the mix isn’t perfect and there is a rawness to it. But if a bird has tweeted out of place, or I have made a vocal tick somewhere, I am very hard on myself about it all. So to hear that is wonderful. I shall try not to give myself such a hard time from now on.

Besides your solo compositions, you are involved many collaborations, two main projects being Return To Mountain (with Steve Gleason) and Silent Reasons (with Frank Cable).  Would you like to tell us more about them?

Nic Evennett:  Ah, I love working with Steve and Frank. I suppose they are two I work more regularly with and I feel a deep musical connection with. They are both gorgeous souls all round, and that is important to me. I have done work with quite a few folk, though. Robert Pabst, from Cinematic Dance Music, is a genius and did a super Bond-style remix of my song “Hold On”. We have done other projects together that I have loved working on. And I also work with a chap called UNJAY, who is big on his Future Bass – a genre so far from what I do and yet I find so interesting to do the vocals for. Not to mention other fabulous musicians I have been honoured to work with. I am very lucky to have these folk encouraging me and inspiring me.

Your back catalogue is available on US based streaming platform Pandora. The service describes you to their subscribers as “delicate mystery, warm and lustrous, yet fragile and crystalline – a bewitching blend of Kate Bush and Linda Perhacs, surrounded by dolorous, reverb-drenched piano and woven into broken-hearted balladry”.  This is the very first time we have seen an indie artist being compared to Kate Bush and we have to wholeheartedly agree. Are you able to  tell us how well are you received on Pandora?

Nic Evennett: Being compared to Kate Bush is just crazy, isn’t it? I can’t get my head around that one. Kate is in a league of one. She truly is an astounding musician, poet, artist, woman. So my name in the same sentence as hers makes me feel both thrilled and baffled. And maybe even a bit scared. And Andee Conners from Pandora, was the very first person to write a review on me and for that I love him to bits. What an amazing first review. It’s something I read when I am feeling anxious about my music…so I read it a lot. I’m so grateful to Andee for that. As for how I am received, I have no idea! We can’t get Pandora in the UK and nor can I access any listening figures or anything. Actually, I quite like it that way. It is a little mystery. I have no idea when or if my music is being played.

It is quite hard to describe your music. There are piano based ballads, but also loops, possible samples, elements that remind us of trip -hop. If you were to give yourself a label, what genre would you subscribe to?

Nic Evennett:  It is hard, isn’t it?! I never know where to stick myself, category-wise. Something might jump out at you as trip-hop in style, and then a choir will burst into life (well, just me really, layered up a hundred times) and throw you off the scent. It throws me too! The term ‘alternative’ gets used a lot by folk who have no real home and who travel between genres, so I tend to opt for that one. ‘Odd’ is another one. Or ‘a bit mixed up’. Any of those could apply to me (laughs).

Recently you spoke about limitations imposed on artists due to health reasons. You said: “Folk with chronic conditions need to be heard in more ways than one. I often feel sidelined for not being able to give a gig list or tour dates. I can’t be alone.”  We would like you to elaborate a bit more on the topic, because we think there are still many people in the music industry who do not know how to handle artists with chronic conditions or disabilities.

Nic Evennett:  This is a BIG one for me. Personally I have two main conditions that sort of take over my world quite a lot. One is PMDD, which is a devastating condition that few have heard about. Basically, think PMS multiplied infinitely! The second is Fibromyalgia. And other than that, bipolar and other mental health stuff. What a combo! All ‘invisible’ conditions, so like many out there, you’d never know it if you met me. But these things, and mental illnesses like depression or  anxiety are so isolating for many. You may not feel able to leave the house, you may not be even able to get out of bed. So musically, just standing up and recording is an issue for me. My voice is temperamental and reflects how bad things are. Gigging and touring is certainly out the window. I have no doubt I am one of a vast amount of people who love making music, love singing, love playing but hate performing! I am not a performer. And I think in this day and age we shouldn’t need to be. I think it can silence people with, say, mental health illnesses who think that in order to be successful they must be a certain way. They must be the ‘whole package’. Well, personally, this package is dented! It’s rattling around with smashed pieces inside and the paper is all torn! But I still want a voice. I still want to share my songs. I still want to connect to people through music. And I really want others to feel the same, because it just so happens that some of the most beautiful, most moving, truest music I have heard has come from people who struggle in this way; people who have hardly any followers on Soundcloud, say, or few listens. How they use their experiences to create is astounding. We need so, so much more of that out in the world.

The last question is traditionally reserved for future plans. What can we expect from Nic Evennett in the coming months?

Nic Evennett:  Ooo, like any question about the future, I say ‘who knows?’! I have some plans of eventually getting a little EP together, but money is tight, obviously, so I need to find ways of doing this on a budget. Certainly more songs, and I’ve thrown my music into various competitions out there. I would LOVE to have a song used in TV or film. I think music and drama can be such a magical partnership, so I am trying to find ways of doing that at the moment. If anybody out there knows how, please come chat to me! But I am very much a ‘in the moment’ person, so I just live hour by hour, day by day. That way magical things can happen that you just weren’t expecting!

Through her own lens #2

 

Nic Evennett can be found online at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicevennettmusic/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NicEvennett
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/wingless-night
Bandcamp: https://nicevennett.bandcamp.com/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiCT_99Cy3p1w0RMCuv1SBA

Return to Mountain ( collaboration with Steve Gleason)

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/returntomountain
Soundclick: http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=540680 (Steve`s page)

Silent Reasons (collaboration with Frank Cable)

https://soundcloud.com/silentreasons
https://soundcloud.com/orionstarband (Frank`s page)

We would like to thank Tom Robinson of 6 Music for introducing us to Nic`s music.  And big kudos to Nic who was patient with us for publishing this interview.  We are hoping to make quite a few updates to this interview in the coming months.

Until the next time.

Mal+Rita

*** Update 01/02/2018***

We are following up our awesome (and highly popular!) interview with Nic! After we wrapped the talk, we still had some questions. We wanted to know what the artists will release this year. And boy, we were lucky. After a bit of nagging, Nic  revealed that her new digital single will be called “Ribbons” and you can listen to it online!

Nic Evennett: There are two versions of this track – this one includes the birds outside Nic’s house.

During our post interview exchange, we also learned that Nic is an advocate for mental health and well-being.  In September 2016,  she released an experimental EP “Three” from which half of proceeds go to charity Mind. The EP includes seven compositions, all recoded during the same week. It was basically a challenge: one song a day while stepping outside comfort zone and using  instruments and arrangements that Nic not used before.

Nic Evennett:  The EP is free to download on Bandcamp, though people can give money if they like and 50% goes to the charity Mind. Might be worth a mention. In fact all my music is free to download, in truth, but we won’t mention that! (giggle)

Three EP cover

You can access the EP from the link below:

https://nicevennett.bandcamp.com/album/three

Nic you are the very definition of awesomeness and a proper legend!

Mal+Rita

*** Update 03/02/2018***

Bone and Thirst EP cover

We knew there was something in the air, when we followed up our interview with Nic. She mentioned EPs and singles. We should have seen it coming really! The hard life of a music writer – you try to nail everything, have the artist in a box, fully explained and  leaving no mystery uncovered. And then this happens – a brand new EP! Dropped in the middle of the night! Ah!

Artists are such incredible beings – they constantly reinvent themselves, they are masters of creativity and no matter how hard you try to figure them out, they are two steps ahead of you. And we love them for it, to be honest.  They keep us on our toes.

We can picture Nic Evennett smiling like mythical Sphinx when she dropped her new EP – “Bone and Thirst” at 4:00 am yesterday.

But we will admit -we are very lucky. We got our interview just at the right time. We won`t complain.

So what can you expect from “Bone and Thirst”? Three songs:  the title track, lead single “Ribbon” and a brand new composition – “Jagged Boy”, incredible poetic lyrics and  two digital photographs.  Nice package.

“Bone and Thirst” is the most experimental of the tree tracks – it blend trip hop and electronica with  mesmerizing vocals, it is full of loops, samples and strange noises in the background that create quite a dark and nervous atmosphere. Nic is shining in this track, her voice just flows and overwhelms you. This composition reminds us a bit of Sarah McLachlan or Paula Cole – it is very cinematic, neurotic and mysterious.

Ribbon digital single cover

On the other hand – “Ribbon” is completely opposite. Nic sings nearly a-cappella accompanied just by a piano and chirping birds. You read it right. There are birds singing in the background though out the track and this is used like accompanying instrument to the piano. What a strangely beautiful duet! Vocals are stripped but in the lead, providing a focal point of the composition. We`d think “Bone and Thirst” would make the lead single, with all the production that went into the track, but choosing  “Ribbon” Nic Evennett proved to be very brave, experimental and adventurous artist.

“Jagged Boy” continues with the acoustic feeling. But there is something gospel about it. It feels almost religious, like it was recorded in a cathedral instead of a studio. Nic`s voice is at times multiplied, creating a choir effect. The lyrics is unsettling and mysterious, a lamentation even. If this song won’t give you goose-bumps, please consult a GP. You may be deaf. In both ears.

The EP can be bought from Nic’s Bandcamp page and half of the proceeds will go to Mind charity.

https://nicevennett.bandcamp.com/album/bone-and-thirst

You know what to do, dear readers. Go and get yourself a copy of the EP.

A comment from Tom Robinson!

Also, thank you Tom Robinson for your feedback. We are blushing. It is a great honour as we consider ourselves fans of your music and we have always held your lyrics and writings in high esteem. Much power to you too Sir!

Mal+Rita