Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Introducing...Dead!


Remember when everyone was banging on about how guitar music was over? Turns out they were wrong. With The 1975, Tame Impala and now Blossoms becoming household names, the humble indie-four piece is looking more alive than ever. 

However, there is one thing on the scene looking less than alive, and that is new london-dwelling four piece Dead! Terrible puns aside, their future looks bright - signed to Infectious Music/BMG, with a killer debut single and a snappy line in merch, it certainly seems like they've got all their ducks in a row. We checked in with guitarist Sam to see what the deal was...

Let’s imagine you're setting up an online dating profile for Dead! – what goes in your description? 
Flaky, introverted, not very tall and looking for existential conversation. Will be late. Likes fire and piña coladas but not a fan of rain.

Let’s get the basics out of the way – how did the band come together? And can we get a roll call of who does what in the band?
Pretty quickly to be honest. We all grew up on the Isle of Wight in separate shitty little musical projects, a few of us moved to Southampton for university [it had an amazing music scene] to start projects with people from another area, but we ended up sticking together and made Dead!, embraced the DIY band lifestyle then followed the cliché of picking up and moving to London to follow the dream. Alex sings, Sam and Louis play the guitars, Chappell plays the bass and we’ve got this hairy guy called Adam on drums. He’s fucking brilliant.


So you grew up on the Isle of Wight, a pretty secluded area in terms of music – did you feel isolated growing up? How did this change when you all moved to Southampton?
The Isle of Wight actually had an incredible music scene, I think myself [Sam] and Chappell were just old enough to catch the end of it. We used to pendulum play above a bowling alley, Enter Shikari did a DJ set behind the bus station, there were little outdoor shows in the fields, valley parties. The isolation was kind of a double edged sword because, yeah, getting shows on the ‘mainland’ was a financial nightmare when you’re 15 years old but, by the same token, it meant you had to think outside the box with regards to venues on the island. The valley parties were just started by some older kids with a generator. One of the most appealing things about Southampton was the sheer amount of venues – they had everything from little 80 capacity rooms all the way up to the 1600 capacity Guildhall. So many touring bands would come through. I remember when Chappell and me moved over we fucked off all the Freshers events to go to some incredible gigs; we must’ve seen something like 40 bands in two weeks. There was just something every night, y’know? I could talk forever about who we saw and haggling with one of the guys from Bloc Party when we were trying to get a Chinese take out …


You’re So Cheap is your debut single for Infectious Music; what is the song about?
I can’t speak fully about the message of the song because every lyric is Alex’s; 90% of the time every lyric that comes out of us is from Alex. The general message is that the song is an ode to the discomfort and anxiety you find grip you in certain situations. We’re quite shy people when we don’t want to put ourselves out there. The whole idea started with all these rock bands releasing ‘summer songs’. I just thought there’s got to be a way to write one that’s cool and grungey and not generic pop garbage. So many ‘rock’ bands just go through the motions. It feels great playing it at sunny festivals so maybe we accomplished that.


You're children of the ‘90s, do you think any pop culture from that era influenced you? How do you feel about the fact that the ‘90s are now considered vintage enough for a ‘revival’ to be considered a musical trend?
It’s something that’s crossed my mind before, but although we were born in the ‘90s we didn’t really grow up in the ‘90s. We were too young to experience all the bands and films of that decade as it was happening. Trends in revivals are always fascinating and brilliant; I suppose the difficulty is that those periods get romanticised when they’re remembered but that works kind of like a filter and it means that the best bits shine through with each reinvention. To be honest I think we’re all secretly big fans of the ‘90s film, fashion and art culture. You’re definitely going to hear more of that in our sound, ha.


You’ve got further festivals coming up this summer, and you’ve already played Download and Slam Dunk – how did your set go down at those? And do you have anything special planned for Reading and Leeds? This year’s festival season is mental for us considering this time last year we hadn’t even signed a management deal. It’s all about getting in peoples’ faces. Download, Slam Dunk, 2000 Trees, stepping across the water and visiting France and the Czech Republic have all felt like massive turning points. Turn outs have been brilliant. It makes our dreams and plans feel kind of tangible? We’ve always adopted the attitude of ‘this is us, this is what you get, take it or leave it’ so I think for Reading and Leeds and any other festivals we’re just gonna go out there and give it our best, play for ourselves and see what happens. Excited would be an understatement.


I saw you post on social media about the plight of record stores, about racial tolerance post-Brexit, about your endorsement of bollocks to poverty – is it important to you as a band to use your platform to speak out about these bigger issues?
Ha ha, you dicks. This is such a difficult question. We aren’t Rage Against the Machine; we aren’t a political band. Some things just get to us as people and we feel like saying something. Actually it would be apt to paraphrase Charlie Simpson from an interview years ago on why Fightstar were going on about global warming and acting like Bono; ‘These days everyone is shouting, some of us just have a plinth to shout from’. That’s kind of us. Sometimes we need to shout a bit.


You’ve also spoken out about Spotify and streaming culture, and how you want music to be given the value it’s worth, and quite rightly so – do you think there’s any way back from streaming culture and, if so, how would you prefer your music to be supported?
It just makes it difficult to do what you love. People like us not only create music but we thrive off the artists we love and we want to see them continuing. No, there isn’t a way back from streaming culture, everyone seems to expect something for free and you just have to push harder on live and merchandise revenue to fill the gaps and make it feasible. That’s fine but we like really thinking about our merchandise and live shows and want to be doing these things because we want to, not because we need money to get to the next venue. The best support is just people enjoying the CD and coming to a show if they genuinely like it. Past that we just roll with the punches.


What can we expect next from Dead!; and is there anything about the band you’d like people to know?
No, not really, just that we’re a hard working rock band. If you want to know anything head to our website and have a listen or come down to a show. What next? Probably more tour dates. I’m not sure when this is going up but potentially expect some new music any day now. I guess its time to set sights on that ‘90s resurgence album …

Listen to 'You're So Cheap' below:


Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Introducing...Kiara Nelson




From Zara Larsson to Tove Lo, there's been a lot of noise coming out of Scandinavia recently - hardly surprisingly considering the regions illustrious pop history. There's a certain deft touch that comes from swedish production, and new girl on the block Kiara Nelson is no exception. Just 16 years of age, Kiara is working with all the right people and navigating social media like a pro - but what else would you expect when this rising generation of popstars are total natives to all things digital. Her debut single 'Cool My Rush' is set to blow up this summer, so we had a quick chat over email with the lady herself...


Imagine that your music was a person – how would you describe it?
If my music were a person I would describe her as a kind of short girl with some cute tattoos ( not too many) A feminine,social and loud girl.

How did you get into music – how old were you when you started singing and how did you know that you wanted to make it your career?
I always knew. My family says that I started singing before I started talking. I used my voice everywhere we went as a kid.

What was the song/record that made you want to be a musician? Are there any particular artists that inspire your work?
When I was really young Britney Spears inspired me a lot. My biggest inspirations are Rihanna & Ariana Grande.

You worked on ‘Cool My Rush’ with legendary producer Milos Rosas – how did you decide that he was the right producer for you? And how is the new material you are working on coming together?
I saw an article on Milos Rosas and listened to some music he had made and got interested. I sent him some covers of me singing and then from there we started working. We work well together. What we are working on now is a secret, but something good is coming up soon!

I love how down to earth you are on Instagram – do you think social media is a good thing for the music industry? Do you feel under pressure to maintain a certain aesthetic?
Thank you!! Makes me happy to hear. I think social media is great for the music industry. It lets people see and learn more about you than just hearing your voice. I love instagram and I'm usually just myself on it, I'm not trying to make a fake image of me.

I also love your style – where are your favourite places to shop and your style icons?
Thanks! I love to shop at H&M, Topshop, Bik Bok etc. I also do a lot of second hand & online shopping. I don't really have any style icons but I love Kylie Jenner's style.

When can people expect new music from you?
You can expect new music from me by the end of the summer!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

On Song: Wild Beasts 'Get My Bang'



"No getting it right, no getting it wrong...just getting it on"



It can be pretty hard to improve on perfection. Universally celebrated for their fantastical approach to everyday intimacy, Wild Beasts are a favourite band around these parts for good reason - sometimes pretentious but always provocative, they simply see things on a deeper level than most. With 'Smother', they created our favourite record of all time - a capsule of what it means to lose yourselves to the ruins of romance.

With this morning's announcement of their upcoming neon-daubed fifth record 'Boy King', they cement their return with a renewed aggression. The album tracklisting reads like a dream - excuse us while we stitch 'Alpha Female' onto the backs of our grubby denim jackets, and speculate on what level of grandeur a song named 'Eat Your Heart Out Adonis' might sit. But let's for now focus on it's lead single - the sleazy, satisfying and ultimately surprising 'Get My Bang.'

Everything that makes Wild Beasts so wonderful is here in abundance - rapid wordplay, dual frontmanship and lyrical memoirs of the modern lothario. Layer on basslines encrusted with grotty funk, snaggle-toothed guitarwork and a darkly joyous video, and you have something new - something crafted to perch suggestively atop a Radio 1 playlisters knee and whisper in it's ear the way none of their previous material could. Wild Beasts have spoken at length in interviews about their intent to let each album to occupy a completely different world to the one prior, and this definitely ticks that box - it would have seemed incredulous a few years ago to imagine them dropping this sort of groove driven party-starter as a follow-up to 'Smother, but next to 'Present Tense' it makes sense, pushing their experimentations with electronics that little bit further.

There's something very malicious about 'Get My Bang'. From it's (lewd, rude and) crude title to it's seemingly knowing pastiche of RnB music videos, it hints at an altogether less subtle approach going forward. In parts, it reminds me of the progression that their labelmates Arctic Monkeys made with 'AM' - letting the 90s hip-hop influence inform the music in a much more obvious manner, putting an emphasis on the 'call and response' chorus structure that's so synonymous with west coast rap. Coming from a gang of working class white boys from Kendall, it's a thrilling juxtaposition.

There's something deeper than just a quick fumble in the dark though. Not just a statement of seedy intent, the very phrase 'get my bang' creates the image of a gunshot, a parable for how the surrender of lust will ultimately be the demise of red-blooded man. It's daubed on the walls of the house in the backdrop of the video; 'death to all betrayed'. Twisting itself from 'get my bang' to 'bang gets me' as the chorus subverts, it's a familiar Wild Beasts narrative - testosterone wrestling with the fear of something much more fallable... 'we live in alter egos'.

I can't wait to see how this fits in the context of a record - whether they will dismiss their softness entirely in favour of a more instantly accessible sound, or whether this is just another facet of their eternal quest to depict every angle of masculinity. Considering their previous output, I would expect the latter but forgive them either - Wild Beasts are a band who keep you safe in their arms.