Friday, 28 August 2015

TV PREVIEW: Relentless Ultra Soundchain Present Foals

As you are reading this, Safety In Sound will be donning my wellies and heading off to Leeds Festival! While we won’t be camping out this year, we will be taking in all the sights, sounds and smells (mainly from the portaloos) of Friday – expect to see us down the front for the hilariously good main run of The Maccabees, Jamie T and Kendrick Lamar.

Despite only popping along for the day in conjunction with Relentless (who were kind enough to provide our pass – kudos!), we’ll be making sure we’re at the NME/Radio 1 tent early, in time for that now-legendary secret slot. I’m not a betting girl, but with cryptic clues about ‘wild horses’ in place, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised by an appearance from Oxford’s very own, Foals. With their latest record out today (insert ‘holla hands’ emoji), it would be the perfect opportunity to introduce the world to ‘What Went Down’ in glorious fashion – I’ve always thought Foals to be at their best when they’ve live.

If you’re not lucky enough to be heading to Reading or Leeds this year, don’t despair. Foals will be taking part in a brand new TV show on MTV tonight: Relentless Ultra Present Soundchain. Offering up the chance to get behind the music, they’ll be playing live tracks and chatting to presenter Nick Grimshaw about their path to success, their musical upbringings and the various incarnations that led them to where they are today… Car Bomb Dating, anyone?

Relentless were kind enough to provide me some transcript for the show, so make sure you tune in to MTV Music at 11pm for the likes of this….

Nick Grimshaw: When was it you guys actually met for the first time?

Jack Bevan: Well I had left a band when I was about 16/17 and…

Yannis Phillipakis: Called…?

Jack Bevan: We won’t go into that…

Nick Grimshaw: Called? We need it for the documentary!

Yannis Phillipakis: Car Bomb Dating.

Jack Bevan: It was a… we were a punk band…

Nick Grimshaw: And guys that’s all we’ve got time for!


Nick Grimshaw: Car Bomb Dating?!

Jack Bevan: We were pioneers of tech punk in the Oxfordshire area in 2002-2003


Jack Bevan: But… so I left, and I posted an advert saying ‘Drummer looking for band, likes Don Caballero, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada…’ and like 12 other obscure bands…And Yannis…(NB. CAN’T CLEAR ANY OF THESE)

Yannis Philipakis: That advert was up there for a while…

Jack Bevan: Yeah It was collecting tumbleweed… And Yannis replied and sent me a mixtape which he’d made on his stereo and a written letter. And I just kind of liked that…

Yannis: It showed effort right? I was courting you…

Nick: Yeah there’s some romance to that! It’s a nice story

Yannis: That band was called The Edmund Fitzgerald, and it was like really really proggy, geeky, really complicated guitar stuff… Deeply unsexy.

Jack: The crowd was entirely made up of people stroking beards or imaginary beards if they couldn’t grow beards. So I think when that kind of disintegrated we wanted to do the opposite…

Nick: So that was like a conscious thought?

Yannis: Yeah. The beginning of Foals was like, we wanted to have fun, and write short, simple songs that were like our idea of pop music…

Nick: What was the biggest sacrifice that you have had to make for the sake of Foals?

Yannis: Well I think there’s probably a few things. One thing is definitely an element of sanity goes out the window if you’re making music for as long as we’ve been doing it. Touring you definitely sacrifice a large portion of your liver and probably your general health. And also you do sacrifice I think to some extent personal relationships.

Jack: You do have just a different lifestyle, all your friends are married and had babies and stuff, and that’s something…

Nick: And you’re at the NME awards… Waheyyy!
Yannis: And we’re still pratting around, having shots on a Monday night. Not complaining.

Friday, 21 August 2015

On Song: Alessia Cara 'Here'

"Since my friends are here, I just came to kick it/ But really I would rather be at home all by myself/ Not in this room with people who don't even care about my well being/I don't dance, don't ask, I don't need a boyfriend/ So you can, go back, please enjoy your party/ I'll be here"

Being a 20-something millenial is hard. Bombarded by celebrity culture, FOMO and social media pressure, it's a constant battle to live a live that makes you happy without feeling like you're somehow doing it wrong. Like you're somehow not giving enough. Couple this with the pressure to instagram our every walking minute, climb the ladder of a stellar career while maintaing an exciting social life but of course be mindful of our ticking fertility clocks, and it's no wonder that instances of major depression and anxiety appears to be so rife amongst our generation. We simply cannot have it all.

We're expected to have stable partners to share our pinterest-worthy homes, and yet we're also frowned upon for not going out and 'enjoying our young years'. We're told to open savings accounts and get proper jobs, and yet travel and spontaneity is imperative. 'Nobody ever remembers the nights they got plenty of sleep' they say, or so goes the tumblr witticism. By why are the youth of today so widely criticised for having the sort of fun that doesn't require the cover of darkness?

It's a conflict so perfectly explored by 'Here', the debut single by Toronto's Alessia Cara. Sprawling over a classic Portishead sample, her wordly-wise approach to making music strongly echoes that of how it felt to discover Lorde and 'Royals', written at just 15 but with the celebrity culture completely tapped. At 19 years of age, Cara defy the stereotypical norms of what it means to be young, and the fact that there's a lot more to life than bad house parties. 

For everyone who enjoys a good drink but draw the line at drugs, for all those whose social anxiety forces them to be aware of their own limits at all times, for those who know to leave when the lights come on...heck, even for those who prefer bars and conversation to clubs and grinding sessions - 'Here' is a badge of validity. It's not a song that preaches or tells others that what they're doing is wrong; Cara has no problem with people living their lives, she simply asks for there to be enough room for people to be themselves: 

'And I know you mean only the best and your intentions aren't to bother me/ but honestly I'd rather be somewhere with my people/ we can kick it and just listen to some music with a message...So pardon my manners, I hope you'll understand that I'll be here'

'Here' is a song I wished I'd had in my University years - smart, incisive and a whole lot cooler than half the shit being played at these so-called 'hip' parties that 'went off' last night. It's the antidote to EDM, the cure for crunk, and it's gloriously badass for it. Nobody may remember the nights they got plenty of sleep, but nobody wants to remember every hangover either.

Monday, 27 July 2015

On Song: Drake 'You & The 6'

"Don't ever take advice\ that was great advice' You and the six raised me right/ That shit saved my life"

Drake has long been the man responsible for putting the heart into hip-hop, but nothing has struck me quite like 'You & The 6'. Taken from the 'If You're Reading This, It's Probably Too Late' mixtape, Drizzy is at his introspective best, penning an open letter to his mother that will resonate with anybody who overcame tough times growing up.

My own childhood was very lucky. I grew up with two loving parents, and didn't want for much. Still, I have seen single parent families be some of the strongest around and I love how Drake orchestrates that bond - the anecdote about her trying to set him up on a date with her Personal Trainer instead of all the celebrities he's used to is something most 20-somethings can relate to somewhere along the line. It's dismissed in typical Drake long-suffering fashion - "I know you wanna arrange it, you told me she's free Thursday/ And I'm sure that she's an angel, but she don't want this life"

I love this about Drake. At times, he's almost Shakespearean in his desire to stand in the way of his own happiness, revelling in his own frustrations while simultaneously believing himself to be the greatest thing in the world. It's the same dichotomy that makes Kanye such a fascinating artist - the complex battle between vulnerability and peacock-confidence in the face of the worlds media. By painting such an endearing portrait of his childhood, Drake displays the importance of both family and forgiveness - welcoming his father back into the fold, despite his mistakes: 'look how we're living/ I'm content with this story/ who are we not to forgive him?" Indebting himself to his city as much as to his mother, he contrasts the then-and-now perfectly for someone at his point in their career - one foot in the past with eyes firmly planted on the future.