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john paul white

IN CONVERSATION WITH: John Paul White

WORDS: MELISSA KAPLAN

John Paul White is an American singer-songwriter hailing from Alabama. He was ½ of the Grammy Award-winning folk duo The Civil Wars, exposing him to a wide array of fans reaching listeners of indie rock, folk, Americana and more.

John embarked on a mini Ireland/UK tour throughout the last week of January and played a sold-out crowd at The Night & Day Cafe in Manchester on January 28th. This tour leads up to a new album release for White titled The Hurting Kind, which is due out on April 12, 2019. The album takes influence from artists such as Chet Atkins, Patsy Cline, and Jim Reeves and more.

We sat down for a chat with John in the green room of Night & Day for a look into the family man’s passion for music and inspiration for his upcoming album.

Tell us about your new single “The Long Way Home?”

John Paul White: “It’s really about my love/hate relationship with doing this for a living. As glamorous as this may look – it’s something I’ve been doing for a long time. So, there are things I used to enjoy that I don’t necessarily anymore. I love my bed, I love being with my kids when they have dance recitals and things like that. My kids know this, and when I wrote this song and played it for them, I didn’t expect them to cry, and they did! Not going to lie, I was really proud of that, so it instantly jumped to the top of my list of songs for this new record.”

What do you like about touring in the UK?

John Paul White: “The people really appreciate music and respect artists and art and it’s palpable and it shows. In after shows when you talk to people, they’re very appreciative that you’re here in the first place, because they know it’s not cheap to do that and takes a lot of time out of your year. They’re also just very appreciative of artists in general – and we have egos! It goes a long way that people care that you’re working hard at what you do. That helps you get through the rough patches along the way.”

Do you have a favourite gig moment for a show you’ve attended?

John Paul White: “You know, it might surprise you, but I have not gone to lots of concerts. I didn’t really grow up that way. My parents weren’t keen on me going to shows, so I’d usually have to sneak out to go see them, but live performances were never as euphoric for me as they seemed to be for my friends. I’m really jealous of that. As a performer, I think I just have a really hard time letting go and disconnecting and just immersing myself in a show. I’m constantly thinking: what kind of guitar is that? Or man, he’s taking a long time in between songs. Things like that, I can’t turn it off.”

Too analytical with it?

John Paul White: “Yeah – I can say though, Randy Newman, I saw him at a place called the Lyric in Birmingham (AL), a gorgeous theatre there, that was definitely a show that my mouth was open the whole time. And, Kris Kristofferson at the Ryman. Those are probably the two that I didn’t want them to end – and I usually want them to end. I don’t know why I’m that way, after about four or five songs, I’m like – yeah, I’m good, I got it. And I’m jealous of folks that don’t have that experience. I go to shows with my 16-year-old now, and I see shows through his eyes and it’s a lot more fun. I’m able to leave some of that at the door.”

Is there anything you would like to plug with your record label [Single Lock Records]?

John Paul White: “Yesss! I’ve got a new record coming out [Under Single Lock Records] on April the 12th called “The Hurting Kind”. It’s 10 songs deep, and I wrote it partially with my country music songwriting heroes. I’d say 70% of the record is just me, but there are 3 tracks on there with people like Bill Anderson and Bobby Braddock, that are not household names per ce, but wrote a lot of songs that everybody knows. I really wanted to reach out to those guys and try my luck at writing a country song with the people that made me want to do it for a living. It went wonderfully and I’m really proud of this record, as all artists are proud of their new record. As you do this for a while, you’re constantly looking for angles and things that keep it relevant in your own eyes. Something like what do I want to say now? Well, what do I want to say now?

I felt like with this record it was kind of the first time that I, as a solo artist, could say whatever I wanted to say. Cause, my first solo record I had 12 years of material I could dig through and just find all the best songs. And then, with The Civil Wars, everything was collaborative, so that’s two people. So, with “Beulah” [JPW’s 2016 Record], which came out a couple years ago, that fell out like in a week and a half. There was no thinking about it. It was just like “blehhhh” and there was the record. So this was the first record that I can honestly say – I sat down and said, alright, what do you want to say? What do you want it to sound like? Who are you? And it was like a couch session for me, and I’m really proud of what I came up with. And I really feel like I’m scratching the surface for what could come after that.”

john paul white

Well, we hope to see a lot more from you! (And if you come back to Manchester or the UK in general, please let us know!)

John Paul White: “I hope you do too! I’m sure I will and I will let you know.”

It was truly a pleasure speaking with John Paul White. The over-packed room was so silent during the acoustic set, you could hear the glass bottles rustle on the floor. Not only were the vocals and guitar playing exceptional, but White also interrupted his own set to make sure an audience member was not overheating and cheekily sang his most played Spotify track ‘Hate the Way You Love Me’ to an audience member with piercing eye contact. Thanks for the excellent show JPW – Manchester will welcome you back with open arms!

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blood red shoes

Ultimate Playlist: Blood Red Shoes

Blistering Brighton duo Blood Red Shoes release their fifth album ‘Get Tragic’ in 2019; a record that stands as their first studio album in some 5 years. Navigating through a minefield of accidents, heartbreak and something of a career curse that lined the rocky road towards this latest record, the plucky pair pulled-through to regroup for this record of re-energised form. Hooking up with esteemed producer (Yeah Yeah Yeahs / Arcade Fire / Nick Cave), the adventurous new album sees BRS incorporating greater electronics into their trademark sound while staying true to their ferocious rock roots.

If you’ll excuse the idiom, Blood Red Shoes have been through hell and back. Accidents, heartbreak, and a career curse have plagued the Brighton duo on the road to their new LP, the appropriately-, knowingly-titled ‘Get Tragic. “I don’t even know when this began,” laughs Laura-Mary Carter, nervously. “It feels like… a lifetime.”

Relentlessly gigging off the back of their 2014 self-produced and self-titled record, the heels finally fell off of Blood Red Shoes at the end of that same year. Drummer Steven Ansell interjects with his habitual bluntness: “We f*ckin’ hated each other, is what you’re politely trying to say.”A near-decade of incessant road time and a non-stop pace of life finally took its toll, they explain. “We got to the end of the fourth record and were like, ‘F*ck you, I never want to see you again’,” Steven adds, half-laughing, half-sighing.

“That’s the whole running theme of this record,” says Steven. “The reason we called it ‘Get Tragic’ is that we realised that everything we’ve been doing over the last three years is kinda tragic!” he says, prompting laughter from the pair. ‘Get Tragic’, then, fully embraces the absurdity of Blood Red Shoes’ situation. As a result, the pair came out the other side sounding fresher and more assured than ever.


Throughout it all, they went through a conveyor belt of managers and manager firings, the group falling out with everyone around them as they attempted to rebuild their core, two-way relationship. One of those managers “led us into a record deal that was really f*cked, and we shouldn’t have signed,” explains Steven. The subsequent fallout and legal trouble financially crippled them both. As that period came to a close, Laura went through a romantic breakup that still visibly affects her.

“We wanted to have the soul of a rock band, but change the style so it was more interesting, more groovy, and sexier – and less like everybody else! I started to feel like all rock music around us was one shade of colour.”  Through disaster and dismay, Blood Red Shoes have emerged reinvigorated. Every incident has fed into a record of defiance and self-acceptance. Knowingly embracing the tragedy of their movements, and the clarity at the end of such woe – they even laugh at the very idea of having a picture of themselves on the cover – ‘Get Tragic’ is a total reimagining of the Blood Red Shoes you might think you know.

BIG THIEF – Real Love

I saw this band in San Francisco on our last tour in the states, it was a moving performance. In fact, every time I listen to this song along with some of the others I get very emotional because her lyrics really speak to me, this one especially.

GRIMES – We Appreciate Power

I didn’t know about this song until it got played in my friends’ clothes shop one night whilst being extremely intoxicated. I woke up the next day with a hangover and this song going through my head non-stop. I re-listened and realised, yes this is a banger and industrial is coming back.

ST. VINCENT – New York

I really like this song off St. Vincents latest album. It is a well-written song with cool lyrics. I like singing this in the car which is probably very annoying for the people around me.

IDLES – Samaritans

This band are the hot new band of the moment, this is my favourite track of theres! “A mask, a mask of masculinity… It’s a mask, a mask that’s wearing me” gets me every time. The ending is epic, I have yet to see them live but I hope to catch them on the road somewhere.

BRONCHO – Boys Got to Go

It is hard to pick one song on this record because it’s all so good!  there are not many albums which can hold my attention span for the entire thing but this one does. I love how effortless they sound.

PARQUET COURTS – Tenderness

I was a bit late on this band but I really like their vibe and this song is really fun and makes me wanna dance.

BODEGA – How Did This Happen?

This song sounds like a mixture of LCD sound system and the B52s, I am really excited about this band and this song is infectious.

ARTIC MONKEYS – Four Out Of Five

I was not sure what to make of this new Arctic Monkeys album, I think it sounds more like an Alex Turner solo record, but this song has really grown on me, I like the melody and lyrics the video along with the song is visually cool too.

IAN CLEMENT – Hardly

Ian has been a friend of ours for a long time, we took his band Wallace Vanborn on tour a few times and there are so many good Bands from Belgium that we don’t get to hear of much over here. This is off Ian’s new solo record and is a brilliantly crafted song.

SHARON VAN ETTEN – Jupiter 4

I have always liked Sharon Van Etten but this new stuff she is coming out with is, even more, up my street. She made it with John Congleton who is a friend and a wonderful producer, every time I hear a record I like the production of it’s usually him. We made an ep with him and I hope to make an album one day!
This song gives me shivers.

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IN CONVERSATION WITH: ‘Caiine’

WORDS BY CRAIG HOPKINSON

Caiine is the London born, Northwich raised, alternative R’n’B singer and songwriter, avidly conquering the hearts and minds of Manchester music lovers, one soulful gig at a time. With a vocal range as long as your arm, a stylistic and iconic voice akin to that of Nina Simone and Sade, and a sonic pallet throughout her music that keeps the listener locked into a perpetual state of awe; Caiine isn’t messing about, by all accounts.

This emerging, soul-influenced and dynamic vocalist isn’t here for fortune or fame, as she stated in a recent interview for MCR Live, in Manchester last week; Caiine is a true artist, using her music for communication and catharsis, and should be taken very seriously indeed.

Whether it’s a lyric ladened, jazz-influenced, R’n’B ensemble, or boom bap infused pop piece, Caiine’s music is fresh, awe-inspiring and hypnotic; and she very graciously and humbly answered a few questions about her latest project ‘The Game’, her musical idiom and her plans for the future.  

Can you give us, and our readers, a little bit of a background about yourself, who you are and where you’re from?

Caiine: I’m Caiine, I’m twenty years old and I’m an alternative R’nB singer and songwriter. I was originally born in Lewisham, I lived there with my parents for the early part of my childhood and then moved up to Northwich, in Cheshire, before my teens.

Lewisham is a far cry from Northwich, what made you move?

Caiine: Well, to be honest, it was a family break up kind of thing and so we just moved up here when I was about seven or eight years old.

So, how did you originally get into music and singing?

Caiine: When I was at school, around the age of six or seven, a teacher heard me sing and then literally forced me to sing in the school’s next talent show. I was so embarrassed, but she honestly made me do it. That was the first time I had ever sung in front of people, and I loved it!

What did you sing?

Caiine: Did you have to ask me that, it’s a little embarrassing; I sang ‘Dedication’ by Lamar.

Nothing wrong with a bit of Lamar, don’t be embarrassed. When I hear you sing, I can hear a Nina Simone influence in your tone. Sometimes I hear a hint of Sade too, would you say that is a fair assessment?

Caiine: I’m not too sure about the Sade influence, I haven’t really heard very many Sade songs to be fair, apart from ‘Smooth Operator’. But I wouldn’t say I sound like her. I love Nina Simone though, she is definitely a big influence musically.

Now, I’m aware that Caiine is your pseudonym, what is the concept being that, is it a religious thing? As in, Cain and Abel from the Bible?

Caiine: No not at all; I was looking for a name with power or strength to it. After researching names and their meanings I came across this version of the name and learned its meaning. Apparently, it relates to being strong and powerful. It’s not in any way related to Cain and Abel.

It’s a cool sounding name. I like the way it’s spelled too. You have a single coming out at the end of January if I have that right? Called ‘The Game’,  and from what I’ve heard, it’s outstanding. Can you tell me what the song is about and who produced it? Also, it has a running theme of a game player in there, is this a love song of sorts? Is it about anyone in particular?

Caiine: It kind of is about someone in particular, but I won’t get into that right now, let’s say it’s about no one in particular. Actually, to be honest, when I started putting the song together it was about someone, and I suppose it was about perceiving them as a game player or playing some kind of game. Then, as the songs formulated and I delved deeper into it, I realised it was actually more about me, how I was playing a game and it became a lot more introspective. So no, it isn’t about anyone in particular, it’s about me.

The song was produced by producer and musician, Keiran Flynn, who is also my manager, and it’s a really progressive, alternative R’n’B song. Previously, I had worked on a few, more soul-influenced, songs with Keiran. The music was solely focussed on my voice but I wanted to work with different styles and influences and so we came up with this track ‘The Game’. Keiran is a really good producer too, so it was easy for him to move away from a vocal-heavy style of ballads and slow R’n’B, towards this type of music.

When can we expect a release date for ‘The Game’ and what have you planned in terms of promotion and marketing to launch the single?

Caiine: My whole focus has just been on the music, making it the sound the best that it can. Keiran will deal with all the advertising and marketing stuff because, to be honest, I’m not about the fame or fortune, or to ‘make it’; I’m a musician and concentrate all my attention on that. I gig as often as I can in bars and venues around Cheshire, and Manchester more recently. The single should be available at the end of January but you’ll have to wait for an exact release date I’m afraid.

I am really interested in music videos though and want to work on a visual project to coincide with this single, and others I have in the pipeline that will form part of an EP or album to be released later in the year, or early 2020.

Caiine, this has been awesome. Thank you for talking to me, is there anything you would like to sign off with that I may have missed?

Caiine: Just that, if anything, any recognition should be for the music. It’s the most important thing to me as an artist and musician; that the art is recognised simply as good music. I’m getting deeper into a more progressive, alternative form of R’n’B song production and it’s a direction I’m really excited about.

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IN CONVERSATION WITH: DMA’s

WORDS BY HANNAH RYAN     PHOTOS BY GEORGINA HURDSFIELD

DMA’s have come along way since their Manchester debut in 2015 –  playing Night & Day Cafe in front of a crowd of 20 – a far cry from their sold-out show at Victoria Warehouse. We drop by before the highly-anticipated gig to speak to the bassist, Johnny Took, about their ‘unexpected’ success, Manchester influences and all things in-between.

“The reception from the UK is awesome, we’ve been here back and forth for five years and been to a lot of cities, we don’t get a tremendous amount of radio play so most of our fans come from touring and word of mouth – our fans are loyal, which is great.”

Despite the lack of radio play, it doesn’t stop the DMA’s from receiving an amazing amount of support – not only are they playing sold out shows in big venues – but tonight, Johnny tells us that Liam Fray, frontman of the Courteeners, is making his way down to watch the band. The lads supported the Courteeners on tour previously in 2014, along with Stockport’s finest, Blossoms.

Speaking of Manchester bands, DMA’s have been likened to many Mancunian bands – such as Oasis – with both fans and critics alike referring to their brit-pop sound. “We 100% get that, it’s weird because we’re Australian but we love that whole scene, when we were kids we listened to The Stone Roses, Oasis and The VerveBlur, you know? That’s what we listened to growing up.”

Johnny mentions that a lot of that influence originates from frontman, Tommy O’Dell’s dad, who is a scouser and his brother who were constantly played brit-pop records, however, Johnny insists that all of them have been a fan before the band got together. Another artist that they all have in common who they love is, “The Boss”, Bruce Springsteen – both Johnny and guitarist, Matt Mason, played in a band before the DMA’s which was heavily influenced by Springsteen and folk.

Johnny and Tommy have known each other for the best part of ten years, even living together, writing music and alas, DMA’s were born. “The three of us were writing songs in my bedrooms for a couple of years, we all work together on the tracks, Mason wrote (the single) ‘Delete’ when he was nineteen and then we wrote the outro a lot later on. It’s stuff like that you know?”

Their debut album ‘Hill’s End’ was in fact recorded in their bedrooms, a raw and authentic sound to the tracks, whereas the latest album, ‘For Now’, was recorded in the studio. Which, Johnny states there is also a lot more thought into: “We had a great recording studio for the latest album but I am glad we recorded ‘Hill’s End’ the way we did for the first album, DIY.”

 

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Both these albums translated to the stage, opening with ‘Play It Out’ from the first album followed by crowd pleaser ‘Dawning’, the fans could not have been more ready for the set and the DMA’s were certainly ready to be welcomed back with open arms.

Jonny talks to us about how, although they will never change radically, the importance of constantly evolving and experimenting with new elements to create a constant revolutionized sound. Referring to the legend that is David Bowie, how his sound was constantly unique and the importance of reinventing yourself as a band. Although, if it’s not broken, why fix it?

Although consistently touring, the boys do not intend to stop recording and creating new tracks, this time, with the hope to record in the UK. Especially as Johnny has a keen eye and passion for production, even noting that he plans to set up his own one day – maybe even in Edinburgh as he has already swapped down under for the sights of Scotland.  There was a lot of love in the air for the DMA’s that night and already, Manchester can’t wait to welcome them back when they support Courteeners at Heaton Park in June alongside Blossoms and James. See you there lads.

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IN CONVERSATION WITH: Jalen N’Gonda

WORDS BY JOEL MALLEN

Jalen N’Gonda describes his musical philosophy as “in the works” – but if those works are anything to go by we have a potential future soul star on our hands. The Maryland native takes pride in throat popping vocal power and traditional soul progressions within his music, but is clearly looking to build on that sound piece by piece. I usually ask any musician who they’d have an hour long conversation with if they have the chance, and if “Brian Wilson, Marvin Gaye and Kevin Parker” doesn’t give you visions of Motown infused soul jams with a bit of vinyl crackle, I don’t know what else would. “They are/were geniuses in their own field”, he adds, and you can hear streams of their influence running right through his music.

You can’t say that Jalen isn’t shy of adventure, currently touring on the back of debut EP ‘Talking About Mary’. “The tour is great so far, [I’ve] been places that I’ve never been – it’s dope!” he exclaims, and he’s not wrong either: touring with Lake Street Dive in the USA off the back of your first EP is pretty good going. He described the American leg of the tour as “really fun! It was great being around such a talented band and lovely group”, and he returned this November to finish the tour in the UK, his first post-jetlag date being right here in The Castle Hotel. “Manchester plays a good role in my life in the UK; it’s like a neighbour you go to to borrow sugar. I love the night life here and there are some great festivals, band and events coming out of that city.”

Originally from Maryland, he carries that industrial and traditional blue-collar grit into dense, warmly compressed pop harking back to that nostalgic late-60s Motown flair, with classic love song lyrics and reverb-laden drums and tambourines. “Maryland played a great role in my musical and life direction, due to the people that were around me” – he seems like an artist well suited to a storytelling, life experience driven style. He isn’t all-American though, he seems just as informed by his more recent British adventures. “Liverpool is a second home for me, for real! I feel like an adopted northerner! But I recently moved down to London so it’s sort of a new adventure”.

You can hear all this wrapped up in ‘Talking About Mary’, released in June 2018. It quite rightly earned a fair bit of attention, with such a distinct flavour on top of really tight, traditional songwriting. “Everyone who I worked with [on the EP] was just as amazing as the other, but I have to say it was truly great working with Bo Weaver- we produced a beautiful sound”.

As for Jalen’s future, he’s been pretty coy about some new music: “there’ll definitely be some new releases in 2019 – can’t tell you what! But I can say some progress has been made since the last EP”. He has a clear road-map to follow in both his life and music, and he’s definitely going places.

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IN CONVERSATION WITH: The Twilight Sad

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER       PHOTOS BY HUGH RUSSELL

Scottish punksters Twilight Sad recently supported The Cure at their edition of the British Summertime Festival; announcing their new album ahead of performing in front of a legendary Brit rock band, was nothing short of epic. Add to that the commemoration that they gave to their long-standing friend and ally Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit, who sadly committed suicide earlier this year, and you’ve got an act with a heart – and mind – of gold. Since the loss of the late singer/songwriter, Twilight Sad have included a welcome, masterfully executed cover of their compatriot’s track ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ (from ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ album, 2008) into their sets.

After touring with the honourable English band, Twilight Sad set about writing their fifth studio album. Set to be realeased in 2019, vocalist James Alexander Graham says the album comes from some dark spaces that the band have recently entered due to personal circumstances and events. These particular events have given the act a need to get back to normality, to ground themselves. To let the dust settle. “Lyrically each album is a snap shot of time and a reflection of who I am and what I’m going through at that certain period of my life. Whilst writing the album I went through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, I think that’s reflected in these new songs.”

Having met through different paths – with Andy and James meeting in high school, then Brendan and Johnny arriving through friends and finally drummer Seb through their aforementioned friends Frightened Rabbit – they’ve had an incredible journey along their career. With the gritty streets of Glasgow at the heart of their story, Twilight Sad is a family in so many more ways than one. Speaking of Glasgow, James mentions that the city is a community for musicians and creatives, it boosts them up and treats them well, that is if they’ve got something worth treating. Whilst working their way up the ladder, Twilight Sad have been lucky enough to have received support and guidance from bands that they admired and were fans of themselves, including: Mogwai, The Delgados, Arab Strap, Idlewild, Teenage Fanclub to name a few. 

Mogwai in particular are a key band that they’ve made a connection, the experimental work ethics of both working hand-in-hand with each other. “We quickly became friends and realised that we both had the same outlook about music and why we were doing it. We also have the same type of humour and bad Scottish patter.” Their friendship set them up for alongside one another, with Mogwai having had Twilight Sad on tour with them four times, cementing their clear appreciation of the band that’s also come from Glasgow. Further still, each and every Twilight Sad track is now released on Mogwai‘s very own record label  – Rock Action Records – what more of a nod of admiration can you give between two bands. 

You’ll know who Robert Smith is. The front-man and only consistent member of The Cure is a fond fan and colleague of Twilight Sad, as mentioned, it saw them take the support slot on one of the iconic acts biggest gigs, at British Summertime Festival, as well as on tour with them across the globe. It was TS favourites Mogwai that introduced the maestro to the Glaswegian act and it’s started a perfect mentor-type relationship between the two. Now each Twilight Sad track, demo or album set to be released is sent over to Smith, who critiques and sends back with notes if improvements are needed. For James, Twilight Sad have so much to owe to the legendary front-man – “People say ‘don’t meet your heroes’, in this case that saying is very wrong” – he’s thrust their music into the hands of a new audience, the world of The Cure fans, and it’s allowed them to blossom.

Speaking of their new album which is incoming in 2019 – we’re promised – it has themes of love, loss, self doubt, self hatred, not understanding the world, seeing the good and bad within people, trying to be a better person. It’s emerged out of a roller-coaster year for all members, that’s seen them reach soaring heights, but also the deepest of lows. James mentions, “I think it’s very dark in places but there’s always some hope within the songs. The title of the album can be looked at in two ways. It can be a positive or a negative. ‘It Won’t Be Like This All The Time’ can be a positive as in “it won’t be like this all the time so try and embrace the good things/times and make the most of things as life can change in an instant” or a negative if you are going through a dark time “things won’t be like this all the time and round the corner something beautiful might be waiting for you, stay strong”. We’re eagerly excited to see what the future holds for the quintet but we’re assured that they’ve plenty of strength in them yet, to pull them through any low. 

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IN CONVERSATION WITH: Gardenback

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER       PHOTO BY DANI BLAKELEY

Fresh-faced and eager, Gardenback are the rising act taking garage rock to the next level by way of a psychedelic twist. The three piece hail from Oldham, Greater Manchester, having met at school back in 2011 and uniting forces. It’s an acclamation to their dedication that they’ve continued to stay on our radar having been an act for seven years. Through sheer determination and ambition they’ve remained committed to achieving what they set out to achieve with Gardenback. Currently hitting the ground running they’ll be one of the feature acts at the first Manny Fest, Saturday 10th November, alongside the likes of Cannibal Animal, Chupa CabraSaint Ivy and many more. From the minds behind Psymmetry Collective and The Bread Shed‘s Fuzz Thursday night, the all-dayer echoes the the ideals of the collective – to unify a set of like-minded, hazy psychedelic artists and draw a line of Psymmetry across the alternative scene.

Having supported the likes of DZ Deathrays and Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Gardenback are fast making a name for themselves with talk of lots of new material in the pipeline: “The new stuff feels very cohesive and fits together really nicely. It works.” Latest single ‘Health & Wellbeing’ focuses on the bands own mental health experiences and how these have been influenced by the state of the current financial and political climate. But they’re not just another act wailing about the state of current affairs, their lyrics tend to derive from personal feelings and circumstances.

Similarly, they’re passionate about sharing a message as spokesmen for their followers, recently having worked with Beat It, to support men’s cancer research development. Jacob, the drummer of the band was involved in the campaign and explains that it’s important that musicians use their influence to benefit society. “No matter how big or small, it’s a really good opportunity to share positive causes with other people. We try every year to do something for charity, the last two years it’s been putting on gigs for the homelessness charity Lifeshare. Music brings people together and together we can make things happen.”

 

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With humility and compassion being a heavy theme for Gardenback, it’s clear why the trio are such close friends and that through similar ideals, they’ve lasted so long. Likewise, their influences and inspiration comes from an identical appreciation for acts such as Joy Division, PiL and Televison which results in the outcome of their 90s alt-rock sound, with a splash of 70s post punk thrown in. But what are the current acts that their listening to. Who are the contenders of the scene turning Gardenback‘s heads? They casually concoct a list of acts that generate a similar buzz to themselves, being at a similar level or status: Déjà VegaThe Orielles and Teenage Fanclub beckon a comparable audience, whilst the likes of St VincentCharles Mingus and Thelonious Monk offer an insight into their varying influences.

An eye for an on-stage spectacle too, the three members discuss the most exhilarating live acts they’ve ever witnessed. St Vincent seems to be a recurrent theme, seen at Albert Hall a couple of years ago, her stage presence and spectacle of a show – in particular when she sang ‘Strange Mercy’ solo atop a pedestal – appears to have caught the attention of Gardenback. Favoured stories are recounted and Radiohead is thrown on to the table, which brought drummer Jacob to tears at Old Trafford Stadium, whilst Neil admires Savages, “…their presence as performers and the sheer force in their music hits you.” They’re clearly an act with a keen vitality to continue pushing Gardenback ever closer to their hedonistic aspirations.

Manny Fest #001 takes place Saturday 10th November 2018 at Manchester’s Peer Hat with tickets at just £6!

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IN CONVERSATION WITH: Asiahn Bryant

WORDS BY EMMA LANGFORD       PHOTOS BY CASIE WENDEL

Asiahn is an incredible up and coming R&B artist, she gained recognition as a talented solo artist following the release of her EP ‘Love Train’ in 2017. After the success of her recent single ‘NOLA’, her fans have high hopes for her second album ‘Love Train 2’. Asiahn is not new to the limelight, as a talented songwriter she has penned songs for Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Lopez, Dr Dre and has worked alongside Chris Brown, Pitbull and Iggy Izalea.

Her ability to write for a variety of genres exhibits her well-rounded musical talent. Not only has she had success putting pen to paper but also is an incredible songstress showcasing pure vocals and meaningful lyrics whilst developing her undeniably original style. She is an artist we all must look out for. We were fortunate enough to catch up with her over the phone amid her busy schedule in LA prior to the release of the new album.

Where did your career start and what inspired you to get into music?

Asiahn: I started as an artist at 15, I was touring and opened up for ludrus, TI and Kanye West when I was younger, all kinds of people. So I started off as an artist and would only write for myself then I took a small break for maybe a year or so. At that time I thought I needed to reinvent myself, so because I really enjoyed writing a load of different types of genres that I couldn’t do myself personally as an artist so I started writing for everybody. I’ve written for people from Dr Dre to Miley Cyrus which is a broad spectrum. Being an artist is where my heart is so I felt like I was missing that part and I needed to put out music. My fans were starting to ask where was my music?

Recently you’ve been doing so well your single NOLA has reached 25th spot on the Spotify US charts. Did you expect that song to be so successful?

Asiahn: You know what I didn’t wanna have any expectations in the same way when I first put out my first album ‘Love Train’ which started charting on the London viral charts and I was like… Woah that was so unexpected and I wanted to keep the same thought process for when I put out the next project. If I know that I love it and if feels good to me and something that I believe in and fully stand behind then whatever happens is whatever happens. Here in Los Angles and around the world I feel like we are lacking a lot of love, period. So I knew a lot of people would be able to connect with it anyway so I was hoping that it would do great and it’s doing so awesome so I’m excited.

What was the general message you wanted to send out to people when writing your first album ‘Love Train’?

Asiahn: ‘Love Train’. I can almost call it a series cause ‘Love Train 2’ is coming out. It’s basically the journey through a relationship and love in general. When I was in the club I was hearing a lot of music about not being real with your feelings and I was in a very vulnerable place at the moment where I was recovering from a heartbreak so I was using that EP ‘Love train’ to sing my way through the breakup so it is literally a story from start to finish.

I felt it was very important to be as vulnerable and as candid as possible when making this music because it was the only thing that would help real people. I can’t tell you how many messages I’ve received from people all over: ‘you’ve helped me heal from a heartbreak’, ‘you’ve made me realise I am still in love with my ex and we have gotten engaged’.

 

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on top of the world with @iamasiahn shot on 35mm film 🌎🌟⛰💕 l

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So your first album Love Train was produced by Cardiak, he is a big name in the industry, are you going to have him on board with your new album?

Asiahn: He produced the entire second one as well. We great chemistry together. He is always joking saying are we doing ‘Love Train 3’ or are we gonna forget the train and go somewhere else? I’m like I dunno.

Do you feel like he is someone you will bring along with you on your journey or will you choose a different producer?

Asiahn: He is always someone I will bring along with me on my journey. In my next project, I will probably bring other producers in as well but he will always be included and someone I will always go to first. When you connect with a producer as a songwriter and as an artist and you guys have a vibe that is something that is undeniable and you have to go with it. Sometimes you can’t recreate that magic with other people. I expect the next project after ‘Love Train 2’ to be even crazier.

Where do you see yourself going in the next few years?

Asiahn: Hopefully I’ll be touring all over the world and playing my music for people everywhere. It’s crazy to have a show and everyone to be singing the lyrics back at you that you wrote in your own room by yourself. So that’s my major goal for the next few years. Just to tour and really see the world and get to see the world and to spread some light and love along the way.

Do you have a release date set for your new album or is that still up in the air at the moment?

Asiahn: I have a release date that I selected now I am hoping that they don’t just push that back and we can just drop it when I want to drop it so I can’t give the date out yet until it is confirmed but I will be sure to let you guys know.

Who has been your favourite collaboration?

Asiahn: Ooo you’re gonna get me in trouble. If I had to pick I would say Dr Dre. Only because he is a genius, I got to learn a lot from him and his work ethic and everyone around him. That is where I met Cardiak working on the ‘Compton’ album and it was an overall surreal experience and we are still really tight to this day. It made a big impact on my life.

How amazing is that you got to be on the soundtrack on one of the best movies of all time?

Asiahn: It was crazy and the fact the only track that made it off of the ‘Compton’ album was actually in the movie [Straight Outta Compton] and that was mine I was like holy c**p!

So you can speak fluent French? Would you say the French language influences your music?

Asiahn: Yes I would say it does, I am actually speaking a little French on ‘Love Train 2’ on one of the songs so I think it is important to add in all parts of my culture in my music. I use a lot of influences from French and African culture.

So if you were to tour the world would France definitely be a stop?

Asiahn: It definitely is gonna be a stop, it has to be. I’d have to tour the US, Canada, I’d have to go to London cause London holds me down. When I look through my top countries the UK is second so I have to go and visit the UK.

Do you have any advice for artists trying to break into the music industry?

Asiahn: My advice would be to be yourself study your craft, don’t let anybody change you. Don’t let anybody make you feel like you need to do something else. Also don’t look at someone else’s success and measure yourself against them because everything happens at the right time, you have to stay diligent and passionate about what you do and be 100% authentic and you can always win with that.

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goat girl

IN CONVERSATION WITH: Goat Girl

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER           PHOTOS BY PIRAN ASTON

You can see why the late Mark E Smith picked Goat Girl to support The Fall at what would turn out to be their last ever London show. The four-piece are unique and certainly not Fall plagiarisers. But their approach to music has a lot in common with the iconic band, densely packing masses of information and philosophy into their songs, refusing to minimise and sway towards the usual conventions of showbiz entertainment. With an already noteworthy name – the guitar gang are named in tribute to comic Bill Hicks and his twisted alter-ego Goat Boy – we were, of course, intrigued to find out more.

 

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Goat Girl, Gorilla, Manchester, 23.10.18 @goatgirlofficial @thisisgorilla @nowwave

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Goat Girl produce music which is political, witty and provides us with relatable one-liners such as “How can an entire nation be so fucking thick?”  – a la Brexit. It’s not hard to see why they’ve been slotted alongside The Fall, as well as the similarly crafted Moonlandingz, whom the group supported on their 2017 UK tour. The tour saw them swept up into the world of The Moonlandingz in all its glory – including a spot at Manchester’s Gorilla, which is where we catch hold of drummer Rosy Bones, ahead of their gig at the venue on their own Goat Girl headline tour. A tour which itself has already resulted in injury. Rosy timidly recounts the tale of drunkenly knocking it which means her one day off whilst touring is likely to be spent in the walk-in centre.

The night before the Manchester tour date, they played a sold-out Portland Arms in Cambridge, which was packed to the rafters with many a GG fan throwing their wears around for the group: “they were so into it, the crowd really went for it. It was up there with one of the best gigs we’ve done.” Moments like this must feel like a phenomenal accomplishment for a band that started out as a bedroom project with no real solid plans to be part of the new movement seeing DIY bands break the mould.

Little is likely to stop them now, with the group being known as an act that stands up for themselves and rightly so disagrees with how dominated by masculinity the music scene – and even the arts community – is at this current moment in time. A finger has been pointed as of late and we’re all far more aware of the issue but the fact that it’s still an issue shows we still have some way to go.

Fed up of the sexism that floats about the scene, Goat Girl are keen to fight the good fight and highlight that the issue hasn’t disappeared just yet. “Men mansplain it so often and overlook sexism at venues and things like that, as though it isn’t an ongoing issue.” In the current climate – we’re looking at the recent scandal about Hookworms‘ lead singer – it’s needed now more than ever for people in music need to stand together and use their status as a positive, by raising awareness of this type of movement. Their consistent feminist views don’t mean Goat Girl want to be tied down into “that” ‘politico-feminist’ bracket, though, with a primary focus on their craft and how they plan to progress as music makers.

They’ve called out their cynics, as easily displayed on their Facebook cover photo – a screenshot of a tweet which mentions that drummer Rosy should wear a bra. “It’s better if you try to make an example of them when someone does something like that. But in a lighthearted way, to show that you basically don’t take them seriously whatsoever.” It goes right back to that old saying that if you give negative actions a reaction, they’ll thrive on it. If they were to start again, they’d do nothing differently to how they’ve meandered forward through their career thus far. Like a force of nature, their words to any female act looking to also break into the scene is simply to “keep going”. Follow their lead, be carefree, stick your middle finger up to the haters, don’t get knocked back. Stick with it.

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IN CONVERSATION WITH: Everything Everything

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER        PHOTOS BY MANC WANDERER

They’re the millennial indie kid’s favourite flashback and they’ve not stopped in over ten years – Everything Everything live up to their name, time and time again. In the wake of their fourth studio album, released last year, EE have marker-ed themselves as a statement Brit indie rock act that has transcended through time. At this years Neighbourhood Festival in Manchester, the iconic quartet were in pole position as the headline act at The Albert Hall and we managed to have a quick chat with lead singer Jonathan Higgs just before the day fully began.

Since their early days the band have constantly tried to avoid the cliche with their eclectic and dynamic style, by way of complex song construction and programming. Back in the early days, their sound was younger, blossoming and representative of the indie pop scene that was bursting into the ether but now it’s hit a maturer, adept peak. “We were more into RnB back then – more into production – whereas now we’ve had to draw line (and realise) ‘hang on, I don’t actually want to be Craig David'” jokes Jonathan as he mentions that around the time of their fruition they were leaning towards a more American, RnB style of work. Arctic Monkeys immediately come to mind as an act that swayed towards this heavily western sound and didn’t return from it, but Everything Everything feel they edged close to it and “tested the water” with their first two records but soon got inspiration from elsewhere.

Nowadays their inspiration comes from dance music and the generally new wave that’s providing an awakening for pop music as of late. But as with the world is in this current climate, creatives have a platform to discuss the state of the world and the bending timeline that we are all now embroiled in. Everything Everything supporting Stoptober and War Child has been a recent push that just so happened to land at the end of their run of gigs for this year. “Attitudes and approaches attract us – we’re much less bothered about the genre or how much went into it or opinion.” This can be seen with tracks such as the recently released ‘Breadwinner’ which touches on the theme of an ideological image of society as represented by the title and mentions of theories and phrases that people often easily dismiss, as well as typical stereotypes of the world.

As a band, having worked over such a long period of time, EE  have been through numerous different record labels which saw them move from Universal to Sony for three records, having been in the right place at the right time. There’s whisper from Jon about them soon switching again to a different label, but we can’t reveal anything about that with you – die hard fans will just need to keep an eye on Everything Everything‘s movements over the coming months.

But also with experience comes knowledge and skills within the industry. Back in 2009 the indie soundtrack ‘MY KZ, UR BF’ was only released on vinyl and no other formats as of course the only real format was CD, radio play and “probably MySpace” – but this was a decision that they chose just as the peak for vinyl sales began to descend. Speaking now of the new wave in record sales, Jonathan has a refreshingly unpopular opinion: “we’re fetishising a format rather than the music itself. I see the record as a vessel not the actual music.” This pleasantly makes a mockery of those who buy tangible pieces of music in a classic ‘hipster’ sense, for the ‘look’ of the sleeve or the image that comes along with a wide record collection. Music is at the heart of Everything Everything.

This year has seen them play at the final Festival No 6, a festival which has been a massive support for the band over the years and has often slotted them in amongst their ever magnificent lineups. They played the first one back in 2012 and sadly the last one – “never made the headline slot though” – which is a clear indication that this act can stand the test of time. Quick mentions of the pipeline dream to play in the Glastonbury headline slot are mentioned in passing, but it could soon be a reality if they’re to keep going at this rate – particularly as they’ve been making new music all summer long, ahead of their planned small break for the last few months of 2018.  “There are babies in the band now. It’s kind of like a new era – we’ve got families and a new record label and the Mercury nomination – it feels like a new chapter of optimism for the band.”

The next form that Everything Everything takes is unfortunately likely to be the last but they want to go out in style, they want it to be “bold.” Jon mentions that with the ageing of them as members they’re making way for new, current acts such as The Magic Gang whom he recommends, as well as Tom Grennan, who will be supporting them this New Years Eve for the Kendal Calling organised event. But of course, there’s no forgetting the legendary act that is Everything Everything.

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