EP

Irene Skylakaki – Interview

Monday 19th February 2018

Born in Greece, Irene Skylakaki studied in London before moving back to Athens to pursue music full time; an endeavour that led to her releasing two critically acclaimed albums in her native country. She has also supported such artists as diverse as Macy Gray, Jessie Ware, Beirut, Daughter, and Cass McCombs. After returning to the Capital, Irene forged her path onwards through serendipitous circumstances – she met Lola Marlin (Director of Sarm Studios), who introduced her to producer Danton Supple, while trying to retrieve a lost dog in Maida Vale. This meeting led Irene to writing an albums worth of material within two weeks, containing the songs which form her upcoming EP “Planet”.

How did it all start for you, and what was the decision behind making a career out of music?

At school I guess I was a bit immature and didn’t have a lot of interests. The only thing I really cared about was music. I studied Law in London to prove to myself (and my parents) that I was capable of academic success, but I soon realised that I was following a path that wouldn’t lead me somewhere. I always wrote songs on the side and was lucky enough to be picked up by a Greek producer who loved my music and helped me make it in Greece. Having released two albums in Greece which did well, I felt like I owed it to myself to try to pursue music on a larger scale, for a wider audience, so I returned to London and met Danton Supple, who produced my upcoming album ‘Matterless’. It all happened very quickly and quite serendipitously.

You originate from Greece, but how does the music scene compare to the UK?

The Anglophone music scene in Greece is quite small. In London it truly feels like the sky is the limit, with so many incredible talents from all over the world residing in just one city. I believe it’s the right environment for an artist to blossom and it’s really a matter of endurance and staying focused, as London can be a very hard city to survive in financially, as a rising musician.

Your debut EP “Planet” is due for release on the 16th March.  How are you feeling about getting new music out there?

I’m very excited. I’m an impatient person and I’ve waited so long for this release. As it’s a very different industry compared to Greece, I wanted to first find the right team here to support me with this effort, instead of just releasing everything and hoping for a miracle. As David Bowie had said in an interview about pursuing music, 50% is art and 50% is business. He always gave a 100% to both.

How did you find the process of putting your EP together, and were there any tracks that didn’t make the cut?

Planet is a selection of songs from my new album ‘Matterless’, which will be released later this year. I didn’t want to give too much away from the album at once. I have a friend who is an artist and has great taste in music. We sat down together one day, listened to ‘Matterless’ 30 times and rated the songs. After a couple of bottles of wine, we were able to select the songs for ‘Planet’. It was a very collegial process!

Could you tell me more about the inspiration behind “Planet” and are there any artists or ventures that have encouraged you on this release?

A feeling of isolation and romantic failure inspired ‘Planet’. I love Marika Hackman, Laura Marling, The XX, Daughter, and I feel I’ve been really influenced by their sound.

How does it compare to your previous releases?

I’m older now, so hopefully my songs are more mature. I think that songs are a representation of the person who wrote them. When I release a new song, I feel like I’m releasing myself. This album is even more autobiographical than my previous ones and I feel much more ‘exposed’. In a bizarre way, I find this process very soothing. As if by sharing something so intimate, I’m exorcizing pain by helping others feel less lonely and isolated.

Who are your biggest influences and how do you draw upon your inspirations when writing and performing?

Leonard Cohen is my god. He was a great songwriter from the beginning, but through the years he developed his art both musically and lyrically in an incredible manner. I believe in artists who have longevity and are not numbed and reassured by temporary success. Artists who have a fire inside them. Like Joni Mitchell, or David Bowie.

Who has been your favourite artist to support so far?

It’s a band and it’s ‘Daughter’. Apart from awesome musicians, they were super lovely people too. I have a little girl crash on Elena Tonra. Such a beautiful person and artist!

How are you feeling about your upcoming headlining show at The Islington, and are there any tracks in particular that you’re looking forward to performing live?

I can’t wait! I really like The Islington as a venue and I’m sharing the stage with a brilliant greek artist and friend of mine Katerine Duska, who is travelling from Athens just for this show – it’s going to be a great night. I can’t wait to perform one of my new songs called ‘It’s Getting Darker’, which, as the title gives away, is darker and quite intense when performing live.

What have you got planned next, and where do you hope your music will take you?

I’m recording my next EP at the moment with Andres Mesa, sound engineer of Phil Manzanera, and planning more gigs for the following months. I hope my music will take me to another planet and I’d love to take you with me!

Connect with Irene Skylakaki via Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify.

SEASONS announce new EP ‘Chapters’ and Fender Squire guitar giveaway

Saturday 10th February 2018

Bedfordshire based rockers SEASONS have just announced that their next EP, entitled ‘Chapters’ will be released on 20th April.  As part of the build-up to the release, the band are giving away a brand new Fender Squire guitar to one lucky person.  To be in with a chance of getting your hands on the prize, you just need to pre-order the new EP on the band’s own store. Click here to pre-order and the guitar could be yours!  The winner will be announced at a special EP release show in April, with more details to follow.

Speaking about their upcoming EP, guitarist Steve Watts comments that:

“Our third EP ‘Chapters’ is definitely the most emotionally involved collection of music that we have written as a band. The name comes from the idea that the songs are based around a subject that each of us have had connections with or experienced in our own lives, each one a chapter of our lives, if you like. We want people to feel the emotion in each song and to really connect and relate to that. In SEASONS we all have the same view that music and lyrics in particular can have such a strong influence on a life whether it’s giving them strength to battle through a tough time, or showing them they aren’t alone in their emotions. We hope that behind the big riffs and catchy choruses, people hear the messages in the songs and enjoy them on that level too!”

Connect with SEASONS via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

One Flew West – Interview

Thursday 1st February 2018

Oh, how I do get excited when a new pop-punk band arrives in my mailbox!  It’s not a genre that Denver rockers One Flew West have associated the band with, until they found themselves being added to two of the largest pop punk playlists on Spotify, and now as they say, the rest is history… well, not quite as One Flew West continue to take inspiration from a broader spectrum, including rock and indie, but it has certainly helped them to produce their stand-out debut EP “Trial and Error”. Having formed the band in 2014, they have continued to make waves across the scene, winning awards and being crowned CBS Denver’s “band to watch”, and rightly so.  But don’t take my word for it, you can read for yourselves below…

Please could you tell me a bit more about the band? Have you been in other bands previously, and what has driven you to form One Flew West?

Jonah, David, and Linden have been playing in bands together since high school, but One Flew West didn’t form until college. In the summer of 2014, we decided to go a new route with our music and with that came a new name and sound that has grown into what you hear today!

Your single “Trial & Error” is already receiving quite a lot of momentum. How are you finding the support and response to your music so far?

The response to “Trial & Error” has been fantastic so far, having it in two of Spotify’s largest alternative playlists has introduced us to a bunch of new listeners in markets we have never reached before. Our fans have been very responsive as well, already throwing their middle fingers in the air and shouting “fuck you” with us at our shows.

You’ll be releasing your EP this month too. How are you feeling about getting new music out there, and are there any tracks in particular that you’re excited about being heard?

We spent a lot of time thinking about our sound with this EP and we took our time to make sure the songs we ended up recording would be songs we are proud of forever. We are excited for people to hear all of these songs. We’ve never been more excited for a release than we are with this one.

How did you find the process of putting the EP together, and did you face any hurdles that you had to overcome?

We started writing with the goal of making a cohesive five-song EP. We ended up with way more than five songs, and as we kept writing, each song came out better than the last. It was a crazy feeling having that many options going in to the studio. We kind of had an idea of the what final five songs would be, but it wasn’t until we were in The Blasting Room in Fort Collins, CO that it all finally came together. Our producers, Chris Beeble and Randall Kent also really helped us steer the ship in the right direction.

How easy was it to pick the final 5 tracks, and were there any that didn’t make the cut?

Like I said, we ended up finalising the tracklist once we were in the studio with the help of our producers. I think being at The Blasting Room where the Descendants, Rise Against, and a ton of other amazing punk bands recorded their albums helped us pick these final songs and shape the feel of the EP.

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they encouraged and helped you develop your sound?

By far our most noticeable influence is Frank Turner. His blend of folk and punk gave us the inspiration to blend more genres into our our own sound. Of course, we are also influenced by bands and artists like Foo Fighters, Social Distortion, Weezer, Blink-182, Johnny Cash, Green Day, and New Found Glory. We didn’t do it intentionally, but ever since “Trial And Error” was released, everyone has been calling us a pop/punk band. We’ve always considered ourselves folk/rock, but gotta say that we’re pretty stoked to be in the same category with some of the bands I just mentioned.

How do you feel that you’ve developed as a band over the years, and how does your music compare now to your previous material?

When One Flew West started we had 6 members, including a trumpet and piano. Over the last couple of years, we’ve whittled it down to just the four of us (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, drums) and it’s lead to us getting more creative with our arrangements and writing. Our sound has always been acoustic-based rock music, but with fewer members we’ve started drawing in more of the punk side of things.

What’s the music scene like in Denver for up and coming artists, and are there any venues in particular you enjoy playing at?

Denver is amazing for up-and-coming bands. You’d be hard pressed to find a scene within a three-states radius that shares the same enthusiasm for its local musicians. We have so many supportive venues and promoters here that help bolster the scene and grow bands into the Nathaniel Rateliffs and One Republics that you see blow up from here. From the Bluebird Theater to the Larimer Lounge to the Marquis, you can find a packed out local show almost every night of the week.

What are your plans for 2018, and what do you hope to have achieved by the end of the year?

We are focusing on growing our audience and getting these new songs into as many new ears as possible with touring at the center of it all. Denver has been great to us, but we’re ready to see what the rest of the country thinks of us!

Connect with One Flew West via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Lectures – Interview

Thursday 12th October 2017

Experimental four-piece Lectures are due to release their next EP “Distraction Shades” on the 20th October; with the promise of hook driven melodies and addictive riffs, and taking inspirations from the likes of RadioheadFlying Lotus and Wild Beasts, I was intrigued by this unique band.  Forming during their school years, the band have continued with their aspirations of writing music and also decided to self-produce their latest EP.  Lectures are still finding their feet, but are already gaining support from BBC Radio 1, Radio 6 Music and Sofar Sounds, so I chat with the band to find out about the upcoming EP and how they’re feeling about the release.

Hello! How are you guys, and what have you been doing with yourselves today?

We’re great thanks – we’ve been rehearsing/writing today.

Where and how did the band meet, and what made you decide to form Lectures?

We’ve been making music together since school as Lectures but carried on after we left and gradually changed without choosing another name.

We’re only days away from the release of your EP “Distraction Shades.” How are you feeling about getting your new music out there, and how would you say it compares to your previous material?

We’ve been sitting on the EP for a while so it feels good to finally put it out. It’s perhaps less polished than our first EP, but musically it is more ambitious, and there’s definitely more of a thread running through the songs.

You produced the EP yourselves; how did you find the process?

We all have mixed feelings about the process – generally a lot of over thinking things or not thinking enough – but we ended up with something we’re all really proud of. We’ve strived to be self-sufficient for a long time and it feels like we’re kind of there now.

How easy was it to pick to final 5 tracks, and were there any that didn’t make the final cut?

These 5 were the only songs we completed, and they all felt worth releasing. Although “Morning Forms” didn’t come together properly until the last minute.

What’s the story behind your latest single “Your Whatever?”

Half of the ideas for “Your Whatever” came from an older song that we liked but couldn’t finish. The rest was just built out of that, but with a different lyrical vibe.

What’s your writing process as a band, and how do you come together to create the final track?

It varies from song to song, but this EP was a result of collecting lots of small ideas over time and then bringing them together quickly. Entry Point and Peaches came together easily in the room, whereas SAD existed for almost a year before we could complete it.

Who are your biggest influences and how do you draw upon your inspirations when writing and performing?

While making Distraction Shades we were listening to artists like Wild Beasts, Radiohead, Andy Stott and Darkside. We mostly try to copy artists we like and get it wrong, so we occupy the space in between the real deal and supermarket own brand. For example, making Entry Point we were aiming for D’Angelo but only managed Vanilla Ice.

I’ve recently discovered Sofar Sounds and noticed that you guys performed a few dates in London recently. How did the opportunity come about, and how was the session for you?

That came from us playing a show at Good Karma Club in London last November and someone from Sofar was in the audience, so we got chatting after the show and it went from there. We normally use a lot of gear live, so it was fun stripping the songs down to just the core elements and not worry about pedals or monitors etc.

What’s the furthest you’ve taken your music so far, and where do you hope it will lead you to?

The furthest it’s gone so far is having the EP pressed to vinyl, which makes it seem a bit more real. In terms of ambition, we just want to write music with each other for as long as possible and share it with people who like it and connect with it.

Connect with Lectures via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Huxtable – Change Shape Future

Wednesday 27th September 2017

Track Listing:

1. Don’t Do Anything Fancy
2. Super Toxic
3. You Got It To Go
4. Break It Hard
5. Act Of War

I was introduced to Huxtable off the back of their single “Don’t Do Anything Fancy” and I have been eagerly awaiting the release of their debut EP ever since.  The Scottish duo are making a name for themselves having already supported the likes of Biffy ClyroSlaves and Zane Lowe; and with each of the guys armed with drums and a guitar, and a huge bag of riffs over their shoulder, their storming EP “Change Shape Future” is due for release this Friday.

At first, you would be forgiven for thinking that you were listening to fellow two-piece Royal Blood, because their debut single and first track on the EP “Don’t Do Anything Fancy” has a hook at the start that sounds very similar to hit single “Lights Out.”  When the vocals kick in I’m then hearing elements of Biffy Clyro and with these comparissons, I feel it’s certainly good company to be in.  However, during the last minute of the track there is a kazoo solo.  Yes you read that right, a kazoo solo ladies and gentlemen.  It reminds me of that time I played ‘name that tune’ on the kazoo after a few drinks and not managing to make it through “Barbie Girl” without choking on laughter.  With that in mind, I wonder how many takes it took these guys to get that recorded…

Speaking with the band back in August, Huxtable assured me there would be some strange and wonderful instrumentation on the EP, with plenty of hooks and excitable tracks.  Well they certainly lived up to their word with second track “Super Toxic” which has the most arousing opening, and also has a quirky video which features the duo appear as their alter egos in puppet form.  The guys also told me as part of the interview that for them, making music was about having fun and that they were out to make music that excited them.  For me, “Super Toxic” sums that up nicely!

Talking about the album, Huxtable say that “’Change Shape Future’ is all about embracing change and how if you want something different out of life you need to make changes. It’s a pretty basic idea really, but one I think we need to be reminded of. Constantly adapt to where you want to be in the future – make the change that will shape your future. We’ve been writing for about 18 months, the original plan was to do an album – but we decided that an EP would be the best way to go – It’s quite a nerve racking thing having been in a little bubble for so long and now we are thinking – “this is the most confident record we have made, let’s see if people agree!” It’s an excited nervousness.”

“You Got To Go” is quite a hectic track, it sounds as though there’s a lot going on in the background, but there’s a funky little twinge of the guitar picking it’s way through, alongside a tasty riff that captivates the whole track.  The way in which this track develops is great, the hooks become rapid, the vocals gutsy, and then it ends quickly but softly with a tap of the high hat. Moving through, “Break It Hard” brings the ballsy rock and high energy, with “Act Of War” ending on a slightly poppier vibe.  There’s something about this track that actually reminds me of Greenday, which I would put down to it being a very solid track that has a well established sound to it.

Having spent 18 months writing their EP, Huxtable have proved they’re able to step up and give their peers a run for their money.  Being able to slot nicely in to a genre that is already rife with bands that are at the top of their game is something to be proud of, and here’s hoping that “Change Shape Future” takes the band to that well deserved next level.  It’s a fantastic showcase of what the guys can do, and here’s hoping a full album is on the horizon for the not too distant future.

Connect with Huxtable via their WebsiteFacebook and Twitter.

Sally Caitlin – Interview

Tuesday 19th September 2017

Rising electronic pop star Sally Caitlin hails from Manchester and has just released her single “Déjà Vu” from her second EP “Experiments.” The EP was written through personal experiences of a relationship breakdown; something which comes natural to many songwriters and is easily relatable to their listeners.  Sally has been writing music since she was 15 years old and knew following her graduation that she wanted to pursue music as a career.  She already has her first self-produced track lined up for 2018, as well as her next album release in the pipe line. “Experiments” is available now so I catch up with Sally to hear about the reactions so far.

For those who are just discovering you please could you tell me a bit more about yourself, where it all started, and what made you decide to pursue music as a career?

I’m a singer-songwriter from Manchester who makes electronic pop music with a bit of an edge. I’ve been writing songs since I was about 15 years old and recording for about four years now. I released my first single, Stuck In Limbo, in 2012 and have recently released my second EP, Experiments. I’ve always loved singing and song-writing but it wasn’t until my graduation from university that I knew I wanted to pursue it as a career, as I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else!

How are you finding the response to your music so far?

So far the response to my music has been great in general! I’ve been supported by a lot of blogs and local radio stations and I get many lovely comments on social media when I share material online. I love speaking to fans after my gigs too! I’m still learning and finding myself as a musician, so even the negative comments can be really useful from a constructive point of view. I’m lucky that most of the time I hear from people who love my music though!

You mentioned that your single “Déjà Vu” was born out of frustrations of being naïve and being played for a fool.  How does it feel listening back knowing the song represents a certain period in your life?

It’s quite a satisfying feeling to listen to a song and know that you used your pain to create something positive. For me, listening to my tracks reminds me of where I was in the past, so there is a nostalgia there, but also of how much I’ve grown. There is no better feeling than listening to a song about someone breaking your heart and knowing that you don’t care anymore!

Who did you work with on the video for the single, and how did it feel seeing it complete?

I worked with an amazing production company in Manchester, called Cosmic Joke. They were so fun to work with and had tonnes of really playful and creative ideas, so the whole process was a ball. Seeing the finished video for me is always nerve-wracking as I’m not a natural on camera, but I’m very happy with the final result.

Are you able to tell me more about your EP “Experiments?” What inspirations have you drawn upon, and how have they encouraged you?

With Experiments, I used people and experiences from my own life to influence my writing. I wanted to tell a story through the EP about a character meeting someone, getting into a relationship and then that relationship breaking down due to it being toxic from the start. Each song draws from situations I have found myself in, but not all from one relationship. It’s almost like a collage of my mistakes! In terms of production, I wanted to make a pop EP that had touches of other genres in it and a good amount of variation. In particular, I was influenced by commercial drum ‘n’ bass, tropical house and electronic artists like Chainsmokers and Cheat Codes.

How easy was it to select the final tracks for your EP, and were there any tracks that didn’t make the cut?

It was actually pretty easy to select the tracks as I knew how I wanted to tell a story. I wrote Take It All and You Are My Weakness first and then worked backwards through the narrative. There was only a couple of songs I wrote in that period that I decided wouldn’t fit on the EP, just as they didn’t have the right lyrical content.

Could you tell me about your writing process?  Being a solo artist do you have anyone to bounce ideas from, or do you just know when a song is ready?

I tend to come up with song ideas at really random times, so I record a quick idea on my phone and then work it out fully at the piano later. After that I look at a few reference tracks for production style and start putting down ideas on my iPad. At the moment I work with ‘The Producers’ in Mansfield to finish my tracks but I’m currently studying production, so in the future I would like to do it all myself. As I have been writing for a long time now, I tend to know when a song is ready. My confidence in song-writing has grown enough over the years that I trust my own vision and judgement.

Being in the early stages of your music career, how are you finding the whole process, and have you been given any lasting advice?

It’s definitely not an easy industry to be in as everyone ‘makes it’ in different ways and there is no clear path to follow. The best advice I have been given is not to race ahead and try and do everything at once. I’m trying to pace myself these days and not put too much pressure on myself, as I do burn the candle at both ends sometimes. The key for me is staying organised and knowing what your immediate goals are, and ignoring the big picture most of the time.

What have you got planned next, and where do you hope your music will take you?

I have a collaboration that should be out before the end of this year, which is very exciting, along with my first self-produced track in early 2018. After that I will be promoting my album, Chemistry, which follows on from the Experiments EP. I have gigs booked in Manchester and London in the coming months, so I’m looking forward to performing live as much as possible. I’m hoping music will take me all around the world and that I can share my stories with as many people as possible. I can’t think of anything better than a crowd of people singing my lyrics back to me!

Finally, what do you get up to outside of music, are there any particular hobbies that you enjoy?

I’ve always loved sport, so I try and keep active as much as possible. Mostly I play tennis and golf, which I know is a little unusual! I also love to read when I get time, as I find it helps me wind down!

Connect with Sally Caitlin via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Rosedale – Again

Thursday 14th September 2017

Track Listing:

1. What We Started
2. Snapped In Two
3. This Dissonance
4. Space Mountain
5. Do It All Again

Rosedale started out back in 2004, when Mike Liorti was determined to chase his dream of being in a band; so he convinced his friends to get instruments so they could play together.  The name of the band was born from Rosedale Avenue, the street the band would walk down to the music store to practice the songs they had written on equipment they couldn’t quite afford.  Over the years, Rosedale went through 7 line-up changes, with band members deciding to move on; but Mike Liorti has continued the project as a solo career.  Mike is quite simply a self-confessed workaholic, but an extremely admirable one who continues to chase his dream, because it’s something he still believes in so strongly.

As a band they released 2 EPs together, with Mike continuing to release Rosedale’s debut album in 2012 by himself.  He then set out on a huge tour, starting with the aspirational Vans Warped Tour, before carrying on playing many states across the US and Canada.  Music and travelling are what Mike enjoys most, with him providing the ultimate DIY message “Commit, sacrifice, create, and above all… sustain. You really can do anything if you truly love it and nobody can represent you better than yourself. That really speaks to me.”

So you might be wondering how one person can now do the work of a full pop-rock band.  Well, Mike explains in the promotional video below how he performs whilst playing guitar and keys at the same time, but projects a video of him recording himself playing all the other instruments.  If that wasn’t intricate enough, he also programmes all the lights to be in sync with the show.  If you’re already sold on seeing Rosedale live before I’ve even got in to the review, then check out the promo video below which also talks about Mike’s upcoming North American tour.  I do enjoy writing about artists from the other side of the pond, there really are some great finds out there, but it’s even harder when you can’t get to a show!

Having drive and ambition is a good start to a successful career, but how does the music compare?  Well,  listening to “Again” and being instantly reminded of the likes of New Found GloryJimmy Eat World, and Angels & Airwaves, this release already sits nicely within my collection.  There’s certainly a gap in the market for a new act to push through, especially since the likes of pop-rock veterans New Found Glory are heading out on their 20th anniversary tour, and also Yellowcard recently decided to call it a day.

“What We Started” is a passionate opening track and I can’t help thinking that it plays homage to the band, since Mike explained in the video that the title of the EP comes from needing to continue to do things in life to succeed, and repetition is key to sustain.  That’s exactly what Mike is doing here, carrying on with the vision he had all those years ago.  “Snapped In Two” has a vigorous opening and is a melodic track, which provides heavier hooks and relatable lyrics.  The production of the EP as a whole is great, but this tracks stands out even more; with an intro that pounces straight in with beating drums that continue throughout, and the progressiveness of the guitar leading us along.  “This Dissonance” is the closest you’ll get to a slowed down pop-punk ballad, and provides Mike the opportunity to showcase his vocal talents.  In fact, the start of this track reminds me of Owl City as it has a beautiful violin to start followed by a light touch of the guitar, reminiscent of the soft sounds heard in “Fireflies.”

Carrying on, I’m not entirely sure whether the next track “Space Mountain” has anything to do with the rollercoaster, but it has taken me a few listens to get my head around it.  It’s a whirlwind of a song and I found it hard to keep up with the complicated lyrics working alongside the hectic track.  However, finishing off the EP is the very enjoyable “Do It All Again” which is an acoustic track thats starts off and continues with just Mike and his ukulele.  A very pleasing way to finish off an EP which continues to showcase Rosedale and what one man and his vision can accomplish.

Connect with Rosedale via Website, Facebook and Twitter.