Interview

Second Hand Poet – Interview

Wednesday 28th March 2018

Opening up an email late one evening, and listening to the Second Hand Poet came at the perfect time, as I found myself trying to wind down, but wanting to give my emails that one last check. Listening to the mellow and soothing sounds, I found myself instantly unwinding, yet captivated by what I was hearing. The new mini album “Songs For The Pyre” is a collection of songs that have featured on various long vanished demo EP’s, its the mark of Jamie at his most unguarded and brutally honest. On an album which pulls in two directions, from the classical violin and string clad intro and interlude, to the more traditional acoustic guitar-led balladeering. Produced by Franc Cinelli and recorded in London over a two week period, “Songs For The Pyre” uses Jamie’s DIY ethic as a point of departure, adventurously expanding the sonic palette while retaining every bit of its heart and soul.

Hello! Please could you tell me about yourself, how is all started and at what point you decided to make a career out of music?

Hi! I’m Jamie I play folk music under the moniker Second Hand Poet, I began playing music around six years ago and initially formed a band which didn’t work out, when I say didn’t work out we fizzled out before our first booked show! I then went on to play the show by myself, that show scared me into playing alone I think!

Your debut album “Songs For The Pyre” has just been released. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

The response has been very positive! Which is always nice, the record is still in the early stages of promotion so I’m hoping the response stays the same!

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

The album has been a very long journey, especially from when the songs were initially written. The first version of ‘Songs For The Pyre’  was actually called ‘Into The Wild’, and was all recorded by myself! I put way too much time into the record and I decided to step back and let it breathe a little bit, which ended up me deciding to re-record the whole thing with a producer in charge rather than myself! Also, a few of the tracks were previously on another EP, which was put out a few years ago on a label, I had to buy back the rights myself to be able to include them on the album, that was definitely a hurdle!

What about the final track listing, were there any tracks that didn’t make the cut?

Definitely yes, I think its a positive and healthy decision being able to ditch something you’re not quite feeling creative wise. A lot of people including myself hang on to works even if they deep down know they probably should have been put to bed a fair while back! Like I said above, the album previously was something very different and the songs I scrapped just didn’t fit as well on the new sound of ‘Songs For The Pyre’.

How do you feel you have developed as an artists since your previous release, and why is now the right time to release your album?

I feel I’ve developed a huge amount from when I first started this, you definitely need to learn from mistakes to get something your proud of in this musical world, for sure. Unless you have someone that’s already gone through it all who happens to be guiding you! I think I was easily entertained with releasing demos and deciding they were good enough for a few years, I wanted to show a bit of love to the songs that appeared on various past demo ep’s by aligning them on a record! The next album will be more thought out… he says.

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

I’d say the biggest influence was going to live shows at a young age, it’s really easy to get drawn in to the musical world, but really hard to actually be in it. Obviously what I’m listening to during the writing stages sometimes strays in here and there. I’m a huge fan of Elliott Smith and sometimes when I’m winding down from a writing session he’s usually able to make me pick up the guitar again.

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the process, and what was the decision behind wanting self-promote your new album?

The process is hard, there’s so many musicians and so so many platforms readily available. If anything it’s too much. If you don’t have a label to work with, you then have to use the same routine but by yourself, do you hire in a PR company, and if you do hire a PR company do you then use a tour booking agency? I’m a bit tired of seeing other artists use these companies, it just sugar coats your music and presence when in reality the moment they stop getting paid, the campaign for your record does too. I’m trying a more natural approach to promotion at the moment by not only contacting lovely people like yourselves, but also individually the people who actually follow and like my music!

You’ve picked up quite a lot of momentum from the start and performed at quite a few festivals too. What’s been your best live performance to date, and have there been any memorable moments?

Thanks! It’s always nice to play festivals and have promoters who you can call on although sometimes I find festivals a bit detached from the crowd. It’s usually day time with not much atmosphere! For the more sombre music that is… My favorite shows are the ones that are dead quiet! When it’s just you playing your songs to an audience that are completely immersed in those thirty or so minutes.

What are your plans for the year ahead, and what live dates do you currently have lined up?

I’ll be trying to get the album out to as many people as possible still, and also booking in a few live sessions, maybe a single release also! I tend to shy away from playing live as much as I used to, it started to feel like bit of a chore! It’s lovely getting a reaction from people don’t get me wrong, but more times than not if you play too much the excitement tends to disappear. And its lonely playing on your own! There probably will be a few shows this year, and when they do you’ll know I’ve thought long and hard about playing them or not!

Finally, if you were given the opportunity to perform in the BBC Live Lounge, which song would you cover and why?

I think I’d choose a classic, maybe Roy Orbison’s ‘You Got It’ or Slade’s ‘Everyday’, I’m yet to hear them covered in the Live Lounge, but they should be for sure! BBC give me a call?

Connect with Second Hand Poet via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

TrueHeights – Interview

Wednesday 21st March 2018

Acclaimed young alt-rockers TrueHeights are back with a bang, announcing their new EP “Days We Found”, and their signing to We Are Triumphant. Hailing from the Midlands, the band have quickly picked up a huge amount of momentum from their debut EP “TH15”, and secured themselves a well-established fan base from their time on the road, supporting the likes of Freeze The AtlanticDEAD!Lonely The Brave, and Fatherson. Armed with the addition of guitarist Alex, and a brand new EP which is due for release on the 6th April, TrueHeights are hoping to put some serious heart and meaning back in to the UK’s rock scene.  I catch a moment with lead vocalist Zakk Poland ahead of the release to find out what we can expect from their new material.

Please could you tell me a bit more about yourselves? Have you been in bands previously, and what has driven you to form TrueHeights?


We are a 6 piece rock band from the Midlands. We have all come from very different backgrounds which I think makes our song-writing process very interesting. Myself and my brother Luke have come from a post-hardcore/punk background then we have the Maugham brothers and Kris who have come from a dance/electronic metal background and then Alex who has been a solo singer songwriter for many years – so our ideas are very diverse in the rehearsal studio to say the least! We formed TH because we wanted to unify a few of our favourite things from the genres we all love and create a sound that was accessible to more than the very niche sub-genre’s we were all a part of before.

Your debut mini album release “TH15” received quite a lot of momentum. How have you found the response to your music so far?

Thank you! “TH15” was received better than we could have ever imagined. Its mesmerising being able to travel the country and have crowds singing your songs back to you – it’s very moving.

You’ll be releasing your new EP “Days We Found” on the 6th April. 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 are SO excited to release “Days We Found”. Some of these songs have been sat behind the curtains for nearly 2 years and now we can finally unveil them to you guys! The response to the singles so far have been mind-blowing and we are so lucky to have such a loyal fanbase that are happy to stick with us for 3 years without releasing any music. We are so excited for the two songs which aren’t due to be released as singles, because the first time anyone will hear them is when they buy the full record. Keep your ears open for “No Tomorrow” and “Maybe”.

How would you say this compares to your previous material, and how do you feel you’ve developed as a band over the past 3 years?

It pushes the boundaries a lot more than “TH15”, in the way that we have collectively tried to diversify our writing style – making 5 very different sounding songs, with the idea that different people will have different favourites. As a band we have played a hell of a lot of shows over the last 3 years and learned a hell of a lot about each other and about our writing style and what works best for us – especially with the addition of Alex. We have become more of a team and everyone brings their own ideas and interpretations on each others work – I feel the sound has matured a great deal.

What’s your writing process and how do you work together to create the final track? Being a 6-piece band, how do you make sure you all have a creative input?

So, normally one of us will bring an idea to the studio and then we will all build on it. Depending on which instrumental idea is presented as a melody core, that is USUALLY what defines the overall sound and feel of the track, i.e “Stay” was written around a synth hook, giving it a more dancy feel. Whereas “Exit Route” was written around a riff idea I had written in my bedroom on an acoustic guitar! When I write on an acoustic guitar I always imagine I’m playing to a huge festival crowd with a huge wall of amplifiers behind me… 9 times out of 10 I’m sat in my room and I can hear my mum hoovering the stairs…SO rock and roll. We usually write a song in a few phases to make sure everyone is 100% happy with their parts, before our producer rips them to shit and makes us re-write them anyway!

Who did you work with for the video to your latest single “Still Moving Colour”, and how does it feel when you get to see the finished videos for your singles?


We worked with a good friend of ours Jay Hillyer (Cabin Boy Jump Ship). His work is awesome! He’s pretty much done most of our videos. He lets us have a lot of creative input on them which is great. We write and direct all of our videos ourselves.

You released an acoustic version of “City Lies” to raise money for Bedfordshire & Northamptonshire Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre. Could you tell me why this charity is so close to your hearts, and how the donations helped the centre?

This charity is especially close to our drummer Kris, who’s uncle is an MS sufferer. The whole charity release was conducted by Kris himself. It was such an honour to have such amazing, iconic people on board with us such as Connor Ball (The Vamps), Nothing But Theives, Madina Lake, BBC Introducing etc.

You’re on the last few dates of your current tour, but thinking about all the live dates you’ve ever played, which has been the most memorable and why?

We always tell the story of how I broke Ash’s leg on stage, but that was honestly one of the best moments of my life. I think on a serious note, one of the most memorable ones was MOM Fest in Eindhoven, ND. We got to play our first show overseas to thousands of people and it was mind-blowing. Not only that, but that was Alex’s first ever TH show.

How do you find the music scene in the Midlands? Being a music blogger/gig-goer from the area too I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the local scene and venues.

Yeah we love our local scene. I’m in the firm belief that we wouldn’t be anywhere right now had it not been for that. There’s not an AWFUL lot in the Midlands but that’s what makes events so special. We have so much love for Zephyr Lounge (Leamington), The Phoenix (Coventry), The Kasbah, and pretty much all of the venues in Birmingham. It’s a close-knit scene and we love it!

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

We would love to have another big tour in place and hopefully some more new music! Keep your eyes peeled…

Connect with TrueHeights via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

The Anchor – Interview

Saturday 3rd March 2018

Formed in the Spring of 2014, Denver quintet The Anchor have earned their reputation with a series of explosive releases. The band stakes their reputation with an emotive, impactful and ambitious sound, balancing thunderous breakdowns with majestic melodies and a heartfelt delivery riveting metalcore sound and high-octane live shows.  In addition to the band’s debut LP, “The World Ahead” debuting at #7 on the iTunes Metal Chart, the female-fronted outfit have also made a name for themselves since the viral explosion of their YouTube series, Metal Kitchen, which sees Linzey Rae cook with some of the genre’s leading names.  This week has seen the release of their current EP “Make It Last” so I caught up with the band to discover how they formed, what they hope from their latest release, and what we can expect next.

Hello! Please could you tell me some more about the history of the band; where and how did you meet, have you been in bands previously, and what made you decide to form The Anchor?

We all met in an old band, called Of Ashes. Cory and Ryan started the band playing in Ryan’s apartment back in 2012 and I joined them on bass in early 2013. We played a few shows but it sort of tapered off. After really thinking about what we wanted out of music and a band, we started over and formed The Anchor. Later down the road we found Keenan and met Adam, who was a studio drummer at the time. We’re basically the oddest pack of weirdos out there and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Your new EP “Make It Last” is due for release on the 23rd February.  How are you feeling about getting new music out there?

We’re honestly really excited to hear about what people’s new favorite songs are. On our last album, fans would tell us about their favorite songs and why it was their favorite. They would share with us these amazing stories and we were able to connect with them on a very personal level. We can’t wait to hear new stories and connect with old and new fans alike!

Your previous release debuted at #7 on the iTunes Metal Chart, but how does your latest material compare, and are you hoping for bigger things?

An album is like a snapshot about how we felt at that point in time and trying to compare it to what we wrote a year ago is kind of irrelevant and unimportant. Of course we hope this upcoming album will do great, but whether or not it sells better or worse than the last album doesn’t matter. We are proud of what we created together and we love preforming it. That’s all that matters.

What can we expect from “Make It Last”, and how did you find the process of putting it together?

The upcoming EP, Make It Last, is a tribute to all the amazing people we have met throughout our lives and through our musical endeavor. Each song is a testament to how relationships, for better or for worse, play a role shaping who we are. Every relationship and story we have heard has had a huge impact on us and continue to inspire us to be the greatest versions of ourselves possible. We really tried to not allow ourselves to be restricted by norms of our genre. We wanted to try to write something that was out of our comfort zones and push ourselves as musicians.

Can you tell me about your writing process, how you work together to create the final track, and how you know when a song is ready?

Cory generally writes the basic structure of the song and then brings it to the band. From there, we all collaborate together and get the songs about 90% done. The major leg work usually happens in the studio. Our producer, Taylor Hahn, plays a huge part in taking our songs to the next level. I think what has made the writing process so successful is that everyone plays a specific roll. We all have common vision for the band and have a deep understanding of “The Anchor” sound if you will.

Who are your musical influences, and are there any bands in particular that you model yourselves on?

Gin Blossoms, U2, Prince, and most importantly Steely Dan… ;)

Which tracks from your new EP are you looking forward to performing live?

AVOW!!! That song is super high energy and gets a crowd moving. Every time we have played it, things always end up getting a little rowdy.

How are you finding the music scene in Denver, and are there any venues in particular that you enjoy performing at?  I recently interview another band from the area that said there’s a lot of supportive venues and promoters.

We have been so fortunate to be a part of the Denver scene. We have received endless support and love from everyone in it. There is a promoter in particular, Zack Beecroft (Swinging Noose Productions), who genuinely cares about the scene and the bands in it. He always sees to it that bands are paid and well taken care of. The scene here is amazing!

I’m sorry but I have to ask; does “The Ghost Inside Makes Shepherds Pie” ever get performed live?

We learned it a long time ago when the video first came out. We regularly practiced it just in case someone requested, but it turns out that the people who come to our shows really aren’t that interested in hearing it. So we all have kind of forgot how to play it. However, bribe us with enough girl scout cookies and we’ll play just about anything.

What’s the ultimate aim for the band and where do you hope your music will take you?

There isn’t really an end goal. We plan to keep on working hard, writing music and touring. We all have such a passion for what we do and we can’t wait to see where it takes us.

Connect with The Anchor via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Elesa Marmo – Interview

Sunday 25th February 2018

Elesa Marmo is a singer/songwriter from Long Island, New York.  She’s been writing music since she could remember. After many years of wanting to pursue music, as well as releasing music as part of the indie duo The Wilts, Elesa most recently released her debut EP, titled “Clear Blue,” which has been produced by Greg Almeida (of alt rock band VISTA). Growing up listening to a large variety of mainstream pop artists, her original music is heavily influenced with electronic sounds and soft acoustic feels and blends those sounds perfectly.  I catch a moment with Elesa to find out how it’s all going since the release of her first solo EP.

Hello! Please could you tell me about yourself, how it all started and at what point you decided to make a career out of music?

Hello! I’m Elesa. I’m a singer/songwriter from Long Island. I’m 23 years old. I’ve always wanted to be a musician, I remember watching all my favorite pop stars when I was little perform and all I wanted was to be on stage just like them. Once I taught myself guitar and could put music to my lyrics is when it really set in that this is what I want to do. 

You have recently been part of the successful indie duo The Wilts. What was the decision behind moving away from this and pursuing a solo career?

I think we both just really wanted to make our own stuff. We made one EP together but unfortunately didn’t get to play live shows together. He’s great though, he’s got music out as his solo project called Lated and he’s in a band called Shorebreak as well and he’s so talented so definitely check him out! We will I’m sure do some shows eventually but we just wanted to kind of explore our own styles and find ourselves musically.

Your first EP “Clear Blue” was released in January. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

Everything I’ve seen has been so lovely. The responses have been so positive so far so I’m over the moon!

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

Everything was just so exciting and new to me having full creative control and just really finding my sound. I don’t think there were really any hurdles, I guess maybe some writers block at some points but it really just all flowed out.

What about the final track listing, were there tracks any that didn’t make the cut?

I always knew I wanted a four track EP so I really focused on making four really solid songs, I was proud of but of course as a writer I have my book of songs from when I was a kid to now of lyrics.

How did the opportunity come about to work with Greg Almeida, and how was the experience for you?

We went to college together and he did The Wilts EP and we always said during that process that we wanted to work together. The experience working with him was incredible he really knows so much about the production side and he would help me so much with writing as well and just made the songs sound exactly how I wanted and would hear things I didn’t even think of to add to them.

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

It’s different every single time. Usually it’s lyrics first for me but it can be music first. Greg really was the person I went to with lyrics and ideas and we would take it from there.

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

Stevie Nicks has always been an idol of mine. I love Lorde as well and her style and Carly Rae Jepsen, me and Greg listened to her while making this and we love her so much. I love Miley Cyrus too I’ve always been a big fan of hers.

What’s the music scene like in Long Island, and are there any venues in particular that you enjoy performing at?

It’s small but it’s nice. I think being near such a big city it’s great too. I haven’t performed live yet since it’s the first EP but there’s some venues of course I wanna try out!

What are your plans for the year ahead, and what live dates do you currently have lined up?

I’m currently working on getting the production ready for some live shows so that’s my focus right now. I’ll hopefully make some new music and just see where this takes me!

Connect with Elisa Marmo via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Nath Bravo – Interview

Thursday 22nd February 2018

Hailing from Mexico, but currently residing and performing in London, Nath Bravo has already spent a lot of time in the music industry pursuing opportunities. Having won a competition back in 2015 with an original song called “Alma Ajena” (foreign soul), Nath went on to write demos and took her first trip to London.  After 2 months in the capital she had played at over 30 venues and released her first single “Mercy” Nath was later discovered through one of her videos on Facebook and was asked to join the Vidanta group in Mexico, for which she spent 6 months as part of the team.  Following on from this Nath went back home to start focusing on her songwriting and creative journey. Now, with a brand new EP and single “Shadowman”, which was released at the end of November, she’s currently gigging all around London promoting and performing her own original music.


You have quite a musical background, and although you’re only 21 it sounds as though you’ve already spent a lot of time in the industry.  How have you found the experiences so far, and how has it helped you to develop and get to where you are today?

Well, I think it’s been a whole journey. Each phase I’ve gone through has built something different and in retrospect, it’s all been pushing me somehow till the point I’ve turned into this person. When you spend so much time and passion on something you believe in, you get the purest relationship with it, and the more I get into music, the more I get into myself. I’ve still got many many things to experience and I’m sure that in one year, they’ll bring me to another different phase without even noticing; I guess that’s how it works.

Do you feel that you have reached the point of finding the authentic sound and style that you were looking for with your music?

Authenticity is something that happens when you are truly honest on what you do, so, I think I’ve kept on being like that with everything I write and perform. That being said, I’m at the moment really happy with my sound, so I’m enjoying the feeling cause, at the end, I think it’s all about finding something that feels right. To trust your instinct and to own it is always gonna take you to a good place. I like to surprise myself.

You were born in Mexico but have spent time in London recording and performing. What is the music scene like in Mexico, and what was the decision to bring your music over this side of the pond?

I think Mexico is rich in culture and there are many talented creative souls out there, I love it. It’s interesting, different from the one here, as any other music scene, obviously, but the Mexican music has a special place in my heart. A couple of years ago, when I was living in Vancouver, a dear friend of mine recommended me to come to London to try my music out, and so I did. I came in the summer of 2016 and loved it; I guess it’s a place where I got a lot of my influences from, so, it just felt right to do it. This city is a sort of capital for music and therefore has many platforms and great opportunities for upcoming artists, which is wonderful. You should always be free to go out there and find the places and things that work for you.

Are there any venues in particular that you enjoy performing at?

I think The Water Rats has been one of my favorites. It’s such a great place to perform; intimate and nice vibe.

It’s been a few months now since the release of your EP.  How are you finding the response to your music so far?

It’s been good, I think that every time you release your work it’s a bit scary cause you are giving a bit of yourself for the world to listen and you never know what the response is going to be like, but I’ve seen that people have liked what I’m doing, so it’s been good, I’m glad!

Your latest single “Shadowman” has the most beautiful video to accompany it.  Who did you work with for the video, and where was it shot?

Thank you! It was filmed and completely made by my talented brother Aaron Bravo, mainly while on a road-trip in Iceland. I told him the meaning behind the song and the vibe, and he just instantly got it and brought his magic to the project. There’s a “male intervention” which was shot in Mexico.

Could you tell me about the single and the meaning behind it?

Well, in “Shadowman” the lyrics are quite personal, and still relatable. It’s a tribute to fear and the way I feel when it happens. I was able to experience it myself by the time that I wrote the song, so it just came naturally. It’s like you are a kid, trapped in a cage that only you can destroy, it’s a chaotic state of mind, but still, pretty fascinating as well. 

What’s your writing process?  Being a solo artist do you have anyone to bounce ideas from, and how do you know when a song is ready?

I think it depends. A song can just happen and sometimes I make the song happen. Sometimes I have a very specific idea in my mind to be portrayed, and some others I just sit in front of the piano and let it be as it emerges, and as soon as I get something half decent, I keep on working on it until I feel it’s ready; I guess I just feel it. Once it’s almost done, I send it to some good people I trust to know what they think and to know if it’s not only cool in my mind.

You were invited to join the group Vidanta back in 2016, which you were part of for 6 months. What was the decision behind not continuing with the band, and what is it about being a solo artist that has made you pursue this instead?

Well, Vidanta is a big resort in Mexico and I was invited to the group as a solo artist, so I was headlining shows pretty much every day. It was a step I needed to take in order to get more experience and I’m grateful it happened. After 6 months I just felt it was right for me to continue with my own path and project so I left to focus on my songwriting and production, but I think I’ve been a solo artist my whole life, I just started making my own thing and it’s just worked out, however I do love to collaborate with other people, to share ideas and so on.

What’s your ultimate aim and where do you hope your music will take you?

To connect with people is always gonna be the ultimate aim, I think. I hope it leads me to a point where I can inspire the audience, that’d be amazing, and I always dream about being on the road, so maybe everywhere!

Connect with Nath Bravo via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

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.

MACEDO – Interview

Wednesday 14th February 2017

Creating electrifying alternative pop tunes with empowering messages, MACEDO, comprised of twin sisters Michelle and Melissa, have taken a lifetime of creative energy and talent to produce their emotionally compelling, richly textured music, and they have just released their emotionally driven album “Ghost Town”.  With their grandmother being a trained classical pianist, and father pianist and guitarist, the girls were introduced to music from an early age, and were determined to become artists.  Michelle and Melissa have also stepped in to the world of acting, having recently appeared in the Netflix show Girlboss, as well as the leads in the James Franco film titled “Blood Heist”.

Photo Credit: Bobby Quillard

You come from quite a musical background with your grandmother being trained as a classical pianist, and your father also teaching you to play the piano and introducing you to lots of famous records. Would it be fair to say this is what has encouraged you both to become musicians? 

Yes, definitely. Growing up we were both always singing and writing songs together. Being singers and musicians was just something that happened naturally. Our earliest musical memory is sitting at the piano with our dad. It was this amazing antique piano that my mom inherited. We still write on that piano sometimes! One thing about having a career in the arts is that usually you have to truly want to do it with all of your heart and soul, so music and acting is what we truly wanted to do. It was never a question.

What was the decision behind deciding to make music as a career? It started as a hobby for you, but what made you realize you wanted to make something more of it? 

We always knew that music was something we wanted to pursue. We realized it was such a powerful form of self-expression. It felt like a way to transform life experiences into something beautiful, like alchemy. It can truly help people. To express ideas and feelings through lyrics and music is incredibly powerful.

Could you tell me about your writing process and how you work together to create the final track, and how you know when a song is ready?

Usually Michelle will start with lyrics and we’ll work together to create a melody. Sometimes Melissa will come to Michelle with a hook or a line and Michelle will expand from there. Every song is different. Next we focus on how to tell the most powerful story combining the lyrics with the melody. After many edits and revisions we decide to move on. It’s so difficult to know when the song is actually done, but when we feel like we’ve told the story in the most effective way, we let it go.

Your album “Ghost Town” has just been released. How are you finding the response to your music so far? 

It has been amazing. We have such incredible and supportive fans. I think the music and the journey really speaks to people, especially when they have been following the journey of making the album. People are really connecting to the honesty of the songwriting which is such a compliment. We’re so grateful for them.

The album was written during a tough time for Michelle. How does it feel listening back knowing the songs represent a certain period in your life?

It is certainly powerful to listen back on such a painful period of time. It has shown me how much I have grown and it makes me grateful for what that darkness taught me. I think of the amazing support system I had and how important it is to seek help when you are experiencing depression and anxiety. It is so important to listen to and respect your mind and body. I’m happy that I was able to delve into my mind in such an raw, unfiltered way to write these songs. I’m grateful to be on the other side of that time, difficult times always pass. As women, we are so resilient, these songs are a reminder of that.

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

The biggest challenge has been staying true to our vision. Everyone else has an opinion about what we should be or do. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to really figure out what it is that you want and then stick with your vision. This album is about putting out what we want and representing our true selves.

Were there tracks any that didn’t make the final cut? 

Yes! Definitely a few recorded tracks that we didn’t put in the final cut. We were ultimately trying to tell a story from start to finish with this album and some songs just distracted from that concept. We wanted to make sure we were putting our best foot forward and really putting on songs that we loved.

You have both recently appeared as Stacie and Stephanie in the Netflix show Girlboss. How did the opportunity come about, and how was the experience for you? 

We are both actors so we auditioned for the show and when I (Melissa) read the script I just knew we were perfect for it. We play a fictional band on the show, Girlboss, which was a lot of fun! Acting is something that we’ve both just always known we wanted to do. We are both trained actors and have been pursuing it along with music our entire lives. We are equally actors and musicians. It’s another way to express ourselves and to really share our art with the world. We feel passionately about empowering young women and it was serendipitous that Girlboss is such an empowering and powerful show for women, it aligns perfectly with what we want to put out into the world!

Would you consider doing more acting? 

Yes! We are so excited for what’s to come. We just wrapped lead roles in an incredible feature film in New York called “Sara”. It was an amazing experience and the our fellow cast members (Marc Menchaca, Drew Fonteiro, Tyler Dash White) and crew were incredible. That is all we can say so far but stay tuned on our Instagram and we will be announcing more soon!

What do you get up to outside of music and acting, and are there any hobbies in particular that you both enjoy? 

We don’t have much time for anything but music and acting, but we feel very strongly about women’s issues. We have always supported RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) and Melissa used to be a Rape Crisis Counselor for them. We interviewed hundreds of women and men and co-created a theatrical show called “Dirty Talk” with our theatre company (World Kin Ensemble) about the spectrum of violence against women, ranging from catcalling to rape. We acted in and toured college campuses around the country with that show. We also performed it as part of USC’s Visions and Voices. We feel strongly about any organization that supports and empowers women. It’s exactly what we try to create in our art. We think as artists it’s important to help empower people who feel marginalized and silenced.

Connect with MACEDO via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.