Interview

Paddy James – Interview

Wednesday 7th February 2018

Fresh off the back of touring with the likes of Ed Sheeran and The Hoosiers, and following a string of successful live performances with Sofar Sounds; and being featured on BBC Introducing, London based artist Paddy James is armed with his guitar and a bunch of infectious melodies for his latest release “Perfectly Flawed”.  His latest single, which is due to be release on the 2nd March showcases the the effortless talents that Paddy has when it comes to songwriting, and after watching his performances on YouTube, it’s not hard to see why his debut EP “Lost Boy” spun him straight in to the top 5 singer/songwriter chart on iTunes.  Paddy aims to focus on continuing to releasing a number of singles this year, whilst taking the time to perfect his album.

Please could you tell me about how it all started for you?  Has there been anyone in particular that has inspired you to take the step in to music, and at what point did you know you wanted to make a career out of it?

Like many a musician I grew up around music, my dad played guitar and always played in bands for as long as I can remember. He tried getting me to play guitar when I was a little tot but I didn’t have the patience, I wanted to be able to entertain immediately. So, after a fleeting attempt at learning the guitar I took on the drums from maybe 9/10 years old. I remember being bought a drum kit which was set up in the garage, the crashing about must’ve been horrendous, ha! Fast forward to my mid/late teens following a few years of studying the drums, I revisited my old 6 string nemesis in the form of a beaten up old nylon string classical guitar and thrashed around for a while with the basics. I finally got it to work and had won a school talent show within a year or two. I think the major turning point though, was when I got to Uni. I realised there, that I had the potential to make music work for me, that’s where I built a bit of a live reputation, landed some great support slots and lived through some ludicrous life experiences from which some of my early song writing fodder was born. As far as there being any one particular influential person, besides dad’s musicality and mum’s killer English language skills, Gene Kelly would be up there, Singin’ in the Rain was on a loop in my house, what an entertainer.

Your latest single “Perfectly Flawed” has just been released.  How are you finding the response so far, and how does it feel having the single out there?

The response has been great so far. I have an incredible network of friends and family who are always excited to see what comes next, and this time I’ve been privileged to receive a big chunk of industry feedback which has been very insightful. It’s a great relief to have it out, it’s amazing how long it takes sometimes when you are self funding a project. I try and enjoy the process but I’m forever trying to improve as a musician and a writer and the next new idea is always the best idea you’ve ever had. So I have to remind myself sometimes to take one step at a time and take it as it comes!

How does the single compare to your previous releases, and how do you feel you’re growing as an artist?

It’s definitely a step forward I think from the previous release. I’m slowly trying to veer away from the typical singer/songwriter set up that we’ve been bombarded with over the last few years. It will always be at the heart of what I do but I’m definitely working towards something a bit more exciting. I find myself studying songs and structures a lot more now and spending a lot of time on the technical side of things. I didn’t study music and I’m incredibly competitive so I feel like I’m constantly catching up. I try and surround myself with crazy talented musicians too who help push me to be the musician that I’m hoping to create. I’m working a lot more on the song writing and trying to find a good balance that can be both artistic yet commercial at the same time.

Could you tell me about 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?

Songs are never ready, haha! Sometimes you just have to put your hands up and say that’s the song and move on. I don’t have a set writing process, I probably should do, although they tend to stem from one of two scenarios. The first is simply picking up a guitar, blurting out some chords, words and melodies and see if anything sticks. The second I tend to pick a topic and roll with it maybe write a few pages of words, rhymes and sing into my phone, (the easiest way to jot down ideas). The songs always come together more quickly once I have a clear story in my head. I’ve been fortunate enough to try writing with people for the first time over this past year and that was one of the key learning points. Its all too easy to write a load of waffle but when you have a clear subject matter, ideal or emotion you want to put across it makes life so much easier and the songs which are the most believable and the most real are the ones that stand out so much more.

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

There are so many to choose from, I never really honed in on any one artist nor have I really ever idolised anyone as the people at the top of their game are just people who had a vision and worked incredibly hard at their craft to get to the top. If I were to throw a couple in I would say John Mayer because there is simply nothing he cannot do on a guitar, I would be happy with half of his guitar knowledge. Sting, his lyrics have always intrigued me, I love the way he writes songs, I find a lot of his material incredibly poetic. The Police had such an attitude on and off the stage too which I love watching. A lot of my inspiration comes from watching music documentaries and recorded live shows. It’s so easy to write after watching an incredible performance.

Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?

My plan is to keep releasing singles for now, there’ll be 3/4 more out this year after ‘Perfectly Flawed’. I’m headed back into the studio in May once the winter season is over with some songs I’m incredibly excited about. Once this year is done I’ll see how everything has gone down and go from there. I want the first album to be special so it may take a few years yet while I figure it all out. I’m in no rush.

Who has been your favourite band or artist to tour with so far?  You’ve been lucky enough to support some huge artists…

Supporting Ed, just as he was about to explode was great fun such a lovely dude. Last summer though I played a little festival in France called The Mad Hatters Wonderland Festival, one of my favourite lesser known bands Will and the People who I’ve played with a couple of times now were playing which was ace (I still don’t understand why they aren’t huge) but Slade were headlining and I was genuinely blown away. I’ve never had so much fun at a gig, they really know how to entertain a crowd I had no idea they would be so good.

I’ve recently discovered Sofar Sounds and noticed you did a performance a little while back.  How did the opportunity come about, and how was the experience?

I absolutely love the Sofar gigs I think I’ve done 4 or 5 now, they have an application process and if they like what you do they invite you to play a show. You then become part of their alumni I guess you’d call it, and if you go down well there’s plenty of opportunities to do more shows. Their whole ethos revolves around providing a dead quiet atmosphere for people that want to listen to music. It’s incredibly intimate, you can literally hear a pin drop, which can be a strange sensation as you literally have no where to hide. I love it though, I love the pressure to perform, it keeps you on your toes for sure. You should definitely go!

Word has it that you’re also a ski instructor.  Which came first, music or skiing, and how do you balance your time between the two?

Yes! I am a qualified ski instructor, I trained over in Canada before I went to Uni and taught when I was out there. I’m pretty hectic with music now though so I save the teaching for friends and family that come and visit me out here in the Alps. I was a pretty fortunate kid, I went skiing for the first time when I was about 7 years old and pretty much wangled a trip most years growing up. Music definitely came first though I’ve been singing since before I can remember. My gig schedule is pretty mental out here so I ski more for pleasure, nothing keeps you fresher than the mountain air.

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

Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic – Sting. He’s just a bad ass as far as I’m concerned… Plus I can’t stop listening to an album he did backed by various orchestra’s called Symphonicities. The arrangements just hit the spot for me. I’d have to figure out how to do it in a way distinctive for me but it’s a beautiful song. When I am of a level where I can fill out the Royal Albert Hall with an orchestra behind my songs in a similar way I will have lived a happy man.

Connect with Paddy James via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

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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.

Geo Gabriel – Interview

Sunday 28th January 2018

Geo Gabriel is a London-based Soul artist who has worked with some huge names in the music industry, including Jay-Z, Madonna, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, 30 Seconds to Mars, Placebo, Beverley Knight and Ed Sheeran, just to name a few!  He has also spent four years working with Bazil Meade, the founder of the world famous London Community Gospel Choir, responsible for recording the backing track of The Lion King’s “The Circle of Life”.  At the top of his mission list, Geo wants to continue contributing his own music to the world, and has just released his latest single “Destiny”, which is to be followed by an album release later this year.  I caught a moment with Geo to find out more about his experiences in the industry and latest release.

What artists and genres did you listen to growing up, and who or what encouraged you to pursue a career in the music industry?

When growing up I listened to lots of soul, rock, pop, reggae, hip-hop, jazz ranging from artists like Michael Jackson, Motown music, Phyllis Hyman, Earth Wind & Fire, David Bowie, Led Zeplin, Aerosmith, Genesis, Journey, Santana, Gun N’ Roses, Queen, Nat King Cole, Doris Day, John Holt, Ella Fitzgerald, Grover Washington, Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack, Kool G Rap, KRS -1, Leaders Of The New School, Steely Dan, New Edition, Prince, Parliament Funkadelic, etc.

You’ve worked with some really big names (Jay-Z, Madonna, Roger Waters, Ed Sheeran, to name a few). Could you tell me more about how these opportunities came about?

Some opportunities came to me via agencies I worked for, the Madonna and Roger Waters gig (Cà Ira) was via Choir connexion agency, because I used to be a member of London Community Gospel Choir (LCGC) while Ed Sheeran and Jay-Z were based on recommendations.

Who have you enjoyed working with the most, and do you have any memorable moments?

I’ve really enjoyed working with them all, I say Lionel Richie was so much fun. He was very down to earth and brought such a great vibe on stage, we had a dance-off on stage and as well, he was an absolute professional!

You also spent four years working with Bazil Meade. Are you able to tell me more about this experience, and what you achieved together during this time?

Bazil Meade is a legend, he’s the real deal!! His training is second to none, he helped sharpen skill in the area of voicing, working with harmonies which today I use in my vocal productions. Bazil Meade also introduced me to the world of session singing whereby I got a large amount of work with big artists through him.

How have these experiences encouraged you in your own music as an independent artist?

These experiences have encouraged me to keep working on my craft as a vocalist, presentation of my music as a whole, develop a great work ethic and aim for the top in terms of artistry.


It sounds as though you spend a lot of time working with other artists, but how do you find time to focus on your own material?

I have to always remember my ‘big why’ I entered the music game. I believe in keeping my mission at the forefront of my vision, this means regardless of what’s going in my life I have to make time for my music, because first and foremost I am an artist/singer/songwriter/producer, this means creating and contributing my music to the world is at the top of my mission list.

Could you tell me about your new single ‘Destiny’ and the inspiration behind it?

Destiny is a song about my life as an artist/entertainer, bright lights different cities different tours, plane hopping, hotels galore, performing on different stages around the world, these are some of the elements that make me the man who I am and I embrace it all because it’s no fluke I landed here, it’s my destiny. The inspiration for the song’s concept is my life as an artist/entertainer, as for musical inspiration it’s Quincy Jones in terms of production and Michael Jackson for the vocal styling. 

Will there be a video released for the single?

Yes, there will be a video for Destiny, we’re in talks of getting one done.

Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?

This year I will be releasing my album and I’m very excited about it.

What other artists are you listening to at the moment, and do you have any recommendations?

I’m currently listening to Gene Noble, BJ The Chicago Kid, PJ Morton, 9th Wonder, Phonte, Foreign Exchange, The Walls, Zacardi Cortez.

Connect with Geo Gabriel via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

George Simpson – Interview

Saturday 20th January 2018

Following the success of his first 2 albums, George Simpson decided to take a break for a couple of years, to spend some time deciding what direction he wanted to take his music.  Having already been picked up by the likes of Jeremy Vine and Graham Norton, and with his single “Open Door” finding success on the TV show Hollyoakes, George wondered what his next step would be.  Now, due for release on the 23rd February, “Finding Myself” is the upcoming single, which will be followed by a 3rd album release from George in the coming months. The single also features the harmonious vocals from UK Country songstress, Kezia.  My interview with George has been very enjoyable, as he gives me a detailed background in to the early days, his music career so far, and his songwriting process.

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

I’ve always seen myself as a regular guy. One of the lads who grew up playing sport and not music. Music came very late to me picking a guitar up at 17 and not being able to perform solo until I was 27. I’ve only been performing solo on the piano for 3 years so as a performer, my background is very different from that guy, who has been learning an instrument and having lessons since they were at primary school, and had small friend circles and spent hours practicing. That was definitely not me.

I had a hopeful career as a footballer at one point, playing for my county (Leicestershire) and having trials for Leicester City when I was 16, and apparently I used to sing a lot in the changing rooms before football matches… so it’s something I enjoyed and something my friends obviously picked up on.

The football thing never materialised and I went backpacking for 2 years after leaving school and my A Levels half way through. I was never a keen academic… but when I went backpacking, I purchased a guitar and spent a year or so learning and playing and singing around camp sites etc, so when I came home I really got the music bug.

I joined a band called Shine, who were a cover band in my home town. One of my mates dad was the bass player and they let me get up and sing at his wedding. A few months went by and they needed a singer and they remembered me and I joined the band and thats where it all began!

The more I played the guitar and sang, the more I experimented with writing so I started writing from the word go.

I then joined a original music band called Lux Mundi to really put my writing to the test. They created the music which was prog rock, and I wrote the lyrics and melodies. Not the way I would have liked to write in hind sight but some great stuff came out of it. We never really got anywhere. We spent hours rehearsing and no time gigging. We were young, and there were personality clashes and we went our own ways, but it was a valuable experience, and at that point I was writing all of the time.

There was a pivotal moment where I left both both Shine and Lux Mundi at the same time in 2000. I focused on performing solo and writing as a solo artist and two year later I released my first single ‘Never Leave You Out in the Rain” and it went from there.

By this time my reputation as a performer helped me make the jump from full time employment into being a full time musician performing around the UK and Europe every week. It’s been nearly 4 years as a full timer and I am loving it! I have more writing time than ever, and see my two young boys (Zak-5 and Savvi -2) all the time which is great!

What is it about Country music that you enjoy, and who or what has drawn you to this genre?

I actually really got into Country music around 2 years ago when my wife drew my attention to the series Nashville. I don’t watch much TV but as soon as I heard that the series was about the Nashville music scene I thought I would give it a go… then…. these stunning duets and the beautiful melodic songs they played each week just grabbed me and it went from there! As a writer I am always analysing writing styles and looking for ways to be more diverse myself, so I wanted to test myself and try and write a country song, and within 30 mins, ‘Finding Myself’ was born! I found it came really easily to me and my style is quite emotive anyway, and being an acoustic guitarist it seemed to really suit me. I really really adore male and female duets too!

Following on from 2 successful albums you decided to take a break. What was it at that moment that made you feel you needed the respite, and how has it helped you going forward?

Yes, after my second album my second son was born and I was also still trying to cement my career in being a professional entertainer/musician, so it felt like a natural break. But… also, I simply wanted to just focus on new material and thinking about what direction to go in to next. I didn’t want any pressure on myself to write, so I went with the flow and tried to build up a collection of songs that could potentially be on album number 3! The previous 2/3 years were really full on. I hadn’t released a song before 2012 and most people I knew didn’t even know that I write songs, so there was a lot of hype at the time, and I tried to keep the ball rolling, and get a second album out and new singles and videos out there, but after that I was mentally exhausted from it all. Especially being an independent artist and doing everything myself.

Your new single ‘Finding Myself’ is due to be released in February. How are you feeling about getting your new music out there?

I really can’t wait! It’s been a few years of writing, recording and planning and I’m ready now for another push. I’m excited about people hearing my new music, and the new direction. The industry has actually changed a lot since I’ve been ‘hibernating’, ha! Spotify is a real big player now where it wasn’t so much with my first single and album, so planning releases is very different this time around!  

Who did you work with for the accompanying video for the single, and where did the shoot take place?

I worked with a friend called Jay Hillyer who is a really talented videographer. He started out when I started releasing music and I have always used him so we have grown together in a way! He has a really big profile now in certain scenes and we work together really well!  I always plan my own videos and try and create the scenes and shots. I wake up some mornings and go…. ahhh yeah that would be cool, or that would work well for that part of the song… my head is always on it!

The location was in Derby. An old derelict site… which was perfect. Kezia is from Derby and she pointed it out and said her brother had a photo shoot there a while back. We checked it out… and it was great… it reflected the song… and the relationship between two people where the relationship has gone from good to bad… just like that site. The graffiti added colour and you can see wildlife trying to grow again… and that almost told the story of the song. Accidentally clever I’d say! Ha. 

How did you find the process of putting the song together, and how does it feel listening back to a song that reflects on personal experiences?

I found it quite easy actually. I just started strumming some chords on the guitar, in a country style, and just let the first melodies that came in to my head, spill out… I knew what I wanted to write about at that time and it went from there. Some songs come easy, others you can spend months of tweaking and improving certain parts. ‘Finding Myself’ is about a personal experience, my first relationship actually… where things went bad, and I needed time away to reflect and see what I wanted. I moved home as I was living a few hours away in Leeds at the time. There is a line in the song ‘I see fire through your window, but it’s cold in my heart’… and I can vividly remember walking in one day, and seeing the fire on in the house through the lounge window, but feeling like I didn’t really want to be going back to that house anymore… anyway…! I’m please how the song came out. I feel most people could relate to it too and thats always something I strive to include in my writing!

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?

In terms of writing I have always done everything on my own. I may sit down on a piano or the guitar, and both offer something very different in terms of writing and what comes out of my head! Sometimes I don’t know what to write about, but I play music first and see how it feels emotionally and then build the content of the song around that. Melodies come to me really easily… and then I work on lyrics to fit the melodies. Thats a very typical way in which I would write a song. Sometimes I write lyrics first.

When it comes to production of the tracks, I work with my producer Ben Haynes and he is brilliant to bounce ideas off. Between us, the song can take all sorts of twists and turns, but in the end, I’m always really happy with it. We’ve worked together on three albums now so we are really comfortable and familiar with how each other work, so this third album has been a pleasure with clear focus on what we want to achieve!  

How did the opportunity come about to work with Kezia, and how was the experience?

My producer, Ben Haynes, showed me a few years ago, Kezia’s work, as she worked with Ben too, so I always knew of her and really admired her style and voice. So when we started to look at female singers to make up to the duet, Kezia flew to the top of the list! Kezia is a pleasure to work with. She came in, used our ideas and harmony lines as a guidance, but then just improvised and did her thing, and I was like, yeah… that is great!!! I had another song recorded called ‘Love You Again’ which is almost like the part 2 of ‘Finding Myself’ and she also sang on that. Kezia is a lovely girl, really easy to get on with and really down to earth. I hope she goes far!

Are you looking to release another album in the near future?

Yes, certainly! I have the album ready to go! I have a release date set for April 19th 2018 and I am buzzing about it! I’ll be releasing another single just before then too in the run up to the album launch and hopefully a small tour to go with it all!  

Finally, if you were invited to perform on the BBC Live Lounge, which song would you cover and why?

Mmmmmm, actually I recently recorded a cover of ‘Freedom’ by George Michael/Wham. I love turning upbeat pop songs into emotive ballads and really show the true core of the song. I would love to get in the Live Lounge and do that with a small string section and some backing singers! I just love the song and love performing it and it would be great to show the world how George Michael probably wrote it originally before all of the production!

Connect with George Simpson via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

The Baskervilles – Interview

Wednesday 17th January 2018

Blending raw energy, hip-hop influenced grooves and the syncopated grind of 9 bit guitar, The Baskervilles aim to reflect the voice of anger for anyone in society feeling like they are “currently being dealt a bleak future through the decisions made by the elite few”. Speaking with band members James and Aaron, they explain the political message behind their latest single “Kalashnikov” and what has encouraged them to pour out their anger in this hard-hitting track. Having spent the past year working with producer Tom Donovan, the band have been working hard to push the boundaries of rock music, so I was keen to find out how The Baskervilles formed, how they’re finding their feet in the music world, and most importantly from such a driven band, 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 Baskervilles?

James – So me and Aaron were in a band together, Callum and Blair were in a different band together and we all sort of got tired of our respective outfits and wanted to try something new. The Baskervilles has been our chance to really make the music we want, we don’t set boundaries on what it should be and just follow the ethos of if it feels good, do it.

Your third single ‘Kalashnikov’ was released in December. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

James – The response has been incredible so far, we get all kinds of people commenting on it, tagging their mates on Facebook, that sort of thing.

Aaron – Being on an Indie label means we get to be hands on with everything involved with releasing a single, we learnt a lot with our first two releases and that has really paid of with ‘Kalashnikov’ in terms of reach. Having complete strangers message us to say how much they have enjoyed the track has really been amazing.

You explain that the single is the “voice of anger for anyone who has the sense that we are currently being dealt a bleak future through the decisions made by the elite few.” What is it about this message in particular that has encouraged you to write so passionately about it?

James – I think it’s the zeitgeist right now. ‘Anything is possible’ used to be a ubiquitous message of hope, now it’s like a warning. The president of the US just tweeted a nuclear capable dictator to call him short & fat, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE KIDS. In this country it’s a tad more subtle but the sentiments the same. Grenfell tower is a black smouldering monument to that disparity, the wealthiest borough in the country ignored the pleas of it’s residence to improve fire safety and action was only taken once people literally burned to death. We have a situation where Windsor police have been instructed to crack down on homelessness in the run up to the royal wedding. There is a justifiable anger that the homeless in Windsor are far more likely to see the inside of a cell than anyone directly responsible for people burning to death in Grenfell tower.

How did you find the experience of writing, recording and editing the music video for the single, and who came up with the concept?

Aaron – Creating videos is something I love doing almost as much as making music. One of the biggest benefits to making our own videos is that we can treat them like a visual extension to the song, though this doesn’t necessarily mean a video must be a perfect translation of the lyrics into visual form. With ‘Kalashnikov’, I wanted to create something that visualised the conflicted theme of the song in a way that wouldn’t make the video feel obviously political. Yes, the lyrics do have a political edge to them but at the heart of it the song is conflict. I’m always quite drawn to ideas that contain self-reflection or an internal struggle, and so the idea of having James face off against himself felt like the natural story to tell. The whole band worked really hard on this video, we built the set together, shot the video over two long nights and all contributed ideas that made it into the final edit. I’m very proud of the Kalashnikov video and am currently working on ideas for the next single.

You spent the last year working with producer Tom Donovan. How was the experience for you, and did he help you achieve your aim of trying to push the boundaries of rock music?

James – Tom Donovan is all you hope for in a producer, the guy has an energy that is completely contagious and I don’t think we could of done what we’ve done without him.

Aaron – I think most musicians want to push musical boundaries to some extent, whether that’s their own personal boundaries or the boundaries of an entire genre. Working with Tom has definitely pushed us to try new things in our music, as a band we get really excited about finding cool sounds or creative production techniques. We’re now using Ableton Live during our live shows, which means we can bring all the cool and weird sounds that excite us in the studio to our live performances, pushing our live sound in directions we couldn’t before.  I think as long as we’re making music, we’ll always be trying to push some sort of boundary.

Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?

James – There could be one on the horizon, we definitely have the songs for it but we’ve got no money behind us except our own so we prefer to do it single by single in order to compete with our more well-heeled contemporaries. We have often mused aloud about releasing Blair back into his natural habitat but worry his peers will no longer accept him.

Let’s talk instruments; what do you all play and when did you learn?

James – I play the guitar & sing I learnt around 16. Callum plays the guitar but it’s left handed so make of that what you will. Aaron plays the bass and is hoping to learn mid to late 2018. Blair plays the drums and has been known to play dead when startled.

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

James – Normally I’d come up with a riff and maybe a chorus and show it to the guys. They all sit in these chairs and spin round if they like but stay facing the other way if they don’t. It’s pretty brutal on me but it’s a tradition we try to maintain. Then we have a little home studio where we all get together and turn it into a song, lately we’ve been writing at Toms which has been really working for us.

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

James – The process is pretty bizarre to be honest, you can sit & plan stuff for days but nothing ever goes the way you think it will, it’s best to just go with it, write the best stuff you can and enjoy every second your on stage. We once supported Matt Cardle and I remember asking him in his dressing room how he achieved such success, and he said “who are you and how the fuck did you get in here?”. That advice has really stuck with me, it’s pointless questioning everything and looking to others because who we are and how we got here is really beyond our control. Thanks for everything Matt.

How is the year looking for you with live dates, and are you hoping to get to any festivals?

Aaron – We have a number of shows coming up this month in London, Colchester and Liverpool, all our live dates can be found on our website (http://www.thebaskervillesofficial.com). Our big goal for this summer is festivals, but it’s too early to announce anything on that front.

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

Amanda Jayne – Interview

Wednesday 3rd January 2018

Amanda Jayne is a singer/songwriter who is ready to take her music to the next level.  Music and performing has been in her blood ever since she picked up her father’s guitar as a child, and now after an already successful debut album release, Amanda is ready to record and release new material. “Bruising pt II” is the latest single from the Long Island songstress, which is a reworking and development of the original track “Bruising” from her first album “Strike A Match.” The accompanying video sees Amanda comforting her four heartbroken friends, as she travels with their emotions in one continuous shot.  Being in the early stages of her music career I took a moment to find out more about Amanda, her music and aspirations.

Hello! Please could you tell me a little bit about yourself, who or what got you interested in music, and how you came to be a singer/songwriter?

Hi! My name is Amanda Jayne and I’m a singer-songwriter from Long Island, New York (the suburbs of NYC). I’ve been writing songs for about eight years now and playing live/recording for four. I decided to become a singer-songwriter because writing music was the best way to express my emotions as a teenager. Everyone has that angst-y period, and music helped me cope with it. I picked up my dad’s guitar, strummed a chord, and the rest is history!

How would you describe your music, and where do you take your inspiration from when writing your songs?

I say my genre is singer-songwriter/pop. That label encompasses the fact that my music is structured like pop but contains the authenticity of a singer-songwriter. My songs typically have memorable choruses and I use vocal harmonies often. The music’s complexity lies in the lyricism. When writing, I take inspiration from my own experiences. Many times, real-life conversations I’ve had make their way into lyrics. Having this honesty makes the songs feel more valuable to me and more personal to the listener.

What’s the story behind your latest single ‘Bruising pt. II’ and was it written through personal experiences?

“Bruising pt. II” is a reworking of my song “Bruising” that was on my last album Strike a Match. The original “Bruising” was quite simple, and I felt that the song would be better if it had more production on it (like a pop song would). I also added new lyrics to create a bridge. The process took about a year from rewriting to release. This song’s about a former love interest of mine who felt that he couldn’t commit to a relationship. In my mind, he didn’t value me and didn’t care that he was toying with my emotions.

Who did you work with for the accompanying video for the single, and where did the shoot take place?

Jolil Ullah from Vacant Eye shot the video, and I had four wonderful friends, Lindsey Smith, Cissy Ge, Khairika Al Sinani, and Jessica DiPaola play the four different characters. The shoot took place at the Pollock-Krasner House in East Hampton, which is where artists Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner once lived. It was a great experience, and I think the aesthetic of the video fits the song well.

What instruments do you play, and are you the one playing them in your songs?

The guitar is my main instrument, but I can play a bit of piano, bass, and ukulele as well. Studio work is a collaborative effort for my music, so it depends on the song! For “Bruising pt. II,” I played the piano part because I had written and practiced it. But, my friend Christopher Reilly was in the studio with me that day and nailed the guitar part. On Strike a Match, Chris and I tossed around the instruments so much that I couldn’t tell you who played what!

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

So far it’s been good! Many of my friends are incredibly supportive of what I do and try to help when they can. I haven’t picked up too much of a following yet, but I hope to in the coming years!

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 feels ready?

Usually, an idea for a lyric or melody line hits me. I’ll jot it down, and when I can, I’ll sit with the guitar or the piano and flesh it out. While writing, the lyrics and melodies tend to come to my brain simultaneously. There are pros and cons to writing alone, though. I don’t have to agree with anyone about what goes into the song, but at the same time, it’s easy to run out of ideas or get stuck. I enjoy collaborating with other songwriters, and sometimes the product I get with a co-write is a million times better than what I could have accomplished alone.

How do you feel you’ve developed as an artists over the years?

Yes! I think I’ve grown tremendously. I’ve been working on my voice consistently and I’ve felt a huge improvement there. I’ve spent a lot of time practicing music and diving into the craft of songwriting. Also, my influences have shifted from pop/rock to R&B/ indie, so the type of music I make has changed a bit.

What are your plans for the year? Can we expect another album release, and do you have any live dates lined up?

My plan for 2018 is to get started on recording another project. I have a bunch of songs that are ready to get produced, so you’ll be hearing some new originals in the near future! These songs are going to be the best ones yet.

What other artists are you listening to at the moment, and do you have any recommendations?

I’m so glad you asked this! I love sharing music. Recently, I’ve been listening to Jess Best, Isaac LeSage, and Verhoog. Drax Project is always a favorite, and I can’t wait for Kimbra’s new album!

Connect with Amanda Jayne via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Alive & Well – Interview

Sunday 31st December 2017

Just when you think the past 12 months of music discovery are coming to a close, and as I’m sat here wondering what bands, artists and releases really peaked for me this year, another contender races in to firmly add their place in my ones to watch for 2018.  Bassist and Vocalist Mike Mule of San Diego band Alive & Well recently contacted me with their latest single “You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit” and with its tremendous intro and relatable lyrics, it instantly reminded me of why pop-punk still holds a special place in my heart.  Along with the hardcore elements thrown in too, I can’t deny that I’m already hooked!  Having released their debut EP “From Basements to Beaches” in 2016, they have since gone on to play at the Vans Warped Tour and opened up for the likes of The Ataris and Dashboard Confessional, so not only am I hoping that a new release is on the cards soon, I’m certain that bigger things are coming.

Let’s start things off with an introduction and some history behind the band. Where and how did you all meet, have you been in bands previously, and what made you decide to form Alive & Well?

Alive & Well has a real fun story actually. Matt had the songs and the idea of the band formed back in New Jersey roughly 2012 ish and then moved out here to San Diego. We actually met at Ramen Spot new years day over a conversation about a band hoodie I was wearing. At the time I was playing in a hardcore band and invited Matt to our next show. The guy who formed the band left and I ended up asking Matt to fill in. When I sent him an email with all the songs and band info, a thread from 2 years prior popped up. Turned out that we actually attempted to get together before and it never worked out with schedules and what not. After a few months, the hardcore band started to fizzle out and Matt informed me that he had a pop punk band he was working on and just needed a bassist. I came to one practice and now here we are. Alive & Well.

You class yourselves as a pop-punk band, but there are definitely noticeable hardcore elements to your sound, and it works really well.  What has drawn you to these genres?

Growing up on the east coast there was a ton of awesome hardcore bands it was almost hard to not get into it. Those basement, house, VFW Hall, and small club shows are such an insanely fun time and the energy and unity that hardcore shows bring are unlike any other musical experience. Matt and I definitely have more of a hardcore background and try to keep some of the elements in our songs.

You released your debut EP ‘From Basements to Beaches’ in June. What’s the story behind the release, and how are you finding the response to your music so far?

We had such a fun time with the making of the EP, from recording to the EP album cover. The whole idea behind the name is just about the changes from east coast to west coast. We (Matt and myself) grew up hanging out in basements, now we’re on beaches. We recorded with Beau Burchell of Saosin at his studio in LA. From there we made the video for ‘No Winter in the West’ with our buddy Alejandro Miyashiro who was in school in New York. Luckily Matt was back there to visit family and Alejandro came back to San Diego for a school break a few months later, so what should have been a logistical nightmare worked out fairly well and we were able to have parts of the video on both coasts. As for the EP cover, we literally built a basement on the beach. The tide came in quick and almost brought it all crashing down. It was nuts.  Being an unsigned band and all transplants to a new city, we’re thrilled with the traction this EP has picked up.

Are you looking to follow up with another EP or album in the near future?

We’re hoping to have something out early 2018.

Your single ‘You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit’ is such a solid track!  What was your process of putting the song together and was it written through personal experiences?

First off thank you so much! That song was actually planned to be on the FBTB EP but it didn’t work out that way. We recorded with our good friend Peter Duff at his studio Grey Brick and decided to release it as a single. We’ve all had those jobs that we fully despise and know how it feels to just get stuck in a position you hate so yes, there are definitely personal experiences in that one!

Will there be a video release for the single?

We’re hoping to have a video for that one in the near future.

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

Our influences range from Bruce Springsteen to Every Time I Die and everything in between. I wouldn’t say we model ourselves off of one band in particular or even genre. We try to look at everything in the music industry and see what little pieces we can pick out and use for ourselves.

There’s a huge pop-punk scene in the States and it’s a genre that is standing the test of time; bands like New Found Glory and Yellowcard recently made it to their 20th year anniversary. Is this something you also hope to achieve as a band, and where do you feel you currently fit amongst the current wave?

We’re excited enough that we’re going in to our 4th year as a full band. 20 years would be a dream come true! Matt and I were actually at the NFG 20th anniversary show here in San Diego and it was like their first year as a band as far as energy goes. They were so pumped, the crowd was pumped. That’s what it’s all about. When the fun is over, the band is over.

What’s the music scene like in San Diego for DIY bands like yourselves?

San Diego actually actually has a really great music scene that is overlooked sometimes. There’s tons of great bands and everyone has great things going on it’s almost too hard to pay attention to it all. When DIY bands team up and support each other, they all move forward together. We’re all on the same team so it’s really awesome to see your friends progress and succeed.

Looking back over the past 12 months, what would you say have been your biggest highlights, and where do you hope to take the band in 2018? 

Every show is the greatest day for Alive & Well but there are definitely some huge highlights. We got to open for Dashboard in a tiny secret show, play Van’s Warped Tour, and open for The Ataris and The Queers all in a year. Our goal for 2018 is to be on the road more and keep the dream alive one show at a time.

Connect with Alive & Well via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.