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DELINQUENT Welcome to our great, big, thick issue 5. The fattest issue yet. A small milestone. Writers have come and gone since the first issue – a slim, 32-pager – and some have stayed since day one. This may be the naive, self-important perception of a 21-year-old, but it’s sometimes easy to forget that the bands and musicians that you believe to be the most interesting, or just the best playing right now, aren’t necessarily the same for everyone else. When I start planning a new issue, I have a delusional idea of how it’s going to be and who will feature and, in the end, it’s never how I picture; it’s better. Just like reading a magazine, it’s an implicit way of discovering new artists that don’t necessarily fit into your normal repertoire, and you become glad that they now are. There’s a lot more to indie music than your stereotypical guitar bands.
Cover photo by Peter Butterworth for Delinquent
Although you can’t go wrong with a bit of ‘A-Punk’, delving into the sub-genres you come upon the politically-charged rocky-horror of ILL, the fizzy post-punk of Pip Blom, and the black humour of LICE.
The theme for this issue is genre, an exploration into labelling and authenticity. Can we accurately call a band punk if they didn’t play in 1976? Or must we create a multi-hyphened genre such as art-schoolglam-gore? Does it matter? Is ‘girl band’ really being used as a genre? Is it not just easier to listen to music rather than organise everything into boxes? I really like the label Math Rock. It’s odd because, what does Math sound like? But it’s easy to spot when you hear it. Coining a new genre shouldn’t be any more difficult than coining a
new noun or adjective. As a nation, we did it with Brexit, as well as selfie, labradoodle, and a number of e- and self- prefixed words. So, is it more a question of originality of language-use or music? Does being original even matter? Is it not a compliment to be compared to big, successful musicians? I’d better stop asking these unanswered questions and let you read what the cool people have to say. Keep an eye out for some exciting live sessions coming soon. You can watch our very first with The Orielles and Night Owls on our YouTube channel. Big thanks again, as always, to Ben, Jake, and Nathan for your unwavering help. Enjoy issue #5, Jean Pavitt
JOSE GONZALEZ THURS 20 SEPT ROYAL ALBERT HALL ODETTA HARTMAN MON 24 SEPT THE ISLINGTON HALF WAIF MON 24 SEPT SEBRIGHT ARMS GENTLY TENDER WED 26 SEPT THE LEXINGTON MITSKI WED 26 SEPT O2 SHEPHERDâ€™S BUSH EMPIRE JIM GHEDI THURS 27 SEPT ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH SKINNY PELEMBE THURS 27 SEPT CORSICA STUDIOS IDER TUES 2 OCT VILLAGE UNDERGROUND WASUREMONO THURS 4 OCT THE WAITING ROOM ART SCHOOL GIRLFRIEND FRI 5 OCT ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH JOHN MOODS FRI 5 OCT SERVANT JAZZ QUARTERS MARTIN KOHLSTEDT MON 8 OCT ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH DILLY DALLY TUES 9 OCT SEBRIGHT ARMS
NEGATIVE GEMINI FRI 12 OCT THE SHACKLEWELL ARMS 77:78 MON 15 OCT OSLO HACKNEY GWENNO THURS 18 OCT ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL STEADY HOLIDAY THURS 18 OCT THE ISLINGTON RINA SAWAYAMA FRI 19 OCT HEAVEN LEYYA TUES 23 OCT SEBRIGHT ARMS OKAY KAYA TUES 23 OCT CHATS PALACE SAM EVIAN TUES 23 OCT HOXTON HALL GIANT PARTY WED 24 OCT THE LEXINGTON SOLOMON GREY THURS 25 OCT UNION CHAPEL BC CAMPLIGHT THURS 25 OCT OMEARA PALM THURS 25 OCT MOTH CLUB LORD HURON FRI 26 OCT ROUNDHOUSE GOLD STAR MON 29 OCT THE WAITING ROOM
SERPENTWITHFEET THURS 30 OCT ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL LUCY DACUS WED 31 OCT ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL THE KVB WED 31 OCT CORSICA STUDIOS THE GARDEN WED 31 OCT & THURS 1 NOV THE GARAGE SNEAKS THURS 1 NOV THE ISLINGTON GOAT GIRL FRI 2 NOV KOKO INSECURE MEN TUES 6 NOV QUEEN ELIZABETH HALL ANDY SHAUF OUT TUES 6 NOV SOLD ST. MATTHIAS CHURCH CURTIS HARDING THURS 8 NOV KOKO CAR SEAT HEADREST THURS 8 NOV O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON OLDEN YOLK SAT 10 NOV SEBRIGHT ARMS PARQUET COURTS MON 12 NOV ROUNDHOUSE LAURA JEAN TUES 13 NOV SEBRIGHT ARMS FLASHER TUES 13 NOV THE LEXINGTON
KELLY LEE OWENS THURS 15 NOV VILLAGE UNDERGROUND MADELINE KENNEY THURS 15 NOV SEBRIGHT ARMS W. H. LUNG THURS 15 NOV CORSICA STUDIOS TIRZAH MON 19 NOV VILLAGE UNDERGROUND LUKE HOWARD TUES 20 NOV BUSH HALL GLORIA WED 21 NOV THE LEXINGTON JUNIORE THURS 22 NOV DALSTON VICTORIA THE WAVE PICTURES THURS 22 NOV KOKO SUBURBAN LIVING FRI 23 NOV SEBRIGHT ARMS HOOKWORMS SAT 24 NOV O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN MY BRIGHTEST DIAMOND TUES 27 NOV OSLO HACKNEY HUGAR WED 28 NOV ST PANCRAS OLD CHURCH JUNGLE THURS 21 FEB ALEXANDRA PALACE
06 LAMINATE PET ANIMAL NATHAN FOGG 10 BEDROOM POP GEORGINA QUACH 14 ILL JEAN PAVITT 18 LICE TANITH PRICE 24 BUT IS IT ART? BEN SARGENT 28 POST-PUNKERS VS SLACKERS RYAN MORGAN 32 REVIEWS JEAN PAVITT / BEN SARGENT 36 PIP BLOM JAKE CROSSLAND 40 TALES FROM THE BAR SIDE SHELLY GORMLESS 44 MITSKI SAM DURNEEN 48 SOUNDS FAMILIAR? JACK O’HALLORAN 52 GUILLOTINE JEAN PAVITT 56 CONTRIBUTORS’ CHOICE
LAMINATE Thomas Trueman walks down the steps into our meeting point at the Bridge Inn pub in Kirkstall, an offer of a handshake is brushed aside for a far friendlier, inviting hug, and the conversation starts flowing soon after. Halfway through the interview he describes himself as the most ‘pessimistic optimistic’ person, a description hard to believe sitting and talking with him. But it is that description that informs much of the musical style of Laminate Pet Animal, a sample-focused electronic band offering bedroom pop complemented with contrasting melancholic and poppy vibes. “Everyone thinks I’m really positive,” Thom explains, “but I’m actually super negative. The music I naturally write is melancholic. It’s definitely not sad music, it’s maybe... driving on your own to a sunset. Maybe you 6
PET ANIMAL haven’t got the girl, but it’s kind of OK… you’re just kind of wallowing in yourself”. It’s not an unfamiliar trope that drives many young artists writing music on a laptop from a bedroom, and he tells it with a self-deprecating laugh, but it helps to explain what his writing process is. It’s about creating a mood. In the same way a chef prepares a taster menu to lead his patrons into his carefully crafted world, Trueman writes music that creates a tonal resonance. There are many different ways to construct electronic music, laptops offer a multitude of different software options with an infinite number of possible effects and plugins to twist and contort music any way you want. For Thomas, everything starts with a sample. Thom grew up playing music in a very different fashion. His first eight
years playing were spent almost exclusively on classical, for reasons not particularly clear even to him. “I was never a classical person. I loved playing the guitar, but I didn’t love the music. It’s weird, I’d never listen to classical music, I didn’t know any composers, I just loved playing. For years that was all I did, then I just thought ‘oh actually I can learn this song that I just heard.’” A slow transition to pop music eventually took over, mainly through acoustic singer-songwriter type stuff – a lot of Jack Johnson, nestled very comfortably in the ‘white dude with a guitar’ genre. He auditioned for both classical and pop to get into Leeds College of Music and was accepted for classical. While studying, Thom carried on writing his own acoustic music, but it still hadn’t quite ‘clicked’. “I just got a bit bored of the acoustic guitar. I just
wasn’t good enough to progress any further. There are only so many chords you can do!” Early recordings were… experimental, and looked back upon how anybody looks back on their work as a 20-year-old student. “There was a module at uni where you had to write a song. I lived with a drummer who had no idea how to write, so I said he could use the first song I ever wrote, kind of as a joke. We re-recorded it and it’s just really cheesy, a bit jazzy and chilled out. Then we put a mini trumpet on it as a joke. We put all this brass section on it and just made it deliberately bad, and the lecturer was like ‘oh I love the brass section!’… But it was really bad”. Thom laughs, and laments how he wishes he discovered electronic music back when he was 10, but it’s probably what led to his process now. One afternoon, a lecturer recommended he listen to Gold Panda’s record Lucky Shiner, and it all changed from there. “It blew my mind. It introduced me to electronic music. I was absolutely blown away, I didn’t know what it was. So I just started looking into
how he made music, which is purely sample-based, a lot of world music records and stuff, all instrumental. I got really into that.” To hear him talk about finding samples now, it’s like a junkie looking for one more hit. Instead of thinking of chord progressions, melodies and harmonies, there are evenings spent hunched over a laptop like a mad scientist, typing into YouTube searches such as ‘Egyptian instrument solo’, or even just ‘African instruments’, with the sole purpose of looking for “cool sounds”. It’s a very primordial method, working simply on feel, on the basic fundamentals that attract all human beings to music, to the point of extreme emotional reaction, even if there is little understanding as to why. These were the humble beginnings of Laminate Pet Animal, in his own words: “A weird mix of acoustic songs but with all this really mental found sound beats. It just sounded awful because I was throwing loads of stuff at the wall.” It was a purely solo venture when it started, a few gigs here and there along with some self-recorded EPs that show some growing pains. “The first three EPs I did you can listen to. They’re really bad, they’re just awful, but I can’t take them down. They’re on
Spotify and Apple Music, but our friend released them and then they stopped doing the label. I contacted the publisher and they said they need written permission from the label, which isn’t a thing anymore, so I can’t get them to take it down. My friend the other day sent me a photo saying, ‘Listening to some LPA!’, and I was just like, ‘oh that’s the awful second EP!’” Laminate Pet Animal is now a trio, with song-writing shared with close friends Tom Bradshaw and vocalist Charlotte Jones. His two collaborators can polish a potential song with, well, everything that makes it a ‘song’. “I’ll come up with an idea and Tom and Charlotte will come in and edit it, or the other way around. They think a lot more in chords. Charlotte will play melodies and know what chord progression it is and what notes to go over, they’re amazing at that. That’s a massive gap in my knowledge; it’s mad, but I love the whole production. I really love mixing and mastering.” Laminate Pet Animal’s latest release, the wonderful 4-track EP Panama, is the exciting product of the sum of all these different parts. The sampling is light and airy, almost dreamlike, and in Jones, LPA has the perfect
singer, and her vocals lift every song. The songs feel complete and big, yet somehow minimal and organic at the same time. Everything is just where it needs to be. It’s a testament to the relationship the trio share, each bringing out the best in the other, culminating in cohesive production and song-writing. Panama was the first EP they wrote together, recorded in Thom’s bedroom. New music is on its way with a tentative release date looking like late this year, leaning into a more upbeat, poppy vibe, more bright tones and major key compositions with hooks. The future beyond that, however, is murky, with Bradshaw moving to Australia next year. Thom is uncertain about how Laminate Pet Animal will continue. “It’s definitely not going to end, I think LPA will always be a thing, just maybe in different formats. If Tom does go to Australia he said we should just get another drummer, but I’m not really sure how I feel about it. It depends how the dynamic progresses.” LPA may have started off as a solo project, but it thrives now equally on the talent of its three members. In the meantime, work continues to be poured into other projects, such as their independent label Bibliotek.
Never far away from a mixing desk (or laptop), Thom continues to help production for other artists, while putting out new releases through the label. He lights up and talks excitedly about current production work with Kari Amirian, a Polish singer based in Leeds who continues to see growing success in her home country. Alongside LPA, he also plays with Krrum, and continues solo production under the name Dokkodo Sounds. Whatever the future may hold for Laminate Pet Animal, Trueman will no doubt continue to have an influence in some of the best music being produced out of Leeds. Interview by Nathan Fogg
BEDROOM POP In the film Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), a story of vanishing schoolgirls set on Valentine’s Day 1900, the bedroom is an ornate treasury of memory. Framed grainy photographs garner the walls, while porcelain swans and wilted petals are strewn lavishly across a delicate lace tablecloth. Integral to these cinematic snapshots of teenage experience, the bedroom is the one place you can make your own. Musically, this freedom to customise has powerful advantages; after all, there’s a whole genre essentially built around the bedroom as a recording studio. ‘Bedroom pop’ music arises out of a productive pairing between place and our imagination; the intimate space of the bedroom stimulates creativity, and it is here where bedroom pop is created. Moments drawn from the Bedroom Pop 10
artist’s jukebox of memory become foundational threads woven into the fabric of the music. A category which loosely encompasses a DIY ethos, a lo-fi sound and banal lyricism, bedroom pop is rapidly emerging as both a ‘self-made’ movement and creative intervention in the way music is created and distributed. The bedroom as an atmosphere becomes a force of inspiration since, as Eno portrays it in his Music for Airports, place is not just where the music is created, but a space which that music evokes — where music is produced rather than reproduced. There’s a corner of my bedroom I listen to music everywhere—mundane tasks are incomplete without it—but there’s something different about the clarity of the bedroom as a specific and unapologetic reflection of you.
“There’s a certain lo-fi, psychedelic-leaning sound that most artists in the [bedroom pop space] touch on,” says John Stein of Spotify in an interview with the music website Pigeons and Planes, “but the real thing that connects these artists, in my mind, is that they’re creative and independently minded. They’re making their music themselves—it’s personal, and it feels fresh and real to fans. To most people, your bedroom is where you can truly be yourself”. Bedroom pop music refreshingly takes advantage of the lo-fi, low-budget charm of this personal space. The privacy of the bedroom frees Clare Danes in the 90s teen cult series My So Called Life, as demonstrated when she rocks to ‘Blister in the Sun’ by the Violent Femmes. As Danes reminds us, “people are always telling you to be yourself—like a toaster or something”. It’s an iconic moment which makes shutting the bedroom door a call to let go of that voice; selves don’t need to be rigidly defined here, they can be mused over in a safe, private space. It shakes up our conceptions of ‘pop’, granting listeners unfiltered access into the rawness and intimacy of the artist’s bedroom. Whilst the walls of a recording studio might grant a higher quality in production, investing in this costly technology introduces a degree of pressure through the expectation of professional-sounding results. The walls of the bedroom paradoxically liberate artists from such
pressure; documenting memories on Soundcloud or Bandcamp is both the cheaper and, in some sense, the more cathartic option. Bedroom pop artists can produce, arrange, and distribute their compositions, all whilst still in their pyjamas. This doesn’t mean that they’re unable to breach the confines of their comfort zone. (Sandy) Alex G experiments with sepia-soaked folk, Zack Villere toys with reverb-heavy and almost psychedelic guitar melodies, Cosmo Pyke fuses hip-hop and vine-swinging nouveau jazz. Bedroom pop (which isn’t pop) doesn’t define a style of music, but its production, and a DIY ethos which allows the artists to make music on their own terms. This homemade process lends itself powerfully to songs that explore raw, unfiltered emotion, the kind of stripped-back introspection exemplified in the quietly commanding melodies of the bedroom pop band, Florist. Florist’s music-making practice emulates the almost reparative hug of a duvet, a locus of healing, self-examination, retreat, dreaming, and memory. Their debut album has a symbol of the bed on its cover, and becomes a focal strand running through its trajectory. It’s where the lead vocalist, Emily Sprague, can pursue and manifest comfort, warmth and connection, all while reconciling with her own sense of fear, disconnection and an impulse to turn inward. Their latest record, If Blue Could Be Happiness, works
through the contradictory aspects of pain–blue is variously trauma, fear, and loneliness, but also the commitment to overcoming these states. Their music asks not so much how can we expel darkness as what if we can learn to live with it? ‘Understanding Light’ wrings this into the comfort of having the sounds and emotional vocabulary to affirm suffering: “Why can’t I find a place to hide from the darkness? / I want to live in the blueness”. This marks a transitional moment in the album from which Florist’s invention of space shifts its target from the pursuit of happiness to reconciling with blueness. The album is suffused with cathartic moments of acceptance, where the sunlight peers through the bedroom window, basking what was a place to wallow in difficult frustration in a renewing light. Rather than glossed over by a coat of studio sheen, this form of music channels the cluttered layers of the personal sanctuary that is the bedroom. Even when not in the bedroom, Florist’s music can summon the sense of reconciliation and refuge that we associate with a personal space. Last month, I went to a Florist gig, and their complexly layered lullabies transformed the basement of Oxford’s Library pub into that small, intimate setting of the bedroom—we were all sat down, I closed my eyes and let myself drift into the cloudy, compelling ‘blueness’ of the album. The recurrent image of blueness
empowers the album’s dealings with self-reliance, describing, and itself over-turning through creative expression, the obstacles which we face. Bedrooms are a corresponding locus of that transition. The bedroom as a reflection of you, and the formative years with which it is intricately bound, provide the impetus for this reconciliation with trauma—tying music to how that space changes over time, and its affinities with a fraught present but also a different future. It’s the turn inward—recognising and exploring the safe space of the bedroom—which defines the live experience of the Florist gig, emerging brightly from the band’s home-grown, creative resources.
soul-infused lilt. “I write songs and put them out in the world partly because it’s a way for me to be intimate with others in a way that I can’t otherwise be”, Michael Seyer explains to Pigeons and Planes. “What listeners are hearing is extremely intimate in both production and themes. This is a music community that thrives on kids who locked themselves in their rooms and wanted to create something by any means possible. What comes out of it is an expression that values introspection and emotions”. It’s a messy, unvarnished intimacy that has the capacity to forge connections with those who might be going through similar uncertainties, frayed angst and heartbreak.
Bedroom pop signifies a community of artists whose story-telling is not constrained, but rather, enriched, by their low budget. Shifting industry norms, these artists realise the potential of the bedroom as a space which nurtures a rare level of intimacy. This endearing private space— with its curated walls, overflowing wardrobes, crowded bookshelves and scratched desks—syncs more fluidly than the professional studio with the deeply personal artist-audience connection which these songwriters create. Rex Orange County’s direct interaction with the young and lovesick in ‘A Song About Being Sad’—“you better trust me when I tell you that”—has a particular poignancy granted to it by the fact of its bedroom-born rawness, and we feel O’Connor’s presence in each track’s
Solitary recording in the bedroom is an intensely private matter but also one that thrives in a wider community. Freed of time constraints and money pressures, their music gets released into the world as offerings to not a mainstream audience, but to a circle of fans— their songs can start conversations, build friendships. The protective, enclosing walls of the bedroom built up around the songwriter translate into reflexive, healing lyricism; as in Seyer’s ‘I Feel Best when I’m Alone’, which addresses a conflict between wanting to be intimate with someone else and the thrashing impulse to be alone in your bedroom with just yourself and your feelings: “Don’t take it personal / It’s just what I do baby”. The bedroom is where the pining happens, a personal and
decorated space brought to the fore in just about every high school flick. Think 10 Things I Hate About You, or The Diary of a Teenage Girl. Michael Seyer’s DIY audio-diary documenting his regain of emotional footing speaks to us as individuals, a privileged intrusion into Seyer’s bedroom space. ‘Bedroom Pop’ artists turn emotional existence into a product that people can understand. The bedroom frees the artist from the compulsion to—or perhaps the assumption that they must—pretend to be something that they’re not. Bedroom pop dissolves the barriers between artist and listener by removing the industrial middleman, and thereby growing an intimate community of listeners united by their emotional identification with the artist’s bedroom recordings. Just as Eno finds ambient music a product, rather than imitative reproduction, of the space in which it is produced, the bedroom pop artist scales down their soundscape of an intensely private environment to the limits of their laptop. The outlines encircling the bedroom’s climate of fraught emotions and the lines of their lyrics and music begin to blur, and that liminal space is doubly refined–even if regarded as ‘lo-fi’, or seemingly low-quality because produced in a DIY context, by the demands of genre. Words by Georgina Quach Artwork by Molly Hayden
Photo by Megan Powell
They are ILL, and it appears they go by many names. From “Art-damaged noise pop” to “Day-Glo cartoon punk”, ILL hop and slip between nooks of quadruple-compound-adjective-genres. So, the question that needs asking is: are genre labels still useful today, under the many, many hyphens?
organise and to make sense of, yet the two-faced nature of the label can contradict its primary purpose; rejecting a genre gives you fewer limitations, more room for invention. ILL explain a writing process where genre comes second after making the music, a more serendipitous approach:
The band introduce themselves as, “the People’s Republic of ILL – Harri, Tamsin, Fiona, Whitney and Sadie – and we have been making a loud racket accompanied by green screen monsters since 2012. We play psych freak-outs about lizards and sing piano ditties about diazepam, and we look for the personal in political, the surreal in mundane. Our tongue may be often in cheek but our art comes from the heart.” The label is a person’s go-to to
“We’re not fans of genre labels,” the band admits. “We prefer to say that we are a bit of this and a bit of that – a pinch of punk, a dash of disco, a measure of psych. After all, our song-writing process has always consciously steered away from single-genre bondage. Songs are born spontaneously – out of a new keyboard sound, out of an unexpected drum fill, out of a single word in a strange context – and we never quite know what we’ll end up with.”
Although the genre-less approach appears more freeing, there are advantages to belonging to certain groups. Genre can influence inclusivity amongst musicians. But where there is inclusivity, is there exclusivity? “There is a positive aspect to genre-labelling, which is to give you a place of belonging in the music community, and your own little notch on the rock’n’roll timeline with ancestors, siblings and many future relatives yet to come. There is an air of friendship and comradery across the queer punk, performance art, noise, and psych circles we move in, which enables wonderful things to happen, often on no budget at all. To become a part of these scenes is to be accepted into a sprawling extended family of experimental music enthusiasts. If there is exclusivity to be found, we haven’t encountered it yet, only openness to adventure.” As the band illustrate, genre isn’t necessarily an aural label. Genre is more than just what a band sounds like; being in a loud, riotous band is all very well, but punk wouldn’t be punk without its DIY mentality. Stripping them down to the raw features, ILL can be categorised in
terms of the authentic punk characteristics: politically-charged, loud, and what they describe as “disobedient noise”. The band explain, “For us, authenticity is everything. In the true spirit of punk, we want to own our image by making our own music videos and artwork, and the music we write is for ourselves to enjoy first and foremost. It is the most joyful, uplifting feeling to find out that people “get” what we are about. Until We Are ILL came out we had no idea if its messages would translate to a wider audience who hadn’t seen our live shows before, but since then we have been overwhelmed by people’s enthusiastic support. It’s hard to imagine we could have made these connections if we hadn’t set out to be truthful, open and honest in our work from the very beginning.” Working with Box Records encouraged the band to utilise their punk ethos: “Box Records were absolutely fantastic to work with, really supportive and just all-round good eggs. By a stroke of good luck, they happened to get in touch with us when the album was already nearly finished and we were faced
with the impossible task of trying to put it out ourselves without any funding. It has been brilliant having their help and industry insider knowledge, whilst keeping complete creative freedom over all aspects of our album production and artwork ourselves. We could not have done it any other way.” As simple as it is to slot musicians into already established genres, ILL believe that these multiple-word genres are an inventive way to describe their sound: “it shows that our music can’t be pinned down as easily as choosing a single term”. It also endorses the idea that originality in music today still exists. “We absolutely believe that originality still exists, and is alive and well. Over the years we have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with so many incredible artists. We have been weirded out, surprised, challenged and inspired, time and time again. Underneath the layer of increasingly homogenised mainstream music, the sprawling tentacles of experimental music, what The Quietus have dubbed “New Weird Britain,” are travelling in ever stranger directions. You just need to do some digging to unearth them.”
However, not all labels describing a band separately to their sound go down particularly well. The term ‘girl band’ is one flaunted around that has a rather flaccid meaning. It doesn’t give much away about a band other than the people in it, and perhaps vocal characteristics – even then, it may only be a stereotypical reflection. Asked about their thoughts on the label, the band respond, “As a band of five lady-shaped people, we are somewhat ambivalent towards gendered genre descriptions. ‘Girl band’ can be an empowering term when used by women’s music communities to broadly describe female-led bands working across various musical styles, but we also find it infantilising when it’s used by lazy journalists in place of a description of what we actually sound like. We get it, it is still a novelty to see an all-women rock band, and we are proud to be one, but, as Savages have often pointed out, it’s time for music journalism to move on and treat us like our male counterparts. After all, nobody ever asks an allmale band about their experience of being exclusively male, or enquire if they make group decisions on what costume to wear on stage.”
It seems, to ILL, that genre is at its most useful when it brings people together, whether it be those who play similar-sounding music, those with something other in common such as ethos and mentality, or those who share the same local music scene. ILL hail from Manchester, a city notably recognised for producing The Smiths, The Fall, and Happy Mondays. “Manchester’s music scene is experiencing a new golden age at the moment,” the band express. “Forget Factory Records and the Hacienda, there is so much more going on now – and across a wide spectrum of music genres. It is also a brilliant time for women and queer bands and artists coming through over the last few years, a sea change from where we were back in 2012, surrounded by cookie-cutter indie boy bands. On the downside, there has been a gradual but unstoppable elimination of music venues and art studios by greedy city developers. But there are new venues cropping up and bravely trying to reverse the trend. Two of our favourites who deserve a particular mention are The Peer Hat and Partisan. Both are super friendly DIY spaces which are
creating communities around them and offering promoters and bands just starting out affordable places to try out their ideas. Check out The Peer Hat’s underground jukebox, featuring albums of local unsigned bands, if you get a chance to visit!” We leave the band to deliberate over which bands they think we should be listening to. The conclusion: Glove, Jackie Hagan, tAngerinecAt, The Yossarians, MOLD, Shame, Queen Zee, Dorcha, Nummo Twin, Lower Slaughter, Nun Habit, Jo Mary, LIINES, Bleach Body, Mutabase, Slumb Party, Idlechrist, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Freakout Honey, The Altered Hours, Bellies, Big Joanie, Blóm, Gnod. Interview by Jean Pavitt
Photo by Nigel Maitland
LICE When describing your music, many refer to bands like The Fall or Country Teasers/The Rebel. I can certainly hear these influences in your music but I wonder, are there any influences, musical or otherwise, that might be surprising? The It All Worked Out Great EPs are pretty transparently rooted in the post-punk groups that Silas got us into when we first started, the ‘big three’ of which were always The Fall, The Birthday Party and The Country Teasers. Since then (about two years ago) our tastes have developed a lot, and the stuff we listen to has become a lot weirder and darker. From old-hands like Einstürzende Neubauten to new artists like Mun Sing and Blood Sport, the stuff we’re listening to has grown more left-field and confrontational, seeping here-and-there into the EPs’ more recently recorded songs (the vocals on ‘Stammering Bill’, the noise outro on ‘Little John Waynes’ etc.). In other words, I actually think most of our current influences would surprise people! I’m both excited and nervous to see how the new stuff
we’re writing will go down, in which all that stuff that was on the edges comes to the front. Your lyrics, particularly ‘Stammering Bill’ and ‘Voyeur Picture Salesman’ read as if they’re short stories or diary entries rather than the traditional song format. Is this a considered choice? Could you perhaps describe your writing process and where your inspiration comes from? Absolutely! The traditional 3-minute song doesn’t allow for much actual written content, and it certainly doesn’t allow for the kind of continuous prose or linear storytelling that I find interesting. You get 20 seconds-or-so to talk, then you have a chorus, then you get another 20 seconds, then you have to repeat what you said 20 seconds earlier, then you have to repeat that again, and then it’s over. It forces people to pare down what they’re trying to say into abstract poetics, images and hooks, turning songs into a series of one-liners. It shouldn’t always have to be that way; I see my own ‘choruses’ (‘Gentleman’s Magazine’,
‘Voyeur Picture Salesman’) as early failures, and the pure, unbroken vignettes (‘Ted’s Dead’, ‘Stammering Bill’) as my best stuff. I’m very lucky that the others just let me try stuff out. I guess the aim of the game is to try and write lyrics that complement the music but also read well. I start by recording the guys playing the finished song on my phone whilst humming what I want to do rhythmically; I then write based on that rhythm and gradually tighten it up. It takes fucking ages and it’s incredibly frustrating, but it comes together eventually. In terms of ideas, I’ll be under pressure to write something and not be able to think of anything for ages, then I’ll hear a joke or read something and it sparks something off. ‘Stammering Bill’, for example, was inspired by the “German man obsessed with the number three” vignette which ends Flann O’Brien’s book, At Swim Two Birds. Proud as I am of the lyrics on It All Worked Out Great, they were my first efforts and it’s just me trying different stuff and working out what I want to do. Going 19
into the new stuff, I have a better idea of what I like and what I’m good at, so it’ll hopefully be a bit more focused. Thematically, your songs speak of the degeneracy of human existence, why do you personally choose to explore these areas rather than, say, love and gaiety? I just have a pretty dark sense of humour, and that subject opens a lot of avenues for making horrible, provocative characters and stories. It also lets me do something I’m interested in satirically; the kind of satire I find the most interesting and worthwhile is stuff that explores the destructive (and unacknowledged) biases and impulses that people carry around with them, rather than just attack an otherised evil ‘type’ or establishment (‘Fuck racists!’, ‘Fuck the Tories!’ etc.). Maybe at some point I’ll fall in love and decide people are intrinsically good and that I’ve been wrong this whole time; until then, there’ll be a lot more of this sort of thing. In the process of making your music where does it start? Is it a group creation or a piecing together of individual parts? The songs generally used to begin with Silas and/or Gareth showing up to practice with something to work with: either a scrap of a song or, in the case of ‘Ted’s Dead’, basically a completed tune. Bruce would
build his drums into it and then I’d work out my lyrics over the completed song. The tracks all change a lot through practices, in which we subject them to a lot of development and honing; some of the songs on IAWOG were around for two years before the record came out, so are incredibly different to their early incarnations. However, writing the new stuff has ended up being much more organically collaborative right from the start, maybe because we’re so close now: a lot more of it is beginning with Bruce, for example, which is taking us in new directions rhythmically. How have you found the recording process overall and, particularly, how has it been working with Joe Talbot at Balley Records? I’ve caught you live a couple of times and I always wonder with a band such as yours, that give such a fervent live show, how one goes about capturing that. Balley Records was built by Joe Talbot from IDLES and their/our manager Mark Bent because nobody else would put out Brutalism. They did things themselves, their own way, and it paid off: you can’t ask for a business or a pair of people more inspiring, refreshing and exciting to work with than that. In that spirit, the whole process of putting out It All Worked Out Great was incredibly hands-on, making the music videos and designing the artwork ourselves with constant support and advice
from Joe (who, along with Lee from IDLES, helped film the videos for ‘Stammering Bill’ and ‘Little John Waynes’). It was intense, but it meant we were super involved in all aspects of that record and feel a lot more invested in it than I think we otherwise would have. In terms of recording, we’re just lucky that our producer is a fucking genius - Dom Mitchison at The Malthouse Studios. Now a member of Spectres (which also includes our illustrator Adrian Dutt), Dom used to be in/produce a legendary Bristol punk band called Velcro Hooks, the drummer from which now plays in Heavy Lungs. We caught their last show on Silas’ birthday a couple years back and it ended with the band being charged by the crowd and the singer’s head being slashed open by a cymbal. Since he learned his craft as a producer working with a punk band, he’s learned how to make a band sound like the live show and has all kinds of tricks, from hiding me in a dark little fort during vocal takes to giving us a broken spring-reverb pedal to make horrible sounds with. We’re incredibly lucky we met him. I’ve found that many young people at the moment seem to have a lack of pride in where they come from and can’t wait to leave. You seem to have found a haven in Bristol, what makes this place so special to you?
We moved here as students from pretty uneventful places ourselves, so we can understand that. Bristol is currently the setting for a dramatic, eclectic and inspiring new moment in DIY musical culture, driven by a warm and inclusive community of artists, promoters and labels doing all sorts of forward-thinking, courageous and ambitious things. However, for a variety of reasons, this moment has gone completely under the radar. It’s a bit of a playground and we’re part of a family here, but I do get annoyed at how few people get to hear some of these artists, and run a magazine called The Bristol Germ documenting their work. There’s music being made here that, were it exposed properly to the masses, would transform this country’s cultural landscape irreversibly. Luckily, due to the recent success of local groups like IDLES and Giant Swan, it’s slowly starting to move into the spotlight. In interviews, you enthuse about independent venues and bands, particularly around Bristol. In your opinion, what makes a good venue and what impact do these have on the band? Staff is obviously the main thing: respectful, passionate, hard-working people in independent venues make the gig for everyone, and when you go to a really great venue like The Louisiana or The Windmill, it’s like you’re being welcomed into someone’s house. That’s definitely
a two-way street though, they need to be treated with the respect they deserve by the artists, who are (after all) their guests. I’d also say that great curation and ballsiness is a big deal. That’s something that The Windmill is great for; the manager Tim Perry just books music he really believes in, and is willing to take risks and support bands that nobody in London knows (such as ourselves when he first hosted us). As a band that only got our first gigs because the generous people at The Crofters Rights, The Louisiana and The Old England let us put on our own shows there, I’d also say that venues should be accommodating of bands putting on DIY nights, as that’s often artists’ only way of getting on the live circuit. What bands at the moment are worth checking out? As I write I am listening to ‘PR: Everything Solid Melts’ by Blood Sport, a Sheffield-based self-proclaimed ‘Aggrobeat’ band (combining the long rhythmicity of Afrobeat with the sounds of industrial electronic and post-punk music). They split up this year but they were fucking brilliant. From our fair city I would recommend The Naturals (along with their side-project, Giant Swan), the composer John Bence, SCALPING (a guitar-based live techno band with AVs), and the experimental electronic music of Silver Waves, Kayla Painter and Mun Sing. In addition, we’d encourage people to listen to
London noise/post- hardcore trio Bo Gritz, Scottish punks Sweaty Palms/ Objectified, Warmduscher and Tunisian post-industrial group, Ifriqiyya Électrique. You’ve recently been on a couple of tours with IDLES and Yowl, any juicy stories? We challenged Yowl to a burger-eating competition in Southampton. It was a race to see which band could eat a full Wetherspoons gourmet burger (including onion rings, chips and a pint of Doombar) first. We’d developed a weirdly thorough game-plan and smashed ours in 49 seconds; as a forfeit Yowl had to let us change the cover photo on their Facebook page to a picture and caption of our choice (which you can still see, a few photos back on their page). Ourselves and IDLES, over the course of the Unity tour, played a game with a small square of cardboard with ‘TAG’ written on it. You had to slip it into another person’s clothes without them noticing, and whoever ended up with it at doors in Paris was the loser. We’d just stand at the merch stand slipping it into each other’s pockets for ages: the most elaborate one was Lee from IDLES, who somehow managed to hide it under Gareth’s hat. Interview by Tanith Price Photos by Peter Butterworth
BUT IS IT
ART? Like peas in the proverbial, paint-splattered, feedback-laden pod, artists and musicians seem to gravitate towards each other faster than Megan and Wes. From Basquiat’s early days playing New York’s legendary CBGB and Mudd Club with noise rockers Grey, and Andy Warhol’s mentorship of musicians such as Lou Reed, to the abstract sketched scores of Beethoven’s notebooks. There can be no doubt that this is a special relationship, but at what point does it become more than a platonic mutual admiration? How does your ramshackle indie band become a living art piece?
So musicians and artists go way back. Way back as far as 40,000 years in fact. Ancient cave paintings appear to be based on vision, the sight of a herd of thundering mammals, for example. However, historians have suggested a few sonic-based alternatives. Instruments crafted from bones are perhaps 24
something you’d associate with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne and his Black Sabbath colleagues. However, it was pioneered centuries before by early man. High densities of cave paintings have been found to often coincide with a large number of bone-made flutes, leading some to presume these sights saw art and music’s primitive first dance. Fast forward to 1896 and a 30-yearold Economics and Law graduate is abandoning a promising career to study art at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky would go on to become one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century and would spend eleven years teaching at the iconic Bauhaus art school. Kandinsky’s relationship with music and colour was more than a little unique. The painter had synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon causing the brain to see sounds as colour and
vice-versa. Colours dance and sing throughout the canvases in Kandinsky’s rich catalogue of works, none more than his iconic Composition paintings (1910-1939). In a period of almost thirty years, the Russian artist produced just ten paintings worthy of the Composition title. These paintings helped pave the way for modernist painting, abandoning the ornamental and decorative art of the past and embracing colour and composition. This was the twentieth century, we didn’t need artists to spell it out for us anymore! A lover of music, Kandinsky saw his iconic Compositions, a name that is intrinsically musical, as the artistic equivalent to a composer’s symphonies. A culmination of work realised in a performance of colour and space on an imposing scale. It was not just his paintings that sang, Kandinsky also experimented with media including music and lighting to create four performative explorations
of colour, most famously The Yellow Sound (1909). Elsewhere, in early twentieth century Italy, new ideas where emerging, ideas that kick-start a genre which has brought art and music closer than ever before. Futurist Luigi Russolo, observing the industrial revolution believed that it had lead people to appreciate more complex sounds than ever before. In Russolo’s manifesto The Art of Noises, the painter and composer revealed a wish to escape the confines of traditional melodic music. Classifying various noises into categories such as ‘Whistling, hissing and puffing’ the Italian created a series of machines known as Intonarumori, each of which would generate a different noise and would be used during live performances. The Dada movement, best known for the provocative Fountain by Marcel Duchamp, made use of this fresh art form. Their sound poetry brought together creatives of various backgrounds, often misplaced by the First World War, to create multi-lingual and often nonsensical performative compositions. In 2014, this process inspired the fascinating collaborative album Words to the Blind by Angelo-French post-punks Savages and Japan’s psychedelic heroes Bo Ningen. The result, a 37 minute ‘simultaneous sonic poem’ in which the two bands perform side by side leaping from subdued moments of calm into all-out chaos. In the US, a place in which Dada had thrived outside of Europe, more noise was soon to come with the emergence of John Cage in the mid-century. Cage’s work explored the noises
around us, machinery, static and rain for example. In listening to his work we are given the opportunity to relax and enjoy the sounds we usually take for granted. This is at its most clear in his most famous work 4’33 (1952), a ‘silent’ piano composition, at which the musician does not play. This piece is not about silence however, it is an exercise in listening. The buzz of an electric light bulb, a cough from a fellow audience member, the smash of a mobile phone falling from the top of the theatre. These are the sounds of 4’33, should it be performed today that is. Cage’s compositions, despite their then disputed artistic value, gained national exposure. In 1960 he appeared on the popular show I’ve Got a Secret to perform Water Walk, a performance aptly named because it contains water and he walks. On his appearance, Cage plays with the comedy of the situation – it’s not something you see on TV every day, after all – however, he is sure to make it clear that this is no joke. Asked whether he seriously believes this is music, Cage replies, “Perfectly seriously. I consider music the production of sound, and since in the piece which you will hear I produce sound, I will call it music.” There is no doubt that Cage is an artist, as a teacher at The New School in New York his classes became iconic as the source of the Fluxus art movement which featured the likes of Joseph Beuys, Yoko Ono and Nam June Paik, while works like Water Walk show all the characteristics of performance art. It is his status as a musician that allows him to reach new audiences. A network TV slot is
not uncommon for a band, but when was the last time you saw Marina Abramovic stare into James Corden’s eyes on The Late Late Show? Did Chris Burden ever get shot by David Letterman? Cage’s fence-sitting between the arts gives him the platform to spread his ideas across the world and help noise become a mainstream musical genre. Be it in music or art, success can bring new found social status. One artist’s fascination with fame brought together the world’s premier creatives in his sparkling, foil-lined factory. From department store windows to the pinnacle of the global art scene, Andy Warhol’s love of popular culture brought together musicians and artists under the ‘celebrity’ banner in his iconic New York studio. The Factory, which had three locations around the Big Apple over a period of twenty-two years, became a playground for the likes of David Bowie, Grace Jones and Debbie Harry, as well as Warhol’s own clique of ‘superstars’, the stars of his films for whom he would proclaim superstar status. These tongue-in-cheek celebrities where not the only to be forged by Warhol. The Velvet Underground, lead by the enigmatic Lou Reed and John Cale, were propelled to fame thanks to the mentorship and management of the artist. Warhol’s influence lead to the inclusion of Nico on their instantly recognisable debut album, The Velvet Underground and Nico (1966), and helped to earn the band’s first record deal. The band’s live shows also received a sprucing from Warhol as they became part of
his multimedia show known as the Exploding Plastic Inevitable. These performances combined the band’s music with Warhol’s films and light shows bringing the band deep into the New York art community. Before his death in 2013, Reed described Warhol has a mentor figure, unsurprising given the ‘Pope of Pop Art’ had not only sparked a long and distinguished career but also introduced him to the world of possibilities born from the collaboration between music and art. America in the 60s was not all about the bohemian glitz of New York. Elsewhere, one of the most important composers alive today was experimenting with a more restrained way of creating. Steve Reich’s compositions of this era helped birth minimal and ambient music with the use of new processes such as tape looping and the use of feedback as means for creation. It’s Gonna Rain (1965) is a powerful spoken piece in which Reich continually loops preacher Brother Walter’s cries of the apocalypse. Reich makes use of the musicality of the phrase “it’s gonna rain”, cutting it to pieces with loops until barely recognisable. The sound of a pigeon taking flight adds a rhythmic quality to the recording which holds power, not just in the message of the fearful preacher. Much like the ready-mades of the Dadaists, here Reich is repurposing a found clip, breathing new meaning into it with an exciting new way of seeing or, in this case, hearing. This way of working, or reworking pre-recorded clips, would go on to influence a host of younger generations of artists and musicians.
Compositions such as It’s Gonna Rain and Come Out (1966) laid the foundations for techniques such as sampling to enter mainstream music. Brian Eno, producer, musician and visual artist and collaborator with the likes of Talking Heads and David Bowie, cites Reich’s tape loops as his first encounter with ambient music that would play a large role in future artistic projects. Reich’s influence spans far beyond the confines of music and can be heard across mediums in contemporary installations, videos and performance art. Some visual artists choose to turn to music as a late accompaniment to their illustrious careers as makers of things. Martin Creed’s ‘Things’, including a scrunched-up piece of paper (Work No 88), a minimal light show (Work No 227, The lights going on and off) and a room of balloons (Work No 200, Half the air in a given space), have taken him to the top of the British art scene, culminating in his Turner Prize win in 2001. In 2012 Creed turned to music for his next artistic venture and has since released three full-length albums. Much like his artworks, the songs are simplistic and repetitive whilst managing to provoke a depth of emotional response and thought that far out-weighs what a listener might first expect. Speaking to Loud and Quiet in 2012, shortly after the release of his debut album Love To You, Creed explains the ease at which he moved into making music. Creed says, “I feel like you can’t separate what you see from what you hear. It’s a total Blur and I wouldn’t distinguish between them.” He goes on to conclude that
as an artist dealing with the world presented to him he must work on noises as well as what he sees. Throughout his career Creed, has produced work aiming to arouse responses in all who come across it. Works, which are all numbered, are never overly complex and are made to be accessible to all, whether or not you have a background in fine art. For this reason, Creed’s move to music makes a lot of sense. Music is an art form free from the “I don’t get it” mentality that many bring to contemporary art. Music is an art form that lives on emotional responses, from that niggling ear-worm that wont stop looping the same two lines over and over again, to the feeling when your neighbours are away and you can crack up the volume without the risk of passive-aggressive notes flying through the letterbox. Pure emotional reactions are what music is all about. They’re also what Martin Creed is about. It’s a match made in heaven. Since our early ancestors began painting on their cave walls and playing the bones of their supper like a glockenspiel, artists and musicians have been bouncing off of each other. The worlds are at times indistinguishable, perhaps separated only by the fact that painters look better in berets. Whether it’s art or music, as Martin Creed puts it, “when work’s good, it’s exciting” and isn’t that excitement what life is all about? Words by Ben Sargent Artwork by Tanith Price
BDRMM by Sam Joyce
POSTPUNKERS VS SLACKERS
INTERVIEW WITH BDRMM AND LUMER
The 60s had the Mods vs Rockers, slinging punches on the beaches in Brighton. Fast forward to today and I’m talking to a whole new breed, the Post-Punkers and the Slackers, except instead of beach chairs flying around there are hugs and admiration for each others’ craft, more than there was 40 to 50 years ago, an appreciation that someone does things differently. The theme for this issue of Delinquent is ‘genre’ and with a typically hard, punky vibe generally illuminating from the gritty streets of Hull (the Post-Punkers), there are also elements of warm glow coming from the likes of BDRMM (the Slackers). It’s easy for a scene and a city to get pigeonholed into ‘this is what you need to sound like’ so I asked the people that live and breathe it to see if there were any triumphs or issues that come from a scene or a genre-defined city and whether they really care how people define them.
Enter from the swampy banks of the River Humber, Ryan Smith of BDRMM & Alex Evans of Lumer. What does the Hull music scene mean to you? BDRMM: I mean, I don’t think there is one specific music scene in Hull, more scenes within scenes. There are a lot of under-the-radar bands that slip between the cracks. It will always hold a place in our hearts due to giving us the platforms to make and perform the music we want to, and we’re so grateful for all the support we’ve received. LUMER: The scene means an awful lot and without it, we wouldn’t really be doing this kind of thing at all. I’d have probably got good grades at college and probably got one of those ‘real jobs’ I keep getting told about. I mean, the good thing about the Hull scene, which seems to make it unique to other cities, is that
everyone supports one another and it’s really tight. Compared to other places I’ve known, where they seem to be all out to get each other but pretend to all be mates. That’s just silly though, isn’t it? What are the advantages of being part of the scene, and are there any disadvantages? BDRMM: I think you create your own advantages and disadvantages. If you’re constantly playing, practising and writing, that doesn’t go unnoticed. LUMER: I suppose the main advantage with the scene is the mates you make, how you get to know people you’d maybe never meet otherwise and get on with purely through the love of music and binge-drinking. The only problem sometimes with scenes is the clique aspect, which some people can dream up in their head and not really feel included. Which in turn seems to lead to Facebook wars, tired fingers and a bitter taste in the mouth. Not so pretty, I have to admit. Do you feel that you get pigeonholed as a certain type of band for being from Hull or Yorkshire?
BDRMM: Nah, it all depends on what band you want to be. If you want to sound like bands that have ‘made it’ from your city then you’re going to get pigeonholed as that, but if you try do something different, it doesn’t matter. LUMER: We certainly get asked to repeat what we’ve just said a lot of the time and some people can scour at the word Hull, as we question how a pint can be that expensive. Other than that, no one we’ve met in music seems to care too much about where you are from. It seems to be a surprise that there are bands even coming out of Hull more than anything. Do you care what genre people label you as? BDRMM: Not at all, we don’t even know ourselves, so it’s interesting to know what people do think. LUMER: Not really, it doesn’t matter what people call us or label us as, to be honest. We have been called new wave all the way to metal, so I guess we lay somewhere in the middle of that very long road. Either way, it’s not a problem as long as the words ‘great’ or ‘magnificent’ are used in front of the described genre.
Is there a genre you would like to be labelled as?
What are your favourite three bands from your genre and why?
BDRMM: Not particularly, it’s nice to constantly have an open mind; not conforming to one specific genre leaves a lot of room for experimentation.
BDRMM: We really don’t know how to answer this question, so just gonna use the most influential band...
So, to answer the question, no– these guys don’t care what people think of them or by what ‘genre’ they’re defined, because that doesn’t illustrate the work or effort they put into their sound.
Slowdive: ever since the first time I listened to ‘Alison’, I knew I wanted to create music that was more than just guitars. Every album is flawless, one of those bands that can make a whole room stop talking.
As for the scene, friendship and support seem to be one of the best advantages to getting stuck into the Hull ‘scene’, or ‘scenes’. As the guys said, there are many scenes within one another.
LUMER: For me personally, I’d have to say Yowl, Cannibal Animal, and Hotel Lux. Purely because they are all killing it at the minute and there isn’t any song of theirs’ I don’t like. That, and the fact I know wordfor-word all of their songs. Sorry, ‘bangers’, if I may.
Interview by Ryan Morgan
LUMER: In the place we used to practise, one of the chaps who owned it always called us an ‘indie’ band and described us like Bauhaus and other bands who were signed to independent labels back in the 80s. So I’ve always liked that idea but by today’s standards, with the huge number of genres, sub-genres and ‘Indie’ music meaning an entirely different thing, I’d say that ‘post-punk’ would be the most fitting label, if I can say so myself.
Reviews by Jean Pavitt
OUR GIRL STRANGER TODAY Cannibal Hymns
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE TANGERINE REEF Domino Records
WHITE DENIM PERFORMANCE City Slang
Stranger Today is a confident record, assured in thick feedback and walls of fuzzy guitar that reside in bands such as Pixies and notorious shoegazers, My Bloody Valentine. However, within the scuzz is a delicateness, an intimacy, that comes to light, lyrically, in singer Soph Nathan’s emotive consideration of relationships. ‘Josephine’ exhibits, at the noon of the album, the eruption of mood: anxiety, confusion, anger, all bottled up from the first “Let’s make up / I’m fed up”, delivered tenderly and, towards the song’s finish, the lyrics are released as a gravely-voiced outburst strangled by impenetrable shoegaze. Our Girl have completely and thoroughly utilised their momentum to create strong and thoughtful debut record.
There is something about the image of rippling water stung with flashes of sun that summons an inner tranquility. Animal Collective’s Tangerine Reef is, in an almost onomatopoeic way, like watching rippled water. And you can, if you like. The record is released as an audio-visual piece, which can be viewed on their website. A psychedelic-marine soundtrack to corals swaying, shot close enough to appear cellular, and colourful enough to reminisce 60s psychedelia. Tangerine Reef’s conceptual nature is not dissimilar to Brian Eno’s The Ship, which was exhibited as a comprehensive sound installation, designed specially for each room it inhabits. It’s not difficult to notice the absence of the Collective’s Panda Bear, but Tangerine Reef still makes for an intriguing, atmospheric listen.
Ten years since their debut, White Denim arrive tuning a radio. Erratic blips of white noise introduce the first single of the record, ‘Magazin’, three-and-a-half minutes of bluesy scuzz and smooth melody, nodding to blues-rock heavyweights, The Black Keys. The record spans genres with every track, whilst still maintaining White Denim’s distinctive garage-rock ID. The jangly guitars on ‘Performance’ give way to a more traditionally indie sound, with a resilient melody similar to St Vincent. ‘Fine Slime’ exhibits a grungier psychedelia, ‘Double Death’ warbles and grumbles in a pop-groove, and ‘It Might Get Dark’ sounds like it could be taken straight from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. At only 32-minutes, White Denim have created a satisfying, genre-bending record in Performance.
HER’S INVITATION TO HER’S Heist or Hit
THE LEMON TWIGS GO TO SCHOOL 4AD
Invitation to Her’s sounds like the product of punks at the seafront arcades. Romantic in melody with a spark of emotional and political charge. The charm from debut Songs of Her’s is still persistent in the profoundly likeable sound of Invitation to Her’s. A pop record that, through the groove and jangles, is a sincere reflection of issues surrounding masculinity and finding happiness. Guitarist Stephen Fitzpatrick’s voice deep and ardent – resembling the qualities of Scandinavian post-punks Iceage and Communions – croons over the infectiously playful bass lines and falsetto accompaniment of Audun Matthias Laading. From heartfelt ‘Harvey’, a catchy ode to the comfort of friendship, to the spirited ‘Love On The Line (Call Now)’, a danceable track nostalgic for adolescent lust, Invitation to Her’s is one for any mood.
An album you could liken to Bowie’s Lazarus in its theatrical nature, Go To School tells the story of a “pure of heart chimpanzee raised as a human boy”. The record showcases the D’Addario brothers’ instrumental ability, somewhat leaving behind the rock’n’roll adolescent charm of debut Do Hollywood for the big sound of the stage. This is most evident in six-minute single ‘The Fire’. Melodically and vocally, in places, touching upon Lou Reed’s Transformer and David Bowie, yet musically has the drama of a stage production. With ‘The Student Becomes The Teacher’ and ‘Small Victories’ heavily reminiscent of The Beatles, the 19 and 21-year-olds fuse their coming-of-age content with the sounds of the 60s and 70s. Charismatic from start to finish.
Reviews by Ben Sargent
PROTOMARTYR CONSOLATION E.P. Domino Records
ROLLING BLACKOUTS C.F. HOPE DOWNS Sup Pop Records
Explosively picking up from where 2017’s Relatives In Descent left off, Protomartyr return with the four-track Consolation E.P. Openers ‘Wait’ and ‘Same Face in a Different Mirror’ offer more of the same sensational, twisted punk we’ve come to expect from the Detroit outfit. It is with the EP’s final two tracks where things get really exciting as the band are joined by Kelley Deal of The Breeders. ‘Wheel of Fortune’ sees Deal and frontman Joe Casey’s brash chorus take centre stage amongst a chaos of guitars. In ‘You Always Win’, the record’s triumphant standout piece, Casey’s monotonous baritone vocal, echoed by Deal’s backing, tussles for power with the epic wall of sound caving in all around.
In alternative music, trends come and go, from waves of King Gizzard-esque psych bands to the recent flurry of baritone-fronted punk bands born out of the success of Iceage, Protomartyr and, more recently, Shame. However, while sounds meander in and out of the mainstream, the sound of a no-nonsense indie band is never far around the corner; enter Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and their first LP Hope Downs. The band’s jamming brand of ‘soft punk’ is epitomised by the swirls of wailing guitar and deadpan vocals on opener ‘An Air Conditioned Man’, which brilliantly builds on foundations laid by the fantastic early single ‘French Press’. From there, the Melbourne band don’t look back, with high points coming from ‘Talking Straight’, ‘Sister’s Jeans’ and the coffee stained ‘Cappuccino City’.
JOHN MAUS ADDENDUM Ribbon Music
LET’S EAT GRANDMA I’M ALL EARS Transgressive Records
WARMDUSCHER WHALE CITY The Leaf Label
Stars whisper and chime, spaceships soar and a cosmic entity welcomes us into his strange, interstellar world with the repeated phrase, “they don’t know shit about outer space”. Mesmerising from the get-go, ‘Outer Space’ is close to perfection and sets an extremely high bar for the former philosophy lecturer’s fifth studio album, Addendum. Luckily, this is John Maus. The black humour of previous records, think ‘Pets’ from 2017’s Screen Memories, is alive and kicking on ‘Dumpster Baby’ and ‘Running Man’ is my new favourite avant-guard workout anthem. Maus’ live shows are legendary to say the least, I was lucky enough to see his band in Leeds back in June. It was with great sadness that we heard the news of Joseph Maus’ (John’s brother and bandmate) passing in July and our thoughts remain with Joseph’s friends and family.
Let’s Eat Grandma’s 2016 record, I, Gemini, was largely written as the Norwich friends grew up together, making music during breaks at school. The balance between youthful adventurousness and a perhaps surprising sonic maturity made the record one of the most impressive debuts of recent years. Now, with Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth in their late teens, follow up I’m All Ears will do nothing but enhance their growing reputation as some of pop’s most exciting young artists. The presence of SOPHIE on production for lead single ‘Hot Pink’ and ‘It’s Not Just Me’ is a masterstroke, while epic finisher ‘Donnie Darko’ brings together everything great about this band in one eleven-minute gem. Perfectly balancing pure pop moments and the oddities that made their first album so intriguing, I’m All Ears showcases young musicians with the world at their feet.
Fat White Family have almost become better known for spawning a litter of the finest sleaze bands than they are for their own, with the likes of Insecure Men and The Moonlandingz. Warmduscher sees members of FWF combine with Quinn Whalley of Paranoid London, the punks of the UK dance scene. The band’s second album Whale City proves just why the band is the most twisted and exciting to come from members of Fat White’s since Champagne Holocaust. ‘Standing In The Corner’ is an undoubted banger lead by an exceptional bass line, while ‘1000 Whispers’ and ‘Straight to the Top’ are the album’s infectious slow moments. We finish with ‘Summertime Tears’, which lulls the record to a delicate close. There is something about the track’s woozy guitars and high-pitched vocals that sound like a deranged Mac Demarco. I can’t get enough.
PIP BLOM The musical path of Pip Blom is one familiar to most: a fan from a young age, an adolescent searching for her tribe and an eventual indie breakthrough. However, acclaim and an audience has found Blom rather than her actively seeking it out, thanks to a certain streaming service. Early bedroom recordings have since blossomed into quirky choruses backed by a tight live band. Her fizzy, incisive riffs lurk in the dark corners of pop, creeping into post-punk and twisting the songwriting formula with charm and cheek, while her original voice sweetens the scuzzy, occasionally harsh guitars. Approaching English from a non-native position leaves her with an interesting and precise command of language in both speech and song. Spearheading a wave of Dutch talent, alongside allies Canshaker Pi and The Homesick, the internet has bridged the Channel and left it irrel36
evant in the eyes of many European acts. And although Blom is amongst the first to grow up alongside the internet, finding musicians in a country with a much smaller industry than the UK was still a mighty task. The daughter of two Dutch musicians (her father was a member of Eton Crop, one of John Peel’s favourite bands, whilst her mother did their sound), Blom’s childhood imagination thrived on her parents’ bedtime stories. “They went to Poland once and they earned a lot of money, but it wasn’t really worth anything outside [the country]. They needed to spend it all there so they spent it on ridiculous stuff like expensive champagne,” Blom recalls, and her mum was her first gig mate (in the absence of any school friends brave enough). “Music wise, I always did everything with my mum. She took me to my first Parquet Courts
show and I completely fell in love with it.” It transpires though that alcoholic anecdotes were only a minor motive – the real push came from somewhere a lot more exasperating to live through: singer-songwriters. “I started because I thought that at that time there weren’t a lot of girls making indie rock music. There was a wave of the singer-songwriter when I started and I thought ‘Well this is quite lame. I’m listening to a lot of cool bands but there are no girls in it, not even playing bass or singing or whatever.’” Inspired by Micachu and The Shapes’ wonky-yet-affable indie (“Jewellery is my favourite album ever”), she began her quest to remedy the shortage of women in indie with four bedroom demos. The speed at which they found their audience is thanks to a tool already
mentioned in Pip Blom’s tale. Added to the newly founded Fresh Finds playlist on Spotify, the offbeat earworms quickly reached ears across the globe. “My dad, he needed to send letters and all that kind of stuff and with me, I wrote four songs and put them online with one week in between. Then all of a sudden it was in the Spotify lists.” Such luck is rare without a team custom-built to infiltrate the industry, but her talent and good fortune led her to where she is now – comfortable on the BBC 6 Music playlists and with current label Nice Swan Records. Despite the overnight success, assembling a band to perform live remained a challenge, due to a lack of like-minded contacts. “When I was done with high school I was like ‘What do I do now?’, so I did a lot of like volunteering for music stuff in the hope that that would help me find people.” she muses. “It was all really kind of basic standard volunteering but I figured, well, if there are like-minded people and you spend a whole weekend with them, maybe you can find friends.” Following a few fruitless attempts, an opportunity eventually emerged. “I met the Canshaker boys eventually ‘cause I went to all the same gigs as them. And one day Willem asked me if I wanted to join them to go to Down The Rabbit Hole [a Dutch music
festival]. I could drive and could borrow my grandma’s car and they could fix a ticket for me.” Willem and Ruben of Canshaker Pi led her to Raven of Mozes and the Firstborn, the eventual producer for her first studio recording and another staple of the burgeoning Dutch scene. Convincing her brother Tender to finally join the band, a permanent rhythm section was secured with Gini and Casper after a brief and unsuccessful stint as a two-piece (“you need to kind of move a lot if you don’t have a drummer and a bass player and it looks just really static”). The band Pip could only dream of in her younger years coalesced as she left her teens, and the growing demands for live performances could finally be satisfied. The four have since built a reputation for a wild live set, thanks to relentless rehearsal and Blom’s growth as a songwriter. Dates with label mates Sports Team and band heroes The Breeders inducted Blom at both ends of the touring spectrum, traversing between “smaller venues and really making friends” and “big fans before the tour and really lovely.” A studio-recorded single is the obvious next step following the success of live dates – but Blom’s ‘I Think I’m In Love’ was birthed from an intense
and difficult recording process. “Because it was the first time, I was really nervous – I was so nervous that I had a lot of difficulties playing the guitar so after an hour my hands were covered in blood,” Blom painfully recalls, but praises Mozes’ Raven for making the experience so relaxed. Since releasing the energetic anthem, Blom and band have recorded an EP, due mid September, and are set to record a debut album soon for an April 2019 release date. As to be expected with Blom’s modern coming-of-age, cyberspace rears its head again on the Paycheck EP: she regularly uses the web as a tool in her song-writing. “What I normally do when I write a song is I use Rhymezone.” Pip discloses, through giggles. “I find that easier because English is not my first language – it’s a lot easier if you can see all the words that rhyme and then be like ‘Ah yes! This is a nice word I’m gonna use that.’” Blom’s passionate drive and natural ingenuity found a path through obstacles that frustrate many young musicians – the internet is her means to an end. Even without a WiFi connection, a crafty mind means she entertains herself writing songs through word games. “‘Pussycat’ is a weird one because I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the lyrics, so then I picked out a list of like 20 or 25 titles of songs that I really liked
and they’re all throughout the song.” So how does Pip feel about the web? The invention that has helped connect her with an audience, found the band a label, taken them on tour with some of the biggest names in music and helped write some of her best lyrics? How has it transformed the Netherlands’ music scene? “There are a few bands that are doing nice stuff abroad, Canshaker Pi, The Homesick, all that kind of stuff, and it kinda creates more of a spotlight on the Netherlands as well, internationally, which is really nice.” she considers. “Then smaller bands get a chance to do the same too.” The past months have borne witness to an explosion of Dutch bands breaking through on platforms such as internet broadcaster Amazing Radio or with Dutch Music Export, an industry body dedicated to supporting artists from the Netherlands. The bubble has burst elsewhere in Europe too – Hinds and The Parrots of Spain the most notable examples. Pip Blom has come a long way since her first Parquet Courts gig and that copy of Jewellery. Eagerly embracing a new focus when consuming music, finding interest now in a complex Ought drum pattern or a
wonky riff elsewhere, she continues to grow as a songwriter. “At first they were like babies and now maybe they’re kids,” she poetically phrases it. With a shrewd metaphor, she demonstrates her insightful way with words one final time in our interview, employing another perfect turn of phrase. Continuing to evolve both as an artist and as a force to be reckoned with, the internet has been Blom’s aide from the birth of her career: when the album arrives next year, those songs will be reaching adulthood with aplomb alongside her. PANEL: GOING DUTCH Looking for more of the best Dutch music? Look no further... The Homesick Unrestrained psych-pop with chugging rhythms and urgent vocals. FFO: DIIV, Fat White Family, Mac DeMarco Listen to: ‘The Best Part of Being Young is Falling Love With Jesus’
Robin Kester Graceful and thoughtful folk-pop twisted into something altogether more interesting. FFO: PJ Harvey, Beach House, LUMP Listen to: ‘Blossom’ Millennials Bouncing technicolour rock, fizzing with riffs and bouncing bass lines. FFO: Real Estate, The Strokes, Her’s Listen to: ‘Veronica’ Mozes and the Firstborn Quirky pop-punk slumming it with emo influences under the cover of darkness. FFO: Weezer, American Football, Doe Listen to: ‘Hello’ Interview by Jake Crossland
Canshaker Pi Loose and jagged slacker-rock spiked with whipsmart lyricism and angry riffs. FFO: Pavement, Sonic Youth, Speedy Ortiz Listen to: ‘Pressure From Above’
TALES BAR SIDE: FROM THE
He empties the contents of his pockets out onto the bar one handful at a time. As one hand digs into a pocket, the other flattens and spreads out this grim and growing bric-a-brac stall. Lighters, keys, sachets of pepper, condoms, a miniature doll’s torso, a plastic compass from a cracker, a toy soldier, pen knifes, marker pens and balloons. Handful after handful. I look at my watch. Twenty minutes until I finish. He asks if I’ve considered the fact that in a different universe, we could be lovers. While his index fingers push coins towards me, I calmly ask if that’s the same universe where I break a bottle and push it into his face. His fingers pause. His smile tilts upwards and stops short of deadly. Mine goes all the way. Several moments pass before he asks if there’s enough money. I push aside a Lego man with drawn on black-face and breasts and thank him as I pull two more coins towards me. He looks at the wall behind him and asks what I think of the new artwork. There are eight new pictures in a line opposite the bar in thick black frames. They must have gone up on my day off. I say 40
there’s a base eeriness about them, and I kind-of like them. Which is true. He tucks his bottom lip over his moustache to suck off the Guinness froth. He looks at me. His eyes say he wants to cut my hair while I sleep. The silence between us drifts into creepy. He tells me I should think of them as blue-prints. Every existential happenstance he’s metamorphed out of is up there, a few of them anyway, apparently. He talks with his hands. They conduct his strange staccato intonation. Like James T Kirk’s captain’s log in Star Trek, only heavily leant on polysyllabic and generally vacuous words. He smells like a junkyard sofa. I ask if it’s his artwork and watch the crow’s feather in his fedora turn back towards the paintings and nod. He leans on the bar and tells me that technically, when inspiration becomes that frenetic, they draw themselves. The hairs on his neck poking over his collar are black and spidery. When he turns back around, he stops mid-sentence when he realises I’m not standing there. I’m at the other end of the bar finishing off my packet of Frazzles. He carries on arranging
and spreading the contents of his pockets on the bar. He smiles to himself. He asks if I can see anything in his art. Before I could speak, he demands that I not be shackled to politeness. He says honesty is constantly being held hostage by politeness. I say they look like shed skins and I do not apologise for spitting Frazzles as I say it. Shed skins of tangled souls, I say. He continues looking at the contents of his pockets, smiling to himself. He reckons there’s a strong chance that in most multiverses, we are friends at least. He walks towards me with his hand out and tells me his name’s Anton, Anton de Lint. He repeats my name as if he doesn’t believe it. He squeezes my hand and leans over the bar to kiss it. He wants to know if I can help him with something and continues to grip my hand. I say okay while he pulls me back towards his place at the bar. He wants me to choose one item from the contents of his pockets. One item that best represents me, that, apparently, communicates something more than its physical embellishment. Before he can finish his next sentence I
pick up the silver ring with the skull. He reckons he could’ve predicted I would pick that up. Says it fits in with my overall appearance. He wipes his moustache and asks if I chose it out of desire based reasons. I shake my head and say it’s because I’m wearing a cock ring. I smile and stick both my middle fingers up to a customer leaving behind him. Anton turns holding his confused chin and watches the customer leave pressing and smudging his middle finger on the outside of the window as they walk away. He looks back and asks if everything’s alright. I stop him mid-sentence and tell him not to worry, his name’s Luke, he’s a local bellend. I put the ring down, make up some bullshit about changing the gas canister on my lemonade and go downstairs to the office. I watch him on the CCTV monitors stroking his moustache and smelling his hand afterwards. I look at my watch. Fifteen minutes until I finish. He stands at the bar sniffing each individual finger on his right hand. He sinks the rest of his Guinness in one and slides his empty glass across the bar and waits. I am greeted by his yellow smile at the top of the stairs. Without any context or backstory, he tells me that life is like lying in bed and trying to pull your blanket up, but you keep punching yourself in the face. He says you have to keep trying to pull that blanket up and not get angry when you punch yourself. Life, he says, should be lived one accidental punch in the face at a time. I nod and agree with him, which strangely I do. And I hate that I do. I ask
about the bric-a-brac on the bar. He reckons after decades of studying humans, he’s whittled them down to just forty concepts. Forty existential concepts. He likes the word existential. He mentions something about the anthropological pursuit for oneness and I can feel my lungs deflate with boredom. I interrupt him and ask what that has to do with the jumble sale on my bar? I look at my watch. Ten minutes until I finish. I tune back in when he tells me he is his own art. Conceptual art, apparently, needs to move forward, and he’s its guinea pig. I ask him what that means. He points at the Guinness tap and asks for another. Art has a habit of wasting time, apparently. He corrects himself and tells me artists have a habit of wasting time. He pauses for a moment and laughs at himself. From the idea to the studio leaves a gap for the art to become corrupt, like picking peas. He says that once the inspiration has been engaged, the art should follow immediately. I apologise and say it still doesn’t explain all this nonsense on my bar. He pauses. His eyes fix on me as if he can’t make up his mind if I’ll fit inside his favourite suitcase. His hands writhe at the wrists, wordless. He swallows deeply. A string of I, I, Is attach themselves to his sentence while he pulls out a ten pound note from the inside pocket of his blazer. He continues to talk. I continue pretending to listen. There is another existential in there, I’m sure of it. I draw a cock and balls on the head of his Guinness and apologise for his shamrock looking like a cock and balls. I take the money from his hand. He reckons
he needs to become the concept so that the art will follow in front of him, instead of behind him. I smile as I give him his change, point the cock and balls towards him and leave to serve a customer at the other end of the bar. I can feel him looking at me. I stay at the far end of the bar and pretend to clean. Out of nowhere he is standing opposite. He apologises for scaring me and asks if he can leave some of his business cards around the bar. He lays one of them in front of me and I recognise it instantly. I’ve been finding them everywhere. I say our cleaner is still finding these around the bar. Said she found these in the urinals and under the toilet brush in the men’s. He pauses before he asks if that’s a no. He says I’m quite imperceptible. My laugh is vacant and desperate. He wants to know what’s the strangest thing I’ve done in my life. A macabre existential moment, as it were. I tell him that when I was sixteen, I once kept a Goth in my parent’s garden shed for six months without my parent’s noticing. He repeats what I said and phrases it as a question. Sure, I say, it was a big garden. He used to wash himself with baby wipes and heat tins of soup over candles. I used to call him Luxury Dave, but his name was Simon. He cried a lot. We used to huff glue and race spiders. Anton’s head tilts to one side as he blinks repeatedly, like an android malfunctioning. I look at my watch. Five minutes until I finish. Words by Shelly Gormless Artwork by Greg Lonsdale
Mitski has just released a fifth studio album, Be the Cowboy, to even greater acclaim than her last four. Since 2012’s Lush, her invariably mesmerising compositions have transfixed all in earshot. Whether you approve or aren’t sure where to begin, it’s hard to deny that Mitski radiates creative impetus. Her songs discard pop lore – they tear it up and write their own, take recent single ‘Geyser’. The vocal sticks to its virtuous path as the song around it implodes, guitars crashing like waves as they soar over the edge of a waterfall. It is a spectacular track, checking in at a succinct 2 minutes 28 seconds. Mitski’s lyricism is profoundly organic – words swept along by the voice and not the other way around. I struggle to think of a template or 44
obvious point of reference. There’s a fluidity that gives the delightful impression of Mitski discovering the breadth of her range with every song. Her vocal often serves as a compass amid the turbulence of the narrative; though on ‘Drunk Walk Home’ (Bury Me at Makeout Creek, 2014) it’s the voice causing havoc, the track hinging on Mitski’s sabre-toothed shriek. It is so captivating you hardly register the moment you were enraptured. Crafting art is laudable, but commercial appeal certainly helps – the art of gluing people to their car radios. Pop sensibilities shine through on ‘Nobody’ (Be the Cowboy). “I know no one will save me / I just need someone to kiss / Give me one good honest kiss / And I’ll be alright”. It should be sorrowful yet
is so melodically endearing your gran could hum along. There she is, humming, possessed. “Pipe down, gran,” you beg. “Never!” she rebels, “Mitski is pop perfection!” Not long ago I reviewed Speedy Ortiz, who I feel are appropriate for comparison. They too successfully reassemble indie rock tradition and serve up a bonkers, feral version of their own. If Speedy are laced with bubblegum degrees of twee then Mitski’s work tastes richer, louder – kind of grubbier. Speedy’s Twerp Verse deconstructed what’s wrong with the world today. Mitski grapples with ageless notions of heritage and displacement. She describes her cultural identity as “half Japanese, half American but not fully either”, and her music illustrates this perfectly. In the shallows
of these boldly progressive tunes runs a primal current. A magnetism. The echo of another time and place. Which, naturally, brings us to Cornwall. Rudi Harrison-Ward lives on the moor (in a house, I should clarify). He has never met Mitski. It is a testament to her art that in even these remote climbs it can so powerfully steer the emotional condition of someone who listens. Without having to exist in a scene or within close proximity of one, it is possible for guitar music to narrow the distance between one human being and another. Rudi is the guitarist in an ambitious local band. One hopes, should that endeavour take off, this interview finds future value as a trivia piece. Though of course Rudi’s greatest claim to fame is his encyclopaedic Mitski wisdom exceeding that of grans the nation over. Rudi, you’re the Mitski expert. When did your paths first cross? The first song I heard was ‘Francis Forever’ in 2016, though technically
speaking that was a cover. It was in an episode of Adventure Time. That must have hit hard. It made me feel pretty lonely, but much more empowered and comfortable about it. It resonated a lot with the way my social life was developing back then and how it affected the time I spent alone. What is it about Mitski that sets her apart from other stuff happening right now? She doesn’t embellish when it isn’t necessary. Everything is raw and sincere, but still feel-good. She can be quite explicit – not so much in the sense of language, more in that she’ll be direct lyrically. She’s not afraid to address topics that might be thought of as taboo for artists of the genre, especially female artists. I’ve read that a lot of people reacted badly to the music video for ‘Your Best American Girl’. It was read by some as an attack on white couples, when in fact Mitski was expressing the isolation she felt, half Japanese and always travelling, meaning she struggled to inherit
the culture. She was commenting on the barriers she’d faced and how she’d tried to change herself because of them. Which songs get you through the day? ‘Humpty’ [Retired from Sad, New Career in Business, 2013], ‘Drunk Walk Home’, ‘Francis Forever’ [Bury Me at Makeout Creek, 2014], ‘Your Best American Girl’, ‘I Bet on Losing Dogs’, ‘Thursday Girl’ [Puberty 2, 2016]. When I got Puberty 2 I listened to it exclusively for about two weeks, so that’s why a higher proportion of standout songs I mentioned are on that album. Is there a particular moment in any of those tracks – an instrument, a lyric, you name it – that grabs you and doesn’t let go? The drum rhythm in ‘Drunk Walk Home’ has me hooked. It’s in 6/8 and she plays the first five beats, leaving the sixth. And the aggression in her voice escalating until she’s screaming over the top… the chord progression… everything fits perfectly. Learning to simultaneous-
ly play the guitar rhythm and sing along took me a while, and it took even longer to stop listening to the song constantly. The stripped back, almost bored piano on ‘Humpty’ is hard hitting. It’s bland in such a universal way, like a nursery rhyme. I love it. You just made the minutiae of a drum rhythm sound fascinating. You just offended at least one drummer. Would readers please file complaints in the back of their minds. Finally, tell me why I should pick up Mitski’s new album in seven syllables or fewer. Hmm… I would need more than seven. That’s my answer. Other than I strongly encourage that you do. Be the Cowboy by Mitski is out now. Yeeha! Words by Sam Durneen
SOUND FAMILIAR? A Primavera day ticket brought me to Barcelona this summer, and whilst there I spent several evenings at the two sites of the appropriately titled ‘Manchester Bar’, both of which were intimate spaces playing an array of alternative rock, postpunk, indie and Britpop tracks. Now, I wouldn’t consider myself the type of travelling Brit that needs to feel home comforts while abroad, filling up on full English breakfasts and dwelling only in Irish pubs (although saying that, I did drink in a spot called O’Shaughnessy’s and its sister pub Shenanigan’s. Come to think of it – there was a third Irish bar in there as well that played England’s World Cup qualifying highlights on loop). But still, rather than a sense of home comfort, it was my intrinsic attachment to the music that led to my repeated visits to Manchester Bar. Its commitment to those interconnected genres did, however, get 48
me thinking about home – which for the last eight years has been Leeds – and the way in which venues and events structured around genre can be both positive, as well as problematic, for its independent music scene. Whether they are member-driven co-operatives, generating revenue from doubling up as rehearsal spaces, or stay afloat through fundraising, small music venues are what allow a vibrant music scene to exist, offering not only a platform for creatives, but an alternative evening’s entertainment for an audience wanting to divert from city drinking hotspots like Call Lane and New Briggate. Some venues have genre affiliations – Temple of Boom being associated with heavier, more aggressive music, and The Key Club favouring American pop-punk. In doing so, venues can become spaces
where audiences and musicians can meet like-minded people, and in turn feel a sense of belonging to a community built around shared interests. But while they can have links to a certain type of music, it is rare for a venue to exclusively devote itself to a particular genre and close its doors to another; they strive to find the balance between having their own identity whilst not being exclusionary. Small music venues already face many challenges: the fear of redevelopment projects leading to a premature closure, the difficulties in acquiring a liquor licence, council curfews, and paying the rent. In light of this, limiting their audience by only focusing on a single genre is rarely a sound commercial decision. For example, in addition to hosting the likes of Scream Bloody Gore Festival, Boom also is a hotbed for alternative rock and proves a suitable setting for spoken word events such as In Other Words. Facing fewer looming pressures, event promoters have greater freedom to express their personal taste and produce events which show devotion and focus to either the certain genres, movements, or decades that have inspired them to host an event in the first place. Such events can come in the form of a goth disco, an
all-day psych-rock fest, or an indie banquet. Club nights and gigs with a sharp focus allow an audience to revel in a potent dosage of the music they love, and when paced sporadically throughout the calendar, avoid the risk of over-saturation. Under the moniker Mutant Movement, Leeds-based DJ, Gary Woodhouse, produces nights of new wave, post-punk, goth, synth-pop, and electro alongside tribute acts that fit the style of music he plays. I asked Gary how his affinity for the records he plays developed: “Music always used up all my spare time. At the age of five, I’d listen to my dad’s records on his hi-fi, my favourite being a K-Tel compilation called Fantastic. Aged eight, I bought a compilation from a school jumble sale with a T.Rex track on it, which I loved. I bought my first album with my own pocket money aged eleven, Blondie’s Parallel Lines, which I still listen to, the last time being whilst driving yesterday.” After a 25-year break from DJing, Gary attended the first Tainted Love 80s disco event at The Woods in Chapel Allerton and asked if he could help out at the following event. The Woods’ Richard Todd let Gary put the first Mutant Movement event on there, and then advised him to
try a bigger event at The Key Club, which he went on to do with the help and encouragement of his wife. I asked Gary what his favourite aspect of organising and playing his own events were: “All I want to do is make people happy, playing tunes they love to hear, whether they remember them from their youth or have never heard them before. Just seeing people come through that door on the night, makes it all worthwhile.” Live gig promoters create bills of similar sounding artists not just to express their passion for a certain sound, but in order to effectively incentivise their target audience to attend and avoid making a loss. A pitfall of this approach is that acts that don’t sit comfortably within a particular bracket may struggle to get a gig in favour of bands that can be more easily pinned to a particular genre. Dharma Wild are one Leeds band whose sound does not sit comfortably within one genre, decade, or era. On their 2018 debut EP, one of the finest releases from a Leeds band, they move seamlessly between an array influences – one moment they are evoking the complex rhythms, loops, and horns of Radiohead’s The King of Limbs,
before moving into a sax driven ambient instrumental, and finish off with a move into the territory of Boards of Canada and early Aphex Twin. I asked Dharma’s Dave Lancaster how he feels the record came to be so diverse. “We kind of started off the opposite way with a mantra of sorts. But we tore that up and just started doing whatever we wanted which was extremely liberating. We could do a group of tracks in a particular vein, but I think always trying to push ourselves and do something different is massively important, and part of our identity.” I asked his opinion on promoters’ tendency to structure events around genre. “I think promoters should take more risks. That’s how creativity is going to thrive. Then again we’re going to see our friends make weird, alternative hip-hop, alt-jazz, and those people really like our music and we really like theirs, so that diversity is there. Spaces like LS6 Cafe and Hyde Park Book Club. It feels off to the side in Hyde Park, which gives people that room to experiment, and play around with ideas.” Dave told me how he had taken to occasionally organising his own events to address diversity and play alongside acts that while were different in terms of sound to Dharma,
shared a passion for creative freedom. The band’s EP launch featured them perform alongside electronic artist NALA and a vocal improvisational duo BLEURGH, and Dave singled out the Tight Lines label as producing particularly interesting, forward-thinking music. One event that does not focus around any particular genre that has grown to be enormously respected is Cosmic Slop, described by Resident Advisor as “one of the best and most distinctive parties in the UK”. In the same RA article, it describes how the music policy at Slop is unique in that “there isn’t one. There is dub, jazz, dancehall, Afrobeat and reggae, psyched-out guitar tracks, political spoken-word monologues and many different changes in tempo”. Cosmic Slop is an event located at Hope House Gallery in Mabgate, and functions as the primary fundraiser for the arts and music education charity MAP. By celebrating diversity, both in terms of the music played, and the crowd it attracts, Slop has developed an audience rather than appealed to a pre-existing one.
of it interconnecting more frequently, meaning musicians aren’t playing to the same crowds and preaching to the same choir. I’m not advocating that black-metal bands start sharing bills with folk singer-songwriters, but I do feel that dropping a more experimental artist, say a producer of industrial music, or a noise band, amongst more accessible alt-rock acts can inject a welcome, unexpected change in tempo, mood, or atmosphere. Sure – contrast can be jarring, but it can also be used to great effect. Jack O’Halloran
Leeds no doubt has a diverse, collaborative music scene worth celebrating, but one thing I would like to see are the different factions
GUI LLO TINE Firstly, could you tell us: Who and what is Guillotine? Guillotine is a method of placing a collection of works on a pedestal to showcase what we have executed. Whether this is the execution of music, artistic works, photography works or anything else. More than this though, Guillotine is simply a group of friends doing as many artistic ventures as possible for their own enjoyment. We decided to start Guillotine in the hope of it pushing us to work on more collaborations together and work more in general. Currently there are 14 people involved in Guillotine but it’s a constantly expanding project so who knows where it might reach. What’s the story behind the illustrated face of Guillotine? 52
The Guillotine face was an idea we had at the very beginning of the project, which came from us wanting to have two logos, one of which had the word ‘GUILLOTINE’ in and the other where it was a little more discrete. We wanted something recognisable through its individuality and obscureness. One of the artists involved, Liz Gorny, has a particularly distinctive and unique style of illustration so between us we discussed some rough ideas but then left Liz to design the Guillotine face using her own imagination and creative freedom. What we’re now using was what she came back with and we couldn’t be happier with it! You’re all musicians and artists yourselves. Does having that perspective and those experiences make a difference to the way you
approach and execute organising an event?
lead to a very diverse and interesting collection of works.
Definitely. However, we’re trying not to focus only on events and instead to focus on all of the artistic ventures we’re working on as a whole. We’re easing our way in at the minute by working on a few gigs and exhibitions but we’ve got some other cool plans in the pipeline that won’t be focused around an event, but we’ll keep that quiet for now…
You talk about collaborations; how important is that sense of artist community to you as an organisation?
Having 14 people involved in Guillotine, how do you go about choosing what to show? Do you all have different styles and tastes? Each exhibition/event is not particularly designed to promote Guillotine, instead it’s the people involved coming up with plans and ideas, which we then encourage and promote as much as possible. So far, all of our events have simply been for fun, however we’re working on some bigger projects which will hopefully include everybody. Everybody has very different styles and tastes definitely, but we see this as the beauty of it all. Not restricting ourselves to anything will hopefully
Incredibly. There’s been multiple instances where certain people have had an amazing idea but lacked the confidence to go through with it. Between us we try to encourage everybody to push their ideas as much as possible and turn them in to a reality. A lot of the works we’ve done so far might not have ever surfaced without the encouragement of others, whether that’s a collection of artistic works or some really open and honest lyrics. By being supportive of each other we’ve ended up being far more proactive and motivated than we ever would have been, so that’s what Guillotine is all about really! What are your favourite things happening in Leeds at the moment? That’s a tough one. We’re biased. However, there are so many bands and artists kicking about and emerging from Leeds at the minute,
making the city a really exciting place to live. People are so supportive of each other and arrogance is minimal so it creates a really encouraging atmosphere across the city’s creative edges and pushes people to constantly do more. What we’re most excited about at the minute though is people trying to merge multiple creative practices together. That’s what we’re working on, trying to make all of the arts roll into one. It’s quite tough to do a good job of it. Maybe we’ll succeed and it’ll be super cool or maybe it’ll be a big clutter ball of shit-fuck on the floor that nobody ends up caring about. That’s the fun of it all though… There seems to be quite a big issue at the moment about art being accessible to everyone with regards to, firstly, being able to afford to go and see art and, secondly, people without an art background being discouraged incase they don’t ‘understand’ it. How do you feel about this, and how do you think it could be resolved? Art should not be restricted to anybody in our opinion. We also think
that sometimes people look in to the works of art too much and try to find whatever meaning they can behind it, when in reality, sometimes there is no meaning, or if there is, it’s very obvious and sits right on the surface. Also, sometimes there is no need to understand everything you see, if you think it looks/sounds good, then enjoy it. That’s what it’s there for at the end of the day! Do you have any forthcoming plans that you can share with us yet? We’ve got a few bigger events and bigger artistic collections that we’re making progress on currently but we’re keeping most of it quiet for now. This isn’t in an attempt to try and be mysterious, instead it’s to allow us to let the projects naturally change and evolve throughout the process, as we know that our potential audiences don’t have any expectations of what it might be. Could you give us a handful of bands you think we should be listening to? This feels like an appropriate time to self-promote all the musicians involved with Guillotine, so maybe…
L.A. Peach, Chest Pains, Treeboy & Arc, Wilted, Lex Dangler & The Teeth, Whirldfuzzz (DJs). There’s more on the way too, we’ve been working on some duo projects between a few of us and hopefully they might lead somewhere cool. (There are loads of ace bands kicking about at the minute, as stated before though, we’re biased!). Interview by Jean Pavitt
WHO: MILK DISCO CHOSEN BY: RYAN MORGAN WHERE: LONDON FOR FANS OF: LCD SOUNDSYSTEM W. H. LUNG SPORTS TEAM
WHO: DOE CHOSEN BY: SHELLY GORMLESS WHERE: LONDON FOR FANS OF: THE TUTS THE SPOOK SCHOOL MARTHA
WHO: POLO CHOSEN BY: NATHAN FOGG WHERE: LEEDS FOR FANS OF: GLASS ANIMALS LAMINATE PET ANIMAL KUDU BLUE
WHO: SALES CHOSEN BY: GEORGINA QUACH WHERE: ORLANDO FOR FANS OF: FRANKIE COSMOS CHASTITY BELT GUS DAPPERTON
WHO: PRINCESS CHELSEA CHOSEN BY: SAM DURNEEN WHERE: AUCKLAND, NZ FOR FANS OF: KATE BUSH LET’S EAT GRANDMA ARIEL PINK
WHO: RAPID TAN CHOSEN BY: JACK O’HALLORAN WHERE: GLASGOW FOR FANS OF: THE FALL TALKING HEADS COWTOWN
WHO: MATTIEL CHOSEN BY: JEAN PAVITT WHERE: ATLANTA, GA FOR FANS OF: PIP BLOM HINDS FINDLAY
WHO: CRACK CLOUD CHOSEN BY: BEN SARGENT WHERE: VANCOUVER FOR FANS OF: GANG OF FOUR WIRE OMNI
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It's big, it's fat, IT'S ISSUE #5. This issue revolves around genre, and within that: labelling, community and authenticity. Featuring LICE,...
Published on Sep 5, 2018
It's big, it's fat, IT'S ISSUE #5. This issue revolves around genre, and within that: labelling, community and authenticity. Featuring LICE,...