G oat G irl
king nun SĂ¤len sigrid
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s et mu s ic fr e e free / is s ue 70 / december 2 017 / january 2018 diymag .com
D E C 1 7/ J A N 1 8 Theo was taking the trope of ‘emerging band’ a little too literally.
GOOD VS EVIL
WHAT’S ON THE DIY TEAM’S R ADAR?
Emma Swann EVIL Can you get Founding Editor replacement knees GOOD I can now say on the NHS? Mine I’ve photographed don’t work anymore. Harry Styles. Yes, I’m secretly 120 EVIL After this years old. month... pretty much ............................. everything that isn’t LOuise Mason Harry Styles? Art Director ............................ GOOD I think we El hunt had quite a fun time Features Editor making all the stars. GOOD I’ve listened EVIL With every to an unreasonable year we’ve been amount of Hall & doing Class Of Oates this month, and shoots, and the older I do not apologise for I get, the more it any of it. feels like bullying a EVIL I’m still waiting lot of children. Also, for Rihanna’s rap no one dressed up album. as Kiss. .............................. ............................. Lisa Wright Will Richards Staff Writer Digital Editor GOOD Finally GOOD The Shame announcing the album is sarcastic, massive Pale Waves thought-provoking tour and Class of and bundles of fun. 2018 launch party EVIL Returning that we’ve been from holiday right at concocting in secret the start of a brutal for months now. British winter.
EDITOR’S LET TER Let’s be honest, 2017 has been a bit of a mixed bag, but there’s one thing for certain - it has introduced us to a whole host of brilliant new artists. In the Class of 2018 there are tons - TONS! - of future faves to become acquainted with. From spellbinding cover stars Pale Waves to the raw grit of London punks Shame via the heart-wrenching croon of Matt Maltese, this year’s edition is jam-packed with the best new acts out there. What are you waiting for? There’s never been a better time to discover your new fave. Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor GOOD I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone at DIY HQ for all their hard work over the past year - it’s been a big one! Here’s to an even more ambitious 2018! EVIL We’re already thinking about albums being released in April 2018. Can time just, you know, stop already?
W h at ’ s b e e n t i c k l i n g t h e DIY team’s eardrums this month? Dream Wife - ‘Dream Wife’
Finally committing to record some of the trio’s live staples and standouts (‘Let’s Make Out’ and ‘Act My Age’ especially), Dream Wife’s debut is as rollicking as any of their ace live sets.
Rae Morris - ‘someone out there’
To say she’s ‘switched it up’ for LP2 is a bit of an understatement ‘Someone Out There’ carries on where poptastic lead single ‘Do It’ left off, all sugary beats and lyrical wit.
elton john - ‘Diamonds’
“How many greatest hits collections does one man need?”, one might ask, if they weren’t in fact talking about someone with as many bona fide bangers as he’s worn spangly specs. 3
Founding Editor Emma Swann Managing Editor Sarah Jamieson Features Editor El Hunt Digital Editor Will Richards Staff Writers Lisa Wright, Eugenie Johnson Art Direction & Design Louise Mason Contributors Alim Kheraj, Dan Jeakins, Ellen PeirsonHagger, Matthew Hogarth, Rhian Daly.
CLASS OF 2 f 18 NEWS
6 T H E VA C C I N E S 1 0 PA R Q U E T C O U R T S 13 THE MAGIC GANG 1 8 H A L L O F FA M E 2 0 H AV E YO U H E A R D ? 2 2 F E S T I VA L S
Photographers Georgina Harrison, Jenn Five, Keith Ainsworth, Lucy McLachlan, Mike Massaro, Phil Smithies, Sinéad Grainger.
70 ALBUMS 78 LIVE
For DIY editorial firstname.lastname@example.org For DIY sales email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org For DIY stockist enquiries email@example.com DIY is published by Sonic Media Group. All material copyright (c). All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of DIY. 25p where sold.
Disclaimer: While every effort is made to ensure the information in this magazine is correct, changes can occur which affect the accuracy of copy, for which Sonic Media Group holds no responsibility. The opinions of the contributors do not necessarily bear a relation to those of DIY or its staff and we disclaim liability for those impressions. Distributed nationally.
Cover photo and this page: Phil Smithies. 4 diymag.com
2 6 PA L E WAV E S 32 SORRY 34 SIGRID 36 SHAME 40 TEN TONNES 4 2 YO NAK A 4 4 G OAT G I R L 4 8 N I L Ü F E R YA N YA 50 SÄLEN 5 4 M AT T M A LT E S E 58 HER’S 60 SUPERORGANISM 62 OUR GIRL 66 KING NUN
C O N T E N T S
Freddie had successfully inserted Justin’s batteries, ready for another hefty album campaign.
“this is us cementing and solidifying our identity.” justin young
record From studio Instagram posts to new material sneakily aired on the road, there’s already been a whole load of clues about 2018’s future big hitters. Get excited - now!
Watch out 2018: The Vaccines are preparing to make their return with a bang, as they ready fourth album ‘Combat Sports’. Words: Rhian Daly.
he standard plot line for a returning band these days is to creep back into view with a series of seriously intimate shows, building back up to the lofty heights they’d previously scaled (and hopefully beyond). That may have been the case for The Vaccines in the past, but not now: the always ambitious band are jumping right back into the deep end with a huge show at London’s Alexandra Palace to cap off their spring tour. “We felt like we were bored playing that game and we should do something different,” says frontman Justin Young over the phone during a mid-afternoon stroll. “It’s a statement of intent.” Ally Pally is a room he and bandmates Freddie Cowan (guitar) and Árni Árnason (bass) are familiar with. Back in 2012, they played their then-biggest ever show in its cavernous hall in celebration of second album ‘Come Of Age’. “I remember walking in to do soundcheck and there was a crane and a transit van,” Justin reminisces. “They were both in the middle of the room and they were dwarfed by it. I just remember thinking, ‘Fuck, this room is huge.’ From the front to back [of the show], I felt like I had electricity running through me.” However, their return to Wood Green isn’t the start of a campaign to clamber up the hierarchy of London’s venues to even more impressive rooms. In fact, according to their leader, this is likely to be the only time you’ll see The Vaccines in London for some time. “We’ve done The O2 and I think Wembley is the same size as Ally Pally, but with more seating,” he says nonchalantly. “We are planning on this being our only London show for the record. That’s the official party line.” Never fear, though, because you can always count on The Vaccines to give you a special night. Comparing their last visit to Alexandra Palace to their “own festival”, Justin says they’re in the process of booking a line-up that’ll guarantee a good night out. Given this is a band who’ve invited the likes of The Big Moon, DIIV, Fucked Up, and Iceage to support them over the years, it seems unlikely they’ll disappoint us now.
The band aren’t planning a night of fun for the hell of it, though; fourth album ‘Combat Sports’ is set for release on 30th March. The gigging experience was at the forefront of their minds while making the record, the follow-up to 2015’s ‘English Graffiti’, with their aim to make something that “felt good to play live”. “We’re really proud of the last record, but we made it in the studio and we never really rehearsed it and we’d never played any of those songs live [before the album came out],” Justin explains. “They were made in the box and, when it came to playing them live, they felt… different. They didn’t feel like a traditional Vaccines song does to play.” The as-yet-unannounced record is the band’s “heaviest” and “definitely most energetic record since the first album”, and was inspired by themselves. “The sound of the record came from us more than it maybe has done for a long time, or maybe ever,” says Justin. “It’s us cementing and solidifying our identity, and not being afraid of who we are on record, who we are as music listeners at home, and who we are as a band on stage, and just wanting to be loud, exciting, and energetic. You should be able to hear 10 seconds of music and, even if you’ve never heard the song, be able to know the band.” At a handful of festival dates, the group previewed three of the upcoming album’s tracks, one of which is already capturing fans’ imaginations. Despite there only being ropey live videos available right now, one person has covered the gleaming FM pop of ‘Your Love Is My Favourite Band’, turning it into an emotional piece of electronic pop. “Her arrangement was 90% right, which made me happy,” its original creator notes. It’s not just excited fans that are feeling eager for the band’s return, though. Thanks to a new line-up (Spector’s Yoann Intonti has replaced Pete Robertson on drums, while touring keyboardist Timothy Lanham is now a full-time member) and their new approach to making music, Justin says an “insane breath of fresh air [has swept] through gang land”. “I haven’t been as in love with being in The Vaccines as I am now for a really long time,” he says happily. All that’s left for him to do now is spread that love this spring. Bring it on. 7
record new albums coming up in 2018
f there was one crooner we were glad to have back on our stages (and in our hearts, n’awwh) this summer, it was the lovely George Ezra. Taking to the festival circuit to air some new songs, alongside some golden oldies, it’s been clear for the past six months that young Geoff has been itching to reveal more of ‘Wanted On Voyage’’s follow-up, and it seems like next year will be his chance. What we do know so far - because he told us, way back when - is that he’s once again teamed up with producer Cam Blackwood and worked on the album at Voltaire Studio in Clapham, because if it ain’t broke… “I loved how the first record sounded,” George admitted, “I was chuffed with it. I loved touring it. We only did 15 tunes together, I was sure there was unfinished business, stuff both me and Cam had learnt over two years that we wanted to try out.”
ollowing a huge year of touring (2014), a “mental health year” (2015) and a year of writing (2016), 2017 saw Vampire Weekend – minus original member Rostam Batmanglij – step back into the studio. Now the follow up to 2013’s ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’, currently bearing the working title ‘Mitsubishi Macchiato’, seems finally nigh. As of September, singer Ezra Koenig professed the album to be “80% done”, while a previous Instagram update back in March declared the new work to be “a little more Springtime” than ‘Modern Vampires...’, also naming ‘Conversations’ and ‘Flower Moon’ as two tracks likely to make the cut. “Guitars not dead,” Koenig proclaimed in the post. Thank fuck someone cleared that one up.
y the time that 2018 rolls around, it’ll be almost two and a half years since Chvrches unveiled the dizzying heights of ‘Every Open Eye’ but, by the looks of things, its follow-up is set to be more than worth the wait. Back in February 2017, Lauren Mayberry gave a first nod to the start of Album Three - and a malfunctioning Instax camera - when she tweeted confirming that writing had begun but sadly she wasn’t quite able to get the camera working in time. Since then, thanks to their own nifty #CHV3 hashtag, the trio have given us a few teensy clues over the past few months but it’s mostly down to the Twitter skills of one Dave Stewart - of Eurythmics, don’tchaknow(!) - that we know they’ve been working together. And let’s be honest, that’s a collaboration that could be rather bloody massive.
Not everything in Parquet Courts’ world is black and white.
record new albums coming up in 2018
parquet courts After a productive but musically mellow 2017, next year’s set to see the firey return of the New York quartet. Words: Lisa Wright.
ntagonistic New Yorkers Parquet Courts may have spent the majority of their 2017 in uncharacteristically mellow form – releasing their longin-the-making collaboration ‘Milano’ with Italian composer Daniele Luppi and offering up guitarist Andrew Savage’s reflective debut solo offering ‘Thawing Dawn’, but their 2018 looks set to be an altogether more rampant affair. “I wanted to get back to writing raw songs. Things you can dance to and things I could harness my anger into, which is plentiful being in America right now,” explains Andrew, calling in from a studio break, mid-way through mixing their as-yet-untitled new record – tentatively set for a May release. “I didn’t write any love songs [for it]; it’s all rippers.”
by an outward turmoil and a general state of unrest at living in the US,” continues the guitarist. “I think that honesty of one’s own time is what people are connected to in art. It has to speak to the current condition or else it’ll have a very short shelf life.” Recorded for the most part at Sonic Ranch Studios – a rambling 3,000 acre pecan farm on the outskirts of Texas, with a producer that the band are currently keeping under wraps (intriguing...), the album’s tracklisting is still being finalised but will almost certainly include new track ‘Total Football’. A tribute to the guitarist’s youthful love of American hardcore and a musing on “collectivity versus individualism and how, now more than ever, it’s important to celebrate what happens when we come together,” the guitarist labels it the “anthem” in a record seemingly characterised by this sense of constructive rallying against the problem. “If there’s one thing the record’s against, it’s nihilism. There’s way too much of [that] in my country and society at large at the moment,” Andrew concludes. “I think that anger can be constructive. And there’s some unrest, for sure. But that can be positive. It’s not gonna be like a Lars Von Trier movie or anything...” Well, at least there’s that.
“i wanted to get back to writing raw songs.” andrew savage
Rippers they may be, but don’t go expecting a happy clappy burst of positivity and sparkle from the Courts just yet. Taking the outward-looking, political themes of 2016 track ‘Two Dead Cops’ and much of 2014’s ‘Content Nausea’, their newest is a record that squares up to the agitated realities of modern life; if it rips, then those rips are pulling at the threads of a world already unravelling. “Whatever inner turmoil and unrest was happening [on 2016 LP ‘Human Performance’], that’s been mooted and replaced
new albums coming up in 2018
he 1975’s second album became huge for a number of reasons; and not just because its title was longer than your average Fall Out Boy song name. Blessedly, their third album - and the final installment in what Matty Healy’s calling a ‘trilogy’ of records - has a slightly easier title, apparently.
t’s been more than four long years since the slow, prowling stalk of ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ opened up ‘AM’ – Arctic Monkeys’ universally lauded, bar-raising fifth album and a landmark in a career already categorised by a series of them. In the interim, Alex Turner hooked back up with old pal Miles Kane for a second dip into The Last Shadow Puppets’ baggie, while drummer Matt Helders popped up on Iggy’s ‘Post Pop Depression’ LP alongside QOTSA main man and Monkeys collaborator Josh Homme. But as for Arctics news? Zip. Until September, that is, when guitarist Nick O’Malley let slip that the band had begun recording that month in a secret location. “If it isn’t [released in 2018],” he said, “then we’ve got problems.” Do we know what it sounds like? No. Do we know when it’s out? No. Do we know anything except that we really, really hope there are no problems happening around about now? Well, no. Are we still chomping at the bit for its release? Of course. God damn that ol’ rock’n’roll...
christine and the queens
t’s fair to say that Christine’s rise last year from French newcomer to global phenomenon was a little… hors de l’ordinaire [that’s ‘out of the ordinary’, fyi - thanks, GCSE French]. Debut album ‘Chaleur Humaine’ came out way back in 2014 in her native country, but took on a rare new lease of life, taking Héloïse Letissier to Glastonbury and performing to millions on the telly. Living with her first full-length for so long, it’s no surprise this pop trailblazer is itching to move onto the next thing, and album number two has been in the works since the end of last year. “[‘Chaleur Humaine’] was so beautiful to work on,” she told us in 2016, “but it is something I’m afraid to dwell on, because it is a debut album. It’s an introduction. ‘Hello, it’s me.’ But then you need a second verse. I’m actually plotting the next album; rubbing my hands together alone in my room, laughing creepily.” So, what do we know about that in progress album number two? Well, creepiness is a good start; she’s also promised something “angry and sweaty”, and hinted at yet more multilingual language muddling (she’s been learning Spanish and Italian, the clever clogs). Lending itself to the sweaty-factor, Christine’s instagram is packed full with snaps taken in the gym, too. Perhaps she’s training up ready to incorporate parkour into the choreography for her second record?
“The next record’s called ‘Music For Cars’,” the floppy-haired ringleader told Zane Lowe earlier on this year, adding that it’s due out in 2018. According to Jamie Oborne - head honcho at label Dirty Hit - recording sessions for the album started in September 2017. During The 1975’s Latitude headline slot over the summer, the band repeatedly said the phrase ‘“the first of June, the 1975” - which is either a nod to the Jack Kerouac poem the band’s name comes from, a big old clue about release dates, or plot twist - both at once! Fans of ‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It’’s hideously lengthy strapline will also be relieved to hear that The 1975 have hinted at a song on their new record called (deep breath) ‘Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America’.
record new albums coming up in 2018
“we had to try not to be so selfindulgent.” paeris giles
the magic gang
It may feel like a debut album from this Brighton bunch is well-overdue but have no fear, it’s not all too far away now! Words: Ellen Peirson-Hagger.
t’s only about bloody time, isn’t it? That’s right, Brighton-based faves The Magic Gang have spent the last part of 2017 recording their long-awaited debut holed up in a studio in rural Oxfordshire. What’s more, the residential studio came complete with a ping-pong table, PS4 and - er - hordes of insects. “I just had to move from the room above the studio that’s got good signal – it’s in a barn so it’s full of dead flies!” drummer Paeris Giles reveals, over the phone on their very last day recording.
about developing them,” he admits, presumably now free of bugs. “We feel really attached to them.” [The songs, not the flies - Ed] But with a back catalogue that includes gems like ‘Alright’, and material from their three EPs, deciding which tracks should contribute to their debut was never going to be an easy task. “Our first instinct was to put a whole load of new stuff on there, but then we thought about it as a debut album where we should try to chronicle our development as a band. I think it’s about 60/40 new to old. We had to try not to be so self-indulgent with it.”
Their latest tenure isn’t the only attempt they’ve had at recording this year however. When the band first entered the studio - back in February - things didn’t quite go to plan, their tracks didn’t feel right. “We were so immersed, we didn’t have an opportunity to take stock,” he explains. It was only after festival season, and tours with Sundara Karma and Wolf Alice, that the band managed to find two weeks to record again, and this time – with fresh minds and a new perspective - it came together.
Aiding the quartet on their missive is producer Jolyon Thomas, who has previously worked with Slaves, Daughter and U2 and - in Paeris’ own words – comes complete with “no bullshit”. He’s “completely honest – there are no boundaries. We speak to him just like we would with any of the guys in the band. There’s no ego with him either.” And as for the new songs themselves? “One track sounds like Dido... We’re excited about that one.” And what else would you want from The Magic Gang? DIY
“We’re doing a lot of newer songs so we’re more excited 13
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Believe it or not, pop and rock stars sometimes do normal things, too. They get lost, go food shopping, and catch buses – all sorts. This month, we clocked a fair few of them roaming out and about... Members of swim deep and Sundara karma having a thoroughly lovely time at label Chess Club’s 10th birthday party. will joseph cook having a boogie at MUNA’s London show. A delighted-looking isaac from Slaves striding down the road clutching a Turkish wrap. Homeslice laura marling at a Kentish Town pizzeria.
On These days, even yer gran is posting selfies on Instagram. Instagran, more like. Everyone has it now, including all our fave bands. Here’s a brief catch-up on music’s finest photo-taking action as of late.
Position of the Month: MØUNTAINEERING First Executed By: MØ
s anybody who has ever been abseiling (read: anybody braver than us) will attest to, lowering yourself backwards over a cliff with the support of nothing but a flimsy rope and a bushcraft enthusiast reassuring you that the single anchor clip shoved precariously between two flimsy bits of limestone “is up to the task” takes serious technique and guts. It’s absolutely vital to channel bravery and fearlessness into your stance; a powerful, backward leaning crouch will serve anybody well at surviving in this world, in fact. Just think - that way you’re equipped for everything from abseiling, to spontaneously taking up wakeboarding, to a sturdy crouch-n’-wee next time you’re hiking in a toilet-less wilderness. If there’s anybody you should turn to when looking for power pose inspiration, it is surely MØ. Not only has she absolutely nailed the tricky act of maintaining a solid, unwaverable pose capable of scaling ACTUAL MOUNTAINS, she looks like she’s having fun, doesn’t she? Somebody cancel Bear Grylls (Tory) and give this woman an adventure show.
WHAT A LEDGE
Turns out baby Ben Blaenavon was channelling early Justin Bieber way before Justin Bieber. (@blaenavon)
As if producing multiple bangers of the musical variety wasn’t enough, our Mark’s diversified into the sausage biz. (@iammarkronson)
Sadiq Khan + Amy Lamé
ack when Sadiq appointed Amy Lamé his Night Czar it was clear that keeping the city’s nightlife in good health was a priority. Last month the pair got rid of Form 696. Originally introduced to curb violence and weapon possession at shows, it unfairly targeted specific communities. Up until 2009 Every month, at least one of promoters were asked to inform police which genres they were putting on at their gigs, and our faves does something to disclose the ethnicity of performers and brilliant. So, to celebrate, likely attendees. Certain genres - namely rap we’ve decided to dedicate a few column inches to The and grime - were singled out by police, along with performers of colour. Scrapping the whole Best Person In Music This thing is well overdue, so nice one, both. Particular Month™.
She’s workin’ 9-5, what a way to, erm... deliver golden goose eggs. (@dollyparton)
VICTORIA PARK LONDON, E3
FRI 25 MAY
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM Yeah Yeah Yeahs > Phoenix
Glass Animals > Richie Hawtin CLOSE > Dixon George FitzGerald Live SAT 26 MAY
Lorde > Sampha Popcaan > Lykke Li Rex Orange County SUN 27 MAY
Beck > Father John Misty Flying Lotus 3D > Mashrou’ Leila
Sylvan Esso > Alexis Taylor > Agoria Live PLUS MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED Subject to Licence. Line up subject to change
Doe, Dream Wife and Pixx are some of the latest artists to receive funding from PRS Foundation’s Momentum Music Fund. The latest announcement reveals a total of twenty acts who have successfully applied to the fund - supported by PRS Foundation, Arts Council England, Spotify and PPL - with the money going towards helping each artist take advantage of the momentum they’ve gained so far. While Dream Wife and Pixx will receive funding to help support UK tours, Doe will use the money to begin the recording of the follow-up to last year’s ‘Some Things Last Longer Than You’.
Doe’s Nicola Leel explains just how Momentum will help the band with their new album. It was recently announced that you’ve been awarded funding through Momentum - how did it feel when you found out? We were in the studio when we found out, I read the email and burst into where Dean and Jake were to immediately break the news. It added a fuzzy layer of joy to the rest of what we recorded that day, hopefully that comes across on record. You were awarded funding to help cover the costs of making your next album - in real terms what will it allow you to do that you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise? Getting the funding means we don’t have to work within as many limitations. Our last album was completely selffunded, we made it in five days because that’s all the money / time we could put into it. It was a very high pressured five days and MJ from Suburban Home put a lot into it to make the end result
something we’re super proud of, but in hindsight it’s mad to think we had to compromise on something so important to us. It sounds extremely cheesy but we’ve grown a lot as a band since then, our ambitions are a lot higher now and because of the funding we’re able to almost triple the studio time, meaning we can spend the energy we would have spent worrying about cost into creating something that’s a lot more rich and layered. What sort of difference do you think this will make to the position you’re in in the long term? As a band we always just want to grow and keep things exciting. Hopefully the fact that we’ve been able to put more time into the next album means it’s a step up and we’ll be in a position to do more as a result, I think that will be the case but we’ll see! Maybe everyone will think it’s shite...
Service Station of the Month Bands love service stations more than music itself. Snacks, bogs, time to think - it’s all there. These are miraculous places where festival headliners mingle with lorry drivers. It’s due time we paid respect to the very best.
Cyclone Truck Stop, Ames, IA
here’s a great truck stop in Iowa, just outside of Ames, and they have the best selection of t-shirts with skeletons and rainbows co-existing together. They also have a knife collection that will make you not sleep at night, and it’s all available for purchase. It’s America. It sums up America. ”
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The White Stripes – ‘Elephant’ Dunnnn dun dun dun dun dun dun... With their fourth LP and THAT massive hit, Jack and Meg cemented their place in musical history forever. Welcome, ‘Elephant’, to the DIY Hall of Fame. Words: Lisa Wright.
Fair to say, CGI technology has improved since 2003.
f there’s a more ubiquitous seven notes in modern music than the simple riff that runs throughout ‘Elephant’ opener ‘Seven Nation Army’ then... well, frankly there just isn’t. Your grandma can hum it. Your Uncle Keith has yelled it from the football terraces, and it’s probably the first thing that 90% of under-25s painstakingly plucked upon picking up a guitar. Now, ‘Seven Nation Army’ is almost the commercial albatross in Jack and Meg’s canon – the beery singalong that no hardcore White Stripes fan would ever dare put in their top three. But at the time of its release, the band were only just starting to settle into the arms of proper capital ‘S’ success. With their self-titled 1999 debut and 2000’s follow-up ‘De Stijl’, the Detroit brother/sister/husband/wife/ whatever duo were a couple of young bluesinfatuated weirdos, hovering on the peripheries. Interspersing their two-minute blasts of howling garage with covers of old rootsy standards by Blind Willie McTell and the like, it wasn’t until 2001’s ‘White Blood Cells’ that the Whites really started grappling with the mainstream. From that record came the
Release: 1st April 2003 Stand out tracks: ‘Seven Nation Army’, ‘The Hardest Button To Button’, ‘Ball And Biscuit’ Tell your mates: The White Stripes might be as American as they come, but ‘Elephant’ was actually recorded at Hackney’s own Toe Rag Studios.
rollicking hoe-down of ‘Hotel Yorba’ and the game-changing spit of ‘Fell In Love With A Girl’, and with it the world’s eyes turned upon the pair as the raw embodiment of primitive, untameable rock music. The accolades started to pour in: MTV Awards, top end Album of the Year rankings, superlative reviews across the board. So it was with not inconsiderable anticipation that ‘Elephant’ arrived in April 2003. From the histrionic fizz of ‘Black Math’ to the spoken word monologue of ‘Little Acorns’; the low-slung, scuzzy ‘Ball And Biscuit’ to the final, tongue-in-cheek schoolyard sing-song of ‘It’s True That We Love One Another’, ‘Elephant’ took all the idiosyncratic oddities from their early records and beefed them up without losing any of their sparkle. It was a record that subtly accepted the challenge of the big time without giving up any identity, instead heralding a new generation of blues-indebted followers, all trying to capture a sliver of the easy magic that Jack and Meg’s potent musical rapport dished up without even trying. Oh yeah, and it gave them quite a big hit single too. DIY
LIVERPOOL BALTIC TRIANGLE & CAINS BREWERY 5TH-6TH MAY 2018
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.......................................... • black honey • Dig .......................................... Only their second track of 2017, Black Honey follow the clarion call of ‘Somebody Better’ with their most purposefully downbeat offering to date. But where a drop in tempo can often veer into boring ballad territory, ‘Dig’ rings with fizzing tension. Casting Izzy B Phillips in the embittered role of woman scorned, it slinks along on bending guitar strings and a chorus that’s calling out for a gospel choir. Sure, the Honeys may take their time, but they’re learning new tricks with every move. (Lisa Wright)
.......................................... • Hookworms • Negative Space .......................................... On what is Hookworms’ most danceable number so far, the Leeds-based band break through into a grooveconsumed territory they’d only prodded at before. But perhaps most tellingly, with MJ’s vocal higher in the mix, the emotional depth of the band is no longer buried in depths of distortion. He wears his sadness on his sleeve, andt when it’s played off against the euphoric, poppy backdrop, you can’t help but dive in head-first. Hookworms have turned a corner: strap yourself in. (Liam McNeilly)
.......................................... .......................................... • Spector • • Bastille • Untitled In D World Gone Mad .......................................... .......................................... Spector have never been Knowing Bastille’s penchant shy when it comes to big, for politically-fused pop bombastic pop songs and anthems, it’s unsurprising thankfully, not too much this one-off arrives with has changed since we last the not-quite-tongue-inheard from the cheeky chaps. cheek title ‘World Gone Returning with ‘Untitled In Mad’. In contrast to the D’ - one of their first tracks dark turmoil of its subject since ‘Moth Boys’ emerged matter, however, it’s rich and all the way back in 2015(!) satisfying, seeing Dan Smith - it’s another serving of the and co go full on falsetto. succinctly witty indie pop Led by acoustic guitar they’ve become so good at. and backed by a luscious Plus, it comes packed with string section, the track’s such a massively catchy chorus warmth is its best feature, that only the most cynical throwing a sense of lightness amongst us wouldn’t find it onto an otherwise dark glorious. (Sarah Jamieson) menace. (Sarah Jamieson)
HAVEyou HEARD ............................................................................................................................
Sunflower bean • I Was A Fool
............................................................................................................................ New Yorkers Sunflower Bean have always operated at two polar ends of the spectrum. Half relentless, rattling squalls, half lilting, doe-eyed daydreams, it’s a bit of a coin flip to know what you’re going to get with this lot. Returning with their first new material since 2016 debut LP ‘Human Ceremony’, they’ve opted to ease in gently, plying us with sweetened girl-boy vocals about the perils of love. ‘I Was A Fool’ is one of their most straight forward tracks to date – a kind of Real Estate-esque jangler with a dash of War On Drugs-style, 80s drive time vibes. Don’t expect the next one to follow suit though. Obviously. (Lisa Wright)
17th - 20th January
ach January sees the picturesque Netherlands city of Groningen host hundreds of Europe’s buzziest new bands in its venues, bars and clubs over four days. Eurosonic and its sister event for Dutch bands, Noorderslag - has introduced the likes of Bastille, Years & Years, Royal Blood and Chvrches to the mainland, as well as more former Class of… alumni including The Big Moon, Black Honey, Gengahr, and Blaenavon.
This year’s line up is already set to feature future superstars, with a handful of our Class of 2018 announced to appear. Pale Waves (see p26), Superorganism (p60), Yonaka (p42), Sigrid (p34), Sälen (p50), and Nilüfer Yanya (p48) are all confirmed to play.
On your Denmark(s)!
Each year the festival chooses a country or group of countries to highlight, with recent years opting for acts from Iceland, Austria, and central and Eastern Europe. This year it’s Denmark’s turn. Here’s a couple of great Danes.
As featured in the October issue, this Copenhagen producer worked with pop superstar MØ on new EP ‘When I Was Young’, and releases his own ‘Good Job - No Conversation’ on 8th December.
Returning to the live fold after giving us third album ‘Plowing The Fields Of Love’, the Copenhagen punks will preview their May headline tour - and we’d assume some eagerly-anticipated new material - in Groningen.
b e f o r e yo u k n ow i t, yo u ’ l l b e s p o r t i n g a p o n c h o i n a m u d dy f i e l d.
FESTIVAL NEWS in BRIEF Queens of the Stone Age, MGMT and Future Islands are among the acts confirmed for Madrid’s Mad Cool (12th -14th July), with additions coming on a daily basis through to the end of the year. The Magic Gang, Catholic Action, Doe and Yonaka are all headed to SXSW (12th 18th March), where they’ll be joined by Shamir, Lucy Rose, Lethal Bizzle, Francobollo and more.
Liverpool Sound City (5th - 6th May) is relocating, back to its previous city centre base, and will host acts including Peace, Idles, JAWS and The Orielles.
Next year’s Bestival will take place a month earlier. The festival adopts a theme celebrating 250 years of the circus, and will be back at Lulworth Castle between 2nd and 5th August. Victoria Park is the location for the all-new
ALl Points East
(25th - 27th May), with LCD Soundsystem, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lorde, Beck, Björk and The xx all scheduled to appear over the weekend.
FRI.09.MAR.18 SAT.10.MAR.18 SUN.11.MAR.18
FRI.09.NOV.18 THU.01.MAR.18 THU.25.JAN.18
Liverpool Music Week: Breaking Out We partnered up with the festival for a week of gigs at EBGBs. Words: Matthew Hogarth.
Photo: Keith Ainsworth.
With little introduction, Spinning Coin launch straight into single ‘Albany’: indie pop at its very best. Sean Armstrong’s soft brogue rides high atop the hazy guitar tones creating a soothing soundtrack. Their set flows between blissful harmonious jangly melodies before crashing straight into distortion heavy punchy politically-fuelled punk with little hesitation as Sean and Jack Mellin take turns on the microphone. The five piece definitely take influence from the post-punk and indie pop influences synonymous with Glasgow, carving new ground for the city and marking themselves as a crucial band in their home town’s current and future histories.
Queen Zee and the Sasstones Photo: Lucy McLachlan.
Tonight is a homecoming for Queen Zee and the Sasstones, and an opportunity to have a bit of a party. Zee leaves little time before working the crowd into a frenzy gazing manically out into the sea of heads that stand before them. Ear-splittingly loud, they incorporate pop melody into a high-octane combination of metal, punk and shoegaze, all while tackling hard-hitting issues at break neck speed. Taking time between songs to connect with the audience, it’s obvious that for the Sasstones, this is far more than a band: it’s an ideology. 24
DIY’S PICK OF
In desperate need of a live music fix but can’t decide where or who? If you feel too spoilt for choice, here’s just a few of LNSource’s upcoming shows worth getting off the sofa for.
Annabel Allum 6th February, The Camden
Assembly, London After having supported Beth Ditto and Nadine Shah among others, appeared at March’s SXSW, and featured in Neu back in the June issue this year, the Guildford-based singer-songwriter is set for her biggest London show to date.
Tigercub 18th January, Scala, London Last seen with their ‘Evolve Or Die’ EP back in September, following a spot at the summer’s Reading & Leeds, the Brighton trio have not long finished a nationwide tour.
Jerry Williams 5th February, The Lexington, London Not only has newcomer Jerry been confirmed for The Great Escape 2018 already, but she recently helped out Nick Grimshaw and charity Friend Finder, who hosted a prom for youngsters who’d otherwise miss out. Aww. For more information and to buy tickets, head to livenation.co.uk or twitter.com/LNSource
P R E S E N T S
UK TOUR 2018
FRIDAY 16 MARCH
WEDNESDAY 21 MARCH
SUNDAY 25 MARCH
T SATURDAY 17 MARCH SOLD OU
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THE NICK RAYNS LCR
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T H E W O M B AT S . C O. U K
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SATURDAY 14 APRIL 2018
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SEEING S TARS:
CL A S S 2018 OF
A S WE WIND DOWN FOR THE END OF THE Y E A R , I T ’ S F I N A L LY TIME TO TURN OUR AT TENTION TO T H E N E X T T W E LV E MONTHS. PEERING INTO DIY ’S MAGIC AL CRYS TA L BALL, THINGS ARE LOOK ING GOOD. THE FUTURE’S B R I G H T: H E R E A R E THE FOURTEEN ARTIS TS WHO ARE SE T TO BE THE ALL S TA RS OF 2 01 8 .
I FEEL LIKE I’M ACCEP TING THAT I NEED TO BE MORE HONEST WITH E VERYONE.” - Heather Baron-Gracie
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PALE WAV E S eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
PENNING GLOS SY POP WITH A G O T H H E A R T, P A L E W A V E S A R E BUILDING ON THE SUCCES S OF THEIR DEBUT SINGLE, RE VE ALING THEIR MA S TERPL AN S T E P B Y S T E P. W E D A R E Y O U TO TRY AND GET IN THEIR W A Y. W O R D S : W I L L R I C H A R D S . PHOTOS: PHIL SMITHIES.
o debut single this year has been received quite like that of Pale Waves. ‘There’s A Honey’ emerged in February, an instantly addictive cut of sugary, shiny pop. The Manchester four-piece already looked and sounded like world-beaters after less than four minutes. Fast forward eight months, through similarly fully-formed second single ‘Television Romance’, sets at Reading & Leeds and beyond, and - oh yeah - that small matter of a US arena tour with The 1975 that included a show at Madison Square Garden. It’s a sudden rise that’d see even the most level-headed of performers taken aback, but for vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie, it’s simply a case of her plan for world domination falling into place, piece by piece.
hough the release of ‘There’s A Honey’ appears on the surface as an effortless debut single, it was the product of years of hard graft away from the spotlight. Burying themselves away in the basement of the Night & Day Cafe in Manchester’s Northern Quarter for the two years prior to its release, Heather and drummer Ciara Doran hammered away at a growing arsenal of similarly brilliant indiepop songs, recruiting guitarist Hugo Silvani and bassist Charlie Wood in the process. “100%,” Heather says firmly, when asked whether the band are glad they waited so long to officially release a debut single with their sound and vision already fully-formed. “When we started the band, me and Ciara put out two demos, but that’s all we ever put out there.” Far from scrappy debut demos, the two tracks - ‘Heavenly’ and ‘The Tide’ were still sky-reaching indie bops
that picked up significant attention and can still be found floating around on Soundcloud and message boards. With drawing from the little spotlight they had on them prematurely allowed the band’s eventual breakout to be all the more impactful. “I’m really happy that we only put those two out,” Heather continues, “because sometimes when you start a band, you can get so excited and overwhelmed that you just throw out anything you write. I think that’s a big mistake, especially in this day and age, because once you put anything on the internet, you can’t get it back.”
IN THE (E YE) SHADOW While Heather joins thousands of dads in the Robert Smith fanclub, it turns out it’s the mums who aren’t too happy about it. “I only wear a bit of eye shadow and black lipstick but for some people that’s extreme! I’ve seen young girls on the internet show their mums pictures of me and their mums have told them: ‘NEVER do your makeup like that!’ My parents have never got offended by how I look. If anything, they just giggle a bit, that when we go into town I’d get the odd stare. “People are scared to express themselves differently, and they shouldn’t be. We need more of that, rather than just hiding yourself back. That’s what’ll make you stand out, if you’re true to yourself anyway. Do what you want!”
Signing to Dirty Hit and falling in with its darlings The 1975, whose vocalist Matty Healy and drummer George Daniel produced ‘There’s A Honey’ and follow-up ‘Television Romance’, the spotlight on the band, particularly online, became predictably ridiculous. “I got asked yesterday why my band never really puts that much on social media,” Heather continues. “You don’t need to give away your life story on the internet. I like mystery, especially within our band.” The band’s minimal social media presence and striking look - Heather and Ciara coming from the Robert Smith school of make-up - paired with the far-from-goth sheen of ‘There’s A Honey’ caused more than a few raised eyebrows upon their emergence, something the singer couldn’t be more delighted about. “I love how people don’t know everything about us,” she states, her painted black lips curling into a smile. “They’re still trying to add things up in their brain. Trying to make sense of us. I love how people are so confused by our image and our music, and how [they] work together. It baffles me that people don’t get it still. But I like it!”
Heather: forever pulling the strings.
IF I C AN GIVE PEOPLE SOMETHING THAT MAKES THEM FEEL BET TER, I WILL ALWAYS KEEP DOING THAT.” - Heather Baron-Gracie
f the band’s digital presence kept the ins and outs of Pale Waves and their members guarded, new single ‘New Year’s Eve’ begins to lay it all out. An festive jangle leads into Heather’s most confessional lyrics yet, laying out a particularly hectic, sorrowful December 31st a few years back. “I feel like I’m accepting that I need to be more honest with everyone,” she begins, ditching the “innocent, naive metaphors” of ‘There’s A Honey’ and ‘Television Romance’ for something altogether more upfront. “I feel like a lot of people can relate to it. There’s a massive build-up to New Year’s Eve, and this huge pressure for everyone to have this amazing night, and usually, because you’re so overwhelmed by the pressure, it turns out being absolutely horrible. And that’s what happened to me!” Heather then goes on to run through new single ‘My Obsession’ and newer cuts they’re set to reveal soon at an infectious pace, trying desperately to keep up with her own excitement. “We’ve got so many different sides to us,” she lays out. “The raw base of it is a pop song, but once you hear stuff off the album, then it’ll be a new door that we’ve opened for you. We’ve got a lot more emo, slow, songs that will hopefully make people go ‘Oh... right!’” It’s a frustrating process for Pale Waves, keeping their cards close to their chest until the perfect moment, when the story seems already largely written. “I’m dying... I’m like an excited puppy, for people to hear these songs, because I want to be performing them in massive…” she says, before stopping herself. “Well, not massive… Big venues…”
to their new-found status. As is to be expected with any act mentored by superstars, there’s a time when distance needs to be given in order for Pale Waves to stride out on their own, and away from the massive helping hand given to them by The 1975. “Matty and George will only do those two songs [‘There’s A Honey’ and ‘Television Romance’],” Heather states, with Ciara set to take over the mixing desk after years tinkering away behind the scenes. “We didn’t do the EP with them, and won’t do the album with them. Just because we’re both so individually busy. We both want to be so involved and absorbed and self-indulged by our own music, because that’s the most important thing that we have going on.” “I said to Matty,” she continues, “I want someone who’s going to work on the EP, and it’s going to be the most important thing in their life at that stage. And he really admired that. He would’ve said the same thing, as anyone would. Ciara has always been good at production, and she’s only getting better.” Heather and Ciara have fast become one of the year’s most instantly recognisable new double-acts, and the mutual admiration and chemistry between the pair is palpable. It also makes Pale Waves a real gang. “It really upsets me when I know that bands aren’t close, and don’t hang out,” she continues. “It ruins the music for me. They’re doing such an important thing together. I feel like you should be best friends, and you should be enjoying it. Unless someone’s really horrible. But no one’s horrible in our band, so it’s fine,” she ends with a giggle.
With a sunny outlook, the belief that they can help people with their music, and the drive necessary It’s a slip of the tongue that reveals her band’s limitless to become one of the biggest bands in the world, ambition, even when they try to maintain Pale Waves are a frighteningly a level of outward-facing modesty. “I exciting prospect - and we’re want people screaming the lyrics back at only currently seeing the tip of me,” she cuts back, embracing the spirit the iceberg. “It’s like,” Heather that already sees Pale Waves well on the begins, miming moving a piece way to becoming a huge, huge band. across a chess board on the table, “Especially for some of the songs that “OK, this one now,” musing on we have that are coming up, they’ll be the slow reveal of her band’s What were the such special songs for everyone to sing masterplan. “Then I’ll come back signs that Pale together. months later… ’OK, have another Waves were one’.” becoming stars, “With my writing, it’s only getting more you ask? Well... and more personal, and I feel like a lot of There’s an album already well on stuff that I go through, a lot of, especially the way, Heather hints that the e Probably the only band young girls, will connect with. If I can work will likely be a significantly in history to play Madison give people something that makes them more varied collection, with Square Garden with only one feel better, I will always keep doing that. confidence harvested from song out in the world, Pale We’ve got this one song called ‘Noises’, the overwhelming reaction to Waves’ graduation to the and that’s a song that’s about very low their debut singles. “It made me biggest stages in the world was self-esteem and analysing yourself too feel like it was alright to keep lightning-fast. Obviously, they much, and I can’t wait until people who revealing more [about myself],” smashed it. are a bit insecure about stuff can hear she reflects, slowly moving the that song, because I feel like they’ll feel pieces around once more, and better after it. That they’ll know that offering more glimpses into Pale e Heading out on the inaugural other people feel that way. I can’t wait.” Waves’ already fascinating world. Dirty Hit tour with Superfood “I’m at the stage now where I’ll and King Nun earlier this year, Along with Heather’s increasing say anything.” e Pale Waves played the opening openness as a lyricist, there’s plenty more slots ‘down south’, but sounded ways in which Pale Waves are adapting like headliners every night.
S TAR SIGNS
Lincoln took drawing the short straw a little too hard.
E XORCISING THEIR ‘HOME D E M O ( N S) ’ ON THEIR NE W MIXTA PE, SORRY A RE FA R FROM YOUR AV ER A GE ROCK BAND. WORDS: WILL RICHARDS. PHOTO: JENN FIVE.
CLASS 2018 of
t’s not often that a band on the verge of announcing their record deal decide to drop a full demo collection, but if there’s one lesson to learn about Sorry, it’s that they’re not ones to conform. And so that’s exactly what they did: just a day ahead of unveiling their signing to Domino, the London four-piece unleashed ‘Home Demo(ns)’ . Sitting down the day following its release, the band are yet again palming off the routine. Shunning the fancy lattes of an East London cafe for a litre of coffee drummer Lincoln Barrett brought along himself - in a huge pickle jar, nonetheless - Sorry are a ramshackle, ridiculous but first-rate bunch.
Two early singles from this year - ‘Drag King’ and ‘Prickz’ - marked the band out, and ‘Home Demo(ns)’ continues this promise, a thirty minute lo-fi offering that pays no heed to polished recording techniques, the next step from a band who have a frightening amount of material up their sleeves. “I like it when rappers release mixtapes,” guitarist Louis O’Bryen begins, “because it’s free and a massive mix of styles and doesn’t have to be totally linked.” Vocalist Asha Lorenz continues: “It’s really nice to be able to release the scrappier stuff, because although we’ll release cleaner songs and singles, it’s the underneath works that show what you’re really about.” Brought together from both older tracks and a handful of songs written in the three months preceding its release, ‘Home ‘Demo(ns)’ is also heavily visual, with accompanying clips an integral part of Sorry’s make-up. “It’s only when the visuals and the songs come together,” explains Asha, “that the whole story gets told.” Adding to that pair of early singles, the “collection” shows a greater depth to the band, and marks a bit of a step away from the raw
live shows on which they made their name. Trip-hoppy beats sit underneath slow, acoustic guitars - a world away from the coarse form they’ve taken on the stage around London and beyond over the past year. “We’re trying to bring the demo side of things and the live show closer together,” Asha says, while Lincoln agrees the band are working on “toning down” their live rollercoaster after months of grabbing everyone by the throat at sweaty gig after sweaty gig. “It’s so easy to be a rock band, especially when playing live,” Asha continues. “I love rock music but I don’t particularly want to be in a rock band,” she concludes, almost cracking a smile while looking down at her t-shirt, which reads ‘Rock & Roll Legend’.
Having cut their teeth at venues across London, the days of Sorry playing on every bill going are over, but the streamlining of their choice of shows is allowing a greater creativity to go into the experience, with a headline show at Corsica Studios also featuring poetry readings and an art exhibition. If ‘Home Demo(ns)’ wasn’t enough to show the melting pot of styles that the band present, their next steps look set to allow eclecticism to run free. Early track
S TAR SIGNS e
‘Drag King’ marked Sorry out as a, less-than-ordinary proposition, with lo-fi instrumentation laid over creepy lyricism.
e Playing DIY’s Hello 2016 show (when they were still called FISH), the four-piece marked themselves out as an impressive live band.
e Showing their
scrappy, lo-fi recordings can be translated into a (slightly more) polished studio setting, official debut single ‘Wished’ was another top move.
Unsurprisingly, the idea of a full-length album is already fully in their minds - “That’s the point where you can think it through properly and consider which songs go on there quite carefully,” confirms Asha - but that doesn’t mean they’ll be keeping their cards close to their chest. “I think it’s stupid to hold too much back,” she says, looking towards a handful of new singles that will land ahead of a debut. “As soon as you write a better song than the last one, you’ll think the last one is rubbish, but that shouldn’t mean it doesn’t get released and heard. We want everything to be out there.” e
IT’S SUCH AN HONOUR THAT MY SONGS C AN ME AN SOMETHING TO SOMEONE EL SE.”
E VER SINCE THE RELE A SE OF ‘ DON ’ T K IL L M Y V IBE ’, THING S H AV EN’ T SL OW ED DOWN FOR SIGRID. IT’S N O T L O O K I N G L I K E LY A N Y TIME SOON, EITHER. WORDS: ALIM KHER A J. PHOTO: MIKE MA SSARO.
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hat’s one of the biggest things a young pop star can learn in their first year? For Sigrid it was realising that there’s no point worrying when you’re stuck in traffic. “Don’t stress if you’re in a hurry,” she says knowingly, over the phone from Oslo, where she’s currently pausing, in the middle of a hectic touring schedule. “I think that used to be a bad habit of mine; if I’m in a car and there’s really bad traffic and you know it’s going to be stressful when you get to the airport,” she continues. “There’s no use in stressing when you’re in the car. It’s not going to make anything go faster. It’s not going to help you.” It might not be the most glamorous or candid titbit from one of 2017’s brightest new stars, but it’s practical and, actually, pretty relatable. And if there’s one thing that’s helped Sigrid over the past year it’s her knack for tapping into universality. As widely reported, her debut single, the kicking ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’, was borne out of a negative writing session that saw the singer’s creativity smothered by (male) asshole producers. Despite its specificity, the chorus is the sort of scream-a-long anthemic moment that others would kill for. Because, seriously, who hasn’t had some dickhead kill their vibe?
used to seeing them. We’re so used to the hyperreality that we see on the internet and on social media and that comes off in our lives.” The song doesn’t just work as social commentary, however. The production, co-handled by one of her favourite collaborators Martin Sjølie, absolutely bangs. “It’s really fun to work with Martin because we collaborate on everything. It’s a very fluid process. It’s not like there’s one person doing writing and then another producing; it’s a joint effort,” she says, before explaining how they both worked on the stabbing and pulsating synths in the chorus. “When he was playing it was more uniformed. I suggested cutting it so we’d get a pulsating rhythm with it,” she recalls, before singing the bass to show how they shaped the sound. Sigrid is, it seems, a total studio junkie. When she discusses her recent contribution to the soundtrack for superhero movie ‘Justice League’ - a cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Everybody Knows’ - she immediately talks about how it was a chance to make the production big, boasting how producer Odd Martin Skålnes “recorded live strings in Bergen”.
“I can’t remember who said this - I think it’s a female producer from the US - but she said that verses are for you, the artist, and the chorus is for them, the listener,” Sigrid explains. “So that’s kind of how I like to write my songs. I try to be honest and more vulnerable in the verses and explain why you’re saying what you’re saying in the chorus.” The 21-year-old says that, in fact, many people have shared how much her debut EP has impacted them. “It’s very fascinating and such an honour that my songs can mean something to someone else,” she gushes. “You can’t really compare that to anything; it’s the greatest and really cool.”
When talk turns to where she’s been putting together her debut album, due next year, she lists off the usual places (London, LA, Stockholm), before pausing. “I hope that people don’t think that I don’t like writing sessions just because of that one that inspired ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’,” she insists. “That’s seriously been the only one that has been pretty bad. People are really nice and very open minded. I love doing writing sessions, and I have some key people that I work a lot with.” In fact, throughout our conversation, the singer continuously states how thankful she is for the “very talented people” in her team, from label to band. “You find each other’s skills and you do everything together,” she says.
It’s not surprising, really, when a song like ‘Fake Friends’ deals with the breakdown of a relationship with such precision and nuance while avoiding melancholic cliches. Similarly, latest single ‘Strangers’ is not only a banger of majestic proportions, but also an expert commentary on society’s futile obsession with perfection. “The song is about someone I met and I really wanted it to work, but it wasn’t like the movies,” she confesses, before swerving to a more macro explanation: “I think it’s a symbol of our culture of always wanting things to be perfect and wanting it to look like the movies because we’re so
Sigrid is keen to keep details of the record close to her chest, although she does playfully tease that “it’s going to be a collection of pop songs”, and admits that she’s “cried over guys in writing sessions”. “But it’s actually been much more fun,” she adds. “I’m having a great time, seriously. I’m on tour and there’s so much cool stuff happening. I’m really good.” Pausing, she considers. “Actually, that makes it more difficult because what the fuck am I going to write about now since I’m having such a good time?” We’re unsure, to be honest, but it’s something we can’t wait to find out. e 35
...and not a single wise man among them.
CLASS 2018 OF
T HE Y M AY H AV E S P RUNG F ROM T HE S A ME GRO T T Y H A NG - OU T S P O T S A S S C E N E F O R E F A T H E R S T H E F A T W H I T E F A M I LY, B U T D O N ’ T G E T T H E M W R O N G : S H A M E A R E N ’ T P I S S I N G A B O U T. W O R D S : L I S A W R I G H T. P H O T O S : J E N N F I V E .
here are some myths that Shame would like to dispel today. Gathered around a pub bench, passing round packs of tobacco and talking over each other like they’re vying for airspace, the quintet constantly crack jokes and bicker as only childhood friends can, but it’s when they’re frustrated that they become most unanimously animated. The bones of contention are thus: people thinking they’re angry young men (they’re not). People thinking they’re in a constant state of drug-addled disarray (also incorrect, although today all are nursing sore heads after a headline homecoming show the night before). People thinking that they’re generally unapproachable young oiks, who don’t really give a shit (again, untrue). “That’s the main misconception. Everyone thinks we’re angry dudes, but we’re actually quite lovely,” grins bassist Josh Finerty, chomping down on a plate of squid that’s been placed in front of them by a
See, while certain members of the band may have the aura of having only briefly glanced at a shower in recent days, what becomes immediately apparent upon meeting the South Londoners is that they’re simultaneously a lot more focused than you might expect and a lot, well, nicer, given their howling, topless on-stage ferocity. Having spent their formative years growing up at notorious, nowdefunct Brixton hang out The Queens Head - early home to the Fat White Family and a place “like a town from a Western, people walking in and out at any time of the day,” according to excitable drummer Charlie Forbes – you’d be forgiven for thinking, as many seemingly do, that Shame are cut from the same cloth. A group of next gen ne’er do wells with a love of gobbling up any substance put in front of them. “People think because of our association with the Fat Whites that we’re gonna be more corrupt than we are, but I think we saw it all,” shrugs floppy-haired guitarist Sean Coyle-
IT WA S LIKE A CR A SH COURSE IN HOW NOT TO OVERDOSE ON HEROIN AT THE AGE OF 27.” - Sean Coyle-Smith
benevolent manager. “Calamari, well la di da,” tuts singer Charlie Steen before chipping in. “I think our gigs are quite confrontational and overwhelming,” he begins – the dirty baritone rumble of his singing vocal still very much present IRL. “This might sound lame as fuck, but the passion behind [them] maybe, is creating something that can be considered to be aggressive or angry. We’d never want to be angry or aggressive towards our audience though, unless a particular person is doing something [bad]. We want to create an environment of community at a gig.”
Smith. “They’re all lovely but we did not want to make those mistakes and get into that lifestyle because it’s stupid.” “Seeing the negative effects of that too – we learnt at an impressionable age that it’s not a good path to go down,” he continues. “Most of the people at that place weren’t necessarily failed musicians, but they were people who’d been chewed up and spat out by the music industry. It was like a bit of a crash course in how not to overdose on heroin at the age of 27.” If some reasonably sensible lessons were learned during the early 37
IT’S ALL ABOUT PROVOKING A RE AC TION AND BEING ABLE TO DISCUSS SOMETHING.” - Charlie Steen
days of Shame, then some equally ludicrous good times were obviously had along the way too. When the band talk about their former haunt, it’s with the kind of eager, excitable enthusiasm that’s normally reserved for a new flame. Metaphorically clambering over each other to dish up anecdotes about the pub, it’s clearly a place that’s had a formative effect on the band. “I remember walking upstairs and seeing [one of the regulars] and this other man just showing each other their penises at 4am,” laughs Josh. “He gave me £20 and just told me to get him as much chicken as possible,” chips in Forbes. “I definitely got banned for life about seven times,” grins Steen. “The first time, he just screamed repeatedly ‘I’M NOT YOUR FUCKING DAD’. It’s like, I know you’re not?” All five burst into laughter. “It was funny because while a lot of our mates were doing normal things that 17-year-olds do, all of our friends became these 45-year-old, vaguely drugaddled people,” explains guitarist Eddie Green. “It was a great community. The first end of an era we witnessed.” Aside from a treasure trove of anecdotes, what Shame clearly gained from their tenure as Queens The sacred Head regulars is the sense of bond of freedom and self-expression that mother and makes them such an untameable child: truly a beautiful force, live and on record today. thing to “It had more of an impact on our witness. music than any other aspect of our life because of how deeply, deeply surreal that environment was – how many different types of people we got to meet, how many types of music we got to exposed to,” nods Steen. Taking their innate outsiderness (“We don’t have many friends. We were the unpopular kids at school,” chuckles the singer) and allowing their critical eye to wander, the band started dishing up slabs of rumbling punk influenced by The Fall and Country Teasers, authors Irvine Welsh and Hubert Selby Jr and, most importantly, the state of the world around them.
person? “Well, I’ve been critiqued a lot,” he bats back. “I’ve got a northern mum so that might have impacted my outlook on life. But why wouldn’t you be critical? You can only expand and evolve from critique.” There’s this sense of forward-motion and betterment that’s peppered throughout the band’s conversation. It’s not rooted in any kind of professional desire to grace the arenas of the country - “Fuck that, if we’re big enough to play The O2 then we’ll just do three nights at Brixton Academy,” scoffs Josh. “100 nights at the Windmill!” hollers Forbes – but there’s clearly a collective desire to push forward as musicians and human beings among the band. “I think regardless of whatever outward appearances or perceptions people might have, we’ve always been very, very meticulous about how we want things to come across,” urges Eddie at one point. “The best thing you can do [when you’re a lyric writer] is keep on reading and keep on writing just constantly, constantly, constantly, constantly. That’s the only way you’re ever gonna get good at something,” Steen muses later.
Debut singles ‘Gold Hole’ and ‘The Lick’ landed in 2016 as slabs of disenfranchised disruption, designed to shake up the bleary-eyed public and cause conversation. On the latter, amid lurching bass lines and crashes of punctuating guitars, Steen serves up a biting commentary on apathy and mindless consumption: “As you sit around in a circle and skip one minute and thirty seconds into the chorus/ So you can all sing along to the four chord future/ Because that’s what we want... Something that’s relatable not debatable”. It remains one of the most depressingly accurate tracks about the modern Goggleboxloving, TOWIE-watching world and one that immediately marked Shame out as an important, witty, uncompromising voice. “It’s all about provoking a reaction and, at the least, being able to discuss something. Having freedom of speech and getting people engaged in a subject that they maybe wouldn’t think to be engaged in,” he explains. “And not ignoring anything. Not being arrogant; just trying to be 21st Century human beings.” Has he always been a critical
e Releasing early
singles ‘Gold Hole’ and ‘The Lick’, Shame were a scrappy early proposition, but one that already clearly had plenty of potential.
e 2017 saw the band leaving a trail of destruction across the country at a slew of summer festivals, but it was their Latitude set that stood out, intense and chaotic. e Announcing their debut album with ‘One Rizla’, their ability to write a killer hook was no longer in doubt; it’s the best thing they’ve written so far.
Shame are smart and they give a shit, and soon they’ll have their first recorded testament of this in the form of debut LP ‘Songs Of Praise’. Taking the energy of their increasingly incendiary live shows but presenting it in a more considered way, it’s an album that wants to be an album rather than just a sub-par document of a gig. “We made the mistake of going in and trying to make it sound like live by just playing it all together at first, but without sounding like an arsehole, there are intricacies in our songs that would be lost if we just did it like [that],” shrugs Forbes. Instead, they’ve crafted a record with multiple sides, that surges with the backbone of punk intensity but also comes riddled with hooks and melody, with blustering grizzled darkness at points and almost baggy moments at others. It is, in short, very, very good. “We wanted to have a mix of everything that makes a personality – humour, anger, critique, pleasure,” says Steen. “I think what this record hopefully does lyrically and musically, is [document] passion in a moment, doing something in the moment and letting it stick there so it has a rawness to it.” Having spent the year perfecting the feral spit of their live show and making Trojan Horse style waves in the peripheries of the mainstream (recently nominated for a breakthrough artist gong at the Q Awards, the band spent their turn on the red carpet snogging each other for the paps), now ‘Songs Of Praise’ should show they’re also a band that are serious about making something important too. “They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and that’s what we’ve done for the last three years. It probably won’t end well,” chuckles Steen, assessing their current chances. He’s got a glint in his eye though. He knows that’s probably not true. e 39
IT’S GONE UP A GE AR IN A RE ALLY GOOD WAY.”
CLASS 2018 of
MOVING OUT OF HOME AND WRITING WITH HOUSEHOLD NAMES, ETHAN BARNET T IS GROWING UP AND HIT TING THE GROUND RUNNING. WORDS: WILL RICHARDS. PHOTO: PHIL SMITHIES.
TEN TONNES eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
oving out of home is a huge step for anyone, but when Ethan Barnett - aka Ten Tonnes - left Hertford for a flat in Shepherd’s Bush this summer, it was an even bigger signifier of pretty huge things to come.
helping to remove the idea of songwriting for Ten Tonnes as being something restricted to his old bedroom back in Hertford. “We’re coming out with things that I’d never manage to write on my own, which I guess is the whole point, but it’s still really nice to see it happening.”
Coming hot on the heels of signing to Warner and heading out to Nashville to write with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, things have continued to be pretty wild for Ethan this year, and, to paraphrase the great Ronan Keating, it’s a rollercoaster he’s prepared to ride out and make the most of.
From working with producers to shunning any previously held beliefs on rigid styles or genre boundaries, the last year points to a significant widening of Ten Tonnes’ ambitions as well as the increased time he gets to spend on the project. “I don’t think Ten Tonnes is indicative of any genre,” Ethan begins, “and I’ve been writing some really poppy songs with Nick, so I think it can go in any direction from here. It might mean I get on both the “easy listening” and “Rockin’ Sunday” playlists,” he adds with a giggle.
“Since putting out the last single in early September it feels like it’s gone up a gear in a really good way,” Ethan, still barely in his twenties, begins. ‘Cracks Between’ really does feel like a step up, a tent-ready, bopping anthem. And with festivals already looking to be his forte, it was last summer’s Reading & Leeds that saw the introduction of the Ten Tonnes live band, a move away from his acoustic-led open mic beginnings. Returning to those scrappy, one-man-and-his-guitar roots though, tonight he’s playing one of a new series of house shows, held in fans’ living rooms. “I’m excited - as well as a bit overwhelmed - to now be in a position where I can play and there’s a ready-and-waiting audience who I don’t have to win over,” he says. It’s all proof that Ethan is becoming a versatile songwriter, as well as an exciting one. His work with the Black Keys frontman was his first time writing with an outside party, and it’s more recently been followed up by sessions with former Kaiser Chief - and recently turned solo artist - Nick Hodgson. All quite a lot to take in, then. “I’m trying to keep my feet on the ground but it’s tough sometimes,” he says. “My new hobby is running - I’ve got the ‘couch to 5k’ app and maybe this is the year I actually make a go of it,” he adds, smirking. It’s all part of a period of readjustment, his dream-slashhobby now something he can convincingly call a job. “It’s so nice writing with other people too,” he comments, studio time
Trying his hand at University for a year before heading back to Hertford to become a regular on the gigging circuit, it’s a gamble that’s paid off, at least in the end. “I thought it was too much of a risk to not even try and go to University, and just see how the music thing went straight away,” he says. “Especially as the music was shit back then!” After a year of tending the bar in the pubs he also gigged in, and playing open mic night after open mic night in London, George finally settled on the Ten Tonnes moniker (named after a mockedup circus poster featuring a weightlifter called ‘Ten Tonne Tommy Gun’) and unveiled debut single ‘Lucy’ - the track that saw everything start to fall into place. “Ten Tonnes can be anything,” he continues. It’s also a broader, more potent point than maybe he realises too. From the co-writes to a full-band live show which takes the project’s sound to grittier, fierier places, Ten Tonnes is adapting and evolving at every turn. With a big chunk of recording set for the end of the year and some massive shows in support of Rat Boy to begin 2018, it doesn’t look like things will be slowing down any time soon. “It’s gonna be really exciting if a bit nerve wracking, Ethan says. “But I guess if it ever gets a bit much, I’ll just go for a run.” e 41
WE’RE GOING TO KEEP MAKING S TEPS UNTIL WE GO ALL THE WAY.” - Theresa Jar vis
CLASS 2018 OF
YONAK A W ITH DEBU T EP ‘HE AV Y ’ A DDING T O THEIR A LRE A DY SIGNIFIC A NT PROMISE, THIS BRIGHTON QUA RTE T PUSH BOUNDA RIE S AT E VERY TURN. WORDS: WILL RICHARDS. PHOTO: EMMA S WANN.
e’re all just massive music fans at heart,” insists Yonaka vocalist Theresa Jarvis. “Look, I’ll show you, wait one sec,” she continues, before drummer Rob Mason whips out his phone. After a bit of searching, he finds a video from the band’s recent show supporting Frank Carter at KOKO in London. Shot by a fan, it sees Rob headbanging like his life depended on it, leaning out from one of the venue’s many balconies. “See!” Theresa giggles. For further proof of their inquisitive musical obsessions, see debut EP ‘Heavy’: a sharp, varied collection which occupies a flexible middle-ground between pop-rock and something altogether more dangerous. “I think we’ve finally found the middle bits that meld them together,” guitarist George Edwards chips in, with Theresa’s spiky, Karen O-esque vocals backed one minute by crunching riffs (‘Bubblegum’), and a funky strut the next (‘Gods & Lovers’). ‘Heavy’ takes two intriguing sides of the band and fills in the blanks to make something cohesive as well as varied and electrifying. Coming together after histories in other bands across Brighton, the fourpiece felt an immediate connection and chemistry, one that has fuelled the band ever since. “It gave us this feeling that we never felt before,” Theresa begins. “You get this rush. It’s very rare to have people with you that always seem to play exactly what’s going on in your head.” It’s a connection immediately evident when watching the band live. Theresa’s front-of-stage swagger and snarling vocal battles with an often-topless George, thrashing around and churning out riff after riff, while Rob and bassist Alex Crosby keep things steady, combatting the chaos with steady, chunky rhythm.
STAR SIGNS e Playing at an extremely sober hour at Reading & Leeds at the end of the summer, the band made a (not at all ridiculous) claim they’d one day headline the legendary festival.
e Coming along with the release of ‘Heavy’ at the start of October, new single ‘Bubblegum’ showed yet another side to the quartet, a fiery, left-of-centre pop-rock smash.
From Pete’n’Carl to Frank Carter, Yonaka have already shared the stage with some pretty huge personalities, and according to Rob, playing with such acts is an experience that has only inspired them to become as unhinged and awe-inspiring as those they open for. “It makes you feel like it’s possible. It shows you that you can be in their position.” Theresa and George maybe took the idea of being in these bands’ position a little bit too literally when the band supported the legendary Killing Joke, though. “We found our way onto their tour bus and hid in their beds and started taking photos and stuff, and their tour manager comes in and starts yelling at us, and we ran off the bus as fast as we could,” Theresa giggles. “We had more shows with them after that too,” Alex adds, the shame flooding back to his face. Building themselves up as a live band - to such an extent that Theresa booked their first gig with only one song written, and another four had to be penned in the month before to fill the 30-minute slot - ‘Heavy’ is the band finally matching that live firepower with equal bite on record. It’s clear that a longing for success isn’t something lacking in Yonaka, and they’d be right to back themselves. With a spiky, intriguing debut EP, a live show that’s blossoming further every next night and an evident, burning passion, their lofty ambitions might not be out of reach for too much longer. e 43
CLASS 2018 OF
SIGNED TO ROUGH TR ADE BEFORE THE Y ’D RELE A SED A SINGLE N O T E I N T O T H E W O R L D , G O A T G I R L A R E F O U R W H I P - S M A R T, POLITICISED YOUNG LONDONERS BRE AKING INTO THE BIG TIME. W O R D S : L I S A W R I G H T. P H O T O S : P H I L S M I T H I E S .
riday 24th June 2016 was a strange day for most of the world, but it was an especially odd one for Goat Girl. While the majority of the UK and beyond was either celebrating or – if you’re a more reasonable human - mourning the Brexit result, Lottie ‘Clottie Cream’, Ellie ‘L.E.D’, Naima Jelly and Rosy Bones were inking a deal with Rough Trade. “It was such a bittersweet day. Like, should I feel happy or fucking so sad?” recalls vocalist Lottie, nursing a thundering hangover after a particularly boisterous gig at local haunt The Windmill the night before. “Such a weird one. We’ll remember it forever.” If you were prone to that sort of thing, you could see it as the universe trying to tell us all something. Sure, the adults might have royally fucked it, but here comes a band for a generation determined not to follow suit. Hailing from the current prolific musical hub of South London and imbued with an innate ability to voice the sociopolitical concerns of their peers with wit and style, Goat Girl are exactly the tonic that’s needed right now. From the subtwo minute rattle of debut single ‘Scum’ and its grimly appropriate opening (“I honestly do think that someone spiked their drinks/ How can an entire nation be so fucking thick?”), the quartet introduced themselves as a band capable of expressing these moments of universal despair via the medium of dry, undiluted one-liners. Of their four singles to date, only one clocks in at over 150 seconds. Goat Girl don’t waste time or words; these are direct,
Goat Girl: officially not vampires.
T HE A L B UM I S V ER Y DIF F ER EN T TO LIVE. IT’S MOR E , L IK E , L I S T EN A BL E ? ” L .E .D
streamlined jabs that often don’t even bother with such trivialities as a chorus. “It’s all in the taste of irony and tonguein-cheek humour – I hope people get that,” notes Lottie. “It’s [about] the ridiculousness of the situation and our society right now. It’s so funny, it’s insane. You have to laugh...” Yet, if Goat Girl stand currently as a band on the cusp of genuinely great things, then it all began in much more low-key fashion, as most friendships do. “I liked Lottie’s bag,” says a straightfaced Ellie, recalling her first encounter with the singer. “I remember we were at our friend’s house when I was about 14 and she had a hippy bag, like an Indian mirrored bag and I thought, ‘she’s cool’.” “I remember Naima being really funny. I told her she looked like Alice Glass and she was like, ‘Yeah, everyone says that’ and then threw up,” chimes in Lottie of finding their bassist. The trio began making music with a rotating cast of uninspiring drummers (“There was that one guy who couldn’t play for shit,” shudders Ellie. “It’s actually kind of hard to play that out of time”) and nearly jacked it all in one summer before eventually meeting Rosy at the Windmill who “saved the day”. The Windmill is a recurring theme in this story. A rough and ready Brixton boozer and gig space, it not only gave the band their drummer but also the community and space to hone their skills and build a burgeoning following. “It’s a safe space to play whatever music you want. Everyone is listening very intently, it’s not like people have a biased opinion when they watch. Everyone’s so open and that’s what’s so nice about it,” says Lottie of the venue. Alongside Goat Girl, it became a regular host for early shows from the likes of Shame, Matt Maltese, the sadly now defunct Dead Pretties and more. For a period in 2016, it seemed like every exciting band in the capital called The Windmill its home. Perhaps unsurprisingly then, by the time Goat Girl came to actually release a single last September, the buzz around them had become feverous. Having initially kept their off-stage presence purposefully minimal - “I think it’s important to have an element of mystery,” explains Lottie. “In the beginning, we were anti-showing
CLASS 2018 OF
I F IND I T QUI T E S P E C I A L S EEING F OUR P O W ER F UL W OMEN ON S TA GE .” - C lo t tie C r eam
STAR SIGNS eOn releasing debut single ‘Country Sleaze/ Scum’, the band found themselves trending on Twitter. Not quite breaking the internet, sure, but giving it a bit of a dent nonetheless. eWhen they played with The Fall last year, they found their own track nestled in Mark E. Smith’s playlist next to Rihanna’s ‘Rudeboy’. “The man’s got taste,” notes Clottie. 46 diymag.com
anything of ours online and just went off word of mouth, but I guess you can’t do that forever if you wanna be known” - they wound up trending on Twitter the day that ‘Country Sleaze’ and ‘Scum’ were finally unleashed into the world. “It’s kind of unnatural because it happened so quickly. I feel undeserving of it sometimes, to be honest,” mutters Lottie. Prone to these kind of selfdeprecating asides (when DIY profiled the band back in March, the singer declared that they were “kind of shit”), Goat Girl might not be natural extroverts but that’s part of their appeal. Signed a mere six months after completing their final line up, the band admit they’re still a work in progress - “We didn’t really have that much time to solidify our aesthetic and what we were going to do and definitely not going to do, so I think that’s happening now,” says Ellie – but they’re also a group of people with a strong sense of themselves. “A lot of people are like us in real life, they’re not like ‘HEYYYY MAN!!!’ all the time. I think it’s important for other women to see women on stage who aren’t trying to act like men,” she continues. “If you’re a girl that likes doing that then that’s fine, but it’s also good to know that if you don’t feel like jumping around – because that is [the product of] a lot of testosterone – then that’s just what rock was and it doesn’t have to be what rock is or what live music is. It can be whatever you want it to be. So I hope that people, male and female, look at us and take that away.”
f there’s often an understandable hesitance to talk about gender in the industry at the risk of dredging up more reductive ‘women in music’ discussions, then Goat Girl are keen on starting a more positive narrative. “I find it quite special seeing four women on stage, powerful women that are doing well with music on their own. I hope that gives people better ideas of women in music or whatever,” begins Lottie. “And I do think it makes it quite different. There’s definitely a difference with genders and that can be celebrated as an interesting thing,” Ellie continues. “The question doesn’t have to be ‘What bad experiences have you had as women in the music industry?’ It can be like, ‘Oh it’s good because there’s something beautiful about femininity’.” “We’re just four young girls tryin’ to make a living...”
laughs Lottie, adopting her finest Southern country twang. So far, they’ve been trying and succeeding on their own terms. They may spend half their time playing high profile support tours with the likes of Marika Hackman and The Fall, but the band still regularly rock up to the Windmill, playing shows under such impenetrable pseudonyms as Ghost Girl and Goaty Gals (who could it possibly be?!) alongside bills of their South London pals. They’ve been in the studio too with producer Dan Carey (Mystery Jets, TOY), with a debut LP now fully finished and ready to go. “It’s very different to live. It’s more, like, listenable?” suggests Ellie, amusingly. “You know what I mean though? Live we’re not energetic physically but our music is energetic, whereas the album is a bit more toned down in a good way. It’s more subtle and less harsh.” “My main problem with how we’re portrayed is just [that it’s] this kind of generic rock band, guitar music thing,” adds Lottie. “I feel like our sound is more expansive than that. We’re always changing our ideas about the band because we become bored by just sticking to one thing. I don’t wanna ever be in a bubble and I think that’s already kind of happened for us, the media have put us into a bubble that you can’t escape from – feminist punk or whatever, and I think we have way more potential than that.” She’s picking up steam now. “Everyone loves to compare people to different things but is that actually a good thing? To be like, oh you’re like PJ Harvey but you’re obviously not as good as her. Obviously it’s nice but we wanna be our own thing. I want us to be always changing.” It’s an understandable irritation, because while Goat Girl may be many things – women and South Londoners and people who play guitars – they’re not defined by any one of them. Their small canon of releases so far might hint at one facet of the band, but you only need listen to the electronic drums that open ‘Cracker Drool’ or the slow march of B-side ‘Mighty Despair’ to know there’s a whole wealth more to come. “What I want is just to make different records of quality that are kind of timeless; I guess that’s what every musician wants,” shrugs Ellie. “Just to be appreciated, even if it’s in a cult way. I don’t think we have a goal in mind, we’re just going with the flow.” e
S HE ’ S P L AY ED AT FE S TI VA L S A CRO S S EUROPE A ND TA K EN ON AMERIC A IN 2 0 1 7, B U T N I L Ü F E R YA N YA I S S T IL L LOOKING TOWARDS HER CONTINUED E V O L U T I O N . WORDS: EUGENIE JOHNSON. PHOTO: EMMA S WANN.
CLASS 2018 of
NILÜFER YA N YA
t’s hard to think of something that’s not music,” Nilüfer Yanya ponders when asked what her non-musical highlight of 2017 might be. Suddenly, she’s struck by something: “I quit my job, which is great!” she enthuses. “It’s weird, I haven’t even noticed in a way. I haven’t even had the chance to be like, ‘oh!’ because it’s just been go go go!” It’s unsurprising that she hasn’t had much time to take the life change in, having spent the year supporting the likes of Everything Everything and Broken Social Scene, playing festivals, and releasing EP ‘Plant Feed.’ She’s even taken on America, playing her first headline shows in New York and Los Angeles. “At the beginning of the year I didn’t think that I’d be dealing with American labels, or America at all, so it’s pretty cool.”
After releasing the ‘Small Crimes’ EP in 2016, ‘Plant Feed’ helped propel Nilüfer further into the spotlight. Its three tracks are sharp, soulful numbers with piercing guitar melodies and jazz-inspired flourishes. It’s a confident step, but for Nilüfer her sound is still a work in progress. “All the songs [across the two EPs] were written across the course of two years, so they were all different anyway and had different sounds,” she explains. And she’s currently exploring new things with her writing. “At the moment a lot of the stuff I’m writing is a bit darker and punkier, grungier, so that’s reflected in the sound,” she says. “To me, my writing style and sound are evolving and changing all the time.” Recent single ‘Baby Luv’ continues to show off that constantly shapeshifting sound. It builds itself on a blunt guitar melody with hushed percussion and synths, while Nilüfer’s voice starkly repeating the line “do you like pain?” adds a sense of visceral emotion. “On one part I was thinking of a really strong image of a mother watching her child, so I was thinking of writing from a mother’s perspective on watching her child grow up,” she says on the inspiration behind the track, “but then there’s also the image of someone wasting all of their money, like in
a casino or something like that. But it was from the outside, watching something happening and then asking themselves why they’re doing this, who are they, what is life?”
She’s enjoying delving into more abstract wordplay, too, explaining it’s more representative of real life. “Everything is quite abstract,” she explains. “I don’t really know how everyone else is thinking. It doesn’t matter how close you are to a person or how well you know someone, if you were that person it’d be a completely different thing. Everything is abstract, everyone does everything in their own way.” As 2018 approaches, Nilüfer is looking to write the next chapter of her story, stepping up to record a debut album. “I’ve already started writing for an album. Not a lot, but next year I really wanna finish that so it can come out,” she explains. She’s taken some time out at her uncle’s house in Penzance to write, determined to try and fill her debut with fresh material while still being open to ideas from the past. “I want it to be made up of mostly new tracks, but we’ll see. Maybe there’ll be something really old that hasn’t been released that could go on there, but I like the idea of the majority of it being new.” It’s not just her personal development that she’s contemplating either, as Nilüfer continues to grow Artists In Transit with her sister, Molly Daniel. After heading to Athens several times this year to deliver art workshops in refugee camps, she’s looking to build on the project’s success while still “making sure that it’s not about us.” “It’s about who we’re working with and making sure that they get what they want and they have a go at creating something,” she explains. “It’s about their creative vision, not ours.” Looking ahead, Nilüfer predicts that they’ll be helping others to achieve their creative vision for time to come. “It’ll hopefully be going for the next four or five years at least, but we’d like it to go further,” she says. The same could be said for Nilüfer’s musical path. As she rounds off a supremely successful year, the next half decade and beyond is hers for the taking. e 49
WE ALWAYS TRY TO SLIP LIT TLE INNUENDOS IN.” Simon Milner
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SÄLEN PENNING THE FILTHIE S T P OP S ONG S GOING - A ND CH A SING A C HR I S T M A S NUMBER ONE - T HE S E S UP ER-TA L EN T ED L ONDONER S H AV E H U G E A MB I T I O N S . W O R D S : E L H U N T. P H O T O S : P HIL S MI T HIE S .
t’s a fact: the best pop music is completely filthy. Riddled with innuendo, and bursting with sexual empowerment, it all teeters on a brilliant knife edge; gigantically hooky choruses barely masking provocation. From the thinly-veiled undertones of Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj’s ‘Side to Side’ - a song dedicated to walking funny in the morning after, let’s face it, something a bit more x-rated than a spinning class - to the fairly clear lyrical subtext of ‘Genie in a Bottle’ (“You gotta rub me the right way” etc etc) it’s a point proven over and over again by pop giants. And let’s not even get started on Rihanna’s musical oeuvre. Sälen are proud enthusiasts of the craft. Early single ‘Diseasey’ - an infatuated ode to immoral desire - is practically a minimalist cousin of Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ in sentiment and addictive melody alike, while rotting teeth, rancid bints, bodily fluids and bloodied hate-snogs populate the rest of the trio’s output to date. Angering stuffy old people with their excellently crafted smut is a direction that’s only set to continue, too. “We always try to slip little innuendos in,” announces the group’s Simon Milner. ‘“Sweet Toothache’ has so many!” adds singer Ellie Kamio, referencing a highlight from their latest release with considerable glee. “One of the lyrics is ‘ice-cream man, I scream too loud when you come around.’ It’s not subtle at all,” she concludes. Tracing things back, Sälen are quick to cite the Pussycat Dolls and solo-era Gwen Stefani as considerable influences, and Ellie’s very first vocal performance, in many ways, accidentally set the tone, too. ‘We used to have exchange students stay with us,” she recounts with dread, ”and my mum was like, ‘this is a French song that I know!’ It’s typical mum, not knowing any French.” Unfortunately for everyone involved, that song happened to be ‘Lady Marmalade’, and unfolding events quickly grew to resemble the ‘Afternoon Delight’ episode of Arrested Development. “We put it on, and obviously they were all laughing because she was trying to get a seven year old child to sing ‘voulez-vous coucher avec moi’,” Ellie winces. “So bad. Yeah. I like the idea of blaming it all on my mum. It’s my mum’s fault I write so many explicit lyrics!” With work on a debut album slowly underway, Sälen have been working with producers from outside their circle in order to experiment as much as possible. “Collaboration is a really good way to go,” Ellie reckons, “and it seems like that’s the way music is going generally.” They’re also finding other ways to sate their creative appetites in the meantime. Borrowing its name from the American adult film star, activist and gay cabaret pioneer Zebedy Colt, the trio’s latest project ‘Zebedy’s Cult’ is part short film and part companion soundtrack EP. “It’s about a travelling agony uncle that is on call like a drug dealer,” details Simon. “If you have a problem, you phone up Zebedy. He’s got cult status in this imaginary world.” ‘We all do music, but as a whole we’re very creative people,” Ellie adds. “I think that’s refreshing for a pop act on a major label. We’re lucky to have Island to get behind our weird ideas.“ Sälen seem confident in every single one of their weird ideas, but for Ellie especially, that hasn’t always been the case. Aside from her short51
lived career singing wildly inappropriate songs as a child, Sälen marks her first band, and also her first time performing full stop. The last twelve months have seen her become - in her own words - “confident” and every inch a pop ringleader. And while her voice isn’t a showy flash of aerobic vocal tricks - it’s got far more in common with the more understated tones of Selena Gomez, Julia Michaels and pop’s swerve towards a more hushed delivery, actually - clout and personality oozes from every bold, visceral line. “When you crack your bones I hope they snap in half” - a choice line from ‘Copper Kiss’ - sounds even more chilling in deadpan. “I still wouldn’t really class myself as an actual singer,” Ellie adds. “My dad doesn’t either, apparently. He’s a really pushy Asian dad, but not with science or maths; with music,” she laughs. “He’s very particular, and he said I wasn’t a real musician, which I guess is true. I really want to learn an instrument and not tell anybody, and then at a party, just start playing,” she smirks. “Maybe an oboe?” “Not many of those lying around at house parties,” hoots her bandmate Paul Wale. Once Ellie’s mastered the oboe to a reasonable standard - “grade 8,” she boldly challenges - Sälen have other similarly sky-high ambitions on the horizon. “It’s really important that we get 52
I THINK THE RIGHT THING TO DO IS JUS T WRITE A RE ALLY GOOD CHRIS TMA S SONG!” Ellie Kamio
our first album to be a classic,” states Ellie at one point. Later on, Simon claims “we’re just trying to write a number one.” “Most bands wouldn’t really say that,” he sidenotes. “But for us, it’s like, we like a lot of pop music, and there are a lot of songs that get to number one, and you’re like, ‘woah, that’s catchy.’ Post Malone’s at number one at the moment, and five years ago that wouldn’t have happened.” “Pop is changing,” Ellie adds. Which chart they eventually top, however, still remains to be seen. “Gabba?” suggests Ellie. “A number one in the jazz charts?” offers Paul. The three of them pause for thought. Eventually, Ellie’s got the answer. “I think the right thing to do is just write a really good Christmas song!” she announces. Paul emits a groan of dread. “A Christmas number one, maybe, next year!” “Some innuendos about Santa Claus’ stocking!” picks up Simon. “Some sexy references to candy canes.” “Move over Mariah!” Ellie exclaims. From most bands, talk of a Christmas number one might sound a little lofty, but if there’s anyone who has the guts to write the next ‘Santa, Baby’ it’s the uncensored minds of Sälen. Champions of crafting explicit snippets into exquisite pop songs, stranger things really have happened. e
I’ VE BEEN ABLE TO BRING OUT THE EX AGGER ATED PARTS OF ME THAT COME OUT AF TER FOUR PINTS.”
Matt had been watching telly for 150 hours straight.
THE THINKING MAN’S CROONER, M AT T M A LT E S E I S HONING HIS WORLDWEARY ROMANCE A ND TA K ING HIS BIG RED HE ART TO THE NE X T LE VEL. WORDS: LISA W R I G H T. PHOTOS: JENN FIVE.
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MAT T M A LTE SE eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
y ambition comes from having dreams where people I respect think what I do is shit,” winces Matt Maltese, decked out in now-trademark thrift shop suit and Converse, tucked in the corner of a dingy pub around the corner from where DIY has been making real the singer’s deepest, sunglasses-toting Elton John fantasies. As in, actual dreams, for real? “Yeah. I don’t want to say who it is [in them], because then it might come true...” It might seem like a paranoid tick, but Matt’s not the only muso to fear the nighttime wrath of his peers. In an interview back in 2009, Brandon Flowers confessed that he too had regular nightmares in which legendary sonic pioneer Brian Eno would cross the street to avoid him. Coincidence? Well, yes. But a strange one given Matt’s past few months. See, though the South Londoner’s been racking up a notable list of musical fans since the release of last year’s ‘In A New Bed EP’ (former Maccabees Felix and Hugo White have both leant their services, while Bill Ryder-Jones and, more recently, Foxgen’s Jonathan Rado have both signed up for production duties), it was in September that Matt received an unexpected message telling him that, among an interview proclaiming his lack of interest in modern indie, The Killers’ frontman had name-checked the singer as one of the few doing it right. “I like this Matt Maltese kid coming out of England,” said one of the most famous men in modern music. “[He’s] got some really great songs.” If the tipping of Brandon’s particular cap was a surprising one (“I’m just annoyed that they didn’t put it in the article title, you know what I mean?” he jokes. “Headline: ‘Brandon Flowers Likes Matt’”), then the nod is still representative of the ever-mounting excitement around the singer. From game-changing singles ‘Vacant In The 21st Century’ and ‘As The World Caves
In’ onwards, Matt’s been honing his niche of witty romance - “kitchen sink dramas, in an apocalyptic way”, he nods – into an increasingly fully-formed proposition. From the lo-fi love stories that populate his videos, to the giant lightbulb-studded red heart that now stands behind him and his band (also a new addition) on stage, the persona of Matt Maltese – The Playful Crooner is amping up by the day. “It feels like I’ve been able to bring out the exaggerated parts of me that come out after four pints,” he laughs. “The dancing I did [in the video for] ‘As The World Caves In’ - I definitely had to drink half a bottle of whiskey so I could do that, but I really enjoyed it. I think so much of it is as basic as realising that people are liking that side of things; it makes me feel better about bringing that out more in the lyrics and the dancing and all of it.” Much like the earlier penny-drop moment that led him to embrace the lighter side of songwriting (“I felt quite hesitant of having humour in my songs [before], but I started to think that was all a bit bullshit,” he told us back in September), they’re all facets of a gradual evolution into a truly individual artist – one that offers up a cheeky wink as well as a quivering lip with every next move. “I really enjoy doing over the top things when I’m playing, but also trying to find that balance where the pretty full-on sad songs still feel believable,” he explains. “We’re all multiple people and it’s finding a way to feel that I can be like a shitter Jarvis Cocker but also [have genuine emotions]. To not just be one thing, like all of us are. We can be childishly happy but also be incredibly sad, and that’s what I wanna do.” From the grand satire of ‘As The World Caves In’ – an imagined love story of Donald Trump and Theresa May having a tumble before they press the big red button, set to the kind of sweepingly gorgeous pianos that Father John Misty would be proud of – to the more restrained melancholy of recent track ‘Comic
Life’ – a a wry take on wasted days, festering away in the house (“If you don’t go out today / How’re you meant to write your sad songs?”) - Matt’s recent canon has been perfecting this balance of sarcastic and sweet with aplomb. Now, South London’s own “shit Jarvis Cocker” is gearing up to take the next step and knuckle down to work on his debut LP. Teaming up with Rado for the record – currently still in its early stages - the pair might make wildly different music on the surface, but there’s that integral sense of humour that suggests it could just make perfect sense. “What I really like about him is the silliness, and I think [he] brings that side out of me,” Matt suggests. “I’ve started a few songs but it’s still early days. I’m neurotic when I have one song, but now having twelve... I haven’t worked this hard since my A Levels.” Of the new tracks, there could already be some sonic curveballs in the mix - “A couple have no piano in them,” he states. “I really like the idea of doing half of my set standing up, but that might just be the final nail in the coffin...”. But thematically, Matt’s tales of doomed romance are what’s setting him apart. “I’ve been watching a
I HAVEN’T WORKED THIS HARD SINCE MY A LE VEL S.”
few TV shows recently that I feel have the kind of mood that I want to write songs for,” he suggests. “‘Fleabag’ and that show ‘Flowers’ with Julian Barratt, which is really funny and dark. Stuff like that, where it’s really fucking honest, shows you that it’s ok to be a weirdo and I think that’s what I try and do as well.” He pauses. “I mean, I’d be lying if I said that beneath all the cynicism and world weariness I wasn’t still a hopeless romantic, but there’s something funny about that. I’m still a bit of a 16 year old kid, but [stuck] inside someone that’s fucked up a lot.” He might have fucked up in the past, but currently it feels like the singer can do no wrong. Having recently completed his largest headline tour to date after a summer traversing the festivals of Europe, he’s gearing up for a 2018 that can only get bigger. A whole slew of male singers from the capital might be vying for the spotlight right now, but there’s none doing it with quite the style and wry panache of Matt Maltese. “I’m just riffing on the love thing because it’s never been done before, has it? Love,” he grins, chuckling. “It’s really great that someone’s just finally giving that one a whirl.”
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e Matt stepped into the YALA! Records fold (helmed by Maccabee Felix White and produced by bro Hugo) for ‘Vacant In The 21st Century’, thus resetting his own bar by a mile. e The lads then took him out to support on The Maccabees’ final intimate farewell warm up shows. e Did we mention that a certain man (The Man in fact, aka one Brandon Flowers) thinks Matt’s the proverbial dog’s bollocks?
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ONE GU Y RECENTLY THOUGHT WE WERE THE REINC ARNATED L AUREL AND HARDY!” - Stephen Fitzpatrick 58 diymag.com
AN ECCENTRIC LIVERPOOL DUO WITH MORE CHEESE TH A N YOUR AV ER A GE DA IRY FARM, AUDUN L A ADING AND S TEPHEN FIT ZPATRICK DON’ T B E L I E V E I N B R O O D Y. W O R D S : E L H U N T. P H O T O : E M M A S W A N N .
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n seeing Her’s walking down the street, you could be forgiven for mistaking them for the Edinburgh Fringe’s most eccentric newcomers. Together, Stephen Fitzpatrick - a spritely man from Barrow-in-Furness with a floppy bowl cut and jazzy shirt - and Audun Laading - a red-headed Norwegian with a towering stature - have all the makings of a legendary duo. It’s a theory this pair have heard before, too. “One guy recently thought we were the reincarnated Laurel and Hardy,” Stephen laughs. “We get offered comedy gigs every now and again,” Audun adds. “Maybe we could do a comedy night? And make it reaaalllly awkward,” he adds. “Awkward Comedy.”
The two of them mull things over, and then think better of it. “Bit niche” Stephen decides. As much as Her’s might be opposed to the idea of a comedic spin-off project - “I don’t even think I’m funny!” protests Audun - their live shows still offer something of a stand-up experience. Performing at SXSW 2017, the pair munched M&Ms between numbers, and flamboyantly introduced Stephen’s capo changes like surprise guest appearances. And today, perched on a seat they’ve dubbed “Grandma’s bench” for whatever reason, the two of them reckon their on-stage antics are a product of their cast-iron friendship and shared small town cabin fever. “We met across the bar. I shyly smiled at him, he winked back,” Stephen starts, revisiting the first time they met one another. “We were forced to be friends by curriculum,” he jokes, referencing their aligning schedules at uni. “We had mutual tastes; jangly guitar and whatnot. Similar experiences growing up, that parallel of growing up in a small place and getting glared at by the locals...” Growing up in eerily similar seaside situations and joining forces in the harbourside city of Liverpool, the band have taken one big takeaway from their years spent fairly bored as teenagers. “There’s a certain vibe growing up,” Stephen reckons, “on a weekly basis you’re faced with this eternal boredom that you can’t get over.“ At times they turned to some noisy forms of entertainment. “I drummed in a metal band, double bass drum pedal,” Stephen goes on. “We were called…” he pauses dramatically, “Dethroned. Good times. We played at the Alma in Bolton, and we asked the sound guy if he could put on green lights and fill the venue with smoke because we were apparently a bit of a ‘weed band’,” he laughs. “And I didn’t even
like metal! Swamp metal. Everybody has to deal with metal in small towns. We did end up writing a Metallica song for the collection [‘Songs of Her’s’] he adds. “Bit of distortion on ‘Medieval’. Dedicated to the hometown. There we go.” Spare for a few nods to the old ages, though, Her’s don’t really channel any of their metal beginnings. Instead, fusing a blend of art pop and unfussy, brilliant songwriting (Stephen and Audun are massive fans of The Free Design and Supertramp, and cite Scritti Polliti as being “the sexiest band ever”) Her’s make woozy, melodic brilliance; jittering drum machines mingling with a lead vocal that soars from gruffness to flighty baritone. Playful and honest - a tricky act to balance well - debut ‘collection’ ‘Songs of Her’s’ (and yep, that is a tongue in cheek reference to Songs of Praise, fyi) captures trying to keep something special afloat, and daydreamy mornings flecked by romantic sunlight alike with frilliness left well out the way. The cheese to be found here comes entirely from Her’s’ unabashed set of influences instead; dwelling in every shameless, addictive chorus hook. “We’d like to be an old cheesy band,” Audun says, though he hasn’t got a specific decade in mind. “Romantic melodies resonant throughout history, I’d like to argue,” Stephen adds. “They transcend its point of conception.” ‘Songs of Her’s’ - though not a proper first album by any stretch; “a collection of songs it was,” says Stephen - made good on all the promise of early singles ‘What Once Was’ and ‘Dorothy’, and showed oodles of personality in the process. “And now we’ve got our sea legs, is that the expression?” Audun says. “Our wings are spread. We’re a bit braver, more learned.” It’s a discussion on the birth of Christ, that’s what we’re figuring out,” Stephen deadpans, speaking about a vaguely in process debut. “I don’t know if we’re committing to that religious subtext…” Audun interjects warily, before strengthening his resolve. “Let’s just stop this tangent,” he declares, pointing vaguely in the direction of the band’s manager, who is looking mildly worried across the courtyard. “Martin is over there shitting himself.” “We’ll see how the next six months pan out with what we’re recording,” Stephen adds more sensibly, “speaking of that debut album lying vaguely on the hazy horizon. “We’re doing a lot of demos and that. It’s coming together slowly.” e 59
“Good morning sir, we’d like to talk to you about Jesus…”
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FROM SECRE TI V E INTERNE T SENS ATIONS TO ONE OF THE MOS T TA LK ED A BOUT NE W BANDS AROUND, SUPERORGANISM’S HYPER-MODERN APPROACH TO POP IS P R O P E L L I N G T H E M F U R T H E R B Y T H E D A Y. W O R D S : L I S A W R I G H T. P H O T O : P H I L S M I T H I E S .
e have this WhatsApp group where we try and organise band stuff, but it’s just ruined by lolz. Destroyed by memes,” laughs Emily – one eighth of Superorganism’s intercontinental troupe, a hyper-positive Kiwi multiinstrumentalist with the most infectiously upbeat personality around. To his left sits fellow instrument-swapping New Zealander Harry; to his right, JapaneseAmerican teenage singer Orono – a more introverted presence who chimes in occasionally with deadpan references to ‘Rick and Morty’. The rest of the band have taken their primary coloured plastic macs back to their shared house for now.
It might seem like a non-event to mention a gif-loving friend group in the modern world, but it’s an integral element to understanding this lot. More than any other emerging band right now, Superorganism are a product of the internet. Practically, following an initial meeting backstage at a gig, it enabled the octet to stay in contact across oceans and continents for 18 months before forming proper and, eventually, moving to London together. But more than that, its limitless possibilities lie at the heart of the eclectic new pop stars’ very essence.
From the genre-defying sonic blend that runs through the band’s three singles to date (low-slung, wavy breakthrough hit ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D’, the wobbly bounce of ‘Nobody Cares’ and ‘It’s All Good’’s giddy hyperactivity) to the technicolour onslaught of cartoons and video game references that pepper the visuals of their live show, Superorganism are like a human Pinterest board – the product of a generation that has unrivalled access to everything, all of the time. “Scrolling the internet, looking at Reddit or Instagram and just BAM BAM BAM – all these things constantly,” agrees Emily. “You’ve got access to all of the sounds that you could possibly think of so you’re only limited by your imagination,” continues Harry. “If you were a band living in a reasonably small town somewhere in the early ‘90s and you’ve got a guitar, drums and bass, then that’s what you’re limited to. Whereas now that’s not the case. Now you can make music in your bedroom and it sounds big and crazy. It’s a totally different set of tools.”
Initially, the band began writing from different points across the globe, sending files to each other and building songs from their component parts. “Everyone was saying [this way of working] was very unique and unusual and we were like, oh this just seems very logical,” explains Harry. “I was surprised more people weren’t doing it like that because, you know, it’s the internet,” Orono shrugs. “I thought this was just how mainstream pop was made and I guess it’s funny because I see [this] as trying to make mainstream pop,” says Emily, laughing. “The whole left-field thing is just our failure to do that yet.” Now, the group are holed up in a more traditional, albeit crowded, living situation - “a classic London immigrant flat; not as much furniture and knickknacks as you’d imagine, but way more music gear” - but they’re still determined to keep things just as forward-thinking. “We’re super obsessed with the idea that we’ve written everything and recorded it and mixed it ourselves, all in our house, and also done the video stuff. I think that’s a whole new way of working,” Emily enthuses. If Superorganism are still operating in a reasonably left-field realm for now – think The Avalanches for the ‘Adventure Time’ generation – then the immediate reaction to ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D’ at the start of 2017 was enough to show that the band are in line for bigger things. Immediately setting the internet and then radio ablaze, it landed them in the bizarre situation of playing their second ever show (their first in London) to a sold-out 600-capacity crowd. Things are unlikely to get less mad for a while.
The key is this eagerly-consuming openness to everything. Scroll through Superorganism’s Spotify playlist and you’ll find tracks from Britney Spears to The Cramps and Ariel Pink. “I think the central thing with all of those [songs] is that they’ve all got really catchy melodies that stick in your head,” theorises Harry. “They might have different production standards and be in different genres, but at the centre of it they’re all just pop songs.” Unencumbered by boundaries of genre or style, Superorganism are twisting traditional band life into their own thoroughly modern image and pushing pop into the next dimension. The future is now. e 61
I SAID THAT OUR GIRL WA S MY E VIL T WIN SISTER, BUT AC TUALLY... IS IT THE OTHER WAY?” - Soph Nathan
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NE VER ONES TO LET A BUSY S C HEDUL E GE T IN T HE WAY OF THEIR PRODUCTIVE S TRE A K , 2018 IS SE T TO OFFER UP MANY A MOMENT OF OPPORTUNIT Y FOR THIS BRILLIANT TRIO. WORDS: EL H U N T. P H O T O S : P H I L S M I T H I E S .
ver the last few months Our Girl have been discovering the perks of sharing a name with a prime-time BBC war drama. Though the band only really watched the show back when it starred Stacey from EastEnders (aka actress and total legend Lacey Turner) and they’re not really sure which came first - the group or the telly show - they’re reaping certain benefits all the same. “We’re trending on Twitter,” announces vocalist and lead shredder Soph Nathan dryly. “Someone came up to me at a wedding the other week and was like, ‘Oh my god, your band is trending on Twitter!’” laughs drummer Lauren Wilson. “But nope, it’s not me!”
don’t yet exist, and a carrier of multiple jumbo sponges (for that clean bass-sound, apparently) he’s the meticulous, thoughtful lynchpin completing the Our Girl triangle.
While this shared name conundrum could well be responsible for a few brilliant mishaps along the way - spare a thought for yer gran trying to watch the latest episode on ‘The iPlayer’, only to be hit by thrashing, emotive grunge instead - telly is a fitting match for Our Girl. Like all the best bands, the three of them gel together like the cast of a sitcom. “We hug and cry a lot,” declares Lauren. “It’d just be jokes that most people don’t find funny...” adds Soph, pondering a potential pilot series.
Bill - who besides being a former member of The Coral has also produced records for the likes of Hooton Tennis Club and The Wytches - proved a pivotal (and hilarious) part of the process too; in Seinfeld terms, he’d be the Cosmo Kramer of proceedings. “As I’ve said, we cry a lot,” Lauren explains, “and he knows when to push you and when to give you a cuddle. When we [recorded] ‘Level’ he came into the room, and he said this really heartfelt speech. He was like, “I just want to say to you guys you’re doing something really special and this is your first album...” and then he ended it off, like “and now i’m gonna spunk all over it!” And, quelle surprise, Our Girl cried after that sentimental moment, too.
So, a quick introduction to Our Girl’s lead characters, then. Soph - a bundle of dry wit and unbounded talent - fronts the band, rustling up demos in, erm, “her office” for her two trusted sidekicks to help work their musical magic on. Armed with a vocal that seems soft but hits fiercely, and a near-mystical approach to guitar playing that veers from ferocious to tender in a second, she’s taken on a cult-like status among her musician peers; Ben from Blaenavon insisting upon forming a ‘Soph Nathan Appreciation Society’ just last month. Drummer Lauren, meanwhile - as well as crying frequently during key emotional moments - might seem quiet behind the kit at first, but be fooled at your peril. At a recent show at Dalston’s Waiting Room, she shot a laughing punter down with a perfectly burning retort. The room was a howling mess afterwards. “I hold back, and then when I strike, I stun ‘em!” she smiles. “Being the drummer, people don’t really expect for you to have a personality... or say stuff.” “You just came out with a stand-up routine!” remarks an admiring Josh, the band’s very own “hunky mascot” (Lauren’s words). A genius at decoding new notes that
The recording of their forthcoming debut album due at some point next year - was, funnily enough “just like an episode of Seinfeld,” says Josh. In an intense burst of recording, the three of them holed up with producer Bill Ryder-Jones at a slightly dilapidated country manor. “We slept in a room all together in our little beds,” smiles Soph wistfully. “There were lots of organs, and a cat called Adam who became my best friend,” Lauren chips in. “I made up loads of songs about him, and he loved it.’
Our Girl, you quickly get the impression, cry on a regular basis because they really, really care about their end product. It’s easy to hear that drive in their compact and perfectly formed EP ‘Normally’. Fronted by a waterlogged face, spewing air bubbles and sinking into the deep, Soph’s songs linger in uncertain territory; fearing suffocation one moment, inaction the next. And when things get soppier, it’s approached with a deft touch; cloaking unfussy lyrics in spirals of intricate melody. “You warm me up and make me safe,” she sings on the loved-up ‘Being Around’, reaching the brink of infatuation and euphoria at the same time. For Soph, especially, shifting her focus onto Our Girl marks a big moment. For several years now she’s become ubiquitous with her other band The Big Moon, where she puts big bold stamps all over the shop as the band’s resident lead guitarist and colourful-blouse wearer. Now, though, she’s 63
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S TAR SIGNS e Because Soph Nathan is not one to let silly things like time get in the way of playing shows, Our Girl made their brilliant debut at The Great Escape while she was running around playing about seven other shows all at the same time. Not too shabby! e The band offered up a gorgeous take on Ty Segall’s ‘Sad Fuzz’ earlier this year, as produced by Blood Red Shoes’ Steve Ansell and mixed by none other than The Japanese House’s Amber Bain. e Not content with touring alongside Marika Hackman this year, or just playing our Class of 2018 launch show this December, they’re also joining Pale Waves for our Class of 2018 tour next year. Woop! 64 diymag.com
at the helm, and fronting Our Girl lends her a certain new seriousness. At one point she recalls angrily hitting her guitar during a late-night bout of frustration in the recording booth; producer Bill had to interject with an inappropriate burst of humour to break the tension, and it gave them their best take yet. The band as a whole return again and again to the idea of recording a perfect debut album, and then minutes later, joke about starring in a porn film. “We’re open to ideas!” Soph declares. “You gotta bring home the bacon.” “There was a Big Moon interview, where I said that Our Girl was my evil twin sister,” Soph grins later on, “but actually... is it the other way?” she cackles mysteriously. Not entirely serious after all, then... It’s this balance of determined drive and quick wit that fuels Our Girl. Earlier in 2017 saw the band tackle a truly terrifying schedule with the nonchalance of Mary Berry whipping up a quick Victoria Sponge at the weekend. “Soph got back from Madrid that morning, came to play a gig with us, did soundcheck for The Big Moon, played another gig for us at Sticky Mike’s…” remembers Lauren, looking back on a Great Escape that’s exhausting to even revisit. “And I think that was one of our best gigs ever!” Soph beams. “It felt so heated, and free.” “Visceral!” proclaims Lauren, to firm nods of agreement from the others. “It was visceral! I cried after that as well.” Looking ahead, Our Girl are chomping at the bit when it comes to releasing their debut; and on the strength of newbies they’ve been airing live recently, it looks set to be a blinder. Apparently, it’s not far off either, with a release being pencilled in for 2018. “But when, next year?” Lauren adds slyly, while imitating - very impressively, it must be added - the sound of a revving motorbike. “We’re not telling you!” e
Groningen: Music capital of 18, 19 and 20 January 2018
ESNS: EU creative europe
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WITH FIERY LIVE SHOWS AND BUNDLES OF FUN SURROUNDING E VERY THING THE Y DO, THESE FOUR ARE THE BOIS TEROUS KICKUP THE A RSE WE NEED IN 2018. WORDS: WILL RICHARDS. PHOTOS: EMMA S WANN.
ost bands would kill for the charisma, energy and sheer exuberance that flows through King Nun. A gang mentality and bundles of fun are integral to any band, and these four possess it in spades without even trying. Upon sitting down at an East London pub, still picking star confetti out of their hair from our photoshoot, they start to talk - and it feels like they’d never stop, if time allowed.
From bassist Nathan Gane being convinced that he once saw some “really cool bins” outside the pub to them laying out their plan to start a Nickleback tribute band called The Kroegers and its subsequent world domination, the sense that King Nun are having the most fun of their lives right now is unavoidable. And the songs aren’t bad either. Emerging with debut single ‘Tulip’ towards the end of last year, the quartet showed themselves as a hyperactive, grubby and melody-packed outfit, fronted by the insatiable Theo Polyzoides. B-side ‘Speakerface’ was an equally hair-raising cut, but it was ‘Hung Around’, released earlier this year, that really stated the band’s intentions. A bratty, stopstart verse leads into a chorus that adds anthemic to the
ever-growing list of the band’s qualities, a song that shows Theo’s versatility as a songwriter as clear as day.
Shortly after, the band embarked on their first tour, alongside Superfood and Pale Waves, their labelmates at new home Dirty Hit. “We were extremely spoilt by that tour I think,” guitarist James Upton reflects. “We were in hotels every night and thought that was what touring was always gonna be like!” Let’s hope for the band’s sake they milked the free shampoo sachets, as their following tour, a co-headlining run with Freak, saw them travelling back from every date to pile into their driver’s flat in Birmingham. Night-time amenities aside, however, the Dirty Hit tour was the start of something, the lift-off of a year that’s since taken them on tour after tour, and to Reading & Leeds and beyond. It’s over a week since the end of their most recent jaunt - and the band are getting restless. “What do we do when there isn’t a show to play?!” Theo exclaims, scrunching up his shoulders and giving his best comedy confused expression. “I’m fine in the day, but get to about 7pm and think, ‘well what do I do tonight?’” Starting out as slightly unwelcome noiseniks at their local pub’s open mic night
in Twickenham - most commonly known for egg-shaped sporting encounters instead of the band’s grunge-nodding thrashes - King Nun were able to cut their teeth far out of the spotlight, and to the most difficult audience of all. “The place was called The George,” Theo looks back. “That was our Wembley for the longest time! It was just these old people who would sit around looking at us, and would often get very angry at us for wasting their blues jam time.” “Someone literally did tell us once - ‘you shouldn’t be here, you’re wasting our time!” James adds, smirking. “I almost miss it sometimes,” Theo takes over. “You’d walk up to the manager and say, you know, ‘put us down as King Nun, we’re on at 9’ and we’d sit there for the next two hours getting nervous, thinking ‘oh man, are they gonna dig the new stuff?’,” he adds to eruptions of laughter. “They never even liked the old stuff!” Nathan hits back.
showing up and literally playing one song before being told to leave,” Theo remembers, before drummer Caius StockleyYoung giggles: “I’m probably the only person to have ever drummed shirtless at an open mic!” There was one person on their side on those Sunday evenings though: Theo’s English teacher at college. “She told us we were going places,” he says, with an unavoidable hint of pride in his voice.
I FEEL LIKE OUR S TORIES ARE WORTH TELLING.” Theo Polyzoides
“We’d do three songs, and as soon as we started playing, they’d always get serious neighbour complaints. They’d never had any at all, then when we showed up, they got three in one night. So our set would get shortened to two songs, then we’d end up
“There was Terence as well,” Nathan chuckles. “He was the local postman. He tried to hit on my nan once! It was Christmas, and he was wearing a Christmas jumper with a 3D Christmas pudding on it. There’s a video of it! My nan never went back.”
After the band signed to Dirty Hit, with ‘Tulip’ and ‘Speakerface’ in their back pockets, they planned on playing gig after gig. Unless the venue’s security happened to ask the then 17 year-olds for ID. “The first proper show we played was with Superfood, and we managed to sneak in and play it,” Theo remembers. “When we did end up managing to play, it was the gateway to this whole new world.” It’s a world King Nun have fallen into remarkably smoothly, drawing crowds of increasing size with each run and taking on their first festival
season to boot. “When you start a band and you tell other people,” James begins, “it ranges from ‘oh, that’s nice...’ to... ‘oh, great…’ and eye-rolls. It goes from playing about in a bedroom and trying to have to relate that to people, to now, when it’s really gratifying to have people not only relate to it, but for people who we respect and admire to like our band.” “It’s hard to wrestle with the idea that we deserve this,” Theo adds, “because there’s always this impending feeling that we don’t at all. But at the same time, everybody, regardless of whether they’re in a band or not, has a story to tell, and I feel like our stories are worth telling. The stuff we’re singing about, I want people to know this. This has to be out there. The gratification comes from finishing a song and being able to pinpoint the time in our lives that it relates to, and truly believing that it’s something you need to share.”
“ THE LOC AL POS TMAN TRIED TO HIT ON MY NAN ONCE!” Nathan Gane
Next up is an EP set for release in early 2018. “It’s definitely a step into bigger territory for us musically,” says Theo, the idea clearly filling he and his bandmates with glee. “We didn’t want to just release a mixtape or playlist-type thing of all the songs we had - we wanted it to flow. It was a case of writing all the songs, and then at a certain point just thinking ‘holy shit, they all rhyme and fit with each other really well!’. And then...” he goes to continue, before the others let out a squeal due to the advances of a rogue squirrel, whose movements captivate the whole table for the next ten minutes. “It’s an EP that’s got all of our hearts in it,” he continues, getting back on track. “It’s exactly what we mean to say at this time in our lives. I hope that carries across well. We’ve gotta bleed ourselves dry on it, and make certain that the same drive that was with us in The George and up to our first single is with us through all of this, and forever. We’ve gotta make sure that we play so hard that we can’t pick up our instruments for weeks after we’ve done this thing.” “It just needs some sprinkles - a bit of Gordon Ramsay’s magic,” butts in Caius, as the table erupts into laughter again. e
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(One Little Indian)
n early 2015, Björk unleashed the sound of her own broken heart, the string-laden, complex, uncompromising ‘Vulnicura’. Even its artwork, showing her chest cleaved in half as she stands paralysed, was an image that hinted at what lay within – a blow-by-blow breakdown of her thoughts and feelings as she moved from uncertainty to the darkest depths of sorrow.
It’s difficult not to look back at that turmoil when listening to ‘Utopia’, not least because lead single ‘The Gate’ sees her singing about having a “healed chest wound”. This is Björk coming out of the other side, exploring love in its varying forms; she even at one point described it as her “Tinder album”. On ‘The Gate’ she sings about care in a more spiritual, reflective way, having “proud self-sufficiency”, or of “purifying toxicity” on the title track. ‘Features Creatures’ is perhaps her most ‘Tinder-like’ moment, seeing her “assembling a man / Googling love” and how when she observes someone with particular characteristics, she thinks “I am five minutes away from love.” Meanwhile, ‘Body Memory’ speaks of how “my limbs and tongue take over” instinctually, the sense of primal
sensuality heightened by the feral growling that punctuates throughout the track, tying her search to the natural world. ‘Utopia’ is for the most part lighter in tone than its predecessor, often characterised by flutes and harps that give some of the tracks an air of weightlessness. Even on opener ‘Arisen My Senses’, there’s still the sense that a weight has been lifted from her shoulders. She also puts nature close to the heart of the music, the sound of birdsong in particular chiming between tracks.
the foreboding, dark nature of ‘Body Memory’. There are times, however, when the mix doesn’t quite lend Björk’s message enough power. ‘Sue Me’, for instance, sees her attempting to throw out one of the album’s most resistance-based lyrics, but her defiance seems a little washed-out in the mix, swimming underneath a mountain of tinny, pulsating beats that masks her message. She almost smothers herself on ‘Saint’ too. Björk’s lyrics become muddied under her overly-layered harmonies, obscuring what she has to say.
While there’s nearly always a sense of beauty embedded within ‘Utopia’, there’s also a feeling of harshness. Again, this is mostly conjured from the industrial beats and electronics that swirl around the album. This sometimes adds texture, giving the sense of anticipating something greater on the otherwise sweet and delicate ‘Blissing Me’ or contributing to
For the most part, ‘Utopia’ sounds like an album where she’s followed her own advice. It demonstrates how the Icelandic alt-pop legend has pushed past her own emotional turmoil, taking yet another step in her ever-evolving saga, one that sets a path for future endeavours. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Loss’, ‘Arisen My Senses’ 71
no_one ever really dies
FEVER RAY plunge (Rabid)
Fittingly ‘The Plunge’ sees The Knife’s Karin Dreijer, erm, plunging into lustier climes. Blending Jenny Holzer-esque truisms (“Free abortions and clean water! Destroy nuclear, destroy boring!” declares unwieldy centrepiece ‘This Country’) with percussive gasps of pleasure and explorations of desire. It’s both audacious and abrasive, no more so than when Dreijer chirps “I want to run my fingers up your pussy” on ‘To The Moon and Back’. Still, at its core, this is a record about love in all its dismantling forms. While debut ‘Fever Ray’ conjured a bare woodland wracked by icy winds, ‘The Plunge’ is a pulsating heart; scalding to the the touch, and charged with life. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘To the Moon and Back’
photo: jenn five 72 diymag.com
songs of praise (Dead Oceans)
Emerging from a South London scene full of scrappy, drawling punk bands and sharing a rehearsal space with the notorious Fat White Family, Shame could be forgiven for opting for style over substance. With debut singles ‘Gold Hole’ and ‘The Lick’, though, they began to rally against this assumption. This debut sees all that gritty early promise channeled into something special. From the moment opener ‘Dust On Trial’ lurches into life, the album sees the band’s chaotic live show transferred onto tape, and then some. Its first verse sees frontman Charlie Steen presenting a booming vocal, singing almost under his breath and holding back a landslide. By leaving preconceived notions at the door, Shame have made an unlikely claim to be Britain’s most exciting new band. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘One Rizla’
Switching frantically between jarring beats and drastic tempo changes, there’s a thudding, relentless motor that hammers forth like a nuclear-fuelled piston throughout ‘No_one Ever Really Dies’. It’s an album peppered with enormous guest spots, with varying levels of success: ‘Lifting You’ - an ode to rolling blunts, getting high and ‘the herb’ features the dulcet tones of, erm, Ed Sheeran, while ‘Don’t Don’t Do It’, written following the death of Keith Lamont Scott in North Carolina, has Kendrick Lamar rapping over villainous ascending notes. A heavily-synthesised veneer that appears hell-bent on prompting a dulled, headbanging trance, N.E.R.D’s comeback attempt is – paradoxically – also a record that appears concerned with waking up and seeing clearly, so to speak. Messy in its execution, and lacking in simplicity, ‘No_one Ever Really Dies’ isn’t nearly as profound as it thinks it is. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Don’t Do It’
eee NICK J D HODGSON tell your friends (Prediction)
NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS who built the moon? (Sour Mash)
If ‘As You Were’ saw little bro Liam largely treading familiar ground with a collection of Oasis-esque slammers, then ‘Who Built The Moon?’ cements Noel as the more adventurous – albeit hit and miss – of the Gallagher clan. From the Vaccines-do-Ricky-Martin honk of lead single ‘Holy Mountain’, it’s clear NG hasn’t exactly set the filters of caution that high, and the rest of the HFBs’ third effort follows suit. ‘She Taught Me How To Fly’ is Noel’s semi-successful attempt at a New Order track. ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’ borrows more than a little from The Beatles’ ‘Come Together, while ‘If Love Is The Law’ is an almost festive number from the Abba songbook. Only semi-title track ‘The Man Who Built The Moon’ and riffy opener ‘Fort Knox’ land firmly in more classic Gallagher territory. You can’t fault Noel for wanting to step away from the niche of his own making, but it doesn’t make ‘Who Built The Moon?’ any less of a baffling ride. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Fort Knox’, ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’
eeee FIRST AID KIT
Having written the majority of Kaiser Chiefs’ mammoth hits, Nick Hodgson’s way around a melody is tried and tested, and on ‘Tell Your Friends’ it’s the singer’s obvious skill. Classic and nuanced, he’s a topline writer of clout. Lyrically, however, the former Chief tends to crumble into schmaltz. If you can resist an involuntary eyeball roll at “You’ve got an honest face / You brighten up every corner of this place”, then more credit to you. In an uncynical world, maybe Nick’s PG13 sentiments would float, but in this modern horrorshow, they feel a bit trite. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘RSVP’
everyday is christmas (Atlantic)
It’s practically science that the best Christmas songs are one big shiny bauble of nostalgia. Mariah, Wham!, Wizzard, even Cliff bloody Richard: any festive playlist worth its stuffing oozes warm and fuzzy between every jingle of a bell. Forget those acoustic borefests of whimsy and fragility, when it comes to festive soundtracks, pop’s where its at. And there’s nobody right now as well-versed in both penning and belting out pop hits as Sia, and on ‘Everyday Is Christmas’ she mostly hits the spot. ‘Candy Cane Lane’ is joyous, ‘Ho Ho Ho’ full of cheer, and ‘Puppies Are Forever’ is everything a track of that name should be. Granted, a whole record’s a bit much, but then again, at Christmas, so’s the nth Quality Street you’ve just gobbled. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘Candy Cane Lane’
STARCRAWLER starcrawler (Rough Trade)
Fusing glam rock, Cramps-esque horror-punk and a dash of early Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LA troupe Starcrawler are a hedonistic dream on paper but don’t quite match it on record. ‘Chicken Woman’ is a highlight – a weird, Syd Barrett-esque slice of psych surrealism, while there’s something pleasingly straightforward about ‘Full of Pride’’s four chord kiss off. But on the predictable ‘I Love LA’ or fuzz-heavy ‘Different Angles’, it all feels a bit studied – a band with all the pieces that haven’t learnt how to fit them into their own shape quite yet. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Chicken Woman’
With standalone single ‘You Are The Problem Here’ released earlier this year - First Aid Kit showed true anger for the first time. A vicious response to a rape case at Stanford university, it showed a whole new side to Klara and Johanna Söderberg. Fourth album ‘Ruins’ dials back the bite a little, but still presents a band on the move. Single ‘It’s A Shame’ is a blustery, melancholic cut that showcases the pair’s harmonies better than ever, followed by the idyllic ‘Postcard’. Opener ‘Rebel Heart’ builds on some of the band’s new-found anger and self-analysation. An album that unravels with each listen, ‘Ruins’ shows that First Aid Kit have a lot more to offer than is immediately apparent. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Rebel Heart’ 73
eee A GRAVE WITH NO NAME
passover (Forged Artifacts)
‘Passover’ is a decidedly soul-baring, melancholy record that consistently packs an emotional punch. The likes of ‘Supper’, ‘Path’ and ‘Wreath’ cover similar ground, while the crashing drums of ‘Blunt Knives’ provide a unique moment in a record that can often feel a little one-note. The true highlights come towards the end of the album’s thirteen tracks. ‘Hot Blood’ finds Alexander Shields at his most delicate, with soft guitars supporting a vocal performance that possesses genuine vulnerability. Closer ‘Wren’ is a little richer in instrumentation but tells a similar tale of isolation, and provides a fitting finale to a record made for quiet evenings. While a little limited in scope, there’s moments of unassuming brilliance to uncover. (Dan Jeakins) LISTEN ‘Hot Blood’
SHOPPING the official body (FatCat)
Getting their dance-punk shoes on for beast of a comeback track ‘Negative Space’, they’ve added yet more layers to their wall of sound. Out 2nd February.
knowing what you know now
Storming sets at Reading & Leeds this summer, the two beasts of ‘Play’ and ‘Habits’, Marmozets’ return will be nothing short of stellar. Released 26th January.
A title track that’s half dancefloor sweat-a-thon, half the boat scene from the original Willy Wonka film, Alex and (new) pals are as oddball as ever. Out 9th February.
TUNEYARDS I can feel you creep into my private life
Perhaps, considering their past willingness to tackle social problems, it’s little surprise that on ‘I can feel you creep into my private life’, Merrill Garbus and Nate Brenner are at their most overtly political, tackling a range of issues in often bold and stark terms. The melodic ‘Coast To Coast’ summons images of both a political quagmire and environmental disaster. ‘Colonizer’ builds a commentary on intersectional feminism and colonialism on top of its off-kilter, eerie tones and warped vocals. A sense of freedom – or the lack of it – is something of a recurrent theme that rears its head every so often on the record. Almost ironically though, while she sings about a clamping down on liberty, Tune-Yards sound at their freest, the issues they tackle all carried off with a more than healthy dollop of fun. It still has the eccentricities that make them such an intriguing band, but without compromising on these elements, Tune-Yards have still made their most accessible, danceable and thoughtprovoking album to date. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘Coast To Coast’, ‘Heart Attack’
On 2015’s ‘Why Choose’, London trio Shopping teamed a heavy social conscience with some of the best and catchiest dance-punk of the year. Followup ‘The Official Body’ - somehow written and recorded while vocalist Rachel Aggs manages to also be in more other bands than we have fingers - largely continues this trend. Lead single ‘The Hype’ deserves to be such, a propulsive bob helmed, as always, by Aggs’ intricate, sharp guitar lines. The rest of the album threatens to blend into one a little, with the formula only broken by the thrusting synth of ‘Discover’, but Shopping’s ability to move minds and hips with equal success is still abundantly clear. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘The Hype’
eee PORCHES eeee
hold on to your heart (Raygun)
The Xcerts’ evolution as a band is really rather something. Having first emerged with the quietly introspective ‘In the Cold Wind We Smile’, before opening the scuzzy floodgates with their darkly brilliant, yet utterly different, ‘Scatterbrain’, it was on their last release, ‘There Is Only You’, that it felt like they finally reached the guitar pop heights they were capable of. That’s the foundation their newest full-length builds itself upon: it’s an accomplished album packed with punchy chords, massive choruses and more than enough classic touch points for good measure. From the anthemic refrain of ‘Feels Like Falling In Love’ to the wonderfully Springsteen-esque ‘Drive Me Wild’, the trio have crafted another bold and brilliant album which soars higher than ever before. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Hold On To Your Heart’
Embracing ‘80s pomp - synths and all - The Xcerts’ Murray Macleod tells Sarah Jamieson about switching it up for LP4.
Going into this record, where were your heads at? This was the most confident and prepared we’ve ever been going in to the making of a record. Considering the months prior to writing and recording the thing were incredibly heavy, the turnaround in mentality was pretty extreme. Love and distortion always wins. After ‘There Is Only You’, what direction did you find yourselves leaning towards? We really wanted to push ourselves in terms of simplifying everything. We wanted to write simple songs that we could layer with additional keys and synths but still have enough breathing room for the words. Synths and melodies are weapons also. What was it like being back in the studio and how did the recording process go? It was an interesting and different process this time round. We recorded guitars, bass and drums with Dave Eringa at Rockfield Studios which was a dream come true. Dave is family so we knew he’d kill it. We then recorded vocals and all additional production with Gary Clark at his studio in Dundee. The whole thing was a risk, but what the hell is the point in being in a rock and roll band if you’re going to play it safe? That’s certainly not what we signed up for. It worked out perfectly and the whole experience was a blast.
the house (Domino)
Aaron Maine gained a new lease of life with previous LP ‘Pool’. His irresistible melancholia was backed by washing synths, and this new identity is taken to weirder places on follow-up, ‘The House’. Opener ‘Leave The House’ starts off largely where ‘Pool’ left off, but gives way to the gorgeous, understated ‘Country’, the erratic ‘By My Side’ and wobbly ‘Ono’. When ‘The House’ hits the spot, it presents an artist capable of wonderful things. The album’s slight lack of cohesion is the only thing that prevents ‘The House’ getting there, but once Maine’s sound is refined, and the in-betweens coloured in, he’ll be capable of anything. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Country’
THE GO! TEAM
semicircle (Memphis Industries)
‘Semicircle’ is characterised by big, bold brass, which bursts out at almost every turn on the record. Despite this focus, sometimes the tracks still sound like The Go! Team-by-numbers, with the likes of ‘The Answer’s No Now What’s The Question’ feeling a bit sludgy as a result. What helps prevent ‘Semicircle’ from becoming overly stale in this sense is the sheer amount of vocalists who appear. Original band member Ninja also returns for a stellar turn on ‘She’s Got Guns’, where she spits bars across snapping beats and swirling synths. If you’re not already a fan of The Go! Team then, despite some of the new ideas on offer, you’re unlikely to be converted by what Ian and co have delivered here. For everyone else, ‘Semicircle’ won’t seem like a giant leap for the band but is yet another upbeat, buoyant addition to their canon. (Eugenie Johnson) LISTEN: ‘She’s Got Guns’ 75
BACK TO THE
DRAWING BOARD with the spook school
If this record was a dish of food, what would it look like?
Draw us your band’s lucky mascot please!
THE SPOOK SCHOOL could it be different?
There are few cities in the UK that seem to possess the sheer productivity of Glasgow. Whether there’s something in the water (or Irn Bru?) still remains to be seen, but regardless, the current crop of bands pouring out of Scotland’s not-quite-capital city is unstoppable. And leading the charge, The Spook School – taking their name from the city’s Glasgow School Of Art collective – bring together their personal stories for ‘Could It Be Different?’ Insisting that it’s “alright to cry” on ‘Alright’, dropping in witty lyrical nods to ‘This Charming Man’ on the Anna Cory-led ‘I Only Dance When I Want To’, slinging an almighty ‘fuck you’ in the direction of a past abuser on defiant opener ‘Still Alive’, and celebrating difference on ‘Body’ this record sees the four-piece muddle experience together into a scrappy, quick-smart slab of danceable indie pop that channels pain into joy. (El Hunt) LISTEN: ‘Alright’ 76 diymag.com
What does the inside of your brain look like when you’re making music?
Could you draw us an actual school filled with spooks?
blue lips (Polydor)
To have ‘blue lips’, according to Urban Dictionary, is much like when people say men have ‘blue balls’ - it describes the “aching discomfort” that occurs when a woman is extremely aroused yet is being deprived sexual release. A sister record to 2016’s ‘Lady Wood’, ‘Blue Lips’ is, thematically, Tove Lo at her best. Lyrically she wades through a sludge of desires, her own nihilism and uncontrollable fucked-up feelings. If a bit of eroticism, angst and melodrama are your tipple then ‘Blue Lips’ is for you. ‘disco tits’ with its engorged bass line and video where she gets licked out by a puppet, is a sweaty and enveloping introduction, and its arrogant self-assurance peppers the first half of the record. From hubristic claims of her prowess over women on ‘bitches’, to throbbing cries of yearning on ‘stranger in the dark’, it’s all wonderful post-watershed pop. There are glimpses, however, that all this bravado is nothing but a shield that’s beginning to splinter. The emotional zenith of the album comes on the diaristic ‘9th of october’ and the devastating and intricately produced ‘bad days’, which is Tove Lo at her most vulnerable and subdued. Thematically, though, her honesty about her imperfections is what makes all so irresistible. And seriously, which other pop star would sing about having hard nipples and puppet fornication? (Alim Kheraj) LISTEN: ‘shedontknowbutsheknows’, ‘bitches’
london calling Paradiso, Amsterdam. Photos: Louise Mason.
or the past 25 years, Amsterdam’s Paradiso has shipped out the finest new bands from Blighty (and, more recently, beyond) for a two-day whip through the most tantalising thrills that our fair isle and its musically-affiliated peers have to offer. Friday is owned by the angry youth. Fresh off their recent headline tour, YOWL have honed their niche of pissed-off punk into a truly multi-faceted thing. Shame, too, are knocking at the door of something bigger. LIFE, meanwhile, choose entertainment over mere angry energy. ’Euromillions’ and ‘Rare Boots’ are short, succinct musings on the often sorry state of the modern world, but they’re dished up with flamboyant panache, singer Mez Sanders-Green twisting and jerking his way through the crowd, eyeballs rolling into the back of his head like a modern day Jarvis Cocker. Hailing from the other side of the pond, meanwhile, Toronto’s Weaves have their own future icon in singer Jazz Burke. Sneering, she prowls around the stage like the Grinch, spitting out the wonky joys of ‘One More’ and ‘Two Oceans’ with absolute command. Saturday begins in far more sprightly form with Superorganism. Still only in their first handful of live performances, the eight-piece are a fully-formed, multi-sensory proposition complete with matching raincoats, meme-filled visuals and synchronised dance routines. Ending the night and the event, LA newcomers Starcrawler and London boys Yak are good teammates on paper. But whereas Yak deliver the kind of eccentric set that hides an undeniable technical proficiency and Mad Hatter-esque sense of experimentalism beneath frontman Oli Burslem’s crowd-invading, safety-ignoring charisma, Starcrawler are a stranger fish to judge. Singer Arrow De Wilde has all the traits of an iconic frontwoman; wild-eyed and animalistic, she’s been studying the Iggy Pop manual of performative insanity. But that’s just it: a little madnessby-numbers. Still, there are worse things to remind you of than one of the best performers in punk history. And if London Calling’s already built a solid track record for guessing music’s next in line, then this year’s bill looks set to carry the torch with ease. (Lisa Wright) starcrawler
Hammersmith Apollo, London. Photo: Emma Swann.
s some of you might’ve seen,” announces Harry Styles mid-encore, speaking in clipped halfsentences to fit around the room-shuddering screams filling Hammersmith Apollo, “I slipped. It appears there was an actual kiwi on the floor,” he smiles, stooping to peel the offending fruit from the stage slats. “Green mush! This is gonna be a problem…” Earlier on this evening, hurtling around the stage and performing ‘Kiwi’, Harry’s Gucci-clad foot collided headlong with a stray piece of flattened fruit, and of course, he made the ensuing stumble resemble a gliding dance sequence from Saturday Night Fever. If you’ll pardon the pun, he well and truly styled it out. Tonight, his 70s flecked rock ‘n’ roll sees him at his most playful and carefree, free from the constraints of a meticulously planned stadium production. When he’s not frolicking about the hilariously tiny stage (the venue’s appeal comes partly from its struggle to contain one of the most famous men in the world) or fist-pumping down the front like Delia Smith at a Norwich City game, he’s coyly wiggling his bum in the direction of his bandmates, and whirling about with a rainbow flag while dodging airborne roses. And during ‘From The Dining Table’ - a song which, as much as Harry protests otherwise, is definitely about having a cheeky wank in a hotel room - there’s even a knowing smirk and comedy crotch grab. Harry’s calling card has always been his familiarity and charisma and, throwing himself headfirst into that sometimes tricky solo transition without looking back, that hasn’t changed a bit. Making the kind of music he’s always clearly felt most at home with, and loving every minute, the shaping of Harry Styles’ new solo identity is just beginning. (El Hunt) 79
Katie’s flying monkey audition for Wicked had gone impressively well.
Heaven, London. Photo: Emma Swann.
wooping into Heaven, MUNA have well and truly gone in on Halloween. Emerging dramatically from underneath ghostly sheets, the LA trio’s night off supporting Harry Styles around Europe feels like yet another milestone moment. Igniting with ‘Loudspeaker’, and sneaking in the coolest take on ‘With or Without You’ to exist in the history of U2 covers along the way, tonight’s eerie celebration seems custom-built for this band. And attempting to address the room sincerely for a second, Katie Gavin can’t help but snort with laughter. She’s been distracted by Josette Maskin who’s dressed as Captain Hook. In fairness, it’s a mean feat remaining entirely serious while a band mate’s fake goatee is wobbling around
on the outskirts of your peripheral vision, but it also provides a moment that’s fitting for MUNA’s music as a whole. The weighty significance of ‘I Know A Place’ in the utopian surroundings of Heaven - which also plays host to queer institution G-A-Y - is not lost, either. It might be a song about the difficult progress that still needs to be made, but tonight, points out Katie Gavin “we’re in Heaven!” Then, complete with a solemn spoken word breakdown from Captain Hook, a belting chorus from a witchy Naomi McPherson, and a be-winged Katie dashing about the place, obviously it’s a genius take on ‘Thriller’ that ends tonight’s spooktacular Halloween delight. (El Hunt)
Wembley Arena, London. Photo: Emma Swann.
embley Arena knows its way around a screaming fan. What it probably doesn’t expect is it aimed at the opening drum sounds of a single which reached the giddy heights of Number 50 in 1996. Across this final date of Weezer’s UK tour, there’s not a syllable or guitar lick that doesn’t go without a singalong. ‘In The Garage’ and ‘No One Else’ complete an opening trio of old favourites, while last year’s ‘White’ gives us ‘King of the World’, ‘California Kids’ and ‘Thank God For Girls’, the last of which is accompanied by a display of notable women on the venue’s giant screen. Then, somewhere in the middle, things take a turn for the bizarre. Weezer have long enjoyed a cover, but an entirely serious take on OutKast’s 2003 mega-hit almost fifteen years after its release could well be more yer da than ‘Hey Ya’. And yet, the sheer joy on Rivers Cuomo’s face has the room’s curious frowns all but disappearing by the time the chorus rolls around. The same buoyancy flows through the whole set - the playfulness heard on ‘Pacific Daydream’ is no one-off. By the time the single-song encore of ‘Buddy Holly’ comes along, complete with confetti canon, their giant light up W and a promise to be back “soon”, Wembley’s all smiles. (Emma Swann)
off the record
Various venues, Manchester. Photo: Georgina Harrison.
anchester is a city that’s certainly not short when it comes to pop culture history. But tonight, the city isn’t dwelling on past glories; it’s looking ahead to the future. Returning for a second year, Off The Record sees the Northern Quarter come to life with new music. Taking over seven venues, the discovery festival hopes to offer up a first taste of the next big thing. JW Ridley wastes little time in warming up punters down at Jimmy’s. A tangle of melodies and intricate guitars, cuts like ‘Somewhere Else’, as taken from his recently-released self-titled EP, provide a perfect insight into his hazy but potent talent. Next up, Mush are clearly ones to watch right now, as enticing live as they are on record. A brilliant hybrid of Lou Reed-esque vocals against gritty guitars, there’s a mesmeric rhythm to the band that’s completely hypnotising; not even having their set cut short can dampen their appearance. Down in the basement of Soup Kitchen, proceedings are getting rowdy as Queen Zee and the Sasstones bring their blistering brand of punk to a packed out room while Brooke Bentham’s set over at The Peer Hat is a much more intricate affair. Bewitching from the off, Brooke’s performance feels perfectly suited for the subdued light of the venue. Cuts like ‘Have To Be Around You’ and ‘I Need Your Body’ take on a different life live. And while her performance may provide a more quiet close to this year’s Off The Record, it’s undoubtedly one of the most memorable. (Sarah Jamieson)
j w ridley
queens of the stone age Wembley Arena, London. Photo: Emma Swann.
ey, you with the flashlight,” hails Josh Homme to a militant security guard down front who’s spent the last 20 minutes trying to nix any audience frivolity with the point of a torch. “Remember you work for me tonight, and these people can do whatever the fuck they want.” Here for the first of two stop offs in the capital, Queens of the Stone Age are unholy harbingers of noise, serving up 90 minutes of ecstatic, thundering glory that hits like a saucy sledgehammer at every turn. And they’re not in the mood for squares. Flanked on all sides by bending light poles that are part Matrixstyle forcefield, part wobbling neon assault course, Queens are a rock band for people tired of the hoary old tropes normally associated with them - a group imbued with humour and sass that ditch new album self-indulgence for a night packed with knock-out punches that place them at the top of rock’s summit. ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’ swells from a low rumble into a strutting monster, ‘Make It Wit Chu’ smoulders, while ‘Sick, Sick ,Sick’ is brilliantly disgusting – Troy van Leeuwen’s discordant stabs of guitars dredged up from the gnarly depths of the gutter. They finish with the apocalyptic tumult of ‘A Song For The Dead’, five horseman bringing the kind of gargantuan noise that few bands could ever match. “We’re here to give you a night you’ll never remember,” joked Josh previously. The sentiment’s on point, but everyone here will be holding this one in the memory bank for a good long time to come. (Lisa Wright)
, we pub quiz of sorts A big inter-band e. faves one by on ur yo g llin gri be
It’s Your Round n, diet cig noah bowma a)! st: £?.?? (it’s tequil Drink: Tequila Co Club, London Location: Moth
Chosen subject: the nba Q1: How many segments does the official Spalding basketball have? I think it’s four. It’s eight. Q2: How many tripledoubles did LeBron James have in the 2016-17 NBA season? He didn’t really have that many. LeBron had like… 12. He had…. 13! Half a point to you, sir!
Bang on, Alex! Q4: Jordan Hayward made his debut with the Boston Celtics in October, and fell and dislocated his ankle. What was he trying to do? A block. He was doing an alley-oop! I thought he was on defence! Damn! That’s my team, the Celtics.
Q5: Where do Oklahoma City originate from? Q3: Who was the shortest Seattle! I knew that! They were the Seattle Sonics. man to ever play in the It is indeed! Well played. NBA, and how tall was he? Alex [Luciano, bandmate]: Muggsy Bouges! He was Score: 5’3” inches, because he’s my height.
SCORE 4.5/10 Alex: Muggsy Bouges, 5’3”! I got that one. Never forget that! Noah: OK, we’ll get you a Bouges jersey. Alex: Awesome!
General Knowledge Q6: Which year was Titanic released in the US? Noah: 1997. Near? Far? You’re right on the mark! Q7: What is the seventh planet in the solar system? Alex: Not the sun. I’m going to go with Uranus. Correct! Q8: Nancy Cartwright provides the voice for Bart in The Simpsons. But she also voices some other characters. Can you name one of them? Noah: Krusty the Clown? Sadly not! But she did voice Ralph Wiggum, Nelson and Tod Flanders.
Q9: What does a Herpetologist study? Alex: Herp... herp...what could herp be other than herpes? It’s somebody who studies amphibians. Q10: What is the world record for the number of people in a Smart car? Alex: Two seats, space for three in the trunk. Each seat I think three would fit, and then two more crammed in. So, eleven. It’s - unbelievably - twenty people! Score:
Seeing Stars: DIY's Class of 2018 - featuring Pale Waves, Shame, Goat Girl, Our Girl and many more.