Free • Issue 83 • March 2019 DIYMAG.COM • Set Music Free
KAREN O THE JAPANESE HOUSE FONTAINES DC and more
FOALS The Imperial Phase
MARCH QUESTION! Our cover stars are playing a series of tiny, inevitably mental warm up shows this month. What, pray tell, are DIY’s most extreme gig experiences? SARAH JAMIESON •
Managing Editor Went to see Touche Amore and La Dispute at Rio’s in Leeds. Got far too into - whisper it - moshing at the barrier and walked out literally covered in bruises, which was unfortunate when I was off to a wedding a few days later…
EMMA SWANN • Founding Editor Notoriously placid performer Oli from Yak grabbed my (v expensive) camera on stage at Reeperbahn to seemingly incorporate photography into their set. Unsuccessfully, as it turned out.
LISA WRIGHT • Features Editor Got to Reading really late, went straight to QOTSA, got chucked in the pit and lost all of my possessions - phone, bank card, somehow the hood of my raincoat(?!) - immediately. The rest of the weekend was… interesting? LOUISE MASON • Art Director
EDITOR’S LETTER From the first moment that Team DIY heard the dizzying heights of Foals’ comeback track ‘Exits’, we knew their next step was going to be special. And that was before we even knew they were going to release two (!) albums this year. Having spent the last decade solidifying themselves as one of indie-rock’s true saviours, it’s now that they feel to be at their creative peak: and you can bet they’re ready for fully-fledged domination. Elsewhere in this month’s issue, we join The Japanese House in Berlin to dig deep into her brain (and weird dreams), throw caution to the wind with the brilliant Self Esteem - and a host of incredible ballet dancers, for good measure - and join Fontaines DC in their home town to discover just how it shaped their debut album.
LISTENING POST What’s been blasting from speakers in the DIY office this month?
FONTAINES DC DOGREL To say this has been on repeat daily in DIY HQ since we were lucky enough to hear it would be an extremely accurate statement. [Insert some words about justifying hype here.]
Sarah Jamieson, Managing Editor
Getting forced to watch Ed Sheeran twice in one weekend from the front row because he played secret sets after gigs I had been watching and I got stuck there by billions of dreadful screaming fans.
SHOW ME THE BODY DOG WHISTLE The New Yorkers have switched it up for some sickly-sweet indie-pop with glistening harmonies and glocks aplenty this time around. Or not. It sounds brutal as fuck. Obviously.
WILL RICHARDS • Digital Editor Maybe not all too surprisingly, mine is a previous Foals gig at the 100 cap Sixty Million Postcards in Bournemouth just before the release of ‘Holy Fire’. Yannis basically spent the entire show on the bar. Wonderful, wonderful chaos. RACHEL FINN • Staff Writer I went to Reading after finishing my GCSEs (what else?), got caught in a borderline violent moshpit at The Vaccines and had to be lifted out of the crowd over the barrier to avoid almost certainly being crushed to death. (Or, at least that’s how I remember it.)
GOOD COP BAD COP GOOD COP BAD COP Nilüfer Yanya - P50
Bad Cop Matt Helders’ mum told us all about this one. 3
6 KAREN O & DANGER MOUSE 12 LUCY ROSE 14 CROWS 18 HALL OF FAME 20 BRIT AWARDS 22 FESTIVALS NEU
26 SQUID 28 JOCKSTRAP 33 SASAMI FEATURES
34 FOALS 42 THE JAPANESE HOUSE 46 SELF ESTEEM 50 NILÜFER YANYA 54 LITTLE SIMZ 58 FONTAINES DC
Founding Editor Emma Swann Managing Editor Sarah Jamieson Features Editor Lisa Wright Digital Editor Will Richards Staff Writer Rachel Finn Art Direction & Design Louise Mason Contributors Alex Cabré, Ben Tipple, Cady Siregar, Connor Thirlwell, Eloise Bulmer, George Wilde, James Bentley, Jenessa Williams, Joe Goggins, Luke Sharkey, Nick Roseblade, Ryan De Freitas. Photographers Andrew Benge, Burak Cingi, Carolina Faruolo, Ed Miles, Fraser Stephen, Jenn Five, Kasia Wozniak, Lindsay Melbourne, Phil Smithies, Phoebe Fox. Cover photo: Kasia Wozniak. This page: Jenn Five. For DIY editorial: email@example.com For DIY sales: firstname.lastname@example.org For DIY stockist enquiries: email@example.com
m DIY HQ, 23 Tileyard Studios, London N7 9AH Shout out to: Thanks this month to the amazing ballet students (and very nice staff) at the Royal Academy of Dance, Aladdin’s Cave, Black Beauty, Will @ Prescription for last minute shipping us to Ireland, Red Rum, Dan @They Do for patiently helping with our *technical malfunction*, Bullseye, Skehans: solid pub, Ryan Jarman’s green horse, Karen O just for being her, and whichever band sent us a load of Love Hearts on Valentine’s Day. More of this please.
62 ALBUMS 76 LIVE
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. 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 DIY 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.
4 DIYMAG.COM 4 diymag.com
Rebecca’s new assistants would bend over backwards for her.
OUT MARCH 22
OUT MARCH 22
CELESTIAL BEINGS T WO NEW YORK LEGENDS - YEAH YEAH YEAHS’ ICONIC FRONTWOMAN K AREN O AND SUPER-PRODUCING P OLY M AT H D A NGER MOUSE - HAVE TEAMED UP FOR A HE AV ENLY COLL ABOR ATION THAT LOOKS TO THE STARS. YES, WE’RE QUITE EXCITED. W OR D S : L I S A W R IGH T.
here’s something comforting about the fact that even incredibly successful, game-changing artists can be as prone to letting things slide as the rest of us. Karen O might have released four albums as the untameable frontwoman of Yeah Yeah Yeahs since the New York art-punk trio first shot a bullet of technicolour badassery through the city’s early-noughties scene; Danger Mouse (real name, the rather more modest Brian Burton) might have spent the last 20 years producing everyone from Gorillaz to Adele, as well as putting out his own music with Gnarls Barkley, Broken Bells and more. But both still had a mutual idea they’d spent the best part of a decade simply never getting around to.
Hollywood studio at the end of 2016, the pair went in “completely open”. “Like, let’s just try some stuff out and then if something cool comes out with it then great, but if it doesn’t work then no worries - you can just go back to what you’re doing. Or not doing...” she laughs. But within the first few days, it became clear that something definitely was working. Starting by playing each other some favoured music - ‘00s electronic band Broadcast and Isaac Hayes for Brian; Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood, and the French version of ‘Knights In White Satin’ for Karen - the two artists then began to throw ideas around. Soon came the cinematic, nine-minute heavenly opus of ‘Lux Prima’, and slowly the pair began to craft a record of the same name that would follow it. Clearly, it’s an album born from genuine creative compatibility. “It sounds really easy to say ‘there were no rules’, but it’s really rare to have two people in a room that have that exact same mentality and it really could go anywhere,” explains Brian of the process. And the directions that ‘Lux Prima’ does go in are somehow new but completely natural, unexpected and yet familiar. It is undoubtedly the most traditionally beautiful thing the iconic punk singer has ever put her name to, an album wrapped in a warm swaddling of lush, cinematic flourishes and vocal tenderness (aside from the sassy strut of ‘Woman’, which is pure classic O). But you can also see the same fundamental seeds of the songwriter who made everyone bawl their eyes out 15 years ago on ‘Maps’ beneath all the oldschool production and soulful influence.
“I FELT CONNEC TED ON A VERY COSMIC LEVEL TO THE WHOLE CYCLE OF LIFE MORE THAN I EVER HAD BEF ORE .” - K A REN O “I remember her calling me in 2008, a long time ago, and I didn’t even know she had my phone number,” Danger Mouse recalls of the genesis of their relationship. “I was really excited about it because I’m a fan of Karen O, but at the time I was with Gnarls Barkley and I was like, ‘we’ll definitely do something, I’ve just got to figure out when’. Then life happens and years go by and we run into each other occasionally and say we’re going to. But it only became really specific when she was pregnant. We sat down, she said she was taking a break but that she’d probably have some time after she’d had her kid.” “I love collaborating with new people on new things and after having not made music for four years by that point, it was on the top of my list of things I wanted to do - to make something new with someone new,” Karen explains. “And there was such chemistry between Brian and I, so it’s all good; it’s a brand new slate, there’s no expectations, it’s purely play. It’s like a sandbox in a way. It’s the best time you can ask for when you find a kindred spirit in music.” Meeting up for an initial session in Brian’s
The record was, however, created during a very different part of the singer’s own life and it audibly reflects that. Written following the birth of Karen’s first child, ‘Lux Prima’ has a gentleness that she directly attributes to the experience. “I was curious as to what was gonna come flying out of me after going through that super trippy experience of having a kid, and it was a crazy time too because everything was shifting politically here in the States in a really big way as well,” she begins. “I felt more of an urgency to make music that felt healing, for lack of a better word. That healed the soul, and fortified the soul. I felt at that point, after having my son, pretty connected on a very cosmic level to the whole cycle of life more than I ever had before. I was feeling things in a deeper, bigger way. [The record] is very elemental in a way and it takes you places, and 7
K AREN <3 BRIAN
The mutual appreciation levels are strong with these two; here’s what they had to say about each other…
KAREN ON BRIAN
“I was attracted to Brian for a bunch of reasons, but the catalyst is that he’s almost like an old school producer in a way. He’s in the realm of the great old school producers - Phil Spector, Tony Visconti - but his roots are in hip hop and soul so it’s a really exciting combination. He has a vision, and I hate to be so flattering but he’s something special and there’s not any producers that I know like him.”
maybe [those places are] somewhere you feel like you intrinsically know because they’re somewhere that’s embedded and written deeply within us as humans.” Currently, the pair are readying an immersive art project - An Encounter with Lux Prima - to accompany the record that will open in LA before, hopefully, touring to other cities. A 4-D sound bath with “light and smell and rain and wind and everything”, the idea, says Karen, is for it to be “a communal emotional experience with music that doesn’t involve live performance”. There’s possible talk of some live performances too, although neither party is sure exactly yet. What does seem more certain, however, is that this won’t just be a one-off. “I think I made a great friend and we really like making music together; we haven’t put dates in the calendar yet, but I’d be more surprised if we didn’t [work together again] than we did,” nods Brian. And as for the small matter of Karen’s other band? Following a batch of live shows last summer, it seemed logical that Yeah Yeah Yeahs might be gifting us some new music... “Er, yeah...” she chuckles apologetically, “I mean, not yet. But with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, for me we’re family basically and we’re in it for the long haul, so I know that when [there’s] the compulsion to do it and I feel like it’s time and everyone’s in the right frame of mind then it’ll hopefully come together quick and we’ll have something ready for everybody in the near future. But that being said, I’m still waiting for the itch for that to happen and I’d rather take time and have people get annoyed with me than put out something that wasn’t genuine or sincere and didn’t feel inspired.” Fine, we suppose. But while the wait continues from that side, the singer and her new pal have produced a record that satisfies on a completely different level. It’s a gorgeous thing, that brings out new strengths in them both and shines a new light on two stars who’ve been sparkling hard for a long while already now. Which is about the best result of a collaboration that you can hope for, really. ‘Lux Prima’ is out 15th March via BMG. DIY
BRIAN ON KAREN:
“I always loved her voice and the subtlety in her melodies and writing. I knew it was working really early on and that felt good because I think a lot of her as an artist and as a person as well. We were becoming close friends, going in there every day with our lives and that’s the best thing to add to the music, when you make a new friend.” 8 DIYMAG.COM
WHAT LEDGE-ndary venue
THE GEORGE TAVERN
You may remember, dear readers, that back in November last year, we kidnapped Shame, chucked them into suits and forced them in front of the camera for our cover feature, which all took place in East London boozer The George Tavern. At the time, it was facing closure but now - drumroll, please - it has officially been saved!! Having secured a Deed of Easement from Tower Hamlets council, their Save The George campaign is officially drawing to a successful close, and they’re having a little shindig to celebrate on 15th March. In the current climate of kinda-crapstuff, it’s actually bloody lovely to hear some good news!
Due to the name of our magazine, dear readers, we often get some slightly strange requests in our social media inboxes. Sorry, Jane from Surrey, but we’re really not sure on the best way to assemble your new desk. As our expertise lies far away from actual DIY, we’ve done the sensible thing and asked some of your favourite bands for their #1 DIY tips. We’re a magazine of the people after all. This month, it’s Sports Team.
“A REGULAR BROOM IS THE PERFECT SUBSTITUTE FOR A DECKING STAIN APPLICATOR.” Yep. Course it is.
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.
Nobody tell United that Chvrches have got a song called ‘Clearest Blue’. @ realdoko
Stella Donnelly here, putting hair straightener companies out of business. (@stelladonnelly)
S P OT T E D 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 around… Bastille’s own Woody perusing the salad selection in Pret, Dream Wife singer Rakel Mjöll enjoying some time off the road in the Tate Modern, a veritable smorgasbord of musical royalty at The 1975’s O2 show - including Justin from The Vaccines, The Japanese House, two of the Wolf Alices, Alexa Chung and the man, the myth, the legend: Peter Crouch. 10 DIYMAG.COM
Matt Berninger, on his way to London Fashion Week, we’re assuming. (@greengloves77)
P R E S E N T S
WEDNESDAY 24 JULY 2019
SATURDAY 27 JULY 2019
THURSDAY 25 JULY 2019
SUNDAY 28 JULY 2019
RNCM CONCERT HALL
A C R O S S TO W N C O N C E R T S SJM CONCERTS, DF CONCERTS & L O U T P R E S E N TAT I O N B Y A R R A N G E M E N T W I T H X - R AY
ETON ALIVE UK TOUR 2019 SPECIAL GUESTS
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Talking Cure A period of personal difficulty informed Lucy Rose’s forthcoming fourth album ‘No Words Left’. Still working through it, we find the singer slowly emerging out the other side. Words: Sarah Jamieson.
“A doe, a deer, a...paddle?”
peaking to Lucy Rose ahead of the release of her fourth album, it’s clear she’s feeling torn. “Some days I feel good about it,” she offers up, contemplating the wait that lies ahead, “some days I feel terrified about it. It changes a lot.” Conflict plays a big part throughout. Even within its opening lines - “conversation don’t come easy / But I’ve got a lot to say” - ‘No Words Left’ presents its author in the middle of an internal debate. Unlike anything the singer has put her name to before, it’s a record truly reflective of the circumstances in which it was created. Coming after a year that she describes as “one of the hardest times of her life,” it’s an instrumentally-luscious album that sees Lucy pushing her own limits, experimenting with vocal tones and interludes which work to heighten its intensity. It also simmers with a real sense of pain, somehow managing to feel both fresh and well-worn all at once. Dealing in disillusionment, isolation and reflection - three subjects which are becoming more and more prevalent - it’ll inevitably strike a chord with many of its listeners. “It was just like a perfect storm, that period of time,” Lucy explains, “where everything that could possibly go wrong started going wrong, and [I was] just feeling like I didn’t know what to do anymore”. On tracks like ‘Solo(w)’, these feelings are put on stark display: “It’s true I’m afraid of the morning, I’m afraid of the evening / But I can’t help it when I am so low, pretending that I have a purpose”. Throughout her conversation today, it’s evident this is a difficult process for Lucy to open up about. “With some of the things that life throws at you - personal things - and the hardships of life...” she offers up, “I guess that’s more what this album’s
about. It’s so deeply personal, it feels like it’s sort of judging me as a person. It’s very difficult. There are such great expectations of ourselves and what we should be; an idea in our head of how perfect we could all be, and then you’re just constantly disappointed by yourself because of your unrealistic expectations.” Unsurprisingly, the recording process also wasn’t the easiest, but for Lucy - once again returning to work with Tim Bidwell, who produced previous LP ‘Something’s Changing’ - it was important to ensure the raw emotions of her tracks remained intact. “Since the last record, [Tim and his wife] have become really great friends of my husband and I, and we really enjoy their company. There was an element of trust there and I felt like the songs that I was writing were so personal that that trust was the most important thing going forward; I had to be at ease to get the right delivery of the song,” she explains. “At the time when I’d just written them, I thought it’d be most powerful to record them in that present moment, instead of them somehow after you’ve played them over and over again - becoming different. I wanted to capture the difficulty I had singing them those first few times.” It’s this that gives the record its power: while it is, at times, an uncomfortable insight into the mindset of someone using her music to gain some clarity, it’s also a record which sees Lucy - perhaps unknowingly - open up about a human experience which so many of us are constantly faced with. “It’s hard because I don’t want to talk about it, but I don’t want to be one of those people that says ‘I don’t want to talk about it’. It’s so difficult...” she says, epitomising our internal struggle to be open but private at the same time. And while she may not yet be ready to speak about the events of that year, with ‘No Words Left’, she’s opened herself up in a wholly brave and different way. ‘No Words Left’ is out 22nd March via Communion. DIY 13
STRIKING SILVER After several years spent making waves on the live circuit, London post-punks CROWS are finally gearing up to release their debut – with some notable mates on board to help. Words: Lisa Wright. Image: Elliot Lane (see more of Elliot’s lovely drawings on p73).
atience, as they say, is a virtue and you’d imagine no-one understands this quite like Crows. Releasing their debut single back in 2015, and heading out on tour after tour in support of pals Wolf Alice, Slaves, Metz and more, it’s been a long old ride to forthcoming LP ‘Silver Tongues’, but one that’s now paid off in satisfyingly serendipitous fashion. The noisy London quartet - helmed by magnetic frontman James Cox - eventually began work on the album at the end of 2017. Fuelled by intense recording sessions in pitch black (“It’s a personal record for all of us, so being in the dark, being completely alienated and not able to see anyone else makes you play a certain way,” notes James) and vocal takes done on the stage of London’s gold glitter-clad MOTH Club venue to enable the singer to really perform, the idea was always to create an album that matched the potency of their acclaimed live show. “Some of Steve’s [Goddard, guitarist] takes were done through six different amps at the same time. When you opened the door you’d just get hit by a wall of noise. I don’t know how he did it; he was in there for a good four hours at a time...” recalls the singer. Lyrically, the record found James going deep, drawing on themes of religion and “how people use it as a crutch” and extrapolating them out into big, far-reaching missives. “The way I write lyrics is quite obsessive,” he admits. “I finished reading Dante’s Divine Comedy, got super
HEY JOE! The IDLES singer and Balley main man talks us through their latest signings. How did you first discover Crows? When I worked at the Louisiana [in Bristol] and they played and blew my mind. I got to meet James the next day at the 100 Club and I told him how MAGIC they were. I’ve followed them from the start and loved all they’ve done, which makes our relationship such a privilege. What’s so exciting about them as a band? I was excited by how much energy and vitality they put behind such cut-throat songs and fluid poetry. Their new record executes everything I love about them, but amplified to new levels. Why should people give this album a chance? Because it’s transcendental, like all great albums are, and it may just change their life.
obsessed and started reading loads of random shit around it. I get into these research wormholes and I’ll just write, write, write and then come out of this hole with a load of lyrics and words that’ll turn into a song.” 10 songs later, however, and Crows had a (very good) record but no one that felt like the right fit to put it out with. Cue: everyone’s favourite lovable punks IDLES and singer Joe Talbot’s Balley Records. “I loved the first record and finally saw them at Latitude and was blown away,” begins James. “When I got home I literally wrote a fan letter to Joe thanking him for what the band are doing. He messaged back straight away saying that all of IDLES are huge fans of Crows and have been for years. I mentioned how we were having a shit time putting the album out, he said how much they’d wanna do it and it was a no brainer.” Now the two bands are heading out on tour together, with ‘Silver Tongues’ set for release at the end of March. Sometimes, the universe just throws you a bone... ‘Silver Tongues’ is out 22nd March via Balley Records. DIY
MARINA HANDMADE HEAVEN Turns out diamonds aren’t a girl’s best friend as our Marina has ditched her sparkling extras in favour of a totally solo comeback. But if you thought her high-polished pop would be any less shiny without dem jewels then, well… she wasn’t exactly gonna release a crunk album was she. Four years since the singer last put out any music, the pop landscape has changed vastly; weirdly ‘Handmade Heaven’, with its sweeping background and drum machine beats, feels more more at home now than Marina’s operatic, hyper extra pop ever have. There are hints of Sky Ferreira’s ‘Heavy Metal Heart’ in its repeated chorus but, for someone who’s always sat slightly strangely among the pop landscape, like the drama kid who’s always 10% more flamboyant than the situation requires, it’s a comeback that feels a lot more, well, normal than we’d expect. Yeah, it’s a hit, but it’s perhaps a safe one. Make of that what you will. (Lisa Wright)
SHOW ME THE BODY
CAMP ORCHESTRA ..........................................
The first preview of the New Yorkers’ new record is as fierce as you might expect, and shows them to be one of the most singular bands around at the moment. Inspired by the band’s recent visit to the Auschwitz memorial, thematically, it comes with a heaviness which, musically, is transmitted perfectly - a disconcertingly melodic bass guitar intro is joined by almost Balkan stabs of tinny guitar,before the track abruptly veers off into an apocalyptically huge punk song. (Will Richards) 16 DIYMAG.COM
With every release, deadeyed American teen Billie Eilish is proving herself an increasingly intriguing, offkilter new kind of pop star. ‘Bury Your Friend’ is a case in point. Accompanied by a chilling video of her being injected with syringes and pushed around by black-gloved hands, it’s more Alice Glass than Ariana Grande. The track itself meanwhile is as throbbing and industrial as you’re likely to find from a high profile major label concern - all laced with Billie’s bittersweet coo. It’s exactly what you want from a new star. (Lisa Wright)
A highlight of the band’s lauded live show, ‘Speedway’ may be calmer than ‘bmbmbm’ but is no less fiddly or inventive. Intricate percussion and soft guitars worm their way around obtuse spoken word vocals, and it’s an unpredictable listen. Between the band’s first two singles, there’s still no real telling what kind of band Black Midi are yet they even admit themselves that their sound will likely change beyond recognition in the space of the next few years - but from what we’ve got laid in front of us, they’re certainly a very exciting one. (Will Richards)
Much of Wild Beasts’ charm was tied up in the glacial vocals of Hayden Thorpe, and when those distinctive tones glide in at the start of his debut solo single, ‘Diviner’, it’s with comforting familiarity. “I’m a keeper of secrets, pray to tell,” Hayden sings in the track’s opening line, a wonderfully evocative whisper that provokes immediate intrigue. Circling around a perfectly simple but gorgeous flick of piano that rises above slowly thudding chords, ‘Diviner’ is a wonderful introduction into Hayden’s next age, an ode to quietly, confidently moving on. (Will Richards)
BURY YOUR FRIEND ..........................................
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The Kills - Midnight Boom Named after the hours of midnight to 6am when the band were at their creative peak, ‘Midnight Boom’ swapped some of the raw, rough edges of the band’s first two albums for something stronger and more refined. Words: Rachel Finn.
espite spending their early days avoiding interviews and cutting their teeth on the indie underground, by the time The Kills’ third album ‘Midnight Boom’ came around, Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince were no longer able to avoid the limelight. Spurred on in part by Jamie’s ongoing relationship with Kate Moss, it quickly took the band into paparazzi-attracting territory; looking back on the album now feels like paying homage to a very particular moment in post-2000 rock history. It was the beginning of the end of a time when skinny jean, leather-jacket-wearing indie bands still graced mainstream magazine covers; a golden age when Alison and Jamie could happily nuzzle up alongside The Horrors and Alexa Chung on the front of the fashion pages. What a time to be alive. Marking a midpoint between the duo’s gritty early days and the more polished sound of their two following albums - 2011’s ‘Blood Pressures’ and 2016’s ‘Ash & Ice’ - the band originally planned to record the album in LA, but decamped to the more gritty surroundings of Michigan’s Key Club Recording Company in Benton Harbor after California’s laid-back vibe
The Facts Release: 10th March 2008 Stand-out tracks: ‘Cheap And Cheerful’; ‘Black Balloon’; ‘Alphabet Pony’ Tell your mates: The band fell out with producer XXXChange during the recording of the album, due to wanting “opposite things” from the project. Lucky for us, they made up five days later.
proved too much of a distraction. As Jamie explained at the time: “You’d walk in the control room and the engineer would be on the phone talking to someone about gong meditation. It was bullshit.” Rhythmically, the album takes inspiration from Pizza Pizza Daddy-O, a 1967 documentary about childrens’ playground games and, as a result, the album is centred around handclaps and stripped-back beats. Eclectic in both its instrumentals and lyricism, it’s peppered with scratchy samples of everyday life - a cough, a telephone dialling tone - with Jamie and Alison concocting many of the lyrics through random, stream-of-consciousness thoughts, leaving the mic on and recording the first words that came to mind. It makes a lot of sense - how else would you end up with a set of lyrics as bizarre as those in ‘Alphabet Pony’, where Alison speak-sings the likes of “Phoney monkey toy money / Loose end soda hands / Pink plastic Jesus on the dashboard” over a grinding guitar line and simplistic beat? But then again, it hardly matters - by stripping down their sound to its weirdest and rawest form, they created a classic. DIY
GET YOUR BRITS OUT
hh, the glitz and glamour of awards season: when questionable outfits reign supreme and awkward chats on live telly are the order of the day. And while this year’s edition of the BRIT Awards boasted a good bit of both, they also had some bloody good winners. Previous cover stars The 1975 found themselves scoring big by bagging both the prizes for Best British Group and Mastercard British Album of the Year for their frankly-brilliant album ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ – rightly so, really.
Our boy George Ezra was also crowned British Male Solo Artist, while Jorja Smith won the award for British Female Solo Artist and Calvin Harris won Best British Producer and British Single alongside Dua Lipa for ‘One Kiss’. Not too shabby. And while our faves IDLES were pipped to the post in the British Breakthrough Act category, they turned up looking rather bloody handsome and are still very much winners to us. Catch up with the rest of the winners over on diymag.com.
DIY’S PICK OF
LNSOURCE 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.
28th March, Oslo, London The one-off date in the capital will follow the group - the brainchild of songwriter Tilly Scantlebury releasing new EP ‘Letters’ via their own Weird Cool Records.
grace carter From late March, nationwide
From teaching herself piano while growing up in Brighton to supporting acts including Haim, Dua Lipa, Jorja Smith and Mabel, Grace plays some massive UK dates - including Brixton Electric and Manchester’s Gorilla.
Hairy styles: IDLES cut a fine figure on the fancy-pants red carpet.
From early March, nationwide The bi-coastal pop trio hit up the hallowed grounds of London’s Brixton Academy on their tour supporting last October’s ‘Malibu Nights’. Hope they know Newcastle on a Sunday will be a bit less sunsoaked than a Californian beach. For more information and to buy tickets, head to livenation.co.uk or twitter.com/LNSource
TIER 1 TIER 2 TIER 3
The Cavern Liverpool Main Logo
VE R ACLUB
festivals From sun-drenched Texan sidewalks to being drenched in a field, here’s your festival updates for this month.
News in Brief Wolf Alice, IDLES, Foals and Two Door Cinema Club head up names for TRUCK (26th - 28th July), alongside acts including Shame, Slaves, The Futureheads, Sports Team and Fontaines DC. Solange and Chance The Rapper will headline LOVEBOX (12th - 13th July), with Brockhampton, Lizzo, slowthai, Loyle Carner and Four Tet also heading to Gunnersbury Park. Skepta has been added to POHODA (11th - 13th July), joining the likes of Liam Gallagher, The 1975, Dream Wife, Mac DeMarco and Lykke Li. Kings of Leon are one of the headliners for LOLLAPALOOZA BERLIN (7th - 8th September), which will also feature sets from Sigrid, Pale Waves, Whenyoung, Billie Eilish, Rex Orange County and Twenty One Pilots. Two Door Cinema Club, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Shame and Sports Team are among acts confirmed for TRAMLINES (19th - 21st July). 22 DIYMAG.COM
SXSW 8th - 17th March
et those frozen margaritas ready, Austin, ‘cause the world’s buzziest new bands are headed your way. For a week or so every March, every crevice of the Texan city hosts some kind of gig, whether fancy official showcases at the best-loved venues, or late-night takeovers of student co-ops.
We’re there, of course, with two stages showcasing some pretty great acts, if we say so ourselves. First we’re at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30 on 11th March with Sports Team, King Nun, Anteros and more - and a few days later we’re pitching up at the Swan Dive Patio (on 13th March) for another top night, featuring the likes of Fontaines DC, Viagra Boys and Haiku Hands.
SWAN DIVE PATIO
• WILLIE J HEALEY • • THE NINTH WAVE • • ANTEROS • • WHENYOUNG • • SPORTS TEAM • • KING NUN •
• PUMA BLUE • • WESTERMAN • • VIAGRA BOYS • • FONTAINES DC • • HAIKU HANDS • • EASY LIFE •
Fresh from a slew of UK shows and following the release of debut EP ‘Given Up’, Whenyoung are making their first trip to the States this month to give the US a taste of their gorgeously hooky indie-pop. Getting their trip under way at DIY’s British Music Embassy showcase, the Irish trio are set for a huge SXSW. Interview: Will Richards.
Hi Whenyoung! You’re going to SXSW! Are you suitably excited? All: Yeeeeeah! Have you heard much of what to expect? Aoife Power: TACOS! Andrew Flood: Everyone says it’s loads and loads of fun. Are any of you in the market for some cowboy boots? Aoife: Oh yeah! And a hat! Andrew: I’m gonna go full outfit - get some new chaps. Some NEW chaps?! Andrew: ...yup. Have any of you been to Texas before? Aoife: We haven’t, but this trip we’re going to Texas, New York and LA! We’re really, really excited. Is it things like this that make you take stock as a band and be like ‘Woah, it’s really happening!’? Andrew: It’s exciting to be able to do that. But it is kinda scary, going there knowing that we have to completely start from the ground up and we don’t know who will have heard of us. Niall: I don’t think we thought about it at all when we started the band. We didn’t think one day we would play in New York and at SXSW.
NEW COLOSSUS 7th - 9th March
Ahead of our Texan trip, we’ll be bringing some of our faves over to the Big Apple for the inaugural year of new music shindig New Colossus, where we’re hosting the likes of Body Type, Orchards and Penelope Isles alongside pals Big Indie at The Delancey.
9/3/19 THE DELANCEY
• BODY TYPE • • NANCY • • JACKIE VENSON • • GNARCISSISTS • • PENELOPE ISLES • • ORCHARDS •
Penelope Isles It’s safe to say that Penelope Isles have had an exciting 2019 so far. After all, the Brighton-based quartet - who appeared on DIY’s Do It Yourself tour last year - have managed to cram in a visit to Groningen for ESNS, announce their signing to Bella Union and offer up new track ‘Chlorine’, all in a matter of weeks. Jack Wolter spills on the group’s US plans. You’ve never toured the US before what are you most excited about? Yeah, we’ve never played anywhere out of Europe so it’s our first mission into the big wide world! We just got our visas approved so we’re all good to go! To be playing our debut US gig in Manhattan is pretty damn exciting I’d say! We’re gonna be cruising around with a friend who used to live in NYC. So she’ll show us all the good spots! Max, our sound engineer will probably pretend he knows where he is going as well, so I’m sure we won’t get too lost! Which member of the band is most likely to wear a cowboy hat - or boots - on stage? Probably Lily, but Becky is prone to a good party hat. I think we are staying on a ranch out of town when we go to Austin, so maybe we’ll all get involved and cowboy it up on stage. But last time I wore boots I tripped over and sprained my foot at a festival we played. So I tend to avoid any kind of heel these days.
PLUS 300+ MORE OF THE BEST NEW ARTISTS
G R E AT E S C A P E F E S T I V A L . C O M
AJ TRACEY I TA L I A 9 0 CHILDREN OF ZEUS INDOOR PETS GREENTEA PENG SPORTS TEAM C O N N I E C O N S TA N C E M U R K A G E D AV E SELF ESTEEM LEWSBERG THE HOWL & THE HUM PRIESTS PIP BLOM TROPICAL FUCK STORM ZUZU K AW A L A JUNIORE THE BETHS LIFE SAM TOMPKINS SKYND CRACK CLOUD BOBBIE JOHNSON MAISIE PETERS JOY CROOKES JOCKSTRAP A K PAT T E R S O N L DEVINE ED THE DOG STEAM DOWN PA G A N JEFFE MILLIE TURNER BRUTUS ELDER ISLAND VIAGRA BOYS YVES TUMOR THESE NEW SOUTH WHALES W A LT D I S C O SHEY BABA LISA O’NEILL RADIANT CHILDREN THE JUNGLE GIANTS S O A K E D O AT S SICK JOY SULLII C H A P PA Q U A W R E S T L I N G THE SNUTS SQUID REN BEA1991 SONS OF THE EAST CASEY LOWRY TRIPLE ONE BRÍET KRUSH PUPPIES KOJAQUE MALIHINI BIG JOANIE ZOONI VULPYNES HAZE BUZZARD BUZZARD BUZZARD ANY OTHER CABLE TIES WESTERMAN CALLUM PITT A M Y M AY E L L I S BLACKOUT PROBLEMS WINSTON SURFSHIRT (SOLO) CAN’T SWIM TAW I A H FUZZY SUN NICE BISCUIT SUPERLOVE GIRL IN RED PONGO M O N T Y TA F T WHISPERING SONS G U C C I H I G H W AT E R S K W E N G FA C E TA L O S COCAINE PISS A R C H I E FA U L K S CHAI WOOZE LIZA OWEN COUNTY LINE RUNNER K I Z Z Y C R AW F O R D AMANDA TENFJORD TIANA MAJOR9 G W E N I F E R R AY M O N D JC STEWART PEARL CHARLES M AT H I L D A H O M E R A LT O PA L O EASY LIFE DBOY B L A C K W AV E . WASUREMONO THE MAUSKOVIC DANCE BAND FA R A J S U L E I M A N WEIRD MILK J U S T M U S TA R D MALPHINO NIA WYN G E N T LY T E N D E R DRAX PROJECT T H E N U D E PA R T Y APRE PENELOPE ISLES GIUNGLA BODY TYPE RICH AUCOIN D U E N D I TA PETROL GIRLS B I T C H FA L C O N H A G G A R D C AT PSYCHEDELIC PORN CRUMPETS HORROR MY FRIEND E M I LY B U R N S H I M A L AYA S HAND HABITS JVCK JAMES BROEN FIEH REBECCA GARTON CELESTE IRIS H E AV Y B E AT B R A S S B A N D KINGSWOOD BIIG PIIG SHADED JACK PERRETT MOTHERHOOD EMERSON SNOWE SIR BABY B E S S AT W E L L ALEXANDRA STRÉLISKI ALFIE TEMPLEMAN A L LY S H A J O Y D AY O B E L L O R A O U L V I G N A L B E F O R E S T. STONEFIELD GIANT ROOKS KIAN MALIK DJOUDI BYOB
T I C K E T S N O W O N S A L E 25
Tell you what, Sia would have a fucking ball in this room.
“The words are just another instrument.” - Ollie Judge
Today, we find the Brighton quintet - completed by vocalist and guitarist Louis Borlase, guitarist Anton Pearson, keyboardist Arthur Leadbetter and bassist Laurie Nankivell - in a Wetherspoons just down the road from London’s fear-inducing US Visa office. It’s a Monday morning (don’t worry, they’re on the coffees for now) and they’ve all just had their passports stamped, ready to go and instil exactly the same sense of excitement over at SXSW. They might only be a couple of years into life as a band, but the momentum behind Squid over the last six months speaks for itself; unusual and idiosyncratic, theirs is an infectious sonic viewpoint that’s pricking up more ears by the day. Even Squid’s beginnings are typically upside down. Meeting at uni, the band members had been vaguely making bedroom music when Anton noticed an ad for a “slightly weird place” looking for someone to start a young person’s jazz night. “So we had to write loads of music to play this gig at the jazz bar,” explains Ollie. “We booked the space first and then had to write a set,” nods Anton. Soon bored of this traditional set up (“It was like, are we really just confined to always having to play the piano?! Fuck this,” recalls Louis), the five pals started branching out to other venues and watched their output broaden in tandem. “There wasn’t much cohesion, but it was something to do,” shrugs Ollie. Obvious cohesion, you sense, isn’t really Squid’s primary focus; ask what’s on their collective record players, and they’ll cite influences ranging
from ‘80s English eccentrics XTC to German kraut favourites NEU! and minimalist composer Steve Reich. “Arthur’s so obsessed with Steve Reich; he’s got a new app called the clapping game,” begins Louis. “I strongly, strongly recommend the Clapping Music app,” Arthur informs, very seriously. “If you get the highest score on the hard level, then you get to perform Steve Reich’s ‘Clapping Music’ with the London Symphony Orchestra.” But though their interests may land on the more technical end of the muso spectrum, Squid’s own output rings with a sense of playfulness, fun and more than a little unhinged mania. “Every song that we’ve written in the past year has been written in about three hours,” explains Ollie. “They come from that slightly pressured way of writing and it gives them energy.” Take new single ‘Houseplants’ for example. Bursting out of the traps with a propulsive riff, it bobs along merrily before some discordant brass kicks in and the whole thing temporarily collapses as Ollie repeatedly wails the track’s title. Picking up frenetic pace over its four minutes, it’s a wild trip of paranoia shot through with a glint in its eye. “We just finished uni two years ago and now all of our friends are getting career jobs, so it’s a bit of a comment on that,” notes Ollie, “but I don’t ever think out a whole story. The words are just another instrument. I’ve got a book with loads of phrases written down.” “A phrase book, you might say?” jokes Laurie. “Dos cervezas por favor!” calls out Louis.
Next up, they’re readying to record a full EP with Dan. They’ve got a tracklisting in mind (including live favourite ‘The Cleaner’), but, as ever, these sonic scientists are leaving the specifics up for experimentation. “I really wanna record it on instruments that we don’t really know how to play and see how that goes,” enthuses Louis of the possibilities. “There’s a synth that’s quite famous within Speedy Ollie: “We won Steve Wunderground Lamacq’s Round Table called The and Alex Kapranos Swarmatron and came up to say ‘hi’ after it looks like a mini because he was on it billiards table and that week.” says nothing on Laurie: “I always it so you have no used to think the band idea what’s gonna Franz Ferdinand was happen,” continues one man called Franz Laurie, eyes lighting Ferdinand, and it even up. “We’re only a got to the point when I year in and I don’t realised that the person think anyone can who started World War tell what it’ll sound One was called Franz like,” nods Arthur. Ferdinand and I thought “We might put a big they just had the same jungle ending on name by chance.” ‘The Dial’, you never
exciting new noise. Words: Lisa Wright. Photo: Emma Swann.
So press play we duly did and, hold up... Coming in at just over five minutes of half-yelped, half-howled oblique vocals, repetitive krauty motifs and strange hypnotic propulsion, shot through with unpredictable moments of wild-eyed frenzy, it was the most intriguing thing we’d heard in ages - the marker of a still-fledgling band with some pretty gloriously weird ideas and the ability to translate them through a genuinely fresh lens. Though the band had previously put a couple of demos on SoundCloud, “[‘The Dial’] felt like a big, massive step,” notes singing drummer Ollie Judge now. “Everything before that was more us finding our feet.”
Five young men throwing convention out the window in favour of mad, eclectic, stupidly
In August of last year, a track plonked into DIY’s inbox. Called ‘The Dial’ and released as part of noted producer Dan Carey’s Speedy Wunderground series (previous alumni of which have included the likes of Kate Tempest, TOY and, more recently, Black Midi), it was the debut single proper from a band called Squid who’d been quietly chugging around London and Brighton’s toilet circuit for a short while, provoking a few whispers from those in the know that they might be onto something rather interesting.
know...” With this lot, we wouldn’t dare hazard a guess. DIY
Injecting fun, weirdness and spontaneity into the often straight-faced worlds of classical, jazz and electronic music, Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye are the weirdo pop duo of your dreams. Words: Will Richards. Photo: Louise Mason.
Jockstrap’s Taylor Skye is playing with a new app, which, he tells us, can get you a ride in a supercar across London for less than the price of an Uber. “We’re off to some fashion party tonight,” bandmate Georgia Ellery reveals, “and we’re trying to lock down a Lamborghini for our ride.” All a bit mad, maybe, but considering the music we’ve heard from the duo so far - the weird, off-kilter orchestral pop of last year’s ‘Love Is The Key To The City’ EP - it’s clear ‘normal’ isn’t really what they do. A mixture of sweeping strings and bubbling production, it’s an unusual melting pot. When written down, Jockstrap’s composite elements conjure up images of chin-stroking musos never casting so much as a slight smile. But, especially through their deliciously odd music videos, there’s a playful humour running through the whole thing. “It’s important to make the classical, jazz, electronic thing fun,” Taylor affirms. “So often, we’re surrounded by people who take it ridiculously seriously, and I think the best things are those that are heartbreaking and funny at the same time.”
Singular in both its sound and vision, the pair gained a hefty collaboration before even releasing a note of music, contributing strings to Dean Blunt’s 2018 EP ‘Soul On Fire’, which features A$AP Rocky and Mica Levi among others. It’s a lofty beginning, but not one that’s seen the pair get too unduly starry-eyed. “We’re doing everything by ourselves. Georgia’s making all the videos, we’re mastering it ourselves - and no-one’s really touching it, and that’s what people like about it, and that’s what we really like.” “But, you know, if Danny Brown wants to collaborate…” Georgia butts in with a wicked grin. “Ariana Grande, John Cage if he came back to life…” Taylor adds. “It’s all the same. We don’t see Ariana Grande that different to John Cage in the grand scheme of things.” It’s this willingness to experiment and mash together competing elements with an ethos of ‘chuck it in, and see how it goes’ that’s marked Jockstrap out as a unique new voice. Absolutely nothing is out of the question for these two. Rev up that Lambo. DIY
JOCKSTRAP 28 DIYMAG.COM
BIG INDIE BIG NIGHTS Breaking New Music
BACK WITH THE PEOPLE OUT NOW
NOV3L Jerking, danceable postpunk from the Crack Cloud side project.
Norwegian youngster penning nostalgiafuelled, glossy pop. Jimi Somewhere lists Frank Ocean and Kevin Abstract among his biggest influences and there are significant hints of both on single and first preview of EP ‘Ponyboy’, ‘1st Place’. “Life was better when I was seventeen,” he sings with impassioned vocals over a mix of guitar licks and spacious synths that give more than a few nods to Kevin’s ‘American Boyfriend’ LP. Packed with personality, it’s an exceedingly exciting introduction. Listen: The glistening ‘1st Place’. Similar to: Kevin Abstract, teen nostalgia.
GIRL IN RED Short, sharp and sweet bedroom pop songs about love, obsession and everything between. After teaching herself guitar, piano and production from her bedroom, 19-year-old Marie Ulven began making music as Girl In Red just a little over a year ago and it spread quickly thanks in part to her witty social media presence. Musically, she explores her own trials and tribulations with mental health and sexuality through lo-fi indie-pop that’s refreshing in its honesty. Debut EP ‘chapter 1’ sets the foundation for even more promising things to come. Listen: ‘we fell in love in october’ / ‘girls’ Similar to: Reliving your first (awkward) crush.
Last year, social mediashunning Canadian collective Crack Cloud starting exciting our ears with their strain of idiosyncratic post-punk. Now, some of them have splintered off to form NOV3L - a new bunch with a seemingly similar love of the alternative late ‘80s, but imbued with a strong line in writhing, twitchy shape-pulling. ‘Novel’ - their debut EP, released earlier this year – is a tightly coiled trip through the darker end of the dancefloor. Listen: ‘To Whom It May Concern’ is their calling card. Similar to: The coolest kids in school cutting shapes at the disco (but still not smiling).
RECOMMENDED neu ELLIS Dark dream pop straight out of Hamilton, Ontario. Full of echoing, reverb-soaked guitars and pounding drums, Ellis’ debut EP ‘The Fuzz’ teems with swirling emotions and a huge sense of atmosphere. The project of songwriter Linnea Siggelkow, the Canadian has a talent for combining moments of vulnerability with simple instrumentation and then blowing them up to gut-wrenching scale. Listen for a helping of actually-quite-cathartic doom-laden melancholy. Listen: Debut EP ‘The Fuzz’. Similar to: If Soccer Mommy was kinda goth. 30 DIYMAG.COM
PENELOPE ISLES Warm and woozy altindie to soothe the soul. If melodically-minded, spine-tingling US faves Real Estate upped sticks and headed over to the English coast, they might end up making music a bit like Brighton’s Penelope Isles. Full of multi-part harmonies to make you weep, and veering alternately between moments of pure sunbaked warmth (‘Round’) and more uneasy – yet still completely fucking lush – tension (‘Cut Your Hair’), the new Bella Union signings have already got our hearts. Listen: ‘Cut Your Hair’ is a true gem. Similar to: Having someone wring your heart, but stroke your hair at the same time.
BUZZ FEED All the buzziest new music happenings, in one place.
ENTER SANDMAN Scouse indie-popsters TRUDY AND THE ROMANCE have finally announced their debut LP. ‘Sandman’ is out on 24th May. Get all the info at diymag.com.
OUT OF THE BLACK
SCALPING Bristol bunch colliding techno and post-punk with abandon. Bristol is a hotbed for grubby, intense punk at the moment, but newcomers SCALPING are giving it a twist. As visceral as their band name, debut track ‘Chamber’ is an apocalyptic introduction, where a thunderous techno base collides with blackened stabs of post-punk guitars. Intense in the extreme, it’s an unrelenting first introduction to a band that don’t do things by halves. Listen: Debut single ‘Chamber’. Similar to: Nine Inch Nails, Daniel Avery.
The buzzier-than-thou BLACK MIDI have followed up a UK tour by announcing their signing to Rough Trade and releasing new EP ‘Speedway’ - listen on diymag.com.
ON THE PLAYLIST Every week on Spotify, we update DIY’s Neu Discoveries playlist with the buzziest, freshest faces. Here’s our pick of the best new tracks: SISTERTALK ‘Vitriol’ The weirdo Londoners have finally emerged with their debut track, and it’s a leftfield doozy. HARE SQUEAD ‘100 Miles’ Trimmed down to a two-piece and with a new lease of life, the new one from the Irish rappers is a chart-bound smash. JELLY BOY ‘Give Up And Gamble’
BLANC SPACE, BABY It’s a family affair as third Macca-bro Will White - as BLANC - releases new track ‘Chameleon’ physically via Felix’s YALA! next month. Listen now on diymag.com
Benji of Happyness channels scuzzy indie rock from decades past on this solo offering. HAIKU HANDS ‘Dare You Not To Dance’ In line with its title, it’s pretty impossible not to hip-shake to this from the Aussie trio. 31
BIG INDIE BIG NIGHTS
MUSTSEE SHOWS THIS MONTH Like being the first to see the next big thing? Get ready to brag to your mates about watching this lot before they go big, sell out, and spectacularly break up.
Certified radio ledge Annie Mac has bundled some of her fave new acts and ours - inc Amyl and the Sniffers, Another Sky, Squid - into a series of hot tickets this month. Details on diymag.com.
ULYSSES WELLS Two Tribes, London. Photo: Fraser Stephen.
It’s the first Big Indie Big Nights gig of 2019 tonight, and the first at Two Tribes Brewery since London’s freshest purveyors of pop, Childcare, took to the stage here back in November. While there’s less fanfare this time around - tonight’s guests, Ulysses Wells and his band, start playing without saying a word, a stark contrast to Childcare’s cult-like introduction three months ago - the crowd is every bit as enthusiastic. They’ve come to see Ulysses’ brand of riffheavy blues-rock (which has earned him comparisons with Jack White, Royal Blood
and The Black Keys) and there’s plenty of them. The room is full - some people have to peer in from the courtyard outside. The band, too, seem to be struggling for space; between him, two singers, a drummer, a bassist and a keyboard player, there’s not enough room on stage, and the latter has to hammer away at his keys from the sidelines. Fortunately, this division doesn’t seem to phase the band, who rattle through their seven-song setlist in style. They close with their latest single, ‘Back With The People’, a fitting way to mark Big Indie Big Nights’ return. (George Wilde)
The Class of 2019 heros will be pounding the M5 - and more of the nation’s other great roads - from mid-March, including a date at London’s Electric Ballroom (22nd), plus nights in Glasgow (18th), Manchester (30th) and more.
The Coventry newcomers are following recent single ‘English Weather’ with a string of UK and Ireland live shows throughout the month. Find all dates on diymag.com.
Meet Los Angeles native and indie-rock scene stalwart Sasami as she blends beauty, pain and self-empowerment. Words: Ben Tipple.
Though only on the cusp of releasing her debut LP, Sasami Ashworth has long-been an established face in Stateside indie-rock. Formerly playing keyboards with explosive rockers Cherry Glazerr, she’s also provided string and horn arrangements for heavyweights like Jenny Lewis, Conor Oberst and First Aid Kit. Now, having first picked up a guitar while on the road with her former outfit, Sasami is putting herself centre stage. It was the somewhat atypical French horn that kick-started her life in music, though. With few other teens choosing the brass instrument, Sasami welcomed early opportunities to travel the globe as part of youth orchestras. “Being part of this insanely massive sound, I knew that there’s no other thing that had any sort of magnitude,” she reminisces. “At that point I was totally in heaven, I was transcending the crazy awkwardness of being a middle schooler.” However, despite accepting a place at a classical conservatoire, she couldn’t avoid the pull of the vibrant LA indie-rock scene. After studying with the likes of Haim and Empress Of, it was working alongside Nate Walcott of Bright Eyes that ultimately allowed the musician to bring together her formal training with an ever-growing love of
grittier sounds. “I was becoming bilingual in the classical world and the rock-folk world here in LA,” she notes. A few years later, and her ten-track self-titled debut carries the boundary-pushing experimentation born from these broad experiences. “It was natural that both aspects of my musicality would be part of the record,” she states of a sound formed by a self-confessed stream of consciousness during an emotionally turbulent year. Varied in tone and style, from the distorted shoegaze of ‘Not The Time’ to the eerie ‘At Hollywood’, her compositions are pulled together by honesty, something Sasami places at the heart of her work. Driven by her place in, and the support of, a closeknit scene, and listing Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner, Vagabon’s Laetitia Tamko and many more as friends, collaborators and mentors, Sasami celebrates empowerment, community and openness through her deeply personal songs. The result effortlessly blends raw emotion with her boundless understanding of the power of sound. And there’s plenty more to come. “I feel like I’ve always been a composer,” she concludes, “I think I’m going to make a lot more in my life.” She pauses. “I guess the goal is to write a happy song next…” DIY 33
F OUR HOR SEMEN OF 34 DIYMAG.COM
THE A P OC A LY P SE W ORD S : L I S A W RIGH T. P HO T O S : K A S I A W O ZNI A K . 35
TWO ALBUMS. ONE YEAR. NOTHING LEFT TO PROVE.
AND YET HERE STAND FOAL S, TAKING RISKS AND BLOWING APART EXPEC TATIONS WITH THE MOST POTENT AND PERTINENT MATERIAL OF THEIR CAREER.
t’s 2006 and Foals - five barely-twenty-something Oxford boys with a keen line in itchy math rock and heavy fringes - are playing their first shows, turning a series of now-legendary house parties into feral, incendiary pits of sweat and excitement.
Fast forward a decade to Summer 2016, and the same five men - now with four Top 10 albums, two Mercury Prize nods and countless headlines declaring them the most urgent, visceral guitar band of their generation under their belts - are stepping out onto the stage at Reading & Leeds as headliners, smashing through yet another barrier into the most exclusive of musical clubs, the one reserved for the upper percentile of Very Big Bands. It’s a trajectory that few, least of all Foals themselves, could have predicted. “No way did we think we’d make it to this point,” laughs guitarist Jimmy Smith at the idea. “[Back then] it was more like, are we going to make it through the next two weeks? Just convinced that something would shatter the dream.” But they did make it through the next two weeks, and then a couple more, and now Foals – completed by frontman Yannis Philippakis, drummer Jack Bevan and keyboardist Edwin Congreave - are standing on the precipice of the next stage. They’re a player down following the departure of bassist Walter Gervers, who left amicably to concentrate on more wholesome family pursuits, but somehow they’re still bucking expectation like the gloriously contrary fuckers they’ve always been. “Does it sound like we’ve mellowed?” snorts Yannis, at the idea that time or success might have cooled the fire that’s always sat at the heart of the band, keeping them constantly changing, constantly flicking two fingers at the traditional paths of the mainstream but inadvertently ruling it anyway. And no, of course it doesn’t. Because at a junction where most bands of their size fall either by the wayside
Give a big hand to our cover stars, everybody!
or perilously into their comfort zones, Foals have returned with not one, but two new albums - ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1’ and its forthcoming, imminent follow-up - filled with some of the most adventurous music that they’ve ever created. It could very feasibly be the phase of their careers that pushes them into the absolute top bracket, the one where you headline Glastonbury and etch your name even deeper into the history books. But Yannis couldn’t really give a shit about that. “I think the record is a testament to that [lack of careerist thought],” he nods. “We haven’t made a straightforward record. That wasn’t the concern. We wanted to have a more wildly creative experience and experiment more, take more time over the music, really try and push ourselves to make a record that we would feel was the defining expression of the band, where in 20 years time we’d look back and hopefully it would be our favourite. And then we ended up with two.”
hough they might never have been the driving force, these not-insignificant milestones still bookmarked the last few years of the band. By the end of 2016, following a third-to-fourth album trajectory with 2013’s ‘Holy Fire’ and 2015 follow-up ‘What Went Down’ that was more like a “rollover” (“We had a momentum on ‘Holy Fire’; we were playing really well live, enjoying being on the road and just buzzing so we didn’t take much time [out] because we didn’t want to lose that,” Yannis explains), Foals had racked up a considerable number of notches on the musical bedpost. In February of that year they sold out Wembley Arena; a few months later they played “some of the best shows [they’d] ever played” at Reading & Leeds. “I remember, when I was first getting into Nirvana, I had the VHS of ‘Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!’ and watched them headline it. Thinking we played that same stage however many years later, I definitely felt like those were defining shows for us. Then we went to Rock en Seine and headlined that. That weekend felt proper,” Yannis concedes with a grin. But though the singer, puffing away on a series of cigarettes that he’s determined to shortly give up in the beer garden of the Peckham pub that would become a fixture in the creation of Foals’ latest LPs, isn’t entirely immune to a little appreciative reflection, each minor pat on the back is given a caveat. “We’ve never been that bothered about being an O2 Arena band, but at the same
time we are creatively ambitious and, in being that, we felt like we deserved the larger platform that we got over the last few years,” he says. “There’s a self-awareness about the fact that we’re a big band and that we deserve to be there. But once it felt like we had achieved that momentum, that we’d reached terminal velocity, then it felt like we could step back. We did that thing. We played Wembley. We headlined Reading & Leeds. So now, let’s have a break because we don’t need to worry.” And so, after a few semi-relentless years of writing and touring a physically-demanding show that would regularly see the singer flinging himself off balconies and over crowd barriers as his bandmates wrangled the chaos back into order, Foals took a break. Everyone “put their feet back on solid ground again for the first time in quite a long time”, Yannis took a six-month hiatus from playing guitar and Walter called time after 10 years on his role in the band entirely. “We had some shows with him in the summer that we knew were gonna be the final ones, and I don’t think there was ever a question about not continuing [the band], but there was definitely a question of OK, how do we actually write more music together?” Yannis explains. “Wally’s departure in some ways was a catalyst for us to have to mix it up and approach it in a different way because we physically couldn’t go to the same room in Oxford and play in the same way. We miss him, he’s one of our best friends so there’s always gonna be that feeling where the social side is different because he was a great guy,” he stops himself. “He IS a great guy. He’s dead to me! No, I’m joking. But it’s obviously a bit different; it’s like losing a member of the family.” Now down to a four, the band started to assess the wider possibilities of fully shifting things up. After years spent testing producers and never quite finding the right fit (sometimes famously, when they ended up re-mixing a lot of debut ‘Antidotes’ in London, saying supposedly that Dave Sitek’s versions made it sound like “it was recorded in the Grand Canyon”), Jack pushed for the band to finally just do it themselves. “I felt like now was time to put our money where our mouths are and have a go at it,” he explains. “We’d had varying degrees of success with producers and some of them had been spoken about in the press as quite negative experiences,” continues Edwin. “Whether that’s fair, I’m not entirely sure, but we all knew Yannis had the potential and desire to do it. He’s quite a controlling guy, but that’s a force for good in the studio because you need to have someone stamping their identity on it
“ WE’RE DOING SOMETHING VITAL IN OUR TIME AND W E ’ R E M A K ING IMP OR TA N T, E XC I T ING MU S IC .” - YA NNIS PHILIPPA K IS 38 DIYMAG.COM
“ W E W EN T F UL LY IN T O THE BR AIN FOREST FOR THE BEST PART OF A Y E A R . ” - YA NNIS PHILIPPA K IS otherwise you end up with an unfinished mess.” “I think we are difficult to work with, but I think all good bands probably are,” shrugs the frontman. “Probably... But some bands get it right and they find a producer, and they lock in and you can see they have a bond. Whereas for us we never found that early on and we’ve always been out there searching. So yeah, we are difficult and we have very strong ideas about how we think things should be done, but this is the record where we got to see all of that through from the beginning to the very end and [because of that] it’s us at our most undiluted.”
ndiluted’ is a term that fairly accurately describes Yannis. Throughout his tenure as one of music’s most quotable frontmen, he’s built a reputation as an eloquent, unrelenting interviewee; a whipsmart, chain-smoking Greek fireball who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. These days, he’s more affable - “I watch my mouth a bit more than I used to do,” he admits – but he’s still a rare gem, fully immersed in the creative process with all the consuming, potentially self-destructive tendencies that might entail. It’s a character trait that writes itself all over ‘Everything Not Saved...’. Today, we’re sat in this particular South London pub because it’s the place where many of the album’s lyrics were conceived. Throughout an intensive, insular year where – for the first time – the band wrote and recorded simultaneously, rattling between practice room and recording studio, “letting ideas evolve and mutate, building up the albums and the material in this very sedimentary way, layer upon layer upon layer and then stripping it back and building it again,” the singer would come here for last orders and splay the inner workings of his brain out. “I look back over my lyrics and it’s just reams and reams of paper,” he recalls. “Often I’d be here with my headphones in, with paper everywhere, pints on the go, whiskeys on the go, fully just having to balance all this stuff in my mind. I’m at my unhappiest but also my most fulfilled in those moments.” A world away from the oblique lyrics about tennis serves that began their debut and still a leap from the more inward musings that populated Foals’ last two albums, ‘Everything Not Saved...’ is instead a record that fully exists and roots itself in the turmoil of the present. There’s no masking behind veiled references; instead, it paints an apocalyptic landscape populated by stricken birds and dead foxes, one full of surveillance and fear and very real threat. Sound familiar? “10 years ago,
when we were writing ‘Antidotes’, the perilousness of the environment or the political mayhem that’s going on wasn’t as pressing as it is now,” he explains. “But there’s an urgency to these things now that needed to be expressed artistically, and I wanted the landscape of the record to be set in cities that are on fire and abandoned streets that are no longer inhabited, because then the record becomes a mirror to the world and that’s when it excites me.” It is, as Yannis nods, the “most connected” the band have ever been to the wider world around them. But amid the lyrical tension, there’s musical release in the way that only this lot know how. From the duality of lead single ‘Exits’ with its inescapable earworm groove to the fizzing, yelping flamethrower of ‘White Onions’; the dark slowburn (and surging pay-off) of ‘Syrups’ to the euphoric transcendence of ‘Sunday’, ‘Everything Not Saved...’ is a record that acknowledges the ghouls of the modern world but remains vitally, almost defiantly alive regardless. Then there’s ‘In Degrees’: potentially the biggest festival-slaying anthem they’ve ever penned. “‘In Degrees’ is about becoming progressively more isolated and having relationships slip through your fingers and the inability to communicate directly. It’s about things being lost, but then I know that song will be played in the live environment where there’ll be heaving bodies next to each other and that’s real connection. That’s real community. I was enjoying the contrast between those things. I remember thinking: I like this...” he chuckles, grinning wolfishly.
witching things up in every way possible, from personnel to working practices, time frames, location and more, these little observations and playful, clever contrasts are the result of a writing and recording process designed to push Foals as far as possible. Speak to all four members and they’ll all, in different ways, cement the fact that the main intention this time was simply not to play it safe in any way. “I think we had become quite formulaic with our song structures,” concedes Jack. “I’m proud of ‘What Went Down’, but I wanted us to indulge our weirder side. We’re so far into our career now, you don’t want to ever be one of those bands where people are just like, ‘Oh, it’s another Foals record’.” And it’s this hunger to stay at the top of their game that means Foals will likely never have to worry about those kinds of comments. More than a decade in the biz and Yannis still peppers his speech with the same extreme, incendiary thoughts on the creative process as his old
analogy about “setting [his] shell on fire”. “For me, making a record is a private journey between me and the guys in the band to go to the extremities of our minds and you can’t do that with a day to day life that’s plugged into the outside world,” he explains of the wholly absorbing path of the last two years. “It’s distracting and it’s diluting and you end up with a record that’s not as intense. To make great music, you have to fully burrow into something and you can’t do that if your head’s above ground. We went fully into the brain forest for the best part of a year.” Think most bands throw themselves into their art to this extent? Think many bands can keep it up for five records and then be so in the zone that they come out with six? In the modern day Venn diagram of real, big time success and genuine lack of compromise, Foals are striding out further into their own league with every passing milestone. From the most unformulaic, underground of beginnings, they’ve flourished at every turn but kept every scrap of integrity. “I don’t know why other bands break up, but what I can say for us is that we’re doing something vital in our time and we enjoy hanging out with each other and we’re making important, exciting music. That’s why we keep doing it,” affirms Yannis. “I’d happily go into the studio and bang out another record right now. I don’t feel jaded or tired; I feel like there’s a lot of important things still to do. “Culturally, there needs to be great bands making great records, being ambitious and taking risks and being experimental. Not just toeing the party line and not having it all just be about numbers and data and streaming and selling out venues. Actually making records that are exciting and that push boundaries and communicate something real and honest and imaginative to the outside world. So that adds a lot of fuel to the fire. To be like, ‘we holed ourselves away having gone through a transformative time and we’ve come out and made records that are as good as anything out there’. It’s important to feel like that and we do feel like that.” Five albums in and still the most passionate, eloquent, fired-up band around, if the apocalypse is indeed going to rain down, then we want Foals on our team. ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1’ is out 8th March via Warner Bros. DIY
AND FOR THEIR NEX T TRICK... Excited for ‘Everything Not Saved...’? Well, you’ve got a whole second record coming this Autumn to look forward to, too. Here’s what you can expect from that one... Yannis: “They were written as one coin, but they’ve become two separate coins. There are still riffs on Album One but there’s a slightly different palette to it; Album Two’s got some proper chunky riffs on it. Just from a personal perspective, there’s quite a lot of restraint in knowing that some of my favourite songs are on Album Two and having to wait for people to hear them is gonna definitely be a test. Lyrically, I think Album Two has more perseverance to it. There are songs about working through it and the power of perseverance and energy and passion, and not being defeated by... not being defeated, full stop, really. There’s a drive to Album Two. A lot of the lyrical themes are similar, but the opening couple of tracks of Album Two have this ‘when you’re going through hell, keep going’ type of mentality. So maybe in some ways you could look at it as a response to Album One. It’s a bit like a cliffhanger.” Jimmy: “So don’t get too disheartened if the first one isn’t heavy enough for you; there’s a 10 minute song on the next one and there’s riffs and loads of guitars. It’s gonna be great!”
BURNING DOWN TH E HOUSE The Japanese Houseâ€™s long-awaited debut is fuelled by death and heartbreak, but thereâ€™s a defiance to it too. We meet Amber Bain in Berlin to talk mushrooms, weird dreams and new beginnings. Words: Will Richards. Photos: Phil Smithies.
Amber has been trying to find a lost earring on the floor for several hours now...
mber Bain has been having weird dreams. It might be, she tells us, because her and her bandmates in The Japanese House have smashed their way through four series of Game of Thrones in the two weeks of their European tour so far - it’s her fourth run-through of the medieval dragon orgy fest to date but things have started to get more than a little strange.
“The one last night was soooo creepy,” she exclaims, slightly nervously. “I announced a new show the other day, and Julia Cumming from Sunflower Bean commented on Instagram saying she was excited about it. Then last night I had a dream that I was backstage at a show about to go on, and she was there, and said to me ‘I’ve never heard your music, but I’m excited to see you play’, and I thought ‘That’s weird, you commented saying you were excited about that show I’m doing?!’. Then she got her phone out and started playing ‘Saw You In A Dream’ out loud in front of me. She said it was the most boring song she’d ever heard! Anyway, this morning I wake up and go on Instagram, and the first thing I see is a follow and a message from Julia, saying she loves my music, and her favourite song is ‘Saw You In A Dream’. What the fuck. A song with THAT title too,” she chuckles. “It’s been happening a lot recently. I’m definitely the chosen one. Not sure what I’m chosen for, but…” The singer is sitting in the corner of the musical and cultural hub that is Berlin’s Michelberger Hotel. It’s a bustling place, full of life. Amber lets herself fall further into her theories about why these too-good-to-be-true dreams keep coming. It’s a week until the end of her first tour of the year, a three-week European run in advance of the release of her long-awaited debut album, the revelation that is ‘Good At Falling’.
“I HAVE A HABIT OF SEARCHING ‘AMBER BAIN IS SHIT’ ON TWITTER.” Releasing debut EP ‘Pools To Bathe In’ back in 2015, The Japanese House emerged in a shroud of mystery, as so many projects do. A four-track collection of heavily autotuned vocals and skittish, lush production, it was an intriguing introduction, but one that revealed very little of the person behind it. Rather than a marketing ploy to keep anonymity. This evasive tactic was rooted far more in real life. Growing up as an extroverted child, it was with the breakout of severe acne in her teens, resulting in extreme bullying at school, that saw Amber retreat within herself. “The only reason the project was ‘mysterious’ in the beginning was because I was so genuinely terrified of having my photo taken,” she reflects. “It wasn’t meant to be some genderless, anonymous thing.” In the two years and three EPs that followed, Amber’s music went through gorgeous, considered progression, the confidence gained from lauded live shows, support tours with Dirty Hit labelmates The 1975 and picking up a cult-like following bursting out in songs that saw her emerge from behind her initial cloak of anonymity to become something approaching a rock star. The self-criticism still exists to an extent (“I have a habit of searching ‘Amber Bain is shit’ on Twitter,” she laughs. “Luckily there have only ever been 20-orso tweets to that tone!”), but the near-four-year lead up to her debut has witnessed an artist changing, growing and learning to share. It’s all solidified on ‘Good At Falling’, an album that puts Amber front and centre
UP TO NOW
A reminder of the fourpronged path that’s led Amber to debut album time.
‘Pools To Bathe In’ (2015)
A witchy and intriguing introduction, these hushed songs marked her out as one to watch.
Though similarly shiny production-wise, EP2 saw choruses shine through with extra confidence and clarity.
‘Swim Against The Tide’ (2016)
In ‘Face Like Thunder’ and ‘Leon’, Amber’s third saw her ambition come crashing through on her most radio-ready output yet.
‘Saw You In A Dream’ (2017)
Cruising into album time, this four-track collection is The Japanese House at her most fully-formed.
on the most direct, confrontational and confessional music she’s released to date. In ‘Follow My Girl’ and ‘Maybe You’re The Reason’, she’s written two radio-friendly numbers, singing of uncertainty and self-doubt, but transmitting it via bright, danceable pop. The record’s darker corners, meanwhile, mine the depths of grief and personal upheaval with confidence and defiance. When the album ends with an acoustic take on ‘Saw You In A Dream’ - the only ‘old’ song to make it onto the full-length - the full circle achieved is gorgeously satisfying. Across her four EPs, Amber worked almost exclusively with George Daniel, a close friend, and The 1975 drummer. When a timeframe started to come together for the recording of ‘Good At Falling’, however, the pair’s schedules completely clashed, with George working on what would become last year’s ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’, unable to helm the production for the debut album. A talented producer herself, Amber began working alone, but after a while the isolation and inability to bounce ideas off someone else became too much. “I knew I needed to work with someone, anyone,” she remembers. The first step to finding this someone was, obviously, typing some of her
favourite albums into Google. The first three records she looked up were Bon Iver’s ‘22, A Million’, Sylvan Esso’s self-titled effort, and the Justin Vernon-featuring track ‘Meet You In The Maze’ from James Blake’s 2016 release ‘The Colour In Anything’. The connection between them all? They featured production from BJ Burton. “I reached out to him over email,” Amber remembers, “and a few days later he got back saying ‘I’m SO glad you received my email and want to work with me!’ It turns out we’d both got in touch with each other suggesting that we work together in a matter of days, and then just started arguing about who emailed first. ‘NO, I wanted to work with YOU!’” she laughs. Like those dreams she’s been having, it’s almost too perfect to be true. With that, she packed her bags and headed to Wisconsin. “It’s not a cabin in the woods, by the way,” Amber laughs. “Everyone’s like ‘I can’t believe Bon Iver locked himself away in a cabin in the woods to write his first album’, and, like, it’s very isolated, but it’s two massive studios and a whole complex. Not quite a cabin.” Working with BJ at the infamous studio - April Base, just outside Justin Vernon’s home town Eau Claire -
Amber found a new forward motion with the producer, spending a hugely productive, surprising and, it turns out, incredibly creepy few months in the midwest wilderness. Between stories of Kanye West’s stays at the studio, daily interactions with, let’s say, ‘intriguing’ locals, and help from certain substances, it was a wild ride. “I’d never taken hallucinogenics before,” Amber says, “but one night me and BJ did mushrooms and ended up writing a song while absolutely out of our minds. We then completely forgot that we’d even done it, and it wasn’t until we were out in Brussels finishing the album that BJ was looking through files and found this song. We’d lost all memory of it, but we liked it so much that it’s now the intro to the album.” Despite the laid-back, often hilarious few months Stateside, on Amber’s return her life was pretty much turned upside down. Within a month, her long-term relationship ended, she moved in on her own and entered what she describes as six months of the worst depression of her life. The end of Amber’s relationship, with singer-songwriter Marika Hackman, is stamped all over the album, and Marika also appears as Amber’s love interest in the stunning, heartthumping video for single ‘Lilo’. It seemed like the natural choice, she tells us, but also, in line with the rest
of ‘Good At Falling’, sees her come out fighting. “It was probably a stupid idea to put myself back in that situation after being broken up for six months,” she reflects, “but I’m really bad at acting, so didn’t want to just have to kiss some actor.” She then mentions a song set for Marika’s upcoming third album that reflects on their relationship. “I want to do a remix of one of the songs on the record, and though that one makes me incredibly sad, it’s the only one [of the songs] I could ever do.” “It’s really strange, waking up one day and all of a sudden not having to spend your day looking after someone’s feelings and making them happy,” she reflects. “Music became the only thing I had left.” Album highlight ‘Worms’ reflects on this, where Amber sings of “sharing a house, sharing a life, sharing a home / so much pressure not to be alone,” before deciding to “invest yourself in something worth investing in” in its bright, bouncy chorus. Mulling over the idea that the end of both work on her debut album and her long-term relationship marked the end of an era, she returned to the studio almost immediately after ‘Good At Falling’ was completed, cutting a trip to her parents’ for Christmas short to start work on album two. “I’m on medication for my skin, and that’s given me so much of my confidence back,” she reflects. “Everything I knew got knocked down, and I had to build myself back up again, but I’m slowly but surely learning to become a normal, functional human again.”
“EVERYTHING I KNEW GOT KNOCKED DOWN, AND I HAD TO BUILD MYSELF BACK UP AGAIN.”
The idea of her roaring into a new era is solidified at tonight’s show at the cosy Kantine am Berghain, which sits in the shadow of its notorious superclub namesake in a industrial area of East Berlin. Shredding like a rock star on new album cuts, inviting two particularly zealous crowd members on stage for a finale of ‘Clean’ and demanding the crowd send forward a vodka and Diet Coke for her after spilling hers on stage, it’s the most confident and commanding she’s ever been, roaring towards the day she releases an album that lays out her all best and worst days with honesty and directness, all with a desire to move firmly forwards. It sounds like a dream. ‘Good At Falling’ is out now via Dirty Hit. DIY
Independent Woman, Part 2 46 DIYMAG.COM
For the best part of a decade, Rebecca Taylor was one half of indie folk duo Slow Club. Now, she’s setting her powerhouse pipes free with SELF ESTEEM: a solo pop project full of humour, sass and wild ambition. Words: Lisa Wright. Photos: Jenn Five.
t’s a rainy Friday morning and Rebecca Taylor is checking her Instagram in a West London dance studio, rocking the kind of head-to-toe metallic outfit that’s more suited to 3am in the club. “Ah, are these all my daughters?” she jokes, as a dozen perfectly-preened young ballerinas gather round her for our photo shoot. Posing and giving the kind of face that Tyra Banks would be proud of, the singer seems entirely at home in this kind of surreal situation. To the uninitiated, you’d never guess that actually, until very recently, Rebecca spent her musical days living a very different life indeed. From 2006 until their indefinite hiatus in 2017 (“We haven’t officially broken up; if someone wants to pay us enough money for a gig, we’ll do it,” she laughs), Rebecca formed one half of Sheffield indie folk duo Slow Club. The band released four albums, toured extensively and received a decent amount of critical acclaim. But throughout it all, the singer harboured
Itâ€™s tiring work being adored.
Self Esteem: A Guide Rebecca’s got a few pearls of wisdom, or at least lols of wisdom, up her sleeve. Here’s a few more of them.
Beauty: “Everything has been done and there’s no real need for any more music, so if you’re gonna do it then it should be either beautiful or saying something important or sparking some kind of reaction. Different things [of this project] sit in different places - like, today’s shoot was funny but also beautiful. And they’re two things worth doing.”
Sex: “The first video I made, I directed and it was really sexual. It’s a big part of who I am; I’m passionate about the fact that I’m bisexual and that’s not a phase. People don’t talk about [sex] and it’s the most normal thing ever. Although now I’m getting shit for the album cover on Twitter, so a little bit of me has to remember, the bigger it gets, the more weirdos will call you out on things.”
Equality: “I don’t wanna be on a bill because I’m a woman and women are ‘a thing’ now; I don’t wanna have more opportunities than four white guys with guitars, I just want [the equal chance] to be listened to. If they’re better than me, well, they won’t be... but if they are, then fine…”
the kind of dreams that went beyond mid-level indie gigs and, as the years went on, ‘decent’ increasingly proved itself not to be enough. “I’ve always been mega ambitious, but in the indie world I was made to feel shame about that,” she explains. “I had to stop it – stop all this nonsense! - and stay in my lane a bit. And I made the executive decision to do it because I thought that was the only way to succeed.” The catalyst that would eventually call time on the band after years of tenacity turned out to be more of a slow realisation than a fiery fall-out. “[When we released] album three, we were on the telly and I had this day where a stylist took me shopping and bought me
ast forward to 2019 and these initial seeds have now turned into Self Esteem: a fully-fledged, all-singing, all-dancing solo project designed to fulfil every part of Rebecca that was left unsatisfied before. If the genesis of this new guise came from trying to ‘handle’ her previous situation, then the onus second time around seems to be on creating a new one that’s free from any such needs. The reason we’re pissing about in a dance studio today is because it seems emblematic of everything the singer is trying to represent these days - humour and confidence and, above all, not giving a shit if what you wanna do is considered by some as a bit ‘extra’. “What I’ve
“I felt like I needed to undo my button on my jeans all the time – physically and metaphorically.” clothes and it was like, the best day of my life,” she remembers. “It felt like it was going up a bit and I really liked the legitimacy of it, that more people were working on it and it had a direction. But then that didn’t happen for album four and I just knew there was no way to push it to how I wanted it to be, and I was quite tired of trying.” However, over the last couple of years of the band, Rebecca had found a way to help ease these frustrations. Quietly posting bits of her own outside of the Slow Club umbrella - thoughts and observations screen-shotted and put on Instagram and “a secret Twitter where I tweeted raunchy poetry” - the outlet wasn’t a highprofile one, but it satisfied the side of her that was being suppressed by being in a “cool guy indie band”. “The freedom of that made me realise that you can have an output and even though no-one knows it’s you, it gets it out of your body. So I thought, this is how I handle this,” she explains.
found is that I must be communicating myself well, because people are communicating these things back. I’m showing more of myself now and it’s making more sense to people,” she says. “I’m a lot more comfortable and playing less of a role and I feel a lot more like myself, which is what I needed to happen anyway because life’s really hard and very unaccepting, so I sort of bullied people into accepting me.” Kicking around as a name for ages, from when “me and my bestie were just these trolls scrabbling around in our early 20s and all that mattered was men and what we looked like and it was fucking rank. I assume the name came from having no self esteem, which we didn’t because we were just dreadful,” the project has now come to encompass the complete opposite of these ideas. An album full of sparse, beat-led bops full of witty, sexy lyrics on the nuances of love and life, forthcoming debut ‘Compliments Please’ is a record that’s unapologetic in its sense of self. “What I might have achieved, if I wasn’t trying to please” goes the chorus of lead single ‘Rollover’; now, Rebecca’s trying to find out. “I kept thinking, I get to stand on a stage and what am I doing? Zipping my coat up, looking at my feet and saying sorry? I can’t believe I spent [so long doing that],” she says, shaking her head. “When I was little, everything was a stage; if I was standing on a patio then that would be the stage and the grass would be my audience. And then I’m on an actual stage and I wasted it for years.” She chuckles. “It’s all very selfish though, and it’s all for me. It’s all just to make my daily life more fun...”
t’s these kind of statements that make Rebecca and Self Esteem such a welcoming prospect. Because really, if you’re given a stage and a spotlight, why wouldn’t you put on your best frock and have a dance and actually fucking enjoy yourself?
“We played The Lock Tavern [in Camden] and I had like, 20 nervous shits. I was completely terrified of even going
“I’m showing more of myself now and it’s making more sense to people.” in there because I thought it was so cool and I might fuck up,” she recalls of an early Slow Club gig. “I know exactly which vintage dress I had on and I had a big flower in my hair and so many bangles, loading my gear up these narrow steps and sweating so much and being mortified that I was sweating. But now I’m so done with that, and I feel so sorry for her, because that girl was terrified all the time.” The specifics might not apply to most, but the general feeling of youthful anxiety and people-pleasing undoubtedly will. Now, however, Rebecca couldn’t give a toss, and that seems like a pretty damn healthy attitude for a would-be pop star to promote. “I felt so embarrassed about [my ambitions before], but now it’s not embarrassing. And now I’ve also learnt not to be embarrassed about myself,” she nods. “I felt like I needed to undo my button on my jeans all the time - physically and metaphorically. This [project] is just a version of me doing that.” So pop one open and let it all hang out with her. Now, doesn’t that feel better? ‘Compliments Please’ is out now via Moshi Moshi. DIY
“My house? Oh, this little place…?”
Solidifying all her early promise, on gorgeously rich debut ‘Miss Universe’ Nilüfer Yanya confronts the paranoia of the social media generation.
Words: Will Richards. Photos: Jenn Five.
he voice that opens Nilüfer Yanya’s debut is as familiar as it is unsettling. It’s her, but it could easily be Siri speaking back to you on your phone, or the speakers announcing a delay on the 17:05 from Waterloo. “Thank you for entering your details, and welcome to WWAY Health, our 24/7 care programme,” it declares over disconcertingly smooth flashes of jazz, like a scene set in an overly sterile medical facility, home to the wickedly smooth bad guy in a psychological thriller. These updates - WWAY is short for We Worry About Your Health - are peppered periodically throughout the Londoner’s debut. The user chooses to ‘experience paradise’, is then asked for feedback on potential side effects, and, eventually, is unable to progress to Phase Two of the programme, which would make us, we’re told, “feel better and…” it pauses “… probably live longer.” The monotone voice is ever-present, punctuating a collection of songs that threaten to buckle under the weight of the ever-watching eye. “I’ve hit rock bottom, swear I’m telling the truth,” the singer states expressively when the first of these interludes gives way to opening track ‘In Your Head’.
s the song continues, she appears increasingly disorientated, struggling to differentiate between reality and fantasy, or, perhaps more pertinently, our ‘real’ lives and our existence online. “I can’t tell if I’m paranoid or if it’s all in my head,” she exclaims almost painfully as the chorus barrels along. Not only her
most upfront, radio-ready single yet, ‘In My Head’ opens the door for an album that mines the depths of anxiety and uncertainty, created in an age where these things are often accentuated by our surroundings. “I can do what I want, I can feel what I feel / Until you say it out loud, how will I know if its real?,” she sings before expressing, through a vocal that threatens to become a shout, “Some validation is all that I need!” “It’s so ingrained in our lives that we don’t really think about it that much,” the singer reflects on the presence of social media, speaking over the phone from a snowcovered Toronto, where she’s midway through a Sharon Van Etten support tour. “It’s just there. I don’t know if it scares me, ‘cause it’s already happened, and I grew up with it; it’s just so much part of our lives. Not even just social media, but modern life in general, the way everything works and fits into each other. It’s new, but in a way it’s not. It’s just the way everything’s been. If we didn’t have social media, people would still talk about [other] people, and are really nosy, and everyone still wants to know what’s going on. It’s just that we’ve found another way of doing it, and now this is the socially acceptable way. You might not ask someone a question, but you’d stalk them online.” “Like, my sister doesn’t invite me to things,” she continues, threatening a chuckle, “and I’ll say ‘Oh, aren’t you going out? Why didn’t you invite me?’ and she’ll be like ‘Oh yeah, I invited you on Facebook but you never check your Facebook’. Exactly! Why can’t you invite me in real life!”
he album is called ‘Miss Universe’, and it’s a form of said person/figure/entity that speaks down the phone during these interludes. Much like the record itself, it displays ideas that might seem crystal-clear, but that can also be deconstructed with 51
a thousand conflicting interpretations. “I liked how the words…” she begins before pausing. “Like, Miss Universe isn’t a real thing, but it’s a title that people use, so it is real at the same time. The kind of space it creates in your head… like, what is it? No one can be Miss Universe, it’s impossible. But at the same time, people can win the competition and then become that. I just like what it suggests. [Miss Universe] is just made up nonsense,” she continues, “but…”
ways, and comes punctuated with pops of jazz-flecked instrumentation. She’s also tossed the singer-songwriter rulebook aside: ‘Paralysed’ matches a creeping, intricate verse with a chorus full of chunky, sunny strums of guitar and soaring vocals, while ‘Heat Rises’ fizzes along a line of intersecting genres. ‘Tears’, meanwhile, is a warped pop song that folds out into a massive chorus. Across its length, ‘Miss Universe’ is never straight-forward, predictable or anything less than thrilling.
Following a series of immaculately-composed EPs that marked her out as a unique talent, ‘Miss Universe’ arrives as testament that this excitement can stretch over nearly an hour. It’s musically rich, lyrically complex, and always balancing that push and pull, packed with juxtapositions and trying to find a clearer path through the haze. In ‘Angels’, a stop-start cut that builds in intensity before dropping back to just Nilüfer and her guitar, she takes inspiration from Malorie Blackman’s childhood staple of a novel series, Noughts & Crosses, and particularly a scene at the end of the first book, where the main character holds her baby so tight out of love that she ends up suffocating it. “The concept really stuck with me,” she reflects. “You want to love something so much that you actually prevent it from living.”
“I was so attached to guitar music,” she looks back, with The Strokes’ debut album ‘Is This It’ her childhood bible, alongside records by Pixies and more (she still brings out a cover of the latter’s ‘Hey’ to most of her live sets). “[But] it just sounds the same after a while. At first, I thought, ‘My music has to sound like THIS’, and now I think it could sound like anything, because it’s not really about the music - it’s about the song. It could be placed anywhere. I guess it’s like a trend, and you’re moving with the times. The sound of your music is going to evolve, but you can still keep your own style.”
“No one can be Miss Universe, it’s impossible.”
This feeling of push and pull, of love and fear colliding, remains paramount throughout the record. It exists in the murky unknown in between, and similar could be said for Nilüfer musically. Ostensibly, she makes guitar music, but her primary instrument is used in unusual
Sitting happily between defined genres and filling in the gaps with interesting new textures, Nilüfer Yanya’s style cleverly resists being placed in any traditionally labelled box. “I like that,” she agrees. “Sometimes I think, ‘Oh, well that means I don’t have an identity’, but I don’t know if that’s true, or if it even matters. If you’re making different styles of music, you can reach more people. Win win.” ‘Miss Universe’ is out 22nd March via ATO. DIY
TUE.14.MAY.19 MON.25.MAR.19 FRI.26.APR.19
Und e r t h e Spotlight 54 DIYMAG.COM
After emerging from a difficult time with renewed focus, new album ‘Grey AREA’ sees Little Simz make her boldest and most honest statement yet.
I“ ’m amorelot I complex tevenhanI thwasoight. I “ Words: Rachel Finn. Photos: Carolina Faruolo.
t’s safe to say the last few years for Little Simz have been something of a whirlwind. New album ‘GREY Area’ is her third in four years, following four mixtapes and a staggering seven EPs. She’s also found time to curate two festivals at the Roundhouse, toured with Anderson .Paak, Lauryn Hill and Gorillaz, and travelled the world several times over with her own headline show. All of this, while remaining an independent artist. “I think I would have been quite unhappy, but I also might have been a lot more successful,” Simz - aka Simbi Ajikawo - muses, on how things might have been different if she’d inked a deal early on. “I’m the kind of person who has a vision for things and what I want my aesthetic to look and feel like, what I want my music to sound like, what I want my videos to look like. I’ve been blessed in that sense that I can actually do what I want but obviously there are challenges. When you get the invoices and it’s up to you, you really know what it feels like to be a boss.”
‘GREY Area’ sees Little Simz taking charge more so than ever before. Whereas 2016’s ‘Stillness In Wonderland’ opted for a conceptual approach, using multiple personas and surrealist interludes to blur the boundary between her own life and the characters she’d created, this time she’s more direct, offering up a record that’s candidly her. When she began writing towards the end of 2017, it came in a year during which her relentless touring schedule had begun to wear her down. “I was mentally and physically drained. I’d been on the road for so long and I felt like I was just burning myself out and then on top of that I’m away from family and friends and relationships are suffering. Everything just started taking
its toll,” she remembers. “And it was just like, so what? Am I just going to go through life not really knowing who I am because things can change at any minute? This album felt more like a coming of age album, like I was peeling back another layer of trying to discover myself and just finding out that I’m a lot more complex than I even thought I was.” The album punches hard from the very first beat. On single ‘Offence’, she’s full of bravado, comparing herself to Picasso, Shakespeare and Jay-Z on her “worst day”, while on ‘Venom’ she spits a fearless attack at men who are intimidated by powerful women. But there’s plenty of vulnerability too. On ‘Therapy’ and the Little Dragon-featuring ‘Pressure’, she attempts to untangle herself from a web of dark, depressed thoughts; ‘Flowers’, a collaboration with Michael Kiwanuka, meanwhile finds her stepping outside of herself for the only time on the record. Using the perspective of some of her musical heroes - Amy Winehouse and Jimi Hendrix - it finds Simz asking herself soulsearching questions about how she wants to be remembered: “I’m erratic / confession of an addict / how they let me sing to the masses / lost what I had, staring in the face of tragic”. Focusing on the bigger picture as ever, it’s not just the songs she spearheaded this time around: she also shot the artwork for each of the album’s singles herself, turning what began as a hobby on tour into a legitimate part of her career. “I just kind of felt like I was always being captured,” she explains. “I was always getting my photo taken, but I just wanted to have something for me to document stuff that was happening in my life, like I travel so much and I don’t really remember half the places I’ve been to. I started to get a bit more artsy with it and more creative and it turned out that I actually had a passion for it.” 55
THE SIMZ: SO FAR t has been a prolific artist, putting our work ethic to shame and releasing music prolifically since her teens. If you’re new to her, here’s where you should start: ‘BLANK CANVAS’ Simz began writing songs as a pre-teen and later self-released her mixtapes via Bandcamp. 2013 saw the release of her early breakthrough tape ‘BLANK CANVAS’, which was premiered on Jay-Z’s Life + Times blog. ‘AGE 101: DROP X’ After founding her own label AGE 101 in 2014, Simz released a series of ‘Age 101’ EPs, culminating in her tenth solo release ‘Drop X’ in 2015. Although previously making most of her music as a solo artist, she collaborated with other artists, including Isaiah Rashad, Mick Jenkins and Bibi Bourelly, on each of the release’s tracks. ‘A CURIOUS TALE OF TRIALS + PERSONS’ Little Simz’ full length debut album arrived in 2015 - a concept record centered on the topic of fame and how it alters one’s identity, explored through a cast of characters. ‘STILLNESS IN WONDERLAND’ Released in 2016, Little Simz’ surrealist second album is inspired by Alice In Wonderland. It was also released alongside a comic book, art exhibition, film and festival.
deeply personal record, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the making of ‘GREY Area’ came with its raw moments: something that most came to the fore when working on key track ‘Wounds’. It would prove one of the most difficult moments of making the album after she received a phone call telling her about the death of a friend. “I went to the studio that same day, just sat in the room by myself in the dark and just cried,” she recalls. “I must have been sitting in the dark for about three hours. I don’t think anyone even knew I was in there and then I got the instrumental up and just started writing. “I needed to get up and go to the studio everyday. I needed to be productive, I needed to get myself up and be around good people and do what I love, especially because I know that person would have wanted that.” And while it may be a record born out of emotional turmoil, when it came to recording, over a month
between LA and London with producer Inflo, spending time in the studio turned out to be the soothing force she needed to straighten out her thoughts. “It was very zen,” she says. “There wasn’t pressure to create something every minute. Trying not to force things, I think is important.” Although Simz professes that she “always knew growing up that [she] was going to play to huge audiences”, she still regularly finds herself having ‘pinch-me’ moments. It’s something she encountered while touring with Gorillaz, starting off at their Demon Dayz festival in Margate, before being whisked around the world to play with Damon Albarn and his crew across Europe, the US and South America. “[I get them] all the time. For sure!” she explains with a laugh. “But I think that just gives me more fire in my belly and it kind of affirms that thoughts become things and you can actually manifest things. So that gets me excited for the personal goals I’ve set myself now. It makes me excited to get to the place where I’ve achieved them just as proof again, you know what I mean? Anything’s possible.” ‘GREY Area’ is out now via Age 101. DIY
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here’s little in the high Georgian ceiling, French windows or quiet lunchtime service of the cafe next to Dublin’s National Concert Hall that seems a fitting location for an interview with Fontaines DC.
It’s too fragile, too quaint for a band that spend the chorus of recent single ‘Too Real’ wrangling the dying wails from their guitars while baiting the audience with its title: “Is it too real for ya?”. Not that the band seem to notice; each of its five members are seemingly at home at their table. Were it not for the elderly waitress throwing side-eye at the five young men in overcoats carrying German paperbacks, you might just mistake them for regulars. The band are well used to how alienating a city Dublin can be, mind. Speaking on the inspiration behind ‘Big’, the opening track of forthcoming debut ‘Dogrel’, vocalist Grian Chatten explains how the song came to him when he was working the door at venue The Workman’s Club. “I finished that
shift at two in the morning, I was walking home through the rain. I remember feeling like it was so out my hands,” he continues. “Feeling so powerless and that; poor, like I didn’t matter. The very opposite of the lyrics were expressed in my imagination.” Struck by the opening line of the song - the defiant “Dublin in the rain is mine” - anyone who’s experienced it can attest that Dublin isn’t a very pretty place when it pours. The band agree with a laugh. “I think any place as ugly as how Dublin appears in the rain is kind of inherently romantic, in a sense,” Grian continues on. “In that, it demands to be romanticised. A place like Paris or Rome in the rain, if it looks more typically beautiful, invites less romanticism, ‘cause it’s already there.” It’s that sense of romanticism that’s the key to understanding Fontaines DC’s material. It’s the pulse, the lifeblood that lends their music so much vibrancy, and shows a poetic sentimentality for Irish life inherited from the many great Irish poets and writers who came before them. “We all came together from a love of poetry and doing poetry together,” nods bassist Conor Deegan. “But, ultimately, to be Irish is to be cultural, and to be in touch with your heritage.
“Our idea of Irishness is formed from culture and heritage. We’re more closely connected to that heritage when we talk about writers and poets than when we talk about musicians really. It’s actually a lot to do with authenticity and culture.” The five-piece - completed by guitarists Conor Curley and Carlos O’Connell and drummer Tom Coll - have set out to achieve the same feat that they perceive writers like Yeats and Kavanagh as having done. “While the world has changed in some ways,” Curley clarifies, “the things that we’re trying to do are still the same, documenting Irish life. An idea of Irishness preserved in their art and the people showcased in their art. I think that’s really important for an Irish artist. You’re preserving the culture. Showing that it’s worthy, that it has value. That Irish life has value.”
hat the group have taken as much inspiration from Irish literary writers as they have musicians is a testament to how strong the lyrical content in their tracks is. Though their earlier material tended to heavily lean on established tropes of ‘50s and ‘60s rock, Fontaines DC’s lyrics have always stood out. On ‘Dogrel’, however, it’s clear that, now, the quintet have musically evolved past their vintage rock roots too. ‘Too Real’ especially offers a glimpse into experimental sound design, with its feedback-heavy guitars and detuned bass parts. “I think the reason for that development,” Carlos considers, “apart from us becoming a lot more courageous, is us all discovering a huge interest in sound as well as the song. Before I think it was thinking about the song, and the arrangement was defined. Whereas now we’re all very much interested in sound and what you can do with sound and how sound can evoke a lot of feelings. “On ‘Too Real’ I‘m just playing the guitar with a bottle, smashing it. That sound does something for the listener. Conor does some parts that literally just sound like a drum.” The man in charge of the band’s low-end interrupts from across the table, “I don’t know what notes I’m playing. I’ve never checked!”
“So I think sound, once you find it, is very exciting,” concludes Carlos. “You suddenly have a whole new dimension in which you can express yourself. It’s like if you’re a painter and suddenly deciding that I’m gonna make sculptures and then paint them too.” This mad scientist approach works as the perfect counterweight to the grounded realism of their lyrics. It’s also an approach that seems far more suited to who they are as people. “If somebody writes something that isn’t true or they’re trying to create something false...” Tom begins before consolidating his point, to Grian’s approval. “If I try and deceive these lads by trying to rip off someone or using an idea that isn’t quite mine, they’re gonna call me out on it. I think the idea of us having a true identity is only true by the fact that we’re in this chamber within ourselves when we write.” “I think more abstract music, like Girl Band, offers an entirely new dimension to the musical experience that we hadn’t really been able to create with our earlier stuff. Now we’re just letting our personalities flow through us a bit more freely. That’s why the idea of being put into a genre just really slides off me. I just don’t see it like that. I’ve no idea what our next tune is gonna sound like.” ‘Dogrel’, the tongue-
“WE’RE PRESERVING T H E C U LT U R E . S H O W I N G T H AT IRISH LIFE HAS VA L U E .” - Conor Curley
in-cheek title of their debut LP, seems to fit with the personality the group have worked so hard to authentically distil. Referring to a bit of crude verse, something of little artistic value, it came from a moment of light-hearted selfreflection. “It’s kind of, not to be self-aggrandising,” Conor explains, “the Beckettian idea of something that’s bleak but funny at the same time. We’re trying to be serious and create serious art but also be self-aware.” It might not be in keeping with how some perceive the group, but Fontaines DC’s music is often underpinned with humour. A quick browse through the lyrics on a track like ‘Boys In The Better Land’ will confirm as much. “It pairs really well to be able to take the piss out of yourself and be self-aware. It deflates the seriousness out of the art. It makes it what it is. It’s not taking itself too seriously or posturing.” “You have to mix up the palette,” Grian adds. “When you mix happiness and sadness, that’s when emotions get nuanced. It shows in what I think are the greatest songs of all time - ‘There She Goes’ or ‘Perfect Day’ - they’re life and death having a chat in a three-minute tune. It’s called a pop tune. It will be called a pop tune till the end of pop tunes cause they’re the best songs ever.” If ‘Dogrel’ is anything, it’s true to Fontaines DC’s experience of life. The band’s mission statement has always been to make sense of the world around them, to preserve and represent the nuances of their Ireland as they see it. “For me, all art is the fundamental desire to understand what’s going on around us. In order to do that, I think a lot of artists try and recreate the world or distil it down to a snapshot. They offer it up to the world, to the altar of their audience, and say: ‘Is this it?’.” Dogrel is out 12th April via Partisan. DIY
“ T H E G R E AT E S T SONGS OF ALL TIME ARE LIFE A N D D E AT H H AV I N G A C H AT IN A THREEM I N U T E T U N E .” - Grian Chatten
Grian hadn’t really got the hang of hide and seek.
1 A SONG FOR MY FUTURE SELF /// 2 ONE LAST NIGHT ON THIS EARTH /// 3 GREENHANDS /// 4 SYMBOLS OF JOY & ETERNITY /// 5 HIGHER STATES /// 6 THE CHANGEOVER /// 7 ILLUSIONS /// 8 LITTLE SMART HOUSES /// 9 DULLER DAYS /// 10 SWEET INTENTIONS /// 11 RAINBOW BODY /// 12 ULFILAS’ ALPHABET /// 13 HOME (THERE WAS NEVER ANY REASON TO FEEL SO ALONE)
ith 2017 debut ‘Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect’, Sundara Karma had already shown themselves as more than just indie also-rans. A record packed with the kind of emotional intelligence, anthemic songwriting and literary references that couldn’t help but belie their early-twenty-something selves, comparisons were far easier to make with acts several albums deep - The Maccabees, Arcade Fire to name 62 DIYMAG.COM
Ulfilas’ Alphabet (Chess Club / RCA)
just two - than anyone the Reading group had emerged alongside. Two years on, the foursome have glammed up - both musically and sartorially - for a collection that so effortlessly slots into the classic songwriting canon. By taking their gaze skywards, from ‘Higher States’ to the alien-gaze of ‘Little Smart Houses’, and their sound largely towards the sticky-carpeted ‘70s dancefloor, ‘Ulfilas’ Alphabet’ shows a band for whom defying expectation is a default setting. And boy, can they write a hook: single ‘One Last Night On This Earth’ is a platform-stomp of the highest order, its tale
of extra terrestrial love a mere side piece to the massive chorus on show. The epic ‘Symbols of Joy and Eternity’ is even bigger, if that can be believed. While there’s a smidgen of Fleetwood Mac on ‘Greenhands’, plus some Hall & Oates elsewhere and Elton-like piano licks in a few places, given that frontman Oscar Pollock’s voice has always had a touch of the Bowie about it, the Starman’s shadow looms large. And it’s a perfect fit, as it goes. Producer Kaines (aka Alex Robertshaw from Everything Everything) has plenty of experience working with idiosyncratic vocals from his day job; in encouraging Oscar to stretch his, often hitting its highs and lows in quick succession, it works sublimely.
And as glittering as the whole glorious shebang might be, it’s not exclusively a retro-fest: “Yes, but what should I do?” asks Siri, as the opening notes of ‘Illusions’ hit. While Apple’s speaking pal might end up with as many chart appearances as Ariana Grande in 2019, it’s one of the many ways Sundara Karma have kept the record this side of the millennium. Sundara Karma might have set their sights high by naming their record for a man whose ambition spread to creating a whole system of writing, but ‘Ulfilas’ Alphabet’ matches every lofty idea the band set themselves and then some. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘Symbols of Joy & Eternity’, ‘One Last Night On This Earth’, ‘Illusions’ 63
THE ULTIMATE FOALS ALBUM.
Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1(Warner Bros.) Across four albums and seven years, Foals have become one of the country’s most treasured indie bands. Graduating to headline Reading & Leeds, succeeding while so many of their peers fell prey to the ‘indie landfill’ tag and collapsed around them, they stand alongside Arctic Monkeys as their generation’s world-beating British success story. Musically, the frenetic math-rock of 2008 debut album ‘Antidotes’ was slowly, carefully sculpted into something altogether meatier, and by the time the band reached 2015’s ‘What Went Down’, earth-shattering riffs were their bread and butter, intricacies bulldozed out of the way. It felt like their final form, and the last place they could take their progression, seven years in the making. It leaves the door wide open for the band’s fifth and sixth albums, the two-part ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost’. The idea of the band’s fifth album representing a new start was amped up when, after the tour for ‘What Went Down’ came to an end, bassist Walter Gervers left. Rather than break up, or try to squeeze the last drops of life out of the era though, on ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost’, the now-four-piece have made the ultimate Foals album. Across its ten tracks, it dips into every corner of the band’s sonic history while seeing them take huge strides forward. First single ‘Exits’ confronts the anxiety and paranoia of a 64 DIYMAG.COM
generation in the throes of climate change over chunky yet playful instrumentation, while standout ‘White Onions’ is every bit as jumpy and youthful as ‘Antidotes’, just with a wiser head on its shoulders. There are elements of the airy playfulness of 2010’s ‘Total Life Forever’ in ‘Cafe D’Athens’, while ‘Syrups’ circles around a beefy bassline before pressing the accelerator pedal and skipping its way through lyrics about London and home county Oxfordshire to a furious, swirling chorus. ‘On The Luna’, meanwhile, is an effortlessly catchy pop-rock single. It’s on ‘In Degrees’, though, that the band reach their finest hour. Stating its intent by crashing into a propulsive, fistpumping intro, it’s both the most immediate and danciest thing they’ve ever written. From ‘Two Steps, Twice’ to ‘My Number’ and ‘What Went Down’, the band have their fair share of festival anthems that can unite main stages across the globe, but one listen to ‘In Degrees’ and it tops the lot. A foreboding bassline bubbles below the band’s signature clinking guitars and that ever-present techno-worthy drumbeat, and it typifies everything the band have become so loved for inside five minutes, before going well and truly beyond. Musically tying everything that’s come before together in a comprehensive showcase of the band’s continued prowess, and lyrically providing an ominous but defiant voice for 2019, ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost’ is Foals’ definitive statement. And that’s only part one! (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘In Degrees’, ‘On The Luna’
Beware of the Dogs (Secretly Canadian)
THE JAPANESE HOUSE Good at Falling (Dirty Hit)
Amber Bain’s music has always been personal, but meanings have often been shrouded under swathes of production. A world of personal upheaval during the writing and recording of ‘Good At Falling’ meant the subject matter of the songs was unlikely to get more obtuse, but the real power of her long-awaited debut lies in the way these struggles are laid out. Throughout the record, she puts herself in the firing line and lays herself bare. On the immediate ‘Maybe You’re The Reason’ she ponders an existential crisis before aiming for some sort of resolution on its huge chorus. ‘Follow My Girl’ is equally huge musically, and sings of feeling directionless. Suitably, in an album of juxtapositions, the record’s catchiest soundbite comes in its chorus: “nothing feels good, it’s not right”. There’s a power that comes from laying fears and anxieties out, admitting that answers can’t be immediately found. Cannily similar to the progression of The Japanese House’s music over the past few years, this exact approach has led her to a magical debut. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Maybe You’re The Reason’
It’s no accident that slap bang in the middle of ‘Beware of the Dogs’ sits ‘Boys Will Be Boys’, a four-minute diatribe which lambasts those who shame victims of sexual assault over stripped-back guitars. It’s a simmering and impassioned mission statement that has been a centrepiece of Stella Donnelly’s repertoire for a few years, showcasing her euphoric vocal skills and her ability to write succinct, compelling lyrics that reflect her own experiences as well as the zeitgeist. On ‘Beware of the Dogs’ it takes centre stage, a monument to the fact that Stella Donnelly takes no prisoners. Elsewhere, ‘Old Man’ bitterly satirises the dinosaur patriarchs in positions of power, from TV newscasters to spray-tanned slime ball world leaders. “Oh, are you scared of me, old man?,” she challenges defiantly on its chorus, “You grabbed me with an open hand, the world is grabbing back at you.” With business taken care of she also takes time to joke about family dinner-table debates on ‘Season’s Greetings’, the homesickness that taints the joys of world touring on ‘Lunch’, and the fallout of a relationship ending on the strikingly intimate ‘Allergies’. Regardless of tone or subject, she fills every lyric with a divine authenticity and matter-of-factness. In short, Stella Donnelly has got the world in her palm, and the brain to do exactly what she wants with it. (Alex Cabré) LISTEN: ‘Boys Will Be Boys’, ‘Old Man’
A MAGICAL DEBUT.
If you take one look at Self Esteem’s Rebecca Taylor on social media, you’ll quickly learn two things: one, she’s very, very funny, and two: she’s wrestling away with life’s insecurities just like the rest of us.No longer reduced to a part of the overall sum that was Slow Club, on her first solo record, Rebecca’s songwriting skills really flourish; at once assertive and vulnerable, her take on pop flirts with high-end glossy sonics but still holds roots in slow-building atmospherics, as well as some leftfield R&B influences. ‘In Time’ has plenty in common with a glory-days Kanye record, and then of course there’s ‘The Best’ - a fourth-wall breaker that Beyoncé would be proud of. From a project titled Self Esteem, ‘Compliments Please’ may sound like another statement of insecurity. To think this is to miss the point turn it on its head, and the title becomes a stamp of assurance - you WILL love this record, and you will give it the respect it deserves. With a collection of songs this strong, who are we to argue? (Jenessa Williams) LISTEN: ‘The Best’
Fed up with their home country’s internalised standards of beauty, Japanese four-piece CHAI have created ‘PUNK’, a collection of upbeat garage-pop tinged with lyrics about refusing to conform and being comfortable with their own identities. On ‘Fashionista’, they challenge fashion trends, while on ‘Curly Adventure’, the foursome joyously sing about rejecting westernised hair products and calling on their listeners to embrace their natural hair which they were always told to straighten and maintain: “Curly hair, that is amazing / It’s an adventure, it’s amazing, you know!” CHAI were never encouraged to be musicians when they were children, marginalised by the idea that they had to fit into certain descriptions of what made someone ‘cute’ - small nose, big eyes, dainty features. With ‘PUNK’, the band have defied all expectations, decreeing that everybody to them is cute – but they don’t need to be. (Cady Siregar) LISTEN: ‘Curly Adventure’
Miss Universe (ATO / PIAS)
Nilüfer Yanya’s debut starts out ominously. “Thank you for entering your details, and welcome to WWAY HEALTH, our 24/7 care programme,” she states in a creepily polite monotone voice. Across ‘Miss Universe’, the voice returns. And between these interludes, thirteen songs both lean into these feelings and try and break away from them. Across a handful of EPs and promising singles,the West Londoner has shown herself a singer-songwriter firmly dwelling in the leftfield, mixing jazz and soul with pop sensibilities. ‘Angels’ is instant, folding out into a luscious, grand outro. Elsewhere, snappy numbers (‘Paradise’) lead into songs circling around reverbdrenched layers of vocals (‘Baby Blu’) and unusual skips through guitar pop and soul (‘Heat Rises’). It all sounds a little inconceivable on paper, but is tied together and brought to life by a singer-songwriter who evades pigegonholing - on purpose or accidentally - and provides a debut that’s all her own. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Angels’
LITTLE SIMZ GREY Area (AGE 101)
Little Simz has always dabbled in the realm of the conceptual. ‘Stillness In Wonderland’ explored her rise through the guise of Alice falling down the rabbit hole. ‘GREY Area’, however, is the first full-length release where it feels like we’re seeing the actual Simz with no facade. “Shit really got me down but I’m still gonna succeed in life” is the record’s clarion call. Throughout ‘Pressure’ and the album as a whole Simz explores how that quick rise to fame has left her questioning who she is and what she wants to achieve. It all neatly comes to a head in the caustic ‘Venom’. “They would never admit that I’m the best here for the mere fact that I’ve got ovaries,” she spits with the substance that earns the track its title. Once again, she is king, overcoming not just the men in the way, but herself. With ‘GREY Area’, Little Simz is making a statement, that darkness eventually gives way to light and that above every black cloud is blue sky. (Chris Taylor) LISTEN: ‘Venom’
Sucker Punch (Island)
Sigrid has a talent for making sadness and rejection sound as jubilant as possible. ‘Mine Right Now’ is a euphoric bop about trying to live in the moment in a relationship that ultimately has no future (“It’s alright if we don’t end up together / ‘cause you’re mine right now”) ; ‘Never Mine’ is a lament about a relationship that never was, but it’s synth-led and ecstatic, even if one of the album’s most lyrically average (“You were never mine / but I see you all the time”). Her 2017 breakout hit ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ was about feeling belittled by some older men during a writing session, and ‘Business Dinners’ is much in the same vein, written as a response to her experience meeting with labels in London as a teenager in the process of getting signed: “You just want me to be pictures, numbers, figures, I’m just trying to be me,” she asserts. ‘Sucker Punch’ does much as the name suggests. It’s full of swooping, dramatic choruses and clean-cut vocals, where almost every song is a potential radiohit - and that’s not a bad thing. (Rachel Finn) LISTEN: ‘Mine Right Now’
When We Land (Distiller)
Even before releasing an album, a reputation for glamorous, retro pop trailed Anteros on the back of sold-out shows and irresistibly catchy singles. On debut LP ‘When We Land’ they expand these ideas, moulding vintage influences to their strand of social commentary. The woozy ‘Drive On’ exemplifies this approach; it’s immediately captivating, with faraway guitar riffs that bring to mind a sun-bleached West Coast captured in a Polaroid picture. Lyrically, however, it describes a garbage-strewn wasteland as it’s ignored by passers-by. Nodding towards the drama and contrast that Anteros bring to their music, it’s easy to imagine the album as a soundtrack to a movie, tackling topical issues with a flair for the dramatic. ‘Ordinary Girl’ is pared-back and anthemic at once, and ‘Wrong Side’ is the most straight-up pop cut from the record, tailor-made for a night on the dancefloor. With a decent whack of expectation behind the band since the early success of ‘Breakfast’ and the swaggering slow burn of ‘Drunk’, it would have been easy for Anteros to lose their footing. But on ‘Where We Land’ the band sound firmly grounded and ready to take on the future. (Eloise Bulmer) LISTEN: ‘Wrong Side’ 67
POND Tasmania (Marathon Artists)
EX HEX It’s Real (Merge)
With the first Ex Hex record, it felt as if alt-scene stalwart Mary Timony was finally beginning to receive her dues. ‘Rips’ was lavished with praise for its nononsense, maddeningly catchy power pop, laced with the kind of freewheeling guitar solos that served as stirring testament to the entirely valid claim that she could stake to being one of the most underrated players of her generation.It’s taken nearly five years for the three-piece to return and, when Ex Hex’s tracks tear along at such scintillating pace, it’s sometimes easy to forget that the actual creation of them can be a painstaking process. Making guitar music this boisterous and this exhilarating is actually a bit of an exact science - see the Blondie-esque new wave lament ‘No Reflection’, or the spaced-out ‘Another Dimension’. Like ‘Rips’, though, ‘It’s Real’ is at its best when the trio let loose and steam ahead; the breathless ‘Cosmic Cave’ and assured strut of ‘Good Times’ suggest that catching Ex Hex on the road this year will be every bit as essential as their last time out. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Good Times’
‘Tasmania’ is an ode to the vast, lush Australian island state referred to as ‘The Island of Inspiration’. With a plethora of vibrant sounds and grandiose songs, the album sounds like an attempt to paint a kind of musical utopia. And while ‘Burnt Out Star’ looms over the album with its eight minute runtime, it’s actually one of the most tender and well-crafted tracks the band has produced in years. As is sometimes the case with Pond albums, though, ‘Tasmania’ occasionally sounds like it’s smoked a bit too much weed. While it’s about as colourful as the phantasmagoric cover art suggests, it might have sounded a bit more grounded if the band weren’t given the keys to so many synthesisers and effects pedals - and Kevin Parker’s heady production only makes it even woozier. Beneath all the superfluous sonic meddling, though, it’s still a voyage worth beholding. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Burnt Out Star’
Q&A Impending climate-based doom, moving away and embracing the stank. Pond’s Nick Allbrook spills on ‘Tasmania’. Why ‘Tasmania’? Because the grim cliche in Australia when confronting the burning and burning-er summers is “jeez, might have to buy up in Tazzie soon, ay?”. We were thinking a lot about the push and pull of fear and obligation, apathy and responsibility, running and hiding somewhere cool and green - dunking your head under water for a breath-long respite from reality - or facing the fire, dancing or fighting etc. Of course Tasmania has had tragic bushfires this summer so... yeah. That’s a whole other thing. In what ways is it a ‘sister record’ to ‘The Weather’? It spends a lot of time thematically on the changing weather, national identity (or lack of) like the weather... it’s just another development. Things are changing really quickly. We also did it in the same studio at the same time of year. It felt like we had more to wring out of that kind of place - musically and lyrically. And in what ways did you switch things up this time around? I guess we just followed the trajectory of the last one further - more 808, more programming, more sequencers - practicing our pop restraint a bit more. And the lyrics have probably got more realistically scared and sad, more tremblingly desperate for happiness and safety and love - while the music has got more.... stanky? A lil’ bit stanky.
MISSED THE BOAT ON THE BEST ALBUMS FROM THE LAST COUPLE OF MONTHS? DON’T WORRY, WE’VE GOT YOU COVERED.
A beast of a record full of genre-bending behemoths from the LA hedonists.
KAREN O & DANGER MOUSE Lux Prima
If ‘Lulu’, the largely panned team-up between Lou Reed and Metallica, proved that two established greats don’t always equal combined brilliance, then ‘Lux Prima’ acts as a nearflawless ad for the power of collaboration at its best. Karen O might have laid herself more vulnerable on solo LP ‘Crush Songs’ than in her badass day job as frontwoman of New York icons Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but you’ll never have heard her quite as pure, quite as beautiful as here; Danger Mouse might have lent his considerable production clout to a whole host of projects over the years, but there’s something magical on ‘Lux Prima’ that takes his old soul influence and adds a celestial lightness. It’s heavenly in the word’s truest sense - full of vintage cinematic flourishes, it feels like a shower of angels (or, to be fair, Bond girls) might cascade around them at any point. At its sassiest (and there’s still sass because, come on, this is Karen fucking O), ‘Woman’ lands like a lost Motown stomper laced with the singer’s inimitable falsetto; at its gentlest on ‘Ministry’, it’s all sweeping, sad strings, softly plucked guitars and a vocal that could prick tears behind the toughest of eyes. Everything across ‘Lux Prima’ feels completely right; familiar yet new, revealing more of two beloved figures without losing what made them great all these years. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Ministry’, ‘Turn The Light’
Good Fruit (Carpark)
TEEN now comprises the three Lieberson sisters - Teeny, Lizzie and Katherine - with ex-member Boshra AlSaadi only chipping in towards the start of writing ‘Good Fruit’. Perhaps the reshuffling of the ranks was a positive thing; the record is defined by a sense of fitfulness that speaks to the
emotional weight of love fading. Centrepiece ‘Connection’ is a case in point, running at just under seven minutes while lurching from off-kilter synthpop to ambient electronica. ‘Radar’ is a softly eccentric mediation on a lifetime of disappointment, while ‘Runner’ and ‘Putney’ demonstrate another side entirely; the former pointed, pulsating pop, the latter a groove-driven strut. TEEN’s sonic approach is chaotically diverse throughout and this very much feels like an album of two halves. When it captures the alienation it strives for, though, it soars. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘Radar’
King of the Dudes
Packed full of - and pulling no punches, the NYC trio rock out in the best way possible on this EP.
Pursuit of Momentary Happiness As unconventional as the route taken to complete it, it’s utterly unpredictable, frequently unhinged and frankly brilliant. 69
Utilising Ableton Live with a slew of drum machines, the sardonic and sloppy indierocker Stephen Malkmus, he of Pavement and the Jicks, has come forth with a bizarre and unsettling mix of electro synth-pop. ‘Groove Denied’ broadens both his capabilities as a songwriter and as a studio-whizz; on ‘Love The Door’ and ‘Ocean of Revenge’, longtime fans will recognise familiar traits, while on ‘Belziger Faceplant’, ‘Viktor Borgia’, and ‘A Bit Wilder’, one might make a connection to his time spent immersed in Berlin’s effervescent club scene. ‘Groove Denied’ captures the finer points of Stephen Malkmus’ craftsmanship in wildly esoteric and robotic form. (Timmy Michalik) LISTEN: ‘Love The Door’
Indoor Pets’ album has been some time coming, and on ‘Be Content’, refining their songs into 3-minute shots of indie-pop goodness has paid off. Shiny new versions of existing songs ‘Pro Procrastinator’, ‘Teriyaki’ and ‘Barbiturates’ slot in nicely alongside their younger brothers and sisters. ‘The Mapping of Dandruff’ shows off a quieter side, demonstrating that they can also bring their pop sensibilities to a slow-burner, with the lyrics “she’s always looking for love in solar flares” dropping you straight into the song’s dreamscape. Indoor Pets are primed to take on the indie-pop world with a treasure-chest of bangers - make sure you’re along for the ride. (Eloise Bulmer) LISTEN: ‘Barbiturates’
JENNY LEWIS On The Line (Warner Bros.)
Jenny Lewis doesn’t rush her solo records. ‘On the Line’ is only her second since 2008’s ‘Acid Tongue’, yet it sounds as if the slow-burning gestation of her latest was all part of the plan. Here, she methodically untangles heartbreak with sharp storytelling and her trademark rapier wit. The record hangs together not on its sound but on its thematic material; the collapse of her long-term relationship with collaborator Johnathan Rice hangs heavy, from quietly epic opener ‘Heads Gonna Roll’ through the softly broken ‘Taffy’ and the title track, a typically razor-point kiss-off that dismantles an ex’s self-absorption while lamenting them leaving “for an East Side superman called Caroline”. Jenny moved from LA to New York in 2016 and has turned in a record in the latter’s image - sunny melodies are swapped out for the subdued greys of gorgeous piano ballad ‘Dogwood’ or the bluesy ‘Wasted Youth’, and everything else carries the handsome timelessness of the city’s skyline. From the instrumentation - all classy piano and assured guitars to the all-star backing band, which includes Ringo Starr on drums and Beck as a jack-of-all-trades, Jenny Lewis has never sounded this confident in her own skin. (Joe Goggins) LISTEN: ‘On The Line’
American Football (Wichita)
When American Football returned in 2015 with reunion tour dates and a new album that arrived the following year, the main feeling was, predictably, one of nostalgia. With their third self-titled album, the group become a band again - a functioning, touring band who exist in the present. They leave behind a great deal of the cliched noodling that was slathered all over LPs 1 and 2. Elizabeth Powell of Land Of Talk adds a hushed wash to ‘Every Wave To Ever Rise’, while Paramore’s Hayley Williams is the album’s most successful guest, perfectly slotting in as the yin to Mike Kinsella’s yang on ‘Uncomfortably Numb. ‘American Football’ is the sound of a band breaking their own mould, making firm strides forward and leaving their legacy in the dust. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘Heir Apparent’
LA DISPUTE Panorama (Epitaph) La Dispute’s early releases ranged in sound from desperate to morose, with some of the most melodramatic hooks you could hope to hear from even this most melodramatic of bands. On 2014’s ‘Rooms Of The House’, though, they pulled away from the unfiltered emotion they’d wrung out in the past in place of fully developed characters and plotlines, as well as a more considered approach to melody. At the time it jarred many, but ‘Panorama’ puts it all into perspective as it bridges the gap between old and new. Most importantly, Jordan Dreyer has become a master storyteller, and the musical backdrop given to these tales has never sounded quite as complimentary. With the sonic guidance of producer Will Yip, ‘Panorama’ is an exercise in tension and release done to the highest standard. Hearing Jordan laying bare these experiences that sound more his own than ever over La Dispute’s most impacting collection of songs yet is something that will invigorate the die-hards once more and maybe (just maybe) finally impress the naysayers. (Ryan De Freitas) LISTEN: ‘Rose Quartz’
SASAMI Sasami (Domino)
Q&A For their fourth studio album, La Dispute wrote and scrapped an entire record before building their heaviest sound to date. Vocalist and lyricist Jordan Dreyer tells Ben Tipple how the challenge became a blessing in disguise. When did you know things weren’t on the right track? We initially wrote for two months straight, working effectively nine to five every day. We decided we hated everything that we had done and scrapped it save for a couple of guitar parts here and there. We’ve always been very deliberate with the writing process. This one started off that way - and worked that way for a period of time - until it just didn’t, and until we all felt collectively comfortable saying so to each other. We all kind of arrived at the same conclusion at the same time. How did you begin to turn things around? We had a very honest conversation about what we all thought individually about what we wanted from the record, on a conceptual level but also a sonic one. We talked about what kind of record we actually wanted to write. Once it was out in the open, it just kind of fixed itself. I think we were all being too passive in our discontent. Once we all communicated it to each other everything just fell into place. How did the journey affect what would come to be ‘Panorama’? We didn’t have any preconceived structure for the record. Leading up to time in the studio, and especially while recording, we had the opportunity to indulge every possible whim. In order to change the direction that you move and the end-product you have to introduce restrictions. This time around, those restrictions naturally introduced themselves.
Sasami Ashworth has a long history of being involved in music, from multiple sides of the spectrum - first, as a student with dreams of becoming a classical French horn player, later as a music teacher to school children and even later as the synth player in LA-rock band Cherry Glazerr - but her self-titled debut is where she finally strikes out on her own. ‘SASAMI’ is a record that’s full of texture and intricate melodies that often seem disparate. ‘Free’ begins with colliding, screeching guitars before meandering into a dream-like ballad; ‘Pacify My Heart’ is drenched in reverb, with droning guitars that grind up against Sasami’s dream-like vocals all while a keyboard meanders its way underneath. In ‘Jealousy’, vocals are layered over vocals to create choir-like harmonies and ‘Callous’ is a rumbling rumination on the end of a relationship, full of dark murmurs and lyrics that sound like excerpts from thoughts hastily typed into the notes section of your phone late at night. As a body of work, it sounds eerie and complex while still remaining delicate and cohesive and it’s a bold and well-rounded debut. (Rachel Finn) LISTEN: ‘Jealousy’ 71
‘Into Red’ sees FEWS stick to the motorik blueprint that made their debut such a glorious and, at times, terrifying album. But instead of treading water, ‘Into Red’ pushes the sound further. There’s a rawness at its heart that is hard to ignore. Their debut was filled with a dark claustrophobia, but now there is space in between the mesmeric riffs. Part of this is down to how every song sounds like it was recorded live, with minimal studio trickery, just a band having a blast. While the unrelenting dark monochrome bass lines are still at the heart of the bands attack, there is a poppy bounce to everything that stops it becoming a dark turgid affair. ‘Means’ might have put FEWS on the map, but ‘Into Red’ shows it wasn’t a fluke. (Nick Roseblade) LISTEN: ‘Quiet’
No Words Left
On ‘No Words Left’, Lucy Rose’s vocals may remain soft, but her focus certainly isn’t - from start to finish, this is a record with serious intention. From opener ‘Conversation’, the sentiment of the fine line between love and anguish stings hard ‘Treat Me Like A Woman’ considers the seeming neverending-ness of gender inequality, while ‘Save Me From Your Kindness’ tries to shrug off an overbearing lover through a period of personal instability. It’s a bold step, but Lucy pulls it off beautifully, tempering her downbeat words with elegant melody. With plenty of sweet to balance the sour, this is a record that will resonate with anybody rebuilding themselves in the aftermath of self-doubt, and easily confirms itself as her most honest work yet. (Jenessa Williams) LISTEN: ‘Save Me From Your Kindness’
IBIBIO SOUND MACHINE
Stunning Luxury (The Leaf Label)
Doko Mien (Merge)
Captivating as Ibibio Sound Machine’s first two albums were, some of the electronic elements were a little superfluous. Fortunately, that’s not the case on ‘Doko Mien’.The tunes are still busy and layered, but every element of them serves a purpose. Synth beats vie with energetic percussion; funky basslines intertwine with psych-rock guitar, and punchy horns cut through reverb in a pleasing fashion. It’s a shame, though, that they’ve stepped away from the traditional Ibibio folk tales. Only ‘She Work Very Hard’ displays the kind of storytelling that made those songs intriguing, and it’s here where the boundaries between tradition and future are most blurred. (George Wilde) LISTEN: ‘She Work Very Hard’
Cuz I Love You After the solid gold banger that is ‘Juice’, the follow-up to 2015’s ‘Big Grrrl Small World’ is one worth getting excited for. Out 19th April.
FONTAINES DC Dogrel
As lyrically incisive as they are capable of smashing out future anthems, the Dublin group’s debut hits shelves on 12th April.
JADE BIRD Jade Bird Get your rhinestones ready: the UK’s leading purveyor of smooth Americana is unleashing her self-titled debut on 19th April.
Snapped Ankles are known for vibrant live shows, an exotic bank of instruments and a barbaric, costumed dress sense. Their debut album was underpinned by a percussive sound reminiscent of krautrock titans Can - and this leftfield sentiment remains present on ’Stunning Luxury’. ‘Drink & Glide’ is one of the chirpier inclusions on the record - with saccharine melodies and an ascending chord progression climaxing together in a cathartic middle eight. Conversely, ‘Pestisound’ and ‘Tailpipe’ are saturated with frantic electronic whirrs and monotonic mantras that are often jarring. Elsewhere, there’s a distinct New York dancepunk parallel present on songs like the screeching ‘Rechargeable’. It’s a rhythmic, angular number built over a rollicking synthand-bass sequence wherein vocalist Paddy Austin almost sounds like a feral James Murphy. The notion of harmony is treated with scepticism here. While the heavy beats and hooky vocals guarantee fruitful rewards, there’s also an abundance of obnoxious sound effects lurking around every corner. Snapped Ankles revel in this kind of chaos, though, so as far as they’re concerned, it’s mission accomplished. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Rechargeable’
BENJAMIN FRANCIS LEFTWICH
Gratitude (Dirty Hit) Benjamin Francis Leftwich is a man who’s been through the storm and found himself stronger at the end of it. On ‘Gratitude’ he lays it all out. It follows neatly from last year’s ‘I Am With You’ EP, on which he alluded to struggles in his personal life. Two years on he muses with a newfound optimism: “Finally can see it, I’ve landed on the ground / Look at all the peace I’ve found”. ‘Blue Dress’ is jittery and upbeat, while the acoustic guitar loops on ‘Real Friends’ take elements of classic Ben - his dulcet vocal tones and meandering, storytelling lyrics - and dress them up stylishly, in an ambient vein more like James Blake than the drab, acoustic campfire contemporaries his early work sat closer to. In turning around a painful and difficult period in his life, Ben Leftwich has managed to paint a picture of redemption and growth that’s graceful and honest without drifting into self indulgence. If there’s a lesson to be taken from ‘Gratitude’ it’s that a rebrand and a couple of synthesisers can make for a powerful combination. (Alex Cabré) LISTEN: ‘Real Friends’
BACK TO THE
Q1: Where did you record ‘Silver Tongues’?
Q2: What do ‘Silver Tongues’ do?
Weezer (The Black Album) (Crush Music / Atlantic)
Every few years, Weezer try to embrace the zeitgeist. Sometimes it works (last year’s ‘Africa’), sometimes it doesn’t (the whole of ‘Raditude’). Mostly, the group find themselves eternally hamstrung by the cult status of their first two albums: by most standards, latest pair 2017’s ‘Pacific Daydream’ and the self-titled ‘White’ album released the year previous would be exceptional. For these guys, they’re cause for an SNL sketch on a divided fanbase. Helpfully, the ‘Black’ album starts on uneasy footing. But skip the first two songs, and it’s a great, albeit mismatched, collection. ‘High As A Kite’ continues the group’s knack of writing gorgeous cuts about mind-altered states. Scrub off a little production and ’Piece of Cake’ is classic Weezer. That it took so long for this particular record to surface is puzzling; there’s no obvious thread running through the songs, and certainly not one that demands the title ‘Black’. Still, ride or die, friends. (Emma Swann) LISTEN: ‘High As A Kite’
Q3: Who is ‘Wednesday’s Child’?
Silver Tongues (Balley)
‘Silver Tongues’ states its claim from the off. Vocalist James Cox’s warm baritone vocals are a highlight, providing some emotive harmony to the relentless noise. He leads the charge on the euphoric ‘Empyrean’, while ‘Wednesday’s Child’ hits catchy peaks using wandering bass licks and a bustling drum beat. ‘Chain Of Being’, meanwhile, showcases the group at their most melodic. A neurotic gothpop piece, it almost sounds like a revved-up Bauhaus attempting to dismantle Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’. Following the ethereal wall of sound that closes eight-minute track ‘First Light // False Face’, ‘Dysphoria’ offers a change of tone. A funeral march shoegaze piece in the vein of My Bloody Valentine, it features James’ most impassioned moment as he cries “I’m second rate, inferior” at the album’s climax. Crows’ core strength is their ability to create hooks and melodies out of such a stormy canvas. While the maelstrom of noise doesn’t let up at any point (with guitar feedback providing a segue between each song on the album), it is only a veil for the strong songwriting that lurks beneath. An emphatic debut. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Chain of Being’
EP- APOCALYPSE NOW BECAUSE SOMETIMES GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL(ER) PACKAGES.
eeee SPORTS TEAM Keep Walking! (Holm Front)
Over the last year, Sports Team have effortlessly glided to the top of plenty of ones-to-watch lists via a series of playful, sardonic love-letters to often unfashionable corners of mundane British life. To hammer home this trajectory, the first song from new EP ‘Keep Walking!’ is an ode to the most wonderful of British motorways, ‘M5’. Its gargantuan chorus is joined on ‘Keep Walking!’ by the pop’n’roll of the jaunty ‘Get Along’, the catchy live favourite ‘Ski Lifts’ and the slow strum of ‘Casper’, all led by the effervescent lyrics of Alex Rice and that add a romanticism to the kind of suburban life that’s so often simply met with a shrug. There’s a whole corner of guitar music fans to whom Sports Team are the band they’ve been waiting for, and with ‘Keep Walking!’ they’re set to fall into their arms. (Will Richards) LISTEN: ‘M5’
eeee THE XCERTS Wildheart Dreaming (Raygun)
With a title like ‘Wildheart Dreaming’ it’s unsurprising to learn that The Xcerts’ new EP bubbles with a real sense of defiant joy. Written during the same sessions that formed their latest album ‘Hold On To Your Heart’, the four tracks are very much from that same family. The likes of ‘You Mean Everything’ and ‘Fight Or Run’ are bold calls-to-arms, much like the album’s evocative, sax-laden ‘Drive Me Wild’. It’s the EP’s final offering, however, that provides a somewhat different tone, with its hushed vocals and acoustic guitar. While stylistically, ‘Real Love’ feels like a bit of a sidestep, it embodies a sense of reflection and acceptance that closes this chapter of the band’s life perfectly. (Sarah Jamieson) LISTEN: ‘Fight Or Run’
eeee 404 Guild One (Dirty Hit)
On debut EP ‘Guild One’, all the signs suggest 404 could go on to greatness. The London hip hop outfit showcase a broad, hook-laden sound across the record. ‘Boost’ kicks things off in a boisterous manner, as a host of voices spit pristine rap verses over a bass-and-drums loop, before the sinister trap beat of ‘Fearful’ marks a menacing point highpoint, as a refrain of “see it, say it, sorted” recurs ominously. ‘Wretching’ then segues towards the softer, R&B-tinged slow jams which make up the second half of the EP. Delivered with conviction and underscored by pristine production, 404’s biggest talent is that the songs here sound commercial without pandering to radio “pop” sentiment. It’s a sign of integrity that is sure to serve them well. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Fearful’ 74 DIYMAG.COM
ee THESE NEW PURITANS Inside The Rose (Infectious)
There’s always been something slightly impenetrable about These New Puritans. Shapeshifting with every release, aside from actually-quite-fun debut ‘Beat Pyramid’, theirs is music designed to make you work; never let it be said that TNP are satisfied with an easy listen. Which is obviously fine, and often brilliant, except when the loftyness threatens to outweigh any kind of actual pleasure. And this is where we find ourselves with ‘Inside The Rose’. It’s complex and claustrophobic, the kind of record that defies you to say you don’t like it, you basic bitch. But by the industrial pulse of the title track (track four of nine, FYI), it already feels like you’ve been trapped in their dense world for an exhausting amount of time. Getting to the end is a slog. Sometimes, maybe you can just be a bit too clever for your own good. (Lisa Wright) LISTEN: ‘Into The Fire’
eeee AVEY TARE
Cows on Hourglass Pond (Domino)
The third solo album from Animal Collective co-founder Avey Tare is very much a continuation of the sound he established on 2017’s ‘Eucalyptus’ - a blend of acoustic instruments with warped sound effects and a psychedelic production. It’s a dreamy delight from the start. Soft, harp-like strums and a simple, lo-fi beat move opener ‘What’s The Goodside?’ along while signature woozy vocals recount his latest acid fantasy. ‘Nostalgia for Lemonade’ is another highlight, with synth whirrs and an eerie organ creating a curiously sad, but powerful hook. Single ‘Saturdays (Again)’, meanwhile, is a more briskly-paced rendition of the acoustic-guitar-and-echoedvocals formula that acts as the crux of the album, and serves as a great summation for the record as a whole. These trippy soundscapes might sound like nothing more than bedroom experimentation if it were not for the uniquely melodic vocal work and spaced-out production applied to them here. Frequently unintelligible, and downright bizarre lyrics only serve to add to the personality of his genre-bending music. Ultimately, ‘Cows On Hourglass Pond’ is a new kind of psych-folk that Avey Tare can proudly call his own. (James Bentley) LISTEN: ‘Nostalgia For Lemonade’
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FRIDAY 5th APRIL 2019 MANCHESTER O2 RITZ
Weds 22nd May 2019 O2 ACADEMY ISLINGTON LONDON plus special guests
SATURDAY 6th APRIL 2019 LIVERPOOL O2 ACADEMY FRIDAY 10th MAY 2019 LONDON O2 ACADEMY ISLINGTON FACEBOOK.COM/SHOWHAWKDUO
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• TURN THE PAGE • LET’S PUSH THINGS FORWARD • SAME OLD THING • SHARP DARTS • DON’T MUG YOURSELF • COULD WELL BE IN • HAS IT COME TO THIS? • GEEZERS NEED EXCITEMENT • EVERYTHING IS BORROWED • NEVER WENT TO CHURCH • STAY POSITIVE • GOING THROUGH HELL • TOO MUCH BRANDY • IT’S TOO LATE • THE ESCAPIST • HEAVEN FOR THE WEATHER • DRY YOUR EYES ........................ • YOUR WAVE GOD’S WAVE GOD • CALL ME IN THE MORNING • OPEN THE TILL • WEAK BECOME HEROES • PRANGIN’ OUT • BLINDED BY THE LIGHTS • FIT BUT YOU KNOW IT
THE STREETS Academy, Sheffield. Photos: Lindsay Melbourne.
e all know the story by now. On release, ‘Original Pirate Material’ sounded fresh, like nothing else. A highly influential debut that has stood the test of time, it was swiftly followed up by The Streets’ classic ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’. Mike Skinner bowed out three albums later, in 2011. Eight years on, does he still have the same charm? A buoyant crowd packs out the O2 Academy and greets him like a hero. For 90 minutes the crowd are his team - fondly nicknamed “Sheffield Tuesday” - hanging on to every command as he makes eye contact, one player at a time. Favourites are rolled out from the start and it’s quickly 5 - 0 to ‘Original Pirate Material’, stamina and energy is high. Past his best? Obviously not. He’s back with new skills, teasing the crowd with just a few stares, continually hyping them up, preparing to drop the beat. Unsurprisingly - considering his repertoire - he understands how to balance a set of bangers, heartfelt anthems and banter. His more tender cuts ‘Dry Your Eyes’, ‘Never Went To Church’ and ‘Stay Positive’ are delivered with emotion, while chaos predictably erupts with ‘Don’t Mug Yourself’, ‘Heaven For The Weather’ and set closer ‘Fit But You Know It’, an anthem still 15 years on. That’s not all: Mike Skinner still remains that likeable lad who you can rely on for a good time, at one point giving a crowd member £11 to get him a two-pinter of Guinness from the bar, which he promptly downs. The AltaVista spoken of in ‘Let’s Push Things Forward’ might be out of date but ‘Original Pirate Material’ is timeless as Sheffield Tuesday find themselves begging for extra time. (Matt Pinder)
“Hands up who else has got their undies out!”
CHVRCHES Alexandra Palace, London. Photo: Emma Swann.
onight isn’t Chvrches’ first time at Ally Pally they headlined here off the back of 2015’s ‘Every Open Eye’ - but the anticipation in the air is still sky high. For the amassed fans, it’s been a long wait - third album ‘Love Is Dead’ came out almost a year ago and since then the group have been busy touring the world and, according to Lauren, “trying to teach Americans how to pronounce Glasgow”. Tonight the outfit, completed by Iain Cook, Martin Doherty, and recentlyrecruited drummer Jonny Scott, glide through 90 minutes of glistening electropop with an ease of seasoned pros their 2015 selves could only have dreamt of. On record, there are times Chvrches fall into the trappings of repetition and formula, but there’s none of that now. A huge lighting rig that dangles from the ceiling acts as a visual centrepiece;
synchronised with the synthesisers that pound away below, it flashes a kaleidoscope of blues, greens, and pinks with the gravitas of some enormous satellite rotating in the moonlight. Between the decor and the impeccable setlist, each song’s intricate details are emphasised revealing a sonic diversity that isn’t always apparent. Opener ‘Get Out’ kicks off proceedings like a bolt of electricity, while the crushed ‘80s beats from ‘Gun’ embody a more retro sound, Lauren triumphantly holding her whole mic stand aloft before its explosive outro. Later she hops up to play keys and switch with Martin who assumes vocal duties on ‘Under the Tide’ from 2013’s ‘The Bones of What We Believe’, motioning in a darker, more aggressive sound than their typical chirpy melodies - an unexpectedly jawdropping scene. Switching gears back to full-on banger mode, there’s not a person in sight stood still when the grab-youby-the-neckpunchy ‘Clearest Blue’ wraps up the main set. A thousands-strong crowd singing their collective heart out to ‘The Mother We Share’ makes for a perfect encore. Chvrches have taken time to evolve into one of the most unique and capable outfits in today’s pop landscape, whether they’re churning out radio-friendly belters or deeper, more passionate material. Arenas beckon and may well be just on the horizon, but remaining in these semiintimate standing spaces would suit them just as well. Either way, the choice for what comes next for Chvrches is in their grasp. (Alex Cabré)
FIDLAR Heaven, London. Photos: Phoebe Fox.
IDLAR’s music isn’t normally associated with freezing, snowy evenings. The opposite, in fact: the band’s three albums to date conjure images of blisteringly hot days, skateboarding and tinnies in the park. Tonight, as they bring their ambitious, genre-bending third album ‘Almost Free’ to London’s Heaven, they provide a timely slice of escapism from the biting cold outside.
back and just listen to it. By tonight’s reaction, though, the new shit is going down just as well.
Careering straight into recent single ‘Alcohol’, a mass of bodies crash into each other from front to back between the famous venue’s arches, and the energy doesn’t drop below pure pandemonium for the next 75 minutes.
Before ‘5 To 9’, Zac instructs the crowd to make a space in the middle of the dancefloor to then be filled by women only. “No dick on the dancefloor tonight, dudes,” he instructs, and the show is one of acceptance and community, as well as escapism (that is, until before a riotous encore of ‘Cheap Beer’, during which the frontman instructs the crowd to take off their right shoe, hold it aloft and throw it towards “those cunts” on the venue’s VIP balcony).
“This song was made for fuckin’ England,” grins Zac Carper, as the crowd’s singing overpowers him as he yells about “cracking one open with the boys” in ‘By Myself’ before the ska-tinged romp that follows. There’s been a divisive reaction to ‘Almost Free’ since its release less than a week ago, and it’s something Zac addresses half way through ‘40.oz On Repeat’ from 2015’s ‘Too’ LP. “We’re not selling out, we’re buying in,” he grins, before instructing anyone “who loves the old shit” to, well, go
‘Almost Free’ sees the band confront the consequences of their hedonism for the first time, but live the band’s carefree attitude shines brightest, and the songs of despair transform into ones of triumph, the crowd’s appreciation shown via moshpit after moshpit.
As the crowd piles out of the venue, with Dry January mere minutes away from completion and snow continuing to fall, FIDLAR succeed in doing what they do best: bringing a much-needed dose of California sunshine to the bleak British midwinter, and ushering in better days to come. (Will Richards) 79
LI VE JOHN GRANT Academy, Leeds. Photo: Andrew Benge.
f Robyn perfected dancing through tears, John Grant has perfected dancing through the apocalypse. With a band consisting of long-serving keyboardist Chris Pemberton and former Banshee, Budgie, having the time of his life on the drums, even John’s most Randy Newman-esque ballads still hook the audience into a hypnotic sway. Tracks like the thumping ‘Black Belt’ and dark, synth-heavy ‘Tempest’, complete with ‘80s video game sounds playing on a sample pad, feel as expertly crafted as they do on record. ‘Metamorphosis’, which features John performing what feels like sixth form stream-of-conciousness poetry in a deliberately “kooky” voice, still feels at odds with the rest of his catalogue and doesn’t really land here. But for every ‘Metamorphosis’, there’s plenty more wonderfully mordant turns in his set list. Interrupting Chris Pemberton cueing up the next song, Grant exclaims with genuine glee “I’ve just discovered Gavin & Stacey for myself… Ruth Jones has my balls in her hands”. As the world burns, there’s no place better to be than in the company of John Grant. (Chris Taylor)
HAYLEY KIYOKO Brixton Academy, London. Photo: Burak Cingi.
lanked by professional dancers and a rainbow-heavy light show, Hayley Kiyoko - through notable disbelief declares tonight her “no strings attached insane arena dream”. In what is now a staple at her shows, a series of bras have been pelted at the stage and the rising superstar has been met by repeated declarations of love. It’s testament not only to how far Hayley Kiyoko has come, but how she has become an important voice for a young LGBT community. Hayley has shaken off her early child star associations to be crowned the ‘lesbian Jesus’ by an army of online stans. She carries this appointed status with her, countless fans waving rainbow flags while singing the unquestionably empowering ‘Girls Like Girls’ at the top of their voices. It adds an enlightened twist to an otherwise retro affair. The consistently impressive synchronised dancing nods to TLC’s heyday, while Hayley’s own R&B-infused pop screams cargo pants. Yet the atmosphere, message and Hayley’s on-stage charm keep everything effortlessly fresh. “This is the encore,” she announces, having remained on stage between her biggest hit to date ‘Curious’ and closer ‘Gravel To Tempo’. It cements her ability to take the conventional tropes of pop and to turn them on their head. It’s this evolution of radio-friendly pop that will continue to propel Hayley upwards. She speaks to a new generation, vitally relatable and abundantly empowering. Despite minor issues with the sound and disregarding the fact that she is yet to release enough hits to truly fill a headline set, tonight Hayley Kiyoko sparkles as bright as her mirror-ball trousers. (Ben Tipple)
RAG’N’BONE MAN . WOLF ALICE NILE RODGERS & CHIC . . ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN IDLES LEWIS CAPALDI KATE NASH . THE GO! TEAM . BAND OF SKULLS
HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE . THE BIG MOON . SEA GIRLS . THE JOY FORMIDABLE WARMDUSCHER . FLAMINGODS . ELVANA . THE SHE STREET BAND IRIS GOLD . LAUREL . SAINT AGNES . MEGGIE BROWN . HONEY LUNG THE HOWL & THE HUM . MONTY TAFT . BIG SOCIETY . SHIIVERS . FOXE + MANY MORE TO COME
EROL ALKAN . SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO . NORMAN JAY MBE FLEETMAC WOOD . LA FLEUR
: DELIA TEȘILEANU . EMILY DUST . 4 TO THE FLOOR . TASTY LOPEZ
DICK & DOM DJ BATTLE HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DINOSAUR LIVE MR BLOOM & HIS BAND WOODLAND TRIBE
+ FULL PROGRAMME OF FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT
COSTUME PARADE CABARET . DOG SHOW . TALKS WORKSHOPS . WELLBEING HOT TUBS . SWIMMING POOL REAL ALE . TOP FESTIVAL FOOD + MORE
Twisted Creatures THE 2019 STORY
A STRANGE EVOLUTION
PARTY JOIN THKENOW BOO
quiz of sor ts, we’ll A big inter-band pub es one by one. be grilling your fav
IT’S YOUR ROUND WHENYOUNG
Studios, Soho. Location: Dean St secco Pro Drink:
SPECIALIST SUBJECT: GARDENING
Q1. How many stations with one syllable in the name are there on the London Underground? Niall: Oooooh. Bank. Aoife: Jeeeesus, there’s a lot of feckin’ stations. Niall: I reckon there’s only one and that’s the point of the question. And you’d be right! It’s just Bank!
20-something. Maybe 33...uh...26? Niall: Did Ireland get 26? They were on 13 then got a try, so that’d make 20. Andrew: So...33-20? SO CLOSE - it was 32-20. Aoife: We’ve gotta get a half mark for that. Go on then, seeing as you asked so nicely...
Q2. How old is the Queen of England? Aoife: Is Phillip like 92? Andrew: 93 I think. Niall: I knew that from when he crashed the car. Aoife: And he’s older than her? Niall: I don’t think she’s 90 ‘cos surely we’d have had a day off. Aoife: I think she must be - 91? Nearly - she’s 92.
Q4. What is the name of the song that Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper sing in A Star Is Born? Andrew: Aaaaah shit...’Swallow’? ‘Shallow’? Niall: ‘SHALLOW’! CORRECT!
Q3. What was the score when Ireland played England in the Six Nations last weekend? Andrew: It was 30-something
Q5. What film did Leonardo DiCaprio fiiiinally win his Oscar for in 2016? Andrew: Oh the one where he’s in the wild. Niall: Oh, The Revenant was it? It was!
VERDICT: To be fair, they did have 3x the brain power of most of our contestants, but it’s still a stellar job from our green-fingered friends.
Q1. Which county is known as the Garden Of England?
Andrew: [incredibly deadpan] Kent.
Aoife: Ooh.... the water lily thing right? Andrew: Lotus? Aoife: Yes! Yes!
Yup, you got it. Q2. What would a gardener do with a dibber or dibble?
Aoife: Oh, it’s for bulbs! When you’re planting them you use it to put a hole in the ground. Andrew: WOOOOOOOO!!! Yes, that’s right!
Q4. What novelty garden ornaments are banned at the Chelsea Flower show?
Aoife: GNOMES! Bingo! Q5. Which flower once became more expensive than gold and led to the crash of a national economy?
Aoife: Um, a rose? Q3. What is the sacred flower of the Buddhist religion?
It’s not sadly - it was the tulip!
SCORE 7.5/10 VERDICT: To be fair, they did have 3x the brain power of most of our contestants, but it’s still a stellar job from our green-fingered friends.
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