MUSIC, FUNCTION, FASHION LIFESTYLE, DESIGN, ART, CULTURE
08. The Ting Tings 10. Simian Mobile Disco 20. Adam Green 21. Fused at SXSW 24. Shepard Fairey 27. Ida Maria 28. Florence and The Machine 38. The Wombats 40. The Long Blondes 42. Miranda July 44. Supergrass 54. Santogold 56. The Brian Jonestown Massacre 66. Sugarhill Gang 71. Cut Copy 79. Peggy Sue and The Pirates 80. Band of Horses
Editor-in-chief: David Oâ€™Coy firstname.lastname@example.org Sales and Marketing: Kerry Thomas email@example.com Sales: Michael Claydon Contributors: Naomi Attwood, Monte Cantsin, Jonny Cazzola, Olivia Cellamare, Simon Creasey, Nikki Davison, Christian Rose-Day, Dominic Haley, Jennifer Laventine, Angie Mercer, Luke McNaney,
Diriye Osman, Kimberley Owen, Jack Parsons / Good Blades, Toby Rogers, Cassie-Philomena Smyth Photographers: David Field, Richard Homer, Jean-Phillippe Martin , Alexander Noe, Louis Park, Elias & Saria, The Cobra Snake, Daniel Thomas IIlustrators: Teis Albers, Paulo Arraiano, Nick Deakin, MeeNoKawaii, Miles Donovan, Jeremyville, Tansy Myer, Newtasty, Paul Ryding, Chris Von Steiner, Lajla Toullec
Fused Magazine, 315 The GreenHouse, Gibb Square, Gibb Street, Birmingham, B9 4AA tel: 0121 246 1946 firstname.lastname@example.org www.fusedmagazine.com www.myspace.com/fusedmagazine
DISCLAIMER Reproduction of all editorial/images in any form is strictly prohibited without prior permission. Fused cannot be held responsible for breach of copyright arising from any material supplied. Views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily the publishers. All unsolicited material submitted should be accompanied by a S.A.E. ÂŠ fused 2008.
Following 2007’s successful LTD Edition event, that featured some of the hottest contemporary artists selling their work to the public, Fused has decided to organise more. The idea is simple – Fused choose the artists who then turn up and sell their work. This time around we are joining forces with the good people at The Sunday Flea (which takes place every Sunday on Gibb Street at The Custard Factory in Birmingham) and will be holding the events on the last Sunday of the month starting in July. The one-day events are a chance for artists to sell their limited edition and affordable pieces to customers and for the public to buy original work in a relaxed and friendly environment. This isn’t an exhibition of work but a set of stalls all selling a variety of items from photography to illustrations and painting – and lots more inbetween - with all the work selling for under £300. The event starts at 11am – 4pm on: Sunday 27th July, Sunday 31st August, Sunday 28th September, Sunday 26th October. For more information visit ltdedition.wordpress.com for updates on artists taking part and how to get involved.
Toothhead Girl LA artist, Illustrator and Fused contributor Tansy Myer is selling some beautiful Limited Edition prints from her ‘Toothhead Girl’ range. Featuring a saucy semi-clad character the serigraph’s are hand printed and available in editions of 30 for just $250 each. Check out Tansy’s website to find out more: http://www.tansymyer.com/.
jason mraz To celebrate the release of his new album, Mr Mraz has given us the signed and framed artwork for ‘We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things’ and 2 x signed albums plus a bundle of posters and badges. If you want to get your hands on one of these prizes then just email competitions@ fusedmagazine. com with your name, address and date of birth. Deadline for entries is the 18.07.08.
KLING by KLING Karolina Kling is an East London based artist and the founder of clothing label KLING by KLING. Originating from Sweden, Kling started out as a product and graphic designer where she began to make her own prints which were used in her first collection. She fuses fashion with graphic expression and takes inspiration for her illustrations from the characters that appear in her dreams. She takes these characters and uses their shapes to construct the garments - a concept she has named ‘Klingoholic’. Klings Autumn/Winter collection, for men and women, continues with a black and white theme. ‘The Land of Dreams’ is the third collection of her career and she has developed her trademark of distinctive multi-textured graphics that bring the garments to life. For stockists details see www.klingbyling.com
win tickets to v festival NOIR: The Black Book of Art and Fashion Attention all high-fashion followers THIS is the next big thing. Forget Vogue (did I just say that, I didn’t mean it, AMEN)... NOIR is an exclusive, brandspanking new, limited edition book, the sole purpose of which is to exhibit and showcase the works of up-coming fashion designers, artists and photographers along side those who already have their foot firmly wedged in the fashion door. It is essentially a single compendium amalgamating the freshest, most exciting new designers the world of fashion and creativity has to offer, with already well-established favourites. And top it off, it is all pressed together wonderfully in one chic little binding that will compliment your bookshelf as beautifully as a classic Chanel 2.55 does your favourite ensemble. The book will only be stocked in the four main fashion cities in the world; London, Paris, Milan and NYC and is due for release summer 2008. We at Fused are finding it somewhat difficult to come to terms with having to wait that long so luckily for us (and you), in conjunction with the book release, the NOIR team are soon to launch www.stylenoir.co.uk. The website will be the epicentre of all necessary and unmissable fashion news from new designers and upcoming shows to breaking news on Karl Lagerfeld’s latest muse. Keep your peepers peeled for more information on the launch, future publications and general high-fashion gossip.
Fused and Virgin Mobile are offering one lucky reader the chance to win a pair of weekend camping tickets for Virgin Mobile’s V Festival at Weston Park, Staffordshire and a New Sony Ericsson W350i Walkman phone with 512MB card for storing all your festival tunes as well as FM radio, Bluetooth and a stereo headset. Taking place on the 16th and 17th August, this year’s event sold out in record time and Fused is offering your last chance to bag yourself and a friend tickets to V Festival. With a fantastic line up and the best bands including: Muse, The Verve, Kings of Leon, Stereophonics, Kaiser Chiefs, The Prodigy and The Kooks, all you have to do to be in with a chance of winning these money can’t buy tickets is answer this simple question: Which park in Staffordshire is Virgin Mobile’s V Festival taking place? a) Hyde Park b) Weston Park c) Hylands Park
Send you answer along with your name, address, phone number and date of birth to Vfestival@ fusedmagazine. com. Deadline for entries is the 31.07.08. www.vfestival.com / www.virginmobile. co.uk
Label-lusters, fashion-fanatics and art geeks alike will find a new Bible in the shape of NOIR and you should all be literally bursting at the seams to get your little paws on it. With a single peek at the index all of our future fashion fixes will be solved. Now with any good publication, the launch party is as vital and exciting as the book itself. There will be a super-exclusive, super-stimulating launch party on Sunday May 11th, hosted by Mat Horne (of NME awards, Teachers and Catherine Tate fame) at Hoxton Square Bar & Grill, former home to the dearly departed London fashionistas favourite club night Boombox. The night will feature live music from The Real Heat, Tapedeck on the decks, plus many more top-secret acts for our aural delight. Catwalk shows of collections featured in the publication will be going on through the party and an arts-base will exhibit some of the most exciting new art to come out of our fair country. It will provide everything a creative creature could ever crave – a veritable assault on the senses in the form of innovative art, eclectic fashion, genre-busting music and to top it all, a sneaky peek at the exclusive content of the book before its release. Don’t miss out. NOIR is set to be a one-of-a-kind reference point for industry insiders and mere mortals alike so do your wardrobe a favour and do as the professionals will; invest in NOIR. Putting it frankly, your book (& fashion rag) collection will not be complete without this little gem. Jennifer Laventine
Ben Sherman and PPQ Collaboration FASHION AND MUSIC HAVE ALWAYS GONE HAND IN HAND; INDEED THEY BOAST A VERY LONG, FERTILE AND FRUITFUL RELATIONSHIP. Every genre has its own sartorial counterpart and essence of style but there are five significant chapters in musical history, whose influence on fashion and lifestyle was and remains unmatched. Introducing the Ben Sherman PPQ collaboration, entitled: “Decades of Dresses”. Ever since the company’s inception in 1963, when Britain was tapping its feet to Lennon and McCartney at the height of Beatlemania and London was the coolest hotspot on earth, Ben Sherman have been creating clothes that blend with the latest scene. PPQ is equally at home with the music vibe. The high fashion clothing brand, a recent hit at London Fashion Week, has its own record label (1-2-3-4). Therefore it was only natural that Ben Sherman would choose London darlings PPQ to be a part of its first womenswear collaboration. There is an obvious synergy between the two brands and it isn’t just restricted to the music front; both are pioneers of British style and have the ability to translate contemporary cultural moods and trends into stylish, wearable and truly covetable clothes. The result of this inventive new project is a range of five uber-stylish dresses that singlehandedly and individually revive the original stylings of the five most important phases in British musical history: Mod, Rock, Ska, Britpop and Indie. The Sixties - Mod Ben Sherman was born of the 60s so it comes as no surprise that this dress looks like it was handpicked out of Twiggy’s party wardrobe circa ‘63. The short and swinging shift dress is an iconic shape which instantly conjures up images of mods moving and shaking to the revolutionary sounds of The Who. The dress has a button down feature, which is synonymous with the Ben Sherman brand. Team with immaculate hair, cream opaque tights, Go-Go boots and false lashes for the ultimate Mod effect. Vespa optional. The Seventies - Rock Psychedelia is the key word here. The classic Ben Sherman silhouette is fused with the floaty, paisley printed style pioneered by the most influential guitarist of all time; musical genius Jimmy Hendrix. Forget Reading, Woodstock here we come! The Eighties - Ska In recent years the 80s has enjoyed a warm welcome back to the forefront of fashion and music. However, the signature styles of the ska movement, established by bands such as The Specials and Selektor, have been overlooked. The key trend centred on “2-tone”; black and white checks and sharp suits. Styles were tailored and smart and this is reflected in this high-wasted houndstooth pencil skirt dress. Brimming with grit and an air of elitist underground cool, this dress epitomises the electric and rebellious atmosphere of the 80s. The Nineties - Britpop The 90s was a Brit-soaked affair with bands such as Blur, Oasis, Pulp, The Stone Roses and Black Grape all grappling for the title of Britpop Kings. This quintessentially British dress mixes monochrome stripes with embellished detailing, signifying a wink to the wives of the Britpop army that brought the UK to the forefront of the international music scene once more. It wasn’t all about tent-raves and dummies after all. Hooray! The Noughties - Indie This dress represents the “Indie in all of us”. The musical boundaries of the 00’s are far more blurred and much less rigid, allowing individuals to spread their musical interests over a wide variety of genre without the fear of retaliation or judgement (see “Mods and Rockers”). The conflict that can exist between differing genre is at last banished to yesteryear and this dress is indicative of that all-encompassing ethos, combining laidback bohemia with ethereal frills and Victoriana collar. It is at once gothic, contemporary, mysterious and ultimately, individual. For PPQ and Ben Sherman, the relationship between fashion and music is both inextricable and unchallengeable. They always have and always will influence each other and mirror the current cultural zeitgeist; in short, it is the perfect love affair. This exclusive and innovative collection pays homage to that notion and captures the very essence of the relationship in five breathtakingly authentic dresses. Transport yourself back to your favourite decade courtesy of Ben Sherman and PPQ. With only 175 of each dress available globally, they are destined to be the most coveted item of the season. Get yours now! www.bensherman.com Jennifer Laventine
AT JUST 16, JAMES LAVELLE WAS THE YOUNGEST DJ TO HAVE A RESIDENCY AT LONDON CLUB FRIDGE AND THE FIRST TO DJ AT THE SCALA. To some, it may be a daunting experience to DJ in a popular club at such a young age surrounded by people much older but not for James who describes the experience as “exciting and a mad place to be.” Citing The Wild Bunch, Grandmaster Flash and Scratch Perverts amongst some of the DJs he likes, he set up his own label Mo’ Wax in the early 90s with a loan of £1000. The label released records by DJ Shadow, Dr.Octagon, Blackalicious and of course, Unkle, but sadly it came to an end in the mid 90s. The label put out 200 releases in the space of 5 years - quite an achievement for an 18-year-old on such a small budget. With a career that’s spanned over almost 20 years, Unkle’s third album ‘War Stories’ is nothing like anything James has done before. Describing the album, after much deliberation, as, “controlled” it’s significantly the first album he contributes vocals to. The album features Josh Homme (who he’s worked with before) from Queens Of The Stone Age along with The Duke Spirit, and is darker
than previous albums. But don’t let that put you off; it is a fantastic album and you can sense the control James had over creating it. Two names he mentions when asked who he’d like to work with are Mark Lanegan and Robert Plant. Something tells me if it did happen, it’d be a very interesting collaboration.
As well known for his DJ’ing as his releases he is still mixing the two well with continuous Unkle gigs and DJ sets around the country. “The environment and crowds are very different. With DJ’ing you are in the crowd, with playing you have a distance.” The reactions he says are also different from playing your songs to playing someone else’s songs.
War Stories was created without any demos being made beforehand. For some bands this could be an issue but not for James. Altough he went in to the recording process being “very blind”, with no definite ideas for the album, it worked.
War Stories has been labelled by James Lavelle as Unkle’s rock album. Never Never, Land is the electro album and Psyence Fiction is the hip-hop album. This all comes from James’ influence from hip-hop and DJ’ing to working with some of rocks most well known bands.
In the winter of 2005, Lavelle recorded around 35 songs for the album. The creative time in Los Angeles was “intense”, but James regards recording War Stories as “the most rewarding recording experience.”
But it doesn’t end there - James Lavelle doesn’t just DJ or make music - he has his own clothing label and makes films - how does he manage to do all this? “By working with lots of great people.” Clothing label, Surrender and record label Surrender All are about “surrendering to life and the things around you”
For this album, it felt right for James to use his vocals instead of on previous albums ‘Psyence Fiction’ and ‘Never, Never Land’. His vocals feature on two tracks, ‘Hold My Hand’ and a duet with Richard File (ex-member of Unkle) on ‘Morning Rage’.
Catch UNKLE at venues across the UK over the summer. http://www.unkle.com/ Words: Olivia Cellamare Illustration: Paulo Arraiano
the ting tings
NOT SINCE PUGWAL’S SUMMER HAVE I SEEN SUCH A RAPID ROAD TO STARDOM, but The Ting Tings have managed to set a new land speed record. Fused caught up with one half of team Ting to talk random disco’s, fledgling hiccups, getting a little bit international, oh, and having their minds blown… In little over a year the duo have gone from a living room band, entertaining their friends, to one of the most hotly tipped bands of 2008 with a number one album and it’s easy to see why. It’s a girl, it’s a guy, it’s a hefty drumbeat - it’s everything you need. Named after the sound of inspiration – ‘Ting!’ – their moniker could not be more apt. After years of oh-so-close-you-could-taste-it near misses they finally seem to have got that special equation that can’t be quantified. Katie spent some of her adolescence in pop trio TKO (Total Knock Out) supporting acts such as 5ive, Steps and Atomic Kitten and in 2001 Jules started writing songs for them. They later went on to form a new band, Dear Eskimo, who signed to a major label before falling apart in January last year. “We were left in a bit of a dilemma after the end of the last band,” says Jules. “We had no intention of starting a new band, we just started writing and then when we had three songs we managed to blag onto a tour. Katie decided that she should learn the guitar and was still learning by the point we were playing the Birmingham Barfly. We got through the first song and a voice came from the back of the venue saying ‘Katie, turn your amp on’. It was so funny we’d gone through a whole song without the guitar. We’ve come a long way since.” Indeed, they have. In the last year they’ve played Glastonbury, South-by-South West and the NME New Music Tour. “We missed the Dublin NME show cos we had to do a BBC Introducing thing, but we made up for it after the Manchester gig. We threw an aftershow party at The Mill, where we’re based, and me and Katie DJ’d. We had something like 1500 vinyls left from when we’d bought a load to package our first single so we just used them. It was all random stuff like ‘Respectable’ by Mel and Kim, so at first everyone was like ‘What the fuck are The Ting Tings on?’ But we just kept playing all these mad songs and it ended up going on til five in the morning with everyone drunk and singing along. It was really good.” The single, ‘That’s Not My Name’, which was released the first time round last year, was individually hand packaged by the band by reversing the sleeves of old vinyl. “It’s amazing to think that this time last year we had everything to do. It’s been totally different to any band we’ve been in before and when we started The Ting Tings it was just more out of something to do and having fun. We all make that mistake, of trying to wear the right clothes and whatever, but with this band we were learning to be something rather than just trying to be something.” Now for the stupidest question I think I’ve ever asked: “Erm…so has anything blown your mind over the last year?” (I am cringing while writing this). “Has. Anything. Blown. My. Mind?” Repeats Jules. I start giggling. “Hmmm, has anything blown my mind? Well. I’ve just got through telling you about touring with NME, going to Glastonbury, releasing an album, going to America and only starting less than a year ago…so erm, no, nothing has ‘blown my mind,’” he answers between fits of laughter. Wiping a tear of laughter/embarrassment from my eye, I decide that this is the apt moment to end the interview – there’s no recovery after such stupidity. ‘We Started Nothing’ is out now. Words: Cassie-Philomena Smyth Illustration: Nick Deakin
Simian Mobile Disco THERE HAVE BEEN MANY GREAT DUOS THROUGHOUT MUSICAL HISTORY: SONNY & CHER, SIMON & GARFUNKEL, PET SHOP BOYS, AIR, ROYKSOPP, AND THE EURYTHMICS, HOWEVER IT IS THE MAGICAL COMBINATION OF JAMES FORD & JAS SHAW THAT WE WILL EXPLORE IN GREATER DETAIL. Yes you could be forgiven for thinking ‘there are lots of dance orientated duos around at present - what about Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, The Knife and Digitalism’? We totally agree but it’s time to give Simian Mobile Disco their moment to shine in the spotlight as the duo are perhaps one of the most versatile in terms of tipping the boundaries of genre; flitting between electro-disco tinged house on the turbo charged ‘the beat’, to exploring melodramatic fantasy on ‘Clocks’, taken from the duo’s new EP. We tied Jas Shaw down for a quick chat before he escaped again to continue on their hectic schedule. Why release this EP now? This new EP is a way for us to draw the line under the previous mobile disco sessions. The record basically contains tracks that we absolutely loved and were personally my favourite, but we just couldn’t put them on the first album, as the structure didn’t sit quite right. This EP allows us to lay the past to rest and start on the second album fresh. We felt that by distancing the first and second albums there is no danger of the creative process being damaged, plus by releasing the EP we relieve the whole ‘second album syndrome’ that has so clearly plagued a lot of artists in the past. We really want to get onto writing new stuff; we are already booked to go into the DFA studio, which is very exciting. So, tell us about the SMD way of laying down new tracks. It doesn’t take long to write stuff at all, and it’s definitely a spontaneous process for us in the studio. Both of us often put melody ideas down separately and then come together to experiment as that retains the fun element and gives us that all important starting point for new tracks. Our main downfall is buying copious amounts of gear; seriously we spend loads! Analogue gear is the key. There are a lot of electro wannabee wizzkids out there, so you have any tips? Keep away from software! Computer based music always sounds so stiff, particularly in the transition from studio to stage. Try to avoid too much programming if you can. We tend to stick to Pro Tools, which we use like a tape machine alongside hardware. I am personally always loathe to any restrictions placed on me, however I truly realise the importance of deadlines now, mainly because the more time we
get from people to complete things the more get tied up over analysing things instead of getting the job done. I mean my girlfriend is a teacher and she says the broader the brief you provide a class with the harder they find the task as it becomes too much to consider. So along those lines is important to consider deadlines – they help immensely in the long run to keep focus. Your Mix Mag CD created immense dance fever in our office, do you have any plans to do another? Yes! We are going to do a Fabric Mix. [Fused faints through excitement]. Fabric have been really good to us, especially in the early days of SMD and its time we returned the favour by doing a mix for them. How was touring with The Chemical Brothers? They are real dudes. Their live set makes ours look a bit shit really! It takes them 12 hours to set up before a show, as a lot of it has to be programmed. I think when you want to incorporate audiovisuals and tailor your show to stadium-sized audiences you really have to raise your game. You have a pretty hectic schedule how do you deal with it all? It’s bad, we say ‘yes’ too much. Both of us are very close to having an episode! We only got back from Paris the other day and as soon as we got off the plane we got a call from someone [very secretive] to tell us they were in the country, so rushed off to record with them till the early hours of the morning! Onto the new album; what projects are in the pipeline? Shhhhh most of them are being done on the sly as we speak! However I will let you into one secret, even though I’m not exactly sure whether it is a secret – we have just done some stuff in the studio with Peaches, which was great. I have to ask you about those crazy song titles, how do you choose them? It’s stupid really. It’s mainly down to the way we record; it’s primarily due to the set up of our analogue boxes. We make a session on Pro Tools then we have to decide quickly what we want to call it otherwise the analogue stuff will drift out of tune and in a few moments its gone. We quickly go around the room and it’s the first thing that anyone shouts! My philosophy is always – First Thought, Best Thought. What a great philosophy that is. Simian are not only sincerely genuine and great to engage with, but they inject that evident hyperactivity and passion into everything they do. I’m off now to work out who was the dirty bugger that named ‘Tits & Acid’! Kimberley Owen
Top - Aurelio Costarella, Gloves - La Crasia, Jacket - Aurelio Costarella, Skirt - Craig Robinson
Coat - Tracy Reese, Top - Nolita Denimes, Belt - Giuseppe Zanotti, Shorts - Craig Robinson, Bracelet - Stephen Dweck
Shirt & Jacket - Craig Robinson, Ring - Stephen Dweck
Blouse and dress - Aurelio Costarella, Shoes - Giuseppe Zanotti, Bracelet - Stephen Dweck
Blouse - Alice Ritter, Make-up - Makeup Forever
Jacket & Shirt - Skarparin, Tank - LaPerla, Boots - Michel Perry
Photographer: David Field (Randy Cole Represents) Stylist: Newheart Ohanian, Carlton Jones (Illusions) *** Hair: Rafael Jiminez (Illusions) Makeup: Mario Dedivanovic (Illusions) using Makeup Forever Photo assistants: Christian Ern, Jason Walker Digital Tech: JosĂŠ Marquez Set Design / Construction: Ian Russell, Kyle Russell Models: Yvonne (Q Models), Karina (New York Models), Max McGuire (UGLY NY) *** shots 1, 2, 3, 4 styled by Newheart; shots 5, 6 styled by Carlton
IF THERE EVER WAS A CLEARCUT CASE OF MARKET SATURATION THEN IT’S SINGER SONGWRITERS. It’s like every fuckwit that grabs a guitar out of their rooms at house parties has decided ‘actually I can make it in the music industry and the world is finally ready for my salt-of-theearth-mockney-bad-grammar take on modern life’. But before we put the whole bloody lot of them to the sword, there are a few people doing it properly, and as per usual they’re American. Adam Green is the former lead-singer of The Mouldy Peaches - one of the most important anti-folk bands of the last 10 years. Seriously, without the work of these guys, your average singer-songwriter type would still be singing about astrology, cider and The Vietnam War, let alone dressing up like cats and opening art galleries. Since the break up of ‘The Peaches‘ in 2002, Adam has been a solo-flyer coming up with music that is arguably more out there than his previous band. Armed with the ability to make almost every fucked up situation seem somehow normal (and sometimes quite sweet), he writes twisted grunge-like psychedelic dirges on topics as varied as drug addiction, internet porn, wife beating and Jessica Simpson: all in a voice that sounds like a cross between Nick Cave and Tony Bennett. Your latest album ‘Sixes and Sevens’ is quite long for one of
your albums. Is it a reflection of the time it’s took to write and release? I don’t think so, I’ve been writing a lot recently. There was a point back in 1920 or something when I didn’t write songs, but since then I’ve just been riding these constant waves of inspiration. It’s quite funny because I don’t write songs that fast; I do a little bit, stop, and then do a bit more. I mean one song could take three weeks, but that’s what I enjoy. I suppose the reason why this one has taken so long to write is that I’ve had the time to produce the songs properly, which is kind of a new experience for me. I think this album is a little more pop than your other records, was this intentional? Ermm, yeah maybe on some of the songs like ‘Morning after Midnight’ and ‘Tropical Island’, but it’s definitely something that I never intentionally went for when I started on this record. You can’t really compare the songs on the record to each other. Most of them were recorded over a year ago, have been demoed a couple of times, and come out at the end completely different to what I started with. It could start with a song being played slow and then I listen to it back, decide I don’t like it and try it again. I suppose the only difference between this record and my last one is that I’ve been able to work on the arrangements more, meaning that I’ve been able to mess around with instruments, the way songs sound and things like that.
This is quite eclectic when compared to your previous records, what with backing singers, violins and calypso melodies – It sort of reminds me of one of the later Talking Heads albums. Where do you get the ideas for your songs? They can seem a little weird. I could see why someone would say that, but I don’t think my songs are all that weird. I just write about what’s in my head, so I guess to me it’s normal. In one sense I can see why people take my songs like that sometimes; I try and put an alien quality into my stuff and make it a bit exciting I guess. Then again, I don’t have the listener in mind when writing; I just think of it like ‘if this is exciting to me, then people will find it exciting too. Song writing is something I’ve been doing since I was five years old, so it’s always going to be a pretty personal activity. One of your songs almost caused a traffic accident. I was listening to a mix tape a few years ago and ‘No Legs’ comes on - me and my friend started laughing so hard we almost crashed the car. No way! I guess that song should have a health warning. “Don’t listen to No Legs whilst driving”. Actually that’s kind of a good illustration to what I said. I mean, ‘No Legs’ can kind of come across quite humorous the first time you hear it, but I think it’s quite sentimental when you think about it. To me music is more of an emotional thing than cerebral one. I mean, that songs completely true,
I know a friend who took a girl on a picnic and she had no legs. We were talking about it a few daysafterwards, and I just shrugged and said “there’s no wrong way to fuck a girl with no legs” in a flippant off-handcomment sort of way. Later on I was thinking about it and the song started from there. I quite like being outrageous sometimes; it’s a liberating thing as a songwriter. After all, if it’s offensive it’s never going to be on the radio and that means that I don’t really have any limits in what I can say and what I do with the song. Do you think that people in the UK are more receptive to your music than, say an American audience? I don’t think it’s anything to do with reception per say, more with exposure. I mean it’s like politics; the guy who normally wins is the guy who has been out there the most, kissing babies and what not. In the States at the moment I’m enjoying quite a lot of notoriety because that movie Juno had a bunch of Mouldy Peaches songs on it, so I suppose for arguments sake, you could say that people are ‘getting me’ now. I do love coming to the UK though; some of my favourite shows have been in London and Manchester, especially the one at the Union Chapel - the atmosphere was amazing, but it’s not because people ‘got me’ more, it’s just the ambience was right and everyone got into it; me included! That’s what I look for playing live I guess. I used to think ‘if I’m loud, then people will listen’, but now I think the best shows are the ones where the atmosphere is just right; it sort of tunes in the audience so that they’re really receptive. Adam Green’s new album Sixes and Sevens is out on Rough Trade now. Words: Dominic Haley Illustration: Paul Ryding
adam green 020
Back in March Fused headed off to Texas with 5 bands in tow for the annual South-by-South West event. The event is a key date in the music calendar with bands fighting for the attention of labels and punters fighting to get to the bar that has the most free booze flowing. Fused showcased the talents of Swampmeat, Deluka, The Big Bang, Trash Fashion and Copter and once that was done we all headed out to see the hundreds (or is it thousands?) of bands that play throughout the event. You can read about the adventures on the Fused SXSW blog fusedatsxsw.wordpress.com
Photos: Jean-Philippe Martin
fused at sxsw
photos by thecobrasnake
Shepard Fairey SHEPARD FAIREY’S BLOOD SUGAR COUNT IS PERILOUSLY LOW AND IT’S LITTLE WONDER, GIVEN THAT PREPARATIONS FOR THE US GRAFFITI ARTIST’S BIGGEST EVER GALLERY SHOW are behind schedule. The mounts have yet to go up on the canvases, the prints all came back late from the framers and there’s only an hour to go before the all important buyers descend on the Stolen Space gallery’s giant rented warehouse facility off London’s Brick Lane. Fairey - who suffers from diabetes and occasionally DJs under the moniker ‘DJ Diabetic’ - says that he’s experiencing a Mañana attitude that he associates more with his native California than London but he remains confident that everything will be in tip-top condition in time (and it is). The fact that around 50% of the pieces have already sold also helps, of course. While the attitude to organisation may be lax his latest exhibition is anything but. Fairey, who attained fame through his global street sticker and poster campaign ‘Andre the Giant has a posse’ which later evolved into ‘Obey Giant’, has compiled 180 pieces of work ranging from small posters through to giant canvases that all deal with the issues George Orwell picked up on in his acclaimed novel ‘1984’ hence the show’s title “Nineteeneightyfouria”. “The book 1984 was set in London and there seems to be no distress involved in the recent increase in surveillance and fewer rights,” explains Fairey. “In ‘1984’ it’s total mind control and total control of information and propaganda but now people seem so sedated by entertainment that they seem to have lovingly embraced it. I call it ‘happy indifference’.” Words and themes inspired by Orwell’s vision run throughout the work. There are CCTV cameras, oil pump handles, adulterated dollar bills and lots of slogans such as “big brother is watching you” and “blind acceptance can be hazardous”. In addition to the gallery work Fairey also spent nine days in the build up to the exhibition driving around London in a van with a crew of people pasting up posters. “We managed to put up close to 50 on the street which is more than I’ve done at any time in my life. We did places like Hammersmith, Crouch End, Camden, Brixton and all over East London.” During that time he was only stopped twice by the police: once in a small borough on the outskirts of London and once in Soho. “The cops here are very polite and they let me go both times,” says Fairey. “The places were abandoned and boarded up and the cops don’t know the difference between me and someone who is out promoting a club night.” This was an unexpected break for an artist who has been arrested 13 times in the
US thanks to a crackdown on graffiti crime. “In New York it’s zero tolerance. I put up one sticker in New York once and went straight to jail. But then there’s always a risk with what I do. It’s hard to conceal and hard not to get caught when you’re doing something on this scale.” Fairey says that he feels more at home on the street where his work is exposed to more passers-by. What then constitutes the ideal spot for one of his bombings? “I look for places that are abandoned and already have graffiti. You’ve frequently got to shimmy drainpipes or climb steep roofs to find a spot that’s appropriate. You have to find the right balance between visibility, longevity and harmonious integration. Art should be able to integrate into the environment and enhance it. Freedom of speech should be part of the tax payers’ rights and street imagery shouldn’t just be limited to advertisers.” Unfortunately this cuts both ways and Fairey’s own work has been the victim of serial taggers. In the States he’s been hit by another urban artist known as ‘the Splasher’ and, in the UK, his work has also been targeted. “The first night I got here my friend told me about this wall on the side of his house so I went and put something up, and the next morning posters had gone up all over it. I learnt my lesson very quickly and I’ve now gone up higher than anyone else can go.” Most of his work starts out as an illustration done by hand and then this is scanned into a computer from where he can start to construct the images using a combination of stencils and collaged backgrounds. “Whatever it takes to make the piece authentic,” he explains. Fairey has his own screenprinting press on which he makes his smaller works but he uses a printer to do the larger pieces (the same guy that Banksy used for his show in Los Angeles last year). The organisation of the London show ate up a lot of Fairey’s time but after it draws to a close he says that this body of work is finished and he will be taking time out to experiment and work on new stuff. “I’ve been showing constantly for years and each show has been a natural extension of the previous one, which means that I haven’t had the chance to experiment with new techniques and looks.” As for what direction this will take him, for the moment at least, he says that all avenues are open. www.obeygiant.com Simon Creasey
THERE’S NO SHORTAGE OF FEMALE SINGERS EARMARKED FOR BIG SUCCESS THIS YEAR AND NORWEGIAN IDA MARIA HAS PUNDITS’ TIPS, BAGS OF CONFIDENCE AND AN INTELLIGENT, WITTY BLOG ON HER SIDE. She boasts lungs to rival a set of Victorian bellows, a rock sensibility and yet still manages to produce sweetly melodic songs. She’s been compared to Bjork, The Strokes “with a female singer” and has a reputation for kamikaze stage behaviour. People have compared you to lots of other artists, rather predictably to Bjork in The Sugarcubes, but also to The Strokes with a female singer. The riffs on ‘Better When You’re Naked’ and ‘Oh My God’, are fast and punk like Blondie, but the melodies and the vocals are really beautiful, strong but feminine too. Which came first, the sweet songs or the grinding guitars? Well, first of all, I don’t think I sound like Bjork, I don’t think we sound like anyone! The influences in the band are everything from blues and jazz, to metal. My background was singing jazz and on electronica, but that was too easy, and I always knew that I wanted to make pop. For me pop music is fun, and a way to communicate across to a lot of people. When I’m writing, I write about what I see in other people, and in situations, I try and describe my surroundings, and hope that other people will recognise what I’m saying, and have felt the same. You’ve just come back from London, How do you like the UK? We started touring in January 07 - we’re touring constantly now. I like England it’s very nice. It’s very hard to find vegetables though. You need to sort that out! We always find English people very polite, which is funny because everyone has this picture in their minds of English people being completely drunk and crazy, but they’re always sweet and polite. Do you think British people are similar to people from Scandinavian and northern countries? Yeah, I think there are similarities, I know that when we’re in Scotland, we feel really at home. Glasgow is definitely our favourite city. I have to say though; the people there can be really aggressive. Norwegian people are not so violent. We would settle our arguments over a couple of beers. Tell me about running your own record label, Nesna Records, It just started out as a way of releasing our own music. When you’re away all the time touring, it’s impossible to expand something like that. Nesna Records has always been a way of putting our own band out there, it’s not something you do to make a lot of money either. How instrumental has MySpace been in getting you where you are now? The internet’s a really great tool to get in touch with people to work with, it puts stuff out there quickly and directly to the people who are into your kind of music. There’s people in, I don’t know, Japan, who like our stuff and we’ve never even been to Japan. From that, you get to do more gigs. . Making records is so cool, it’s like making a moment frozen in time, but for me, the best thing is live music. When you’re playing live to people you’re part of the historical and cultural context. Using the internet means unsigned bands can remain unsigned, err, forever really.
You can’t use the term ‘record label’ any more; it’s a whole universe, global thing out there. It’s such great tool. Having said that you are now signed to Sony BMG in the UK. How is that going to change things for you? It’s not going to change anything much. It mainly means we can shout much louder to a greater section of people. It also means we get to make cool videos and choose great directors to work with. We’ve made three videos already and we’re so pleased with them. The video for ‘Drive Away My Heart’ features someone wearing a giant human heart. Yeah, Jon dressed up as a heart. When he was wearing it he couldn’t see and he couldn’t breathe, and he had to have it on for hours as we filmed take after take for the video. And when he took it off he had this rash on his nose. There’s been a big fuss about your live performances, especially you injuring yourself on stage. . (Interrupting) I don’t injure myself! Other people injure me! What happened was; we were doing a gig, then my guitarist decided to jump into my face with his guitar! I continued to sing, and I didn’t notice that he’d cracked me in my forehead, because I was so high on adrenaline. We sang three more songs after that, before I realised there was blood everywhere. I don’t want to hurt myself, I bleed enough every month as it is; - I’m a girl. The audience went CRAZY, though, like people want blood. So if anyone was thinking of coming to a gig to see a gory spectacle they shouldn’t bother? Those people should stay at home and harm themselves. Can I ask you a bit about your clothes? You’re quite a confirmed second-hand girl, aren’t you? The truth is that I don’t like to wear new things, because it gives me the creeps. I like to be surrounded by history. There’s too much new shit it the world. It’s nicer to wear old things, you imagine what the person who wore them before you did and where they went. Like old, second hand shoes for example. They might have had several owners, it’s like they’ve had several lives, all those stories to tell. Ida on Ida . . . Top 3 Quotes from Ida Maria’s MySpace blog . . . 1. There is something for everyone, just find your curve-keeping favourite. Mine is definitely cheese and it works very well. Actually, so good that my dresses just collapse. Beat THAT! Haha! 2. Patrick, our neighbour, he’s opened a pub in his garage. My favourite pub. 3. Mathias Tellez won the Euro final in Norway, love that little bastard. He’s killer fun, said to Norwegian newspapers that music is all about being horny and when his record came out it felt like he was sperming all over Norway. I thought I was gonna laugh myself to death when I read it. Words: Naomi Attwood Illustration: Lajla Toullec
Florence and the Machine “I’M AN ENIGMA. I’D RATHER KEEP BEING AN ENIGMA.” Well, that’s what Florence Welch claims before freely sharing anecdotes about drunken nights spent singing to Kid Harpoon, gushing enthusiastically about the Grease soundtrack and declaring charity shops as her first love. She cutely asks me if I would like a Catherine Cookson book for one quid, before diverting her attention to “a shit clock” that is apparently not worth seven. “Ooh, I shouldn’t have said that so loudly! Run run run!” This is my introduction to the world of Florence who, promptly after being kicked out of a charity shop for cussing, begins making her way to Putney station, where she is due to meet ‘Frank and James’ from Universal. “I think we’re just discussing what the options are and the state of the recording industry and RARARAR! All very boring but it’s a free lunch.” Her frank manner and stream-of-conscious observations (“This is the most amazing sky I’ve ever seen – it’s really misty and weird!”) make for a colourful personality, one that certainly won’t be lost amid the current flux of urbane female singer/songwriters. “It doesn’t matter that there are loads of other female artists out there. I don’t feel pressured by it at all; I’m just gonna make my music.” That music is performed under the moniker of Florence and the Machine, a name that has caused no end of confusion since its inception. “I just liked it because it sounded like a children’s book. It’s just a dumb name that I made up because I had an hour before my first gig.” The role of the mysterious ‘Machine’ entity is primarily occupied by Florence’s ‘musical genius’ friend Matt Alchin: “We made all this weird music, banging cups with pens and scissors.” This ramshackle approach is felt throughout all her songs, Florence expressing her distaste for “fiddly-diddly musical instrumentation. I like bangy clashy where the voice is the instrumentation and the rest is just like a heartbeat.” Despite avoiding gloss, she does have a “soft spot” for pop, telling me she thinks Rihanna is “amazing”. One might be surprised just who exactly motivated her to sing during her formative years: “I was on the coach going to P.E. once listening to Celine Dion, when this girl told me I sounded like her. It was, like, the happiest day of my life.” Chances are you may have stopped reading there but this is one chick who manages to ooze indie cred even with her fondness for dodgy warblers. Don’t believe us? Well, maybe you old-skool Blur fans will trust Alex James, who was so bowled over after seeing Florence perform live that he invited her to jam at his house. “He took me down to this barn in the countryside, where he’s got this really nice studio. He’s been really supportive: Uncle Alex James. I wrote this song about swimming while I was there.” Seems like an odd choice in subject matter but apparently all her songs feature a lot of water and animal imagery. She is quick to point out, however, that this doesn’t make her “fucking hippy dippy!” Melodic and a bit thrown together (but in the best way), the songs often feature narrative-style structures which are pleasingly oddball and, in her own words, “fucked-up”. “‘Girl With One Eye’ is about cutting out a girl’s eye.” Right. She can do subtle and non-terrifying, though, as evidenced on the allegorical ‘Donkey Kosh’ which explores her idea that “you’re born with a donkey and jackal on each shoulder and you carry them around with you. Everytime you make mistakes, you feed them and they grow.” With such a rampant imagination, can we expect her to go the Kylie/Madge route and eventually write that kiddy book? “I think that’s a bit twee really. ‘Oh, you’re Florence and the Machine, why don’t you write a fucking children’s book?’ Not gonna happen.” Not to worry because her imagination stretches further than bedtime stories. She tells me of her “whimsical idea” to record her first EP on limited edition cassette tape. She explains this nostalgic move: “I recorded one of my first demos on tape and I loved the sound of it.” Given this innovative idea, I ask her if she would ever consider doing a Radiohead and releasing her music online for free? “I hope I make some money out of this whole weird musical world eventually but you put music out there to be heard, and I know a lot of hard work is put into it and a lot of money is spent, but if people are listening to it and enjoying it, I don’t seen the problem.” Amen to that. Luke McNaney
mr jago YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO PINPOINT WHERE EXACTLY, BUT YOU WILL HAVE SEEN THIS GUYS WORK SOMEWHERE. Unique in style and modest in personality who, I quote, ‘gets a lot of pleasure from a brush these days!’ We introduce the brains behind the biro… Mr Jago. What made you choose Mr. Jago as your alter ego? It’s actually my surname - Duncan Jago. Oh yeah that makes sense. I clearly lack the ability to put two and two together... I kinda grew up with that one. I was a bit shy about doing stuff and I did a flyer design for a night here in Bristol and my mate said ‘what do you wanna call yourself, do you want your name on it?’ I was a bit embarrassed, so didn’t put my name on it, but when I got the flyer he’d just put Mr. Jago, so I just stuck with it. Where you one of those kids who never left home without your biro? Yeah I was. I grew up as a kid in the eighties, so we did all the classic lino break dancing stuff. I liked graffiti but where I grew up you couldn’t really do it, well I kind of did it a little bit and got caught immediately, so I did sketch books and stuff instead. So you’ve kept it pretty legal since then? Well I’ve done a few bits, but just because it’s on a wall it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s illegal. There are walls that you can do things on, painting with friends, but I guess it all comes from not being very confident about my work and having it out there. Now I’ve got a little more used to it, but I’m not really a proper graffiti kid. What’s the deal with the ‘Scrawl Collective’? It used to be a lot more of an active thing, as it stands, it’s more of an idea and when the book came out that Ric (Blackshaw) set up and we were getting enquiries from quite big companies. We decided to make it look like more of an agency where Will Barras and I worked together. It’s quietened down a bit now. So was that where the bulk of your work came from? It used to be and I literally did what I did because I got the opportunities. If I was called up and asked if I wanted to get paid, you say ‘yes please’. Over the last few years work has come to me, because I’ve got a website, which bring less commercial work and any commercial work is more along the lines of working to a brief, where as now I can pretty much just make my pictures. What level of freedom do you get on briefs... do you generally get to do whatever the hell you want? Yeah, nowadays complete freedom, which is really lucky. I started off thinking, ok, I’m an illustrator because I did an illustration degree, but I didn’t really know how to sell myself. It’s a thrill to start with, getting a record sleeve or some kind of product out, but that wears off pretty quick really and you end up feeling a bit hollow just doing things to sell. Nowadays I can do what I like, within reason.
So does your main income as an illustrator come from the products you make and sell through your website or is there more money to be made from projects coming form larger corporations? I’ve tried to survive by just selling artwork, but when you do get a job it’s nice because there is that security and they do pay quite well. It’s a weird feeling to have someone else’s approval. It makes you feel more valid to get someone else’s approval on work, and then when one person says that you’re good for something, then other people start to think that you are too. You have a huge client list (including Nike, Addict, Levi’s, Enjin skateboards, Sony, VW) did this kind of spiral or was it more of a calculated approach? It was more of a domino effect. I was lucky because I was hidden away doing what I was doing, but not really knowing how to do it, and the minute work was out there these people came to me. I didn’t really know my client list until I had to make a CV press pack recently and I was like ‘bloody hell’, but it all kind of lead on from one thing to another. The one question that will be on a lot of aspiring illustrators tongues, is: Do you make shit loads of money? No. I remember being younger and thinking wow, I wanna be him, but I think it’s a bit of an illusion, because you get paid per job and there’s only a certain amount of jobs you can do within the timeframe. Unless you do something like Jamie Hewlett where you license it to something, and it goes off in multiples, and you own it. There are a few things on the bubble that should mean that I’ll be able to live like a normal person soon. It needs to be that product, like the Gorillaz and I’d imagine he’s [Hewlett] doing quite well for himself. How did the Addict and Enjin Skateboards work come about? I remember being younger and buying Addict T’s when they first started out, I think they started out with a photocopier and some iron on transfers. Two guys kind of met in the street who were into the same sort of stuff music wise then they grew into this really cool company. They got in touch with the idea that they wanted to do an artist based t shirt range, of course I was very pleased because I’d always respected what they did and it was nice to be considered. From there, it got a good response and because it’s a British brand and they were one of the first to do that artist collaboration thing. Then they had other ideas like a tour, a patent for coats and ski goggles… If you had to choose one mark-making implement to use for the rest of your life what would it be? Before I would have said the Bic biro, but nowadays I would have to say the brush. I get a lot of pleasure out of a brush, without sounding too dodgy! There’s a lot you can do and it gives me the opportunity to try and master a new medium. Mr Jago has just launched a new streetwear label ‘Play Nice’. Check it out at www. playnice.com. Jonny Cazzola
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Photographer: ELIAS&SARIA PHOTOGRAPHY 1st Photo Assistant: Francesco Benson 2nd Photo Assistant: Sabine Scheckel 3rd Photo Assistant: Christine Gatchalian Hair: Yoichi TomizawaHair Assistant: Tetsuya Yokozuka Make up: Asami Matsuda Make up Assistant: Jin Kimoto Styling: ELIAS&SARIA and Sabine Feuilloley Model #1: Oxana Pautova / Supreme Model #2: Katsia Domankova / Ford Art Direction, Production, Retouching: ELIAS&SARIA PHOTOGRAPHY Location: Penthouse of Terry Niefield / New York CityStyling Designers
SENOR COCONUT AROUND THE WORLD The hotshot, Mr Coconut, gives us his unique take on 12 pearls of international electro pop. He turns his hand at ‘Sweet Dreams’, ‘Da Da Da’, ‘Moscow Disco’ and of course Daft Punk’s ‘Around The World’ all in a bigband-swinging-sexy-samba sound. Uplifting happy summertime grooves for uplifted summer groovers.
occasionally fab Ecstatic Peace! label. Where the band’s eponymous debut album owed more than a small debt to the Stooges and the MC5 (which was no bad thing) this sees them shift up a gear into the murky worlds of 70s psych, whiskey-soaked southern raunch ‘n’ roll and the occasional stadium sized anthem thrown in for good measure. Gloriously energetic and gloriously rollicking!
POP LEVI NEVER NEVER LOVE The former Ladytron Liverpudlian bassist relocated to Quincy Jones’ studio in Los Angeles to record ‘Never Never Love’ and it was a wise move. It’s oozing the sleaze, gliitter and sunshine of the city. Where his last album, 2007’s ‘The Return to Form Black Magick Party’, paid more than a passing nod to Marc Bolan ‘Never Never Love’ is a futuristic psychedelic funk pop gem with more hooks than a fisherman’s hat.
CAGE THE ELEPHANT CAGE THE ELEPHANT Hailing from Kentucky in America’s South this five-piece’s debut album is a full-on, no time to take a breath, assault on all of the senses. Lyrically and musically nothing prepares you for what you are about to hear – it’s angst, it’s high-strung energy, it’s clever, it’s stupid, but most of all it’s great! In fact it’s America’s answer to Artic Monkeys. Led by brothers, who grew up on an alternative religious commune, somehow the God botherers missed these boys and the devil bought their souls instead – in their hometown of Bowling Green they’ve managed to clock up over 50 convictions – now THAT is rock ‘n’ roll baby!
GOLDIE WATCH THE RIDE Hot on the heals of Andy Weatherall’s pretty fab compilation of the same name this heralds the welcome return of the drum and bass pioneer. As you’d expect from a master of his game, it’s filled with cutting edge sounds and exclusives. It’s dark, twisted and futuristic - bassaphobes run for your lives! KID CARPET CASIO ROYALE He’s a one-man-band boy wonder who has previously been described as ‘kiddy disco punk’ and ‘shit-hop’ but whatever your thoughts Kid Carpet creates a joyful mash up that tickles your senses. Made up of Fisher Price guitars, Casio keyboards and sticky tape covered samplers this album has more pop gems than a fridge full of Panda Pops. Merry insanity at its best. AWESOME COLOR ELECTRIC ABORIGINES Awesome Color are probably our favourite band on Thurston Moore’s
ALBERT HAMMOND JR COMO TE LLAMA Taking time out from hanging around with models and scouring NYC’s vintage stores for their fine line in leather jackets Hammond Jr and his Dillon-esque warbles are back. Managing to steer away from the sounds of The Strokes – quite significantly – this, the second solo offer from Hammond, didn’t manage to set me on fire initially but it is certainly a grower. If you are willing to invest the time then Albert will reward you with his matured lyrics and song arrangements that combine to offer a powerful set of tracks. If you’re expecting The Strokes then you’ll be disappointed – but then what would be the point in that?
winter in alaska “IT DOESN’T REALLY MAKE SENSE TO GO OUT TO THE ABSOLUTE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE AND BE SURROUNDED BY BEAUTIFUL NATURE, ONLY TO MAKE SOMETHING MORE SYNTHETIC. IT SEEMS LIKE IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE OTHER WAY ROUND.” Maybe so but, here at Fused, we are the furthest thing from sorry that the end result of Brandon Bethancourt’s months spent in Alaska is debut record, ‘Dance Party in the Balkans.’ “For some reason, living in a log cabin surrounded by nature made me make something electronic. Maybe I was missing the dance parties back home.” Home is Alburquerque, New Mexico, a place Brandon “wanted absolutely nothing to do with” a few years ago despite certain homebred influences manifesting in his music. “I had a lot of friends who had lowriders and massive soundsystems, who listened to loads of bass-ey stuff. I think that comes out in a lot of the music.” Although electronic elements pervade the album, the synthesisers and processed vocals co-exist with classical instrumentation, creating ambient soundscapes not lacking in violin strings and brass. Think Air gone orchestral. “Basically, I was trying to mesh a tonne of different things together. It’s just something at the time that I was really into. I love playing piano but I also love listening to Daft Punk and both of those things really influenced me so I just said, ‘Hey, what the heck? I’m gonna try it.’” And try it he did, usurping from lowriding New Mexico to far-flung and, comparably, chilly Alaska. Why the big move? “Well, basically I dropped out of school for a while and went to Alaska to hang out,” Brandon chuckles. “My sister had lived there for a year, and I had been a couple of times before and just thought it was amazing. At the time, there wasn’t anything really happening for me.” Although his intention hadn’t been to make music in Alaska, he nonetheless found himself inspired by his surroundings and shut himself away in his log cabin to compose. “I’m kind of notorious for being a hermit, staying in my apartment for weeks and not seeing sunlight, just kind of working all night and every night on the music.” Such was the extent he became immersed in the music and environment, Brandon’s plan to entitle the album ‘Alaska in Winter’ was scrapped and he chose to assume the moniker himself (“It just kinda stuck”). Given the album’s epic nature and lack of standard three-minute pop songs, many critics have thrown the word ‘cinematic’ around. Would scoring films be an avenue he’d like to explore? “I did a lot of music beforehand that was primarily instrumental, and this kind of veered away from what I was doing previously. A lot of people have commented on how the album could be ‘soundtrack music’, and I would definitely be into doing something like that in the future.” Aside from touring, perhaps in the States where the album has only just been released, Brandon’s ambitions for 2008 include laying down new material. “I have enough starter material for about two and a half, maybe three, albums. There are twenty, thirty songs I have right now on the backburner. I just need the time… that’s the plan after the tour. The last show is in Berlin and I’m basically moving into an apartment there for about six months, just planning on being there to record.” So can we expect him to return as Berlin in Summer? He laughs. “You never know…” Luke McNaney
Sebastien Tellier AMONGST MY FAVOURITE FRENCH THINGS ARE CHANEL, LANVIN, JEAN PAUL GAULTIER AND NOW IT SEEMS FRENCH ELECTRO IS LAVISHING AT THE TOP OF MY CD COLLECTION. Artistes such as Daft Punk, Justice and the Kitsuné massive have been flourishing there for a while, but it is the elegantly harmonious album ‘Sexuality’ by Sebastien Tellier that is having its moment to shine in my CD player at present. In case you have been hiding under a rock over the last few years and are not familiar with Sebastien Tellier’s unique blend of sleek French electro pop; his first album ‘L’incroyable Vérité’ (The Incredible Truth), was released in 2001 and provided a brief taster of the lo-fi electronica that Tellier is so masterful at producing. The album’s front cover also showcased Tellier in a full evening dress! I’m unsure whether it was this image alone or his ability to delicately mix in tinges of caberet onto his debut record with an identifiable ease that appealed to me most, either way I was hooked.
time,” explains Tellier. ”Throwing ourselves into this album together was a real adventure, we didn’t really know if it was going to work or not, we were both happy with the finished product however.” No stranger to the world of film Tellier contributed songs to and collaborated with Mr. Oizo in 2007 for the soundtrack to accompany Oizo’s feature film directorial debut, ‘Steak’. When asked whom he would like to work with in future his response defers only to directors, the names “John Woo, Zach Snyder and Michael Mann” are presently at the top of the list. When interviewing Sebastien Tellier the flirty and sexual expressive nature that is so often intertwined within his music is clearly evident, be that through his quirky short answers or his decisively sharp wit. When faced with a question regarding whether he has any regrets he merely replies, “Yes, I’m full of them, but I no longer have the time to think about them.”
Four years later Tellier presented the album ‘Politics’ in his full tongue-in-cheek deminour addressing the serious subject matter of power and governance whilst also throwing in relative mentions of ketchup to boot. Now it seems Tellier is amourous, “For a long time I thought that politics ruled the world, but two years ago I discovered that it was in fact, sex,” he cheekily adds.
Tellier certainly surpassed the usual expectation of the masses when he performed his single ‘Divine’ at the Eurovision Song Contest in Belgrade. So whilst the English entry achieved nothing more than the characteristic “nil point” Tellier added a certain sleekness to an otherwise humourous song contest with France’s first English sung entry.
Tellier’s third studio album ‘Sexuality’ in fact does what it says on the tin – it is a very kinky affair indeed, which was perhaps the desired result that Tellier required as he declares that the inspirations for this record are his “sexual fantasies”, who are we to argue with that? ‘Sexuality’ was produced by Daft Punk’s Guy Manuel De Homem-Christo to incredible effect, the working relationship between the pair must have been close to carve out such a rare electro gem? “I’d been a fan of Guy-Manuel for a long time, he really put a lot of effort into this album, it was perfect. In the studio, we were excited and quite serious at the same
The audience for his shows may however be in a state of shock as Tellier explains how he promises to take audiences “on a huge sexual journey”, he continues, “I’m going to try and hide in the background, so as to avoid breaking the fantasies of the audience.” Now it’s time for us all to get sexual. Kimberley Owen
the wombats “I GUESS WE HAVEN’T WON OVER AARHUS YET,” CALLED OUT MURPH, LEAD SINGER OF THE WOMBATS, TO A LARGE CROWD GATHERED AT A VENUE CALLED VOXHALL IN DENMARK’S SECOND LARGEST CITY, following a middling response to heart-felt ‘Here Comes The Anxiety’. However, he was completely misinterpreting events. Compared to UK audiences, Danish gig-goers are quite reserved and I’ve been to shows where they haven’t even danced. But tonight, for The Wombats, the audience had buzzed eagerly through the support act and, four songs into the set, were already beginning to sway and swoon for these three Liverpudlians. As if to correct him, the crowd went wild for the subsequent song, ‘Kill The Director’. “‘Kill The Director’ was a big step for us, it was the first song to get played on daytime radio and our first full release on 14th Floor Records,” Tord, the Wombats bassist, had told me as we sat backstage before the gig, “I remember we did a tour or whatever in Japan and then
America so we were away a lot – about a month – and ‘Kill The Director’ came out in the summer, while we were away, and when we came back, everything had changed. We went away playing small venues with a 150 people, coming back we played V Festival, which was 3000 people, singing the words back at us after hearing it on the radio,” he reminisced, “that was like a moment where we could say ‘OK, something’s happening’”. The Wombats were in the midst of a European leg of their world tour, which has been going on for about two years; though it was often featured in their lyrics, the guys have only been back in Liverpool about ten times since then and Murph no longer has a fixed abode. They started out travelling around in a car, managing themselves, having to borrow instruments and not even getting paid, then with the release of their album, ‘A Guide To Love, Loss and Desperation’, they turned into celebrities, but they continue to live on the road, playing “bigger and better shows”. Just recently they played SXSW festival in Texas and
now they are playing sell-out gigs in France, Germany, Italy, Norway and Switzerland. The travelling was beginning to cause strain, “for the last month, the big problem really,” Tord explained, “has been playing different countries and changing different time zones all the time. We changed ten time zones in 16-days and eleven gigs in eleven flights.” This sort of extreme travelling messed up the body clock and when I meet the band at 5.30pm (Danish time), they had only been awake an hour. But the band weren’t complaining, and they aren’t stopping either. They are playing all the major festivals this summer: Glastonbury, T in the Park, Oxegen, Isle of Wight, Hurricane in Germany and, they announced to me during this interview, Reading as well. They’d also be supporting Radiohead in France. However, neither the long lie-in they’d had today nor the months of experience could prepare The Wombats for how easily their Danish audience could get out of control. With their indie-pop, the three-piece melted the icy Nordic hearts of this ‘advanced society’
and the long lost Viking within stirred. A pair of young Danish lovers were the first to invade the stage, waltzing beside the band, and soon many others followed, with one person running on stage to kiss Murph on the cheek, others using the stage as a platform for bare-chested crowd-surfing. Due to the usual good behaviour of Danes, the only security the venue had was a single doorman who ran around frantically trying to figure out what to do. Then again, perhaps the gig was getting so wild because the crowd wasn’t a hundred-percent Danish. There were a large number of Brits – where they had all come from, I couldn’t figure out. There was a chance some of them were émigrés that had come here for the free uni education, but the small troop of stocky Newcastle lads I spoke to at the bar, fronted by a John Stevens, told me that they had come by ferry. Dan, the Wombat’s drummer, had also told me about a ferry that travelled between Norway, Denmark and England, describing it as a ‘16-hour party boat’.
Amongst the crowd, I also met Jill Meissner and Eva Huber, two exchange students from Vienna, who told me “The Wombats are very big in our country, I saw them on Go TV, which is our major music television channel. You only get on there when you’re really good.” “Oi! Who stole my sunglasses?!” screamed Murph, coming on stage after a hooded crowd member had jumped onto the stage to steal the singer’s trademark plastic, red, 80s shades while the band were off stage before the encore. “I loved those sunglasses!” “We’re the Scousers not you guys,” chipped in Dan, playfully, “Liverpool is supposed to be famous for thieving stuff, not Aarhus!” Maybe theft is a symptom of the melodious, pop hysteria that seems to be spreading faster and wider across the world than the Great Plague, though this time the carriers aren’t rats, their Wombats. Words: Jack Parsons/Good Blades Illustration: Tansy Myer
G N LO THE NDES BLO
WHILE ‘NEW YORKSHIRE’ HAS FADED FROM PUBLIC VIEW ALMOST AS QUICKLY AS THE MUSIC WEEKLIES COINED THE PHRASE, Sheffield’s Long Blondes have more than just survived; they’ve flourished in a marketplace desperately searching for authenticity amid all the charthungry fakery. Like The Smiths, Suede and Pulp before them, their bold social commentary paints a telling picture of modern Britain. Teaming up with indie-dance pioneer Erol Alkan, for the hotly anticipated follow up to 2006’s much loved debut ‘Someone To Drive You Home’, Kate Jackson, Dorian Cox, Reenie Hollis, Emma Chaplin and the brilliantly named Screech Louder look set to take a huge leap forward both creatively and commercially with ‘Couples’. Fused caught up with Screech to talk about the album. You’ve just released the new album. How’s that been going? Yeah, good. I’m really, really happy with the album. It was fun to record. I think it’s definitely a progression for us. One thing that’s kind of exciting about this record is that there’s not really any obvious singles on it. I think we’ve made an
album that very much stands up as a collection of songs together rather than singles and filler. It was quite interesting to pick a single off the record when there weren’t any really obvious singles on there. The response to the song has been really, really interesting because I think people are a little bit taken aback by it. It seems to be getting people talking. As you’ve mentioned, it seems to be a progression for you. To a certain extent. I think we’re still very much The Long Blondes but it was a conscious choice for us to progress with this record and hopefully the single is the first indication of that. You recorded the album with Erol Alkan. How did that come about? We’ve done quite a lot of stuff with Erol. He did all the b-sides for the old singles from the first record. He put us on at Trash almost three years ago. We kept in touch and he’s always been a big supporter of ours, a big fan of our records. We were just friends with him. When we were doing the first album, when we weren’t in the studio with Steve we were always hanging out with Erol. Where we were living was near where he was living. We
spent a lot of time together and he was saying then that he’d like to get into production and try his hand at doing some recording. We said ‘why don’t you try us? Let’s get together and see what happens.’ It clicked and we just had this really fantastic working relationship. It just seems to work him and us in the studio together. What do you think he brought to the album? He’s got so many ideas and because we have such a good relationship he would suggest something that was completely off the keyring and I think we trusted him enough to just do it. Like he’d say ‘why don’t you play the drums in the shower?’ and I’d kind of think ‘well, alright then’. Because he’d never really produced a record before he didn’t really have any set ideas about what you should do so he did things that were a little bit odd, a little bit off-kilter, but I think they ended up working in our favour because I think we made a much more interesting record because of that. How does it differ from ‘Someone to Drive You Home’? It’s darker, definitely. For this record we all got together and wrote it all in a month and it’s just meant that
all of us can get our musical voice across. We all like quite a lot of diverse music. Dorian’s really into seventies disco and I’m really into seventies prog and we somehow managed to merge those things together. You seem to be exploring all sorts of creative avenues. Yeah, definitely. We signed to Rough Trade for a reason and I’ve always thought of us wanting to be part of that heritage of Rough Trade bands, the bands they had on the label in the seventies and eighties, The Fall, The Raincoats, even Robert Wyatt. They were artists who forged their own path and didn’t follow trends. They were just themselves and did what they wanted. I would like to think of us as kind of fitting into that lineage of bands. It may be that we’re not necessarily the most commercially successful band because we are doing our own thing and are a little bit outside whatever else is going on, but I think in the long run it means that we’ll create an exciting, diverse and interesting body of work that’ll be looked back on in years to come as good songs. Toby Rogers
e v a w July Heat MULTI-HYPHENATE GODDESS MIRANDA JULY TALKS FEMINISM, FILMMAKING, ART AND YOUTHFUL SEXUALITY
consciousness. It’s not a help in any way, but I guess its part of being a working artist.”
The line between ingenuity and oddity is a thin one that is hard to traverse successfully. Miranda July has crafted an entire career doing just this, imbuing her work with the kind of pathos and whip-smart wit that would render anyone envious.
Being a female film-maker in Hollywood is an incredibly thankless job, but July insists that headway has been made. She also states that having a set of ideals makes the job easier. Does that mean she’s a feminist?
Born Miranda Jennifer Grossinger in 1974, she soon changed her surname to July and has gone on to become one of the hottest properties in most of the major art disciplines, including film-making, art, literature and performance. Her first full-length film, ‘Me and You and Everyone We Know’ was a major critical darling, garnering prizes at both Cannes and Sundance. She followed up this achievement with a best-selling collection of short stories entitled, ‘No One Belongs Here More Than You.’ The book shifted more than 100,000 copies within a few months and was recently awarded the prestigious Frank O’Connor Short Story Prize. Speaking on the phone from her Los Angeles home, July says, “I was writing these stories at the same time as I was writing my last movie. What was interesting about that was writing from an unconscious, uncensored place. I was in my twenties for a lot of it. This was the first decade that I was an adult. I could think of sex from both points of view; as a child and as an adult; often using sexual themes as a metaphor for the unconscious or for mystery, as opposed to mere eroticism.” All her work filters experiences through the sieve of child-like perceptions, so was she creative as a child? “I was an imaginative child,” she says in a gentle voice, “I wrote lots of stories, some of which I still have. I have one from when I was seven that was a trilogy called ‘Lost Child.’ I read a lot of classic stuff when I was younger because I discovered that my parents had some books that I liked. So on my own, I would read Dostoyevsky and James Baldwin.” Some might say that her work is treacly sweet, but July downplays this by anchoring her ideas in surprising acts of strength. In a sense, her work is about the difficult business of living and building connections out of the most random situations. In fact, her aesthetic vision is so distinctive that the American short story writer, George Saunders coined an adjective for it; Julyesque. As a result of her success, does she feel pressure to constantly create? “I do feel outside pressure,” she says, “It’s only surpassed by my internal pressure to create, which is really different. When I haven’t made something for a while, it’s like I haven’t eaten. It’s how you make sense of the world. I feel out of it like I’m carrying something inside that has to be released. The external pressure is the total opposite of that. It’s about fear and self-
“I consider myself one,” she states, “To say I’m not a feminist, I’m not sure how that would serve me at all. The movie industry is so sexist that you have to be a feminist to get anything done. It’s very hidden somehow, so yeah I still feel that there is a lot to be done. At the same time, I’m keeping pride in all the progress that has been made. I think to say that you’re not a feminist is a matter of going out of your way. I think it’s a fear of what the label might mean. I never think for a second that being a feminist means not loving men. It’s an insecure point of view that you couldn’t actually be prowoman, without being against men.” Her most recent project was a groundbreaking website called ‘Learning to Love You More’ which was created with artist Harrell Fletcher as a way of inspiring ordinary people to come up with extraordinary ways of selfexpression. Each week, both July and Fletcher issued assignments and the results were so incredible that they have been published as a book. “Harrell Fletcher and I had both done a lot of projects that engaged the public,” says July, “In different ways, we sort of gave out assignments. I had already done a project called ‘Joanie4Jackie’ with women filmmakers. So this was the first time I had really used the internet to fulfill our interests. The website is successful but we never publicised it. We let it grow very organically, so in some ways it was kind of slow. It’s a kind of underground thing.” Despite being so immersed in art, July has a pretty low estimation of the art world in general. “I think some of my favourite art has been made by people who might not even be considered as artists for one reason or another. And the art world is so uninteresting to me. I don’t even care about it. It’s just the art itself that matters.” Within the space of a few years, July has gone from cult-favourite to highly lauded multi-threat. So what next? What are her future plans? “I always have loose plans pretty far into the future. I know what projects I would like to do. I want to write a novel and also larger art projects. A lot of my plans are also just personal ones.” Somehow, one gets the feeling that whatever Miranda July does next, it will be a crazy/ beautiful experience for her admirers. ‘Learning to Love You More’ is published by Prestel. Diriye Osman
Supergrass LEANT AGAINST THE EXTERIOR OF A TRENDY WEST END PUB, MERE MOMENTS FROM THE BUSY TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD INTERSECTION, THREE DISTINCTLY SCRUFFY AND BOHEMIAN INDIVIDUALS CONSPICUOUSLY HUNCH OVER THEIR CIGARETTES. One wears a bright, striped blazer, one has long matted hair, and the third’s hirsute sideburns protrude from beneath his off-kilter trilby. Together, they spell one thing and one thing only: rock n’ freaking roll. Brothers Gaz and Rob Coombes are taking a short break with their drummer, Danny Goffey. They’re preparing for the day’s final interviews and look as though the intermission is well deserved. Back inside, they form into pairs and commence the next round of interrogation. Danny and Rob join me upstairs to chat about their rock n’ roll comeback, ‘Diamond Hoo Ha Men’, whilst Gaz and bassist, Mick Quinn - who wasn’t outside due to immobility issues, a result of the bizarre sleepwalking accident that took place in September of last year - are forced to spend half an hour with Waitrose Food magazine (!). How rock and roll can you get? It’s hard not to love Supergrass. Without them, there’d be no Kaiser Chiefs, no Arctic Monkeys, no Fratellis. The piercing grunt of thumping guitars is prevalent throughout the new album and, between swigs of thirst-quenching bottled water, Goffey admits that they “wanted to do something that upped the RPM slightly, a bit more in-your-face. A little bit stompier”. This latter statement rings especially true because Diamond…rolls back the years with its upbeat, bouncy flavour, rising high above the pout of glamour. “There’s always been a little bit of that in us” comes Goffey’s timid declaration. Although attempting to side-step the issue of glam, he still believes the album’s eponymous title track to be “probably the most glammy one on there”. The decision to derive most of the album’s content from strutting hedonism was not a conscious one. Coombes sees that aspect as something inherent and totally unplanned. “I don’t know if ‘conscious’ is the right word for it because it makes us sound like we’re contrived. I don’t think we do music that’s contrived” he theorises in his quieter, more studied fashion. “I think the music finds its own way”. Diamond Hoo Ha Men is glaringly different from the band’s previous album – 2005’s moodier ‘Road To Rouen’ – yet displays a strong nostalgic attachment to their earlier work. Its endearing use of balance is what makes it so special, believes Goffey. “Some stuff is quite positive, some stuff is quite funny and then some stuff is a bit deeper and reflective of the life that has happened to us over the last few years”. Seizing this opportunity to highlight his own hilarity, he then turns into a cul-de-sac of clichés involving “optimistic personas” and “we’re all going to die, so we might as well have a good laugh doing it”. The laugh eventually arrives and is succinctly followed by Coombes’ expertly timed, “I think Danny has put it very eloquently”, uttered with wry grin. There’s evidence here that the band probably enjoyed themselves a fair amount whilst making this record. Much of the work on Diamond… was completed prior to entering the studio in an effort to economise on their sanity. The actual recording at Berlin’s Hansa studio was little more than three weeks in length. “It’s definitely more enjoyable,” says Goffey, “it’s a great feeling bashing songs out in a day. It can get a bit laborious if you know in the back of your head that a song is half finished”. Like so many other bands these days, Supergrass displayed the confidence to record the whole piece quickly and without leaving any material unused. Preserving the latent energy of the live performance was imperative in keeping the spirit of the album intact. “We wanted to catch the moment,” utters Coombes, “we didn’t want it to drag on”.
The Diamond process was carefully guarded by seasoned producer, Nick Launay, who cast his knowing eye over the proceedings. With near-rehearsed perfection, Goffey’s fawning description of Launay is almost worthy of a gold star. “He is like an art teacher that you really liked at school. He is one of the only producers we’ve worked with that we haven’t doubted. He’s sort of one of us really, just a bit older”. In the past, the band have mainly self-produced yet, for this project, saw great merit in bringing in external expertise. Coombes delivers a poignant dispatch that summarises this notion of mutual respect. “Sometimes a producer can see something when he’s not within the music, when he’s not involved with it. That’s when a producer works best. When we’re all so wrapped up in a piece we don’t see something that can be seen so differently”. Launay’s previous notoriety blossomed with bands like Arcade Fire, Talking Heads and Nick Cave. As such, he didn’t have any problems extracting exactly what he needed from Supergrass. “He just wanted us to be ourselves,” insists Goffey, continuing, “I think he liked our energy and the vibrant stuff we’d done in the past and wanted to get that down rather than our slightly slower, folkie side”. He’s not wrong. Diamond’s rampant rollercoaster ride is rockier than a geologist’s knapsack and its furiously infectious hooks will convert anyone who isn’t already a Supergrass fan. From the Strokes-riffology of ‘Return Of’ to the Hammond organ funk of ‘Rough Knuckles’, the band maintains the dancing youthfulness that they were originally known for. Goffey’s promise is “we’re going to play all the songs on the album when we play live”. He even goes so far as to brag, “there’s not one song that I’m worried about playing. We wanted something that was a little bit harder and exciting to play live”. The new material has already had a few outings, including a handful of intimate gigs with just Gaz Coombes and Goffey bastardising the album. “It was more of a White Stripes sort of thing” Goffey admits “but we’ve done a few gigs with Rob and Gaz’s younger brother, Charlie, playing the keyboard bass, which were great. The new stuff sounded better than most of the other stuff we usually do”. Despite the promises of playing just the new material, fans will probably expect the band to deliver the goods they’re accustomed to. With a bounty of tuneage that exceeds over 100 tracks, how do the cheeky chappies from Oxford decide which songs to play? Their propensity toward humour is demonstrated in Coombes’ playful suggestion. “We have a hat with all the names of our songs in it. Honest, that’s how it works. Well, that’s what they told me”. Goffey then provides a more sober answer. “No, it’s the ones that Gaz can still sing. It’s the ones that Gaz can get to the high notes in. Surprisingly, there are still a few old songs we won’t play. We cant really get away with playing ‘Alright’ any more because it’s so about being a 14 year old kid and it would just be silly to sing it”. Fear not though, Supergrass fans, because “stuff like ‘Caught By The Fuzz’, ‘Strange Ones’ and ‘Richard III’ are just really powerful songs. People get off on it”. Leaving Coombes and Goffey in a pile of their own steaming chirpiness, I wander outside to find Gaz Coombes smoking, alone, in the exact same spot as before. “Were they good, well-behaved boys?” he asks, almost with a hint of jealously. The Waitrose Food magazine interview must’ve been tough. His cigarette has been joined by a friend - a bottle of medicinal beer. Perhaps it was rock n freaking roll after all?
Christian Rose-Day Illustration:Chris Von Steiner
DOES THE SPACE YOU WORK IN MAKE YOU SMILE? Something exciting is happening in the creative heart of Birmingham. Breaking away from the corporate mould Developers BLOK Properties have started work on a £2.4 million scheme on Heath Mill Lane that is going to offer a unique opportunity to where people choose to work. Designed by creatives, for creatives Rhubarb is built around BLOK’s ethos ‘blokwork’ which offers the concept of contemporary living rather than a typical office environment. It’s not just about a space but a brand, and one that puts creative business at the fore. BLOK have managed to combine their own ideas of what a creative space could be with the flair of award winning Birmingham architects, Bryant Priest Newman, and progressive advertising and design agency Black and Ginger. Fusing together a working partnership the three, very separate, companies have continually worked side-by-side from concept to vision to create a distinctive brand. “Blok’s approach is different to many,” comments Black and Ginger’s Creative Director Alex Frech. “The majority of developers pay little attention to branding at all. In that respect we are very fortunate to be working with such a forward thinking company.” This is mirrored by the Project Architect Phill Shepherd: “The concept of incorporating an identity through collaboration with a marketing agency is a unique feature, it created a unified concept that allowed the building to match the aspirations of Blok Properties.”
The concept for the style of the building came from studying the local area and interpreting it into the building plans in a creative and modern approach. “We wanted to incorporate the creative atmosphere that surrounds the Custard Factory through the use of Colour and traditional building materials.” States Shepherd. The building has a strong element of style. From its dark brickwork to the splashes of bold colour on the glazing integrating Black and Gingers interpretation of the Rhubarb Stick brand with Bryant Priest Newman’s building design. “Working alongside a marketing agency was a new concept to me”, adds Shepherd. “We have worked in collaboration with Artists on other projects but the challenge of incorporating a branding into the design has prevented it from being just another office development.” Standing right in the heart of the creative arts and media quarter the new development offers a blend of stylish workspace, designed interiors and an equally hot looking exterior. The space fuses the idea of what an office needs to do be with tasteful contemporary urban living - all designed with the ‘creative’ in mind. Loving the work you do is one thing but loving where you do it can be something totally different. If the space that you spend your eight hours a
day designing websites, laying out brochures, writing press releases and drinking your latte isn’t inspirational then what are you going to do? Individual and quirky space can be hard to come by. Add in to the mix affordable and desirable along with a space that you can actually own then it becomes almost impossible – until now. “It was important to consider how every space and detail reflects on the Creative Companies working in the spaces. Visitors should be aware from the very moment they enter the building that the companies inside have a great deal of flair and creativity and this can only be done through well designed, modern, forward thinking spaces.” Confirms Shepherd. The Directors of BLOK are as moved away from what you would expect of property developers as their buildings. They’ve managed to incorporate a playfulness to the construction through colour and style and are equally as creative as the people they hope will take up residence in the space. Each space includes a complimentary fold up bike in an effort to reduce car dependency - but their green credentials don’t stop there. The construction of the building uses a number of sustainable modern methods including the use of recycled materials. In an effort to reduce CO2 emissions Rhubarb will also feature Digbeth’s first ‘green roof’ system and has been designed to be ‘low energy use’ resulting in reduced running costs and savings for its occupiers. Arranged over 5 floors Rhubarb will comprise 18 self-contained office studios, ranging from 360 sq ft to 860 sq ft. Studios are able to accommodate between 4 and 16 people but can be combined to provide larger spaces. Prices start at £89,000 – offering a smart, affordable alternative to renting standard office space without the added cost. One thing is for sure – working in this space you’ll never lack creativity. Want to know more? www.taste-rhubarb.com www.bryantpriestnewman.com www.blackandginger.com
Metal Chain - B&Q
Trousers - Laura Martinez made to order, Gloves - River Island, Bangle - Freedom
Waistcoat by Laura Martinez made to order
Leather jacket - Religion, Skinny jeans - Religion, Belt - Urban Outfitters, Shoes - Dune, Gloves - stylist own
Fur - stylist own, Necklace - Freedom
Jacket - Urban Outfitters, Belt - Urban Outfitters, Gloves - Beyond Retro, Leggings - New Look
Photographer: Daniel Thomas Stylist: Denise Brown www.denisebrownstylist.com Hair: Johâ€™B Make Up: Cheryl Corea Model: Astri www.oxygenmodels.com
santogold HER GLORIOUS SINGLE ‘LES ARTISTES’ IS PLAYING ON THE BBC AND HER FACE IS PEERING OUT FROM BEHIND HER NOO YOIK SUNGLASSES ON MAINSTREAM AND STYLE MAGAZINE COVERS. There is a big buzz on those websites around her gigs in small but perfectly hip venues in London. Santi White’s alter ego Santogold has scaled the heights of the music and style credibility cliff; but is she about to take flight on a paraglider into the mainstream? The people who ought to know say she will. A selection of those sages also worked with her on the album; Diplo, Mark Ronson, Switch and Freq Nasty (Santi also works as a co writer for other artists) although she’s clear that there was no danger of her original vision getting lost in a swirl of contributors: “Well, when it’s stuff for me the finished product is EXACTLY the same as the ideas in my head. John Hill and I produced every track on the album, then other people contributed to certain other tracks like Diplo on ‘Unstoppable’ for instance or Switch and Freq Nasty on others. So from John and I there’s some sort of cohesion. While the others have influenced the sound of other songs, it’s never a case of me doing my bit and then someone taking that away and transforming it. I’m involved in the whole process ‘cos it’s my record. Overall, although the record is very diverse it’s not fragmented - it’s a complete piece of work.” Her background at Music College where she specialised in African drumming followed by a stint in A&R at Sony in New York almost suggests she tried everything else before making a name for herself as a singer. “Everyone wants to know about the Haitian and West African drumming. I was a music major in college and you had to have an instrument. I played guitar a little bit but I really loved hand drums. I studied lots of things to do with musical ethnology, I wanted to be exposed to as many different things as possible - experimental music, the history of rock and roll - I wanted to know about everything. But I was also particularly interested in women drummers, female musicians who did things that men said they couldn’t do and also specific kinds of drumming that ONLY Women do. All because people said to me girls aren’t drummers and if someone says to me you can’t do something, then I’m like ‘Oh yes I CAN!’ I’ve always been into anything that’s cool but not what other girls did. Like wearing hi-tops when I was a little girl right down to snowboarding or wearing dreadlocks on top of my head with sides shaved off.’ She’s bright, very self confident, breezy and unapologetic about her talent, unembarrassed about the hype surrounding her at the moment and, sweetly, very enthusiastic about the whole journey. “Well I’m just excited and happy about it. No, of course I didn’t expect [so much media attention] but I think its great and it’s all around the time of the album launch so it’s just very positive.” She’s moved up the scale rapidly, not just in terms of the 24 carat producers queuing round the block to work on her album, but supporting Bjork live - something of a dream: “I did three shows with Bjork at Madison Square Gardens and she was just one of the warmest, most inspirational people you could ever meet and work with. She reached out to me from hearing my stuff on Myspace before the record was even made. I got to hang out too and it was great fun.” On the image front, her preference is for tight, slinky but fun patterned bits and pieces: “I’m into one pieces just now. Jumpsuits. I love’em. I did some of my publicity photos in a full length leopard skin jumpsuit. I’m really into that look. And those black leggings with the zips printed all over them? Oh yeah, they’re Jeremy Scott. I just love Jeremy Scott. I met him and we hung out at Coachella festival. He makes wonderful clothes and he’s a great guy too. Oh yes, and I’ve done the after party for Stella McCartney’s show in Paris, and I think she’s really great.” When we move onto the subject of writing rhyming lyrics, Santi becomes more animated still. “The fact that my lyrics put across a message, or tell a story is very important to me. And the fact that they all rhyme, well that flows pretty naturally to me especially a song like ‘I’m a Lady’, that came quite easily. Other times I’ll really agonise over getting just exactly the right word. For example the chorus for ‘Lights Out’ took me forever to get just the right word.” She can cut the mustard when it comes to putting together a good old fashioned verse-chorusverse number, but that’s when she’s got time to deliberate over every word and get it perfect. I put her on the spot and ask for a spontaneous rhyme – vis-a-vis the notorious boxing match game - where you have to think of an imaginary boxing match to equal “The rumble in the Jungle”. Already up there are “The Ruck in Timbuck (too)” and “The Injured Kidney in Sydney”. Santi falls silent for what seems like an eternal two or three seconds. I’m on tenterhooks, but, by Jove she’s done it! Ummm, “Get yer hooks in, in Brooklyn?” she ventures. Well, I don’t know about where Shanti comes from, but round here that’s fighting talk. Words: Naomi Attwood Illustration: Teis Albers
THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE THE ALWAYS PROLIFIC NEO-PSYCHEDELIC-ANARCHIC-HIPPIE, ANTON NEWCOMBE, HAS BEEN MAKING SOME OF THE MOST STUNNING MUSIC EVER HEARD WITH HIS BAND THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE SINCE 1991. This year sees the release of the bands thirteenth album, ‘My Bloody Underground’. Fused caught up with Anton on a whistlestop visit to the UK to get the lowdown.
another EP that’s even wilder than this, and we’re basically just working on getting the CD out to help save the stores.
Do you find there are cultural differences between the USA and the UK? Well, I have a different perspective. Beans on toast for breakfast – that’s about it! They do actually have more antique sort of house-selling shows on TV in the daytime over here… There are a million of those things. I don’t really care what people do, as long as it makes them happy, God bless ’em…
Do you ever have time for vacations? Well, I’m sitting here with my beautiful wife in London. This is my work today, to talk to some people on the phone for a little bit, and then we’ll probably go to dinner.
Do you still spend a lot of time in New York? Yeah, I just came from there. I have my place in Manhattan but watching the stock market tank and the politics right now, it’s hard on the heart. I’m not ready for a proper dose of antidepressants. I wanna go out and look at the world and try not to get killed. Manhattan is one of the most expensive cities to live in, right? Iceland is more, twenty per cent above everything else. The cheapest pint you can get is about seven quid, eight quid. A lot of teetotal people then, I guess… They really go for it actually, they have the highest standard of living in the world. I think what they do is they have this credit system, back and forth between all of them. They hang tough. It’s so small. Londinium is the centre of finance, they’re the wizards of that on top of this. They’ve got some interesting strategies about how to make that stuff work, above Norway, above everyone. Do you think New York is still a creative city for young people living there? No, it’s really a shithole. People have attitude. It’s so big, comparable in size to London – I think they’re both thirteen million, they’re the same size. But it’s so weird, there are all these people there dancing around thinking they’re living and they don’t have any quality of life and zero culture. I wonder, you know. I think it’s one of the places where it’s snowed people’s brains. They’re just fucked. Prefacing that, coming back from Iceland from my last trip, I’ve never felt like I was welcome or proud to be an American until I came back and fell in love with certain aspects of it. There are mountains of it, though, that are so bizarre; I would never dream of being a policeman there and I know it’s even crazier in LA, as far as violence level goes, than any place in the UK. Did you have fun making the new album? Oh yeah, we were on a lot of drugs. It was in Iceland, we’d spend thirty minutes on a song. I got to bring Mark Gardener, he was in a band called Ride, and so I got to show him around Iceland. We walked through the middle, against the grain, of the gay parade and we took pictures and just a million different things. It was twenty-four hours of sunlight so we were just having a blast, living life, so that was pretty cool. And I got to take my wife up there and all my friends. I got to say things like, ‘Let’s just jog round the corner as fast as we can then just play something really crazy. Here’s what I want you to do, no talking and I’ll pay your rent for a month.’ We just made it all up, none of it was rehearsed; all improv, none of it studied. Four years is quite a long time for you guys between albums. Why the wait? Well, I’d been taking care of my son, I did an EP in between and I’d been touring – the world is a very big place – trying to support the practical thing of making sure my toddler isn’t homeless and fighting numerous lawsuits with people. So that contributed but now I’m working on five albums at once so I think it will just balance out. Are they all going to come out simultaneously? No, I think it’s going to take the better part of this year to document them so I would think there’s a three-month lag time in the pipeline with production. The one is actually a video album – they’re all on YouTube but they’re modified. It’s called the ‘Book of Days’ and there’s nineteen videos. So there’s actually
So are you making the videos yourself? Yeah, we made them at the same time. We recorded nineteen songs, took 3500 pictures and did nineteen videos.
It’s not a bad day’s work, is it? Well, there’s a lot more to it. I do a lot of other things too. The idea is to go to Paris, check some things out, talk to some people, try and multitask. Is it quite liberating to be indie, for want of a better word, in regards to running your own label and having complete artistic freedom with everything you put out? Well, I’ve always had that and what I’ve seen from… [pause, he talks to wife] Shit, she’s watching that cooking show. Ready, Steady, Cook. Now he’s doing a flambé with a blowtorch… Okay, being liberated! I knew the score way before this group even started in 1990. We bought Spacemen 3 to America, Greg Shaw and I, and I already knew of the history of every band and was fascinated with all that junk, the reality then the mythology. I always look at it as art, performance art or audio sculpture. I’m not really sure – I don’t wanna say I’m an anarchist but there’s also a bit of ‘up your fucking bum’ about it too. Taking the piss out of people’s seriousness, like Charles Bukowski or something. I think commentating on society is important because it’s part of the ongoing dialogue. Like the song off the new album ‘We Are The Niggers Of The World’, I’m not saying ‘you are the niggers of the world’, I’m saying ‘we are’. And, if you understand the origins of the word – they had the word in existence before they started buying slaves from the Dutch traders and shipping them out of Bristol – I mean, before that, they were shipping Irish and Scottish people out to the US and calling them that. Have you had any negative feedback from using that title? I don’t care. I really couldn’t give a shit what people think. All you gotta do is really look at the facts. How many people have we killed in Iraq? And over what – to protect oil pipelines? Those people had nothing to do with anything. I mean, really, it’s a fucking joke, all these politically correct notions are a fucking joke. I mean, look at Vietnam, we killed 3.5million people, including our own. John Lennon did ‘Woman is the Nigger of the World’ so take it up with him on the fucking Beatles experience, the Yellow Submarine tour in Liverpool. There are a lot of things I find really offensive, much more than words. With the PC Brigade putting so much emphasis on words, it almost holds back thought and expression to a point… All I know is that there are armies of PETA fans saving cats and whatever, and then you’ve got armies of homeless people starving in the street and those same people are just ignoring them. The church is speaking out on morality issues every Sunday, as they have been for the last 2000-odd years, and you’ve got all the archdiocese of America being auctioned off because they can’t stop fucking kids in the ass. Where do you wanna look at this – up, down, sideways, all the fuck around? I just don’t think people know what the fuck they’re talking about personally. I can just watch it, tell by someone’s actions, poke both my ears out and watch the ticker tape on the stock markets crash and think ‘these people are idiots’. Do you have any heroes who have inspired you? Marvin Gaye is pretty awesome. When he fist-fought Berry Gordy and busted out ‘What’s Going On, What’s Happening’… it’s on YouTube, you’ve gotta watch that performance. It’s live, a bunch of black people in the audience, you watch him and he’s like ‘I just wrote a new song’ and then WHAM. And if you listen to the words, they’re so pertinent right now. It’s unbelievable that Motown didn’t want to release that record when they heard it... It was revolutionary. Berry Gordy was all about telling Diana Ross ‘you didn’t really come from the council flats, you’re this cultured girl’. They had etiquette
charm school for those girls – the bouffants, the clothes, the mannerisms, their whole class just in an effort to say ‘we’re not niggers’. He just felt politics didn’t have a place in the business because he was running it like a factory. I have no problem with the business. I will personally beat the shit out of Simon Cowell; I don’t personally find anything worthwhile in anything he has ever done except create a bunch of jobs which is good. He created a zillion dollar industry which is great but, if it’s all for nothing, then who cares? We could just manufacture crack or machine guns and kill everyone. To quantify it, it’s the theatre of the absurd. Who’s exciting you at the moment? I like these kids Jakobinarina, they’re on EMI and from Iceland. I love anytime young kids get it and they’ve got it. They recorded some stuff with me, I’m friends with them and I had them play at Koko down here. Not that anybody’s gonna get it but they have talent. It’s a real pleasure because the amount of time I spend seeing young people saying ‘fuck it, this is what it’s really all about’ and actually having it right instead of ‘no, we’re gonna try and be like this band’ is really rare. Even a lot of very normal people that don’t really hear music on a deep level kind of get a sense that Amy Winehouse is shit, you know, or what have you. They’re just like; ‘This is fucking crap, I’m walking out’ and I see it all the time. Not to bag on her, man, I’m glad – I listened to her mother on GMTV all this morning at like 5am going on and on about how she’s better now, and I don’t buy it because you don’t just get better. It’s such a long process. Do you think there’s an element of the record industry that almost wants to keep her on drugs because she’s getting column inches all the time? I’m forty, look at all these fucking heroes people have. I lived longer than John Lennon did, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, fucking Keith Moon, I could go on. I’m no dummy, not exactly. This is not a coincidence. These people are fucking morons, they have a hole in their fucking body, in their soul, and they’re trying to stuff it in with this fucking stuff and every person in the world is shoving drugs down their fucking throats, drink, sex. Of course you’re gonna wipe-out unless you’re either really intelligent and paying attention to what’s going on or ruthless and wiping out your competitors. In my experience, they all get wiped out. Keith Moon looked like a leather bag by the time he was thirty. I don’t but he did. I’ve got grape ears but who cares? That could be genetics. Does it worry you, working in the music industry? Well, I’m not really in the music business. I’m trying to forget what it is actually. I work for the CIA, this is a convenient way for me to travel around the world with a large group of men and do what I want. I’m like Chuck Barris. Amazing, huh? We’re not dummies. What are your thoughts at the moment on the elections going on over there? You know, what I want is great government. I don’t believe in good or bad. I want better government, and I really wish that people, at least one person, would get out of the special interest game for a minute and really look at the
seriousness of the issues and the policy decisions that we’ve had over this last, well, quite a while. It’s like the whole world is almost turning into one homogenised place now. You could be in New York or London and there’s hardly any distinction between them. That’s the plan. Well, a good example is that in Reykjavik Iceland, they just closed down Circus. It was one of the best clubs in the world, even for raves and, until last month, it topped the Hacienda – it was really small but out of control. They’re tearing it down to build a parking lot. If it looks exactly like the shoreline of Miami, why would you go? Everybody’s just cashing in. I know a lot of old people that are entrenched in their communities, landed gentry, you know? They’re like ‘I’ve never ever seen a time where everybody is just out to rip everybody off.’ And it makes you wonder because this is wisdom talking and they’re shocked – and they were all for it when it was going down, I guess. The scary thing is the speed in which it can happen. You can go to a city one year then go back two years later, and it’s completely changed. The heart and soul can be ripped out of a place. San Francisco was a really interesting case study. Everyone was like ‘dot com, look at all this money’. Nobody likes smug twenty year-old millionaires buying up autoshops so you can’t even fix your car. ‘This will be a great place to make idelivereggs.com’ and then they rip off everyone’s pension funds. I just have my houses and, before I moved away from there as a permanent base, it was really incredible just watching people fall for that. I was telling them these are grifters. People just can’t miss a deal, it’s just like if you went to a flea market and someone is just hustling a bunch of junk at a car boot sale. We’re seeing it with stocks – they did it with energy, then the whole finance thing. Banks are crashing in Germany with all the loan mortgages. They’re going right down the line and it’s just a joke. I don’t know who’s instigating this but it’s definitely uniform. It’s an educational process. What have you got planned for the rest of the year then? I’m gonna finish these five albums. I’m gonna do this French one because I just don’t think there’s been anything since Jacques Brel, who is technically Belgian but it’s French language, and Serge Gainsbourg – I just don’t think there’s much great French music and, since I’ve got the platform… I hate their attitude but I really respect a lot of elements of their culture besides that stupid attitude, ‘cos it’s bullshit – they’d be speaking German if it weren’t for England and America and everyone else. And that’s true, on more than one occasion. Not to insult them but, everytime they bring it up, I just go, ‘Why do you have a remaining CIA agent as your president? That’s the first time I’ve heard that in the history of France.’ There’s some really weird stuff going on right now. I’m not just gonna whip an album out in French, I’m gonna speak French and just do it. A lot of people in England have a pretty good command of the French language, not like trying to be overly pretentious, just in having the spirit. I just wanna sock it to them. David O’Coy
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sugarhill gang EVOLUTION IS A FUNNY OLD THING. WHEN DARWIN PROPOSED THE IDEA IN 1859, HE THOUGHT IT WAS A SLOW AND PAINSTAKING PROCESS THAT ALLOWED THINGS TO MAKE LOGICAL PROGRESS, ONE STEP BUILDING ON ANOTHER. However, as more and more study has been done, it has been shown that sometimes - just sometimes - evolution jumps forward for no apparent reason, leaving everything that was behind it scratching their heads and wondering what the fuck to do now. When the Sugarhill Gang burst on to the charts with ‘Rapper’s Delight’ in 1979, for better or worse, music, as we then knew it, changed forever. Before its release, popular music in New York was a mix of Motown infused soul singers and decadent disco hedonists, and after, they were left in the dust as NY’s burgeoning hip-hop scene took the limelight and sped off into the future. OK. I admit that calling the Sugarhill Gang the originators of rap is a bit unfair both to the band and everyone else that was involved in the NY scene of the late 70’s. Like the atom, hip-hop had always been there, but the genius of Sugarhill was to package it in a way that was accessible to the masses, thereby kickstarting the whole revolution that we’re still living with today, and that’s a fact that nobody can deny. Like all revolutionaries, the Sugarhill Gang are still stubbornly refusing to be pigeon-holed or quick chat before they jetted off to share the stage in a kind of new-meets-old, hip-hop-meets-grime throwdown with Dizzee Rascal at a secret London house party set up to celebrate the release of Sony’s brand new WalkMan. It must also be said that I giggled like a fucking moron through the whole thing. How do you guys cope with having to talk about Rapper’s Delight? Master Gee: Man, it makes me think about going out on a ledge and jumping. Big Bank Hank: That being said, it’s keeping SugarHill records afloat… MG: Nah, man we do a lot of interviews, and it’s one of those songs that everybody just loves so it’s kinda of a done deal; We get asked about it, we sigh and answer the questions- it’s an occupational hazard. I bet you get a lot of free stuff from Holiday Inn though? BBH: Ha ha, we wish … MG: Honestly, we haven’t had a damn thing, I’d love an endorsement from Holiday Inn, we do so much damn travelling. So, as we’ve established, you guys have been around for almost 30 years - how do you think rap is doing nowadays? BBH: Life is a big cycle and rap is the same. When we came out our message was all about our experiences of living in an inner city, which kinda developed into that whole violent and misogynistic thing of the mid-nineties, which again adapted into all that bling, bling stuff. Right now, you’ve got a bit of everything. So, you’d say it’s pretty healthy right now? MG: Yeah, it’s great, there’s a whole bunch of people keeping it real giving us a whole smorgasbord of styles. When this whole thing developed in the early
eighties a lot of people were like ‘this ain’t gonna last’ and now if you could say one thing it’s that hip-hop is definitely here to stay. What do you make of the whole explosion of British hip-hop and Grime? BBH: We have been very, very excited about what’s been going on over here. MG: When we heard we were going to be doing this thing with Dizzee Rascal we were all a little bit taken aback. I mean he’s such an inspirational figure who’s had such a huge impact on hip-hop over here and we’re honoured to be sharing a stage with him. BBH: Yeah, when we told people where we were headed and who we were playing with, they were like, ‘no way, he’s really good’. It’s meant we’ve had to step up our game a little bit. As hip-hop has evolved over the years, do you feel you’ve had to adapt your sound? BBH: No, not really, I mean technology has changed which has given us different ways of expressing what we have to say… MG: Yeah, the formula is still there, it’s just been chopped up, changed and moved around a little bit. I mean technology has allowed us to do things that just weren’t possible back when, making it a whole lot more interesting. BBH: I mean the public aren’t stupid, some people like us and some people don’t. All we’ve tried to do is make music that is evocative and provocative, we have our own fans and we don’t have to change. You did that album for kids’ way back in 1999; do you guys actively try and make hip-hop more accessible? BBH: We did that a few years ago through Sugarhill records, who didn’t really push it as much as we’d like - mostly due to the fact that Sugarhill doesn’t believe in publicity. But I’m very proud of that project, Schoolhouse Rock, in fact I was listening to it the other day, as I was going through some old CDs and I was like ‘daaaaamm that was a great song’. MG: We’re a pretty global group, and we’ve made a name for ourselves by not assuaging violence, cussing or any of that. We try and set ourselves apart from that kind of thing and I think people appreciate it. I’d say 80% of our fans are tired of the attitude that comes from hip-hop and we just try and come up with things that are new and fresh- things that make sense of hip-hop in general. So you could say you’re putting the fun back in hip-hop? BBH: Ha ha, you could say that. MG: Music shouldn’t aim to tear down, music should edify, and whether that’s through positivity or negativity that’s absolutely fine, as long as it sticks to achieving those goals. Whoa… so where’s next for you guys? MG: Right now we’re just going to enjoy Britain, the people are always so nice and the atmosphere is really cool, so we’re just going to soak that up. BBH: Oh, and watch out for our new CD, that’s going to be really big news. Words: Dominic Haley Illustration: Miles Donovan
Rochelle IN THE UK WE ARE SO OVER-RUN WITH ELECTRO IT’S SURPRISING THAT WE DON’T BLAST OUT AN ELECTRO BLEEP OR SQUEAK MID SENTENCE! So, now we are introduced to Rochelle – an electropop three-piece hailing from West Yorkshire. So what makes us pay attention to Rochelle over any of the bazillion other supposed electro crossover acts? Well lead singer Lydia has oodles of sass for starters, not to mention her memorizing vocals that encapsulate such a seductive allure that even Alan Carr would blush after a chance encounter. Tracks like single ‘Fer De Lance’ infuse sophisticated pop dashes with a notable dance edge to produce nuclear results – hey Fat Boy Slim obviously agrees as he’s just signed them up to his Southern Fried Records label. Fused caught up with the Rochelle to talk Hovis, Southern Fried Records and socks! It says on your press release that you are the best things to come out of Yorkshire since Hovis, what other great Yorkshire based things float your boat at present? Thom: Sharon’s Den on Cardigan Road in Leeds is really floating my boat whenever I’m in Leeds. They make the best bacon and egg baps in the whole world, which are an awesome hangover cure. The baps are literally
the size of a human head! How did you get involved with Southern Fried Records? Lydia: When we moved to London we played more industry attended gigs, and we met the guys from Southern Fried at Notting Hill Arts Club last year. We’ve built up a really good relationship with them and their background in electronic music works really well for us. How has it been so far working with them? Thom: So far we have been working towards our first single ‘Fer De Lance’ with them. They have been really supportive and have opened up a lot of avenues for us, which wouldn’t have been possible before. We have been able to work with some amazing re-mixers for the single [The Whip, Chewy Chocolate Cookies and Proper Villains], as well as working closely with a street artist called Adam Koukoudakis for the single’s artwork. The thing we really loved about Southern Fried is the close relationships they have with their artists that you don’t get with a lot of the larger labels. Recently Nathan and Katy from the label came over to watch us rehearse, before coming back to our house and cooking us a meal. Anybody who wants to come around to my house and cook for me is brilliant in my eyes. Did you have a few record labels to
choose from? James: Our management were originally talking to Parisian label Kitsuné, who we’d been dealing with on the remix for the Thieves Like Us track ‘Drugs In My Body’, but on meeting Southern Fried we decided it was better for us to have the first single out on a label that was closer to home. The great thing is Kitsuné are putting out the remix we did too, so that should lead nicely into our own debut. As a relatively new band you are inevitably going to get compared to other bands by reviewers and industry bods - what comparisons do you predict, or as a band do you love or loathe? Thom: I think the obvious comparisons are going to the associated with other strong female fronted artists such as Blondie and Kylie. I think we would be happy with either of those comparisons as they have obviously both had incredibly successful careers and have held on to their spirit and integrity over a long period of time. I can also imagine comparisons being drawn up with more current bands such as CSS and New Young Pony Club. These kind of comparisons don’t really bother us to be honest, as people need a reference point to gauge whether they might like your music or not before they check you out.
industry today? James: Bands like The Pigeon Detectives and Arctic Monkeys have proved that it’s possible to make a stand, and almost make the music industry come to them by celebrating their roots, and making the most of local support. On the other hand, moving to London allows new bands to network within the industry, which is perhaps not possible in their hometown.
Do you think relocating to London is a necessary step for a young band in order to succeed in the
So judging on your involvement with Adam Koukoudakis you are pretty in tap with street level talent. Are there any other creatively minded people you recommend us to check out at present? Lydia: Yeah we’re really lucky to know people around us that are arty and who don’t mind getting their hands dirty for the passion of it. Our friends in Leeds are a good example, always willing to muck in and help out. For our video for ‘Fer De Lance’ we worked with our friend Matt Maude - part of Left Eye Blind Productions - who did an incredible job on a shoestring budget. If you can work together to create things and make things happen it makes the journey a lot more interesting and personal. Fer De Lance is out on Southern Fried Records
“I WOULD LAY DOWN ON THE FLOOR BETWEEN TWO SPEAKERS UNTIL I WAS HUNGRY OR HAD TO GO TO THE BATHROOM,” reveals Thao Nguyen, a 23-year-old American singer-songwriter with a precocious talent for bluegrass-infused pop. “Making music, from about six or seven on, I would tap on bowls with spoons and chopsticks during meals and get yelled at. My brother lent me his old Yamaha battery-operated keyboard and I would hammer out melodies and tape myself singing over them.” Embracing rural Americana and reworking it for a modern indie audience, Thao’s bittersweet country-blues does much to reignite interest in traditional American styles. “I’ve always been drawn to the guitar playing and picking in those genres,” she explains. “Their characteristics wandered and seeped into a lot of levels of my songwriting.” A fitting backdrop to Thao’s intensely autobiographical lyrics, the sounds of country, folk and blues permeate her striking debut LP ‘We Brave Bee Stings And All’. “I wrote it as my life developed into sometimes absurd happenings and I needed to document,” she continues. “I played and wrote all through high school then I went on to college and majored in Sociology and Women’s Studies. Funnily enough music was the more secure field to enter. I realise now it was always just a question of how.” Having signed to Seattle-based indie label Kill Rock Stars, Thao is now more than ready to present her fiercely original songs to a wider global audience. “I emailed Laura Viers and asked to open for her,” Thao explains. “Her manager at the time was Slim Moon who happened to be KRS President. He started managing me but then left KRS. His wife Portia took over and offered to put our record out and I whole-heartedly agreed. Slim Moon for President, Portia Sabin for Prime Minister!” Recorded in three weeks of studio time spread over almost a year and a half, We Brave Bee Stings And All is an extraordinary album and an inviting introduction to a rapidly rising star. Recorded in Seattle and Portland with producer Tucker Martine, it’s a beguiling set of songs laced with crisp melodies and off-kilter instrumentation. Backed by her band, the fabulously named The Get Down Stay Down, Thao has crafted an album of exquisite beauty. “They’re like my boyfriends without the complication,” she says. “And we make music like love.” Inspired by Django Reinhardt, Mississippi John Hurt and Motown, Thao Nguyen is a talented songwriter whose sharp wit and mischievous personality will do much to endear her to fans of off-beat folk-pop. “I’d like to somehow establish a stable enough career in music that I might have a well-equipped kitchen with magnetic strips for sharp knives and a stainless steel salad spinner and utensils made only of wood or stainless steel,” she concludes. “Of course that also implies I’ll have a place to live.” www.myspace.com/thaomusic Words:Toby Rogers Illustration: MeeNoKawaii
cut copy FABRIC, LONDON’S LEVIATHAN OF HEDONISM, IS DEADLY QUIET. The stillness is unnerving. But for a few maintenance chaps faintly beavering away, there is no sound. No beefy bass, no whooping gurners, no fizzing vibe snaking amongst the dungeon. Simply nothing. Which, by the look of it, is a good thing, especially for the members of Cut Copy. Whoever said we must suffer for our art probably wasn’t thinking of this trio of groggy looking Australians when they said it, but that doesn’t mean they don’t fit the description. It looks as though their art has given them a right good kicking, for a fortnight. Including the weekends. The word ‘shattered’ springs to mind and not in a ‘town centre shop window come Friday night’ sort of way. These three lads sitting, nay lying, before me are the embodiment of tiredness. This is because they’ve existed only in a cerebral ether for the last 18 months, floating on clouds of sound and pure exploration. They were creating, producing and rendering their second album, ‘In Ghost Colours’, but that, as I find out, was just the easy part. Now comes the headfirst dive back towards reality; to where the atmosphere is more dense; to where the fruits of your innovation are put before judge and jury, scrutinised and toured and forced to thrill. The notion that rock and roll and dance and groove is all about glamour, style and large glistening teeth is not welcome in this realm, at this time. The night before the morning after the night before has worn thin the veil of zeal. The evidence speaks without speaking. Their woebegone physical forms have been beaten by the journey. Yet, despite this cycle of the never-ending tour, these lads wouldn’t have it any other way. “Playing live is such an immediate thing. We always try to have great energy when we play” offers Tim Hoey, lethargically. He has the deepest voice in the band. Perhaps his torpor is the reason for that. He’s also the skinniest. And the bassist. His first pet was a budgie called Mr T and his favourite album is Sonic Youth’s ‘Experimental Jet Set, Trash & No Star’. He’s also a big Inflagranti fan, which is lucky for him, as they’re playing at Fabric tonight as well. To his right is Dan Whitford, the tall one. He sings and plays guitar. The first record he ever bought was by Fine Young Cannibals and his three primary inspirations are Beck, Beck’s friends and Beck’s granddad. “There’s been a bit of a renaissance in the last two or three years in dance music in Australia, particularly live dance music”, he mumbles. In my head I’m secretly calling him Sleepy because he was actually snoozing when I first arrived. “That’s what separates Australia from other places that have a big dance culture - a real emphasis on the live show whereas not so historically here where people are happy to just see a DJ”. The live gig is Cut Copy’s lifeblood. Regardless of their current appearance, going live is what keeps them alive. “We’ve been looking forward to this show and getting back to Fabric” - this is Mitch Scott, the drummer with two first names - “It’s really cool for us. It’s something you don’t really see in Australia - the scale of things over here, especially this club and the line up - It’d be a festival at home”. Scott is the hairiest member of the band and the first thing he ever stole as a youngster was some Crème de Menthe from his parents liquor cabinet. Cut Copy know the feel of a big tour. In the past they’ve opened for Mylo, Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand and Daft Punk and the relentless jaunt they now
find themselves on has been leaping between nations at an exponential rate. “Travelling is a good way to discover new things and get inspired,” says Whitford, slowly rejoining the land of the living. “When you support someone it’s almost like a challenge to convert people. So you visualise how good the show is going to be. It’s almost like sport. Just go nuts and you’ll win people over. Generally, if the crowd is really responding that helps you do something exciting. It feeds off itself”. Whitford is capable of pushing this ideal. It was he that mixed the ‘FabricLive 29’ album and, in an attempt to add depth to Cut Copy’s showcase material, both he and Hoey are set to DJ prior to this evening’s live performance. “We figured that wherever we are on this tour it’s pretty epic. So why not seal the deal and throw in some more stuff”, mentions Scott, before jokingly offering to count them in if they attempt to mix both rooms together. Many might assume that their bodies and their sanity cannot withstand the breaking point, so I inquire what they might do once it’s all done and dusted. “Just get on with the next one” comes Whitford’s nonchalant reply. “We’ve waited a while with this one so we feel like we’re due to be working on another. It’s one of those things that if you’re excited about what you’re doing then you probably want to just keep working on it. Although having said that, maybe in six months time we’ll be ready for a holiday”. A chorus of “Yeah, yeah” ensues. The band were clearly frustrated in their aim to release this record and Scott admits they “were a little naive of learning about how long it actually takes to get a record out”. The promise for next time? “We’ll be making much more of an effort to get on top of that and schedule the time a lot earlier”. There are advantages to an elongated timeframe, however, as Hoey is quick to point out. “It’s been interesting because we’ve been sitting on this for a little while and we’ve been seeing all these other bands putting out records. It feels like we’ve steered away from everything else that is happening”. The creative process for ‘In Ghost Colours’ involved spending six cold weeks in New York at the beginning of 2007 tucked away in the Plantain Studio with Tim Goldsworthy, James Murphy’s co-pilot at DFA Records. Goldsworthy had a subtle, hands-off approach for the album but still remained integral to the development. “The way he went about the record was a really enjoyable experience,” Scott tells me, visibly enamoured by the producer’s input. “The way he would suggest or orchestrate things, there was definitely a rewarding process. It never felt like we were really at loggerheads. He wasn’t so much re-writing the songs or being a hit-maker, it was a lot more about how the instrumentation would go. Some of Tim’s suggestions were an educated guess. There was also a lot of screwing around and experimentation”. Goldsworthy and Whitford shared a mutual affinity for shoegazing heroes, My Bloody Valentine, which saw Cut Copy morph into a similar mould. The result is a soaring, atmospheric mosaic of pop that, although separated by mere titles, exists as a complete entity, almost comprising of one continuous track. Hoey is particularly proud of this achievement and is adamant that it was the goal right from the start. “It’s a full, cohesive record not just singles or a compilation of 12 inches. It’s something we set out to do at the beginning”. Christian Rose-Day
Cap: Beyond Retro, Shirts: Tim Van Steenbergen, Brace: Beyond Retro
Top: Ground Zero
Necklace: Chronicles of Never
Top: Ksubi, Trousers: Tim Van Steenbergen
Jacket: Unconditional, Trench coat: Unconditional, Top: Steve J & Yoni P, Lycra All in one: Ksubi
Jacket: Beyond Retro, Trousers: Tim Van Steenbergen, Pin: Lucie Flynn, Shoes: Paul Smith
Photographer - Louis Park (www.imlouis.com) / Stylist - Soojin Park / Hair & make up - Meekyung Kim(www.makemeeup.co.uk) / Model - Ian@storm / Photo assistant - Bora Lee, Jihwa Kim / Retouching - 0604 / Production - Ann Kim @ production guinness
Peggy Sue and the Pirates “WE TALKED ABOUT BEING A BAND FOR ABOUT A YEAR BUT NEVER DID IT BECAUSE WE WERE A BIT SHAMBOLIC.” Despite such frankness from the duo, it would seem the voyage of Peggy Sue and the Pirates’ vessel has avoided the whirlpool of ‘shambolic-ness’ and is well on its way to discovering the buried treasure. Get ready to be pillaged. Although the moniker suggests a motley crew with parrot in tow, the only Pirates here are Katy Klaw and Rosa Rex. After meeting at school in London then moving to study in Brighton, the girls bonded over a love of Regina Spektor and flirted with the idea of getting musical. It was Katy’s big break that soon doubled up as Rosa’s: “A guy offered me a gig but I’d never played live before so I asked Rosa to come and keep me company. We played three songs and everyone quite liked it so we carried on.” And carry on they have. As a self-proclaimed “mish-mash”, the girls have toured with diverse artists such as Kate Nash, Blood Red Shoes and Kid Harpoon. “It’s funny because people don’t really know what to do with us,” Katy claims. “We’re probably the only band that can get away with playing with all these different people.” Upcoming support slots with Maccabees and Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip, as well as appearances at boutique summer festivals, look set to continue that eclecticism. Perhaps it’s their uni years in Brighton, where every man and his dog own a guitar, that helped them branch out? “When we were both living there, it made such a difference,” agrees Katy. “I think it’s easier to get started and move up the ranks a little bit.” Now, however, Rosa has moved back to London making the songwriting process a little tougher. “Usually, one of us will have written a song then we’ll finish it with the other,” Katy explains. “We really want to start doing more together,” claims Rosa. “We were supposed to do it this morning but we got up late.” The reason for their lie-in is a late night after a live show in Hull. The girls inform me that, if an audience is unresponsive to their set, they’ll try their best to change that. Katy says: “If we’ve had a shit gig, we’ve always lost our voices the next day. We just go ‘fuck this’ and sing really loud; we’ll make noises and scream, getting aggressive as we can.” Any other onstage rock ‘n’ roll antics? “We’ve
never broken a guitar onstage,” claims Rosa, “but if I’m really drunk and there’s a drumkit, sometimes that gets slayed. It’s awful.” Anyone who has seen the girls live will already be aware that this raw almost punk stage presence informs their music, a disparate blend of anti-folk, new soul and storytelling. The energy of their ramshackle appearances has so far been retained on self-recorded EPs but what will happen when they sign a deal and are taken into the studio? “When people have recorded us previously, it’s been both too clean and too messy. We definitely want to keep that ‘live’ element. The March EP is literally me and Katy introducing ourselves and then playing the songs, and it works because we’re not focusing too much on the recording process.” This ‘March EP’ is the third in a series of monthly limited edition CDs, with the duo determined to complete a full twelve. Fans can expect covers, rarities and even new songs. Rosa, a former English major, is in the midst of translating Renaissance play The Tragedy of Mariam into her own ditty. “It’s about a woman who gets her head cut off by her husband, the king, because he’s jealous, and then he regrets it afterward. It’s hard to write without directly lifting from the text because it’s quite musical. We’d probably get sued for that though.” Influenced by everything from the Temptations and Paul Simon to Billie Holiday and All Saints (“We had the combats!”), Katy throws an even more unexpected thread of her musical lineage into the mix: “My R‘n’B phase was somewhat longer than Rosa’s, and it involved a bit more garage. I was a garage girl for a little while.” Soon, Katy will be able to say she was a pirate for “a little while” too. Their original name (the result of “a crude story” they won’t explain because it’s “so tenuous”) has been hijacked to a degree by indie-popsters Pete and the Pirates. “We might challenge them to a duel and then, erm, lose and change our name.” In an effort to reclaim their own identity, the girls are set to become Peggy Who? I still reckon Peggy Sue and the Drum Slayers is way cooler. Luke McNaney
BAND OF HORSES A LOT OF THE INDIE-ROCK, NU-RAVE, STYLE BANDS EMERGING AT THE MOMENT, I FIND, SEEM TO CREATE AN ALMOST BLINDING MASS OF SOUND ALL MERGED INTO ONE GENRE. With this blindness I’ve found my natural increase in other senses has led me deeper into things I like and the need to find a more original sound takes over. The further I look, the more interesting it gets. This increase of senses brought me to the stage front of ‘The Band of Horses’. If you haven’t heard the Band of Horses, then Ben’s distinctive voice added to the small American band sound and thought provoking song writing will suck you into a world of your own. This may be the world he was in, or may be somewhere else completely different, but as long as you get taken somewhere (innuendo intended) you’ll guarantee to put a smile on his face. I speak to Ben Bridwell and Ryan Monroe shortly before their Birmingham gig. What do you think of the UK? Ben: Some places are better than others. There’s a different feel. Going to Dublin and Glasgow we got a different kind of enthusiasm from the crowd. As in more or less? Ben: It seemed like less in Glasgow. I didn’t really like the venue. It was like there were some ghosts hanging out there or something. It’s great. I enjoy coming to Europe now, more than when we started, it was a bit scary. I still haven’t figured out how to eat properly. Do you get a better response back home or here? Ben: It’s about even. We play some big venues there and smaller venues there, same way here. So it is about the same. And what do you think touring does for the band, obviously it is going to help raise popularity, but do you think touring out of America is crucial? Ben: It seems to definitely be working. I’m not sure if that’s because of touring or just because of publicity, but I definitely don’t think that it hurts because that’s how you really get into peoples bones or whatever, seeing it live. Would you rather play back home or play over here? There are a lot of people who say they don’t like to tour. They don’t like the travelling and the late nights. Ben: I don’t know, I always think the grass is greener, back home I want to be on the road and when I’m on the road I want to be home. Playing shows at home is a little bit trickier because so many people have to get guest list and shit. The worst thing ever about being in a band is how many family members and old friends, I mean it’s great to see those people, it is just everyone has them at the same time, all in the same cities, you know, so I’ll say touring abroad, just so there is no guest list. Ryan: Yeah, just us and the music, that’s about it, oh and the bus. Ben: We just get down with no one to deal with. Ben, apart from drumming in Carissa’s Wierd, did you do any solo work or was that your first band experience? Ben: That was the first thing I really got into and then I did the Band of Horses right after it so, no, that’s it so far. Have you touched the drums since? Ben: No, I’m terrible with the drums. I could never play the kick drum so I used the floor tom as my kick. I play hand over hand with the snare in the middle. Which is so fucking weird looking. I’d like to get into it again if I had some time, I’d take some lessons. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way round? Ben: Exactly (laughs) it’s embarrassing. I have no idea what I am doing. What’s your singing background? Where did you learn, because you have got quite a unique singing voice, do you have a choir background? Ben: No none of that stuff, as a kid I guess I wanted to do it subconsciously. I didn’t really sing that much as a kid either so it was just something that had to be done. So I started singing. Is there any religious background? You have got quite a gospel sound going on.
Ben: Never even went to church, nothing like that ever, thank God. Ryan: Thank God you never went to church?? You didn’t write any of Carissa’s songs, but were you writing at the time? Is that something you always wanted to do? Ben: I had a feeling the band would be breaking up. People were getting kind of tired of it. Not me, I just wanted to get on the road so bad and because of that I decided that I should think of pursuing it. But even once they broke up I didn’t have the confidence to actually do it. I really pulled out some hair for a while before figuring out that I had to get some sort of drive and really focus on it and do this. Yeah it really just came naturally. A lot of your songs contain prominent words, but lyrically are quite hard to follow, like ‘The Funeral’ for example. Is that intentional and does it all make sense in your head? Ben: To me it makes perfect sense but I also skip subjects a lot so it doesn’t seem too streamline or too autobiographical. It leaves some mystery there. It also then leaves people choosing what the words say and what the story is telling them. It’s the best way to interpret music I think, your own little adventure in your head. So what happened with the new album going from songs like ‘The Funeral’ to ‘The World is Such a Wonderful Place’? Ben: You can’t tell but the lyric is ‘If The World is Such a Wonderful Place’. You can’t really hear the emphasis on if so now I’m really like IF! There is plenty of negativity on this record too, don’t worry. Your music is played on a lot of American soaps and TV shows like The O.C and One Tree Hill, how does that come about? Ben: It’s funny, for some reason we work well with TV and movies. We’ve been lucky to get those kinds of opportunities. I don’t think I have even seen any of them, I’ve seen TV commercials but I have never seen the soaps that are on. Does that work on royalties? Ben: They pay like a sink licence. They pay a flat rate. We try to negotiate, like, you are a fucking massive show, you cannot pay us 500 bucks to use the song when you have mega amounts of money, so we try to tug of war with them. We’ve lent our songs to documentaries or even films, people who have small budgets we give it to them or do it for a very cheap price, so just try to milk the rich people. Does that pay well? Better than touring? Ben: Yeah, commercials and shit pay pretty sizeable. So yeah it is good money that you can put away and try and buy a house at some point or something. I know the band has been through a few member changes. Does that put a lot of pressure on you to decide whether someone fits or do they generally know when it’s not going right? Ben: I feel like everyone that has been let go by me, has kind of made their own bed at the same time. They either had an attitude problem with people or just didn’t try to fit. Because I started so green and didn’t really know what was going to happen, having to spend so much time with people. All of a sudden I was thrown into a torrent situation with two guys I didn’t really even know. That was the original rhythm section and they were nice guys, there just wasn’t a personality match so eventually as they shot themselves in the foot with their attitudes I could finally start sneaking in the people I wanted to get, which I now have done. Did you find you had to break friendships or was it quite amicable? Ben: No, anyone that I’ve let go, our friendships are still intact, but these guys they had to give me a lot of unprotected sex. That’s really important. Unprotected sex? Ryan: If either one of them has sex all of us just sit there and take it. Ben: It’s important… Ryan: That’s one thing about being in a band – you got to have unprotected sex. That’s my headline right there, ‘to be successful in a band, basically, you’ve got to be a taker’. Words: Jonny Cazzola Image: Richard Homer
delays AARON GILBERT IS HAVING A “FUCKING AVERAGE” DAY. When I speak to him, he’s just left McDonalds (which is “not a good place to be ever”) and is soon accosted by a chav-mobile while walking down the street. “I’d like to jump through their windscreen, that would be nice,” he grumbles. Moody rockstar, right? Wrong. Get him talking about his band Delays’ new musical output and you can hear the smile on his face. “This album will take you to the moon, man, and drop you back down to earth with a technicolour goosebump. How's that for a soundbite?” Perfect, thanks. He’s talking about Everything’s the Rush, the Southampton quartet’s third album and next step in an already promising career. Following a mutual split from Rough Trade - “we had just gone as far as we could with them and waved goodbye” - the band are now signed to Polydor offshoot Fiction and are aiming for the sky. “It finally feels like we're home, to be honest. Our aspirations are bigger now: we want everyone to hear our music.” By playing pretty much every established UK festival this summer, they’re off to a good start. Lead single Hooray is their big gun, the most optimistic
comeback single you’re likely to hear all year. Still, there’s drama behind the “skyscraping happiness” of the chorus. “We've always written songs about nervous breakdowns and panic attacks but in an uplifting way. It doesn’t have to be maudlin, you know. Hooray is about Greg's OCD. It's deep, dark and extraordinarily happy at the same time.”
that. They're all based around personal experience because it would be fake to write about anything else.” Are any particular tracks particularly personal to him? “Long Time Coming has a special meaning for me because it was written just after a friend was killed in a car crash. Everytime we play that, I always well up a little bit because it brings back so many memories.”
Drenched in harmonies and string sections, Delays have avoided becoming yet another Libertines rip-off by refusing to see ‘pop’ as a dirty word. “We all adore the Stone Roses who, for me, were a pop band. We make pop music but there's resonance to what we do. There are no apologies in what we do either.” Influences as diverse as Mogwai, Aphex Twin and, erm, doo-wop (“I’m obsessed with that ’50s era”) ensure this lot will remain progressive while Scouting for Girls churn out any old pop-pap. “It's just not clever, is it? It's so fucking formulaic. At times, they might reach someone melodically but they do fuck all for me, I promise.”
They proved their versatility with Lost In a Melody and Valentine, two of the best floorfillers you probably haven’t heard at an indie disco near you. Can we expect a dancefloor behemoth this time around? “Oh man, there are some massive dance tracks on the new album. There's one called Friends Are False - about a stalker, which is another true story - and that's like Valentine's big brother. We've got people doing remixes at the moment.”
Of course melody is an important aspect of any Delays song, but Aaron insists that a hook is nothing without meaning: “We've been through shitloads over the last few years, and the songs inform
Aaron’s enthusiasm about Everything’s the Rush may be partly attributed to its exotic conception. Relocating to the Spanish chateux of producer Youth, the mastermind behind Urban Hymns, the band found themselves inspired by some impressive vistas. “We were up a mountain in a room with this one massive window looking out over
Sierra Nevada. You want to play to the back of the room when you're in a venue, and you want to play to the back of the mountains when you're in a setting like that. The first night we were there, we danced naked around a fire.” Such activities suggest a certain intimacy between band members, which Aaron confirms: “We grew up together and we’ve always been a proper little gang.” However, do relations ever become strained between Aaron and his brother, lead singer Greg? “He is a twat sometimes. It's a cliche, isn't it? We're brothers, we're supposed to argue. He likes his sleeping pills and I like to stay up all night so we just can't share rooms anymore. At the same time, he's the only person who can sort my head out in an instant, and vice versa.” This closeness is sure to help them cope with the undoubted craziness of 2008. Already massive in Mexico, playing to sold-out crowds of 7,000, Delays’ star looks set to rise high back home with the release of album number three. “Everything we’ve done we’re proud of. This is the best thing we’ve done though, and exactly the record we wanted to make.”