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GËM

Issue 04

A CUT ABOVE THE REST

LP

STMPD RCRDS

THE WRECKS

The star songwriter embracing the years that have passed

A look into Martin Garrix‘s game-changing EDM label and its artists

The American DIY indie-group on its path to musical greatness


CONTENTS

welcome Is anyone else counting down the days until the 17th of May and the 21st of June? Because I sure am. Right now, being able to go to the cinema, visit a lovely gallery and especially go to a gig seems like a concept out of a fever dream, but by those dates, they will become possible again. Not to be dramatic, but I think the first time I will be back at a concert, pressed into a crowd of smiling faces, I will most definitely burst into tears. We’ll have our precious, beloved creative industries back. Finally. With this very special fourth issue of GEM, we want to celebrate just that - the fantastic creative industries, the live music industry and everyone keeping it alive and going at the moment. First and foremost, we’re taking a look behind the scenes of one of the most enthralling music labels right now and its talented artists - STMPD RCRDS, the game-changing EDM label most known for its owner, Martin Garrix. Then we’ve got the phenomenal LP talking us through her creative process and her upcoming album, and the electric American indie-band The Wrecks, who are currently striving for fame by not taking themselves too seriously (and also by releasing some damn good music).

NEWS

04

STMPD RCRDS

06

MUSIC REVIEWS

12

LIVE REVIEWS

14

LP

16

THE WRECKS

20

LET’S GET CULTURAL

24

THE POWER OF NOSTALGIA

26

BLACK HONEY

28

HIDDEN GEMS

30

TIERA

34

FINAL THOUGHTS

36

FUN STUFF

38

SOCIAL MEDIA

Furthermore, we are once again handing over the mic to the new voices of the scene, our hidden gems - this time with Minnesota-based experimental group Baby Boys, the colourful indie-duo Rain on Fridays, the exciting actor and hip-hop artist Isaiah Peck and TikTok latest offspring Nathan Evans. Lastly, we’re shining the light on the Brighton-based indierock four-piece Black Honey, who talked us through the creation of their blockbuster second album ‘Written and Directed’, and Tiera, the newest face of country music. There is a lot to unpack in this issue, from terrific interviews, stellar new music discoveries, a look into the Taylor Swift fandom and their strive for nostalgia, and a bold opinion piece on the crushing reality of the harassment and abuse of women in the music industry. In the end, though, this issue is about all these fantastic individuals keeping us all above water with their phenomenal music and talent. So that we can all celebrate the better times once they arrive. This issue is for them. And you, our lovely readers. I truly hope you enjoy it. Here’s to counting days.

Laura Weingrill

founder and editor-in-chief 3

facebook.com/readgemmagazine twitter.com/readgemmagazine instagram.com/gemmusicmag readgemmagazine@gmail.com

Team: Laura Weingrill, founder & editor-in-chief Lauren Dehollogne, founder & co-editor Ine Vanvuchelen, news editor / online reviews editor Vanessa Valentine, opinion piece editor Benns Borgese, graphic designer

Illustrations by Icons8.com


NEWS All that is new in the fantastical world of music, arts and culture


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HISTORY WRITTEN AT THE GRAMMYS 2021 Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, the leading ladies of the music industry, made history at the Grammy Awards. Swift took the ‘Album of the Year’-award home for her album ‘Folklore’, which makes her the first woman to win the award three times. Queen B received her 28th Grammy; she now holds the record for most awards ever won by a woman. Former One Direction-member Harry Styles won his first Grammy for the summer hit ‘Watermelon Sugar’. Styles had many people stunned by his opening performance of his award-winning song.

Photo by Roybeyonce Written by Ine Vanvuchelen

EUROVISION 2021: LIVE SHOW WITH A CROWD After last year’s Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) was postponed due to Covid-19, the organisers have now announced that this year‘s show will be live and - against all odds - with an audience. Dutch singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence won the 2019 contest with his song Arcade; therefore, the Netherlands has been designated to host this 65th edition. In May, ESC will welcome around 3,500 people during each of the live shows. The Dutch government has agreed to make this year‘s edition a test event, which means that all spectators will have to respect the Covid-19-measures imposed.

Photo by Eurovision Written by Ine Vanvuchelen

DATING MEETS THE WORLD OF MUSIC Finding love in modern times seems to become all the more difficult for true romantics in this ultra-digitalised world. Apps like Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, etc. exist, yet not everyone is a fan of what seems to be a “superficial method” of selecting their potential partners. Therefore a new app is going to be launched, Power of Music, or in short POM. The soon to be on the market dating app works via music synchronisation and matches you to individuals with the same taste in music as you because “where words fail, music speaks”.

Photo by POM Written by Lauren Dehollogne

TWENTY ONE PILOTS ARE BACK Following a massive online treasure hunt, hidden codes, cryptic messages and strange video clips included, the Ohio-based band has returned with their latest single ‘Shy Away’ from their upcoming album ‘Scaled and Icy’ (out May 21). Fans all around the world had been following the band’s movements like the weekly desaturation of their Twitter header or the sudden appearance by Blurryface and therefore weren’t surprised by the group’s sudden reappearance. Topped by a livestream experience that is set to be a 6-week-long event, it’s clear that Twenty One Pilots have got a lot more in store than what it may seem like. 5

Photo by Ashley Osborn Written by Laura Weingrill


C T R S PD RDS M C T S PDR RDS M C T S PDR RDS M C T R S PD RDS M C T S PDR RDS M C T S PDR RDS M C T R S PD RDS M C T S PDR RDS M C T S PDR RDS M C T R S PD S D Enormous laser and light shows, festival headline slots à la Coachella and Tomorrowland, number one charting spots in Top 40 playlists charts, huge crowds bouncing to gripping beats – that is the picture that usually comes to people’s minds when they talk about electronic music. Despite its global popularity, the complex genre has had to fight many prejudices over the past years, while some fans are even saying it has lost its soul. Now, many producers and dance music ambassadors have set out to change exactly that. STMPD RCRDS is one of them – born out of star DJ Martin Garrix’s vision to support the new generation of electronic music and give it its rightful place to shine, the Amsterdambased label has evolved to one of the biggest players in the industry by putting artists first and focusing on quality over quantity. And it might have just transformed the world of electronic music forever by doing so. “My manager Watse de Jong, Steven Hiemstra, who now looks after the label, and I started STMPD RCRDS and STMPD STUDIOS together five years ago. This year is actually ten years of Watse and I working together as well. Funny story, the first time we met I thought he didn’t like me at all for the first few months, but with him, you have to crack the shell and then when you really get to know him you see he is the most loving person. I definitely wouldn’t be here without him,”, remembers Martijn Garritsen, better known as Dutch dance music powerhouse Martin Garrix, trailing back to the early days of his career and the label’s beginnings. Named as an ode for his father’s auction company specialised in stamps, STMPD RCRDS came from Garrix’s idea of setting up a label that would give him the independence and freedom to release his own music without any rules to adhere to and that would let him provide his friends and any upcoming DJs and producers with the spotlight they deserved. Considering the lack of success and demand most labels were facing around that time, some people might have called the decision a risky venture, seeing as it was quickly settled that Amsterdam‘s legendary FC Walvisch recording complex had to become STMPD’s new home. Just five years down the line, what seemed like a shrewd business move at first, has turned into a global brand with enthralling artists like Julian Jordan, Loopers, EAUXMAR, Osrin, Brooks, Dillon Francis, and, of course, Martin Garrix himself under its wing. By turning the label and studio sphere into a safe haven not only for music-related artists but also for any other creatives under any discipline, STMPD has evolved into the new, fresh face of music production in the ecstatic world of dance music. With over 400 released tracks from 250 artists across a length of genres, from tech-house and downtempo to progressive,


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/ STM P

RDS / D R C RD S

Written by Laura Weingrill Photos by Louis van Baar & STMPD RCRDS

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“FOR THE NEXT YEARS THE GOAL IS FOR EVERYBODY TO STAY IN THIS POSITIVE FLOW, TO KEEP PUSHING AND INSPIRING EACH OTHER AND TO BECOME THE BEST VERSIONS OF THEMSELVES.” - MARTIN GARRIX electro-house, a bit of trap and future bass and everything in between, the label has its finger firmly set on the pulse of time by proofing that dance music is more than just massive festival-ready anthems and creating a musical universe that exists without boxes. “I love that today there are just no boundaries anymore. In the past, there were always those big trends that almost everybody followed, but now I think we all feel a bit more like we can just put out whatever music we want to,”, proclaims Emilio Justin Behr, also known as Dutch DJ Justin Mylo. Thanks to his relationship with Garrix that trails back to the times when they were still kids, the young producer had his first breakthrough with his collaboration with Garrix, the pulsing bounce track ‘Bouncy Bob’, which quickly became a big dance floor hit all over the world, and was one of the first artists to be signed to STMPD. As for many others, the label quickly turned into much more than just a group of people getting his music out into the public, him fondly

calling it his “home base” now. “Every time I’m at the studios, it’s like coming home and I always hang around way longer than I need to, just to be with the team. But what really makes STMPD stand out in my opinion is that they release all kinds of electronic music. We’re all working without limits and I think that’s why the level of quality is always very high for every release. Which I think is super important, to always strive for quality no matter how hard it may be.” A statement that also gets underlined by Joshua Raphaël Dominique van der Burgh, better known as the Dutch DJ and songwriter Josh Charm. The young producer is the somewhat new kid on the block, having signed to STMPD only last year. But even despite the short time and the pandemic putting a hold on the industry, he’s become part of the many artists who have made the label their second home: “STMPD is a family with members who share mutual values, for example achieving musical goals, sharing life and music 8


experiences, connecting people and adding value to the world via music. It always requests us artists to become the best versions of ourselves.” Family – a concept that seems to be at the forefront of STMPD’s essence. Which doesn’t come as a surprise when you have “Artists First. Always.” as your motto. And while a catchphrase like that doesn’t just look good on posters and as part of an “About Us” page, it’s a mantra that has also firmly grounded itself in every artist’s experience when getting to work with the label. “It is definitely the foundation of STMPD’s philosophy. All the artists are good friends and spend a lot of time together even outside the studio walls. We’re always super excited to come to Amsterdam, we love the hospitality of the label’s team and are very warmly welcomed every time. We truly feel at home here,”, utters the Russian producer-duo Matisse & Sadko, made up of two brothers who have found their place in the world of house and have been working together with Martin Garrix and his label from the very start. Looking back on their journey, they feel a sense of pride about being able to be part of STMPD’s story from so early on, getting to follow its growth and become part of its team from close to day one. “The first five years at STMPD have been crazy. For the next years the goal is for everybody to stay in this positive flow, to keep pushing and inspiring each other and to become the best versions of themselves,”, Garrix, who will be 25 years old this May, states, quickly adding the urge to go back on stage as soon as possible. “I can’t wait

“EVERY TIME I‘M AT STMPD, IT‘S LIKE COMING HOME. I ALWAYS HANG AROUND WAY LONGER THAN I NEED TO.” - JUSTIN MYLO

for the festivals to start again, so we get to play the music that we’ve been working on the last year for an actual audience. And I really want to see all the artists again, because we haven’t been able to meet for such a long time now, except for on facetime or zoom, but that’s just not the same. The same goes for the fans, I can’t wait to be in the same room or on the same field with them together and feel the energy and have our STMPD reunion.” As a community, no music genre has been hit harder by the pandemic than the DJ culture that depends on live shows and being able to perform their musical ventures in front of dancing crowds. It is easier to imagine people sitting in front of a screen and enjoying a streamed rock or pop concert than a live DJ set. And as with just like everyone else, the uncertainty of how and when things will finally return to normal has put a huge weight on the whole sector of the industry and many artists’ creative fuel. “For me, the pandemic has been nice and bad at the same time. The trick is to find a balance between them to stay in the golden middle. What I call “nice” is the fact that I have had more time to produce music than ever before because I’m not touring and as opposed to earlier when I was going out when I wasn’t on tour, I can’t do that now either. It sounds awesome in terms of music productivity though, right?”, the Polish DJ star and STMPD RCRDS signee Blinders points out, while also highlighting the negative effects the various lockdowns have had on his creativity. “But what I call “bad” is the fact that when you stay too much in the studio, you get overwhelmed and you lose your vision. So to figure it out you have to balance and spend some time on other things that can bring you more


ideas and inspiration for your music.” It’s a point of view that is shared by many, among those also by the rising Dutch duo Frenk de Vries and Edwin de Bruijn, better known as the eclectic producer team Silque: “It has been a tough period for the music industry and it still is. Sometimes the creative ideas were hard to find for us. But because we couldn’t play live and with not much perspective on the festival/club scenes returning back to normal, we tried to focus more on music that was more listenable instead of the hits that we usually play at festivals.” But despite dance music clubs and festivals being the number one communal events that just need to experienced live, pressed against people, with loud beats blaring in your ears and making your heart bounce, the electronic music industry has found ways of creating a burgeoning virtual culture to give everyone a short break from the madness. Diving into an environment where fans can chat while getting to experience real-time performances, these new faces of live music have given music lovers the chance to get to see their favourite DJs and producers up close and personal and feel connected in ways that have otherwise been unattainable with social distancing. Still through a screen and from everyone’s homes, but better than nothing at all. Naturally, the pandemic and demise of live shows have flung an equally hard punch at the whole of STMPD RCRDS. Throughout the past years, the label had become famous for its enormous festival takeovers at the world’s leading fests, including Tomorrowland, Ultra Miami, Sziget, and Lollapalooza Berlin amongst many others. But even with the STMPD Stages put on hold, the label and its whole team haven’t sat still for even just one day, setting up their own livestream festivals and DJ sets, taking the fans inside of the studios and the label’s work through various behind the scenes

“ONE VERY IMPORTANT THING WE HAVE LEARNED IS THAT THE TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK.” - MARTIN GARRIX

videos and seizing the one or other slot at online festivals such as Hydeout and Tomorrowland. Additionally, the label’s online concepts, such as its outstanding Instagram presence, have found new heights throughout the past few months, from hosting their own STMPD RCRDS radio in which they follow one of their artists for a day and having their signees guess each other’s IDs, to releasing their first-ever producer pack with label frequenter Julian Jordan, ultimately giving their fans a chance to get to know their favourite artists even better. And lastly, they managed to reach one milestone that outshone all the darkness that 2020 brought with itself – the completion and opening of the STMPD Recording Studios, featuring eight striking studios, with one serving as a film mix stage and even getting certified as a Dolby Atmos Premier Studio – one of only nine in the world. As with every big-scale endeavour like the creation and successful uphold of STMPD, there is a group of very talented and motivated people working in the background to keep everything afloat and get the boat going. Something that the pandemic has particularly pushed to the front of everyone’s minds. “One very important thing we’ve learned is that the teamwork makes the dream work. The team, everybody involved, it’s what makes STMPD run and what makes it so special. It feels like a family and I will never ever take that for granted,”, highlights producer and owner Garrix, coming back to the importance and value of surrounding yourself with the right group of individuals. It almost feels like a full circle, from starting his own label to be able to support artists and DJs he believed in and to give them the recognition they rightfully deserved, to turning STMPD RCRDS into a one-of-a-kind game-changer in the vast, pulsing world of electronic music with a loyal team following him every step of the way. In just five years the young DJ and his label managed to reach countless landmark moments and become the breeding ground for future hits and the new generation of electronic music talent, breathing new life into the soul of dance music. And with a strong, stand-out team and a global superstar at its helm, one thing is clear – STMPD RCRDS’ only way is up.


“FOR ME, THE PANDEMIC HAS BEEN NICE AND BAD AT THE SAME TIME. THE TRICK IS TO FIND THE GOLDEN MIDDLE.” - BLINDERS


A L B U M

Demi Lovato

R E V I E W S On April 2nd Demi Lovato released her seventh studio album ‘Dancing With The Devil… The Art Of Starting Over’, her comeback album after her overdose and hospitalisation in 2018. Since she processes traumatic experiences from the past through her songwriting, the album focuses exactly on that. ‘Dancing With The Devil.. The Art of Starting Over’ is brutally honest as Lovato finishes a cruel chapter but continues to write her own story. From the heart-breaking ballad ‘Anyone’ about longing for someone to be there for her, to ‘My Girlfriends Are My Boyfriends’ ft. Saweetie, a song about her love for her friends, the album not only proves to be a perfect piece on selfcare but also on her personal mental health journey. For everyone wondering how Lovato is doing right now, the last song gives an explanation as she sings: “Through bad situations, fixed the foundation and now I’m doing alright, now I’m in a good place”.

Da n c i n g W i t h t h e D e v i l ... T h e A r t o f S t a r t i n g O v e r

Label: RCA Records

Kings of Leon When You See Yourself

by Vicky Madzak

It’s been four long years since a new Kings of Leon has grazed everyone’s ears and hearts. With an extensive catalogue of 20 years of experience, the group is far from having to reinvent itself or prove why they have become legends amongst gods in rock’s heaven. Now the band has returned with a not so typical rock album that leads its listeners into a world of self-reflection and tells the tale of a band that has had as many ups as downs. Recorded at their Nashville base, the album leans on the band’s roots, while still adding a few new strokes to Kings of Leon’s flourishing musical canvas. Songs like ‘The Bandit’ and ‘Echoing’ are packed with dirty guitars and croaky vocals, but then there are also the quieter moments that come with a tender intimacy in tracks like ‘100,000 People’, ‘Claire and Eddie’ and the eery ‘Supermarket’. Ending with the dreamy ‘Fairytale’, a reverb-heavy kaleidoscope that might just coin itself as the record’s stand-out hit, ‘When You See Yourself ’ sees Kings of Leon take on a challenge and put on a new coat of musical expertise.

Label: RCA Records

by Laura Weingrill

Ever since ‘Love Story (Taylor’s Version)’ was put into the world, the start of a new era commenced, the beginning of Taylor Swift’s independence and control all the while putting it in a blanket of nostalgia. Throughout ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’, it becomes apparent that although the arrangements are similar, there is a slightly different progression which excels for Swift’s mature and more powerful than ever before vocal cords. The first chapter of the re-recordings makes you remember the teenage angst once felt years prior or for the newer fans the motion they’re living through at this moment, but as did the original a silver string of glee, and absolute pleasure is the overarching theme. And yes, even ‘You’re Not Sorry (Taylor’s Version)’ and ‘White Horse (Taylor’s Version)’ don’t deviate from that tale, it just makes it all combine in a wonderful story that translates the young adult experience into a 26 song record.

Taylor Swift Fearless (Taylor’s Version)

by Lauren Dehollogne

Label: Republic

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M U S I C

JULIA MICHAELS- ALL YOUR EXES Label: Republic Records

Julia Michaels has gone and done it once again with the release of her latest powerful and slightly comedic pop-rock anthem ‘All Your Exes’. When entering a new relationship, you instinctively don’t want to know the story of their past and having hilariously written this masterpiece with partner JP Saxe, ‘All Your Exes’ accompanies Michaels’ maturity in sound perfectly, setting the scene for her upcoming debut album. IT

LOI - I FOLLOW Label: Volksmusic ‘I Follow’ is a modern ballad about a love so strong that one would leave everything else behind to be with that significant other. The initially quiet song, merely led by a piano melody, eventually erupts in an explosive and powerful chorus which reflects the passion that can be found in romance. Loi’s expressive vocals prove the emotional value of the song and the wide range of her potential. AZ

AREA21 - LA LA LA Label: STMPD RCRDS

The aliens have landed. After two long years the EDM and hip hop duo AREA21, comprised of Dutch star DJ Martin Garrix and singer Maejor, is back with their newest single ‘La La La’. Packed with stunning vocals, hypnotic electronic beats, chilling guitar lines and a string section to die for, the record is the perfect addition to everyone’s summer playlist and set to stay on top for a long time to come. LW

TWENTY ONE PILOTS - SHY AWAY Label: Fueled by Ramen

N E W

A colourful firework of addictive drum beats, electronic rhythms, a striking guitar to lead the way, and stunning vocals from Tyler Joseph himself, ‘Shy Away’ serves as the perfect start of a new, saturated era of Twenty One Pilots. Recorded in their home studios, completely separated from each other, the record and the upcoming album ‘Scaled and Icy’ (out May 21) serve as a throwback to the band’s beginnings and make it clear that they have got a lot more surprises in store. LW

INHALER - CHEER UP BABY Label: Polydor Records

Cheer Up Baby, because Irish foursome Inhaler is back with a new song, ‘Cheer Up Baby’. The track talks about being stuck in your own head – something many people struggle with during these times of lockdowns and loneliness. Inhaler’s indierock-pop DNA clearly runs through the song and is a fantastic addition to their already impressive discography. IV

OLIVIA RODRIGO - DEJA VU Label: Geffen Records ‘deja vu’, Olivia Rodrigo’s latest effort goes on from the story she so graciously shared with us three months ago on ‘drivers license’. Still hurt about her ex moving on with a different girl yet this time more vengeful than before. The track creates an atmosphere of intentional emotional release and well placed drops to keep the outsider interested in the story. Rodrigo’s great vocals and impeccable lyricism are allowing her to claim the Gen Z ultimate pop star spot, a title she is bound to get. LD 13


ZARA LARSSON FOR INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

If you thought you couldn’t find a better Scandinavian pairing than Swedish meatballs and lingonberry jam hold tight, your boat is about to be rocked. For this year’s International Women’s Day, Swedish pop sensation Zara Larsson collaborated with IKEA on a virtual live concert.

In true pandemic spirit, Larsson was joined remotely by British group Clean Bandit for a performance of their joint hit ‘Symphony’, video recordings of the band playing on a screen behind her as she graciously sang the track free of dancers and choreography.

The hour-long event – which was broadcasted on YouTube – featured a well-balanced mix of older singles and tracks from her newest album ‘Poster Girl’, with the lead single ‘Love Me Land’ being the perfect choice to get it started.

To no surprise to the singer’s fans, the song chosen to close the show was ‘Lush Life’, Larsson’s first international hit. Clearly her most performed track ever, Larsson acknowledges the comments made by her most devoted supporters by making the performance more interesting, singing the single’s intro in a very soft and peaceful acapellalike style.

The partnership with IKEA gave Larsson and her creative team the chance to be more adventurous with the stage design, something that not only helped bring each track to life in its truest form, but also made sure to keep the viewer’s attention by introducing new visual elements after each other song. But props alone don’t make a show, and this is where Larsson’s amazing stage presence shines through. Just like her precovid live gigs, Poster Girl Live features a multitude of choreographies and dance breaks that enriched most of the songs on the setlist.

If you just can’t wait to get back into an overly packed club, sweaty from the singing and dancing along to the act on stage, Poster Girl Live is the right online gig for – check it out on Zara Larsson’s YouTube channel.

Written by: Benns Borgese

The quality of Larsson’s moves is even more impressive when her impeccable vocals are taken into account: one minute she’s dropping into the splits, the next she’s effortlessly vocalising as she prepares to do it all over again– at the same time. ‘Poster Girl Live’ made sure to slow down the tempo for a stripped-out version of ‘I Need Love’, the singer joined on the outdoors-y portion of the stage by Johanna and Klara Söderberg of Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit.

LIVE


KAKKMADDAFAKKA

HIPPO CAMPUS: ‘Landmark’ ‘Bambi’

It may be a bit of a mind twister at first but say their name out loud and Kakkmaddafakka will make people’s heads turn. The Norwegian outfit, comprised of brothers Axel and Pål Vindenes and school friends Jonas Nielsen and Stian Sævigare, the happy indie-group have spent the past years becoming known and loved for not taking themselves too seriously. A spirit that can also be applied to their ecstatic records and high energy live performances. To get the group back together and to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their first internationally successful album ‘Hest’, the Bergen-based bunch met up in Axel Vindenes’ basement to take a step back in time and give their fans a short escape from the dullness of lockdown-life. All suited-up and with a hand-drawn KMF sign plastering the back wall, the group brought their unique Bergen-wave, the Scandinavian equivalent of Britpop, into everyone’s living rooms, jumping through late hits like the glistering ‘Restless’, the jolly ‘Is She’ and the ever-so addictive ‘Your Girl’. Keeping the electric energy at peak at all times, the band didn’t miss to throw in the one or another punchy joke and mildly philosophical message for their fans and listeners, making it clear that whether it is from a basement through a screen or live on stage, Kakkmaddafakka will always ensure that everyone has a good time. In the end, it’s the utter uniqueness of their live shows that makes them unforgettable and lets us long for more.

Written by: Laura Weingrill

Written by: Lauren Dehollogne - Photo Credit: Pooneh Ghana Eight years after their initial inception, American indie band Hippo Campus are performing their two studio albums in full to a virtual crowd from the comfort of their own living room. ‘Landmark’ and ‘Bambi’ represent different stages in their career but by now the five-piece is showing off their skills like seasoned professionals. And although singalong fans and a dark-lit room are out of the equation this time, it allows all the more time for the individual tracks to shine. Lead singer Jake Luppen’s angelic voice overpowers the quiet room and creates an almost holylike atmosphere, making us convert to the powerful music Hippo Campus so gracefully shares with us. ‘Bambi’s ‘Golden’ transforms us to a place full of sunshine glazed beaches with the lightly electronic undertones and DeCarlo Jackson’s perfect cinematic trumpet melodies. During the performance of their debut album songs like ‘Tuesday’, ‘Monsoon’ and ‘Poems’ make us sit on the edge of our seat, living through the careless youthful embrace of pleasure, hurt and loss. And as proven before, Hippo Campus is not the most talkative band on the planet but why should they when they have this much talent to showcase? These live performances are a gift to the fans who have been there from the start and to all the ones that have joined throughout the journey.

REVIEWS


PLANTING SEEDS TO GROW


A year into this global pandemic, and it feels like nothing much has changed. Or has it? We’re still sitting at home, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use this time, while we’re patiently waiting for our vaccine, as a window of opportunity. For LP, home is in the city of angels, Los Angeles, and that’s where she remains for now, surrounded by the sea, the mountains and the trees, letting her creativity run wild. Due to covid, she performed her planned world tour as a ‘Virtual World Tour’. But even off the road, 40-year-old singer-songwriter LP remains a busy lady. “I’m looking back on the past year as an opportunity to get some things in order, on a personal level and on a business level. I was able to style my upcoming album a lot more than I would have in different times. I wouldn’t have gotten to this exact group of songs and genres if I hadn’t had this inspiring, creative and global experience of learning how to adapt to certain situations, cope with different things and live in the moment. It’s about planting seeds to grow, as an artist and as a person.” In these past few months these seeds have blossomed into beautiful flowers, as LP released the first three singles of her highly anticipated album: ‘The One That You Love’, ‘How Low Can You Go’ and ‘One Last Time’. Her latest single, ‘One Last Time’, pulls at the listener’s heartstrings, and the dramatique and nostalgia are reasons why. Being the hopeless romantic she is, LP can’t help but reimagine precious moments, pondering about the things she wished she’d said or done. “My mother has been passed away for some time now, and when I think of the times we spent together, I feel at home and at peace with her. She put a lot of love into me, that I get to share with others through interaction and my music.” Even though ‘One Last Time’ is extremely danceable, it definitely has melancholic aspects to it with the lyrics: “You know it only feels like darkness / Til somebody turns on the light / I’d live it all once again / With an alternate end / And I’d pay the highest price / To hold you one last time.”

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As far as writing goes, the American singersongwriter is always trying to conjure up new ideas. The 40-year-old remembers the days when all everyone told her was to “write what you know”. This annoyed her because for her creativity is an idea where you just go with things that may not be in your exact world experience but makes you time travel in the essence of a song. “I will tell you that as being an artist, as well as a professional songwriter, sometimes you got to go out on the limb. Bob Dylan is a great example: he is a genius, a poet, a sjaman, but he didn’t experience all those things he wrote about back in the day.”

a lot of times songs are getting picked these days for other people, from tracks you’ve written for yourself. “The key is to write something that cuts to the very soul of the collective population, where each individual also hears something that tears at their specific heartstring. That’s what separates men from the boys, as far as songwriting goes.” Laura Pergolizzi known as LP has had a wild ride, in her road to fame. In 2001 she released her debut album, but world domination came fourteen years afterwards, when she reinvented herself to a career penning hit records wonder for other artists. Eventually she put herself on the map with a monster of a break-up song, that reached number one in eighteen countries. “I wrote this song, ‘Lost On You’, in 2014, at a time when everything was falling apart. But the next thing I know, when the song was released, I’m touring the world and it has

Having (co)-written for superstar artists like Rihanna, The Backstreet Boys, Céline Dion, etc. has made her an expert in translating a specific experience into something universal. It’s something LP says is hard to master but oh so crucial, because 18


changed my life. I used to look back on it as the worst year of my life, but now I think of it as one of the greatest years,”, LP laughs. For that very song, the one that blew up all over the world, the singersongwriter was dropped from her label, Warner Bros. After that, the American artist got signed by Vagrant, a little indie label, and another year later ‘Lost On You’ started hitting the charts. This switch created a huge change in her life, a life-altering moment that puts everything into perspective,

It took determination and seven record deals to get where she is today. “I find it very important to figure out what’s the unique thing you have to offer and you will never allow someone to take from you or make compromises. Once you find that thing, stick with it and fight to the end to protect it. I really went through it in the music industry, which didn’t make it easy to keep myself intact but all I had to do was not quit,”, LP explains. And quitting is one word we definitely can’t find in her dictionary.

“I think we really have to understand that things are subjective, in art and in life. If it wasn’t, you would fall in love and date everybody.”

“I find it very important to figure out what’s the unique

thing you have to offer and you will never allow someone to take from you or make compromises. Once you find that thing, stick with it and fight to the end to protect it.”

We’re not only going through a musical renaissance, but also through a cultural one. People are tired of taking the backseat to one type of person, and it’s time to stand up and be counted. In today’s progressive society, labels shouldn’t even be a quota anymore, but sadly that time is not quite here yet. As an LGBTQIA+ woman, LP has a large group of fans connecting with her through experiences and asking for advice. “I’m always flattered when someone thinks I have any idea what I’m doing. The best advice I can give is: don’t back down, always be yourself and never apologise for that. I mean it.”

Some might think she’s a one hit wonder with ‘ Lost On You’, but with over two billion streams, a wealth of experience to her name, and unmistakably meaningful lyrics, combined with very danceable pop-rock vibes, the facts beg to differ. Her rise to the top wasn’t a walk in the park, yet it has only made her strronger and into the artist she is today. Written by: Lien Joos Photo Credit: Ryan Jay


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THE WRECKS There are millions of ways that bands can be formed nowadays – online by taking advantage of our digitalised world, at school or in the halls of universities, through friends or maybe the one or another talent agency. Of course, some groups might have more unique stories than others, but only some will be able to compete with the level of absolute insanity that came with the formation of the now Los Angeles-based indie-rock group The Wrecks. It might as well be taken directly from a script of a spy movie coming to a cinema near you. But that’s the way the four-piece makes the magic happen – from producing their first EP in a rather illegal way, to selling a signed tricycle on eBay, the band’s craziness is only trumped by one thing - their phenomenal, DIY-infused musical creations that have lured their way into our hearts. And what’s the fun in being ordinary anyway? Written by Laura Weingrill Photos by Matty Vogel

“I met our bassist Aaron Kelly on Facebook when I was like 15 because he was really supportive of the music that I was posting. And when he started interning for our now managers, he invited me to meet them. After that, the management had us work with other artists in California, so all these bands would come in and out. And then we met the other two missing members, our drummer Billy Nally and our guitarist Schmizz (Nick Schmidt) in 2017. And now we’re The Wrecks,”, remembers Nick Anderson, lead singer and producer of the electric quartet. What might sound like a regular meet-cute band story, was quickly turned on its head just after the first night the group had spent on their manager Richard Reines’ couch. With Anderson already sitting on a bunch of songs he had worked on before the formation of the band, they were quick to set out to record their first EP, had there not been the problem of finding a good, preferably cheap studio to use. But that’s the good that comes from always having a foot placed firmly on social media, as the band was immediately surprised to find an invitation from a friend of theirs to use the studio of a house she was looking after around that time. Working solely after the sun had set until it was coming up again, as they were advised not to let someone see them during the day, the four-piece spent three busy nights recording their first EP ‘We Are The

Wrecks’, pizza-devouring and wine-drinking included. But it wasn’t until the last night that the story of how a band got to use a massive studio for free turned into a tale out of a thriller. “Suddenly the girl who led us in calls us and she‘s like, “Hey, you guys have to get out of there because the homeowner’s ex-wife is coming back now”. So we pick everything up, clean up all the pizza boxes and wine bottles. We got out of there and I swear it was like in a movie. We pulled out of the driveway and went around the corner and she pulled into the driveway like right behind us, we just barely got away with it,”, Anderson laughs, while dropping the pinnacle of the story at the end – the moment they found out they had forgotten all their songs on the studio’s computer and their then-producer setting out on his own adventure to get them back. “So, he goes on this crazy undercover agent mission. He sneaks through the back gate, at like two in the morning, and the ex-wife is absolutely home. And he gets in there, keeps all the lights off, transfers the songs, sneaks out and gets back to us. It was like one of those “and then everyone clapped” moments.” Many years later, The Wrecks have grown in many ways – from learning how to produce everything themselves and building their own home studio, to slowly but surely 21


finding their home in the world of alternative rock. But if there is one thing they have stayed firmly close to it’s the appreciation for their past and all the wild ventures that got them to where they are now. “My favourite moments are our small milestones, like signing up for a record deal. We make an effort to celebrate them, no matter how big or small they are. I think it‘s important to do that, because whether you’re selling five million copies of an album or 5000, just celebrate those moments because they only come once,”, singer Anderson states, hinting at the release of their ecstatic debut record ‘Infinitely Ordinary’ and its counterpart EP ‘Static’. Brought to life in May 2020, the album and its probable setback had been the source of many discussions. And while other bands had decided to push back their releases in the eye of the pandemic, The Wrecks are proud of standing their ground: “We had promised our fans a debut album for three and a half years, so we were never going to postpone. I remember in April, just a month into the pandemic, it already felt like it had been going on forever. And people had no idea what to do with themselves, there was nothing to look forward to,”, Anderson recalls. “So the thought that we could put something on people’s calendars to look forward to felt really good. We gave them this thing that was definitely going to happen, that no one could take away from them. It was like a break from the madness for a second.” Looking at the massive reaction from their excited fanbase, it was quickly decided that the group had gone with the right path. Packed with irresistible hooks, clever lyrics and gripping instrumentals, each of the debut’s tracks feels like a short movie, captivating plots and intriguing scenes included. And with their 2021 release ‘Static’ and three more EPs in the starting blocks, the group is set to effortlessly build upon their previous momentum with smarts, style, and their fresh sense of energy and creativity.

too seriously, but we don‘t really take the world around us too seriously either. And we‘re not hiding behind anything. It’s like a “what you see is what you get” kind of situation with us,”, the soon 26-year-old explains, while also noting the seriousness and importance the singer and his fellow band-members take from being part of the public sphere and having thousands of people looking up to you. One topic Anderson has spent a lot of time with has been the change in the image of mental health in the world, especially online and among younger people. From being bullied in high school for putting himself out there more to suffering from depression and ADD (attention deficit disorder), the artist feels a certain responsibility opening up the conversation within his platform and pulling it back to what really matters. “It’s such an important message to tell kids that it’s okay to be okay too. I’m watching my little sister who’s struggling with real depression, and there’s a whole culture of emo TikTok, where it’s cool to be sad. It’s become this thing you have to have to be popular. It’s a total 180 degrees change from what I went through. I felt like an outcast for it, when maybe now I‘d be popular because of it,”, the songwriter and producer ponders, further illuminating the ignorance and fake compassion he sees being spread by other bands and musicians. “I think it’s dangerous to talk about mental health in an ambiguous way. If you’ve got a voice, use it in a real way and don’t just say some corporate slogan. Of course, I don‘t think that it’s an artist’s obligation to be necessarily outspoken. I think an artist’s obligation is to make art. And it can start and end there if it has to. But you have a license to talk about things like mental health when you have a platform.” It’s that kind of devotion that makes it clear why The Wrecks have made it to where they are now. Gone are the days where the four-piece secretly takes over someone’s studio at night or spends all their money on having a producer master all their songs and then not uses any of it before doing everything themselves. It might have taken them a bit, but now the group has found its place in the industry, weaving their unique DIY-aesthetic through all of their stand-out releases, while never being afraid to throw out the odd joke at their own expense. And this is exactly why the only way for them is up. Not only because they truly deserve it, but because they always wanted it that way: “I always thought that we would make it. I sometimes ask myself, is this what I expected? Did I think that we would be this big? To be honest, I expect us to be even bigger. We’ve got this kind of naivety that we’re floating around this world and will eventually be as big as we want to be. But success finds you because when you think that way you work more, you pick up the phone more, you send that one extra email. You practice a little harder when you expect that things are going to go up.”

Besides the impeccable artistry and their spectacular musical tours de force, it’s their one-of-a-kind humour and level of self-awareness that sets the group off from the rest. From setting up two live stream shows and building the themed set-pieces all by themselves, first selling a signed tricycle on eBay and then never actually seeing any of the money, to spending hundreds of hours filming a music video with thumbs for characters because the budget had been spent on groceries and rent – absolutely everything about The Wrecks is out of the ordinary. Their records might not sound as perfect as the ones coming from the millionaire rock stars out there, but even their mistakes are proudly referred to as “happy little accidents”. No wonder they have turned it into their star-USP: “I think our thing is not taking ourselves too seriously, in a very authentic way. We’re very self-deprecating in that sense. Whether it’s on stage or in our videos, we not only don’t take ourselves 22


“Our thing is not taking ourselves too seriously, in a very authentic way. We‘re not hiding behind anything. It‘s a “what you see is what you get” kind of situation with us.“

“I don‘t think that it‘s an artist’s obligation to be necessarily outspoken. But you have a license to talk about things like mental health when you have a platform.”


Let's Get Cultural FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER Steve Rogers and Tony Stark are gone, and with the world still torn into pieces after half of its population was suddenly vanished by Thanos’ snap for five whole years, the two newest additions to the Avengers, Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, and Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier, like so many others are grappling to find their place in this new postBlip era. But if that wasn’t enough, the fresh heroes are also facing some additional problems: radical conspiracy groups thinking everything was better during the blip, having to work with old foes, and a new superhero wearing a familiar suit.

PTSD brought on by memories of the rather violent crimes he committed pre-Blip while working for the evil organisation called Hydra. Like Sam, he’s trying to put his life back together, going to therapy every few days and turning in former Hydra associates instead of killing them in cold blood. It takes a short while for the two freshmen to meet, and, as previously revealed these two don’t seem to get along, which just adds more to the series’ charisma. Jumping from one heroic quip to the next, it’s the search for the Flag-Smashers, the presumed villains, that keeps them on the same path and even sees them cross ways with another familiar villain that came close to breaking up the Avengers the first time he tried – Zemo.

While Wanda Maximoff reacted by creating a fake suburbia to escape reality, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) is jetting around the world on military missions in his sleek Falcon suit and helping his sister on the side. As a rather unexpected addition, he also finds himself wrestling with his decision of laying down the shield once given to him by Captain America. One he quickly regrets, as the country is crying out for a new hero to represent the good in its favourite colours blue, white and red, and soon finds him in the form of John Walker, a former military legend, who we yet have to find out has intentions at heart that are actually as heroic as implied or not. Elsewhere, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), is grappling with

After the absolute gamechanger WandaVision, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is one more proof that Marvel treats its television shows exactly the way it treats its films in terms of scope and ambition. Packed with stellar action scenes, exquisite banter and enough twists and hidden secrets to keep us peeled to the screen, the series is another dazzling Marvel outing that serves as the perfect counterpart to WandaVision’s weird, magical cinematic ride.

Written by: Laura Weingrill Director: Kari Skogland Where to watch: Disney+

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w

Written by: Ine Vanvuchelen Presenters: Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen Where to listen: Spotify

Written by: Alexa Zsigmond Author: Eckhart Tolle Publisher: Penguin Books

After his successful book ‘A Promised Land’ (2020), Barack Obama traded in his pen for a microphone and asked Bruce Springsteen - one of America’s biggest rock stars - to join him for his podcast series ‘Renegades: Born in the USA’.

The recently increased vicious crimes against various ethnic and religious communities prove the egocentricity and hatred deeply rooted in many human beings. The world is filled with oppressive egos and violence. However, there is an Ego in all of us it is the voice in our head that complains about trivial things, the need to feel superior and our materialistic tendencies.

In eight episodes, the duo tackles important social issues, such as race and the loss of American innocence during the Vietnam War, and discusses their experiences growing up and making a career in the United States. In the process, they take a critical stance toward the U.S. and the notion of the “American Dream”. Obama and Springsteen, for example, ask each other what that elusive idea means to them and when that feeling was first disrupted.

Throughout this dense book, Eckhart Tolle unravels the various layers of the Ego and gets to the core of the human’s deepest fears and sufferings. The fact that ‘A New Earth’ is labelled a spiritual book does not affect the observation that Tolle’s descriptions and ideas are logical and applicable to one’s behaviour and thoughts.

Throughout the podcast, music is never far away. Besides the subtle nod to Springsteen’s hit ‘Born in the USA’ in the title of the series, music is woven into the topics they discuss in a variety of ways. They talk about protests and its songs, share some of their favourite musicians, and use Springsteen’s music to bring up topics they want to talk about. Their conversations are easy to follow, using evocative, playful language and joking about everyday things. Even though they are not blind to the flaws of the U.S., they still believe in a better future and call on the youth to stand up and help make a change.

Throughout the book, you might encounter thoughts like “Oh, I do that” or “Do I want to be confronted with truths that I usually try to avoid?”. The book guides the reader through different steps of recognising the Ego in oneself and how we can break free from it. ‘A New Earth’ reveals the change that we must go through as individuals first before we can begin to create a new world. By deconstructing angry Egos and detaching ourselves from the fear of change, we have the opportunity to make this world a better place.

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The power of nostalgia Arenas filled with screaming fans looking up at their curly-haired, costume-switching teen idol, Taylor Swift, is how the Fearless era started off in 2009. 2021 brought the return of the album that made Swift a worldwide phenomenon, although with a little twist. ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’, is completely owned by the legendary 31-year-old and gives life to six songs that were previously captured in her vault of unreleased masterpieces. In the 12 years between, her original fans grew up alongside her and countless others have joined. Taylor Swift is no longer a countrypop sweetheart but a genre-bending icon.

Swift, who started her re-recording journey with ‘Fearless’ opposed to her self-titled debut, puzzled some fans at first, but to Amy Williams, a fan who became enamoured with the hit-singer through ‘Love Story’s original run, it is all clear “it feels as though we’ve come full circle and the fans that have been with her for years are getting to relive their childhood/teenage years again.”. Nostalgia is the overpowering emotion that is instilled in nearly every single one of the people gracing their attention to ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’. A feeling egged on by Swift and her team with throwback secret messages, copious amounts of bootleg merch featured on her webshop and tear-inducing lyric videos.


Throughout the years, the public opinion about the now-iconic-artist has changed from being America’s Sweetheart to a slut to a snake and finally with the turn of ‘folklore’ and ‘evermore’ an appreciated force in the music industry. The change Lena Maria mainly noticed was “when I was younger I got ridiculed for liking Taylor and now I feel like I am in a very accepting and positive environment.” The discourse of hate never faltered her loyal fanbase as Swift has provided comfort for the massive amount of people that have been enamoured with her since the start.

a deeper appreciation for it all. It was a gradual progression but ‘Speak Now’ was a special album for me personally and through time I have realised that a lot of my closest friends are the people I got to know because of her.” A thing that often returns within her fanbase are fans finding friends on social media through a mutual adoration for Swift. For everyone slightly interested in the music industry or feminism, ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ is an album that catapults the order of urgency in this business. Yes, this nostalgia infested album is a treat for everyone who lays their eyes on it yet this part of her career should’ve been introduced when she chose to, not because she wanted to own the work she made herself. ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ is not just a win for Swift and her supporters but for everyone who has ever been pushed aside by the music industry. Therefore, an insane amount of pride is felt once the rerecordings are mentioned, “after hearing the re-recorded version of Love Story I felt so proud and happy for Taylor because she gets to own her music again,”, as Lena Maria puts it.

“It feels as though we’ve come full circle and the fans that have been with her for years are getting to relive their childhood/teenage years again.”

“It’s just kind of crazy that we grew up with her, you know?” Brittany mentions. It’s hard to overlook that Taylor Swift is not just an unattainable pop star but rather a person who uses her music as a warm embrace for everyone who has ever needed it. Swift brings comfort to fans like Giselle Libby and she also influenced them in terms of their career, friends and even self-confidence. “I’d love to meet her one day to thank her in person,”, Amy Williams admits and professes a need that many all over the world might feel. Taylor Swift is not just an idea but a friend disguised in the soundtrack of all of her fans’ lives, and yes that deserves a giant thank you.

And as Giselle Libby puts it “Taylor Swift is the common tie throughout my whole life. Her music defines the timeline of my life and she influenced me to pursue a career in music.” ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ proves yet again that she is not just another person in a long line of pop acts, but that she is as amazing as a songwriter as she is at creating personal connections with every single soul who is touched by her music. Brittany, who has followed and loved Swift for a long time, describes the way she was drawn in by the 31-year-old, “With each album, it was just like,

Written by Lauren Dehollogne 27


Black Honey - Written & Directed

From the title to the cover, ‘Written

she says: “Women are intricate beings that

& Directed’ is an obvious homage to

have such complexity to them. I can feel so

Quentin Tarantino. In all its hedonistic

boxed into these monochrome things, you’re

glory, the album is packed with rough

either a sex kitten or you’re a punk. It’s so

and ready bangers. Black Honey are

linear. The song is about owning the things

the face of modern-day rock ’n’ roll.

about you that are contradicting. I’m really

‘Written & Directed’ is the soundtrack.

strong but I’m also vulnerable. I know exactly what I want but I can be very lost.” ‘Written

Abrupt and attention grabbing, ‘I Like The

& Directed’ is effortlessly empowering as

Way You Die’ opens the record the way every

Phillips embraces honesty throughout.

album should. Lyrics, “I’ll lock you up and eat the key, the monster in the dark is me”, set the

The album is intended to “make young

tone for a project packed with unapologetic

women feel invincible”. Phillips says: “I never

womanhood. Speaking to front woman Izzy

got into music because I thought I was going

B Phillips about ‘Written & Directed’ she says:

to be a woman that changes things. Making

“If the album can make you feel invincible

a record like this, designed for women, is a

and wanna stomp down the street, then that’s

privilege and I hope it can be inspiring”.

my job done. I want people to feel like they’re in a film. Badass, bossing everything”. The foot-stomping melody of ‘Believer’ echoes Phillip’s vision. The track is a culmination of Black Honey’s signature sound, infectious laid-back rock. Since the release of their self-titled debut album in 2018, Black Honey have played Glastonbury, been the face and sound of Roberto Cavalli’s Milan Fashion Week show, been on the cover of NME and been on tour with Queens Of The Stone Age, which is where a lot of ‘Written & Directed’ was created. Phillips named Kurt Cobain and Jack White as

Black Honey continue to prove themselves as

her personal musical influences as well as

pioneers of a new era of rock ’n’ roll, with

the “super heavy rock scene” in Brighton,

Phillips as the face.

where the band formed. The thrashing end of ‘Disinfect’ displays these influences whilst

Speaking with the singer on International

revitalising the band’s attitude.

Women’s Day, she discusses her experience breaking into the industry: “Growing up

‘I Do It To Myself ’ opens with a delicate

there was a lot of men dominating but I

vocal over a steady guitar rhythm and

never felt I needed to see a woman, to know

provides a refreshing break from the rock

I could do it. Making something that I feels

heavy ruckus. In the song Phillips refers to

designed for women has been special.” For

herself as “a walking contradiction”. When

musicians wanting to follow in her footsteps,

explaining the message behind the lyrics

Philips advises: “Work hard. Make sure your 28


songs are f**king good. People can make judgements about you as a woman but if you make the songs invincible then you’re armouring yourself with less s**t to knock out your way. It will be challenging in ways you don’t expect but also rewarding in ways you could never predict. Pick the people you trust very carefully.”

“Making a record like this, designed for women is a privilege and I hope it can be inspiring.”

‘Fire’ sees the band deliver a middle finger to the patriarchy with lyrics, “It’s my body, I make the rules” and “I don’t care what you have to say, we’re raising hell, it’s time for a change”. The proclamations are the best example of Phillips’ rousing lyrical ability and are perfectly placed over a simple acoustic intro, followed by a bold jubilant brass section. ‘Fire’ is a call to arms and Black Honey couldn’t be any bolder in their delivery. As the femme-fatale of the album, Phillip’s charm knows no bounds. ‘Back Of The Bar’ displays the singer’s vocal diversity with a poppier twist. Lyrics, “all I do is dream of you” and “I’m dancing on my own tonight” provide a romantic nostalgia, following the storyline of any good movie. Black Honey have always leaned into theatricality and the music videos released thus far for the album are no exception. Another nod to grindhouse cinema and kitschy pulp films, the band have harnessed their quirks to create a cohesive masterpiece with ‘Written & Directed’. The band will no doubt be busy all summer, pushing their way up festival bills and commanding the stage with this record bathed in retro reminiscence.

Written by: Vanessa Valentine 29


BABY BOYS Written by Laura Weingrill Photo by Muriel Margaret

Minnesota trio Baby Boys are anything but your typical boy band. Yes, they are a group of young dudes hanging in the studio. Yes, their songs make you want to dance and scream at them fangirl-style. And yes, their faces could be plastering girls’ walls any day now. But if there is one thing that is so unconventional, so surprising, so new that it comes to the brink of almost making no sense at all, it is their music. Bending the genres like the Avatar does the four elements, the band is proof that sometimes you need to turn a little crazy to make things work. And maybe lose a toenail in the process. Consisting of Jake Luppen and Nathan Stocker, known for their work for alt-pop hit Hippo Campus, and producer and artist Caleb Hinz, Baby Boys have always had all the parts they needed to make for an enthralling musical rollercoaster. Long founded before any of the members really knew it, it wasn’t until 2019 that the world first got to experience this melting pot of sounds and talents with its own eyes and ears. And while their debut single ‘Kinky Toe’ served as the kick-off of the boys’ insane journey, it also started a tradition for the band they have kept a hold on to ever since: “During one night when we were working on ‘Kinky Toe’, we decided to go to the bar across the street for a few shots. On the way back, we walked past this mailbox and I decided to jump on it. It leaned to one side and when I got down it fell back again, right on top of my toe. My first reaction was obviously to rip my foot out from underneath it. And I was like “ow”, but we just went back to the studio to continue working. Until I looked down and saw the puddles of blood all over the floor. I had ripped my toenail clean off, but we just wrapped it up and went back to work. It’s not a Baby Boys record unless something horrible happens to my body.”

Two years and a few more stitches down the road, Baby Boys have finally taken the great leap and released their electric debut album with its very fitting title ‘Threesome’, featuring all the trademark rollercoaster stories you could wish for. While the album cover features the three guys pushing their lips against one microphone, the very same one they used to record the whole album with, also referred to as a “phallic expression of their relationship”, their variety of music videos sees the band hang out with farm animals at night (‘Gone’) and dance around in an empty fridge, complete loss of clothes included (‘Maggot Water’). “The album is a reflection of the immense joys of making music together with your best friends. It’s about the enormous pleasure of saying yes to everything and being able to trust each other. It’s a pretty shallow pool, but I could chill in that kiddie pool forever,”, states Stocker.

hidd After all, it’s a rather chaotic aura that can be found throughout the band’s discography as a result of the three talented musicians flexing their artistic muscles, who not just like to challenge expectations but to change and overthrow them completely, earning them a spot in the ranks of some of the most captivating and norm-breaking bands out there right now. They love and cherish what they do from the very second they step into the studio to the last moment before the release, as Hinz concludes: “After having been through this process and knowing what freedom this project can bring, I think about what it would be like if other people had that. Like, does Ariana Grande feel that? Probably not. It’s like, if you had four days to live and you had to make a record, you’d probably make it like how we made this one.”


RAIN ON FRIDAYS

Written by Lauren Dehollogne

The ever-growing amount of musicians finding their footing on social media together with the rise of DIY artists have created a new set of collectives and individuals. No longer are bands defined by the scene they belong to and are able to experience their artistry without the boundaries previously known as genre. One of the bands that excel in straying away from the norm is Rain on Fridays. The San Diego duo capture their style as “emo, indie, rock” yet are amendment that to define oneself in a genre is not possible for a modern band. As they don’t believe in the structures once set up by the music industry, Rain on Fridays have created an atmosphere full of vibrant, openness and utmost possibility. “I like to listen to a million different genres so I also want to write music that could fit into a million different ones,”, explains Madi Coe, the lead singer of the band. For Rain on Fridays, to share their art with other people is their main aspiration, while big ambitions aren‘t really for them, with their motto holding the rather positive mentality of “whatever happens happens”. Yet, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t involved with the reality of what it is like to be an artist today, especially as being a female-fronted band.

Sadly, not their entire career has been going as smoothly, admitting that they have had to go over some bumps, reflecting about what it is like to be a female-fronted band in an industry still dominated by men. The duo, that once met in a high school music class, amplifies that a vital part of the job for them is to fight the imbalance in the industry, whilst also actively trying to make changes between the dynamic of gender in the rock scene. “I’ve been listening to and finding a lot more small artists, mainly female or non-binary, because I want to put my streams where they matter and use them for music that I can connect with,”, states lead guitarist Jess Miller. Moreover, the duo expresses that because of the way music is consumed at this point in time, it’s already hard enough to make a living from streams, so they’d rather support the people that deserve it. For example, the wave of sexual abuse allegations that came out of the California indie scene last year made Coe and Miller take immediate action and delete all of “the assholes” from their Spotify libraries. To them, it’s clear that “there is no point in supporting bad people when there are so many underappreciated artists who deserve the attention a lot more”.

den The past year and a half, Rain on Fridays alongside, the rest of us haven’t been able to go out and be unified by music, therefore, finding refuge in social media. A thing that can be toxic for some yet seem to have only had positive effects on their psyche. “It’s been the coolest thing ever,”, the duo admits, whilst telling some stories about how they have been able to make deep connections with people over their music and even going as far as saying that those conversations have made them hash over emotions they might otherwise not have been able to show.

That kind of powerful energy is what leads to social change and that is also noticeable in their energetic music. Rain on Fridays cover a wide arrange of emotions in their discography whilst always letting the listener revel in what they’re feeling, making the band, music and the listener become one. And if someone wondered what makes Rain on Fridays stand out in the abundance of musicians, they‘d just need to take a closer look and see that what makes them special is the ability to not give a damn about how they are perceived yet still show off the passion and love they have for the music and their supporters.


ISAIAH PECK

Toronto based triple-threat Isaiah Peck has a diverse blend of artistries, having been born into the magical spells of hip-hop. The young virtuoso, best known for his role as Henry on the hit Canadian TV Series ‘The Next Step’, has big dreams and ambitions as he extends his creative palette, progressing with excitement into the music scene. Describing his songwriting process and chuckling at the almost nocturnal sleep schedule he’s undertaken as a result, Peck explains how the creation of his music is always “subject to change”, sometimes starting with a beat, whilst other times focusing on “bringing the lyrics to life”. Highlighting the importance of remaining truly passionate and enjoying the creative process, the 21-year-old states, “It has to be natural. When you’re not having fun, that’s the time you have to take a step away for a second and approach it in a clearer headspace,”, encouraging us all to keep our own sanity first. Peck has stayed authentic and true to himself throughout the process: “For me, retracing my steps and going back to my roots is what makes me feel whole. Revisiting the things I fell in love with and what’s inspired me both as a musician and a dancer.”

Written by Laura Weingrill Photos by Jack Bridgland

Written by Issy Todd Photo by Adrian Bellaire

ending, the sky was falling and I thought I was never going to get through it, but here I am.” Peck’s music has always possessed a unique sound, retaining the distinct groove and dance approach that he has been surrounded by his entire life. Hinting at what we can expect from GOODBADUGLY, a young, new boy group from Toronto, Canada, the Canadian native expresses it to be something different and an interesting concept to witness as they break through into the music industry: “The music is going to be kind of influenced by R&B but it’s a little bit more on the alternative pop side. We’re all very different and contain various sides and versions of good, bad and ugly within each of us. I think the music is always representative of what’s good, bad and what’s ugly about life.”

GE Laughing over his parents and sister’s honest constructive criticism surrounding his work and explaining how his sister often plays unreleased tracks to her friends to gauge their responses, Peck fondly talks about the supportive and honest people surrounding him, keeping him inspired throughout his personal life and when embarking into his career. “If I could talk to my 15- or 16-year-old self, I’d tell him that not everything feels like the end of the world. There were a lot of moments where I felt like it was

In addition to having released his debut EP ‘Godspeed’ last year, alongside a collection of separate singles, Peck has got his list of ultimate goals for over the next five years ready. From releasing a successful album eventually to the GOODBAGUGLY group thriving, and from travelling and exploring the world to a greater extent to ensuring his family is all secure and happy, Peck is focused and working hard to achieve it all. “I’m just very grateful to still be working, doing what I love, and making a living from it,”, the young artist concludes. With tones of immense hope and excitement, and many new projects in the works, this truly is only the beginning for Isaiah Peck and his ever-expanding creative ensemble.


NATHAN EVANS

Written by Issy Todd Photo by Jo Hanley

From serving the community as a full-time postman to becoming a breakthrough musician, Nathan Evans has taken the world by storm with his recent ‘Wellerman’ Sea Shanty success. Having already provoked many smiles to date, through the spread of his art through TikTok, the uprising star looks to the future with the excitement of making 2021 his year to shine. Jokingly missing “the exercise” of delivering parcels and packages in Airdrie, his hometown in Scotland, the 26-year-old still is stunned by the “overwhelming” but awe-inspiring element of being able to “call music his job”, having been glued to his chair for weeks with back to back international primetime TV interviews. Back in March 2020, Evans began sharing his work on TikTok, a platform that has been immensely influential in helping many undiscovered artists gain support, and quickly followed in these footsteps himself. Later in December, his take of the ‘Wellerman’ went viral, raising the morale of many across the globe, including figures such as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Queen’s very own Brian May.

Since soaring to number one in the Official Top 40 Charts, a big question now getting asked is what’s next for the very talented Sea Shanty star? Evans is already answering by working on new music, with influences such as Ed Sheeran, Dermot Kennedy and Lewis Capaldi being prominent in his discovery of his sound. “I love conveying emotion in a song and telling a story and I think that’s exactly what sea shanties are as well,”, he explains the deeper, story-telling based tones his future projects may undertake.

MS Shortly after that, the power of TikTok shone through once again with the creation of 220 KID‘s and Billen Ted’s remix of Evan’s ‘Wellerman’: “I think TikTok is a fantastic app, especially when you can duet with others and meet lots of like-minded people”. Around four days after the Scottish native had uploaded the Sea Shanty that kick-started it all for him, and had already received an immense amount of support for it, 220 KID contacted Evans with the hopes of sharing his very own remix of his work. Earning an ecstatic response from the likes of BBC Radio 1’s Scott Mills, the artists quickly got to work.

“There’s always something good around the corner to come,”, Evans reflects on his journey so far, fondly recalling the advice his Granda used to offer him: “What’s for you won’t go by you. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. Just keep doing what you love and want to pursue and try not to let the views or other people’s opinions get to you.” An advice that has been key in the star’s hopes and dreams, both in his personal life and also career, whether it be owning a house, creating an album that reaches a Top 5 position, or touring the world, the advice has been with him every step of the way.

With the arts industry having been hugely impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, Evans looks ahead with hope for his upcoming European tour. Teasing that there will be a mixture of Sea Shanties as “this wouldn’t have been possible without the Wellerman”, alongside new original music, he is focused on ensuring everyone has a fantastic time when touring can eventually resume. And with a lot of incredible projects in the pipelines, we truly cannot wait to see what comes next for this talented star.


A new stamp on country music The world is evolving and so is the capital of country music, Nashville. Long forego are the days that women were being pushed aside to make space for their male counterparts. One of the artists leading this revolution is Tiera. The 23-year-old Alabama native has been shaking up her new home of Nashville. In the past few years, the youngster has appeared on ‘Real Country’, where she was praised by the legendary Shania Twain, was honoured to be one of CMT’s Women of Country 2020 and is signed to Nicolle Galyon’s publishing company ‘Songs and Daughters’, all the while staying on top of her constant stream of new music. With Tiera’s self-titled EP she is trying to reintroduce herself to the world. Throughout the 16 minutes, we are taunted by the immense feeling of love, as the adoration comes off effortlessly after just becoming engaged in March. “You love me a whole different kind of crazy” is just one of the countless lines she sings about her fiancé and with all of the commotions of adoration an outsider would nearly forget about, the feminist kick Tiera gives to ‘Not Your Girl’, a duality that plays up well with the gentle yet powerful personality she portrays herself to be. Although she presses on to say that the commanding track is not just for women but rather for everyone who feels like they need to have a reminder that they can be strong, it’s a track that’s meant to be empowering for everyone who lays their ears on them. “I just really wanted to make my stamp on country music my way, and be able to release the songs that I felt that I loved, and that I felt other people would love,”, expresses Tiera

whilst going on about how she is so grateful to have been going through this process as an independent artist. Being authentic and knowing the effort that goes into every step of the way has been at the forefront of her mind. This doesn’t mean however that all of her tracks come from personal experiences. “To me, being able to make up a story as part of the songwriting process, is so cool,”, she admits as she is expressing that her upcoming music is not all going to stem from her own personal tales. Being a symbol of what the new Nashville represents is something Tiera never set out to be. “I wasn’t really

“I just always want to be able to make music that can connect people on all kinds of different levels.”


intending for this to happen, I was just being true to myself and I think that I was just a little different compared to what other artists were doing in town,”, is how the Nashville inhabitant remembers the evolution of her becoming the face of change. Her discography isn’t meant to fit a box and neither does she want it to be. Tiera’s music is influenced by R&B because that’s the music she heard around the house growing up whilst also including some pop references yet at the core, it will always be country because of “the storytelling perspective” she says.

TIE TIE TIE TIE also take new people coming into town under her wing, “because you know, it’s scary, moving to a new place, and also just like getting into the music business. I hope I can kind of be a shoulder to lean on for the other artists yet to come.” Tiera’s positive outlook on life translates back into the music she writes and the way she sees the world. “I just always want to be able to make music that can connect people on all kinds of different levels,”,

A way that Tiera applauds other artists that might not necessarily fit into a box or some rather obscure tracks that have been on her personal playlist is via her own radio show on Apple Music. The 23-yearold recently started to present ‘The Tiera Show’ and is loving the reaction fans have been sending her, telling her that the show helps them discover new music instead of listening to the same things over and over again. Throughout her blossoming career, Tiera feels like she has had tons of support of the people residing in Nashville and hopes that eventually, she can

RA RA RA RA is what she pressures on to say. Although she is only at the start of what once will be known as her legacy, Tiera has created fans out of people who previously never listened to country before whilst transcending the stage of being a crossover artist. Tiera is not just a unique musician but also the reason flocks of people are giving country music and Nashville a new chance. Written by: Lauren Dehollogne Photo Credit: Kamren Kennedy


FINAL THOUGHTS

Your words. Your opinions. written by vanessa valentine 36


DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND THE MUSIC INDUSTRY: WOMEN FIGHT BACK Violence against women is a pandemic. Stories shared by artists like Emo Baby, Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera are a microcosm of domestic violence, but powerful women sharing their experience of abuse raises awareness of the issue. The more platform the problem is given, the easier it becomes to identify abusive behaviours and take action to prevent harm to women who may be family, friends, neighbours or co-workers.

Violence against women is a pandemic. Stories shared by artists like Emo Baby, Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera are a microcosm of domestic violence, but powerful women sharing their experience of abuse have raised the awareness of the issue. The more platforms the problem is given, the easier it becomes to identify abusive behaviours and take action to prevent harm to women who may be family, friends, neighbours or co-workers.

blossoming connection between two people. In an abusive relationship, the “honeymoon phase” sets a benchmark for how happy the romance could be. It serves as a powerful lure; though flashes of bliss may remain, they are drowned out by increasingly controlling demands. twigs’ lawsuit lays out “overthe-top displays of affection” in the early days of her relations with LaBeouf; she claims these actions were a misguided attempt to earn her trust.

The #MeToo movement is a perfect example of the power behind supporting, promoting and sharing women’s stories. Coined by activist Tarana Burke in New York circa 2006, the hashtag was born as a way for survivors of sexual harassment and bullying to connect online and went global after the actress Alyssa Milano had shared her assault story in 2017.

Additionally, the pandemic has exacerbated dangerous situations for many women. The nationwide lockdown has forced people to stay in close quarters without interruption. According to the Home Office, two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales. Across the UK, one in four women will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime. Globally this rises to one in three. Acknowledging her privilege, twigs stated that she plans to donate a significant portion of any monetary damages she receives from the lawsuit to domestic-violence charities.

Since then, numerous high-profile artists across the music industry have come forward with domestic abuse allegations. Rihanna became the poster child for survivors in 2009 after going public with her volatile relationship with Chris Brown, in 2020 Megan Thee Stallion confirmed Tory Lanez shot her in the foot and more recently, Tina Turner’s memoir broadcast harrowing details about the physical and sexual abuse she endured at the hands of her ex-husband.

The “why didn’t you leave’ conversation is also something twigs wants to tackle: “People often ask the survivor, “why didn’t you leave”, instead of asking the abuser, “why are you holding somebody hostage with your abusive behaviour”. The whole time I was with Shia, I could have afforded a plane ticket back to my house in London. But I didn’t. He brought me so low, below myself, that the idea of leaving him and having to work myself back up just seemed impossible.”

Last November, musician and dancer FKA twigs filed a lawsuit against actor Shia LaBeouf, citing “relentless” abuse including: sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress. twigs’ aim in coming forward was to demonstrate how even a wealthy, critically acclaimed artists with a home and a strong support network could be caught in such a vicious cycle. On the podcast ‘Grounded with Louis Theroux’, twigs said: “What I went through was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in my life, I don’t think people would ever think that it could happen to me. But that’s the thing. It can happen to anybody. I’d like to be able to raise awareness on the tactics that abusers use to control you and take away your agency.”

In the wake of domestic abuse allegations spanning a decade and FKA twigs’ recent campaigning the question, ‘how much longer can the music industry go on without a #MeToo style movement?’ arises and when it happens, “how will the industry enact positive change and tackle the larger problem?”. This kind of violence is an issue happening across the globe. It doesn’t discriminate against class, age, background or race.

In every relationship there is a “honeymoon phase” - ordinarily this builds intimacy and represents the beginning of a

Don’t believe it could never happen to you. Educate yourself, educate your friends and most importantly believe women.

If you relate to anything discussed in the article above and need immediate help, the number for the 24-Hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline is 0808 2000 247.

37


WHERE THE FUN STUFF HAPPENS

COOKING WITH

MARTIN GARRIX When people think of Dutch cuisine, they usually like to think of different delicious kinds of cheese, waffles (also known as ‘Stroopwafel’), and fries. When people think of famous DJ Martin Garrix, they mostly think of phenomenal music, insane amounts of lasers at his live shows and his otherworldly love for pizza. From jetting around the world from one festival or concert to the next (when a pandemic isn’t putting everything on hold) to being home in Amsterdam whenever time makes it possible, you wouldn’t imagine the young star spending hours in his kitchen. But there is one thing that Dutch cuisine and the Dutch artist have in common - their love for pancakes, better known as ‘Pannenkoeken’. As a thinner and much bigger version of the usual American pancakes, Pannenkoeken are commonly enjoyed throughout the day and can be eaten with either sweet or savoury toppings (Martin likes his with Nutella, plain sugar or syrup). As an easy and quick dish, these pancakes are perfect for anyone on the run or, in the case of DJs, when you’ve got only a few hours left before your next gig. So, here is how you can make these delicious pancakes yourself: Ingredients (for six pancakes):  250g all-purpose flour  2 organic, free-range eggs  500ml milk (whichever you like best)  a pinch of salt  a small chunk of butter  any toppings you like

1. 2. 3.

4. 5. 6.

For the pancakes, first beat the flour, milk, eggs and salt in a bowl with a whisk. Let the mixture rest for about 10 minutes, this will make the dough a little thicker and then stir well again. If the pancake batter is too thick, add a little more milk to make it thinner. Heat a chunk of butter in a non-stick pan (the butter should be very hot, then even the first pancake will turn out perfectly). Then scoop some batter into the hot pan and move the pan around so that the base is evenly covered with a thin layer of batter. Use a spatula to turn the pancake over until it’s baked golden on both sides. Add any toppings you like (jam, Nutella, powdered sugar or syrup) to the pancakes. Enjoy! 38


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John on Instagra ow

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Written by Laura Weingrill // Photos by John Petschinger

ART OF THE MOMENT

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While some of us have used the pandemic to better their cooking skills or to take on a new hobby, 26-year-old artist John Petschinger from the small town Bad Tatzmannsdorf in Austria, used the additional free time to hone his skills as a painter and to fully concentrate on his art. Much to the enjoyment of his online audience, which has happily been purchasing his art ever since. Just like many other artists, real life has been his biggest inspiration the past few months, but in the midst of a global pandemic with the world being simultaneously on fire, this comes to no surprise. “What has shaped me and my works is the consumer consumption of the 21st century combined with intense colours and leaf gold, to look behind the “gold facade”,”, the painter explains, hinting at his trademark technique, the use of gold in all of his paintings to give them a unique, exquisite touch. Besides that, Petschinger does everything from painting to spraying and plastering magazine cut-outs on his aluminium canvases, before he finishes his pieces off with a glossy coat of resin. With his paintings already finding new homes all around the world and being part of exhibitions in galleries in Germany and Italy, it is clear that the future looks bright for the Austrian painter and his stand-out, one-of-a-kind art pieces. 39


Profile for GEM Magazine

GEM Magazine Issue 04  

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