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MUSIC Airborne Toxic Event Q&A JOSIAH CLARKE Josiah: Congratulations on this new album. I must say, I haven’t heard much of your music before but I am enjoying Such Hot Blood. Where did the album come from? What inspired it and the name you’ve given it? A.T.E: The album was, in large part, a culmination of a lot of different creative and emotional impulses and experiences from the two plus years of touring on the previous record, All at Once (and you could say the five or six years as a touring band in general). SongsW like “The Storm” and “This is London” were very much inspired by life on the road or being away from home- and the toll that can take from you mentally and emotionally. The title, Such Hot Blood, actually comes from the name of a song that didn’t make it onto the album, though we felt the words were very true to the spirit of where we are as a band. It’s not so much about anger or intensity, as it is about living life and creating music in a very visceral way. Josiah: Do you have a favourite track on the album? Why? A.T.E: This is like choosing a favorite child. Everyone in the band has a different answer to this, I’m sure. For Mikel, I think it would be “Bride and Groom.” For me, it’s a toss-up between “The Storm,” and “What’s in a Name?” Both are such powerful, emotive songs; the former stirs up these intense feelings of separation and being away from home, and the latter, for me, is just dripping with nostalgia about first loves and how they could feel like the most important thing in the world. Josiah: I really like the tracks ‘The Storm” and ‘Safe’. Listening to your album, all of your songs sound so different yet there is a distinct flavor to it that makes it you. How do go about the

songwriting and composition process? Do you all play a part or is there a main writer? A.T.E: Mikel will usually lock himself up in a room for days or weeks to write, and we won’t see him for a while. After a while, he’ll emerge with these songs, bring them into our rehearsal space, and we’ll just get into the guts of the songs—figuring out the story it’s telling and the emotional arc, and the best way to represent that musically. A lot of discussions and parts are tossed back and forth. It’s a painstaking process that I believe really helps bring out what’s most vital about these songs. Josiah: The sound of the strings – viola on ‘Safe’ is unusual in “alternative” genres. What made you incorporate the viola into your music? A.T.E: Anna’s a phenomenal violinist and viola player. In the very early days of the band, she was only going to come in and record a few songs, but of course, something clicked the first time we were all in a room together, and we immediately realised we had something special. With the viola and violin, there’s just something beautiful and sad and expressive about live strings that can’t be replicated with anything else. In “Safe,” the interplay of the strings with the rest of the music was something that we immediately fell in love with, in that it just gave the story and the song this balance and weight of emotion. Josiah – for the record, the viola works magic … love the sound! Josiah: You recently toured the UK and I know that you like it over here. Does the crowd and fan response differ from the US, particularly your hometown(s) in Cali? People often say that British crowds are hard to please. A.T.E: We’ve found that, in the UK, rock music is treated a bit like a sport, with spectators getting caught up in the pag-

eantry of it all. We love being part of that tradition, especially since so much of the music that we love and grew up listening to bands from the UK. I don’t know if British crowds are harder to please, per se. Our fans here have been so unbelievably supportive; seeing them at shows and talking to them afterwards, we can see how much of themselves they have invested in our music. It really means a lot to us, and every time, we tell ourselves that we have to get the hell back here as soon as possible. Josiah: What was it like working with Jacquire King? A.T.E: We absolutely loved working with Jacquire. The man seriously knows his stuff, and is very principled about the way he goes about recording songs. That involves getting the best live take possible with everyone in the room playing together, all the way through. He’s a strong believer in capturing that fundamental energy of musicians in a room performing in sync. Josiah: How did it impact the sound of the album?

REVIEWS Artist: John Escreet Album: Sabotage & Celebration Genre: Jazz Released: Oct 2013 Still not completely sure what to make of this track but I do find the concept interesting. The song basically talks about common fads and interests witihin today’s society. There is mention of trends on Twitter to the publics’ fascination with the Big Brother reality show.

Track: Show You Artsist: Tyga ft. Future (right) Released: July 2013 This track definitely has a summer vibe. certianly one for a warm summer’s day. Lyrically, the concept isn’t that ambitious and stays on a common theme - being infatuated with a beautiful woman. The best part of the song is the chorus and as mentioned before, is a good summer track.

A.T.E: For Jacquire, a lot of the nuance comes from those truly live moments in a performance that can’t be replicated. He’s got an extremely attentive ear for where sounds and musical parts should lie in the mix. He’s told us, he’ll often listen to a particular part over and over again to see, at that exact moment, which instrument should be showcased over others. At the end of the day, we were able to gain so many new, revelatory insights into these songs that we had brought to him. Josiah: Tell our readers where they can find your latest album, which I think is definitely a must have. A.T.E: Such Hot Blood is available on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/ gb/album/such-hot-blood/id680881230 And on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-European-incl-Bonus-Material/dp/ B00CITRLJO/ …And most other places where music is sold. Thanks


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CD REVIEW: BIRDY TEMENUGA DIMITROVA Birdy brings back her deeply emotional vocals and speaks her heart through her own music in her second ‘’Fire Within’’ Album. When one says ‘’Birdy’’, it’s probable that the first thing to appear in your mind is a young girl sitting at the piano, as an angelic voice sings an opening line such as “Come on skinny love, just last the year ...”. No wonder the British singer Jasmine Van Den Bogaerde might still be one of those names on your playlist responsible for the very soft sound that comes from your music library, bringing a sense of vitality. Back in 2011, barely aged 15 Jasmine, known by her stage name Birdy, released her self-titled debut album – a golden compilation of eleven covers, some of those being; ‘Skinny Love’, ‘Shelter’ and ‘People Help People’, that topped the charts as a contrast to the mainstream sound coming from

the teenage phenomena in the music business at the time. Today, Birdy returns with a second studio album – ‘Fire Within’, to bring back her Indie pop/folk balladry genre. The album was released on September 23rd 2013 through 14th Floor/Atlantic Records and consists of eleven singles as proof that little Birdy has grown up! 17 years old now, her voice has become more powerful and the best way to demonstrate is the lead song on the album – ‘Wings’. If you have ever wondered how a tune by Coldplay would have sounded with Chris Martin’s vocals being substituted by a female voice, then here is your chance to find out. However, this is not to say that talented Birdy has opened a new chapter in her career developing herself as an alternative artist. She does stay true to her romantically-sad piano balladry sound. Tunes like: ‘No Angel’ and ‘Shine’ makes you spend time at home on a rainy day and respectively think about a precious person in

your life or simply provoke ‘trust yourself’ thoughts. Releasing her ‘Fire Within’, Birdy speaks her heart for the first time through music as she is herself a writer/co-writer of the songs on the LP. “You have my heart but I lock it up This burning flame has been burnt enough My window’s cracked they can be replaced But your arm will tire throwing stones my way...” She sings beautifully in her deeply emotional ‘Words as Weapon’ tune. Meaningful lyrics plus catchy melodies can be found in ‘Heart of Gold’ and ‘All You Never Say’ as well to confirm again the idea of Jasmine Van Den Bogaerde not only as a talented vocalist but also a seriously considered songwriter. To give a warranty that her second album is a high standard product, Birdy’s LP consists of collabora-

tions with successful names from the music industry, like producers: Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys) and Rich Costey (Muse), Ben Lovett (Ellie Goulding), Ryan Tedder (Beyonce), Dan Wilson (Adele) and Kid Harpoon (Florence + The Machine). With such a strong list of collaborators, ‘Standing in The Way of the Light’, along with all the other songs might be good enough to listen to. Or if you have fallen for Adele’s ‘Skyfall’ – rich instrumentations – orchestra filling up the record and gospel-like choirs on the back – ‘Strange

Birds’ may just be your cup of tea on this album. Birdy’s new album has a playlist long enough to also reach those listeners who are keen on the more up-tempo sound. Her soft vocals but varying rhythm sections in ‘Light Me Up’, ‘Maybe’ and ‘All About You’ might be the tune you and your buddies play in the car on a long road trip. Highlights on the ‘Fire Within’ LP: ‘Wing’, ‘Words as Weapon’, ‘Strange Birds’, ‘No Angel’, ‘Light Me Up’.

Music for the Working Class Joseph Lewis Cox Student of Popular Music Website:funny-as-folk.tumblr. com I grew up in a small town in South Wales called Abergavenny. Abergavenny was, like many other towns in Britain, split into three categories. There were: the working class (who lived on the estates at the top end of town), the middle class (who lived in the houses around the centre of town), and the very rich (who lived in large houses outside of town and where the names that you always knew, like the Martins who owned the Jewellers). Ever since I’ve been old enough to think about the ideas of Socio-economics, it’s been this way. My high school, King Henry VIII, was a school that taught the predominantly working class population of Abergavenny, and despite the fact that it was the largest school in the area; it was generally considered the worst. Now we get to music. The music department in this school, a school that served two huge working class estates situated either side of it, was possibly the most underfunded department in the entire school. There was: a small computer suite full of broken down, outdated computers which served the entire department, three teaching rooms with three teachers, which was downsized to two when I was in year nine due to budget restraints. The studio that was used for the Music Technology pupils was set up in the early noughties and was not updated at all (apart from infrequent software updates) until 2012. At this point I would like

to say that this is not an attack on the Music department or the school itself. This Music department served me well for my entire education there and they did their best to get by on a cripplingly small budget. My point here is about underfunding. This was a department that had the potential to serve hundreds of pupils, and pre-GCSE level they did. Meanwhile, when it came to choosing funding options for GCSE by the department, most pupils, due to underfunding, were not taught at a level to be that the GCSE required and of those who were, the sheer level of dilapidation that the department suffered put them off. When you realise the amount of working class kids here who had a chance to learn to play or sing that were cast aside because of budget restraints, it really makes you worry. In the area of South Wales where I lived we also had an amazing service called ‘Gwent Music Support Service.’ This was a company that provided the opportunity for children from all over Gwent to come and play their instruments in groups, and also provided peripatetic teachers who came to schools and would offer lessons to pupils for much lower prices than the private tutors you could find outside of school. As fantastic as this sounds, I quickly came to realise that the amount of working class kids who were involved in this scheme, at least in my area, was tiny. The groups I attended took place in Monmouth Comprehensive, but mainly middle class children from the comprehensive and children from the two Private schools, Monmouth Boys and Haberdashers, which

were in the town, populated these groups. There is a simple explanation for this, and sadly, it’s one that we’ve already heard. Underfunding. In a part of Wales that has historically been heavily working class, the sole music service is so desperately underfunded that they are not able to properly serve their working class pupils, leaving all the teaching and playing to those that can afford it. The service would provide lessons for lower prices than private tutors, but due to the fact that they didn’t have a large budget these lessons weren’t subsidised enough to make them available to the working class. The service also provided an opportunity for pupils to rent instruments at a lower price than any private company would rent them out for, but again, due to budget restrictions, the subsidisation was far too small and the working class children simply couldn’t afford to obtain these instruments, and it is impossible to properly learn an instrument unless you can practise it every day. In school I always wondered why my friends from the estates only entered the singing competitions at Eisteddfodd. Now I know. At the age of seventeen, having failed my first round of AS Levels, I did something that many of my working class peers could not do- I moved schools. I took a train every single day to the Sixth Form College in Hereford, the next town over from Abergavenny, and it was the biggest change I’ve experienced in living memory. I went from a school where the music department was the most underfunded department to a college where it was the best fund-

ed. Each pupil was given their own copy of the seven set works we had to study, we each had our own music handbook which was printed and bound, there were many small classes, a huge computer suite with updated computers and software, a state of the art recording studio, numerous practice rooms, free lessons on your first instrument, even more free lessons if you achieved a scholarship place and even a few instruments available for pupils to use. But there was one thing that this school didn’t have that Abergavenny did, and that’s working class pupils. Hereford was, without a shadow of a doubt, the most middle class place I had ever been. If you look at the history of Hereford you realise that this is because there were no traditional working class trades in Hereford’s history. While most of South Wales served either the coalmines or Merthyr Iron Works, Hereford was built around a Cathedral, meaning that any poorer population would have moved to South Wales to find work. So due to this historical situation, the town that had the amazing music services had almost no working class pupils. I’ll just rephrase thatThe pupils who could afford to get themselves practical music lessons had the hugely over-funded department that gave them these things for free. The pupils who could never afford to learn an instrument had a music department that was so underfunded and run down that they could never have a chance. So what needs to be done? Obviously, as you might well have picked up, the theme of this piece is the need for more funding in

the right places. What is needed is a radical reform of the funding involved in music education. At the moment schools are given a budget based on the amount of pupils they have, and then the same is applied to departments. As we can see, this system works fine for certain areas, but has desperately failed in other areas. This system will work as long as the music department has lots of pupils in attendance, which allows them to better the department. But this only works in Middle Class areas, where the population can afford to own or hire instruments and be taught to use them. This system, however, does not function in working class areas where the population does not have the funds to set themselves up musically, leading to a small amount of pupils taking music at GCSE level, which leads to desperate underfunding. What I suggest is a new system, where music departments are not assigned budget size based on how many pupils they have, but on the socio-economic class that they serve. Yes this will be harder, yes it will take a lot of work and will almost definitely cost more, but at the end of the day, can we really put a price on equality in education? Everybody has a right to education, and that education should be equal to that of their peers across the country, despite their class or income. In the eighties, at the many protests and rallies you would often hear the chant ‘education for the masses, not the Tory ruling classes,’ and it would seem that is just as important today.



MDX TImes Issue 2