Index Issue 53 | April 2021 | readdork.com | Down With Boring
Editor’s Letter It can feel a bit weird, at times, referring to an artist on their debut album as Capital Letters Important but there’s no denying that Marie Ulven is capable of touching the deep. dark, mushy stuff inside of her fans in a way few of her peers can. Even from a considerate, pandemic-appropriate distance, it’s plain to see she’s a musician that speaks on a whole different level to
so many of her peers. Honest to a fault, but without ever being boring or a drag with it, as her debut album ‘if i could make it go quiet’ waits for the lights to go green, we’re delighted to have her back on the cover of Dork. In a month where the green shoots of new beginnings seem to finally be taking hold, she’s not the only one we’re delighted to have back in our pages, either.
A personal hello to Wolf Alice - maybe Dork’s most universally adored band. We’ve missed you. Nature might finally be healing after all.
2Ø Hype 26
4Ø Features 56 Incoming
Ø8. The Snuts Come for the interview with the Scottish indie upstarts, leave with the desire to go see a giant owl shaped slide.
1Ø. For Those I Love Some albums are important, Dear Reader. For Those I Love’s debut is certainly one of them. An essential read for an essential listen.
girl in red
12. Do Nothing Do Nothing’s new EP is “about the inevitable feeling of being thrown onto a big pile of your own rubbish”. Alright lads. Bit close to the bone.
With her debut album ready to go, girl in red’s already stellar ascent may be about to hit hyperspace. Back on the cover of Dork for the second time, she’s an artist potentially on the edge of something huge.
Danny L Harle
We’ve all heard of music industry puppets, but this is ridiculous, Alf.
Important Influential Pop Bod? Sure. But where else will you read of his love of Madness?
Their debut album ‘New Long Leg’ is a masterful record. Also, Flo is a sausage roll.
If Sorry really does seem to be the hardest word, this feature is going to be incredibly awkward to write, eh?
14. Bull Bull’s opening statement ‘Discover Effortless Living’ is gearing up to be one of early-2021’s most charming indie debuts. 2Ø. ELIO Already setting off our up-and-coming top pop bopster alarms, ELIO is now wrangling in some killer names for the odd collab. Time to catch up, yeah? 24. CMAT Oh look. You can take your achingly cool upstarts with their carefully planned out aesthetics. CMAT understands the power of yee-haw, which is why she’s our new fave.
readdork.com Editor Stephen Ackroyd Deputy Editor Victoria Sinden
Associate Editor Ali Shutler Contributing Editors Jamie Muir, Martyn Young
Scribblers Abigail Firth, Alex Cabré, Blaise Radley, Ciaran Steward, Charlotte Croft, Connor Fenton, Edie McQueen, Finlay Holden, Jasleen Dhindsa, Jay Singh, Jamie MacMillan, Laura Freyaldenhoven, Melissa Darragh, Neive McCarthy, Phoebe De Angelis, Sam Taylor, Steven Loftin Snappers Adrian Vitelleschi Cook, Becca Hamel, Blackksocks, Esme Mai, Faolán Carey, @gazwilliamson, Jordan Hemingway, Kristen Jan Wong, Kristine Wathne, Patrick Gunning, Sam Hiscox, Sarah Doyle, Sarah Louise Bennett, Steve Gullick, Through The Eyes Of Ruby, Vasso Vu
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UNIT 10, 23 GRANGE ROAD, HASTINGS, TN34 2RL
All material copyright (c). All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of The Bunker Publishing Ltd. Disclaimer: While every effort is made to ensure the information in this magazine is correct, changes can occur which affect the accuracy of copy, for which The Bunker Publishing Ltd holds no responsibility. The opinions of the contributors do not necessarily bear a relation to those of Dork or its staff and we disclaim liability for those impressions. Distributed nationally.
AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE! Hedgehogs are disappearing from the UK, and one of the reasons is they can’t roam like they used to. Anyone with a garden, can you cut a little hedgehog hole in your fence, please?
Stuff we’ve been sent this month from ‘the stars’ (or their lovely publicity teams, but let’s pretend etc. etc.) ART!
You know, some artists are just classier than the rest. There’s no promotional stickers or tacky thing someone found on a merch website for Griff. No. There’s art! Art from her Tate Modern livestream. This is second only to a flashy gold disc nobody ever sends us.
Up-and-coming popster MUKI - about whom you’ll read a bit more on page 25 - has sent us these delightful pants, upon which is the name of her new song ‘I Make Boys Cry’. Which suggests she’s saying what is in our pants will make people upset. A bold move, MUKI.
nothing,nowhere. has been making kombucha. How very ‘hip’ and ‘happening’ of him, right? He’s sent Dork HQ a few bottles. Problem is, kombucha smells a bit vinegary, and we like cups of tea. We’ll be brave enough to try some soon, promise.
THE BEATING HEART OF POP.
ALFIE TEMPLEMAN: MASTER OF PUPPETS 4. DORK
STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS MONTH...
With a brand new minialbum ‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’ on the way - his last big release before work on a debut album starts, Dork fave Alfie Templeman stands on the edge of something massive. Words: Jamie Muir. Photo: Blackksocks.
Rostam has announced details of his brand new album, ‘Changephobia’. Set for release on 4th June, it follows-up on debut album ‘Half-Light’ and features the previously released ‘These Kids We Knew’ and ‘Unfold You’, plus new track ‘4Runner’.
our 18th birthday. Fair to say, it’s a pretty significant date in the diary - and it’s a landmark that has landed slap-bang in the middle of a huge time for one Alfie Templeman, the boywonder firmly in the fizzing whirlwind that comes from becoming a pretty big deal. With every day seemingly bringing something new for Alfie, it’s brought a clear-cut vision for what lies ahead. Even if he’s been laying out the blueprint for years now… “It’s crazy, but I’ve never been more anxious and nervous in my life.” It’s a chilly February morning, and Alfie’s latest banger, ‘Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody’, has been out for less than a week as a new chapter begins. “Now that things have taken off, the last year of my life has just been in this constant fear of people not liking what I’m going to do next! I feel like there’s enough support and attention now that people are going to get a bit more honest and tell me if my song just sucks. The bigger things get and the more support you get, there’s also going to be more criticism, so I was just kinda preparing myself for that.” “I was worried that the minute I turned 18 that I’d have a tonne of like people thirsting over me and a tonne of hate,” he laughs, “but it’s actually been… less than I expected!”
“The last year of my life has just been in this constant fear of people not liking what I’m going to do next” Alfie Templeman Alfie needn’t have worried. With ‘Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody’, he’s opened a brand new sparkling avenue on his road to becoming the biggest thing going, taking the strands
that have hooked so many already and twisting them into something altogether larger. Gloriously bold pop fizzing with that effortless charm that’s already seen him grace the cover of this here magazine; it’s taking things to new levels. “It’s been just incredible to see the reaction to it because I can see this big difference between what I’m doing before and now. I wrote this track when I was like 14 and just added bits and re-recorded things as I’ve gone along. I like to have things planned out and in the bank in advance, so watching the reaction’ Happiness…’ was getting was amazing but also had me thinking - well, I hope people are going to like what comes next…” As things began to blow up for Alfie, he sat with a plan already set and ready to go. Following up the dizzying step-forward that was ‘Happiness In Liquid Form’ with another defining statement of intent with ‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’ - he was mapping out the sounds of what’s coming next and watching as the world began to latch on. Praise, tiplists and more followed. “It really was like, okay, so this is all scheduled and basically done - I really hope they like the next things as much as they do this. I’ve got to pray to God that it works because I’ve like prepared myself two years in advance,” he laughs. “I like the risk factor in there of making so much so early, though it’s mainly just in case I get writer’s block, I have something at least! But it kinda left me thinking a lot about it all…” “I was like, okay, I’ve kinda established myself as this pop artist now. So that worry of going towards this more like 80s synthpop sound was something that played on my mind, of maybe rushing things too quickly and jumping so much.” The reaction so far has been anything but, signalling another moment where Alfie doesn’t just continue the thrill-ride that has drawn many into his orbit, but reach out even further. “I’m really excited now for people to hear the rest of the record, because it’s in that same kind of vibe. I think it’s quite a universal
Primavera Sound has been postponed until next year. The Barcelona event will now take place in June 2022 due to “due to the uncertainty surrounding the legal framework for large events on the original dates.”
sound - and everyone on YouTube complains about how they wish music sounded like it did back in the 80s. Hopefully, I’ve kinda solved that for them!” ‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’, a self-described mini-album, finds him proudly standing as the mostcomplete version of Alfie Templeman to date. Punchy hooks, twisting musical breaks, genre-hopping brilliance all comes together in a neon-glow of effortless confidence - proving once and for all that Alfie sits as a new-pop chef serving up the goods like nobody else can. Taking the influences and realities that have come ever since the release of his ‘Like An Animal’ EP, every step has played its part in leading to this very moment. “It definitely felt like towards the end of 2019 that I grew up artistically very quickly,” he recalls. “Having two EPs out at the time and both being well received, it became quite important to me that I really took this seriously. I left school that year and then was on tour with Sports Team, and I realised every time I stepped on stage, people were here to actually see me. I needed to make sure I was giving the best that I could.” “I was recording a song and looking back on it now, that’s all well and good, but was I really like giving it my best? Was I giving my fans the very best I could? Being on tour with Sports Team, they taught me that it’s all about putting on the best show that you can. About everyone having a good time, not just rushing everything and trying to make songs quickly that you like to listen to. Having fans now, I feel like I owe it to them, and I just want to make sure that I’m basically giving them the best I can. The last two years, I’ve been a lot more focused, and that’s the biggest difference for me. To make sure I’m making the best music possible.” Stepping out front and centre, ‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’ feels like Alfie taking the limelight and revelling in every single moment. From the spinning title-track’s fuzz of sheer youthful energy, the rest of the record is pure readdork.com 5.
Download 2021 has been pushed back a year due to the ongoing restrictions surrounding COVID-19. The festival was set to take place from 4th-6th June 2021, but will now return on 10th-12th June 2022. Headline sets will come from KISS, Iron Maiden and Biffy Clyro,.
big-screen bangers. ‘Shady’ builds like a grandstand Bond opening montage, ‘Wait, I Lied’ pumps with playful hiphop hits, ‘Hideaway’ moves into view with psychy-indie prowess, and ‘One More Day’ sees Alf team up with newcomer April for a hazy summer croon that works through the fog and into pure clarity. Yet it’s the three-track run of ‘Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody’, ‘Film Scene Daydream’ and ‘To You’ that offers a true glimpse and what Alfie has fixed in view. Dripping synth-soaked pop that melds every taste of what we’ve heard so far into self-assured pop gold.
“Sports Team taught me that it’s all about putting on the best show that you can” Alfie Templeman It comes from a mantra that Alfie firmly lives by: don’t just look back, look around you. Be inspired by the now rather than the past. It’s a balance Alfie sees across the record. “It’s got this modern sound, but also a vintage sound,” he explains. “Being inspired by certain artists that I see in my head and giving it my own spin.” From The 1975 (“I was really into their last record; ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’ really got me and
MUSIC INDUSTRY PUPPETS?
NOW OUR ALF IS BECOMING A BIT OF A BIG DEAL THE CELEBS ARE POURING IN TO WORK WITH HIM - NONE MORE SO THAN STARS OF STAGE AND SCREEN BRIAN AND SUZIE IN HIS NEW VIDEO FOR ‘EVERYBODY’S GONNA LOVE SOMEBODY’. After several intense phone conversations with a highpowered LA publicist, a large cash sum being deposited in both their bank accounts and Dork agreeing not to mention that time they both went to Amsterdam and stole The Weeknd’s <sniiiiiiiiip - Ed> - we caught up with Brian and Suzie to get the lowdown on working with Alf and more. Brian! Suzie! What was it like working with boy-wonder Alfie? Did you have fun on set? Suzie: The word ‘set’ evokes images of Hollywood glamour that I’d like to nip in the bud! We were in a chalk quarry in the dead of winter… Brian: Yeah. I’m still dusting chalk out of my fur! And I have on good authority that Alfie’s doing the same. Was it alarming to be in a car while Alfie drove Brian? Good driver? Brian: Ah! That was actually just video trickery! It was actually me driving. Incredibly irresponsible of them to let me as my eyes are made of plastic, but apparently, it made the insurance cheaper to have anyone EXCEPT Alfie drive the car. Have you long thought about a career in the music industry? Is this just the beginning for both of you? Brian: I’m already working on a spoken-word album covering the songs of Celine Dion that I really think is gonna take me places. I don’t know what those places are yet, but I’m excited to find out! Suzie: *Deep Sigh* Are you looking to work with any other musical stars toon? If there was another artist’s video you’d like to be in next - who would that be? Brian: Celine Dion. Suzie: *Deeper sigh* Before we go because we’re being ushered off the call by your team who seem quite angry… favourite cereal? Suzie & Brian: Monster Munch with almond milk.
TV Priest have announced a new run of dates for this autumn, and rescheduled their existing spring shows. The Sub Pop signees are set to hit up 11 cities on the run, and also rescheduled their socially distanced, sold out London dates at Oslo for 3rd July.
the production on that”) and Tears For Fears to Redbone and Tame Impala (“That whole sound and what Kevin Parker was doing on their last album, it really inspired me”) - Alfie’s continued evolution can be partly seen in his finger sitting firmly on the pulse of some of the most exciting sounds and shapes going right now - and even what inspired them. “It’s like, what am I listening to right now? What are other artists listening to? What are the magazines listening to? What is that wider indie community into.” Not just musically, but lyrically - it’s Alfie Templeman coming into his own. It’s not a stretch to say that ‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’ finds Alfie at his most honest, with new depths to every word thanks in part to his own detours taken over the past few years. “Part of it comes from releasing my sideproject called Aerial Days,” he says. “I made this whole record basically dealing with
existentialism in different ways. I began to think a bit more about growing up and how I can actually see myself changing. It was me dealing with different feelings and beliefs and that feeling of guilt that can just hit you out of the blue. That record was me telling myself that all these feelings are completely normal, and it’s completely natural.” Aerial Days proved to be the gateway into getting those feelings and emotions out there, something Alfie can see written across ‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’. “I sing about love a lot more openly. I feel like now that I’m a bit older, I’m not as embarrassed to just be honest,” he continues. “Now it’s me getting out there more. I said to my girlfriend the other day about love songs that you never really listen to them properly and never really take them in until you’re actually in love. And it’s true. Once you’ve felt all these different feelings, you can talk about them more
Sports Team are set to headline this year’s Dot to Dot festival. Others on the initial bill include Do Nothing, Oscar Lang, Chubby and the Gang, Yard Act, Drug Store Romeos and ‘more’. The event will take place in Bristol on 25th September, and Nottingham a day later on 26th September
openly. I think that’s where I am now with my lyrics.” Connection and meaning more is something Alfie takes incredibly seriously, especially when it comes to seeing that reaction from fans. “I’ve seen people like refer to my EPs and albums as comfort albums sometimes, and that really hits home because I used to have the same thing. I used to have a lot of Beatles record or Mac DeMarco records that I’ve listened to, and they just put me in this comfortable space. This warmer space that would help me feel at ease and take me to a happier place. For people to have that with my records, that really does help a lot. It helps me mentally as well, just knowing that the music I’m making can help people in a way - even if that’s just for one song.” Rather than panicking in the face of a world now waiting and watching for his next grand step, Alfie Templeman has got himself match-fit and ready to go. Fixed in the knowledge that he’s making the most exciting music of his career so far, while also learning how to navigate the surroundings he now finds himself in - full of the intrigue, demand and love that comes with becoming a bit of a big deal - ‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’ both feels like a finale and a beginning at the same time. “It’s crazy; it’s nearly two years old, and I can look back, and I’m still like, these are great songs. That reaction is really a first for me because usually, I’m moving so quickly. Like I’m still really proud of these songs, and I’m proud of the production. I can hear it taking a massive step up”. And that beginning, you ask? “Yeah, this is basically like me saying: ‘Okay, I’m proud of like what I’ve got to now, here it is. This is the final, the final push, like enjoy this. Get ready for like, the big moment! Funnily enough, the album sounds completely different to this…” Always one step ahead, Alfie Templeman isn’t waiting for landmark moments - he’s just creating them instead. P Alfie Templeman’s minialbum ‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’ is out 7th May.
“WE’VE EVEN SAMPLED ELEPHANT NOISES FROM YOUTUBE” After landing a Top 15 album chart position with their debut ‘Mixtape’ EP, Scottish indie rockers The Snuts have unveiled their debut album proper. Words: Finlay Holden. Photo: @gazwilliamson.
Idles have rescheduled their UK and European headline tour dates, which will now take place next year. Originally set to hit the road between May and July, they’ll now be pushing the run to early 2022. You can find the full list of rearranged dates on readdork.com now.
he Snuts have been building their following over years of writing, recording and rocking out venues. The time has finally come for them to unleash their first full-length, ‘W.L.’, and they intend to smash the dwindling expectations that can suffocate and pigeonhole hordes of aspiring indierockers. The quartet have been working hard to produce an ambitious discography. Under the helm of songwriter, lead singer and guitarist Jack Cochrane, their songs have been delving into riskier territories as of late, as he explains with a twinkle in his eye from his home in Glasgow. Having been raised on a healthy diet of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, Jack’s priority has always been to show his strength as a serious songwriter, and he’s keen to emphasise the significance of bold decision making in ensuring this comes across. “Young musicians should be encouraged to take risks and have freedoms with their music,” he explains. “People should stop putting brackets on them and telling them they have to make certain types of music. because that’s how you end up with a music scene that nobody prospers in.” Perhaps this bold attitude has ensured their success up this point; the band’s music has undeniably evolved since debut single ‘Glasgow’. From both a songwriting and production perspective, Jack says he “never meant to go as far as I did on this album, but I’m glad I did - on ‘Elephants’ we’ve even sampled elephant noises from YouTube and played them through our guitars, just crazy shit man. Production is something we always wanted to experiment with, and working under someone with experience in crazy sounds makes you realise the things you can get away with doing, we just need a
nudge in the right direction.” It is lucky then that the band have been guided by a range of producers in studios at home and abroad to master the tracks they’ve been slowly compiling. Working from Glasgow and London to New York and LA, The Snuts proudly declare “we have taken advantage of every opportunity we were given whenever people wanted to work with us. We went for it, even though some of the producers could’ve been risky options, and we’ve learned a lot about what we can do.” In the aftermath of recent political changes, it seems as though this approach could be harder to sustain in a future where working visas are to become a requirement. The lack of consideration for their industry is an issue that The Snuts hold dearly, with the absence of support during the pandemic making this ever more important for both established and aspiring artists. “I think the governments in Westminster and here in Scotland are just completely ignoring musicians, artists and our entire sector quite blatantly – if they’re not ignoring us, they’re offending us. We wrote an open letter to Nicola Sturgeon back in August 2020 but received no reply, and I’ve written a letter to her every day since. There need to be conversations about how we get our industry back on its feet, and I genuinely feel that if we don’t push for that ourselves, we won’t be given it,” Jack expresses. This push for change is a common theme and essential trait in a group of four lads that have been evolving together for over a decade; after performing as a group since they were 15, they share a strong camaraderie both on and off-stage. “We have such a bond on stage, that’s what I miss most about not being able to gig at the moment. It’s something that
HOMETOWN GLORY Quite a few musicians ‘of note’ are from there.
Namely, Lewis Capaldi, Iain Cook from Chvrches, and even former X-Factor winner Leon Jackson. How’s that for a bumper crop?
The Great Escape will be held virtually for 2021. The event is scheduled for mid-May, too early for the new COVID-19 guidelines. From 13th-14th May they will instead air artist performances, keynote speakers, panels, talks and debates online.
Jay Som‘s Melina Duterte and Palehound‘s Ellen Kempner have joined forces for a new project, Bachelor. Singing to Lucky Number to firm up a partnership that started before the pandemic began last year, they’ve also delivered a debut single, ‘Anything At All’.
brings us all together, and we all ride the same wavelength. Everything’s easier when you’re with friends. We’ve spent our whole lives making music together, and all that hard work has a huge payoff.” One way that payoff can be seen is with their ‘Mixtape’ EP, which hit Number 14 in the Official Albums Chart - a welcome surprise and one of the few positives of March 2020. “There are a couple of tracks on that EP that I thought were certainly bolder than our older stuff and I was surprised people didn’t jump off our boat at that point. That’s the good thing about doing whatever the fuck you want with your music, people expect the unexpected with each new release, and that opened the floodgates for us to be able to take further risks.” This outlook can easily be misinterpreted as arrogance, particularly when songs like ‘Don’t Forget It (Punk)’ accentuate this mindset, but it is clear that this is far from the truth. As Jack clarifies, “I’m usually pretty reserved and focused, but the stage is a great place to slip on that confidence and embrace the swagger to sing those songs – that’s what fans have come to expect, and I’m very happy to give it to them. I’ve wasted a lot of my life lacking that confidence, so now I just go for it.” In fact, some of the hardest hitting moments hiding among their tracklist rely not on volume but almost solely on the persistent backbone of Jack’s deep-delving lyrics and raw vocal delivery. Among alt-pop bops and fast and aggressive rock tunes, they’re not afraid to stop for a ballad or two. “Sometimes it can be easier to tell a story when you don’t add too much to it and embellish it with too many instruments,” Jack says. “I started out with just me in a room on an acoustic guitar, so it’s nice to have that side represented still. I felt like I
could use my own voice a bit more in that way and say the shit I actually wanted to say.” As he says himself, the darker thoughts in the back of Jack’s mind are manifested in songs such as ‘Boardwalk’, which, “for such a dark and sad song, has a hopeful, positive, resilient message within it, which is something we try to sneak in as much as possible. Even if a song is super sad, it doesn’t have to have a negative message – there’s enough of that in this world, that’s for sure.”
“The governments in Westminster and here in Scotland are just completely ignoring musicians” Jack Cochrane Despite all the expectations and frustration of the rock star lifestyle, he has clearly maintained a positive and constructive ethos, which is easier said than done in a position where the eyes of fans, record label executives and even fellow band members are often on you. “The only pressures I feel are the ones that I put upon myself. Waiting for inspiration to strike can be my main frustration, and that’s almost worse than outside pressure!” As a young man in the 21st century who is promoting his art, social media has been something of a necessity at a time where face-to-face interaction is regulated - and this is something that Jack once again can flex a mature
perspective. “Musicians used to be able to just play music, but now how you come across seems to have become the main priority – even before hearing your music, people want to know who you are. Social media is something you should feel no pressure from in life because it’s just unhealthy to do so. Be it a band, a business or just a regular user, one way to crush all your dreams is to put your faith into social media. We try not to overdo social media and just be ourselves, and thankfully it’s let us stay connected with fans during this pandemic.” Navigating such complicated waters shows the grit and resilience that The Snuts have built with hard work. If good things come to those who wait, then fans will have one hell of a gift when ‘W.L.’, named after their youthful nickname Whitburn Loopy, drops. With multiple sold-out live shows also scheduled for later in the year, there are high expectations on these multifaceted, sometimes thunderous and sometimes understated musicians. A debut is a statement of intent; the first cohesive work that often establishes a career. With that in mind, ‘W.L.’ has been crafted as “a catalogue, a timestamp of what it’s been like for us growing up and getting to this point with our music and where it’s at right now,” Jack explains. “I want people to be able to see our growth from the very beginning of The Snuts, and be able to break down some of the more pressing issues that we write about, which will hopefully open up some positive conversation.” What do the group have left in the tank? “Anything and everything. We never go into a song thinking ‘this is gonna be produced a certain way’. We’ve never chosen just one direction and stuck to it.” P The Snuts’ album ‘W.L.’ is out 2nd April.
The Snuts are originally from Whitburn, West Lothian. Here’s some facts.
They also have some cracking bands! The Whitburn Band - a brass band formed in 1870 - have been Scottish champs on 19 occasions. There’s also a Whitburn Flute Band, if you prefer something more windy.
It was a fashion capital. Whitburn used
to be the home of Levi’s the plant opened in 1969, employing 500 people, and at its height made 4 million pairs of jeans a year. Unfortunately, it shut in 1999.
They know how to have fun it Whitburn! The town holds its annual gala day on the third Saturday in June; there is a parade through the town, followed by games and races at King George V Park.
They’re not twittwoos, either!
Since 2012 Polkemmet Park - located to the west of the town - has been the site of the Scottish Owl Centre. As well as our feathered friends, it also has a giant owl shaped slide! Winner.
Crown prince of indie pop Declan McKenna has announced rescheduled dates for his UK tour. As well as rescheduling the already announced dates, he’s added an extra show at London’s O2 Academy. Get all the details on readdork.com now.
Liverpool’s Sound City has announced details of it’s rescheduled 2021 edition. Now set to take place between 1st and 3rd October, the line-up will include the likes of The Murder Capital, Rejjie Snow, The Snuts, Abbie Ozard, The Lathums and Lanterns on the Lake.
Pillow Queens have rescheduled their UK tour. Writing on social media, the band explain that original tickets remain valid, but some venues have been upgraded due to demand. You can find all the new info on readdork. com now.
Love, me The project of Dublin producer David Balfe, For Those I Love’s self-titled debut album is a poignant exploration of grief. Words: Jamie MacMillan. Photo: Faolán Carey.
ome people never fade from memory, no matter how painful the parting. When Coolock poet Paul Curran passed away in 2018, the ripples that he been making in his local scene became a surging tide that have since washed around the world first as a huge inspiration to The Murder Capital on their debut ‘When I Have Fears’ (the record was dedicated to him), and now once again as the focus of the stunning self-titled debut from David Balfe, aka For Those I Love. It is as much a raw exploration of grief as it is a celebration of life and friendship, a brutally honest examination of David’s journey through an emotional landscape that none would want to tread. Catching up over Zoom, he sat down to talk us through what is evidently still a hugely painful area of his life. “After everything happened, I remember everything feeling so dream-like. I would sit outside in the freezing February cold just to feel uncomfortable,” he recalls from the immediate aftermath of Curran’s passing. “And there was maybe something in that about how I acknowledged that it made me feel ‘something’, that it made me get a sense of life happening again.” There were some seriously dark moments for David, something that he recognises today. “There came a time during the writing where I was lost to the world, I was just walking myself down a very dark road, and my friends knew it,” he reveals. “I was just seeking oblivion through drink every day, just going for it way too hard every single day. I would get obliterated and send my friends these ridiculous voice messages saying ‘everything is grand, I’m having a great time’.” Thankfully today, due to what he describes as “uncompromising and
uncomfortable love and comfort from friends”, and help from therapists, he finds himself in a much better place. ‘For Those I Love’ is a record that doesn’t shy away from the dark spells (many of those voice messages appear throughout), but also one that spends as much time basking in the nostalgia of true friendship and times well spent. Over classic beats that bring to mind the likes of Jamie xx or Burial, Balfe delivers lyrics in a style that drips with every emotion under the sun. Get him to describe that style, though, and he is, for once, stumped. “I’m not a very good singer,” he laughs. “People call the stuff I’m doing now ‘spoken word’, and I don’t know if it is? People have asked me to speak about the spoken word scene, and I’m like, mate, I don’t have a fucking clue!” One comparison that comes up often is Mike Skinner. “I don’t ever remember people saying ‘Original Pirate Material’ is a spoken word album, though! I was told at the start, ‘You need to be able to describe your music’, and I don’t know where it fits in?” he questions. “I’m certainly not listening to fucking Polar Bear when I’m trying to write, or that bizarre Henry Rollins spoken word thing. But Mobb Deep isn’t helping me either!” In truth, those Skinner comparisons are a thing because, like him, David captures the tiny details of life and brings them to you in just the same way while also making it sound like a perfect night drive soundtrack. There is a sense of euphoria to the music that carries through tracks like ‘To Have You’ and ‘Birthday’ that feel like they are almost a direct contradiction to some of the themes of the record. “Someone in my family passed, and I ended up with a little 2001 Renault Clio when I was 20, and so I learned how to drive before my friends did.
It opened up the geography of our world a monumental amount,” he remembers. “We would drive around the city all night and listen to Raidió na Life and their dance programmes. So for years, the bedrock of the most formative moments of our friendship were to the sound of dance music.”
“There’s a great responsibility when you make this sort of thing public” David Balfe As he began to retell these stories and revisit those memories, it was natural to base them on the original vibes that soundtracked their lives at the time. The addition of WhatsApp recordings and precision-aimed samples add up to a heady listen that almost places you in the back seat on these night drives. These times cruising around Dublin were also the beginning of For Those I Love, whether David knew it or not. “I’d burn CDs with a few tracks of other artists, and then I’d insert one or two of my own in-between,” he says. “And if one of my friends asked ‘what’s this’ or tried to find it on Shazam, I knew there was something worthwhile there.” Eventually, he ended up with over seventy songs for his project and began the daunting job of whittling them down into something cohesive. “There’s a great responsibility when you make this sort of thing public, not just the open world but your immediate friends and family,” he says. “And I really wanted to make sure that the balance was struck between something that was realistic of our experience during that period, but also wasn’t entirely
devoid of light and hope.” Admitting that a lot of the songs were “anchored in darkness and the pain of it all”, that pain is etched on his face as he describes trying to find that balance. “There was no net benefit for anybody to hang about in that feeling; you have to find a way out of it,” he simply states. Like everyone, he hasn’t moved through grief in a straight line, but there is a sense that he is at least still moving through it even in his lowest points on the record even if he has not perhaps yet found his way through by the end. There is no disguising its impact on him and his tightknit circle of friends. “Loss is something that’s so individual to each person, and the way we move through those stages is so different; everybody went a different route at a different pace,” he admits. “Some people felt everything immediately; others of us didn’t feel anything at all for months?” That sense that there is no full stop at the end of mourning returns at the record’s climax. “The end of the record is, I think, a lot darker,” he says, “It was somewhere I could just write very directly about a thing that happened and the pain that I feel from it. I really struggled writing some of those lines; it’s one of the few moments where there really is nothing left to hide behind. It was extremely important to acknowledge that reality.” The record doesn’t shy away from bigger themes that feed into its main focus. On tracks like the scorching ‘Top Scheme’, Balfe explores the factors that led to his best friend’s untimely passing. “There is such a misplaced hatred against a lot of working people, and there’s a lot of chasms in our society and communities who struggle,” he explains. “They’ve just got no understanding at all of what can lead a person down some of these darker roads,
particularly stuff like addiction. It’s so utterly misunderstood. And with economics, and the lack of hope that economic instability can cause… I had an inability to sleep for months and just obsessing over everything, like where did this go wrong with Paul? What happened? This stuff can absolutely haunt you, but I was trying to look very directly at these root causes of suicide within our socially and economically deprived communities.” David might not find any easy answers, but he sure isn’t going to stop looking admitting that much of his current writing is also delving into the same subjects. You get the impression that this will be a lifetime pursuit of truths and reasons. Ultimately, ‘For Those I Love’ is a record built on a community of friendship as much as it is rooted in the real Coolock community. Admitting a fear of losing these memories over time, David thinks of it as a way of “immortalising these people and moments”, something that will live on forever. Just like your Sam Fenders and your Fontaines, there is a real texture and, well, real-ness about it that is in huge part down to it being rooted in a particular place and time. “I’ve seen more and more of a rise in people being more comfortable in their own accent, their own slang,” he agrees. “And I think, when you see that then it’s natural that more people start to express themselves a bit more with their own voice.” He might not rate his own singing ability, but Balfe is using his unique voice to celebrate his best friend. “Paul found a voice that represented all of us,” he says in tribute at one point, a fitting testament to a life, and a friendship, that will truly never fade. P For Those I Love’s self-titled album is out 26th March.
Former Dork cover stars The Driver Era have rescheduled their forthcoming UK and Irish shows. Thanks to our good friend COVID-19, the duo have shifted their shows in Dublin, Glasgow, Manchester and London to January 2022. Original tickets remain valid.
Waterparks have revealed details for their new album. After a period of teasing, the band have let slip their fourth studio record is set to arrive on 21st May, and will be titled ‘Greatest Hits’. There’s also a new song, ‘Snow Globe’, streaming online now.
Wide Awake festival has announced it’ll debut this September, after the 2020 inaugural year of the event was forced to cancel due to COVID-19 restrictions. It’ll now take place on 3rd September 2021 at London’s Brockwell Park, with black midi, Dream Wife, Crack Cloud and more.
BUSY DOING NOTHING Nottingham upstarts Do Nothing are back with a new EP that’s honestly a touch too relatable for our liking, what with it being billed as “about the inevitable feeling of being thrown onto a big pile of your own rubbish” and all. Words: Alex Cabré. Photo: Adrian Vitelleschi Cook.
here’s something weird going on out there,” remarks Do Nothing’s Chris Bailey on ‘Glueland’, the title-track from the Nottingham bunch’s second EP. It’s a prophecy he fulfils himself over the following five songs as he cracks open the door to a squelchy, sticky world populated by eels and lizards, swordfish, and someone called ‘Screaming Blue Bill’, as its eerie soundtrack builds on the promising post-punk this outfit are already dab hands at. ‘Glueland’ arrives almost exactly a year after Chris et al’s acerbic debut ‘Zero Dollar Bill’, which cemented their burgeoning rep for making clamorous alt-rock with Chris’ vocals the focus, near-shouted as though from some half-smart sceptic down the pub. That EP swaggered with a looseness that comes from road-testing, from giving the songs room to flex and grow organically in front of audiences, where they ultimately belong. ‘Glueland’, as you might have guessed, wasn’t afforded that luxury. Conceived and recorded since the first Covid lockdown, this EP found Chris “making the songs as songs”, holed up in a basement home studio, a long way from gigging in every sense. Finding the motivation to create wasn’t always easy, he says. “Getting into a good head-space is hard because it’s not exactly the vibiest time. There’s not an overflowing well of inspiration in my world at the minute. You just do the best you can!” The result of Chris’ cocooned approach is a pivot away from the sparseness of previous efforts towards a fuller,
more experimental sound. On the agitated single ‘Uber Alles’, the group incorporate dance beats, a direct consequence of not being allowed together in the same room. “That comes from [me] sitting at home sampling everything rather than recording actual drums,” he explains. “If you’re sitting there playing about like a kid, it’s easy to come up with these kinds of beats that you wouldn’t necessarily ask your drummer to play. But then, in this situation, I can do that and then get Andy [Harrison] to interpret them, which is really fun.” Do Nothing’s not-so-secret weapon is Chris’ penchant for eclectic and often hilarious lyrics that reference anything and everything that takes his fancy. From ‘Zero Dollar Bill’, ‘LeBron James’ cites Fyre Festival villain Billy McFarland and The Simpsons’ Lionel Hutz to tackle the theme of fraudsters in society. Take the track at face value, and you might not grasp the common theme; once those plot points are highlighted, it’s hard not to see. “I don’t like nailing down interpretations too solidly because the idea is for [the words] to nudge you in a certain direction, to leave enough room for you to see yourself and relate to it,” he muses. The words on this EP are brilliantly obscure, a testament to Chris’ magpie eye for inspiration in the unlikeliest of places. “You know, they used to make glue out of horses?” he chirps out of nowhere, of the title-track’s origins (he drops a couple of bewildering non-sequiturs throughout our conversation). “I always thought it was hilarious how dark that
is to tell a child. It’s horses, and they, like, melt them down. [The song is] laughing about the idea of becoming obsolete.” Equally, he continues, it’s a take on the ever-revolving nature of digital culture in which “things get chewed up and spat out very quickly, news cycles go fucking like that” - he snaps his fingers. “It’s about being at the end of that cycle. The idea of being thrown on the pile.”
“A lot of stuff we do lyrically comes from having watched stupid amounts of dumb shit on the internet” Chris Bailey Closing the EP, ‘The Great White Way’ is one of the group’s finer efforts, a slow-burner punctuated by guitarist Kasper Sandstrom’s sparky riffs. As well as being the oldest song on the record (“we’ve had it since we were in previous bands... it used to be slower, now it’s a funky boy”), it’s also one of the hardest to pin down a meaning for. Fortunately, Chris indulges. “It’s what they used to call Broadway [and] it’s an art thing by William Pope.L. He’s a performance artist who did this thing called The Great White Way, where he wore a Superman suit and crawled down the whole of Broadway in shifts. It took him like five years. He’d try and make it as agonising as possible; he had
a skateboard to roll over the streets, so he didn’t get run over by a car. He’s a black artist, and it was a sort of commentary - I won’t go as far as to try and actually say what it means, but it’s clearly symbolic. I thought there’s lots of ammunition in there to write a song about.” Is a short attention span the reason Chris is informed by such a broad range of sources? “That’s a good question. I don’t think so, because writing-wise I can spend hours staring at a screen and I don’t get distracted. I think I have a relatively large attention span in that I get obsessed with stupid things for a long time. Like, I’ll re-watch interviews again and again, or I’ll decide that I fucking love snooker, watch that for ages and then give it up. It’s a thing that everybody does; you just throw stuff away.” “A lot of stuff we do lyrically comes from having watched stupid amounts of dumb shit on the internet. It’s because I can’t go to sleep without watching fucking magic or people making microwaves... the stupidest things. It’s amazing that you don’t have to work hard to find all this crazy stuff. There’s just clips of everything that you can dip your toes into.” Conversationally, Chris is as much a musician as he is a comedian, deadpan and exclusively self-deprecating, especially when the topic of ‘album?’ rolls around. You’d expect the next move from these up-and-comers to be a long-player, but with the presence of Covid still lingering, logistics are tricky. For Chris, though, the pressures are more internal. “For a long time, I was really scared of doing an album. It’s
like, ‘once you’ve done it, you can’t do it again, it’s gotta be good, ah!’ I would hate to do a bad one, and I will, I know I fucking will, it’ll be a shocker!” he laughs. “But I’d love to do a good one, you know? It’s a head fuck for me, because I massively over-think things. A lot of bands, their first album is like ‘this is what we are, here’s us as an album’. But I want ours to be a statement in itself, rather than just be a representation of our early years.” “At the moment, I’m just trying to write a lot and not limit myself, because it’s so easy if you’re a bit of a psycho to do something and then be like ‘turn it off, I hate it’ without giving it a chance. I think that’s the way the people who do ‘the amazing stuff’ always do it. They just do the thing that they really care about. I think people forget that it’s hard to have the balls to do that! I don’t think yet - I’ve had the balls.” Like most artists who have put out records in the last year, his main plan for 2021 is to get back out and perform again, and witness the success Do Nothing have gradually been accruing in a real, tangible setting. “[Being in a band] is the only thing I’m really bothered about, so for it to not just be a complete failure is super nice, but because there are no gigs, it’s hard to gauge. When you’re sitting at home watching telly, it doesn’t feel like it’s going well. You feel like a loser! So it would be nice to start playing gigs again and see and feel that people actually like the stuff we do. To do it for them, in the same room, that’s the nicest thing.” P Do Nothing’s EP ‘Glueland’ is out now. readdork.com 13.
Francis Lung has announced details of his brand new album, ‘Miracle’ Set to arrive on 18th June via Memphis Industries, the record is previewed by a brand new single, ‘Bad Hair Day’, which is streaming online now.
Kero Kero Bonito have announced a brand new EP, ‘Civilisation II’ – a sequel to 2019’s ‘Civilisation I’ – which is set to arrive on 21st April. It’s previewed by one of the tracks taken from it, ‘The Princess and the Clock’, which is streaming now.
Dayglow has announced details of his new album, ‘Harmony House’. Set for release via his own Very Nice Records in partnership with AWAL on 21st May, it’s teased by a brand new song, ‘Something’, which is streaming online now.
“We just want to make people happy” Bull’s opening statement ‘Discover Effortless Living’ is gearing up to be one of early-2021’s most charming indie debuts. Words: Finlay Holden. Photo: Esme Mai.
asters of joyous indie-rock, York four-piece Bull bring the summer sun to cold winter days with their debut album of festivalready bops – and the band can’t wait to share them. “There are a lot fewer gigs than I was expecting,” reflects guitarist Dan Lucas on the realities of being a career musician in 2021. Bull have been sauntering around the York music scene for almost a decade, but the fruits of their labour have arrived at a surprising and difficult time in the form of a signing to major player EMI and the release of a debut album all in the space of one elongated pandemic year. “I’m sure they’ll come – it’s been exactly how I’d imagined for the first ten years,” frontman Tom Beer adds. Along with investing in cryptocurrency, the group have been busy behind the scenes preparing for their March due date with plenty of mischievous artwork, including an ambitious album cover. Drummer Tom Gabbatiss explains: “It’s a photograph taken by a drone – we had a day out in Scarborough and just picked up random items from the streets…” before Tom B chips in: “It’s amazing how much stuff you can find just laying around! We spent a few hours assembling it all in my garden, arranging by colour and texture, along with some throws Dan brought – I’m glad you didn’t think it was a real photo, that’s kind of the point.” This constant push for creativity is what makes these four lads such a unique band, always trying to surprise
those who stumble across them. Bassist Kai West takes the lead on artwork, drawing posters and t-shirt designs for Bull’s various exploits, and this had led to some interesting merchandising. “The Sea Monkeys are brine shrimp eggs that you put in water, and they hatch. Heat lamps are recommended, but that’s an optional extra,” he reveals. Dan even whips out a skateboard deck featuring his own image and exclaims, “Kai drew me on a skateboard, which you can buy!” Fortunately for listeners, this innovation applies to their music too, pushing the limits of what is commonly considered indie-pop-rock. When asked about the dubious claim that a George Foreman grill managed to work its way onto this record, Dan answers. “It’s actually a sandwich made in said grill. If you listen closely on ‘Eddie’s Cap’ and can pick out a strange, subtle crunching sound in the breakdown, that’s a Turkishbread toastie.” Turkish-bread toasties are apparently a common delicacy in their Amsterdam studio helmed by experienced producer Remko Shouten, who himself has a deep history in music, specifically with the band Pavement. “Remko is a great sound engineer, he knows exactly how a band should sound – Pavement are my favourite group, so that was a match made in heaven,” Tom B clarifies. “He definitely influenced the album with his unique taste in music. Pavement have a wacky, bouncy, sort of electronic element to their music – silly but very cool. He
would embrace any idea, was very professional, had great equipment and captured the sound exactly as intended, all while allowing us to have fun.” Wacky, bouncy and fun are words that very much fit ‘Discover Effortless Living’, so it’s easy to see the results of these trips to the Netherlands. The infectious joy it spreads is hard to resist, and this is something the group very much intended. Tom B comments, “I’ve realised recently that I like blissful music that just makes you happy to hear something so beautiful, so we try to capture those evasive, magical sounds. The lyrical content is less happy in places; when you write songs you tend to be on your own, and I don’t like being on my own very much so that’s why the lyrics go a bit ‘woe is me’. But music-wise, we just want to make people happy - that’d be great.” Delving more into this lyrical element of the writing, he confesses that, “there is no specific underlying lyrical theme across the whole album. When I write a song, it’s a different person each time they’re all different versions of myself with different opinions and feelings. I don’t feel now how I did when I wrote any of them on this album, and none of them are the same, they’re all their own thing. The real theme is Bull: Greatest Hits.” This approach could easily lead to a disparity across the tracks, but that is not the case here; the only chaotic elements are those that are thrown in purposefully to give the tunes a dynamic tone, such as the abrasive vocal performance in ‘Smoke’ which
contrasts with the delightful harmonies generously sprinkled throughout. “Regarding that chaotic aspect; we may have spoken about it occasionally in the rehearsal room, but you don’t get that animal instinct of ‘I’m going to scream now’ unless you’re in the right situation, such as during a gig,” Kai discloses. “There are lots of loud bits in that song which definitely weren’t planned.” “Every time you play live, the song is performed a bit different as you react to the environment,” Tom B adds. “Sometimes this is lyrically driven, so it’s a response to the words, but it can also be reactionary to the music in terms of arrangement or melody.” Bull have certainly had a wealth of live music experience to play around with their arrangements and figure out the optimum composition for each song featured on this record, after racking up an impressive gig count of over 500 shows. “It’s like you exercise a muscle; the more you do it, the better you get, the stronger you become,” Tom G says on the strain of such excessive touring. Kai adds: “That’s the exciting bit, performing live is what gives us energy, and that’s how we keep going.” The work has clearly been put in both on and off stage, and the group have even received praise from icons such as Elton John and Declan McKenna, and met some of their personal favourites. “I’ve been star-struck on a few occasions, one of which was when we met Spiral Stairs,
which was a real important trip for the band,” Dan describes. “We met Spiral Stairs, our good friends Canshaker Pi and our producer Remko all on one night in Berlin. I was still able to speak to them and have a normal conversation, which was nice. It didn’t make me nervous in the same way that a first date might.” It’s obvious that Bull don’t allow any common industry pressures to impact them. “There’s an expectation to get down, party and groove - to be the boogie king. I feel pressure to do that, but I also feel like I am able to rise to that challenge – that’s what drives and motivates me,” Tom B quips. “There’s no real pressure though, anyone can do what they want, that’s the law of the land in music – come on, that’s the point!” Tom G summarises this more succinctly; “We follow the Big Beat Manifesto!” The Peep Show fandom is evident here. Debut albums can be a make-or-break moment, but ‘Discover Effortless Living’ isn’t trying to make a bold statement. “Sorry to say it but no, there’s nothing I want to do with it, it’s just an album of songs,” Tom B reveals. “When we play live, we want people to have a good time, and I’d love it if people were listening to the music and just enjoying it!” Dan concludes: “Music is great in that you can feel such different things just by changing sounds, so if you can put sounds together in a way that makes you happy… who doesn’t want to be happy?” P Bull’s album ‘Discover Effortless Living’ is out 26th March.
Former Dork cover stars Will Joseph Cook and Chloe Moriondo have teamed up on a new version of the former’s big bop ‘Be Around Me’. Will says: “I first came across Chloe’s music after she used the Be Around Me audio on TikTok, so it’s crazy that that led us to an actual collab”.
Iceage have announced the full details for their brand new album ‘Seek Shelter’. Set for release on 7th May, the nine-track album is also previewed by a second single from it, ‘Vendetta’. You can stream that online at readdork.com now.
Shura is dropping a deluxe edition of her 2019 record ‘forevher’ – set to arrive on 26th March, so it may very well be ‘out’ by the time you read this, Dear Reader. If not, there’s a lovely new track ‘obsession’ online already - a delightful duet with Rosie Lowe. Check that out.
A Day In The Life
LIFE LESSONS WITH MEZ GREEN FROM LIFE
Curtis Waters YOU KNOW WHAT’S EASIER THAN FOLLOWING AROUND YOUR FAVE UP-AND-COMING INDIE-STROKE-POP STARS, DAY IN, DAY OUT, TO SEE WHAT THEY’RE UP TO? ASKING THEM.
Woke up, brushed my teeth. I fell asleep at 4 in the morning last night, so I was kinda out of it. Ate two bananas cuz I didn’t have time before my interview. Did an interview for an hour with Yasser from BBC Asia. I’ve talked to him once before, great guy, very funny. After that, I went online and found some local underrated musicians from North Carolina. Sent it around to some blogs and shared on Twitter because I want them to blow up. Talked to a bunch of them about linking up and possibly collaborating. Would be fun; I like new friends.
Climbed a big water tank structure and looked at the sunset while making dumb videos. Sunset was beautiful, but the videos were not that funny. It felt like I was in middle school. Sometimes I miss being a virgin, it had its charm.
5:30 PM Drove to the thrift store. Hoping to find a biker jacket or a leather jacket for an ironic music video concept where I’m a mean dude.
6:00 PM Walked into this very massive thrift store. Found a few jackets but none fit, all oversized. Bought a cute blue sweater and my friend found a gas station jacket and a copy of the cartoon aqua teen hunger force. I look like Yung Lean in this sweater which is sick cuz I love Yung lean.
12:00 AM Ate fried rice with mom and dad, and my cat was there rubbing up on my leg. Sometimes I forget he exists. He has his own life, and I respect that.
1:00 PM Showered and got ready for the day. Nothing extraordinary about this part.
1:30 PM Hung out with my brother in his room basking in the sun while FaceTiming my girlfriend. My girlfriend looked very pretty, but I didn’t have anything to say to her, so I hung up. Maybe that was rude.
2:00 PM Opened all my packages I got a bunch of free clothes for a music video from bobble haus and a little DIY Bambi doll / purse thing with zipper in it. Cute but creepy. Followed them back on Instagram; they were excited. Look at me, mister nice guy.
3:00 PM Drove to Durham to see my friend Marco Luka, another musician here in NC. Beautiful sunny day. Listened to The Chats, my new favourite band this week. The dude in the band has a mullet so I wanna grow one too. Seems like every week I have a new obsession, and I start basing my personality around them. Also showed Marco this new song I was working on last night, a punk song where I yell about dumb minor inconveniences. Maybe I’ll do a full punk EP soon. Would be fun live.
3:50 PM Picked up my friend Tino and got some local Salvadoran food (papusa bean and cheese). He’s my best friend, he’s very dorky and sweet. Every time we
hang out, it feels like a Michael Cera movie. Maybe I would be Seth Rogen in this scenario though. Walked into the Hispanic market to get a drink, Rio grande cola Champaign (taste like Fanta and cough medicine, why did I trust this man?). I kept slapping him in the back for fun he has a very slappable back. Doesn’t mean I don’t love him, it’s just what lads do.
4:00 PM Went to a park and ate food together while watching ducks and sitting on the grass. The food was only 11 dollars for both of us, but it came with a lot of variety. Great deal, very filling. I’m glad I gave them a good tip. I told him he should get a girlfriend. It’s not time yet. That’s okay bro, take your time.
6:30 PM Dropped off my friend Tino to his house and started headed home to finish my song from last night. Very excited to yell.
7:00 PM Listened to bbno$ on the drive back on the car and studied how he makes his hits. I don’t know what his lyrics are about, but the songs are catchy. I talked to him last night about the stock market.
7:15 PM Was very tired from all the driving, so I decided to take a nap before recording my song. Accidentally slept for 12 hours instead and did not record the song. Disappointed in myself, but at least I had a fun day. P Curtis Waters’ new single ‘Conceited’ is out now.
Why do androids dream of electric festivals? Dreams I’ve had a few; wet, vivid, deep, scary, shitty, funny, realistic, unrealistic, blank, and recently, I’ve been dreaming about cultivating fruit from within my body; like I’m some kind of antique yet super fertile allotment. It’s odd, to say the least, but then everything has been odd for so long now. The notion of real life, I’m sure for us all, has become somewhat skewed and rendered wonky by the familiarity of each lick of paint on our walls. But wait…is that a green-shoot of hope; a patch of cress? Can I see the sight of fields awash with people? Can I hear singing? Can I see, dare I write it, the sight of festivals on the horizon? Music festivals slap. I’ve been lucky enough to play a stack of them, and I fucking love em. I realise this is a bold statement, but all festivals seem to have a warming familiarity. It doesn’t matter which one you are at; they all seem to offer the same thing. They all offer euphoria. They are happy places drenched in excitement and sounds. I love the smell. I love the whizz in the air. I love the bounce. I love the food trucks. I even love the warm beer. I love the fact they exist, and at certain points, I even love every single person there… ‘erm have I ever told you how much I love you’. Music festivals slap. I’m sure we’ve all got our stories; the ‘Apocalypse Now’ scenes during the last few hours, the cold tins of beans for breakfast, the warm cans of booze for breakfast, the missing tent, the new friends, the old friends, the must-see band, the back-from-the-dead band, the warm liquids that somehow always land on you or your mate in the crowd, the lock-ins in the loos, the secret shitting blues, the highs, the lows and those god damn day-glows. It’s all fucking brilliant. Oh, and wait, I almost forgot, we’re all there for one thing and one thing only; THE MUSIC. Music slaps. The summer slaps. Raise a glass to the future. To the feels, the fields and our dreams. Long live music and that festival slap. P Mez’s Sunday Lunch - every second Sunday of the month on Dork Radio with Jake Hawkes. Grab the podcast by searching DorkCast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or other major platforms.
Bangers THE BEST NEW TRACKS
this. Taken from an EP of the same name, ‘Lout’ is The Horrors firmly off the chain. Those of an artful, higher leaning would probably describe it as industrial, stroking their chin and trying to link it to some European underground rock movement. We’re gonna call it for what it is - basically one wallet chain away from nu-metal. The revival starts here.
Japanese Breakfast is back with what we’re already calling One Of The Songs Of The Year So Far. ‘Be Sweet’ – a shiny, sharp, refreshingly lemony bop – is Michelle Zauner unbound, cast through the prism of clipped, 80s pop brilliance. She explains: “After spending the last five years writing about grief, I wanted our follow up to be about joy. For me, a third record should feel bombastic and so I wanted to pull out all the stops for this one. I wrote ‘Be Sweet’ with Jack Tatum from Wild Nothing a few years ago. I’ve been holding onto it for so long and am so excited to finally put it out there.” It’s the first taster of that third album,
The Last Man On Earth
It’s been a challenging year. Isolation, loneliness, despair and fear – emotions that will now feel all too familiar to many. On occasion, the hardiest among us must still feel the doubts and worries creeping in. Even as cautious positivity dares to show its first green shoots, questions still remain; will the world we knew before ever truly return? All of which seems a very grand (and somewhat downbeat) way to introduce a few hundred words about a band’s comeback single, but those shared points of hope are increasingly difficult to find in ‘these unprecedented times’. With doom-scrolling social media feeds swamped in the thick mud of stress and anxiety, it takes something extraordinary to push through. Artists who provoke something more than a short, sharp adrenaline rush are to be cherished more than ever Wolf Alice have always been that. An organic, living, breathing wonder,
‘Jubilee’ - set to drop on 4th June via Dead Oceans.
No Rome ft. Charli XCX & The 1975 Spinning
First teased way back in the August of 2019, the much anticipated team up between HRH Queem Charli XCX, The 1975 and No Rome has finally arrived. Described by Charli as a “supergroup” (provide your uncovering the unspoken thoughts others couldn’t. Drifting between hazy, ghost-like dioramas, they’re something different. Special, even. And that’s precisely what ‘The Last Man on Earth’ is too. Special. Both typically Wolf Alice, and yet entirely unique; while the temptation to return with a loud, brash klaxon call so often wins through, ‘The Last Man on Earth’ is subtle yet powerful. Ellie Rowsell’s show-stopping presence pushed to the fore, its layers build delicately until, almost before there’s the chance to fully realise, that familiar spell takes hold. Lyrically, this isn’t some cloying, pious hymn – it (somewhat fittingly) focuses on the arrogance of humanity – but with self-realisation comes the lifting of a veil. As cleansing waves crash over barrier walls, that guitar solo kicks in – a familiar tone that echoes simpler, brighter days. What started as subtle is suddenly anthemic. What was intimate feels far bigger, a perfect moment captured in time. Nature is healing. Everything will be ok in the end.. P
own names here - Ed), it’s a top pop bop that somehow manages to fuse the vocal stabs and deep grooves of Matty, George and Rome’s collaborations past with Charli’s natural ear for pop magic. Impossibly good fun.
The Horrors Lout
What do you expect from The Horrors? Well, Dear Reader, we’re willing to bet it’s not
Pay Your Way In Pain Annie Clark is getting funky. The first taster of her new album ‘Daddy’s Home’ - due to drop on 14th May - ‘Pay Your Way In Pain’ is a sleazy, 70s delight. With almost spoken word delivery, it’s definitively St. Vincent, but through a slightly different lens. Written as her father was released from prison, the
press material accompanying the track suggests Clark has been inspired by the records she grew up with music made in “sepia-toned downtown New York”. That sounds like a bit of us.
girl in red Serotonin
She’s on this month’s cover, so you can imagine that we’re off the opinion ‘Serotonin’ the track that came alongside the announcement of Marie’s debut album - is rather good. And we are. Co-produced by Billie Eilish’s big bro FINNEAS, it’s a different side to girl in red than we’ve seen recently. Bright and bold, it’s even got a bit of a rap in there. Sort of. A good taster for an album that’s both Really Quite Important and Loads Of Fun. You can read more on page 40.
It’s not just a new track we’ve had from Wolf Alice this month. There’s also news of their forthcoming third album. It’ll be called ‘Blue Weekend’, and is set for release on 11th June. Described by guitarist Joff Oddie as “the best songs Ellie’s ever written”, we’re all allowed to start getting Really Very Excited Indeed.
Top 10 MARTYN YOUNG’s
Everyone loves a good list, right? Well, Dear Reader, not compared to Dork’s Listmaster General Martyn Young you don’t. The thing about Martyn, you see, is he’s not swayed by your safe, sanitised opinions. He’s living his best life, loving what he loves, unconcerned by your boring, identikit truths. Each month, we’ll give him a new musical category to rank, then you can send in your rage-filled missives about just how wrong he is. It’s all good fun.
THIS MONTH IT’S...
THE TOP 10 DEBUT SINGLES * Since 1st January 2000
PLEASE NOTE: All opinions are those of Martyn Young and in no way represent Dork as a whole. We’re very sorry.
2. Girls Aloud The Sound Of The Underground Imagine an alternative reality where One True Voice (who???) won Popstars the Rivals and embarked on a legendary chart-topping career. Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it? Fortunately, that never happened because Girls Aloud won and saved the whole entire world from pop oblivion and stool sitting balladry armageddon. Yes, they went on to become officially (in my own personal big book of pop not published yet but offers welcome) The Greatest Girl Band Of All Time. All iconic in their own way, Sarah, Nadine, Nicola, Kimberley and Cheryl redefined what it meant to be an exciting girl band making innovative pop while having a great big load of fun while doing it. ‘Sound Of The Underground’ was their opening statement, and it immediately indicated that this band were something quite special.
1. Lorde Royals When Lorde’s debut single arrived in 2013, crashing into the top of the charts like a bolt from the blue, there was nothing else that sounded quite like it. A minimalist new pop masterpiece in miniature, it highlighted a new talent who appeared like a flashing green light of pop stardom. You all know how it goes and how all the component parts link together perfectly. How it is effortlessly cool yet wickedly sharp and deftly on point. It still hasn’t been matched in the eight years since and maybe never will be. No one can touch Lorde, and she made that clear right from the very start.
3. Arctic Monkeys I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor Where were you, dear reader, when you first heard Arctic Monkeys debut chart-topping single? I’ll tell you where I was; I was in the car at the McDonalds drive-through in Kirkcaldy, which is a lovely place by the sea in Scotland. I was having a nice little pre-night-out meal (quarter pounder with large fries and a McFlurry) before hitting “the club” to throw some “shapes” on the dancefloor, and I heard this incredible song on the radio that changed my life and probably changed the lives of everyone else who heard it. Arctic Monkeys’ dancefloor sounded like the most exciting place in the world, and Alex and the boys couldn’t take you there quick enough as they careered through their most famous banger at breakneck speed. Still goes off every time to this day.
7. Katy B
Katy On A Mission
The Mother We Share
There are lots of things I’d like to come back. There’s the ability to go to a nightclub or a gig and have a dance. There’s Declan McKenna’s moustache. There’s Mattie Vant. More importantly, though, there’s Katy B, who burned super bright at the start of the last decade as the queen of dubstep-infused dancefloor greatness before disappearing for a bit with almost nothing heard from her since. I’m sure she’ll return to claim her throne soon, though, and it’s bangers like ‘Katy On A Mission’ that secured her seat there in the first place. Dark and dirty and supremely evocative of the rush of emotions felt on a packed dancefloor, it’s a glorious snapshot of a time when genres were coalescing all over the place, and anything felt possible.
‘The Mother We Share’ glistens like a beautiful beacon of hope shining in the distance. Its twinkling synths set your heart all a flutter, and the sing-song chorus makes you feel like you can take on the world and actually win. Full of defiance and possibility, this song is everything amazing about Chvrches encapsulated in one three-minute pop rush.
WTF? Okay, so we don’t all agree. Here’s some official challenges to this month’s list.
5. Ke$ha TiK ToK You all know how Dork likes to deal in bangers, don’t you? Well, haven’t I got an all-time turbo banger for you. This list could not be complete without Ke$ha’s ‘TiK ToK’ as we all know that the party doesn’t start until Ke$ha walks in. This song is full of so many quotable lines that I could be here all day listing them. It’s the ultimate party song. We’ve all woken up in the morning feeling like P Diddy, haven’t we?
This list is like taking a toddler into a sweet shop and saying ‘help yourself’. It might start off ok, but eventually their attention wanders to all the shiny and sweet stuff until you’re left with nothing but tears, despair and a sugar-induced headache as you hope they remember how to go to the toilet. Especially when I remember a band called The Strokes and how they changed *literally everything* within about nine seconds of ‘Hard To Explain’ starting. For goodness sake. Jamie MacMillan, writer and photographer Where to start with a list that’s mostly one-hit wonders or debuts that were swiftly bettered by the artists in question. From Linkin Park’s ‘One Step Closer’ (a rager of a song that laid the groundwork for every electro-infused rock banger since and helped turn the band into one of the biggest in the world) to Billie Eilish’s genre defining ‘Ocean Eyes’ and The Killers universally adored ‘Mr Brightside’, there are so many glaring omissions that I’m writing this wearing sunglasses. Ali Shutler, Assistant Editor Martyn appears to have picked the first ten acts that came into his head, then put his feet up and called it a day. For starters, where on Earth is Dizzee Rascal’s ‘I Luv U’, a song so good it brought grime crashing into the mainstream and helped lay the foundations for every UK rap superstar who currently exists? But no, you’re right Martyn, 100 Gecs are somehow more deserving. Christ. Jake Hawkes, writer and Down With Boring ‘host’
6. Rihanna Pon De Replay Think of the greatest pop stars of the 21st century. Charli! Lily! Taylor! Ariana! Alex Rice! Yes, they are all well and good, but none of them are Rihanna. A pop star so important and so good that she has a song named after her. Shouts to The Wanted for ‘Walks Like Rihanna’. This was the first song we heard from her, though, and it’s incredible. Its bubbling dancehall rhythms were irresistible and still delight 16 years on sounding as fresh as the day they were born.
8. Pale Waves There’s A Honey ‘There’s A Honey’ is like a great big warm embrace of a song, swooping you up into its lovely shimmering bosom and cuddling you into blissful ecstasy. It’s hard to believe that Pale Waves have only been around less than 5 years as they have grown so much, yet this opening single retains a unique and timeless charm that will always endure as maybe their finest moment. A glorious debut single befitting of three-time Dork cover stars
9. 100 gecs money machine Some of you are going to be screaming at your magazine right now saying, “WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU, MARTYN?! HAVE YOU GONE MAD?” and the answer is no, I haven’t, I just have a never-ending ticket for the journey on the gecs train, and I never want to get off. 100 gecs are the bonkers future of pop, and it doesn’t get much more bonkers than ‘money machine’, the tune that started the gecs bandwagon rolling.
Disagree? Email your own suggestions, or abuse to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll include the best ones in next month’s issue.
Last month’s feedback on... the top 10 British bands of the last decade. “1D and Little Mix... bands?” @dkoisser, Instagram Yes, we’re pretty sure this is Harry from Peace’s mum being cross at Martyn. 10 indie parent points. “Read the list, glad shame made it, but why wasn’t Idles as number 1 tho, who’s responsible for this?” @joshluckk, Instagram
10. Rachel Stevens Sweet Dreams My LA Ex I’ve never been to LA. I’d imagine it would be quite nice. Probably a bit hot, mind you. If I did go to LA, though, I’d be strolling along Sunset Boulevard every day, taking in the sights with Rachel Stevens’ finest moment as my soundtrack. Also, big shouts to this song for epic levels of shade it shows - a lesson for us all. readdork.com 19.
Hype ESSENTIAL NEW MUSIC
Sinead O’Brien has postponed her upcoming headline tour because of - well - you know. Yeah. The run was originally booked for March, but will now kick off in Birmingham on 18th October instead. You an find all the dates on readdork.com now.
Rising London post-punks deep tan have delivered their first new music of the year. Titled ‘camelot’, the new track comes alongside news of a debut EP, ‘creeping speedwells’, set for release via Practise Music on 4th June.
lio is firmly on the thrilling cable car ride to the top of pop’s mountain. Just a year ago, we hadn’t yet heard a peep from her, but since she released her first song, the defining 21st-century pop anthem ‘My Friends Online’ last March, her rise has been swift and stunning. Now with a couple of A+ EPs behind her and a collab packed remix collection on the way, Elio is primed for stardom. “It has definitely been a journey,” she says from her home in snowy Toronto, Canada. “I only started releasing music in March, so it seems pretty fast,” she begins. “There were a good few years before sitting on those demos and just thrashing out what I wanted it to sound like. Even before that, I was in an alt-rock band in high school, and I pretty much exclusively listened to alternative and shoegaze and indie music until I found pop music and fell in love. It’s been a journey of trying to find out what would best represent me.” When she was bitten by the pop bug, Elio began to harness her formative artistic impulses honed at university into an alluring pop package creating all her own music videos, clothes, artwork and imagery, transforming songwriter Charlotte Grace Victoria into one of the most striking new stars around in Elio. Elio’s brand of high-energy is an intoxicating blend of bedroom produced beats and high-end pop gloss that combine together, giving her music a compelling and idiosyncratic quality. She equally knows her way around
part of my life. Lockdown a banger and a weepy and can really put that in everybody’s deploy both at will. For Elio lap so everybody is really her music is an expression of maintaining relationships her own character and how through their phone, which I in touch she is with a new think is really interesting that generation of pop fans. “It’s so people can relate to my music closely tied to me as a person because they’re going through that I don’t really think about the same thing.” it anymore,” she explains Following the huge success of her songwriting process. of her first hit Elio went on “What I love in so many artists two release two is when they take EP’s highlighting their world and the fluidity and who they are as a SOME breadth of her person and put it FACTS YOU sound with last MIGHT LIKE into everything. TO KNOW years ‘u and me, Whether it’s music ABOUT ELIO but mostly me” or visuals or even and this year’s talking to fans, She was born in Wales excellent ‘Can You which is really but emigrated to Hear Me Now?” important, and I Canada as a child. which features think that creates She taught herself ‘Charger’, her something special to write, record and biggest banger which people can produce all her own yet. The release relate to a lot music in her bedroom. marks a clear more.” development In the middle of She’s been writing for other artists including for the young a global pandemic, hip K-pop idols songwriter. “What’s there’s nothing Tomorrow X Together. nice with the more more relatable than recent EP is that being stuck with She loves her dog I’ve learned to only your phone Tessa. Tessa is a very collaborate a bit for company, and unique dog who is a better,” she says. perhaps that’s why German Shepherd/ Labrador/Border Collie “People have Elio’s ‘My Friends Cross. “There is not a helped me make Online’ struck such dog in the world that the songs a little a chord. “I released looks like Tessa,” she more concise. It ‘My Friends Online’ says. Dork cannot allows me to get in March when confirm this as we my point across the lockdown first cannot find a photo so you’ll just have to take more.” started happening,” Elio’s word for it and Perhaps the she explains. “The use your imagination main collaborator response was to picture what Tessa and biggest crazy. Everyone might look like. influence on Elio was going through aside from her that at that If Elio’s band was made up solely of animals, love of artists moment. I feel like she’d have Tessa the like Clairo, Kacey in my situation dog on drums., an Musgraves and because I usually elephant on bass as The 1975, is Charli travel a lot and their trunk would be XCX, who has I’m away from ideal for this and a acted as something my friends a lot, squirrel on guitar as of a mentor to living through my she thinks they are cute. her as part of her phone is a massive
FYI, Holly Humberstone has written a new song with Matty Healy. “I still can’t quite believe it, that I even got the chance to work with Matty, which is so cool,” she explained. Titled ‘Please Don’t Leave Just Yet’, it will be part of her next EP.
One year on from her breakout single ‘My Friends Online’, and Canada-viaWales newcomer Elio is one of the hottest names in future-facing pop. Words: Martyn Young. Photo: Becca Hamel.
management team and as a pop icon to emulate. “She’s part of my management team, which is really cool and special,” explains Elio. “That is a great weapon for me. Not only do I get to have really amazing managers, but I also have Charli, so I can send a demo, and she will give her thoughts with no holding back. I’ve been a fan of Charli forever, so just having someone that you respect as a songwriter giving you thoughts and feedback is amazing. She also knows when to step back a little. If she doesn’t love a song but thinks it’s important to me, she’ll say if it’s important to you, put it on there. I don’t want you to sit on songs that you feel should be on the record. I get to write with her, and I’m very lucky to do that.”
“I work with her every day, so there’s the Charli that I work with who I forget is actually Charli XCX” ELIO Their creative bond has now been strengthened even further with a Charli XCZ turbo-boosted remix of ‘Charger’ leading off a forthcoming remix album, which sees Elio working with the likes of No Rome, Silver Sphere and Chase Atlantic.
In short, it promises to be pop heaven with some of the most exciting names around appearing. “I get the songs back, and I’m obsessed with them. Everyone on the remix record, I’m either friends with or I’m a fan of,” exclaims Elio excitedly. “When I listened to the Charli remix I started freaking out and running around the room. I work with her every day, so there’s the Charli that I work with who I forget is actually Charli XCX,” she laughs. If working with one of the most pioneering artists in pop isn’t confidence-boosting enough, Elio used her latest EP to espouse a confident and positive attitude in difficult times. “This EP is looking at myself and my career and relationships and trying to work them all together,” she says. Having a positive attitude was a big thing for this EP as I’m naturally a very pessimistic person, which is really bad when you’re in the music industry as it’s a rollercoaster. It was me realising that resentfulness and competition is so stupid. There’s enough room for everyone to be happy. It was a step forward in songwriting and production but also for me as a person. The message is more positive, and less everything sucks.” Music can do a lot of things in 2021, and Elio’s pop sound is one in which boundaries don’t exist, and genres and sounds mesh with each other seamlessly. Her songs speak to what it’s like to be young in the modern age with all the unique worries and anxieties that come with it that marks her out as a new star for a new generation. P readdork.com 21.
beaux Dirty Hit popster beaux is an exciting new talent. Words: Sam Taylor.
f you had to guess how a chap with EP titles like ‘I Don’t Want To Make It Alone, I Want To Make It With You’ and ‘a love letter to the moments spent outside’ got signed, your first suggestion would of course be ‘by hitting up The 1975’s manager Jamie Oborne’, right? Obviously. He-of-lengthy-titles, beaux got in touch after seeing the band headline Reading Festival, and in a story fit for a Netflix special, soon inked a deal with Dirty Hit. Now with a couple of EPs under his belt, he’s quickly establishing himself as one of pop’s most interesting newcomers. Hi beaux, how’s it going? Are you having a good 2021 so far? Hey, all is well, thank you! I’ve had a pretty good 2021 so far, very happy to see the vaccine rolling out. Hopefully, that’s a positive sign for the rest of the year. I’m keeping busy at home, working on a lot of music; I’m just grateful that I’m able to continue my work during this time. What first sparked your interest in music? Can you remember your first-ever favourite song or artist? I was in my school choir from around the age of six; I always really enjoyed singing, although I spent a lot of the time getting sent outside the room for talking, which I’m still bitter about. The earliest memory I have is a DVD of Queen performing live, and I watched that all the
time, so they were definitely a big inspiration. When I was a little older, my brother introduced me to Green Day, and I got pretty obsessed - I watched every documentary and interview that I could find. When I was about eleven, I would wear a black shirt with a red tie, studded belt and eyeliner, with my guitar hanging really low down to look like Billie Joe, haha.
“I’m actually mixing my third EP and just sorting out the finishing touches on that project right now” beaux Have you always wanted to make music too, or did that transition come later? Does songwriting come easily to you? I’ve always been very passionate about music; I got involved in what I could through my school and then started using social media to share covers, and finally, in 2019, I began writing and producing my own music. Lyrically, I think songwriting does come fairly easily, mostly because I’m just documenting my life as it unfolds; I’m essentially just writing out my thoughts. Likewise, melodically, I don’t really have much formal understanding of music; I just
TOP OF THE BOPS
make the ideas that I hear in my head based on the fact that I think they sound cool. What do you most enjoy writing lyrics about? I enjoy writing very literally about my life. I don’t really like making things too vague or abstract; it feels insincere and inauthentic to me. I guess there’s an argument that being too specific makes a song less relatable to those who listen, but I think it’s the opposite - we watch TV shows and easily relate to characters, even though we’re watching something that couldn’t be more specifically about them we still find a way to relate their circumstances and characteristics to our own. What inspired you to start putting covers on YouTube? As a young kid, I had no clue how to get into the music industry. I’d seen other artists reach an audience through social media like Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber; they made it seem possible to build an audience from home,
so it was a no-brainer for me to try and do the same. Also, aside from career aspirations, I’ve just always enjoyed having a creative outlet and getting instant feedback. Tell us about your new EP how did ‘a love letter to the moments spent outside’ come together? I made the EP at home during lockdown last year. After a bit of messing around with a new synth I’d bought, I had an idea to create a project with an overarching peaceful, natureinspired vibe. From there, all the songs came together really quickly. Even though the world felt like it was at a standstill, I just felt so motivated and inspired. I think the fact that I’d recently been signed based on my first EP, gave me a big confidence boost in my abilities as a songwriter and producer, I felt a lot more sure of the choices I was making, so I wasted less time changing things and just got on with it. What else are you working on at the moment?
5 songs from new artists you need to hear this month
There are two new songs called ‘Overdrive’ out this month - and the other, by Conan Gray, is awesome too. But Master Peace’s feels like a genuine revelation for an artist on a very steep rise.
Here is a question, Dear Reader. Can Baby Queen do any wrong? And here is the answer. No. The latest track from our Hype List 2021 cover star is bloody brilliant. Just like all the others.
We know what you’re thinking, Dear Readers of a ‘certain vintage’. Maisie Peters is way too young to truly understand the cinematic magic of John Hughes. Song’s great, mind.
Aussie vibe-master Hauskey is fast gaining a rep for dropping Really Quite Good gems, and ‘Go Wrong’ is no different. Lovely times on the surface, there’s crippling worry underneath.
We don’t know about you, but after this pandemic nonsense, we are no longer feeling 22. Which is okay, because Wallice has dropped this wonderful bop ‘23’. It’s like she knew.
John Hughes Movie
I’m actually mixing my third EP and just sorting out the finishing touches on that project right now. Lots of EPs flying about! Have you got much ‘in the diary’ for the rest of this year? I’m planning on releasing a LOT of music, starting with ‘a love letter to the moments spent outside’, and I’m going to spend the rest of my time writing more for whatever project comes next after these EPs. I’d love to do some shows, but obviously not until it’s safe, so we’ll see! Outside of music, I’m just really looking forward to summer, and hopefully being able to spend time with friends and do more normal things again. Tell us a secret about yourself? I always say that I’m great at looking after my plants, but I’ve killed three cacti... P beaux’s EP ‘a love letter to the moments spent outside’ is out now.
Coach Party have debuted a brand new track, ‘Everybody Hates Me’. The Isle of Wight four-piece have also announced details of a brand new EP, ‘After Party’. Featuring both previous single ‘Can’t Talk, Won’t’ and the new ‘un, it’s set to arrive on 20th April via Chess Club Records.
24kGoldn has announced his debut album, ‘El Dorado’. Set for release on 26th March, he recently told Dork: “Historically, mythologically El Dorado is recognised as the lost city of gold, right? It also means the Golden One, and that was my nickname as a kid – I’m the Golden One!”
ot to recount the tragedies of last year, but, as we all so painfully remember, it put a screeching halt to live music and gigging culture, robbing dozens of emerging bands of their big break (or at the very least the age-old ritual of relentlessly touring the country). One of those unlucky ones were Manchester post-punk outfit Blanketman. Having racked up an impressive following throughout 2019 and early 2020, they were this close to the breakthrough. *Enter stage left: Coronavirus* “We’re at that stage where it’s become more than just a hobby. Though it’s not quite a job yet... I think this
would have been the year that would have happened, but the fact that we went into lockdown kind of put the brakes on it,” vocalist and rhythm guitarist Adam Hopper sums up the band’s current situation. Joined by drummer Ellie-Rose Elliott in their chosen home of Manchester, the two talk songwriting, band dynamics and, well, lockdown ahead of the release of their debut EP ‘National Trust’. “We’re quite weird actually. We obviously have the EP coming out but we’re not even playing those songs anymore,” Ellie reveals about the upcoming release. “By the time we get back into gigging, we’ll already be on to the next load of songs. We’re
currently writing towards our album, so it’s weird to be constantly one step ahead.” Ah yes, the new-forfans-but-not-new-for-us phenomenon, one of the weird and wonderful side effects of being a touring band… The very thing that makes Blanketman so intriguing? Their sharp edge and the raw “live” energy seeping through each one of their songs. But before we get into the gritty details, let’s recap their origin story. Blanketman are Adam and Ellie, along with Daniel Hand (lead guitar and vocals), Jeremy Torralvo-Godoy (bass) and most recent addition Shane Dickinson (synths and keys). After moving to Manchester for varying reasons, the four original members met – and this is perhaps the most surprising fact of all – online. But not on social media, following each other’s musical journeys on Youtube, Instagram or Facebook. Nuh-uh these four went old-school, responding to ads on joinmyband.com (not sponsored btw). “I had used it in the past for other bands and, most of the time, it does not work. I’ve never really met anyone that I particularly felt I was on the same wavelength with. But then we all kind of clicked quite quickly,” Adam says about this chance-meeting/ twist of fate as Ellie jokes: “We don’t have too many disagreements…” Talking to the two, it’s clear that they just work. But, of course, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, and even the best of friendships come with their rough patches. As Adam explains: “Lockdown has made things difficult for all relationships. As a band, you go through your fair bits of tension, but you usually have a kind of release and get on with it. If you’ve had a little fallout or something, then
Irish future-popster Æ MAK has announced a brand new EP, ‘Class Exercises’, due 26th March. The three-track release includes a song inspired by Jamie xx, ‘Jamie’, too. “I named it after him and wrote about our fantasy love affair while I’m making tunes down in my dungeon,” she explains.
Shaking off the lockdown blues with a stellar debut EP, bold riffs and a DIY attitude, Blanketman are coming in hot. Words: Laura Freyaldenhoven. Photo: Through The Eyes Of Ruby.
you play a gig, and it’s the best thing in the world again. But at the moment… we’re quite strong characters, and we all have strong opinions on music and the band and stuff… and at the moment we haven’t really got that release.” A release. That’s what their music is to them. An outlet for all kinds of frustrations and anxieties. A sentiment that is directly reflected in their songwriting where thunderous drums and infectious guitar lines mingle with honest, relatable lyricism. Debut EP ‘National Trust’ comes packed with seven of those raucous reflections. “In a way, some of them are themed together because I wrote the lyrics for four of the tracks around the same time,” Adam says about putting together the tracklist. “Dan wrote ‘Beach Body’ and ‘Harold’. ‘Beach Body’ is quite an old song. It’s been a staple in our sets, so it felt nice to put that on the record. ‘Harold’ was new and is about sleep paralysis, which I think we all get. But the ones that I wrote, when I listen back, it’s all just about feeling trapped and wanting to leave.” The most literal iteration of those feelings would be ‘Leave The South’, a track that, driven by feisty guitars, laments the tangible consequences of the NorthSouth divide (“I know the North can be quite grey, it’s too expensive down there anyway”). Also, a definite winner is ‘Dogs Die In Hot Cars’ – not only an important PSA to careless pet owners but a clever commentary on wanting to break out of a suffocating environment. As a whole, the EP does a great job of encapsulating the band’s sonic evolution and showcasing their vibrantly eccentric character. What makes Blanketman’s sound stand out from the masses is that their recordings retain the energy of a live performance. Ellie
puts it quite simply: “We are a live band, and the EP is fully recorded live. I think that captures us really well,” and she’s right. Listening to their first succinct body of work, you can hear their personality shine through. Everything about ‘National Trust’ says “watch this space”. But finding their sound wasn’t as easy as one might think. It’s a work in progress. “It’s an ongoing battle,” Adam explains. “It’s one of the hardest things to balance as a band. But I also think it’s one of the things that makes us sound good.” “All of us are always pulling in different directions, so when it comes together, we hopefully get something quite original,” Ellie agrees.
“All of us are always pulling in different directions, so when it comes together, we hopefully get something quite original” Ellie-Rose Elliott One thing is abundantly clear: Blanketman are gearing up for big things and big stages. That is, if the government allows. But Adam and Ellie have unanimously decided to stay optimistic: “It’s so easy to be negative about it, but overall it’s not looking quite as bleak now, so fingers crossed.” P Blanketman’s EP ‘National Trust’ is out 19th March.
Pa Salieu has rescheduled his upcoming headline tour, which will now kick off on 22nd November in Bristol, before heading to Manchester, London - where he’ll play an upgraded show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire - Coventry, Birmingham and Nottingham.
Greentea Peng has dropped her first single of 2021, ‘Nah It Ain’t The Same’. It’s a taster of her much anticipated debut album MAN MADE - which at the time of press doesn’t have a release date, but is expected ‘soon’.
London upstarts Folly Group have dropped a brand new track, ‘Four Wheel Drive’. Their debut single proper, it’s the first ever release on new label So Young Records and arrives ahead of some socially-distanced dates in July, and a support tour with Do Nothing.
MAT stans everything. She stans everything, and she’s influenced by everything. We kick off our chat on a Thursday morning with an in-depth conversation about a Bee Gees documentary she’d watched the night before, and wasn’t impressed by. When she’d polished off the Bee Gees documentary, she watched two hours worth of Boney M videos – another group she says are one of her favourites of all time – with her mum, and when she’s finished gushing about Boney M and late 70s Euro-disco, we’re back to the Bee Gees and how they’re probably better pop writers than The Beatles. A controversial take from CMAT, but make no mistake, she still loves the Fab Four. “I had like a three-year phase where I didn’t think or talk about anything but the Beatles,” she says. And we haven’t even gotten started on Dolly Parton. So what kind of music does an artist whose musical obsessions range from Willie Nelson to BTS sound like? Well, she describes her latest single as “ABBA doing a country and western soundtrack”, and her other tracks so far have referenced crying in KFC, the ‘I wanna be a cowboy baby’ vine, and Rodney Dangerfield. As bonkers as it all sounds, CMAT (real name Ciara MaryAlice Thompson, if we’re being boring) is about as down to earth as they come, and that’s reflected in her brazenly honest songwriting and stripped-down country production. Her journey to becoming CMAT has been a long one. Formerly of duo The Bad Sea, she had a kick up the arse from pop icon Charli XCX when she attended a songwriting-campcum-focus-group with her once upon a time. “I had moved to Manchester to pursue co-writing, but I wasn’t doing it,” she tells us. “I was having a really hard time when I lived in Manchester, and I was super unmotivated, so I wasn’t doing anything. I basically had like a year and a half, where I told people I was doing music, but I wasn’t doing it because I was just super depressed. I didn’t think I was a good writer anymore, and I was stuck in a situation that was just
making it really difficult for me to write. “Then basically, a group of people were brought in to look at Charli’s unreleased music, and every time they would pause it and be like, ‘So what does everyone in the room think?’ Everyone else in the room was like, ‘Yeah, I love that. I think it’s great. I think it’s amazing’. Then they’d get to me, and I’d be like, ‘So I think the pre-chorus is weak, you need it to be like four bars extended on that if you want to have a bit more of a drop going in from there, I feel like the verse melody, and the chorus melody is too similar’. I was going into a level of detail nobody else was.
“I’m really good at banter; I’m almost better at that than I am at singing” CMAT “So at the end of this, she was like, ‘What’s your deal? What’s going on with you?’ And I was like, oh nothing. And she was like, ‘You’re clearly a musician, what are you doing?’ And I was just bullshitting because I wasn’t doing anything. And she was like, ‘I feel like you’re not doing anything’. She’s like, ‘Why do you live in Manchester? Why don’t you live in London?’ And I was like, because I’m poor! Because I’m fucking poor! And she was like, ‘But then why did you leave Dublin?’ She was just asking me loads of questions that I didn’t have answers to because I was bullshitting. Then I got the Megabus back to Manchester, and I remember sitting there thinking I have to change my life. I just knew I had to blow up my life. So I did. I moved back to Dublin, and I became a pop star.” It’s quite the origin story, and her career has certainly flourished because of it. Since moving back to Dublin and back in with her parents, she’s launched herself as a global teen pop sensation and has
FIRST ON Defiantly FUN with a capital F, U and N, CMAT is a purveyor of witty pop tunes that shine a light on everyday life in unexpected ways.
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Words: Abigail Firth. Photo: Sarah Doyle.
been all the better for it. She notes that in a band, she struggled with sticking to a specific sound and was worried about confusing people, but moving on as a solo artist, and obviously a world-renowned, extremely famous pop star at that, the only thing that has to stay the same is CMAT. She can focus in on her songwriting, and there’s no collaborators on the CMAT project other than producer Oli Deakin, someone she’s known since she was 19 and says she trusts with her life, so she’s free to do whatever she likes with it. “Being a pop star is ultimately just getting to do whatever you want to do with no limitations on sound. Everything is personalityfocused and is seeped in, I guess, surrealism, but also has a heart to it. If the songwriting is consistently good, and I am the person who’s at the centre of all those songs, that’s the only thing that has to stay the same. Everything else can chop and change. I can be free to play with whatever sound I want, I’m free to collaborate with as many people as I want. I don’t have to worry about egos or anything, because like, it’s all about me,” she jokes. “But also, I know that I’m really nice, I’m really sound, so I can have people collaborating on it, and I know that there won’t be any fights.” CMAT owes everything to her creativity and access to the internet as a child. Her life growing up in Dublin was pretty bog-standard, all of her family grew up to be nurses or teachers, but CMAT had something else in mind. “I didn’t have that many people that were super influential to me growing up because there was no music growing up. Not that there was no music at all, but I didn’t meet another person who played the guitar until I was 13 or 14 because there were so few people doing anything artistic around me. There were probably four or five CDs that I heard before I was 10. Music just wasn’t anyone’s interest except mine, and I was obsessed with it from the get-go.” The personality-first pop sensibilities and straightforward, humorous lyricism have helped her to connect with the people who Get It, but have also left
her misunderstood by those who don’t. Sometimes branded a novelty act, it’s the one thing that’s really irked CMAT so far. “I think that it comes from a very sexist place. Because in the history of songwriting, women have often been misinterpreted as novelty. The best example is a very big hero of mine, Kirsty MacColl; for her first two albums was referred to as a novelty act, because her first single was called ‘There’s A Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis’. Because she put the word ‘chips’ into an otherwise brilliant pop song, that is just about delusions of grandeur and lying to yourself and men who lie, everyone’s like, oh it’s novelty. But she was just using her own language.” Still, for all the people that wilfully misinterpret her music, there’s plenty more who do get it and relate to it. Plus, she’s in it for the fun of it anyway. When we finally get live shows back, she’s hoping to get out and play the shows she already has booked for a one-woman show that’ll be a mixture of just her and her guitar and a comedy show. “I’m really good at banter with the audience. I’m almost better at that than I am at singing. I really like picking people specifically out of the audience and then tearing them to shreds in a way that they really enjoy, and by the end of the show, knowing the names of at least 20 people in the audience that I didn’t know before I got on stage and making it an in-joke.” It’s hard to fully describe the whole CMAT package, because there’s so much that goes into it, even by accident. But the biggest constants are her wit and directness, and you’ll find those things in every aspect of her artistry. She explains, “The number of people where if you ask them, ‘Why are you doing music? What is your motivation to do music?’, so many people will give you some fuckin answer that’s like, ‘It’s who I am’, and they have such highfalutin answers about it. Whereas I feel like right now, if anyone was to ask me, why do I do music? I literally couldn’t tell you anything other than I think it’s fun, and it brings people together. And it’s fun. So that’s it.” P
LA newcomer SEB is an impressive fellow. He writes, produces, performs and engineers everything himself, you see. And he’s good at it too. Last year he did a take on Conan Gray’s ‘Heathers’ that got props from the man himself, and recently dropped a Really Very Good new track ‘THEY DON’T LIKE ME’, which you can stream on readdork.com now.
We like future-popster MUKI. Not only cos she sent us some pants in the post (see page 3 - Ed) but also because she describes her songs in such Dork-friendly ways. “Though this song is essentially a ballad, it is explored in the context of a wannabe Kylie Minogue dance anthem,” she says of latest bop ‘I Make Boys Cry’. Perfect.
We’ll be honest - we feel like we owe Cariss a bit of an apology. See, recently, her ‘people’ sent us through new track ‘Daydream’. And it’s bloody brilliant. A taster of her new EP ‘Refraction’, it introduces an artist who is influenced by everything from Arcade Fire to Mary J .Blige and is already an ambassador for Gibson guitars. But she also mentioned she loves Billie Piper. So you can imagine what we led on. Sorry, Cariss.
PULL ‘EM OUT, STICK ‘EM UP.
CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS
Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett.
Photo: Patrick Gunning.
Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett.
Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett.
Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett.
Photo: Patrick Gunning.
Photo: Patrick Gunning.
Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett.
Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett.
Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett.
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GIRL IN RED MAY JUST BE ABOUT TO RELEASE HER DEBUT ALBUM, BUT IT ALREADY FEELS LIKE IT MIGHT BE SOMETHING IMPORTANT. WITH THE MUCH ANTICIPATED ‘IF I COULD MAKE IT GO QUIET’ IMMINENT, MARIE ULVEN IS READY FOR WHAT COMES NEXT. BY: ALI SHUTLER.
PHOTOS: KRISTINE WATHNE.
“I’M “I’M REALLY HAPPY WITH THE ALBUM, BUT IF I THINK TOO MUCH ABOUT IT, I’LL WORRY IT’S ALL SHIT” MARIE ULVEN
not trying to prove anyone wrong. That’s such a bad reason to make an album,” says Marie Ulven. The artist known to the world as girl in red made a name for herself with fuzzy bedroom pop anthems that tackle heartache, mental health and youthful want with a trembling, introspective gaze. At 22 years old, though, she’s still figuring herself out. Chasing excitement and wary of conforming neatly to the expectations of others means there’s nothing quiet or delicate about her debut album, ‘if i could make it go quiet’. A stunning blast of intense emotion and maximum volume, there’s no ‘I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend’ did really well, so let’s do that again’ or ‘bedroom pop is having a moment, let’s double down’. As Marie explains, “It is an ambitious album, I’m throwing myself in every direction I can possibly go. Whenever I’ve listened to this record, I know this isn’t what everyone has painted me to be.” A few years ago, there was no girl in red, with Marie releasing dark indie-pop songs in her native Norwegian tongue, but in 2016, she turned a dose of heartbreak into something positive and with a lot more scope. The fuzzy longing of debut single ‘I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend’ wasn’t an overnight success but, in just a few months, it had been streamed millions of times. The following string of achey, heartbreaky singles were just as popular, while a pair of self-produced EPs (2018’s ‘Chapter One’ and 2019’s ‘Chapter Two) provided a yearly snapshot of an artist
making good on all that hype and heartfelt connection. With a smirk, she promised world domination to anybody who would listen. “I was really pumped for 2020. We worked our ass off in 2019 to make 2020 a really good, important year,” she says, speaking via Zoom from her home studio. Our conversation is delayed by a few minutes while her dog Luna demands some much-needed attention (“I’ve already done a 50-minute interview, so she’s not very happy with me, but I’m giving her everything she needs right now. You know when you look a dog in their eyes, it releases oxytocin for both of you, which is a love hormone”), but after some scratches and paying the puppy tax, Marie explains that despite shit going down, she’s thankful for the past twelve months. “I honestly don’t think I would have this record if it wasn’t for everything being put on pause for a minute.” Like the rest of the world, she lost a lot (a busy touring schedule, connection with her fans, a sense of normalcy), “but fortunately I didn’t lose any loved ones, and I’m happy that I was able to make something that might be good.” Marie takes a rare pause. “I’m nervous and excited about the album coming out, but in my mind, I’m already jumping into album two,” she admits. “I’m not sure if that’s just a coping mechanism if everything goes wrong, though…” Our first proper taste of ‘if i could make it go quiet’ was the marching thunder of ‘Rue’. Inspired by Marie seeing a lot of herself in the titular, troubled Euphoria character who struggles to adjust to life post-rehab, it’s a bold guitar-driven track that sees girl in red distancing herself
from the pencil-drawn pain of her earlier tracks. The whole thing is delivered with fearless confidence. Then towards the end of the song, it all goes quiet as she whispers the chorus line, “Don’t wanna make it worse, I’m gonna make it work,” before everything comes back in loudly and proudly. We’ve no idea what the technical term is for it, but it sounds fucking cool. According to Marie, making
“50% OF MAKING MUSIC IS FUN, 50% IS BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS” MARIE ULVEN
the album was “a roller coaster of confidence and self-esteem,” which isn’t over yet. “It’s been very up and down. Sometimes I know this record slaps, and ‘Serotonin’ [produced by FINNEAS] is the best song I’ve ever made, but I do worry that no one is going to like it.” It’s why she’s putting so much energy into what comes next. “Not being busy feels very meaningless right now. I can’t
do anything about this record, I’m really happy with it, but if I think too much about it, I’ll worry it’s all shit. I don’t really know if I ever had a bunch of confidence making this record, but I always felt excited making these songs.” Marie was always happy to admit that on those EPs that she was still figuring out what girl in red was. Despite the evolution that’s all over her debut, “I’m still figuring
that out. I’m just going with the flow because it’s all selfdiscovery, and it’s happening constantly. I do feel like I’m growing though, as an artist, as a writer, as Marie. I went from 19 to 22, and a lot of shit happens in those years,” she explains, especially when you spend it on the road and in the spotlight. girl in red is used to racking up plenty of streams, just shy of 7 million people
listen to her every month on Spotify (The 1975 get 10.3), but Marie finds the numbers game somewhat surreal. “I can’t really wrap my head around it because it feels so far away. When you see 100 people at your show though, that feels mindblowing.” After spending the majority of 2019 on the road, 2020 was a weird adjustment. “I need my fans to function. Connecting with them during a live show gives me so much life. It’s super cheesy, but I have a heart, and they’re the beat. I’m not myself without the fan interaction; meeting someone after a show, hugging them and talking to someone who’s had their life changed because of you is so special. I can make that person happy by just being there with them, and it goes both ways.” Right now, her biggest ambition for her debut is to just play it with people. “That would mean so much to me.” Despite the numbers, the fans and all that early success coupled with a scoop selfdoubt, Marie doesn’t really feel pressure to deliver. “I’ve been lucky not to start out with one big worldwide hit where it feels like I could never make anything better but also, I’m not that type of artist either. It’s just about making shit that I’m happy with, then putting it out. I don’t feel like I have to compete with myself. I also wouldn’t ever put out anything that I think is bad, so that takes some pressure off.” Making ‘if i could make it go quiet’ last year wasn’t always on the books; Marie doesn’t really do plans, but “it felt like a natural next step. Ideally, it would have come out last year as well, but that obviously didn’t happen because making an
album took a lot longer than I thought it would.” Written and recorded over a six-month period, Marie worked on it every day. Ideas were formed in the same home studio she’s sitting in today (guitar, cello and piano all visible in the background) before being driven eight hours to a studio in Bergen, where she’d spend three-week blocks with producer Matias Tellez. Even those long drives would be soundtracked by her own work in progress. The delay was because “2020 was not a very inspiring year at times,” so she had to turn on this other, unexplored side of herself. One that meant she could make inspired music while not being struck by inspiration. It’s apparently something that “takes a lot of practice. 50% of making music is fun, 50% is blood, sweat and tears.” But all that work reaffirmed the lessons she learnt on the road. “This is going to be a long journey. This is something I’m going to have to work constantly hard for, to always be the artist I want to be. That’s humbling but also, holy shit.” Last year, she watched Shawn Mendes’ documentary In Wonder and realised how hard he works. “Same with Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and any artist at the top of their game, you’re manifesting your life and working your ass off. I know now that nothing is just going to happen, you have to work for it, and I want to put that work in. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I definitely want to try my best to do some cool shit.” FROM THE WOOZY electro haunting of ‘Body And Mind’, through the bratty punk-pop of ‘You Stupid Bitch’ to the readdork.com 43.
rumbling cinematic emo of ‘Apartment 402’, girl in red pulls from all over for ‘if i could make it go quiet’, but none of it was deliberate. “I didn’t have any inspirations for this album… my inspiration was making good shit. I was just chasing what feels good. That’s the vibe.” And it ties the whole record together. “There’s a loudness to it all. It’s a very blown out album, and I’ve maxed out how many energetic songs you can fit on one record.” “’if i could make it go quiet’ is about all this very intense shit going on in my head,” explains Marie who felt like she had a lot to say with these 11 tracks. “I’m still writing about my mental health and love, but now I’ve got a deeper understanding of what I’m feeling,” she says. “Then there are songs like ‘Serotonin’ where I’m talking about OCD, intrusive thoughts and feeling scared of my own brain.” It’s
something she’s never sung about before. “I’m going into some deeper shit on this record because I’ve been going through deeper shit. The album had to reflect that.” Despite living with it for years, it wasn’t until Marie went to therapy that she realised she even had OCD. The only time she’d seen the disorder spoken about before was Glee’s Emma Pillsbury (played by Jayma Mays). Constantly worried about germs and cleanliness, Pillsbury’s OCD is what most people assume the disorder looks like, but it’s much broader and more destructive than that. Marie has it alongside health anxiety, so she’ll believe she’s caught a disease, which starts a long, deliberate process of trying to find reassurance that she isn’t going to die. First, she turns to Google, then speaks to her friends, family and then a doctor. “I have to go through
“I’M GOING INTO SOME DEEPER SHIT ON THIS RECORD BECAUSE I’VE BEEN GOING THROUGH DEEPER SHIT” MARIE ULVEN
it in order so that I can finally feel like I’m going to survive.” Elsewhere on ‘Serotonin’, she lists just some of the intrusive thoughts she deals with “cutting my hands off, jumping in front of a bus, burning my hair off, hurting somebody I love.” Marie finds it pretty cool that her lyrics, direct and without a sugary Disney coating, could help dispel
romanticised ideas of OCD and mental illness, but she didn’t go in with some grand plan to change the conversation. “It has just been on my mind. Those types of intrusive thoughts have been present my entire life. I’m constantly scared of losing control, and I felt like I had something to say about it.” With no desire to give her art “all these reflections that
you don’t really need to have,” she hasn’t really thought about the impact of her words. “’What do I want people to feel when they hear my music?’” she asks. “Bitch, I don’t know. I just wrote that shit. Once it’s out in the world, I can’t control it anymore, and it’s all about letting go.” “Lyrics are a mysterious thing for me,” she continues. “I don’t really know where they
come from. The only criteria is that I feel connected to them, they feel real to me in the moment, and that I haven’t heard it a million times before. I could easily sing ‘oh baby, I think of you all the time, can’t get you off my mind’ (bonus points for rhyming), and there’d be nothing wrong with it; I just don’t connect with it as much.” ‘if i could make it go quiet”
also features lusty pop songs like ‘hornylovesickmess’, which is a love song about Marie ruining a relationship because she was away on tour, going through a sudden life change. Despite making references to her face being on a billboard in Times Square, it’s not your typical, bragalicious ‘look ma, I made it’ track. It’s grounded, tragic and heartfelt. “It’s important to have songs like that and the lovey-dovey ‘Stupid Bitch’ because there’s more to me than feeling like I’m going crazy.” Despite the direct, confessional nature of the record, Marie has said plenty of times that she doesn’t find writing songs cathartic. “That romanticised image of an artist hunched over a piano, holding a whiskey glass and writing about their trauma doesn’t sound very sustainable for you or your own mental health. Pouring my heart out isn’t the cathartic part, it’s being able to spend time occupying my mind that feels cathartic. It’s not sitting down in the dark and writing these words that feels good, it’s more being excited by something that I make that gives me life.” The last track on the album, a delicate, peaceful instrumental called ‘it would feel like this’ finishes off the album’s leading question. “If I can make it go quiet and empty myself of all this crazy shit, it would be as peaceful as that little piece of music,” explains Marie. “Weirdly enough, I do think it’s a positive album,” she laughs. “I know I’m talking about some weird shit, but even the darkest songs on this album still have the belief that I’m gonna be okay. I didn’t want it to feel like I felt sorry for myself.” A lot of that celebratory survival comes from the urgent, excitable music. “The graphic directness of ‘Did You Come’” - lyrics include “I’m not upset, I’m fucking pissed... did you do the things you know I like, roll your tongue, make her come twenty times” - “is balanced out by the production, and can you imagine if ‘Serotonin’ was an acoustic song? ‘Girl, you need some help’.” GIRL IN RED STANDS alongside artists like Phoebe Bridgers and Billie Eilish who are connecting with people in a really authentic way just by being themselves. “That’s what Gen Z and late millennials are thirsty for. We’re tired of all the other shit. We just want to feel connected with
“I’M STILL WRITING ABOUT MY MENTAL HEALTH AND LOVE, BUT NOW I’VE GOT A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT I’M FEELING” MARIE ULVEN
people who are down to earth and grounded in a way that feels like we’re standing on the same Earth, rather than looking up to the sky and seeing this cloud-shaped idol. We want the real deal.” These pop rebels are doing things on their own terms, but they’re not deliberately standing against the industry norm. “I don’t feel like I’m constantly not doing something else. I’m not deliberately choosing to go down this path; it just feels like this is my path.” Because of how fresh it all is, people are struggling to find a label that fits, but Marie believes “terms like Queer Pop or female-fronted don’t say anything about the music. I don’t really want my music to be labelled as anything, it’s just pop music.” As for being a voice of a generation? “That’s a boldass statement,” laughs Marie
with her whole body despite hearing the claim before. “I don’t think I’m the right person to ask because I will constantly talk shit about myself. I will constantly downplay the importance of my music in other people’s lives, and unfortunately, I will constantly degrade my own value. I would never say anything like that about myself, for sure.” Marie isn’t sure what success really means in 2021, but she’d consider it a victory “if this album opened any cool doors so I can continue to grow as an artist.” She ignored the outside world while making this record, getting lost in her own music on those long drives, but that’s changed now it’s done. “I can lie to you and say no, I don’t care what people think of this album, just so I don’t get disappointed, but I do care. My mission is to become the best musician I can be.”
“I mean, I’m already starting shit, and I’m going in a completely different direction, but I want to take my time. I don’t want to rush the process, I want to experience some shit, and I want to get to know myself better. The thing is, I don’t wait too long either.” With the album finished but touring still a big question mark, Marie is in “this weird space where I’ve got a lot of time to make an album two,” but poured everything she had into creating the first. “I definitely want to spend my time wisely, but I need to figure out who I want to be. As this record shows, I can go in all of these different directions. I’m not just me and an acoustic guitar,” she pauses and grins into her phone’s camera. “I’m also still going for world domination, obviously.” P girl in red’s album ‘if i could make it go quiet’ is out 30th April. readdork.com 45.
HARLE 46. DORK
ECORE A vital cog in the PC Music collective machine, Danny L Harle’s new album and immersive digital experience, ‘Harlecore’, is beyond ambitious. Words: Martyn Young. Photo: Vasso Vu.
anny L Harle is a musical genius. There we’ve said it. For almost a decade now, one of the pioneering masterminds behind PC Music has had a hand in loads of exciting, fresh and innovative music, making transcendent future pop, insane club bangers and all manner of other weird and wonderful sounds with a string of smart and creative collaborators. This year though, Danny is finally getting around to releasing his debut album. Well, kind of debut album. We’ll let the man himself explain, but ‘Harlecore’ is a fantastical immersive listening experience built around Danny’s Club Harlecore creation in which all his, and a few friends, musical passions come to life in a thrillingly unique style. It’s a labour of love for the super talented producer, and Danny told us all about what Club Harlecore is and how it works, all the while with a glorious 3D multi-coloured background behind his head. Hey Danny, tell us all about the wonderful world of Club Harlecore. I’m so excited because this is a really personal project for me. I’ve made sure that in every step of the way of its creation, it remains completely true to the concept and has completely no compromise at any stage. I explained the concept to fellow musician Jean Dawson two years ago, and it sounded like it was so ambitious and so silly, just the kind of bullshit that people say in sessions, but then Jean Dawson commented on the trailer that I posted and was like, “wow, there it is just like you said.” If people like it, then it’s like an intimate communication for me. I like that sort of interaction with people. How long have you had the concept for ‘Harlecore’ going on then? We like to imagine you’ve had it ready to go as soon as you came out of the womb? It dawned on me that it had to be in this state approximately three years ago. It’s been in production since then before any of this pandemic stuff. It has become more and more relevant as an idea. It seemed like quite an avant-garde and experimental thing initially because it was a specific expression of the way I personally experience music. It was an expression in a world were your main relationship with music is you and some headphones rather than you at a live event because I was a total nerd, or maybe even Dork
is the word, as I was growing up [thanks for the shoutout, Danny]. I was not going out to parties or clubs. I wasn’t part of the living scene that this music was coming from. The euphoria I feel listening to it is inside my brain and body, but I thought I would try to express this sense of place that this feeling is contained within. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a long time. I’ve always been interested in the idea of an album being a physical experience where there are a series of different rooms and moods. This seems such a tight concept as multi-room nightclubs are already a thing. It presents the multiroom club idea to the American audience, who aren’t necessarily so familiar with that sort of thing. The fact that it’s a rave album with all these sorts of different styles might be confusing to present to an American audience, but with this compartmentalised presentation of it, it makes it a bit clearer because it’s like, oh yeah, that music is really chilled out cos it’s in the chilled out room. The very visually intense elements of the whole thing come from the fact that I very much prefer to show people my ideas than explain. I wanted to do it in such a dynamically visual way, so I didn’t have to explain it to people. It’s just there. So, in the simplest terms, you could just say, “See the little blue guy in the video? MC Boing? That’s what the album is about.” We love MC Boing. He plays the piano all day and all night. The funny thing is, though, that he talks about cars and pianos all the time, yet I’ve never seen him do any of that. So, who are DJ Danny, MC Boing, DJ Mayhem, DJ Ocean then? Are they different people entirely or aspects of your own character? They’re all conjuring acts that are halfway between me and someone else. DJ Danny is an exception who acted as a helpful way for me to compartmentalise the more trance rave side of what I was doing. UK hardcore is the more specific way of defining it. The Glaswegian DJ and producer Scott Brown is an enormous influence on this project. It was presented in this way to shed light on a lot of these artists who have influenced me. A lot of the ideas that people think PC Music invented already existed in these still underground UK and European genres. I think mainly the UK, though, as UK hardcore and
happy hardcore are unique to this country. Oh yeah, definitely we loved the ‘Bonkers’ series of compilations back in the day. They were bigger than anything. Everyone thinks Britpop and stuff like that was the biggest thing going, but ‘Bonkers’ and UK rave was massive. Well, it’s just better music than Britpop. I absolutely love it. ‘Bonkers 13’, the Halloween edition, has a track called ‘Find Your Way’ by Jess on it, and I’m obsessed with that track. It’s one of the greatest rave
riffs. That music is incredible. I don’t know why I love it, though. I wasn’t brought up around it and never heard anything like that when I was young. My dad is from Newcastle, and we’d go up there a lot to see my grandparents, and I saw an advert for a clubland compilation in Hexham in Newcastle. My brother said to me, “You see Dan, the further North you go in the UK, the music gets faster and louder.” That has really stuck with me, and I’ve always found that such a cool idea. I’ve had an affinity with people from the North and love that vibe. I love that I exist
in a world where ‘Bonkers’ was bigger than Britpop. So, let’s get back to the characters. DJ Danny was a way to separate off the hardcore rave stuff from the more poppy stuff because I’m very eclectic as an artist, and I also do classical stuff, so there are three main channels of output. I define them by how I listen to music. Rave stuff is where I want to feel immediately amazing. With pop, I’m willing to put in a bit more time. How much more time? Approximately 30 seconds before I want to feel amazing.
A FEW FACTS YOU MIGHT LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT SUPER-PRODUCER EXTRAORDINAIRE DANNY L HARLE Danny is used to creating pop madness, but did you know his first gig was actual literal Madness? Yes, it was Suggs and the lads from back in the olden times. “ They are an incredible band. I’m a big fan of the song ‘Baggy Trousers’
that without that time-lapse thing. The medium of music is time. Some music takes time to say what it needs to say. MC Boing is a thing that came from a session with Lil Data. At cultural gunpoint, I forced him to do some MC’ing and said, we’re going to make some machina music and let’s do this in ten minutes. So the thing with MC Boing is that all the songs were written in less time than they take to listen to. They are also probably my favourite lyrics I’ve ever heard in any song ever. Including every song in the whole world.
With classical stuff, I’m willing to put in infinite amounts of time and properly engage with it and listen hard to the music. I can listen for four hours before I feel anything. Some things just require that. Even a live trance set, you have to be there for hours sometimes before you feel this epiphany. Like when we would stay in the Slam Tent for days on end at T in the Park and come out not knowing where you are or where you’ve been but knowing that you’ve had an amazing time. Yeah, and there’s no way to feel
So what about Mayhem and Ocean then? I messaged Ross, AKA Hudson Mohawke, when I was in LA. He was and continues to be a hero producer god in mine and everybody from PC Music’s eyes. I was asking if he wanted to do a hardcore track. Being from Glasgow, I knew what he would think of by a hardcore track, and I saw him drop a Scott Brown track in a DJ set, so I figured he must like that kind of music and have an attachment to it. He was like, ‘Ok, yeah, tomorrow?’ Oh, yes, you’re my hero. We remade a new style by combining his beast kicks with my euphoric synths. It fits into this world of rave that I was making that had its own identity. Ross kindly allowed me to use the name he was already using as DJ Mayhem, and we continued collaborating on DJ Mayhem tracks. We then had a live performance at the three crowns in Stoke Newington in London, and we put it together on the day in a 120 capacity room. I think a ‘Sweatbox’ is the term for it. So that was a fantastic night, and perhaps the genesis of the whole Harlecore thing as that was the first time the name was whipped out. We took the Harlecore nights out on tour, but when it came to playing in New York, I couldn’t find enough acts playing this music. I had to make up some new acts, so I made up the mysterious DJ Fuck, who was my friend Sam who performed some nu-metal turntablism Linkin Park style, which was amazing. I was discussing this with my friend Caroline, and we started making music. As usual,
Danny has lots of musical passions and is currently obsessed with Chutney music. That’s a unique genre with a dancehall/ bhangra/soca mix, don’tcha know? “It captures a certain emotion between being sad and wanting to dance that I absolutely crave,” he says.
very little words were shared, but it started to become a thing, and between us, we decided on the name DJ Ocean. So how did these characters combine to make an album then? As we were taking it on tour, I realised I was writing a lot of music for these events and realised there was the music of club Harlecore. I was thinking about how genres are associated with venues. There is a shared dream state that people who like this music inhabit, so why not manifest that into a thing? If it appears as a concept like that, then it’s real. It made perfect sense. As soon as I started giving it its own socials, then it really works giving my rave output its own club. It might confuse people as technically it’s my debut album, but as my career progresses, people will realise that I’m making my eclectic output as clearly channelled as I can.
“Just uploading an album of rave music to Spotify feels a bit futile. It’s not where it lives” Danny L Harle Once you made club Harlecore into a real thing, what did you hope people would feel when they experienced it? A sense of place for this music. I felt like just uploading an album of rave music to Spotify feels a bit futile. It’s not where it lives. I want people to listen to the music and understand that it’s of a certain place. The background things on Spotify, you can see the club oscillating when you’re listening to DJ Danny’s ‘On A Mountain’, and it gives a sense of place to the whole thing. How conscious were you of how the music would be experienced then? It’s interesting how uncommon it is for artists to have an idea
He doesn’t have any animals for his band. Primarily because he doesn’t have a band. However, he does have an animal somewhere. “I think you’ll find there’s an animal in the basement at Club Harlecore already DJ’ing,” he tells us ominously. “That animal forces you to explore the animal within yourself.”
of where their music is being performed. Because it’s sound, you have to choose reverbs and stuff, and it sounds designed to be performed in a certain space. Do you know what that space is and where is this music being performed, or do you just want people to have nothing in their head while they’re listening to it? Artists rarely have an idea as it’s really easy to get lost in just music, but that’s rarely how people experience it. You’ve mentioned euphoria a few times, so what is euphoria for you, and how are you trying to express it? Euphoria is the goal of all of my music and the goal of every DJ in Club Harlecore. There are different ways of achieving it. All those types achieve euphoria as well. The type of euphoria I think rave music gives you is like fast food euphoria. I’m speaking as a big fan of fast food and sweets. We can definitely endorse sweets here at Dork. A nice burst of sherbet dip. It’s so immediate, and it’s like a cheat code to get euphoria as fast as possible. It’s like how sweets are a cheat code to setting off your mind’s pleasure centres for food. It’s an extraordinary thing about music. With my music, I’ve got a particular set of sounds that I like hearing. Not like instruments specifically, just that I react emotionally to combinations of notes, and I find that fascinating how different arrangements of sounds can make you feel emotions with no lyrics. That’s what I think sets my music apart. How do you feel about the hype surrounding hyperpop in 2021 as one of the biggest influences on that scene with people like 100gecs referencing PC Music? I think it’s amazing that my early stuff with PC has influenced something. Hyperpop is something that evolves from PC. When I see and hear these artists that are supposedly hyperpop, I don’t really know too much about it, but I’m very flattered and honoured. I’m happy if my attitude and take on things
has resonated with people. The funny thing is that if a lot of those artists tried making music with me, I don’t think they would like what I make. I make different stuff to what hyperpop is as a thing. I think the movement that influenced it and the sound are two very different things. It’s interesting how culture moves on. Are you conscious of your legacy as an innovator, or do you just carry on doing your own thing, and whether anyone else likes it is up to them? Yeah, that’s always been my mentality. I’ve achieved everything by doing exactly what I want. At nearly every juncture, there’s been immense pressure to keep doing the thing that people identify me with and want to hear from me. I don’t work like that, and I’m unable to write music that I don’t fully believe in. Whatever comes out is what comes out. We need some details on Club Harlecore then. What’s it like in there? What’s on the drinks menu? Is there a dress code? Well, you are in there. You’re in there right now. Whoever is reading this, it’s you. You’re in there. The drinks menu is yet to be revealed. It’s hard to see anyone else apart from the DJ’s in there. It’s hard to know. Ok, we’ll take it that you can be whoever you wanna be in there. Anything goes. So, do you think you might be able to take club Harlecore out for some actual humans in the actual flesh to experience at some point? As soon as we can get Harlecore on the road, we’re going to do that. We’ve got further exciting Harlecore releases planned. I’ve got lots of Danny L Harle stuff with other artists and new projects that are starting. I might be scoring a few things. I’m always expanding. Yeah! “Danny L Harle - Always Expanding.” That’s our headline right there. I’m so huge, and only getting huger. P Danny L Harle’s album ‘Harlecore’ is out now. readdork.com 49.
um just out, With a brand new live alb y, Sorry and more ‘stuff’ on the wa . are back and raring to go tos: Sam Hiscox.
Pho Words: Jamie MacMillan.
lton John lied to you. And that Lee Ryan too. Because, actually, we’ll have you know that Sorry is one of the easiest words when it comes to the question of ‘Who Are The Best Bands Out There Right Now’. Moving swiftly on from that terrible pun, apologies (I’m warning you - Ed), you could be forgiven for feeling sorry (that will do - Ed) for the North Londoners as their longawaited debut record finally landed at the very beginning of a global pandemic. But despite All Of That, ‘925’ still stood out as one the finest records in a pretty vintage year for music. But 2020 is done and dusted, and Sorry aren’t ones to stand still. Fresh on the heels of the extremely limited run of ‘Live At The Windmill’ vinyl, plans are already well underway for the next steps in the band’s constant evolution. And where they go next may continue to surprise. Bit of Randy Newman, anyone? First, though, vocalist and guitarist Asha Lorenz fills us in on the last year. “Lots of ups and downs, just like everyone”, she explains, telling a tale that is sadly familiar to all of us by now. “I found it quite hard to do much creative stuff or even just focus my mind til the end of the year, really. I have little flashes in the dark of being able to do some stuff, but it’s just hard to have perspective on it, I guess.” With the band all retreating to familiar spots around the capital, they have at least managed to stay close. “Yeah, I’ve seen Louis [O’Bryen] loads, to be fair. We’ve been working on loads of music,” she admits happily, pricking up our ears up like the New Music Gossip Hounds that we are. More on that later, but first the train-wreck that is releasing music in 2020. “It was weird, but to be fair, I didn’t really think about ‘it’ in a sad
way until we got to the end of the year, and we still hadn’t toured it at all. It didn’t really feel that much like we released a record or see if people even liked it,” admits Asha, “because usually, you see people singing along at gigs, or you sell some records or something. But we can’t complain.”
“I feel more confident in trying to make bigger records” Asha Lorenz Finally managing to ‘launch’ the record with a gig at The Windmill eight months later, it at least managed to put smiles on the faces of those lucky enough to attend. “It was mostly our mates,” she laughs, “we could only get thirty tickets! But it was nice, and felt special because we could play a couple of new songs as well.” The major challenge for bands in these times is how to approach the New Normal of socially-distanced gigs, and Asha takes some time to reflect on it today. “It didn’t feel that weird actually because it was kind of a chill night. But I think it would be weird if I only had gigs like that…” she falters, admitting that the thought of live-stream gigs replacing the norm doesn’t sit well with her. “I just… I don’t really like the social media stuff, and I don’t feel that we come across that well on it yet,” she says. “We love playing live and stuff, but when it comes to that, I’d rather just ‘make’ music rather than worrying about how we’re playing it live.” Speaking on the day that
Sorry cancelled their May tour, she considers potential changes to how bands approach touring long-term but is still clear in her thoughts. “I feel like we’ll probably go back to touring, because that’s all that is feasible if you actually wanna make money or whatever. I don’t know though; we’ve never made any money from it,” she laughs. “But you do have to try pretty hard to raise money and stuff, I think, because it’s a lot about the momentum and all that shit. I always thought that it wasn’t, but then you realise that it is like that. So I think we’re just gonna do the next album and then tour them both together.” So yeah, new stuff then. Prepare yourselves; it is coming and perhaps sooner than you think. Describing those two new tracks (titled on the live album ‘There’s So Many People That Want To Be Loved’ and ‘I Miss The Fool That I Loved’) that debuted at the Windmill as “skeletons of songs”, it seems like we are just at the beginning at the next chapter. Justifiably full of confidence after the success of ‘925’, Asha is feeling positive. “Before, I felt that the studio stuff didn’t work as well [as our home demos], but now that we’ve done it and made it sound the way that we wanted it to, I feel more confident in trying to make bigger records,” she states, continuing: “Also, those older songs were stuck in a way because we had thought about them for so many years. They were almost our childhood, or at least our ‘growing up’ songs. But now all this new stuff, we haven’t ever played them, so they’re quite malleable and open to becoming something more.” Having heard two of the next singles, we can confirm that ‘something more’ is quite an
understatement. One drips in hypnotic, intoxicating trip-hop vibes while the other dances through multiple genres like a skipping radio before slowing down beautifully at its climax. It continues their genre-smashing debut sound, but builds even further, and higher, on it. “We just wanna have fun doing whatever feels like a good shout for the song,” she laughs at one point, perfectly nailing why this band are special, “It doesn’t sound authentic or fun to just write songs in one genre.” Sorry being Sorry though, even when you’re expecting everything, then they still manage to deliver something completely unexpected. “Those ones are more electronic; I do lots of stuff like that at home. But for the actual album, we’re definitely gonna move away from guitar a bit,” she reveals. “We’re trying more for a 70s album in terms of the songwriting. Carly Simon, Randy Newman, all those kinds of artists where the song is the focus. But maybe try and do more of a modern production, like how we played with the samples on the last record. We’re gonna try and play with them like Portishead, a bit warmer and have more developed songs. That’s what we’re aiming for.” With most of the basic songwriting done by herself and Louis already, it’s clear that she is raring to go and get on with it. “I always get sketched out by changing stuff, but all these other songs were finished ages ago. We’ve been sitting on some tracks for ages, but I’m excited to get rid of them as well. I like them, but I’m ready for the next stuff!” Us too, and no apolog… (SNIP - Ed) P Sorry’s live album ‘A Night At The Windmill’ is out now.
HIGH AND DRY.
AS THEY DELIVER THEIR REALLY VERY GOOD DEBUT ALBUM ‘NEW LONG LEG’, SUD-CESS BECKONS FOR DRY CLEANING. (SORRY - ED)
WORDS: JAMIE MACMILLAN. PHOTOS: STEVE GULLICK.
H MY GOD! No, I can’t tell you who pissed on my leg in the supermarket!” roars Flo Shaw. “Access denied. ACCESS DENIED!” As the rest of the band fall about in hysterics, the truth behind one of 2021’s most intriguing lyrics evades Dork once more. Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Dry Cleaning, a group that is just as happy talking about Absolute Nonsense as they are the music. Our kind of band, then. It’s been a while. The last time we caught up with the
London band at the tail-end of 2019, we were huddled in the dressing room at The Lexington just before they took to the stage for a show that confirmed their impending Greatness. With a setlist taken from just two EPs, there was a real electricity in the air that you find at those gigs where you just know that this is the last chance to see someone play the smaller venues for the last time. The world was theirs for the taking, and as they signed to 4AD a short while later, it seemed that it was coming calling for them. And then, 2020 happened.
Though it didn’t disrupt the band too much (with the exception of tour cancellation), life away from the road meant that they could, however, concentrate on what came next instead. And what comes next, as it turns out, is one exceptional debut record. ‘New Long Leg’ delivers on all the early hype and then some. Its first single, ‘Scratchcard Lanyard’ was the first clue that the band have levelled up, Florence’s trademark witty, monotone vocals and some seriously dazzling guitar work from Tom Dowse seeing the band
“I’M A SAUSAGE ROLL” FLO SHAW
reaching favourite status with his Royal Indie Holiness Steve Lamacq amongst others. Quietly confident in what they’ve got in the bag, the band are in a good mood today. “The recording plan didn’t change really,” Florence begins, as Tom instantly and expertly drops out of the Zoom chat. “It’s because I’ve had the vaccine; they’re watching me,” he explains on his return, as the band take me through their journey of the last year or so. “There was loads of confidence from the success of the first two EPs,” offers bassist Lewis Maynard. “And also having a label behind you
makes you feel differently too.” With the only instruction from 4AD being to “just do what you’ve been doing”, the band leapt at the chance to build their world on an even wider platform than before with their distinctive style untouched. Music with a spoken-word ‘slant’ might have been around as long as, well, music, but Dry Cleaning have managed to transform it into something completely their own. With each member bringing their own specific set of influences to the mix, what follows on the record is a thrilling ride through the genres. From the proto-metal of ‘Unsmart Lady’ to the early-era REM vibes of
LISTEN WHEN YOU’RE SPOKEN TO.. Here’s some more talky music to check out. Technical term.
Being labelled a ‘post-punk poet’ might seem reductive, but they’ve got a point here. One of the most interesting, enigmatic and hypnotic live artists around, it’s no surprise IDLES have snapped her up as one of their many, many tour supports next year. PLAY A Thing You Call Joy SEE ALSO Patti Smith, Protomartyr, Billy Nomates
‘Probably’ the most famous spoken word artist in the world, poet, best-selling novelist, playwright, multiple Mercury Music Award nominee, Brit award nominee, Brighton Festival curator, all-round legend. Need we say more? PLAY Europe Is Lost SEE ALSO Ghostpoet, Unorthodox Coolock
It’s hard to overstate the impact that ‘Original Pirate Material’ landed back in 2002, its tales of working-class life to a soundtrack clash of UK garage and not-quite-but-nearly hip hop making Mike Skinner one of the Unlikeliest Pop Stars ever. Still sounds timeless; we’ve eaten many of our favourite late-night kebabs to this. Still miss that dog from ‘Dry Your Eyes’ too. PLAY Let’s Push Things Forward SEE ALSO For Those I Love, 1990’s Chris, Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx
the title-track, familiarity with avant-garde rubs shoulders with classic post-punk and dance vibes. Running through it all, Florence Shaw and her dry observations on the world feel like you’ve somehow nicked her stream of consciousness as she thinks about eating a hot dog for hours. There’s so much going on on each track; this upgrade on what was already good feels almost dizzying at points.
Responsible for precisely 98.3% of post-punk indie bands around today, Mark E. Smith’s distinctive rambling vocals have *obviously* spawned an entire genre of imitators. He’s got a lot to answer for, but don’t blame him just yet. There is some serious gold in most of The Fall’s 3849 albums, though, so good luck. PLAY The Classical SEE ALSO Do Nothing, Yard Act, Sleaford Mods
“THERE WAS LOADS OF CONFIDENCE FROM THE SUCCESS OF THE FIRST TWO EPS”
“I think there are lots of different reasons for that,” explains Tom. “We’ve been a band for a lot longer, and the range of influences we’re sharing is a bit different now. You start to realise how you can chuck in some influences that weren’t obvious to begin with and look for ways that you can weave it into Dry Cleaning without making it ‘not’ Dry Cleaning any more. You put on Curtis Mayfield, then you chuck on Converge.
Look, you can’t expect us to talk about spoken word legends without mentioning Phil Daniels. Truly a god amongst mortals, he gets up when he wants except on Wednesdays etc. etc. You know the rest. Responsible for what is still one of the all-time bangers, we are very sorry for everyone else on this list, but it’s got nothing to do with your Vorsprung dutch Technik, you know? PLAY Parklife SEE ALSO Eastenders, Baxter Dury
And then Flo puts stuff on, and it all just starts meshing in your head. As soon as you get into a practice space, your head is already in this really fertile cloud of sounds.” “Also, someone bought him a guitar tuner for Christmas,” interrupts Lewis, always happy to undercut any deep talk with some nonsense which makes him a Friend Of Dork, tbh. “Because I’ve been influenced by Nick’s taste in music, for example,” Tom finishes. “On tracks like ‘Leafy’, my guitar is really repetitive because I was listening to all his dance music.” That sense of playful exploration runs through all of ‘New Long Leg’, one of those rarest of albums where no two tracks sound the same yet all undeniably Dry Cleaning-y. Ever since their earliest days, they have always been a band that concentrates on creating and finalising their music in the studio, rather than letting their tracks evolve their on the road first. After all, their debut EP ‘Sweet Princess’ was recorded before their first gig, while the follow up ‘Boundary Road Snacks And Drinks’ followed after only a handful of performances. Recording the album was no different, with the band jamming until they spotted snippets they could build on. “Many of our best moments
soon turns to what seems to be a favourite pastime of Dry Cleaning. Food. “Was I hungry in the studio? Someone else asked me that. HA!” wails Florence, no surprise when nearly every track references food and eating. Oven chips, cream buns, hot dogs, sushi counters. Food everywhere.
“I DON’T TRY TO MAKE SONGS APOLITICAL, BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE EVERYTHING’S POLITICAL” FLO SHAW
come from us jamming, just before we have an idea. So maybe we’re rubbish at what we do?” laughs Lewis. “Out of a ten-minute jam, we might find a really nice moment to build on.” “I think between us, we’re quite good at trusting one another,” explains Florence. “There might be something that no-one’s crazy about, but one of us will be like ‘this is really fucking good.” This approach is already paving the way for album two. “We’ve always got too many songs; we’ve already got another 30 or 40 ideas for the next album.” For drummer Nick Buxton, this was a completely new experience for him. “Every band I’ve ever been in, you hone the songs by going out and playing them live. And they do change a lot, sometimes in really interesting ways,” he says. “But working with John [producer John Parish, best known for his work with PJ Harvey] gave me the confidence that you don’t necessarily need to do that. He gives you the swag and confidence that you might be able to do something from scratch in the studio. It’s quite eye-opening.” Florence admits to feeling the pressure though. “There was one night where I was up really late,” she remembers. “Being like, fuck, everyone’s really excited about this song,
but I don’t have any fucking words for it. And John is friendly and relaxed, but he’s the kind of guy where there’s no way where you can be like, I haven’t really got anything. But it’s in a good way; it makes you pull your finger out.” Diving into topics ranging from personal day-to-day observations to geopolitical issues like Brexit, her lyrics end up as varied and fluid as the music around her. “It’s just impossible to keep that sort of thing out of songs for me, and I don’t try to,” she admits. “I don’t try to make them apolitical because I feel like everything’s political. And it’s a fool’s errand for people to try and opt-out of it. But I think it’s better to present facts and let other people think about it.” By the final track on the record, the superb ‘Every Day Carry’, her words spill out at a ridiculous rate as her notebooks are emptied of favourite lines and unused gems in a full stream of consciousness. The constant tinkering with tracks in the studio did catch some of the band out, as Lewis and Nick found to their surprise when their “long crazy outro” to ‘Her Hippo’ was cut from the final track whilst they popped to the supermarket for lunch. A valuable reminder, if needed, to always bring your lunch to the studio, guys. Talk of going for lunch
It’s enough to make anyone ravenous, and sure enough, halfway through our chat, Nick produces a doughnut from nowhere, saying he can’t wait. We never miss a chance to get right to the heart of the matter, and today’s no different as we ask the band what baked good do you think they are? And YES, we know a doughnut isn’t a baked good. The answers were enlightening. “I’m a sausage roll,” shouts Florence immediately, showing typical singer behaviour in taking the most popular position before anyone else can get there. “I ate one a few minutes ago, still got greasy hands,” she explains with more honesty than was necessary. “I love baked goods,” sighs Nick, raving about the selection in Tesco’s before staking his claim to be a cheese straw. It’s when the spotlight moves to Lewis that things really start to get confusing. “A bau bun, I’m also fluffy to poke,” is his worrying response, before the band reveal that they had to invent him an imaginary girlfriend over lockdown called ‘Jackie Potato’. “Hang on, that really sums up my love life, and it’s really sad,” he implores while the band all make Dork promise to put this in the actual feature. Tom soon rescues him from the conversation by not knowing the difference between a pain au chocolat and a chocolate croissant, and honestly, by now, Dork is ready to devour an entire supermarket aisle. “We really enjoy food,” adds Nick needlessly, approximately 23 minutes later. The doughnut remained uneaten. Things unravel further the longer we chat, from Lewis’ secret past in a Black Sabbath tribute band called Rat Salad
and whether the band feel that John Wick could host the Antiques Roadshow or Fiona Bruce could become a hitwoman (verdict - they could). It’s blindingly obvious that this is a band that just enjoy being together (virtually or otherwise) and talking nonsense, the laughs flowing loudly and often. But there is a darker side, of course - that of Florence’s ability to spot a misplaced comment a mile away and immortalise it in a song. “Are people wary of what they say to me? I don’t think so?” she replies, at the exact same time that the band say otherwise, Tom and Lewis
both pointing out those times when they know that they’ve said something stupid as they see her quietly reaching for her phone or notebook midconversation. “Well… there’s nothing they can do about it by then,” she grins. “NOTHING YOU CAN DO!” while poor Lewis tries to respond. As a magazine that says stupid things on an alarmingly regular basis, we are nervous, but only time (and album two) will tell us whether we got away with it. As for right now, we’re off to the supermarket. Who’s hungry? P Dry Cleaning’s album ‘New Long Leg’ is out 2nd April.
ALL THE NEW RELEASES YOU NEED TO KNOW (AND SOME YOU DEFINITELY DON’T)
Dry Cleaning New Long Leg
eeeee A strong debut from one of London’s fave new bands. If life in the last twelve months has been a fairly even split of household mundanity and never-ending worries, then the very long-awaited debut from Dry Cleaning provides the perfect soundtrack. A record that exists in the gaps of modern life that most other bands skip over, ‘New Long Leg’ sticks its head in your kitchen cupboards, worries about Brexit, waits for the bins to get collected, feels paranoid, gets its leg pissed on in the big Sainsbury’s. Modern life is delightful! Brighter minds than ours could spend years dissecting each track, the wandering nature of Florence Shaw’s wry lyrics leaving you feeling at times like you’ve been dropped into her actual stream of consciousness where you only hear or understand half a conversation but still get asked whether you still want oven chips and never mind because the conversation has moved on now anyway. The way that her voice and delivery changes pace and plays with rhythm is almost hypnotic, giving the sense that she and the rest of the band are dancing around each other in some elaborate movement that only they can see. There are hints of 80s US college rock throughout, shades of early R.E.M. rubbing shoulders alongside a host of influences that never feel less than uniquely their own. By the time the band really flex their muscles on the closing ‘Every Day Carry’, a seven-minute-plus track that feels destined to be a climactic mindblower when live shows do finally return, they have easily cemented their place as one of the most fascinating bands out there. Jamie MacMillan
Collections From The Whiteout eeeee
You would have a hard time if you were to categorise the work of Glasgow-based four-piece The Snuts. Their debut album, ‘W.L’ sees the band incorporating pop ballads, punk energy and alt-rock staples to build a series of heartfelt stories about growing up in Scotland. Merging a healthy dose of slowed down jams and raucous tracks, The Snuts are taking huge steps with their first album release. The bold honesty of singersongwriter Jack Cochrane’s vocals elevates ‘W.L’ with a welcome sincerity. Whether he’s softly serenading us or screaming with passion, it’s always clear that these words come with deeply personal significance. ‘Top Deck’ opens the album with acoustic intimacy, as Cochrane ushers us close to share private laments for the impact of drugs on his childhood friends. There’s a closeness in these toned down tunes that clear any hints of superficiality in The Snuts. We know they feel every word they sing. It’s almost hard to believe that the album’s pacier songs come from the same band. ‘All Your Friends’ and ‘Coffee & Cigarettes’ have an adolescent charm reminiscent of early Arctic Monkeys or The Libertines, filled with gnarly guitar riffs and kicked up percussion. With an arsenal of emotions, The Snuts manage to invoke a lifetime of feeling in just thirteen bangers that are bursting with adrenaline and melancholy alike. ‘W.L’ is a masterclass in ballads and risk-taking that proves music works best when it comes from the heart. Connor Fenton
After 2018’s debut ‘My Own Mess’, Aussie punks Skegss are back for a second helping, and they come packing more groovy tunes that evoke an easy-going introspection; the kind you’re likely to find around any sizzling beach-barbie in the height of summer. As those flames flicker and nip at the cooling night of ‘Rehearsal’, the breezy melodies bring through a warming touch that keeps you toasty. Rest assured it’s not all laid back, there’s a drive that keeps your feet tapping and heart racing. It’s the sound of a band determined in who they want to be and what they want to do. Steven Loftin
Ben Howard has never been one to chase the obvious routes to success. He’s not had to, either. With BRIT wins and commercial success comfortably assured, he’s become that rarest thing an artist able to be themselves and still score the victories needed to keep moving forwards. ‘Collections From The Whiteout’ is another example of Howard’s determination to take his own path. Subtle rather than obvious, often quiet and textured while others would reach for the lazy and anthemic, there’s an intimacy that’s at the very least charming, often quite special. After his work with Taylor Swift, there are few better times to work alongside The National’s Aaron Dessner on production, and his warm, organic haze only enhances Howard’s innate strengths. There’s a free flowing ease to ‘Collections...’. ‘Far Out’ has a loose, easy going charm, while ‘Finders Keepers’ - a song about the dismembered body a friend of his father found in a suitcase floating along the Thames - is curiously odd, in a good way. Spending time with someone so at ease within themselves is never a chore. Stephen Ackroyd
RECOM -MENDED RELEASES
Serpentwithfeet is well acquainted with interweaving the human with the divine, and ‘DEACON’ is equally well versed in this, where he embodies the role of the Christian deacon who exudes cool and calm energy while maintaining order in his congregation. The album creates a sanctuary wherein Black love is paramount, its tenderness a celebration of its beauty. Songs like ‘Malik’ and ‘Wood Boy’ ooze sex in a bold and daring way, all while being carried through serpentwithfeet’s exceptional vocal, which radiates confidence. Phoebe De Angelis
MAKE SURE YOU CHECK OUT THESE ALBUMS.
Pale Waves Who Am I?
With a sheen of 90s-slash00s pop-rock perfection, Pale Waves continue their evolution and have a load of fun with it.
Zara Larsson Poster Girl
With an all-killer, no-filler, bops first agenda, Zara’s second album is all kinds of fun. The summer awaits.
With their debut album finally here, Claud proves their chops as an indie pop force.
tUnE-yArDs sketchy eeeef
Merrill Garbus has a mind like no other earthly being. Within the first ten seconds, ‘sketchy’ is recognisably tUnE-yArDs as the abstract thought and creativity explodes out into the ether. And oh, how the universe needs it. They’ve ditched computer screens for live instruments for the band’s fifth studio album, and the raw drums feel ideally suited for this latest twist from the California-based duo. This could be a new peak for tUnE-yArDs and they couldn’t have timed this release any better for society’s collective sanity if they tried. Ciaran Steward
A Calm Sense of Surrounding EP eeeff Bleach Lab ride the turbulent tides of grief in their debut EP, ‘A Calm Sense Of Surrounding’. Stemming from traumatic experiences for both bassist Josh Longman and vocalist Jenna Kyle, the intensity of each track ebbs and flows towards anger and acceptance throughout; forming the aural equivalent to an ominous sky on the brink of unleashing a chaotic cloudburst. A vulnerable starting point, Bleach Lab are braving the storm like many right now; the EP being a lighthouse that’ll bring us safely back to shore. Charlotte Croft
5 releases coming up you should start getting excited about.
girl in red
Quite possibly our most anticipated album of 2021, the return of Dork’s Favourite Indie Band already has our paces raised. Bring on the summer. Released: 11th June
Back at the end of last year, we went ‘in the studio’ with Rostam as he worked on this - his second solo album. Now it’s coming. Woo! Released: 4th June
“After spending the last five years writing about grief, I wanted our follow up to be about joy,” Michelle Zauner explains. Too right it is. Released: 4th June
She’s on the cover - for the second time - and her debut album is brilliant. What more do you want from us? Released: 30th April.
She’s back, and she’s got all funky. Annie Clark’s new album is inspired by the release of her father from prison, and has gone all gritty 70s New York funk. Released: 14th May
if i could make it go quiet
Pixey Newcomer Pixey lifts the lid on her debut EP, track by track. JUST MOVE This track was written right at the beginning of lockdown when I was feeling pent up, and was generally just a lot of fun to write. I wanted a tune with a simple instruction that was easy going and just boss to have a dance to. CALIFORNIA California makes me laugh because I’ve never even stepped foot in America. But I have a funny obsession with it. It’s a jokey scenario I had in my head, that for all I hype up going to LA, perhaps I’m just a homebody instead. This tune was produced entirely by me too, so I treasure it. ELECTRIC DREAM I was feeling really conflicted last year when everything suddenly shifted to what felt like an entirely digital way of interacting. ‘Electric Dream’ is my brain trying to journal all of those anxieties. It was originally written as a piano ballad, but I felt it worked better as a dance tune. I’m tempted to release a slow version though! THE MERSEY LINE This is my favourite track on the EP. I wrote this
Free To Live In Colour EP
Free To Live In Colour EP
eeeee Indie pop bop perfection. Liverpudlian Pixey has followed up her promising debut EP with another five-track masterpiece that shows expanded depth, upgraded production and influence from multiple genres, all integrating into an extremely tight release that’s all too easy to become lost in. While the sweeping soundscapes, angelic vocals, flittering guitar riffs and pounding beats all ensure that her sound is unmistakable, ‘Free To Live In Colour’ takes you on a multifaceted journey through funky dance bops, dreampop elegance and highly-polished indie environments. The mood also varies from no-nonsense on ‘Just Move’, to
in Parr Street after a gig one night and thought it sounded like a sea shanty or something. It was also the first track I played live drums on. Liverpool has been such an important pillar in my musical identity, so I wanted to nod to that. I used to walk endlessly by the river and think up lyrics, still do. It’s not about the Merseyrail.
reminiscing over recent failures of digitising humanity with ‘Electric Dream’, and this variation of emotional expression is more than welcome when it’s tied together with such consistently well-layered levels of instrumentation. Whether you want dramatic drum fills or meaningful insights, there’s something in this world for you. Taking inspiration from other strong female icons in the industry, Pixey has written, performed and produced her soul into this statement of intent - with almost excessive skills and glamour, it’s hard to see this young musician’s career going anywhere but through the roof. Finlay Holden
FREE TO LIVE IN COLOUR This track has my favourite lyric on the EP: “Another sunny day, and I can’t be bothered, it’s just another day of English Americana”. I had so much fun producing this track with James - we went back and forth with some crazy effects, and the result was this wide soundscape that holds a huge place in my heart. P
Do Nothing Glueland EP eeeef
If Do Nothing are half as apathetic as their name suggests, then ‘Glueland’ — their second EP in the past 12 months — shows no signs of it. This is far from your dime-a-dozen post-punk EP, sharing far more in spirit with the eclectic origins of the genre than their often resolutely riffcentric peer group. It’s to the band’s credit that ‘Glueland EP’ reflects the current status quo without overtly referencing lockdown; take notes, Iceage. The title-track refers pretty explicitly to being stuck in a holding pattern, but in the contrast between the sombre and the absurd (“I’m going round in circles like a little baby eel”), it captures the ridiculousness of a life spent inside. Doesn’t hurt that the whole thing bangs, too. Blaise Radley
National Trust EP eeeee There’s little better than a bit of good ol’ fashioned indie jangle. Not that there’s anything stuffy or backwards about Blanketman. Though their musical stylings may come from
a deep, rich heritage of brilliant bands, it’s also one drenched in the exuberance of youth. Their debut EP manages to take topics both serious and weighty (national identity on ‘Beach Body’, the increasing north/south divide on ‘Leave The South’) and flippantly fun (the escapism of ‘National Trust’). Never lacking in spark or immediacy, it’s an introduction to a band of doubtless potential. Stephen Ackroyd
For Those I Love For Those I Love
Three years on from her debut record, Tel Avivbased artist Noga Erez returns with bombastic and experimental worldbeat ditties, melding pop, hip-hop and electronica into something completely unique. Indie floor fillers and nuanced rap monologues are led by Erez’s solemn and dry vocal tones, sensually narrating the everyday personal politics of mortality and loss; war and peace, insecurity and ambition. She’s defiant and confident, with an almost sentient quality, but importantly vulnerable when needs be. On ‘KIDS’, Erez has crafted a beautiful balance of pop and politics without compromising any integrity, demonstrating the insatiably unsettling future of the genre. Jasleen Dhindsa
The album we need. This debut from For Those I Love, the project from Dublin producer and songwriter David Balfe, is so good that we are gonna need a whole new barrel of superlatives before anyone could even begin to describe it properly. A record that burns brightly with the flame of grief over the death of his best friend and the love that remains, it is fuelled by a mix of heady nostalgia of times past and quiet anger at the environments that may have caused it. With a pain at times so real that it can almost be touched, it’s smartest trick is turning it into something approaching euphoria with its mix of poetry and exhilarating dance beats. As much a celebration of friendship as it is a eulogy to the departed, snippets of WhatsApp conversations drift in alongside samples that have been deployed with a precision aim to build into the night-time-driving-withmates vibes of Jamie xx or The Streets, using that same ability of Skinner to pick up on the tiny
details of human life. Whether it is the recollection of teenage scrapes, recounting those tales that get told round pub tables for all time, or railing at injustices and admitting the raw pain of his grief, every aspect of local life is explored. “Write your hate and pain away, to make tomorrow better than today” he says at one point, and you feel every inch of that as he works through a complicated, tangled mess of emotions. Mourning, and moving on from, the loss of a loved one is never a straight-forward process and this record is no different. But during the cycles of sadness, anger and fond memories, Balfe returns repeatedly to a statement that his love never fades. And by the albums close, that message begins to feel one filled with life-affirming intent as much as it is a promise to remember. In a time where we’ve never needed it more, this is a vital and poignant reminder to keep your friends and family close and pick up that phone. Jamie MacMillan
A far-out escape from this confusing reality, the expansive versatility of ‘Fir Wave’ highlights just what a master of her craft Hannah Peel is. Watermarked with that effortless ability to cast the listener away from any other distractions, this album features ingenious reinterpretations of the work of electronic pioneers Delia Derbyshire and the Radiophonic Workshop with Peel bringing these once ground-breaking sounds a new life, tailor-made for the 21st century. The songs mirror the Earth’s ecological cycles through music, as ‘Ecovocative’ in particular seems to span the turning of generational tides. It’s perfect listening for when the brain needs to zone out and let the mind wander freely, as nature intended. Ciaran Steward
Caleb Hinz, Jake Luppen, and Nathan Stocker - the titular ‘Threesome’ - bring a wealth of songwriting, performing and production experience to this high energy and experimental mischief-pop record which gives ten diverse musical ideas the space and freedom they need to establish themselves as hyper produced bops in their own right. It doesn’t conform to indie expectations as Hippo Campus might, or go fully maximalist as Lupin would, but instead balances short, catchy melodies and riff ideas against a vast and dynamic sonic environment that feels fleshed out almost to its limits. This release could easily have come off as incohesive and unbalanced, but thankfully none of this manifests here; it’s a great statement of intent. Finlay Holden
Fir Wave eeeff
Francis of Delirium
Luxembourg-based duo Francis of Delirium have been making waves with their innovative take on sound that infuses the soothing rivers of folk with stormy indie rock, creating melodic visions of untamed oceans. Stretching across four expertly crafted songs, debut EP ‘Wading’ showcases the full extent of lead singer Jana Bahrich’s vocal prowess and very personal approach to songwriting. Tackling themes of love, grief and acceptance, it’s brimming with urgency. Each track is coloured in a different shade of vulnerability, giving the EP not only a unique lyrical palette, but a very intimate dynamic. ‘Wading’ sits in the eye of the storm, bursting with emotional trauma and unbound potential. Laura Freyaldenhoven
‘Today We’re the Greatest’, the second album from Sydney based pop-rockers Middle Kids, has cemented their status as a force to be reckoned with, building on their earlier efforts with confidence and bold instrumental takes. The album feels like a montage of your last good summer, flitting through influences while retaining a rock underbelly. Never has vulnerability felt so complete, never fragility so assured; the album explores beyond itself, incorporating the tweeting of birds, the patter of rain, and even the beating heart of members’ Hannah Joy and Tim Fitz’s unborn son. In doing so, the record displays startling intimacy for their best work yet. Edie McQueen
‘Paradigmes’ is an absolute whirlwind. It’s undiluted fun, from start to finish, swirling you in and out of the mystical universe of La Femme. Exploding into action with the brass-heavy, psychedelic ‘Paradigme’, the album maintains the high energy throughout. The result? An entrancing exercise in how to craft the most hypnotic electro-pop possible. It’s completely electrifying and lifts you straight out of the four walls of your lockdown location to the high-speed, galaxy-tinged world of the French band. Their tracks are imbued with such specificities of location that it’s hard not to become completely enveloped by it. From flashing, city lights at night to outer space, ‘Paradigmes’ is a journey – one you will no doubt want to be strapped in for. Neive McCarthy
Wading EP eeeff
Today We’re The Greatest eeeef
is a particular standout and would remain so on a playlist stacked with shoegaze classics, while the title track ascends NewDad are one of the band’s ethereal haze many talented guitar to a higher realm. There’s bands to emerge from never a dull moment, even Ireland in recent times, when lead singer and but their bright blend songwriter Julie Dawson of lo-fi dream-pop is a welcome dose of sunshine is downcast; take the brisk shuffle of ‘Hide’, which in contrast to the rowdy, breathes life into the post-punk sound that’s feeling of emptiness she currently overflowing describes. Each track on out of their homeland. ‘Waves’ buzzes with an Awash with fuzzy effervescence that you textures and enticingly can’t help but want to coy vocals, their debut bottle up and crack open EP ‘Waves’ is a charming collection tailored for the on a sunny day — it’s irresistibly refreshing and blossoming warmth of goes down a treat. Jay early Spring. ‘I Don’t Recognise You’ Singh
Waves EP eeeee
Discover Effortless Living
eeeee Half vibes, half chaos. York-based indie quartet and recent EMI signees Bull have dropped a 13-track debut that brings together almost a decade of writing and rocking into a joyous and highly infectious record that seems almost timeless. The band have miraculously managed to reflect the eccentricity of their live performances across this LP, which is helped by the raw production approach that allows natural sounds to flourish rather than inserting them later. The experimental and innovative mix of instrumentation amplifies this further and occasionally causes a delightfully chaotic mess. Kicking off with ‘Bedroom Floor’, listeners are immediately thrown into a delicate melodic, and harmonic triumph which only gains momentum the deeper your auditory senses delve, and this continues until the moment the title track rounds off the experience. Songs like ‘Eddie’s Cap’ and recent single ‘Eugene’ prove a complete mastery of dynamics, with tempo and tone switching drastically
from mellow to grunge to give songs a memorable sonic landscape that leaves a lasting impression and subverts expectations of indie-rock structure - this is something Bull are clearly experts at, along with skilful guitar riffs and angelic group harmonies. Thematically, the album explores beginnings and endings, hopes and insecurities, prosperity and failure, with the overarching euphoria of the music being the one thing that ties it all together - rarely does a debut nail the glee of indie-pop-rock so precisely. ‘Green’ is a great example of this, exploring the journey of finding happiness in your situation, with killer solos and backing vocals that warm the soul - there’s no denying, this music is pretty. ‘Discover Effortless Living’ is half happy-go-lucky summery vibes and half unhinged chaos; fortunately, these elements are combined in a way that would simultaneously melt a cynic’s heart and deepen an optimists appreciation of the world in a way that only Bull could manage to pull off. Finlay Holden
Fractured Party Music eeeff Colchester punks Pet Needs’ thundering debut ‘Fractured Party Music’ is overflowing with catchy hooks and existential angst, the four-piece providing a masterclass on how to commit a highoctane atmosphere to record, with screeching guitars and high-energy vocals bringing that classic punk rock style to life. Mixed and mastered by Frank Turner, the album features lively calls to arms with a sense of storytelling and inward reflection, not unlike his own work. There’s a sense of ordinariness, but that only adds to its charm, bringing honest tales of self-image, mental health, and public perception in a relatable style. Keeping that sense of high energy at its core, the album certainly lives up to its name. Melissa Darragh
Nasty Cherry The Movie EP Get the full story on Nasty Cherry’s third EP direct from the band themselves. SIX SIX SIX Gabi - For ‘Six Six Six’, we all wrote with Charli [XCX] start to finish. We’re an organised mess most of the time while writing and often talk over each other or start melodies over someone else’s, or start a new song all together; but it always clicks... at some point. So when Charli discovered this was our way, she helped organise our mess a little more. We started with the guitar and bass, then she had the “heaven and hell” riff for the lyrics. We tried playing it once through humming along a mock-up verse melody into the chorus. Chloe accidentally played the guitar chorus too early, which was a beautiful accident because we liked it, so now it’s there, and it rocks. Some of the inspiration came from The Cure and Jessica Simpson. It was one of the fastest ones written on the EP. WHAT’S THE DEAL Chloe – ‘What’s The Deal’ was a song we wrote at the end of a fairly long session. I don’t remember how many ideas we had put that down day, but when we hit a stride, we usually don’t know how we got there, and the ideas just seem to flow harmoniously between us. Writing with women and sharing a female
perspective is such a powerful way to express yourself. HER BODY Georgia - We wrote ‘Her Body’ with Yves [Rothman] last August. Debbie flew out to LA so we could all write together, and it felt so special to be able to spend time together as a band during the pandemic, and also to work with one producer on the whole body of work for a good chunk of time, as we haven’t done that before. The whole atmosphere was so fun and close, and we were all bringing our own references and ideas to melodies and lyrics, but at the same time feeling super connected and
in sync, both musically and menstrual cycle wise. Charli joined us in the studio for a couple of days, and ‘Her Body’ came out of one of those sessions. She came in and found us all playing guitars, all shouting ideas at each other, just super hyped, and Yves joining in. It was so chaotic and probably a nightmare for her at first, I remember we were acting out scenes from a feature-length action film music video we wanted to make. It’s really cool working with her because she can express her feelings and ideas for melodies and instrumentation so clearly and concisely, and she kind of taught us how to do that too,
Nasty Cherry The Movie EP
eeeee No intermissions here. First arriving in a shower of hype and buzz thanks to their association with svengali Charli XCX and a Netflix series around their formation - it would be all too easy for Nasty Cherry to get lost within thier own noise. Their new ‘The Movie EP’ shows a band continuing to evolve - not with wild, disperate swerves, but rather a developing voice of their own. From the smooth, melodic earworm of
‘What’s The Deal’ to the smouldering jam of ‘Her Body’, Nasty Cherry are proving themselves as smart pop magpies of the highest order. Plus, when reading the Charli XCX co-penned ‘Six Six Six’ was inspired by both The Cure and Jessica Simpson (see the Artist Guide below), it’s nigh on impossible not to be onside. The latest step on the road for Nasty Cherry, this is one movie that deserves to become a franchise deal. Stephen Ackroyd
so you feel like the songs you’re writing fall out of you in a really beautiful way, and you all have this truly shared understanding of what you’re making. It’s not like one person is solely responsible for any one element of the writing, which feels very special. Lyrically, it’s about someone fucking you over for another woman. There’s some of all of us
in there - it’s spiky and cocky and a bit teasing, but also insecure, and you can dance to it. It’s emotionally very pure and honest, and I think that came from having written it with Charli and Yves, who we love, and also with each other during a time when we really got to appreciate each other and be open with each other. I love this song so much
because I can hear all 6 of us so clearly in it, all riding the same wave. ALL IN MY HEAD Debbie - We were having a super slow day at the studio, the kind where you make seven coffees, pee twenty times and spend two hours talking about the lunch you’re going to order. Then ‘All In My Head’ arrived out of nowhere and was practically finished in an hour. Chloe started singing the chorus line, and we all immediately had the same ideas for it. When we were writing it, we were thinking of David Lynch and Priscilla Presley and that cute scene in The Wedding Singer and Brad Pitt’s non-existence in Fight Club. It’s about daydreaming about someone so hard that they almost (almost!) feel real enough. We wanted it to sound tragically beautiful, and Yves really got the vision. We hope this makes you cry and smile at the same time. It’s one of our five favourite tracks from the EP. LUCKY Gabi – ‘Lucky’ was the second song we wrote during our time with Yves. A big spot in our hearts is for 80s synth and karaoke/school dance songs, a theme in most of our music. I think we accidentally wrote a very last dance at prom melody with Georgia on synth and friendship in mind. Everything was so exciting and daunting surrounding the creation of this EP because we had limited time with Debbie in town, and a fear of the unknown overhead. We all geeked out with each other before the start of each day, over the moon to be writing, and ‘Lucky’ really embodies that. The lyrics came easy for this; we wrote about each other and cheese feelings we’ve had over our course of being in a band together. P Nasty Cherry’s new EP ‘The Movie’ is out 2nd April. readdork.com 61.
ANY OTHER QUESTIONS? THIS MONTH IT’S...
BABY QUEEN Yes, Dear Reader. We enjoy those ‘in depth’ interviews as much as anyone else. But - BUT we also enjoy the lighter side of music, too. We simply cannot go on any longer without knowing that Baby Queen was in Bird Club. So we asked. What did you last dream about? Omg I really can’t tell you that. If you had to be on a TV gameshow, which would you choose? Some sort of quiz show like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Is there a spelling show? I’d win a spelling show. Which defunct band would you most like to reform? The Beatles or Fleetwood Mac... don’t make me decide! What’s the naughtiest thing you did at school? I dug a massive hole in my desk with the pin on my name badge and filled it with glue and beads, so I got detention for a week and had to sand down the desk after school every day. I couldn’t, however, be bothered, so I just bought my dad’s electric sander from home and then varnished the desk without blowing the sawdust off it. It was totally unusable after that. What’s your biggest fear? Inadequacy. What was the first record you bought? The Twilight soundtrack, lol. Do you believe in aliens? 100%. What was the last thing you broke? The rules. Kidding... I’ve literally
just broken the pole my curtain is attached to. I break everything!!! What’s your favourite thing about being a musician? The feeling you get when you finally have a breakthrough in a song you’re writing. Nothing compares to it. If you were on Mastermind, what would your specialist subject be? The 150 original Pokemon and their evolutions, loooool. Who’s your favourite pop star? TAYLOR SWIFT. If you could form a supergroup of your choice, who would be in it? Somebody needs to put Taylor and Lorde in a band, so it may as well be me. What’s your favourite type of crisp? I don’t really like them at all. I don’t mind vegetable crisps; those are kind of fire. If we gave you £10, what would you spend it on? A margarita. What’s the furthest you’ve travelled to attend someone else’s gig? Two hours by plane - I wish I had a more invigorating answer than that! What’s the most embarrassing
thing that’s ever happened to you? About a week ago, someone in the Baby Kingdom found my entry video for a “meet One Direction” competition. I was 15, and it’s about as embarrassing as it gets. Tell us a secret about yourself? Sometimes I sleep with socks on. What’s your breakfast of choice? I would eat cereal for the rest of my life if I could. When’s your birthday? 19th August. What’s the most impressive thing you can cook? Nothing about me in a kitchen
is impressive. How punk are you out of ten? 9/10, but I’m working on it. Who’s your favourite new band? Fontaines D.C and Porridge Radio - neither of which are that new really... Have you ever won anything? The drama award in school and then this one short film competition. I think I’m in the wrong profession tbh. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to try? Having a positive outlook on life. Maybe one day. What is your earliest memory? A bird that landed in a tree
in my childhood garden. It was called a Gymnogene or African Harrier Hawk, and I was absolutely OBSESSED with it. (I later went on to join the Bird Club in high school.) Slay. If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose? Dinosaurs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Roar What is your most treasured possession? My toy leopard. Yes, the true South African in me is really coming out tonight. Why are you like this? Trust me, I wouldn’t be like this if I knew how to not be like this. But I’m going to put it down to capitalism and the gay agenda. P
Featuring girl in red, Dry Cleaning, Alfie Templeman, Danny L Harle and loads more.