Dork, February 2023 (Biig Piig cover)

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Biig Piig


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Issue 73 | February 2023 | | Down With Boring

Welcome to the first issue of 2023! It’s hard to believe that we’re already starting a new year, but here at Dork, we’re excited to see what the next twelve months have in store for us. Looking back on the past year, it’s clear that 2022 was a difficult one for everyone, and the music industry was no exception. Live shows were cancelled and tours were postponed - and not for the reasons they were back in 2020 and 2021. Many artists faced financial struggles, from a cost of living crisis and a disastrous Brexit which made live dates - especially those outside their home territory - too expensive to embark on. But through it all, music continued to bring us together and provide a sense of comfort and escape. It’s powerful stuff. As we move forward into this new year, we’re hopeful that good music will always find a way. There’s enough of it about. I know. Sincerity. Yuck. In the meantime, there are still plenty of amazing new releases to look forward to something we’re showcasing over the first few pages of this issue. Yeah, we’re getting a new Paramore album. No, we won’t shut up about it any time soon. Sorry-not-sorry. And who knows what other surprises the year may bring? I hope you enjoy this issue and all the amazing nonsense we have in store for you. Let’s make 2023 a year to remember for all the right reasons.

Associate Editor Ali Shutler Contributing Editors Jamie Muir, Martyn Young Scribblers Abigail Firth, Alex Ingle, Finlay Holden, Jack Press, Jamie MacMillan, Jessica Goodman, Neive McCarthy, Sam Taylor Snappers Ewan Ogden, Frances Beach, Jamie MacMillan, Jennifer McCord, Marieke Hulzinga, Nicholas O’Donnell, Nikos Plegas, Patrick Gunning, Sarah Louise Bennett, Storm Walker PUBLISHED FROM WELCOMETOTHEBUNKER.COM






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HYPE. ‘Editor’ @stephenackroyd

Editor Stephen Ackroyd Deputy Editor Victoria Sinden

#73. FEBRUARY 2023.

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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.







GORILLAZ TITLE: Cracker Island RELEASE DATE: 24th February 2023 → Attention, Dear Reader!

The moment you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived - Gorillaz are BACK! BACK!! BACK!!! And they’re bringing their latest album, ‘Cracker Island,’ with them. According to guitarist Noodle, this new record is “the sound of change and the chorus of the collective,” and with added collaborations from Bad Bunny, Tame Impala and Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks, we’re getting nothing less than pure simian magic. But don’t just take Noodle’s word for it. Bassist Murdoc Niccals says, “The hallowed tones of ‘Cracker

Island’ will soundtrack our collective ascension into the new dimension! JOIN ME!” Vocalist 2D adds, “The path to ‘Cracker Island’ isn’t easy to find ‘cos it’s underwater,” adding an extra layer of mystery and adventure to the journey, and drummer Russell Hobbs declares, “When the reckoning comes, gotta be ready to step through the gateway. ‘Cracker Island’s got the entry codes.” What more could you want than the hype of a bunch of cartoons, eh? Get ready to join Gorillaz on the journey to ‘Cracker Island’. This is one album you don’t want to miss.

A new year means new potential. With twelve months of fresh music ahead of us, here’s a run through some of the potential albums you should be marking on your must listen calendar for the year ahead. READDORK.COM 5.


TITLE: ‘Bunny” RELEASE DATE: 24th March 2023

→ WILLIE J HEALEY IS TAKING US BACK TO THE FUNK. The singer-songwriter is set to release his third album ‘Bunny’ on 24th March via Yala! Records - and this time he’s delving deep into some new sounds. Inspired by the likes of Sly and The Family Stone, ‘Midnite Vultures’-era Beck and even a David Bowie album (the relatively unheralded ‘The Gouster’), it’s one to keep a firm eye on for the new year. Willie has been a mainstay of the music scene since he first arrived on our radar back in 2016, but while his two previous albums may have scored him plenty of critical acclaim, it seems that ‘Bunny’ is set to take a different turn. “It’s more ambitious in terms of feel and rhythm,” Willie beams, speaking about the forthcoming full-length. “Leaning more heavily on drums, bass and keys instead of


being written around guitar parts. I think I just started playing around with different instruments, which resulted in a different sound. Funky.” To bring his vision to life, Willie flew to New York City alongside his longterm bassist Harry Deacon to record with producer and drummer Loren Humphrey (Florence + The Machine, Arctic Monkeys, Lana Del Rey). “The whole experience was very lovely,” he recalls of the twelve-tofifteen-day studio stint. “I stayed at Loren’s house for a few months and lived the life.” While he may not know quite when work on the album started (“Oh man, I don’t know. I’m terrible with dates and years, but I guess I had been working on it for a few years. I wrote and demoed most of it while living in Bristol”), the sessions notably saw the involvement of London-born musician Jamie T, who lent Willie a legendary drum machine and inspired the album’s track ‘Thank You’ - a current favourite. “It just really represents the album well - funky but simple,” he explains. ‘Bunny’ is a record full of surprises, with Willie taking the funk and running with it. “I’m hope it blows people’s minds,” he admits. He’s understandably excited for the release: “I’m so happy with how it turned out,” he enthuses, “it’s my best yet.” He would say that, wouldn’t he? Spoiler alert, though: he’s right. ■


TITLE: 10000 gecs RELEASE DATE: 17th March 2023 → 100 gecs are back, and they’re bringing with them their highly anticipated second album, ‘10000 gecs’. After shaking up the pop world with their disorienting, internetinspired debut ‘1000 gecs’, Dylan Brady and Laura Les are ready to do it all over again with their follow-up. We don’t have too many details on what to expect from ‘10000 gecs’ yet, but we do know that it will feature previously released singles ‘MeMeMe’ and ‘Doritos & Fritos’, as well as some new tracks that the duo have been performing on tour like ‘757’ and ‘I Got


My Tooth Removed.’ Are you ready for another wild ride with 100 gecs? We sure are.


TITLE: Act II RELEASE DATE: TBA → While Beyoncé has remained tightlipped about the details of the much anticipated ‘Act II’, she did reveal in the liner notes to last year’s ‘Act I: Renaissance’ that it was the first part of a trilogy, so we can only assume that the next part will be with us soon enough. Rumour has it that ‘Act II’ will be an acoustic album, but honestly, we have no idea what to expect. All we know is that whatever she drops is sure to be a gamechanger.


TITLE: Desire, I Want To Turn Into You RELEASE DATE: 14th February 2023 → Get ready to fall in love with Caroline Polachek’s new album ‘Desire, I Want To Turn Into You’, set to drop on Valentine’s Day this year. This project sees the former Chairlift frontwoman pushing her experimental pop sound even further, and the first single ‘Welcome To My Island’ is just a taste of the smart, unconventional melodies and sounds that are to come. With producers behind hits for Sia, Charli XCX, and Dua Lipa on board, you know this one is going to be full of bops.


TITLE: TBA RELEASE DATE: TBA → Fans of indie darling Phoebe Bridgers have been eagerly anticipating the follow-up to her critically acclaimed album ‘Punisher’, and it looks like 2023 may finally be the year. As Bridgers gears up for a run of dates in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Singapore, rumours are swirling that her highly anticipated third album may drop in the spring. While there’s no official word yet on what the record will be called or who she may collaborate with, one thing’s for sure: Bridgers has a knack for crafting emotionally charged, deeply intimate lyrics that have the power to move listeners to tears. With dates alongside Taylor Swift


to capitalise come May, expect to know much more by then.

Zach Dawes, Jon Batiste, Father John Misty, and Tommy Genesis. We’ve already been blessed with the album’s title track - it’s streaming online now ahead of the 10th March release date.


TITLE: TBA RELEASE DATE: TBA → Is there a new Peace album? Um. At time of press, we don’t know. If we’re honest, we were pretty sure the Birmingham heroes had called it a day - such was the period of silence since their last record, ‘Kindness is the New Rock and Roll’. Then, at the end of 2022, an advertisement appeared in The Big Issue. “Casting call for Peace fans,” it reads. “The musical artist professionally known as Peace needs YOU to be part of live shows scheduled for 2023. If you are energetic, amused and happy to support Peace you are the perfect supernumerary for the new live show. Let’s have a good time.” It was then followed by a phone number to leave a message (01598 7414411, ‘FYI’), and a Spotify scan code for the band’s profile. Intriguing stuff.


TITLE: TBA RELEASE DATE: TBA → We know Tems’ debut album is on its way this year, because she told us as much when a fan on Twitter recently asked about it arriving in 2022. After appearing on the soundtrack to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, scoring Grammy noms and teaming up with Drake, Beyoncé and Future, she’s got more in the bank than most when it comes to dropping a first full-length. Expect it to make waves.



TITLE: TBA RELEASE DATE: TBA → “Hello, lovers”. Our golfing king of the back nine Niall Horan is set to return to pop action in 2023 with his third solo album, and he’s been teasing us on TikTok. Sharing snippets of what we presume is a comeback single - with his best mate Lewis Capaldi also in action this year there’s surely potential for pop’s current greatest bromance to deliver some show-stopping moments on the big stage.


TITLE: TBA RELEASE DATE: TBA → Dua Lipa is set to release her highly anticipated third studio album in 2023, and it’s shaping up to be a departure from the sound of her previous releases. According to the singer herself, the album is already halfway done and starting to come together with a cohesive sound and a deeper lyrical theme.

PARAMORE TITLE: This Is Why RELEASE DATE: 10th February 2023 While it will still be pop music, Lipa promises that it will be different sonically from her previous work. “If I told you the title, everything would make sense,” she said.


TITLE: TBA RELEASE DATE: TBA → Fans of the enigmatic Frank Ocean have been holding out for new material since his 2016 album, ‘Blonde’, and it looks like their wait may finally be coming to an end. Rumours have been swirling about a potential 2023 release, and

→ Over recent years, Paramore

have become one of the most important, cherished and influential bands we have. Quite right too. Though it’s actually been a hot minute since 2017’s ‘After Laughter’, in the five years since the gravitational pull of the three piece has only grown stronger. So much so that, when the title-track of new album ‘This

with his highly-anticipated Coachella performance on the horizon, it seems that Ocean may be gearing up to drop some new tracks. While the singer is known for his secrecy and unpredictability, fans are keeping their fingers crossed that he’ll surprise us all with some fresh material in the coming year. Whether he’ll return to his experimental R&B roots or branch out into new territory remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: Frank Ocean’s return is something that no one will want to miss.


TITLE: TBA RELEASE DATE: TBA → In a recent message to her top fans on Spotify Wrapped, Olivia Rodrigo announced that


Is Why’ arrived as a first taster, it threatened to uproot the internet. Admitting to draw from the indiesleaze of the mid-00s, future tour supports Bloc Party can be heard amongst the leaves of an album which, yet again, reinvents Paramore’s sonic palette. A rare band to truly believe in, come 10th February, we’ll all be Paramore again. she will be releasing new music in 2023. Although the sound of the album is currently unknown, Rodrigo has expressed a desire to move away from the sadness of her previous release, ‘SOUR’. The pop star also revealed that the filming of her Disney+ documentary, driving home 2 u, marked the end of a chapter in her career, hinting at a potential change in direction for her upcoming album.


TITLE: Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd RELEASE DATE: 10th March 2023 → Lana Del Rey is set to release her ninth studio album, ‘Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd’, in 2023. The full-length features collaborations with Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff, Mini Mansions’

TITLE: Book 1 RELEASE DATE: TBA → Fans have been eagerly waiting for Grimes’ next album since she announced ‘Book 1’ was completed in September 2021. The artist has been hard at work mixing the record and figuring out its tracklist, with 20 songs recorded in total. There’s speculation that singles ‘Player of Games’ and ‘Shinigami Eyes’ will be included, as well as previously teased tracks like ‘The Infinite Assassin’. There’s also the possibility of a collaboration with The Weeknd on the highlyanticipated song ‘Sci-Fi’. Despite her recent claim that music is no longer her main priority, fans are hoping to see the release of ‘Book 1’ in 2023.


TITLE: Masochism RELEASE DATE: <insert shrug emoji here> → Fans have been eagerly anticipating the release of Sky Ferreira’s second studio album for years (and years, and years), might 2023 finally be the year it sees the light of day? Maybe. Perhaps. Let’s go with it anyway. Ferreira has faced numerous delays and challenges with her record label, but has continued to work on the album, titled ‘Masochism’, with production from Ariel Rechtshaid, Justin Raisen, Mike Dean, and Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream. We’ve already had the lead single, ‘Don’t Forget’, now we just need the rest of it. Here’s hoping.


TITLE: For now, we’ll call it R9 RELEASE DATE: TBA → Okay. So Rihanna is playing the Super Bowl halftime show. That’s exciting. But - let us be very honest here - what we actually want from 2023 is to






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UK TOUR 2023 02 Feb 03 Feb 04 Feb SOLDFeb OUT 07 08 Feb 09 Feb 10 Feb

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TVAM • Vanity Fairy • Vegas Water Taxi


11 Feb OXFORD Beam Me Up Festival 12 Feb LEEDS Headrow House 15 Feb SOUTHAMPTON Heartbreakers 16 Feb NOTTINGHAM Bodega OUT 17SOLD Feb LONDON The Lexington ◊ 18 Feb EXETER Cavern ◊ 25 Mar BRISTOL Ritual Union

SWX • Rough Trade • Strange Brew • Dareshack

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death cab for cutie

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get our hands on the now fabled R9. Her last album, ‘Anti’, came out in January 2016. That’s seven years ago. We’ve had a couple of musical contributions to the recent Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack, so here’s hoping?


TITLE: Endless Summer Holiday RELEASE DATE: 10th March 2023 → Miley Cyrus is back and ready to make a splash with her highly anticipated eighth studio album, ‘Endless Summer Holiday’, set to be released on 10th March. The album was teased with a trailer featuring Miley lounging poolside under palm trees and promising a wild ride filled with neon dingies, manta rays, glowing creatures, electric eels, and horseback riders on comets. The first single, ‘Flowers,’ is streaming now, and with Cyrus’ previous success on her 2020 album ‘Plastic Hearts’, featuring collaborations with Dua Lipa, Joan Jett, and Billy Idol, fans can likely expect even more exciting teamups to come.


TITLE: TBA RELEASE DATE: TBA → Fall Out Boy have been doing so much teasing of late, we’d not be surprised if this write up is out of date before you even read it. With teaser postcards, ads in papers, stop motion videos and newsletters to fans, the noise around the band is starting to reach fever pitch. A recent missive spoke about spending last year “jamming ideas in a tiny room”, and from the sounds of the final seconds of that previously mentioned visual clip, they weren’t being quiet about it. Could this be a return to loud guitars, rather than chart-friendly, genre-free poppicking? Perhaps. It’d certainly be on trend.


TITLE: TBA RELEASE DATE: Spring 2023 → In 2023, Meet Me @ The Altar will release their highly anticipated debut album. The pop-punk heroes have been teasing the project on social media and has already previewed it with the single ‘Say It (To My Face)’. No release date or title has been announced at the time of press (expect it imminently after, ‘FYI’), but fans are eagerly awaiting the bonafide Future Of Pop Punk. As they well should.


TITLE: A Fistful of Peaches RELEASE DATE: 17th March 2023 → The Brighton quartet are set to release their third album, ‘A Fistful of Peaches’, on 17th March.

10. DORK


→ RACHEL CHINOURIRI HAS BEEN MAKING WAVES FOR A WHILE NOW. Originally graduating in our 2020 Hype List - through a run of brilliant EPs and noteworthy bops - her vibrant take on alternative, indie-soaked sounds has provided a much needed refresher. From growing up in a musically-influenced household to being accepted into Brit School, Rachel has been honing her skills and creating unique, layered future classics that demonstrate her emotional songwriting capabilities. She was shortlisted as an Ivor Novello Rising Star in 2021, with her song ‘Give Me A Reason’ being highlighted as an example of her sophisticated songwriting. Her EP ‘Four° in Winter’ got rave reviews, even being named as Anthony Fantano’s favourite project of the year. Now, she’s gearing up to take things to the next level, with her as-yet-unannounced debut album set to arrive in 2023. But what can fans expect from the highly anticipated record? What message does it have to tell? In the lead up, as you’d expect, Rachel’s been hard at work in the studio. With the final touches being added to the album, she’s finally able to take a step back and reflect on the journey she’s been on. “I’ve

learnt so much about the music industry this year, and know what I’ll do better next year to make sure I’m the best artist possible,” she offers. “It’s 50%, but also 100%,” Rachel teases, when asked what stage the album is at. “If the world was going to end tomorrow and I had to release my album, I’d have something ‘good enough’. But I always want to outdo myself, and now everything I write is to replace songs that already exist on the current ‘album’.” Understandably, Rachel is taking her time when it comes to curating the track listing. “Once my spirit knows the songs, it will fall into place,” she explains. “Once the songs are done, I’ll know the story I want the songs to go on.” Fans have already had a taste of what to expect on the record, with a recent tease on social media of a new potential, ‘A Bit Different’. “Maybe, who knows?” Rachel says when asked if the track will make the cut. “I might make a better song! But I do love it and just finished it in the studio.” One thing is for sure, the album will be full of surprises. “I think I’ve always been a very deep writer, and currently, I feel like what I have out is on the surface of that and easier

ONCE MY SPIRIT KNOWS THE SONGS, IT WILL FALL INTO PLACE” RACHE L CHI NO URIRI to take in because the production is more ‘pop’. However, these are probably some of the most honest stories I’ve ever told.” When asked where she hopes the album will take her, Rachel says: “To a better mental state.” It’s a fair enough ambition, but for a great debut, it’s also important to her to be herself - y’know, as an artist. “Keeping true to YOUR artistry. Not copying other artists’ style,” is her key. “Being inspired is fine, of course, but for the first album, it’s the ‘THIS IS ME’ album. If you set the tone of who you are then, then you will creatively be fulfilled no matter what happens.” Rachel’s still unsure of an exact release date for the album, but thinks it could “maybe” be out in the summer of 2023. “I’m not sure yet!” she says. In the meantime, Rachel’s already looking forward to some other things. “I really hope Sampha releases one as I’m obsessed with ‘Process’. I’m also hoping Celeste puts out another, as I love ‘Not Your Muse’. I’d say I’m most excited for Gabriels’ album, which is out in early 2023.” It looks like 2023 is going to be a big year for Rachel Chinouriri, with her debut album sure to take her career to the next level. Keep your eyes peeled for more news - if what we’ve heard so far is anything to go by, it’ll be worth the wait. ■

Lead singer Izzy Bee Phillips describes the album as their most personal and revealing yet, showcasing the full range of their emotions and experiences. From the gnarly ‘Charlie Bronson’ to most recent effort ‘Heavy’, Black Honey’s versatility shines. An album of selfdiscovery and honesty, exploring the lines between normal mental health and daily breakdowns, we don’t have that long to wait.


TITLE: TBA RELEASE DATE: TBA → Do we know there’ll be a new Boygenius release in 2023? No. Does the fact we’re expecting a full-length from one-third of




→ Hoping to retain his crown as king of oddball alt-pop earworms, JAWNY is following up his ‘For Abby’ mixtape, ‘The Story of Hugo’ EP, and a smattering of singles - including last year’s ‘Strawberry Chainsaw’ and Beck collab ‘Take It Back’ - with his debut album proper. Announced very soon indeed (quite possibly by the time you’re reading this, hello!), it’ll arrive in March, and we cannot wait. Hi JAWNY. How’s it going? Are you looking forward to a brand new year? Hey! It’s going well. I’m looking forward to another lap around the sun. Thanks for asking. We hear you have an album on the way - how’s it coming along? If you had to guess, what percentage of the way through it are you? I do! It’s 100% done and ready to come out into the world. I worked on it for a really long time, and it’s the album I have always wanted to make, so I’m really happy it’s about to be out into the world. It’s easily the best thing I’ve produced and written to date. You’ve released themed projects before, will the album be similarly conceptual? Everything I put out from a project standpoint has to be something you can listen to from track 1 until the very end with a through line. It’s the way I prefer to tackle multiple songs. It feels like adult Legos to me. I’m trying to assemble this structure that individually are tiny pieces, but when assembled correctly and then after taking a few steps back, you can see a whole cohesive _______ (fill in the blank with your Lego desires. plane, train, castle, etc.) in its entirety… so knowing that, if I was a betting man, I’d say: yes. When did you begin work on the record? Was there a specific starting point? It’s always hard to answer this question because I’m for the most part always writing music in some way, shape or form. Whether it’s me in my studio, or a melody that comes into my head while I’m in the shower, ideas can come at the weirdest of times and make their way into a song sometimes days, months, weeks later. So an idea I voice noted in a shower 4 years ago could wind up finding its perfect fitting in a song I worked on 8 months ago. Really annoying answer, I know, but I think a better answer I could give is for a time, I really felt like I had good bones for something that could be a body of work, and that was around August 2021. Have you roped in many friends to help out with the album? That’s one I’ll leave as a surprise. Maybe yes, maybe no. Could be an album with no features, could be a record with one or 12. I guess we will have to wait and see!

12. DORK

about 3 minutes and the other being over 7 and when you listen to them back to back it’s this huge cohesive beautiful (imo) piece that I’m so proud of.

IT’S EASILY THE BEST THING I’VE PRODUCED AND WRITTEN TO DATE” JAW N Y Can you let us in on any of the track names? Do you have a favourite on there? I won’t say any track names because I’m lame and want to keep that close for now, but I will say there is a song on there that I wrote that is over 10 minutes long, and we had to split it into 2 songs, one being

When do you think we’ll be able to hear the album? March. Do you think the record will surprise people? Maybe? Idk. I’m not sure. That’s up for people to decide. What I do now and can say is my perspective, and that is that I think it’s a natural step forward for me in my progression as where I see myself going as an artist. I tried to challenge myself in my writing and in my production to sometimes not do what I was just comfortable with and take a leap without seeing a net in sight. At the same time, I do feel like I also gave a healthy amount of songs that sound familiar enough to what somebody may have been a fan of following me for the last few years. I’ll let the world decide their opinion on it, but I

surprised myself. Is there anything else you can tell us? Yeah, of course. Ummm, let’s see… OK, so a butterfly is a nectar-feeding insect with two pairs of large, typically brightly coloured wings that are covered with microscopic scales. Butterflies are distinguished from moths by having clubbed or dilated antennae, holding their wings erect when at rest, and being active by day. What albums by other artists are you excited about for 2023? Portugal. the Man has been sitting on some things for some time that I have been itching to hear again. I can’t say whether or not it’s a body of work because I don’t know, and it’s just not my place to say... but there are some songs that I really want to be able to listen to that were played for me some time ago! ■


KID KAPICHI. the talented trio, Phoebe Bridgers, make it feel less likely? Maybe. Does the fact we saw a TikTok of what looked a lot like Phoebe, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker shooting what seemed awfully like new promo photos together late last year give us hope regardless? Absolutely. Let us dream.


TITLE: Food for Worms RELEASE DATE: 24th February 2023 → Described as the “Lamborghini of Shame records”, ‘Food For Worms’ is set to land this February. According to the press gubbins that came with the announcement late last year, it sees the band embrace a more surreal and fantastical landscape, reflecting the everyday world we live in and the endless possibilities it holds. So there we go. Produced by Flood and mixed by Alan Moulder, they’re supporting it with a massive European tour, including a stop at London’s Brixton Academy. You can stream the first single, ‘Fingers of Steel’, now.


TITLE: TBA RELEASE DATE: TBA → With their original trio back together, blink-182 are set to return with a vengeance in 2023. They’ve already dropped their first song together in a decade, ‘Edging’, and have a huge world tour planned starting in March. There’s also the small matter of a new album, one that Tom DeLonge has promised within a few months, and is claiming is the best they’ve ever done. Big words from a man that’s well used to thinking out of this world.


TITLE: TBA RELEASE DATE: Probably not this year, but y’know... → Will we get a second Wet Leg album in 2023? Um. It would seem

rather quick, wouldn’t it? Yes, Rhian and Hester were joking when they told NME they’d “completed it, mate” at the Mercurys last year, but it seems like they may at least have started putting a few ideas down. At the time, they promised it would be “like the last one, but longer, bigger, better, faster, stronger and more fluorescent.” We’d take that - but whatever - you do you, Wet Leg. We’re more than willing to wait for the goods.


TITLE: TBA RELEASE DATE:TBA → Get ready for more solo releases from the members of BTS in 2023. According to the CEO of HYBE, Park Ji-Won, four more members of the group - Suga, V, Jimin, and Jungkook - may all release solo albums this year. This follows the successful releases of J-Hope’s ‘Jack In The Box’ and RM’s ‘Indigo’ in 2022. Although the group is currently on hiatus as its members begin their mandatory military service, it doesn’t mean that there’ll be nothing to fill the gap.


TITLE: TBA RELEASE DATE: TBA → Are we finally getting new music from Janelle Monáe this year? Almost certainly yes. She’s already been teasing it. Starting the year by hinting at a new song - possibly called ‘Float’ - with a snippet on social media, she also recently confirmed to NME that a new album might be coming. “Actually, you will,” she said, when asked. “You will get new music because I now have a clone. That clone does all of my music, and I have another clone for acting. I’m not going to tell you if it’s me or not. They’re in the studio right now!” ■

You know what’s easier than following around your fave pop stars, day in, day out, to see what they’re up to right that minute? Asking them. This month, KID KAPICHI frontman Jack Wilson lets us in on what he’s up to. 7:00AM → Wake up my girlfriend’s alarm and thank my lucky stars that I don’t have a proper job. Back to sleep. 9:00AM → Get up and think about leaving the house. I feed the pigeons. I sometimes feed the sparrows too. It gives me an enormous sense of wellbeing. 10:00AM → First cigarette of the day. Often the best. 11:00AM → I rarely eat breakfast so this is where I get my act together and get ready for the day like a proper adult.

I have a shower and brush my teeth. 12:00PM → I meet Ben [Beetham (guitars, vocals)] at his place up the road, and we start writing new material. One of us at the stern, steering the ship whilst the other shovels coal In the furnace below deck. 3:00PM → Now’s the time we head to the bakery down the road and talk about how Ore village is the last bastion of working-class Hastings. 3:05PM → We get a croissant and a macchiato at this really nice new hipster place that’s opened up in Ore village.

7:00PM → Often my only time of the day to spend some quality time with my loved ones, so we’ll often go for a drive in these darker winter months, or sometimes if I’m feeling particularly spicy, a small stroll. 8:00PM → Pet the dog, give her a sneaky Dentastick. 9:00PM → Scroll through Netflix. 10:00PM → Scroll through Netflix. 11:00PM → Watch one episode of Malcolm in the Middle (on Disney+).

5:00PM → I head home, often before my girlfriend and try and pick up something to cook for us both. Cooking is my third love after music and cigarettes.

12:00AM → Lay in bed having an existential crisis about time and space and how death is coming for us all.

6:00PM → Cook something Italian and way too carby, but enjoy it very much.

Kid Kapichi tour the UK from 31st January.

1:00AM → Sleep.


Forever. Every year starts with the same new bands lists, but that’s not the only place to discover new music. We sent Ali Shutler to Gothenburg to discover some of the hottest new talent at the latest edition of Viva Sounds festival. INTERVIEW

Here’s some of what we discovered.

→ “Because Viva Sounds is an indie festival, I was worried people weren’t going to like my commercial, non-cool music,” grins HON. The Swedish pop star had nothing to worry about. On the closing day of the festival, she turned a church into a rave with her emotionallyheavy, undeniably-catchy pop songs. Speaking to Dork the following morning in a Gothenburg coffee shop, HON (aka Mikaela Mohlin) admits she had a “lot of fun” the night before. Having a good time was the main reason for starting HON, Mikaela explains. She’d had an Englishlanguage project before (and is still signed to a London-based publisher), but the more music she released, the more pressure she felt. “I didn’t want to keep creating art like that,” she explains. “If I don’t think it’s fun, then I’m not going to do music.” But still needing an outlet, she started writing in her native tongue. “Everything I wrote was just for myself. I wasn’t going to release it; it was basically like a diary.” Those bedroom songs eventually grew into HON. “It took me back to the joy in music,” says Mikaela. She’s been performing as HON for three years now, and by all accounts, it’s been an absolute blast. Her big, emotional pop songs have ended up reaching hundreds of thousands of people and last night, people even flew in from Norway to see her perform. “I’d been through a break-up, so I was writing a lot of songs, telling myself things would get better. I think people really resonated with that encouraging message.” There are plenty more shows planned for 2023, alongside a debut album. “It’s different to what I’ve done before. It’s still sparse pop, but it’s a little more organic and a bit more raw.” “Every six months or so, I feel the need to do something new,” she continues. “I need to evolve. I just want to do new stuff all the time.” One thing that remains a constant throughout HON’s music though, is the desire to “make people feel something. I want it to hit a nerve.”


14. DORK

Photos: Nikos Plegas.




→ Sweden has a legacy for brilliantly eclectic music. There’s no denying the sheer pop chops of Abba, the emotional devastation of Robyn or the glitching escapism of Tove Lo. At one extreme, you have Swedish House Mafia and the late, great Avicii, who brought EDM to the masses, while in the same breath, you’ve got Swedish heavy metal bands like Opeth, Meshuggah and the arena-conquering Ghost. So when locals talk about the second largest city, Gothenburg, having a diverse, progressive music scene, you know it’s going to be interesting. Held in December, Viva Sounds is a two-day showcase of local and international underground acts in the same vein as Brighton’s The Great Escape or Texas’ SXSW. And true to form, the weekender kept the surprises coming. Tilde performs her haunting pop in an intimate, 30-capacity orangery (basically a fancy greenhouse) surrounded by gorgeous portraits, Manchester-based Spangled bring the Great British Festival experience to Gothenburg with such enthusiasm we reckon

→ After years of studying jazz and backing each up on their various solo endeavours, Per Lindberg, Emma Jansson, Viktor Spasov and Evelina Arvidsson Eklind formed Girl Scout. Their first single, ‘Do You Remember Sally Moore?’, is an absolute riot that blends a coming-of-age nostalgia with witty hooks and killer riffs. Follow-up single ‘All The Time And Everywhere’ is just as punchy, with the band set to release an EP in early 2023 alongside a UK tour with Coach Party. Their performance at Viva Sounds is one of the busiest of the weekend, with the band already generating a huge amount of buzz both at home and abroad. Speaking to Dork ahead of their performance, though, the Swedish fourpiece admit that the excitement around them is a little confusing. “You see all this praise in writing, then go and work in a store the next day,” says Emma. “But people seem to like what we’re doing,” she continues before adding, “I couldn’t tell you why, though. It’s not that I think we suck, but Girl Scout is just a band.” Taking influence from the likes of The Beatles, Elliott Smith, Radiohead, Nirvana and The White Stripes as well as newer artists like Phoebe Bridgers and Madison Cunningham, Girl Scout lean into emotional, visceral and exciting. “It’s so much easier writing a pop song compared to a jazz song,” Emma continues, before calling the band “so freeing. Jazz is so fucking hard. You can be a lot more intuitive with pop. Simple things are fine,” she adds. “As long as it still packs a punch.” Girl Scout first formed during Covid, so they couldn’t play live. “We had two choices, rehearse

for nothing or write, record and do something that felt tangible,” explains Emma of the wealth of material they’re currently sitting on. “There’s a lot of everything in there.” “I’m very forgiving of myself. I don’t think you should be scared of writing a shitty song and seeing it as practice. It’s better to write 40 songs and maybe 10 of them are really bad than just write one song because you’re scared of making something that’s not cool,” Emma explains. “You’ve got to back yourself.” “I think we surprised ourselves,” says Viktor, who, after recording the first batch of demos, listened to them on the subway home and couldn’t help but think they sounded cool. “Same thing happened with the next batch,” he explains. “We were just having fun; I wasn’t expecting it to be this good.” Even so, Girl Scout have “evolved quite a bit over the past year, just by playing live,” says Per. “I had a pretty set idea of what I thought I wanted this band to be, and it’s already changed so much.” “Genre-defying music is so fucking good,” adds Viktor. “I love that idea of not trying to fit in and just seeing where it takes it.” Despite the early successes, “I’m more excited to see what’s going to come next. I don’t think any of us have any idea, and that’s the fun bit.” “We’ve all studied jazz, we’ve arranged for strings, and our interests are very broad,” Emma continues, explaining how Girl Scout have no interest in limiting themselves. “When you typecast yourself, you feel like you have to live up to what you’re supposed to be. That’s never creatively very fulfilling,” she adds. “I like the idea of writing whatever and surprising people.”





7EBRA → 7ebra started life as a solo project, but Inez was soon joined by her twin sister Ella. It’s now impossible to picture the gothic-tinged indie of tracks like ‘If I Ask Her’ and ‘I Have A Lot To Say’ without their haunting harmonies. Their first show together in their hometown of Malmö was watched by producer Tore Johansson, who quickly invited the pair to record their debut album with him. It might have been a month since 7ebra have last performed onstage, but based on their magical showing at Viva Sounds, it’s easy to see why Tore was so excited. Speaking to Dork ahead of their performance, Ella says that “it feels like things really could happen for the band,” before noting that 7ebra have already played shows outside of their native Sweden and supporting the likes of Future Islands and The Dandy Warhols. “It’s nice that people take you seriously,” adds Inez. “I’ve always wanted to play and get known for my music. It’s the most fun thing in a boring world,” continues Inez before catching Ella’s eye. “Yes, that’s the worst thing I’ve ever said, but it’s how I feel,” she adds with a smirk. The pair take influence from old country and folk, while Inez is apparently “more emo” and listens to a bunch of Elliott Smith. “I’m inspired by people who feel genuine and aren’t afraid to sing exactly what they want to say,” says Ella, with Inez looking up to people “who keep it simple. Look at a band like Sleaford Mods. They’re minimalist but still go for it. They don’t give any fucks.” Coming soon, 7ebra’s debut album has been in the works since early 2020, and the singles so far don’t give much away about what to expect. “There are sad songs, songs with quirky melodies, it’s a real mix,” say the band. “We think it’s good, whatever that means,” says Inez. “It’s just a feeling you get. We know who we are, in a very convoluted way. It’s hard to explain.” Before that’s released, though, 7ebra have shows booked in London, Groningen and across Sweden. There’s possibly more international stuff in the diary for March as well. “This year, we’ve really learnt how to deal with the nerves. I feel more confident and more comfortable,” says Inez. “It’s tough because we still feel like a very new band, and Jesus – there are so many bands around right now. How are we going to stand out?” “Sometimes, it feels like maybe it could all work out, though. But that’s a scary thing to consider,” says Ella, so the pair “try not to expect anything. We try not to keep our hopes too high.” “But at the same time, our hopes are super high.”


sales of bucket hats have soared since, and the swaggering synth-pop of Eliën is delivered from the back of a van, meaning the brooding escapism comes directly to you. UberBangers, anyone? For all the quirky curiosities, though, Viva Sounds offers a first look at some acts that will hopefully dominate 2023 and beyond. With just two songs to their name, Swedish indie-pop band Girl Scout are already a confident force onstage. Sitting somewhere between Wet Leg and The Vaccines, the four-piece deliver undeniably catchy hooks, meaty guitar riffs and an emotional vulnerability that makes them an irresistible prospect. Hailing from just up the road in Malmö, Julie Chikane’s blend of dance, rhythm and her own Chilian and Ghanan roots feels genuinely exciting with all the ambitious cool of Rosalia, while Hot Breath’s ferocious rock and roll is urgent to the point of chaos. Both sets are met with never-ending enthusiasm from the crowds, showing off Viva Sounds’ appetite for different. The Amsterdam-based Cloudsurfers have three guitarists, two drummers and a singular mission – to conjure up energetic scuzzy garage punk that demands a reaction, while the lo-fi emo


of Boy With Apple cuts pain with euphoria in the same way as Maggie Rogers did on her fantastic second album ‘Surrender’. Elsewhere, HON’s emotionally heavy pop turns the upstairs room of a church into a midnight rave, offering something completely different to the rest of the festival, and Spanish four-piece Montesco flirt with dream-pop, postpunk and pure romance during their powerful 30-minute set. Debut EP ‘Gardenias’ is a lush collection of heartache and live; the four-tracks swell with ambition but never lose that raw vulnerability. With two songs from their upcoming debut album out in the world, 7ebra are very much a new band, but there’s already a buzz about them. You can feel the excitement in the room before the twin sisters take to the stage (a corner of a coffee shop), and it only ramps up when they start playing. A dizzying blend of haunting harmonies and indie-infused pop that knows exactly what it wants, it’s an impressive showing from a band who are going to go on to even greater things. Sweden might have a history of musical legends, but Viva Sounds proves there are still plenty more new, game-changing acts to come from the Nordic country. ■

→ It takes a special sort of band to silence a room full of people, especially at a new music festival where as many punters are there to network as they are to discover new music. But as Montesco took to the stage at Viva Sounds for their first-ever shows outside their native Spain, the bewitching group demanded the entire venue’s attention. And speaking to Dork backstage afterwards, the group were in high spirits. “It couldn’t have been a better way to close out the tour,” says keyboardist Patricia Huguet. Despite it being their first international show, Montesco felt “more excitement than nerves. You do want to play well, but you also want to just enjoy the moment.” The band formed post-pandemic after vocalist Helena Moreno had written a handful of songs and wanted a band to bring them to life. Easier said than done in a world that couldn’t decide whether live music was a good idea or not. “We couldn’t do anything for a big chunk of time. It took a really long time to get on stage,” says bassist Laura Nunez. The band played their first live show at the beginning of 2022 and in the twelve months that have followed, have developed a fearsome reputation across Spain thanks to beautiful, captivating shows and TV appearances. “We’ve each had a very different path to get here today,” says drummer Antonio Postius, who has toured across Europe and North America with other bands. “But the butterflies never go away.” “When we first started, we expected it to take a lot of years before things started happening,” admits Patricia, who’d never performed live before joining the band. “The fact that all these things have happened so fast is so weird.” But when you release an EP like the attention-grabbing ‘Gardenias’, what else can you expect? A conceptual record that tracks a relationship from first impressions and happy-ever-afters, to infidelity and confrontations, it’s a gorgeous, vulnerable listen – even if you don’t speak Spanish. Closing track ‘Collar de Perlas’ is less about heartache, though. “It’s about getting away from it all, healing yourself and maybe going out to a party,” says Helena. With touring for the EP finished in fine fashion, Montesco are now focusing on their debut album which, according to the band, is going to be different. “The EP was composed by Helena, but for the album, we’re going to write it together,” says Laura, with the band taking influence from Beach House, Chromatics, The Walkmen and a variety of Spanish acts. “The main theme of the album is still love,” continues Helena, with Montesco taking their name from Romeo’s (of And Juliet fame) surname. “But while ‘Gardenias’ was more about classic romance, the new record is more about love nowadays.” The most important thing to Montesco is “making the audience feel connected to what we’re singing about.” In a previous garage rock band, Helena sang in English but uses her native Spanish for Montesco. “It’s just easier to express myself,” she says. Patricia concludes: “One of the most important things about being in a band is sharing with people.”




NELL MESCAL She may have entered 2023 with just one single out and a second imminent, but Nell Mescal is already making waves.

Words: Abigail Firth. Photos: Patrick Gunning.


ell Mescal isn’t doing too badly for an artist with one single out. In the months since she released ‘Graduating’ – her debut single, a slow-building, emotional track about not feeling sad when you think you’re supposed to, ironically it’s quite the tearjerker – she’s done a headline tour in her home country Ireland, bagged a support slot on tour with Phoebe Green, and guested on stage with Phoebe Bridgers. Now about to release the follow-up, ‘Homesick’, it’s a boppier track about her move to London that explores her versatility. Currently at her North West London flat, Nell is looking after her housemate’s sphinx cat, both of which have made her feel more at home, but she wasn’t always this comfortable. “I miss home a lot,” she mentions, “but I think that this is where I need to be right now.” “I’ve experienced a lot of loneliness, and it’s not a nice feeling,” she adds. “It’s funny because I spent three months on my own in London with a very small group of people that I knew, but going home, I felt even lonelier. I didn’t feel like a lot of people understood me.” Born and raised in Maynooth, Ireland, she moved over to London for a few months after she turned 18, just as both cities were opening up after lockdown, although it was the moving back home that proved difficult. Finding herself a little out of place when she returned to her hometown, she decided to quit school and move to London for good. It worked out for the better. “It was a big change,” Nell says of the initial move. “When you spend three months on your own in a city you’ve never really spent a lot of time in, you change quite quickly, and I became quite ready to do what I wanted to do. Going back to school, I felt like I wasn’t where I needed to be. I think that when you’re given the opportunity to do something that’s going to make you happy, and something that you want to work hard at, compared to being in a space where you’re not totally comfortable, I decided to make the leap, and I was just trusted on that. It was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

It’s all nodded to on ‘Homesick’, a literal change of pace from 2021’s ‘Graduating’, it’s an upbeat indiepop number that she’d been testdriving live. Although lyrically, it continues the campaign for Nell as the next big indie sad girl. Written during her first-ever trip to Los Angeles, it was the first time she’d written an uptempo track, admitting she was unsure of how to write a happy song and dealing with it by adding a humorous twist to her usual melancholy lyrics. “The beat’s happy, which was purposely done, to talk about something that makes me a little bit sad, but to provide some sort of


hope and happiness, so it’s not all doom and gloom. I went in without any expectations and just started spinning out words and things that made me laugh, but also that I had written then that weren’t funny at the time. I just decided to have complete fun with it and not think too hard about what I’m writing, then wait and see what happens after.” Growing up in Ireland, Nell was raised in a pretty creative family (probably about time we mentioned her brother is actor Paul Mescal, who she’s previously performed covers with on YouTube), and spent her childhood in choirs, alongside dancing, acting, and playing lots of sport. Joining a choir named The Glee Club (unfortunately, she wasn’t into the TV show of the same name) at the age of five, she stayed part of it up until the pandemic hit, and calls joining the club one of the best things she’s ever done. “I specifically remember doing ‘Forget You’ by CeeLo Green, and also ‘Rolling in the Deep’ by Adele, and I remember we were doing ‘Forget You’, and I begged my choir teacher to let me choreograph my group. I wasn’t even a Gleek like, I wasn’t a big fan of Glee, so I feel bad that I was in a Glee Club without

ever watching it properly, but I was an original glee member.” She’s come quite a way since her glee days. Recently hopping off tour with Phoebe Green, it was Nell’s first time visiting various major cities in the UK and playing her unreleased material live with a full band. “I grew up playing music, but not the way I’m doing it now. I thought it was so far away for me at the very beginning of the year. I was like, I just don’t know when I’m going to be able to do it. And then to be able to play so many shows this year has been just incredible.” She’s found a fan in another Phoebe too, the Bridgers variety, who she was introduced to via Phoebe’s relationship with Paul. Eventually popping up on stage together, the pair performed an encore of ‘Georgia’ – Nell’s favourite Phoebe track – during Phoebe’s residency at Brixton Academy last summer. “I’m such a huge fan of Phoebe’s work,” says Nell, “and I think she’s one of the most talented songwriters out there. To have someone that close to just be able to speak to about certain things and get advice has been something I really, really value and something that’s been really important to me.”" ■


→ FLO have been confirmed as the winners of the BBC Radio 1’s Sound Of 2023 poll. The R&B trio, formed in 2019 by Renée Downer, Stella Quaresma and Jorja Douglas, beat out competition from Fred Again.., Cat Burns, Nia Archives, Gabriels and more to be voted in by a panel of artists, tastemakers and music industry experts.

GRACIE ABRAMS HAS ANNOUNCED HER DEBUT ALBUM, ‘GOOD RIDDANCE’ → Gracie Abrams has announced the release of her debut album, ‘Good Riddance’. Set to arrive on 24th February. The album was co-written and co-produced by Aaron Dessner, who is best known for his work in The National and, recently, with Taylor Swift. She described the creative process, saying Dessner reminded her that “holding space for brutal honesty in songwriting is kind of the whole point” and that he makes others feel safe to explore the most raw parts of themselves.


CONNIE FIRST CAMPSIE London-based Connie Campsie has already enthralled audiences with her engaging lyrics, melodic tunes and dry wit, culminating in the release of her debut EP, ‘I’m Still Talking To Myself’.


Words: Sam Taylor.

Photo: Marieke Hulzinga.


→ Wasia Project have only played a

handful of shows, but their stats are already going through the roof. Two gigs this summer in London and Manchester sold out immediately, with an upcoming Omeara date doing the same in less than 5 minutes. While that might be a little bit because of one half of the sibling duo Will Gao having appeared in Netflix’s Heartstopper, it’s also because of the vocal of Olivia Hardy, sure to stop anyone in their tracks. Well worth keeping an eye (and ear) on.


→ Newcomer Shalom is set to release

her debut album ‘Sublimation’ on 10th March via the iconic Saddle Creek. Born in Maryland, raised in South Africa, and now residing in Brooklyn, it’s a record dealing in stories of heartbreak, feeling like an outsider, self-medicating and partying, and ultimately choosing love over fear. It’s also really bloody good, ‘FYI’.


→ Nieve Ella is an over-sharer, but there are worse things for a songwriter to be. With her debut EP ‘Young & Naive’ set to drop on 20th January, the East Midlander is making all the right noises in all the right places. Recent single ‘Glasshouses’ and its dreamy pop charm show it well. A song about the grieving process, it’s about not letting other people’s opinions interfere with those personal moments. With that mentality, she’ll go far.

18. DORK


t’s been a remarkable 12 months for Londonbased singer-songwriter Connie Campsie. Building a dedicated listenership with the release of singles ‘You’re The Problem’, ‘Watching From The Beach’ and ‘Sucker’, she’s been captivating audiences around the capital with her candid, self-deprecating lyrics, beautiful melodies and a pleasingly large pinch of dry wit. Now, with the release of her highly-anticipated debut EP ‘I’m Still Talking To Myself’, she’s ready to take things to the next level. Growing up in a very musical household, Connie was always encouraged to play with the instruments in the house. When

she was six, she remembers hearing strings on a Disney film and begging her parents to let her learn violin. After taking up the instrument, Connie began to explore her own musicality and started writing songs. “I remember in high school, I put a song up on YouTube about this guy I fancied called ‘Stay Tonight’, and people at school seemed quite excited about it. I went on a date with said guy, and he was like, ‘Was that song about me?’ And I was so embarrassed I wanted to disappear,” Connie recalls. When it comes to writing, Connie finds herself repeatedly drawn to certain topics and themes. “Haha, yes - selfhatred and disappointment. I mumble top lines and sort of


scat to find lyrics when I write, and for a period of time, I kept singing ‘hate myself’, which is hilarious,” she admits. And does Connie talk to herself a lot? “Constantly. I drive myself crazy with an ongoing inner monologue. That’s usually where I get my lyrics from,” she confirms. So, how did Connie approach pulling the EP together? “Without much flair, to be honest. I sort of threw songs I cared about together and then saw what story it told. It felt like I was getting to know the project a bit like when you first started dating someone - just praying it all works out and that they’re not a total waste of time,” Connie explains. The EP, which is out next month, is a collection of four tracks that grapple with matters of the mind. “I sort of threw songs I cared about together and then saw what story it told. It felt like I was getting to know the project a bit like when you first started dating someone - just praying it all works out and that they’re not a total waste of time,” Connie explains. But Connie’s creativity doesn’t end with music. “I hit a fork in my late-teens where I had to decide if I wanted to be a songwriter or a visual artist or go and study English literature at university. I chose music, obviously, but I would love to write a book of poetry someday and hang some more art of mine around the house. I come up with my music videos and visuals,” Connie muses. When she’s not writing music, Connie has plenty of other ways to pass the time. “I read tarot. I mostly do readings for myself, but I also love reading for friends. It’s a great way to kill small talk and get straight to it,” she says. And what else is Connie working on at the moment? “I’m always writing more songs. I’m finishing off a love song today,” she reveals. Connie has certainly made the most of the past 12 months. When asked what she wants to cross off her bucket list in 2023, she has a clear answer. “I’d say play my first headline show, but that’s actually happening! I want to play my first summer festival too,” she enthuses. With her debut EP on the blocks and her first headline show fast approaching, Connie is certainly one to watch. ■ Connie Campsie’s debut EP ‘I’m Still Talking To Myself’ is out 7th February.

From Dublin to London - Cian Godfrey’s Somebody’s Child is on a journey to break the mould. Words: Jack Press. Photo: Nicholas O’Donnell.


oving away from home is a rite of passage, but few kids make the great escape for a future as an indie rock icon. While he’s still adjusting to living life in the big smoke of London, Cian Godfrey knew he had to ditch Dublin, the city of his youth, for the sake of Somebody’s Child. “There is definitely a glass ceiling on the Irish music industry,” Cian sighs as he collects his thoughts. “People in the Irish music scene love to tear you down at the beginning until you’re a certain size, so you need to get out.” Despite filling his indie rock anthems with tales of growing up in modern-day Dublin, he doesn’t feel like his songwriting vehicle drives in the same lanes as his countrymen. “We’ve never been attracted to just sounding Irish. We see ourselves as trying to progress and change things rather than replicate what other people are doing, so we found we belong a little bit outside of Ireland.” With dreams of making it, whatever that means, Cian knew

THERE’S A FEELING OF DISENFRANCHISEMENT BETWEEN POLITICAL LEADERS AND PEOPLE MY AGE”HUMILIATING” CIAN GODFREY he had to seek out somewhere that wasn’t “hard for alternative music to survive without having a certain level of social proof” to his name. With his bags packed and his songs written, he headed for East London’s Hackney Road Studios. “Just coming over to London was important for us because a lot of our music is influenced by British music. We needed to get out; after two years of Covid, while writing in Dublin, we just weren’t getting that same sense of inspiration we were when we started off, and it’s subject to the experience we’ve had over the last few years which wasn’t down to the place but down to the times.” London’s become a ‘very artsy’ source of inspiration for Cian as

he works away at Somebody’s Child, while Ireland was “a good place to test the waters a bit and see what people like”. With three EPs – 2020’s ‘20 Something’, 2021’s ‘Hope Amongst Other Things’, and ‘Staying Sane’ – under his belt, making the move to London meant doubling down and dealing with the music industry’s monster under the bed: the debut album. Starting with the desire to do nothing but step up, the selftitled album was spurred on by breaking the mould Somebody’s Child had been sculpted in. “Doing three-minute songs and releasing them every few weeks is fine at the beginning, but you want to have bigger campaigns you want to have more context around the

stuff that you’re putting out.” Of course, nothing worth doing is ever easy. A global pandemic gave the music industry a meltdown, and the sunshine and rainbows turned to grey skies and thunder. “It’s a blurry point in my life, because a lot of the stuff we actually released during Covid was written before, so it was a really dark patch creatively, even though we were writing more than ever,” Cian reflects. “We tried to take it as if it was a full-time job, like a nine to five, and it was a little bit naïve to think you can just grind out creativity. It’s hard to think that the best songs in the world came from two people sitting down at 9 o’clock and trying to bash something out, it’s not exactly how it works.” Even though it felt like time was slipping away, like the clock on Somebody’s Child was running out and he knew he only had “a certain amount of time to try and make my dream a reality”. That’s why when he got to London, he sought out Grammy nominated super-producer Mikko Gordon. Having worked with genre giants and pioneers like Arcade Fire, IDLES and Radiohead side-project The Smile, Cian found himself rubbing shoulders with likeminded people. “It’s funny because we were very much like ‘this is our first album, everything has to be perfect’, and obviously he’s worked with people for so long and he’s so experienced that some of the stuff you could tell he was like ‘once this is out, you’re not going to care whether this is in or this is not’, but thankfully he entertained us for most of what we wanted.” And what Cian wanted for Somebody Child’s debut was a dash of duality. No, it’s not inspired by the mosh pit anthem by the ninemasked men from Iowa, but the “parallels in the music industry” instead. In fact, the album was nearly named after the concept. “There was this ‘pop versus us’ thing going in my head because I didn’t want to be part of the pop world, I am just a little bit afraid of the connotations that come with it,” Cian explains. “Whenever I’m writing songs the only rule is that it can’t be too poppy, and it tore me down creatively when I first started but I’ve grown to accept that whatever feels the best is the way that the song needs to come out.” With his own trials and tribulations as inspiration, the idea behind the duality is in “acknowledging these parallels, accepting that you lie somewhere in the middle.” With that in mind, the self-titled debut became an “honest and real reflection” of “everything that makes us ourselves”. Using

Mikko to tie together a narrative and be the needle they needed to stitch up their sounds, Somebody’s Child focused on turning their indie-rock riots into arena-ready anthems. How? By turning to Blade Runner. The cult sci-fi hit and its original score by Vangelis gave Cian the booster shot Somebody’s Child needed to stand out. “Vangelis, the producer of the original score, had a synth sound that we used to write on peppered throughout the album, it helped us think of it like a movie with different characters coming in here and there.” The album is a journey that takes you through his formative years growing up in Dublin, and his days discovering London. It’s the people he’s met and the stories they tell. As an album, it paints a picture of disenfranchised youth, a generation that doesn’t understand its ancestors. It’s a sign of the times, Cian says. Closing anthem, and reworked fan favourite ‘We Could Start A War’ speaks for itself. “There’s a feeling of disenfranchisement between political leaders and people my age in their 20s and it’s hard to associate yourself with them – it almost seems like it’s not real,” he admits, as concerned for our future as we all are right now. Of course, his songwriting to him is as much of a spectator’s thought as it is a critical social commentary. “I don’t really analyse my songs, so it’s just a reflection of how I feel a lot of the time. I can feel one way at the start of the day and something completely different at the end, so it’s gonna be two completely different songs. That’s the beauty of songwriting to me, sometimes you’ll write a song and a year later it somehow starts ot make sense in a different context.” In it’s simplest form, Somebody’s Child, as a songwriting vehicle and a debut album is designed to “reflect how people’s emotions change from the start of the day all the way to the end,” Cian does hope listeners find a little more to it than the sum of its parts. “I just hope that people make the meaning of it their own and that it reflects something in their life as much as it does in mine, and it doesn’t have to be the same thing. “I’m acutely aware as a human of getting older, and reflecting that in my music is a big part of the drive behind the creativity, and secondly, as a male, the inability that we have as men to talk to one another. I hope that it gives people some respite and maybe helps them to find someone else who feels similar to them.” ■ Somebody’s Child’s debut album is out 3rd February.



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From lo-fi beats to expansive alt-pop: BIIG PIIG reflects on her journey to icon status and her new mixtape ‘Bubblegum’, filled with personal growth and genre-blending experimentation.




ess Smyth is an artist defined by exploration. The constant desire to evolve and grow, seeking new sounds and styles through experiencing different places, cultures and communities, encapsulates the richly fluid and thrilling sonic melting pot she has crafted over the past five years as Biig Piig. Everyone who’s discovered her knows she’s someone special. The exciting difference now, as she releases her most substantial and refined work yet, is that Jess now knows it herself. ‘Bubblegum’ is the first illuminating teaser for Biig Piig’s leap from adolescent naivety to fullblown alt-pop icon. Jess has been making music under the name Biig Piig for quite a long time, with her first music uploaded to SoundCloud in 2016. It’s a staggering journey to hear her music progress from washedout lo-fi beats to the kind of expansive and ambitious widescreen dance music collected on her new mixtape. The progression is not only sonic, though. Emotionally, the music she is making now and the artist she is in 2023 has been shaped by her travels in a life characterised by flux as her family moved from Ireland to Spain and then to London before Jess herself moved to LA. Now, she’s back in her safe space of London and is channelling all of those experiences into her work which feels like it’s stepped up multiple gears. “I feel like I’ve grown up a lot this year,” she reflects. “Maybe it’s because I’ve turned 25, and they say that your brain is supposed to be fully developed by the time you’re 25. I feel a lot more like a whole person.” In many ways, 2022 felt like a culmination of many things Jess had been striving for. A safe and secure career making music on her terms with the freedom to experiment, the ability to travel and share her music, and, perhaps most importantly, a sense of belonging and peace, a lucidity that enabled her to work with clarity and freedom. “It’s been pretty mad, to be honest,” she laughs as she looks back on a pivotal year in her career. “It’s just been non-stop. A lot of the things that I’ve always wanted to achieve have come to fruition this year. It takes me a second sometimes to realise and let it all sink in, which I haven’t done yet because I’ve still got my blinkers on and just keep going because I’m

in this creative mode that feels really good. I’ve toured the US for the first time, headlined London shows, and now I have this mixtape, and I’m thinking about the album seriously.” There’s a sense that Jess has been liberated from some of the insecurities of her adolescence. “It’s mad looking back on a lot of the tracks. I feel like I can hear myself growing up with the things that I’m talking about, and it transports you back. As a whole, it just feels like a diary of adolescence,” she says of her already quite extensive back catalogue and three landmark EPs. “When I started, I never thought I would be here now. I never expected it to go this way. I used to be so shy

When I started, I never thought I would be here now. I never expected it to go this way” B I I G PIIG 22. DORK

about the whole thing,” she admits. “I was very fearful of showing people, and now I’ve found more power in that than ever. I feel like an established musician.” Through all the upheaval of her youth, music was the one illuminating force that provided salvation for the young Biig Piig. It was a constant factor that introduced her to some of the most important people and experiences in her life, like the like-minded creative visionaries in NiNE8 Collective and the formative rush of going out clubbing. “Going to parties and raves around the end of that time in London opened me up to more dance music,” she enthuses. “The jungle influence is there, and that’s where I found my love for that.” She laughs as she explains how her richly diverse music taste has evolved into the anything-goes wonderland of her own songs. “I’m never the one to get the aux at the party because it’s just going to be chaotic, and you’re going to get a mixed bag of Shy FX and The Grateful Dead and D’Angelo. It’s going to be, ‘What is going on with her. Is she ok??’” Biig Piig’s passion for music really began to catch fire when her family moved to London when she was a teenager. Her relationship with music began to take on more importance and became something fundamental in her life, a relationship that forged the artist she is today. “Music was definitely an anchor,” she explains. “Until I moved to London, I had listened to music, but because I was still so young, it was just the charts or the music you’d hear in the car. The moment I got to London




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A lot of the things that I’ve always wanted to achieve have come to fruition” B I I G PI I G

was the point where the isolation of having moved around so consistently kind of set in. I was like ok, we’re here. We’re not moving for a while. That’s the moment it gets scary, and everything goes quiet. It’s an ‘is there anybody out there’ kind of thing. When I found music, it got me at a point where I really needed it. Ever since then, it’s been the thing that’s consistently brought me back to myself and feeling like, you’re not going to lose your mind. It’s something that I hope I can always rely on to pull me out.” One of her earliest musical opportunities was being invited by the influential Colors platform for emerging artists in Germany to perform in Berlin. A big deal for a shy kind from Ireland who, when they first moved to London, was playing folk music at open mic nights and was now making electronic bangers that crossed countries. “I remember getting on the plane and landing in Berlin and being like, wow, something I made in my bedroom in London has landed me in Berlin,” she remembers. “That was a moment when I realised something was changing and shifting. Something that’s not physical has made a physical change.” As things have ramped up for Biig Piig, Jess has started to embrace some of the aspects of being a musician that were once scary. “The more I’ve gone through certain things, I’ve realised what’s important,” she explains. “Community for me is something that you can forget to appreciate sometimes, and even forget how important the people in your life who you love and where there from the start really are.” The clarity of success and the realisation that you’re no longer alone and isolated also impacted her losing the fear of live performance. “Why be fearful

of something if it’s going to help?” she asks. “If it’s going to overall have a positive effect, then you have to jump into it. Do you know what? This isn’t just for me. At the end of the day, you’re in a room full of people, and the love is there for everyone. It becomes that thing where it’s less self-analytical and more like the bigger picture of what this is actually doing.” The communal experience of live shows is replicated in the enduring relationships formed in college in London that became NiNE8 Collective. While the members may be scattered over the world at any given time and no longer working as relentlessly close as before, they have an unbreakable spirit and bond woven into all the music they make. Each member of the collective is thriving in their own individual way. “It’s in our blood at this point,” says Jess. “We just inevitably always end up collaborating. We’re always going to pick up the phone and bounce ideas off each other. That’s an integral part of who we are as people.” Despite working with a swathe of new collaborators on ‘Bubblegum’, like multiinstrumentalist LA producer Andrew Wells and her long-time collaborators, Jess is always reminded of those carefree days messing around in the bedroom creating beats with Mac Wetha and her old friends. “I get excited to show them stuff. I’ll be like, oh I can’t wait to show them this!” ‘Bubblegum’ is the sound of the evolution of Biig Piig’s vision. “This mixtape embodies a little bit of the chaos of music and not being able to tame it,” she says. It marks an important stepping stone towards the eventual Biig Piig album. “It wasn’t planned to do a mixtape, but I just couldn’t stop READDORK.COM 25.


writing, and I was like, ok, there’s a story being told now,” continues Jess. “You’re in that headspace of recording something that you want to put into a project, so let’s put the mixtape out and then I’ll focus on the album. It encapsulates the last year and a half so well, and I just wanted to put all the sounds of that into this. Lyrically, it’s a bit of a journey as well, but it’s not quite an album. I feel like I know what I want from an album. I never want to describe what I want to do too much, even though I’ve got a plan in my head for what it’s going to feel like. The minute you put up restrictions and barriers, you restrict yourself in where you can go. With this thing, in particular, I know how they feel; I know what it feels like to have them all running in the order they are. It’s definitely a little teaser.” The songs on the mixtape are among the most striking and confident Biig Piig has ever released. ‘Kerosene’ is all thrilling fevered desire, “sexy and confident’’ as Jess describes it, while ‘This Is What They Meant’ is her most richly defined and anthemic track yet. “It’s more nostalgic and a little more innocent. Throw it all to the wind with no consequences when it comes to love,” she says excitedly. It also features a beautiful lyric that highlights her artistry and turn of phrase as the words become just as powerful as the music as she perfectly captures the overwhelming feeling of being young and in love, “Yeah, I’m all in, and I don’t mind. I don’t care about tomorrow.” If there’s a lyrical theme to the mixtape, it’s about dealing with relationships, both good and bad. “They definitely sit in their own places about different people. I just fall in love with everyone,” laughs Jess. She jokes that she might have to operate a complaints hotline for people wondering if the songs are about them. Surely, they must be honoured. In a further example of her desire to constantly explore and discover new things, the songs here were created during the time Jess was living in Los Angeles. In some ways an alien environment and, in others, the perfect location, it allowed her to truly reflect on herself and the artist and person she is. Something of a reset for the next phase of her career. A world away from the cheeky daydreaming of debut EP ‘Big Fan Of The Sesh, Vol 1’ back in 2018. “I went out there to work on an EP initially, and I was stuck there for a while, so I just stayed there,” she explains. “My head was a bit scrambled at the time, but I made sense of myself more out there. There was a lot of spending time alone and then meeting other creatives and being faced with the question of, outside of everything that you know and everyone that you love, who are you? That’s a place I got myself to, and I think I learned a lot there. I understood a lot about how to understand and cope with things and grow up a bit. I definitely feel like a different person now to when I went out there.” For Jess, the difference in feeling and ambition between her three previous EPs and ‘Bubblegum’ is as stark and wide as the Hollywood Hills in her previous home city. “The EPs feel like the three sections of teenhood to adulthood, and this feels like coming in with ‘I know who I am’ or ‘I’m getting there’ rather than just being in this lost, insecure place. It’s a little bit more selfassured.” So, after seemingly finding so much inner peace in a blissful location, why move back to London? “I just miss it,” she says. “I want to settle. I want to be able to make a home now and settle in with friends and family outside of Biig Piig as a person. Life is quite chaotic in the music industry. There’s a lot of moving about and shifting and consistent ups and

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I just fall in love with everyone” BI I G PI I G

downs. It’s important to have somewhere that you know is a base.” When she first moved to London in the early 2010s, it was out of her control. It was just another place that her family had to move to. Returning now, the London she is experiencing takes on added resonance. “It feels different, in a good way,” she explains. “As a whole, it’s got the same character to it, and it feels like I’m seeing it through a different lens; it’s somewhere where I’m choosing to be.” One of the characteristics of ‘Bubblegum’ is the clever juxtaposition of supremely danceable beats with emotionally layered lyrics. It’s what makes Biig Piig’s music so compelling. Emotion doesn’t always need to be conveyed by someone baring their soul and wielding an acoustic guitar. “The record has ebbs and flows and sits in different spaces,” says Jess. “Capturing the lyrics in a way that feels like the atmosphere. Even though it’s upbeat, it still hits with that emotion. ‘Picking Up’, for example, with that being a more drum and bass kind of tune, it’s a lot to do with the anxious feeling that you need to go out and you need to get this sorted, or it’s going to end. It’s become a pleasurable adrenaline rush because you’re just chasing it.” Having had experience making and releasing music for over six years now, Biig Piig might be in a more fortunate position than some of the other artists nominated in the BBC Sound of 2023 poll in the sense that she has had a long time to reflect on the hype cycle and everything that goes with it. “A lot of people don’t have time to adjust and just get thrown straight in,” she says. She’s not one who particularly has much time for lauding achievements, though. For Biig Piig, the only thing that matters is what’s next. “I don’t like to look back that much,” she says confidently. Every now and then, it’s important to talk about achievements and moments, but in everyday life, it’s important to get straight back to work. Straight back to making the next thing. It gets me excited. It’s motivating, but it’s not something I want to sit on or dwell on too much because where are you going next. What’s the next song?” Biig Piig has very big plans for 2023. The ideas for that much-anticipated debut album are bubbling around in her head, and she even has a list ready of dream collaborators that she wants to work with. “I’m trying to keep an open mind. I’m going to jinx it. I’m very superstitious. If I say it aloud, it’s not going to happen,” she laughs. Some other plans Jess has for this year are to hopefully stop smoking and maybe take up the knitting she promised she would start in 2020. Do some more laundry. Oh, and take over the pop world. The first step is the new mixtape, and then the shows in spring promise to be must-see. “Visually and sonically, it’s so immersive,” she explains excitedly of her live set. “You can shut the world off for a minute and let yourself go and have a good time. From the start to the end, I want it to be like a party. I want it to be a euphoric experience.” Following that comes the possible album: the next step in the ever-evolving universe of Biig Piig. “The next focus is the album, realistically,” she confirms. “I’ve got a vision for what I want to do. I know the story I want to tell and the visuals for it. It’s putting the pieces together, which is going to take up most of next year. We’re on the cusp for a lot of things and working it out as we go.” In 2023 Biig Piig is leading the charge for alt-pop’s sonic explorers. ■ Biig Piig’s debut mixtape ‘Bubblegum’ is out 20th January.




From viral TikTok fame to sold-out tours and chartbothering hits: MIMI WEBB reflects on her journey to becoming a rising star and shares details about her highlyanticipated debut album ‘Amelia’. WORDS: ALI SHUTLER. PHOTOS: SARAH LOUISE BENNETT. STYLING: LAUREN GROVES. MAKE UP: JACINTA SPENCER. HAIR: ANDREW KYRIAKOU. 28. DORK


h, I’ve always wanted to be a huge pop star,” grins Mimi Webb. Following the release of her debut EP ‘Seven Shades Of Heartbreak’ at the tail end of 2021, the past twelve months have seen the 22-year-old singer living out those ambitious, glitzy dreams. There’s been her own UK headline tour, a run across North America supporting Tate McRae, festivals and TV appearances. She even crashed the UK singles chart with the snarling revenge anthem ‘House On Fire’, which reached Number 6. “I was always just very driven. I wanted to be huge. I wanted to be a superstar,” she continues before pausing. “I think we’re getting there.” You can say that again. Despite “dreams upon dreams” coming true throughout 2022, it was still something of a warmup for Mimi Webb. Zooming from her London flat ahead of some last-minute Christmas shopping and a trip back to her hometown of Canterbury, she’s busy gearing up to release debut album ‘Amelia’. Based on what we’ve heard, it’s the sort of swaggering pop album that’ll turbo-charge her rise. “I was always the girl next door who was confident enough to sing all my emotions,” explains Mimi of her success so far. “People can obviously relate to all the breakup songs.” What’s also helped is how Mimi has handled the spotlight. Her social media is a giddy mix of outrageous, bucket list moments, shared with all the excitement you’d expect from someone living out their dreams. In fact, Mimi owes a lot to platforms like TikTok. Her first viral moment came in 2019 when Charli D’Amelio (dancer and one of the most-followed people on the site) shared a video of Mimi singing a cover of Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ and her own unreleased song ‘Before I Go’ in a restaurant. It might sound horribly contrived, but the reality is a lot more normal. Mimi was in New York having meetings with labels. Her manager knew Charli’s and thought the two would get on, so they went for dinner. “I had no clue what TikTok was,” admits Mimi. “But Charli was so lovely, and we had such a great time together. We ended up making a couple of TikToks because we thought it would be a laugh. It really was just a bit of fun. “Then Charli posted one, and it got something like 100 million views,” which gave Mimi’s label the push to actually release ‘Before I Go’. Charli then used it on a few of her dance videos, which only amped up the buzz around Mimi Webb. But Mimi had been working towards being a pop star long before that viral moment. Growing up, she performed at school talent shows and plays as well as starting piano lessons at age 12. Her debut album also features a song she started writing when she was just five. After finishing her GCSEs, Mimi knew she wanted to take singing more seriously, so she left home and moved to Brighton to study songwriting at college. “It was such a big step for me, leaving my friends and my family behind and practically starting a new life for myself, but I knew I needed to do it because I wanted to be confident enough to



step out of my comfort zone when things took off,” explains Mimi. “Every step was me working towards being this huge pop star.” “I’ve always had this energy about me and being able to perform lets me let that energy out,” she continues, explaining how “singing has always really fulfilled me. I’m obsessed with it. I’ve always said to my mum that being a pop star is the job for me,” she continues, adding that she enjoys every aspect of the job - even the interviews. “When you find a passion for something, nothing can stop you.” It didn’t happen overnight, though. For the next two years, Mimi released countless songs on SoundCloud (including a sadly deleted drum & bass number) and performed at as many open mic nights as she could. “I was watching old videos the other day and getting quite emotional. I really had no idea what I was doing back then. The pre-show nerves were always unbearable, and that girl in the video would be so overwhelmed with where I am today,” says Mimi, who performed at London’s O2 Arena a few weeks earlier and is now thinking about headlining the venue herself. “I was always confident, but I still spent so much time questioning if it would all work out.” “In those early days, I was in an environment where I was surrounded by other musicians, and it was really quite magical. Everyone wants to get where they want to go, and it’s a lovely feeling being around people who are so driven. Seeing the graft they all put in, despite none of us knowing how the industry worked - it was so inspiring. We all just loved music.” Mimi goes on to say how those early performances “definitely shaped the artist I am today. Standing on stage, everything else goes out of your mind, and it’s such an amazing feeling.” “They also gave me my work ethic. So many people want this, but it only happens for a few. I look back at those early days, and it keeps me going. I’m so grateful for where I am today, but there’s so much more I want to achieve,” she adds. “There’s so much further for me to go.” TikTok has been “incredible” for Mimi Webb, and it helped her build a fanbase through the pandemic when she couldn’t play shows. “But I signed my record deal way before that. I had already found my

feet, and I knew what I wanted to do as an artist before anything went viral,” she explains. “I’d been in the studio for years, getting my sound together. Nowadays, you can release a song yourself, it goes viral, and you’ve got record labels knocking down your door.” It’s an event she agrees would be shit scary. “For me, it was so important to have that knowledge of social media but to also know who I was as an artist. When things blew up, I could tackle everything head-on.” Heartbreaking debut single ‘Before I Go’ was released in 2000 and quickly racked up millions of streams on Spotify. ‘I’ll Break My Heart Again’ and ‘Reasons’ soon followed, establishing Mimi as an artist comfortable wielding emotional devastation. Bombastic fourth single ‘Good Without’ followed in 2021 and reached Number 8 in the UK singles chart. Mimi says she knew that track was special as soon as it was written. “I was actually meant to release a different song around that time, but I’d just written ‘Good Without’ and was so excited about it.” She teased it on TikTok, and “bang, it just blew up. So we put it out, and things went absolutely mad. We were still coming out of lockdown at the time, so I was still waking up every day and just staying at home. It felt like I was in this strange little bubble while the outside world was changing around me.” Things haven’t settled down since. Follow-up ‘Dumb Love’ also crashed into the Top 20 before debut EP ‘Seven Shades Of Heartbreak’ saw Mimi take an emotional stroll through a gut-wrenching breakup. Lewis Capaldi was at her October 2021 headline show at London’s Scala, and the pair have kept in touch ever since. Mimi says she’d love to collaborate with him, but they’re both too busy promoting their albums for it to become a reality at the moment. “I’d love to work with him, though. He’s incredible, and the song would be amazing.” Meanwhile, 2022 has been a blur of flights, festivals and TV appearances for Mimi. “It’s been so strange. I come home to my flat in London, and you can just tell I’ve been gone for seven weeks. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to just enjoy it,

though. There are so many emotions that come from travelling that much. You’re constantly out of your literal comfort zone, and you start to feel things you haven’t felt before.” Recent single ‘Ghost Of You’ was written about turning anxieties into strength. “You know when you go to bed, and you can’t sleep because you’re overthinking everything? Well, I wrote a song about that feeling,” said Mimi in a TikTok about the track before admitting, “I still get anxiety, but this really helped me cope with it all.” Other videos show her experiences with stage fright. “It’s so important to me to talk openly about mental health,” Mimi says. “I’ve recently learnt about the power of emotional speaking, and being able

Every step was me working towards being this huge pop star” M I MI W E BB 30. DORK

to speak about mental health really empowers me. I value being able to be open about it so highly because it’s so important to talk about your feelings.” She goes on to say that over the past few months, she’s had an “awakening” in regard to her own mental health. “I knew it was coming over the summer, I could feel it rearing its head, and it just got to the point where I needed to deal with it.” She now works with a mindset coach. “It’s so important to see that vulnerability and see the realness of what goes on behind closed doors,” says Mimi, knowing that from the outside, her life might look like a fairytale. “Social media isn’t real, though. I have my dream job, but even I get stuck for hours, freaking out about people doing better than me. I just have to keep reminding myself that there are no mountains without valleys.” She says that it’s been “really inspiring” to hear other people’s stories since the release of ‘Ghost Of You’. “I just want to give other people the confidence to speak about what they’re going through and for my music to be there for people who are going through a rough time.” Back in November, Mimi was rushed to hospital and posted an Instagram story telling fans that she needed to take some time off. “Listen to your body always,” she added. She doesn’t go into detail about what happened today, but does say that because she’s so excited about her upcoming debut album and all the things


that have happened in a relatively short space of time, “that in my own head, I’ve got this pressure on me.” “I love my fans so much, and I want people to really get something from my music. It is exciting, and there is this pressure for it to do well, but that’s so normal. That’s me being super passionate and super driven.” She handles the pressure by “taking every day as it comes” and trying her best not to beat herself up for taking a day to sit in her flat and do nothing. “Just because you’re not working today doesn’t mean you’re not working hard.” After taking some time off over Christmas, Mimi Webb believes 2023 “is just going to be another level up.” The first stop is new single ‘Red Flags’, which acts as the biggest introduction to her debut album ‘Amelia’. “It’s got more of a sassier, sexy vibe, and it’s so fun. It’s about those situations where we know things aren’t right, we can see those red flags, but we ignore them anyway.” “There’s this dark element to it, but it’s so confident as well. It’s got that ‘I know what I’m doing’ vibe to it where you just go for it,” she adds. After a string of successful, strippedback songs of heartbreak, Mimi says there was a pressure to do more of the same “because it works. And it did work. There’s this panic about finding your sound and sticking to it when you have. But with an album, you want to make clear what your intentions are.” Mimi goes on to say that because of the personal connections fans can build with artists through platforms like TikTok, the entire music industry is evolving. “You don’t have to just be one thing anymore. You can be whatever you want to be.” Amelia features those emotional tracks, but there are also band-inspired “big songs. I wanted all my inspirations there.” Growing up, Mimi looked up to artists like Adele, Amy Winehouse and Nat King Cole. In recent months though, she’s started taking inspiration from the likes of Dua Lipa, Coldplay and Miley Cyrus as well. There are even some “really cool guitar parts” on the album. “Even growing as a woman, I’m just feeling so much more confident. I’m finding that I feel sexy. I started as this girl next door, and that’s always going to be part of who I am, but now I want to level up. I’m growing as a person, so my music is growing as well.” ‘Amelia’ is a celebration of that growth. “People will really be able to see who I am as a person on this album. As soon as I came up with the idea of using my actual name as the title, I got goosebumps,” says Mimi, with that particular brainwave coming in the backseat of a taxi. “I put my absolutely everything into that record, I’ve shown sides of myself I’ve never shown before, and there’s such a depth to it. Everything about it feels so special.” She doesn’t think ‘Amelia’ will surprise her fans. Instead, she’s expecting people to go, “’Ahh, here she is. Mimi’s turned up’. All my singles, the EP - it all felt a bit like teasing to me. I think this album is what people have been waiting for, honestly.” ‘Amelia’ sees Mimi Webb “find herself, in all sorts of different ways,” she considers. “I never even set about writing an album. I’d just go into the studio to write a song to let my feelings out. Because of that, I never had those intense album pressures. It just kinda

spilt out of me.” There’s even a song written for her younger self. Despite the millions of people who now listen to her music, Mimi finds it easier than ever to be so vulnerable. “There was a time when I was scared about showing off these different sides of myself because I don’t always know how it’s going to go down. But you just need to grab the confidence by the horns and go for it.” She continues: “Also, being vulnerable is so therapeutic to me. I love emotional speaking, and I think telling other people your story just helps you understand what you’ve been through.” “Being able to release music and seeing people open up to it, I’m so grateful. I think we all forget that there’s someone out there

going through a similar thing to you,” says Mimi. “When you’re at a low point in your life, it’s so easy to feel lost, lonely and like no one understands. But when I’m performing, I can actually see people reacting to what I’ve gone through. It makes me feel like we’re all standing together, and I don’t feel so lonely. It’s just a really magical moment. “I’m so inspired by people who are comfortable being vulnerable, crying and showing their emotions in a situation like that. Every time I’m in the studio, I’m thinking about them, and I try to create something relatable.” Despite that personal touch, Mimi Webb has big ambitions for ‘Amelia’. Rehearsals start in the New Year for her biggest-ever

tour, with Mimi wanting the shows to feel like a “party”. As for getting a Number 1 album, “It’s already in the bag. I’m really trying to manifest it, but yeah, that’s the aim,” grins Mimi. “I think having the confidence to say that out loud is where it’s at.” “I’m just so excited about everything,” she adds. “If you’d told me a year ago I’d be releasing an album, I’d have been so confused. Like, where do you even start? But I’ve been putting in the work, and now, there’s something coming. I can feel it. “If I start thinking about where I’ll be this time next year, I can’t help but smile because the possibilities seem so exciting.” ■ Mimi Webb’s debut album ‘Amelia’ is out 3rd March.





With their debut, THE MURDER CAPITAL made a big splash - but this isn’t a band to simply do the same thing twice. Back with new album ‘Gigi’s Recovery’, this time round they’re bringing something truly special. WORDS: JAMIE MACMILLAN. PHOTOS: JENNIFER MCCORD.

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job this summer, and it hasn’t eaten me up in a while, and I’m just so happy to be back to it. I’m so excited to just be full-time fucking back at it.” Not that it’s been a smooth road to get back here. After that initial burst to life came a dizzying climb through a string of soldout shows that always seemed to be being played in rooms that were one size too small by the time they took place. So relentless was the touring schedule that it was hard to see where the band could possibly find time to begin piecing together a second record until the world intervened and chucked a pandemic into the mix. “Everything that was going on in the world demanded that we kind of went away,” explains James. “It wasn’t that we sat down and thought, ‘okay, we’re going to take two years to write a record’. But it just kept on unfolding that way in front of us and kept moving it down the line.” The band found themselves in the fairly unique position of being told to take even more time by their management and label teams. “Our team was telling us to keep going for a while because tours weren’t able to even be organised properly,” says James. “So we took that time and spent it wisely, I think.” The band have spoken previously about the writing process this time around being one of evolution, the threads that became ‘Gigi’s Recovery’ only revealing themselves over time. James picks up on that again. “The first six months were about atmosphere, texture and tone,” he explains. “New instrumentation was getting brought in; it was all very much about building the sonic world and the evolution we wanted to make as a band.” Reading between the lines, it sounds like a tricky initial writing session, with the frontman revealing that the band were pulling in completely different directions to begin with, the stresses of writing being exacerbated by lockdown. “I remember doing pre-production in fucking Slaine Castle three weeks out of recording and just being like, ‘I hope we have this’,” says James of those days. “I think we always thought we had it because the five of us felt so strongly about why we wanted to do it and what we wanted

to say,” states Cathal. “And when it comes to moments in the studio, they just light that fire again.” Not that everybody approved, with one memorable bit of feedback returning to the band after a bunch of demos were sent to the ‘higher-ups’ on their management team about eighteen months into the writing process. “I think we thought we were finished with the songs,” says James. “But we were jaded in hindsight. And we got an email back saying that we had set a new standard for depression….” How on earth did the band take that message, then? “With mixed feelings,” says Cathal dead-pan to laughter from the band. “At the time, the only thing we were getting optimism from was the music, so when somebody comes back and tells you that, you’re just like, ‘you don’t get it, man!’” “I read it as a quippy ‘ah fuck it, you boys did it again’,” grins Diarmuid. “’You lads…’” “We probably laughed about it pretty quickly,” remembers James. “But I do remember that we were really castaways at that point, you know? We weren’t in any touch with reality beyond the five of us. We were very much confronted by any interpersonal issues in the band, that all just came out and spilt out everywhere in those writing periods. Because we were alone in the countryside, there was no escape! I think we projected all of that life onto the music.” After those months of isolation in Dublin, Donegal and Wexford, the band returned to London in a move that James reckons “had a huge effect on the pulse and energy of the record.” “The whole writing period was very much driven by the five of us,” remembers Cathal of the all-guns-blazing approach. “It was like five people are sprinting and at the same time are trying to grab the mirrors on either side of the fucking room to try and align the light into the corner of the room that we’re all heading into. And no matter what, there were moments where it felt like life or death, and I just thought, ‘I’m fucking finishing this fucking thing’. And then we can talk about what I need to deal with afterwards, you know?” With the title in place before writing began, James describes how it was only afterwards that the dots began to connect as the themes appeared and threaded together - something that’s not unusual for him. “I find that there’s a certain amount that you know what you’re writing about, and then a whole other part where you don’t fully connect

the dots within your life and work out what it is about for months, sometimes years later. What you have written about starts becoming your life somehow. I think that’s probably my favourite part.” He describes ‘Gigi’s Recovery’ as being largely autobiographical, the album detailing “a return to a place of strength”, a recovery that could only be taken through the choice to live differently - another major theme of the record. “When you come into a band, you bring every part of yourself on that journey,” James begins. “And there isn’t much room for change when you’re in that place.” It was clear that one major aspect of his life needed to change. “I definitely, over the past

It’s not about ‘not’ partying; it’s about the need to sometimes, you know, go to bed at some point” JA M E S M C GOVERN 34. DORK

few years, needed to cut out that endless partying,” he says. “It’s not about ‘not’ partying; it’s about the need to sometimes, you know, go to bed at some point. The record isn’t completely referencing that, there are a lot of things that people need to recover from, but that was certainly at the forefront of my mind. How much longer can that kind of lifestyle go on for, you know? How willing am I to forfeit so much of the future for the present?” That sense of his choices in the present guiding his future owes much to the grief of his past, the death by suicide of a close friend that was in every moment of ‘When I Have Fears’ still understandably making its mark. “I was at a complete loss in the beginning, which sounds like a fucking pun…”, he says haltingly before expanding quickly. “But I felt like writing about anything other than this direct grief for my friend… It was a very painful process to write about that stuff, but it was also extremely rewarding because of the richness of that emotion. I mean that as a writer, obviously, I’m not talking about it coldly. And so this time round, I didn’t know what way was up, I didn’t know what to write about, and everything felt second-rate. I just had to wait and let it unfold. I think a huge amount of what the record is about is having the time and opportunity to look into the future and reflect on the past. You can see what you can cultivate to be ahead of you. In grief, there isn’t that much room for that, especially grief for suicide; it’s more about questions for the past like, ‘Why? What could have been different?’ And then as you move through that grief, you move back into looking to the future, and you have this very stark but also comforting realisation of how little control you have within your life and


start focusing on those things.” That ‘perspective shift’, as he describes it, took in elements and temptations of touring life that are pretty much inescapable for most bands these days. “Parties are fun; they still are fun,” he nods. “But it’s not more about the party than the music, you know? I’ve done it all, tried everything, and the best thing to do is just fucking go to bed. If anything good has ever come out after 3am, then I’ve fucking seen it, and I’ve seen it a hundred times. It can be fun, but I’ve seen it, and now I want to be sharp and creative.” It’s not just in behaviour and excess that changes have been made, but in the very nature of The Murder Capital’s sound itself. Moments like ‘On Twisted Ground’ had already shown that they knew the power of stillness and space could easily outmatch and outweigh the thunderstorms created elsewhere, but even from the earliest

moments of ‘Gigi’s Recovery’, it’s clear that they have shifted and transformed once more. Just as you sense everything is with this band, it is a deliberate move to not repeat the tricks on the debut. “When bands do that, it feeds a certain beast at the time,” states James. “But a year or two later, people almost always talk about it as a miss. And I’m watching. I see bands just trying to recreate that moment from their debut, and it just doesn’t really work. You know, it works functionally, but it doesn’t feed anything creatively.” It wasn’t ever even a temptation for the band. “’When I Have Fears’ was so intense, I’m so proud of it because it was honest,” he continues. “It was a very real record, and it would have been ignorant, and disrespectful, honestly, to just be like, ‘let’s do that again’. It was a fucking crazy two years really, trying to reach that unattainable moment or goal of a complete evolution of our

own setting.” The band’s love of electronic music has been pushed to the fore this time, but don’t expect club bangers. Instead, it’s something more subtle - a hint of ambient here, a dash of skittering drum and bass beats there that gets Cathal and Diarmuid waxing lyrical about the new directions that The Murder Capital are creeping off into. “I think it’s just about staying creative,” says Diarmuid at one point. “That battle between questioning every move you make, and then just turning that off and trusting that instinct about where it should go.” The drummer describes ‘Crying’ as being “brain-pickling” in its genesis, while Cathal is delighted with Dork’s description of first comeback single ‘Only Good Things’ as being like a bucket of cold water for anyone expecting more of the same. Again and again, the band return to themes of not wanting to do the same tricks twice.

“You can trust each other and not be afraid of the outcome,” agrees James. “Because there’s no musical emergency here. Nothing crazy is gonna happen. I can’t tell you though how many times I felt like I’ve been transcending human enjoyment within the band, but also where I felt like the world is actually ending....” Early fan reactions have been encouraging, though only a handful of new tracks have been rolled out live so far. It’s a very different experience to on the debut, a record which was essentially brought to life on the road, the songs evolving naturally prior to release. It is here that Diarmuid attempts something close to an analogy to describe that process, launching a one-man mission to derail the interview late on. “I was saying to Cathal it is like buttering bread,” he begins promisingly. “It’s like, if it’s not right, the butter is still on the bread. But it’s hard from the fridge, but once you smooth it out… It’s about how tight the butter is.” “If you haven’t let the butter get to room temperature and you put it on too early,” offers Cathal, desperately trying to bail him out. “You’ve ruined the bread. It’s still buttered bread, but you’ve ruined it.” James is quietly shaking his head at the pair of them. “Yeah, you’ve ruined the bread,” finishes Diarmuid. “Torn bread is what you have.” We give him a moment to recover and then begin discussing the upcoming tour. After three years without a headline run, what are they most excited about? For James, it is the unpredictability of live performances, while Cathal is buzzing about hitting the decks at his famed after-party DJ sessions. And Diarmuid? “I’m looking forward to the days off, probably.” “WHAT?” exclaims Cathal, while James softly murmurs ‘Holy shit….” The frontman tries valiantly to get the interview back on track, to no avail. “I cannot believe you said the days off!” shouts Cathal, his face filling most of the screen by now. With our time nearly up, we chat briefly about The Dinner Party, the exciting Dork Hype List act who will be supporting the band on tour. “We were talking about this earlier as well, and how the post-punk label gets thrown around,” says Cathal. “The top bands doing that stuff with the label all sound completely different, and they don’t define that kind of thing. These days, people just use post-punk for people who are doing something different, and all these bands are putting on FUCKING ROCK SHOWS!” The others laugh at the guitarist’s sudden lurch into ALL-CAPS SHOUTING, while he continues. “Fans that come to the shows kind of love it all if it’s fun or if it involves them at all,” he says. “And when you see the singer of The Dinner Party perform, I have no doubt the crowd will love her.” “I’ve met them a few times in person, and they seem fucking rock and roll,” says James. “And it’ll be great. We’ll just have Pump just sitting there telling everybody it’s a fucking rock show; it’ll be a good mix.” “IT IS A FUCKING ROCK SHOW!” shouts Cathal, as the singer slumps back in his chair. “Talking about days off and our genreidentity crisis… Can we just not print any of those things?” Sure thing James, you can definitely trust us. The Murder Capital then, fully recovered and ready to take on and eat up 2023. Here we go again, but in all new and exciting ways. Only good things, indeed. ■ The Murder Capital’s album ‘Gigi’s Recovery’ is out 20th January. READDORK.COM 35.


Having already proven to be worth his weight in gold when it comes to dancefloor bangers, SG LEWIS is now stepping up as a frontman to deliver a new double album of pop hits exploring the duality of love and lust. WORDS: FINLAY HOLDEN.

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he last time we caught up with SG Lewis, he was so desperate to get back to overpriced drinks and dirty dancefloors that he dropped a whole album in service of transporting us right back into that late-night euphoria. His first full-length project, released in 2021, was an ode to rose-tinted memories of the club and followed the trails blazed by a series of multi-faceted EPs. “It was funny – in many ways, ‘times’ didn’t feel like a debut album to me, but just another project,” he reflects. “For the first time, I had enough to say and enough to express musically that I wanted a full-length runtime. It felt like a very

natural process, and I wasn’t looking back at any point; I wasn’t thinking about music I’d made before or trying to better myself. I was just facing forward throughout, and that kept my momentum going.” The forced stagnation of the last few years didn’t halt that progression, as the producer started to formulate new ideas with their own unique challenges. “Instead of taking inspiration from things externally, this album is a lot more introspective in its processes; its thoughts, the song topics, the feelings are more from an internal perspective because that’s the nature of isolation that was enforced upon us.” Quickly finding new ambitions and more nuanced concepts with


the confidence instilled by the success of ‘times’, Lewis began to flesh out a double-LP of new material through month-long stays at residential studios across the globe. The intensity of the methodology forged relationships that grew deeper than any previous collaborations. “With ‘times’, there were more features, and as such, you’re almost speed dating; you’re forging a creative partnership for one track,” he explains. “With this album, there’s a lot more consistency of the teams that I was writing with. That pushed things further because we built a level of trust through the process, which allowed us to try things that we wouldn’t necessarily be willing to do in the studio with someone you’re only working with READDORK.COM 37.


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for a day or two.” That shared self-assurance has resulted in some surprising songs that could only have come about by becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. “Being honest in a room with other people, speaking about your feelings in a vulnerable way, is really quite a nerve-wracking thing to do. It probably shouldn’t be, but it is. On an emotional level, being open with my collaborators and engaging in conversations that allowed us to create the best music that we could did require some pushing through.” As well as those behind-thescenes connections, Sam has allowed some room for other names at the forefront of this record, too; some familiar faces like Channel Tres and Lucky Daye return, while Tove Lo and Charlotte Day Wilson join the fold. “It’s really about the people that you’re surrounded by in the studio and having a good creative relationship with people,” he says of his willingness to involve external hands in his output. “The repeated collaboration just comes from the creative community I exist in, especially now living in LA; I would see Channel in the

studio most weeks. Tove Lo is a new one, and that partnership was immediately fluid, and it was so easy making music together. It came so naturally that I’d imagine we’ll explore that more in the future.” The pair have already shared two of their tracks to date, but “if something feels good, why not try more of it?” When throwing these collaborators into the spotlight, Sam can relax a little and hide behind the DJ decks, but this shyness is a trait that he’s clearly tried to push past through this entire venture. “My comfort zone is always going to be behind the boards, but it’s almost by necessity that I’ve ended up at the forefront,” he says. “In order to continue to grow as an artist, you have to be pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Originally, for me, the idea of fronting the show was petrifying; I wasn’t naturally inclined to be on stage when I was a kid. It’s something that I’ve grown into, and I can now get a lot of joy from expressing myself in that way. Coming to the forefront of the live show has come with singing more on records - because that’s the easiest way for a performer to connect with an audience - and

gaining confidence from doing that.” Tackling his feelings head-on also applies to this new set of songs; where ‘times’ sought to capture the energy of a headspace that seemed out of reach, ‘AudioLust & HigherLove’ stops to acknowledge the reality of SG Lewis’ world. “This album definitely doesn’t feel escapist in its fundamental nature,” he confirms. “’times’ is very much a soundtrack to dancefloors, whereas this is more reflective and serves a very different purpose,” Sam continues. “It’s about laying my cards on the table and analysing what lies there without trying to run away from it all. It feels like a more selfish project – ‘times’ was a record for everyone else, this record is ultimately for me. Conceptually, yes, but also on an artistic level, I’ve wanted to make this album for a long time – being able to explore how far I can take my own voice and how far I can push my thoughts as a singer-songwriter. For having made this record, I now know a lot more about myself as a singer and songwriter, which I couldn’t necessarily say before.” With a brave new project


now complete, and a whole new planet of personality and colour opened up, there was much careful consideration around introducing this to listeners. Opting to tease the record with paired cuts from each side – the “rushy, moody” atmosphere of high-energy lust, and the “warm, psychedelic” form of more realised love – the album launch kicked off with two club hits, ‘Missing You’ and ‘Something About Your Love’, before taking a purposeful sidestep away from the dancefloor. “There was an intentional leading of the listeners down that new path,” he admits. “I definitely was, and still am, nervous about sharing some of this music. With club music, there’s a detachment that you can hide behind; with the escapism of dance, there’s less focus on the sentiment of the song; it’s more focused on the feeling. Once you remove the dance element, the focus shifts more onto the lyrical content.” Citing yacht rock and 80s pop as the slower styles that he was channelling here, SG Lewis used the lack of context for rave tunes to tap into something new. The result is an LP that feels almost like an entire reintroduction to the now

LA-based artist. “I think I’m just letting people further into my head rather than taking a deliberate risk, and I find some comfort in that,” he ponders. “My fear would be that people would be confused or not know what to expect, but I’ve always left breadcrumbs along the way hinting that people shouldn’t just expect dancefloor collaborations from me. That’s not to say that in the future, I won’t want to do more escapist club music – that is something I really enjoy creating, but this album was one that I felt that I had to make to understand myself as an artist more.” Now out of the shadows with a diverse and expansive project that focuses on an idea rather than a sound, Sam initially considers ‘AudioLust & HigherLove’ to be a leap of faith before declaring, “actually, I don’t have any other option”. He continues: “I want to continue to push myself as a producer, writer, and singer, but I’m not having to beat myself or better the last album because I’m not repeating the same thing. It’s a whole new world; I’m just trying to keep facing forward.” ■ SG Lewis’ album ‘AudioLust & HigherLove’ is out 27th January.


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With concern for the future, and a sense of hope that we can sort it out, CIRCA WAVES are back with their fifth studio album, ‘Never Going Under’. WORDS: FINLAY HOLDEN. PHOTOS: PATRICK GUNNING.



ack in March 2020, Circa Waves dropped their fourth studio album, ‘Sad Happy’, which explored the juxtapositions of modern life through a diverse mix of string ballads, rock stompers, and straight-up pop tunes. The ambitious project made an immediate mark before being swiftly overshadowed by the announcement of a national lockdown. With tour plans scrapped and frontman Kieran Shudall trading centre stage for less glamorous parenting duties, the unprecedented times certainly proved interesting. “As you can imagine, we’ve been locked away with an insane child for two years,” he says. “It was a bit of a blessing in disguise; I got to be home for those first couple of years of his life, which I wouldn’t have been otherwise.” Thankfully the darkest days are done, and the indie-rock group can deliver the tunes that fans have been thirsting for over the last two and a half years. As he longed to show them off, Kieran invested his pent-up energy into a new catalogue of tunes that would capitalise on the eventual return to sweaty basements and sunny fields; that venture has now come to fruition with the band’s new LP, ‘Never Going Under’. “With this next record, we weren’t able to play live, so my desire to do so went right into the songs,” the singer confirms. “I wanted the tracks to become big live moments, so it was very deliberate that it sounds a bit rockier again. I always like to make tunes that are going to cause a bit of chaos.” The restoration of a guitar-led approach is a drastic change from Circa Waves’ last two projects, both of which experimented with alternative sounds while relying on the same catchy, poppy songwriting structures. That freedom does bleed into their new project - an inevitability given Kieran’s work outside the band, where he helps craft hits for some of your favourite rising acts. “A lot of pop and dance songs get to the point really fucking quick, and it’s always impressed me how quickly they hook the listener in,” he observes. “I’ve learned a lot from getting involved with that; it all helps. If I just wrote Circa Waves’ songs alone, it would get pretty stagnant pretty quickly. Having that outside influence from other people - writing with Alfie Templeman, Sea Girls, Courting – it all helps me develop the band as I grow myself.”



I WANT THIS ALBUM TO GIVE PEOPLE A MUCH-NEEDED KICK UP THE ARSE” KI ERA N S HU DA L L That external influence has helped the group to hop genre lines and avoid the pigeonhole of any single sonic arena; despite kicking off their careers with the youthful exuberance of ‘Young Chasers’, the evolution of Circa Waves is undeniable. “I physically can’t write the same genre over and over again,” Kieran confesses. “I don’t think like a 24-yearold anymore. I’m 35, and I can’t think like that now. It would be like asking the listener to be the same person they were ten years ago; it’s impossible. It’s easier to write songs when you change the textures around you, or at least it is for me.” As well as a more elaborate sound, ‘Never Going Under’ takes a new stance on the world. If ‘Sad Happy’ was a cheery inspection of life that upheaved a spot of worry, its follow-up displays the festering result of that anxiety; a mountain of growing concern that began by imagining a child – his child – tackle the never-ending list of global issues we see today. “I don’t know anyone who’s not concerned with the world at the moment, be it with energy bills, dodgy politicians, or the wars going on,” he resigns. “Now that I’ve got a kid, that worry has turned into more genuine concern – what is social media going to be like in fifteen years’ time, when he’s 18? Are the waters going to keep rising? Will I need to move more inland? We live in a time when it does feel like there are possible end-ofthe-world scenarios every five minutes. When I was a kid, I lived a life of reckless abandon and didn’t know any of that; I just played Tony Hawk and drank Strongbow. I do feel sorry for the youth at the moment.” On the other hand, addressing these issues with the urgency required has given Kieran a sense of hope that he hopes will rub off on those who take a listen. “Having a kid makes me want to head things face on, not bury them. I wanted this record to be resilient; right from the first song [title track, ‘Never Going Under’], I want this album to give people a much-needed kick up the arse, assuring them that we can do this. It’s for me as much as anyone else - sometimes I wake up and have no idea what I’m doing either.” While providing the motivation to get through these tough times might be the overarching mission here, the catalyst was a far blunter acknowledgement of the bad. “’Hell On Earth’ was the song that showed me a direction I liked, which I then followed as the arrow through to ‘Never Going Under’,” Kieran elaborates. Pointing to lying politicians and unemployment in particular, the track provides a solid foundation that allows

him to admit his intensified sensibilities. “Your anxieties start to surface when you have a kid because you worry about them and you worry about the future for them. Every emotion is heightened, including love and fear. It’s a mad feeling.” Despite being a proud parent, it is obvious that this frontman is tackling that challenge one step at a time. “It’s a strange thing – all of a sudden, you blink, and you’re supposed to be an adult, but it isn’t necessarily that easy,” he notes. “I always thought something would click, and I’d change, but really I’m just exactly the same person who now has to figure out how to be a parent. Just like anyone, I cry when there are anxieties or worries in my head, but I never saw that as a thing that dads did. It’s a battle – what is a man supposed to be? What is a dad supposed to be? I’m slowly becoming more honest with myself, and that makes its way into the songs.” Slowly getting comfortable with being uncomfortable has allowed Kieran to produce intricate songs like album closer ‘Living in the Grey’ – a complex acceptance that life is not black and white. “When we first started touring, we’d just had a major record deal, and all my dreams are coming true; we were in a Los Angeles bar after playing 100 dates straight… I just broke down,” he spills. “I wasn’t happy; I wasn’t enjoying it. I was feeling this medium-ness that I couldn’t explain at all. That’s what the song is about – not feeling much towards something you think you should and feeling weird about it. There are loads of things in life that you might expect yourself to be super happy with, but once you get to the top of the hill, all you can see is another one.” Their relentless ambition has never faltered, and consistently shifting the goalposts is nothing new for Circa Waves. Moving with the times, taking things in their stride and making some rapturous tunes out of the confusing results, the Scouse outfit have made yet another step forward with ‘Never Going Under’ – but, of course, they’re still not satisfied. “My obsession with trying to write the perfect indie song has never faded,” Kieran confesses. “I’m just obsessed with trying to write strong songs, so that’s probably why we’ve endured – I’m never content. I guarantee every artist at the top of the game is not content; there’s no way Chris Martin is ever content, or Bono, or Matty Healy – anybody who is fighting to be the best cannot be content, and that’s a good way of progressing.” ■ Circa Waves’ album ‘Never Going Under’ is out now.


By now, RAYE’s story of major label frustration is well known. Those tales don’t often end up with a happy ending - but with a debut album and a chart busting single on deck, this isn’t just your average pop star either. WORDS: ABIGAIL FIRTH.

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aye has one of the most triumphant pop star redemption stories out there. She’s about to release her debut album, ‘My 21st Century Blues’, almost a decade after initially getting signed to a major label, but they have no part in her career anymore. Almost suffocating under the pressure to replicate her first smash single, the 2016 collaboration with Jax Jones, ‘You Don’t Know Me’, Raye finally broke free from her oppressive contract with Polydor Records in 2021, and in a magnificent plot twist, has been chasing her first Number 1 single, ‘Escapism’, completely independently. There’s surely no better “fuck you” to the label that didn’t believe in Raye’s diversion from dance pop than sitting at Number 6 in the Christmas charts, knowing the only tracks ahead of you are Ladbaby’s annual Christmas charity number, two Christmas classics from Wham! and Mariah, Ed and Elton’s Christmas tune, and a novelty single from YouTubedominating collective Sidemen. Chatting just a week before the official Christmas Number 1 is announced, an obvious congratulations is in order for Raye and the runaway success of ‘Escapism’. “It’s nuts, isn’t it?” says Raye. “It still doesn’t feel entirely real. To be honest, it’s really lovely to have this happen in a situation where I decided what I thought was best for myself. And you know, I think it just proves that you don’t need a major label to have some success.” She’s a little croaky when we call, but mentions the show must go on. Now an independent artist, the workload is overwhelming but ultimately worth it for the freedom. “It’s hardcore. It’s brilliant, but it’s hardcore,” she says. “I thought I worked hard before, but yeah, social life? What social life? But this is what I’ve always wanted, just to be a woman able to say whatever she wants to say, when she wants to say it.” Back in 2014, Raye signed a four-album deal with Polydor, but by 2021, not a single one of them had been made. Taking her frustrations to Twitter in June of that year, she asked followers to imagine her pain, noting she was giving songs away to A-list artists and awaiting confirmation she’s good enough to release

an album on her own. The pressure of having another hit single was getting to her, and she repeatedly found herself relegated to being a featured artist on various European DJs’ club tracks, charting at Number 6 in 2020 with Regard’s ‘Secrets’ and Number 3 in 2021 with Joel Corry and David Guetta’s ‘Bed’. When she released ‘Call On Me’ in 2021, a track that would become her last release with Polydor, she was told she could make her debut album if it performed well. When it didn’t crack the Top 40, she was over it. “I didn’t even love that song; I didn’t even want to put it out. But because it didn’t do the numbers they wanted, I hadn’t earned the right to do an album still. I was like, I would rather just be a songwriter than go through this anymore, having to try to sell music I’m not even proud of. It’s just sad.” Upon publicising her label struggles, Raye received support from artists like Charli XCX, MNEK, and Rina Sawayama, and shortly after, was released from the record deal. “I took it publicly because I just assumed they’d shelved me or something. I had nothing to lose, and then went on the internet and people heard me and helped me amplify my message, which I didn’t expect at all. But what it did is give me a position of power that I didn’t have before. Before I had zero leverage, I had nothing. I had no grounds, and then after that, I was able to use that power to take control of my life in my situation.” A year after splitting with the label, she released ‘Hard Out Here’, a scathing dark pop track that’s deliberately uncomfortable as she takes her old bosses head-on. “This LP’s full of the shit I’m gonna say to you,” she promises in its breakdown. It’s a purposely sharp turn from the dance bangers she’d spent most of her career releasing and an immediate indication of what she’s capable of. Ushering in her new era with a track as outspoken as she is, releasing it independently wasn’t entirely intentional. “My dad’s my manager, and he went to hear out anyone that wanted to be part of the next chapter for me. It was so funny because people heard this new music and it was a very negative energy towards it. Sort of like, ‘Oh, this is obviously something Raye needs to get out of her system, but when she’s done with that, then she can talk to us’. I just don’t understand why there’s such a fear to let a woman dictate or be in control of her career. I genuinely didn’t have a choice but to go independent.” She hasn’t let go of her EDM hits though, she’s just doing them in her own way. On the next single ‘Black Mascara’, she twists a club beat into a track about getting spiked by someone she was close to. Then came


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‘Escapism’ the unlikely smash that went from TikTok to Top 10 in a matter of weeks. It’s a sprawling pop odyssey that details a night out after a breakup, where Raye slowly spirals further into drug-fuelled self-destruction, four minutes of straight bars punctuated by a delicate chorus vocal and a hazy verse from 070 Shake. It’s deservedly her highest-charting song yet. ‘My 21st Century Blues’ is Raye’s most direct work by a mile. Tackling some deeply personal subjects on both the singles and the deeper cuts, overcoming adversity is the common thread, even if she feels like the record is a sonic scramble. The album’s centrepiece, ‘Ice Cream Man’, is an emotional ballad telling the story of an assault she experienced, whereas ‘Mary Jane’ discusses the drug and alcohol abuse she partook in to get through particularly difficult years. In the record’s second half, there’s ‘Body Dysmorphia’ and ‘Environmental Anxiety’ back to back, which are topically, exactly how they sound. “I do believe the most powerful art translated is honest, right?” she explains. “I think it’s easy to digress emotion through metaphors and disguising it a bit more, but I’m just not like that. To be honest, the essence of who I am and who I get to be now that I am in control is like an open book; I’m what it says on the tin.” Raye continues, “As vulnerable as that makes me, especially in something like ‘Ice Cream Man’, it means that, at the very least, that’s my powerful moment. It’s me screaming down a microphone, amplified for anyone that will listen to it on this album, for the individual people who even caused me to write that song to know you’re so flipping lucky, and hear this song, and let it squeeze the joy out of you, and never ever, ever lay hands on a woman like that ever again in your life. So despite the fear attached to things, there’s an overwhelming sense of strength that leads throughout.” ‘My 21st Century Blues’ demonstrates Raye’s versatility like nothing else she’s ever released. She’s just as at home on the dark pop of the singles as she is on the UK R&B of ‘Flip a Switch’ and ‘Five Star Hotels’ (that’s where her roots are after all). Then there’s the funkier ‘Worth It’, and gospel-infused ‘Buss It Down’, as well as ‘The Thrill Is Gone’, a nod to BB King that feels like an early Amy Winehouse track. “A lot of the songs have stood the test of time, like ‘Oscar Winning Tears’, ‘Worth It’, and ‘Ice Cream Man’ [are] songs I’ve loved for years and years, literally, and I’m just so happy that they’re actually going to be seeing the light of day. I’m just very proud of this body of work. I know it’s a bit disjointed, and there’s no sonic through-line, but it’s my little mosaic of stories I


collected, and I want to share.” Even though her own label battle is won, she’s still fighting the good fight, this time demanding more rights for songwriters, at the very least, a royalty point. She’s passionate in how she explains the royalties system to us (which she says is the main source of income on a record), that every song has 100 royalty points, the artist receiving 15-20, who then pass four onto the producer, and the label takes the rest, leaving none for the writer. Clearly frustrated about this from her own experiences as both an artist and a songwriter for others (including for Charli XCX, Little Mix and Beyoncé, no less), she explains: “I’ve been screaming about this from the rooftops. I’m going to be screaming about this until it changes. You’ve got songwriters fighting over scraps of publishing, which is like radio play and stuff like that, but they aren’t getting a share of royalty points, which is streams, which is hard sales. They get paid if it gets played on the radio or a sync; they get a small outright fee. It’s wrong. “You know what’s crazy, though? I’m trying to make noise and make a song a dance about this, but I’m literally being gaslit from the inside. It is hilarious. Like, ‘Who does Raye think she is? Raye hasn’t had a hit in so long; she can talk about songwriters rights when she gets a hit’. You hear what everyone says. I’m being gaslit by the white men sat behind their desk, from the inside, thinking that you can hold the reins on treating creators without the respect they deserve. So I’m going to be annoying as fuck until I see change; it’s disgusting.” But as the tide turns for Raye, we ask, does she think the people who never saw her potential before are regretting letting it go? “I have concrete evidence that they do. You know, it’s not because of the content; it’s because of the success I’m having of late. But you heard the songs before they blew up! You know what I mean; it’s no excuse, really. But that for me is just really humbling, and I’m really grateful that I even got an opportunity to feel that because I wasn’t expecting to even be in this opportunity at this point in my life, to be sitting in a position of power.” After years of being silenced, Raye is finally speaking her truth. Her career is in her own hands, and she’s carrying it to the top herself. Even adding the word ‘my’ to the album’s title seems sort of poignant – the record is hers, finally. A young version of Raye on the cover climbs over piles of equipment, crushing the men who held her back underneath. For someone who doesn’t do metaphors, it’s certainly ironic now she’s had the last laugh. “One of the trickiest things in my life process is that I’m a so-called identity crisis, which has sadly been drilled into me for a long time because of how I create music and how I am as a person. When you dig deeper into it, like, I’m not even from one country, I’m a mixed heritage, I have so many different cultures in me. I’ve always been told, ‘you don’t know who you are; you need to choose something; you’re confusing everyone’. Those narratives are tired, but those narratives really hurt me, and I just hope that this album can prove those narratives wrong.” ■ Raye’s album ‘My 21st Century Blues’ is out 3rd February.



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From the very first notes, JOESEF’s debut album ‘Permanent Damage’ promises to take listeners on a cinematic journey of heartbreak, triumph, and self-discovery. WORDS: NEIVE MCCARTHY.




ometimes, you know from the very first notes that an album will absolutely bulldoze you. It will knock the air from your lungs and leave you completely reeling. The cinematic strings that open Joesef’s debut like a curtain drawing back make it immediately evident that ‘Permanent Damage’ will do what it says on the tin. Immersed in the world of Joesef and the experiences that have defined his past few years, it’s an album set to irrevocably alter you in the best way possible. That first track may as well act as a warning to proceed with caution. Here, feelings will get hurt. Tears will be shed. Hearts will inevitably break. And you’ll be by Joesef’s side throughout it all. “I wanted it to feel like you’re right there with me, in the taxi pulling up outside of his house,” muses Joesef. “It sounds like it’s falling apart until you get to the end. I’ve always loved music that’s a bit like a film. I want the whole album to feel like that. I want it to feel like you’re stepping into a house that I’ve built and take you about it.” From the get-go, Joesef achieves that. It’s late-night overthinking in a bedroom lit only by a streetlight streaming through the window. It’s a deep conversation in the bathroom of a party, laughing with a gaggle of mates in the kitchen the next morning. It floods every inch of space, moving from room to room and never failing to lead you along too. A reactive deep thinker, Joesef’s writing brings you into the centre of those experiences. “I have quite an erratic brain,” Joesef admits. “It helps to see something in front of you. Sometimes I can get pretty fucked up when words are just bouncing around my skull; music and writing is an extension of the experiences I’m going through at the time. It’s quite cool, sitting and listening to my first two EPs, I can hear the change in myself, and it’s like reliving it. Picking the scab open and letting it bleed again. I’m very lucky that I get to immortalise parts of my life in quite a vivid way.” The story of ‘Permanent Damage’ unravels at the hands of these memories, vignettes of the rise and fall of this bewildering love and the devastating aftermath. It’s in filmic snippets of stolen kisses you know can only end badly, in recollections of lazy mornings spent drunk in love, in tears made starkly visible under flashing club lights. It plays like a film reel as the album progresses, desperate moments clung onto and carefully preserved.

“My life is based on nostalgia,” says Joesef. “I’m very nostalgic, man. I spent such a long time romanticising the nostalgic aspect of my work, but I heard someone say that nostalgia is like a terminal illness, and it’ll kill you in the end if you let it. You can waste a lot of time dwelling on the past and romanticising the bad things. It’s a bit of a trauma response, nostalgia, because it omits the bad things that have happened; how would anyone go on with their lives if all they thought about was the bad stuff? Nostalgia can be good sometimes, but as I get older, it’s a bit of a mindfuck. It doesn’t really serve anybody well. As good as it is to romanticise your life, I think I get to do that in my music. In reality, it’s not really a good thing.” With that outlook, it becomes clear how ‘Permanent Damage’ was ultimately an act of excavation. A ripping out of the heart, of the root cause of those feelings and learning to move forwards

It’s a learning curve the album struggles with, continually engaged in a tug of war between revelling in the angst of past memories and trying to shrug them off. “I won’t apologise,” Joesef sings on ‘Didn’t Know How To Love You’, a track that simmers with both rage and a tenacious ability to take ownership over who you are. Elsewhere, he surrenders to the hurt and admits he can’t quite get past this pain – ‘Shower’ sees him soulfully plead to go back to that time, all to a haunting, smooth track. He flits between these two states throughout, embroiled in a turmoil that sees him dance on the edge of being too gut-wrenching before tugging you back into a new, giddyon-life side of the record. “There’s a time and place for it,” Joesef explains. “A lot of the music I grew up listening to was Motown. I was really inspired by the delivery of the songs; these glamorous women, like The Supremes, who were singing about really

the gleaming surface of the track seems less than shining under closer inspection. His blend of effervescent beats and unfailingly honeyed vocals provide the perfect stage to unleash those darker thoughts and recollections without it leading to tears, time and time again. “I find it quite difficult to articulate my emotions sometimes in a day-to-day setting,” says Joesef. “I’ve always struggled with that aspect of my personality. I am quite a deep thinker, and I’m quite an inherently sad person when I’m by myself sometimes. I’m sure most people are. It definitely comes from the Scottish mentality of ‘oh, it’s not that bad’, make a joke of it, make it silly. Music lets me exercise a part of myself that I’ve never really necessarily had the tools to do that with. I feel like it helps me empathise with myself a wee bit more, when I play songs for people, and they get it and connect with it. Therefore, I feel more understood



regardless of their impact. Each track is an exorcism, a release. Some of the roads travelled on the album are dark, twisting paths, where coming out unscathed seems unlikely, but that’s an important lesson learned here. “I’ve got a lot of clarity over that aspect of my life. As I was writing the album, it was to get through the breakup, but I realised halfway through that I was more devastated by the fact that I would never be the same. I would never be the same person. You lose a bit of yourself when you break up with somebody, or even if you’re in a happy relationship. You become quite emotionally, physically and mentally tied-in to someone else. It’s a strange experience. I definitely struggled with losing a lot of myself after and not really knowing who I was without somebody, but I think, inevitably, change is a good thing. No matter how uncomfortable or hard it feels at the time, eventually, you’ll thank the person or the situation for the experience that you’ve had together or with yourself. Every setback you take is a foot forwards.”

depressing and dark things while dancing with their hands in the air and moving side to side. I’ve always loved that sentiment of the dark in the light. It makes it easier for me to perform and take it to the stage. If I was up there every night breaking my heart, it’d be very difficult and unsustainable. Some songs are quite difficult, but some of my shows have been quite hectic, and it’s good to get that positive out of a negative experience. Some of my shows have had people taking their tops off and dancing, and it’s hilarious. I like pulling people in with the melody, but if they listen to it, it might strike another chord with them; I like that there’s some depth to that.” ‘Moment’ is a relentless, shimmering example; as it plays out, it’s not hard to envision the arms-to-the-sky release it might provide in a live setting, a crowd before Joesef moving along in sheer bliss. Yet, as you lean in closer, it becomes apparent that it’s more bittersweet than it first seems – as he sings about losing a connection with an ex and willing things to go back to how they were,

and like I’m not the last person on earth, and I’m not the first person to feel like this.” It’s something that isn’t immediately apparent when you hear Joesef’s music, but behind this figure who vocalises the stark truth of emotions we have all felt, there’s a larger-than-life character that’s evident even across a video call from his mum’s house in Glasgow. Filled with anecdotes, like the time when Rina Sawayama’s super powerful jet fans left him struggling to move on stage (“my mouth was so dry that I was actually dying”), there’s a lightheartedness to Joesef that means you cannot help but crack up, despite the tell-all devastation his lyrics often cause. “It’s so crucial for me. If you listened to my songs and you’d never met me, you’d think I was this big dickhead who cries all the time. It’s important for me that it’s not all doom and gloom. I’m a jovial, happy person; if you met my mates, I’ve always been the class clown, making jokes – my whole family’s like that. You can’t get a word in edgeways because everyone’s just

shouting ‘bastard’ constantly.” Those people are equally crucial, though, for Joesef. From his mum, who can be found at his gigs, shouting “I squeezed him out!”, to his mates, who he plays homage to on the glorious ‘East End Coast’, to his hometown, too – all these people and places combine to make Joesef’s music what it is. It’s something he bonded with author (and literary hero) Douglas Stuart over, when the pair recently met. “There’s such a specific thread between me as a young, queer guy growing up in the East End of Glasgow in poverty – he described it in such a visceral, vivid, beautiful way. I’d never experienced that kind of representation before. The way that he uses words and tells stories has been a massive inspiration for me in my writing, and his ability to make really brutal, horrendous situations feel beautiful at times is such a talent. There are a lot of parallels between mine and his life, the way we have both grown up. I never thought I’d get to meet him, never mind have a conversation with him. It was one of the best days of my life.” As much as Joesef praises Douglas for his articulate, spectacular way of capturing things, it’s a talent he undoubtedly shares. ‘Borderline’, one of the album’s most intimate moments, soars into being from easy, muted strums to an almost choral finish. It’s also an example of Joesef’s songwriting prowess; each beat hits as though it’s happening to you directly, vocals wrapping around you and drawing you into that room, that conversation, each admittance. “Sometimes, there’s a sense of urgency and emotion in a demo that you cannae really recreate. When there’s no pressure, you do your best performance. It’s like pressing record by accident; we’ll just try it. Before I got into making an album, I thought it had to be strict, and the goalposts had to be really tight, but it’s taught me a lot about spontaneity and how chance has a lot to do with the magic of creating music.” Magic is the right word to describe ‘Permanent Damage’. It’s an alchemic world of fiery oranges, muted pinks, gently pulling you by the hand into the thick of a blaze. It invites you to watch a world fall to those flames, but by the time ‘All Good’ rolls around, you’re struck by the sense that you’ve come out of that more alive than ever. Definitely changed, definitely not unscathed, but safe in the knowledge that under the flame, things can only burn brighter from now on. “Hopefully, it only gets better; it doesn’t go downhill,” Joesef laughs. “What’s the point in moving forward if you’re not getting better? Maybe I’ll hit my peak in the next couple of years, and then I’ll just start to sound like fucking Pat Butcher or something. Bit of an icon, I’ll take the earrings, but she can keep the voice.” ■ Joesef’s album ‘Permanent Damage’ is out now. READDORK.COM 51.


WHAT DO THE SCORES MEAN? ★ Rubbish ★★ Not Great ★★★ Fair ★★★★ Good ★★★★★ Amazing


RUSH ★★★★

Released: 20th January. → Since winning Eurovision in 2021, Italian rockers Måneskin have released a string of urgent, stadium-ready bangers. Along the way, they’ve been co-signed by legends of the scene like The

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Rolling Stones and Iggy Pop as well as becoming the most exciting thing in rock & roll. New album ‘Rush!’ is actually Måneskin’s third album (following on from 2018’s ‘Il ballo della vita’ and 2021’s ‘Teatro d’ira: Volume 1’) but so much has changed for the group over the past couple of years, it may as well be their debut. Swaggering opener ‘Own My Mind’ sticks carefully to Måneskin’s established successes as the pulsating rock track flirts with chaos while ‘Gossip’ sees Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello add squealing guitar solos to another party-starting cut that takes aim at the celebrity rumour

mill. Baiting the same tabloid whispers, the hammering ‘Feel’ talks about “cocaine on the table” with a smirk. Despite their rapid growth from local legends to globally adored rock icons, Måneskin have constantly looked like they’re having the absolute time of their lives. It’s no surprise then that ‘Rush!’ features plenty of songs designed to inspire giddy joy. ‘Bla Bla Bla’ is an ode to the sort of self-destruction that comes from the wildest of nights, while there’s a flamboyant decadence to ‘Gasoline’ that’s pure Panic! At The Disco. Elsewhere the snotty ‘Kool Kids’ is unfiltered rebellion, with vocalist Damiano David doing his best impression

of IDLES’ Joe Talbot. “We’re not punk, we’re not pop, we’re just music freaks,” he spits before laughing at the idea that rock and roll is dead. The band aren’t afraid to shake things up either. The brilliant ‘Baby Said’ is perhaps the poppiest Måneskin have gone since their X Factor days while a trio of Italian-language tracks (‘LA Fine’, ‘Mark Chapman’ and ‘Il Dono Della Vita aka The Gift Of Life’) cover heartache, euphoria and escapism with the same theatrical flair that made their second album such a success. Slowing things down, The Pixies-inspired ‘Time Zone’ sees Damiano wanting to trade world tours for one more night with the

person he loves, while For You is a sickening sweet, slowburning ode. And you don’t need us to tell you how wonderful recent singles ‘MammaMia’, ‘Supermodel’ and ‘The Loneliest’ are, with that trio of hits rounding out ‘Rush!’. Despite the pressures attached to ‘Rush!’, it’s everything we’ve come to expect from Måneskin. Brimming with personality and not giving a shit about what’s expected of them, the 17-track album is a confident collection of guitar-driven bangers that are going to sound brilliant in arenas around the world. Måneskin don’t waste any time trying to claim the throne on ‘Rush!’ – they already know it’s theirs. ALI SHUTLER




→ An album that deals with responsibility, community, happiness and heartbreak, from single ‘1994’ onwards, it feels like a record that’s saturated in growth, selfacceptance and hope.


MAYBE IN LOVE (MAYBE NOT) EP Blossom talks us through her brand new EP, track by track.




Released 3rd February. → Feverish with reinvention, Young Fathers have carved a career for themselves defined by being distinctly individual. It’s hard to think of any band that even comes close to sounding like them, and ‘Heavy Heavy’, the trio’s fourth album, captures that with incredible results. Taking a journey through fizzing punk potency (‘Rice’ and the swaggering ‘I Saw’), M83-esque cinematic release (‘Tell Somebody’), whirlpools of sound and vigour (‘Holy Moly’ and ‘Drum’) and call-and-response collective calls (‘Sink Or Swim’), the result is nothing short of euphoric. JAMIE MUIR

THE 1975


→ The 1975 writing their name in big, bold type, it’s a brilliant edit of everything that came before, cast in the selfrealisation and not-so-quiet confidence of just how good they can be. That tour poster tells no lies. ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’ is The 1975 at their very best.



→ Connie Constance’s second album ‘Miss Power’ is a revelation in multiple ways. Not only is it the ultimate artistic expression from someone we’ve always known is a bit special, but it’s also a rebirth after a period of uncertainty and trauma. It’s angry. It’s heartbreaking. It’s clever and illuminating and it’s also properly laugh out loud funny at times.



→ Packed with the same strangely comforting weirdness and entrancing rhythms of their debut, ‘Stumpwork’ plays like a smattering of anecdotes, a perfect snapshot of Dry Cleaning’s continuing depth and complexity.



THE PRINCESS SONG I feel this song is the mission statement for the EP. With the extravagance of the arrangement and the slightly unnecessary drama in some of the lyrics, it feels like a strong introduction to how I sometimes find myself running life. It’s flowery and lighthearted but still puts intense feeling at the forefront. It’s definitely a story one! And the most ‘me’ song I’ve ever written - it’s nice to have that out in the world. FRIDGE SPACE I wrote ‘Fridge Space’ the day after a COVID date, where we ended up playing Scrabble for three hours. It was a plan far more exciting than anything we had to say to each other. He was a bit in love with himself and wore these really unnerving slippers; I just remember feeling sorry for his ex, who he must have bored to death. I’m not sure how it links to the song as such, but I felt dulled by men that day and went off on a tangent when writing ‘Fridge Space’. It’s definitely the one to listen to if someone has wasted your time, but you don’t care all that much. BLUE This was written during the depths of lockdown 2020 at my childhood home. I’d just ended something long-term and had a bit of a full-circle moment when reflecting on the relationship. Being with someone who is struggling requires you to grow up quite quickly, and I don’t think I’d quite realised

how much I’d changed. Blue talks about depression and its subsequent complications inevitably affecting you both. It’s also about accepting fault when you’ve played up and just generally fixing up when you realise people’s feelings are at risk. These things all co-exist! I STILL LOVE HIM I actually wrote this when I was 16. It was originally slow and sad, and written about a fictional situation. I used to write like that all the time. Now, it actually mirrors an experience I’ve had; I feel as if I wrote it for myself. It’s weirdly specific, and it’s almost like I knew the person I was going to experience this confusing love with. I also predicted Michael Jackson’s death, so this would make sense. YOUNG LOVE Young Love is kind of chaotic in its storyline. I went to Lanzarote one December with my parents, and we met up with a lady who used to know my dad. My parents, the woman and her husband all went on a night out, and it got me thinking. It was interesting observing the dynamics between these people who ostensibly had it all sussed out but were really just the same young people underneath the settled lives they lead. The song celebrates how relationships can stay exciting and loving forever, much like my parents, but talks frankly and fondly about the people we know from our ‘before’. Lots of people can mean many different things to you. ■



Released 18th January. → Sometimes, you just need to sit and listen. It’s the best way to describe Blossom Caldarone’s latest EP ‘Maybe In Love (Maybe Not)’ - a rich and textured collection that showcases Blossom’s knack for making songs that play out more like chapters in a novel than a quick fire sugarrush of pop candy. While that grin of comedy continues to beam from tracks like ‘Fridge Space’, the turn to songs focused on love and everything that surrounds its jumbled world of emotions finds Blossom thriving. Managing to effortlessly turn everyday conversation into song, the entire EP feels like a voicenote exchange with your best mate - transformed with lush instrumentation that calls to mind Lily Allen-honesty if backed by Father John Misty down a London boozer. It’s Blossom’s most perfectly formed collection to date, and a clear statement that in order to find your next favourite songwriter, all you have to do is listen. JAMIE MUIR

→ From the start, Circa Waves’ new album is one of resilience. Marking their fifth record in a career that kicked off with indie-rock naivety and has grown into something more interesting with each step, ‘Never Going Under’ is a triumphant declaration of hope; eleven songs that land on a spectrum between joy and pain, but fuse them together succinctly in a tight package tied off with a thunderous flourish as Kieran Shudall & Co. take an honest look at the abysmal state of the world and uphold the ambition to make things better. FINLAY HOLDEN



→ The title ‘Permanent Damage’ doesn’t exactly scream romance. Turns out there’s some truth to the ageold idiom that you should never judge an album by its title (that is how the saying goes, right? – Ed), because love is exactly what Joesef’s debut is about. An ode to the way that feeling can change us, ‘Permanent Damage’ is a collection of songs about wanting it, feeling it, hating it, needing it, leaving it, and how it shapes us even after it’s over. Equal amounts soulful and playful, Joesef takes dancefloor-ready grooves and shapes them into polished pop perfection. JESSICA GOODMAN





Released 27th January. →.SG Lewis has spent the last near-decade quietly becoming one of the hottest pop properties around in demand by everyone from Dua Lipa to Elton actual John. On the evidence of his swish and stylish second album ‘Audiolust & Higherlove’, it’s easy to see why. The man is obscenely good at the business of pop music. The record is an effortlessly fun odyssey through his vivid musical imagination taking in spacey funk on ‘Infatuation’, easygoing soft rock on ‘Lifetime’ and a lovely bleepy bloody ballad in ‘Honest’, which shows that he can do both vibes and emotions in equal measure. MARTYN YOUNG


SOS ★★★★★ Out now.

→ A beautifully crafted sonic odyssey, ‘SOS’ builds on and refines the approach captured on SZA’s much-loved debut ‘Ctrl’. The wide open expanse of the pure ocean blue imagery of the cover is represented in the sense of freedom and possibility in the music. More ambitious and perfectly pitched, it’s an album rooted in her unique artistry but ready to be discovered by a new generation. Her rise has been a slow burn, but it’s clear that she’s now embracing the development from alt R&B to a mainstream pop moment. Crucially, she’s doing it on her own terms in her own distinct voice.. MARTYN YOUNG


HONEY ★★★★

Released 27th January. → Samia is no stranger to wearing her heart on her sleeve. On her new album she calls out for catharsis, and in doing so, forges an enchanting sense of hope. Equal parts heart-aching lament and resounding self-discovery, ‘Honey’ is composed from the kind of thoughts that keep us up at night. Born out of hurt, regrets, confusion, and unabashed adoration for the people who play a part in our lives, this collection of songs is brought to life with the same characteristic tenderness that Samia introduced to the world with ‘The Baby’. This is Samia at her most human. JESSICA GOODMAN

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were moving into brighter new musical areas, then here is the final proof of that whole new bold ambition. After a woozy, unsettling intro, ‘Crying’ shifts the dial instantly before the latter parts of the soaring ‘Return My Head’ takes flight for the skies in an early claim for album highlight. Slathered in the explosive eruptions of the debut but now dancing in hopeful new shades of technicolour, it’s both a world GIGI’S RECOVERY apart from ‘When I Have ★★★★ Fears’ and yet still capable of Released 20th January. punching with the same emotional → After the brutal weight. Musically, it’s full sledgehammer of naked, raw of ambition from all sides grief that poured out of every sometimes beautifully off-kilter second of their debut ‘When in ways that bring later-era I Have Fears’, it’s perhaps Radiohead to mind, often no surprise that it took The just in the way that James Murder Capital a little time to follow it up. Any worries about McGovern stretches and pushes his voice. the band struggling to find a way of matching their previous If the debut was about the love that endures between friends heights can be disregarded in the hardest, blackest times however, as the extra time imaginable, ‘Gigi’s Recovery’ afforded to ‘Gigi’s Recovery’ bursts to life in the grey makes for an album that stretches and evolves the Irish areas that follow, revealing a band into something gloriously deeply impressive record full of shades and flourishes that new here. open themselves out more on If their comeback single each listen. Not just recovered, ‘Only Good Things’ hinted at but even stronger then. JAMIE a band that were no longer MACMILLAN consumed in darkness and







Released 10th February. → After a few attempts at blending hip-hop production with crunching guitars, britrock band You Me At Six really nailed the magic formula on 2021’s ‘SUCKAPUNCH’. Its daring collection of exhilarating anthems dragged them into the future as they fully committed to a devil-may-care attitude. New album ‘Truth Decay’ is almost the complete opposite, as the band return to the angst of their first few albums. A comfortable throwback record, for older fans it’ll feel more like a greatest hits than a bold step forward. For newcomers to emo though, it’s a masterclass in the raw, emotional heights of the genre. ALEX INGLE

Out now.

→ Biig Piig’s latest mixtape is the sound of an artist confidently ascending to the next level. If her earliest EPs and collection of buzzy singles amassed over five years represented her first flush of adolescent pop discovery, ‘Bubblegum’ is a natural evolution into Jess Smyth’s musical prime. The songs take in the breathless expansive rush of ‘This Is What They Meant’ and the glorious fevered release of desire of ‘Kerosene’ while they are all connected by the musical fluidity and vivid songwriting that characterize her work. Always super on it when it comes to seeking out collaborators, this time Biig Piig hooks up with Deb Never on the attitude-filled alt pop banger ‘Picking Up’. In a pop era where anything is possible, Biig Piig is leading the charge for an alt-pop revolution. MARTYN YOUNG


MY 21ST CENTURY BLUES ★★★★ Released 3rd February.

→ “Hello, it’s RAYE here. Please get nice and comfortable, and lock your phones, because the story is about to begin.” It’s one we’ve been waiting for with bated breath, and after the colossal success of ‘Escapism’, ‘My 21st Century Blues’ arrives to suitable fanfare. It is, at times, a heavy listen – she never hesitates to express the true depth of her feelings, and the album is alive with writhing, ferocious emotions. Yet, in unleashing those experiences out into the world, the intensity of them is alleviated. RAYE’s wrath is scalding, laying waste to all that have stood in her way. NEIVE MCCARTHY


BORED IN COLOUR (PT.2) EP ★★★★ Out now.

→ Eating day-old cheesy chips, running out of likes on Hinge, drinking too much cold brew – most of us have been there at some point or another. If you’re one of the lucky ones, SOFY has provided the perfect soundtrack to your life. On ‘Bored In Colour (Pt.2), she becomes the voice of a generation of people who can’t quite keep their mouths shut when they need to most, who are constantly on the verge of a bit of an existential crisis. From the very first notes of ‘Egomaniac’, she’s taking down everyone in her path, and doing so in her usual sarcastic, indiepop style. NEIVE MCCARTHY



Released 3rd February. → The arrival of ‘The Waeve’ marks the start of a busy year for Graham Coxon, he of Blur and general ‘your dad’s favourite guitarist’ status, with summer Wembley shows beckoning. But before all that nostalgia, there is serious business in the here and now with his collaboration with Rose Elinor Dougall. Constantly innovative and restless, ‘The Waeve’ makes for that perfect spirit of collaboration where each artist is pushing the other onwards. It very much sounds like what it is - two of the country’s most interesting indie artists having a good time and stretching their musical wings. JAMIE MACMILLAN


SOMEBODY’S CHILD ★★★ Released 3rd February.

→ After emerging into the Irish music scene with a string of singles prior to the pandemic, Cian Godfrey has been quietly building up a name and reputation. His debut album, under the name of Somebody’s Child, carries with it a certain weight of expectation then, and it pretty much hits the sweetest of spots throughout. Pulling from the same vein of 80s-tinged indie pop-rock as the likes of Sam Fender and Inhaler, the band haven’t quite got enough in the way of bangers, but they’re on the right path. A promising start. JAMIE MACMILLAN


HANDS ACROSS THE CREAK ★★★★ Released 27th January.

→ Finally arriving with a debut that has taken its sweet time to get here, Hotel Lux have created something that could have only happened with the benefit of taking a breather. The Bill Ryder-Jones produced ‘Hands Across The Creek’ sees them wandering down some delightfully eclectic musical avenues without worrying about what anyone else thinks. Full of charm, and unafraid to bare their souls, it’s the sign of a band full of confidence about who and what they want to be. ‘Hands Across The Creek’ was worth taking time over, and will be worth your time in exploring too. JAMIE MACMILLAN


NO THANK YOU ★★★★★ Out now.

→ Little Simz might just be the most prolific and important artist of our generation. ‘No Thank You’ is yet another example of the greatness of someone who just never misses. 10 songs. Direct and assured. There’s not an inch of wasted energy here. ‘Gorilla’ is bold and inspiring with its orchestral stabs and gospel flourishes, while ‘Heart On Fire’ brims with fevered tension that encapsulates modern life and it all ends with touching piano-led ‘Control’: a beautiful moment of hope. Combining the best of Simz’ peerless storytelling and sonic exploration ‘No Thank You’ is yet another triumph. MARTYN YOUNG




Words: Jamie Muir. Photos: Patrick Gunning.

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→ Would it REALLY be the most wonderful time of the year without a great big festive party courtesy of your friendly neighbourhood Dork? Back bigger than ever at the legendary 100 Club, it’s fair to say this year we really went for it. Jam-packed with a queue snaking down Oxford Street, openers She’s In Parties shimmer with potential. Melding shoegaze-y pop and dazzling indie licks, their wall of sound is simply irresistible. A band that already feel assured with the world they’re creating, the likes of ‘Cherish’ and ‘I Follow You’ offer a glimpse at the brilliance still to come. A dreamy cover of The Pretenders’ ‘2000 Miles’ is wrapped up in their own distinct voice, and with closer ‘Ritual’ adding the exclamation point to a glorious set, it’s a welcome that sets them apart.

If you’ve read this here magazine over the past few years, you’ll know how special Courting are. Emerging with a sugar-rush jump with side jokes and ridiculous moments galore, they’ve blossomed into a band overflowing with individuality and determination to do things their way. Tonight at Dork’s Christmas Night Out, they’re at the top of their game. Within minutes, they ignite the sort of reaction most headliners would dream of – ‘Tennis’, ‘Football’ and a jubilant ‘Jumper’ sees pits open and riotous singalongs alike as a tidal wave of energy follows. That wink and a smile to knowing the world around them shines: an auto-tuned cover of ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ meshed with ‘Crass’ isn’t something anyone could have seen coming, but it works and then some, while ‘Jingle Bells’ finds a home in ‘Slow Burner’ to add yet another sprinkle of

the unique to tonight’s tour-de-force. ‘Grand National’, ‘Popshop!’, ‘Loaded’ and what may be one of the year’s best songs in ‘Famous’ take the 100 Club into sweaty and wild directions. By the time The Amazons take to the stage to round out Dork’s Christmas Night Out, there’s a palpable feeling in the air that something pretty special is about to go down. Ripping through an opening explosion of ‘How Will I Know?’, ‘Ready For Something’, ’25’ and ‘Wait For Me’ sets a marker for a set that blows the roof off in emphatic fashion. Over three studio albums, The Amazons have become the sort of band they would have dreamed about being when first starting out. Diving across their career to date, early cuts like ‘In My Mind’ trigger pandemonium in mosh pits while the feverish ‘Doubt It’ swaggers with effortless cool and potent power.

In a year of twists and turns for The Amazons, that shining beacon of connection has pulled them close. ‘Northern Star’, taken from latest album ‘How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me?’, has become an anthem at each show – the stripped-back ode flipping the energy to heartfelt bliss as lights illuminate the 100 Club in yet another historic moment. Even a run-through of Christmas classic ‘Stay Another Day’ by East 17 feels all the more special for those able to witness The Amazons in full-flight. As the night builds to an eruptive finale of ‘Mother’, ‘Junk Food Forever’, ‘Bloodrush’ and closer ‘Black Magic’ (which sees fans jump on stage to celebrate one last time), The Amazons find celebration and purpose in every note and moment along the way. Now THAT’S the best present we could get for a Dork’s Christmas Night Out.




Words + photos: Jamie MacMillan.

Bush Hall, London 16th December 2022

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→ Such has been the ride that Black Country, New Road have been on over the last couple of years, it’s amazing they’ve not got whiplash. It was only 2021 that their raucous and riotous Mercury-nommed debut ‘For The First Time’ came out to a euphoric response from fans willing to jump into their particular slice of musical chaos pie. Following rapidly in its trail, the more fragile and tender ‘Ants From Up There’ crept into view just a year later – its emotional impact only heightened by the departure of ‘frontman’ (if that is a thing in their world) Isaac Wood days before its release, due to mental health reasons. What could have been a final full stop for the band has instead turned only into a new chapter, with a batch of new material emerging over the summer to replace the older stuff that the band now say will not be played live again. Tipping up to Bush Hall on a freezing night in West London then, that summer of festival appearances has turned the hype dial up from a curious ‘what are they gonna do now?’ to a healthy buzz. The tiny stage, decked out as a pastoral scene complete with fluffy little clouds dangling from the ceiling, gives off the vibe of being at a school play. Lewis Evans in particular gives off an air of being able to rustle up a sheepdog or two if he hits the right note on his flute. “Everyone feeling pastoral?” he grins. It’s all carried off with the sort of ridiculous knowing air of nonsense and humour that cuts through any thought that this band is ‘too serious’. Whether it’s the adjusted line-up, or just the natural effect of having different singers step in throughout the show, the whole sense of who and what Black Country, New Road could be seems to have shifted now. Georgia Ellery, fresh from her exploits with Jockstrap, underpins the whole show on strings – casting out threads along with Charlie that the rest of the band can dance and wind around. It’s almost a much quirkier band on stage now than the first two albums reflected as they grow into this new form, the sheer force of personality shining through. While the feeling can’t be avoided that it would be ace for them to find some way of incorporating the old anthems into this new world, there’s also a sense that they are already songs from a different place and time now. In a moment where some fascinating stuff is happening outside and away from the usual scenes, Black Country, New Road look to be moving themselves further and further afield into richer pastures, bringing with them a sense of warmth and community that is sometimes missing from other ‘similar’ acts. Sounding like nobody but themselves – while also not really sounding how we’ve got used to them sounding anyway – is one hell of a balancing act, but the signs suggest they’re about to pull that trick off for a third time. This mad little ride is continuing on nicely.



NX, Newcastle 27th November 2022 with the soft blow it deserves. Opening with ‘The Walls Are Way Too Thin’ and later bookending the set with some rare high-energy cuts, the core of the set is a breathtakingly intimate exploration of a complicated and confusing turn into adulthood: moving to the big city (‘London Is Lonely’), watching the host of your youth crumble away (‘Haunted House’), hurting others through no fault of your own (‘Friendly

IT’S ABOUT TIME BLOSSOMS GOT THEIR DUES AT POP’S TOP TABLE for the future. Perhaps the most striking thing is just how at ease Blossoms are on stage, every member growing into themselves as consummate performers rather than just a bunch of lads playing instruments. Tonight, they’re positively revelling in the moment. Singer Tom Ogden is the ringleader, of course, as he sashays and shimmies across the stage, looking as immaculate as ever with officially the best haircut in pop and some quite beautiful trousers. Always remember how important the trousers are. Whipping up the crowd up in his engagingly

endearing style, they respond in kind. “At Once A Kiss’, ‘Oh No, I Think I’m In Love’, ‘Honey Sweet’ – it’s all perfectly positioned pop from a band utterly at ease with who they are. This is the ultimate Blossoms experience, refined and ten years in the making. Their current album is a quiet evolution for the band, containing their most personal and ambitious work. To realise this on stage, they’ve grown into a nineheaded groove machine, with the expanded band including extra percussion and backing vocals. It provides a richly full sound that

O2 Academy, Edinburgh 23rd November 2022

enables them to have fun with the songs, the blissful coda to stirring early set highlight ‘The Keeper’ a particular highlight. The cuts from ‘Ribbon Around The Bomb’ form the heart of the set with ‘Ode To NYC’s’ dreamy escapism, ‘The Sulking Poet’s’ perfect pop and the disco swirl of ‘Care For’. All stirring stuff. Most excitingly though, there’s a nod to the future with an Actual New Song. ‘Big Word’ already feels like a Blossoms classic. A darker insidious groove suggests their knack for evolution will only continue. Never afraid to

embrace ridiculousness, they amp up the party atmosphere with their rousing cover of certified pop classic ‘Don’t You Want Me?’. It also provides a highlight for Edinburgh-born support act and Dork Hype List star Brooke Combe, who absolutely nails her vocals. Ending with the customary elongated party jam of ‘Charlemagne’, it feels like we’ve come full circle. A dizzying journey through a discography packed with invention, heart and some of the best songwriting you could hope to hear. About time indeed.

Words: Martyn Young. Photos: Ewan Ogden.

→ When Blossoms appeared on the cover of Dork for the very first time earlier this year, drummer Joe Donavan exclaimed “about time!” – and y’know what, he was right. Occasions like their rousing headline set in Edinburgh highlight exactly why they firmly belong at the top table of pop legends. Marking their fourth album (and third number one) ‘Ribbon Around The Bomb’, this run of shows to end the year showcases a careerencompassing set that celebrates the journey they’ve been on while also offering an intriguing teaser

Fire’)… it’s not an easy world to navigate, but Holly does so beautifully. Many of the emotions touched on here stem from the unstoppable motion of mundane trains of thought, but that doesn’t let them become any less interesting when explored in detail. In fact, Humberstone displays the rare ability to turn every second on stage into a magical moment, forcing boisterous gig-goers to a complete standstill. That doesn’t stop fans from singing along, though, with ‘Falling Asleep At The Wheel’ an undeniable highlight in that area. Subtlety is key as, just like her release strategy, the 22-year-old’s set becomes a slow and gradual build with each stop on that journey becoming its own special moment. The all-too-short setlist examines a collection of heartbreaking and potentially set-defining highlights, back to back for over an hour – it’s a show that will inevitably be envied by many. By offering a safe space, a comfortable zone to expel all the uncomfortable, disjoined thoughts, Holly opens herself up to the world and the world understands completely. Still going through so much change as a young adult, there is far more of this uncertainty than she is yet to reveal; with a debut album set to arrive next year, and her next Newcastle performance being a Sam Fender support at the legendary St James Park, it’s impossible to put a lid on Humberstone’s potential.

Words: Finlay Holden. Photos: Storm Walker.

→ Holly Humberstone kick-started her career from her remote family home in Lincolnshire, initially struggling to see much tangible proof that people were listening. Now, with multiple headline tours under her belt, two broken and beautiful EPs and much more on the slate for next year, it’s harder to maintain the same nonchalant pretence. The previous Dork Hype List and former cover star faces any sense of mounting pressure with confidence as unflinching as her consistent honesty. Having last played in the Toon just over a year ago at the modest Cluny – a gig which itself was the sold-out result of pandemic delays – she now steps up to a larger crowd, but one that feels closer than ever. NX, a refurbished 02 Academy venue, opens up a wide stage and exposes Humberstone to faces at all angles; with the modest singer standing at the forefront, she’s in the spotlight right where she belongs. A faultless vocal delivers heartfelt sentiments which stop the infamously rowdy Geordies in their tracks, with the ability to connect with sometimes bleak but always genuine stories proving to be her biggest asset. While Holly’s writing is ever the star of the show, a new live band adds a serious kick – gone are the days of spinning around between three different sound pads, instead replaced by live drums and harmonies that allow her to focus on delivering each lyric



Roundhouse, London 10th November 2022

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Words: Ali Shutler. Photos: Frances Beach.


→ MUNA aren’t a cult band anymore. A decade ago, back when they were just “three queers in a college room dorm”, they wrote their first song together – ‘I Know A Place’. According to vocalist Katie Gavin, it was written “with a hopeful rage that maybe we could find a space where we could be totally free to express ourselves.” “It felt like such a miracle that people turned up and found meaning within that song,” continues Katie, taking a moment to reflect on early MUNA shows. Today she’s standing onstage at London’s Roundhouse, and the reaction from the 1700-capacity crowd is absolutely deafening. “It’s the same miracle,” she says. “It just feels so much bigger now.” The trio’s brilliant second album ‘Saves The World’ was a giddy, emotional evacuation that looked for optimism in the pits of despair and live, their art-punk stylings created a cathartic space that championed selfexpression. Their label RCA Records might not have got it, but they found a new home on Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory label and released their fantastic, self-titled third album.

It’s a different record to what’s come before, more synths, less indie-rock, but it’s no less powerful. Tonight’s show opens with hammering industrial pop banger ‘What I Want’, before a jubilant ‘Number One Fan’ sees MUNA relish the bigger platform, striding about the space, blowing each other kisses and generally having an absolute blast. A thundering ‘Solid’ and the glitching, brooding ‘Runners High’ sees them retain that art-punk flamboyance, all strobe lights, dry ice and synchronised head bangs, while ‘No Idea’ is simply introduced as “a horny one”. Speaking to the crowd, Katie explains how the dreamy ‘Loose Garment’ is about finding grace while going through tough times, while the epic ‘Navy Blue’ sees them more in touch with “a more raw” part of themselves. “It’s important to honour them both.” She doesn’t like to give advice, but does suggest cutting off contact with anyone that puts rules on being loved. A few songs later, MUNA bring an inflatable horse onto the stage for ‘Anything But Me’, acquiring cowboy hats from somewhere before sending the pony crowdsurfing. She’s returned

safely a few minutes later. “We love a respectful, loud crowd,” quips guitarist Josette Maskin. A cover of The Killers’ ‘Mr Brightside’ soon follows, as MUNA cut vulnerability with a vicious good time. Despite the bigger venue and the more directly positive music, MUNA haven’t lost that miraculous bond with their fanbase. The merch booth offers t-shirts that promise MUNA are the best band in the world, say the trio “made me gay” and declares that “life’s so fun”. New songs turn the room into a mass of flailing limbs while classics like ‘Pink Light’ and ‘Stayaway’ make the pillars in the room shake. The fanbase might be passionate, but it’s always friendly. For the majority of their career, MUNA looked destined to remain a cult band. The fearless ambition of their selftitled album has shifted the boundaries, though. “We’re MUNA, and we’re here for the joyful queer revolution,” Katie declares before a triumphant rendition of ‘Silk Chiffon’ brings an emotional night to an end. Soon, they take their revolution to stadiums across North America with Taylor Swift. There’s really no telling where it goes after that.



PRIESTGATE 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 Priestgate drummer Bridie Stagg wants to try skydiving and is really 7ft 6. Honest. What was the first record you bought? Don’t judge me; it was Kelly Clarkson’s ‘All I Ever Wanted’. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? I’ve had to ask my mum and my sister about this one because I always tend to eat really strange combinations of food and I’ll easily forget about it. There was a time when I used to find anything I could and slam it in a wrap (I love wraps). I once tried an entire Pukka Pie in a wrap with tomato sauce, mayo and a dash of sriracha. It was just impractical, really. What’s the furthest you’ve travelled to attend someone else’s gig? It’s a festival, so I suppose this counts - we all went to Primavera in Barcelona this year (2022) and saw the perfect cocktail of artists; Slowdive, Khruangbin, Little Simz, Tame Impala… the list goes on and on. It was my first time on a plane, too, so it really was a week to remember! How tall are you? You’ll be surprised to know I’m actually the tallest of the group, 7’6. Ya wouldn’t know because I’m always sat behind the kit, of course. What did you last dream about? I was back working at the dog food factory and was promoted as a forklift driver; long story short, I should never have been given the chance. What’s your favourite smell? Petrol - it’s one of those that shouldn’t, but it does. What strength Nandos sauce do you order? I never really go to Nando’s, but the craziest I’ve gone is hot. Feel like I have to take the plunge for extra hot now. I’ll let you know how that one

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goes, girls x. What’s your biggest fear? I’m terrified of being chased, don’t do it. Have you ever won anything? The first thing I ever won was a talent competition at my primary school. I played the drums to Kelly Clarkson’s ‘My Life Would Suck Without You’. I knew it was a song everyone would recognise! It seems like I’m her biggest fan at this point, doesn’t it… What is your earliest memory? I remember being pushed around in my pram near the church in Nafferton and a couple of ladies stopping by to understandably say how sweet I was, but I burst out crying because I was scared of their big hoop earrings. It’s a fear I’ve overcome now; don’t worry. What is your most treasured possession? My mum bought me a music box that plays the song ‘Fields of Gold’; it reminds us both of my grandad. If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose? The smooth hand fish - Google it. If you won the lottery, what would you spend the cash on? I’d, first of all, give a good chunk to my family; the rest would go on the band. Maybe take us all to Benidorm and hope we come back with a fullywritten album or something. Let’s just wait and see. Who’s your favourite new band? I saw a band play The Sesh at Polar Bear Music Club in Hull recently called Midnight Rodeo. Not sure how long they’ve been going, but I thought they were really cool. How punk are you out of ten?

A solid 8/10. What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you? It’s only embarrassing to say because I don’t think anyone knew at the time. I once shat myself on a school trip to a waterfall and threw it behind a huge rock in a panic. I tried everything to hide what had happened, but I think the smell in the minibus probably gave it away. I never spoke about it until a couple years ago. What is your favourite time of day? 100% nighttime. The lads will agree I’m not the friendliest on a morning. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? Can’t say I have, sadly.

What’s one thing people don’t know about you? I can wiggle my ears! What do you always have in your refrigerator? Easy garlic because I love garlic but can’t cut it. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to try? Skydiving, I feel like that’s what everyone says, but I actually really wanna do it. What’s your breakfast of choice? Excuse me whilst I pretend I’m Nigella - smashed avocado with a squeeze of lime, paired with diced red onion bedded on sourdough bread (slightly toasted) with pan-fried mushrooms and a sprinkle of salt (with me easy

garlic ofc). If you had to be on a TV gameshow, which would you choose? Either Ninja Warrior or Total Wipeout. I’d be too stressed on something like The Chase. What’s your lucky number? 4. I don’t know if it’s a drummer thing, haha. But 7/8 will always be my favourite time signature. What is the most irrational superstition you have? I absolutely cannot walk over three drains. Priestgate play Dork’s Hype List Tour 2023 from 3rd February.