DOWN WITH BORING.
ISSUE 56 · JULY 2021 · READDORK.COM
I IIII NN N N N HH H H H AA A A A LLLLL EEEEE RRRRR Japanese Breakfast Griff The Wombats Lucy Dacus Spector Drug Store Romeos + loads more
INHALER THE DEBUT ALBUM
IT WON’T ALWAYS BE LIKE THIS
RELEASED 9TH JULY
Index Issue 56 | July 2021 | readdork.com | Down With Boring
Editor’s Letter Do you know how hard it is to do a magazine cover during ‘these difficult times’, Dear Reader? No - no I expect you do not. Travel restrictions, understandable apprehensiveness towards unnecessary photo shoots, a lack of face to face time, scheduling Zoom calls and dealing with constantly changing rules and regulations - it’s quite a lot. Especially when you’re dealing with acts based
outside of our fair borders. Sure, Ireland isn’t a long way away, but just because they’re our near neighbours doesn’t negate the fact that - right now - Inhaler may as well be a world away. But wait for it - ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’. Because that’s the name of their debut... yeah. Sorry. As we approach the point where hopefully the world starts to open up a bit again, we’re expecting
Inhaler to lead the charge. Following a long lineage of great stuff from Ireland, there’s so much more to them than what came before.
Stephen ‘Editor’ @stephenackroyd
Ø4 Intro 18 Hype 3Ø Features 58 Incoming Ø4.
Not ones to let a pesky global pandemic get in their way, The Wombats are back with a new single titled ‘Method to the Madness’ and news of an enormous London show slated for next year.
After a surprisingly busy 2020 for the Scouse newcomer, Zuzu returned to perform at the UK’s first live show in over a year. With the promise of new music on the horizon, she’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Inhaler In terms of apt titles, Inhaler’s debut album - ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’ - is the kind of hopeful prophecy we’re all yearning for. For a band long predicted to make it to the big leagues, they’re ready to take the limelight on their own terms.
Alt-pop sensation L Devine is about to release the first of an exciting new mixtape one-two, ‘Near Life Experience: Part 1’.
readdork.com Editor Stephen Ackroyd Deputy Editor Victoria Sinden
Associate Editor Ali Shutler
Contributing Editors Jamie Muir, Martyn Young Scribblers Abigail Firth, Alex Cabré, Blaise Radley, Chloe Johnson, Ciaran Steward, Connor Fenton, Dillon Eastoe, Edie McQueen, Felicity Newton, Finlay Holden, Jasleen Dhindsa, Jay Singh, Laura Freyaldenhoven, Neive McCarthy, Jamie MacMillan, Maxwell Granger, Phoebe De Angelis, Sam Taylor, Steven Loftin Snappers Christian Tierney, Ebru Yildiz, Jerry Maestas, Josh TaylorMoon, Leon McCullough, Neelam Khan Vela, Paint Studios, Peter Ash Lee, Phoebe Neily, Robin Clewly
PUBLISHED FROM WELCOMETOTHEBUNKER.COM
UNIT 10, 23 GRANGE ROAD, HASTINGS, TN34 2RL
Drug Store Romeos
With her rich and confessional third album ‘Home Video’, Lucy Dacus is interrogating the past as a means of moving forward.
Dreamscapes? Bedroompop? Whatever the label you want, Drug Store Romeos rule.
Six months on from appearing on every new year tips list going, and our Griff is living up to the mountains of hype with a BRIT Award and a brand new mixtape.
With, a revolutionary new record and even An Actual Book, Michelle Zauner is in full bloom.
Spector are expanding out the Spector Musical Universe with a new album, due later this year.
With one angst-ridden indierock anthem after another, LA-based Wallice is quickly growing an audience that can all too easily relate to her accessible and dramatically presented hopes and fears.
Have you met De’Wayne yet? Everyone’s favourite new punk is about to drop his debut album.
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.
#HELPTHEHEDGEHOGS A pile of leaves, logs or twigs left in a quiet corner of the garden – or a compost heap – makes the perfect hedgehog habitat, providing a warm, dry and secluded place for them to nest in and hibernate. Plus, small invertebrates, such as slugs, centipedes and beetles, will also take shelter here, providing food for hungry hedgehogs.
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Intro THE BEATING HEART OF POP NEWS
After a surprisingly busy 2020, Zuzu returned to perform at the UK’s first live show in over a year. With the promise of new music on the horizon, she’s showing no signs of slowing down. p9
THE BIG STORY
Alt-pop sensation L Devine is about to release the first of an exciting new mixtape one-two, ‘Near Life Experience: Part 1’. p10
Spector are expanding out the Spector Musical Universe with a new album, due later this year. p12.
“I think we’re the first band to get dropped by a major label and then get bigger”
HIS NAME IS
JONAS BUT WHICH JONAS BROTHER IS PHOEBE GREEN’S FAVOURITE? HMMM?!
If you’re anything like us, Dear Reader, there’ll be some questions you find yourself pondering on the regular. What is the meaning of life? What happens when you die? Which Jonas Brother is up-and-coming popster Phoebe Green’s favourite? Well, we can deal with one of them. After seeing her fetching Jonas-tastic photobooth snap on ‘the old Twitter’ the other week, we asked her. “My favourite Jonas Brother was always Nick,” she told us. “Take from that what you will.” We will, of course, be doing further research, and will bring you our full conclusions when complete.
he Wombats never seem to stop, do they? Even while stuck at home in LA, Matthew ‘Murph’ Murphy has been all-go over the pandemic, cracking on with what will be the band’s fifth studio album, with Dan Haggis (drums) and Tord Øverland Knudsen (bass/keys) just as busy this side of the pond. The first taste of new music is ‘Method to the Madness’, a slow builder that finds Murph moseying ‘round the streets of Barcelona’s gothic quarter. From a chilled, almost metronomic start, the track builds to a whopping climax with some of that non-stop energy these guys do so well. Murph gives Dork the low-down on making an album over Zoom, going viral on TikTok, and stagediving into German fans’ faces. What’s it been like living in LA through the past year and a half? Just crazy. I’m vaccinated, so I technically don’t have to wear a mask outside, but it’s always round my neck. I’ve got two kids, and it’s very unusual for me to be at home for a year and a half. It’s been great to get into some Dad/ family time.
Not ones to let a pesky global pandemic get in their way, The Wombats are back with a new single titled ‘Method to the Madness’ and news of an enormous London show slated for next year. We gave Murph a buzz to get all the details. Words: Alex Cabré.
We did the whole album over Zoom. It was ridiculous MURPH Let’s talk about ‘Method to the Madness’. Was it recorded since Covid? Yes, we did the whole album over Zoom. It was ridiculous. For those recordings, I was in a studio in LA while Dan and Tord were in London with Mark Crew, who’s the main producer. We’d check in each morning to figure out what the goal was for the day, but after a few weeks, they really started dwindling, so sometimes I’d be recording vocals for one song, and they’d be like five steps behind me, or five steps ahead, and Mark had to take everything and shove it all together afterwards. When
Wombats ‘behind the scenes’ at Wembley Arena, 2019
we worked with [producer] Jacknife Lee, I was in LA with him, Tord was in Oslo, and Dan was in London with Mark. It was really odd. When was the last time you were all in a room together? It must be difficult summoning the energy to create upbeat music when you’re so disconnected from one another. Reading Festival 2019 was the last time I saw Tord. So next time I see him, it’ll be two years! On our first album, there were only three or four songs where we recorded together as a band. In that respect, we don’t all need to be in the same room to get that energy, somehow. We wrote ‘Method...’ in early 2019, and we had a good demo of it, and Dan could just track the drums to that demo. So long as we’re not doing any tempo changes, he can just be playing along. That was one of the easier parts, really. The lyrics and artwork
reference Barcelona, which you’ve described as influencing songs in the past, like ‘Pink Lemonade’. Do you find European cities especially inspiring? Cities, in general, have some kind of energy or dream-like quality to them, which I’m always running towards in songs. My wife and I had this great wedding in Spain. When we went on our honeymoon, we didn’t really plan it; we just got last minute flights and used the HotelTonight app to bounce around Spain and Italy. I think ‘Method...’ is generally about our honeymoon and this feeling that everything could change, but actually, nothing could change whatsoever. Sometimes I need to know where a song is taking place. I have to put it somewhere in my head, and that comes out in the lyrics. It turns out ‘Method...’ was Barcelona. There’s a lyric in there about “no more subscribing and no reviews”. Not sure we’d agree
Pond have announced details of a brand new album, ‘9’. As you’d imagine, it’s the band’s ninth studio album and is set for release on 1st October. The news comes alongside a second track from the record, ‘America’s Cup’, following-up on March’s ‘Pink Lunettes’.
with you on that one. Ha! It’s not an attack on the music press. It’s a bit of an attack on the pitfalls of social media, and there’s a fair few that go on like this through the album. Generally, it’s very positive and keeps us all connected, but it gets a bit messy at times. For me, “no more subscribing and reviews” is about relinquishing judgement, in a way. My relationship with social media has changed a lot over the last 16 months. Life is too nuanced to fit inside 280 Twitter characters or whatever it is on Instagram. A lot of those nuances are really important, and they just get cast aside for the main narrative that someone’s trying to push. It started getting me down, so I don’t use it anymore. A remix by Oliver Nelson of your track ‘Greek Tragedy’ blew up on TikTok recently. Metrics look great on paper – it’s used in 600,000+ videos, some with over 100 million views – but how was that experience, especially
◤ Murph on stage at Wembley Arena, 2019
Live At Leeds has signed up Sports Team, The Big Moon, Dream Wife, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, The Night Café, Jaws and loads more. They’re in amongst the first names confirmed for this year’s event, which will be held in Leeds (durr - Ed) on 16th October.
I could show you pages of emails from our management trying to get the band on TikTok, and we’re just not responding MURPH as someone trying to ween themself off the socials? I could show you pages of emails from our management trying to get the band on TikTok, and we’re just not responding. I’m sure it’s fun, and I know it’s a good way to promote but, fuck me, there’s already enough of this shit! I can’t get sucked into another thing. I prefer watching films to series now because I’m bored of cliffhangers sucking me in, and before I know it, I’ve lost a week of my life.
It’s just ridiculous, really. I don’t understand it. I know some influencer posted a clip of herself singing it, and then everyone was doing it... That remix was never officially released; it was on some Hedkandi compilation. I guess if you stick around long enough, bizarre things like this are gonna happen. On the topic of sticking around, it’s amazing to see how far you guys have come compared to a lot of the acts you were bunched with when you first started out. What do you attribute The Wombats’ longevity to? I haven’t got a good answer for this. We just work really fucking hard, I guess. There have been some moments of adversity in our career, and we’ve battled through. Head down, get on with it. Could you give an example? After our third album, we played Ally Pally. It sold out, it was such a great show, and then we got dropped by Warner the next day. I took that really hard, but our fourth album [2018’s ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’] came out of that turmoil, and now we seem to be stronger and healthier than ever. I think we’re the first band to get dropped by a major record label and then get bigger. It’s not something that happens very often! I just think as a band, we all share a common interest in what gets us going. I guess I have certain melodies that are a bit unusual and certainly with the lyrical content; if a song’s not a little bit weird, I’m kind of bored. When I’ve worked with other artists, I’ve tried to dumb down the lyrics to make it more commercial or whatever. For The Wombats, it has to be
Your shows are always so energetic and participatory. Do you have any fond crowd interaction memories? In Germany once, in the days when we’d occasionally go stage diving, I’d had a few beers and was like, I’m gonna do it. So I took a run-up from the drum riser. When I jumped, I realised that the distance between the stage and the barrier was so long and it was a steel barrier, so in mid-air, I was like, ‘I’m gonna completely break both my knees here’. I’m in mid-air; what am I gonna do? So I tucked my knees up and cannonballed straight into this girl’s face! [Laughs] Knee straight to the face, knocked her out, stretcher, paramedics. I was thinking, ‘okay, this is gonna be a lawsuit’. Anyway, we gave her a load of free merch, and she absolutely loved it. She had a massive black eye. It was so strange because I felt so bad about it and we were all really worried, but she had the best night of her life.
weird otherwise I don’t get off on it. It’s one of few instances where you can pigeonhole yourself, and it’s a positive thing. There’s something about that which has stood us apart from, you know, The Pigeon Detectives, stuff like that. Those bands who were probably bigger than us when we started but have died away. There’s something about the weirdness that we carry with us that people gravitate towards. You’re playing the O2 Arena next year, so you must be doing something right! How does it feel knowing that show is happening? Well, right now, I need some more signs that life is coming back [but] it feels like such a huge milestone and a real, big sense of achievement to have even booked it, to be honest. I know so many bands who have played massive arenas and then, on their next tour, played tiny clubs. Just because you do it once doesn’t mean you can do it again! I don’t take it for granted. P The Wombats’ single ‘Method to the Madness’ is out now.
Dry Cleaning have announced a world tour. The lengthy run of dates is in support of their recently-released debut album ‘New Long Leg’, and will kick off on 10th November in Los Angeles. 4AD label mate Maria Somerville will support on the European dates, and PVA will join on the UK and Ireland leg.
“You have to be really fucking annoying, be your own hype man” Ethan Barnett, aka Ten Tonnes, has utilised the past year for an all-encompassing stock check and is now ready to return with a fresh vibe rooted in vintage aesthetics. Words: Finlay Holden. Photo: Paint Studios.
◤ Not often you get a photo of a pop star after they’ve been caught having a cheeky wee, is it?
ollowing his debut with 2019’s ‘Ten Tonnes’, Ethan Barnett has taken a bit of a break to rekindle his creative drive. Coming off his album tour and stepping back from the overwhelming nature of social media, the pandemic-induced lockdown actually came at rather a good time for him to kick back and relax. As a young artist, though, he has been subjected to many of the same pains that the rest of Gen-Z have been suffering through over the last 12 months – this includes being forced to return home to the parents for a bit (gulp), which had him questioning “why have I gone from being an independent semi-adult to now living in my childhood bedroom again?” Fortunately, this time away from the stage has at least been beneficial to his mindset. “It’s definitely been nice to set some time aside for self-reflection and just chill out a bit – I’ve had a couple of hectic years, but it was nice to take a break and take stock.” As much of a creator as he is a listener, the Ten Tonnes project emanates an aura combining mists of indie and rock with overarching pop sensibilities. “Fundamentally, if you write songs with hooks and choruses, you’re writing pop music in a sense,” he says. “It can be packaged differently, but that’s always what I’ve known and loved; that’s how I’d describe my own music. There is a great skill involved in writing something that’s that catchy; the pop slickness is hard to grasp.” These elements are intricately intertwined with classic indie characteristics on tracks like ‘Lucy’ and ‘Better Than Me’, embodying the slickness Ethan is hinting at. The singles were part of an experience that bookended his early twenties, and now he’s already starting to turn to the next
page. Now on his own label Silver Heart Records (a nice call-back for his fans), an EP seems like an appropriate first step to take on his own two feet. Titled ‘So Long’, this four-track record waves goodbye to glittery sonic environments and greets a more grounded, retro sound exploring high-energy rockers and allowing for some bubbly, rosetinted moments. While crafting past tracks, the anticipated crowd reaction was something that was always fighting for attention and coming out on top in Ethan’s mind. “The modus operandi was songs that go down well live. I was going on tours between writing and studio sessions, and I’d always come back wanting a certain type of song; I was striving for that anthemic quality.”
The shit you go through becomes a part of you ETHAN BARNETT The obvious lack of audience participation has forced a change of perspective, but fortunately, this arose almost unconsciously while ‘So Long’ was beginning to emerge. He hesitantly recognises this shift after a brief ponder. “It’s been interesting to notice, over the last year… I’ve been more writing songs for my own pleasure and creating sounds that I like. Even with clear festival-y tunes, I think the best music comes out when you’re making it for yourself, and it’s nice to feel that freedom from expectations.” As a currently independent artist, this self-fulfilment is a pursuit that comes naturally, but what doesn’t always magically appear is the drive to push forward even in the bleakest of moments. To do that, “you need to be your own biggest fan; not in an arrogant way, you just have to believe in what you do more than anybody else. That gives
you the drive you need. You have to be really fucking annoying, be your own hype man, and not be scared to bother everybody.” Despite this spirit of confidence as supposed optimism, Ethan affirms that he is certainly more of a realist, probably hinged on the amount of time spent inside his own head. Claiming overthinking as one of his fundamental and defining characteristics, anxiety is only substantiated by excess alone time - something we can all relate to. But is this beneficial to an artist? “That’s a big part of me with its obvious downsides, but it is wicked when it can be funnelled into creative things,” Ethan judges. “These things make you uniquely you, the shit you go through becomes a part of you. I wouldn’t want to take it away because I don’t know who I’d be. Sometimes I do wish I could be a bit more chilled, though,” he jokes. A surprisingly optimistic view of mental health, then. This is one of many themes tackled on new material; recent single ‘Everything You Got’ traverses the journey of learning to switch off your brain and just go for it, whatever that ‘it’ might mean to those who are listening. Ten Tonnes songs often leave these broad themes left as vague commentary to be applied as fans themselves decide, as art should be open to interpretation – a mantra Ethan holds close. “I don’t want to spell things out and dictate meaning to you – that’s what music is about; you can listen and interpret it how you want. I’m always hesitant to say, ‘this is what my song’s about; this is why I wrote it’. I’ve got my own meaning to it, but yours doesn’t have to be the exact same.” Artistic expression and interpretation is a cathartic release for both parties involved, and something Ethan thinks should be done at your own pace. Although it’s been the main quantifier of success while being stuck behind physical and metaphorical screens, stream numbers are not something that he aspires to focus on. His ambitions are more genuine, as he concludes happily from his home studio in Bristol. “Being able to hold my own album is everything I ever wanted. Writing songs, doing tours when those can happen, just being a musician – as long as I can keep that up, I don’t need anything else.” P Ten Tonnes’ EP ‘So Long’ is out soon.
Liz Lawrence has announced news of her third album, ‘The Avalanche’. Set to arrive on 17th September, she explains: “I feel like there’s power and aggression in the way I perform live, and I wanted to capture that on The Avalanche.” So there we go.
Visions has confirmed a bunch of acts for this year’s festival. The event – held on 7th August at the Oval in Hackney – will host sets from Porridge Radio, Flohio (pictured), Billy Nomates, Nine8 Collective, Yard Act, Gaika (DJ Set), Girl Ray, Grove, Porij, Folly Group and more.
This Is Tomorrow has confirmed its 2021 event.The festival – now hosted by UK promoters Kilimanjaro Live – will be headlined by Dermot Kennedy, Gerry Cinnamon and Sam Fender. Also playing are Blossoms, Fontaines D.C., Pale Waves, Sea Girls, Inhaler, Holly Humberstone and loads more.
Party Like It’s 2019 ZUZU
After a surprisingly busy 2020 for the Scouse newcomer, Zuzu returned to perform at the UK’s first live show in over a year. With the promise of new music on the horizon, she’s showing no signs of slowing down. Words: Finlay Holden. Photos: Robin Clewly.
iverpudlian pop mastermind and ambitious dreamer Zuzu dropped her second EP ‘How It Feels’ back in April last year, featuring various singles from across her discography and indeed across her life. A celebratory run of live shows pre-empted this release, and it’s a good thing too. As we’re all too aware, live music faded into obscurity shortly after an exuberant tour blasting out indie-pop anthems with her band and greeting her adoring fans afterwards. Fortunately, her
listeners have had less time to wait between shows than almost any other fanbase. Did you hear about that live music pilot event in Liverpool’s Sefton Park, headlined by Blossoms? Of course you did. But did you know that Zuzu was the first act on the line-up, and therefore the first musician to grace a full stage in over a year? Speaking from her cosy bedroom, Zuzu is very much still digesting the historic event herself. Recalling the moment she heard the news, she reminisces: “I was sat outside in my garden, and my manager rang and told me there’s a gig happening that’s part of these pilot events, which I thought was sick. Then he said it’d be supporting Blossoms, who I love. Then he told us it was going to be the FIRST gig? I screamed my head off; I couldn’t process all of that at once.” As the venue was capped at 5000, many were left to watch videos in awe of what seems like a relic of a time gone by. When asked to put it into words, she replies: “The closest thing I can compare it to would be jumping out of an aeroplane - not that I’ve ever done that, but it’s what I imagine it would feel like. It was pure euphoria; it was incredible. The energy in that room… I don’t think I’ll ever experience anything like that again.” What a show-off. She does retain a distinct sense of humility about the whole thing, though. “I could’ve been anyone; people weren’t just cheering for me; they were cheering for live music. I just had the honour of being that person who got to walk out. It was an amazing experience, and I was super lucky to be involved.”
The experience of being in a crowded audience feeding off each other’s hype is just something else, and by god, the industry has been missing those magical interactions. As Zuzu puts it, “there’s just something about feeling the bass in your chest that gets you emotional. Being around your friends and other people, seeing the people you’ve connected with through music for so long – that’s really important to me.” This intimate connection she mentions has gradually developed after years of grafting in sweaty basement gigs and greeting everyone and anyone who wants to say hello. “You don’t just get success out of nowhere. I spent a lot of time working on my craft, as they say, and it took me a while to get people to let me make the music that I wanted to make,” she reveals. This has only made her even more grateful for those that do express an interest. “I try to keep people engaged in a real way and put a lot of effort into knowing my listeners. I’m still in shock that people want to come to my gigs. It’s the least I can do to stay and hug everyone that wants to hug me; what a dream!” This effort has transformed from hugging every gig attendee to writing letters to her closest fans, many of whom Zuzu knows by name and chats with regularly. Although she’s planning some for future tours, local meet-ups have not been a thing over the last 18-goingon-1800 months, during which she’s been laying fairly low in her home city. “I’ve been in Liverpool for a year, and I’ve been heavily influenced by it more than ever. In the last few years, I’ve
been travelling so much that coming home is a luxury,” she affirms. “Being here for the last almost-18 months, I’ve been absorbing what’s around me – family, friends, local fans, the Mersey. I think the pandemic has made us all realise what’s important and what’s not.”
People weren’t just cheering for me; they were cheering for live music ZUZU Embracing the inner Scouse is an empowering element of Zuzu’s music, with the instantly recognisable accent shining through her hefty vocal takes. This is not a creative choice made lightly, though; citing Alex Turner as an inspiration for utilising her roots, she continues: “There’s definitely a misconception with Scouse women, northern women, and anyone with a strong accent. I was at the nail salon the other day, and the lady said, ‘I hate the sound of my own voice, I sound thick, I sound stupid’ - don’t you
DARE say that about yourself. I know a lot of Scouse women that feel judged and insecure about the way they speak, which is fucked up and bizarre to me. You should feel represented, or at least you shouldn’t have to change yourself to be taken seriously. It’s so common, people get really embarrassed, and that breaks my heart.” Accepting and championing her identity has been a large part of the process of exploring the music industry for effectively her entire life, as Zuzu bluntly outlines. “You don’t get somewhere by copying someone else. When I was 14 and had just been signed, everyone wanted Avril Lavigne. The thing is, I love Avril Lavigne and am inspired by her in a very natural way, but no one wants to be forced to be someone else; that’s just not a vibe.” Particularly with a debut album peeking over the horizon, Zuzu is keen to make sure this statement of intent encompasses what she’s really about. “A lot of people capture phases of their lives in records, and that’s how I feel about this,” she announces. Even with playlist culture, the debut album is still seen as a make-or-break moment that encapsulates a career in a collection of tracks. As such, Zuzu has been persistent in expressing her true feelings, her true influences and working with her true friends on her upcoming songs. Reflecting on her work to this point, she confidently declares: “I want my first record to be out there as the first body of work that properly represents who I am.” This self-discovery journey has begun to manifest with lead single ‘Timing’ unsheathing
◤ Zuzu survived
lockdown purely on turkey and rice flavoured adult dog food. “It’s delicious,” she didn’t say.
some mystical energy, contrasting her previously glossy sound with an abrasive and gritty environment that still maintains the harmonic elements from anthemic tunes like ‘Get Off’. “’Timing’ is probably my most psychedelic one,” Zuzu confirms before excitedly flashing a rock’n’roll gesture (index and pinky out, you know the one). On adopting this fresh mix of sounds that’s hard to label easily, she recalls: “The amount of shit I’ve been through with playlisting… I felt like a square peg in a round hole. I’m just not going to change my music to fit into any genre.” Using her career to “catalogue deep emotional unrest”, this song continues to use music as a cathartic tool to extract snippets of painful life moments. She says that, specifically, “it’s about meeting someone in the wrong time of your life and when you can’t get them out of your mind. It’s about that feeling of ‘what if’ – when you can’t escape that feeling, and even the beauty you see in the world makes you think of them. See, even my happy songs are secretly emo,” she laughs. ‘Timing’ was actually written while in London with her boyfriend, long-time collaborator and musician in his own right Kurran Karbal, aka Munkey Junkey. Although it may sound as though this embedded feeling of ‘what if’ is heavily and intentionally romanticised, it’s actually not; Zuzu says it really refers to the desire to move back home, a wish now granted. “The weird thing about my music is that the songs that sound like they’re about relationships aren’t actually about love interests at all,” she contends. “They’re about friends, acquaintances, people I used to work with… life isn’t all about falling in and out of love; or it is, but it’s not always that kind of love. People don’t put enough emotional weight on their friendships.” And if people choose to view those themes as cliché and grounded in adolescent melodrama? “I think that’s just what people do,” Zuzu answers. Either way, her tunes clearly strike an impact and hold deep significance for a collective of fans that’s only growing from here. If listeners find an alternative spin that allows them to access something meaningful to them… why would you ever contest that? P Zuzu’s single ‘Timing’ is out now. readdork.com 9.
Years & Years have released a new version of recent single ‘Starstruck’, featuring Kylie Minogue. Olly Alexander explains that the new take on the track ““is quite literally a dream come true. Kylie is an icon who has inspired me since I first started making music, so this feels out this world.
Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen have joined forces for a brand new track, ‘Like I Used To’. “Even though we weren’t super close, I always felt supported by Angel and considered her a peer in this weird world of touring,” Sharon explains.
“I’ve tried to explore all the corners of pop” Alt-pop sensation L Devine is about to release the first of an exciting new mixtape one-two, ‘Near Life Experience: Part 1’. Words: Abigail Firth.
umour has it L Devine couldn’t use her birth name – Olivia Devine – as her pop star moniker because it also belonged to a porn star. Well, now the tables have turned, as Liv plays a phone sex line operator in the promo video for new single ‘Girls Like Sex’. “It’s kind of like ‘Naked Alone’ finally got some,” she says of the single. It’s been over two years since she last released a full project, and ‘Girls Like Sex’ is a fun and cheeky reintroduction to L Devine. Released just in time for Pride month, the track is a groovy, synthy 80s number that polishes off Part 1 of her upcoming mixtape ‘Near Life Experience’ and winds up being one of its highlights. “That song always reminded me of songs by queer artists or queer icons because I feel like they’ve always been artists that are never afraid to talk about taboo stuff and make it liberating and fun.” She’s been working on the project for a long time now, with the bulk of it written during a writing trip to LA last February, right before the first lockdown, and the process of actually finishing those songs up was obviously very different in 2020. Producing songs over Zoom and during one-off trips to London, then continuing writing back in her hometown of Newcastle (where she permanently moved back to last
Have you ever had a near-death experience? Actually yeah. When I was five or something, on Christmas Eve, I was so naughty. I woke up at like one in the morning, and I went downstairs and opened everyone’s presents. I ruined Christmas, basically. I was so excited, but it was really bad. So then the following day, when it came to Christmas dinner, I was absolutely shattered, and I fell asleep, so I had it later on by myself. I choked on a pig-in-blanket, and I was trying to tell my sister I was choking, and she was just laughing at me. She didn’t know what was happening, she didn’t know I was choking, but I was going blue, and my mum was beside herself. So I was about to die. And then she did the Heimlich manoeuvre, and then the sausage came out. Yeah, that was my near-death experience.
year because the North is better, according to Liv), the mixtape is an accumulation of tracks from the past couple of years. “I wanted to keep on churning out songs and keep putting them out as singles, and then when I realised that never happens as quickly as you want it to, I decided to make another body of work just so the fans have loads of tunes to listen to at a time.” Most artists have spent the last year figuring out who they are, stuck home alone, and L Devine is no exception. Looking introspectively and drawing more inspiration from herself, ‘Near Life Experience’ is a reflection of how we’ve all been feeling. “At first, the title to me meant like, where you felt like you almost knew what the meaning of life was only to be shown, no, you don’t have a fucking clue. But I think now it symbolises something different to me, because it really does reflect the way we’ve been living the past two years.” The mixtape opens with thumping electronic banger ‘Priorities’, a track about being frustrated with her other half for not paying her enough attention. Written a while ago, the song’s meaning changed over lockdown as she realised she needed to shift that energy back to herself. “What it says on the tin is me bitching about the fact that the person that I’m into won’t prioritise me when, in actuality, what I should be doing is taking a step back, and I should be doing all the things that they’re doing, but for me. I should be the one going to therapy; I should be reaching out to my mum, and stuff like actually perfecting my talents. A lot of the songs have kind of changed meaning for me; I guess it’s kind of helped me do some self-evaluation
along the way.” Other big bops on Part 1 include ‘Off The Grid’, a bouncy electro banger about chasing someone who clearly doesn’t want to be caught, and ‘Wish That You Saw Me’, which is sonically ‘Nervous’’s older sister (if you’ve been following L Devine long enough). There’s also old singles ‘Don’t Say It’ and wankthem ‘Naked Alone’, and one thing’s for sure, there’s plenty of yearning on this record. On a more tender and vulnerable note, there’s the ballad ‘Be In Her Bedroom’, about pining for an old friend and wanting to know them differently. A firm fan favourite, it’s been around for a while, and we’ll finally hear the studio version on this mixtape. “I think my favourite one is actually ‘Be In Her Bedroom’. The fans have been asking for that one for ages, and I was always rewriting it and never felt like I got it quite right - and yeah, I think we smashed it, I love it. It feels like a secret in a song, and I guess it kind of is; all of my songs are things I wish I could say to people that I can’t.” With every release, L Devine has strengthened her own sound and has slowly but surely been climbing up the UK’s pop ladder. Usually plumping for a futuristic 80s electronic/dance instrumental, elevated by consistently fantastic open-book songwriting, ‘Near Life Experience’ is a taster of the L Devine album we’ve been missing. “It’s a melting pot of my influences. It’s definitely pop music, but it feels a bit genreless at the same time. I feel like I’ve tried to explore all the corners of pop.” Maybe you’ve noticed there’s a couple of singles missing – 2020’s ‘Boring People’ and 2019’s ‘Peachy Keen’ – but there’s more to come yet!
Latitude has confirmed this year’s line-up. The bill – running from 22nd-25th July at Suffolk’s Henham Park – will be topped by Wolf Alice, Bombay Bicycle Club, Bastille and The Chemical Brothers. Also playing are Fontaines D.C., Beabadoobee, Sea Girls, Declan McKenna, Griff, Arlo Parks, Shame and loads more.
OF THE MONTH What have ‘the bands’ been saying ‘online’ this month? ”Yesterday was the 8th anniversary of the time I was bored during some class in 5th year and decided to register myself as an ordained minister , so I could be Reverend CMAT“ CMAT (@cmatbaby) Sorry to all other pop stars, but CMAT is now, de-facto, ‘the best’.
Alfie Templeman (@alfietempleman) We don’t tend to include photo based tweets in this section, but sometimes, y’know, it’s just too good not to.
Part 2 is on the horizon to complete the story, and she’s promising it’ll be soon. “Hopefully, when both parts are out, you’ll see the thought process behind the tracklist,” she says. “Maybe I’ve just bullshitted it completely, but I feel like there’s the story in there.” She’s hoping for the whole project to be out by the time her twicerescheduled tour comes around in September (yes!! We’re talking about live music again!!), which can’t come quick enough. “It was meant to have happened two years ago,” she explains. “I rescheduled it once because my music wasn’t out yet, and then had to reschedule it again when Corona happened. People have had these tickets for a long ass time. It’s good I’ve been allowed the time to get this mixtape finished; when everyone comes and sees the show now, there’ll be so many more new songs.” ‘Near Life Experience’? More like near LIVE experience, let’s get this show on the road! It’s been bloody ages, and a good boogie at a pop concert is well overdue. P L Devine’s mixtape ‘Near Life Experience: Part 1’ is out in July.
“You never know when it’s gonna be the last time you see someone”
HOT-OR-INDEED-NOT? IT’S TIME TO DUST OFF DORK’S PATENTED
BUZZ CHART Best fest eva?
Primavera Sound has announced what it, probably accurately, describes as “the best lineup in its history”. Running across two weekends (2nd-4th June, 9th-11th June), with some shows in-between, it includes the likes of Lorde, Dua Lipa, The Strokes, Tame Impala and more. We believe the term is ‘blimey’.
Oh God. Doesn’t this feel mean? Everyone loves a bit of Glastonbury, right? So it’s with no glee whatso-ever we have to bring up the nonsense that surrounded the debut screening of the festival’s special Live From Worthy Farm livestream last month. Bought our tickets, got the snacks ready, sat down at 7pm ready to watch and... invalid code. Invalid code. Invalid code. Yup - what seems like the majority of people couldn’t get access. For hours. Eventually, the technical bods behind the film had to unlock the stream for everyone, and put on further screenings the next day, but one of the key parts of the event the community aspect of everyone watching and interacting on social media at the same time - was lost. Still, at least they managed to recreate the stress off buying Glasto tickets. Call it nostalgia.
B U Z Z - O - M E T E R
Show me the MUNA!
Rejoice! Former Dork cover-stars and really very good music types MUNA have signed to Phoebe Bridgers’ label, Saddest Factory Records. The band explain: “Phoebe asked us to be in a four person couple with her. We said, “Sadly, we are all taken but we will happily sign to your record label for the small fee of 10 million dollars.” After much negotiation, she obliged.”
Glastonbury has been granted a licence to host a live event on their festival site this year. The approval comes alongside a list of conditions, including that any live music performance must take place on the Pyramid Stage, a maximum capacity of 49,999 people, and no camping allowed.
Spector are expanding out the Spector Musical Universe with a new album, due later this year. Words: Dillon Eastoe.
obody can miss you if you’re never gone,” Fred Macpherson muses in his trademark laconic baritone on Spector’s mega comeback single ‘Catch You On the Way Back In’. Well, it’s been a year and a half since the band’s triumphant UK tour, and it turns out we’ve all missed the rush of a Spector gig more than we could have imagined. After a year stuck inside, the euphoria of bumping into each other, soaked in beer and shouting along to ‘Chevy Thunder’ feels like a different life. Thank the indie gods that Spector are back. After a clutch of brilliant EPs across 2018-19, the Moth Boys are treating us to their first full album in over six years, with ‘Now or Whenever’ due to blast out of our speakers on 1st October. ‘Catch You On the Way Back In’ is a tantalising first peak. An outpouring of melancholia propelled by surging bass and a simple, nagging guitar line, the single finds Spector in their element, another addictive chorus disguising pensive lyrics. “It’s about that sense of anticipation at the end of the night, like are we going to keep this going? Are you leaving? Are you staying? Where you’re like, ‘Oh well, if not tonight, then I’ll catch you on the way back in’. It doesn’t make too much sense actually,” Fred explains, grinning. “It’s about how you never know when it’s gonna be the last time you see someone,” he elaborates. “You get so used to everything being regular, going to the same places, with the same people, and we’ve written a lot about that in the past, the drudgery of repetition, in our social lives and our romantic relationships. And this song is almost like a strange interruption to that; what if it’s the last time?” Despite the pertinence of the lyrics to interrupted friendships, groups of mates torn asunder as borders came down and pubs closed up, Fred’s quick to point out the chorus was written before ALL OF THIS™, and that “Covid was just in a bat’s mind’s eye at that point.” Still, it’s a sentiment that cuts through as we begin to reconnect and emerge into the new normal of Pints by Appointment. The gloriously Spector album title is guitarist Jed Cullen’s work, but he passes back to Fred to talk us through it. “When we first started, we were in our early 20s, and we were writing songs about being a teenager in the past tense, and I’d always had this fantasy of when we grow up, life is going to be nothing like this. We’re not going to go round in these circles and be fixated on these minor things in relationships. And then various things in lyrics that were about the past started coming
Truck Festival has confirmed a few more acts. New to the bill are Everything Everything, Arlo Parks, Swim Deep, Billy Nomates, Jaws, Oscar Lang, The K’s, and Only The Poets. The event takes place from 22nd-25th July, with headliners Bombay Bicycle Club, The Kooks and Royal Blood.
THE DETAILS Album title: ‘Now or Whenever’ Release date: 1st October 2021 Tracklist: 1. When Saturday Comes 2. Catch You On The Way Back In 3. Do You Wanna Drive 4. Norwegian Air 5. Funny Way of Showing It 6. No One Knows Better 7. I’m Not Crying You’re Crying 8. Bad Summer 9. D-Roy 10. This Time Next Year 11. An American Warehouse In London
back into life, and you realise that a lot of these emotions are actually infinite. It felt like we weren’t just writing about the past, but we were writing about things that hadn’t happened yet or the present in ways we didn’t expect. “This January was the tenth anniversary of our first gig, and when you look back on ten years of material, you’re like, wow, is this all different, or is this all essentially the same song? Is it set then? Is it set now? Do we leave ‘the past in the past’ to quote ourselves or is the past tomorrow?” Macpherson breaks off laughing. “I’m just talking shit now.”
I see this new album as both a sequel and reboot; like when they make a new Spider-Man film” FRED MACPHERSON Recorded in one studio, with one producer under the strictures of going it alone (it’s their first album since leaving Fiction Records), Fred and Jed promise that the record will pay tribute to the energy of their live shows. “When the opportunity of playing live was taken away from us, suddenly we wanted to do that more,” Fred explains. “We’ve got an album that’s full of real performances and real emotion. It’s from the heart rather than the head. At our gigs, as much as people enjoy singing along to our smarmy lyrics, the ones that hit hardest are the ones that are just emotional. [‘Now or Whenever’] ‘s a bit of a racket, maybe, but there’s a tender side as well. It’s a raw, human album where the sound of the playing connects with the emotion of it.” With debut LP ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’ turning ten next year, talk turns to anniversary celebrations for the record that launched the band, with album shows, unheard demos and even re-recordings all in the mixer. “You remember this phase and this weird bubble of really intense working on this thing,
Torres has announced her new album, ‘Thirstier’. Set for release on 30th July via Merge Records, the news arrives alongside lead single ‘Don’t Go Puttin Wishes in My Head’, and a tour announcement. You can find those dates on readdork.com now.
and I’m really glad that we did,” Jed reminisces. “It’s an album that will encapsulate this moment, this era. With the debut, it’s been ten years, and definitely it feels really potent with memories and emotions, and for that reason, I wouldn’t want to change it.” “There are lots of demos that would be fun for people to hear, or maybe less fun than we’d think,” Fred jokes. “Maybe that’s really boring, but yeah, we’ll definitely celebrate it, hopefully without having to listen to it from beginning to end.” “I guess making albums, it’s like the thing where your parents mark your height against the wall and whatever happens in the future, you know you were that height at that time,” he continues, bringing things back around. “We could say anything we want about ‘Enjoy It While it Lasts’ today. We might hate it in 20 years time; we might say, of course, a classic sounding album. It’s just a way to mark where you are, and in a way, I see this new album as both a sequel and reboot. Like when they make a new Spiderman film, it’s within this universe, but it’s a new origin story. I feel like this ten years is almost full circle, and maybe we’ve made our most guitary album ever. It’s a new beginning, but also, it will hopefully make sense when you zoom out.” With a fingers-crossed tour ready to be announced, the band are bullish about the need for the industry to come together to get shows back on the road. “Venues have been through hell,” Macpherson says pointedly. “The ones that have survived, have survived by the skin of their teeth. Thinking about the number of places that have been lost, festivals, venues, even artists who have given up, it’s very upsetting. So I think all acts have a duty to get live music going when we can.” Getting back to the places we love and back to the things we know will be the perfect way to shout along to Spector’s new material, inspired as it was by that last marathon run around the UK’s independent venues. “A few points during those EPs, we didn’t even know what was happening next, if there would still be a band. We got to the end of this tour, and we realised, ‘Wow, no, there’s something here’. We need to honour its existence and its past and its present and give it a future.” With a live return tantalisingly within reach, and a new reboot in the Spector Musical Universe primed and ready to go, whenever can’t come soon enough. P Spector’s album ‘Now or Whenever’ is out 1st October. readdork.com 13.
SHHH! IT’S DORK’S
GOSSIP CORNER NO, WE’LL NEVER TELL YOU WHO!
WITH MEZ GREEN FROM LIFE
WHICH major indie pop ‘name’ has been making things up to describe their new track? Though they’ve been telling everyone it’s got this deep, important meaning, in fact it’s a load of old rubbish! “I don’t remember saying that,” they revealed when asked. “I think that was maybe for the music video. The director was like, ‘What’s the theme?’ and I just literally wrote down a load of shite for them to use.”
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF
You know what’s easier than following around your fave up-and-coming indiestroke-pop stars, day in, day out, to see what they’re up to? Asking them. Here’s what post-punk poet CMAT’s day looks like.
Football is coming home
I love football. It’s total. It’s Tiki-Taka. It’s a back of the net, boot-it kind of sport full of money, moisturiser, step-overs and hairless armpits. The simple, yet beautiful game started out as a community gathering where sweepers smacked the living daylights out of an orb made from pig skin through the streets with their comrades and let’s face it, it’s grown pretty stratospheric since then full of skill, ego and ability and this year, football is coming home.
8:00PM I don’t really do 8pms anymore. I usually just work or socialise for like 5 hours straight, tunnel-vision style, and to be honest, I’m not really one of those people who ever knows what time, day, week or sometimes even month it is. 6pm to like 10pm, I become an amalgamation of my physical self, pretending to be present in front of other people, and just amazing vibes.
…Maybe John Barnes and New order foresaw all this; maybe their words have created this new motion. I’d like to think so and fuck yeah, football is coming home. P Listen to Mez’s Sunday Lunch - every second Sunday of the month on Dork Radio with Jake Hawkes. Grab the podcast by searching DorkCast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or other major platforms.
Photo: Sarah Doyle.
When I was growing up in ‘96 and ‘98 I got into the mind-set of being the 12th player by tucking into a bowl of Michael Owen’s Sporties. I followed this up with two grab-bags of crisps; Salt & Lineker and Smokey Beckham. The crunch was phenomenal and football, in my mind, was coming home. It didn’t, of course, but I did watch Gazza promote excessive drinking with his dentist chair routine something which I’ve embraced through football tournaments ever since. I love football and I do believe this one is coming home and what’s more, there are players you can genuinely believe in. There seems to be a person centred; moral compass running through some of our younger talent. Yup, footballers are making the elite perform embarrassing and well documented U-turns. Rashford in particular has made Boris eat his words and Alexander-Arnold, our most talented right back, is tackling the poverty issues faced by vulnerable young people in the North.
Coke deep by this time in the studio, so it’s time for me to eat a big meal again or suffer hallucinations. There’s a place nearby called Natural Natural that sells Japanese groceries. Weird thing about the place, though - they’ve been doing so well recently that they bought the shop front beside them to expand their business. Great news! Except they have installed another sign instead of getting one big one to reach across the entire expansion. So now what we have is a shop called Natural Natural Natural Natural. Everyone seems to be ok with this? I’ve asked some of the girls who work in Natural Natural Natural Natural about it, and they just laughed at me, and said, haha yeah, I guess that’s funny, and got on with their day. But I continue to be haunted by this. Natural Natural Natural Natural. If they expand again, I might have a breakdown.
6:00AM As if!! 10:00AM I’m a night owl, but I try to get up early-ish at the moment to get some rollerskating in. I love rollerskating because I saw a lady on TikTok rollerskating with a beer in her hand, and I thought, ‘that’s a bit of me’. What’s frustrating is that I’ve been practising loads and am still really bad, whereas my sister is Torvill and Deane-ing it around the gaff. Also, the other morning I was out, and this creep started cycling around me in circles to ask for my number, so I had to skate away from him at speed, which I was not
very adept at. 9 in the morning of a Tuesday, sir?? Do you think I am looking for a beau right now?? 12:00PM This is around when I have my first meal of the day because before that, I’ve caned two Diet Cokes into me for energy, so my tummy is a bit gippy. I recently realised that my PCOS symptoms have gotten really bad (there is stubble on my NECK), so I have had to start having porridge every day with loads of flaxseed and multivitamins lumped in to help ease my flare-up. Every day as I’m fisting that stuff into my mouth, I curse my reproductive organs and think about having a fry up.
2:30PM I’m in the studio every day at the moment working on production for some new stuff, and usually, by this point, I am distracting Oli (Deakin, big legend) with some low-stakes conspiracy theories I’ve read on the internet. I do be like, ‘Hey! Hey!! Did you know that there’s a theory that Ikea make their furniture about 3cm bigger for their showrooms than they do for their flat packs? So that it’s big enough to feel more impressive but not big enough to be noticeable?’ And then he’s like, ‘please can we do some work’. 5:00PM I’m usually like five cans of Diet
11:00PM This is when it gets good. I take my makeup off, knock back a pint of water and some Buscopan, and then surf the web. I got a new fancy laptop to be able to do mobile recording work on a few months ago, and truly all I have used it for is to watch Run BTS! Videos in extremely high definition. YouTube, I believe, is still the greatest gift that has ever been given to us by the internet, even if the algorithm has become so mangled that I could be watching a 45-minute long video of a man silently carving a woodblock for printing art, and it still puts ‘So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings’ by Caroline Polachek in the’ related’ playlist. I like to get lost in the comments sections of old songs and think about what it must be like to be the man who leaves a 1000-word essay about his long-lost high school girlfriend under the video for ‘Rainy Days & Mondays’ by The Carpenters. 3:00AM Stick on my white noise machine and try not to cry thinking about the man who left a 1000-word essay about his long-lost high school girlfriend under the video for ‘Rainy Days & Mondays’ by The Carpenters. Susan, if you’re out there, I still love you! P
Take It Back
Well, new JAWNY is somethin’ else. With nods to The White Stripes and Beastie Boys, ‘Take It Back’ is HUGE - a bit like being smacked in the face by an on-form Beck. Not that we’d recommend that, because violence is wrong. Obviously. Keep an eye out for JAWNY’s new project - the follow-up to last year’s excellent ‘For Abby’ - ‘The Story Of Hugo’, set for release on 15th July.
The Wombats Method to the Madness
You know how it’s usually quite a nice thing when someone writes a song inspired by their current partner? (Not the old ones, who were inevitably wrong ‘uns.) Well, not sure our Murph is into that. The Wombats’ latest ‘Method To The Madness’ partially nods to his honeymoon spent travelling around Europe (read more on p5, don’t forget to click and subscribe), but it’s not like... the cheeriest of tracks? It’s actually a bit glum and stressful? Not that we can’t relate
to feeling a bit out of sorts on holiday. One of Team Dork once lost their wallet (containing a whole £7) playing solo mini-golf in the Butlins rain. Devastating.
Remi Wolf Liz
One of the main reasons we love Remi Wolf, is that she’s really very good at strutty, happy songs that include shouting “cock”, or generally being a bit of a sassy so-and-so. ‘Liz’, however, sees her showcase an altogether more low-key soulful pop sound, while singing about crying in the kitchen. It’s a whole new thing, and an exciting diversion for one of our favourite upand-coming acts.
Sigrid Mirror If someone were to ask you what you saw in the mirror, would you immediately think they meant your own face, or some sort of mythical vengeful spirit? Is that just us? Bit scared of mirrors? Anyway, Sigrid’s new ‘un ‘Mirror’ is a big old dance-pop hit about selfacceptance, and loving who you see in - you guessed it - the mirror. Which come to think of it, could be about fancying Bloody Mary, right? We’d be very into a song about that, actually. Someone get on it.
Kate Nash Misery
Kate Nash has always been a wee bit bonkers, but her first new music in quite a while, new single ‘Misery’, while ultimately tackling quite a dark topic depression, trauma, misery being “out to get you” - comes with a video that looks a bit like a skit you’d find on Channel 4 in the 90s. It’s all very strange, but also very Kate Nash, and somehow manages
to make the world seem slightly less shit.
Girls Like Sex
L Devine is a fan of sexy songs, and she’s very good at sticking one, two or possibly many fingers up to the tired idea that women are more concerned with having a chat about
feelings or whatevs than getting their rocks off. Her latest, ‘Girls Like Sex’, sees her channel this idea into a sexpositive romp of a tune that she describes as “a ‘fuck you’ with a smile.” It’s an early teaser from her brand new mixtape too, which you can read all about IN THIS VERY ISSUE OF DORK, on p10.
Stop Making This Hurt
We were going to make a joke about how this is obviously a song about going to the dentist or somesuch, but according to mainman Jack Antonoff, its origins actually lie in being in a dark place after a loss. It’s pretty heavy stuff, delivered via a very typicalof-Bleachers uplifting pop epic, set to feature on the band’s new album ‘Take The Sadness Out Of Saturday Night’ - out on 30th July, ‘FYI’.
It’s a good message, really, this one from MØ. ‘Live To Survive’ is a confident, dancey anthem about “pulling yourself through a shitty time and coming back stronger on the other side”. Much like all the times we made an underwhelming sourdough somethingor-other before going for a very exciting walk during lockdown, then flumping back down on
Live To Survive
the sofa for some more internet scrolling. And here we are! Better than ever!
Inspired by daydreams of things frontman Prentice Robertson wanted to do after lockdown, ‘Dayglow’ is an indie stormer about eating a cooked breakfast at Ikea, not having to do the weekly Tesco shop solo, and being able to get someone in to fix your leaky shower. No hang on, that’s our list. Definitely our list. His is festivals, gigs and hanging with his pals. Obviously.
Claire Rosinkranz Frankenstein
You know what quite famously didn’t go all that well? When Mary
Shelley’s eccentric scientist tried to build himself a person-like creature. It was a bit of a mess, actually. Unfortunately, Claire Rosinkranz doesn’t seem to have got the memo, and is pondering an attempt to Frankenstein herself a boy for some chat and, hopefully, flowers. It does sound like a nice time, though, with cowbell and charming pop hooks aplenty.
The Academic Kids (Don’t End Up Like Me)
‘The bands’ are coming in with some good advice this month. A taster from their EP ‘Community Spirit’, out 9th July, ‘Kids (Don’t End Up Like Me)’ is a surprisingly upbeat track Craig Fitzgerald started in his teens and finished during lockdown, about not amounting to anything and generally being a massive fucking failure.
Top 10 MARTYN YOUNG’s
Everyone loves a good list, right? Well, Dear Reader, not compared to Dork’s Listmaster General Martyn Young you don’t. The thing about Martyn, you see, is he’s not swayed by your safe, sanitised opinions. He’s living his best life, loving what he loves, unconcerned by your boring, identikit truths. Each month, we’ll give him a new musical category to rank, then you can send in your rage-filled missives about just how wrong he is. It’s all good fun.
THIS MONTH, IT’S GETTING SUNNY OUT, SO IT’S QUITE OBVIOUSLY TIME FOR THE ALL-TIME TEN BEST...
‘SONGS’ OF ‘THE SUMMER’ PLEASE NOTE: All opinions are those of Martyn Young and in no way represent Dork as a whole. We’re very sorry.
2. Mariah Carey Fantasy Someone (*cough* Jamie MacMillan *cough* - Ed) who works at Dork contests that this isn’t a summer song because it was released in October. Well, I’m here to contest that they are DEAD WRONG. ‘Fantasy’ is all about summer vibes. It’s about escaping to a dream paradise where nothing can hurt you, and all you have is blissed out happiness, and surely we can all get behind that. Also, it’s Mariah’s prime non-seasonal banger that sounds great in a club, at a barbeque on the beach or in the garden.
1. Sweet Female Attitude Flowers Right, let’s get right down to business. Make no mistake, this is one of the greatest tracks of all time, not just of the summer. Just imagine, though, how glorious this will sound driving ‘round the street with your window open. Keep your seatbelt on though, remember to be sensible. A UK garage classic and the sound of pure distilled joy, this song perfectly encapsulates all the joy and optimism of a beautiful summers day. Also, flowers grow better in summer. Because it’s warmer. That’s how nature works.
3. Katy Perry California Gurls This one is prime summer. The musical equivalent of a great big ice cream with a 99 on top. Unforgettable and undeniable. Literally so hot it’ll melt your popsicle.
7. Friendly Fires Jump In The Pool Everyone needs a little dip to cool down in the heat of the summer, and Friendly Fires provide that with their blissed-out ode to a beatific summer paradise. You can immediately picture the Hawaiian shirts and hip swivelling dance moves that are what summer is all about
4. Dario G Carnaval De Paris
Some people like to enjoy a thing called football in the summer. This song is the ultimate summer football anthem. A constant soundtrack on my summer 1998 trip to Disneyland Paris, where I got to meet Mickey, Minnie, Pluto AND Goofy (he’s my favourite).
Okay, so we don’t all agree. Here’s some official challenges to this month’s list. Maybe Martyn has a different idea of what summer means to the rest of the country but the second that big ol’ ball of gas (the Sun, not Marty) starts luring bees and ice cream vans from their hidey holes, I just want to get in a field with some mates and let indie bangers wash over me. If it doesn’t make you want to down a pint from a plastic cup or scream a guitar-driven chorus in someone’s face, it’s not a Summer anthem. Sure, The Kooks, The Wombats and The Fratellis might be dismissed as landfill but the only thing truly meant for the rubbish heap is this list. Ali Shutler, Associate Editor
5. Darude Sandstorm From one summer dance classic to another more harderedged banger. ‘Sandstorm’ is precision designed for maximum dancefloor destruction. This song goes off every single time and still sounds amazing.
6. 5ive Got The Feeling Some of the best ‘Na na na’s’ in pop history are present on this classic from the UK’s premier numerically named boyband. A song that contains the classic pop clarion calls to both “throw your hands up in the air”, “move it to the left and shake it to the right”, and “jump up to the ceiling”. It doesn’t get much better than this. 5ive definitely will make you feel alright.
I turn my back for one minute and we have a list for ‘Songs Of The Summer’? I thought we had all reached an agreement a long time ago that the only true Song Of The Summer is Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’? Have we really given up two pages in this month’s magazine for a list that at best is blasphemy and at worst threatens to rip apart the very fabric we know summer to be? Does this mean we’ve cut the interview with <SNNNIIIIIIIIIIIIPPP - Ed> Jamie Muir, Contributing Editor and Down With Boring ‘host’ Dear reader, let’s get one thing straight. Minutes before discussing this list, our dear friend Martyn was decreeing anything over twenty degrees as the ‘worst weather’ imaginable. And now, he comes to us with this ‘list’. Sure, he may have got some right (although ‘How Bizarre’, Martyn? What were you thinking…), but we need justice for 2020’s forgotten Songs of the Summer. From Dua Lipa, to HAIM, last year’s summer anthems need their time in the sun. Patrick Gunning, Photographer and Down With Boring producer-slash-genius Disagree? Email your own suggestions, or abuse to us at email@example.com. We’ll include the best ones in next month’s issue.
8. Sports Team Long Hot Summer Alex Rice and the crew know that summer can’t all just be party vibes. Sometimes it’s gonna rain, and it’s gonna rain hard. Sports Team will be there, though, to provide you comfort. Seek shelter from their clouds under their indie-pop umbrella. There’s room for everyone.
9. OMC How Bizarre With an intro that immediately screams summer OMC’s ‘How Bizarre’ is iconic. Second only to Lorde as New Zealand’s greatest export, there is no doubt this is a prime summer song. He even sings “cruising down the freeway in the hot hot sun”. I’ll bet summers in New Zealand are lovely.
10. Lil Nas X Old Town Road ‘Old Town Road’ was the song of the summer in 2019; the last year we had a proper summer. A summer where we could do whatever we wanted and had all the freedom in the world. Ah, those were the days. Still, you can take yourself back there by enjoying Lil Nas X’s country rap masterpiece and dream of the hopefully beautiful summer to come readdork.com 17.
Leeds up’n’comers L’Objectif have announced details of their debut EP. It’s called ‘Have It Your Way’, and is set to land this July via Chess Club. They’re previewing it with another new track too - the Really Very Good Indeed ‘Burn Me Out’.
binki has announced a new EP. ‘Motor Function’ is set for release on 13th August via a new record deal with FADER. The news comes alongside lead single ‘Clay Pigeon’, which is streaming ‘online’ right now, if you want to check it out..
Last month’s Dork cover star Holly Humberstone has announced a huge UK and Ireland run set to take place later this year. Following up on her recent single ‘The Walls Are Way Too Thin’, Holly has also rescheduled her sold out run at London’s Omeara, which now kicks off on 15th August.
With one angst-ridden indie-rock anthem after another, LA-based musician Wallice is quickly growing an audience that can all too easily relate to her accessible and dramatically presented hopes and fears. Words: Finlay Holden. Photo: Jerry Maestas.
ver since she was 13, Wallice has been cramming her thoughts into lyrics in a successful attempt to keep existential anxieties from overwhelming her world, a method that clearly works to this day as she chats to us happily from her mum’s home in Burbank, across the pond in sunny Los Angeles. With the support of those closest to her, the resulting creative messes have grown more and more honed over the years until they were finally ready to strike a punch into fellow existential young ‘uns across the globe. The global pandemic (at this point, yawn) freed up a block of time that has now been immortalised in song specifically, six songs forming an upcoming release for the young Californian. On the initial release and response, she exclaims: “I’ve been writing since I was like 13, but only seriously since I was 17, and these were the first songs that I felt I would listen to myself. I grew up listening to Coldplay in my dad’s car or Radiohead on my iPod, very alternative bands that were quite rocky. I wasn’t sure that what I was doing was working, but then ‘Punching Bag’ had a really good response from random people on the internet; it was the first time I had people reaching out to me! It’s my own small little world, but for me, it’s huge, and I’m so proud of it.” Debut single ‘Punching Bag’ set up Wallice’s world by exploring the experience of feeling lost and unwanted by others with smart words and slick guitar tones. Its follow-up ‘23’ took the existentialism to new heights by recounting a less-than-quarter-life crisis in vivid detail through tense verses and a wailing earworm of a chorus. This song really struck
to the core of what this project is about at its deepest roots. “It’s totally autobiographical; all my songs start with a personal experience, but this one is about me and who I am. That song will always have a special place in my heart.” Being one of three songs in her discography to swiftly amass over a million streams, it’s safe to say it already has a special place in the hearts of many. Quarantine was certainly a catalyst for these emotions (“it was definitely the feeling of being stuck in place and time that led to that song”), but in a world where youth are constantly pressured to reach specific goals at assigned times to fulfil societal norms, it’s easy to see where the strained sentiments come from. “I even have YouTube comments from people saying ‘I’m only 16, but I really feel this song’,” she reflects. “Taylor Swift and Lorde became huge stars at 16, so if you’re trying to find success in music when you’re 22, you start doubting whether you’re already too old to make a start. That’s so dumb; 22 is so young! I think that’s a big problem when the media glamorises youth so much, and that’s definitely become a known issue. With every entertainment industry, hopefully, the average age increases so kids can enjoy their childhood.” Without dismissing the talents of child prodigies who were born for the limelight, it’s important to alleviate those unnecessary pressures in as many ways as possible. Despite the harshness of her narratives, Wallice is able to remain grounded and enjoy the world she’s immersed in. “I can easily go and lay down at the beach without feeling that I wasted the day. You need to separate the intentions of each day,” – thank god, carrying the weight
of these themes around all day would definitely be a burden on the metaphorical shoulders. Fortunately, the Wallice project operates as a collaboration with childhood friend and now co-writer-slashproducer David Marinelli. “We just work really well together because we’re close and have known each other for so long,” she shares. “Since I was 17, I’ve seen him at least weekly.” This EP effort was birthed from a couple of the best possible work trips to Wallice’s grandparent’s house in Utah, which provided a focused space for the pair to develop
and become real adults; it’ll be part two of ‘23’, where I actually live part of the life I was talking about.” What a character arc. The name of this EP comes from the opening track ‘Off The Rails’, which pretty nicely ties together the overarching mood across the six tunes. As Wallice admits, “young people can be pretty selfish in general – you look back and think, why did I do these things? ‘Off The Rails’ shows that everybody feels that way sometimes. The video shows life being a simulation – you can view all the paths you’ve taken in your life, and it’s easy to say ‘that’s not my fault’,
You look back and think, why did I do these things? Everybody feels that way sometimes WALLICE their craft. “It’s a 6-hour drive, so we go for a full week at a time to write,” she reminisces. “The whole EP covers August to March; it’s a very specific chapter of our lives. Since this one was put together in such a short amount of time, the tracks are all cohesive and work together well.” Working with such a tight timeframe for the genesis of a release means it tells a genuine story about an exact moment in their lives, and this will never again be replicated. “’23’ was actually written in his Marinelli’s bedroom, while I was still living in mine. The next chapter will be when we’ve all moved out
but it always kinda is?” Indeed, everyone gets mad at the world, but the optimistic outcome here shows that you can gain control of the reigns again. “It encompasses the various themes I explored, so it seemed like a good umbrella phrase for it all.” Investigating these grey areas is a large part of Wallice’s appeal, even if it’s something you might not always consciously register, and making no attempt to illude listeners with a flawless image herself is the root of that. “There’s no reason to curate a perfect life for yourself on social media, and the same thing
can be applied to music,” she sensibly points out. “I feel like there are loads of love songs and break-up songs, but there’s no that much in-between, which is more commonly what actually happens. You’re not in love a thousand per cent or hating each other all the time.” Love songs may be seen as a cliché, but tunes like ‘Hey Michael’ plainly subvert the tropes; this one explores two people treating each other like trash in a desperate attempt to salvage happiness out of a relationship that’s destined to be toxic. This is something Wallice has not actually experienced herself, as she has been with her boyfriend for six years, but comes from troubling observations on others. “This song is just about those people you meet or that your friends have dated; I’ve just grouped together their worst qualities. I didn’t want to say men are all terrible, though! I wanted it to be self-aware and not hurtful.” Expecting imperfection in others is just as necessary as acknowledging and reflecting upon your own, and ‘Off The Rails’ is a starting point of assessing and understanding your own failings. When asked about the impression she hopes it will make on her rapidly expanding audience, Wallice concludes our chat with a comforting message. “It sounds super cheesy, but I want people to know they’re not alone in feeling what they’re feeling, specifically as a 22-year-old wishing you were further along in your career and had your life more sorted out – it’s ok not to. I really go into that journey here; we’re all just figuring it out.” In the most confusing of times, it’s never bad to be reminded that no one else knows what they’re doing either. P Wallice’s EP ‘Off The Rails’ is out now.
Getting To Know...
London trio Famous are coming out the gate with a 5* EP full of twists, turns and unexpected charm. Words: Jamie MacMillan. Photo: Maxwell Granger.
verybody wants to be famous. That’s what Superorganism said anyway, and we’ve never seen a reason to argue with bangers like that. So that must mean that you can definitely put your trust in London art-rockers Famous, especially now with the release of their stunning new EP ‘The Valley’. With songs about what becoming an adult brings and how to get through a quarter-life crisis, it’s at times dazzling in its ingenuity and wild in its multiple abrupt musical left-turns. It’s a good time right now for bands who like to stretch and push at the boundaries of what indie music can be like, so it was perfect timing for Dork to catch up with Famous frontman Jack Merrett and drummer Danny Sanders. Their new EP carries on and capitalises on the potential that ‘England’, promised. Now permanently cut down in size from their original six-piece days, the trio (bassist George Gardner is missing today), the band have at the same time still managed to expand their sound. ‘The Valley’ is a scintillating, richly textured deep dive into life in a modern city, exploring themes of isolation and what Jack describes with an embarrassed laugh as “that particular kind of malaise that one feels in those very early days of feeling vaguely like an adult”. Later on, he talks about how any certainties of life that he held during childhood have faded away to be replaced with an uncertain future. But somehow, all those bright colours of possibility, potential and despair have merged into one heady mix, a soundclash that veers wildly from the high-energy aural assault of ‘Nice While It Lasted’ to the triumphant lo-fi of the title-track and ‘Modern Times’. It’s equally utterly brilliant and inescapably off the rails. “I definitely had a few sleepless nights trying to think how it could all fit together,” admits Jack, laughing. Pinning down what their sound is proving to be beyond anyone. There are guitars present, but they aren’t a guitar band. There are synths and electro surges, but you wouldn’t call them an electronic band either. The last couple of years have seen a host of bands who fall through the genre cracks, acts like black midi and Black Country, New Road proving too elastic in sound and style to be pigeonholed anywhere easily, most stuff just getting chucked under post-punk. Slowly, a tight-knit scene is emerging, as this generation of bands name-check
We’d prefer our music to be considered as emotional stand-up comedy
an Francisco-based newcomer Forrest Nolan is making a play for a prime spot on your sunny days playlist with his new tune ‘Summer Vibe’ – a made-forcoming-of-age-rom-coms bop about someone who makes your summer that much better. It’s all shorts and t-shirts, ice creams and road trips to the seaside.
Have you always wanted to be a musician? I started singing in boys choir when I was 4 years old. I hated losing out on play-dates and birthday parties to rehearsals, but I can recognise that I did love to sing. Then Guitar Hero 3 came out, and I was hooked.
each other on their songs. This time ‘round, it’s the turn of Jerskin Fendrix to get a mention here on ‘The Beatles’, while Jack reveals that he is mentioned on BC, NR’s ‘Track X’. He won’t confirm where, but we’re almost certain it’s the bit where they talk about someone called ‘Jack’. “The truth behind the music,” quips Danny at this hot scoop. Famous are more than happy to be part of this scene. “It’s really an honour to be considered alongside them,” agrees Danny, “because what bands like this are doing is what excites me the most at the moment. We’re not paving the way but just to be a part of that is really great.” It’s a subject the pair are passionate about. “With some notable exceptions, British music was shockingly worse when we were growing up,” says Jack. “So just being around people who inspire you is obviously a nice thing. I don’t listen to guitar music, though, so it’s always kind of strange that I’ve ended up making it,” he finishes with a laugh. Of course, all this talk of genredefying bands can only lead one way - especially when ‘Modern Times’ starts talking about ‘Fucking in a car, shooting heroin / Or at least spending better times with my parents”. Sound familiar, anyone? “Oh yeah, I love The 1975!” states a
suddenly 110% more animated Jack. “They’re definitely our soulmates.” Danny looks nonplussed, but the frontman isn’t hanging about. “I don’t feel like there are many people on his level of actually writing songs; they’re all fucking bangers.” Danny’s facial expression doesn’t change, even when he wryly describes the sight of Jack losing his mind in the front row of a ‘75 gig. “To be clear, I’m speaking for myself here,” chuckles Jack. “I don’t need to sully their good name with my 1975 obsession. But you loved it!” Shaking his head mournfully, Danny explains that he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Feeling that this one could run and run, we move on to the subject of Jack’s exasperated cry on the title-track that we don’t need any more songs. “It was me saying I need to stop writing songs about a particular person,” he explains before reconsidering. “But yeah, maybe there’s an element of it all being downhill from here with songs. There’s been enough. We’d prefer our music to be considered as emotional stand-up comedy or something from now on anyway.” It is this that seems to finally break Danny, the drummer simply walking off for reasons unknown. He does return pretty sharpish tbf, and he begins to talk excitedly about
resuming their Windmill residency. “We’re gonna get by on the fact that no-one’s done anything for months,” he grins. “We could go up there and play the spoons, and it would be entertaining.” “Is it still socially distanced?” Jack asks, worryingly uncertain on the legalities. We assure him that it will be and pleads with him not to leap onto the front row, especially as Dork plans on being in it. “That’s good. We’ve only sold the socially-distanced amount,” he sighs, before pointing out that they are well used to only having twenty people watching them in an awkwardly big space anyway. “Maybe we should have a song where we play the spoons,” Jack ponders, Dork realising that this is a glimpse into how the magic happens in the Famous studio. “Yeah, that is how it happens. I have an idea, and Danny says no,” Jack says, at the exact same instant that Danny shakes his head. “I’m pretty into the idea of the album opening with a rapturous chorus of bagpipes, too?” he offers, as if this will get a better response. It does not. “The live review will be ‘it was a fucking shambles’,” grins Jack, ignoring any traditional band publicity tropes. Thankfully for all concerned, he was wrong. The fame is spreading. P Famous’ EP ‘The Valley’ is out now.
How did you approach pinning down your sound? I figure as long as the music I’m making is honest and I’m not arbitrarily following any rules of songwriting or production, then whatever it turns out to be, I’ll accept as my “sound”. Making music that feels fresh is what excites me. Where do you find inspiration, both in music and in life? Mostly Travis Scott’s Instagram account. For music and life. Love that man. Other than that… hmm… relationships by any magnitude, though it often comes back to my relationship with myself: did I brush my teeth this morning? Do I still know how to do long division? Do I reach out to my friends enough? Etc. Your single ‘Summer Vibe’ is great, how did you approach putting that one together? I had the combined emotion of freaking out because a meeting had gone really well, and freaking out because my girlfriend and I were “taking a break”. It was summer last year, a ukulele was at my side, and the entire chorus came to me instantly. Where does it rank on your ‘favourite Forrest Nolan songs’ league table? I can definitively say it’s number three. P
London-based collective Folly Group are gearing up for a big Q3 and Q4 with a new EP, and a support tour with Do Nothing. Words: Blaise Radley. Photo: Josh Taylor-Moon.
We’re a four-limbed vessel for turning lots of complicated ideas into one idea LOUIS MILBURN
s far as origin stories go, London four-piece Folly Group have a pretty simple one. “It was just me and you, Lou, on the tube,” explains vocalist and drummer Sean Harper. “You went over to me and slurred the words, ‘Band? Stupid not to really’.” For a group seemingly named after a shared fondness for foolishness, it was a pretty smart call. “I can’t remember the journey,” shrugs guitarist Louis Milburn. A couple of years on and a couple of extra bandmates later, Folly Group are gearing up for the release of their debut EP, ‘Awake and Hungry’, the inaugural release from So Young Records. Summer is beckoning, and with their first national tour and festivals on the horizon, something tells us that Sean is excited at the prospect. “Are you kidding? That’s gonna be fucking unreal, man.” This bank holiday Monday, however, it’s been pissing it down. Louis and Tom Doherty (bass) are dialling in from their shared flat fresh off a viewing of Emperor’s New Groove, while Sean has been cosying up with Prison Break after facing the elements earlier. “It’s about the shittiest weather I’ve ever seen in my life.” As for Kai Akinde-Hummel (percussion/samples), he’s nowhere to be seen. “Kai is supposed to be coming; let me bell him,” starts Louis, reaching for his phone as Sean interjects. “He’s done Folly Group interviews from the train before. He’s on his own timetable.” We hear one side of a brief back and forth (“Yeah yeah, it’s in the Whatsapp.”) before Tom spills the beans. “I can just hear him saying, ‘Oh shit! I’m joining’. So what that means is: I forgot.” With all the smirks and chuckling going on, it’s less like an interview than eavesdropping on a group of old mates. For an outfit that was born from a very literal “Band?” question on a drunken tube home - “We were like, ‘Might as fucking well’,” explains Sean - Folly Group don’t have much interest in traditional indie band line-ups. When they enthuse about music, it’s nearly always electronic rather than rock — names like Loraine James , Floating Points, and Holly Herndon crop up frequently — and that’s where Kai’s talents with a sampler have proved pivotal in defining the band’s sound. As Louis succinctly puts it, “I mean, I like postpunk, but not that much.” That sentiment runs into how Folly Group presents themselves. “’Group’ seemed to connote something well, I mean, obviously connoted something - more democratic than ‘band’,” explains Sean. Press releases frequently refer to them as a collective, an attempt to acknowledge how far the creative process extends beyond the four of them. “I wish we could have everyone on the interview. All the people that make the videos and costumes. The people that do everything. But that’d be chaos,” says Louis, laughing. More than that, the word ‘Group’ reflects a shared ambition that Folly Group will one day extend beyond the world of music. This is a band — sorry, collective — that’s released two of their own self-produced remixes of tracks from their debut EP before
it’s even out. What else is in store? They’re a little cagey. “I don’t want to say too much. I don’t want to set [us] up for a huge failure,” Louis explains, but his goals are quickly outed as Tom deadpans — “Rock opera”. Maybe a Folly Group cryptocurrency, we suggest. “We fucking made that joke ourselves,” says Sean wryly. Still, at the end of the day, we’re all here for the music, and the boys know that. Folly Group are post-punk in the true sense of the word, drawing on a whole range of influences from outside of the world of big riffs and bass licks. Or, in Sean’s words: “We make weird hybrid guitar music that is 100% just the sum of various influences.” “Right yeah,” continues Louis. “We’re a kind of four-limbed vessel for turning lots of complicated ideas into one idea that’s not really the sum of its parts.” Self-deprecation aside, their new EP is a scorcher. For Folly Group, it’s both the closing of an early chapter (“A fond farewell to the formative period,” as Sean describes it) and a product of their recording environment. Sean, Louis and Tom were hunkered down in one house while Kai radioed in his contributions, explains Louis: “It was the three of us locked in a really, really small house — way too cramped for three fully-grown blokes in such a small, decaying—” “Shithole,” butts in Tom. But how about contributing from outside of the makeshift bedroom studio? The band had already been playing together for six months before the first lockdown, but there were definitely complications for Kai. “It was just a lot of recording percussion in my bedroom and pissing off my flatmates. We were all inside constantly, so having me banging away on like agogô bells and woodblocks wasn’t ideal. I have all these files on my laptop, and I’ll be like, ‘Oh, what’s that?’ and it’ll just be silence and then really loud cowbells. What was I thinking?” In 2021, the realities of being cooped up in a shithole are pretty universal, even for those of us not recording flatmate-troubling belters. That’s something the band have been thinking about, as Louis explains. “It’s quite interesting, the prominence of guitar-based music at the moment, because I always think — well, it’s not mending any broken hearts, is it? It’s a very active, energetic genre, there’s always a transference of energy. And it’s interesting: how are people who are locked down listening to this music? Maybe that’s why it’s important now because people don’t have a way to bring that energy into their lives so much.” When we suggest that listeners might be coming to Folly Group to live out their future live music fantasies, it’s met by another round of guffaws. “I don’t want to use the word escapism because I fucking hate it, but there’s an element of living vicariously,” says Louis, before Sean juts in. “If we’ve made anyone look forward to anything, then job done.” It’s a strong mission statement, and one that reflects the prospect of the summer ahead. If nothing else, we can all look forward to drunkenly slurring “...band?” and ambling to a gig together. P Folly Group’s debut EP ‘Awake and Hungry’ is out now.
JAWNY has a new ‘project’ coming this month. ‘The Story Of Hugo’ follows up on last year’s ‘For Abby’, and is set for release on 15th July. It includes a couple of tracks already out there, including the recently dropped rifftastic ‘Take It Back’.
Toronto newcomer Luna Li has shared a lush new single ‘Alone But Not Lonely’. It’s inspired by her move into a new apartment where she was joined by a few unwelcome friends. “I wrote ‘Alone But Not Lonely’ in my very first apartment which was cockroach infested,” she says. Lovely.
London four-piece Malady have dropped a brand new single. ‘Famous Last Words’ is out via Nice Swan Records, and follows on from last year’s debut ‘London I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down’. They’re set to play YES in Manchester on 12th August, and London’s Moth Club on 12th September.
Claire Rosinkranz Last year her hit ‘Backyard Boy’ was everywhere; can Claire Rosinkranz follow it up? Of course, no problem. Words: Martyn Young. Photo: Phoebe Neily.
f you’ve spent any amount of time online in the past year, then there’s no doubt you would have heard the name Claire Rosinkranz. With her song ‘Backyard Boy’ blowing up as a viral sensation, Claire has established herself as one of the most fun and vibrant new songwriters using social platforms in an engaging and creative way to reach new audiences. With one EP already under her belt, last year’s ‘BeVerly Hills BoYfRiEnd’, Claire is now preparing another one that looks set to take her witty, playful and hyper-melodic pop to the next level. It’s certainly been a swift rise for 16-year-old Claire. “I released my first EP last summer and then had this whole journey of being signed and working with a label and a team, so that’s very different and exciting,” she says excitedly from her bedroom at her home in Agoura Hills, California. It’s really sunny there, btw. 70C. Imagine that right now. Sheer bliss. The subsequent year since her debut EP was released has seen Claire adapting her songwriting process of collecting fragments of words in notebooks to her new life of collating them into defined pieces of work. “The music has changed as I’ve changed as a person, and I’ve gone about life,” she explains. “We all grow. I still start all the songs the same way I always have, but they’re based on different experiences that I’m going through now and what it’s like being in my shoes at the moment because it’s totally different to a year ago. It’s been a really cool experience. I know what my new life is going to be all about.” For Claire, her new life as a blossoming pop star is the realisation of a lifelong ambition. “I just want to perform and tour and
Claire Rosinfacts + Claire is obsessed with going to the beach and swimming in the ocean, as well as being out in the mountains. She loves Nature. + She likes writing and reading poetry. + She has a dog called Coco, who is a golden doodle mixed with 25% St Bernard. + If she could invent anything, she would invent an instant food machine that could make whatever she wanted in two seconds + Her favourite food is pasta, and her favourite shape is Fettuccine: “That is so Fire.”
do big shows,” the words tumbling out of her mouth excitedly a mile a minute. “My goal is to be an artist and meet people and share my music with everyone. My biggest dream is for people to relate to the things I’m saying because I write so much, and that’s where everything stems from. That’s what makes me so passionate about music, and that’s the reason I’m passionate about singing and writing and getting the ideas out of my brain and onto a piece of paper so people can hear them. I want people to be proud of me for my songwriting and ability to connect to people through my songs.”
There aren’t enough songs with cowbell CLAIRE ROSINKRANZ The development in her songs is clear, from snippets of melodies and snatched memorable lines to fully realised immersive pop songs dealing with the most universal of feelings and emotions, Claire is relishing looking deeper into herself. “I have to be alone when I write,” she says. “I can’t be around people. My brain just freezes. I’ll write in my bedroom, in my car, at the beach, as long as nobody is in earshot of me. I get really nervous for people to hear my process because it’s so messy. I have so much in my brain, and I don’t want people to hear anything before it’s complete or before it sounds good enough.”
“I love creating worlds and atmospheres,” she says of her songwriting process. “It can be about anything. It can be about the way I feel, how my life is going, things I want to experience. I write about feelings and emotions, but I’ll write from other people’s perspectives. I’ll put myself in different people’s shoes or write as a different character. It’s so cool how you can put words together and make people feel things.” That sort of simplicity is key to Claire’s work. Her music is fun and playful, and even when things get a little bit darker, she’s there as a friend giving support and encouragement. Her forthcoming EP promises to highlight both the primary emotional dynamics of Claire’s music, mixing fun pop with deeper feelings. “It’s a variety of different stuff. It’s surprising, and I’m switching things up. They’re all fun.” The first taste is killer single ‘Frankenstein’, which sees Claire take a typically creative slant on relationships as she fantasises about creating her perfect boy in a Frankenstein like manner. It also has one of the best intros of any song in recent memory and lots of cowbell. Obviously a good thing. “I love the cowbell! There aren’t enough songs with cowbell,” cries Claire. ‘Backyard Boy’ was the song that made Claire’s name, becoming ubiquitous on TikTok last summer. TikTok has certainly had a hugely positive effect on her career, but she’s keen to emphasise that she’s only doing what she would be had she been a music-obsessed teenager living online. The fact she’s now a global artist just means more people can connect with her. TikTok gives her that connection with fans and importantly involves them in the process. “I started doing it because it was so much fun,” she explains. “It
was really cool because every time I posted something, people would be like, ‘oh my god, that’s so cool; I love how you’re in the studio with your dad’. It’s such a great platform because it’s constantly circling around and feeds into your other platforms,” she continues. “I don’t think about the numbers; it’s just fun for me. Sometimes because I’m a perfectionist, I get stressed because I need to market it a certain way, but then I think no, that’s not what it’s about, and that’s not why I started it. People can see it as my personal video diary and show the process of how I’m making music and how people can find me.” Claire’s studio process that she documents on video is her working dynamic with her dad Ragner, a working musician composing jingles and TV scores. He combines his musical ear for production with Claire’s gift for words, and that’s how the magic happens. “If I write a song and go to the studio and tell him my vision for it, he captures it right away. He understands me, and it’s not uncomfortable to ever communicate about it. He only hears the musical aspect to it, and I’m always paying attention to the lyrics.” Another benefit of her dad focusing on the music is he might not hear the lyrics and avoid some embarrassment. “It’s nice on that level that if I’m signing about boys or whatever, he’s only looking at the music,” she laughs. There’s one ultimate ambition that Claire is yet to realise, though. “I’m so eager to be able to go and perform for people and meet people,” she exclaims while talking about her plans to finally tour. “I talk to so many people online that I can’t wait to see their faces.” P Claire Rosinkranz’ new EP is out this summer. readdork.com 23.
THE NEWEST OF NAMES.
The Linda Lindas SIPHO.
Yet another new name on Dirty Hit, SIPHO. has already shared a double A-side ‘MOONLIGHT’. Following up with recent single ‘BODIES’, there’s a debut EP ‘AND GOD SAID...’ coming on 25th June. Raised as part of the Seventh-day Adventist church, it’s a release concerned with reconciling his relationship with religion. Textured, inventive and compelling, he’s an essential listen.
18-years-old and with a debut EP due later this summer, Jayla Kai certainly has a lot of promise. Growing up in Woodstock - yes, that Woodstock - she cites a number of musicians who have acted as mentors to her up to this point, including one Kieran Hebden. Yep, that’s Four Tet to the rest of us. Not bad, eh? You can see why. Debut single ‘I Can’t Lie’ is perfect, smart, idiosyncratic pop.
Dora Jar Born in New York, raised in California, and with spells in both Poland and London, 24-year-old Dora Jar pulls influences from across the spectrum. Realising music was her calling at a special educational establishment her older sister Lueza, who was born with cerebral palsy, attended, a shared love of musicals provided an inspiration to look beyond the mundane. That’s something that comes through in her work eclectic and brilliant, it’s a million miles away from the trend tracing identikit sounds that might dominate the playlists. There’s something different about Dora Jar.
If you’ve been anywhere near ‘the internet’ in recent weeks, you’ll be well aware of The Linda Lindas - as you will if you checked out Netflix film Moxie earlier this year. Really Very Young and Really Very Cool, the not-all-teensyet punks have just signed a deal with Epitaph Records - meaning you can expect to hear a whole lot more from them in the near future. Top pop fact - Lucia (guitar, vocals), and Mila (drums, vocals) from the band’s Dad is music engineer and producer Carlos de la Garza. Any Paramore fans may recognise that name - he’s the “Carlos” whispered at the end of ‘Fake Happy’. Pretty damn cool, eh?
Olivia O. Yes, we’ve only just been introduced to Olivia O. Via her other project - Dirty Hit signed duo Lowertown. She’s a very creative pop polymath, though - as shown by her first solo single ‘All I Want’. A lo-fi slice of introspective brilliance, it comes ahead of the self-taught singer, songwriter and producer’s debut EP ‘Great Big Nothing’, out on 10th June.
Hussy South London - check. Singer - yup. Songwriter - affirmative. Producer too? Obviously. Sophie Nicole Ellison might tick all the boxes for self-propelled pop polymaths - but she’s done the work to get there. Buzzing around under the name Hussy for a few years now, she’s played with genre, joined bands, worked as a studio engineer and generally developed her craft. Her entirely self-made 7 track EP is set for release on 23rd July via her own label Rock Hag, and it proves there’s much more to Hussy than just a check list.
Sunderland four piece Roxy Girls join a fine lineage of post-punk heroes from the north east, with a new EP ‘Roxy Girls Are In The Drink’ set for this August. Born out of a period apart due to lockdown, the band took to the studio with little plan of what to record. Four tracks followed, made up of live takes written in the studio. It’s that kind of instinctive brilliance that adds a spark to a familiar sound.
Lime Garden Brighton newcomers Lime Garden have that certain something about them. A bit wonkypop (think the ramshackle brilliance of Sorry), but with their own addictive take, their latest single ‘Sick & Tired’ was written ‘remotely’, but sounds like an organic masterpiece. Following up on a first self-released single ‘Surf N Turf’ that crashed the 6 Music playlist, and a second, ‘Fever’, that scored attention from Annie Mac on Radio 1 - expect big things soon.
Beren Olivia Alt-popster Beren Olivia has been doing quite well for herself - last year she went from zero to two and a half million streams. Now, she’s building up to a debut EP. Recent single ‘Is That What You Like Now’ is pop perfection about stalking exes and comparing yourself to who they’re with now. Not that any of us have ever done that. Ahem.
Angelene Holmes - AKA DELPHii - isn’t lacking in ambition. After years of contributing to other people’s projects, the West Midlandsborn, Newcastle-based artist mixes elements of neo-soul, bedroom dream-pop, jazz, electronica and psych rock to create her own hazy wonderland. She recently dropped a new single, ‘Lilac’, with another ‘Tell Everyone’ set to arrive round about now. There’s big things expected here. Definitely one to keep tabs on.
Smoothboi Trunky Juno Ezra GETTING TO KNOW...
Sure, music’s good, but have you ever met a kitten? Smoothboi Ezra has because they’ve just got one. Oh, and there’s a new EP or something too. Words: Felicity Newton. Photo: Leon McCullough.
moothboi Ezra is carving out their own niche amongst all the bedroom pop teens reckoning with tricky relationships and the vast obstacle course of growing up and figuring out who you are with their intimate, endlessly relatable bops that revel in that brief time before the boring cynicism of adulthood kicks in - when feeling your feelings reigns supreme.
of the songs on my latest EP are about one person, and she knows, and she has told me that she likes them. Lol.
Hello! How’s it going? What are you up to today? I’m doing well, thanks! I’m hanging out with my brand new kitten Pixie, and my existing cat Frog.
I used to have a fish called Susan...
Aaw. What are the best names for a cat, do you think? We rather like people names - who wouldn’t enjoy a cat being called eg Susan, y’know? I used to have a fish called Susan, lol. But my favourite cat names are the ones I’ve chosen for my cat and my kitten, Frog and Pixie. Honourable mentions would be naming a cat after food like Tofu, naming a cat after clothes like Sock or naming a cat after crime such as Arson. Ooh, those are good. What first drew you to music, and what attracted you to having a bash at songwriting yourself? I don’t know, I’ve always liked listening to music and writing is something that I always did. I never made a conscious decision to write music; it just kind of happened. How did you set about learning to put songs together? I just messed around on Garageband a lot. Did it come easily to you? I didn’t find it hard per se, but I wasn’t exactly making masterpieces, so who knows? What’s your aim in writing super personal songs, is it more for yourself or for other people? It’s definitely more for myself, but I’m glad to share it with others. When you write about relationships, do you discuss the songs with the people they’re about? Not all the time, however, two
Does the EP have any overarching themes? The themes are about being in friendships and romantic relationships while being autistic.
SMOOTHBOI EZRA It’s quite a brave thing to put your thoughts and feelings out there for everyone to hear, how do you overcome the anxiety that comes with it? Because most of it has been online, it hasn’t felt very real; I think it would be more anxietyinducing not to do it.
Are there any avenues other than music you use to work through your feelings or find cathartic, creative or otherwise? I love to crochet and do any type of arts and crafts and makeup. How did you pick up crocheting? I started crocheting while watching New Girl in May of last year. Aldi were selling crochet supplies, and I was bored. What’s the best thing you’ve made? I am very proud of a blanket I made, and I’m currently working on a jumper. What else are you working on at the moment? I’m working on some future projects that I’m excited about. If you could teach Pixie the kitten a trick, any trick at all, what would it be? I would like it if I could bring my kitten on a walk with a lead like a dog. P Smoothboi Ezra’s EP ‘Stuck’ is out now.
fter the success of his super charming debut EP ‘Too Many Teeth’, out last year, lo-fi alt-popster Trunky Juno is gearing up for another outing that showcases his knack for fun, fuzzy tunes that feel a bit like a cheering, comforting hug. A hug inspired by Pavement, Weezer and the like. How did you find putting together your new EP? The ‘Good Dog’ EP came together pretty easily. The songs had already been written, and most of the production for them was finished before the pandemic, so there isn’t too much of a Covid vibe in there. It has a pretty cohesive sound, but it’s also a bit of a mixed bag. What’s this one about, and what were your influences for it? I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for anything with a tinge of Americana, country, folk - but not too much, just a little bit. I feel like it’s really starting to take hold and burst out of me like John Hurt in Alien. I think all the usual influences are pretty evident in there though too, the likes of Pavement, The Flaming Lips, Weezer etc. I feel like this time around the songs are way more “songwritery”. They’re all very much their own little world, or story. What is it that draws you to this catchy, lo-fi pop sound? How would you describe it? I always call myself a Lo-fi Pop Noodler. It’s pretty accurate. When I first morphed into
Trunky Juno (it was a long process, a goat was sacrificed), I decided pretty early on I wanted to go for that lo-fi bedroom pop sound, simply because it makes everything so much easier. For a start, you don’t need much gear or much money to pay for studio time. Secondly, you don’t need to worry about production too much. Me and David Alexander (aka Summer Heart) have a really good dynamic when it comes to producing these tracks. I tend to not worry too much about the mix or things sounding nice and go more for feel and mood. And then he has a magic pop touch which fixes it all, and a real song comes out of the other end. Have you always wanted to be a musician? Who was your first ever favourite band or pop star? Pretty much, yeah. Probably Ricky Martin, with The Backstreet Boys a close second. I think when you’re growing up and first starting to get into music, every band becomes your favourite band at some point, because it’s all new to you. But I guess the ones that have stuck around for me would be Bob Dylan, The Flaming Lips, and I also really like The Killers. What else do you have coming up? There’s a tour, right? There sure is, it’s in November. We’re going all over the place: London, Newcastle, Brighton, Glasgow, Birmingham, and Brighton. P Trunky Juno’s ‘Good Dog’ EP is out 2nd July.
Covey Think you’ve seen everything in the elaborate album theme stakes? Think again. Words: Sam Taylor. Photo: Ebru Yildiz.
re you ready for Brooklynbased and British-born singer-songwriter Covey? Because he has a lot going on with his debut album, and it’s quite a bit to wrap your head around. We’d very much recommend putting the kettle on. Just as life advice, really. But also right now. Basically, right, ‘The Class of Cardinal Sin’ has a concept running alongside, which - in addition to featuring on the record’s artwork comes into its own with tiny TikTok vignettes full of odd characters, tales from their lives and a theme tune we’ve been unable to shake for weeks. But you see, that’s not all - the characters are all dead and have been taken against their will to a school that’s going to teach them to be evil. At least, that’s what we think is happening? Thankfully Covey’s here to tell us more about... everything.
Yes! It was probably after I started my first band, and everyone else was taking it half-seriously, gravitating to other things as we finished high school, and I had no interest in doing anything other than music. Then when everyone was picking schools, I had no interest in going to college at all, but alas, I had to appease my parents, so I took a stab auditioning for music school, just the one, and ended up getting in! From that moment, I was set on becoming a professional musician in some capacity, whether it was through being a producer, songwriter or an allinclusive artist. I ended up going big and choosing the latter.
If you’re already evil, they probably won’t have much use for you
What were your early days getting into music like? Did you grow up in a musical household? I did not grow up in a musical household at all! I think my only family member that played an instrument was my cousin. He played guitar, and I thought that was pretty nifty. So when I was about 13, I asked my parents if I could have guitar lessons and did that for a few years and then once I learnt the basic chord shapes, I started piecing them together myself; I stopped taking lessons and just kind of ran with it, trusting my ear along the way.
COVEY You’ve had a couple of albums out already, how did you find those releases? Were they quite DIY? Very DIY, I’d say. I funded the first record myself and recorded with a small studio in Boston called Mystic Valley Studio. Recorded it all via tape, and then the second one, I recorded myself working closely with Saguiv Rosenstock to finish it off.
Was there a specific moment when you realised you could give this being-a-musician thing a proper go?
Was the process of putting together ‘Class Of Cardinal Sin’ different? Not too different, I recorded everything myself then worked with a mixing engineer named Jake Cheriff to finish it off. So very similar to the previous record.
◤ Covey’s critters are Actually Rather Cool, no?
This one’s got a bit of a concept to it, right? With... an evil school system? And dead characters? What’s going on?? So the topic of the record is all about my own upbringing and my experiences in high school as well as
a heavy emphasis on home life during that period. The stories and premise of the school has been a concept in my head for a while - hence the mention of the fox dating all the way back to my first record - but the story itself with the evil school and dead characters took on a life of its own with this record and grew into a massive concept that is referenced on this record, but not all-inclusive if that makes sense. Is there a way to avoid having to go to the Class Of Cardinal Sin? What if you’re already a shitty person? You actually only get sent to the Cardinal Sin if you’re an inherently good soul that is scouted by either an alumnus of the school or a recruited “Cult” member living in the mortal realm. So if you’re already evil, they probably won’t have much use for you (their whole thing is converting good people into evil people) and would probably just look on at your evil ways in admiration. If you die, you’d just be sent to the death realm, not the Class of Cardinal Sin. Are any of the characters based on yourself? I get asked this question a lot! I used pieces of myself to write the background for each character, for example, Benjamin’s home life, Jamie’s love for animals, Alex’s sleep disorders, Penny dealing with cancer in the family. It was all taken from my own experiences or experiences of those who were extremely close to me, so it’s hard to pick one that I relate to most because the question essentially becomes “which experience in your life, most defines
you”, of which anyone would have a hard time narrowing down to one. So to answer your question, they are all based on me, so I identify with them all! This whole ‘popular on TikTok’ thing that’s happening at the moment must be weird, has that had a tangible impact for you? Definitely. Vitality, although unsustainable, creates amazing opportunities, and those opportunities will become more apparent in the next few months. But yes, it’s definitely weird, haha. I am eager to get back to some good old fashioned live shows and touring, but even that, I will be documenting via TikTok, so it’s definitely changed my life in more ways than one. To be honest, I thought my career was going to take a giant nose dive and absolutely would have if I just went dark for a year and a half. I knew I had to try and do something to bridge the gap, and it was easily the best decision I could have made. What else have you got going on at the moment? I just moved apartment. As restrictions are being lifted here, I am seeing more and more of my friends that I’ve missed throughout quarantine. I am extremely excited to be heading out on tour again in September with Summersalt and potentially heading on our first international tour in 2022 - no promises, but we are working towards it! P Covey’s debut album ‘Class Of Cardinal Sin’ is out 18th June.
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In terms of apt titles, Inhaler’s debut album - ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’ - is the kind of hopeful prophecy we’re all yearning for. For a band long predicted to make it to the big leagues, they’re ready to take the limelight on their own terms. Words: Jamie MacMillan. Photos: Christian Tierney.
t looks like you’re in the Teletubbies!” This is going well, then. Even by Dork’s standards, no strangers to being casually insulted by The Pop Stars, megastars-inwaiting Inhaler aren’t messing about. “Because of the hills behind you, I mean,” they clarify, helpfully saving our feelings as they do. Phew, back on track. Which is handy, really, because they frankly do not look anything like Teletubbies, and it’s proper hard to think of a good retort when you’re faced with the level of cool that they’re currently exuding. It’s just weeks before the release of their debut album ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’, a record that feels like the musical equivalent of the deep breath you take before things get really exciting and one that will surely usher them into the big league. It’s been a little while. The last time Dork spoke to the Dublin band, frontman Eli Hewson told of what a confusing time it was for the world and pondered what surprises the next year or so would bring. “Nobody knows what the future holds” were his exact words. That was in late 2019, and soon all of their bold plans for world tours and global domination had to be put to one side. Someone somewhere probably ate or touched something they shouldn’t, and then you know the rest. Facing up to the fact that the world, and life, had other plans for them, there’s a real ‘Last Band In Town’ feel about Inhaler today. Sitting squeezed together on one sofa in their Dublin studio, they smile wryly at how all those heady expectations suddenly disappeared. Chatting to them is a proper blast of happy energy. When one of them starts a sentence (usually Eli), two others will join in to finish it in that easy kind of way that you get between good friends. Drummer Ryan McMahon might chuck a joke in, guitarist Josh Jenkinson will quietly agree, and bassist Robert Keating will chip in with something sensible. It’s the kind of dynamic that have kept the bonds strong through the whirlwind of the last few years, a real ‘best mates who happen to be in a band’ vibe that you just love to see. It’s also what have helped keep things together over the enforced separation due to lockdown. “When we said that about the future, it feels like a different era now,” begins Eli. “We’ve had to do a lot of growing up during the
pandemic. We came straight out of school doing this, and for a lot of reasons, people get into bands just so they never have to grow up. So it was a very sobering moment; there was a sense of, maybe this is the end of it?” Thankfully not, as Ryan explains that the extra time gave the band a chance to produce something way better than if they’d followed their initial plans of releasing the debut last year. Eli agrees, adding that it would have been “50% not as good”, explaining that, “We wrote some great songs in that time just out of desperation. When you’re put in a situation where everything is in jeopardy, you force yourself to write a little bit more. You want to be heard, you know?”
We’re like a chameleon; we’re constantly changing what style of music we play and what we’re into ELI HEWSON The band’s lockdown story is a pretty universal one, all of them moving back home with their respective parents for the year. With everything kicking off just as they returned from their world tour, what was supposed to be one week off before a stint in the States turned into a year and a half instead. For a band who were always on the run to somewhere, it was especially weird. “I was just wishing I was somewhere else, and most of time, I was just daydreaming,” says Eli about the strange times. “About you,” he finishes, stroking Ryan’s arm, laughing that he missed the drummer’s glorious taste in shirts the most. It’s easy to see why today, he’s wearing a lovely little blue number; we’d rate it a strong 4 out of 5. “It’s very comfortable,” is Ryan’s glowing review. “We just missed being a unit,” says the frontman more seriously. “It was weird after seeing each other every single day for four years to then go three or four months without seeing each other. It was nice not to see them for a week,” he laughs before finishing. “But it’s the first time I’ve ever sat at home doing nothing and not had any FOMO.”
As the others chip in, it’s lovely to see that the one thing they struggled with the most was purely not hanging out with each other. So, in true 2020 style, they embarked on doing the album as a WFH project, writing new music over good ol’ Zoom, as well as creating the ‘Falling In’ video virtually too. But it wasn’t until they got into the recording studio over in London that things really clicked into place - even though the timing and context still added another level of intensity. “It was pretty tough,” agrees Eli. “Going from doing nothing for three months straight to going into that. We weren’t able to hang out, go have a drink or go to a bar or anything. But I think in the end, it maybe benefitted us because we were forced to be super driven and focused? But often, the best things don’t come easy.” Living off a constant stream of Deliveroo’d Nandos (“I thought I was gonna turn into a chicken,” says Ryan unexpectedly), it was all work, work, work. “We never really party that much in the studio anyway; we’re not ones to drink,” explains Rob, “so we didn’t miss that aspect of it. But we definitely do like to see London on days off, going to see our friends and see the place cos we’re obviously from Dublin, so it’s still nice to see everything? But this was very much studio, back home, studio, back home. It was intimidating to navigate.” The most excitement they got? Josh’s birthday cake, something that prompts the largely silent and thoughtful guitarist to suddenly burst into life to confirm both its niceness and its chocolatey-ness. “That was a nice cake,” he says thoughtfully, the band nodding quietly together in a moment’s silence for a truly Good Cake. Thankfully, Inhaler came out of the studio with more than good cake and much chicken. ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’ is glorious. If you were going to attach a painful metaphor to it (something we like to do), you’d say it’s the kind of debut album that strides into the room, checks itself out in the mirror, nods to itself, says ‘alright, lads’ to all the other big defining debuts of our time and makes them shuffle down the table and make room for it. Or alternatively, you could say it’s dead good. Those early singles you already know, of course, towering moments of timeless indie rock anthems like ‘My Honest Face’ slotting alongside the title-track and ‘Cheer Up Baby’, songs that feel like they’ve always been here - perfect reminders that whatever you’re going through, it’s all only temporary. Elsewhere, the band show they can do smaller moments just as big and bombastic; ‘Slides Out The Window’ and ‘A Night On The Floor’ highlight another side of the band altogether. ‘When It Breaks’ carries the same sense of urgency and fire in its belly that fuels Sam
Fender (“massive fans of him,” is the Inhaler verdict), while ‘Totally’ is the moment that sees the band break off any shackles of heritage and expectation. It is a record that zips by, and it fires the starter pistol on what will surely be Inhaler’s ascent to the big league. In an era increasingly defined by bedroom artists, it is designed to be the very opposite. “Yeah, that was important to us,” says Rob, the band all nodding in full agreement. “We’ve always put so much attention in our band on gigs; they’re at the forefront of Inhaler. So it was important for us to try and reflect how a gig feels like on our album.” “We wanted it to be full force,” finishes Eli. “We wanted to make a vibrant, energetic thing because we don’t feel like there’s a lot of that around at the moment. But it’s very much all an observation on the times that we’ve been living in for the last two years.”
If you’re going through the news any of these days, there’s just horrible stuff after horrible stuff
fitted the narrative,” he says as he explains some notable absences. “There was a bit of arguing back of forth about whether ‘Falling In’ should go on, or why ‘We Have To Move On’ or ‘There’s No Other Place’ isn’t on there. And our response is just, they’re still there? They’re out in the world. But we were writing songs that we just thought needed to be heard right now.” He warms to his subject. “We’re like a chameleon; we’re constantly changing what style of music we play and what we’re into. So that means that certain songs, if they don’t come out now, then maybe they won’t ever?” Life has been moving at such a pace for the four that it’s no surprise that they’re in such a rush. Each era of Inhaler has been defined by what they and their mates have been going through, so it’s only natural that it’s developed over time. “We were changing as people, our music was growing up with us, and so the songs used to be about girls, about being a teenager and that kind of thing,” he says. “Obviously, the pandemic hit, and it took on a more serious tone, but we still wanted to feel positive and optimistic. I think that’s the heart of it.” The band all grin knowingly, staring at him, waiting for something that doesn’t come. When he sits back, Rob chips in. “I’m surprised he didn’t do what he
usually does and get the plug in,” he laughs, pointing at the camera in a classic frontman pose. “It won’t always be like this!” Eli rolls his eyes happily as the band laughs. “That song took on a different meaning recently,” he says of the message of carrying on and getting through it. “But there’s a mural with it in Dublin, and RTE put up a photo of it on their website. And there was a comment underneath saying, ‘yeah, it might get worse!’ So there are two ways of looking at it” he laughs. Out of the many bangers, one song that stands out lyrically is ‘My King Will Be Kind’, with its memorable chorus of “She says I’ve got no love, I fucking hate that bitch”. “Oh, that lyric…” laughs Eli, clearly no stranger to the obvious question. “It’s not about a girl or anything like that,” he promises. “It’s about people who think they have the absolute truth or that they know everything. Everybody thinks they’re an expert these days, and a lot of people our age especially are getting kind of taken away by these crazy ideas online and extremist groups.” It’s a theme they return to on ‘A Night On The Floor’, with its talk of teachers under desks and living in an increasingly divided world. “If you’re going through the news any of these days, there’s just horrible stuff after horrible stuff,” Eli explains. “It’s a collage of that kind
ELI HEWSON Those last couple of years, even before Covid, were a pure hurricane of deafening hype - one show at The Great Escape, in particular, going down in infamy as one of the sweatiest and most tightlypacked gigs in the festival’s history. “Oh man, I sometimes think, did Corona start there?” laughs Ryan at memories of scenes that seem like ancient history right now. Bizarrely, that was at the start of Inhaler’s one and only festival season, meaning that there was even more riding on their studio time. So how did they decide on what made the cut? Armwrestling? “Nah, that’s a b-side that didn’t make it,” says Ryan, a future king of dad jokes in the making before Eli takes control again. “Once we had a better understanding of what we wanted to talk about on the album, it was really about what songs
of channel-hopping, all the intensity of what’s going on right now. Our parents all say that things were shocking during the seventies and eighties, but they’ve never seen a time like this. People will look back at this time and think, ‘that’s the moment things changed’. I wanted to document that.” As talk turns to how it stands up against other debuts, the band shrug off comparisons initially. “You always have your favourite bands, and you might think, ‘oh, what was their debut like?’” admits Eli. “And you do wanna top that at the end of the day. But to have a record that we love is enough. It’s not a competitive thing.” There’s a short pause and a wickedly big grin before he continues. “I mean, maybe it is. We’ll see. We won’t name the band, though.”
People will look back at this time and think, ‘that’s the moment things changed’ ELI HEWSON If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that an album chart battle will soon arise whenever one of the big indie albums of our time gets released. Heroic fights by Sports Team, Deccers and Fontaines have all resulted in a well-fought Number 2. So how are Inhaler feeling? “Drake’ll probably do a surprise album or something,” smiles Eli, before they start wondering what Taylor Swift is up to. “I think I know where she lives, though?” ponders Rob somewhat ominously, not elaborating any more on how he got this information. We can’t tell whether he’s telling the truth, and we don’t want to incriminate him any further, so we move on. Regardless of which pop behemoth they inevitably come up against, the band know their place in the grand state of things. “Pop is a juggernaut, and the music industry is a very difficult place,” says Eli. “If you are a small-to-medium-sized artist, then it’s almost impossible to survive because you can’t make money off album sales or anything. You’re either massive, or you’re not. So it’s all down to playing live, and at a time like this, when a band like us can’t, then it’s extremely damaging. But you know, we’ll make it through. We’re feeling good.” Of course, Inhaler are just one of what is becoming increasingly a tidal wave of pure talent from across the Irish Sea. Whether it’s just the rest of the world catching up, or something particularly fizzing in the Irish scene, it’s relentless. Fontaines D.C. have led the charge, of course, with the likes
of The Murder Capital, Sinead O’Brien, For Those I Love, Just Mustard and more following swiftly behind. With Eli and the guys promising to be the next huge thing, we ask the really obvious question about just why Ireland is giving us so many of our favourites right now. “I don’t know what it is about Dublin and Ireland at the moment,” admits Eli. “It’s a really buzzing music scene, and there are so many different types of music in it. There are so many Irish rappers coming about now, and to be part of a really diverse group of artists is amazing. But we’ve always felt as if we were, if not on the outside of it, then watching it.” Watching Fontaines and The Murder Capital support Shame was a pivotal moment for the group, a realisation that they might just be in the perfect moment. “It’s strange for us because you see everything on social media, so you don’t really miss it,” admits Rob. “We love seeing Irish bands on the BBC and stuff, but we’ve just been touring? We almost felt like we were missing everything, and when we came back, we were either sleeping or eating.”
Genre is far less important than it used to be; all people really want are good songs ROB KEATING The band are obviously proud of what’s been happening, though, talking of the camaraderie when they spot any other Irish artist on tour or at a festival. “What’s nice about where we’re from and what’s happening at the minute,” continues the bassist, “particularly from Dublin, is that all musical genres are as celebrated as the next. Rap is as loved as rock, rock is as loved as bedroom music, you know? Whatever anyone’s into, we’re all cheering one another on because we know how difficult it is to break out of that scene.” In a time when London bands can sometimes get a bit ratty about being described as being from the wrong part of London or part of the wrong genre, it’s pretty refreshing. “I think there’s less snobbery, in general, these days,” he says. “Because genre is far less significant or important than it used to be. Nowadays all people really want are good songs, you know? That’s all that is important.” Celebrating that diversity in genre, the band are delighted at what it means for them at a festival level. “I remember five years ago, festival line-
ups were 90% rappers,” says Ryan. “And it does feel like there’s already a small change; you’re seeing bands like Fontaines and Sam Fender creeping higher and higher up the bill. It’s really exciting, and it shows that we can do it and follow in those footsteps.” It’s painfully obvious just how much they’re missing the chance to be creeping up those bills themselves, and tour life in general - the odd flat tyre and Rob being a bit too tall for the bus are their only gripes, despite our digging into who is the biggest pain on the bus. Despite all of the delays, the album seems to be finally dropping with strangely perfect timing as proper gigs finally look like they are on the horizon. It’s a prospect that fills the band with excitement. “With every period of something bad happening, like a pandemic or a depression, there always seems to be a renaissance afterwards,” smiles Eli eagerly. “And it feels like something like that is about to happen. And we’re just excited to be alive for that moment and to be in a band during that period.” He stops and laughs before adding with a grin, “I’m looking forward to being in my thirties and saying I was in a band during the roaring Twenties!” Talking about the gigs to come, the band talk about how exciting it is to have such a passionate fanbase as they do. You only have to take one glance at their Twitter or Instagram feeds, and it’s clear that Inhaler are that rarest of breeds - the First Band Love, the band that will define memories for some of their fans for lifetimes. We chat about their own musical first loves, and the usual names come up. The Beatles. Nirvana. The Stone Roses. Icons one and all, even if *some* of them are a little tainted these days. Despite all that, it’s the latter that prompt the fondest memories, the first band that all of them fell hard for - even more so after their 2016 gig at Marlay Park. Though they can laugh now about hitting the merch stands for bucket hats aplenty, the enduring memory is one of community, and it’s something they can’t wait to return to at their own shows. “The gas thing about that night was that you couldn’t hear a single note that they played or sang,” remembers Rob. “Everyone there was the band, all fifty thousand people. People were all congregated for one thing; it was crazy. It’s a beautiful thing.” Getting the chance to continue building their own thousands-strong community later this year when they finally hit the road once more (as well as a proper second run at a festival season in 2022), all the signs are there to say that it could be this four who begin to inspire the next wave. Not that they’d ever admit it in public, the band being far too humble about their hopes, fears and expectations to big themselves up that much. So we’ll say it instead. Everyone else better make a lot of room at the top table because Inhaler are right when they say it won’t always be like this. Things are gonna get a whole lot bigger. P Inhaler’s debut album ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’ is out 9th July. readdork.com 37.
CA With her rich and confessional third album ‘Home Video’, Lucy Dacus is interrogating the past as a means of moving forward. Words: Alex Cabré. Photos: Ebru Yildiz.
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everal time zones and a hazy Zoom stream away, Soggy the cat perches lazily in an armchair. “Looking really cute right now!” laughs Lucy Dacus at the top of our conversation. “It’s actually not my cat; I just live with her. We’re roommates,” she notes from off-camera. The Virginia-born singer-songwriter has a way of making intimacy comfortable in her music as much as in her interviews. Recently turned 26, her career ascent has been deservedly fast: with its candid lyrics and warm sonic palette, 2016’s ‘No Burden’ introduced Dacus as a scintillating new voice in indie-rock, a promise ‘Historian’ made good on two years later. She’s also a third of the emo/ folk supergroup boygenius alongside Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers and appears on both of their latest records. Her own third LP is ‘Home Video’. Recorded pre-Covid and finalised during (“and hopefully we tour after!”) it’s an unabashed nostalgia trip that finds Lucy revisiting memories of home and childhood, unearthing new truths she missed the first time ‘round. “I’m not sure if I dwell, but I rest in the past,” she explains, laptop spun back around from dozing Soggy in the living room of the Philadelphia home she now shares with friends. “I feel like there’s a lot of solace to be found in things that can’t change and also so much to learn. A lot of people I know either don’t like to think about the past or feel trapped by it or equate remembering things with [being] corny or depressing, but I find it really generative. How are we supposed to do better without the past? It’s an underrated tool. “I’ve always felt like I’m a really self-aware person because I journal a lot, and I verbally process a lot with friends. But I’ve realised how many emotions I don’t let myself feel when I’m feeling them. I intellectualise my way out of my feelings all the time, and I don’t think that has served me very well. But that’s okay. Like, I feel like you don’t know what you don’t know until you... know. You can’t really fight it.” A PREVAILING THEME on ‘Home Video’ is religion. Raised Christian by her family, Lucy has been vocal about faith in the past; the topic is peppered across ‘Historian’ if you know to listen for it. On this album, she sings of specific coming-of-age moments with more lucidity than ever, like over the slow-building ‘VBS’ (that is, Vacation Bible School) where she recalls meeting her first boyfriend at one such camp. “[He was] the resident bad boy who loved Slayer and weed more than Jesus. I took it upon myself to save him and make him stop doing drugs, with an exception for snorting nutmeg. God, I was so lame.” Humour and compassion are rich in Lucy’s writing. After all, who doesn’t laugh when they think about their messy early teenage years? But there are serious tones ingrained within the cringe. Take the tender piano ballad ‘Christine’.
“That’s about me and my friend and our boyfriends at the time coming home from a church service where they split us up by gender and talked about sex. They basically told us, ‘You’re all teens, and you’re all bent on evil. Satan really wants to make you sin. Don’t have sex! Don’t do it!’ Something like that.”
I can’t really relate to who I used to be sometimes LUCY DACUS Today, she doesn’t ascribe to any faith. “Nothing really happened to make me stop believing; it was kind of a slow fade over many years. It’s not a...” She pauses for thought. “I can’t really relate to who I used to be sometimes. That’s part of why I think I write songs about it, because I feel like if I could, I would learn a lot about myself.” AS ITS TITLE suggests, ‘Home Video’ owes a lot to Lucy’s love of the camcorder clips her parents recorded of her as she grew up. Several even feature in the music video for ‘Hot & Heavy’, the album’s breezy lead single, in which she enters a mysterious movie theatre where recordings of baby Lucy are projected on the big screen. They transition from VHS fuzz to her present self as she embraces the past, which ultimately led her where she is today: “Now you’re the biggest brightest flame / You are a fire that can’t be tamed,” she sings at its rousing crescendo. Lucy has long had a passion for cinema – she planned to study it before taking up music full-time – and its influence can be felt on this album. “I think that cinema’s a cool place to find inspiration because there’s so much within it. Every art form is involved in cinema, so there’s something for everyone,” she muses. “There are a lot of rules from film school that I have taken to music, like when it comes to tracklisting I’m thinking about scenes and setting and having a flow that keeps you engaged from the beginning to the end.” Testament to her direction, ‘Home Video’ is expertly paced with an enthralling ebb and flow from every track to the next. Bursts of noise appear from nowhere like blockbuster plot twists; ‘VBS’ is slow and acousticdriven until suddenly it isn’t. In other places, all the noise is stripped off entirely. “I would kill him if you let me / I would kill him quick and easy,” Lucy almost whispers on ‘Thumbs’, the record’s devastating crux where she fantasises about murdering the dirtbag father of a close friend with her bare hands. “It made me feel weird, almost sick,” she has previously said, of writing it, which must be the musical equivalent of striking gold?
“I think that is a good indicator, at least on a personal level, to be able to say something to myself that makes me feel that way. It makes me feel like I’m in touch with what I’m thinking, because I don’t a lot of the time. I’m really happy with the way people have resonated with it. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, or if it was just going to feel like a punch, if it was too brutal.” Truthfully, ‘Thumbs’ does feel like a punch, in the best way. The superminimal instrumental leaves space for the lyrics to hang and breathe, for their full weight to be felt. It makes sense then that Lucy wanted the song to meet the world properly; when she used to perform it on tour, she would ask the audience not to record or share it before its official release. “I didn’t want it to meet the world through a phone speaker. Also, a lot of the early times that I sang it, I cried, and it sounds bad when you cry! I didn’t want people to hear it for the first time with me being like [she feigns a messy blubber]. I’m glad people respected that.” RECORDED IN NASHVILLE near the end of 2019, the album’s personnel includes Jacob Blizard and Collin Pastore, who also worked on ‘Historian’. Being among such trusted friends allowed Lucy to be as open and honest as ever, even if the vibe in the studio was often less than serious. “Part of why I love working with them is [because] we’ve developed a very specific vocabulary and shorthand for things. Collin, for instance, is so crude as a way to keep us awake! Like, I’m not even gonna say the things he says in the studio. And then Jacob has so many ideas, as do I. Most of the time, we do things very quickly, but occasionally, we’ll disagree and fight. Like, all-out screaming. And I have to end up being like, ‘You have to listen to me! I don’t care; you have to do what I say!’” She laughs, animatedly. “It’s nice to be able to do that and trust that our friendships are not at stake.” And of course, Lucy’s boygenius comrades Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers make cameos, completing the triptych of the three friends singing on each other’s records. In fact, she reveals, all their shared parts from ‘Home Video’, ‘Punisher’, and ‘Little Oblivions’ were taped in the same day. “Phoebe wanted us to sing on ‘Graceland Too’, and then Julien was like, ‘well, I have this song ‘Favor’’, and I had just written ‘Please Stay’. I think we wanted each other on all those songs because they circle ‘round a similar theme. I think having that extra bit of support from each other made them feel right.” “I think we’ve all changed pretty noticeably,” she says, ruminating on how creating music with her two close friends has influenced her own practices. “They helped me be more personal and dwell in darkness a bit more. With ‘Historian’, I wanted to talk about heavy stuff but within every song have an exit strategy from the bad feeling, to offer this ability to get out of your worst states. Whereas sometimes it’s enough to just be in a bad state of mind, or to be in solace. Not everything
needs to be a teaching moment. I think they helped me see how that’s useful even if not everyone will be able to relate.” Also featuring Phoebe and Julien, ‘Triple Dog Dare’ is the album’s monumental finale. On it, Lucy realises the full power of her role as narrator, using sound and words to paint a vivid story. She describes hitting cans and spoons to make the percussion loop heard on most of the song. “I wanted it to feel like the character was walking... it’s like, ‘we’re going to the five and dime’, like a convenience store. I wanted it to sound like when you pass your hand along an aisle of jars.” It’s one of her most enthralling works to date, closing in like a thunderstorm before bursting open in a shower of squealing guitars. Rife with symbolism, it draws on a true experience from her teens.
Every art form is involved in cinema, so there’s something for everyone LUCY DACUS “It’s based on a friend that I had a really intense connection with [in] freshman year of high school, though I imagine the girls in the song a little younger. I think we probably had feelings for each other, but I wasn’t out to myself, and she actually came out to me past the point of our friendship. I think that her mom saw what was going on before we did and tried to make us not see each other. She was a Catholic and a psychic, so she would say, like, ‘you are in imminent danger if you hang out with Lucy tonight. You have to stay home.’ Things that I’m sure she was just making up because she was afraid of her child being gay. “It has this alternate ending where the two girls run away and steal a boat and try to live on the open sea. It’s up to anyone’s interpretation whether they succeed or not, but they definitely leave.” Those uneasy years of firsts, of selfdiscovery, look different for everyone through the prism of hindsight. For Lucy, looking back is the key that unlocks the door to move forward, and as the end refrain of ‘Triple Dog Dare’ fades into silence, you sense that she is more ready and able to do so than ever. Whether it’s the voice of her friend’s concerned, mislead mother or of Lucy herself is ambiguous, but the message of resilience rings true: “Nothing worse can happen now, nothing worse can happen now, nothing worse can happen now.” P Lucy Dacus’s album ‘Home Video’ is out 25th June. readdork.com 41.
WH E R E F O R A R T T H O U... We’ve all spent far too much time stuck in our rooms over recent months - but for Drug Store Romeos, that’s a whole universe of possibilities. Words: Jamie MacMillan. Photos: Neelam Khan Vela.
DRUG STORE ROMEOS
y the time I’d finished with it, the room looked like a murder scene!” Wait, what? Has something sent Sarah Downie, vocalist and keyboardist in the Official Nicest Band in Indie, on a blood-soaked rampage? And why does the vague explanation of their missing bassist who has apparently “disappeared underground” now sound faintly more ominous? It’s not supposed to be like this. They were supposed to be one of the pure ones! Saddle up. Welcome to the mysterious world of Drug Store Romeos, then. It’s during a strangely frenetic period between important shows (remember those?) that we catch up with precisely 66.6% of the Fleet trio. Sarah and drummer Jonny Gilbert are present and just as smiley as you would imagine, while bassist Charlie Henderson is missing in action but still presumably smiling somewhere. After a great response to their virtual SXSW Online set, there is just a week or so to go before they begin gently easing back into live action with a sold-out show in Hackney. The excitement is building - and that’s before you start to consider the impending release of their superb debut ‘The World Within Our Bedrooms’, a record that builds magnificently on all that potential that a string of early singles promised and turns individual snapshots in a wide, vibrant collage of vibes and strange landscapes. We ask them how they’re feeling, and in particular, what colour they’re feeling (we’re not just being weird, they have spoken in the past about how they see emotions in colour, so hush). For Sarah, it’s brown (“Brown’s not a bad colour! I’ve got brown chocolate and brown coffee. Brown’s just kind of brown and great!”), while for Jonny it’s purple. Charlie’s still not here, so he says nothing. The pair admit to feeling equally nervous and excited today for what the reaction will be. “We’re really happy,” smiles Jonny. “The most uncertain thing is when you step in the studio, because you’ve got a certain amount of time to try and fulfil this three and a half year goal and make an album. But we’ve done what we hoped to do.” Sarah agrees, full of anticipation about being finally able to unveil what the band have always set out to achieve. “This is the first full body of work that we’ve actually released,” she explains. “You can start to understand the world we’re trying to explore sonically. I think when that’s
fragmented up in singles, it maybe doesn’t make as much sense of this little universe that our sound bobs around in.” It’s a nice universe. As Sarah sings on ‘Frame Of Reference’, there is a subtle sense when listening to it that everything has changed ever so slightly. The colours that dance all through the ‘The World Within Our Bedrooms’ are so vivid and vibrant, the language so otherworldly in its mix of ethereal and robotic, that you can’t help but get the whiff of some psychedelic ‘assistance’. With a recent tweet celebrating a monk handing them three tabs of acid in preparation for album number two, Dork obviously dives straight into that subject. “Ha, he’s been a friend of ours for a while,” says Jonny, naming no names. “It was such a nice moment. We’re not a big psychedelic exploration band, and that’s not what the album’s about. But there have definitely been times where we’ve enjoyed it, and so it’s linked to our music.” As he describes how one acid trip led to changing how the band perceived their music (and life), Sarah sighs. “We need another one; it’s been a while. We had one trip which changed my life completely… Sorry, that sounds so WANKY!” They collapse in laughter, unspoken plans for a lovely time in the future clearly being drawn up for the band. Charlie still hasn’t turned up, but that’s ok.
When people go to their mind palace to escape, that’s the music for us SARAH DOWNIE Despite all that, though, you don’t *need* to be on a trip to get the most out of the record. It’s quite simply gorgeous, all fluttering heart rates and lush synths that seem to obey their own rules as far as music goes. Tempos and moods change suddenly like warm rain on a gentle rollercoaster ride, as Sarah delivers lyrics that
at times feel like a newborn computer exploring its world. There aren’t any set rules here, something Jonny puts down to the band relying on personal instinct rather than any formal training in music. The natural world collides with science, songs about intertwining kites that scare birds rubbing up against tracks that feel like ‘Kraftwerk - the college years’. There is a sense of isolation
and escapism running through every song, so you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a very modern pandemic record. Far from it, though. The band, and Sarah in particular, were dealing with these feelings way before any lockdown. “I think our big walls of sound create this big cloud which basically sends you up and away into this other place,” she explains. “And I think
wanting to escape was what we wanted to do a lot of the time. There were some good times, and there were some not so good times either… When people go to their mind palace whenever they want to escape, that’s the music for us. It was a way of creating colour and putting it into these slightly dull lives we were leading.” Having met and formed the band in Fleet, that retreat to
DRUG STORE ROMEOS
SARAH I would be a sea otter, Jonny would be a little duckling, and Charlie would be a woodlouse.
AN I MAL BAN D CORN E R
JONNY Ok, so I guess I would be behind the drums as a penguin. Sarah would be upfront as a giraffe, and Charlie can either be an elephant, or he can be a rhino. That’s his choice.
IF YOU HAD TO PICK THREE ANIMALS TO REPLACE YOURSELVES, SARAH AND JONNY… WHAT WOULD THEY BE?
Dear Reader, Charlie has not done well here.
I was obsessed with buying magazines on eBay that taught you how to create lemon alarm clocks and radio phonographs and stuff SARAH DOWNIE
◤ ”What do you mean I’m a woodlouse?”
(and escape from) their bedrooms to write music was the genesis of Drug Store Romeos, hence the album title. “We wrote a lot of the songs after we left Fleet, but that time was very important because we were SO isolated,” she begins to explain before Zoom cuts out, and we are left with a glitching image of her face like something from a horror movie. As she crashes back in with her description of a murder scene (hey, you’re all caught up now!), Sarah does at least get to explain herself properly. “I painted my room with red paint, and stuck pushpins in and had thread running between different decades and eras. Anything that inspired me to write, basically. We were literally painting this world which we wanted to live in, and my room became this noman’s land where it didn’t exist”. It doesn’t feel like a record that a London (or any other big city) band could have created, standing apart from any scene and existing within its own sense of space. As Sarah puts it, they were never in a scene so just made one of their own. The early days of the band led to many late-nights-meetsearly-morning journeys home from London gigs, with their familiar tales to anyone from the commuter belt of catching the ‘drunk train’ home where wandering spirits would try and force them to play their instruments on demand. “If you’re carrying a drum, people are gonna hit it,” grimaces Jonny painfully. “You get drunk people that are just like ‘oh play us a song, we love you! Play your drums, get your keyboard out!’” laughs Sarah. “NO! People used to take our instruments off of us and start playing them.” The perils of being a band without a tour bus was made ten
times worse by the fact that many of the synths and keyboards that the band use are so rare that they would be almost impossible to replace. That love of technology, jostling alongside their love of the natural world, is what makes Drug Store Romeos so unique. It’s like psychedelic folk being chopped up and put through an electronic filter, super-rare synths making a perfect partnership with Sarah’s obsession with cutting up vintage magazines for lyrical inspiration. “I was obsessed with buying magazines on eBay, job lots of them,” she explains. “I was most infatuated with gossip magazines and these sixties magazines that taught you how to create lemon alarm clocks and radio phonographs and stuff. They had all these great words that you could mix with gossip columns. Like oscillators, transistors or GIVE ME SOME MORE WORDS JONNY.” The drummer, snapping suddenly to attention like a naughty schoolboy caught on his phone, can only offer one suggestion which feels more like a question than an answer. “It doesn’t matter,” says Sarah simply, now back in the zone. “Capacitor, variable, component… It’s just strange, these aren’t things you normally put together. But you can create a disconnect emotionally, putting these trivial phrases with analytical and emotionally dead words. Putting wires and heavy metal with something soft and fluffy creates this strange feeling, one I guess we were always seduced by.” The process of cutting up random words and using them for inspiration might have been around for decades, but it’s one that Sarah swears by, and it’s something that lends a weirdly specific meaning to what are fairly oblique lyrics at times. “It’s relevant to what’s going
on in my mind; it just picks them from association in terms I would never have done. And then in a few months time, I listen back, and I’m like ‘oh yeah, that’s exactly what I was feeling’. But other people could read that and have their own personal experience. Because when something is more abstract, it can reach deeper into you. Not all of the album is written like that, but it’s an interesting part of the process that’s influenced us visually as well as lyrically.” The shimmering album closer ‘Adult Glamour’ shows another side to the band, one that steers closer to shoegaze than their normal lush electronic slant. Though it feels like it could be signposting one possible future, it’s actually a relic from the past. “Yeah, that song feels like family to us now. It was going to be our first release,” says Sarah. “We wrote it four years ago. It was written at a time where I was feeling so disconnected from technology. I had it in my head that phones were these evil pieces of machinery, and the whole song was me mourning this time which I’d never actually lived in. A lot of kids then would look back into a past that they’d never even experienced with these rose-tinted glasses.” Getting rid of her phone for a year, she even went without a computer for six months - reading and ‘going a little mad’ is how she describes it now. “It’s about searching for something that is no longer there and then coming to terms with the fact that that time doesn’t exist and won’t exist again. And you know, you gotta start living in the present world; otherwise, you’re gonna miss your life completely!” There is some irony that by now, her phone battery has nearly died, so we are all talking to blank Zoom screens in order to try and preserve it. (See? Technology isn’t good!) How is she feeling now with the end of lockdown approaching, especially as much of the album has dealt with isolation? “I’m having to set boundaries,” she says honestly. “Which I find quite hard. I’ve got to make sure that I give myself enough time because a lot of the time, I keep forgetting who I really am. I am a person who needs that isolation to really be myself, and if I don’t [get it] then I feel completely not like myself. I think everyone’s a little nervous, though. They’re walking out of a cave after a year of solitude and suddenly being in society and asking, ‘who the hell are these monkey people?’” We nod and say our goodbyes, worrying quietly to ourselves about whether we’ve missed a sudden invasion of monkey people in Hampshire. We never did find out what happened to Charlie, but it doesn’t matter. We’re off to find ourselves an acid-toting monk; we want in to their world. P Drug Store Romeos’ debut album ‘The World Within Our Bedrooms’ is out 25th June.
BEST FOOT FORWAR Six months on from appearing on every new year tips list going, and our Griff is living up to the mountains of hype with a BRIT Award and a brand new mixtape. Words: Neive McCarthy.
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principle across all of them is that all you can really do is put one foot in front of the other,” Griff reflects. The mixtape’s artwork sees the 20-year-old balanced, arms stretched upon a tightrope, the stability of ground out of sight. “That’s definitely what I wanted to communicate – that sense that you could fall at any point, and there’s a very vulnerable feeling of taking another step and trying to heal and trying to get better, but feeling a bit helpless in that as well.” While most of our next steps thankfully see our feet firmly on the ground, the need to continue is still as prescient. It shines through on each track on the mixtape – it can often feel like a tug of war of emotions, flitting between shattering heartbreak and uncontainable admiration.
That progression towards getting “better” is similarly unpredictable and speaks to those early days of lockdown last year, where the future was even more uncertain than it is now. At that point, all Griff knew she had to do was write. “It was actually really hard to be inspired and feel like I was writing good stuff because I wasn’t bouncing it off of anyone, and I obviously wasn’t meeting people and getting inspired in that way,” she explains. “I was writing a lot of songs, and I didn’t know if they were any good. This year, I’ve taken them all and reflected on which are the best and worked on them – we’ve come out with these seven songs, which I think are the best reflection of what I’ve been writing this year.” The first glimpse of the
mixtape came in the form of ‘Black Hole’ – the synth-heavy, intoxicatingly dark retelling of a heartbreak that viscerally tears something out of you. Having graced radio stations since its January release and surpassed two million views on its music video, there’s no doubt of its enamoured reception. The latest instalment of the track’s success saw Griff take stage at this year’s BRIT Awards, in front of an audience including none other than HAIM, Harry Styles and fellow performer Dua Lipa, to name a few. Needless to say, she delivered an enigmatic performance. “I knew that everyone would go with the glitz and glamour and use the video screens and LED lights and have dancers and do that classic pop look that we’ve all seen. That’s why I wanted to go for something
more organic looking, which is why we did the backdrop and wooden structure. I guess the idea was it’s a bit postapocalyptic; everything’s a bit deconstructed, even down to my dress and the fabric. It was supposed to feel very gritty and deconstructed.” That unrefined element translates to her sound, too. The majority of the mixtape was produced by Griff, and it lends integrity to each track. It deviates from the polished sound pop continually leans into, but it is more enticing for it. Of course, this is compounded by the earnestness with which she sings. “I like to think that my best songs are the ones that feel the most personal. There’s just so much music and content that’s coming out now that I think unless as
songwriters we write honestly, and from our own experiences, people see right through it. People know when something is authentic or inauthentic.” It offers a unique chance at connection, regardless of the track’s subject matter – perhaps because they’re all intensely matter-of-fact and brazen. While ‘Black Hole’ languishes in heartbreak, elsewhere, she sings of the jarring intrusion of dreams, but they’re consistently intimate throughout. The result of contemplating that intrusion is the aptly named ‘Dreams’. A dizzying channel into distortion and jolting percussion, it’s one of the most interesting tracks on the mixtape. “I went away, I got an AirBnB with my friends to write songs, and I just felt like, at the beginning of
lockdown, everyone was having the weirdest dreams. Especially when we went away, we were all weirdly remembering our dreams. I think that was one conversation that happened right at the beginning. We sat down to write one of the days, and it felt like a cool concept it developed, and we created a story around that idea of whether it’s your deepest fears and anxieties or an ex – in the day, you feel fine, and you feel like you’re getting on with life and suddenly, at night, when you lose control, that’s where all those things come back to haunt you.” That sense of unease similarly permeates the track – her delivery is scathing at times, despite the otherwise light-hearted beats grounding the track. “What was also cool is that all of the production on that track, we built out of real sounds in the barn – if you listen to the song, it’s all these percussive knocks and clicks that were all just recorded and sampled in the barn.”
We can get so caught up in these weird things that make us feel like we’re either selfimproving GRIFF Those subversive moments of percussion are recurrent throughout the rest of the mixtape, too. ‘Heart of Gold’ is buoyed by its percussion and swirling vocal samples – it is deeply intricate yet deceptively minimalist. “The song has got to be able to carry with or without production, that’s why I quite like minimal production because it allows people to focus on the song, and the lyrics and melody. I think I always try and not overthink production too much – you don’t want to distract from what the actual real emotion of what I’m trying to say is. That’s how you strike the balance.” Griff asserts. She strikes it perfectly, of course. The immersive, overlapping sounds are intricate and intriguing, but they never detract from the heartfelt core of each track. There are some moments, however, where that production is scaled back even more. ‘Earl Grey’ favours a piano-led track that places her honeyed vocals centre-stage. Its
meditation on fear sees her vocals practically fluttering at the track’s close, as she reflects: ‘You’re so scared of ageing faster / so you drink Earl Grey tea because you heard that’s the answer’. “I think you could replace that “ageing faster” line with anything and any sort of fear,” Griff muses. “Whether it’s your fear of failure, your career, any deep fear we have - we can prioritise that almost and it takes over your whole mindset; while so many things around you are probably falling apart a little, your relationships are actually the most important thing. The Earl Grey tea line came to mind because my dad got really obsessive with drinking it because he’d heard it’s really good for cancer, and it’s funny because I think we can get so caught up in these weird things that make us feel like we’re either self-improving or making ourselves healthier and better. But actually, the most important things around us that we need to be taking care of is our family and our relationships.” Again, she returns to the mantra at the core of the mixtape: it’s so easy to get caught up in life and things that don’t matter, but slowing down and appreciating things as they come, one at a time, is crucial. Even on the tracks with slightly darker undertones, that positive, affirming message shines through her sound – it’s like an unspoken promise that everything will work
out, eventually. “Even though there’s elements of sadness, and drama, and darkness to it, I try and always create a silver lining of something that’s uplifting and hopeful.” That talent for finding light and spreading it is something that translates to her online presence, too. Whether it’s asking her followers to pick her outfit for an appearance on The One Show or putting together covers ‘Against The Clock’ with the likes of Maisie Peters and Nina Nesbitt, that sunny outlook shines through. “I try not to overthink social media because as soon as you do that, it can drive someone insane. I think treating it like it is just your mate and you’re just sending stuff to your mate is the best way you can be on social media and make it feel authentic to you.” It follows through the mixtape completely. The seven tracks are bookended by two seemingly oppositional songs. ‘Black Hole’ introduces us to Griff’s world in that unsettling, heartbroken manner, but by the time the final track ‘Walk’ rolls around, it’s hard to recall the desolation that opens up the mixtape. It’s as though with each track, she weaves a little bit more hope into each beat. As ‘Walk’ plays, it reaches euphoric levels. It’s a perfect exercise in how to make a pop song – electric and relentlessly sunshine-enthused, it practically simmers with pure, unfiltered
adoration. “I feel like that emotional journey of starting somewhere dark and ending up somewhere that feels light and optimistic is something that we’ve all kind of experienced in some ways,” says Griff. It is embedded into every listen of the mixtape, if not. By the time the credits have rolled, it’s difficult to shake the extra bounce it puts in your step. It might be subtle, but that silver lining Griff offers glistens.
I try and always create a silver lining of something that’s uplifting and hopeful GRIFF The sense of Griff which shines through comes from that resounding faith – it’s a selfassurance bound up with the belief that things will be okay. To return to that striking image of her on a tightrope, she recalls the shock she had when her production team hired a Cirque de Soleil tightrope performer for the shoot. “I was like, ‘what the fuck? I’m going to have to do that…’” she laughs. Daunting as it may have been, her own philosophy prevailed, and she found herself suspended in a display of fearlessness that seems natural for someone raised on a healthy diet of early Taylor Swift. “It didn’t matter whether I could or couldn’t do it – it was more about trying to get up and capture that emotion of nearly falling. I think the beauty of that shoot was that we had no idea what the exact shot we were going to come out with was.” That’s the beauty of the journey that ‘One Foot In Front Of The Other’ documents, too. You never quite know in which way your progress will manifest, or what could be around the next turn. You just have to wing it. “It’s funny because the guy told me, ‘you never look at your feet when you’re walking a tightrope. You always keep your eyes focused on where you’re going’.” For Griff, what is coming ahead looks unbelievably bright. It’s hard to imagine you’d want to focus on anywhere or anything else. P Griff’s mixtape ‘One Foot In Front Of The Other’ is out now.
BE SWE E 50. DORK
With a new outlook, a revolutionary new record and even An Actual Book, Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner is in full bloom. Words: Martyn Young. Photos: Peter Ash Lee.
t feels like a new chapter for me because my narrative as an artist is so rooted in grief and loss,” begins Michelle as she talks about the years immediately following the death of her mother and the two albums she made documenting that period, 2016’s debut ‘Psychopomp’ and 2017’s ‘Soft Sounds From Another Planet’. “I wrote two albums that were largely about losing my mum and also an entire book about that experience. I’m looking forward to changing that narrative and putting something out into the world that will be unexpected for a lot of people.” The book she talks about is Crying In H-Mart. Available this summer in the UK, it talks candidly and tenderly about her early childhood, her Asian American heritage and coming to terms with and dealing with her mother’s illness and death from cancer. As you would expect, it’s a subsequently deep but compellingly beautiful read that is touching and illuminating in equal measure. It’s a work in keeping with Michelle’s whole career in which she has constantly challenged herself and pushed herself to keep on creatively going forward. It’s a drive and ambition that was nurtured in her time in a band back in the early 2010s that set the subsequent decade of invention in motion. “Little Big League were an incredibly underrated band!” she laughs. “It was a really formative experience. I really learned how to be in a band in a big way through Little Big League. I learned how to tour. I cut my teeth on all the awkwardness that comes with it. All the boring stuff. I learned everything. I learned how to get along with people. I learned what showmanship was. In many ways, the way that I wrote for Little Big League is very similar to the way that I write now.” As Little Big League morphed into Japanese Breakfast and Michelle spun out on her own, she traversed dealing with personal turmoil with a gradual but significant ramping up of her music career. “It’s wild to see how things have grown. It wasn’t looking too good for me, so I’m really glad it turned around since I hit 25, and it’s been a slow growth from there. Now it feels like an explosive time,” says Michelle, who turned 32 this year. “For so much of the last 6 years, I’ve just been head down working as hard as I can and trying to push myself to be a better composer, arranger and producer. We started touring in a minivan with three people. Three changed to four people, and four people changed to a 15 passenger van. In two months, we’ll be on a bus with nine people and a six-member band. Similarly with the music video budgets, I started with $500 and borrowed
gear from a friend’s house, and now we’re doing these huge videos like the new one with Michael Imperioli from The Sopranos,” she continues. “Everything has been a series of step-ups. It’s pretty exciting, but sometimes it’s hard to appreciate it because you’re just so busy thinking, ‘don’t fuck it up’. The first song on the album ‘Paprika’ is about reminding yourself to enjoy what you’ve built sometimes.” Who’s the best comic book character?
One longheld passion that Michelle has is a love of comic books. In fact, she even spent a year working in a comic book store. What an amazing job that would be, eh? Anyway, once we discovered that fact, naturally, we had to ask Michelle who the best comic book character was. “I feel bad to not say Jubilee from the X-Men,” she says, considering she shares a name with her album. “Honestly, she’s cool because she’s Asian and punk but has the shittiest superpower, but I’m a big fan of her. I do like the X-Men in general.” The best one, though, is the one that Michelle would like to share a superpower with. “If I had to have any superhero power, then it would be Mystique. I’m into shapeshifters.”
This album was giving myself permission to feel joy for the first time MICHELLE ZAUNER ‘Jubilee’ marks both a culmination and a revelation. “I knew that I wanted to write about something different,” says Michelle. “I even wanted to do that with ‘Soft Sounds’ because ‘Psychopomp’ was so personal, and it was tough to do interviews all the time about unpacking my trauma, so I was like, ok, I need to write an album about space,” she laughs. “It was hard for me to not write about my mum because she had just passed two years before, and I wasn’t ready to let it go. I said everything I needed to say about the experience in my book, and I was finally ready to move on. I had the title ‘Jubilee’ in my head for a while, so I knew I wanted the album to be about joy.” An album rooted in positivity and seeking and enjoying pleasure once again called for a bigger, brighter and more powerful sound, so Michelle once again broadened her musical palette incorporating brass, strings, and a huge dynamic sound to complement the songs. “I was conscious of it being a third album, and I wanted it to be really theatrical and bombastic,” she says excitedly. That positivity manifests itself beautifully on the album’s lead single ‘Be Sweet’. It’s an opening banger that immediately says this album is going right for that pop sweet spot. The pop Michelle is aiming for is delivered in her own unique way, though. ‘Be Sweet’ is such a radio single, but the rest of the record is really different, she explains. “I’ve always naturally been interested in pop music. I didn’t want to set out and make a pop record, though. It is still a really strange album.” The strangeness she talks about is what makes the album so compelling. For Michelle, she was channelling someone who remains an icon of otherworldly pop. “I was specifically
influenced by Kate Bush and her ability to have mass appeal but also be so bizarre and very surreal and idiosyncratic,” she says. “I wanted to lean into those parts of myself and find what made me a strange writer and not just a pop writer. Why did so many people love Kate Bush? ‘Wuthering Heights’ and all of her songs are just so weird. It’s not like Madonna. You can get why Madonna has mainstream popularity, but Kate Bush is just a weirdo. It’s strange how she was so beloved and widely embraced while managing to be so nerdy and weird. I really loved that about her. You don’t have to compromise your vision into something palatable to have mass appeal.” Michelle’s vision is present in every aspect of the record. From the songs to the artwork to the accompanying visuals. The songs are primarily about seeking a better future but doing it in a way that is personal to you. “It is an album about joy, but it doesn’t mean that all the songs are happy,” clarifies Michelle. “They are all about trying to be happy or trying to protect happiness. Or even struggling to be happy.” Her book has passages featuring Michelle questioning in the immediate wake of her mother’s passing whether or not she would ever feel pleasure again or whether it would be even right to consider feeling that way. “The songs on the album deal with how you can work through that and come out the other side. I think it’s about recognising that achieving joy is a constant human struggle,” she says. “We all lead our lives trying to find that and trying to carve out that rare moment. This album was giving myself permission to feel joy for the first time. I felt ready to embrace feeling in this way. The last record was about disassociating and protecting yourself from overwhelming emotion. Almost seven years have passed since my mum died, and I feel like a really different person.” A curious aspect about the album is that the record was done and completed in 2019 but held back due to the pandemic. It leaves Michelle with something of a different attitude to the album as she thinks back. “I like the record more with this perspective,” she ponders. “I feel more confident in it. It feels like no one can hurt me because I like it, and I’ve sat with it for a year. I feel shielded. I have a better understanding of what the record’s about because I’ve lived with it. I might have been more unsure if we were going into it when it was supposed to. I’m so glad we waited because it feels like the right time to release this kind of record.” There are some perks of the job that she misses, though. “At the time, it was really sad because I was really looking forward to my press trips to Europe when the label flies you over to London or Paris and spends your money to put you over
there and talk to like eight people a day by a canal or something. I was really depressed about not getting to do that,” she laughs. “Now I’m like, what a petty thing to be upset about. Now that enough time has passed, I’m just happy that it’s fucking coming out.” Hugely prolific Michelle has used the enforced shutdown of the pandemic to indulge in some of her other passions like composing for video games and creating videos, but the first few months of the year were tough. “I desperately grasped at straws to busy myself,” she says. “I tried to practice piano and become a better musician. It was tough, though, because I had just finished a book and a record, so I couldn’t take on too big of a project before letting go of those babies first.” The release of her book has perhaps given her most pleasure as she looks back on the process with clarity. “It didn’t feel like it was important; it just felt necessary,” she says of the impetus to write. “I needed to purge what had happened and make sense of it. Now I see that it is really important for me to have let this go and document it. I didn’t realise how nice it would feel to see my mum’s paintings in the New York Times or photos of my mum on the Daily Show. All this stuff came later, and I realised I was immortalising my mum in a way. It feels great to say that I’ve written a book.” And then, after writing a book, she immediately wrote and recorded an album. There’s that driving ambition in full effect. “I was so happy for that change of pace,” she says of the different process making music compared to writing. “I had never written a book but had made a series of album’s by that point, so it was jumping into a familiar bed. It was so insular, isolating and hard to write this type of book, so it was like, oh my God, now I get to go play with my friends. It was such a relief, and I was able to go into the album process with a lot more joy naturally.” For Michelle and her project as Japanese Breakfast art is allencompassing. She lives it every day. A key component is the visuals to accompany the songs. A task that is hugely challenging but massively rewarding. “The scale of it is so large. It’s pretty exhausting,” she says of the music video process. “I go back and forth from enjoying it to not because it’s just so much labour and so expensive. It’s the highest mountain to climb in the arts, in a way. Everyone can watch something. If you can figure out how to do that, you can do anything.” Yes, indeed you can do anything as Michelle has shown time and time again in a decade of music and creation. ‘Jubilee’ is the blossoming of an artist exploring new ground and radically shaking things up, showing that there’s always hope and you can once again capture joy. P Japanese Breakfast’s album ‘Jubilee’ is out now.
Have you met De’Wayne yet? Everyone’s favourite new punk is about to drop his debut album. Words: Steven Loftin.
leven tracks. That’s all burgeoning alt-pop sensation DE’WAYNE needed to construct his debut album. Not forty or thirty. Nope. He had the vision in his head the lust for life - and knew what his big tasty statement into the world was going to sound like. You see, it’s because DE’WAYNE - that’s De’Wayne Jackson, to you - exudes ambition. It goes without saying, but he is someone born to be a star. Finding himself entrenched in the rock world, that surly beast which has morphed into something gregariously favourable to things that bounce and beat as opposed to just crunching riffs, DE’WAYNE’s is a sound that wants to take over the world. Truthfully, there’s no one more likely to achieve it, and what better way than embracing that lusty beast called pop. The key fact of DE’WAYNE’s sound is that it never touches upon one of its trifecta components more than the
other. Much like a Twix, each segment plays an equally integral role; from the tough crunch of the rock biscuit, the glueing caramel of rap energy and that sweet chocolatey pop payoff, it’s enough to make you chow down on both fingers at once. Admitting that he wants to hit the very top certainly suits pop music’s embracing of being The Best, an incomparable thought next to rock’s steadfast need to be hidden beneath the dirt with all the bugs and creepy crawlies. On this, DE’WAYNE exclaims: “If artists are working hard, like, let them eat!” Having survived his period of living on the bread line while chasing his dream after moving to LA from his native Houston, he’s now pinging down his goals like battered metal cowboys at a fairground stall. “Yo, and I’m glad you brought that up,” a fire burning in his eyes as he analyses the state of the alt world. “It’s like in rock music, it’s not cool to want
things, and it’s not cool to say that you want these things, but I grew up with absolutely nothing but the church, you know what I’m saying?” His upbringing was similar to that of many Black Americans in that it revolved around the church. Of course, DE’WAYNE morphing into the stylistically confident, faux-fur wearing, singular red lock of hair sporting icon counters all of this, which he continues to touch upon. “The church teaches Black people that you don’t even get it in this lifetime; you get it in the next life… I don’t even know what the hell that means now as a 25-year-old.” His voice piquing, ever-smiling. “I want it now, man, and I’m gonna work my ass off for it.” He also notes that it’s “something that rap embraces, which is, you know, a part of me regardless, so it’s like, yeah man, let’s have fun, and have a good time.” Indeed, there’s nothing but good times on the horizon, but equally as notable as
his ambition is the fact that DE’WAYNE doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as a political artist. Sure, his bold debut single for Hopeless Records, ‘National Anthem’, implies a political eye, but DE’WAYNE is a man of many layers who’s interested in one thing, and one thing only making good pop music. “When we put out ‘National Anthem’, people were starting to understand and be like ‘Oh, okay, he’s gonna be like a political artist’, and they dug it. But [being able to put] out songs like ‘Perfume’, ‘I Know Something’ and ‘Walking To Work’ and be like, ‘No, I’m just here to make good pop music, and to make good songs that just say what I am’… and to have people still dig it and not try to box me in it feels really satisfying. That’s where I’m at right now.” Where he’s at, more specifically, is new album ‘Stains’. That statement piece bringing together his deadly coalition of rock, pop
‘n’ roll handbook, but that’s what’s drawn a crowd in, and truthfully, it’s just DE’WAYNE being himself.
I want to be a stain on culture! DE’WAYNE As for where that attitude comes from, he notes: “I don’t want to say I’m angry,” which is a fair point. There’s no one nicer than De’Wayne Jackson in this world, but DE’WAYNE-the-artist is someone who has something he wants, nay, needs to say. “I just have this chip on my shoulder,” he states. “I want to be here for a long time and be a great songwriter, so I think that attitude just comes from that and coming from being a poor kid. Balancing those two things and being like, fuck, I came from nothing, but now that I’m here, I want to stay and be great at what I’m doing, you know? I don’t want to just be playing around.” Also explaining that he’s “tryna be like Iggy Pop,” who he feels “would get on stage and just burst out with this confidence and with this energy that you can’t hold down. I really try to embrace that type of energy.”
and rap, which doesn’t as much threaten to make DE’WAYNE a star as it promises. Starting with the pounding-like-a-biblical-marchto-the-ends-of-the-earth ‘National Anthem’, and ending with the frenzied fury of ‘Me Vs You’, no prisoners are being taken on this pop-rap-rock odyssey. “I feel like I’m closer to where I want to be bro, so I’m really excited, and I just want to compete,” he enthuses, and the results speak for themselves. There’s the rampaging ‘I Know Something’, even a tender side makes an appearance on ‘The Jungle’, and they all feature a little slice of DE’WAYNE. Love, bravado, ambition, sociopolitical nods - you’re hard-pressed to find something *not* included on ‘Stains’. “This is like a sexy ass ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’, but like a pop song,” he says, comparing ‘Super 8’ to the Iggy & The Stooges punk classic. A bold statement if ever there were one, but DE’WAYNE carries the conviction to pull it off. It would be amiss to say the most pivotal part of DE’WAYNE is the attitude he’s lifting straight from the pages of a rock
The cover of ‘Stains’ - a word in itself that is proof enough of DE’WAYNE’s plan: “I want to be a stain on culture!” - features the man himself in his finest rock garb, but completely spotless. This is someone who’s “been through the mud” yet looks cleaner than your mum’s washing. He’s untouchable. This all lends itself to wanting to be on top. When you’ve not only come from nothing but also seen a space that is yearning to be filled and not only *that* but being underrepresented in the alt world, means DE’WAYNE is stopping for no one: “We’ve been underground my whole life, right?” he notes on this point. Finally getting signed meant he was also able to actually eat, which is kind of important, along with the world finally getting to meet DE’WAYNE. Along the way, he’s picked up some mates in the form of Good Charlotte’s Madden brothers, dreamy Aussie alt-poppers Chase Atlantic (who he partnered with for earlier single ‘Adios’), and of course Waterparks who DE’WAYNE supported on our UK shores a couple of years ago. Additionally, not only featuring on the sniping ‘Perfume’, fellow Houstonian Awsten Waterparks has also been a key player in DE’WAYNES’s journey from scrappy ‘HERE I AM!’ support act to a fullyfledged kingpin of his own fan club, The Circle - more on that later. “I think he saw it in me early cuz I was still working, and he would take me out, and I wouldn’t have any money,” he says. “And he’d be like,
‘I got it, like don’t worry about it’. I would be so embarrassed, but I think he just saw it in me, and I appreciate it so much.” Awsten taking a chance on DE’WAYNE is where his luck changed. Taking him out on the road “when even my friends and artists would not,” which he puts down to he and his band being “a bit too aggressive, and a bit too much of an ‘opening act’ to tour with some of these guys who don’t look like me.” Reader, that would be because DE’WAYNE’s energy - palpable enough through a Zoom chat to give you Redbull wings - on stage is magnified times a thousand. “Without him, we wouldn’t be talking, and I wouldn’t have my deal, and I wouldn’t have an album… I appreciate him for putting me in a spotlight. I don’t know what it was, but, man, I kiss him on the cheek every time I see him.” Help from other alt-pop-rockwhat-have-you icons aside, it’s also that fanbase that’s giving the DE’WAYNE train the runaway treatment. When initially Dork asks, since all great pop acts have their clubs, what DE’WAYNE’s would be, well, we’re put in our place very swiftly. “The Circle, man! People got tattoos! They’re starting to grow, and it freaks me the fuck out,” as he exclaims these words, he shows the two words inked on his arm. After clocking Twenty One Pilots and their Clique, both the literal hunger and that for the spotlight got DE’WAYNE to thinking, if he could develop his own base for those that see things how he sees them, and a place for them all to identify, well everything will be alright. “Yeah, it freaks me out bro, cuz I remember putting on my Instagram in like 2019, being like, ‘this has just started… The Circle’ - and now kids have it in their bios. They have tattoos; we have a whole Discord.” Since it would seem that things are certainly falling into place for DE’WAYNE, how does he go about knowing where to keep this ambition honed? It’s one thing wanting to make some waves, but when you’re erring toward a veritable typhoon, especially after the liftoff success coming off the back of his recent string of singles, how do you keep that blood pumping? You just keep going, apparently. “I still gotta dig for shit!” he exclaims. “I want to compete at the highest level, bro, and I know I got a ways to go, but if you get into the music and you hear what I’m doing - I don’t know, I think I’m gonna be here, and I think I’m gonna keep pushing the boundaries,” he sits chewing on these ideas for a moment. “So, if those moments keep happening out of love or out of hard work, whatever the universe is allowing me to push through right now, I’m here for it, and I’m trying to put myself in a position to be, you know? So it’s beautiful.” P DE’WAYNE’s album ‘Stains’ is out 18th June.
Incom ALL THE RELEASES YOU NEED TO KNOW (AND SOME YOU DEFINITELY DON’T)
Modern Medicine eeeef
Phobophobes have risen from their South London roots to become one of the UK’s leading psych-fuelled entities. Their warped soundscapes continue to impress, and for their second album, there’s no sense of normality in these twisted, rapturous creations that playfully drag those listening through a dark fantasy like no other. They consistently have an impressive ability to unsettle, and recent line-up changes haven’t deterred them from their mystic journey into musical wizardry, with tumbling organs, tainted riffs and a voice that routinely cuts to the very core. CIARAN
Wolf Alice Blue Weekend
eeeee A near-perfect album arriving at the near-perfect time, Wolf Alice’s imperial phase has finally dawned.
re Wolf Alice the best band on the planet? There’s a question for you, Dear Reader. Not the most feverously obsessed over by screaming stans. Not the shiniest and most playlist-ready. Not the easiest to jump on board with, thanks to a hooky 3-minute
on-trend bop. The best. If we’re honest, the answer is almost unquestionably yes. By our own admission, we’re not shy of a bit of hyperbole ‘round these parts’, but this isn’t just some exciting sounding assertion yelled loud to create a bit of a spark. Three albums in, it’s safe to call it. Few, if any, even come close. ‘Blue Weekend’ is a triumph. In the context of the world around it, though, it feels even more than that. It’s special. After a year where we’ve yearned for human connection - shut away and unable to live inverted-commas-normal-lives - the summer of 2021 is already cast in stone as some great awakening. Maybe it’s serendipity, perhaps it’s design, but in landing right at the point we need them most the return of Wolf Alice seems almost pre-destined. Like nature really is healing. A winding, narrative flow - ‘Blue Weekend’ is Ellie Rowsell’s lyrical flair at the top of her championshipwinning game. Every weapon in the Wolf Alice arsenal is on full display.
From the thawing, crystalline shimmer of opener ‘The Beach’ to the teeth bared, visceral gutpunch of ‘Play the Greatest Hits’, they remain the only band who can so effectively mix it on every sonic level. Recent single ‘Smile’ leaves those riff-ready, would be festival headliners in a bloody pile, harnessing that almost tangible groove the four-piece have always been able to lock into at will. An evolution on the screaming, feral cry of ‘Giant Peach’, it’s a marker of just how far they’ve come. There are new or more pronounced strings to Wolf Alice’s considerable bow, too. Album centrepiece ‘How Can I Make It OK’ casts Ellie’s showstopping vocal through a brilliant, twisting pop kaleidoscope, reflecting the track back upon itself until it reaches a pristine crescendo. At this point, Rowsell’s voice is almost an instrument in itself. From warm, embracing atmospherics to diamond-sharp cuts, it’s a worldbuilding, organic force that elevates them above their more sterile peers.
Much will be made of the ‘is it getting hot in here, or is it just us?’ not-exactly-undertones of ‘Feeling Myself’, but that confessional, noholds-barred tone that first started to show green shoots on ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ seems even more fully embraced on ‘Blue Weekend’. From the avoidance tactics of folky plucker ‘Safe From Heartbreak (if you never fall in love)’ to the tactile, almost accepted regret of ‘No Hard Feelings’, the deeply personal is laid bare in a cathartic act of self-relief. The true beauty of Wolf Alice, though, comes in what they represent. This isn’t a band that exists purely to ‘get big’. There’s no stench of cynicism from their corner. They’re the morning light that thaws the frozen pond, the ones to stand up and be counted when others shy away. That tangible outpouring of relief and emotion that accompanied ‘Blue Weekend’’s first taster ‘Last Man On Earth’ said more than words ever could. Write it large; Wolf Alice’s imperial phase has arrived. STEPHEN ACKROYD
Class Of Cardinal Sin eeeff Delving wholeheartedly into the eclectic folk-punk that’s characterised Covey’s previous output, ‘Class Of Cardinal Sin’ deals with the residues of childhood trauma. Brushed equally with plaintive nostalgia and screaming anxiety, Covey discusses not cute scenes of bike riding and home-baked muffins, but rather the time when a grown man poured scalding coffee on his sister’s head, and the guilty freedom of the first Christmas away from the family home. The album deals with trauma in its own idiosyncratic but strangely relatable way, working through pain in real-time as the brilliantly effective collection of songs play through. EDIE MCQUEEN
Bobby Gillespie & Jehnny Beth
Them EP eeeef
Utopian Ashes eeeff
With razor sharp wit and meticulously placed brush strokes, Mellah is painting the world as he sees it on new EP ‘Them’: infuriatingly indifferent, hopelessly bleak, and wilfully ignorant. What the three-track EP might lack in length, it makes up in creative flair. Infectious melodies and an immersive environment allow Mellah to explore a multitude of moods and hidden corners of his expressive sound. Born out of a desperate need for change, ‘Them’ gives a glimpse into his restless mind and his rightful anger – an intriguing narrative that will bleed into two further EPs, ‘Us’ and ‘Me’, and provide a cathartic outlet for likeminded activists. LAURA
Bobby Gillespie and Jehnny Beth’s sweeping nine-track collaboration, ‘Utopian Ashes’, is rich in narrative and emotion. Alternating between emotive folk balladry, dangerous country twangs, and flashes of brash rock, it refuses to be categorised, dashing instead between genres. Detailing a collapsing relationship, weighty with love and a lack of fulfilment, it evokes the melancholy feeling of sitting by yourself in a dark bar after a heated argument, its eclecticism is its true strength. But this melancholy is of a calm nature, of spent rage and tired eyes. It is not a depressing listen; it has a magic through its insistent realism. EDIE MCQUEEN
One Foot In Front Of The Other
Planet (i) eeeef
Ella Williams’ second album as Squirrel Flower, ‘Planet (i)’ is named after a fictional world where humans take refuge after destroying Earth, only to inevitably repeat the process. As she explores this new territory, Ella feels more and reaches further than last year’s ‘I Was Born Swimming’. Hurtling recklessly through the cosmos on the hunt for answers, the atmosphere shifts and changes with no forewarning; searing guitars and thunderous wails suddenly implode to make way for sparse, lonesome recollections. Whether she finds what she’s looking for is unclear as the album fades out, but she departs with a relieving sense of tranquillity. JAY SINGH
ritish pop up-and-comer Griff is about as fresh as it gets with her first mixtape release, ‘One Foot In Front Of The Other’. Contrary to what the title might suggest, these seven tracks are far from baby steps toward Griff finding her groove and are, in fact, giant leaps firmly into the pop domain. A collection of well rounded, effortlessly produced and masterfully vocalised songs, this mixtape is screaming with confidence and cool. While rarely straying too far from the catchy, club-ready standard, Griff still manages to pour true feeling into her tracks. ‘Dreams’ and ‘One Foot In Front of the Other’ are testaments to her
willingness to show insecurities while wrapping them up with cool, confident lyrics that she belts out with a crystalline tone. On ‘Earl Grey’, we hear the pop production stripped-back, with Griff showcasing her impassioned voice and personal lyrics, “You said you’re scared of getting cancer, so you drink Earl Grey tea ‘cause you heard that’s the answer.” This lyrical intimacy and personal significance is what sets Griff apart. It’s no question whether we’ll find ourselves dancing to ‘Black Hole’ or ‘Walk’ until Griff’s next release comes to knock our socks off again as she is set to bring us one bop after the other. CONNOR FENTON
As Blue As Indigo eeeef It’s been a long five years since Tigercub’s debut album, and it’s a return that confirms the brains behind the project, Jamie Hall, as a grunge and garage rock mastermind. The years away have only done favours for the underground icons; the songwriting has been refined tenfold. ‘Blue Mist in My Head’ without a doubt the best song they have written, a tear-jerking balance of light and shade where soft and vulnerable vocal melodies and lyricism sharply contrast against dark gothic instrumentation. Packed with choruses with conviction and more riffs than you know what to do with, hopefully we won’t have to wait as long for Tigercub’s next instalment. JASLEEN DHINDSA
Troubled Paradise eeeee Jumping on a remix of Charli XCX and Kim Petras’ ‘Click’ in 2019, Slayyyter established herself as a key player in the next generation of retro-futuristic pop stars. Holding her own just a month after dropping her first mixtape, Slayyyter was clearly on the up and up, but what was yet to come was next level. An accumulation of the 2000s icons she idolised as a child (Britney, Gaga, Xtina - you know the deal), the hit-minded penmanship of her contemporaries and the 100mph hyperpop movement, ‘Troubled Paradise’ could kill a Victorian orphan on first listen. ‘Self Destruct’ is an air horn to the face right out the gate, and she barely lets up for the entire record. Slayyyter was a superstar on arrival, but her growth is so evident here. It’s fun and tacky in places – one of the first singles is titled ‘Throatzilla’, paying tribute to her fellatio skills and is a total hero of the album – but still gives us some of Slayyyter’s more heartfelt and vulnerable side. While she was finding her feet during her mixtape era, they’re firmly planted on the ground this time. ‘Troubled Paradise’ is a genuine no-skip affair. ABIGAIL FIRTH
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life’s a beach
The Leicester crew’s much anticipated debut does exactly what you’d expect. Total vibes forever.
Waterparks Greatest Hits
Pop-punkers turned genre free hype surfers, Waterparks fourth full-length lives up to the name. readdork.com 59.
Smoothboi Ezra’s ‘Stuck’ EP has an ambience all of its own. Careworn, woozy and tender, Ezra’s songs exist in a protective musical bubble where you can insulate yourself and fall in love with the words of a songwriter with a perceptive grasp on desire and relationships. The songs are slight and endearingly ramshackle as Ezra continues in the bedroom pop vibe in which they have made their name, but in that there’s an innate charm and the closeness amplifies the resonance of the songs. ‘Stuck’ is a gorgeous slice of dreamy pop while ‘Without Me’ cuts deep as Ezra details a piercing breakup. Sometimes the slightness of the songs jars against the heaviness of the lyrics and the themes Ezra is dealing with, as a track like ‘You’ floats off blissfully into the ether. By the closing acoustic track ‘Palm Of Your Hand’ though, you’re utterly safe in Ezra’s lo-fi world. MARTYN YOUNG
Summer must be on the way as the air feels fresher, the leaves look greener, and Ten Tonnes is releasing sounds that’ll go down better in sweaty clubs than even the most extravagant foam party. Lead single ‘Everything You’ve Got’ is one of his best to date, with a chorus that’s going to hit different when those live shows return. This is Ethan’s ode to his favourite 80s indie records, with that jam-packed sound feeling reminiscent of classics from years gone by. There’s no room for bad vibrations as this is a release focused on nothing but good times made up of four short, sharp tracks that each have a certain likeable charm. Back to back with uplifting tunes that are perfect for all the sunny days and brighter times hopefully ahead, the future is sounding very bright indeed. So come on (come on, come on) and fire up those summer parties; the music we need is already here. CIARAN STEWARD
On ‘Off Saint Dominique’, renforshort doesn’t hold back on relatable commentary (‘virtual reality’) and heartfelt confessionals (‘exception’). “I’m just telling how it is,” she proclaims on snarky opener ‘wannabe’, instantly putting the entire record into perspective. Her sonics are snappy and anthemic: muddy riffs, smooth beats, defiant choruses; her vocals flawless and on point. But what really defines renforshort is her striking take on lyricism that continues to impress with a refreshing level of self-reflection. Deeply personal and just as relevant, ‘Off Saint Dominique’ is the work of an artist who views music as a form of therapy. Whether you need to scream into a pillow or cry some silent tears, renforshort asks “what’s your damage” and prescribes a bittersweet remedy. LAURA
Stuck EP eeeef
It Won’t Always Be Like This
eeeef With a debut album that silences any remaining doubters, Inhaler might always be a band with a certain legacy, but they wear it well.
ry as they might, Inhaler will never be able to run away from that elephant in the corner. They may be the most exciting band to emerge from indie’s packed masses in a good while now. They might be able to connect on a grand level while deftly avoiding the cliched ranks of clogging pub rockers. They could have a run of future festival anthems tucked firmly under their belt. Everyone’s still going to want to talk about Dad. When people complain about musicians being born into privilege, they’re usually referring to money, power, influence - all that jazz. It’s fair to say Elijah Hewson will struggle to avoid that sort of chatter, as much as he and his bandmates might like
to. But the truth is, none of that matters - because what Inhaler really are blessed with doesn’t come from bank accounts or considerable sway. It’s genetics. Strip away everything else, close your eyes, and just listen. In inheriting a vocal that arguably might even better one of pop’s most iconic voices, Inhaler’s greatest challenge is simply to use what God (or, y’know, someone else - Ed) gave them. It’s not enough to gain entry alone, but coupled with intelligent, instinctive songwriting, it’s the gusting wind beneath some mighty wings. ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’ - the perfect title for an album landing in the middle of generational upheaval - has everything. The big hitters are present and correct both ‘My Honest Face’ and ‘Cheer Up Baby’ are destined to last the test of time - but those moments as yet unheard stand just as strong. ‘My King Will Be Kind’ anchors the record with what’s sure to become a fan favourite, while ‘Totally’ could well be the bands strongest statement yet. Some might attempt to cast shade with inevitable comparisons, but that’s to suggest having the talent to echo an iconic band is some sort of flaw. If anything, it’s a marker of just how great Inhaler could become. Yes, Inhaler are a band who will always have their legacy forced upon them by others - but that’s when the music needs to do the talking. ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’ is a mic drop moment. With everything else cast aside, it’s the music that matters. Inhaler have nothing left to prove. STEPHEN ACKROYD
So Long EP eeeef
off saint dominique EP eeeef
John Grant Boy From Michigan eefff
You never know what you’re going to get with a John Grant record, his previous work veering wildly between piano ballads and full-on electronic nonsense of the highest order. On ‘Boy From Michigan’, he welds together both instincts in an ambitious record that could have done with some much harsher pruning. You want ten-minute songs about the evils of colonialism and Trump’s America? Step right this way! Though there’s lots to chew on here, where the record falls down is in its sheer length. There’s always been a hint of wellearned self-indulgence in his previous work, but here it sees his trademark biting humour flail. For a record that dissects the American Dream, perhaps its fitting that it ultimately becomes too grandiose for its own good, reaching out too far and falling over itself. JAMIE MACMILLAN
eeeee It would seem that someone has chucked the joyous essence of pop, rap’s vehemence and a good dose of rock’s styling into a bottle, corked it up along with a mint, and proceeded to shake it until the fizz erupts. Emerging soaked from
this experiment comes burgeoning star De’Wayne, triumphantly holding aloft ‘Stains’, his debut album. For the last few years, he’s been cutting his teeth with singles and support slots, and in that time he’s crafted a collection of songs that point a finger at the world, stick another up at love, and beg success for a tussle with a confident swagger. In case any of that wasn’t abundantly clear, just wait for the war-cry of opener ‘National Anthem’. From then on it’s an all-out race to the top, and hot damn does it seems like De’Wayne’s only gone and done it. STEVEN LOFTIN
like I miss someone I’ve never met.
I WANT TO MEET UR DOG This is - shocker another track inspired by the same muse as ‘Idea of Her.’ It’s the oldest track on the list, written back in the prehistoric year of 2018. I was deep in this crush at this point and just desperately wanted to share my life with this girl. We had bonded on Twitter over pictures of her very cute dog, who I had become a massive fan of. It’s possible that I may have fallen for her pup before her, actually, which sounds a bit bad, but I think she would understand. You’ll be happy to know that I did get to meet her dog, so I’d consider that a happy ending.
LET ME FEEL LOW
Cavetown Man’s Best Friend EP Cavetown walks us through what might just be his best release yet, the ‘Man’s Best Friend’ EP. IDEA OF HER This is my absolute favourite track from the EP, so of course, it had to go first on the tracklist to make a solid first impression. Over the past couple of years, I’ve written an embarrassing amount of songs about the same person. They always turn out to be the ones I’m most proud of, which probably speaks to the strength of the feelings this person evokes in me. ‘Idea of Her’ tells a classic unrequited love story, but at the same
time, I was feeling a little lost about whether I really needed her or if I just needed someone like her. Maybe I could be okay with the conclusion that there are other fish in the sea. The relationship had hit a dead-end before it could even begin, so for a long time, I was in a state of sadness and curiosity about what might’ve transpired had we been able to spend some time together. At least I managed to get a good amount of musical content out of it.
UR GONNA WISH U BELIEVED ME I wrote this song during one hell of a breakdown in the middle of quarantine. I have struggled with my mental health since my early
teens, and every now and again, the world just… closes in. I used the song to try and express the sides of mental illness I felt too ashamed to recognise when I was in the depths of it. The toxicity, manipulation, selfishness, anger, obsession, selfdestruction… I had convinced myself that everyone trying to help was the enemy, and I was in denial about the reality of how bad my head had gotten. I felt so guilty about the idea of recovering and would do whatever I could to keep myself chained down. I’m still in the process of climbing out of that hole and have started recognising more and more of myself returning. I never thought I’d say it, but I’m really happy to
feel like myself again.
PAUL The first time I discovered ‘Paul’ by Big Thief, I heard it coming from my housemate’s bedroom, and it immediately gave me deja vu. I’m sure I must’ve heard it somewhere before. It sounded so comfortable and welcoming that I ended up listening on repeat for the next few days, each time feeling as though the lilting melody was filling up little spaces in my brain like a puzzle. I can’t say I really understand or relate to the lyrics, but the story and imagery that they create is still very easily enjoyable. They evoke a nice foggy indie-movie short film vibe; they make me feel
This song jumps forward to around ‘Ur Gonna Wish U Believed Me’ on the ‘Man’s Best Friend’ timeline, addressing the importance of letting yourself feel what you need to feel in order to move through it. I feel subjected to a lot of toxic positivity, both by the internet and my own internal monologue, so it is really helpful to remind myself that feeling sad, anxious, jealous, angry, or anything else that I will routinely swat away with “it could be worse”, is okay. Feeling low doesn’t make me ungrateful for all the things that “should” be making me happy; in fact, I am incredibly grateful for the range of emotions I get to go through. Without them, I probably wouldn’t have a music career.
GUILTY Guilt has been an annoyingly persistent demon for me over the past few years. Whether as a symptom of impostor syndrome when I’m out on tour, or just for no reason whatsoever, it seems like my brain always finds something to make me feel guilty about. No matter what I do, I feel guilty. I often look at dogs and other animals and feel jealous about how they have absolutely no sense of self. How sick would it be to just have
Man’s Best Friend EP eeeef Cavetown is one of the most prolific musicians around, spending his musical life online packing up all his feelings, desires, and wild fantasies into perfectly realised introspective, idiosyncratic pop songs. On his latest EP ‘Man’s Best Friend’, Robin Skinner takes another significant step up. The songs are more richly defined than ever, and Robin colours his tender vignettes with all sorts of deeply relatable and evocative imagery dealing with life, love and universal feelings. He’s a deeply personal writer unafraid to be playful and challenge himself. MARTYN YOUNG
no self-awareness?? No one expects anything of you, and it would be impossible to feel guilty about something because you don’t even really understand that you are a being that exists.
SHARPENER ‘Sharpener’ is probably the hardest to talk about and elaborate on. It’s an “if you know, you know” kind of song. But regardless, I am very proud of it, and it’s one of my only songs which actually moves me to tears a bit. I sometimes get myself confused, wondering, “If I don’t feel comfortable talking about this, why would I write a whole song about it and share it with the world?” But it is a really special thing to be able to reach out to people through songs like this, people who are in a dark place and struggling with destructive coping mechanisms, and for the song to say to them, “hey, I get it”. If pushing myself out of my comfort zone can help someone else feel comforted, that’s really cool. P readdork.com 61.
Benjamin Francis Leftwich To Carry A Whale eeeff
‘To Carry A Whale’ is the first album from Benjamin Francis Leftwich written and recorded entirely sober, and it resonates due to its quiet timidness; feeling exposed and entirely naked for the first time, Benjamin feels judged like never before. Yet, there are also moments of hope: closing the album on ‘Full Full Colour’, he puts his words into practice and becomes who he wants to be. ‘To Carry A Whale’ is inspiring from start to finish. PHOEBE DE ANGELIS
Muck Spreader’s EP ‘Abysmal’ is organised chaos. Purposeful and building with its sound, they go from a dog barking in ‘Would He’, to rubbish New York accents, to sexy saxophone solos in ‘Mass Graves’ - yet somehow it makes perfect sense. They even try to sell lemonade at one point; ‘Freshly Squeezed’ feels like a fever dream. The best way to describe Muck Spreader is a loud secret; loud in their sheer disregard for volume control, and secret in their mastery to remain organically radical.
Self-described “lo-fi pop noodler” Trunky Juno has returned with his second EP, ‘Good Dog’, which continues to expand his gleeful discography with four more playful tunes bathing irresistibly catchy pop hooks in a pool of distorted indie production. Lead single ‘Daddy’s Gone For Cigarettes’ immediately reestablishes the quirky tone that Trunky is synonymous with; warped, rumbling and screeching guitars deliver strong melodies alongside the easily distinguishable vocals. Energy levels fluctuate across the rest of the EP, peculiar anecdotes twisted and moulded into enthralling journeys exploring bittersweet nostalgia with a sonically modern touch. Eclectic and all-embracing indiepop serves as an effective medium for Trunky Juno to spin his conspicuously tongue-in-cheek tales of games shows and pizza toppings. FINLAY HOLDEN
PHOEBE DE ANGELIS
Melding noise and experimental elements with club and trap sounds, ‘Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep’ is a musical evolution for Mykki Blanco, featuring a raft of star-studded guests like Dev Hynes and Jamila Woods . ‘Free Ride’, ‘Summer Fling’ and ‘Love Me’ are notable high-points. If you’re into heavy bass reminiscent of warehouse parties and raves pulsating through speakers, then turn on Mykki Blanco and return to the future. PHOEBE DE ANGELIS
Traversing an expansive range of life lessons from growing up in a religious household to falling in and out of love, Maple Glider has learnt to combine satire with the sincere, drawing from bouts of homesickness following a move from Melbourne to Brighton. Wanderlust is a heavy theme, as she goes on a journey to find herself. Melt away into the melodies and drift into a new world, where ‘To Enjoy is the Only Thing’ that matters.
Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep eeeef
Islomania eeeff Five years since their last album, and Islands are back with their eighth full-length, ‘Islomania’. A quintessentially Islands record in its duality of a playful approach combined with serious subject matter - topics covered include futility and repetition, the need for understanding, and a desire for intimacy - it’s more groove-centred than ever before. Flitting from the ridiculous to the sublime, the record transcends from a wild Friday night out through to the Sunday comedown. PHOEBE DE ANGELIS
Good Dog EP eeeff
Abysmal EP eeeff
To Enjoy is the Only Thing eeeef
PHOEBE DE ANGELIS
Taking The Blow EP eeeef Struck by the panic and sudden stillness of the pandemic, ‘Taking The Blow’’s lead single ‘In My Head’ sees Luna Morgenstern trying to make sense of her thoughts, reflecting on how she dealt with the loss of her mother. The EP is an act of liberation, and you can hear it in every note. With sonic nods to the likes of SOPHIE, FKA twigs and Charli XCX, Luna’s is a name you’ll be hearing a lot more of. PHOEBE DE ANGELIS
Lucy Dacus Home Video
here is something special about home videos – something intrinsically warming and magical. Maybe it is how each grainy clip feels blurred by nostalgia. Whatever that mysticism is, Lucy Dacus has captured it immaculately. On ‘Home Video’, she places the camcorder firmly in your hands. As each track unfolds, it feels as though you are watching Lucy through the lens as she returns to her coming-of-age years. ‘Home Video’ is encompassed by a quivering intimacy, perhaps because, like its title, it captures years of vivid emotion and clungonto memories. It’s so deeply personal, though, that it feels akin to stepping into her teenage journal. When you are a teenager, you think every feeling you have is the most crushing or euphoric: it’s an unparalleled kind of passion. Lucy has bottled that sheer intensity, but from the perspective of her 26-year-old self, it’s achingly tender. Woven with specificities and previously unspoken words, each track is made all the more vulnerable by Lucy’s easy,
eeeef wistful vocals. ‘Partner In Crime’ is a departure from the largely melancholic trajectory of the album – it dabbles in layers of distortion, leaving her voice as warped as the lyrical content as she yearns for some certainty to a frustrating romance. ‘Brando’, meanwhile, is a giddy venture into the heady rush of youthful infatuation. Each track yells cut and opens to a new, completely different scene: it’s as though she is trying on different sounds for size, but each fits perfectly and coordinates with the other. The album’s closer, ‘Triple Dog Dare’, is mammoth. It begins pensively, laced with vibrant artefacts of a long-ago love – it’s all poetry and passing notes in class. The track soars into ecstasy, brimming with euphoric percussion until its closing minute when the track demands peace once more. In those final minutes, the rush of ‘Home Video’ hits you at once, and it’s a soothing resolution full of relief. “Nothing worse could happen now,” Lucy repeats mantra-like. It’s time to switch the camcorder off. NEIVE MCCARTHY
DZ Deathrays Positive Rising Pt. 2 eeeff
DZ Deathrays are hammering home a wall of punk rock electricity in ‘Positive Rising: Part 2’, the climactic finale to their 2019 ‘Part 1’ that left us on tenterhooks for almost two years. Acting as a call to arms, this album lights a fire under the feet of its listeners by drilling in new philosophies on postmodern living with the help of intense post-punk riffing. Written partially in 2017, their messages of division and political alienation still stand true as ever. Although their heavy doom-rock can give the impression that DZ Deathrays are telling you to give up hope, ‘Positive Rising: Part 2’ is actually insisting you do the opposite, effectively drawing the two-part saga to a close by providing clear commentary on the times we live in, building surreal soundscapes and creating bangers that are humming with life, through and through. CONNOR FENTON
Pom Pom Squad
Singer-songwriter Cautious Clay gives us a bird’s-eye view of the calamities of life in debut ‘Deadpan Love’; an album as perfect for summer weather as it is for broodier storms. Kicking off with the opening track ‘High Risk Travel’, Cautious Clay forces us to pay attention - at only just under two minutes, it’s effortlessly cool, sonically perfect for dancing while the lyricism is sharply resonant for anyone with relationship anxiety. On the surface, ‘Deadpan Love’ seems slightly cynical, but there’s a heart to the album that subtly reveals itself. Single Roots is especially heartfelt, lamenting the loss of a relationship dying from its own toxicity, with an addictive metallic snare and infectious vocals. Cautious Clay gives us timeless music in this debut release; if he hadn’t already marked himself as one to watch, ‘Deadpan Love’ would have cemented that title in a heartbeat. CHLOE JOHNSON
The brainchild of vocalist and guitarist Mia Berrin, with the release of 2019’s ‘OW EP’ Pom Pom Squad showed themselves to be fearless in mixing the saccharinely melodic with a snarling, biting attitude that wants to stake its place in the world. Hooking Mia’s vocal melodies loosely around those of the determined grunge crunch, or hypnotic acoustic chugging, the weaponry they’ve been building up that now constitutes their debut album is ready to tackle that long maligned beast of burden called love. It genuinely feels like you’re listening to the hurried mood swings of the deepest, DNAsetting relationship play out; the frantic baby steps, becoming subdued by a doe-eyed look or the softest of touches. It’s so much fun packed into a bold-stepping 14 tracks that you’re hardpressed not to fall in love at first listen. STEVEN LOFTIN
Deadpan Love eeeef
Death Of A Cheerleader eeeef
With second full-length ‘Miracle’, Francis Lung reflects on his struggles with mental health, substance abuse and relationships, finding a way to make sense of it all through music. The album is intended to celebrate the healing process while being aware of and accepting the darker sides of the human psyche. ‘Blondes Have More Fun’ struggles with depression (“I spend all my time indoors, listening to The Cure”); breezy, sunny art-rock is undercut by nonchalant nihilism, as Francis Lung moans and coos in ‘Empty Playgrounds, Broken Swings’. Introspection is taken further in ‘Lonesome No More’ which culminates as a deeply personal moment (“Happiness I’ve kissed you a hundred times, maybe more, maybe less, but I am married to this sadness”). Life isn’t always sunshine and roses - and that’s okay.
Yuck’s Max Bloom is back with his second solo album, ‘Pedestrian’. Unfurling like an urban butterfly, combining gossamer weightlessness with rainy skies and a nine-to-five outlook, it’s very British balladry, melding Britpop inflexions with distorted guitars and shimmering, far-reaching synths. Dealing with the grey suburban scenes Max was confronted with on his lockdown runs through London, he refutes the austere image that this might conjure, transforming it with soaring, schoolboy vocals and plaintive lyricism. Even in the album’s darker moments, there’s a buoyancy to the gloom. From the retro sweetness of ‘How Can I Love You’, rich and warm like burnt orange, to the lavish instrumentals of ‘Twenty Two’, the record swirls nineties and noughties influences, perfectly rounded off by the open road bliss of ‘Cat On Your Lap’. EDIE
PHOEBE DE ANGELIS
Awake & Hungry EP eeeef If the music scene was a nightclub, then the bouncers on the door of post-punk would be operating a one-inone-out system by now. Rarely has a genre got so saturated so quickly as this, a problem for the next crop of scamps who are left hanging around
outside waiting for the bigger kids to bugger off and make some space for them. That’s the challenge facing London foursome Folly Group then, and it’s one they square up to happily on their debut EP. The title-track begins ominously, Sean Harper’s poetic lyrics drifting in over glitchy atmospherics and rumbling bass. “I was reborn here, and I could die twice,” he warns, ushering in a familiar sound. Thankfully there’s just enough of an experimental edge and intensity surrounding the band to carry it through. Let ‘em in, there’s room for one more. JAMIE MACMILLAN
Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land
arina Diamandis has always been one of the most high-concept (and under-appreciated!) pop stars we’ve got. After dropping her eponymous ‘Diamonds’ in 2019, it felt like she’d lost her way a little bit; ‘Love + Fear’ was missing some of her usual sparkle, save for a couple of outstanding ballads, but ‘Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land’ sees her return to her old self. It’s wonderfully groovy right from the off, the titletrack tapping into old Marina while kicking it
up a notch. ‘Man’s World’ is grown-up ‘Electra Heart’, bringing the feminism she’s always been vocal about into her music properly. Her return to camp is heavily welcomed and the retro Marina and the Diamonds sound is clearly the one that suits her best, but why over a decade into her career do some of her lyrical choices feel so juvenile? ‘Purge The Poison’ is too on the nose and is delivered like a slam poem. Similarly ‘I Love You But I Love Me More’ is predictable and cliché, and a bit… dare we say… filler. The difference between her new material and the ‘Electra Heart’ and ‘The Family Jewels’ albums it sonically references is that ‘Ancient Dreams’ takes itself too seriously – songs like ‘Primadonna’ and ‘Bubblegum Bitch’ were iconic because they relished in the ridiculousness; unfortunately the tracks here don’t harbour that same self-awareness. ABIGAIL FIRTH
The Lounge Society Silk For The Starving eeeef
Gen Z know what they’re angry about and how to verbalise it powerfully. That bubbling rage cuts through, in particular, on ‘Cain’s Heresy’ as The Lounge Society cement their place with an eyebrow-raising debut EP. They’re not wrong in claiming that ‘tragedy makes for such good tv’, and they’ve got several astute observations well worth sharing. There’s not a filler word to be found as Cameron Davey delivers a stream of takes that would serve well in becoming a foghorn for the masses. With hints of Prince on opening track ‘Burn The Heather’ mixing with some Fat White Family-style aloofness, the West Yorkshire quartet hit that bit deeper than most. Over all too quickly in just ten minutes or so, it’s a short, sharp burst into the minds of snarling renegades who’ve got loads to say. CIARAN STEWARD
COMING SOON Little Simz Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Released: 3rd September 2021
5 releases coming up you should start getting excited about.
Released: 13th August 2021
Released: 30th July 2021
Loving In Stereo
Master Peace is showing us yet again that he can’t decide which of his varied influences to lean into the most – and why should he? Merging the best elements of R&B, pop and rock, ‘Public Display Of Affection’ jumps between moods at will. The titular track ‘PDA’ is a prime example of the irresistible catchiness and conviction he indisputably builds. Starring no real down moments, although it does taper off into a more pensive spirit, this blaring and punchy EP abides by no tags, no labels, and no restraints. Master Peace continues to curate his own bright world, and ‘Public Display Of Affection’ is yet another refined notch on his distinguished belt.
Soaked in a raggedy charm, Olivia O’s solo EP, ‘Great Big Nothing’, is as calamitous as it is endearing. One half of hype-toting duo Lowertown, she’s opting for a rough ’n’ ready approach compared to the refined chaos of her home project. Cutting directly through the hazy cacophony created by the colliding of twanging guitar strings, and innocently hit drums, comes Olivia’s vocals. Delivering a sermon of dealing with growing up and getting older in a fractured world, Olivia can go from the sweetly sung high heavens to howling at the moon in an instance, begging those feelings to flutter into the world and to bug someone else. STEVEN
Public Display Of Affection EP eeeef
Built to feel like a short film, Dublin rapper Rejjie Snow’s second full-length transports you into an otherworldly dream, where there’s only room for good vibes. Taking in the cinematic sentiment, ‘Baw Baw Black Sheep’ slowly guides you through an intoxicating haze, felt ever more real through intricate production quirks from the sound of rush hour traffic to a door loudly creaking open. The album is dotted with curveballs: from ‘My Favourite Things’ sampled on ‘Relax’, to wondrous collabs with Tinashe and grouptherapy on the nudisco alt R&B ‘Disco Pantz’. Rejjie Snow is in a world full of joy, and you’d be foolish not to want to escape into it.
Play What’s Not There, or PWNT, has Kosta Galanopoulos taking on a dream-pop project from his home base in LA, transporting listeners onto an inflatable flamingo in a Californian pool, kicking back and drinking cocktails; debut LP ’Days in the Summer’ certainly delivers on its title. The album manages to effectively balance the glittering synths and smooth vocals of indie-pop with the natural energies created by ringing percussion and floating flutes found in 60s psychedelia, generating loose and light moods that are joyous to slip into. It’s a sublime introductory record.
Released: 16th July 2021
Released: 30th July 2021
Chew The Scenery
Happier Than Ever
Great Big Nothing EP eeeff
Take The Sadness Out Of Saturday Night
Days in the Summer eeeef
Drug Store Romeos
The world within our bedrooms
t only takes a few short seconds of the opening track to ascend to the particular world that London-via-Fleet trio Drug Store Romeos have created in their debut record, a warm hug
of an album in a time when we could all do with one. Like Alice popping through the looking glass, ‘The World Within Our Bedrooms’ seems to exist in a world that’s close to but parallel to this one - a realm of opposites where the organic meets the scientific, where light meets dark and becomes something entirely new. It manages the trick of sounding deceptively simple at times, but it is instead intricately pieced together. Each track builds on what has come before, additional layers slotting into place to create an entire mood that surrounds you. There are soft explosions of vivid colour like paint dropped into water, the oblique lyrics acting as guides to what’s going on rather than anything more prescriptive. Sarah Downie’s voice is almost treated as an instrument, so
delicate and precise is her vocal style - some tracks feel like she could float away at any given moment. The synths and basslines may swirl and caper like sprites in the wind, but equally there’s a surprisingly crisp edge to tracks like the Pixies-on-half-speed ‘Vibrate’. Meanwhile the woozy shoegaze of ‘Adult Glamour’ hints tantalisingly at where the band could head next. It’s sometimes code for ‘a bit difficult’ to say that a record rewards repeat listens, but ‘The World Within Our Bedrooms’ contains so much beauty and subtle colours that it demands a return trip to make sure every inch of it is explored thoroughly. You’ve got to hope they’re ready for the world to crash into their rooms, because that’s the only way this is all heading JAMIE MACMILLAN
Off The Rails EP
fter a flurry of successful lo-fi indiepop singles, LA-based “jazz school dropout” Wallice is making a big impression with her debut EP, packed with powerfully sculpted meditations on a foreboding mindset that allows listeners to release their own doubts while dancing along. Exploring the various existentialisms of Gen-Z, she dives into themes such as feeling lost at an age where you’re supposed to figure things out and growing away from relationships that once felt impenetrable. These angsty foundations lay the groundwork for a comforting, layered sonic environment that utilises wavering riffs, steady percussion and subdued vocals to craft an
eeeef endearing tone. Centrepiece single ‘23’ provides an autobiographical recounting of Wallice’s own crisis of direction: “I’m terrified of the future / Scared that I’ll still be a loser,” she wails before breaking into an anthemic chorus that reflects on the past and begs for a bright future. Screeching guitars elevate the energy, making it easy to see why so many are jumping on board with these pensive yet cathartic messages. Enabling fans to expunge their uncertainties by voicing her own, these six tight tracks are built to be howled back at a stage – with the audience already in place, Wallice clearly has a bright future ahead of her, despite what some heavyhearted lyricisms may suggest. FINLAY HOLDEN
ANY OTHER QUESTIONS? THIS MONTH IT’S...
Claud 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 Claud had an imaginary friend called Chester with curly orange hair. Here’s some off-topic questions to find out ‘more’. WHAT WAS THE FIRST RECORD YOU BOUGHT? James Taylor ‘Greatest Hits’ CD. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE POP STAR? P!nk. IF YOU HAD A PET ELEPHANT, WHAT WOULD YOU CALL IT? Dinosaur, WHAT DID YOU LAST DREAM ABOUT? My crush <3. WHICH BAND WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO REFORM? Talking Heads. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU BROKE? My friend’s sink. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A GHOST? Yes, lots of ghosts in the basements of Chicago. WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY? Getting hit in the head by a baseball bat when I was 2 or 3. IF YOU COULD BRING SOMETHING EXTINCT BACK TO LIFE, WHAT WOULD YOU
CHOOSE? Dinosaurs. WHAT COMPLIMENT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO RECEIVE? “You look like Harry Styles.” DO YOU BELIEVE IN ALIENS? Absolutely. IF YOU WON THE LOTTERY, WHAT WOULD YOU SPEND THE CASH ON? Safe housing for trans kids. And a lot of fruit snacks for myself. WHAT’S THE MOST EMBARRASSING THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO YOU? The other day at Trader Joe’s I tried going down the escalator that goes up and I didn’t hear people shouting at me because my headphones were on. WHAT HAVE YOU GOT IN YOUR POCKETS RIGHT NOW? A $5 dollar bill, crumpled receipts and a ballpoint pen.
Yes, his name was Chester and he had curly orange hair. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN THROWN OUT OF SOMEWHERE? Yes, I was the kid who couldn’t stop laughing in class. WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST FEAR? Unrequited love.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSION? My grandma’s painting.
IF YOU WEREN’T A MUSICIAN, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING? Helping musicians.
HAVE YOU EVER HAD AN IMAGINARY FRIEND?
WHAT’S THE FURTHEST YOU’VE TRAVELLED TO
ATTEND SOMEONE ELSE’S GIG? I flew to Oslo once to go to a music festival. HOW PUNK ARE YOU OUT OF TEN? 4. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE TYPE OF WEATHER? Autumn when it’s sunny but you still have to wear a jacket and the leaves are changing. IF WE GAVE YOU $10, WHAT WOULD YOU SPEND IT ON? Snacks.
WHAT DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR? Ginger ale. WHAT’S THE NAUGHTIEST THING YOU DID AT SCHOOL? I kicked a kid off the monkey bars once. IF YOU HAD TO BE ON A TV GAME SHOW, WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE? WipeOut. Claud’s album ‘Super Monster’ is out now.
Win BIG POP PRIZES!* It’s...
Sunday, 20th June.
The world’s greatest pop quiz!
’t. n is ly b a b o r P . e b t h Well, it mig Still com
“Come on down to the Sebright Arms, London! Dice.” Tickets are £10 per table (maximum of 4 people) available via
* Actual prizes TBC.
BLUE WEEKEND THE NEW ALBUM
OUT NOW WWW.WOLFALICE.CO.UK
Featuring Inhaler, Japanese Breakfast, Griff, Lucy Dacus, Drug Store Romeos and more.