Dork, July 2022

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Inside beabadoobee’s magical world.


Index. Issue 67 | July 2022 | | Down With Boring


Surrender Review next issue, but - are we allowed to say Album of the Year? Between this and Muna, there's two super strong contenders arriving in the same of a month or so. Alt-pop has never sounded so good.


Guitar Music Courting's debut album is on the way. If you were hoping for something as vibrant and mad as the band have always seemed capable of, you're in luck. It's coming in September.


Unwanted The pop punk album of the year? Pale Waves have gone full Avril, and it's absolutely bloody brilliant. It's coming in August.


Gulp! Sports Team's new album is exactly what was ordered, in all its variants. Anyone fancy a chart battle this summer?


Harry's House Yes, 'Music For A Sushi Restaurant' is a total bop. Yes, it does also sound like the music from a Jet2holidays ad. Wanna make something of it?


MUSICIANS ONLY GET one debut album. One first chance to introduce themselves to the world, set their stall out and cement their musical universe. Initial impressions mean everything, right? Well, sort of. There's always an exception to the rule. As amazing as her first full-length 'Fake It Flowers' may have been - all scuzzy, fuzzy modern classics beabadoobee's second album 'Beatopia' feels like we're finally getting to know the real Bea. Diverse, eclectic and utterly captivating, it's a magical kingdom that we're delighted to delve into for this month's cover feature. She's not got a monopoly on amazing new albums this summer, though. One listen to MUNA's self-titled third record will prove that. Both the coolest and, quite probably, the best band on the planet right now, they explain why the relationship that binds the trio together is the fuel for their bright new dawn. Course, there's an elephant in the room. At the time of press, The 1975 have sparked back into life. There's something happening on 7th July, posters in the wild, a social media rebirth and all kinds of teasers. Anyone who was around at the start of their 'A Brief Inquiry...' album campaign will know how this one goes. Keep your eyes locked to and our socials, and we'll try to give you the inside line - or at least piss you off with batshit theories along the way. It'll be fun! No, really! "I'M BACK!"

‘Editor’ @stephenackroyd The 1975 5 Seconds of Summer

3 12




18, 40, 58

Mura Masa




Abbie Ozard


Alfie Templeman


Baby Queen


My Chemical Romance

Bad Waitress


NiNE8 Collective






Bartees Strange beabadoobee

50, 59 16, 24, 30

Nova Twins

6, 16

14, 57

Nuha Ruby Ra




Pale Waves


Bob Vylan


Phoebe Bridgers


Caroline Polachek

12, 24

piri & tommy



12, 24



Charlotte Sands


Porridge Radio




Priya Ragu


Rachel Chinouriri



Regressive Left


Declan McKenna


The Regrettes

Dua Lipa


Rina Sawayama

Courting The Cribs

Easy Life Foals

16, 21

6, 16, 24 24, 56, 66

Scalping Sinead O'Brien

Gag Salon



Girl in Red


Sky Ferreira



Soccer Mommy

Holly Humberstone






Just Wondering




Kendrick Lamar






Kills Birds


Lava La Rue


Lauran Hibberd


Let's Eat Grandma


Lime Garden




Mac Wetha


Maggie Rogers

16, 24

24 8, 16, 24 23 19, 52, 59 16 38, 57 22





spill tab

17, 19 16

Stella Donnelly




Swim School


Thomas Headon


TV Priest






Will Joseph Cook Willow Kayne Working Men's Club

Associate Editor Ali Shutler Contributing Editors Jamie Muir, Martyn Young Down With Boring Heavy Mailbag History Editor Jake Hawkes Scribblers Andrew Wescott, Connor Fenton, Finlay Holden, Jack Press, Jasleen Dhindsa, Neive McCarthy, Sam Taylor, Steven Loftin Snappers Charlotte Rudd, Derek Bremner, Em Marcovecchio, Frances Beach, Indy Brewer, Luke Piotrowski, Patrick Gunning, Sarah Louise Bennett, Sophie Hur



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.

46, 57 19 21


Yard Act

Maisie Peters


Yeah Yeah Yeahs






Magi Merlin

Deputy Editor Victoria Sinden



Sports Team

Editor Stephen Ackroyd

10, 19, 24



This Month. #67. JULY 2022.


After years away, and then a prolonged delay due to a global pandemic, My Chemical Romance have finally made it back to our shores. It was more than worth the wait. We head to glamorous Milton Keynes to grab a piece of the action.




It's been a mad, breakout year so far for Yard Act. With a chart bothering debut album and a rep as one of the best live acts on the planet, we reconvened to check in on what's gone down.


You know what’s easier than following around your fave pop stars, day in, day out, to see what they’re up to right that minute? Asking them. Here’s what NOAHFINNCE‘s day looks like.




Nova Twins aren't just the future of rock, they're the present too - and with their new album 'Supernova', they're here to prove it.


The best of the latest new tracks, featuring spill tab, Rina Sawayama, Sky Ferreira, Maggie Rogers and ‘loads more’.

Festivals. 18




Hundreds of acts, countless venues and three solid days of shows. With so much choice, finding the best of the bunch is a challenge. We sent our team of intrepid experts out to track them down.


Canada is packed with musical talent - as shown at this year's The Great Escape when Music Export Canada brought their magnificant Canada House to the Green Door Store. We profile some of the best stuff.


Most people don't start their second album before their first is even properly out, but Bartees Strange isn't most people.


What to see at Standon Calling, Latitude, Barn on the Farm, Y Not and 2000trees.




Partners both in life and in pop, piri & tommy have already kicked up a viral storm, and they're only just getting started.



Incoming. 56 REVIEWS

The new releases you need to hear - and some you definitely don’t.


Having already picked up comparisons to Wolf Alice and Sunflower Bean, London three-piece KHARTOUM guarantee a nice time with their warm guitar-pop tunes.


Supporting My Chemical Romance on their UK return run? That's no big deal for Charlotte Sands.


Turns out, poetry can be punk, but - as she releases her debut album - there's much more to Sinead O'Brien than simple labels.



Swimming caps on, as Abbie runs us through her latest brilliant EP, 'Water Based Lullabies'.


Multi-talented up-and-comer Mac Wetha delves into the ins and outs of his new EP.


Get Out.



With her debut album 'Fake It Flowers', beabadoobee made a splash. With its follow-up, she's making her own unique world.


Battling conflicting emotions through the medium of music, Soccer Mommy's latest album sees Sophie Allison ascend to a new level.


For most bands, leaving their label while the world battles a global pandemic would be disaster. With their best album yet, Muna aren't most bands.


A viral hit, a sense of global community and a new record finds Will Joseph Cook more assured than ever before.


Royal Albert Hall, London, 2nd May 2022

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The O2, London, 3rd May 2022


The best live photography, featuring Girl In Red.


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 Jack Bevan from Foals would choose to be a domestic ferret, if he had to.


The back! back!! back!!! parade After years away, and then a prolonged delay due to a global pandemic, My Chemical Romance have finally made it back to our shores. It was more than worth the wait. We head to glamorous Milton Keynes to grab a piece of the action. WORDS: ALI SHUTLER. PHOTOS: SARAH LOUISE BENNETT.




Easy Life have announced their second album, 'Maybe In Another Life'. Set to drop on 12th August, they've previewed it with another new track. 'DEAR MISS HOLLOWAY' is streaming now, and features Brockhampton's Kevin Abstract. You can read more about it in Bangers on page 16. Off you pop!


Mura Masa has returned with a new track, and news of a third album. ‘blessing me’ features Pa Salieu and Skillibeng, and previews new full-length ‘demon time’, which is set for release on 16th September via Polydor. It’s the third track to be revealed that will feature on the record, following up on February’s ‘bbycakes’ with PinkPantheress, Shygirl and Lil Uzi Vert, and last year’s ‘2gether’.


e're five shows into My Chemical Romance's reunion tour, and already the band have set the internet ablaze. What is Gerard Way's obsession with rats? Is 'Swarm' the name of the new album? Are the backdrops rebuilding themselves? And just what the hell is MetaMan, Gerard's new blood-soaked alter ego with the Facebook parent company's logo Sharpied on his forehead? It's almost like the band have never been away. But as Gerard explains during one of his many rambling, off-the-cuff speeches, these shows feel different to any My Chemical Romance have ever played. Sure, there are the obvious differences. This sold-out 30,000 capacity stadium is bigger than any previous headline show, and their audience - while still mostly made up of angsty, angry and confused teenagers looking for some semblance of comfort – is now peppered with an awful lot of 30-somethings who are just as in need of community. But more than that, "it feels like something is happening," Gerard tells the crowd. "This feels alive." On a different night, he explains how touring with My Chem used to be a "white knuckle ride", where they were always concerned about what was coming next and how to preserve what they already had. This run of shows? The band don't give a fuck about any of that. All they care about is having a good time and making sure everyone else does as well. The 21-song setlist pulls from across My Chemical Romance's eclectic back catalogue. There's the lo-fi arena punk of 'Boy Division' from scrapped album 'Conventional Weapons', and the flailing hardcore of 'Mastas Of Ravencroft', taken from 'Danger Days' accompaniment 'The Mad Gear And Missile Kid' - but there's an emphasis on energy, rather than simply wheeling out the greatest hits. Moody new single 'Foundations Of Decay', a track about rebelling against inaction and fear of failure, opens the show; the band performing in front of a derelict cityscape. It looks like an extension of the post-apocalyptic world they introduced us to on 'Danger Days', just without the cartoonish colour. Then the band kick into party-starting garage rock anthem 'Na Na Na', and all thoughts about hidden meanings are washed 7.


Rina Sawayama has announced the release of her second album, 'Hold The Girl'. Set for release on 2nd September, she's already previewing it with a new track, 'This Hell' - you can read more about that on page 16. Speaking about the new single, Rina explains: “I had so much fun writing ‘This Hell.’ The past couple of years I’ve been listening to lots of female country singers and wanted to write a euphoric and tongue in cheek country pop song. Country music at its core to me represents comfort, brilliant storytelling and authentic expression of the writer’s reality. I’ve been dreaming of working with Paul Epworth my entire career so I knew it was meant to be when we finished this song in a day. I put in as many iconic pop culture moments as I can, but the song is more than that.”


away in a surge of excitement. 'Destroya' is a beastly hunk of chaos, while 'Vampire Money' is an over-the-top burst of guitarfuelled excess. "Every time we play it, I lose my mind," grins Gerard. The likes of 'Welcome To The Black Parade' and 'Famous Last Words' create beautiful, deafening singalongs, while 'Thank You For The Venom' and 'Give 'Em Hell Kid' are as fierce and fiery as ever. Of course, there are moments of heart-twitching beauty amongst all the mayhem. Mikey dedicates 'Helena' to his kids (it's apparently their favourite My Chemical Romance song), who are watching


in the wings. The epic loss of The Ghost Of You is still full of potent heartbreak, while 'Cancer' is performed for the first time in over a decade. "We couldn't do it at [2019 comeback show] The Shrine because it was too hard," explains Gerard. "But we're going to do it tonight for us, and for you." The band have never been afraid to get vulnerable - it's a reminder of why they mean so much to so many. But tonight is also about jubilant silliness. Frank Iero and Gerard wear homemade shirts that say "piss" and "vinegar" like a pair of wacky breakfast DJs. It's an idea they apparently came

up with during the hiatus, and tonight, those dreams come true. Elsewhere Gerard plays with his new vocal effects like a kid with a shiny new toy, encouraging the crowd to "embrace the absurd" while 'I'm Not Okay' is introduced not only as "a summer anthem" but the song "that keeps my therapist driving a Lexus." During the encore, Gerard notices a cardboard cut-out of himself from 'The Black Parade' era, wearing a pride flag and a party hat. "I love cardboard Gerard," he exclaims before Frank steps up behind him, takes the microphone and says

"Gerardboard" with the biggest grin imaginable. That pun alone is worth five stars. My Chemical Romance seem to be making it up as they go along, and are having an absolute blast doing it. That giddy joy is infectious, giving these shows an urgency and an excitement that's hard to create at this level. What comes next is anyone's guess, but tonight, My Chemical Romance created something beautiful, potent and real. The most important rock band of the past twenty years are very much back and (dare we say it) better than ever. ■

The Cribs have announced reissues of their first three albums. Their self-titled debut, ‘The New Fellas’ and ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’ will all get deluxe repackages on 29th July, via Sonic Blew / PIAS. The news comes alongside a new track from their ‘The New Fellas’ era, ‘In The Room’. Previously unheard, it’s an outtake from their sessions with Edwyn Collins back in 2005.


Spector have announced their intention to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the release of their debut album, ‘Enjoy It Whilst It Lasts’, with a vinyl re-press and a special intimate London show. Featuring red vinyl, with gold foil stamped artwork, it will also contain a special CD release of demos titled ‘Behind The Curtain: Home Album Demos 2010-2011’. To accompany the release, the band have also announced a special performance at London’s Scala on 13th September, playing the album in full.


Thu 08 Fri 09 Sat 10 Sun 11 Tue 13 Wed 14 Thu 15 Sat 17 Sun 18 Tue 20 Wed 21 Thu 22 Sat 24 Sun 25 Tue 27 Wed 28 Fri 30

SEPTEMBER 2022 BRISTOL Trinity FALMOUTH Cornish Bank EXETER Cavern SOUTHAMPTON Joiners BRIGHTON Chalk MARGATE Olby’s LONDON Electric Ballroom LEEDS Brudenell Social Club NEWCASTLE The Cluny EDINBURGH Voodoo Rooms GLASGOW Mono MANCHESTER Gorilla SHEFFIELD Float Along NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms CARDIFF Clwb Ifor Bach BIRMINGHAM Hare & Hounds OXFORD The Bullingdon



november 2022 13 cardiff great hall 14 london roundhouse 15 london roundhouse 17 sheffield o2 academy 18 liverpool eventim olympia 18 hull asylum 21 aberdeen beach balloom 23 edinburgh usher hall 24 newcastle o2 city hall 25 manchester academy 27 cambridge corn exchange 28 birmigham o2 academy 29 southampton o2 guildhall 30 brighton dome

a bit of previous out now by arrangement with x-ray

august 2022 Mon 22 . Brighton . chalk tue 23 . nottingham . metronome wed 24 .bristol . the fleece by arrangement wih Toutpartout


BATH FORUM plus special guests wed 27 july wed 17 aug thur 18 aug

bristol sheffield CAMBRIDGE

thekla foundry studio mash

by arr angement with toutpartout






Yard Act: “We haven't written our 'Sex on Fire' yet”

It's been a mad, breakout year so far for Yard Act. With a chart bothering debut album and a rep as one of the best live acts on the planet, we reconvened to check in on what's gone down.



We're not afraid to shy away from the big questions here at Dork. Questions like… if you had to pick, what seaside attraction would you be? James: There's a bin in Blackpool which is in the shape of a lion, and when you throw rubbish in its mouth, it roars. Ryan: I think James would be the Pepsi Max Big One – one minute he's plummeting down and being all excitable, then the next he's just coasting along. James: I'm 80% queueing for the Pepsi Max Big One, 10% ups and 10% downs. It's a good way to live.

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VER LOCKDOWN, the concept of the 'Staycation' was dusted off and given pride of place in the British psyche. The romance of the seaside was resurrected, and the temperamental weather and gale-force winds were gallantly ignored by thousands of holidaymakers trying to pretend they were by the Mediterranean. Seagulls! Fish and chips! Those machines where you put 2p coins in and get more 2ps back sometimes! Luckily we don't have to act like we all want to go to Cornwall or Brighton instead of Barcelona anymore, so seaside towns have had to resort to their old tricks to draw us back. Front and centre in Brighton's case is The Great Escape, an annual festival of new music which is like SXSW, but not as sunny. Cut to James Smith and Ryan Needham of Leeds post-punk darlings Yard Act in the pub at the end of Brighton pier, trying to avoid being blown overboard. "This might be the furthest out to sea we've ever done an interview," says James, stirring the ice in the unexpectedly pint-sized mojito he's been given by the bartender. It's not the only first that the band have encountered this year. Their debut album 'The Overload' hit Number 2 in the charts, they played a slot at Coachella and even made an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, among other highlights. "It's weird; we don't really talk about how amazing it all is," says Ryan with a laugh. "We're just getting through week by week because we're so busy and don't have that many chances to reflect on everything. When someone lists the chronology of the year so far, it is pretty mind-blowing, but we're in the eye of the storm. Because it got incrementally weirder instead of hitting all at once, each step feels like the most natural thing, despite how bonkers it actually is." "I feel like it'll be a few years before I realise what's actually happening," James adds, crunching on an ice cube. "I can anticipate what it's like for someone on the outside looking in, because I've been there, and I've watched other bands' successes. You can't escape it, and it looks like such a rush. But this is the first time I've been in it to any great degree, and you just take it day by day, which I'm grateful for. Those highlights will probably reveal themselves once everything slows down, but at the moment, it's just nice. It's nice because we like each other, and that makes it easy." It's not all business-as-usual, though, with the band starting work on their second album, as well as working out the best way to take their show into bigger venues without losing anything. As any fan of the band will attest to, Yard Act's live shows are as much about the band chatting with audience members and inviting them to participate as they are about the music. A recent gig even involved James' grandad coming on stage for a rendition of 'Green, Green Grass of Home'. As larger gigs loom, it's no surprise that they're wrestling with how to preserve that side of things. "We're deliberately trying not to write for bigger stages – partly not to tempt

fate," James jokes. "The fun of it is that the opportunities expand, and you get to decide where you see yourselves within that. What do we want to retain of where we've come from, and what's ok to lose as we expand? I don't think you can take our ramshackle show where we chat with the audience and let them climb on stage. That's not going to fly in a thousand capacity venue." "Well, it might," says Ryan. "We haven't written our 'Sex on Fire' yet, put it that way." "I suppose it might," concedes James. "But the main thing is we're making choices as we go, to figure out what we want to be and what we want to lean into or out of as we expand. On one hand it's going to be great breaking out of those 200 capacity venues, but on the other hand, we could always drop back down, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. "At Coachella, I was standing there watching people like Megan Thee Stallion and Rina Sawayama, who were both incredible, and almost taking notes on what they were doing. Obviously, we're unlikely to get that slick, it's not in our nature, and it wouldn't hang well off of our gangly frame. But you do need to fill that bigger stage and consider things - like actually getting a lighting engineer, for a start!" The band also supported Foals on their UK tour recently, yet another 'pinch me' moment in a year full of them. "Now that was really useful," James continues. "Because it's hard to imagine Megan Thee Stallion playing in Southampton Joiners, but with Foals, you know they did the same circuit that we did, so it gets you thinking about what they've retained and how they've evolved to get there. It sounds boring but I was there taking notes again, seeing what we could learn." So far, not so rock 'n' roll, but with multiple previous bands under each member's belt, Yard Act are more than aware that success doesn't usually happen by accident. "There's an unhelpful mythology there," admits James, amidst discussions of what it actually means to have 'made it' as a band. "Then you get layer after layer of thinking you're in the clear, and you just never are. I really naively thought that when we hit the A list on BBC 6Music, everyone must have heard of us, but there's a fucking ginormous world of people out there who don't have any fucking clue who you are. If you want those people to go to your gigs and pay your wages by seeing you, then you've got to get out there and play the music to them. "It's brutal, and it sounds Tory as fuck, but I do understand that nobody owes you a career. We live in a weird capitalist society where nobody has any job security, not least within creative industries. The absolute blunt truth of that plus free well is that if an audience doesn't like what you're doing, they fuck off, and they don't pay your wages. It's not a romantic view, but it's probably good life advice." He grins as he bites into a slice of Margherita pizza that's been procured from somewhere nearby. "Best life advice I can give is don't get leathered every day," adds Ryan. "That makes it a bit easier." ■


soon, so I have to bulk film them. I have three to film today, which for some reason, is not as easy as it sounds. I manage to get through a video reacting to trans TikToks, a video where I answer questions my followers think will make me uncomfortable (I know) and a video where I rate different pronouns on a tier list. I filmed the last video mostly because I know it will anger the right people.

3 PM

I decide that Instagram engagement is important. If I want the next two tours, three songs, and however many future YouTube videos to do well, then I should probably post 15 Instagram stories answering questions about my hypermobile joints, my new gnome and my apparent lack of facial hair.

3:45 PM

I grab my guitar and have a practice of my set. That only lasts about 15 minutes, though; I have a very short attention span, and why would I sit and play my own songs? It's not as if practising and developing muscle memory is important or anything? It's not like I forget the chords to my own songs on a regular basis!! I then decide 4pm is as good a time as ever to start dedicating my day towards filming covers that I will inevitably hate.

4:45 PM

You know what’s easier than following around your fave pop stars, day in, day out, to see what they’re up to right that minute? Asking them. Here’s what NOAHFINNCE‘s day looks like. 12. DORK

9:30 AM Ignore my alarm.

9:45 AM Ignore my alarm.

10:00 AM Acknowledge my alarm. Snooze alarm.

10:30 AM I finally sit up an hour later than I was hoping, grab my testosterone gel and Ritalin from my bedside table, and rub the gel into my belly. I manage to choke on air before even attempting to swallow my daily medication. I take my medication, followed by half a litre of water from the water bottle I was supposed to finish last night. I open my phone, see seven unread emails and then close my phone - no thank you x

10:45 AM I waddle into the kitchen

butt naked and start making my breakfast - a fruit salad comprised of a banana, an apple, some strawberries and lemon juice (and a teeny tiny incy wincy bit of sugar), smoked salmon and… some kind of salad leaves, a protein shake and some bran flakes which for some reason is my favourite cereal at the moment. It takes me about 45 minutes to eat in the morning, as proven by the swallowing air incident - my body was not optimised for… much at all. I also can't eat anything unless I'm either playing a game on my phone or watching something on TV - thank you, ADHD. I check my emails; that was not fun.

11:30 AM

I finish my breakfast, actually manage to do the dishes today and then head to my room for some YouTube video filming. I'm leaving for my American tour

I give up on the covers and sit in the bath (where I attempted the covers) for a solid 40 minutes just watching TikToks.

5:25 PM

Ah! Sustenance! How could I forget? I order a Nando's.

6:15 PM

I have a Zoom interview with a radio show that lasts all of seven minutes, and then fall asleep.

8:30 PM

I wake up from my nap, eat some leftover pasta from yesterday and spend the rest of the night watching It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.


I wake up on the sofa at some point during the early morning and head to bed. NOAHFINNCE's EP 'My Brain After Therapy' is out now.


Kendrick Lamar is set to hit the UK and Ireland later this year as part of his ‘The Big Steppers Tour’. Joined by Baby Keem and Tanna Leone, Kendrick will support his just dropped new album ‘Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers’ with a worldwide run that kicks off in July. The UK and Irish leg begins in November, starting off in Glasgow before calling off in Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham, London, Dublin and Manchester.


Caroline Polachek has booked a new tour for the autumn. On sale now, the news follows onfrom the release of two new singles, ‘Billions’ and Flume collab ‘Sirens’. She'll kick off in Brighton on 27th October before playing leeds, Manchester, London and Bristol.


Cavetown is set to play a huge show at London's Eventim Apollo later this year. Taking place on 5th November, it forms part of a larger European tour that kicks off in October and takes Robin to Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, Norwa, Sweden, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Ireland. Tickets are on esale now.

5 SECONDS OF SUMMER 5 Seconds Of Summer have announced their fifth studio album, ‘5SOS5’. Set for release on 23rd September, the news arrives alongside new single ‘Me, Myself & I’. Luke says of the song: “’Me, Myself, & I’ is a really exciting song for us to have on the record that we’ve spent the last two years making. We’re all big fans of Jon Bellion and when he sent us the idea, we instantly connected with it. So much of what we had been writing lyrically was extremely introspective and this song fit like a puzzle piece with the rest of the album. We then ended up finishing it with Jon, Jason, Pete and Mick.”


YUNGBLUD has announced a new album. The self-titled full-length is set to arrive on 2nd September, and includes recent singles 'Memories' and 'Funeral'. He announced the news during a livestream in which he received a tattoo. Dom's so rock.

OUT 17.06.22


Nova Twins aren't just the future of rock, they're the present too - and with their new album 'Supernova', they're here to prove it.


F YOU HAVE any consciousness regarding the current climate of rock, then you'll already be more than aware of Nova Twins. As childhood friends, Amy Love and Georgia South have spent close to a decade building their name in the UK rock and punk scene. In 2020, they released their kinetic, supercharged debut album 'Who Are The Girls?' - an in your face declaration that has forged a muchneeded path. With no synths in sight and an adoration for guitar pedals, its incomparable composite of nu-metal meets electronic-tinged hardcore was both built in and made for the live environment. And then a global pandemic struck. Nova Twins persevered, and despite not being able to feel the tangible fruits of their labour, they still managed to solidify their status as one of the most exciting, expectation-defying and pioneering bands around. They collaborated

14. DORK

and toured with Bring Me The Horizon, picked up the accolade of Best Breakthrough Band at the Heavy Music Awards, and even gained a fan in Rage Against The Machine icon Tom Morello. At the time of writing, the duo are on tour with another rock zeitgeist, YUNGBLUD, Nova's first proper tour of Europe, having only toured France a few months prior. "This year's been a great journey for us. We've never been able to tour this much," Georgia explains. "It's been great to finally see our audience in person and actually see what our audience looks like. It's been really good fun." The band are currently promoting the ferocious follow-up to their debut, 'Supernova' - an empowering goliath that sees Nova Twins elevated and open to a stratospheric future. "At first, we were worried and panicked like a lot of bands, but we persevered and carried on," Amy

says, reflecting on what it was like to promote their first album during the pandemic. "You have to adapt in this industry anyway. We made the most of it and got to know our audience. We set them little challenges, we've done art together and made clothes together, riff challenges… it really helped the time go by, and of course, we got stuck into the album." Amy continues, "We just had to do something. The first song [was written] around Black Lives Matter, and a lot was going on with the marches. We did a few protests and made a couple of speeches at one of them. We had so much to say and had a lot of feelings as well." The duo used writing 'Supernova' to process not just the world but also their own personal lives and journeys, a therapeutic exercise that provided a space to explore and expand. The abundance of time in lockdown meant the process wasn't rushed either, as Georgia explains. "The first album was very much, this

is who we are in terms of playing everything raw, how you'd hear us at a festival. 'Supernova' feels more intimate because we did write in our bedrooms in a very small space. We had that time to play around with sounds, buy more pedals, and just really think about dynamics and not be afraid." Now two albums deep, the aptly titled 'Supernova' will surely see Nova Twins climb to even higher successes. Yet the journey up the ladder doesn't seem to phase them at all, as their DIY community ethos is still at the core of who they are. They've even continued with their various sociopolitically focused projects, including Voices For The Unheard, platforming alternative POC talent - created online, it now exists in real life as they bring the artists involved out on tour with them. It's even led to one artist signing with Nova's own publisher. "For every band, no matter what position you're in, there will always

be obstacles. You're always going to look for the next thing," Amy says of her band's trajectory. "I think because we've been a band for such a long time, we knew we had obstacles just for being who we are: women, women of colour, making rock music. The first time, it was definitely trickier, and now it's nice to see the industry opening up more, opening up the conversation more, being a little bit more versatile in what can be what." "We're appreciative of everything because we've been going for a long time. We always had our mind set on being like, it doesn't really matter [what happens], we're always gonna go forward anyway. We made that decision, whether we're huge, whether we're going to be small anything that comes now feels like a bonus." ■ Nova Twins' album 'Supernova' is out 17th June. Read the full interview in the July issue of Upset, out now. Order a copy at


OUT 24TH JUNE 2022


Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Spitting Off the Edge of the World (ft. Perfume Genius)

It's been a long time since we last had new music from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. More than nine years, in fact. 'Spitting Off the Edge of the World' might not be the frantic, lifeaffirming version of the band at their full power, but - as with standout 'Maps' - they're more than capable of making an impact when turning the dial to epic. Teaming up with Perfume Genius, 2022's YYYs pack a more emotive punch, all slow spinning glitter-balls and gargantuan stabs. Welcome back.

Lava La Rue

Hi-Fidelity (ft. Biig Piig)

There's no doubt that London's NiNE8 collective have produced more than their share of individual talents over the last couple of years - none of them more exciting than Lava La Rue and Biig Piig. Teaming up for 'Hi-Fidelity', the vibes are strong with this one - a blissed-out, floating bop that previews Lava's upcoming EP perfectly. Made for those sticky summer nights.

Hear all these tracks and more on Dork Radio, 24/7/365. Listen at or via the TuneIn app for iOS and Android.



Sky Ferreira Don't Forget

Yes, Sky Ferreira has actually released new music. And yes, her second album ‘Masochism’ is said to be imminent. But don’t fall to the floor in shock just yet – the best is yet to come. ‘Don’t Forget’ isn’t a disappointment. After almost a decade of anticipation, punctuated only by the odd update and one original song, it should be almost impossible for the return to meet expectations, and yet it emphatically does. Taking everything good about debut album ‘Night Time, My Time’ and distilling it down to just under four minutes of perfect alt-pop, maybe it was worth the wait after all?

The Game

Everything is a balance. Every moment of calm needs a point of chaos. Where ‘R Entertainment’ introduced Sports Team’s second era, ‘The Game’ is the true starting pistol. Under three minutes in length, it dips and dives like a rollercoaster – every swing and sway as deliberately in-your-face as possible. Maximum attitude at all times: this is Sports Team at their very best.


beabadoobee Lovesong

The three tracks that beabadoobee has dropped from second album ‘Beatopia’ to date tell a story. Not a narrative for the record, so much as how far she’s come since her not-at-all-shabby debut ‘Fake It Flowers’. Latest cut ‘Lovesong’ showcases her delicate, intimate side, but with an infectious swell that pushes beyond the lines of a simple, quiet moment. As an advert for the imaginary world the album is supposed to represent, it more than fits the brief.

Rina Sawayama This Hell

There’s little, if anything, that can match a pure shot of Big Pop Energy. That’s the adrenaline pumping through the veins of Rina Sawayama’s new single ‘This Hell’. Taking the fizzing sonic platter of her critically acclaimed debut album, it offers up an extra-large portion of raw sass. From the opening Shania reference (“Let’s go girls!”) to the fourth wall breaks (“Wow, that’s hot”), it all works perfectly, too. With every new move, Rina Sawayama is approaching closer and closer to iconic status. Seven levels of brilliant.

16. DORK

Time has got a bit weird, Dear Reader. In some ways, it feels like A Very Long Time since Easy Life dropped their debut album – and yet, thanks to our mate ‘the pandemic’, it also feels not very long ago at all. In this wibbly wobbly, timey wimey world, they’re back this summer with a new album – and ‘Dear Miss Holloway’ suggests they’re more than ready for the task. Following up on recent bop ‘Beeswax’, this is a more laid-back faire. Add on a Kevin Abstract feature, though, and the excitement doesn’t drop one bit. One for kicking back and ignoring the clock.

Sports Team

Courting Courting have always been a bit of a nonsense – and that’s a compliment – but new single ‘Loaded’ pushes that freewheeling chaos to the edge of reason. A bouncing, brash clatter of everything happening everywhere, all at once, it’s the mayhem of British indie crossed with the super-saturated calling card of hyperpop. Like 100 gecs trying to fight their way out of a locked back-room in the Horse and Hound, half-cut on cheap pints and a shared packet of dry roasted nuts, there’s nothing else quite like it.

Dear Miss Holloway (ft. Kevin Abstract)

My Chemical Romance Maggie Rogers Want Want

To score one era-defining alt-pop bop per album is a pretty high watermark for any aspiring icon to hit. To go two for two is remarkable. 'Want Want' is proof that, in 2022's circus of new music, nobody is coming close to the raw, ethereal power of Maggie Rogers. As with comeback track 'That's Where I Am', there's something primal about Maggie's joyful, unrestrained energy. Carefree and determined to hold nothing back, it's lifeaffirming stuff.

The Foundations of Decay

My Chemical Romance are back. My Chemical Romance are back! MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE! ARE! BACK! Yes, Dear Reader, at 11pm BST on a Thursday night in May, Gerard, Mikey, Frank and Ray chose chaos, dropping a brand new track for the first time in eight years without any real warning. With their comeback UK dates due to kick off early next week, whispers of new material had circulated without ever being properly confirmed for months, years even now. ‘The Foundations of Decay’ is a first suggestion of just what the MCR of 2022 would sound like. Six minutes in length, epic and – when it decides to be – absolutely massive, it’s so much of what they’ve always done best. Undeniably them, but also different enough to feel fresh and exciting, it only begs the question – is there more? Can we have it? Please?

↓↓↓ BIG TRACK ↓↓↓

spill tab: “I express myself more truthfully when I’m not thinking about what I want to say” PHOTO: EM MARCOVECCHIO.

Any fresh drop from French-Korean-American bedroom popster spill tab is an immediate addition to our playlist - including new 'un 'Splinter'.


pill tab is back with a brand new single, ‘Splinter’. One of our highlights from last month's The Great Escape, the new track follows up on last year’s EP, ‘Bonnie’, as well as recent track ‘Sunburn’. On the single, she explains: “I wanted to make something with a bit of an early 2000s rom-com end credits vibe going on, so I made ‘Splinter ‘with my friends Wyatt and Austin, who absolutely smashed it. It’s a bit depressing lyrically but I love having those visuals layered over the crunchy drums and guitars.” A long term Dork fave, the track is quite possibly a new high mark – a rich, luxurious serving of alt-pop brilliance. So brilliant, that we’ve dropped spill tab a few questions on it to find out more.

lot of good food! You’ve got a new single out! What inspired ‘Splinter’? This is very true; idk most times I try and write something that feels good. I think I express myself more truthfully when I’m not thinking specifically about what I want to say. You’ve described it as having an “early 2000s rom-com end credits vibe” – what are your favourite rom-coms from that period? 10 Things I Hate About You is definitely one of my top faves. She’s The Man, 13 Going On 30… If you were to star in a rom-com of your own, what would you want to happen in it? Something involving hella sexual tension, very colourful outfits, bedazzled low cut jeans for sure.

Hello spill tab! How’s it going, what are you up to today? What’s up, Dork? I’m actually currently in Paris, heading back home tomorrow, though.

The press release we have here says that both ‘Splinter’ and recent single ‘Sunburn’ “hint at another body of work” – when do we get to find out more about that? Is it finished already? I have no idea… you’ll probably be finding out very shortly once I do know, haha.

You were just over here for a few shows, how did you find your time in the UK? What did you get up to when you weren’t onstage? Yessss, I spent about a week in London, it was so sick, everyone was so welcoming, interesting and kind. Hung out with some new and old friends, and ate a

What else are you up to at the moment? I’ve been eating too much incredible French food. I’m pretty ready to head back to Los Angeles and then start back up on five weeks of tour opening for Wallows, which I’m very, very stoked about. Come thru if I’m playing near you. ■

spill tab Splinter

Of all the up-and-coming popsters, spill tab is the one with that certain something. An indeterminable star power, it’s audible in all her greatest moments. That’s a grade latest single ‘Splinter’ more than makes. On the surface, it’s a song that feels comfortable in its own skin, riding a vibe all the way home. Underneath the surface, though, there’s something off-kilter. A tension that drives it forward with a crackle of electricity that’s easy to miss but impossible to ignore. 17.


MUNA → THERE’S A GIDDY sense of anticipation around MUNA‘s appearance, and just why they’re the talk of the festival is proven from note one of their takeover at The Beach. ‘Number One Fan’ and ‘Stayaway’ usher in a set that makes The Great Escape feel like their own headline gig. Massive singalong and pogoing bodies greet every moment as the entire room becomes a joyous nightclub of feel-good release. In just 30 minutes, they steal the show, running from new disco-banger ‘Home By Now’ and ‘Anyone But Me’ to the frankly ridiculous heights of ‘I Know A Place’ and ‘Silk Chiffon’. The set of the festival? It’s hard to argue against it – just get to a MUNA show as soon as you can. JAMIE MUIR

18. DORK


Sinead O'Brien → SINEAD O’BRIEN is a master in control of a set that grabs the mood in the room and turns it into one of her very own. At times hypnotic, at times overflowing with energy, and at times ready to pull you into another world – it’s a statement of intent from an artist truly in a lane of her own. Cuts like ‘Kid Stuff’ and latest number ‘There Are Good Times Coming’ blend those shuffling worlds together, serving through a set that feels special simply being there. Emotionally, spiritually and sonically – Sinead O’Brien proves why her every word is so vital right now. JAMIE MUIR


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Hundreds of acts, countless venues and three solid days of shows. With so much choice, finding the best of the bunch is a challenge. We sent our team of intrepid experts out to track them down.



Here's the best of what we saw at The Great Escape 2022


Willow Kayne → IT’S A BUSTLING Coalition that welcomes Willow Kayne, and for a Friday night, there’s arguably no better soundtrack. Razor-sharp PC pop smashes into electro-rap at every turn, feeling like an artist perfectly suited to soundtrack the late nights and electric club vibes. It’s a genre-smashing jukebox, all party and all vibes. New tracks (including ‘Final Notice’ that arrived but a few days ago) and cuts from ‘Playground Antics’ flow perfectly, from an artist that could be put into any situation and start a celebration. Looking for the sound of the future? Willow Kayne shows it and more at The Great Escape. JAMIE MUIR

Manchester’s Neighbourhood Festival has announced its return with a line up featuring the likes of Everything Everything, The Snuts, Sundara Karma and Alfie Templeman (pictured). Hitting Manchester city centre on 1st October, it’ll also feature Dork faves including Baby Queen, Lauran Hibberd, Dylan, Rachel Chinouriri, The Goa Express, Anorak Patch, Courting, English Teacher, L’objectif, Priestgate and more.Held across multiple venues, shows will take place at the Albert Hall, Gorilla, O2 Ritz and more. Tickets for the festival are on sale now, with more acts to be announced in the near future.

VISIONS Visions Festival has announced a final set of acts for this year’s event. The likes of Home Counties, HighSchool, Nukuluk, Jessica Winter, Sam Akpro, Ailbhe Reddy and more will play the Hackney festival, which takes place across multiple venues on Saturday, 23rd July.They join a bill that already includes Black Country, New Road, Miso Extra and Yumi Zouma, among others


CMAT → THE GREAT ESCAPE often plays hosts to rough-around-the-edges new bands who haven’t quite nailed their live show yet, but make up for it with bags of potential. CMAT, on the other hand, knows exactly what she’s doing. What she’s doing happens to be kneeling down on stage to simulate a trapdoor due to a lack of production budget, but our point still stands. As soon as the first notes of ‘I Don’t Really Care 4 U’ get played, the crowd are singing along to every word. They’re so enthusiastic that a moshpit opens up to ‘No More Virgos’, which may be the only time a pop-country banger about bad romantic choices has caused people to leap around so much they spill half their drink. Between songs CMAT is chatting to the crowd and throwing shapes like she’s in a photo booth. “I pose when I need to catch my breath but still want people to cheer for me.” she jokes before launching into unreleased track ‘Rent’. As the set finishes, it’s easy to forget you’re at a festival and not a headline show. “I’m a country music aficionado, but I’m secretly a pop star,” she says at one point. After today’s set, that’s a claim we’re more than willing to verify JAKE HAWKES

Yard Act recommend... CMAT's incredible. The first time I saw her, I remembered the songs instantly, and the band were super great; you can tell they're so in sync with each other. Just seeing someone who fucking knows their craft inside out and writes good songs, that's all I care about, and CMAT had it the first time I saw her. Anyone who can write songs so good that you remember them after seeing them once that's all you want in a band. - JAMES SMITH, YARD ACT

Spill Tab → “IS ANYONE HERE super lactose intolerant, but also eats cheese?” spill tab‘s between-song chatter might be on the weird side, but that’s only to balance out how wonderful the rest is. A half-full The Arch early on the first evening of the first edition of The Great Escape in three full years might lack the kind of sweatbox atmosphere for an exciting new artist to buzz off, but there’s no denying she’s a genuine star. Both ‘Grade A’ and ‘Velcro’ rank up with the best bops Brighton will hear all weekend, too – so much so, we’ll let her off the slowed down, acoustically delivered Kelly Clarkson cover we’re so ideologically opposed to. STEPHEN ACKROYD

Pale Waves, Thomas Headon, Working Men’s Club, Baby Queen and more are set to play this year’s edition of Live at Leeds in the City. The multi-venue, inner city event will take place on Saturday 15th October, following up on June's Live at Leeds in the Park. Other names on the initial bill include Sea Power, Palace, Will Joseph Cook, Prima Queen, Sprints, The Queen’s Head and more.

BST HYDE PARK A batch of new names have been announced for Elton John‘s BST Hyde Park show, including Rina Sawayama, Let’s Eat Grandma and Thomas Headon. Taking place as part of Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road – The Final Tour dates, it’ll take place on 24th June. Other new names on the bill for the sold out show include the likes of Berwyn, Gabriels, Tom a Smith and Juanita Euka. 19.


Wish you were pier.

Baby Queen → WITH EVERY SHOW, things get bigger for Baby Queen. Bella’s TGE debut sees a future pop phenomenon owning that role she was born to own since day one – ‘Internet Religion’, ‘Raw Thoughts’ and ‘Wannabe’ all shining like the instant classics they are. Immediately pulled into the Baby Queen world, it’s a show full of ambition and more confidence than ever, and in no time, it’ll be crowning the biggest of stages where she rightfully belongs. Unfortunately, that moment is cut short tonight by technical issues and sound on-stage, but, if anything, it leaves Brighton eager for more. It may not be the full show Bella planned, but it sits as a teaser of what’s to come. Book us in for what’s next – you know we’ll be there. JAMIE MUIR

Pixey → FINISHING OUT THE Saturday night of The Great Escape can be a fight against the tide (soz). The last fibres of energy are met with pure release though as Pixey closes Coalition in style. To a packed room, that Primal Scream meets surefire pop sensibility takes flight for sheer joy – ‘Electric Dream’, ‘Sunshine State’ and ‘Just Move’ feel practically euphoric as the night winds down. Pixey triggers bouncing bodies and wide-eyed happiness in equal measure; it’s a wall of sound that leaves people spilling onto the beach with one thought in mind – this is the summer soundtrack everyone needs. JAMIE MUIR

Thomas Headon → YOU JUST KNOW when you see a star. It’s a feeling that immediately grips everyone watching Thomas Headon on Friday night, whizzing through a personable and electric set of indie-pop bops that nestle themselves squarely in your head for the rest of the weekend. ‘Nobody Has To Know’, ‘Strawberry Kisses’ and ‘Victoria’ are even bolder and party-vibed live, with a set that turns industry heads into dedicated fans with non-stop bangers. Getting the crowd to hug other before dropping in a cover of Taylor Swift’s ‘We Are Never Getting Back Together’ and shouting out other artists to go and see for the rest of the festival (we see you, Alfie Templeman), Thomas Headon is a bonafide showman who’s fixed on making your favourite tunes of the year. There’s no one more suited for the task. JAMIE MUIR

20. DORK

Yes, we're almost out of pier puns as Dork's The Great Escape showcase takes over Horatio's on the first night of The Great Escape. → OH WE DO like to be beside the seaside, oh we do like to be…100 metres out at sea? That’s right, Dear Reader, for this year’s Great Escape we took over Horatio’s, the best (and only) pub at the end of Brighton pier. The long walk battling high winds and angry seagulls is more than worth it when Swim School step onto the stage. The sunset shining through the pub window provides the kind of light show most bands pay good money for, and they take ample advantage. Woozy guitar anthems are the perfect opener for the weekend and win the crowd over in record time. As the set goes on, things get deceptively heavy and, by the time ‘Let Me Inside Your Head’ is played, well over half the room is singing along. Next up: Malady. The Londoners burst straight in with ‘Famous Last Words’, the almost dubstep bassline lending a unique flavour that marks them out as more than just another indie band. A pause between songs lets frontman Percy Cobbinah ask the really important question. “Does anyone know the Arsenal Tottenham score?” he shouts with a grin. A crowd member kindly gives a swift rundown of just how badly Arsenal are doing before the band launch back into it. As the songs begin to build into a perfectly constructed wall of noise and the crowd starts moving, it all clicks into place. The whole set is well received, but closer ‘London, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down’ nearly blows the roof off. From London to LA, Kills Birds aren’t here to mess around. Their tight grungerevivalism shows the crowd exactly why Dave Grohl and Kim Gordon have both recently stepped forward as celebrity fans (no, neither of them are at the gig, we checked). As we are on a pier jutting into the English Channel, we’re closer than most to France. With that in mind, it makes perfect sense for French post-punkers Unschooling to pop over for a quick set. Armed with more spiky guitar hooks and jagged instrumentals than you can shake a seagull at, the crowd lap it up and the energy barely drops throughout. Closing the stage are Glasgow five-piece Vlure. It’s their only show of the weekend and they act like it, swinging shirtless from the ceiling as their synth-heavy bangers shake the walls apart. ‘Show Me How To Love’ gets the crowd pogoing within 30 seconds and the atmosphere is more like an illegal warehouse rave at 2am than a pub with three real ales on tap. It’s 30 minutes of tight, white-knuckle adrenaline, and by the time closing track ‘Euphoria’ rolls around everyone at the venue is sweating more than they have in months. “We might be the best live band in the country,” they joke towards the end of their set. For our money they might well be telling the truth. JAKE HAWKES


Priya Ragu → THERE’S ONE THING not in doubt about Priya Ragu – she can certainly pack ’em in. Taking to The Great Escape’s Beach Stage, there’s no shortage of eyeballs for a set full of twisted, fresh electro-pop. On a stage where so many others have succumbed to technical issues across the weekend, Priya’s having none of its nonsense, pushing her band forward in the best way possible. Joined by brother, co-writer and produced Japhna Gold, final offering ‘Chicken Lemon Rice’ feels like a genuine moment. A breakout star, and no mistake. STEPHEN ACKROYD

Courting → SQUEEZED INTO THE frankly ludicrously underground basement of Casablancas (a jazz club, btw), Courting pull a vast crowd to their only set of the weekend – queues filling the street as everyone looks to squeeze in. Their set is a riotous barrel of fun which showcases the exciting new directions they’re about to head in. ‘Grand National’, ‘Football’ and ‘David Byrne’s Badside’ set limbs moving, but newbie ‘Tennis’ and the unravelling ‘Slowburner’ signal the layers of goals ready to be scored. Certain sets across The Great Escape feel like turning points where bands click into a new gear, and Courting may well be one of the most exciting. JAMIE MUIR

Regressive Left → ALREADY MAKING THE sort of exciting live rumblings that’ll have you rushing to whatever show you can, Regressive Left live up to that and more when they head to Revenge on Saturday night. With a rammed room leaving loads outside desperate to get in, the trio serve up indietronic delight after indietronic delight – smashing together the worlds of Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem and more in a way that has you hooked into everything they do. ‘Eternal Returns’, ‘Take The Hit’ and latest number ‘Bad Faith’ are prime examples of their electropunk world, one that a lot of people will be talking about very soon indeed. In terms of a discovery, it’s a new favourite band who make the most of the time they have to leave an unforgettable mark. JAMIE MUIR

Working Men's Club

Let's Eat Grandma → LET’S EAT GRANDMA spent a majority of interviews in the run-up to the release of ‘Two Ribbons’ talking about how their friendship has changed over the past few years. During their 45-minute set at The Beach tonight, though, they look as close as ever. The set opens with pulsating pop banger ‘New Year’s Eve’ that sees the pair embrace the spotlight before the wonky industrial dance of ‘Hot Pink’, the soaring ‘Watching You Go’ and the giddy ‘Levitating’. Yes, Let’s Eat Grandma still treat the stage like a playground – indulging in a mid-set macarena, diving into the crowd to inspire a few dancing moshpits – and they close with the sprawling kaleidoscopic ‘Donnie Darko’, but everything seems more ambitious this time around. ALI SHUTLER

→ A 1AM SHOW at a festival is always a risky slot to fill. On one hand, you’re not competing with many other bands. On the other hand, you are competing with peoples’ desire to go to bed after 12 hours standing up. It’s a gamble that pays off for Working Men’s Club, as their show is absolutely rammed. Clearly keen to make sure everyone’s awake, they tear through their set without much in the way of small talk. It’s a mixture of the huge bangers from their debut and the moodier cuts from upcoming album ‘Fear Fear’, with pounding electro synths pulling the whole thing together. Tracks like ‘John Cooper Clarke’ hit like a brick through the head, and the momentum doesn’t let up for a second. It’s a breakneck set that more than makes up for the late bedtime.JAKE HAWKES

Stella Donnelly → IF THE SCORCHING sun that beams down on The Beach stage isn’t enough to warm the souls of a Saturday at The Great Escape, then Stella Donnelly makes sure there’s no room for error. Rich stories and alt-indie licks combine for a set of wholesome joy, with new tracks showcasing a more piano-lead world full of unabashed personality. ‘How Was Your Day?’ has everyone singing in unison, ‘Leave It Alone’ send blissful vibes from front to back, ‘Die’ sees dance moves galore (including a handstand) while new cut ‘Lungs’ (out just a few days ago) is already embraced like a classic. Full of fun, celebratory and left grinning from ear to ear – Stella Donnelly may just have seized the weekend. JAMIE MUIR

Lime Garden


→ “ARE WE READY… to rock,” asks Lime Garden‘s vocalist Chloe Howard, managing to fit two different seaside puns into a single bit of pre-song banter. The rest of their set is just as joyful as the hometown heroes deliver big energy and bigger grins. The scuzzy pop of ‘Surf n Turf’ is a fiery burst of guitar-driven attitude before an intergalactic sci-fi breakdown sits on the right side of ridiculous, while newie ‘Swim’ is a haunting, anthemic banger with a touch of twinkling math rock thrown in for good measure. “Give us some constructive feedback?” Chloe asks with a grin, knowing full well it, like the rest of Lime Garden’s catalogue, is an absolute rager. ALI SHUTLER

→ "I CAN’T WAIT to see you all… IN 14 HOURS!!”. There’s no doubt that Lynks is pulling quite the shift at The Great Escape. Starting the day at 12:40pm in a sweltering stage on The Beach, they’re a refreshing tonic of ridiculous energy that even the hardest of sceptics can’t turn away from. The tone is set for the day: club bangers served with a dash of freedom and individuality that makes Lynks a must-see live force of 2022 and beyond. When they get to a 2:15am set at Chalk, the party that kicks off with ‘Str8 Acting’, ‘Hey Joe (Relax)’ and ‘Silly Boy’ proves it – Lynks can take over anywhere at any time. JAMIE MUIR 21.


3 of the best Canadian bands from this year's Canada House at The Great Escape


O Canada!


Canada is packed with musical talent - as shown at this year's The Great Escape when Music Export Canada brought their magnificant Canada House to the Green Door Store. Here's some of the best stuff.

→ CANADIAN SIBLINGS SOFTCULT have been making waves in the world of louder sounds for a while now. As they hit Brighton to show exactly why, we caught up with Mercedes Arn-Horn to find out more. Hi Mercedes! How's it going? Things are great; we're in Bangkok right now chilling after a sold-out show.


With tips from all the right places and underground EPs ‘Drug Music’ and ‘On My Way to the Listening Party’ doing the proverbial ‘bits’, Magi Merlin (that’s pronounced MADGE-eye, ‘FYI) is a prospect perfectly poised for big things. Recent single ‘Pissed Black Girls’ runs front to back with fizzing energy, pulling influences together to make the sort of modern music that cuts through the noise. One to watch.

BAD WAITRESS Everyone likes a good blast of art punk energy. That’s what you’re getting from Bad Waitress. Dropping their debut album ‘No Taste’ last year, they’ve not stopped for anyone. Their only just released single ‘Spit It Out’ is an in your face fit of raw fury – and addictive as hell. They describe it as “a classic tongue in cheek banger advocating a brattish yet genuine world for all”. Can’t say fairer than that.

JAYWOOD The moniker of Captured Tracks inked Winnipeg musician & songwriter Jeremy HaywoodSmith, JayWood has a new album ‘Slingshot’ coming this July. With a narrative set across the span of a single day, from front to back it’s a journey that touches on childhood, religion and identity, put together from a complex script mapping out plot points, environments and characters. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work on a track-bytrack basis, though. Recent single ‘Slingshot’ goes off in style; a textured, bubbling bop with pop sensibilities and wider, deeper influences. Written about “creating equal opportunity for people in need, and lending a helping hand if you can”, it even packs a good message. What more could you want?

22. DORK


Q+A: Softcult You've just played The Great Escape. Did you have a good time? It was great! We got to do two sets, and both of them were packed and went really well. It was our first time at The Great Escape, and it definitely lived up to the hype. Did you catch any other bands while you were there? We saw Scene Queen, swim school, and Lauren Hibberd. We wanted to see Dead Pony, too, but their venue was at capacity, and we couldn't get in. We played at the same time as Kills Birds; otherwise, we would've definitely caught their set too! You performed at the Canada House stage, is Canada a good place to be an up-and-coming musician? Are there lots of opportunities? Canada is a bit of a tricky market to break out of internationally, and it's a difficult country to tour because of the long distances between cities, BUT there's a very vibrant music scene and a lot of talented bands from Canada that don't get enough recognition. It's also amazing that you can apply for government grants to support recording, touring, music videos etc., which seems unheard of in other places. If you're a domestic artist, it's full of opportunity, for sure. What other new Canadian acts should we be keeping an eye on? I'm a huge fan of EDDYEVVY, and PONY is killing it right now too. We also just played with a really talented band called Housewife that you should definitely keep an eye on. Apart from playing a festival, what are your favourite seaside activities? We got vegan fish and chips at No Catch, and it was amazing. We also got Happy Maki and sat on the beach watching the water, and Brent got his first-ever UK tattoo at Magnum Opus. Are you working on new music at the moment? We are! We've actually filmed two music videos for new material while on tour and have a few demos we've been working on. You know we never like to wait too long in between releases. We've got new music coming soon, and I'm really excited about it. What else have you got coming up? We're about to head on tour across the USA with Teenage Wrist, Soft Blue Shimmer and Soul Blind. After that, we've got a festival in Elora and then some plans to tour again in the fall. We're excited to take the time to finish our next EP and keep writing. I'm excited to share the new music we've been working on.

Softcult → THERE’S A GIDDY sense of anticipation around Muna‘s appearance, and just why they’re the talk of the festival is proven from note one of their takeover at The Beach. ‘Number One Fan’ and ‘Stayaway’ usher in a set that makes The Great Escape feel like their own headline gig. Massive singalong and pogoing bodies greet every moment as the entire room becomes a joyous nightclub of feel-good release. In just 30 minutes, they steal the show, running from new disco-banger ‘Home By Now’ and ‘Anyone But Me’ to the frankly ridiculous heights of ‘I Know A Place’ and ‘Silk Chiffon’. The set of the festival? It’s hard to argue against it – just get to a MUNA show as soon as you can. JAMIE MUIR



Standon Calling g 21st-24th July, Hertfordshire, UK → WE ALL LOVE a bit of fresh, exciting, forward-thinking music, don't we? Then you're in for a treat at this year's edition of Standon Calling. We've teamed up with the festival for a brand new stage: The Dive Bar, featuring the best emerging and exciting talent. As well as bill-toppers Snapped

Ankles, Melt Yourself Down and a 'special guest' headliner to be announced in due course, the stage also features the likes of NiNE8 Collective, Bob Vylan, Sad Night Dynamite, Scalping, swim school, SIPHO, Malady, Ithaca, Mimi Barks, Nukuluk, Pongo, Kojaque, Soccer96, Nuha Ruby

Ra, Art School Girlfriend, Keg and Banji. Trust us; they're all worth being extremely buzzed about indeed. To help you work out who to see this summer, we've picked out some of our faves from The Dive Bar. Do not miss them. That's an order.



How would you rate your camping skills out of 10? Are you good at putting up a tent? I’m definitely at a solid 9. I used to be in the boy scouts. And those were real tents. These things people call tents nowadays, you just throw it into the air and it pops into shape. That’s no challenge! No, back in my day tents were big pieces of canvas and thick metal rods. You had to redo them 3 times before they stood right. It was hard, it was work. And when you were done you knew you were in for a good night’s sleep even if your air mattress had a leak and Eric put your sleeping bag into a puddle ‘by accident’.

It's nice to have festivals properly back, isn't it? What have you missed most about the whole festival experience? It’s magic yeah, I’ve missed random hangs with people I’m not expecting to see


Smashing the UK album charts with their most recent full-length 'The Price Of Life', Bob Vylan aren't quietening down for anyone. One of the most vibrant and essential voices in UK rock music, they're a euphoric, affirming, important force. If the future is more like Bob Vylan, we'll all be doing just fine.



There are times when it feels like NiNE8 Collective might be about to take over the whole joint. The London-based gang feature some of the most exciting new talents on the planet; Lava La Rue, Biig Piig, Mac Wetha and Nayana Iz all starting to smash through the cultural zeitgeist over the last 18-months or so. Together, they're remarkable. Raw creativity unleashed; chances are you're going to see at least one future superstar here.

How do you prepare for spending summers on the road going from field to field? Long hardy washes in the local rivers, preparing ointments and tinctures of witch hazel and butterbark, filling our firkins with dried meats ready for the long days. Will you be entering the famous Standon Calling Dog Show? Our hound Simon is a shy boy, but beautiful and full of surprises. Who are you going to see at Standon Calling? Nukuluk are strong allies of ours, when their horn blows we ride.

Will you be entering the famous Standon Calling Dog Show? I’ve got a cat called Cilla; she'll win hands down. Who are you going to see at Standon Calling? I’ve never seen Scalping and heard they’re good, so I’ll try to find them.

What's the biggest camping / festival disaster you've ever experienced? Any fun stories? Well, after falling asleep in that wet sleeping bag and sleeping like a log, I woke up with rain falling on my face and wind blowing me off my already deflated mattress. Apparently the whole tent had been blown away by a storm in the night and we just slept through all of it. I think Eric forgot to secure one of the lines. After that the camp was cancelled. When I got home I quit the scouts, and decided to focus my attention on music. Who are you going to see at Standon Calling? There’s so many cool artists I’m hoping to see such as Dry Cleaning, Ezra Furman, Olivia Dean, Sipho and Swim School, but I’m also super stoked to see icons like the Sugababes and Grandmaster Flash.

How do you prepare for spending summers on the road going from field to field? Some kind of foot pillows for going in between gigs is nice. I wear boots and heels on stage. I always pack a portable speaker and essential oils in tour bag. I started taking a USB blender on the last tour, it was meant to be for smoothies in a vain attempt to be healthier, but in fact it makes mean margaritas and that’s its main purpose now.


It's nice to have festivals properly back, isn't it? What have you missed most about the whole festival experience? So nice! We’ve got a lot of friends in other bands that we’ve met through playing festivals and it’s one of the only times we really get to see them so that’s probably what I’ve missed most. How would you rate your camping skills out of 10? Are you good at putting up a tent? I’ve got a pop up tent so it would be hard to get below a 10 there, outside of that no, not very good at all.


Dirty Hit-signed SIPHO was born in Birmingham, but his horizons seem positively stratospheric. He's got critical acclaim from every angle, making the kind of modern pop music that pulls from across the dial. A genuine show-stopper if ever there was one.

What's the biggest camping / festival disaster you've ever experienced? Any fun stories? I can’t possibly repeat it all in full here but it involves a friend lending another a helping hand when relieving himself at night, queue a flooded tent. Who are you going to see at Standon Calling? Keen to try and catch Snapped Ankles and Nukuluk for sure. 23.


5 acts you need to see at... ↓↓↓ FESTIVAL PREVIEW ↓↓↓


Barn on the Farm Y Not 30th June - 3rd July, Gloucestershire, UK

28th-31st July, Peak District, UK



One of the hottest new talents in the UK right now, Holly Humberstone has just been out Stateside supporting Olivia Rodrigo. With her album on the way 'shortly', she's one not to miss.

Fresh off the back of a brilliant new album, former Dork cover stars Blossoms are at the top of their game. Their headline slot should be first on your list.



There are few up-and-coming popsters who are more upper or coming-i-er than Griff. With a BRIT award already under her belt and more bangers than is strictly legal, she's sure to go off.

With a new album coming this summer, Easy Life are set to be one of the festival bands of 2022. Vibes for days.



Fresh off the back of her viral hit 'Cate's Brother', Maisie is on something of a charge right now. Playing actual stadiums with Ed Sheeran, she'll be in top form by the time Barn on the Farm comes round.

Pale Waves' third album is a pop punk masterpiece - quite the change from their debut, but brilliant for festivals. It'll be an absolute blast.



This issue's cover star is about to drop one of the albums of the year, and certainly knows how to bring it live. Barn on the Farm is sure to be part of the summer of Beatopia. How exciting is that?

Sorry - the band who apologise before they've even hit the stage - have nothing to feel bad about. With new material to air, there's a sense of intrigue here.



One of 2022's big new bands, Yard Act have already smashed their way into the charts. Now they're going to prove why. Destined to be one of the great festival acts, you'll have the most fun if you catch Yard Act.

With a huge tour coming up before the end of the year, we suspect Cavetown is up to something pretty damn big. Regardless, with a special acoustic show, Robin is an essential catch at all times.


2000trees 7th-9th July, Cheltenham, UK → IDLES

Idles headlining 2000trees is sure to be a moment. With a billtopping back catalogue now firmly assured, expect this one to go off big time.


With her debut album due later this summer, Lauran Hibberd is primed for festivals - self-aware bops with massive choruses ahoy!


No band is better suited to 2000trees than Creeper. Brilliant music with a sense of the dramatic, the home crowd will lap them up.



21st-24th July, Suffolk, UK → PHOEBE BRIDGERS

One of the must see acts of the summer, Phoebe is finally bringing her pandemic classic 'Punisher' to the UK. Her slot at Latitude could well be the festival's crowning glory.


Spoiler warning, Dear Reader, but Maggie Rogers is about to release one of - if not the - best albums of 2022. Vibrant, primal, mature but brilliant pop music, it's the most fun you'll have all year. Promise.



With their most recent full-length heading for the top of the pop league tables, The Regrettes are a riot live.

Rina knows how to bring a show - and with her second album set to land this September, she'll have more than enough new tricks to show off at Latitude. Just prepare to be told to 'slay' a lot.



Fast gaining a rep as one of the very best around, KennyHoopla's festival slots are always an event. Essential.

Headliners Foals have proven they're top drawer festival bill-toppers time and time again, but their new album 'Life Is Yours' is the sort of party album that should see them ascend to new levels.


We're expecting something fresh and exciting from Caroline Polachek later this year - maybe there'll be hints of that at Latitude. Even without, though, her debut 'Pang' provides more than enough bops.

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Words: Neive McCarthy. Photos: Patrick Gunning.

Partners both in life and in pop, piri & tommy have already kicked up a viral storm, and they're only just getting started.


here's a forecast for whirlwinds in the world of piri & tommy. A dizzying romance, a meteoric rise to viral fame, a daunting catapult into brand new territory – it's safe to say things have been moving rapidly for the duo. After a cheeky DM slide and a musical harmony discovered in the depths of a locked-down student house mid-pandemic, the pair soon found their shared adoration for dance music made them perfect partners. Born from that creative chemistry was the earworm-heavy smash 'soft spot' - a track that has featured as the soundtrack to over 100k TikTok videos, amassed over 12 million streams on Spotify and found in a place in the heart of the likes of Charli XCX. Not bad for one of your first releases. "Following up 'soft spot' was quite stressful for me, because then I had to make something just as good as this," tommy, aka Tommy Villiers, admits. "Suddenly, I knew loads of people would listen to this. I'd never had that pressure before in my life." Written, recorded, mixed and mastered all under that same roof, the pair's selfsufficient nature clearly produces magic, but having to then share that insular process and deliver their next singles to a record label was nothing short of nerve-inducing. The release of follow-up 'beachin' was defined by apprehension. When millions of people have the TOM MY lyrics to your first single bouncing around their heads, there's a lot to live up to. "We were kind of pessimistic about releasing 'beachin'," explains Sophie McBurnie, who goes by the moniker piri. "Both of us were really anxious about it, but people liked it. Now we're a bit more comfortable and excited to release more. Tommy had imposter syndrome about it." "It was like 'oh my god, I'm a producer now!', like legit. That was the biggest track I'd ever released, and I'd mixed, mastered and recorded it all, so it was a big step up. Before, I'd just been in bands as a guitarist and singer. I never thought of myself as

a legit producer. But now I am, I guess!" tommy laughs. Despite the anxiety, as they step into this crazy new world, they still consistently deliver the opposite with their sound. Playful and upbeat, it's fundamentally feel-good. Their latest single, 'words', is a condemning narrative around a lack of communication in a relationship, served alongside an old school garage style beat. piri's vocals keep things carefree, never losing that insatiably danceable quality. With each release, they lean more heavily into their freeing, high-speed tendencies – it hooks you in like no other. "I remember when I first discovered dance music. It's honestly like once you're in, there's no going back; you just keep listening," reflects tommy. "Once you find a new genre that's a bit faster, you just have to keep going – it's like, oh, this song is 200bpm, this will mess you up! It's like a drug. It's sick." piri jumps in: "I think it's a product of people's attention spans these days, and fast music just being sick, but people really seem to be digging the higher tempo. Any song sped-up on TikTok seems to do way better than the original, and obviously drum and bass has been huge, and hyperpop and breakcore." In many ways, the genre's increased popularity and new trajectory are symptomatic of our TikTok tendencies – it's seemingly a generational thing. piri + tommy have often been hailed as representing Gen Z. After whole years spent locked inside, the need to get out, dance and capture the experience in a fast-paced TikTok video is crucial, and the couple's sound facilitates that completely. "As an artist, that's the ideal situation," piri ponders. "You want to make music for people like you – the fact that our generation is the one really picking up on our sound is super great for us." It helps, of course, that piri's lyricism focuses on relevant, universal experiences with a no-messing-about attitude. She tells it how it is, always. The inspiration behind


'words' was, in fact, a rough patch in their own relationship, and it functioned as a means of expressing those frustrations and working through their issues. "I think the more real you are, and the more you express your feelings, the easier it is for people to relate," piri explains. "Obviously, a lot of people go through it, especially young people in their relationships. There's often a difference in maturity when you first meet, and then you grow together and understand each other. Especially in those teenage relationships, there can be a lot of communication issues – that's one of the most important things, being able to express yourself to each other. I think it's nice for people to be able to listen and relate to it." "I always learn a lot from Sophie's songs," adds tommy. "You can really hear someone's side of the story. If they were going to write a song about it, they clearly feel strongly." They may have found themselves in turbulent times earlier on in their relationship, but the sheer adoration and respect they have for one another shines through. "You're certainly the best person I've worked with," tommy smiles at piri, who quickly agrees. It's clear that their artistry benefits from their relationship and that innate chemistry. "It was lucky how our strengths and weaknesses complement each other," piri reflects. "We have very similar tastes as well, so we don't clash a lot when we're making music. We both get equally hyped about it." "We bounce ideas off each other really nicely and show each other all the music we listen to," continues tommy. "Most of the

time, if we hear something that we like, we might hear it at the same time, like in the car together." It's a useful dynamic that has ultimately streamlined their creativity too – piri has her go-to producer, while tommy has a topliner for all of his beats. That deep knowledge of how the other works is evident – they're in sync and prepared to push each other into different directions. Working in harmonic tandem has allowed them to become even more ambitious and at home with stretching their boundaries as musicians. With a debut album in the works, they're set to become more comfortable with letting their listeners into their world, too. "It's all of the music we made in the first year of knowing each other – each song is a different memory or moment from that year," hints tommy. "Yeah, you can listen to the lyrics and track the point of the relationship, what's occurring between us at the time," piri contributes. "The whole album is just us two, just our names on it," she continues. "All the writing, all the producing, all the mixing is just piri & tommy. I think it makes it the purest form for our first album. You're letting people know: this is what we sound like. Even though we got signed, and it started to pop off a bit, it's important not to just get swept up in that. We had a lot of ideas, and we made 'soft spot' ourselves – let's just do the rest ourselves." As they bounce between different subgenres of dance and revitalise the movement through irresistible hooks and beats, each release is a high-speed thriller. Thankfully, piri & tommy are showing no signs of slowing down. ■ 27.

KHARTOUM Words: Sam Taylor.



form… when you write something, you're always excited about the next thing as writing and releasing is a form of therapy. In our heads, we're already on the next EP and ready to exercise some demons. How did you pull together your new EP, 'Some Days'? What was your starting point, and how did you approach curating the track-listing? Following our previous EP 'Vultures', this was just naturally the next step, I guess. By this point, we'd all had a good influence on each other's process and the kind of sound we wanted to pursue. Generally, we start with a lot of ideas, and those ideas get shaped and moulded into the songs that end up on the record… a chorus idea might end up as a middle 8, and seemingly incidental moments might end up as a key hook. We fine-tune things and then share it with the likes of George Murphy and Eduardo De La Paz (who's got a rather nice Grammy perched on his studio shelf). How did building your own studio come about? Cam moved out of London last year and converted an old milking shed into what we now call our studio. Cam nailed it with YouTube tutorials, and before we knew it, we had a fully functioning studio, complete with the aforementioned floating floors and soundproofing… although I don't think the cows would mind the odd rumbling bass-line.

Having already picked up comparisons to Wolf Alice and Sunflower Bean, London three-piece KHARTOUM guarantee a nice time with their warm guitar-pop tunes. With their second EP 'Some Days' fast approaching - written and recorded at their self-built studio - they're stepping up and into a mould all of their own.

Was building a studio difficult? What were the logistics like? Both Cam and I have worked in the trades so I like to think we're pretty handy with a nail gun. Essentially the studio was coming When did you all meet? Who's idea was it together at the same time as recording the to start making music together? Cam and I met at Uni, where we both studied EP, so it became about finishing the drum room to record the drums, and then next music; we lived together there and were always playing our guitars and messing about week finishing the vocal booth to record the musically. We bonded over a mutual respect vocals. It was full-on, but I think the end result for Josh Homme. We met Scarlett later down is a justified reflection of all the blood, sweat and tears. the line at a party in a field somewhere, and Hi Jake! It's weird that we're already she felt like the right person to complete the halfway through the year isn't it, how have missing piece of the band's puzzle. What are you working on at the moment? you found 2022 so far? More tunes to release soon! We want to get It's going quickly, definitely much quicker more than just this EP out this year, so we will How long did it take you to find your than the last couple of years has gone. be spending plenty of time in the studio and sound? This year has been excellent so far: we've already have a couple of songs in the works, We're always developing our sound, but managed to write and record our second EP getting where we are now stylistically has which we are really excited about. They are and get most of it out there with our label evolved over the last 12 months, having spent coming thick and fast, which is nice. Young Poet with some great support along It's a great space for rehearsals, too, so we'll time dug in at our own studio with fewer the way. We've got exciting plans for the distractions and more space to try things out be doing that too in preparations for the rest of the year; I think 2022 is going to be a shows in the pipeline. and really put the needle on the records we tasty one. want to be making. We all like different music Do you have a busy summer ahead? and have a vast range of influences, so the Tell us about your band then - who are process of working those influences together Plenty going on, so much. Not too much, you all, and what are your roles within the to create our sound has been a really fulfilling though. Never enough. group? We'll be returning to Glastonbury after the process for the three of us. We're named after the Racehorse in long Covid break and will be announcing The Godfather… the one that meets an some more festivals and shows very soon. What do you most enjoy writing songs unfortunate end. Hopefully, things work out about, are there any topics you're a bit better for the band. I'm Jake, the bass Is there anything else we should know? particularly drawn to? player and unofficial tour manager (meaning A lot of our writing comes from personal If you listen really carefully, you can check out I can be more relied upon than the others not experiences. I've found there's no better way one of our tunes in the current season 3 of to miss our train, plane, automobile). Cam is to process an experience than writing a song The Servant on Apple TV. ■ the guitarist, lead singer and producer and about it, and like a lot of people, the last 24 pretty much single-handedly built our studio months have thrown up a lot of things that KHARTOUM's EP 'Some Days' is out 17th in the depths of Devon where we recorded June. you want to get out there in some shape or

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this EP (who knew floating drum floors could be so interesting), and Scarlett is the drummer extraordinaire.


→ The press gubbins that comes with every new band describes Gag Salon as "the surviving members of a function band gone up in flames" and "the guinea pigs of experimental surgery and new age psychotherapy". Okay then. What they actually are is really very good indeed. With a sense of humour and a dynamic thrust towards the brilliantly bizarre, their new EP 'Get A Load of This Guy' drops on 16th June.


→ Strabe formed after Angelica - originally from Scotland - stepped into the smoking section at a music festival in Cork. Emmett, born and raised in Ireland, kept her company despite not smoking himself. The resulting chat about music was fertile ground, but after filing to swap numbers, it was a chance meeting months later that gave them the chance to actually start making music. Relocating to London between lockdowns, they deal in relatable, real-life alt-pop that pulls all the emotional strings. With a debut EP due next month, the promise is obvious.


→ Dublin's Just Wondering make the kind of indie alt-pop that colours outside the boundaries of genre. Take recent single 'idk, maybe'. With a bopping, bubbling groove, there's hints of The 1975 - not so much in the sound itself, but in the way it magpies from across the dial, pulling influences to create something that fits a vibe but never succumbs to expectation. That's the kind of talent to keep two eyes firmly locked.


CHARLOTTE Supporting My Chemical Romance on their UK return run? That's no big deal for Charlotte Sands.

SANDS Words: Ali Shutler. Photo: Frances Beach.

“I'VE BEEN DOING THIS SINCE I WAS A CHILD. THE FIRST SONG I EVER WROTE WAS 100% A POPPUNK SMASH” CHARLOT T E SANDS have influenced me a tonne throughout my life, so I would be lying to say that I grew up only on Taking Back Sunday and Green Day. That's just not the truth. Some people don't get it, but the ones that do really seem to enjoy the fact I'm writing pop songs about things that aren't really spoken about on Top 40 radio.


ith a support tour with YUNGBLUD already under her belt alongside a string of collaborations with members of Taking Back Sunday, The Maine and Underoath, Charlotte Sands has quickly established herself as a bold, brilliant voice of the emo revival. According to Charlotte, breakthrough single 'Dress' was written after seeing Harry Styles and YUNGBLUD toy with gender norms. "My job is to express myself in every way - as a person, as an artist, onstage and through my music," she says. "Everybody else should get that freedom to do that," she continues. Gaining traction on TikTok while she was "at my lowest" during COVID, she quickly discovered an "incredible community" of people who really took that song to heart. "It was nothing but positivity and love," she explains. Today Charlotte is talking to Dork backstage at Stadium MK. In a few hours, she'll perform her firstever international show to 30,000 people, supporting My Chemical Romance. No pressure, then. Speaking afterwards, though, she admits the only nerves came from

the fact she wasn't at all nervous before or during her killer set. "I've always wanted to be playing the biggest shows possible. I've just been waiting for the opportunity to do that. Now I'm like, bring me back for more." Despite getting the support of scene legends and Gen Z newcomers, she isn't trying to be "the pop-punk queen of this resurgence. I'm just trying to be myself… and it feels amazing." You're very much part of this alt revival. What does that scene mean to you? I grew up feeling like an outsider. I always felt like I was floating between what was normal. When I started listening to this kind of music, it was the first time I realised other people felt the same way I do. It made me realise I wasn't the only weirdo and that I wasn't the only person who feels like they're existing but don't know what they're existing for just yet. This scene challenges the social norms of what people expect from humans, which is something that's really beautiful and inspiring. The best part about this movement is that I really do feel like it's a place where anybody is welcome. Anybody can enjoy it and feel

like they've been a part of it their whole lives, just because it really is supposed to be about celebrating individuality and the freedom of being yourself. Have you been embraced by that community? It's been hard for me because people see that I'm on TikTok, so they don't think I'm an actual artist. To that, I say I've been doing this since I was a child. The first song I ever wrote was 100% a pop-punk smash - my nine-year-old was edgier than I am now because I pull from so many different types of music at the moment. I love folk music, I love R&B and rap. I love a lot of things that

You've been on tour for pretty much the whole of 2022 so far. Is part of that you trying to prove yourself as a "real" artist? I am definitely fueled by that. I've been a performer before I've been anything else, and I was on stage before I even knew I wanted to write music. Playing live has always been my biggest strength, but during COVID, I obviously wasn't able to show that off, which was frustrating. I was getting success on social media and streaming, but I was just waiting to show people just what else I could do. I am 100% motivated by the need to prove myself and prove that I am a serious artist. I really do want this, and I've been fighting for it my entire life. I'm not going anywhere, though, even if

people want me to. What do you want your music to mean to others? The biggest thing for me is that I always turned to music when I felt alone or when I felt like I was the only person experiencing certain things throughout my life. It's been like my emotional support friend, and I just always wanted to be that for other people. Years ago, I remember having meetings with industry people and them being like, 'as a woman in music, you have to be the girl that every other girl wants to be and every guy wants to date'. That's really not me. I don't care if anyone wants to date me; I would rather be your big sister or your best friend - the person that's always looking out for you. I want to create a community that I know will take care of each other and never judge one other. I really realised that with the YUNGBLUD tour. Every single person who walked into those rooms instantly knew that they were safe, that they were going to be treated with respect and were going to be loved for who they are. It's this crazy energy that you don't even realise is missing from so many people's lives until they step into those rooms. You really can see the weight coming off them as they discover the freedom to fully be themselves. It's the most beautiful experience to witness. I want people to know that with me, they're going to be accepted, they're going to be loved, and they're going to be safe. ■ Charlotte Sands' single ‘Lost’ is out now. 29.


Welcome to

With her debut album 'Fake It Flowers', beabadoobee made a splash. With its follow-up, she's making her own unique world. WORDS: ALI SHUTLER. PHOTOS: DEREK BREMNER.

30. DORK




what's the point in trying?" grins beabadoobee. From the moment she uploaded the hopeful, scrappy bedroom pop song 'Coffee' to SoundCloud in 2017, Bea has been toying with expectations. From the indie

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daydream of 'Patched Up' through the more defiant 'Lice' to the alt-rock snarl of 'Loveworm' and the swaggeringly cool 'Space Cadet', Bea has dabbled with genre, spirit and attitude. She's basically grown up on Spotify's homepage, but that spotlight doesn't make her nervous. "Everyone's seen what I've tried to do," she challenges. "Now it's like, let's see what happens next." And what is next is 'Beatopia'. Once again, it's a very different beast to what's come before, all psychedelic rock and ethereal storytelling, but it's also the first record where Bea has felt comfortable with herself. "I'm very overwhelmed about releasing it," she admits. "I feel almost territorial over these songs because each and every one is so close to my heart, but I'm so excited to share them with the world. I've literally never felt this way about a record before." Written shortly after the collaborative 'Our Extended Play' (a team-up between Bea and The 1975's core creative duo Matty Healy and George Daniel, created during lockdown) was released in 2021, Bea continued that communal spirit but hunkering down with best friend and guitarist Jacob Bugden to create… something. See, there was no end goal or carefully constructed plan, just two friends making music with a single word written on a whiteboard behind them: Beatopia. Beatopia was initially a visual world that Bea created as a child – working on it while daydreaming in class - but after a teacher publicly poked fun at it, she left that world behind. It took the pair a year to create Bea's second album, with help from Matty, George, Bombay Bicycle Club's Jack Steadman, Jockstrap's Georgia Ellery, Cavetown and PinkPantheress. At one point, it was over twenty tracks long ("and there were some really fucking weird songs on there", including a dance track inspired by The Chemical Brothers), but the pair cut it back to fourteen interesting, evocative numbers.

"We just wanted it to be clear and confident and deliberate," explains Bea, though she's still hoping to release the more outlandish tracks in the future. With the pair having the exact same taste, they pulled together an eclectic playlist featuring Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Cardigans, Broken Social Scene, Cibo Matto and Stars. "I really looked up to all these artists. They all made music not giving a fuck about who it appealed to or if it made sense to other people, just as long as it made sense to them. I got really inspired by that idea," says Bea. The result is a "trippy" record that allows the listener to "escape reality or feel like they're coming out of a lucid dream." There's the oh-so-emo 'Pictures Of Us', co-written with Healy (which features a similar chord progression to 'Rockstar' by Hannah Montana), while 'Perfect Pair' is a "sexy, sultry love song about realising that your worst enemy is yourself ". Then there's 'Tinkerbell Is Overrated', a PinkPantheress-featuring riot that was the first song written for 'Beatopia'. "I had COVID, I was isolating in my room, and I went insane – in the best way possible," she says. The track sees Bea talking about the bugs in her room and how everything outside of that moment is overrated, performed over warped synths and urgent drum loops. So far, so free, but Bea also had to get out of her way on tracks like 'Sunny Day' and 'Love Song'. "I knew I could write an acoustic guitar-driven love song because I've done it so many times before. But I wanted to make the best version of that song possible," she says. As for the soaring dream-pop of 'Sunny Day', "I love Gabrielle, I love Natasha Bedingfield, and I love Nelly Furtado. Why can't I write a song inspired by those incredible artists?" "I just need to get out of my brain. I loved those songs when I first wrote them. I love them now. I just need to not give a fuck what people think. I was definitely worried because all these songs are so different. I'm excited for


everyone's reaction." "It wasn't our plan to make a shocking record. It just kinda happened," Bea continues, drinking a Cosmic Peach cocktail in a small café near Covent Garden. "We realised we were going to surprise a lot of people, but hopefully it's in a good way."


deliberate in her shock factor. With 'Coffee' once again going viral in 2020, she felt she needed to prove she was more than a one TikTok wonder, which fuelled the creation of debut album 'Fake It Flowers'. "I was pleasing myself with that record, but part of me wanted to prove myself to others." She has no regrets about it, but she's also aware of the limitations she put upon herself at the time. "I almost felt the need to follow a certain genre and stick to a certain sound," she admits. "I love 'Coffee'," she continues. "It holds a special place in my heart because it was the first song I ever wrote, and I've accepted that it's probably always going to be one of my

biggest songs. I don't really vibe with the remix, but everybody else does, and that's fine. After it blew up, though, I pulled away from the acoustic guitar and wanted nothing but loud electric guitars." 'Fake It Flowers' also came after a huge tour with The 1975. "I wanted to make music that could fill arenas," she admits. "During that era, I was obsessed with the internet and reading every single comment about me. I was obsessed with what people thought about me – as a person and as a musician." 'Fake It Flowers' was released in October 2021, and sometime between then and now, that changed. "I stopped giving a fuck," laughs Bea. "I'd really grown comfortable with myself, and that was shining through in the songs I was writing for 'Beatopia'," she explains. "I was just way more chill in the studio, and instead of overthinking everything, I kinda just sat back a bit and let it be. I felt like I could do anything I wanted, and there was so much more freedom. I didn't need to impress anyone. The only person I

"I had COVID, I was isolating in my room, and I went insane – in the best way possible" - beabadoobee 33.



"I love Gabrielle, I love Natasha Bedingfield, and I love Nelly Furtado. Why can't I write a song inspired by those incredible artists?" - beabadoobee

wanted to impress was me." "These past few years have given me the time to reflect on what I actually want to do," Bea adds. Away from what people wanted, away from contrary knee-jerk reactions to success, she realised she didn't have to conform to expectations. "I could just make anything I wanted to," she states. "I mean, who's stopping me?" That freedom *is* 'Beatopia'. "It's a feeling I knew I needed to share," says Bea. "'Beatopia' is a concept record, but it's also something everyone has in them. You just need to dig down, find it within yourself and accept it." That 'Beatopia' feeling is "when you're comfortable in your own body, your decisions and your past. You own all the bad shit, rather than being trapped by it." "I was itching to write these songs," says Bea. It's why the lyrics for this record deal with the present, as opposed to 'Fake It Flowers', which was focused on the past. Demos were written, sat on and revisited over several months. In her confessional lyrics, Bea would talk openly about past traumas, from attending an all-girls Catholic boarding school, to the trauma of moving to England from the Philippines when she was two. "Me and my parents had moved to a completely unfamiliar country, so growing up was hard. School was hard. Not being able to fit in, feeling isolated, that all bled into my songwriting," she says. By contrast, 'Beatopia' takes influence from her Filipino heritage.

"The music is amazing, the people are amazing, and the whole vibe is about being together and open with one another. It's such a vibe. I want to share what I know and what I feel with everyone." "With 'Fake It Flowers', those past troubles kept me stuck in one place," she continues. "I was sad because these things happened to me, but you have to deal with it. You have to learn how to move on. You need to live, y'know?" People still want her to stay sad, though. Earlier this week, a fan DMed her, telling Bea how excited she was to hear 'Ripples' because they knew it was going to be depressing before asking how miserable '10 36' was. "It's got sad lyrics, but it's an upbeat pop song," Bea replied. She was greeted with a sad emoji. "This balance is good for me," she shrugs. Sure, sometimes beabadoobee does beat herself up over the fact she doesn't write sprawling yet intricate poetry about how she's feeling, perhaps via a clever metaphor. She knows she could try (and based on past successes, she'd probably smash it), but "why not just say it straight?" And 'Beatopia' certainly doesn't mince its words with songs about shagging, drugs, and making mistakes. 'Talk' is her way of saying, "I'm going to have fun, I'm going to do bad things, but I'm probably going to learn from these mistakes, so does it really matter?" "There are some songs where I


lines . . . . . . . . .

We asked Bea to say a few words about her friends, collaborators and tour mates. Join the lines to match the name with the quote, then check your answers over the page. We've done one for you to get started. You're welcome. 1. CAVETOWN

A. Lovely. Really good friend of mine. Best melodies in town.


B. My mentor. Really inspiring and always knows the best thing to say.


C. Extremely talented, and I can't wait to hear music from him because I think he's so incredible and inspirational. Plus, sick house.


D. So talented. Really overwhelming when I met him because I am such a fan of his band. He just completely understood what I was trying to do with my music. A cool dude.


E. Incredible. One of the most talented girls I know. She did all the strings on Beatopia in a single take. An ethereal being.


F. I'm so grateful to be touring with her, and the fact she's got this all-woman line-up is incredible. I really do think she's doing something good.


G. I love him; he's amazing. Another talented musician and one of the best producers around, in my opinion. I can't wait to tour with them.


H. One of the kindest, most genuine people I've ever met. One of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard in my life as well. I tried getting him to sing on every song because I love his voice so much.


I. My best friend, a big brother and the only person who has keys to my house.

For everyone's dignity, we've not printed who Bea said was "hot as fuck", but the thank you section of the 'Fake It Flowers' vinyl will give that away. Happy hunting. 35.


- beabadoobee 36. DORK

album 'Beatopia' is out 15th July.

BEA LINE ANSWERS: 1. H, 2. C, 3. E, 4. F, 5. G, 6. D, 7. I, 8. B, 9. A

"I'm not going to downplay what I do because I know how much music meant to me when I was 15"

speak more generally, 'Ripples' is about being a girl and not always feeling heard, but I always write therapeutically and honestly. At the end of the day, I write these songs for me. I am just a 21-year-old girl, though. I have the exact same problems as everyone else." She says she needed to make a joyful record "because all my other stuff was so sad, and I felt like I was finally getting joy. It's supposed to be fun. All my friends are on it, and although they're not on every single song, they helped inspire me to write this record, and they helped me appreciate life so much more. I still have sad days, but it all leads to this happy, hopeful resolve. I hope others get joy from it." Talk, of course, turns to beabadoobee being the voice of a generation. "If you have a following, you are a voice. People will look up to you. It's an inevitability. Now, I am in no way taking the crown of The Voice Of A Generation, but I'm not going to ignore the fact that I influence people either. I'm not going to downplay what I do as just writing music because I know how much music meant to me when I was 15. The fact I could inspire someone, that drives me." 'Beatopia' is an ambitious, deliberate album, but Bea has been downplaying her own lofty goals for years. In numerous interviews, she'd explain how being a musician was never meant to happen – how seriously can you take someone calling themselves Beabadobee? "In all honesty, this was never planned," she admits. "I never really wanted to be a musician, and everything happening is still something I'm still trying to process." But that very public insistence that she was just a chancer was "100%" a defence mechanism in case things didn't work out. "I'm so grateful to be in this position where I can inspire kids," she continues. "That's the one thing that's made me want to continue doing this. The fact Filipino girls are playing guitar because of me is amazing." Playing live is something Bea

has recently fallen back in love with. "Every time I'm on stage, I find myself asking why I'm not nervous, and it's because this is what I was meant to be doing with my life. It's a very new feeling. I still get butterflies, but they're not nerves, just pure excitement. I think everyone has this assumption that I have really great self-esteem, but I'm really working on it. When I'm on stage, that's when I feel my most beautiful and powerful." Later this summer, Bea will tour America with Halsey as part of her Love And Power tour. That entire supporting bill is made up of women, something Bea thinks is incredible. "I respect that some artists don't want to get involved in that conversation, they say they're musicians that just happen to be women, but you've got the chance to do something important and make a difference. Why wouldn't you want to do that?" asks Bea. "We need to encourage more girls to pick up instruments, make music and express themselves. If you don't talk about it, if you don't make a big deal out of it, nothing is going to change. You're a musician, sick, but you're also a girl doing it. You can show others they can do it too. Representation is so important." And then Bea has her own headline tour to think about, including a show at London's 5000 capacity Brixton Academy. "Part of me is thinking, what the fuck is going on? But the fact that I don't know what the fuck is going on just makes me think it's going to be great." "I feel like I've worked really hard," Bea says, the Cosmic Peach now a glass of melting ice. "I like to bring myself down a lot, but I released three EPs while I was still in sixth form. I remember going to the studio and the engineer making me do my homework before we did any vocals. It was so intense, but I really did work hard for this. I didn't expect it, and I don't know what's going to happen next, but this really is an amazing thing." ■ beabadoobee's


Forever friends. SOCCER MOMMY

Battling conflicting emotions through the medium of music, Soccer Mommy's latest album sees Sophie Allison ascend to a new level. WORDS: JACK PRESS. PHOTO: SOPHIE HUR

S A BEARDED, beanie-wearing Mercury Prize

winner once sang, "songs are never quite the answer, just a soundtrack to a life" [ask your parents - Ed]. For Sophie Allison, aka Soccer Mommy, 2018 debut 'Clean' captured the breezy carelessness of coming of age, while 2020's 'Color Theory' was a melancholic mediation on the growing pains of getting older, wrapping its warmth around weighty topics such as anxiety, depression, and the void. As she turns 24, a pandemic under her belt and a new album imminent, what is Soccer Mommy singing about on 'Sometimes, Forever'? "There are songs on the album about being in love and appreciating the feeling of happiness and simplicity," she muses from her home in Nashville. "Then there are songs about struggling with paranoia or feeling detached from your life; songs about feeling like you've become less than human and you're just an object." Pulling no punches in its delivery, 'Sometimes, Forever' is a feverish flirtation with the duality of life. Whether it's desire and apathy, ecstasy and misery, good and evil, or selfcontrol and wildness, Sophie is battling through the emotions she's been bottling up. "I was all over the place", she quips, exploding in laughter before composing herself. "It took a year S OPH I E ALLI S O N and a half to write, so there are lots of different emotions and feelings. There are all these highs and lows. There are feelings of hope and hopelessness, feeling like the world is disappointing. There are times when it's talking about the beautiful things in life. "There's a lot of back and forth between these things that you're struggling with and then the exact opposite, existing at the same time. There's a dualism that's constantly running through it – when you think of the world, there's so much ugliness, but there's so much good, and this continual balance runs through the album of all things good and bad, tugging you back and forth." Sophie's no stranger to the tug of war life's thrown her way. Having released 'Clean' at

People like me who make art are simply not allowed to be normal human beings anymore -

the tender age of 20, she's practically felt the push and pull of the public eye every day since. While there's no denying she's living her dream, 'Sometimes, Forever' doesn't shy away from criticising it, either. Brooding industrial highlight 'Unholy Affliction' shoots its shot straight out the starting gate, chronicling the draining demands of the industry circus she's been sucked into ("I'm tired of all the money and all of the talking at me, I'm barely a person mechanically working"). Is this the life she imagined for herself? "I'm not the type of person who enjoys being any type of public figure. I like playing shows, but I don't enjoy my personal life feeling like it's on spotlight," she sighs. "It can often feel overwhelming, especially if you're not giving yourself time to get away from it and be normal when you're constantly working. It can be exhausting, feeling like you're this item for sale, like you can just be bought; it makes me feel dehumanised." Spinning webs and selling stories is all part of the job, and living a life in the spotlight is as expected as the rising sun. But it's not something Sophie's happy to let idly pass by without comment, nor is it solely a music industry problem. "It's hard to blame any specific person because there are so many forces putting us in this situation where we're constantly selling ourselves. It's a societal problem of people wanting to buy your story and your personality because we love drama. Maybe we made the mistake of letting the consumer in too much." It's a catch-22. If there are no consumers, there's really no industry. But the current model can leave our artists feeling dehumanised. "Social media does not help at all. It creates an environment of not being kind to people and not being considerate that they're real people," Sophie explains, exhausted. "Everybody feels they can say whatever on social media. Everyone feels like they can be brutally honest or mean because they don't like something. It creates a situation where people like me who make art and have a following for it are simply not allowed to be normal human beings anymore." With the way Sophie's been feeling, it's no surprise she's been swept up in the confessional poetry of Sylvia Plath. Like Sophie, Plath paid her dues in pop culture, writing about her depression with dry wit. On 'Darkness Forever,' Sophie hauntingly whispers 'head in the oven' as a sly nod to her soul sister.

"I personally relate to her. I don't know if she would relate to anything about me, and I wouldn't assume it, but there's a certain element to her that is really relatable and understandable. She does that thing of being able to mix darkness with beauty, which I try to do." Tries and succeeds. 'Darkness Forever' is an ominous fever dream, drifting into 90s grunge and sludgy rock tones that collide with gritty industrial synths. While 'Sometimes, Forever' juxtaposes darkness with beauty throughout, it's truly portrayed here. "I count that kind of lick going through the song, and that melody, as eerie. I wanted it to feel paranoid, like it's keeping you on edge. When I was writing the lyrics, I had this fantasy of fire, purging the soul, and this idea of someone burning down their house to expel all of the evil haunting them. It's fantasising about the purity that would come from that, not just wanting death or destruction. About the fire cleaning them." These fantasies and feelings aren't just lyrical laments. They're written into the fabric of every chord, melody and note. The songs themselves feel like rituals. 'Shotgun' explodes into summery warmth, and 'newdemo''s bubbling electronica is a magical broth. There's an evolution on 'Sometimes, Forever', too. A shift in its sound that's been slowly developing since 'Clean'. 'Color Theory' went bigger and brighter in scope, but working with The Weeknd and FKA Twigs collaborator Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never) on 'Sometimes, Forever' was a wake-up call. In many ways, he became her songwriting spirit guide. "It felt very connected, like we're on the same page and we've got the same ideas. I can sometimes be a little bit more of a big picture person, and it's hard for me to articulate exactly what we need to make the tone I'm imagining. He just knew what I needed to do. We could bounce off each other." It's that same connection that translates throughout 'Sometimes, Forever'. Ultimately, it's what Sophie hopes the Soccer Mommy faithful find for themselves in it. Like all things she does, it's a duality of decisions. "I just want people to take what they need to take from it. That's the point of music. I want people to enjoy it in whatever way they need to whether it's connecting with it on an emotional level, or just having a lot of fun with it." ■ Soccer

Mommy's album 'Sometimes, Forever' is out 24th June. 39.


For most bands, leaving their label while the world battles a global pandemic would be disaster. With their best album yet, Muna aren't most bands. WORDS: MARTYN YOUNG. PHOTOS: EM MARCOVECCHIO.

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MUNA 41.


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the stars align. When everything coalesces, and it becomes clear that a band is living in a magical moment - one when their music becomes truly transcendent on a different level. Muna have long proclaimed that they are the greatest band in the world. With their new self-titled album, they are proving that more than ever. A couple of years ago, though, mired deep in the pandemic, it wasn't always clear that Muna would now be flourishing so much. Released from their label RCA Records as they took the early steps into making the album, it was created while navigating an awkward period before finally ending up on Phoebe Bridgers' Saddest Factory Records - a home they settled into beautifully, forging a connection that culminated in a landmark moment for a band celebrating almost a decade together. A moment, a song, a thousand memes and a genuine cultural crossover that lifts this new era for Katie Gavin, Naomi McPherson and Josette Maskin to greater heights than ever before. "Life's so fun," indeed. As ever with Muna, though, if only things were quite that straightforward. "I don't know exactly when it happened, but when 'Silk Chiffon' came out, there was a sense of it taking on a life of its own and getting wings in a way that you always hope for when you put out a song but were maybe too superstitious to say it out loud," explains Katie. "Something that maybe doesn't mean much to other people but means a ton to us as a band is that 'Silk Chiffon' is now a song that we can play last in the set. It means a lot when you have a new song that can be the new closer for your set. That's a dream moment for a band that's been around as long as we have." Perhaps even more impressive than the widescreen pop-cultural moment of 'Silk Chiffon' is that Muna have followed it up with something even better in the soaring 'Anything But Me', and then maybe even topped both of them with the anthemic centrepiece of 'Home By Now'. There's no question we're dealing with a special band who have reached a new level. When making the record, though, it was purely a case of 'let's get this done', unaware of the true magnitude of what they were creating. "For a lot of this album, we made it in the tunnel with our heads down," says Katie. "We didn't necessarily have the

perspective of the overall concept of the record. I think that's because we were going through so many changes. Everything felt so uncertain that we took it in really small pieces and focused on one song at a time." For songwriter Katie, it became clear that she wanted this album to hit in a way the others didn't, exploring themes in a deeper way. "I remember having conversations after we put out the second record of wanting the next record to be more embodied and, in a way, more sensual," she continues. "More about the actual mess of modern relationships. I wanted some frank sexuality in it. I wanted it to be a documentation of a new sense of joy and self-assuredness that was very hard-won in the rollercoaster that was our twenties." Those twenties have all been spent living and breathing Muna. It's a significant achievement for any band to make it a decade in, but for Muna, it's a validation and a celebration of their companionship. "So much of the journey of being in the band has been about our friendship," says Naomi. "We're able to continue this in the way that we do because we value our friendship with one another so much. We're in the lucky position to have really close intimate relationships in a pretty cool job, and we get on well creatively. A lot of what's happened over the last ten years is growing and maturing into the people that we are and probably will be some version of for the rest of the time on this amazing planet." The strength of the trio's bond has allowed them to weather the storms that have come their way. It would be daunting and perhaps dispiriting to leave a major label in the middle of a period of bleak uncertainty like the peak pandemic, but they reject any notion that this is a make or break record. They were already on the path to this album; circumstances just necessitated a little detour. "We were making this record through the whole transition of going to a new label," explains Josette. "If anything, it was just us trying to work out how we can make this happen. We've always been super self-sufficient and independent, but this record was us trying to get even better at doing it ourselves. If we can't afford certain things, how can we make something sound cool in a super creative way? That maybe isn't the most hi-tech way to make music, but we made a vibe." There was undoubtedly a feeling that this couldn't be just another album in a cycle, though. The stakes were higher, and the band were fearlessly heading into the challenge. There were also the realities of actually trying to function when the industry as a whole is now largely a world away from the gargantuan over



“A LITTLE BIT OF BIGGING YOURSELF UP WHEN YOU'RE A MARGINALISED PERSON MAKING MUSIC JUST FUCKING FEELS GOOD” - Naomi McPherson the top budgets, promises of globetrotting world tours and label blank cheques of days gone by. It's tough out there, and only the strongest and most assured can prosper. "I don't know if it was in my head necessarily a make or break thing, but I think making pop music, you hope at a certain point that something takes off in a way that has the ability to improve the material conditions of your life and makes your job sustainable," ponders Naomi. "You do think in your head maybe this one is the one. Maybe this record is the one that changes things for us. Our lives haven't changed, but we're a lot busier. It's super sweet to hear that people like the record. When we finished it, we weren't really cognizant of what we made. We had never taken something so down to the wire as we took the songs making this record." Even before the record is released, there's a tangible feeling that something special is brewing. It's not just the kids of TikTok making dances to 'Silk Chiffon'. It's a swelling of enthusiasm and excitement across the board. Take the roof-raising reaction to their Brighton show at The Great Escape. People are ready to embrace Muna like never before. There's something beautiful about their songs and the piercing emotional connections that they forge. You experience Muna's music in an elemental, primal way. A purity that exemplifies why pop music is the greatest art form.

"THE GIFT OF being in Muna is that we have this creative freedom that is allowed by giving ourselves that permission," muses Katie. "This project is tied to our lives as individuals, and the records are documentations of certain chapters of our lives. Part of the reason we've been able to experience the growth that we have experienced is because there was a sense of meaning in that growth," she continues. Muna recognise that life is a huge mixed up whirlwind of conflicting feelings and emotions, and it's all represented in their songs. "There's a song on the record called 'Loose Garment', which is kind of sad, but it's saying I still have these really intense emotions because there is suffering in life. Not every relationship 44. DORK

will work out the way you want, and even in the ones that do work out, there's still loss," explains Katie about the penultimate and pivotal song on the album. "The difference is, I have this space for the emotions. That allows the joy to be there. It took a lot to get to that place, and I think it's on all the records." Space is an enduring inspiration for the album - not in the sense of the solar system, but in terms of experiencing the songs and their emotions in an environment where Katie could be free to let her creative impulses wander. "I listened to an interview with the poet Mary Oliver. She always wrote outside and would take her notebook out into the world with her," she says. "I relate a lot to that. I often find the heart of songs when I go out into the world. There's something about that experience. I wrote the entire song 'Kind Of Girl' after I spent the whole day trying to write in my writing room unsuccessfully, and then I went and took a bath and wrote the whole song there. I wrote 'Anything But Me' in the car. I wrote 'No Idea' in my backyard and 'Loose Garment' on the Los Angeles riverwalk - there are lines in it about feeding the birds. It does seem that was a bit of a theme." Throughout the album, we touch on emotions ramped up to extreme levels. It takes you on a real journey. "With the record being selftitled, almost the only throughline is that it's comfortable in the way it contradicts itself," says Katie. "There's the back to back of 'What I Want' wanting to be this hedonistic party animal, while 'Runners High' is about wanting to get back into my spiritual practice and an aesthetic. That's just my real life. I'm in different places on different cycles. Whatever emotion I felt, I just wanted to depict that as best as I could and not worry about it all making sense together." Nothing makes sense, and yet everything makes sense. That's the beauty of Muna. No other band could take you from the fevered ecstasy of 'What I Want' - the biggest turbo banger that Muna have ever created - to the gorgeous lilt of 'Kind Of Girl'. "The ethos was to take the best songs that we have and put them into a sequence that feels not overtly jarring, but still maybe a bit challenging in a positive way,"


Naomi offers. "Sowing seeds of chaos in our listeners." That's the thing when you're a fan of Muna. You're all in. It's a bond that the band truly cherishes, nurtured over years of shared experiences. "There's a tremendous sense of mutual respect," says Katie. "We're living in a really interesting time to be a professional musician. Before social media, there was this built-in boundary of access. Post social media, we have learned that both the musician and the fan still need boundaries. There's something very vulnerable about learning to navigate that together. There's an understanding and respect that the music that we make is really personal. It's music that we needed to make to process things that were going on in our lives. There's something magical when we make stuff that we need to hear for ourselves, and that ends up being the stuff that makes the deepest connection. If we're lucky, it's stuff that they needed to hear as well." Those tales that fans relate to them are some of the more gratifying rewards. "I love seeing stories about someone who started listening to Muna in the 'About U' era, and they were going through a lot of toxic relationship stuff at that time," continues Katie. "These people have grown up with us. I find it super sweet that we have these parallel journeys that are so intrinsically tied, and yet we maybe have never had an in-person conversation. Our fans are notorious for being extraordinarily kind and compassionate. Multiple times we've gotten feedback from a venue that our fans were so nice. That still baffles me, and I feel very proud that that's the energy being cultivated. The credit goes 100% to them." Knowing their fans implicitly have their back gives Muna the freedom and confidence to fully express themselves. If those people are going to invest all their time and love in them, then Muna are damn sure gonna do everything they can to pay them back. "We started calling ourselves the greatest band in the world just as a bit of cheek, a bit of fun and to be

a little provocative," laughs Naomi. "The truth is that dude musicians and bands can say that type of stuff about themselves and have for hundreds of years of making music. A little bit of bigging yourself up when you're a marginalised person making music just fucking feels good. It sets the bar high for us. Even if it's a little bit of a joke, it shouldn't be. We should just work our hardest to make it true. The three of us and everyone who plays with us live are making sure that the shows are ridiculously good. We set the bar really high for ourselves. We want people to leave the shows saying, 'God damn, they're good'. It takes a lot of practice, and we take it really seriously." Indeed, pop music is a serious business, but it's a gloriously silly and vibrant business, too. Muna can make you laugh (just look at the now-iconic opening line to 'Anything But Me' with its famous horse), and they can certainly make you cry, both tears of joy and sadness. This record is primarily about acceptance, finding joy and living with pain without losing hope, but it encapsulates feelings that Muna have explored ever since their first single. "'Loose Garment' is the central theme of the record and connects every record to each other," sums up Josette. "On 'About U', you're so lost in the patterns of your pain, and with 'Saves The World', you're analysing it and figuring out why this is happening. 'Loose Garment' is like the pain is still there, but you have this new relationship with it. This record is about having new relationships with yourself and how you handle yourself in the world." While the album explores the relationships you have with yourself, the relationship that Muna have with their fans, old and new, is the one that is making this a landmark year for the band. Providing a safe, inclusive and inspiring space for pop kids the world over, and with a stunning album that is Maximum Muna on every level, they have delivered their masterpiece. The greatest band in the world? No arguments here. ■ Muna's

self-titled album is out 24th June. 45.


A viral hit, a sense of global community and a new record finds Will Joseph Cook more assured than ever before. WORDS: NEIVE MCCARTHY. PHOTOS: INDY BREWER.

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H MY GOD! There's a huge

bee in the room," gasps Will Joseph Cook mid-interview. It's time to play hero, as he zips off to release the rogue insect back into the wild. "You better bee-lieve it," he laughs. It's a fitting interruption for someone with so much buzz around them [Sorry - Ed]. Following the release of 2020's aptly titled 'Be Around Me' - and the TikTok explosion surrounding it - it's been non-stop hype in Will's world. You'd think that level of exposure would add significant pressure to whatever came next. Not really, it turns out. Instead, the king of indie bops didn't hesitate to launch himself full throttle into his next project, catapulted by newfound freedom. "You've proved that you can make a record, and someone's given you the opportunity to block out a bunch of time in your calendar and make something incredible. It's the most fun I've ever had in the studio." Rather than feeling daunted by the online fame, Will found that approaching his latest album, 'Every Single Thing', he was more self-assured about it than ever. "Having something happen like that, that platformed me in such a W ILL J OS EP H C O O K massive way, was super validating," Will explains. "It celebrated the biggest creative risk on the record. The bit that went viral I almost deleted from the song. Going into this project, I felt like I could be a lot more myself and take things a little less seriously. I'm putting my creative ideas under less scrutiny. Leaning into what pops out of my brain rather than thinking: is this cool? People want to see something original and hear something deeply relatable that hasn't been said out loud yet. It was a quest to find more of those things." The moment in question on 'Be Around Me' is quintessential Will Joseph Cook – it's the flutters of a new romance, uncertainty and real raw emotion that defines his music. 'Every Single Thing', though, is tied together by more than one common trait. It's a body of work that flows effortlessly from track to track with a continuity that has developed hugely since his earliest releases. Written over around three months and then recorded in a post-pandemic Mexico, it was built over a condensed space of time that offered the record the opportunity to become its own entity. "It came together in a very natural way that I haven't really had the opportunity to do before," reflects Will. "I've never really worked at that speed before. It was a real privilege to have the opportunity to create something in such a condensed and creative period of time." "I think that's how you achieve that [sense of cohesion]. Songs have to be recorded in the

The bit that went viral I almost deleted from the song -

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same breath to feel connected to one another. It's Raining' tackles a period filled with worry It was a nice change of pace compared to in the as his girlfriend fell ill and had a stay in hospital past, where it'd be over the course of two years, mid-lockdown. "It was a song to make her picking the best songs I'd made from that time feel better and get the sad feelings out," Will period. This was a lot more committal and just confirms. In that sense, there's a kind of healing really fun. It completely took over my life for a in the track. A mellow and stripped-back couple months." recollection of the gloomy day, it provides some It also marked a new turn for Will solace to be found in re-treading that ground. production-wise. Initially struggling with the There's an unbreakable thread of hope that delay of crafting something over Facetime, prevails throughout. he soon managed to push the album in fresh, To weave that thread, Will reaches for the thrilling directions. "The biggest risk was familiar and the resonant. By providing a worrying less about the sonics and leaning series of tracks that ultimately mirror a host into the things I had available to me. I've been of feelings felt by many, there's a promise of playing a lot fruitier chords and getting into good to be found in relatability. "I didn't want jazz and bossa nova – I had a really big Chet to cheap out on any lyrics on it. Those are the Baker phase over lockdown. I wanted to take best songs. Something that people can project those flavours and then also R&B style writing onto and really understand what you're getting – the sexy confidence that's in a lot of the across. That's underrated in a lot of pop music." lyrics and melodic choices. I wanted to take 'Easy Undone' and its chirpy beats feel like the amalgamation of those writing and chord the antidote to any gloominess, while '4am' influences and put them into my up-tempo, bounces into life by expanding outwards indie aesthetic to see what I ended up with." into immense distortion. There are multiple The result is Will at his most playful and instances of those emancipating sonic yet most mature. It's evocative of beer garden experiences, creating that weightless, floating flirtations and dancing in the streets at 4am, but feeling Will strives for. He manages to costume at the same time, it's remaining by someone's them differently every time. They may sound side in their darkest hours and ruminating on miles apart, but the album continually delivers if you will ever find closure. It's light-hearted that all-important levity in every shade. "It's and breezy, intended to lift you out of a the first time it's felt like a considered vision," difficult spell, but it also acknowledges those attributes Will. "It came about in such a short difficulties. Will's funky, pop-heavy sound space of time because of that. I was like, well, allows those tenser moments to become more I know exactly what I'm going to be making palatable and easier to swallow. here: I've got my sound palette, I've got my "It's a love song album – that's the general themes, here are the songs all fully formed on theme," Will remarks. "Some of the tracks guitar. That takes a while to find. Some people are more reflective. 'Bop' is written from the come straight into it at fifteen and know exactly perspective of being nervous and flirting what they are, but I'm still forming myself as a with someone at a house party when you're person, let alone a musician." a teenager, and how abstract the idea of love 'Every Single Thing' does offer that journey seems and how cheesy it is. The closing track towards self-discovery, and those new means 'Guaranteed' is a lot more existential, looking of creation found in the process certainly at what it's all for – why are we even able to feel contribute. Naturally, crafting an album these feelings? It's more deathbed thinking. mid-pandemic proved to be a different process, It's not all super rosy. In general, I actively try but there's some good to be found in that. "It to make my music make you feel weightless freed up a lot of space for artists, if there was when you're listening to it and for it to feel any silver lining," Will reflects. "No one's telling like a positive release. If I'm writing about you to go on tour, so you can focus on writing something more difficult, I want to present it and creating and go back to where everyone in a way that makes the topics feel lighter or started – being in their rooms, making tunes." more manageable. A "It opened up spoonful of sugar helps alternatives. I think a lot of the medicine go down – I people were very set in their think it's one of those." ways in how albums could It is an innately and should be released. saccharine endeavour, There are people now that but never so much that will have done or will never it gives you a toothache. do a live show, and that 'Goofin' About' is an doesn't mean they're less almost slow-jam-esque of an artist because some - W I L L J O SE P H CO O K venture that keeps things people don't want to play grooving with a longing live. I think that's a dynamic to remain in the present. that wasn't permitted in It's a key feature of 'Every Single Thing' – it does the pre-pandemic industry as much. People at times reflect and dream, but it finds a lot of were expected to turn it into a live show, and joy in the moment. Because of that foundation some people are introverted and want to in the now, you experience every rush and high stay at home. I think this has validated all of alongside Will. those people. Anything that breaks down the That's not to say that he can't also tackle the conventional barriers is a good thing because it more serious, introspective moments. 'Today allows people to be themselves."

I'm still forming myself as a person, let alone a musician


Though this is a liberating development for some, for Will, touring remains a beloved part of his artistry. Fresh from a support slot with Declan McKenna at the Royal Albert Hall ("definitely one of the most fun shows I've ever done!"), this year has seen Will back on the road across the UK on his own headline tour. After the worldwide success of 'Be Around Me', however, he found that his fanbase had strayed far beyond UK borders. From Mexico to Indonesia, the world has quickly become populated with Will Joseph Cook fans. Though his tour only took him around the UK, he found a way to involve those international listeners; each night livestreamed on Twitch to provide an immersive experience for those who couldn't make it. "Because I don't have huge fanbases everywhere, everyone is so spread out. That's what happens with a lot of online fanbases now. It makes touring very convoluted. I thought it would be cool to share something that would otherwise be very UK-centric and weave it into the story with everyone else," shares Will. Beyond tuning in from hundreds of miles away, Will has found himself with an infinitely committed fanbase that has ultimately transcended him in the most heartwarming way. "There's loads of cool stuff – I have a few group chats with fans in different countries. They don't even talk about my music on there anymore," Will laughs. "It's just become a friendship group, which is kind of the goal. It's so hard to form a community within music nowadays, especially for younger kids who missed out on those formative years of going to concerts and meeting people there. It's nice if people can become friends online first, and when they come to the shows, it's a get-together, not just a solo experience. They don't have to have loads of people at school or work that are also into it. They can just go and experience it with their Will Joseph Cook mates. I've been completely pushed out. It's beautiful!" There's something equally romantic in the bonds Will's music has facilitated between fans and his combination of head-over-heels lyricism and giddy beats. Each easy guitar strum of 'Every Single Thing' guides you a step further into this therapeutic, appreciative world. Make yourself at home and allow Will Joseph Cook to relieve the weight from your shoulders. ■

Will Joseph Cook's album 'Every Single Thing' is out now. 49.


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Most people don't start their second album before their first is even properly out, but Bartees Strange isn't most people. WORDS: STEVEN LOFTIN. PHOTOS: LUKE PIOTROWSKI.

HE STORY OF Bartees Strange's

creative adventure is never-ending - at least until he decides as such. "It's never-ending until I end it one day," he chuckles. "I'll be like, 'That's all I wanted to say'. But I've got a few more things first." Initially started in October 2020, just as his excellent debut 'Live Forever' was released, it was in November of last year in London that the rest of the album came together at his label 4AD's legendary studios. "I didn't even plan on making this album," he explains. "I was focused on a different one, and then it just kind of happened over the course of a year and a half. Bit by bit, it came together." Getting started on his next step before his first hit the ground meant that the success that followed 'Live Forever' made no real impact on him creatively. As anticipated, though, things did change after his debut's release. He quit his job, signed to 4AD, and has been touring with acts he's looked up to for decades. But the most significant change on this roll call is "my opinion of myself," he says. Where 'Live Forever' gave a glimpse into the places that made Bartees, here he invites us closer. 'Farm To Table' is a further introspective look into its creator. "I definitely feel more capable. There BA RT EES ST R A N G E are things I've always wanted to do that now I feel like I can. That transition is a big part of 'Farm To Table'. I'm from a rural southern part of America; my family are all from that part of the country, too. They're all great people and great artists and very hard workers, but none of them has had success at this level. And so marking this transition, it's like, from farm to table. I used to live in the country, but now I'm at the table. I'm trying to be conscious of all these new people coming into my life, but also some of the old people that make me who I am." This comes through in the striking artwork. It's hard to argue with an age-old phrase, but while you can't judge a book by its cover - as

I didn't even plan on making this album -

Bartees nods - "the book does have a cover." A collage of images of Bartees through various ages, including holding his first-ever guitar, and landmarks from his hometown. "I wanted people to get to know me through this record in a deeper way," he confirms. "And the album cover is, me and my family, my dad, UFOs, the water tower from my hometown, the rural areas. This is my background, where I'm coming from with this shit - I want people to look at it and be like, 'this is him'." It's a record he needed to make. Now 33, he's been interning and working various jobs since the age of 18, including a stint in political desk jobs, all the while playing in bands at night and "touring his vacation days away". 'Farm To Table' sits alongside 'Live Forever' as bookends for who Bartees Strange is, was, and always will be. "I think that starts with showing people where you're from," he reckons of being able to be so personal in his offerings to the world. "And just wanting people to know who I am. There aren't a lot of people in my position who look like me from where I'm from. I grew up in Oklahoma, right? Not a lot of Black people live out there, and not a lot of people make it out. Even my white friends, they don't ever leave – like, nobody leaves. "Whether you're from like a rural area, or you're the only queer kid in your town, there are a lot of people who deal with this vibe of feeling trapped, and I felt like that. So when I make music, and as this grows, I just hope that those people can see that in themselves. To be like, 'Oh, shit, this guy kind of felt like I felt, and he figured it out', you know? That's why it's so important for people to know who I am, where I'm from and where I'm coming from. That's why I wanted to be so honest with this record." It hasn't always been easy for Bartees to be this open. Recalling his mid-twenties, he admits he didn't know what he was doing, but now? "I'm like yeah, this is who I am!" he beams. "And I can look back and say I've always been this way, but I'm a lot better at being who I am now." One of the more striking moments of 'Farm To Table' comes from 'Cosign', a track which finds Bartees listing off all his accomplishments, from tabloid-fodder tour mates to famed indie label heads. It's not a

move most bands make, so how did Bartees make it seem so easy? "I'm very into history, right?" He begins, a fire lighting in his eyes. "And historical precedent for things. I feel like at some point, rock and roll and alternative music, it became a lot more introspective. People stopped bringing this larger than life attitude to it. And rappers started doing it – rappers became rock stars. And I've always wanted to be like, well, that's cool, but I would love to see more rappers in rock. I want that. "I missed that attitude being in rock music. I thought that 'Cosign' was a cool opportunity to bridge that thought. Also, I was at a stage where I'd just come off tour with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus. I had a month off in London to finish this album, and after that month, I was going on tour with Courtney Barnett, and I was just like, 'This is so sick!' I can't believe I get to do this. That song came purely from that vibe of just being like, man, this is fucking rad." It's a refreshing sentiment in a world that can often err on the glum and moody side. And while Bartees' music can touch upon the reflective, the one thing it is not is sad. This is all by design. "I'm not really into making sad records," he explains. "It's good to have triumphant vibes. You can still win even when things are bad. It's easy, especially these days. With climate change, COVID – there are so many existential things that threaten happiness. But at the end of the day, all you can control is you." This is all to say, Bartees Strange is in control. This is his story, and he's let us in on a helluva lot across two albums, both striking and incredible in their own ways. 'Farm To Table' propels itself forwards with a driving bite before easing off the pedal slightly for the closing sentiment of 'Hennessy'. Focused on the spectrum of feelings that bounce around inside of its creator, when it comes to his second outing, the only important thing that stands out is what it means to him. "I remember looking at it at the end," he recalls. "And being like, wow, this is an accomplishment. I'm proud of." ■ Bartees Strange’s new album ‘Farm To

Table’ is out 17th June. 51.


Time f ys Turns out, poetry can be punk, but - as she releases her debut album - there's much more to Sinead O'Brien than simple labels. WORDS: CONNOR FENTON PHOTOS: PATRICK GUNNING.

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T LONG LAST, the alternative scene's Poet Laureate, Sinead O'Brien, is bringing us her debut album after years of singles, EPs, lyrical wizardry and rhythmic craftsmanship. For anyone late to the party, Sinead has been piling on musical intrigue since 2019. "I kept releasing stuff, there's an album worth of stuff already out, but the album has none of that stuff on it. It's all-new," she jokes enthusiastically. "It's weird when people do a compilation of what's already out and call it an album. It's like you missed the chance to make the piece of work. An album is a project." Project is an understatement when referring to 'Time Bend and Break the Bower', a unified collection of tracks that simultaneously explore a range of sounds while maintaining a consistency and identity throughout. Far from a concept album about a rigid idea, Sinead has curated these songs as a series of layers, each providing context to a larger, more abstract theme. "It's not like I have just one thing that I need to say to the world or anything. It's much more subtle and complex than that," she explains after a thoughtful pause. S INE A D O 'B R I E N "If an artist puts on an exhibition, you get such a sense of that person because you see multiple works next to one another." In the past, albums with such undefined themes may have been marked as too cerebral or pretentious, but the undeniable musicality of 'Time Bend and Break the Bower' provides a universal appeal. "I don't care if people don't get it, honestly," Sinead laughs. "There are enough people who I think

It's about experiences and the senses, relating you to the universal -

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want to engage with words now, and it's a time where people are thinking', Yeah, the words have meaning as opposed to just being an instrument.'" Despite being labelled a 'Punk Poet', Sinead's writing transcends the moniker of post-punk that is so often slapped onto it. Instead, the sound that comes from Sinead and her collaborators is a composite of countless influences, both from music and the broader world of art at large. "I wanted to get those sort of fine details in. To show more and hopefully confuse people even more about genre labels and all of that rubbish," she laughs. "People love to know 'what can we call it?' And I'm sorry, it's not a fixed thing. It's a moving thing, so keep up." The few recurring threads in the album are mainly down to concepts that Sinead finds interesting as she explores new areas of thought. The concept of time is mentioned in practically every track on the album, thanks to her long-standing infatuation with the subject. "It's one of the biggest fascinations for me in life. It's such a huge, heavy, pounding word," she offers, going on to describe her methods of interrogating areas of philosophy and psychology over time, each instance providing her most recent perspective. "I'm never gonna have a line that's gonna say 'it'. It's more about the process and getting somewhere. I get deeper. I get more into my head and more around it somehow. "It's about experiences and the senses, relating you to the universal. It's too big, so you really just need a tiny taste of it, and it opens up enough for me to keep going, to keep writing. It's like tiny bits of fuel." The raw creativity and exploration doesn't end with Sinead's writing. Songs are then brought to guitarist Julian Hanson for further development. "I only work on my own until I have lyrics and a good structure where I feel it can work on any music," she reveals. Once she understands the song's tone, she and Julian will feel it out together, working largely on instinct. "I'll have lots of different references. Sometimes I'll bring images." She reaches, grabbing a printout of Henri Cartier-

Bresson's photograph Boston Common, asking us to guess which track it was used to set the tone for. "It's actually 'End of Days'," she kindly corrects us when we guess wrong. Sinead's preparation goes far beyond writing when it comes to studio time. "I had actually drawn buildings, like floor plans, at one point." She laughs, embarrassed. "Dan was like, 'I don't know anyone who makes diagrams and mood boards for songs'." The Dan in question is - no shocks here - the album's producer, Dan Carey, already on a hot streak this year from his work with chart-toppers - and recent Dork cover stars Wet Leg and Fontaines D.C. "He just works really well, really fast," Sinead puts it simply, after listing a million reasons why working with Dan is so great. It's clearly true - the album was recorded, mixed and mastered in a matter of weeks before the end of 2021. "You're like, 'Oh god, we spent a day setting up the sound for the album. Oh, we've wasted a day!' and then you're like, 'Oh, we got two, three songs done in a day now. Great'." Despite this, there's no sense of being overly hasty. Instead, everything is handled with perfect accuracy. Most importantly, Dan didn't keep the mix a secret; everyone involved collaborated on the direction. "It changes a lot. It's not just like, get the raw materials down, disappear and get back an album." One thing most evident when speaking with Sinead: she is passionately creative. Often getting lost in the depths of her observations and the minutiae of her influences, it's easy to understand why 'Time Bend and Break the Bower' could never be considered a concept album. In reality, it is a collection of a million concepts seen through the lens of Sinead's lyricism and the instincts of her collaborators. Well worth investing some significant time in. ■ Sinead O'Brien's

album 'Time Bend and Break the Bower' is out now.



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


LIFE IS YOURS ★★★★★ Out: 17th June.

→ Foals have been an ever present at the top table of UK alternative music for almost 15 years now. Even for the greatest bands though there comes a time when they need a reset. A time to shake things up and look to the future. Determined to party their way out of the misery of the pandemic a lean, mean and pop invigorated Foals have re-emerged on their summer soundtracking seventh album ‘Life Is Yours’. Now a trio Yannis, Jack and Jimmy have harnessed all the energy and vitality that they’ve always possessed into a whip-smart tight collection that is powered by the spirit of their early days and their incendiary debut ‘Antidotes’ but with a ramped up pop sensibility that feels very 2022. Songs like the Haribo burst sugar rush of ‘2001’ and the blissedout ecstatic vibes of ‘Looking High’ highlight an album that is a world away from the introspective post rocky leanings of their 2019 double album. It’s a different side of Foals but a side that’s always been there, it’s just this time out they’ve decided to give the riffs a rest for a while and amp up the party jams. Working in collaboration with a number of exciting producers like mad alt pop scientist of the moment Dan Carey and AK Paul have brought out a looseness and vibrancy in the band that makes this album their easiest listen and perhaps even their most satisfying. It would be easy for a band like Foals to make just another album. Another record that provides big riffs and helps to keep the wheels turning. Instead they’ve taken a risk, switched things up and in going back to their roots have captured the zeitgeist and created a rebirth which points the way towards a new era for Foals. MARTYN YOUNG

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Will Joseph Cook


★★★★ Out now.



Swimming caps on, as Abbie runs us through her latest brilliant EP, 'Water Based Lullabies'.



Out: 1st July. → Basing your life around your star sign is completely acceptable. After all, it makes perfect sense. On her new EP, ‘Water Based Lullabies’, Abbie Ozard embraces her Piscean energy and plunges you into a dreamy underwater world. The seas are a shimmeringly clear blue and it’s hard to resist diving into those crystalline depths. Abbie does as promised, lulling you into a series of angelic melodies. She washes you with the clarity of those clear waters and leaves you feeling anew, absolutely making a splash while doing so. NEIVE



'Pisces' is about recognising your own strengths, taking control of what you really want and setting your standards high. This song was so fun to write, I wrote it with James [New], and we were in stitches when we were writing it, but behind the humour, there's a deeper meaning to it all. Don't settle for mediocrity; know your worth and surround yourself with people that make you feel amazing.

When I was younger, I found myself liking people that were absolute chaos just for the drama and the chase, it sounds ridiculous, and I'm so glad I've grown out of that now. I feel like most people have had some really embarrassing nights, so hopefully, this song makes them feel less alone!

finding peace in doing literally new outfits, you know that whole 'don't get depression nothing with them. vibe'.

Rose Tinted

'Rose Tinted' was a poem I wrote a few years back when I realised all my friends were growing up and I felt kinda left behind. It can be a struggle to comprehend the fact that everyone around you changes so much, and I found Comfy myself covering up these After lockdown lifted, I got feelings with clothes and really busy; I was literally here, messing with the way I looked. there and everywhere. I was I even tried meditating, which so grateful to be busy, but I hated because it made me Candy Blue part of me just wanted to be think way too much. The I wrote this song with Rich at home and in bed in a safe track is an observation on [Turvey], and it was so fun to little haven. I found it pretty how 20-somethings cope with write. It's about an unrequited hard to adjust from going transitioning into adulthood, romance on a night out, one from nothing to everything how they cover up their of those where you've had all at once. 'Comfy' is about insecurities by pretending way too much to drink, and being in a happy, comfortable everything is amazing online, you're feeling like a liability. relationship and finally meditate to stay calm, buy

→ A love story that radiates an overwhelming romanticism, Will Joseph Cook and his incredible moustache have the innate ability to pull it off without seeming inauthentic. A charged tracklist easily avoids sticking to one note, instead oozing sweet charm and positivity throughout; though that doesn’t mean a lack of depth, as by the twinkling boom of ‘4am’'s chorus, ‘Every Single Thing’ has sonically summarised a deep infatuation that is difficult to verbalise. If these songs truly reflect Will’s current life, he is one lucky man. FINLAY HOLDEN

Nova Twins


it, I finally felt like this was the right one. It's definitely the most important to me out of all the tunes on the EP.


So I've made sure every song on this EP has some form of water element in it, as water makes me feel really at home; whether it be lyrics or even watery samples, I guarantee you'll find something waterbased in each song! 'Fizzy' starts off with a tap me, and Hugo [Silvani] recorded dripping. I was really set on making a song that everyone can shout together at gigs, like a little communal 'fuck it' anthem. The lyric in the chorus, "I'm done with trying to play pretend", is a reference to my last EP 'let's play pretend', as this EP feels like a way more mature, honest approach to writing rather than escapism.


'Norway' is a straight-up love song. I wrote it on my piano in my family home and recorded all the piano parts Grown I used to and probably still do there on my phone. When I was writing it, the birds were have a hard time accepting tweeting away outside, so I that people come and go also captured that. Hopefully, in and out of life; I couldn't you can hear them! I took comprehend that a person the song to Hugo, and we can be your best friend for worked on it together to years and then suddenly make it sound as big as become a total stranger. I found it really hard to get my possible. This is my favourite song to play live from the head around. I wrote grown EP; it kinda makes me want back in 2017, 4 years ago to cry every time. I've still when I was coming out of a rough patch, and it helped me not been to Norway, which is see the light and accept that silly, but I love cold weather, things change, people change, and I feel like I'd be in my element escaping there. grow, leave your life and This song marks the end of meet new people, and that's totally ok. This song has been 'Water Based Lullabies', so through so many versions, we recorded Hugo's door but after years of working on shutting as it just felt so right.


Out: 17th June. → There was a point, not so long ago, that rock music felt stale. It looked back to bands of men old enough for a mid-life crisis in long shorts more than it hoped for the future. Thankfully, that's changed, and Nova Twins stand at the head of that charge. Both leading and inspiring, new album 'Supernova' is the perfect lightning rod for all that raw energy. Musically diverse, 'Antagonist' is selfdetermined, drenched in technicolour and brilliantly visceral. 'K.M.B' sneaks and snarks with flair, while 'Choose Your Fighter' pulses with sugar-rush hyperactivity. Embrace the future. STEPHEN ACKROYD



Out: 24th June. → Sophie Allison has now thrice penned her experience of growth for fans, audibly manifesting tumultuous periods of life transition. Each time stepping it up, Soccer Mommy’s sonic and thematic palette has simultaneously deepened and broadened to allow listeners to delve into an ever-growing well of emotion. 'Sometimes, Forever' almost immediately spirals upwards, reaching for and obtaining something greater for a versatile exploration of opposing states. Every silver lining has a cloud, but as Sophie puts it, “I'll just have to take both”. FINLAY HOLDEN 57.



RISING → After two years of heartache and heartbreak, locked doors and missed possibilities, if we’re going to partake in communal healing, mxmtoon is a more than worthy session leader.

Porridge Radio

WATERSLIDE, DIVING BOARD, LADDER TO THE SKY → A concentrated form of everything that has made the band so special. Full of emotion and expression, their ascent isn’t over yet.

Alfie Templeman

MELLOW MOON → Debut album ‘Mellow Moon’ showcases a subtly different Alfie Templeman. Emotions bubble beneath the surface, elevating what might sound like breezy songs to higher plains, and every moment of selfdiscovery comes with a sense of empowerment.


MUNA ★★★★★ Out: 24th June.


BUTTERFLY BLUE → Mallrat, aka Grace Shaw, is making mammoth pop with a multitude of hidden depths, and this is the musical spreading of her wings. It’s irresistible and sees Mallrat solidify herself as an unstoppable force.

Rachel Chinouriri

BETTER OFF WITHOUT EP → Rachel Chinouriri proves her mettle as both one of indie’s greatest hopes and current sparkling gems.

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→ For most bands, leaving a major label can spark a point of minor panic. Hopes and dreams sold on the back of the big machine cut short; it's enough to make some call it a day entirely. But Muna aren't most bands. Their self-titled third album is also, definitively, their best - a bold claim when their previous efforts are of a gold standard. Finding a home on Phoebe Bridgers' Saddest Factory label, it's the sound of a band coming back stronger than ever before, more assured in their own musical skin. Embracing their innate talent for a gigantic pop hook, each track hits harder than the next. Opener 'Silk Chiffon' may already have secured its status as an all-timer, but 'What I Want' and 'Runner's High' both match it, the latter shimmering brightly and hammering hard. Singles 'Home By Now' and country-bop 'Kind Of Girl' are triple-A grade perfection, while the opening track of 'Anything But Me' is already iconic. Add to that the 80s vamp of 'Solid' and closing slow-burning torch song 'Shooting Star', and it proves a collection both sonically varied and consistently amazing. But Muna's power isn't just in the music; it's also in the band themselves. A trio that seem tightly bound to each other, that feeling of mutual trust and selfbelief radiates outwards. A record that doesn't just thrill, but empowers too, it's enough to put Muna firmly amongst the highest echelon of modern pop bands. Quite possibly the album of the year so far. STEPHEN ACKROYD

Mac Wetha

Sinead O’Brien



Multi-talented up-and-comer Mac Wetha delves into the ins and outs of his new EP.


'Cloud Paint' is executive produced and co-written by my dude Dan Holloway, and in a funny sort of way, this first tune's production represents the transition from me writing and producing in quite a solitary way in my bedroom to making this project with Dan (in his bedroom). The intro here sounds like the kind of beat I'd have made a couple years ago, then there's this big BPM change alongside the pop-punk type guitar riff, and after that, Dan's influence really starts to show. He pushed me really hard to get the best vocal takes I could and to hone in in a more focused way on my guitar music influences. Essentially that's what this project is; a throwback to how I got here musically, having been in bands all my

life, and an ode to the style of music I'd been playing, but fused with my production style. Checkpoint is about the leftover feelings and memories that come back to haunt you even when you think you've completely moved past them.

important for me to reflect the manic energy of the instrumental.

Feel Better (Infinite Pitbulls)

'Feel Better' is particularly personal because it's kind of aimed at myself. It's basically 'Dani Song' is the first full my attempt at summing up song Dan Holloway and I how I find happiness in my day wrote together, and it was to day... Essentially the song the creation of this one that is a mantra for me to not lose made me want to make the my mind. Musically we were Left Unsaid whole project with him; it set inspired by lots of 90s indie Made this one with the homie the atmosphere of 'Cloud bands; we wrote it as if written Jacob Bugden. I believe Paint' and gave me some for a live band or four-piece or he showed me the whole sense of how I wanted it all to something, but then produced instrumental in a session, sound. Instrumentally 'Dani it more in our styles. and we wrote the song in a Song' is a fusion of garage/ couple of hours, which is very drum and bass sounds Pelican Freestyle rare for me. Jacob's sounds and essentially nu-metal, I Maybe the best example on and textures really inspire suppose... and as I pointed the project of the symbiosis me, and once I had the lyrical out when talking about of genres that we're going for. subject matter sorted, things 'Checkpoint', a lot of what Pelican is, like 'Feel Better', came together very quickly. this project is bringing the very introspective lyrically There's a juxtaposition energy of my playing in rock and contains lots of personal between the two main bands over the years and reminders and mantras. I sections, a confidence in the growing up listening to lots of would say also it sums up the hook and a paranoia in the guitar music into my current whole project; it was actually B section in the middle of sound, and in a more modern, the last song written out of all of 'Cloud Paint'. the tune; this contrast was production-based setting.

Dani Song


★★★★ Out now.



Out: 20th June. → Mac Wetha is one of those once in a generation talents that can do it all. His second EP, 'Cloud Paint’ is a perfectly formed realisation of the dynamic spirit of invention that informs all his work. Each of the five tracks here bristles with energy and vitality. ‘checkpoint’ is a headlong pop-punk rush while ‘Unlimited Pitbulls’ aligns that pop-punk aesthetic to a blissed-out breezy summer jam. Mac amps up the pace on the frenetic sugar rush of ‘Left Unsaid’ while ‘Dani’s song’ combines lo-fi electronica with big punk riffs to perfect effect. ‘Perfect Freestyle’ is the highlight though, youthful, vibrant and anthemic; it's Mac’s biggest statement yet. “This could be a dream and not a nightmare,” he sings in a mission statement for the spirit of hope that courses through this EP. MARTYN YOUNG

→ It would be all too easy to imagine Sinead O'Brien's individual stylings becoming a 'bit much' across a whole album. Mixing poetry with post-punk, her grasp of both style and substance has made for some thrilling moments, but a full-length needs more than that, especially when so idiosyncratic. Such is O'Brien's creative vision, though, that no such fears come to pass. 'Time Bend And Break The Bower' may have stylistic threads, but it's also a varied, brilliant collection of ideas, thoughts and theories that pushes beyond the thickly drawn boundaries of genre or form. ANDREW WESCOTT

Bartees Strange FARM TO TABLE


Out: 17th June. → If there's one thing you can rely upon from Bartees Strange, it's a whole lot of heart. With big issues at play, and bigger emotions to envelop them, 'Farm To Table' is an album that chooses to embrace rather than deflect. Indie rock with warmth and soul, Take 'Hold The Line' written about George Floyd's daughter Dianna, it's packed full of weighty thoughts, but even in its most devastating moments, there's never a sense of defeat. Honest, authentic and brilliant in an era where so much seems to be smoke and flashy mirrors, Bartees Strange is one of a kind. ANDREW WESCOTT

TV Priest


★★★★ Out now.

→ Committing a soft reboot after their quick-witted and politically charged debut, TV Priest have returned with ‘My Other People’. A record that exposes a new element of vulnerability that makes no sacrifice to their gritty, unshackled punk sound. Using the full range of his vocal talents, lead singer Charlie Drinkwater carries the album through sullen, melancholic mutterings that ring with a dissatisfied longing, to bellowed and impassioned cries imbued with truly unfiltered emotion. TV Priest’s hearts are not just on their sleeves, they’re served on a platter for us to enjoy. CONNOR



It's part party, part celebration as Declan McKenna triumphs at the Royal Albert Hall Royal Albert Hall, London. 2nd May 2022 PHOTOGRAPHY: Patrick Gunning.

→ EVER SINCE THOSE early days of ‘Brazil’ and ‘Paracetamol’, Declan McKenna has grabbed the world by the lapels and forced it to catch up. It may feel overblown to give out hyperbolic titles like “Voice Of A Generation”, but in Dec’s case, all the evidence suggests he’s just that for a feverish world of fans that continues to build and build. Taking his spot at London’s Royal Albert Hall as an opportunity to do something special, he’s invited a who’s who of friends and special guests to join him for a night that’s part wonderful house party, part jaw-dropping celebration. Met with deafening screams from the off, an opening run of ‘Daniel, You’re Still A Child’, ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’ and ‘Sagittarius A*’ sees Dec commanding the grand hall through singalongs and blistering hands-in-the-air release. Familiar favourites are given new life with fresh arrangements (‘Eventually, Darling’ and ‘Listen To Your Friends’ in particular stand bright) that only add to the sense of occasion. At every moment tonight, new faces jump on stage or swap instruments – all revolving and orbiting the world of Declan McKenna. It’s undeniable that he’s managed to step forward as a modernday creative force and also a beating heart that makes the Royal Albert Hall feel almost homely. The ridiculous scenes kick up a notch as his array of pals begin to take the stage – each adding their own distinct flair to proceedings. CMAT opens the door for Dec to air brand new tracks (alongside Josh McClorey and Anise) before spine-tingling duets on ‘Make Me Your Queen’ and ‘Emily’ (the former twisted into a

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campfire singalong with banjo in tow) stop the Royal Albert Hall in its tracks. After ‘Listen To Your Friends’, Georgia arrives to pour her own cocktail of feverish pop-club flavours onto ‘Rapture’ (turning its breakdowns into Daft Punkesque twisters) and ‘Isombard’, jumping across the stage and letting off a sense of fireworks on an evening already reaching dizzy heights. “We’re not done with surprises; I’m full of surprises,” cracks Dec, welcoming Alfie Templeman onstage with guitar hero swagger. ‘My House’ has Dec lead Alfie, Georgia and CMAT into another level of party, before ‘The Key To Life On Earth’ sees pandemonium erupt, welcomed like a national anthem. Boundless fizzing energy, searing social commentary and a sense of freedom feed through every note of Declan’s set tonight. Surrounded by a star-studded batch of mates, it feels like a natural home for an artist born to seize the opportunity to transform such an iconic venue into a special evening that may never be repeated. With the stage packed out for a grandstand finale cover of Bugsy Malone flick classic ‘You Give A Little Love’, the line that sticks out is “we could have been anything that we wanted to be”. Tonight proves Declan McKenna has done that and much, much more: the grand bow of everyone who’s turned out proves his standing as a modern genius. It’s an unforgettable evening that shows he’s not just here to have a good time – he’s here to take over. Let’s see if The Proms can follow that. JAMIE MUIR 61.

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Dua Lipa underlines her status as one of the most exciting, passionate and fearless popstars around The O2, London. 3rd May 2022 PHOTOGRAPHY: Frances Beach.

→ IT TAKES A special kind of popstar

to open with two of their biggest hits. But here we are, Dua Lipa‘s second sold-out show at London’s O2, and within the first ten minutes, she’s played both the bubbling ’80s anthem ‘Physical’ and her swaggering breakout banger ‘New Rules’. The energy inside the venue and on stage is incredible – Dua backed by a 10-piece dance troupe (all introduced during the show’s opening moments) while the crowd react with the ravenous excitement of a group of people who’ve been waiting almost two years for this. There’s a sense of making up for lost time as everyone involved throws themselves fully into this pop spectacle. And we’ll be honest, after that opening (all synchronised dance routines and shout-a-long lyrics), we need a bit of a breather. Dua, however, has no time to waste. What follows is 90 minutes of over-the-top pop extravagance soundtracked by a neverending stream of feisty, radio-friendly smashes. Speeches are kept to a minimum (though Dua does say tonight is a dream come true at least 5 times), and while the songs are massive and the production is grand, there’s still a friendly relatability between Dua and her crowd. No mean feat when at times you’re soaring over them in a sparkly platform that would make Muse jealous.

Despite all the polish, Dua’s personality shines through every aspect of this show. She waves a pride flag during the swaying ‘Cold Heart’, covers the crowd in glitter for ‘Levitating’ (which looks amazing, but hopefully no one has an important business meeting in the morning) and performs in front of a giant lobster for the swaying ‘We’re Good’. After dominating her support slot, Angèle returns to the stage for ‘Fever’, and the two look like they’re genuinely having the most fun. That glee is infectious. The energy never dips, but it somehow finds another level during a mashup of ‘One Kiss’ and ‘Electricity’ that looks like the coolest school disco around, complete with balloon drop. By the end of the tracks, Dua and her dancers are skipping in a circle, hand in hand. Dua Lipa’s come a long way from crying in her kitchen at the start of lockdown, worried about releasing an upbeat pop album like ‘Future Nostalgia’ during COVID. The album clearly means a lot to Dua, and that same level of care and respect is poured into the tour. Over the past few years, those songs have been a much-needed joyful escape from the crushing repetition (and occasional horror) of everyday life. Tonight is a celebration of that, as Dua Lipa underlines her status as one of the most exciting, passionate and fearless popstars around. ALI SHUTLER 63.


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Girl In Red is the real deal Roundhouse, London. 5th Mayl 2022 We all know that Girl In Red knows how to put on a show, but as time goes on those crowds get bigger and bigger. As she hit London's Roundhouse, she once again proved herself an artist who brings a sense of community and belonging wherever she goes. She's already announced a date at London's Brixton Academy next year - she's not done yet. PHOTOS: Patrick Gunning 65.

Any Other Questions? Ja Bev , Fo s 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 Jack Bevan from Foals would choose to be a domestic ferret, if he had to. WHAT DID YOU LAST DREAM ABOUT? Playing a gig where my drums were all plastic beach buckets. WHO WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MUSICIAN OR BAND WHEN YOU WERE 14? Lars Ulrich and Metallica. WHAT’S THE WEIRDEST THING YOU’VE EVER EATEN? Squid guts. WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY? Being at a railway museum. IF YOU COULD BRING SOMETHING EXTINCT BACK TO LIFE, WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE? A diplodocus. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE SMELL? Spring rain.



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PREVIOUSLY ADMITTED TO? Nunchuck possession. HOW PUNK ARE YOU OUT OF 10? 3. WHAT IS THE BEST PRESENT YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN? A sausage making machine by myself.




Foals' album 'Life Is Yours' is out 17th June.

the new album - out 15th july

pre-order now

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