Index Issue 55 | June 2021 | readdork.com | Down With Boring
Editor’s Letter Most magazines won’t give you a peek behind their luxurious curtains. They’ll be like swans, gliding on the shimmering surface - no indication of their stumpy little legs kicking below the waterline. Not us. We’re messy buggers. Truth be told, Holly Humberstone wasn’t originally supposed to be the cover star of this month’s Dork. We had something else lined-up - something big, that fell
through at the last minute due to that most glamorous of reasons, scheduling. But in that moment of panic, when we knew we needed to bring in someone exciting, fresh and very-very-US, our Hol was the perfect solution. With a new EP on the way, rumours have been circulating for a while about her forthcoming team up with The 1975’s Matty Healy (we’ve heard it, it’s obviously great). She’s ‘done’ US telly, makes
videos with grand, sweeping narratives and already notched her scorecard with an appearance in our start of the year Hype List. We always loved the super subs most anyway.
Ø4 Intro 22 Hype 34 Features 56 Incoming Ø6. Jade Bird With her new album ‘Different Kinds of Light’ just announced, Jade Bird has moved to Austin, Texas and embraced who she wants to be.
14. Dove Cameron Dove Cameron might be a legitimate actual celebrity but she’s also just dropped a Really Very Brilliant Indeed new top disco-pop bop, ‘LazyBaby’.
22. Alaina Castillo Introducing a 21-year-old pop sensation in waiting.
Critical acclaim, start of year hype lists, big US telly performances and superstar collaborations - Holly Humberstone is ticking off all the checkpoints on her route to the top. As her new EP approaches, she’s just trying to stay true to herself.
For a band who claim they don’t know what they’re doing, Easy Life sure seem like they’re on a charge.
They’re still loud, they’re still proud - but on their third album, Royal Blood are switching things up.
Arrogant? Stupid? Calling your new album ‘Greatest Hits’ certainly takes a bit of swagger.
A chance encounter, a desire for change - Rostam is mixing things up for the better.
readdork.com Editor Stephen Ackroyd Deputy Editor Victoria Sinden
Associate Editor Ali Shutler
Contributing Editors Jamie Muir, Martyn Young
Scribblers Aleksandra Brzezicka, Chris Taylor, Connor Fenton, Edie McQueen, Finlay Holden, Jake Hawkes, Jamie MacMillan, Jasleen Dhindsa, Jessica Goodman, Laura Freyaldenhoven, Liam Konemann, Neive McCarthy, Phoebe De Angelis, Steven Loftin Snappers Gadir Rajab, Henry Amman, Jason Stone, Jawn Rocha, Jordan Curtis Hughes, Katie Burdon, Mads Perch, Parri Thomas, Pooneh Ghana, Rosanna Jones, Sara Carpentieri, Sarah Louise Bennett, Tonje Thilesen, Wanda Martin, Zac Mahrouche
PUBLISHED FROM WELCOMETOTHEBUNKER.COM
26. Allison Ponthier With her first track ‘Cowboy’, Allison Ponthier announced herself as an icon in waiting,
5Ø. Bachelor Formed out of friendship, Jay Som’s Melina Duterte and Palehound’s Ellen Kempner have joined forces to form Bachelor. 52. Dayglow After a back-yard recorded debut that blew up, Sloan Struble’s Dayglow is back with a follow-up that’s only set to get bigger still.
UNIT 10, 23 GRANGE ROAD, HASTINGS, TN34 2RL
All material copyright (c). All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of The Bunker Publishing Ltd. Disclaimer: While every effort is made to ensure the information in this magazine is correct, changes can occur which affect the accuracy of copy, for which The Bunker Publishing Ltd holds no responsibility. The opinions of the contributors do not necessarily bear a relation to those of Dork or its staff and we disclaim liability for those impressions. Distributed nationally.
If leaving food out for hedgehogs, use plain kitten biscuits or a specialist hedgehog food (sold in garden centres), which helps to keep their teeth sharp and clean.
Stuff we’ve been sent this month from ‘the stars’ (or their lovely publicity teams, but let’s pretend etc. etc.) MAJOR LABEL BRANDED CHOCOLATE BARS!
Thanks, RCA. We took a photo as soon as this arrived, because quite obviously we’ve already demolished it. Everyone else where is our chocolate? Don’t bother pitching us before it arrives.
A ZINE-Y THING
We like a bit of creativity - you might have noticed - so this beautifully crafted, corner bound, heavyweight flip-zinewhatsit from Emie Nathan is right up our street. It’s got lovely illustrations and has quite clearly had a whole load of love and attention. Top marks.
Sinead O’Brien knows the way into our hearts. Sure, we might pretend it’s by dropping amazing new tracks and getting us all excited about music, but really - honestly - alcohol does the trick. Could have sent more than two cans, though. We’re greedy.
Intro THE BEATING HEART OF POP NEWS
After moving to Texas, Jade Bird is about to drop her second album. p6
Bloxx have managed to fit an entire career into one pandemic. With their debut album safely away, there’s a new EP coming too. p9
With a second album due before they’ve even been able to tour their first, Vistas are back. p10
The Aces have returned with a one off single that wears its heart on its sleeve. p13.
HE’S STILL STANDING
Last month, Elton John showed up alongside the magnificent Rina Sawayama on a new version of her certified bop ‘Chosen Family’. If Elton is back on the ‘featured artist’ circuit, we figured we should use the magic of Photoshop to work out which current act he’d best suit joining up with next. And, well... the evidence is conclusive.
Billie’s back! Back!! THE BIG STORY
And indeed BACK!!! With a brand new single, a forthcoming second album due this summer and a stunning new look, pop megastar Billie Eilish has returned!
hen it comes to the top of the pop tree, Dear Reader, it’d be pretty easy to make a convincing argument for placing Billie Eilish right up there. After her era-defining debut album, and a recent show stopping documentary film, she’s returned with a brand new track - ‘Your Power’ - and news of a forthcoming new album too. A raw, timeless-yet-timely offering, Billie talked to BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac about ‘Your Power’ as she gave it a first spin. “I think this was like mid-summer last year and we had just that line, ‘Try not to abuse your power’, with that melody and that’s it,” she explained. “It was just that one line. We were not planning on writing a song. We went from that melody and kind of took it from there. “It’s a big subject, it’s about a lot of different things, and sadly, it’s relatable for people. You know how shit that is that it’s relatable for people? I’m not going to make it about my experiences because hundreds of thousands and millions of people have experienced this every single day. It’s
THE DETAILS Album title: ‘Happier Than Ever’ Release date: 30th July 2021 Tracklisting: ‘Getting Older’ ‘I Didn’t Change My Number’ ‘Billie Bossa Nova’ ‘my future’ ‘Oxytocin’ ‘GOLDWING’ ‘Lost Cause’ ‘Halley’s Comet’ ‘Not My Responsibility’ ‘OverHeated’ ‘Everybody Dies’ ‘Your Power’ ‘NDA’ ‘Therefore I Am’ ‘Happier Than Ever’ ‘Male Fantasy’
◤ Billie on the cover of British Vogue. The reveal got over a million likes in six minutes on Instagram.
Lucy Dacus is back off boygenius duty with a brand new album, ‘Home Video’ It’s salad days of late for the solo efforts of the titanic trio that make up megagroup boygenius. Phoebe Bridgers has become one of the biggest names in alternative music, Julien Baker has delivered a standout new record, and now Lucy Dacus is back, back and-indeedback with a brand new album to complete the set. Her third full-length, ‘Home Video’ will arrive on 25th June via Matador. It’ll contain not only recent single ‘Thumbs’ - a fan favourite from live sets - but also new cut ‘Hot & Heavy’. “I thought I was writing ‘Hot & Heavy’ about an old friend,” Lucy explains, “but I realised along the way that it was just about me outgrowing past versions of myself. So much of life is submitting to change and saying goodbye even if you don’t want to. Now whenever I go to places that used to be significant to me, it feels like trespassing the past. I know that the teen version of me wouldn’t approve of me now, and that’s embarrassing and a little bit heartbreaking, even if I know intellectually that I like my life and who I am.” Those boygenius bandmates will both make an appearance on ‘Home Video’, contributing vocals on two songs for what could well be a career best for one of our very best storytellers. Check back for the Dork verdict next issue. P
everywhere you look. I hate it, and I wanted to say something,” The album - ‘Happier Than Ever’ - is set to arrive on 30th July, and features 16 tracks including singles ‘Therefore I Am’ and ‘My Future’. The record also sees Billie bringing in a brand new look, with blonde hair and a recent British Vogue cover shoot featuring corsets, latex and pin-up chic. Unveiling the new look on Instagram, she broke a record for likes, pulling in a million in six minutes. In the interview, she stated: “It’s about taking that power back, showing it off and not taking advantage with it. I’m not letting myself be owned anymore.” Too bloody right. P You can stream ‘Your Power’ on readdork.com and DSPs now. readdork.com 5.
POP ADMIN Following an influx of elligible tracks over recent months, we’re introducing a new efficiency measure. We’ll be switching from an opt-in to an opt-out system on (ft. Travis Barker). Starting next month, please only list if your new track is (not ft. Travis Barker). Thank you.
“EXTRA ROCK AUTHENTICITY AT REASONABLE RATES!”
Standon Calling has announced a batch of new acts for 2021’s festival. Taking place from 22nd-25th July at Standon Lordship, Hertfordshire, the bill will now feature Pale Waves, Griff, Mahalia, Georgia, Jake Bugg, Moses Boyd, Lava La Rue and more.
Twenty One Pilots have a new album out this month. It’s called ‘Scaled and Icy’, and drops on 21st May. They’re not letting us have a review copy soon enough to let us tell you if it’s any cop in this issue, but there are already a couple of tracks ‘out’ - ‘Shy Away’ and ‘Choker’.
A new hip-hop and rock festival is launching in London, ALT+LDN. Taking over Clapham Common on 30th August, the event will host sets from Playboi Carti (pictured), Machine Gun Kelly, Architects, The Kid Laroi, Princess Nokia, Bob Vylan and more.
Y Not Festival has confirmed acts including Bombay Bicycle Club, Blossoms Dream Wife, Holly Humberstone, Porridge Radio, Sundara Karma, Pale Waves (pictured), Fontaines D.C., Sorry, and Lauran Hibberd for this year’s event. It’s set to run from 30th July to 1st August. Fingers crossed!
“I had what I thought was my whole album, and then the pandemic hit...” With her new album ‘Different Kinds of Light’ just announced for an August release, Jade Bird has moved to Austin, Texas and embraced who she wants to be. We dropped her a line to find out more. Words: Laura Freyaldenhoven.
wo years after the release of her self-titled debut album - which features the introspective genius of tracks like ‘Ruins’, ‘Love Has All Been Done Before’ or ‘My Motto’ and singer-songwriter Jade Bird is announcing a new album, ‘Different Kinds Of Light’. From her new home in Austin, Texas, she speaks to Dork about moving across the pond, accepting love, and the kind of musician she hopes to be. Moving away from home for the first time is a big step. What made you move all the way to the US? I’ve always loved the US. There’s a bit more space just in general. My best friend, who was my videographer/ photographer for years since we were kids, was renewing a lease here, and we were desperate to move in with him. We just kind of thought while we’re young, I guess this is the type of
THE DETAILS Album title: ‘Different Kinds of Light’ Release date: August 2021 Tracklisting: TBA
thing you’re supposed to do: get on a plane to America and see how it goes!
IF YOU DON’T LIVE, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO WRITE ABOUT JADE BIRD
Did the big move influence your writing? The pandemic really influenced my writing. I had what I thought was my whole album, and then the pandemic hit, and I wanted to record it so desperately. But I had to quarantine in Mexico before recording in Nashville, and in that apartment, where we stayed for two weeks, I literally wrote half my album. It was something about the way it was such an alien situation and kind of an alien place even though it’s beautiful. I remember being in the apartment, and there were street musicians outside. You’d hear it every morning, and I just ended up writing the most unique to me, for me, stuff. It was so different, and I just loved everything I was putting out. So, what happened with the rest of the album, pre-Mexico? It’s interesting. I’ve been sat on this album for a really long time, and the reason I chose to do so is that I get the feeling it’s the best thing
I’ve done by a million miles and the best thing I will do for a little while. I’m that proud of it that I can sit on it for almost a year, or I will sit on it for a year before releasing it and still want to play it live. I didn’t scrap what I had; I kind of morphed it. It was supposed to be ten songs, turned into sixteen songs, and then we cut it down to fourteen. Working on the album for such a long time, did that help you find yourself and the sound you were going for? It was so essential. As a young artist, you often feel like you have to put out an album a year, and I was all for that, but it’s really interesting the fact that I was given six months more time than I would have had, and the fact that I then created this album that I’m so, so proud of. That six months allowed for six more songs that really are pushing the sound of this record. They are pushing it to a new place. It just feels like such a leap forward that I couldn’t have done if I didn’t have time to live and progress. Writing is like living. If you don’t live, you have nothing to write about. What do you write about when you’re stuck indoors for two weeks? For me, it was specific situations. There is this song on the record called ‘I’m Getting Lost’. It was horrific, in the UK, what happened to Sarah Everard, and this song is about my frustration. There is nothing I love more than a city at night. I find it so poetic because it feels so apocalyptic. When you go to Trafalgar Square at three in the morning, it’s the coolest thing ever; there’s no one there. But I was feeling so exasperated
that I can’t do it alone. I can’t go out alone, and I never could. I have to be chaperoned like we’re in the 18th century. ‘I’m Getting Lost’ is basically about falling out with somebody and feeling so trapped and so desperate that you just run the risk and you go and get a train in the middle of the night. I think it’s things like that. It’s the time you have to dwell on situations and feel sour about something… Also, love. What about love? This album is a lot to do with having a relationship that is defined by itself and not let it be defined by my past. Because my other relationships were fleeting, breaking up. My parents’ relationship, my grandparents’ relationship, they were all doomed. This album is about really walking into waters of like, “Okay, you’re still here. I still love you. What’s this all about then?” and the different ways you go through that. Did you know that you wanted this album to follow that specific concept when you started writing it? It kind of came to me. I really thought I was going to write this extroverted concept album. There were studio sessions with Linda Perry, I was really into the riot grrrl scene; it was really where I wanted to go. And then I wrote a few songs for that but more songs for this other thing. So, I thought, “Well, if I’m writing more songs for this other thing, I’m just going to let that carry me. If that’s fate deciding that’s where I’m going this time, then that’s where I’ll go this time.” Let’s talk about the album. What
Warpaint are back with a brand new single. It’s called ‘Lilys’ and featured on HBO show Made For Love. “This track started as an experiment,” they explain. “We were messing around with synth sounds and trying for something textural.” So there we go.
does the title ‘Different Kinds Of Light’ mean to you? We were on holiday in Japan after touring, and I only had this one piece. To me, it was a premonition because I had nothing else, and I was really struggling to create. I had just come off what felt like four years of touring, and I couldn’t write what I wanted to write, and I was getting so confused, but I had this ‘Different Kinds Of Light’. We redrafted it, me and my partner, and got so excited about it that we then flew over to do the writing session. The title ‘Different Kinds Of Light’ is kind of about the different phases of being in a relationship and accepting that I’m not my parents, and
if I’m not, then how do I make this work. This different shade of being in love primarily, in the none cringiest way possible. Another important song on the album is ‘Houdini’, which is often classed as a breakup song, but it’s a little more than that, isn’t it? It’s actually about male figures and abandonment from being young. My Dad was in the army, parents divorced… I had another male figure who left and shattered my heart into a million pieces. ‘Houdini’ is about that and, to me, it felt a little bit trivial to assume that –due to probably my gender and
Original B-Towners JAWS are going to release a limited edition photobook on 28th May, shot by close friend Peter Lally during their 2019 winter tour. “We’re all really happy with how the book has turned out,” frontman Connor says. You’d hope so, too.
my age– it’s just a break-up song. If you took a minute to look at the things I’m talking about, I’m not breaking up with anybody. ‘Houdini’ was closure on the past to start a new phase. I wrote that song, closed the door on it, and started to write about my present. Are you more proud of this album than ‘Jade Bird’? The first record, I think I was very young. I couldn’t quite get where I wanted to be with it. But equally, I don’t sit there and lose sleep over it. I’m glad I moved through it. I’m glad I released it. For the small group of fans I had, it’s become quite important to
people’s life, and that’s kind of magical. I am proud of it in a way, but this second record is so much closer to how I want to be seen and how I want to play live, and my songwriting heights I want to reach. That’s so important to me. I can’t even explain how seriously I take that craft, how good I want to get, and there are some glimpses on this record that are really exciting to me.
Where do you want to be? What’s the dream? I think the musician I want to be is… I want a catalogue of work that I look back on and feel there was some sort of unique sound I got to. The thing I love about PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, even Alanis, I look at their catalogue and think, “You really tapped into something there. You really tapped into something new.” Especially Tori Amos. I listen to her and wonder how was this album missed in a critical way? I just want, like I think any artist, a catalogue of work that represents me and that I’m proud of. When you’re young, you want to take over the world, but you shortly realise – when you become a little bit less arrogant– no, I actually just want to do my craft and be proud of that. Jade Bird’s album ‘Different Kinds Of Light’ is out later this year.
HOT-OR-INDEED-NOT? IT’S TIME TO DUST OFF DORK’S PATENTED
BUZZ CHART Willow rocks!
Sorry, what? Willow Smith is now... rock? Yup - with her new single ‘t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l’ (the spaces are important, guys - Ed), she’s teamed up with blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and gone all pop punk on us. And it’s great too. Amazing.
End of the Road switches up their line-up
While some festivals (see 2000trees below) have been forced to cancel due to bands being unable to travel thanks to the pandemic, others - like End Of The Road - are being creative. With the likes of Bright Eyes, Pixies Big Thief and Perfume Genius out, they’ve replaced them with Hot Chip, Sleaford Mods, Stereolab and ‘more’. It takes place between 2nd and 5th September at Lamer Tree Gardens, and though already sold out a limited number of late tickets will be put on sale on 20th May.
2000trees is off
One of the most important dates on UK rock’s calendar, 2000trees have postponed this summer’s festival to 2022. The event will now take place from 7th-9th July next year at Upcote Farm, near Cheltenham. It’s due to COVID-19, and the likelihood of bands - including headliners Jimmy Eat World - being able to travel to the event. Boo, COVID, and the government refusing to provide any kind of backing to an insurance scheme that would allow events like these to have the best chance of actually happening.
B U Z Z - O - M E T E R
Tell us more! I always thought, to be a great writer, you have to be able to write about other people. It’s fine writing this album that’s really introverted and me trying to work out myself, or my family, and my childhood - this weird trauma album. But the second one, there are some stories in it about people. There’s this one about this war veteran that my partner went to see to buy a guitar off him. He flew over to Virginia and got into a car with him and found out that there was severe PTSD going on, to the point where he was hallucinating as he was driving. He was telling me all this on the phone, and all got a bit crazy. I went back and wrote ‘Red White and Blue’, and I’m just so proud of it because it feels like such an examination of a character. It’s moments like that where I can tell that I’m getting closer to where I want to be.
Caroline Polachek has announced a mini-tour. The three-night run will see her perform at The Greek Theatre in LA on 5th August, the Roundhouse in London on 28th October, and Terminal 5 in New York on 2nd December. No news on if there’ll be new material yet, but keep yer eyes peeled...
LORDEWATCH! IS LORDE BACK-BACKBACK YET? Nope. HAS LORDE POSTED ABOUT ONION RINGS THIS MONTH? Yep.
Photo: Parri Thomas.
we thinks good. I think me and Rich found a working sound together over lockdown, as he produced it and I helped with co-prod slightly. I think it’s sort of cohesive indie-pop. Which kind of helps the theme of the EP.
Building Bloxx With a new EP Bloxx are following-up on last year’s debut album with their best foot forward. Words: Stephen Ackroyd.
hese are weird times, Dear Reader. Culture on pause, whole sections of the infrastructure that surrounds a band stalled for over a year now. For some, it’s been relatively simple - they’ve just hunkered down and waited for it to pass over. Take Bloxx. Last year was always going to be the one for their debut album. They’d been building up to it for a while. A pandemic didn’t change the fact that it had to come out - even if the band couldn’t play it live, tour it properly or take it to festivals. So while ‘Lie Out Loud’ might have had a great response from fans, in many ways it’s an unfinished story, and time doesn’t stand still. That creative urge still needs itching which is why, before they’ve even been able to close that chapter, the band are back with a brand new EP. Due to land this August, we called up Fee from the band to find out just how strange it’s been. Hey Fee, how’s it going? What are you up to today? Hey! Not bad at all! Just writing and
taking it easy this week!
So, a new EP huh? What can you tell us about this one? Well this is purely a lockdown, home studio adventure that me and producer Rich Turvey did over the course of a few months. It was interesting because this is sort of the first time we’re releasing something we haven’t played out yet! It’s quite a tongue in cheek EP about the trials of life, it’s about pop culture, and the things that we as humans experience day to day in this modern era! There’s a song I wrote on there called “Emily” which is about the trials of addiction and that’s another thing we’ve all had to deal with at some point or another.
Given you dropped the album in the middle of a pandemic, you’ve not been able to really play it live properly yet. Is it weird to go into this as a band pre-debut and be coming out the other side already moving on to the next thing? Yeah it’s so strange. That album basically never saw the light of day, and some of it might not ever because it’s been so long since the drop, and new things are happening that it makes the set list even harder to comprise! It takes a good few shows to feel like the new songs are going down well with fans, so it’s strange to not have experienced that yet! How does that influence the choices you’re making with new material now, given you’ve really only been able to see the fan reaction remotely?
EP title: As yet untitled, apparently Release date: 20th August 2021
We’ve just had to keep moving. There’s only so much you can do as a band through lockdown. I made a conscious decision to try to carry on just writing how I used to write, and how we used to play it out in rehearsals. It definitely allowed us to be a bit more serious with our topics, and themes. Especially with ‘Everything I’ve Ever Learned’ and ‘Emily’ because they were things that really came to light in lockdown!
THERE’S ONLY SO MUCH YOU CAN DO AS A BAND THROUGH LOCKDOWN FEE BOOTH On the strength of ‘Everything I’ve Ever Learned’, it feels like you’re really embracing those pop urges on this one. Obviously they’ve always been a part of Bloxx’s sound, but is this a new ‘era’ for the band, or more a case of trying things on for size? I always thought we were channelling a bit more of our guitars this time but in a poppy way. We’ve never been afraid to just write what we feel like writing, and release what
Any other musical influences currently floating your boat creatively? We saw you tweet about country hits. Are Bloxx about to start arriving to shows on horseback? I’ve been doing a few writing sessions, that err on the side of pop and things that won’t necessarily be for BLOXX so sometimes I do get influenced by that I guess. But I’m still listening to the same sort of thing, The Band Camino and PVRIS being my latest sort of sonic influences. Country in the form of Kasey Musgraves is the only acceptable answer here. And horseback would be cool, I’ll talk to the label. Presumably a lot of that time you would have spent touring has gone into writing. Is there more new stuff in the banks already? Yes, it’s been a long year but you know. There was a time where I thought I had the second record ready. Maybe we still do, but we want to save some of the tunes for now The ‘Everything I’ve Ever Learned’ video saw you going back to college. That’s got to feel a bit weird? Be honest, were you just trying to flex being a big pop star now at your old teachers? No judgement. It was great, because that song meant a lot to me last year, getting through lockdown with an eating disorder and addictions was nearing impossible but this song got me through it when we wrote it, so we really wanted to take its sentimental value to the next level, go back to where Bloxx started and really make it personal. I think it was quite an emotional day in some ways for me and Taz. The EP is dropping right before Reading & Leeds. Fingers crossed that everything goes to plan - that’s going to be pretty nuts. It seems pointless to ask such a stupidly obvious question, but how excited are you to get back to it? I can’t tell you how much we just NEED to get back to it. Excitement, anticipation, pure fiending for it. And there’s more live stuff to follow before the end of the year too. After a year with so much new stuff, that’s going to be the payoff, right? Hopefully! We’re hoping these tunes resonate with everyone and anyone live and at home. P
Porridge Radio (pictured), Jarv Is and Tricky are heading up next year’s Rockaway Beach. The event will take over Butlins in Bognor Regis from 7th-9th January, with film screenings, artist Q&As, pub quizzes, listening parties, bowling, and arcade games.
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes have dropped a new single. ‘My Town’ – a metaphor for “our collective mental health falling apart”, Frank explains – is a collaboration with IDLES’ Joe Talbot, and marks the band’s first new music in over a year.
AJ Tracey (pictured) and Megan Thee Stallion are among several new names for Wireless. Also on the bill – which runs from 10th-12th September at South London’s Crystal Palace Park for the first time – are headliners Future, Skepta (performing a greatest hits set) and Migos.
What were you hoping to find? Vistas went into a pandemic building up to their debut album. They’re going to come out the other side with its follow up already out. For a band who thrive in the live arena, the future looks very rosy indeed. Words: Stephen Ackroyd.
or some bands, live shows are more important than others. It’s not to say shiny, pop-centred solo projects don’t need to perform - quite the opposite - but for those good old fashioned guitar bands, a life without sticky floors, dark corners and the dubious smells of a rusty van is no life at all. Vistas are one of those bands. When gigs stopped last March, they were a band building up to the release of their debut full-length - all potential and promise. By the time they get back on the road later this year, they’ll have released that difficult second album. In case it needed stating - that’s not normal. Yet, despite everything going against them, the forthcoming ‘What Were You Hoping To Find?’ is a level up for the Scottish three piece, already sounding packed with future indie anthems before it’s even arrived. It turns out even the darkest times can bring good things. We
THE DETAILS Album title: ‘What Were You Hoping To Find?’ Release date: 20th August 2021 Tracklisting: ‘What Were You Hoping To Find?’ ‘Start Again’ ‘Dayglow’ ‘Young Forever’ ‘Stuck In Your Head’ ‘Brand New’ ‘Feels Like Falling’ ‘Upside’ ‘This Information’ ‘Tied Up’ ‘Some Are Not Meant To Belong’ ‘The Love You Leave Behind’
called up frontman Prentice to find out what to expect. Hey Prentice, how’s it going? What are you up to today? Hello! I’m all good, just about to take my dog out on a wee walk after this.
I THINK WE ALL FOUND THIS RECORD MUCH EASIER TO GET THROUGH THAN THE DEBUT PRENTICE ROBERTSON
We didn’t expect to have another album from you so quickly. That’s impressive going. Is this a case of pandemic-sponsored unexpected free time put to good use? There’s definitely some influence from the unexpected downtime that this second record is coming around so quickly. But, it was always our plan to not wait around too long in getting another record out into the world. So I guess the pandemic probably nudged that forward by giving us time to focus more on writing. It’s also difficult for bands to do much else than write, record and release music during this period of time and we wanted people to have some new tunes to look forward to when we eventually get back to gigging safely. We all know the ‘difficult second album’ trope - but that’s got to be made even more awkward when you’re writing and recording it during such ‘unprecedented times’.
How much of a challenge was that? To be totally honest I think we all found this record much easier to get together than the debut. As I was saying, we had a lot more time to write so we just got lots of tunes together that we could pick from. Overall I think having gone through the album process before, we knew the motions and felt much more assured in what we needed to do to end up with a body of work we’d be happy with. It also gave us something to look forward to in what was a pretty mad year and with each successive song that was written it made us more excited to get back in the studio and put down the record. It’s been such an introspective and uncertain period generally for everyone - did that help drive the way the songs went? Definitely. Pretty much all the songs on this album are about uncertainty and looking for an answer within that uncertainty and that was of course influenced by the period of time it was written in. It’s called ‘What Were You Hoping To Find?’ - that’s a big question. Did writing the record help find any answers? I hope so anyway. I definitely feel a great deal more grounded and secure now than at the beginning of 2020. I maybe didn’t come up with answers, but songwriting is a great way to directly put down how you feel about something, and recognising and then exploring something you’re concerned about is a great way to get a grasp on it and hopefully move past it. How’s the reaction to ‘Stuck In Your Head’ been so far? It’s been really great! It’s always nervewracking putting out a new tune but we’re so grateful for the people who listen to our tunes and support us so we just want to do right by them. Off the few listens we’ve had so far,
the songs already feel like they’re proper indie classics. Presumably you’ve got quite high hopes? We are all dead proud of this record and think it’s the best stuff we’ve recorded yet, so yeah we really hope people like it. The Snuts just got a Number 1. Fancy a good old fashioned chart battle yourself? You don’t have to be modest here. Haha, not really. We try not to think about that side of things too much. Just excited for folk to hear it really Given you dropped your debut in May of last year, and this new one is coming out in August, you’re basically going to have both out without having been able to properly tour either. That’s pretty unique. You’ve got to be eager to get them out on the road now? We are absolutely desperate to get back out touring again. It took a while to adjust to not having gigs in the diary so now that things are picking back up again we’re raring to go. Trickiest thing is going to picking a setlist. When gigs are properly back we’ll have two albums out plus all the songs we released before the debut so whittling that down for a 30 min festival set is going to be tough. Do you have a decent impression about how fan reaction has been so far with ‘Everything Changes In The End’? Live has always been such a big part of your story, does the digital chatter give you any idea about what’s going to go off? From the digital side you can get a good idea about what some of the big hitters are but it is really hard to judge what tunes will go down live. For our headline shows it’ll be nice to have the opportunity to swap tunes out gig to gig which we’ve never tried before. I will say though, from what we’ve got planned at the moment its going to be a pretty much and all killer no filler setlist from start to finish. P readdork.com 11.
Liverpool’s Sound City has announced loads more acts for its rescheduled 2021 edition. Now set to take place between 1st and 3rd October, the line-up will include the likes of Beabadoobee, Baby Queen, Pixey, Gracey, Lapsley, Beaux, Molly Payton, Sad Boys Club and loads more.
Nova Twins have announced a new UK tour. News of the 2022 run arrives alongside a Dream Wife remix of their track ‘Bullet‘, which is taken from their debut album ‘Who Are The Girls’. You can find all the dates for February and March of next year on readdork.com now.
Will Joseph Cook has released a new EP, ‘Something To Feel Good About (Naked)’. The somewhat optimisticallytitled release featured acoustic renditions of his tracks ‘Something To Feel Good About’, ‘Be Around Me’ and ‘DOWNDOWNDOWN!’.
Hey, Dork. If you were putting together a crew to complete the heist in the film Ocean’s 11 , which musicians would you recruit? I t’s tough, being a musician. Oh sure, from the outside it looks like it’s all Brit awards, champagne and sold out shows at Wembley, but here at Dork, we know better. For every big album release payday, there’s months of scraping by on cans of Red Stripe and discarded McDonald’s hamburgers. With that in mind, we’ve decided to give a little something back to the indie music community. How, we hear you cry? By lining all of our pockets with a daring heist, of course. The only slight issue is that none of us here at Dork HQ have actually planned a heist before. For research, we sat down to watch the best early-2000s crime caper ever committed to film – Ocean’s 11. Our takeaway was that no grand casino robbery is possible unless you call in old favours, work your contacts and put together the ultimate team of skilled criminals. Unfortunately, we don’t know any skilled criminals. What we do know is bands, and lots of ‘em. So without further adieu, here’s Dork’s handpicked casino robbing squad, destined to save the finances of the indie music scene or die trying.
glitz of Las Vegas, but also knew their way around a pack of cards. We couldn’t think of anyone who knew card tricks, so we’ve gone with Lorde, because she always wins at poker with her ‘Royals’ flush. Geddit? (We’re not printing that – Ed.)
SYD MINSKY-SARGEANT IS... LIVINGSTON DELL The tech whiz who can hack anything by typing randomly on a computer while unintelligible text scrolls across the screen – it’s got to be Syd Minsky-Sargeant from Working Men’s Club. Not that we’ve ever seen him use a computer, but have you heard that megamix he did? It must’ve involved a laptop or two.
OLIVIA RODRIGO IS... THE MALLOY BROTHERS (YES, BOTH OF THEM)
◤ Does anyone know where you can get Photoshop lessons? No reason - Ed.
ALEX RICE IS... DANNY OCEAN Danny’s the frontman of the operation. The charisma, the big picture man able to smooth talk himself into (or out of) any situation he wants. Played by Clooney in the film, anyone we get is going to be a major disappointment. With that in mind, we’ve gone with everyone’s favourite Mick Jagger impersonator – it’s Sports Team’s Alex Rice.
ROB KNAGGS IS... RUSTY RYAN Brad Pitt’s role. Rusty is Ocean’s right-hand man, the details to his big picture thinking. Who better to keep Ricey on the straight and narrow than the current righthand man of Sports Team, the bespectacled Rob Knaggs? No one,
COURTING ARE... LINUS CALDWELL The skilled pickpocket of the gang, who can con anyone or anything. Managing to pickpocket Sports Team’s sound while still throwing out one of the best EPs of the year so far has got to be some sort of con and/or deal with the devil, so for that reason, we’re giving this one to Courting.
LEWIS CAPALDI IS... REUBEN TISHKOFF The money man. This one was tough, but out of all the former Dork cover stars, we reckon Lewis
Capaldi is the one most likely to have a few million quid knocking about. Plus, it does feel like he might be up for a casino heist, doesn’t it?
GERARD WAY IS... SAUL BLOOM The old pro brought out of retirement for one more job. Saul’s speciality is acting and disguise, which is why we’re bringing the legendary Gerard Way out of the shadows and into the casino for this one.
TOM JONES IS... BASHER TARR The explosives expert. You don’t
want an amateur dealing with munitions, so this one had to go to someone experienced in dealing not only with bangers, but also with bombs – sex bombs, to be precise. Yes, of course we’re bringing in Dork favourite, Tom Jones! What do you mean we’ve literally never mentioned him in the magazine before? We’re sure he’s in there somewhere...
LORDE IS... FRANK CATTON The person on the inside, who knows the casino like the back of their hand. This one couldn’t be someone from the world of indie. We needed someone glamorous, who could blend in amongst the
The drivers of the operation. There’s only one pop star who we’re 100% sure has a Driver’s License, and that’s Olivia Rodrigo. She also recently got a parking ticket, which means she’s already dipping a toe in the seedy criminal underworld, so won’t have any qualms about casino robbery. Right?
FKA TWIGS IS... THE AMAZING YEN No crew is complete without an acrobatic circus performer who can get places that others can’t. Unfortunately, indie is not a world graced by many athletes, so this one was pretty tough. Luckily FKA Twigs has come to the rescue. Not only a brilliant musician, she’s also an accomplished dancer and acrobat – although no word on whether she’s ever hidden herself in a money cart in order to blow open the doors of a casino vault before. Crack team assembled, we’re off to save the music industry and finally make enough money that we don’t have to write this magazine each month. See you all in Vegas? P JAKE HAWKES
* Dork is in no way suggesting these musicians have, or would ever break the law. A couple may have a few ‘criminal records’ though.
TWEETS OF THE MONTH What have ‘the bands’ been saying ‘online’ this month? ”Special place in hell for people who use full NATO phonetic alphabet in the Argos click n collect queue.” Fred MacPherson, Spector (@fredmacpherson) Alpha, Omega-Kilo, Fred.
“The societal idea of mental illness is still so behind”
The Aces are back with a one-off single that wears its heart on its sleeve.
personal song for Cristal but a necessary one. Catching up with Cristal, Katie, McKenna and Alisa over Zoom, we chat about ‘Don’t Freak’, their year in quarantine, and their journey to self-actualising as a band (plus a lil’ about their new starring role).
Words: Abigail Firth.
Cristal: This single is a really personal one, it’s super personal to my experience specifically, and I know Ken also struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. Alisa and I wrote this song in the studio, and it was originally called ‘Don’t Speak’, which was about a casual hookup. We loved the melodies, but we both were just like, that doesn’t feel like a necessary story to tell; it isn’t super authentic to us. But then Alisa was texting me, she was like, ‘What if we made it about your anxiety and your panic attacks?’, because that’s something I’ve been really struggling with, in the quarantine specifically, having really severe panic attacks. She’s like, ‘You’ve been going through so much right now with that, and I’m sure so many people have as well’. So I started thinking. I was like, ‘Don’t speak?’… ‘Don’t freak!’ The
eturning after the release of their second album ‘Under My Influence’, The Aces are back with a new bop. On ‘Don’t Freak’, lead vocalist Cristal gets real about her experience with anxiety and panic attacks, both heightening over the past year. Their first release of 2021, it’s a track that builds on their already summery sound into a 1975-style banger, complete with a big gospel chorus at the end. While 2020 might have left many bands feeling unmotivated – and The Aces are no exception – the girls used the second half of the year to refine their sound and identity as a group, creating one of their strongest singles yet. Released right at the start of Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s a particularly
Hi! What can you tell us about this new single?
societal idea of mental illness is still so behind, and there’s no patience for people who struggle with their mental health; it’s very much, just don’t. Why are you anxious? Just don’t be, you know? Anyone who struggles with it knows how difficult it is and how it’s not something you can control; it’s something you have to learn to manage, and it can feel really humiliating and shameful when people are kind of just like, oh just get it together. There’s a lot of judgment, still, I think, on individuals who struggle with their mental health. We need to be talking more, not only spreading awareness about mental health as a thing, but talking about how we treat people with mental illness and mental health issues, because we have a long way to go with that.
Cristal: It was minorly intentional once we realised that we were like, yo, that’s really cool. We need to make that known and feed into that because it’s really important.
So this track coincides with Mental Health Awareness Month – was the release of it then intentional?
McKenna: It just worked out that way. We figured out after that it’s the same month. That’s awesome. That’s perfect. Katie: It was destined to be a part of that month, but originally we didn’t know when this new music was gonna come out, but I think it’s definitely the right time for it.
IT FEELS REALLY EXCITING TO PUT OUT SOMETHING WE ONLY CREATED RECENTLY Have you had the track a while then? Alisa: Actually, this is a really new track. I was just talking with Cristal about this the other day; it feels really exciting to put something out that we only created recently. Normally when you’re releasing songs, they’ve been in your
”when i was 12 i decided to become a guinea pig breeder and my mum made me an apron with guinea pigs on and i used to put it on and weigh each guinea baby to see if they were putting on weight n eating well :// i miss that ://” Abbie Ozard (@AbbieOzard) If Abbie doesn’t have guinea pig aprons as official merch by the time shows are properly back, we riot.
”hot girl summer implies the existence of cold bitch winter” Phoebe Bridgers (@phoebe_bridgers) We’ve mostly been enjoying Tepid Lass Spring, if we’re honest.
Dropbox or wherever for almost a year before you get to put them out into the world. And we wrote ‘Don’t Freak’, I want to say beginning of February? So it’s only existed for two months, which feels really nice. It’s still such a fresh new song to us as creators and artists; it feels really fun to still be so excited about it and getting to put it out to the fans, too, while it’s so fresh on our minds. Is there more stuff to come? Cristal: We can’t say what. We’ve finished a wavelength that is just fucking sick. It’s so real to who we are. I feel like we connected back to our core roots of the band we’ve been since we were tweens and teenagers, but in an elevated adult way. It just feels really real. So there is more music than just this song. There are no dates, and there are no names or anything. But yes, we have a lot of new music that we’re so excited about. Anything else we need to know? Cristal: Well, we are on a new show on Hulu called Exposure, and you can see some performances in there if you tune in. P The Aces’ single ‘Don’t Freak’ is out now. readdork.com 13.
CloseUp Festival 2021 has confirmed for September. The event was meant to take place in May, but had to be put back due to Covid-19. Playing will be whenyoung, Sad Boys Club, VALERAS, The Hubbards, PYNCH and loads more.
Barn on the Farm Festival have cancelled 2021’s event. It’ll now next take place between 30th June and 2nd July 2022. Uncertainty over government guidelines and a lack of backed cancellation insurance are behind the decision.
Dork fave Lava La Rue has announced an actual live show. Taking place on 19th Augustthe London date will take place at Village Underground. “You have no idea how much I wanna get all of us in a room and just dance till the soles of our shoes fall off,” she says.
“You don’t realise how closely people are watching you” Genuinely famous person alert! Dove Cameron might be a legitimate actual celebrity but she’s also just dropped a Really Very Brilliant Indeed new top disco-pop bop, ‘LazyBaby’. Time for a Dork catchup, then! Words: Jessica Goodman.
y favourite thing is when someone goes, ‘I have no idea who the fuck Dove Cameron is, but I love this song’.” You might recognise her from playing both of the titular characters in Disney Channel series Liv and Maddie. You might recognise her from her role as the daughter of Maleficent and Hades in the Descendants film series. You might even recognise her from being cast as Bubbles in the CW’s currently-filming live-action reboot of Powerpuff Girls. Talking from Atlanta on a sunny Saturday afternoon, one thing quickly becomes clear: with the release of her latest single ‘LazyBaby’, we’re being introduced to Dove Cameron as we’ve never seen – or heard –
her before. “I remember when I was like 14, when I knew I wanted to really do my own music on a large scale, I would say to music producers, ‘all I give a shit about is that it’s anthemic’,” Dove recalls. “I really kind of forgot that was true for me for a long time.” If we were to describe latest single ‘LazyBaby’ in one word, that’d be it: anthemic. With its buoyant melodies and catchy chorus refrains, the song is perfect fodder for hairbrush karaoke at its most empowering. Boasting out-and-out pop hooks and a shimmering sarcastic charm, this is Dove Cameron at her best. It’s also Dove Cameron at her most quintessentially herself. “I’ve been really afraid of my public image for a long time because it was created with so little intention on my part,” she explains. Landing leading roles on a prolific network in your mid-teens is an impressive feat by any measure, and performing under shining set lights is an adventure all of its own – it just doesn’t leave much time for figuring out who you want to be outside of the work. “They never asked me to change myself,” Dove reasons. “I just knew what was expected.” “The problem is that when you’re making those choices when you’re 15 years old, the world is watching, and they’re gathering information about who you are,” she continues. “You don’t realise how closely people are watching you because you’re just you.” Being herself is something it’s taken a while for her to settle into. Now she tweets words of gratitude and pearls of wisdom almost daily. Her social media accounts are
beacons of positivity, poetry, and self-acceptance. And when it comes to songwriting, Dove is more creative than she’s ever been. “My notes app has never been more poppin’!” she laughs. “I feel like I’m having a bit of a renaissance, both in my creative, personal, and professional life.” Whether it’s the more intimate, almost journal-esque inspirations found in her day-to-day life (“usually lying on the floor, I may be crying,” she grins), or working with producers to build a song and its sound from the ground up, Dove is in her creative element – and it started with ‘LazyBaby’.
I’M AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH. I’VE NEVER LOVED MYSELF MORE DOVE CAMERON Written toward the tail-end of 2020 into the start of this year, ‘LazyBaby’ is an ode to discovering and owning who you are in the wake of the end of a long-term relationship. “When you have a heartbreak, it rocks you so much that you’re not functioning,” Dove reflects. “I had no answers, and I was just losing my mind.” Born out of heartache and uncertainty, the resulting song is – in Dove’s own words – “not a breakup song. It’s a breakthrough song.”
Learning who she was outside of her relationships and away from her public persona gave her a new lease of life. “When the breakup happened, and I really lost myself and had to redefine myself, I decided I didn’t really care if people received me fully as I was,” she reflects. “It was just much more important to me that I was self-expressed in an honest way where I am now.” The result is music with as much attitude as it has aptitude, songs that are charismatic and contagious in equal measure. “Music has always been an answer for me. It’s always done more for me than anything else,” Dove portrays. “There’s no amount of therapy or caffeine or speaking to friends or reading books or anything that could do more for me than the right song can.” And that’s exactly what ‘LazyBaby’ was: the right song, one that helped her grow from where she was to the place she needed to be. “I think music does a really good job at cutting through all the bullshit and getting to the core of people,” she grins. Really, that’s all she wants to do. With videos of ‘LazyBaby’ dance routines, makeup transformations, memes and more filling up TikTok, connecting with the core of people is exactly what Dove is doing. “To see people make it their own is so special to me because it makes me feel less alone,” she enthuses. “It’s not like me, and then the fans as this faceless mass. It’s me and this girl who needed this song,” she continues. “It makes me feel like – and this is going to sound really broad and maybe a little bit heavy, but I mean it really lightly and purely and positively
– it makes me feel like I am not a total freak.” And this is just the beginning. As she talks, Dove repeatedly enthuses over her newfound creative renaissance. “Every release, I find more of myself, and I’m very pleased that the public seems to kind of be coming along with me on that,” she grins. “I definitely am at an all-time high. I’ve never loved myself more.” Preaching empowerment and positivity, her creative energy is at an all-time high – and the wave she’s riding doesn’t show any signs of cresting any time soon. She’s playing Buttercup in the CW’s Powerpuff. She was recently cast in an HBO adaptation of Field Notes On Love. She’s collaborated with REZZ, and the pair have a new song on the way (“It blows my mind. It’s one of my favourite songs I’ve ever released, ever, ever, ever, ever”). She’s been writing with Upsahl (“one of my favourite artists”), and has more new material to come. To put it simply: Dove Cameron is living her best life right now. While she remains tightlipped about what her new music has in store, she’s quick to enthuse about what she hopes it’ll achieve. “I hope that my music makes people feel more themselves,” she expresses. “I hope that it helps you feel specific to you, more emboldened, more on fire, more sure of yourself, more in your body, more self-expressed, more alive... I just hope that my music speaks to you in a way that makes you feel more human, and more comfortable being whatever that means to you.” P Dove Cameron’s single ‘LazyBaby’ is out now.
5 BEST DOWN WITH BORING MOMENTS SO FAR Walt Disco at Zumba class (episode 24)
Steen from Shame’s incredibly long story about the Godfather (epsiode 34)
Everything about Lynks’ appearance (episode 36)
Everything about Baby Queen’s appearance (episode 40)
Courting’s predictions of who would win the grand national (episode 45)
Down With Boring.
Wash off with Foals!
MONDAY, 8PM BST READDORK.COM/RADIO AVAILABLE VIA PODCAST SEARCH ‘DORKCAST’
Dear Reader, we have a problem. ◤ Our first ever guest, Alfie Templeman is back for our first birthday special.
Happy Birthday, Down With Boring This month, our weekly radioshow-slashpodcast Down With Boring turns one year old. We’re celebrating with a special weekend and the return of our first ever guest!
t’s been a year since - mid pandemic - your good mates at Dork (that’s us - Ed) managed to fulfil every cliché and ‘accidentally’ start a podcast, Down With Boring. Since then we’ve had a whole parade of
Friends of the Magazine pass through our virtual doors to chat to Jake, Jamie and our revolving cast of supporting ‘characters’ - so to celebrate, we’re bringing them all back. Leading up to our special first birthday edition - premiered at 8pm BST via Dork Radio on Monday 17th May - we’ll be replaying every interview from the last year. Kicking off with former cover star Alfie Templeman at 9am on Saturday, 15th May, there’ll be a different featured act every hour up until the main event. And to make it special, Alfie will be returning for the landmark show, proving he didn’t actually take out a restraining order after the last time. Good to know. You can check out the full schedule to the right, and help yourself to cake. P Listen every Monday at 8pm on Dork Radio, or grab the podcast by searching DorkCast on your platform of choice
Schedule Here’s who you can hear, and when, across Down With Boring’s birthday weekend. SATURDAY 15TH MAY
9:00 Alfie Templeman 10:00 Matt Maltese 11:00 Sea Girls 12:00 Bloxx 13:00 Circa Waves 14:00 Oscar Lang 15:00 Porridge Radio 16:00 Will Joseph Cook 17:00 Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard 18:00 Lauran Hibberd 19:00 Walt Disco 20:00 APRE
SUNDAY 16TH MAY 9:00 Spector 10:00 You Me At Six 11:00 Shame 12:00 Goat Girl
13:00 Lynks 14:00 Sports Team 15:00 Tom Grennan 16:00 Black Honey 17:00 Baby Queen 18:00 Abbie Ozard 19:00 Do Nothing 20:00 Claud
Dork is an online shop-aholic. It’s not clothes, shoes or fancy jewellery that grabs our attention; it’s nonsense merch from our favourite bands. You may recall recently Foals launched their own range of soap. Obviously, we bought a bar, and now we have to think of something to do with it that makes it a legitimate business expense. That - and the goodness of our pop hearts - is why we’re giving you the opportunity to win said salt of a fatty acid for your own collection. Smell nice! Be more indie! Help us justify our weird addiction! If you want to win it, just drop us an quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org titled ‘On The Loofah’, and tell us which pop star you think probably smells the nicest and why. Yep, perfectly normal, us.
MONDAY 17TH MAY
13:00 Pixey 14:00 Courting 15:00 TV Priest 16:00 Coach Party 17:00 Feet 18:00 Waterparks 19:00 Chloe Moriondo 20:00 Down With Boring 1st Birthday Special w/ Alfie Templeman ◤ Foals. Soap stars.
Truck Festival has confirmed this year’s line-up. The event will take place from 22nd-25th July, with acts including Bombay Bicycle Club, Royal Blood, Little Simz, Sports Team, Alfie Templeman, Sorry, Shame, Squid, Phoebe Green, IDLES, Fontaines D.C, The Big Moon and ‘more’.
IDER have confirmed they’re soon going to release a new album, ‘shame’. Recorded in Berlin, they explain: “We had three weeks of heaven where we wrote so much new music and it was everything we dreamed of, living that chaotic, no-routine lifestyle.”
Marina has announced her new album ‘Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land’. Her self-penned fifth record is set for release on 11th June, and saw her co-produce six of the ten tracks alongside songwriter/ producer James Flanigan. Lead single ‘Purge The Poison’ is streaming now.
Phoebe Green is
coming on Dork’s Night Out After a year off thanks to - y’know - reasons, Dork is returning to the live arena this November, and we’re bringing the magnificent Phoebe Green with us. We called in for a quick catch-up.
now? Is that a thing we’re going to see happening in the reasonably near future? Yes! I’m so excited for it, it’s gonna come around really quickly I reckon, it’ll be nice to get more music out into the world. Obviously we can’t have a chat without mentioning these ‘difficult times’. We saw you perform at the digital SXSW showcase last month, and you seemed to take to that really well. How have you found putting out and performing music without being able to gauge the reaction of a real life audience? Digital festivals are extremely strange, especially as it was the first time we’d performed the EP; it was sort of a relief in a way because the EP was written in such isolated conditions which allowed me to be extremely vulnerable and far less inhibited… but I sort of forgot that one day I would have to sing these lyrics in a room full of people without visibly cringing whilst I relive the experiences I’m singing about. I’m sure I’ll be more emotionally prepared by the time live shows do come around though, haha.
Words: Stephen Ackroyd.
e all want to get back to the live shows, right? Well, Dear Reader, you’re not alone. After a year off thanks to a-certain-pandemic, Dork is preparing to return to the live ‘arena’, with a brand new show taking place on 10th November. Dork’s Night Out will take over London’s Camden Assembly (yes, that’s the Barfly if you’re old timers like us - Ed), with one of our very favourite Up And Comers, Phoebe Green, taking headline duties. Given the fact our Phoebe has just dropped a 5-star new single, ‘IDK’, and has a lot going on right now, we figured it made sense to call her up to chat about what’s been going on over the last few months, in a shallow attempt to convince you to buy tickets. You’ll find them on Dice. Tenner each. Go on, you know you want to. Hello Phoebe - how’s it going? What are you up to today? I’m great thanks, today I got three tattoos in three hours just to feel something. ‘IDK’ is awesome. It sounds massive. Congrats on that. What’s the story behind it? Thanks so much, it’s about being emotionally unavailable to the point of total detachment from reality and those around me, I wanted to numb myself and I very much succeeded, it wasn’t pleasant. Are we on the road to the album
THE DETAILS The show: Dork’s Night Out The line-up: Phoebe Green + guests The date: 10th November 2021 The venue: Camden Assembly, London The price: £10 + booking fee, available via Dice.
The reception to the last EP seemed to be both massive and overwhelmingly positive. That’s got to give you confidence you’re on the right track? For sure, I don’t know what sort of reaction I expected but it was better than I could’ve hoped, it’s been great, I think the best compliment I have received repeatedly is that all of the songs are so different that it’s hard to gauge where I’m gonna go next, I don’t really know either. I like to pride myself on not being too restricted in what I do or too concerned about what category I can fit into, it changes by the week. Has writing new material been even more important without other creative outlets? It feels like so many artists have been doing great work while they’ve been kept indoors. Definitely, it’s been very hard to channel my creativity at times as I get so overwhelmed and restless, and with writing being my only outlet it’s hard to be concise and poetic when I’m feeling so many things at once. I think also because I’m
consuming so much more in terms of media and music because I have so much time, it’s easy to get carried away, usually I try not to listen to too much when I’m in a writing period as I know I can be easily influenced and begin to question myself, so it’s been difficult but sort of nice to feel more connected to pop culture and connected to other artists.
IT’S BEEN VERY HARD TO CHANNEL MY CREATIVITY AT TIMES PHOEBE GREEN Do you think the enforced ‘me time’ has helped refine what you want to do going forwards? Both in terms of yourself and what you value in others? Completely, I’ve had so much time to work on myself and my approach to relationships, it’s really allowed me to reflect upon my values and make more decisions based on those as opposed to being impulsive. There are plans coming into place now to get back out on the road and play live shows before the end of the year - obviously that’s something to look forward to. How much anticipation do you have for actually being able to connect with a crowd again? I can’t wait, it’s gonna be incredible to be around so many people that are all proper excited to be there, the energy will be unreal. I’m such an extrovert and love human interaction more than anything, so I’m absolutely buzzing for touring again! P Dork’s Night Out takes place on 10th November at Camden Assembly. Tickets, priced £10 plus booking fee are available via Dice. Phoebe Green’s new single ‘IDK’ is out now.
Dream Wife have announced a DW Megamix for Rainbow Mind, a mental health charity for LGBTQIA people. They’ve also issued a call for tour supports on their March 2022 run. “All genres, genders and experience levels welcome”, they say. “Woman, trans and non-binary folks to the front!”
LUMP have announced their second album, ‘Animal’, set for release on 30th August. The news arrives with a video for the title-track, which sees the duo – Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay of Tunng – pretending they’re chickens, and then playing with a big balloon. Obv.
WITH MEZ GREEN FROM LIFE
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF
Parquetry Craft Building work, I’ve not mastered it fully but I’ve been giving it the treatment. When the cold month of January brought with it the new year, LIFE put the band account on hold and went back out to graft. I chose Parquetry Craft. I’ve not mastered it fully, but I’m getting there.
You know what’s easier than following around your fave up-and-coming indiestroke-pop stars, day in, day out, to see what they’re up to? Asking them. Here’s what post-punk poet Sinead O’Brien’s day looks like. 7.30AM I wake up at 7.30am go downstairs and prepare a black coffee and a green smoothie (spirulina, maca powder, banana, cacao, wheatgrass and spinach). That’s breakfast. I go back upstairs and spend a little time writing in my notebook and reading with my coffee and letting myself wake up, letting thoughts come. I refuse to skip this step. It plants me in the right mood for the day. I do some exercise before getting dressed and run out the door with bags in hand and make for the Westwood design studio where I work Monday - Friday. 9.30AM Work begins, today we are choosing which fabrics to apply for our SS22 collection. I took part in some sustainability workshops with the Ellen MacArthur foundation last week, so I’m trying to think in terms of our circular design principles when making these decisions. I love choosing colours for the lab dips too, it’s like animating the whole thing from something flat and colouring it to life. I raid the Pantone book and find a familiar classic ‘plum kitten’ - everybody laughs. But this is a summer collection so let’s chose something lighter. I go for a bitter lemon sorbet colour and happy with that, move onto the next thing. 2:00PM After lunch we do a fitting (in
person - thank god, remote zoom fittings were awful). I think I’ve seen this proto three times, still not right. It’s a dress I love from the archive - reworked. I know it well, so I make sure I have my say. Some garments become quite personal - you get attached and know what to do with them, what the perfect fabric is, just how it needs to be.
on, plug into my TC Helicon Voicelive pedal, mic and headphones. Without listening through, I just plug in and go for an intuitive vocal take. This is how it works best recently. I know the structure of the piece. This is the second draft, so I already feel where I want to push it - how I want to let my voice ride the melody and
12:00AM My last thought before sleep is about which jacket I will wear tomorrow and how it will make me feel. I choose the leather lapel and covered buttons. P Sinead O’Brien’s single ‘Kid Stuff’ is out now.
4:00PM Coffee! I see that Julian has sent through the next version of a demo we’ve been working on this week. Can’t wait to get home to lay down a banging vocal on this. Sounds alive, this one! 7.30PM I get in the door, throw everything down, offload my baggage and start to cook dinner. I make smashed cucumber and sesame salad with a dressing (my favourite part) of sesame oil, vinegar, chilli flakes, salt, soy sauce. I have an heirloom tomato salad from yesterday, which completes my plate. Looks like someone else made it. That makes me happy. 8.30PM I light some incense in my room - the label reads ‘cement, smoke, wood’. Intriguing. Demo time. I take a moment to plug in my very minimal bedroom recording set up. It’s very unfussy and just allows me to get ideas down immediately. Garageband
Photo: Wanda Martin.
The pandemic, like for so many fellow creatives, hit our finances hard. One minute we were in the middle of on an American tour, the next minute we were scrambling home on the last flight from JFK. As I rushed through the airport like a post-apocalyptic mushroom forager, I certainly did not think that what would ensue would be Groundhog Day for months on end. Building work, I’ve not mastered it fully but I’ve given it the treatment. I’ve thrown my body at parquet flooring, artisan tiling, wall smashing, rebalancing, realigning, loft conversions, kitchen builds, bathroom thrills, cement breaking, cement making, plastering, skimming, grouting, clouting, skip chucking, fist fucking, ladder climbing, roof tiling and finding all sorts of trophies in the rubble of walls. I’ve not mastered it all. I’ve not had a fall. Building work, I’ve not mastered it fully but I’ve given it the treatment. I’ve renamed all my boss’ tools in accordance with what they look like. For example, the levels were ‘6 foot’, ‘4 foot’ and ‘2 foot’ but now they are called ‘Big Boy’, ‘Medium’ and ‘Slim Jim’. The ‘Pin Clippers’ are now ‘The World War 2’s’, as they look like something old and maybe used for torture. There are tools called ‘The Dart’, ‘The Stabber’, ‘Stanley’, ‘The Blue Toy’, ‘The Chopper’, ‘The Washing Line’ and ‘The Throbber’. I’ve not mastered them all, but I‘m getting there. And that’s the point, we are all getting there. The world still spins. Let’s take some time to dig-in and begin something new, maybe? P Listen to Mez’s Sunday Lunch - every second Sunday of the month on Dork Radio with Jake Hawkes. Grab the podcast by searching DorkCast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or other major platforms.
halt in certain places. It feels good to surprise myself and give a really fresh delivery. I work on a couple of additional vocal layers but nothing ‘decorative’. I mix it a little and bounce it back to Julian and Oscar. Tomorrow Oscar will lay down a drum from his studio and expand the project. Excited to hear what comes back! I write a bit in my notebook - already at my desk, so this feels like a good time to get some words down on paper and anything to get away from the screens. I pen down a couple of things which occurred to me today and some ideas I have for a new piece. I transcribe something I wrote a few days ago from my notebook onto large A3 paper so I can bring it to the studio at the weekend to work on with the boys. I go for a shower, make lemon tea and hit the sheets.
Bangers Spill Tab
Los Angeles-based, French-Korean artist spill tab is a big old favourite here at Dork HQ, and her latest drop ‘Anybody Else’ is right up there with her best. An unabashed love song that deftly swerves the land of twee while remaining capable of turning even the most stubborn of grumpy, unromantic cynics into a great big pile of melt, it’s “cheesy as fuck,” she says, “but I love it.”
He Said She Said After a year stuck inside with our nearest and dearest, a song about the struggles of toxic relationships might not be the most carefree of offerings, but Chvrches have a habit of crafting pop masterpieces out of the razor-sharp edges of emotional turmoil. ‘He Said She Said’ is far from an easy listen - its refrain of ‘I feel like I’m losing my mind’ hits especially close to the bone - but it’s delivered with such a salted saccharine sweet chaser it never quite feels as crushingly dark as it might otherwise. With their fourth album recorded across the seas thanks to ‘recent events’ - on the way, Chvrches remain a treasure to cherish.
KennnyHoopla hollywood sucks// (feat. Travis Barker)
KennyHoopla is adamant that Hollywood sucks, but to be honest it’s not our area of expertise so we’ll have to take his word for it. The first drop from upcoming project ‘SURVIVORS GUILT: THE MIXTAPE’, the only way ‘hollywood sucks//’ could sound more blink-182 is if it weren’t just ‘feat. Travis Barker’, but also ‘feat. Mark Hoppus’ and ‘feat. Tom DeLonge’ too. Which it isn’t. Just to be clear. What it is, is an energetic smash of return, from an artist whose every next step feels immensely exciting.
Conan Gray Astronomy
Feeling a bit delicate? Don’t feel like having your heart ripped from your chest and punted off a cliff? Maybe give this one a swerve for now then, because OH MY GOODNESS. Conan, buddy, are you ok? ‘Astronomy’ is bloody heartbreaking, recounting the godawful process of a slow, painful relationship decline, falling out of love and growing apart. “I find the worst heartbreaks happen
slowly,” he explains. “No blowout fight and slamming doors and showing up on doorsteps while it’s raining. Just a gradual decaying of love with nothing left to do to stop it from slipping away.” Consider yourself warned.
Happy (God’s Own Country)
We know Sports Team’s ‘thing’ now. A swaggering strut, some middle England rebellion, a nostalgic raspberry blown in the vague direction of the suburbs. ‘Happy (God’s Own Country)’
isn’t reinventing the wheel, but it is buying it the best tyres money can buy. Taken from their forthcoming independents only rarities collection ‘Plant Test’, it’s a brash, bright and brilliant celebration of everything that’s come so far. What comes next? Margate, anyone?
I Do This All The Time Remember that Baz Lurhmann hit from the late 90s, ‘Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen’? Sure you do. Ask your parents. It was a long list of general
life advice, imparted to a nice beat. It went to number one in the charts and everything. Anyway, Self Esteen is back, and her new track ‘I Do This All The Time’ is sort of like that.
Impactful statements, self-aware assessments, lessons learned - it’s as compelling as it is essential. More proof Rebecca Lucy Taylor is one of our greatest pop treasures.
Who’s Your Money On? (Plastic House)
Who wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with whichever one of Inhaler is boasting about taking you ‘round their mate’s house to get stoned, and getting to listen to all their previouslyunvocalised thoughts? Great offer there lads, A+ romancing. Can’t think why this one isn’t working out for you. Ineffectual seduction techniques aside, it’s a better-than-just-solid guitar-pop bop from indie’s new heroes, that bodes well for the band’s imminent debut album. readdork.com 19.
Top 10 MARTYN YOUNG’s
Everyone loves a good list, right? Well, Dear Reader, not compared to Dork’s Listmaster General Martyn Young you don’t. The thing about Martyn, you see, is he’s not swayed by your safe, sanitised opinions. He’s living his best life, loving what he loves, unconcerned by your boring, identikit truths. Each month, we’ll give him a new musical category to rank, then you can send in your rage-filled missives about just how wrong he is. It’s all good fun.
THIS MONTH, AS POP-STAR-SLASHACTOR OLIVIA RODRIGO DROPS HER DEBUT ALBUM, IT’S...
‘MUSICIANS’ WHO ALSO ‘ACT’ PLEASE NOTE: All opinions are those of Martyn Young and in no way represent Dork as a whole. We’re very sorry.
2. Madonna So, right, let’s get this out the way first. Loads and loads and loads of people who make music have also done acting in film and telly. You’ve got really old people like Cliff Richard. Really old and dead people like Frank Sinatra and Elvis. Legends abound all over the place - looking at you here, Sid Owen, aka Rickaaaaay - however, I’m going to focus on one particular legend, maybe the biggest legend: Madonna. Madonna pretty much set the template for acting while also doing music in the MTV video age and deserves her place right at the top of the list. Also, She’s Madonna.
1. Will Smith There used to be a time back in the 90s when it felt like Will Smith was the king of the world. Which makes sense cos he used to be a prince. Blockbuster film after blockbuster film came accompanied by blockbuster banger after blockbuster banger. Looking sharp and sounding fresh, Will put all the other bad boys of pop to shame as he struck out, forging his own independence every day in a sterling pop career that went by without a hitch. Now he doesn’t make music anymore instead leaving the pop business to his children, including his amazing daughter Willow, who’s about to shake the rock scene to its foundations this summer. Oh, and he’s really good in Shark Tale.
3. Miley Cyrus Miley has had one of the best and most varied pop star/ actor careers as she has made all sorts of glorious pop bangers since she emerged as Hannah Montana in the early noughties. Responsible for the truly inspirational ‘The Climb’ and the extremely truly inspirational ‘Party In The USA’, Miley has been a constant source of pop joy and controversy. She’s even found time to take on another persona with underrated modern pop classic ‘On A Roll’ by Ashley O as she starred in mind-bending sci-fi bonkers fest Black Mirror.
4. Selena Gomez
7. Ashlee Simpson
Like almost every pop star in existence, Selena Gomez started her career as a Disney actress on the series Wizards of Waverly Place. More importantly, though, she’s friends with Barney the dinosaur cos she starred in Barney & Friends. DO NOT tell me you’re too cool for Barney and don’t know who he is. Since then, she’s done all sorts of stuff, including making one of the top 5 pop bangers of the last five years in ‘Bad Liar’ and last year’s album ‘Rare’ is well worth checking out for some lovely pop goodness.
Ashlee Simpson has done all sorts of things and been on all sorts of stuff, but her 2004 debut single ‘Pieces of Me’ is an underrated pop-rock classic and officially a very good song, and that’s why she’s going straight in at number seven.
WTF? Okay, so we don’t all agree. Here’s some official challenges to this month’s list. Where on earth do you start with this one. Last month, Kylie recorded the greatest duet of all time. This month; she’s not as good as Martine McCutcheon - neither are all the other Neighbours pop crew. Olly from Years & Years? Nah. Any of the Dork regulars who also tread the boards or grace the screens ‘professionally’ are lesser than two childhood showings from Matty Healy. Hell, there’s not even room for Jo, Rachel, Hannah, Tina, Jon, Bradley or Paul. Ridiculous. Stephen Ackroyd, ‘Editor’
5. Olivia Rodrigo Nicely slotting into the tight parking space of slot number five, utilising her parallel parking skills and expert use of her mirrors and handbrake, comes driving whiz and the biggest pop star on the planet right now, Olivia Rodrigo. Her story of starring in Disney’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is well known now, but that, coupled with an amazing debut single has already propelled her straight to the top of pop’s mountain where she is ready to firmly plant her flag with her debut album.
6. Matty Healy What do you mean you can’t remember his star turn as ‘slightly grumpy student’ in Waterloo Road or ‘adorably clapping child’ on ancient ITV show Soldier, Soldier that his mum starred in? Surely his greatest achievements. He hasn’t gone on to do much since, has he?
This month’s list paints over some truly shocking acting turns from faves who should know better (Rihanna in a live-action movie based on a board game, we’re looking at you…), so for that I’m thankful. Yet, let us not forget our mate Harry Styles, whose turn in Dunkirk basically meant we were shouting ‘PLEASE DON’T LET HAZZA DIE’ for over 2 hours. Spoiler: he survived, and now we have ‘Watermelon Sugar’. Phew. Jamie Muir, Contributing Editor and Down With Boring ‘host’ Films are not Martyn’s forte, but even by his standards this list has some pretty glaring omissions. There’s not the space in this entire magazine to highlight all of them, so I’ll just focus on one of the biggest – David Bowie. Bowie as Nikola Tesla making cats teleport in The Prestige. Bowie as a weird alien from a dying planet in The Man Who Fell To Earth. Bowie with a risqué crotch-bulge and big hair in Labyrinth. The man had such range that his omission from this list is probably the only film-based content he hasn’t had a cameo in. Jake Hawkes, Writer and Down With Boring ‘host’ Disagree? Email your own suggestions, or abuse to us at email@example.com. We’ll include the best ones in next month’s issue.
8. Lady Gaga I haven’t seen Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born, but then again, I have only seen 46 films in my life. However, I have been assured by some very reliable sources that it is good and she is very good in it. Of course she is, though. She’s Lady Gaga. Everything she does is good. Yes, even ‘Artpop’.
9. Cher Cher is responsible for one of the all-time important questions in pop history, “Do you believe in life after love?’” I’ll leave you to answer that one yourself at home, Dear Readers, however, Cher is also good at film, and she’s good on Twitter. Check out her feed. Inspiring stuff.
10. Martine McCutcheon Doing this list truly is my perfect moment. readdork.com 21.
THE BEST NEW TALENT.
Bow Anderson has shared her latest single, ‘Hate That I Fell In Love With You’. It marks her first new material since debut EP ‘New Wave’, plus breakout singles ‘Sweater’, ‘Heavy’ and ‘Island’. There’s also news of her firstlive shows, at Edinburgh’s Sneaky Pete’s on 22nd September and London’s Courtyard on 7th October.
Newcomers Sad Boys Club have released their new single, ‘Can’t Help Myself’. The follow-up to the London four-piece’s latest singles ’25’ and ‘Could Have Beens & What Ifs’, it’s a song they describe as “manic melancholy”.
Folly Group have shared their second single, ‘Sand Fight’. Following on from ‘Four Wheel Drive’, it’s a highlight from the London band’s upcoming debut EP ‘Awake And Hungry’, set for release on 11th June via So Young Records.
Alaina Castillo Introducing a 21-year-old pop sensation in waiting. Words: Martyn Young. Photo: Henry Amman.
aina Castillo is one of those pop stars who can seemingly do it all. Equally adept at lingering slowburning heartbreakers and hyped-up pop bangers, she represents a new generation of stars who break down musical boundaries and channel their feelings positively and expressively. The 21-year-old singer is already making waves with a couple of compelling EPs and an ever-increasing number of followers across the world enchanted with her bilingual future pop. Indeed, while we’re talking to her, she’s being chauffeured to a rather spiffing fancy hotel in Miami, where she’s making a star turn at the Latin American Music Awards. Alaina Castillo is definitely already a big deal. Like many contemporary stars, Alaina’s musical journey began at home in Houston, Texas, as she spent most of her time in her bedroom singing her favourite songs on YouTube, dreaming of a pop future written in the stars while her family thought she was hard at work on the academic path they imagined for her. “Whenever I started on YouTube, I didn’t know what was going to happen in the future, but my dream was to make songs, perform on a stage and have my own album and tour. I was like, how am I going to make this happen?” she begins. “Whenever it started to click in my head, I would experiment with different beats and make my own things for fun, and that was the realisation that I could actually do something.” Alaina has always been blessed with innate
confidence. She knew she was always destined for big things. “I was proven right as I knew the whole time that this was going to happen,” she says emphatically. “I was always very optimistic about it while everyone around me was like, ok, cool, but what are you going to do after that? I was my biggest supporter.”
YOU NEED SOMETHING THERE TO HYPE YOU UP ALAINA CASTILLO
The journey to her debut album ‘Parallel Universe Part 1’ wasn’t always a smooth one, but the album represents the culmination of Alaina’s vision of herself as an artist and what exciting pop should sound like in 2021. “I took a second to find what I wanted my sound to be like because for a long time I was saying I’m looking for a sound and something I can relate to,” she explains. “I had to step out of my own boundaries and comfort zones. With this album, it’s the start of who I’m supposed to become.” Her first couple of EPs were more tender vignettes, low-key in stature but high on emotional resonance, while the debut album is a whole different story. This is a next-level step up. “My two EPs were very vulnerable and emotional,” she says. “I think it’s ok to still have those moments, but the vibe
for me lately has been even if I want to be sad, I’m like no, don’t do that shit, you can be sad all you want, but you need something there to hype you up.” True to her word Alaina has hyped up moments by the bucket full on her debut album, which flits effortlessly from playful assured R&B bops like the song of the summer contender ‘Pocket Locket’ to the blissful escapism of the title track. As she was writing the album, Alaina discovered a moment of clarity as she imagined the vistas of new possibilities opening up before her. “I feel like I’ve come a long way, but the thing that I really like is that I’ve got a very long way still to go,” she says. “I’m excited to see where life takes me. I thought I knew everything. I thought I was aware of my feelings and everything like that. Once I started writing my own music, it was like a slap in the face and, ‘Oh, ok, I know nothing!’” Alaina has always been a bit of a dreamer. “I would play out scenarios in my room. My dad would say I just stayed in my room and stared at the walls,” she laughs. “I was just creating this life in my head. It definitely shows in my music and how I write how I always have a book on me in which I can write random shit that makes no sense, but it’s deep, and it means everything. I’m definitely an escapist.” It’s from this fertile imagination that we get ‘Parallel Universe’ as Alaina goes deep on her innermost fantasies and emotions while creating her own little world for you to get lost in. One of the things that remains important to Alaina,
no matter how big she gets, is her connection to her audience and the people that have grown up with her and remained with her on this journey. It’s something a lot of similar Gen Z artists have in common. They’re not on their own, rather part of a community unafraid to speak their mind and voice their truth. “Everyone is awakening their emotions and everything they might have had hidden before. The best thing to do is not to hide it because I stayed hiding it for a long time, but this is my way of expressing it.” Her connection with her fans goes deep. “I always think about my audience as I started on YouTube where I was constantly talking to them and still am,” she says. “Now, if I’m having a bad day, I know I can log on, and I’ll have them to talk to, and that makes me happy.” The closeness between Alaina and the people who have followed her since her teenage years singing covers online has given her the comfort to experiment, have fun and shake things up, knowing that loyalty will always be there. As the title suggests, ‘Parallel Universe Part 1’ is the beginning of an exciting new era for Alaina Castillo as she swiftly accelerates along the pop highway. She’s found her voice and is ready to blossom. “It’s unlocking this new side of me that I’ve never shown before,” she concludes. “I know it’s there, but other people haven’t seen it, so they’re like, wtf. For me, the message is unlocking a different version of yourself.” P Alaina Castillo’s half-album ‘Parallel Universe Part 1’ is out now.
THE CASTILLODOWN ON ALAINA 5 facts about Alaina Castillo you need* to know She really likes video games. Her favourite used to be Call of Duty, but it’s now Stardew Valley. “I just got a child in Stardew Valley, so I feel more connected to it.” She hasn’t ever played Animal Crossing. Her favourite weather is thunderstorms. “On Saturday’s my dad would always pick us up early, and we’d have to go outside and do a bunch of yard work. We’d be out there for hours, but if you saw rain clouds in the distance, then you just knew it was going to be a good day. Whenever I see thunderstorms now, I’m calm; I’m in my element.” She used to study biology at university but gave it up to be a pop star. Good move. She loves space and is very interested in astronomy. “I watched a documentary where it said they were sending a telescope into space on 31st October, but it’s going to take a few years and go to this different part of space that we’ve never explored before and could find a planet that we could live on. It’s very exciting.” She wants to be the first pop star to play a concert in space. “I would have a massive stage and everyone in near gravity jumping around and hopping and shit.” * maybe not need, but they’re cool anyway.
Eaves Wilder has shared her new track, ‘Mother In Your Mind’. Her fourth single, the moody new drop follows on from last year’s debut ‘Won’t You Be Happy’, as well as ‘In And Out (And Out Again)’, and ‘Man, We Was Lonely’.
Porij have dropped their new single ‘Nobody Scared’. It follows on from the Manchesterbased foursome’s previous bleepy-bloops like ‘Dirty Love’ and ‘150’. “I wrote the lyrics for ‘Nobody Scared’ after watching a documentary on Netflix about the Yorkshire Ripper,” Eggy (vocal and keys) explains.
ASHWARYA Indian-born, Aussie-raised and already blazing a trail of five star singles, ASHWARYA is one of the buzziest new acts around. Words: Finlay Holden. Photo: Gadir Rajab.
When did pop come into your life, and why did you lean into that genre? I listened to old 80s Bollywood music growing up, then I was introduced to the ‘So Fresh’ CDs, and I would buy them every month. They always had a fresh tracklist of pop, R&B, hip-hop; all the popular tracks at the time. I was OBSESSED with Rihanna after that. I got on that stuff early on. I didn’t like singing in choirs because we would just sing
I DON’T KNOW WHAT POP MUSIC IS ANYMORE ASHWARYA In your Fortnite collaboration recently, you wore a lobster outfit, which definitely got a reaction - are you into video games? Yes, I’ve been trying for months to get a PS5, and it’s really annoying. I grew up with a Nintendo DS and a Wii, and I also had the Gameboy. I played PlayStation as well, so yeah, a true gamer girl. Basically, that collaboration opened my eyes to the gaming world again; I played the new Spider-Man game on the PS5! Gaming and music is something I find really interesting because there’s so much to do with music in a game, but I don’t think those worlds have collided as much as they should. Artists can go into a gaming space as their avatars and interact with people now; I could wear that lobster suit, and other people can click on that and wear it too; that’s so fun!
n amongst the overwhelming swarm of new pop artists arriving in 2021, trying to stand out can be an intimidating prospect. But, it’s not a problem faced by ASHWARYA, an Indian-born and Aussie-raised star in the making who has captured the hearts of many with her dark and twisted hyper-pop anthems. In the wake of her EP debut, she chats to Dork from her bedroom about creating art in lockdown, her varied influences, and, of course, her unbridled ambition to simultaneously supply comfort and surprise on a global scale. A big goal of your music is to connect with people – do you feel like you’ve been able to do that online? Absolutely. Before releasing music, I never really understood the impact that it can have on people and how they perceive it in their own way. It was only after songs like ‘BIRYANI’, after which I got SO many DMs, that it hit me. In an ideal world, we’d play and meet live and connect through conversation, which obviously wasn’t an option at the time. I had so many messages from people of colour and South Asians, and as someone who is passionate about seeing representation, it completely changing my perspective on the impact music can have. Especially when someone that looks like me puts out a bilingual song with Hindi in it that talks about ‘Biryani’ - it’s amazing.
Mellah has dropped a new single, ‘Easy Breezy’. It marks the first track taken from his new EP ‘Them’ – the first in an EP trilogy dubbed ‘333’, which will also feature ‘Us’ and ‘Me’ later this year – set for release on 10th June.
classical music all the time, although it did help me and probably gave me a subconsciously different outlook on the music I make. I liked doing open mics because I could do my own thing. Is pop as a label correct? I don’t know what pop music is anymore because if you look at a playlist, it’s always so diverse. A song that used to be country is now pop; a song that used to be hip-hop is now pop. To label my music pop is a fair call, I guess, because it just means popular music, so I’ll take that! The sound that I’ve explored so far is just a culmination of everything I grew up with and everything that was around me; I create music in a very improvisational way, so it’s very much what hits in that moment. It’s not a planned or formulaic method of songwriting at all.
You’ve been compared with Billie Eilish a lot – do you think that’s accurate? I think the comparison to Billie Eilish is very humbling because she’s incredible. If anyone right now is making pop melodies but mixing it up with the elements of the song, like doing some crazy boundary-pushing and abnormal stuff, there’s always going to be a comparison there. Does ‘PSYCHO HOLE’’s darkness reflect how you felt at that time, and do you think having internal struggle is beneficial to creating art? ‘PSYCHO HOLE’ is the manifestation of going through anxiety, and although people perceive music differently, the lyrics really speak for themselves: “Oh tell me why you keep on creeping up on me, I can’t shake this feeling I can barely breathe.” It’s like this darker version of yourself keeps trying to take
over, and that’s the concept of the song. Everyone can perceive it differently; it could be some other part of you that you want to get rid of. I naturally and subconsciously put a more empowering spin on the way I’m feeling. The chorus is more uplifting as opposed to the twisted verse. It’s not avoiding how I’m feeling, but it’s looking for how I can get out of those dark situations. Do you find it easy to be positive in bad situations like that? I think we all long to feel a certain way – it’s easier said than done, and we do sometimes fall into a spiral, but I at least feel like I miss better times. We all want to escape those low points. I don’t think you need to always make a happy song in those dark places; as long as you’re honest, I think that’s more important.
If you could have one of your songs in any video game, which would it be? Quite an old-school pick, but I’d have to go with Mario. Can you imagine ‘PSYCHO HOLE’ in Mario? If he goes from the Mushroom Kingdom to a castle level, it would work with the tempo changes; I can so see that working. What overall impression do you want to make with the ‘Nocturnal Hours’ EP? I want it to be a little lolly bag where people can pick and choose what they like. It’s a very diverse and varied EP with a ballad, some hard-core psychedelic vibes; people can decide what they like and what they don’t – if they enjoy it all, that’s amazing, but I hope there’s really something for everyone there. There are many facets to every human being, so I just wanted to express a few different aspects of who I am. P ASHWARYA’s debut EP ‘Nocturnal Hours’ is out 10th June.
deep tan East London post-punk three piece deep tan are living in the moment. Words: Aleksandra Brzezicka. Photo: Katie Burdon.
magine throwing Joy Division’s new wave gloominess into a mixer with The Slits’ exuberating badass energy and the weirdness of Warmduscher: here comes deep tan. Hailing from East London’s underground, this gritty band with a sassy sense of humour has arrived to break through a post-lockdown world. Not afraid to comment on current events - from claiming a pro-sex work stance, to praising our right to party - that (un)holy and unapologetic trio plays on musical contrasts and refuses to bend down to any genre. They would rather come up with their own. So, it’s no surprise when Wafah, Celeste and Lucy, almost synchronically crack open cold cans of beer, bringing pub vibes
to Dork’s Zoom video chat. deep tan came into existence when Wafah went to Female Trouble, a monthly lesbian club night hosted by Celeste at Dalston Superstore, where they also scouted Lucy. With such a badass crew, their name had to live up to their sonic potential for all that’s weird and fun. “I went into Boots and I saw a tube that said ‘deep tan’, and I thought, that’s interesting,” says Wafah. Having decided on that, they went on a journey of creating their distinctive stripped-back, minimalistic noise. “There were a few sessions where we came up with some songs that were a bit more atmospheric than the stuff we do now,” says Celeste on their first get-together. “When the band
started to play live together, we realised that the stuff we enjoyed playing the most was the darker and more driving sounds.” From the rhythmic and drum-driven groove of ‘Constant Inconsistencies’ to more melodic bops like ‘Air’ or ‘Shimmer’, deep tan shift somewhere in the post-punk/new wave direction, covering the grey areas in between with straight-forward and mantra-like lyrics. “We’re just going with the flow and see what we’re feeling in the moment,” Wafah explains. “I’m not sure if we’re thinking too much about what genre it is. Just trying to make something we feel works sonically. What fits together, not really confiding ourselves into something too square. We like exploring and seeing. It’s all
gonna even evolve, so I don’t think it’s about sticking to one thing.” As the effect of their compositive free-roaming, a trend emerged anyway, Celeste notices: “One thing that’s a constant in all the stuff that we do, is that we’re always looking for some kind of contrast. Even in more atmospheric stuff, even though we’re a bit gentler.” That’s how their newest single ‘camelot’ was born. Inspired by one of the jam sessions and the growing need for a proper night out, bred in the quiet desperation of the society that demands, and deserves, letting out the steam of the pandemic isolation and drowning sorrows in endless drinks. “When we were talking about what it could be about, there was this feeling that there was something that needed to be quite urgent. ‘Pour one and drink another one, drink one down and pour another one’, that just popped into my head because we’d been working on another song previously that was going to be a drinking song, and it wasn’t really coming together. We thought, maybe this could be a drinking song?” Celeste explains, among Wafah’s laughs.
I WENT INTO BOOTS AND I SAW A TUBE THAT SAID ‘DEEP TAN’, AND I THOUGHT, THAT’S INTERESTING WAFAH DUFOUR
Besides coming up with an ode to the sesh, deep tan spent last year in the studio, working on debut EP and taking a dive into the world of German psych with NEU! and Cluster as guideposts. “Over Christmas, we were watching quite a few documentaries on krautrock,” Celeste shares. “When we’re talking about German experiments, we’re getting on
krautrock, but also, we feel like the name krautrock is not the right name for the genre. Essentially as a name, it was coined by English journalists who were kind of offensive to Germans by calling it krautrock.” deep tan recognise the power of definitions and double meanings, so the name of the EP had to reflect that and encapsulate their ideological stance. “The name of the EP is ‘creeping speedwells’, which is a weed that grows under tough conditions,” says Wafah. Not that kind of weed. Lucy sets it straight, renouncing any drug connotations: “We were gonna post ‘it’s about weed’ and then got really worried that people would think it’s about smoking up or something.” If anything, ‘creeping speedwells’ is a celebration of our communal strength that deep tan managed to capture and crystalise into four tracks. “The EP was written in 2020, which was a very tough year for most people, if not everyone,” says Celeste. “It’s a year where we grew newfound respect for the resilience of weeds that can thrive in tough conditions. It’s a little subtle nod to that, to a humble garden weed. They are a type of flower, but a lot of gardeners would say that they are garden pests. Respect to the underdogs. Respect to the garden weeds.” Missing day-drinking sessions at their favourite venues and mingling with other creatives, deep tan, as probably anyone in Britain right now, look forward to that mystical date of 21st June and foresee a sesh-apocalypse. “It’s gonna be a mess. Everyone’s gonna take work off for a week. It’s gonna be the busiest Monday ever!” says Wafah. “I’m gonna be in a corner like waking up at 2pm from the party a few days ago.” Celeste predicts an even wilder scenario for her bandmate. “Wafah was also saying she might not even end up in this country and might wake up in Paris or something. I will be disappointed if you wake up in London.” It doesn’t matter where you end up, but who with. If you get lucky enough to spot a deep tan member in your local pub or on a French cruiser, make sure to get them a drink or two. If not, pour yourself some more, put past pains behind and enjoy the world that’s baby-stepping back into normality. “We’re all owed a million pints by the universe,” laughs Celeste. Cheers to that. P deep tan’s debut EP ‘creeping speedwells’ is out 4th June.
Fast rising star in waiting Olivia Dean has dropped her first single of 2021, ‘Be My Own Boyfriend’. Following up on her 5* Dork rated EP ‘What Am I Gonna Do On Sundays’, it comes alongside news of a brand new ‘project’, ‘Growth’ – due for release this summer via AMF.
Former Dork cover star Baby Queen has dropped her new single ‘Dover Beach’. The track – the latest in a long line of pop bangers – arrives alongside the news she’s booked in a headline show at London’s Omeara on 9th November.
Pop up-and-comer Charli Adams has announced her debut album. ‘Bullseye’ will arrive on 16th July via Color Study, led by a video for her new single ‘Cheer Captain’. You can check that out on readdork.com right now, if you like.
Allison Ponthier With her first track ‘Cowboy’, Allison Ponthier announced herself as an icon in waiting, Words: Jamie Muir.
ust imagine if I just started sobbing uncontrollably right now,” exclaims Allison Ponthier. Through laughter, she’s calling back to a moment that showed vividly what an artist can become: one with words and a story that can capture something within that you’ve desperately been trying to say but have been unable to put out into the world. “It was my first ever big concert, and it was Lorde playing the Barclays Centre in New York. She played ‘Writer In The Dark’ and like, I wasn’t even a huge Lorde fan at the time, but I wanted to see her live. So she played the song, and I just sobbed my eyes out. “That was a huge moment for me where it was like, I need to be an artist. I’d love to do that, play that venue even, and have people with their phone lights up - because that was super special to me. I tear up about it now just thinking about it. I can’t believe how much that impacted me”. That ‘special’ is something Allison Ponthier has managed to capture right from the getgo. “I think when you put out your first song, you have a lot of expectations of what’s going to happen, but I just wanted it to be out,” she admits. “I think having a song that is so autobiographical does a really great thing for me because I feel like people can just listen to the song or watch the video, and they can understand me better. Much better than how I can describe the words or even from meeting me for the first time. It’s kind of a blueprint of how I think and feel.” With ‘Cowboy’, Allison has laid out her soul for the world to see. A personal-yet-inclusive modern country classic full of swooping cinematic warmth, there was no other way for Allison Ponthier to step into that spotlight. More than just a great first impression, it represents a full-circle moment in the journey Allison has taken through life. Of finding who she really is, putting in the work and
feeling ready to tell her story and be the self she’s always wanted to be. “It came from a painful and real place. It’s always been hard for me to find a lot of people that I relate to, and that’s been the best thing that’s come out of this. That people who can relate, relate to it - and it’s related to way more people than I thought it ever would.”
I WAS A LONER FOR A LONG TIME, I JUST DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO CONNECT WITH OTHER PEOPLE ALLISON PONTHIER
Growing up in Allen, a city nestled towards the outskirts of Dallas in Texas, Allison’s early years were - in those free moments - spent mainly by herself. “I struggled to make friends growing up,” she recalls, “I really found comfort in having hobbies, but I would do those alone. I was a loner for a long time, I just didn’t know how to connect with other people, but I found my happy place making things! It’s really easy to feel good about yourself when you’ve made something you’re proud of, and above all else - it helped me express myself.” It’s something Allison turns to now when a spare moment opens up, a survival skill from those childhood days that forms a key part of who she is today. “I never grew out of it. My free time is making a little alien sculpture or watching a musical, or even me pretending that I’m in Hereditary. If there’s a creative hobby you can think of, I’ve tried
it… to different success levels.” In the background, there was always music - even if Allison didn’t truly know yet how to express that passion. There were early poems (and even a song about the Salem Witch Trials, “which my English teacher still has, I’m sure!”) and singing privately to herself, but to show the world that passion was a whole other step. It took enrolling in a music school, surrounded by music and people who had that shared love for music like she did, to flick a switch in Allison. “I was inspired by the people around me and friends who had written songs,” says Allison. “I was like, ‘everyone here is really good, oh my god I need to like practice and get better’. I threw myself headfirst into trying new things.” If music school was flicking the switch, then Allison’s next move was like turning on the floodlights. Heading straight to New York City can always be deemed as a significant moment in anyone’s life, but the phrase life-changing truly doesn’t do justice to its importance to Allison, even if there were challenges. “I fully stumbled for the first six months I was in New York. I didn’t have enough money, I didn’t know many people, and I was going through a major identity crisis. I didn’t know who I was, I had met my girlfriend, but I wasn’t out to my family or even to myself to a certain degree. There were moments I thought about moving back, and I just kept asking myself, what is happening? I wanted to move here, and I feel like… I have no idea what I’m doing.” What followed was a huge personal time period which Allison describes as one where she needed to “put in the work”. “I needed to get to know myself more and give myself that patience and time. Then I started to get comfortable. I started to make friends. I came out to my parents, and that’s something I don’t think would have been
possible if I didn’t move to New York.” It was a defining moment of accepting herself and seeing firsthand the happiness that’s there waiting to be embraced. “Being able to see queer people live their life, and not just queer people who are my age or younger - queer people in their 60s with wives and children, just living normal lives. That is the biggest thing that made me feel comfortable because I’d never seen that when I was in Texas. It was great to see that of people living their lives and being happy because I think every queer person can relate to someone being like, well, ‘it’s not that we don’t like that you’re queer, it’s that we don’t want you to have a hard life’. And I saw people who had great lives. “I think a lot of people don’t realise how that mentally affects you to grow up in a place where you don’t see people, obviously who look like you or act like you, but just people who are happy and living their lives. You feel a little bit doomed, but I got to New York, and I was like - wait, that was a lie? I’m going to be totally fine. I’ve been like putting up these walls for so long, and I didn’t need to.” Taking the pain and fear, but also the hope and love felt in her own personal path - no other song could have introduced the world to Allison Ponthier. “In a weird way, I’m really glad that ‘Cowboy’ came out after I had some time.” First written four years ago, Allison admits: “I wasn’t writing for other people, I was just writing for me because I didn’t know how to process my feelings. It takes time not just to know what’s going on with yourself but also time to be ready to talk about it and have other people comment on it. Now I’ve had that time, I can put it out and be like: this is what I was going through.” Its impact has been immediate, as seen in the countless messages Allison has had since. “That really is the whole point. I think that
my experience growing up, as someone who was in the closet, was made painful because I felt like I was totally alone, like an alien. It’s important for people to talk about their experiences when they’re ready because that’s what would have meant the most to me when I was younger. It means a lot because it is such a vulnerable and personal thing.” What’s clear is that ‘Cowboy’ has set Allison Ponthier on a special path, forged in honesty and turning that vulnerability into a home of strength. “I mean, that’s it!” cracks Allison. “I’ve written over 50 or 60 songs for this project. And only one is out! There are songs that are about to come out that I love and serve a similar purpose to ‘Cowboy’, maybe not the same exact subject matter, but these are songs that make me feel better about things that I’m going through.” Finding that vulnerability and allowing herself to be open to the world, Allison Ponthier is the sort of artist whose star is only going to get brighter. “I think when you first start writing songs, you’re like… trying to write the final version of that ‘cool if I was on stage playing Madison Square Garden and playing this song, what would it sound like?’ moment. And that’s just not realistic. You’re starting. You should just find out what your voice is, and it took me a while to be vulnerable enough to be like, ‘Oh actually, instead of writing what I think would be like super cool to all my peers, I need to write from my own perspective.” “For so long I’ve compared myself to other people - like, so long! I’ve super struggled with that, and the minute that I started doing my own thing was the moment that people started to pay attention.” The world truly at her feet, Allison Ponthier is about to become a big deal to a lot of people. One word at a time. P Allison Ponthier’s debut single ‘Cowboy’ is out now.
THE NEWEST OF NAMES.
Fan of fun stuff? Thought so, Dear Reader. Then DE’WAYNE is most certainly your man of the moment. Combining magpie like elements of rock, punk and rap, DE’WAYNE is very much a product of the genre free, fluid world of attitude first artists breaking through. His recent team up with Waterparks frontman Awsten Knight, ‘PERFUME’, is a grin-inducing delight, while recent single ‘Walking To Work’ shows he’s put in the hard miles to get to where he is today. With a debut album coming imminently, there’s a lot to get excited by.
Lacuna Common Meeting as teenagers in the towns orbiting Oxford, Lacuna Common are a band birthed after a weekend at Truck Festival on a shared love of classic British guitar music and - erm road racing? Don’t worry though, there’ll be no on stage lycra and cycling helmets. Just solid gold indie bangers. There’s a new EP - ‘It’s All Talk’ out now.
First discovering her love for music at five after getting a toy drum kit, Brooke Combe progressed to playing saxophone, trombone, guitar, bass and piano. Her neighbours probably loved her for that, right? Still, their high tolerance for a bit of honking brass practice is our gain, as the newcomer arrives with quite a bit of promise. Debut single ‘Are You With Me’ was written in a 3am writing session when she was just 18 years old, coming together in a quick-sharp 20 minutes. She’s worked with The Coral’s James Skelly and Chris Taylor to record it properly, with Blossoms bassist Chaz Salt on bass. It’s out now, and most certainly won’t be the last you hear from her. One to keep an eye on.
SCOUT Formally working under the guise of Kid Wave, Scout’s new project certainly has our attention. Citing influences like MUNA and Christine & The Queens, first track ‘Never Fade’ previews a debut EP due later this year. Admitting they’ve always been drawn to writing pop music, it’s a better-than-good marker laid down on what’s to follow.
Millie Turner Yeah, okay, there are quite a few hotly tipped alt-pop types around at the moment. They’re all very creative, they’ve all got the ‘vibe’, they all seem to have the right stuff. So why is Millie Turner different? Well, there’s a certain spark to her music - something you can find in her new mini-album ‘Eye Of The Storm’. If that’s enough to make the cut? That’s up to you lot.
Police Car Collective If you keep track of this kind of thing, then the band we’ve been emailed about most in 2021 is most definitely Police Car Collective. The 19-year-old duo - Simon and Tyler in case you were wondering - are certainly putting in the graft to build up a bit of hype during ‘these difficult times’. It’s easy to see why, too. Since the release of debut single ‘ALLTHETIME’ at the start of the year they’ve notched up various industry big green ticks. There’s a new EP ‘1980’ due on 18th June. Don’t expect them to slow down any time soon.
GETTING TO KNOW...
Mapel Glider is the project of Tori Zietsch - that’s pronounced like peach, but with a z, ‘FYI’. Signed to the currently so-hotright-now Partisan Records, she’s got a new album on the way, ‘To Enjoy is the Only Thing’. It’s described as “a striking set of vignettes from her life; growing up in a restrictive religious household, falling in and out of love, cross-country and international travel, longing, alienation, and more.” We’d describe her as Really Quite Good. Hope that helps.
Berry Galazka Polish American newcomer Berry Galazka certainly is here to make an impression. With a list of influences from Rina Sawayama to Tierra Whack to My Chemical Romance, she’s even got a song about whacking a bully in the playground aged 8. She still knows how to deliver a punch.
Polar States Liverpool’s Polar States have been making waves for a while now. Back at the start of lockdown, they decided to release a song a day to fans via a private WhatsApp group. No, we don’t expect they’re still doing that a year later - but it’s proof the band certainly have the creative juice to go far. They’ll be on the road later this year.
London soul-pop newcomer Naomi Banks used to be a backing singer for Laura Mvula and Lianne La Havas. Stepping out under her own stream, she’s got that same heart to her music. Already supporting the likes of Celeste and Rachel Chinouriri, her new EP ‘Meeting Again’ is out now.
Luna Morgenstern Cologne-born, Amsterdam-based pop producer and songwriter Luna is influenced by a pretty good list of future-pop icons. SOPHIE, Caroline Polachek, FKA twigs, Charli XCX - it’s that kind of hooky, risk-taking brilliance she’s looking to bring to her debut EP ‘Taking The Blow’, which is set to drop this July.
Portsmouth quartet Hallan are an interested bunch. Signed to the influential Nice Swan Records and with early support slots with the likes of Sports Team and Porridge Radio under their belt, they’ve got a sound birthed from classic post-punk, honed in an 18th century fortification built into the side of a hill surrounded by a forest. As you do. New track ‘Orwell’s Idyllic Future’, a commentary on the current state of modern society, and how it’s all a bit 1984, is taken from a forthcoming EP. Titled ‘Reporting Live From The Living Room Floor’, it’ll be with us in July. Worth checking out.
Photo: Sara Carpentieri.
Mychelle Hackney singer-songwriter Mychelle just dropped a debit EP, ‘Closure’. First picking up a guitar aged 10, her press bumf explains she “put it down again shortly after”. Lol, etc. Still, she went back to it at age 17, being spotted by Idris Elba busking in London in 2019. The rest, as they say, is history.
eeds bunch English Teacher excel in the on-point sortof-post-punk-butnot-really-and-definitelymore-enthusiastic controlled racket that has found their latest drop ‘R&B’ a place in Nice Swan Records’ singles club. Just one weapon in their vast musical armoury, it’s a fantastic start for the foursome. Vocalist Lily Fontaine introduces her band. Hello Lily! How did you lot meet and decide to form the band, then? You were studying in Leeds, right? I met our ex-guitarist in 2018 on a uni trip to Valencia (he’s currently on a gradscheme training in property development because he likes buildings, but we’re working on his return). I put out a demo on Soundcloud, and then a local promoter asked if I wanted to play a gig, so I said yes and asked him if his band would help out. We haven’t given up since, for some reason. Are you all involved in other projects too, or is your spot in Eades the only thing? Our whole house is involved in the experimental punk/ rap group Draags, of which our Nick and Douglas make up the rhythm section. Lewis and Douglas are also in the Leeds psych/garage band Spearmint Tongues, which is mainly formed from Lewis’ housemates; the Leeds scene is very small, and we’re all great at
sharing. How long have you wanted to be a musician for? I was a stage brat from a young age because my family has been involved in local amateur dramatics for three generations, but I think I was 14 or 15 when I realised I didn’t like authority or being around lots of people, and decided to form an acoustic duo with my boyfriend. When that started earning me more money and satisfaction than my part-time job at the local Chinese takeaway, I decided it might be a viable career option. You’ve not long dropped your single ‘R&B’, how did that go? Was it one you were sat on for a while? ‘R&B’ came together weirdly quickly for us; I’m pretty sure the whole thing was written, demoed and recorded with Theo in the same month. That was January, and it’s been a bit of an agonising wait for the release because it’s quite different from the singles we’ve already released; we weren’t sure how it would be received. But, some people have said some really nice things, so we’re all currently in a state of relief, with a hint of pride. Where did that single come from? Do tracks find you, or do you have to find them? Lyrics and themes usually find me, and then I have to go searching for the music. It’s simultaneously an ode
to the worst writer’s block of my life so far, and what cured it. I wrote the bass riff on Logic’s piano scroll, and then Nick knocked it out of the park with his chorus melody. Doug had already decided on the bridge section’s drum part, and when Lewis and Nick started jamming their polyrhythms over it, it really started sounding like us. Which is your favourite English Teacher song? Probably one that we haven’t released yet called ‘Wallace’. I wrap my issues with right-wing politics in a Titanic metaphor, and our best mate Luca (Draags’ frontman) has a cello solo, which is followed by what I can only describe as the sexiest guitar line I’ve ever heard (cheers Lewis, you dog). What do you do for fun? Douglas has started making surreal clay sculptures and beaded morse-code necklaces, which we hope to sell as merch one day. We also like to have dance parties in our house where we move the table out of the centre of the living room, turn the lights down, and dance to hyper-pop until it’s time for a Pizza La Fonte. What’s coming up? We’ve got quite a few dates in the diary already, most of which are yet to be announced, but all of which are very exciting. P English Teacher’s new single ‘R&B’ is out now.
Oscar Lang has announced his debut album with an ear worm of a new single, ‘Stuck’. His first fulllength, ‘Chew The Scenery’ follows on from loads of EPs – three from last year alone – and will arrive on 16th July via Dirty Hit,
Isaac Dunbar has announced a new tour. The five-date run - taking place this November - includes his rescheduled show at London’s Camden Assembly, plus a second night, and stops in Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.
Dead Nature, aka former Spring King-er Tarek Musa – has announced his debut solo album. ‘Watch Me Break Apart’ will be released on 25th June via Dead Nature Records, preceded by new single ‘Hurricane’.
Joey Maxwell It takes a lot to win the title of ‘Dork fave’, but Joey Maxwell is on his way. Words: Finlay Holden.
ondon-based popster Joey Maxwell has moved beyond the genre boundaries of his past musical experiments. His new mixtape ‘Trying Not To Deep It’ features honest declarations alongside dynamic sonic environments, finding him infusing pop beats with jazz instrumentals and R&B supplements. From his flat in London, Joey updates us on his year of reflection and selfgrowth. Hey Joey. What have you been up to recently? I’ve been running loads recently because I’m doing a marathon next month. Up until the last couple of weeks, it was fun, and I was enjoying the mileage, but now, at the business end doing really long runs, to be honest, I’m getting horrible aches – my feet are actually disgusting. Where did this project come from? I was in a band called Indigo Husk before this, which made lo-fi garage rock, but a couple of years ago, we sort of hit our peak and were interested in different music and wanting to write other things, so that group had run its course, and so here I am. Was it a big change going solo? I only realised how different it was when I released something by myself. It’s way more scary and intimidating because there’s no one else to hide behind, which sounds cliché, but it is true. Do you like using a full range of media to get your personal message across? Yeah, I’ve always come up with cool video narratives, but I’ve found with the bigger budget videos that so much of the vibe comes from the camera styles and equipment, so the collaborations I’ve done on those have been a perfect balance of filling in each other’s creative and technical gaps. In the latest
video, we had a huge camera rig to imitate Peep Show, which I couldn’t have set up alone. Does “R&B-tinged indie pop” pinpoint your intended sound? The mixtape project coming out has such a range of styles that you could use that tag for a couple of the songs, but it would be inappropriate for others. So yeah, I do whatever kind of music I like, and I don’t know how anyone would define that. Do you think it’s a useful skill to be able to pull from many genres? Yeah, that’s a product of the single-based world we live in now, but also the way in which people make music now has massively changed. Accessing music is so much easier and bigger, and the fact that you can essentially sit on a computer and make any style of music is a big part of it. I’m a fan of so many genres, and I can go and recreate them and make them my own – that’s why it’s such a big jumble of sounds. Can you tell us about your new single ‘Infrared’? The song has no double meaning or anything; I was just falling in love with this girl who is now my girlfriend. It’s a true love song, and what better to have that with than a saxophone – what’s more romantic than a sax breakdown? I really liked the musician’s style, so I told him to come in the studio and play whatever he wanted. He’s a bit of an overplayer, like most saxophonists are, so he came out with this ridiculous solo. I wanted some real musical elements, which is quite a juxtaposition in the song because it’s quite computerbased throughout the rest of the instrumentation, so the surprise of the obnoxious sax is sick. What inspired your YouTube series Trying Not To Deep It? Predominantly the idea came from the fact that while playing shows or festivals, you always
meet other bands, and I think the most authentic time you get to know other artists is just hanging around backstage, in the dressing room or whatever, so I’ve missed that collaboration. It’s nice to see some friends, too; me and Finn Askew are label mates, so it’s always fun to hang out with him. I’ve just done an episode with Will Joseph Cook as well; we’re friends too. Where did that title come from? Trying Not To Deep It is the name of the series and now also the name of the mixtape; it’s the motto of this whole project so far. This mixtape is partially me sharing my experiences, but doing it in a way that is entertaining because I understand that my role as a musician is to be an “entertainer”. It’s also important to share personal experiences, so the way I like to do that is to keep it enjoyable for myself and not go too deep – enjoying creating art but without worrying too much about the end result or reaction too much. Lots of the conversation going on in the last year has been very deep! Yeah, it’s an important thing. Having any platform, big or small, it’s important to be involved with these conversations and social commentary. For me, it’s important to make sure news is spread correctly because misinformation can be very dangerous. I’ve definitely sat back on some things to educate myself better so that I know everything I share is important and correct. It’s important to be plugged in and take these things seriously without trivialising them. You’ve said you see the rock’n’roll star image as being dated, how can it adapt to the modern era? I think the traditional image of rock’n’roll is dated because ultimately being a rock star
back in the day meant having a total disregard for everything and anyone else; you vandalise hotels, take loads of drugs and don’t care about any of the consequences. That isn’t very cool – when you’re young, you think it’s cool not to give a fuck about anything, but then you grow up and realise that’s the least attractive thing; it’s actually good to do things that you care about. Cancel culture means realistically you couldn’t exactly get away with being Ozzy Osbourne anymore. In terms of someone who embodies the stardom well now, I’d definitely say Harry Styles. He’s socially conscious, charismatic and cool without being a dick; that’s the modern rock star
WHAT’S MORE ROMANTIC THAN A SAX BREAKDOWN? JOEY MAXWELL
Do you ever find yourself listening to or creating things that you would’ve dismissed in the past? I certainly used to listen to very specific genres, but I always had interest beyond that, so it wasn’t such an aggressive change – I wasn’t like, “ugh, pop!” Recently I’ve listened to loads of cool PC Music, like 100 gecs and have been making high fidelity dance music – I wouldn’t believe I’d do that a few years ago. That’s the beauty of being a solo artist and building a reputation of being genre-fluid; if I put that out, people wouldn’t even bat an eyelid. We heard you struggled to maintain a mullet over lockdown and consider it an
art form – what other things in your daily life would you consider an art form? Breakfast food is definitely an art form – I can do a lot of stuff with baked beans. I’ve really mastered the ways to digest them; I can make that shit gourmet. What’s your goal with this ‘Trying Not To Deep It’ mixtape release? The goals have changed from when I made it in 2019; I thought I’d be able to tour it and share it while I’m being exposed to people. I want it now to be a good foundation for when I can do that again; it’s a cool snapshot of me as an artist so people can check out my tunes and become a fan. What can you tell us about the track ‘fuck’? It’s another bare romantic little tune. I thought it’d be pretty funny to have a long song with that title but looking back it’s not that funny. The instrumentation is really stripped back, I’m playing guitar on it and it’s nice to take a moment to flex my lyrical bone a bit. Sometimes lyrics and buried in the melodies, but here they’re exposed and I’m focused on being a softy. What do you want listeners to get from the EP? It’s up to them, really. I want them to enjoy it and relate to my experiences, my lyrics are quite personable, so I hope there’ll be some eureka moments where people find my words apply to what they’ve got going on. Ultimately I hope to create a common thread between my fans and myself to build a community – I think ‘fan base’ isn’t a great term, I think ‘community’ is better to describe people who have a dialogue with each other, which is what I want to do. P Joey Maxwell’s mixtape ‘Trying Not To Deep It’ is out soon.
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Critical acclaim, start of year hype lists, big US telly performances and superstar collaborations - Holly Humberstone is ticking off all the checkpoints on her route to the top. As her new EP approaches, she’s just trying to stay true to herself. Words: Martyn Young. Photos: Jordan Curtis Hughes, Zac Mahrouche. Stylist: Amy Holden Brown.
n many ways, the last 18 months have been terribly normal for Holly Humberstone. In other ways, however, they’ve been the most surreal experience a person could ever go through. It’s the story of a gifted and supremely talented songwriter living in blissful tranquillity amongst sleepy English fields, while the beginnings of a pop icon bubble up around her as new fans fall into her world and get lost in the dream. “I’m living at home where I grew up, in the countryside,” begins Holly, as she tells us about her year spent primarily in Covid lockdown. Right now, things are quiet and sedate - a time of reflection and creation. “I’m really enjoying having some time with my family, and my sisters are home which is really lovely,” she says contentedly. “I’m commuting to and from London a few days a week, just doing some writing. My new EP has been finished for a long time, so I’ve just been having lots of fun doing some cool performances, and I’ve really been loving writing.” It’s been a strange feeling to have your career take off while you’ve been stuck firmly in one place, but it all adds to the mixed up whirl of emotions that make Holly such an exciting new artist. “It’s been a weird blur,” she explains. “It’s been so bizarre. My first song, ‘Deep End’, from my first EP, came out on the last day of January 2020, and then we went into lockdown in March. The whole time I’ve had music out and properly working as a musician has been really strange. I haven’t been able to do live shows like everyone else, so I haven’t really seen any tangible proof that people are listening to my music. I haven’t been able to meet anyone who is enjoying my music. It’s all been online.”
t’s a sign of the mixed-up times that one of the most talked-about new stars on the planet can’t even be sure if people like her music, but it’s a feeling we can all relate to. A nagging uncertainty and trepidation we’ve all experienced. That’s the thing with Holly. She knows what we’re thinking because she’s thinking it too. We’re all just trying our best to navigate life, and she’s going to do that in her own unflinchingly honest and candid way. The last year has undoubtedly been challenging for an artist who thrives on social interaction and documenting her innermost feelings and desires on a profoundly human level. You can’t make many human connections when you’re stuck within four walls with only a blown lightbulb for inspiration. “I’d struggled during the first lockdown with being stuck inside,” she admits.
HOLLY’S HAUNTED HOUSE
HOLLY HUMBERSTONE’S CHILDHOOD HOME IS HAUNTED. You might think, that’s silly, haunted houses don’t exist. But no, it’s true. It definitely is. Holly wrote a song on her new EP about it and everything. “I’ve never seen a ghost, although there are definitely ghosts here,” says Holly emphatically. “Walking around at night, you can feel a presence. My friend Scarlett’s mum
owns an antique shop, and she’s a bit of a clairvoyant. She came here and said she can definitely feel the ghosts. The idea for ‘Haunted House’ came from being told that we had to leave the house because it’s falling apart and needs a lot of work done to it. That was something I dreaded as it’s the most precious thing in the world to me. I had the idea that if there are ghosts here, I actually feel really
“When I’m really busy, I feel like I’m overstimulated and at my most creative, and I want to write more. I found that really difficult. I wasn’t seeing my friends; I wasn’t having any inspiring experiences. I was getting real FOMO sitting at home thinking, what am I supposed to write about? I didn’t actually write anything for a few months. All of my interactions were on social media, where it’s really hard not to compare yourself with other people. Because that was my only interaction with the outside world, it was hard for me to stay grounded and work the way that I’m used to.” Fortunately, though, things are looking up. It’s hopefully time for Holly to start living her best pop star life. “Now, I’m cherishing getting to write and see my friends,” she says. One of the most important things she is looking forward to is getting out there and playing live. She had played shows before as a complete unknown, road testing early versions of the songs that would make up last year’s ‘Falling Asleep At The Wheel EP’, but she hasn’t yet been able to experience the visceral thrill of performing in front of a packed audience. “It’s been hard to believe that all of these things I’m doing are real,” she says. I’ve been lucky enough to do some TV shows, but I’ve been doing everything from home, so it’s been hard to believe that I’ve been able to do all this cool stuff. I would never have thought I’d be able to do anything like this. It’s going to be a huge shock when I’m able to play live shows. I’ve not met a single person who hasn’t been a friend or family member who has liked my music. When I do a show, it’s going to be extremely bizarre but really amazing and validating.” Despite her trepidation at the big steps still to be conquered, there’s a steely determination that runs through everything that Holly does. She’s intent on doing things her own way, on being absolutely true to herself. She’s not interested in following trends or perceived notions of cool. “I love really nerdy stuff,” she laughs as she tells us of her love for The Lord Of The Rings series of films and Harry Potter books. “I like to get lost in that,” she says. When you look at the rich
and evocative storytelling of her songs, it all makes perfect sense. Holly’s songs are primarily about searching within yourself - deeply human feelings and emotions. Her songs are about relationships. Family and friendships are constant touchstones, supporting others and nurturing those relationships that we hold dear. “It sounds a bit lame, but I just love hanging out with my friends. That’s the thing I value above everything else,” she explains. “When I’m not writing, my number one thing I want to be doing is seeing friends and socialising. I feel so inspired around everyone that I love.”
I DROPPED OUT AND MOVED TO LONDON. IT WAS SO TERRIBLE. THE WALLS WERE DAMP, THERE WAS MOULD INSIDE THE FRIDGES... IT WAS SOMETHING OUT OF A HORROR MOVIE HOLLY HUMBERSTONE It’s no surprise that a loyal and fervent community has fallen in love with Holly and her songs. Never judgemental, always open-hearted and enveloping, it goes right back to her first-ever song. “When I’m going through something, I always turn to writing. It’s really special to see people relating to that,” she says thoughtfully. “It’s validating to know that a song that I wrote
safe around them when I should be scared.” Holly is firmly on board with Dork’s philosophy that ghosts are very much a good thing - they just have a bad rep. One day Holly’s treasured home might exist as a monument both to her success and the ghostly beings who have guided her way. “I’ve grown up with these ghosts, and they have watched over my
could be a comfort to someone. ‘Deep End’ was the first song I ever wrote. It’s about not knowing how to deal with a loved one going through a hard time feeling all sorts of weird emotions about caring for someone but also feeling helpless. I didn’t hear any songs that were about that for me, and the thought that song could be like that for someone else is really rewarding.” Some of Holly’s songs’ comforting and engaging qualities can perhaps be ascribed to the environment in which they were created. “I grew up with three sisters. We’re really close in age and really similar - all pretty much the same person,” says Holly of her close family relationships. “My parents were really encouraging for us to use our time creatively. We live in a huge old house that’s falling apart a bit and really quirky. It’s always been such a creative mess. We were encouraged to use the space to do art and music and stuff. They had an amazing music taste that we’ve all inherited. Music was always playing when I was growing up.” Holly swiftly discovered that writing stories and setting them to music was her true passion. “I’ve never stopped,” she says proudly. “It’s my hobby, and it’s my form of therapy. I write about all the things that have changed in my life but writing songs is the one thing that feels like a constant. It’s my comfort zone. If I’ve had a terrible day and something horrendous has happened, I know that I can always go back and write a song about it and make something beautiful out of something horrible. It’s always been a positive thing in my life.”
any new emerging artists have found their feet making songs online, but for Holly, her earliest days making music were a more private experience. “One of the reasons I didn’t go on YouTube was I’m quite shy,” she says. “I had lots of friends, but I kept the demos between us. It was a really personal thing, so I only wanted to share my songs with my family and friends. I didn’t want to put myself out there too much.” Instead, with the encouragement of said friends,
sisters and me. We have a massive cellar. There are bits that have been knocked down; it’s like a dungeon down there. Everyone that comes is freaked out by how terrifying this house is, but I’m so unphased. Who knows if it will still be here in a couple of years. I’m sure the ghosts will scare off the workers when they come to rip it down.” Good ol’ ghostly pals. Always here to help out.
she uploaded one of her songs to the BBC Introducing website. That provided the catalyst for a rolling wave of hype as she got to play Glastonbury and begin to realise her artistic vision. One crucial part of that vision is the desire to always keep on making new stuff. Keep on exploring. Keep on pushing. “I never played covers,” she says as an example of that early rush of creativity. “The fun of playing music is the creation. When you’re young, and you’re just so creative, your imagination is wild and eager to create. Once you write one song, it’s like, right, what can I write about next. These things inspire you when you’re ten years old.” At the heart of everything Holly does is the importance of the songs. Holly makes deep, evocative music on an emotionally resonant level. She also does it in a hugely fun and engaging way. It’s a rare talent. “Writing makes me the happiest,” she says. “It’s my way of working through all my feelings. When I write a song, there’s a sense of satisfaction that I can’t really get from anything else. I’m massively ambitious and would love to travel the world on a global tour selling out venues, but my number one ambition is to just keep on making music that I love. If I can keep on doing that, then I’m all set. I make music for other people to enjoy, but I think the main reason people connect to it and I love doing it is because I’m writing for myself. That’s something I hope I’ll never lose.” Being truthful is a theme Holly regularly comes back to. She may only be 21, but she knows that being honest with yourself and, more importantly, your fans, is the key to a successful career. People can spot bullshit a mile off. With Holly, everything you see or hear is intensely real. “I think the reason people can relate to the songs is that I’m writing about pretty universal situations,” she ponders. “I’m in a weird, confusing stage of my life where I’m in between being a teenager and living at home and moving away from my parents. A lot of people know how that is and remember those feelings. They might be going through that now. If I’m writing about something I don’t believe in, then I’m just going to scrap it. I have to readdork.com 37.
feel like I’ve poured my heart and soul into the song and been really vulnerable. Otherwise, it’s just shit, and people can’t relate to it.” The songs Holly creates are little vignettes filled with heartstopping lines, striking turns of phrase or piercing emotional twists. There’s a cinematic quality to the way she crafts stories that weave and thread their way through both the songs and their accompanying visuals. There’s no formula or plan, though. It’s mostly the result of a little bit of pop magic that can appear at any time. Think of it like the genie in Aladdin popping up with a moment of striking inspiration. “It always comes in a different way,” explains Holly. “There’s no specific mood or environment that I have to be in. Sometimes I’ll be on the train and inspired by something I’ve seen out the window, or I’ll be walking around and see interesting little phrases or words, and a whole song will come from that. ‘Falling Asleep At The Wheel’ just came from a random phrase that I had written on my phone. Sometimes it comes straight from the song title and works backwards, and I’m relating the title to what I’m going through. I really enjoy either being in the studio or in my house, sitting down at the piano and writing down how I feel. I’ll come up with a cool riff, or I’ll have a jam in the studio.” If there’s any creative principle that Holly sticks to, it’s the importance of lucidity and focus. It’s most apparent in the imagery that she creates herself to complement the music. See, for example, the stunning oneshot 14-minute short film ‘On The Run’ from last year that ripples with intensity. “A lot of the time, I do have a visual in mind while I’m writing,” says Holly about her all-encompassing creative approach. “I think about how I want the song to look. When I listen to songs, I build a picture in my mind. The most important thing is just to be as vulnerable as I can, be my own authentic self in everything that I do and all the aspects of the visuals. Keeping it simple really makes a difference. Less is more. It’s important not to overcomplicate things and keep it pretty basic.”
n her forthcoming as-yet-untitled EP, Holly strikes the perfect combination of emotional pop and expansive songwriting. At its centre is perhaps the most important song of her career so far. “’The Walls Are Way Too Thin’ is a really important song for me,” reveals Holly. “It’s a banger and really fun to listen to, but I was feeling really, really sad at the time that I wrote that song about. I wrote it when I moved away from my parents. I had just done a year
PEOPLE DO GOOD LIKE MANY ARTISTS EMERGING NOW, HOLLY IS CONSCIOUS OF HER PLACE IN THE WORLD AND HOW SHE CAN BE A POSITIVE FORCE IN HER OWN UNIQUE WAY. “It’s my responsibility as someone with a platform that might keep growing to spread awareness about stuff that I care about,” she explains. “Something really important to me is being sustainable and helping the environment in any way that I can. Since we were really small, my sisters and I have been swapping clothes. We share everything, and we got into going to charity shops and thrifting. “I found it really hard when I started to do shoots and videos because I was like, where am I supposed to get all these clothes from? Every week I need a different hoodie or something, and I didn’t want to buy a new one every single week. It’s not good for the environment. “I did this thing called Fifth Sister Swapshop that I set up online. It’s a sustainable way of getting new clothes. I don’t think I’ve bought something new in a really long time. I actually think I find better stuff searching through car boot sales and charity shops.” Nothing makes Holly happier than rummaging through a lovely car boot sale. “It’s a magical world!” she exclaims. “I’d like to focus on that more. I’d like to bring it to some of my gigs. I get a bit anxious going around a car boot sale with someone else because I’m scared they’ll get all the really good stuff.” Is she good at haggling, though? An essential skill in the world of the car boot. “I’m so bad at it, but my friend Scarlett is good,” she laughs. “She’ll just be like 20p, final offer.”
away at university a bit further north, and I didn’t really like it. I didn’t make any friends. I was put in a random house. I had loads of friends at school, but when I moved away from home, I was away from my sisters and my family and everything I knew. I just became really introverted and didn’t leave my room. I dropped out because it wasn’t for me and moved to London for a year. I remember the first day was completely mad and hilarious. I literally did not know anyone in London apart from my manager. I didn’t know where I was going to live, who I was living with and just rocking up with an overnight bag. It was so terrible. The walls were so damp, there was mould inside the fridges. There were filthy mattresses. It was something out of a horror movie. I felt like everything was really odd, and everything I knew to be normal was changing.” “I would go out to work but the rest of the time, just shut myself in my room,” she continues. “There would be really fun stuff going on in the rest of the house, but I just felt really down. I felt lost. I didn’t understand who I was anymore. I was unsure of my place. I had a little quarter-life identity crisis. It was one of those classic situations a lot of people have when they’re moving to the city for the first time. It’s a bit awkward with everyone living on top of each other. There’s no privacy, and you can’t fully relax. You’re always trying to avoid people and make awkward
conversations.” The EP marks a significant step up for Holly. Again working with her close collaborator, Rob Milton - best known for his work with Easy Life and a whole host of exciting people like Maisie Peters and Rose Gray, amongst others - the pair honed Holly’s songs with a broader sonic palette and sharp clarity. Rob is really important to Holly’s story, a person she clearly holds dear. “The key to working with someone is that you can trust them. The things I’m writing about are so personal. If you can’t be fully comfortable or honest with someone, then you’ve got no hope,” she says. It also helps that they had something of a prior acquaintance. Sort of. “He was the lead singer of Dog Is Dead and, because I went to a school in Nottingham, Dog is Dead were the local band. Everyone would go to the shows,” she explains before laughing, “They were iconic in Nottingham!”
nother iconic figure Holly got to work with on this EP was a certain Matthew Healy - an experience that was slightly surreal but hugely rewarding for Holly. “I’m not sure how it happened,” she laughs. “I love The 1975. They’re one of the bands that I reference the most when I’m writing. It’s crazy that I’ve been able to meet him. I think he really liked what I was making and took me under his wing for a bit. Matty was one of the people I wouldn’t normally have been able
to work with in non-coronavirus times. He would be off touring the world or living his rock star life. Because they’re just sitting at home, these people are willing to take time out of their own projects. It’s mad I managed to pin down Matty. It was such a fun day, and we wrote [new EP track] ‘Please Don’t Leave Yet’ really naturally. We were just jamming. Matty was being a genius on the piano, and it just came out of nowhere. It’s a really special song for me.”
IT’S MAD I MANAGED TO PIN DOWN MATTY; IT WAS SUCH A FUN DAY HOLLY HUMBERSTONE Note that Holly says “one of the people” there as she teases that there may be other exciting names that she has worked with. “I’ve been doing all sorts of collabs with other people, but I’ve been doing stuff with Matty that maybe will lead to more stuff.” Exciting times ahead, then. The future is an interesting concept for Holly. “I don’t think about the future too much because it’s scary,” she laughs. “Maybe an album will come next, but that’s really scary as it seems like a massive commitment. I’m a massive perfectionist, so it’s going to take me a while to get that right,” she explains. That’s ok, though. Instead, we get to experience Holly building her own idiosyncratic universe bit by bit, playfully dropping little nuggets of references to forthcoming songs or call-backs to the past. Holly is super smart, and it’s this attention to detail that sets her out from the rest. “It’s so much fun building a storyline between the videos and leaving little easter eggs, snippets of the next track in the video,” she says excitedly.” I love reading the comments and seeing if people have figured it out. The story is almost as important as the music for me. I need to know what an artist is about to buy into them. I need to understand their world. Storytelling is so so important.” If any phrase defined Holly Humberstone right now, that would be it. An auteur for a new generation, her story is set to run and run. P Holly Humberstone’s new EP is coming soon.
INTENTION AND I’M JUST IN A BAD MOOD // THERE WAS A POSSIBLE CONNECTION / ON THE TABLE FOR A SECOND / THEN SHE MADE SUCH AN ENTRANCE / CAN’T STAND ALL THIS TENSION CAN YOU? // THEN THE WALLS ARE WAY TOO THIN / THE WALLS ARE WAY TOO THIN // YOU’RE BLOWING SMOKE RINGS IN THE CORRIDORS I FEEL SO COLD / HOW COME IT RAINS INSIDE, THE HOUSE IS FULL BUT I’M ALONE IGNORED, I’M BEING OUT MY MIND / OOOOOOOOO / THE WALLS ARE WAY TOO THIN / THE WALLS ARE WAY TOO THIN // AND NO I’M / NOT JUST GONNA LAY HERE AND BITE MY TONGUE / I ONLY WANNA
WE CROSSED PATHS BY THE BATHROOM / BUT I’D JUST RATHER BE OUT OF THE PICTURE / AND I’LL DO MY UPMOST TO TALK TO YOU / BUT I JUST WANT / WITH ALL THE SHIT THAT STILL NEEDS FIXING OUT OF MY CONTROL / IT TAKES A HOLD OF ME / IT TAKES A HOLD OF ME // THE SAME OLD BE HERE WHEN SHE’S GONE / OOOOOOOOO / THE WALLS ARE WAY TOO THIN // OH I GET DOWN / I GET DOWN WHEN SHE GETS YOU HIGH / I’M
TO BE OUT / I JUST WANT TO BE OUT OF THE PICTURE // AND NO I’M / NOT JUST GONNA LAY HERE AND BITE MY TONGUE / I ONLY WANNA BE HERE WHEN SHE’S GONE / OOOOOOOOO / THE WALLS SAD SONGS I CLING TO / CAUSE I JUST WANNA BE OUT / I JUST WANNA BE OUT OF THE PICTURE // AND NO I’M / NOT JUST GONNA LAY HERE AND BITE MY TONGUE / I ONLY WANNA BE HERE BORED, I’M IGNORED, I’M BEING OUT MY MIND / OOOOOOOOO / THE WALLS ARE WAY TOO THIN / THE WALLS ARE WAY TOO THIN / THE WALLS ARE WAY TOO THIN
T H E W A L L S A R E W A Y T O O T H I N > > > I H E A R D Y O U T A L K I N G T I L L T H E M O R N I N G / H E A V Y W H I S P E R S F R O M T H E N E X T R O O M / Y O U S A Y I HOLLY T ’ S N HUMBERSTONE EVER YOUR ARE WAY TOO THIN / OH I GET DOWN / I GET DOWN WHEN SHE GETS YOU HIGH / I’M BORED, I’M IGNORED, I’M BEING OUT MY MIND / OOOOOOOOO / WHEN SHE’S GONE / OOOOOOOOO / THE WALLS ARE WAY TOO THIN / OH I GET DOWN / I GET DOWN WHEN SHE GETS YOU HIGH / I’M BORED, I’M
For a band who claim they don’t know what they’re doing, Easy Life sure seem like they’re on a charge. With their debut album finally here, it’s bucket and spade time for one of the hottest new acts on the planet. Words: Jamie Muir.
t’s February 2020. Dork has just spent a couple of hours in the company of Easy Life, riding high with the world at their feet. Award show wins. Top 10 albums. That feeling of 2020 being their year buzzing in the air, a feverish excitement to their words, not knowing where the road was about to take them but ready to go. A dream that seemed so distant in those early years playing shows in and around their hometown of Leicester. It felt new, but also right. Just over a year later, and frontman Murray is sitting perched in the sunshine, wracking his brains about the past year. Not just where the world has gone since that last chat, but where Easy Life have gone, too. Yes, it may be a pretty straightforward statement to point out that the past year or so has had its impact on us all - but for Easy Life, it’s changed them in ways they’d never have predicted. Shaking the foundations of everything they built, it’s left a big question mark on what comes next. “You know, man, I’d hate to say I was feeling cool right now,” Murray admits. “We’re obviously hugely excited about putting the album out, and I don’t want to underplay that, but we were so used to getting out there and playing songs, almost roadtesting them. We haven’t had that, and it’s added this extra level of anxiety where it’s like I have no idea if people are going to like these songs.” Like for many artists, that lack of interaction has been hard to come to terms with. Easy Life know they’re in a better place than most, but for a band on the cusp of dropping a debut album, having to hit pause left them looking for that purpose. “It’s left me feeling less confident because those shows are so massively reassuring,” explains Murray. “We’ve always been a live band. That’s what we do. That’s our bread and butter. We’re not those guys who are super trendy or up to date on Instagram or TikTok. That’s not really our forte. Our forte is putting on an amazing live show and being with people. To take that away from us; it’s kinda left me with some crippling anxiety - way more than what I was feeling before. “I’m like - well, does anyone still care about Easy Life? I’m sure there are a few artists who feel the same because, other than self-promoting online, there’s not a whole lot you can do. Without those things that reassure you, it’s left us asking so much. Do people wanna listen to this new music? Or do they just want to come to a
fucking show? What was and what is important about Easy Life has changed.”
WE WERE JUST A LITTLE BIT LOST AND DECIDED TO MAKE A BAND; NOW WE’RE PLAYING TWO NIGHTS AT BRIXTON ACADEMY MURRAY MATRAVERS It’s somewhat appropriate then that the band’s debut album, ‘life’s a beach’, arrives at a time of newfound hope and excitement for the future. A joyful scrapbook of looking
around, embracing struggles, but knowing that ultimately we’re in this together and things will be alright in the end - there’s no doubt that this is a debut that wouldn’t have been the same without the past 18 months. “That anxiety I feel now, that could be a good thing, you know?” reflects Murray. “There’s a positive. Like, I think the album probably sounds different because of that time, and I like to think different in a good way because all change can be positive.” That feeling of optimism and collective hope in the face of every challenge life throws isn’t just a simple bow to tie up ‘life’s a beach’; it defines everything Easy Life do. A self-described “melting pot of shit we were listening to and our own individual tastes”, it’s why in the space of a couple of years, they’ve gone from a group of friends to a band soundtracking the lives of a whole generation. It’s the sort of grand statement the band wouldn’t make themselves, but that doesn’t make it any less accurate. “It’s fucking crazy, man. Honestly, it’s a silly thing, isn’t
it?” laughs Murray, thinking over the past few years. “Every young kid is in a band at some stage, and that’s literally all this fucking was! We were just people who were a little bit lost in the world and decided to make a band and smoke weed together. Now we’re playing two nights at Brixton Academy at the end of the year. It’s a complete joke! “There’s a beautiful irony at the heart of Easy Life - that everything major that has happened to us has come at a moment when we thought it wouldn’t. We’re just blagging it! We have no idea what we’re doing!” Refusing to play up to the hyperbole, ‘life’s a beach’ thrives in its grounded tales. It’s a snapshot of everyday feelings and emotions, finding the glint of light even when times are darkest. Whether it’s the call to better days of ‘a message to myself’, the grin-inducing smile of ‘have a great day’, the Streetsesque closer ‘music to walk home to’, or the potent bounce of latest number ‘skeletons’ - it’s impossible to come away from ‘life’s a beach’ without feeling warm. The culmination of every
unpredictable step made so far, its roots in simply looking on the bright side of life is nothing short of vital. That message is something that only now Murray can come to acknowledge. “It’s not something I went into thinking about directly,” he notes, “but in retrospect, I think the album deals mostly with this idea of escapism. Just the process of making music is pure escapism - so the album is about wishing things were simpler, but also coming to terms with life and realising: ‘…but it’s okay!’ With Easy Life, we do that a lot. We’ll always be like: look how bad this thing is, but it’s okay. “It’s a celebration of all the things that are wrong with the world in a way which flips them around and says: Yeah, but isn’t it great that we’ve all got these similar issues that we can relate to one another with?” Rather than aiming squarely for the knockout with a message of defiance, Easy Life’s stand revels in the everyday. They’re us. They’re you. They’re every little decision we have to make, from waking up in the morning until we rest our heads at night. It’s going with the flow, making
things better along the way. “It’s easy for me to glance over and think about it,” reflects Murray, thinking about what ‘life’s a beach’ truly represents, “but I’m certainly not like sat here saying it was all planned out. It all happens accidentally, like…” He cracks up laughing. “I swear people get me twisted. I’m not that much of a deep thinker. I’m just trying to work it out and let you know my view.” Not many acts can come into a debut album already with a Top 10 position in the UK Album Charts secured, but then - it shouldn’t be a surprise that Easy Life already have that accolade in their back pocket. With ‘Junk Food’ - a mixtape that, much like previous EPs ‘Spaceships’ and ‘Creature Habits’, came together and captured a moment in time they confirmed themselves as an essential new band to many. When it came to ‘life’s a beach’, even if life itself had changed dramatically, it’s that relevancy Murray wanted to get across once again. “I felt like it’d be stupid to have come all this way and learn nothing about how to release music because we’ve released quite a bit,” he adds. “Every collection of music we’ve had, they’ve become collections because of when and where they were written. Easy Life at Truck Festival 2019 (photos: Sarah Louise Bennett)
With this album, it’s everything that I wrote over lockdown and the year before.” Murray pauses. “I probably actually could have written this album in a week if I had put my mind to it, but you need to go through all the fucking crazy little anxiety attacks to make it the full cycle.”
WE’RE JUST BLAGGING IT! WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE’RE DOING! MURRAY MATRAVERS There were dry patches as lockdown began, but the time to slow down and take a look around would eventually prove beneficial for a band forming their grandest statement to date. From young love, to nostalgic yearning, to mental health and overcoming life’s darkest moments - there’s an unfiltered charm to Easy Life. Delivering on the hype, it’s a wide-eyed ride born from the tales Murray crafts from the dimly-lit moments in life - transformed into brighter and bolder surroundings. “I’m only ever really moved to make music when I’m really sad and melancholic,” he continues. “When you’re in those sort of states, you often think about the past and shit you shouldn’t have done or shit you shouldn’t have said, or things that
were said to you. When you’re in that sort of realm, I think it’s much easier to jump into the past,” Murray pauses, looking around while the sunshine hits his face. “Like when I’m sat outside in the sun and thinking about things, I’m obviously in a good vibe! “When I’m writing, I’m terribly nostalgic. I think too much. I’m constantly referencing stuff that happened in the late 90s and early 00s where my memory first began. They are all the best things that ever happened to me. They’re the most beautiful things, you know? Your first memories, they’re just so crystal clear.” What’s clear is that, like ‘life’s a beach’, Easy Life live off those human moments. It’s born from the innocence of taking the time to smell the flowers now and then. While it’s easy to point at the world and see the darkness, Easy Life are a band like no other because they’re simply taking it in their stride. “There really is no master plan. It literally is just happening,” Murray explains. “We’re just going along with it and doing what we feel like in that moment. It feels like quite a recent phenomenon that you see with a lot of artists. You have 15-year-old kids making beats on their laptops at home, and suddenly an artist like Drake hits them up and asks to use those beats. Suddenly everything starts happening, and they didn’t mean for it to happen. They’re just having a good time in their mum’s house, y’know? It’s so DIY and so now. “It’s the same with us. If we really look today, the only success we’ve ever had in terms of what we’ve created has come from
those moments where we stopped overthinking, and we didn’t just ‘try’ to be successful. I know that’s some terrible advice to give to someone, but that’s the advice I give myself because whenever I’ve just let myself feel those feelings of sadness or just feeling shit, that’s when something good comes out. We never thought this would take off. We would think all the time, ‘how could anyone else want to listen to this?’” It’s that openness and that Easy Life have come to symbolise. It’s why boiled down to its core, ‘life’s a beach’ is a record that only they could have made. Diary entries of life’s imperfections and finding happiness in every complicated facet - it’s a welcome tonic that feels essential as the world steps out into a new chapter. For Murray, it’s not the culmination of a journey they’ve made together, but just the next chapter too. “There have been times I have looked back and thought, ah, it’s been good,” he smiles, “but, you know, we still haven’t put this album out yet! Like, I’ve even started working on the second album already, and I think it’s so much better than the first. That’s just how I am. I’m always about reinventing ourselves. This album is what we’ve all been about on this journey so far, cementing it in one place and one moment. “I’m definitely one to look forward instead of back, though. I think in general it’s a good way to be - the past is exactly that. There’s not a whole lot you can do about it. So just try and think about the next big thing. “I don’t try to think about it too much. It wasn’t like we just landed here from the sky, y’know? We’ve played every single tiny pub gig a thousand times over. My whole life for the past ten years has been this. That said, though, I still think it’s fucking insane that people have connected with it all in the way they have. It’s not like I feel any pressure or responsibility, to be honest. I just feel very, very privileged. To be able to make music for a living is a dream. A fucking dream. And it continues to be a dream.” With the time now here for Easy Life, there’s a genuine hope that the good times are about to return in style. Listening to ‘life’s a beach’, you’d feel hard-pressed to bet against that. “I think everybody’s ready to live their best life. I think people are genuinely about it now, rather than just talking about it. There’s gonna be people doing so much cool shit, and I’m excited. I can’t wait to be on that stage, looking around at one another and being like - yeah, this is happening. I’m so excited about this album. So excited to get back touring. When we get out of this fucking hole, it’s going to be really, really interesting.” 2021? Beyond? As Easy Life say ‘it’s nothing you should worry yourself about’. P Easy Life’s debut album ‘life’s a beach’ is out 28th May.
They’re still loud, they’re still proud - but on their third album, Royal Blood are switching things up. Words: Jamie MacMillan. Photos: Mads Perch.
ever mind all the awards, plaudits and sold-out arena tours; there was no disguising the trouble that was hiding on the horizon for Mike Kerr for some time before it swept in and crashed over the Royal Blood frontman. After a stratospheric rise for the Brighton band came a stumble, creatively if not commercially, and he soon found himself at a crossroads - both in his personal life and musically. Now coming out successfully on the other side, newly-found sobriety is going hand-in-hand with a triumphant record that is so good that it puts all the oooooohs into ‘Typhoons’. To say Royal Blood got
WHEN IT BECOMES LIFE OR DEATH LIKE THAT, IT’S PRETTY SERIOUS MIKE KERR very big, very fast is as big an understatement as it gets. If any evidence of that rapid promotion through the ranks was needed, then consider this. After applying to play The Great Escape in their hometown back in 2013, they were dismissed out of hand. The following year, however, they were the hottest act in (their own) town and the talk of ALL the towns. “I wrote to them saying, can we get a gig?” remembers Mike with a laugh today. “They said, ‘sorry, no’. I was like, fuck you guys! I’ve always given a little wink to readdork.com 45.
those guys since; remember when you said no to me?” The reaction to their self-titled and Mercurynominated debut was just as feverish everywhere, and a host of awards soon fell at their feet. But by the time follow-up ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ landed, the juggernaut looked to be finally running out of steam. Looking back now, it was something Mike was perfectly aware of. “Making the first one, we had a very clear idea of what we were doing, and why we were doing it,” he begins, “We were very self-assured of what we were making. The second one, we had outgrown that concept. It was no longer relevant, but we had to keep it up in order to fulfil everyone’s expectations.” Something needed to change then, but that shift wasn’t just confined to the studio.
BECAUSE I WAS WRITING THROUGH THE EYES OF SOBRIETY, I WAS ABLE TO GO DARKER MIKE KERR
After years of hard-living and hard-partying on tour, Mike was in a Las Vegas bar in early 2019 when he finally took the decision to quit drinking for good. “It wasn’t the first time I’d thought about getting sober; it was probably the three hundredth,” he says. “It was almost like I just surrendered to it. It’s like when you’re losing a fight, and you’re on the floor, and you keep getting smashed back down every time you peel yourself off the ground. It was the final punch in the teeth, you know? I was left with no other option.” There’s a long pause before he continues. “Although that isn’t true, is it? I could have carried on, to be honest with you. But I think I would probably have died. When it becomes life or death like that, it’s pretty serious,” he finishes quietly. Admitting that life as a rock star gave him a “free pass” when it came to excess, he points out that something would have been said to him in any other industry but his. “Being a lead singer in a rock band, though, if anything, you get a promotion for it?” Hitting the studio once more with bandmate, and long-term friend, Ben Thatcher, they soon got the first rush from the newly sober Mike’s writing in ‘Boilermaker’, a track produced by one Josh Homme. But the big change was still to come. “Playing on tour that year, it just cemented my viewpoint that we needed to do something different,” he recalls. “Because as much as I
Yes, it’s the animal band question. Sort of. If you had to pick two animals to replace yourself and Ben, what would they be? I would say gorilla on the drums because it’s a fail-safe. Not sure Ben’s gonna appreciate that when he reads it. I’m gonna be a bear. Yes. A bear. Okay. What’s your bear of choice? I don’t know if I have a specific bear of choice... I think just a grizzly bear. Yeah, I think we’d both be predators in that sense. That’s a very ‘rock’ answer. It is a very rock answer. But it is the truth.
loved playing those songs and I’m grateful for them, the idea of having ten more songs that sounded like that… I was so appalled by the idea of doing the same thing, I wasn’t going to be able to do that any more. Just for my own sanity.” Describing it as a decision that left them with a “hunger” to be brave and do something different, it completely altered the band’s trajectory. “Had we not done that, we would have made the worst version yet of the first album.” Instead, ‘Typhoons’ was born, and it may just be the best version of a Royal Blood album yet. It feels like a band reborn at every step. From the first stomp of ‘Trouble’s Coming’, through the full-on groove of ‘Limbo’ to the swaggering ‘Hold On’, it’s the sound of a duo who have finally clipped the strings holding them back to some idealised version of what their band should sound like. It’s taut, it’s tight, yet loose-limbed too, containing as many moments for the dance floors as the mosh pits. It is, frankly, one of the most surprising records that 2021 is likely to throw up. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt as in charge; we just let the song ideas lead the way rather than adhere to what people expected of us,” nods Mike. “We weren’t like, let’s make a Royal Blood album. Instead, it was just, ‘let’s make the best fucking album we can. At whatever cost.” Feeling increasingly clear-headed, it became easier and easier for him to focus on the ideas as they formed, and found that this period of turmoil and recovery was all he wanted to write about. “It just started coming out really,” he says, “and because
I was writing through the eyes of sobriety, I was able to go darker and be as honest about it as possible. The whole idea of drinking and being on drugs is that you’re not able to be vulnerable because it’s too painful, but I had more strength and mental clarity in order to accurately talk about the past.”
AWARDS AND STATISTICS, IT DOESN’T MAKE ME FEEL ANY DIFFERENTLY ABOUT WHAT WE MADE MIKE KERR
All of which makes the lightness of touch in the music all the more surprising, but he describes it as “like cooking a dish you know, the bolder the flavour then you can counterpoint it with something equally strong. You know what I mean?” At this point, a more honest magazine may have admitted to the former chef that cooking any kind of dish like that is beyond most of us here. And that some at Dork (naming no names, but let’s just call that fictional writer Mamie Juir) think nothing of chucking in whatever random six items they find at the back of a cupboard into a saucepan and calling it job done. But instead,
we protect our modesty, nod and act like we know just what Mike means. Regardless of our lack of culinary skills, one thing that we can always smell is a banger. And ‘Typhoons’, a record that Mike describes today as “feel-good in a weird way”, is full of them. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that just as Daft Punk hang up their helmets, along comes another duo to replace them. “I don’t know if we have any chance of carrying on a legacy like that,” he laughs when asked if they are planning a move to Paris. It’s hard not to draw comparisons, to be fair, the ‘Limbo’ video containing faceless dancers working their stuff while in motorbike helmets. “It’s funny, I’ve noticed the word ‘electro’ getting thrown around a lot, but it’s a texture thing. Daft Punk and Justice made their synths sound like guitars, but I wanted my bass to sound like a synth emulating a guitar.” Whatever the intention, it does again show the flexibility and genre-bouncing that modern rock music is currently enjoying. With a willingness to spread its wings into new sounds and styles, just like the success of Architects and Bring Me The Horizon, amongst others, it is yet another asteroid aimed firmly at the Big Rock Dinosaurs of Times Past. “It’s great, you know, and I think it’s probably more of a shift in the kind of music people are listening to,” smiles Mike at the success of the rock scene. “Those kinds of bands have evolved obviously, and are releasing some of their best material ever right now. I think people are tuning into that kind of rock world and are less squeamish around anything distorted, you know?” Equally adamant that it is the talent of the acts around him and not just trends that are leading this moment, “If someone came out with the next ‘Back In Black’, it would never have gone unnoticed, you know?” It’s clearly an exciting time to be in the UK rock scene. One plaudit he isn’t fussed about, though, is any potential chart success, shrugging at the thought of following fellow Brighton band Architects to top spot this year. “Awards and statistics, it doesn’t make me feel any differently about what we made. It’s not like, ‘Oh, this sounds better now I’ve got an award in my hand’,” he laughs. But, waiting for the album release without all the launch razzle-dazzle that you would expect is a strange sensation for him. “I feel like a spectator at my own rocket launch, rather than being on it,” he ponders. “I’m not immersed in the chaos of what it’s usually like at this point. It’s just fingers crossed that it doesn’t blow up.” That return to live shows and normality is just as important to him as anything. “Everyone just wants to have a good time; it’s gonna be mayhem.” At last, it seems that it might just be only good times that Mike, and all of us, can see on the horizon once more. P Royal Blood’s album ‘Typhoons’ is out now.
Arrogant? Stupid? Calling your new album ‘Greatest Hits’ certainly takes a bit of swagger, but then Waterparks’ Awsten Knight has never been one for keeping it lowkey. Words: Steven Loftin. Photos: Jawn Rocha.
aterparks’ Awsten Knight is someone who’ll find a tangent and follow it to the ends of the earth. It’s alright by us, but it makes for frantic fun trying to get an article together. Chart stats from the last thirty years, an extensive list of his favourite films, which animals he’d pop in Waterparks (that’s our bad), and even him turning off his dryer - it’s all flying. “Bumpkins still buy CDs Republicans in the US don’t know about Spotify!” The frontman shrugs. “I typed in ‘Blake Shelton first-week sales’ - this wasn’t even his highest selling one - dude, first week 153,000 copies!” Numbers are whizzing around his head. Frantically typing into the computer he’s beaming through while Dork sits watching, unable to stop the Awsten runaway train. His hunt? The various millions and millions that his band will potentially be up against come release day of their fourth album, ‘Greatest Hits’. “We need to get the fuck to the Midwest! Oh my god. How… many… albums… has… I shouldn’t have a computer in front of me!” He says, typing through fits of laughter, “Blake Shelton sold… motherfucker! 10 mil!” He answers with a sigh that doesn’t feel defeated in the slightest. They’re also up against Olivia Rodrigo - y’know, record-breaking ‘Drivers License’ Olivia Rodrigo - and previous Dork cover stars Twenty One Pilots with their own chart-topping success. But really, Waterparks shouldn’t have a problem. Of all the pop-punk bands in this popping and punking world, Waterparks are the boldest. And we don’t just mean their effervescent chameleon skin effortlessly changing with each new era including their most vocal members iconic hair, which is currently the ‘Greatest Hits’ tricolour of red, yellow and blue, hidden beneath a dramatically opposing grey hoodie. Who else other than the by-way-ofTexas trio would name their fourth album ‘Greatest Hits’, without any of their, err, actual hits? “You can’t bitch out with an album called that, you just can’t do it... that’s so corny!” Awsten says, mocking the ratification for his band’s boldest move to date. “I had to have so many phone calls about it. There’s like maybe five people who press the emergency button… [and] that’s one of them. You’re like, ‘Oh shit, okay, I guess this needs to be a conversation’.” It’s not hard to imagine the amount of ‘conversations’ Waterparks have had over the years. They’ve been bouncing their way around this fast-paced world for a while now. Understandably, Awsten’s flurries of CAPITALISED TWEETS, along with threatening to leak demos and whole albums - often following through when required by ‘Social Media Challenge’ rules - is
more than enough to get his label’s sweating and rapidly smashing that emergency button. Yet, here we are. ‘Greatest Hits’ could very well be Waterparks’ finest moment. Finding its start in - where else - lockdown, Awsten’s time alone rattling around his home meant he had the opportunity to scour his mind to see what really was going on. And it turns out, it was quite A Lot. There are songs on paranoia, depression, his band, and well, just about everything, to be honest, across its 17 (!!!) tracks.
I DON’T TRUST BOYS IN WHITE JEANS
But Awsten, what’s
hit of all time? “I think maybe Death Cab For Cutie might have the best song? ‘I Will Follow You Into The Dark’ makes me… well… this whole album makes me cry, but hang on. (‘Soul Meets Body’ starts playing.) I know, I know it’s basic, but like there’s a reason I love it because it’s fucking great. I might have to say that song, truly.”
However, its three constituents; Messr’s Awsten Knight, Otto Wood (drums) and Geoff Wigington (guitar) have also long since left behind their twinkle-eyed purestessence pop-punk to entrench themselves in a far more complex world - one more akin to a shuffled hype-machine playlist than a ‘Now That’s What I Call Pop-Punk’ compilation. This is something they’ve been threatening since day dot, and far more explored than 2019’s ‘Fandom’ - there’s even a cheeky Limp Bizkit reference for good measure. But, just how pop are they ready to go, given they’re ‘God’s Favourite Boyband’? It turns out all the way - as long as they don’t have to go full Backstreet Boys, mind you. “I don’t trust boys in white jeans like that,” Awsten reasons. “But I think if they were to be like, ‘but you’ll have a billion-dollar budget’, I’d be like, ‘I got plans, let’s go!’ I would totally do the boyband route. That’d be amazing. Plus, they’d give me dance lessons; that’d be cool.” So you’re up for choreography? “I’m not a natural dancer. I like
to dance - it’s fine - but I feel like if it was a mandatory part of the job, like, ‘And you have dance lessons on Wednesday at three’, I’d be like, ‘Good. First things first - Let’s. Moon. Walk,’” each separating clap conjuring the image of Waterparks gliding across stages the world over. Like all good burgeoning pop icons, the trio seems to have their eyes set on creating something bigger than themselves - reaching for the stars on a ladder made of caps-lock tweets, albums chockful of unfiltered subconsciousness, and a fanbase to make even those chart giants wince. More importantly, though, just because within the five years or so since their 2016 debut album Double Dare they’ve opted for a more frantic style of working, doesn’t mean there’s any less consistency to what they’re creating. Fully declaring that, “When people experience any art for the first time they should be alone,” Awsten’s wish for someone’s first listen of ‘Greatest Hits’ - and everything else - is “I want them to be in the fucking dark, maybe some dope headphones if they got ‘em! “If not, whatever. I just want them to experience it not playing on their phone or texting people because you’re going to miss things, 100%. And you’re never going to get that first listen back. Everybody should just go on fuckin’ do not disturb on your phone and just experience it.” Likening it to watching a movie alone for the first time to let the raw unfiltered out, he recalls one particular incident fuelling this motive. “I was at the movies with this girl, and we were watching Inside Out, and towards the end, I was starting to feel something, you know on the real sad, dramatic part? I had the hot feeling right here,” he gestures to between his eyes. “I was really in it. She fucking grabs my arm and was just like, ‘Oh my god are you gonna cry?!’ - ‘Well, now I’m not!’” Similar to those legendary colourful icons, that’s right, the Power Rangers, Greatest Hits’ combination - red, yellow, and blue in this case - is each matching an aspect of Waterparks’ deepest
essence, forming a MegaParx of sorts. It’s one that should be allpowerful, able to defeat those chartsmashing names they’re up against no problem. Maybe. Referring to every album thus far as “someone jogging by taking a picture of where we’re at that time,” he says while taking mimed snaps of Dork’s face. “Then looking back at it and being like, ‘Oh, in 2020 this is what they were doing’. It’s always going to be a moving thing until I decide to press the big red button, and then…” A big Cheshire Cat grin breaking out. “As far as ‘Greatest Hits’ goes, though, the songs are so different from each other, I wanted it to feel like… obviously it’s always going to still feel like us to some extent, it’s not like we’re reverting and being like, ‘Yeah. ‘Double Dare’!’” His voice hitting breakneck speeds. “I mean, people might want it, but they don’t need it. But because there were so many different styles and feelings, I wanted it to feel like it was the greatest hits of a bunch of albums they haven’t heard yet.” It would also seem that this is the closest fans will be getting to an Actual greatest hits from Waterparks. Reckoning that if they ever released a comp as such, it would be “because we’re trying to escape a label situation - that’s what [American emo rockers] Taking Back Sunday did. If it’s strictly for an artistic thing, it’s a waste of a release or a waste of their attention.” “I hope this doesn’t sound any way other than how I mean it, but I-slash-we make so much stuff that it’s kind of hard to condense your posting about it. I don’t want to just constantly be ‘Did this, here’s this, here’s this, here’s this’ - it kind of feels like that sometimes.” Awsten’s thoughts continue racing. “There’s always so much stuff to say, and do, and put out, that even just doing a month-long thing feels like a test - so much attention that’s getting wasted. There would be other things that I want to say so bad, but instead [we’d] be wasting that potential for new dope shit on a victory lap.” So, does ‘Greatest Hits’, actually have The Greatest Hit Ever by Waterparks on it? Well, it turns out, no. They’re all the greatest, oddly enough. After essentially listing the whole album - and their perks - Awsten hits the nail on the head. “See, here’s the thing-” We’ve heard *that one* before “-if there was an easy answer, I would rewrite the album.” In the distance, we hear the faint, frantic voice of Waterparks’ label begging Dork to hang up before they have to abandon the ‘Greatest Hits’ plan entirely - probably, anyway - and breathing a collective sigh of relief as he disappears back amongst those whizzing numbers. We don’t think Blake Shelton’s label has this problem, but where’s the fun in that? P Waterparks’ album ‘Greatest Hits’ is out 21st May.
A PLA SUN
Formed out of friendship, Jay Som’s Melina Duterte and Palehound’s Ellen Kempner have joined forces to form Bachelor. Words: Steven Loftin. Photo: Tonje Thilesen.
ates are great, especially when they spring out of nowhere, suddenly feeling like they’ve always been your partner in crime, as is the case for Jay Som’s Melina Duterte and Palehound’s Ellen Kempner. The two indie upstarts found themselves becoming inseparable after a joint tour back in 2017. Now, fast-forward to January 2020, when the pair were renting an Airbnb - hot tub and all - in the name of seeing just where this kinship would go musically. Well, it didn’t take long for magic to happen. An indie pop super-pairing, if you will, Bachelor - named after the infamous US TV show - is all in the interest of friendship. Two minds both deft in hazy indie and whip-smart lyricism, their joining comes together as equal parts indie-film cinematic and the perfect summer soundtrack. However, the whole project also exists as a frozen snapshot of a carefree time. Recorded before the world went a bit topsy turvy, Bachelor’s debut, ‘Doomin’ Sun’, is now finally thawed. In fact, Ellen and Melina are at last uniting after a year apart - the Monday after Dork’s interview, actually. Melina is heading to stay with Ellen. “We’re getting tattoos!” the latter exclaims. Matching ones to cement the Bachelor life? It turns out no, and for a good reason. “I have a matching tattoo with someone who I don’t speak to anymore, and I feel like that’s kind of cursed,” Ellen admits, to Melina’s horror. “I’m not saying that we’re not going to speak any more!” she reasons as pulses finish racing. “But I don’t want to jinx it, you know? It puts this invisible pressure on things, even if you
don’t think it does.” Matching tattoos are, of course, one way to put “invisible pressure” on a friendship, but what about actually recording and releasing an album, not to mention all the gubbins that comes with it?
IT’S EXCITING TO BE BRINGING FRIENDSHIP BACK TO THE FOREFRONT OF PEOPLE’S MINDS ELLEN KEMPNER “I don’t know if we were thinking about it outside of ourselves a tonne because I think we, honestly, selfishly wanted to hang out and make music together,” Ellen shrugs. “[To] kind of just see where it went. We’re on the same label, so that made it easy to get it in motion and have support. I’m really proud of what we’ve done, and I’m really excited to bring that energy into the world.” With Melina in her dark, keyboard-laden attic on the west coast tucking into some food after getting back from the airport, and Ellen beaming in from the sunny east coast the pair are one and the same; seamlessly finishing each other’s sentences and similar trains of thought clocking in at speed, rushing through stations. “You’re basically looking at it!” Ellen chuckles at Dork asking about their friendship
for the last year of separation. “This is basically how it goes. We FaceTime almost every day, usually for like two hours. I’ll just cold call Melina and be like, ‘What up?’, and then we’ll just talk about nothing, or vice-versa. Then we’ll hang up and be like, ‘Oh shit, there were actually things that needed to be talked about’.” One thing should be made abundantly clear - Bachelor is simply a labour of love. Throughout our chat, the pair break off as if Dork is privy to one of those cold-called FaceTime sessions. “After a year of not having friends around, I think it’s exciting to be bringing friendship back to the forefront of people’s minds,” Ellen mentions of the pair’s impact in the world now the Bachelor ball is rolling. Certainly, there’s a case to be made that the music itself - still sticking true to the individual components yet not quite exuding the same bright, boisterous energy as its composers - but hey, when it sounds as good as ‘Doomin’ Sun’ does, what with its twangs, twists and tremendous grooves, who cares? Indeed, they say laughter is the best medicine, and humour is the joining force for the duo, likening it to “regressing”. They’re finally living the friendships they wished they had in school, since they’re both “queer people around the same age”, and having both experienced the same isolation from not being able to express themselves when younger. “I always wanted to like quote-unquote be one of the guys and hang out with them, like play video games and chill and do that kind of thing,” Ellen says. “But I never felt like I could, and I feel like Melina and I
are reliving what we would want to do when we were 14, or so.” Really, was there anything particularly surprising discovered about the other when you were together that much? There’s a bit of silence before Ellen disappears from our chat. Oh. With a mortified Ellen reappearing, “I was just swiping to change the view because I wanted to see what your face was looking like and what you were gonna answer!” she laughs to Melina. “I think I was surprised at how open-minded Ellen was,” Melina says, setting the train back on its tracks. “And I’m not saying that in a bad way! It’s just I’ve done a lot of collaborations, and I do get nervous sometimes to see how like ‘alpha’ people will get, especially when you work with another solo artist.” “Going into it, I was like, ‘Damn, I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to keep up with her,” Ellen says of her preconception. “I was like, ‘She’s gonna want to do these long-ass gruelling days… she’s so used to getting so much done on her own, that she’s gonna like it’s gonna be like pedal to the metal’. I thought that I was gonna have to overextend myself to keep up.” Fortunately, no such scenario surfaced. Instead, when the pair hunkered down in their - ahem - Bachelor pad for a couple of weeks, while music-making was indeed happening, so was this lifelong friendship. With activities apparently including “running around naked and screaming”, 7 pm was the Bachelor “crazy time” where they removed themselves from the serious business of music and instead dropped all worries - quite literally.
All this was partly fuelled by cooking obscene amounts of pasta: “I like all types of food, but man… spaghetti!” Melina confirms, a steaming plate of pasta shimmering in her eyes. Also explaining they were consuming vast quantities of Yerba Mate (that’s MAR-TEA, not M8, apparently) - “It’s like if Red Bull and Snapple had a baby,” Ellen explains - it’s any wonder that Airbnb is still standing. It wasn’t all just enough-tomake-yer-nan-blush carnage and consumption, though. The pair also played catch-up with each other’s lives long-term, essentially living their own isolated episode of This Is Your Life. “It was a perfect two weeks,” Ellen smiles. The energy from those two weeks, along with ‘Doomin’ Sun’’s consciousness of being born out of wanting to harness feelings - those isolated childhoods or the various global crises - is radiating with each step into the world for Bachelor. Every interview, music video, or Insta post holds that special, fluttery, friend-fuelled feeling, and really there’s no better timing. It’s also something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the eager fans of the pair. Ellen recalls an Instagram message replying to a recent article where, in classic fashion, they were “dragging each other through the dirt, basically.” “This person was just like, the whole vibe of this project reminds me of when I was in third grade and my teacher accidentally set me next to my best friend, and we had to be separated after one day or something, and I just love that we can make people feel like that, again. I love that!” P Bachelor’s album ‘Doomin’ Sun’ is out 28th May. readdork.com 51.
After a back-yard recorded debut that blew up, Sloan Struble’s Dayglow is back with a follow-up that’s only set to get bigger still. Words: Finlay Holden. Photos: Pooneh Ghana.
hree years after exploding onto the bedroom pop scene with debut project ‘Fuzzybrain’, featuring huge indie teen anthem ‘Can I Call You Tonight?’, Sloan Struble - aka Dayglow - is back with a new album that integrates his contagious positivity with a fresh yet nostalgic sound. Dayglow is a moniker that Sloan adopted while crafting his globally successful debut from his friend’s backyard - who needs bedroom pop when you have shed pop? “He had this storage shed that wasn’t in the best shape, and I asked him, because they weren’t using it, if I renovate that, can I use it as a studio? So we put in the insulation, electrics, went full out on everything - and it worked great!” ‘It worked great’ seems a significant understatement after the resulting tracks went on to rack up close to 200 million streams, defining a subgenre on a global scale and only gaining popularity as the population retreated to their homes and popped on the headphones. It’s made it hard for Sloan to even begin to picture his own success. “The timing of this year and my growth is really unique and
strange – it just doesn’t click at all,” he reveals. “Once I can see crowds, it’ll make more sense. Like okay, this many people showed up, and next time, I want to get more. For now, though, I’ve done a year’s worth of interviews and self-growth in the same room; I see my numbers grow every day, which is cool and interesting, but only live shows will really make that clear, I think. The internet is just crazy.” The dark cloud of the lack of fan interactions through live shows over the last year, fortunately, has had one clear silver lining: Sloan hasn’t been subjected to the pressures of living up to his own hype and has therefore been able to move forward with ease. On pushing his artistic direction, he confirms that, it “thankfully happened really naturally. I didn’t have that slump that often happens with the pressures of a sophomore album, and that mainly comes from growing up. My influences changed naturally, and so my album was bound to be different this time around. I was pretty conscious of change, though, I do want each album to feel like its own world.” Moving on from the world of bedroom pop hasn’t been too
difficult on this second record as it is a pigeonhole which the Dayglow project slipped into almost by accident. “My approach to bedroom pop wasn’t on purpose; it came pretty naturally because I was young and making music in my room, so it naturally slotted into that category. With no disrespect to any artists, the general sound of bedroom pop is ‘lazy’; that’s what makes it what it is. I thought people would start upping the production value, which would then define the level of everyone’s second album sound, so I focused on putting more effort into that side of things too.” Although the sound on ‘Harmony House’ certainly shows this invigorated approach, the youthful energy and excitement is clearly still the primary channel of expression and a core aspect of Dayglow’s appeal. Whether it exhibits itself with lo-fi guitar tracks or 80s pop ballads, the
euphoria always seems to seep through the very essence of the music. “Optimism is never taken seriously in art,” he proclaims. “For some reason, the art that’s taken seriously is the starving artist who’s really upset and angry with something. Some happy music can be generic and have no real meaning, sure, but what people miss about optimistic music sometimes is that while being an artist and being consumed by your art, you’re inevitably going to spend a lot of your time being disappointed. The art is about what you do with that disappointment, so that’s where I get my optimism. “One of my goals with Dayglow is to be honest with myself about the things I’m going through, addressing things other people are going through, but maintaining an underlying optimistic approach to that. I think you can only hope that people take your music seriously.”
WITH ALL THIS NEW ATTENTION ON ME, I STARTED TO FEEL LIKE I WAS LIVING IN A SITCOM SLOAN STRUBLE
While being honest with yourself is vital to nurture emotional maturity, it is also an honesty with fans that opens up a deeper connection and dialogue. “I try to be personal and not put up a front where there’s a wall between the artist and listener. Sometimes that won’t work for a specific artist, but if you’re yourself and truly making the music you want to make, people will notice that. In a time where our culture has such a short attention span, we also pay much more attention and notice a lot more detail. I feel like people are attracted to ideas that they can tell are more genuine.” As well as inducing a shortened attention span, modern culture manages to pressurise almost anyone who takes the spotlight for their 15 minutes of fame. “The world is weird because now everyone feels like they’re in the spotlight. Social media has created this really strange thing where everyone is a celebrity, but there are a select few that transcend that, and it’s a weird pursuit of attention.” This is clearly something that impacted Sloane on a personal level, and actually led to the inspiration behind the whole concept of ‘Harmony House’. “With this new attention on me, I started to feel like I was living in a sitcom; it’s an almost Truman Show-esque experience where there’s attention on me even when I’m just sat here in my house. It’s a weird sense that I’m now held accountable by a bunch of strangers. It’s this level of being watched – not in a dystopian way, but out of nowhere, people suddenly want to be involved. I want them to
be involved, it’s great, but it’s a weird balance; how much time do I spend with the people that really know me, my family and friends, versus literal strangers? How do I balance that? I ran with this thought, and ‘Harmony House’ became the name of an imaginary sitcom.” He continues: “I’m really interested in the social and cultural aspects of being a musician; nowadays, it’s about so much more than just making music. The music we listen to has become really personal – I try to look at the trends and try to figure out why the masses are behaving as they are. I noticed a pretty weird pattern; there are
plenty of new TV shows coming out all the time, but people all gravitate towards the older ones like Friends, and the majority of the people watching are in their early twenties like me – we weren’t alive to even experience that. I’ve coined this term ‘false nostalgia’ – feeling nostalgic for a time when we weren’t even alive.” ‘False nostalgia’ is certainly an apt description of the feeling instigated not only by the album’s conception and imagery but the writing production too; the songs on this record all take clear inspiration from 80s pop, which, as a blatant member of Gen-Z, Sloane was
not around to witness the birth or prime of. However, as he has hinted, this is a style that has miraculously made something of a mainstream return. “It’s interesting to see an 80s revival going on,” he reflects. “I try to look at the songs as a producer and songwriter, and there are some from that era that are inevitably appealing and will never disappear Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ will always be played at weddings. I’ve tried to hone in on why that is and channel that energy through my second album, so the sound is 80s-ish, but I don’t want to become an 80s impersonator either.” Thematically, this LP has followed suit with the sonic perspective of drawing a line where the previous record stood and taking a clear step past it. “’Fuzzybrain’ was about sitting in my small hometown and waiting to grow up, ‘Harmony House’ is about suddenly experiencing all that growth really quickly. The album itself I view chronologically, from beginning to end, as a mental journey over the course of a year. I can see myself going through each step.” As always, Sloane’s euphoric anticipation of sharing this
release and, indeed, journey with fans is as infectious as the virus that has been holding it back. He exclaims: “Sonically, I wrote ‘Fuzzybrain’ all on guitar, whereas this was all on piano. I obviously have live music in mind, so I’m really excited and ready for the performance versions of these songs! I’m really proud of this album; I think it’s really different, not in a way that will make Dayglow fans leave, especially in context - so listen to the whole thing!” In terms of any conclusive message intentionally imparted by this second chapter of Dayglow, an affirming declaration has been hidden within the closing song. “The exact ending lyrics on the record are the statement piece and the last thing I wanted to say: ‘It’s taken time to realise. Maybe I might be someone else inside your mind. I’m learning to see what it is, for what it is. I don’t have to know where I’ll be while it begins; I’m learning to grow’. I hope it helps people reflect on the things they’re going through and understand that it’s alright to not know what you’re doing – we don’t have to be in control of everything all the time. It’s all okay!” P Dayglow’s album ‘Harmony House’ is out 21st May.
A chance encounter, a desire for change - Rostam is mixing things up for the better. Words: Neive McCarthy. Photo: Jason Stone.
eceiving the life-altering advice of a stranger seems like the sort of thing that only happens in movies. For Rostam, however, a chance encounter on a park bench really did spark a total mindset transformation. Whether we like it or not, the past year has seen us all become uncomfortably acquainted with change. Thanks to that stranger, though, Rostam has long since been treading the ground of change. After hearing the encouragement to go forth and embrace change, the producer found himself pondering what change means, and why our attitudes towards it are so often riddled with fear. Out of that insistence that change can actually be positive, ‘Changephobia’ was born. “I think there were multiple things in my life that coincided and led me to be interested in change,” Rostam muses. “Stylistic change, but also personal change and growth, and how those things are connected.” ‘Changephobia’ finds itself at the intersection of these avenues of his life: as it meditates upon our tendency to shy away from the uncertain and unstable, it sonically reaches into further than ever before and embraces that newness that comes with change. Leaning into a more jazzenthused sound was a new venture for the producer, but the results show that venturing out of your comfort zone can have a really rewarding pay off. “I had a rule that there would be no strings,” Rostam laughs. “I felt like I had used strings in so many eras of my career, and I didn’t want to do it anymore. If there were moments that were going to be grand, I didn’t want them to be grand because they had strings in them.” Rostam’s previous work has often had a grandness attached to it – it’s an innate quality to the soaring, atmospheric nature of his music. Tracks like ‘Unfold You’ might find a shivering intimacy through saxophonist Henry Solomon’s contributions, but they’re still pervaded by that dizzying expansiveness. It’s the type of music that invites you to get lost in thought as you listen in the same way that an ambitious string arrangement might. The collaboration with Henry actually preceded the album. Following 2017’s ‘Half-Light’, Rostam found himself with multiple projects on the go, and the prospect of a follow-up album was really an idea to sporadically dip in and out of. “At the beginning of 2018, I booked some studio time, and that was when I met Henry. He came and played on the album before I had really finished the songwriting,” Rostam explains. “I was figuring out what the music was going to be before I had completed the lyrics and melodies process. I was kind of on a journey, and I was picking it up and putting it down. Two years after that, in the spring of 2020, I could feel it coalescing into a full record, and it just became about finishing it.” Those earlier meanderings with Henry marked a new approach
for Rostam, too. Characteristically meticulous in his process, past projects have seen the controls rest firmly in his own hands during the making of an album. “I was responsible for so much of the music in the songs I recorded historically,” Rostam recalls. “When I was writing for strings on ‘Half-Light’, I was writing every single note with notation software, this programme Sibelius, and I was extremely reliant on myself as composer. On this album, I integrated Henry into my workflow, and there were times where I would ask him to improvise a solo fifty times, and I’d construct a solo out of his improvisations, and then guide his improvisations. There was a little bit of letting go on this album. It was more collaborative than ever before.”
FOR ME, MUSIC IS ALWAYS EXPERIMENTAL, AND IT IS ALWAYS SPONTANEOUS ROSTAM
It translates to something like a long exhale. The shared contribution to the album might not have been entirely spontaneous, but there was a change regardless, and it resulted in an almost surprising end product. “There were moments where I did write out every note for Henry to play, and I knew exactly what I wanted him to play. But there were other moments where he was playing things that neither he nor I had ever heard before.” This work together produces some of the best tracks on the album – ‘Bio18’ combines almost tribal drumming, which fades into an intoxicating saxophone solo, making an undoubtedly standout track. The album makes some unlikely combinations, but in doing so, its strongest moments are constructed. “For me, music is always experimental, and it is always spontaneous,” Rostam reflects. “I don’t know how else it could be. I don’t approach doing any aspect of making an album the same way every time.” The freshness of each release is palpable, and on ‘Changephobia’ more than ever: each ambitious pocket of it brings a sound both unexpected and revitalising because of it. “A project becomes what it is as you’re making it,” he continues. It perhaps wasn’t until ‘Changephobia’ was a fully-fledged album that the link between the tracks was forged. Yet, that organic, authentic approach is evidently a winning one. Unpredictability can bring about some nice surprises. A continued set of epiphanies arguably tied that invisible string of
introspection which threads through the album. “I had a realisation as I was finishing the album that so many songs were about change, and as it relates to travel a lot of times – whether it’s in a car, or plane, or on a train. I think perhaps one of the things that I realised making this album was how important travel can be to giving you a perspective on your life that you might be missing.” That break in the quotidian and opportunity to see things from a new angle is so valuable, and a completely different place is always primed to provide you with that new outlook. Rostam entirely channels that immersive experience in ‘Changephobia’. At just thirty-eight minutes long, you can’t help but feel engulfed by the seamless journey through each track. Emerging on the other side is like coming up for air, bursting out of your own ‘Changephobia’ bubble. In the same way that a long plane journey might see you taking a more inward glance, on ‘Changephobia’ Rostam provides you the time and space to contemplate things that would otherwise get lost in the flurry of dayto-day life. It’s a dedicated moment to sit and breathe – the perfect circuitbreaker to take solace in. Being on the move also seems to be the perfect opportunity for creative inspiration, never mind just for that push you might need internally. “I think to some degree I’m always inspired, no matter where I am. I will sometimes take walks and do things like write lyrics, not for any specific songs, but just write lyrics down, or even listen to a beat that I like or I’m working on and come up with little vocal parts. Songs like ‘Kinney’ or ‘From the Back of a Cab’ started with beats, and it took me years to write the vocal parts. I was doing it wherever I was.” ‘Kinney’ is a jolting but necessary inclusion that sees Rostam reaching far from what is expected once more. Leaning into a more grunge sound, it was the source of some worry for the artist. “The song I had the most hesitation about putting on the album was ‘Kinney’,” Rostam jokes. “I think that I might lose the parents and grandparents. Any of the older generation listening that are saying ‘I love that saxophone, it reminds me of my childhood’, won’t be reminded of their childhood when they hear something that sounds like Nirvana.” The beauty of ‘Changephobia’, however, is its versatility: a perfect cocktail of genres and moods, there’s something to appease everyone. Dipping into so many sonic pools
moonlighting as a saxy driver. (Sorry - Ed.)
might seem ambitious, but it undoubtedly works in Rostam’s favour. It’s not just sonically that Rostam branched out either. His lyrical process was also affected by these newfound realisations. The constant return to our state of flux infiltrated into approaching the lyrical side of ‘Changephobia’, too. “I find that recently I’ve been writing lyrics outside of the context of a specific song and then integrating them in songs. That was something I learnt from Hamilton Leithauser when I made a record with him – he’d take lyrics from other songs that he was writing and make them part of songs that we were writing together. I started to realise that there is something important about having some lyrics that have meaning in and of themselves – you want to say something with the lyrics of a song, and you want it to fit with the music. I do think there’s a limitation of if all the lyrics you write come over the music – I wanted to push past that on this album.” Luckily, the sound reflects it without overshadowing it: both share a mutual vision about progression and delicately dance around one another. The end product is balanced precisely because of that shared meaning. The album comes to a rousing conclusion in the form of ‘Starlight’. An ethereal, twinkling grasp at closure, the track amps up the immersion, leaving you to emerge from your stupor in its wake. It’s a stunning piano-led moment on the album that invites tranquillity and epitomises the journey the album has taken you on thus far. “I started that song when I was in Japan, on a train,” recalls Rostam. “It was one of those bullet trains, which is called a Shinkansen, originally the song was called ‘Shinkansen’. I wrote the verse chords on that train. It must’ve been years later that I wrote the piano chorus part – when those two parts came together, I felt like I finally had the song.” The Shinkansen are some of the fastest trains in the world – ‘Starlight’ accompanies you on that headlong rush. It pelts through time and comes to a jolting conclusion. ‘Changephobia’ is one of the most optimistic albums to emerge in a while – even when lyrically, it might not seem so. ‘These Kids We Knew’ might be riddled with worry at climate change, but there’s an inescapable sense of hope laced into each beat. “We have to examine ourselves,” Rostam implores. “I think that’s what ‘Changephobia’ is a reminder about – that we can be better. The first step to being better is awareness and being aware of the root of our fears, and a lot of what I’m talking about on this album is that the root of that fear is really just a fear of change.” Without change, we would stagnate. Somewhere along the line, you come to realise that to grow and to progress and blossom into who you are, things cannot stay as they are, nor should we want them to. Change is inevitable. Rostam has come to terms with that, and he invites you to do the same. P Rostam’s album ‘Changephobia’ is out 4th June. readdork.com 55.
Incom ALL THE RELEASES YOU NEED TO KNOW (AND SOME YOU DEFINITELY DON’T)
THE ARRIVAL ON THE BIGGEST STAGE OF A SIGNIFICANT TALENT
The Sky Is Bleeding EP eeeef ‘The Sky Is Bleeding’ marks the first steps into what promises to be a biig periiod for Biig Piig. Fittingly for someone who has never seemed to stay in one place for long, it is a
Patrick Paige II
‘Parallel Universe Part 1’ is the sound of an exciting new pop talent finding their voice. Alaina Castillo had previously made waves making tender, acoustic slow burners, on the first slice of her debut album though she firmly cuts loose and embraces capital P Pop. Opening track ‘Pocket Locket’ swings playfully and confidently while the title-track and ‘Down 4 U’ are packed full of future pop sounds with insistent and inventive productions aligned to Alaina’s developed songwriting, as she creates her own little world. Only seven tracks long, it offers an enticing tease into the future of someone who seems right at home in the pop game and is set to soar. MARTYN YOUNG
“You are the captain of your own flight today,” opens Patrick Paige II’s second solo album. As he invites you aboard, it is a notion that resonates throughout the album’s seventeen tracks. He might encourage you to take the reins, but it is undoubtedly Paige sitting comfortably in the cockpit on ‘If I Fail Are We Still Cool?’. Coming at the intersection of the bassist’s obsession with aviation and that quality of his music that demands agency, there’s something inherently liberating to this sky-high new venture from The Internet’s beloved member. Patrick Paige II is turning on the seatbelt sign – it’s a sharp ascent ahead. NEIVE
Parallel Universe Part 1 eeeef
M Japanese Breakfast Jubilee
eeeee Michelle Zauner levels up. 56. DORK
ichelle Zauner’s career has been varied and constantly compelling. From her earliest beginnings over a decade ago making scrappy, perky pop-punk to creating stunning videos and imagery as an in demand director to her first book published this year. It’s with her Japanese Breakfast project though that Michelle is most well-known with two excellent albums and now comes her third record ‘Jubilee’ to smash everything out the park with pop glee. This is an album that glistens and sparkles at every moment. Michelle is revelling in her musical step up as she employs synths, strings,
saxophones, pianos, guitars and anything she can lay her hands on to take her evocative and richly detailed songwriting to a new level. Songs like ‘Kokomo, IN’ and the ecstatic rush of ‘Jubilee’ feel like modern classics and the rippling positivity that runs through the record is a welcome balm in a time of strife. Michelle recognises the importance of hope while taking a deeply human and emotionally resonant approach to big themes like global capitalism. As the record concludes with the gently expansive epic ‘Posing For Cars’ it feels like the culmination of a journey and the arrival on the biggest stage of a significant talent. MARTYN YOUNG
breathless rush through a pop landscape, an EP that has no interest in confines, norms or restrictions. “This kind of pleasure is a secret,” whispers Jess on opener ‘Remedy’ before ’Tarzan’, all seduction and mood delivered in hushed vocals reminiscent of William Eyelash, swings for the moon and connects squarely. This feels like The Moment, the one where the potential takes flight. The name is spot on, there’s gonna be nothing small about Biig Piig after this. JAMIE MACMILLAN
If I Fail Are We Still Cool? eeeef
ming deep tan
creeping speedwells EP eeeff
Shake The Hand That Feeds You eeeff
British post-punk is inundated at the moment - a spoken word boys club with its foot firmly in beige - but East London trio deep tan are firmly rocking the boat with much-needed melange. The band’s debut EP is a seductive and suspense building voyage, where jaunty angular guitars juxtapose misfit roguery with an air of pretentious cool. 90s and 80s alt is an obvious sonic reference point, but subtle electronics eye up the future, and offer flickers of something more. With a sonic palette built on trepidation, deep tan are crafting music that’s just as uneasy as it is palatable - an exciting concoction. JASLEEN
Waterparks Greatest Hits
More packed than a car boot sale on a Sunday morning, Mandrake Handshake’s debut EP while clocking in at only four tracks, effortlessly feels like a hell of a lot more. The Oxford ensemble fuse together a mix of psychedelia and jazz perfectly befitting a starry-eyed odyssey through the cosmos. Where their differ from other explorative contemporaries - your Black Midi’s and Black Country’s - is that they *really* want you to shake that hand, so they give an easy in. It’s a warm embrace that, at times feels like it’s going a bit deep-darkcorners-of-Glasto but that’s all part of the psychedelic fun.
The Waves Pt. 1 eeeef A mental cleanser of sorts after the weight of holding a mirror up to a racist society in ‘2042’, Kele’s fifth studio album is an altogether more inwards-facing record. Meditative and reflective, it is very much the product of a time where the former Bloc Party frontman was forced, like all of us, to keep largely his own company. With cinematic instrumentals peppered throughout, as well as tracks that seem to have been fully living and breathing before any words were added, this is a record that creeps in under your skin rather than one that kicks the doors in. Subtle and seeming to shy deliberately away from the limelight, it echoes with a beauty that is hard to find. JAMIE MACMILLAN
album highlight ‘The Secret Life Of Me’, and out the other side of the angsty attitude of ‘LIKE IT’, no musical stone is left unturned and unexplored. The one constant is Awsten’s frame of mind, and it is here that things get a little dark. With references to his mental health peppered throughout, it continues down the path away from metaphor that ‘FANDOM’ began. There’s a fragility to songs like ‘Crying Over It All’ that are almost within touch, and while it is in no way a ‘lockdown’ record, it’s pretty obvious that quarantine has seen him staring in the mirror and facing up to some homemade demons along the way. Light and frothy on the surface, deep and dark underneath, ‘Greatest Hits’ has it all, and often both at the same time. Asking what the future has in store for him on album closer ‘See You In The Future’, that restless spirit that drives Awsten and Waterparks shows no sign of running out of fuel. They could be right about the greatest hits thing y’know. JAMIE MACMILLAN
Harmony House eeeef Dayglow’s 2019 debut ‘Fuzzybrain’ has skyrocketed the young star into the indie-pop limelight, almost defining an entire subgenre of “bedroom-pop” with songs like ‘Can I Call You Tonight?’ and ‘Hot Rod’. Now, though, Sloan Struble is shifting the moniker in a fresh direction by not losing but, in fact, abandoning the soft touch in order to craft sharper, groovier hits that push his production beyond the restraints of his charming yet confined origins. This project’s modern enthusiasm combines with an 80s spirit to form deep funk-infused pop tracks like ‘December’ and ‘Crying on the Dancefloor’ saxophones aplenty serve to accentuate Sloan’s masterfully crafted and implemented melodic arrangements. ‘Close To You’ is the purest example of upbeat pop, which also supplies the centrepiece of the LP, sitting in the middle of the tracklist and culminating the energy levels with a self-fulfilling duet. So, has this album recreated the magic of its predecessor? Well, yes and no. If ‘Fuzzybrain’ was the pinnacle of 2010s bedroom pop, ‘Harmony House’ is a masterful throwback to the cheese of 80s pop-rock that Dayglow somehow makes as culturally relevant and appealing as it’s ever been. FINLAY HOLDEN
eeeee “These are your greatest hits” is the bold claim at the start of, erm, ‘Greatest Hits’, the fourth record from the increasingly great Waterparks. That’s the kind of statement that you only tend to make if you’re either a) a wild egomaniac or b) dropping one hell of a record. Lord knows the music scene is full of the former, but thankfully this record falls firmly into the second section. ‘Greatest Hits’ is great then. And it’s full of hits. So that’s all good. Phew. Never comfortable sitting still at the best of the times, Awsten and the gang have surpassed themselves this time round. While no two songs out of a hefty seventeen sound the same, Waterparks successfully walk the tightrope between ‘too much song’ and ‘disjointed’. They sound like all your favourite bands while at the same time sounding nothing like anyone but Waterparks. From the straight up pop-punk of ‘Lowkey As Hell’ and ‘American Graffitti’, through the absolute pop banger smuggled in via a drum-and-bass outfit of
Sons Of Raphael
Full-Throated Messianic Homage eefff A debut record seven years in the making, one described by West London duo Ronnel and Loral Raphael as a fourpart hymn to life, death, sin, love and resurrection. Angels and devils pop up, as well as a bit where someone says his daddy was a rattlesnake. Quick someone, sound the nonsense alarm! Look, there’s no hiding that you’ve got to be tuned into this frequency for *anything* here to make much sense. ‘Full-Throated...’ is lush, cinematic, absolutely baffling, bold, some of it’s awful, at times it’s totally and utterly unhinged. Honestly, it is hard to know what’s going on half the time - it’s the kind of record that you’ll love or despise within about two minutes. JAMIE MACMILLAN
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Free To Live In Colour EP
One of the brightest talents on the block, Pixey shows genuine indie pop potential in buckets.
When you think about violins, you probably picturing stuffy classical orchestras or backwood bluegrass fiddle players accompanied by mandolins and jaw harps. Sarah Neufeld’s album ‘Detritus’ is here to do away with any preconceptions, redefining them into an undeniably modern genre that makes brave strides into new sounds without betraying its classical roots. Long time member of Arcade Fire, her third solo album sees her tone veer more patiently, with tracks that unfurl and expand like spring flowers into enormous colourful soundscapes. There are no limitations in ‘Detritus’. Sarah proves that modern violin is flexible and fully capable of introspection and aggravation alike. This album speaks to a facet of listening that cannot be captured by lyrical music, a direct line to our imaginations that fills the sounds with colours and shapes as we interpret them.
Only Sun’s debut ‘Tangled Mind’ showcases the new wave indie band’s cheeky confidence while touching on more profound issues surrounding mental wellbeing. Written during a year plagued by ups and downs, it deftly shifts from dark paranoia and self-doubt to hope for the future. Wanting to explore the human mind through such a testing time, in highlight ‘Extraordinary’, the band address the hard truths of substance misuse and abuse as a means of masking what’s really going on, narrating the effects on your loved ones and friends who watch you self-sabotage. The track holds up a mirror to the listener hoping that it can encourage them to embrace their emotions rather than smothering them with alcohol or drugs. Individually, the songs represent a snapshot of real-life; together, they merge to form the beautifulyet-flawed bouquet of a tangled mind. PHOEBE DE
Tangled Mind eeeff
Monthly Friend eeeff Wyldest’s second album, ‘Monthly Friend’ is a pensive, intelligent dreamscape that bathes in womanhood. The record boasts Zoe Mead’s shining, textural pop that’s reminiscent of the shifting, glistening surface of water, prismatic in the sunlight. Its exploration of femininity as something both carnal and spiritual partners well with the locked-down production process, one that saw Zoe take the reins on mixing and producing the album, moulding it as something truly her own and positioning herself as a boldly selfsufficient artist. Her peculiar brand of indie is freckled with soft, dreamy tones, rebranding it as her own, far away from the masculine currents of traditional indie rock. It hosts mythic shades, mingling with an unapologetic modernity, like battered Nikes strung up in the branches of a tree in a drunken haze. It’s an album that manifests a confidence in a brash, joyful way. EDIE MCQUEEN
Easy Life Life’s A Beach
eeeef Easy does it. When we first put Easy Life on the cover of Dork, back in March of 2020, they looked set up for a barnstorming year. There were big live dates on the books. There was an expectation of a much-anticipated debut album. There was even a good chance of those awards, plaudits and end of year list mentions aplenty that might follow. And then the world stopped. Momentum wound down; it’d be easy to suggest that the Midlands massive might have missed their moment. But they haven’t. Easy Life have always seemed like a band operating
THE PERFECT BALM TO SOOTHE US OUT THE OTHER SIDE, BACK INTO THE MUNDANITY OF MODERN LIFE on their own effortless steam. While urgency may have been forced upon them by the gears and cogs of an industry around them, musically they’ve remained the calm at the eye of the storm, laid back with an umbrella-adorned cocktail in hand. After a year of frantic panic, worry and claustrophobic stress, ‘life’s a beach’ isn’t an opportunity passed. Rarely moving out of a horizontal state, it’s an album for
hazy sun and lazy, wavy days. Opener ‘a message to myself’ might have seemed an odd choice for a lead track, but in context, it’s an effective curtainraiser on a record that finds fertile ground in the everyday. A raw and honest call for selfcare; it’s followed by the anxious megabop ‘skeletons’, kitchensink love story ‘daydreams’ and uplifting, posi-vibes-anthem ‘have a great day’. It’s closer ‘music to walk home to’ that really mixes up the formula, though. A Mike Skinner-esque stream of consciousness, it’s all snatched conversations, casual musings and flashes of thoughts. Unlike anything we’ve heard from the band before, it’s the sharpest distillation of the everyday existence that drives Easy Life yet. Delving into the full emotional spectrum, ‘life’s a beach’ is an album that might sound dreamy, but underneath the surface those waters run deep. A moment of escape from muddled, muddling lives, it’s the perfect balm to soothe us out the other side, back into the mundanity of modern life. STEPHEN ACKROYD
Cleopatrick BUMMER eefff
Canadian garage rockers Cleopatrick want to introduce you to their world. Covering everything from high school bullies to a hot summers day, while it all sounds very exciting, something’s amiss. Expect wailing guitars crunching their way into your ears, thunderous drums rolling and stomping, rhythmic spitting of vitriolic lyrics, with an added tinge of blues-rock for good measure. But still, ‘BUMMER’ fails to lock into a groove, instead more riding itself into the ground. The moments that do strike hard (‘Good Grief’) hit with a knockout, and those that meander into lamentation territory (‘2008’) style it out with the simple formula of a person howling while their guitar not-so-gently weeps. Nothing more, nothing less. Actually, those are four words that feel apt for ‘BUMMER’’s take on that raucous dog, rock’n’roll. Bummer. STEVEN LOFTIN
Hype erupted with Paris Texas with their first single ‘HEAVYMETAL’, and for good reason. The duo merged a cataclysmic sound with fresh-faced rapping in an addictive balance of attitude and style. Now, expanding their arsenal to a whopping eight tracks, ‘Boy Anonymous’ feels an apt title for their first step proper. There’s a noticeable sidestep from that brash sound into something a bit more focused on beats and bombast, but the energy remains palpable. Easing in with the light-footed dance of ‘CASINO’, it shimmy-shakes seamlessly into ‘PACK 4 DA LOW’ which harps on like a softened Sleigh Bells, while on ‘BETTER DAYS’ they wistfully ponder those titular days. There’s a smattering of everything here, and Paris Texas pull it off with style.
After two albums of joyful mayhem, you might not have expected CHAI to pivot to introspective, smooth bops. But, then again, CHAI aren’t exactly predictable. The Japanese “neo-kawaii” four-piece made a bold splash with ‘PINK’ and ‘PUNK’; two unshakeably confident albums about self-love and defying societal norms. Rebellious in their colourful exuberance, it felt like witnessing a revolution. While their latest album ‘WINK’ shares little of that maximalist energy, it’s still distinctly CHAI. Funny, empowering and insanely catchy. Here, their ethos is cemented from the off with ‘Donuts Mind If I Do’. Born from a guiltless indulgence of doughnut samples, it’s all about living free and with conviction. It’s simple and silly, but it’s always endearing. And that’s what makes CHAI magic.
Did somebody say spirited and uplifting? Millie Turner sure does with her latest record, ‘Eye of The Storm’, as she bounds through pop melodies and joyous beats. Her music is something of a daydream, a summer evening hallucination, a mirage of fantastical reality, in which she’s handcrafted her own niche via storytelling and scene-setting. The mini-album opens with the title-track, a selfproclaimed “wonky, dancepop banger” that takes place in the late-night streets of London, where she recounts the feeling of dancing like nobody’s watching before kicking things up a notch with the feel-good ‘Concrete Tragedy’. The youthful optimism and want for adventure in her music is undeniable, with standout tracks like ‘Wild Frown’ and ‘Search Party’ feeling like tangible sunshine.
PHOEBE DE ANGELIS
eeeff Musician, producer, composer, former Vampire at the Weekend, Rostam Batmanglij has pretty much done the lot already. So it’s probably fitting then that this, his second solo album, is all about embracing change and facing it without fear. With subject matters taking in global
Eye of The Storm eeeef
warming, road trips and sex (not all at the same time), it’s a very 2021 genre-averse dive into a world that flits casually between multiple styles like a casual browser in a vintage record store. The gentle breeze that is responsible for powering ‘Changephobia’ along does ultimately begin to count against it. Though there are delightful moments, everything feels just a little too light and struggles to really take hold in your memory, it’s relentless insistence on skipping onto the next thing making everything feel just that bit too fleeting. Change might be good, but sometimes you just want to sit still for a bit and enjoy the view. JAMIE MACMILLAN
Undertones EP Mysie walks us through the next bound on her musical adventure, the ‘Undertones’ EP. DON’T TAKE IT PERSONAL I made this song during lockdown. It was one of the most seamless sessions I’ve ever had. I came across a quote which was ‘Don’t Take It Personal’, and something just clicked within me. I remember writing a whole stream of consciousness on my iPad, just typing away. I had a lot that I needed to get off my chest. This song is about wanting to be alone and wanting space from a relationship. It’s nothing to do with you; it’s all to do with me. SEVEN NIGHTS Writing this song was such an exciting moment. Recounting my own experiences so vividly in my mind really got me feeling nostalgic and asking myself... Am I still that wild? This song is about the excitement of new love. This is about me flying to the South of Italy to meet new love. I travelled from a festival in Croatia to Rome, to Salento; I had never
travelled alone before, nor had I hopped from flight to flight in places I thought I’d never be. This was something really out of the ordinary for me, but I was literally just following my heart. KEEP UP WITH YOUR HEART ‘Keep Up With Your Heart’ is about someone cheating on you and laying it all on the table. I wrote this with Daniel during a vulnerable time, and I just knew from getting together that we’d make something super special. I brought this to Fraser when we first started working on my EP, and he worked his magic. It was so interesting to reflect back and go through the writing with Fraser; so many emotions came back to me. OVER TIME I wrote this song with Fraser during lockdown, and it really just came so naturally. I love Fraser’s chords; he just knows
Undertones EP eeeef Rising singer-songwriter Mysie has already garnered an abundance of praise for her very own brand of intimate indie soul. On second EP ‘Undertones’, she explores her relationship with love itself. From the excitement of new love to the hollow disappointment of being cheated on, she leaves no stone unturned, no path untrodden. Letting her creative vision roam freely, the EP is a collection of atmospheric highs driven by an introspective streamof-consciousness lyricism. It’s this intoxicating blend of the carefree with the vulnerable that offers a distinctive edge. With unbound potential, Mysie is only getting started. LAURA FREYALDENHOVEN
what chords get me. This song is about the joy of rekindling love. It’s about the relief of realigning yourself with someone. It’s letting you know that I’m glad you finally came back into my life... it’s about time. This song carries so much energy and really gives me the feels. IN MY MIND In My Mind is about the desire of a new relationship that is unattainable. I’ve always been interested in how lust can take away your senses and sensibility. P
Photo: Rosanna Jones.
Boy Anonymous eeeef
COMING SOON Little Simz Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Released: 3rd September
5 releases coming up you should start getting excited about.
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Necessary Evil eeeff
Silver As It Was Before EP eeeff
Tyne-James Organ manifests a lifetime of gruelling experiences into a delicately crafted debut record with ‘Necessary Evil’, exploring themes like death and grief through an insightful lens and expressing his outlook with a gravelly, raw performance that elevates his reflective songwriting. He brings rock tones into a world of sadness to inspire hope, and in this mission, he is certainly successful. There is an undeniable emotional power that shines through across the 12 tracks, with overflowing walls of screeching guitar and reverberating bass gradually building up to an anthemic vibe that hits more than it misses. FINLAY HOLDEN
A disorientating trip, ‘Silver As It Was Before’ EP, the opening gambit from Thomas Cohen’s new project Sylph, describes an awakening of the mind, body and soul. ‘In The Morning Light’ - a song about unification and the sunrise - is a collaboration with Berlinbased producer Nicholas Bougaïeff, no surprise with the prominence of techno beats under ethereal vocals. ‘Braid’ meanwhile reveals a more philosophical underbelly; as the track builds, it effervesces with radicalism, while ‘Tears Fall From The Sun’ acts as a postclimax comedown. Intended to be both psychedelic and collaborative in nature, ‘Silver As It Was Before’ is a wild party. PHOEBE DE ANGELIS
Billie Marten Flora Fauna eeeef
Billie Marten flexes her sense for adventure on third album ‘Flora Fauna’. Taking her resonant sound deeper into broody territory and switching things up ever so slightly by opting for bass-led rhythms, she paints vivid images of blooming landscapes and endless valleys. Staying true to its name, ‘Flora Fauna’ is filled with the comforting lull of mother nature. Billie’s gentle vocals perfectly lend themselves to the earthy tones of acoustic sceneries though they move just as comfortably soaring high into angelic realms – a subtle hint to her marvellous range. The result is a beautifully nuanced snapshot capturing the full scope of her art. LAURA FREYALDENHOVEN
Bachelor Doomin’ Sun
eeeef doesn’t rock the boat too much. Jorja’s soulful vocals drift across R&B-flecked instrumentals, lending the whole project a laid-back vibe that doesn’t shift throughout. While it isn’t likely to Be Right Back convert people who didn’t eeeef like the debut, ‘Be Right Despite its status as a quick Back’ is a perfectly distilled example of what she does welcome back to her fans best. As to whether it works rather than a full-blown album, ‘Be Right Back’ isn’t as a way of dodging the pressure of the ‘difficult scrappy or half-hearted. A polished, string laden affair, second album’? We’ll just it fits neatly as an evolution have to wait and see. JAKE HAWKES from ‘Lost & Found’ that
Bachelor is a collaboration between Jay Som’s Melina Duterte and Palehound’s Ellen Kempner and on ‘Doomin’ Sun’, the record they created and recorded during just two weeks of intense creativity, the pair combine their considerable songwriting skills to great effect forging an almost telepathic musical bond. Friendship and communication is at the heart of the album as the two delicately bounce off each other from jagged edge rock songs like ‘Back Of Your Hand’ and the fizzing ‘Stay In The Car’ to the more dreamy and lucid lullabies like ‘Spin Out’ and ‘Sick Of Spiralling’. Freed from their usual routine and buoyed by a close blossoming friendship the
TWO FRIENDS WHO LOVE MUSIC DOING EXACTLY WHAT THEY DO BEST duo sound utterly relaxed and assured on an album that sounds unplanned and natural in the best way. Just two friends who love music doing exactly what they do best. MARTYN YOUNG
Salem II eeeef Returning after last year’s self-titled debut EP, gothpunk duo Salem are ready to welcome the world even deeper into their creation. Still mostly following in the footsteps of Will Creeper’s home-base in consistently taking things to the next level, this second dose is quite simply no-holds-barred fun. A frantic and pulsesracing burst of exuberance, the first single was called ‘DRACULADS’ - five stars just for that, please. Not to mention the completely submerging, fists-flailing punk-rock running towards the future. The rapturous eulogy encompassed within ‘II’ makes Salem so much more than sad punks: they’re sad punks who are Very Good at writing songs. STEVEN LOFTIN
Hands up if you’re a sucker for music that rips your heart clean out of your chest, throws it to the ground and cha-chas all over it. Fans of said genre may already be familiar with the deep timbre of alt-country starlet Holly Macve; new recruits are going to catch on quickly by way of cinematic new album ‘Not The Girl’. Having taken ample time off between records to explore and rearrange her sound, Holly’s second album is dressed in a multitude of textures ranging from yearning heaviness over moody, tear-stained moments to grunge-infused dreamscapes. Deeper and darker than debut album ‘Golden Eagle’, ‘Not The Girl’ is laced, not only with a firm sense of direction, but a distinct air of intent: Holly Macve is reaching for higher ground. Stepping out of the shadows of comfort and into the blazing limelight, ‘Not The Girl’ is the poetic sound of liberation. LAURA
“This is the last song ever. You don’t need any new songs!” wails Famous but notyet-famous frontman Jack Merrett at one point here on the second EP from the latest London hypesters to swagger round the Windmill. A bold statement, but we’re happy to report that he’s dead wrong. And that’s his own fault tbh, because these new songs are so unmissable in their off-kilter brilliance that we’re definitely gonna need some more. ‘The Valley’ EP may seem to exist in a strange little bubble of their own making, but its themes are universal. Redemptive arcs through a quarter-life crisis, existing in an unforgiving city, loss, recovery, progress, all of human life is here. Running around happily in the same eccentricities as their debut ‘England’, this is a big leap forward led by the entirely engrossing ‘Stars’, a track that builds and builds. It just makes us want new songs all the more. Sorry, Jack. JAMIE
Norwegian singer, songwriter and producer Tuva has a tight vision, playing with genres and her voice to great effect. ‘Growing Pains & Pleasures’ is a timely album about trying to find your way, fuelled by both changes in yourself and the world around you - the stress of realising you’re not the same person you once were. Moody indierock songs like ‘I Think’ are eerily atmospheric while simultaneously indulging in fluorescent pop. ‘Post Isolation’, meanwhile, perhaps best encapsulates the record, portraying Tuva’s return to the world of other people, where she’s stalked by her own fears. The track is a clear standout, with Tuva conjuring up a sweeping backdrop of soft guitars, swaying in wavelike rhythm, creating a simple, strippedback sonic landscape for her vocals to make it a home in this post-isolation world.
After a successful semireboot, here comes the sequel for Fickle Friends in their series of ‘Weird Years’ EPs. Continuing in a similar vein to January’s ‘Season 1’ EP, Natti and the gang are still exploring life in this weirdest of years - but ironically, just like the rest of us as we emerge from Lockdown 3.0, it suffers at points from feeling a little bit like we’ve been here before, while at others, not seeming quite sure about what comes next. Opener ‘Not In The Mood’ is classic Fickle Friends in its bright and summery boppiness, Natti’s description of it being ‘a sad song in party clothes’ capturing both sides of their personality perfectly. Missing some of the bigger banger moments from ‘Season 1’, this short sequel feels more like a band that are still working out what direction they want to go in next rather than a finished article. What comes next has never felt so important. JAMIE MACMILLAN
Not The Girl eeeef
Growing Pains & Pleasures eeeff
The Valley EP eeeee
Greentea Peng MAN MADE eeeef
As her moniker alludes, Greentea Peng’s highly anticipated debut album is an 18 track opus that doesn’t just heal the mind and soothe the soul, but expands it too. Accompanied by her band The Seng Seng Family, the record was recorded in 432 Hz frequency, a pitch that falls a semitone below music industry standard,
which is thought to vibrate healing energy. As delicate as it is fierce, ‘MAN MADE’ is a simply exquisite plethora of experimental jazz, hiphop, neo-soul, ragga and dub, with a grunge curveball (‘Sinner) even thrown into the mix. The palette is vast and the tracks seamlessly tie in to each other, led by Greentea’s ethereal vocals that twist and turn, effortlessly soaring as she navigates very real lived experiences and feelings across lyrical odysseys navigating the spiritual and socio-political. Greentea certainly is peng. JASLEEN DHINDSA
PHOEBE DE ANGELIS
eeeef Is there any other artist that radiates an energy as powerful as St Vincent? There’s the beat perfect live shows and power play interviews, the slyness and constant reinvention which, combined with a parade of top level records, solidifies into a musical force to be reckoned with. Her sixth album, ‘Daddy’s Home’ broadcasts this
clear message; Annie Clark is in control. Despite an emotionally tangled inspiration the release of Annie’s father from prison after nine years, and the rippling effects of his incarceration - the record keeps an even keel, carefully balanced between openness and detachment. The title-track shows the album’s influences writ large, a brassy 70s number that brings to mind conversation pits and impossibly cool Hollywood parties where everyone is wearing flares. ‘Daddy’s Home’ deals with the more absurd elements of Annie’s life while her father was incarcerated, as she recounts signing autographs in the
SIX RECORDS IN, ST VINCENT IS STILL REINVENTING
Weird Years (Season 2) eeeff
prison’s visiting room. In another artist’s rendering, these experiences might seem at odds with the sleekness of the record, but St Vincent has long since figured out how to marry the dark with the shiny. ‘Daddy’s Home’ is infused with a kind of dirty glamour; the brief, syrupy tribute to Andy Warhol Factory muse Candy Darling which, incidentally, is titled ‘Candy Darling’ - encapsulates that particular brand of grimy New York glitz. ‘Daddy’s Home’ draws on the style of the records Annie Clark’s father introduced her to growing up, and as a result the sound is somewhat less biting than some of her previous work, even as the lyrics retain their typical edge. But the sepia tone works for the record’s sense of tarnished glamour, and manages not to tip over into on-the-nose nostalgia. Six records in, St Vincent is still reinventing. LIAM KONEMANN
ANY OTHER QUESTIONS? THIS MONTH IT’S...
Thomas Headon 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 Thomas Headon is also a connoisseur of Ross MacDonald from The 1975. WHAT WAS THE FIRST RECORD YOU BOUGHT? I spent all my birthday money from my 11th birthday on a Coldplay Live 2012 CD that came with like a t-shirt and poster. I don’t think I ever wore the t-shirt, but I would definitely recommend that if you’re looking for a good live album. WHAT DID YOU LAST DREAM ABOUT? Last night I had a dream my best friend and I literally sprinted through a shopping mall in order to sit front-row of a talk show in which Heidi Klum would be at. I don’t know why. DO YOU BELIEVE IN ALIENS? BRO THERE IS NO WAY THAT ALIENS DON’T EXIST, THE UNIVERSE IS LITERALLY INFINITE. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE SMELL? The One Direction perfume. HAVE YOU GOT ANY SECRET TATTOOS? I have a new one on my inner arm I don’t think anyone noticed yet. I like the idea of having secret tattoos though I’m gonna roll with that more. Thanks, Dork. WHAT’S THE MOST EMBARRASSING THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO YOU? Hmmmmm, nothing really completely stands out to me, but I feel like being born would be really embarrassing. Everybody in the room wants to hold you and look at you, usually while you’re naked. I
can’t think about it. I hope nobody saw me being born. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU BROKE? Okay, I have gone 20 years without ever putting a hole in any wall anywhere, but the other day I was running downstairs to go to the bathroom, and I fell over and completely knee’d the wall. Very large hole. Very big oops. IF YOU COULD FORM A SUPERGROUP OF YOUR CHOICE, WHO WOULD BE IN IT? Okay BET, so we got Josh Dun from twenty one pilots on drums, Johnny Buckland from Coldplay on guitar, Ross from The 1975 on bass, with Remi Wolf on vocals and songwriting and feature verse from Dominic Fike. Thank you. Someone make it happen. WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST FEAR? I mean, I’m not really a spider guy. Like why did you bite me? What was the need for that? Other than that, I don’t know, probably something deep like losing someone. BATHS OR SHOWERS? Uh showers, baths are the worst thing imaginable if you want to clean yourself. WHAT’S THE MOST IMPRESSIVE THING YOU CAN COOK? Okay, when I was 18, I got obsessed with the idea of making really good pizza. I followed the pizza subreddit and literally made a different pizza every day. I’d say I’m pretty good at that. I also just really like cooking
in general. IF YOU WEREN’T A MUSICIAN, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING? Probably working in a supermarket, trying to be a musician.
WHAT’S YOUR BREAKFAST OF CHOICE? You really can’t go wrong with an egg and bacon roll, can you? Always my first choice.
HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A GHOST? …I don’t recall. WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY? I recall getting lost at Disneyland when I was like 7. WHAT DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR? I mean, I’m not gonna lie here and say like “oh an avocado”, when the answer is definitely beer. IF WE GAVE YOU $10, WHAT WOULD YOU SPEND IT ON? Probably that egg and bacon roll I mentioned above.
CHOOSING, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Being able to be invisible would be great. Mainly because you’d be able to suss things about before you do them. Like before you go into a party, go invisible, you hate someone there? Don’t go in. Perfect. Would come in handy. WHAT HAVE YOU GOT IN YOUR POCKETS RIGHT NOW? I’m answering these on a plane to Sydney right now, so I have a baggage receipt, my wallet, my AirPods case and my phone. Aside from the baggage receipt, that’s usually what’s in my pockets anyway. WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSION? Lame, but probably my guitar. Is that nerdy? Yes. I don’t care. Let’s go with it. HOW PUNK ARE YOU OUT OF TEN? Pfffft, an 11. Wanna hear me recite every single lyric to every single My Chemical Romance song?
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE SANDWICH FILLING? I’m a simple ham and cheese guy. Toast it. Perfect. I’m there.
WHO’S YOUR FAVOURITE NEW BAND? DMA’s! I just got introduced to them, and now I feel behind. They’re playing non-stop recently.
IF YOU COULD HAVE A SUPERPOWER OF YOUR
HOW TALL ARE YOU? 6 foot 5 inches.
WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT? I mean, selling out an entire UK tour without ever playing a show before is pretty cool to me. Didn’t think I’d ever do that. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN THROWN OUT OF SOMEWHERE? I get thrown out of the movies all the time. I’m not a movie person man, like I don’t mean to be prick in there, but I just get bored of not talking or doing anything for two hours straight. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEMBER OF ONE DIRECTION? Okay, considering I have about four cardboard cutouts of him, I think it’s definitely Harry. WHAT’S ONE THING YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO TRY? I’m not sure about like ‘try’, but I really wanna get a pilots license one day, so I can fly a plane. I just think that’d be so cool. Like you’re in line at a bar, and they ask for ID, and you pull out a sweet old pilots license after you just flew your jet to get there. WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS? Okay Dork, where did this come from? I thought we were friends, man. P
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