Dork, September 2022 (5 Seconds of Summer cover)

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DOWN WITH BORING.

5SOS. Pale Waves.

ISSUE 69 · SEPTEMBER 2022 · READDORK.COM



INDEX.

← There are five different covers of Dork to collect this month, each edition packed with exclusive extra photos and goodies for the act on the front. Grab them all for the full story. You can order specific issues direct from readdork.com now, while they last.

Issue 69 | September 2022 | readdork.com | Down With Boring

WHAT'S ON THE STEREO? THE BIG MOON

Here Is Everything The Big Moon's albums are always really rather great, and their third is no different. A collection that's both assured and assuredly brilliant, it's another high bar for one of the very best bands around.

BEYONCÉ

RENAISSANCE She's quite good at this music thing, that Beyoncé, isn't she?

ELIO

ELIO'S INFERNO The future popster's latest mixtape is properly bangeriffic - packed with the kind of energy that punches out of playlists and sets up camp. A diamond in a crowded field, there's something a little special about ELIO.

DJO

DECIDE We're sorry, but where does Joe Keery get off. Not only is he The Best Thing on Television as King Steve Harrington in Stranger Things, but he's also a brilliant musician too. Don't believe us - his second album under the Djo banner 'Decide' is coming this September, and is genuinely great. You'll be able to read much more about it next issue. Scoop(s) ahoy! (Sorry, Joe - Ed)

EDITOR'S LETTER

WHY MAKE DO WITH ONE COVER, when you can have five of them? That's what we've decided to do this month - not in the name of some overarching theme or construct, but just because. Pop nonsense prevails, and what's more chaotic than a free choice? Exactly. So, we've got one of the biggest bands on the planet over the last ten years, 5 Seconds of Summer. We've got a voice of a cult-like fanbase looking for a place to belong - Yungblud - and a band that certainly aren't scared of using their gobs either, long time Dork faves Sports Team. Pale Waves get their - we think - fourth cover for their pop-punk tastic new record, while Lava La Rue scores the first of hopefully many, as one of the most essential new voices on the planet. It's not a bad selection, is it? You can add to that a whole load more, too. We've got debut albums from Lauran Hibberd and Phoebe Green, go deep with the incomparable Ezra Furman, welcome back Stella Donnelly, find out what's going on with The Big Moon, get emotional with Beach Bunny and get all misty-eyed about, erm, Hull with LIFE. In Hype, we're introducing the incredibly buzzy Crawlers, plus there's all the usual news, reviews, festival fun and more. Yeah, it's kinda packed. Never accuse us of being boring. Who knows what we'd end up doing in response.

‘Editor’ @stephenackroyd

BAND INDEX 5 Seconds Of Summer Bartees Strange Bayli Beabadoobee Beach Bunny Beaux Bessie Turner Beyonce Black Honey Bombay Bicycle Club Carly Rae Jepsen Caroline Polachek Cavetown Circa Waves Claire Rosinkranz Crawlers Declan McKenna DJO Dora Jar Dylan Dylan Fraser ELIO English Teacher Ezra Furman Foals Folio Fontaines D.C. Gently Tender George Ezra Holly Humberstone Jany Green JAWNY Joe & The Shitboys Julia Jacklin KennyHoopla

Lauran 28 Hibberd 52, 62 Lava La Rue 42 15, 62 Lewis Capaldi 15 26 LIFE 10, 61 19 Little Simz 16 8 Los Bitches 16 13 Loyle Carner 22 22 Maggie 15 3, 63 Rogers 16 23 Mahalia MUNA 62 23 Nova Twins 17, 19, 62 Olivia Rodrigo 64 7, 65 Oscar Lang 11 Pale Waves 20, 36, 60 15 Phoebe 16 Bridgers 14 7 Phoebe Green 40, 62 Pip Millett 7 13 Piri & Tommy 17 20, 24 Porij 22 Priestgate 16 19 Rina 3 Sawayama 13, 15 13 Sam Fender 19 17 Self Esteem 15, 22 61 Sigrid 23 3 Soccer Mommy 62 22 Sports Team 23, 54 58, 61 Stella 46, 61 16, 62 Donnelly 22 7 Sugababes 12 17 The 1975 61, 66 62 The Amazons 3, 6 21 The Big Moon The Driver Era 7 21 The Wombats 20 13 Turnstile 19 13 Two Door Cinema Club 61 7 18 Willow 23 62 Yard Act 48 19 YUNGBLUD

readdork.com Editor Stephen Ackroyd Deputy Editor Victoria Sinden Associate Editor Ali Shutler Contributing Editors Jamie Muir, Martyn Young Scribblers Abigail Firth, Alexander Bradley, Ben Peters, Connor Fenton, Dan Harrison, Finlay Holden, Jake Hawkes, Jamie MacMillan, Neive McCarthy, Phoebe De Anglis, Sam Taylor Snappers Alastair Brookes, Alessio Mesiano, Andy Deluca, Ania Shrimpton, Artimio Blackburn, Caitlin Mogridge, Derek Bremner, Ed Cooke, Em Marcovecchio, Frances Beach, Gaelle Beri, Giulia Spadafora, Jamie MacMillan, Jonas Persson, Luke Hallett, Patrick Gunning, Sarah Louise Bennett, Savanna Ruedy, Tom Pallant

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UNIT 10, 23 GRANGE ROAD, HASTINGS, TN34 2RL

All material copyright (c). All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of The Bunker Publishing Ltd. Disclaimer: While every effort is made to ensure the information in this magazine is correct, changes can occur which affect the accuracy of copy, for which The Bunker Publishing Ltd holds no responsibility. The opinions of the contributors do not necessarily bear a relation to those of Dork or its staff and we disclaim liability for those impressions. Distributed nationally.

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THIS MONTH. #69. SEPTEMBER 2022.

INTRO.

FEATURES.

06 THE BIG MOON

28 5 SECONDS OF SUMMER

At the start of 2020, The Big Moon’s second album looked set to firmly establish them as indie darlings. And then, everything went wonky. Post-pandemic, with a new album - and an actual human child - they’re back, and better than ever.

5 Seconds of Summer have been at the top of the game for more than a decade, but as they prepare to release their fifth album, they're only looking to the future.

36 PALE WAVES

With a pandemic pause forced upon them, Pale Waves have embraced their heavier roots.

08 BEACH BUNNY

Unlikely TikTok sensations, there's much more to Beach Bunny than their viral success would suggest. With new album 'Emotional Creature' providing the depth the title suggests, we caught up with chief songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Lili Trifilio.

40 PHOEBE GREEN

Phoebe Green has been on our lists of buzzy new acts for ‘quite a while’ now. Embracing new horizons, her debut album ‘Lucky Me’ takes all that potential and sends it stratospheric.

10 LIFE

Lots of people love their hometown. Very few write a whole album inspired by it. For LIFE, though, there's no place like Hull.

11

BANGERS

18

19

19

Stella Donnelly has returned with her new album 'Flood', a record with depth that lives up to its name.

48 YUNGBLUD

With a desire to be the most honest version of humself possible, Yungblud's self-titled era has arrived.

52 LAURAN HIBBERD

After a run of killer EPs, Lauran Hibberd is finally about to drop her debut album, 'Garageband Superstar' - a record so dripping in vivid personality, it's almost its own movie soundtrack.

LATITUDE

Everything that went down in deepest Suffolk this summer, from Phoebe Bridgers and Maggie Rogers to Foals and Fontaines D.C.

G! FESTIVAL

Most festivals are predictable - on the well beaten, corporate sponsored track, all featuring a variation on the same list of bands. So why not go a bit off piste and head to the Faroe Isles of G! Festival? Turns out, it's a blast.

2000TREES

One of louder music's banner days in the diary, 2000Trees made its post-pandemic return stronger than ever.

54 SPORTS TEAM

With their new album 'Gulp!' imminent, it's time for the second coming of Sports Team.

58 EZRA FURMAN

With new album 'All Of Us Flames' about to land, a lot has changed for Ezra Furman.

INCOMING. 60 REVIEWS

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

SAM FENDER

With his huge Finsbury Park show, Sam Fender shows he's ready for that big A list festival headline slot.

20 COMMUNITY

From the big beats of indie to up-and-coming new names, Community Festival showcases a genre in fine health.

21

46 STELLA DONNELLY

The best of the latest new tracks, featuring The 1975, Dora Jar, Beaux, Rina Sawayama and more.

FESTIVALS. 14

A creative multi-hyphenate burning a trail in their path, Lava La Rue might well be the future, but they've arrived in the here and now.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF... OSCAR LANG

You know what’s easier than following around your fave pop stars, day in, day out, to see what they’re up to right that minute? Asking them. Following the release of his latest single 'I’ve Never Been To LA', Oscar Lang lets us in on what he's up to.

12

42 LAVA LA RUE

GEORGE EZRA

With the escapism on hold for one night only, George Ezra and friends are celebrating the here and now.

22 STANDON CALLING

Festivals are always full of big moments. We run down some of the the not to be missed action from this year's edition of Standon Calling.

23 TRUCK FESTIVAL

Truck is still exactly as fun, and exactly as bonkers, as it always has been.

HYPE. 24 CRAWLERS

Rising fast, despite the leather pants, Crawlers are quite probably your new favourite band.

26 BAYLI

New York popster Bayli is out to change the status quo.

61

ARTIST’S GUIDE: DYLAN FRASER

Dylan runs us through his latest EP, '2030 Revolution’.

GET OUT. 64 OLIVIA RODRIGO

It’s the penultimate night of her ‘SOUR’ tour, and Olivia Rodrigo is bringing her enormous debut to life for the first of two nights at London’s Eventim Apollo.

65 CARLY RAE JEPSEN

The Queen of Pop Bangers hits London as she prepares to return with a new album.

BACKPAGE. 66 ANY OTHER QUESTIONS... THE AMAZONS

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 Matt Thomson from The Amazons was once a silver member of the Beano fan club.



INTRO. THE BEATING HEART OF POP NONSENSE.

↓↓↓ THE BIG STORY ↓↓↓

At the start of 2020, THE BIG MOON’s second album looked set to firmly establish them as indie darlings. And then, everything went wonky. Post-pandemic, with a new album - and an actual human child - they’re back, and better than ever. Words: Jamie MacMillan. Photos: El Hardwick. 6. DORK


→ LIKE MANY OF OUR FAVOURITES, The Big Moon were set to shine brightly back in the forgotten times of early 2020, in those heady days before pesky pandemics and lengthy lockdowns stopped them (and everyone else) in their tracks just as they were set to tour their (still) brilliant second album ‘Walking Like We Do’. With only a handful of festival spots last year, it has been a while then. But now, The Big Moon are back (back!! BACK!!!)! ‘Wide Eyes’, the first single to be taken from the gang’s fourth album, ‘Here Is Everything’ (set for release on 14th October, FYI – Ed), is a perfect slice of feel-good vibes to usher in the summer with. A song that carries that feeling of reconnecting with everything and everyone that we missed, it comes complete with a video that packs an almighty emotional punch in its sheer joy and elation at the sight of friendships rekindling and secret handshakes. So, we obviously had to dry our eyes and catch up with Jules and Soph to welcome them back.

together. I really loved it.

Welcome back!! First things first though. It is hotter than hell today, do you have any tips for coping with the heat? Soph: Hello! The internet says to put your socks in the freezer? Jules: And then put them on your feet? Soph: No, just leave them in there Jules. Jules: I used to have a wet sock that I would drape around my neck. I haven’t done that for a while, I forgot about that. Soph: We did a photoshoot yesterday for hours and it was really hot and someone had a neck fan. You put it round your neck and you have little fans blowing in your face, which was amazing.

It’s such a feel good song, was it important for you to come back with that sort of vibe? Jules: I think it is a really happy song, and I think it’s nice to come back with that vibe. Because we’ve all been through so much, like COVID. And I’ve had a baby, and I’m finally in a place where I can look back on that experience and feel really okay and happy about it. On the album, there’s a lot of really happy songs but there’s also a couple of painful songs, because my experience of the last couple of years has been that and that is the experience of everyone. That’s what life is like. But yeah, it’s nice to come back with a happy one for sure.

You’re gonna need to wear them at Finsbury Park this weekend. Congrats on the new single, the video is beautiful and quite emotional isn’t it? Was it meant to be or is it just us? Jules: Yeah, it was meant to feel like coming back together after going through so many things. It’s a really good post-everything feeling. The video looked like loads of fun to do, especially learning the handdance moves. Who was the best at learning all those moves? Soph: Well, Jules and Cee had the most to do and I was honestly gobsmacked watching them learn it. Jules: It was so much fun to learn. I am honestly trying to convince all my friends to do secret handshakes with me now. It’s just so fun to work it out

Fern arrives really late in the video, is that secretly because she was really bad at learning the moves? Jules: Hahaha, no she was really good. It feels like this summer is the one where everyone’s really catching up, especially mates from around the country and around the world. The video kind of reflects that, what was it like when you finally all back in a room together? Soph: We’d only seen each other on Zoom for a really long time. And then we went to Suffolk for two weeks to get the album ready to record. Jules had written loads of songs in that time and that was the first time we had been together properly and not just meeting in a park I think. Jules: We were cooking each other giant meals and all sleeping in a dormitory, like a really long room. Soph: It was like the closest we could be after being the furthest away from each other.

So last summer must have been wild, having a baby and coming back to the music world all at the same time. Jules: The week that the last lockdown ended, just exactly as everyone started going back to pubs and indoor places I had my baby and hid inside my house for another six months and entered my own personal lockdown. Yeah, it was such a weird feeling and really surreal. Soph: And you came out to play festivals with us, with them.You were having the whole experience, and then you came out and did that and then went back to it. It was so surreal. Having to juggle everything all at once, after not having to do anything socially or musically for a year must have been tough. Jules: Yeah, it was a lot. But I think it’s amazing how much stamina → TITLE: Here Is Everything → LABEL: Fiction → RELEASED: 14th October 2022 → TRACKLIST: 1. 2 Lines 2. Wide Eyes 3. Daydreaming 4. This Love 5. Sucker Punch 6. My Very Best 7. Ladye Bay 8. Trouble 9. High & Low 10. Magic 11. Satellites

parents have and what you can do on no sleep or very little energy while you’re going through a huge hormonal crash and life change. You just keep going. I think it’s really amazing. People say it takes a village to raise a child, right? That’s the saying. Every time I hear that, I’m like, it doesn’t. It takes parents. It takes a mum, it takes me. I’m doing it! I sound angry now, I’m not angry (laughs) Soph: It’s good that you know that? Because seeing you have a newborn and also manage to record this album and go through all of that with us. It’s like, so impressive. Jules: I think it’s amazing when you find out what you can do, what your body can do and what you’re actually physically capable of doing.

WE’VE BEEN A BAND FOR EIGHT YEARS NOW AND THIS IS OUR THIRD ALBUM. I THINK AT THIS POINT WE’RE SURE OF WHAT WE’RE DOING” J UL E S JACKSO N ‘Wide Eyes’ feels almost related to the second album’s Barcelona, where things are changing and people are moving on and wondering what’s next. And now this feels like catching up five years later and seeing what’s happened. Is the rest of the album a bit like that? Jules: Yeah, I write songs based on my life. My songs come from me, so it all just comes from my experience and is always reflective. The album was half-finished for a long time. I wrote some of it in lockdown, and then I wrote some of it while I was pregnant and took a break. I wanted to write more when my baby was about five or six months old, because I just felt really, really happy and I felt like I needed to write big happy songs. About how I felt about being a mum, but I was so exhausted and I couldn’t really do it because I was trying to do something creative with about 10% of the energy I used to have. I just couldn’t match notes together or string sentences together. I met Jessica Winter, who is an amazing musician. And she was like, well let’s write a happy song. So we went to her uncle’s shed, at the end of his garden, and we just wrote it in a day. She helped to turn it into something actually physical, rather than just a feeling inside my body. Soph: I’m so glad that all happened

and that we got both sides of your experiences, it’s really cool. Jules: Yeah, me too. It’s like a diary of my life. And when I listen to it, I feel like I’m listening to another person. And all the things I thought it would be like to be a parent. I’m singing all these songs about “I’m pregnant, what’s it gonna be like? What am I going to teach my child?” And then you have the kid and then you’re like WAAAAAAGH! This is so not what I was expecting! It’s nice that the album covers the whole scope of that experience. What was recording the album like this time round? It’s co-produced with Ben Allen and CECIL again? Soph: It felt like it had a journey that the other albums didn’t have. It felt so nice, especially to do so much of it together, especially after not being able to be together. Jules: We’ve been a band for eight years now and this is our third album. I think at this point we’re sure of what we’re doing. It’s really nice to just be confident with that and be like, actually, I think we know what we want this to sound like. And I think we know how to make these sounds and we know how to record it. So let’s just do it at Fern’s house. Soph: We also understand each other, and what each other can do or would want to do. I didn’t really realise that until you’re in that situation and you realise we’ve been friends and working together for eight years. It felt really empowering. How would you describe ‘Here Is Everything’ then? What can we expect? Jules: For me, emotionally, it’s such a big album. It’s called ‘Here Is Everything’ because it is just everything that I had to give for the last couple of years. Here is all of me, I feel that it’s so personal and bare. The cover image is also very ‘here is everything’. The songs on the album are super personal but I think the way that we worked on it as a band was so special, it felt really like our friendship and our bond as a band is so strong right now. And I think you can hear that and you can hear everyone putting everything into it. Obviously there is no good time for a lockdown, but for you it seemed particularly bad timing. Does that make it even more special now this time with this album? Jules: I think for me, definitely. When we were playing festivals for the first time again last year, I enjoyed it so much. I feel like I’ve recommitted to being in this band. This is all I want to do forever. I just love it so much. Soph: I feel that too. I think we all cried on stage at the first festival. Also, I was quite nervous because it felt scary to be going on stage and being in a place with people and I wasn’t really doing that in my own life. So I think we all just walked on like confused zombies. And then when we were playing songs looking at each other and at the crowd, it really hit me. Obviously it sucked that we had to stop touring and stuff, but I was so worried about how everyone that it only hit me quite a few months later that actually, it really, really sucked because we were stopped in our tracks. ■ The Big Moon’s new album ‘Here Is Everything’ is out 14th October. New track ‘Wide Eyes’ is streaming now.

‘FYI’ WILLOW

WILLOW has announced her new album, ‘<COPINGMECHANISM>’. Set for release on 23rd September, she’s previewing it with a new track, ‘hover like a GODDESS’. It follows up on previous single ‘<maybe> it’s my fault’, and last year’s album ‘lately I feel EVERYTHING’.

CARLY RAE JEPSEN

Carly Rae Jepsen has announced her new album, ‘The Loneliest Time’. Set for release on 21st October, the news follows up on recent lead single ‘Western Wind’, which dropped earlier this year.

THE DRIVER ERA

The Driver Era have announced a new 'Summer Mixtape', set for release on 16th September. It'll be followed up by a UK tour which kicks off on 4th October with two nights at London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. The duo are previewing it with a new song, 'Malibu', which you can stream now.

PIP MILLETT

Pip Millett has announced her debut album, ‘When Everything Is Better, I’ll Let You Know’. Set for release on 21th October, the news arrives alongside teaser single ‘Slow’, which is streaming online now. The Manchester singer-songwriter is also set to take the record on tour later this year, with a run that kicks off on 30th October in Norwich, and includes a night at London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

CIRCA WAVES

Circa Waves are set to play a special, intimate Dork’s Night Out Reading & Leeds warm-up show later this month. We’ll be bringing the band to Stoke’s Sugarmill for the tiny new date on Thursday, 25th August, as they prepare to play the August Bank Holiday blowout over the following weekend.

FLOHIO

FLOHIO has announced her debut album, ‘Out Of Heart’. Set for release on 7th October, the news comes alongside a new track, ‘SPF’. It’ll appear on the record alongside last months’ single ‘Cuddy Buddy’. “I grew up around the time of games like Playstations and Nintendos; I’m bringing back the nostalgia of me in my living room playing games with my friends at age 10,” FLOHIO explains.

MERCURY PRIZE

The nominations for this year’s Mercury Prize have been announced. This year’s shortlist features some standout records, including Dork faves Wet Leg, Yard Act, Little Simz, Sam Fender and Self Esteem. There’s also pop powerhouse Harry Styles, genre-splicing rock firebrands Nova Twins, Joy Crookes, Kojey Radical and more. The twelve shortlisted ‘albums of the year’ were selected by a judging panel, to create a shortlist that will be slimmed down to a single winner on the night of an awards show, set to take place on 8th September at London’s Eventim Apollo.

readdork.com 7.


HOP ALONG Unlikely TikTok sensations, there's much more to BEACH BUNNY than their viral success would suggest. With new album 'Emotional Creature' providing the depth the title suggests, we caught up with chief songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Lili Trifilio.

Words: Connor Fenton. Photos: Artimio Blackburn.

→ PLOTTING THE NEXT STEP ON their musical odyssey, Beach Bunny have gone galactic with their second full-length, 'Emotional Creature'. Shortly after a brief trip to England, the band's chief songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Lili Trifilio is calling in from the comfort of her bed in Chicago, Illinois to ask why London has so many Pret A Mangers. It's a fair question. Starting out as Lili's solo DIY project back in 2015, Beach Bunny's rise into the dreampop higher order has accelerated at a rate of knots. It's partly thanks to TikTok, when during the first lockdown, the title-track from their 'Prom Queen' EP was a massive hit on the app. "It became a very viral moment," Lili explains. "I didn't really know what TikTok was even, but people on other social media kept being like, 'Oh, did you know this song's going viral?'" In the space of seven years, Lili's bedroom band had developed into a full four-piece and now garners a global following. "I almost was annoyed because I felt like now people won't take the project seriously. It's gonna become like an internet project thing. But then shortly after, I got over that, and I was like, 'This is amazing!'" It soon became clear that Beach Bunny's popularity was far more than a flash in the pan. Now with more than a billion streams worldwide and a crazy set of international tour dates ahead of the new album, it isn't just the fanbase that has developed. This second album sees a huge progression in the band's emotional depth, with lyricism that charters new frontiers of vulnerability and a sound that has become more polished and precise since their debut. "Over the pandemic, I was playing a lot with synths, just in my free time, I didn't know if they were gonna get used," Lili reveals. "Trying different instruments when I was bored in lockdown. When we got to the studio, it made me want to be more experimental." Packed with layers of sonic artefacts, 'Emotional Creature' makes the most of every inch of space. "Usually, I'll make some acoustic demos, and in the studio sort of explain the vibe of the song," Lili explains of the album's development process. "With 'Honeymoon', there was a lot more jamming prior, but because of Covid, it was sort of like 'Let me email you a lot of things and explain myself as best I can without playing the music together.'" Despite the album seeing its first stages of development with the band separated, the result is a vibrant and lively mix of tones with a remarkable depth of sound. "I'm lucky that the guys in my band are very receptive, and we're not fighting over the songs or whatever," Lili laughs. "At this point, we've been a band together for a few years, so there's a lot of unspoken things that happen in the studio. People know to make the music fit the song and not have our egos involved." With a healthy dose of synths underpinning the record and the occasional hit of horns, there's an undeniable presence of science fiction in the record, even down

8. DORK

to the cover art that almost harkens back to B-Movie posters or Alan Moore's Watchmen. "I was consuming a lot of sci-fi media," Lili admits. "Now, in retrospect, I'm like, 'Was that me trying to escape my room in a way?'" Since the album was written during the first lockdown of 2020, when Lili was living with her parents, the feeling of escape is rife throughout the record. At the centre of every song, the album seeks to reconcile an unavoidable truth about people; we all have feelings. "One of the themes I've noticed, since re-listening, is having a lot of shame toward being emotional and realising, now where I'm at, I don't carry that anymore," Lili recounts on how her own perception of the album has changed a year after writing it. "Everyone has feelings, but I think being vulnerable can be a hard part of the human experience." "With the first album, you can tell it was really zoned in on a break-up," Lili says, trying to explain the heightened maturity of 'Emotional Creature.' "I feel like I have a wider range of thoughts and emotions than when I was writing that." This album sees a plethora

EVERYONE HAS FEELINGS, BUT I THINK BEING VULNERABLE CAN BE A HARD PART OF THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE” L I L I TRI FI L I O

of themes explored, each with an excitement that makes sharing in Lili's experiences remarkably enjoyable, even when the tone dips to a sad one. "When I compare 'Cloud 9' to 'Love Song' that's at the end of this album, I'm like ', Okay, I'm using some more creative word choices, good on you!'" Beach Bunny are far more than a soundtrack for a break-up, now boasting anthems of empowerment that wear their heart on their sleeve with pride. In 'Weeds', Lili sings, "Take another piece of me, not my problem". A moment of growth as she recognises the ways her insecurity has hurt her in the past. "I was like, 'I am so tired of being this way'," she recounts. "I'm cool in my own way. Things don't work out sometimes. You can have all these big emotions, but at the end of the day, know your worth and… it's okay!'" Thanks to Beach Bunny, we no longer have to hide our feelings. With this album, we can flaunt them and take pride in being ourselves. After all, we're just emotional creatures. ■ Beach Bunny's album 'Emotional Creature' is out now.



THIS HULL Lots of people love their hometown. Very few write a whole album inspired by it. For LIFE, though, there's no place like Hull. Words: Martyn Young. Photos: Luke Hallett.

→ IN LATE 2019, LIFE were a band on a decidedly upwards trajectory. They had just released their critically acclaimed second album, 'A Picture Of Good Health', and were in the middle of touring Europe, winning over legions of new followers. Suddenly though, everything changed. Forced to face up to adversity that threatened the very existence of the band, their enduring spirit and collective ethos prevailed in their triumphant third full-length 'North East Coastal Town'. "In 2019, we were fortunate to all give up work, and we've all had quite different careers," explains frontman Mez Green. "I worked in the youth sector for nearly a decade, and I'd done quite well getting to where I was. I was earning quite good money - well, anything above £20,000 feels quite good. We were doing alright, the band was taking off, and it became a viable rent payer. Obviously, a year later, it all evaporated, and the money we built up was spent on those first few months just trying to survive." Almost at an instant, any creative ambitions were temporarily curtailed as more pressing matters took

10. DORK

precedent. "At the moment, I've gone into labouring because one of my best mates is a self-employed labourer," says Mez. "I'm a single parent, so I had to keep a roof over my boy's head. While I believe fully in the band and this album, I've just been hitting the construction site. It's been a different two years, and there have been some challenges there, but I'm really proud of this body of work." It would be incredibly easy for the band to drop off completely with their entire livelihood in danger. LIFE have always been powered by self-belief and the power of their collective spirit, though. "We've always been DIY," says Mez proudly. "We're still self-releasing this. It mainly falls on my shoulders. I didn't really want to let go of it, and I'm so proud of where we've got to. Even when the world went to shit, and I thought, how are we going to survive and keep a roof over little Gus' head, I had to believe in what I was doing because I had given up so much of my life to it." With the knowledge that it was potentially make or break for the band, they channelled the

uncertainty and turbulence into their best record yet. "We're still in a bit of a shitstorm. It's the same for all creatives. We're all suffering. We've got to have belief." While the world was in flux, LIFE sought strength from the bonds that have given the band their unity since the start. "We've all got to know each other's strengths. We all write as a unit," he says. "The original members of LIFE are myself and my brother Mick. We create the backbone of the songs. All the lyrical ideas are ours, and we co-write the lyrics. I'll think of a phrase, and he'll finish it off. That's because we've grown up together and we are very close. He's my best mate." The strong bonds, both familial and from their local community, provide the defining vision of the album. "The album is very much about Hull, about a north east coastal town," explains Mez. "It's about wanting to be home and having a sense of belonging. When you're out on tour all the time, you do miss your loved ones and the community around you. Once we all returned home from America in March 2020, when the world shut

THE ALBUM IS VERY MUCH ABOUT HULL; IT'S ABOUT WANTING TO BE HOME AND HAVING A SENSE OF BELONGING” M E Z GRE E N down, I felt very small and that Hull was the only place. It was all I could do. I live in a flat, so I don't have a garden, but I could have an hour's walk down the street or take Gus down the park. I realised that the most important people tend to be the ones that you sometimes overlook because of the excitement going on everywhere around you, but really that's what makes you feel that sense

of belonging." When the band reconvened, it became obvious that this was a very important album to them on a deeper level. "When we started spitballing in the studio as a band bubble, it became very evident that everyone felt that kind of intimacy with where we were in terms of location, in either geography or personal relationships," he continues. "We felt like we owed it to Hull as well. We're very proud of this city. It's one of the reasons why we've never moved to London and looked at a major record deal. That was never really an ambition for us. We wanted to represent the city where we're from and the vibrant community around us." Working exclusively in the city both in their own studio next to the River Humber, as well as another studio where they recorded the album in seven days - LIFE immersed themselves fully in their landscape. "If we were going to be bold enough to call it 'North East Coastal Town' and say it's our love letter to the city, then we wanted it to be fully representative of that. It's a hardworking and proud town," explains Mez about Hull. "There's only one


way in from the south, and that's over the Humber Bridge. If people want to go another way, they have to go around Manchester and Leeds, and if they want to do that, they won't come to Hull because they are big metropolitan business cities. I'm proud we've had to do a lot of things on our own to make the independent arts and creative scene thrive." It's important for the band to cherish where they come from and not lose sight of their roots. "I don't think there's any right or wrong way to be in a band as long as you believe in your music, but I do think people should never forget where they're from," says Mez. "If you want to be genuine and make music that is an honest reflection of yourselves, then there's no harm in embracing what you've grown up around." To complement the strong theme of the lyrics, the music equally had a desire to switch things up and divert from what they had done before. "We decided to not just come straight out the blocks and do what we'd call your standard LIFE song. On the last two albums, you could hear that there's a ferociousness to it, and they have a similar sort of pacing and sound. We wanted to not be scared of slowing it down and using a lot of different textures", explains Mez. "We wanted to expand and show people our musicianship as well as being grouped in with a load of different bands. We really wanted to show who we were, and the best way to do that was to write an album steeped with its core from our hometown. This is a celebration of what we are." This sense of experimentation and freedom is best represented in songs like the woozy, cracked ballad 'Duck Egg Blue', which sounds like nothing LIFE have done before. "I wanted to be naked with it," says Mez. Elsewhere, they amp up the grooves and disorienting textures on the stunning 'Shipping Forecast'. "We created this music that sounds like buoys and bells on the sea, with the lashing and the waves carrying you home. It feels like you're sailing. That song was quite poignant for me." There's so much that the band love about their home city, and it's all found in the album. The main inspiration from Hull comes not from a local celebrity or historical figure, though, but the people they have met along the way. "I learned a lot being a youth worker and seeing how resilient the vulnerable people were and how they could just get through the amount of shit they were living through from poverty to abuse. It really inspired me," says Mez. "They gave me as much as I gave them, and that's reflected in how we operate as a band. I owe a lot of what I'm about to the young people of Hull." ■ LIFE's album 'North East Coastal Town' is out 19th August.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF

OSCAR LANG. You know what’s easier than following around your fave pop stars, day in, day out, to see what they’re up to right that minute? Asking them. Following the release of his latest single 'I’ve Never Been To LA', OSCAR LANG lets us in on what he's up to.

9:00AM → I typically wake up around 9ish, depending on how much sleep I've had and am usually hit with a wave of acid reflux from the random late-night snack I had eaten right before bed. I smash a lil Rennie and get ready to start the day. 11:00AM → After a quick shower, I eat breakfast whilst watching whatever shit YouTube recommends me for the day. Growing up around YouTube, it has very much become a part of my routine, and it feels weird if I don't watch any. My favourite things to watch are: cooking vids, theme park tours and other producers' lil tips and tricks. Over the years, I've absorbed lots of little techniques just by watching YouTube tutorials. 12:00PM → By now, I've made my way to Euston station to catch the train up to Liverpool. Liverpool is where I record most of my music

with fellow producer Rich Turvey. The trains about 2 hours 15 mins, so typically, I listen to music or a podcast. Or, depending on how well I slept last night (I'm not a great sleeper), I sometimes use the train to catch a couple of extra Zs for a little burst of energy when I get there. 3:00PM → After having a little catch-up with Rich, we cruise on down to the local cafe 'Crumbs' in Liverpool, which serves that classic British Caf food. There's something about a simple jacket potato and beans that feels like the perfect amount of sustenance to sustain a high level of creativity. After lunch, we finally start having a noodle around on instruments to come up with ideas. 5:00PM → At this point, we're usually deep into making a track and are interrupted by the studio owner Tim Speed, or as we like to

call him, Turbo. He usually comes in and has a little dance to whatever we're making whilst simultaneously throwing out questionable lyric suggestions. He's mad, but I love him. 7:00PM → If we have already written some lyrics by this point in the day, this is usually when we would start to record my vocals. Over the years, I've slowly come to realise that my voice takes a long time to warm up, and typically, most of my vocals are recorded in the evening. 9:00PM → We wrap up at the studio, and I head over to my Airbnb. I'll try and pick up something on the way to cook for dinner, but if I'm feeling lazy or tired, I'll order something in. There's a poutine place I love, but I've had to stop getting it now cause it's very, very naughty. I'll also smoke a joint and listen to the music I've

made that day; I always give my music a high play-through as it helps me hear things I wouldn't normally hear. 11:00PM → Beddy byes time. Normally I have to get in bed a good hour or two before I actually end up sleeping, so I have enough time to catch up on a little more YouTube or Netflix or whatever. It's nice to always have a bit of me time just to decompress from the day. 1:00AM → Before long, my eyes start to become droopy, and I can feel myself finally getting tired. I have to wait for my body to be so physically tired that I can't hold my eyes open before I can finally get to sleep, so I often find myself waking up to a random video that has auto-rolled on from whatever I was watching. Oscar Lang and Wallice's single 'I've Never Been To LA' is out now.

readdork.com 11.


BANGERS. THE BEST NEW TRACKS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS MONTH.

↓↓↓ THE BIG TRACK ↓↓↓

THE 1975 HAPPINESS

→ It’s almost impossible to talk about The 1975‘s music without referring to external perception. A band with the most feverous of fanbases, the list of demands for every new track runs so long meeting them all would be near impossible. Yet, for the first time, new single ‘Happiness’ may just achieve the impossible. If The 1975’s previous effort ‘Part of the Band’ was a band feinting left to dodge the glare of expectation, its follow-up is the rope-a-dope comeback that delivers the knock-out punch. A quadruple concentrated shot, it’s every era crammed into one irresistible perfect moment. Bubbling with the bright, boppy energy of their first two albums, but with the complexity and invention of ‘A Brief Inquiry…’ and ‘Notes on a Conditional Form’ spliced in for good measure, it’s the final form of a four-album masterplan. Five minutes plus in length, with a fortyfive-second intro for good measure, its a looser, more expansive version of The 1975’s iconic sound. Flowing with the freedom of an in-the-room studio jam, it has all the iconic touchpoints – huge sax solo, clipped guitars, addictive, glitching production – but does it all with a casual, organic ease previously untapped in their more immediate moments. Like ‘Part of the Band’, ‘Happiness’ is all instinct and all the better for it. Reconnected to their roots, nobody does it better. Sky high expectations matched.

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CLAIRE ROSINKRANZ 123

→ Claire Rosinkranz is very good at making everyday troubles like break-ups and what have you into funny, feelgood tunes. Her latest, '123', sees her shaking off a previous partner with lines like "by the way, you’re a shitty dancer", putting a failed relationship well and truly in the rear-view.

DORA JAR BUMBLEBEE

→ Apparently it's not a good time for relationships, because our Dora Jar is also looking to ditch some baggage behind. Her method of choice? Pretending to be a bumblebee. "My problems seem silly when I remember the existence of these intelligent creatures who could never be bothered by the trivial things that bother me," she buzzes.

JAWNY

STRAWBERRY CHAINSAW

→ Usually JAWNY smashes out alt-pop hits like no one's business, but 'strawberry chainsaw' - his first proper single of the year - sees him taking on an altogether indier sound as he explores the ups and downs of love. “I had this concept that I wanted to toy with — that love is a two-sided coin,” he explains.

RINA SAWAYAMA HOLD THE GIRL

→ The latest in a long line of huge pop moments, the new teaser from Rina Sawayama's upcoming album 'Hold The Girl' is a bit Madonna, a bit Gaga, and more than a bit epic. "[It] was the first song

I wrote for the record at the end of 2020," she explains. "I had gone to therapy and had a revelation, so I decided to write this song... that was the start of it. I was crying before going into the studio to write about it."

JANY GREEN CHANGE

→ The follow-up to recent drop ‘Nicotine’, Jany Green's latest 'Change' was similarly inspired by 80s pop culture. Charming and angsty, and catchy as anything, it's really bloody good. "I was in my John Hughes bag when I was writing these songs," he explains, "and thinking about Bender and Claire in The Breakfast Club; the tension of whether change has to come

from within, or from the other person."

BEAUX

BENADRYL

→ While the latest from beaux may ostensibly be about something fairly standard (being in love), he's approached it from an unusually specific angle. "'benadryl' is about feeling too excited to fall asleep because you’re with the person you love and your mind just can’t rest," he explains. So far, so relatable, right? "Their hayfever tablets knocked them out, so you’re just lying in bed, staring up at the pictures on their wall, waiting for them to wake up." Stay tuned for his next singles, 'ibuprofen' and 'vicks inhaler nasal stick'.

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FESTIVALS. ↓↓↓ FESTIVAL REPORT ↓↓↓

EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR THE SUMMER SEASON.

LATITUDE Photos: Frances Beach, Patrick Gunning.

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FESTIVALS

DAY ONE REPORT

PHOEBE BRIDGERS, MAGGIE ROGERS, RINA SAWAYAMA AND MORE GET LATITUDE OFF TO AN EXCITING START → FOLLOWING A MONUMENTAL, POST-PANDEMIC return to live music last year, Latitude 2022 has much to live up to. Despite fighting for space amongst a crucible of celebrity chef hosts, comedy icons and independent caterers, it is (of course) the music that shines brightest. Not that we’re biased, or anything. Finally making his Latitude debut after being booked to play the 2020 event, Lewis Capaldi takes to the Obelisk Arena to close out the first full day back. His heartbreaking ballads seemingly haven’t lost any mass-market appeal over the three years since ‘Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent’ first cast out its sombre but uplifting waves. Despite a lack of new material – Lewis tells the crowd he spent most of the lockdown period “in his room masturbating” instead of writing music – he still packs a significant punch. With new ballads promised before the year closes, the limits of Capaldi’s potential are yet to be fully established but armed with confetti, fireworks and plenty of soaring singalongs, tonight is a reminder about why he’s one of Britain’s most adored popstars. Away from the relative safety of Lewis’ heartbreaking anthems and crude language, the Friday of Latitude is dominated by a fresh, vibrant who’s who of current alt-pop icons, all determined to shake things up. In a world where other line-ups can so easily become stuck in the mud of indie bands past, it’s an offering that seems to understand where the most interesting (or at least exciting) music is being made. Rina Sawayama‘s acclaimed pop is a stylistic declaration of both her attitude and identity, one that she embraces and revolutionises, going big and bold in all

↑ Maggie Rogers

the right ways. Marching straight into ‘Dynasty’, Rina’s live band ramp up her genre-splicing rock edge, inspiring an instant ‘yes’ when she poses her now customary question, “are you ready to slay?” Dancing along a delicate knife edge between enigmatic rock and pop superstardom, Rina skips across the boundaries with each step forward through a set of pure bangers. “Thank you for making me feel seen, heard and, most importantly, confident,” she gushes, the blare of ‘Comme Des Garcons’ showing that this gift is exchanged in both directions. Fully exploring the acclaimed world of ‘Sawayama’, fresh teases at its follow-up ‘Hold The Girl’ are undeniably thrilling as the now iconic ‘XS’ and recent single ‘This Hell’ drive us towards the conclusion of a dynamic, precisely calculated set of inspired staging. Self Esteem‘s empowering and brutally reflective songs hardly need any more praise at this point, but Henham Park grants them the honour regardless. Following a secret acoustic set earlier in the day, Rebecca Lucy Taylor brings her refined troupe – and a return of the Boots Advantage Card dress – to the BBC Sounds tent with complete vigour. A hunger for the dramatisation of life experiences fuels an empowering but celebratory set. “I know it’s Friday, but I’d like you to peak early with me,” she asks. Many are happy to oblige. If we’re talking about universal acclaim, current Dork cover star Maggie Rogers should have plenty coming her way, as her stunning new album ‘Surrender’ prepares to hit. Brining an eight-piece band to deliver joyous altpop, a brilliantly loose and carefree set is mirrored by the singer’s physicality. In her first UK festival appearance in

three years, Maggie is keen to tee up the record she releases in less than a week now – ‘Want Want’ is a perfect teaser, her infectious passion leaving us yearning for more. An alternate world awaits just one stage over with Caroline Polacheck, utilising a familiar palette but revelling in the darker elements. A seclusive backdrop makes any clear glimpse of her seem thrilling, deep beats of ‘I Give Up’ quickly enhancing those theatrics. Transforming the tent into a dimension of her own, she entrances the crowd. A few unreleased moments, including potential new favourite ‘Smoke’, immediately stand tall against the momentous heights of ‘So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings’. Perhaps the most notable set though is a powerful, stage-topping showing from none other than Pheobe Bridgers. Fast becoming a contender for the AAA list, she packs out – or rather overflows -the BBC Sounds Stage for her highly anticipated closing set. The excitement in the room is near palpable as her cloudlike staging is erected, while a quick blast of Distrubed’s ‘Down With The Sickness only ramps things up a notch. However, when the opening notes of ‘Motion Sickness’ hit, the only word to describe the atmosphere is feral. Gentle plucking and a percussive throb enforce a storytelling prowess second to none, with lyrical details buried within tracks like ‘Garden Song’ so specific it becomes impossible to not get lost in the details. “I’m gonna do some cheery little numbers for ya,” Phoebe teases before pulling out ‘Kyoto’ – her natural intimacy making every listener present feel part of her closest clique. Cultish reactions arise from every song, except this cult bridges continents. She’s not scared of hitting the bigger issues, either, expressing her hatred for the government and Supreme Court before revealing that she had an abortion last year for “no spectacular reason other than I didn’t want a baby.” Leading into a ‘Chinese Satellite’ – a song about faith and the hatred it can inspire, it’s a powerful moment that’s given extra weight thanks to an appearance from Saddest Factory signee Charlie Hickey. Treating each topic with the careful delicacy it deserves, Phoebe Bridgers is both a softly spoken rockstar and an artist whose output should be truly treasured. With Rina Sawayama and Maggie Rogers crashing the stage for the phenomenal close of ‘I Know The End’, Phoebe dives into the crowd with the biggest of grins. FINLAY HOLDEN

↑ Rina Sawayama

↑ Self Esteem

↑ Lewis Capaldi

↑ Caroline Polachek

↑ Bartees Strange

readdork.com 15.


FESTIVALS

DAY TWO REPORT

FOALS AND LITTLE SIMZ LEAD THE SATURDAY NIGHT PARTY → WITH INITIAL IMPRESSIONS IN THE BAG, it’s time for the weekend proper – Suffolk brings the heat, and Latitude‘s Saturday lineup isn’t far behind, with party vibes found in all corners. Priestgate bring screeching, howling, gymnastic forms of expression to the muggy Alcove, with Rob Schofield leading the ragtag group as part vocalist, part contortionist. Their searing intensity combined with the blistering humidity soon sees Rob’s white vest torn from his body, an intimidating move that’s somewhat softened when he admits, “my mum is going to kill me when she sees the state of these trousers”. The five-piece are clearly enjoying themselves. By the time ‘Summ(air)’ declares, “I just wanna see the sun’, everyone leaves pumped up for the day ahead. Los Bitchos throw some spice into the mix with a Colombian-style psychsurf hybrid. Though very much Londonbased, the group present a vividly globe-trotting experience. An almost exclusively instrumental showing gives their brand of funk a unique texture.

16. DORK

Various beach balls ping around the crowd as Serra Petale slaps her bongos, bubble machines blowing not far behind. Prime siesta time evolves into an impromptu party – with a debut album titled ‘Let The Festivities Begin!’, it was probably to be expected. Katy J Pearson‘s modern take on folkrock supplies colourful, silky, soothing cuts from recent second record ‘Sound of the Morning’. Truly a million miles away from her last showing at Latitude – a past project with her brother that didn’t quite manage to stimulate the same response as today – but still maintains the same plain humility. Introducing socio-political criticism with ‘Alligator’, a song inspired by a £560 EON bill, Pearson otherwise maintains a wholesome energy until she closes with her first release, ‘Tonight’. Cavetown offers one final respite before the chaos commences. From YouTube to Bandcamp to Discord, Robbie’s fanbase is a welcoming community that prioritises acceptance, and his shows are no different. Utilising that connection, he’s able to belatedly

celebrate last year’s ‘Sleepyhead’ while also flexing fresh drops like ‘Grocery Store’. Fusing acoustics with jolting waves of volume, ‘1994’, an unreleased track only played once before, brings roaring electric tones, while a cover of Metric’s ‘Black Sheep’ cements this capability further. With a refreshingly young fanbase latching on to every word, Cavetown’s world continues to offer something more than a little special. If there’s anyone capable of bringing the raucous energy right back, it’s the illustrious Little Simz. Now four albums deep, her most complex and developed work yet ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’ truly established itself as one of 2021’s best records. The introspective yet broad and fulfilling world defined on that record is brought to life immediately with its opening title track. Soulful but invigorating, Little Simz probes a unifying duality; ‘I Love You, I Hate You’ exemplifies this before a delve into third studio album ‘Grey Area’. “Our energy is a transaction… you feed me, I feed you,” she proclaims before bouncing along the barrier for ‘101 FM’, a track dedicated to her hometown. Effortlessly slick and with more talent than she has time to evidence, Little Simz continued success is well deserved – something the moshpits to ‘Venom’ only confirm. With festival headliner status long secured – the band got their first big billtopping slot at Latitude back in 2013 – Foals are able to explore multiple facets of their comprehensive discography, but the blissful fluidity of their latest record ‘Life Is Yours’ certainly makes for a boisterous and fitting introduction. Latitude laps up the rhythmic appeal of songs like ‘Wake Me Up’, and further cuts continue to reflect on nostalgic sentiment while attracting new listeners with every note. The trio – joined by two live companions – blast out the iconic riffs of ‘Mountain At My Gates’ and ‘My Number’ early in the set. Their trade in songs that are more inventive, more hungry to build upon their predecessors, and more cross-disciplinary than many of their peers is easy to see, every conceivable element of their back catalogue demanding studious motion in one way or another. Through the powerful, rhythmic ‘In Degrees’ and other glorious returns to past records, the newfound flamboyance of tracks like ‘2001’ arise as fresh achievements. Although the rigour of ‘Inhaler’ makes it destined to be a moment worthy of saving for the encore, the new dancier, poppier hues that Foals have grown to lean into are starting to steal the show. If there’s a more appropriate way to demolish a Saturday evening, we’re yet to hear it. FINLAY HOLDEN

↑ Little Simz

↑ Cavetown

↑ Los Bitchos

↑ Priestgate

↑ Mahalia


FESTIVALS

DAY THREE REPORT

FONTAINES D.C. SET DOWN A MARKER FOR THEIR HEADLINE POTENTIAL → IT’S SUNDAY MORNING, and the hangovers are here, but Latitude doesn’t wait for anyone. There’s been a whole raft of new names testing their festival chops across the weekend, from Chilli Jesson to Prima Queen, and today is no different. The last hurrah of Latitude 2022 is full of artists making mighty stabs at intoxicating audiences with diverse approaches towards rousing Henham Park from its slumber. Following arena support slots alongside Ed Sheeran and Maisie Peters, hopeless romantic Dylan is more than up to the task, opening up the Obelisk Arena with extravagant pop bangers. Recent single ‘Girl Of Your Dreams’ leaves an audience of keen supporters in awe, before briefly flexing her rock chops with a cover of ‘Paradise City’. ‘Someone Else’ speaks the universal language of heartache, while ‘No Romeo’ proves a popular declaration of self-worth. Dylan claims that her first ever gig was on the Latitude site, and she’s been coming here since she was nine years old; with a soldout headline tour on the horizon, she’s more than paid her dues. New York up-and-comers Been Stellar might be five fresh-faced twentysomethings, but they possess a level of assuredness that can only be instilled on the hard-trodden streets of the Big Apple. The Strokes’ influence is interwoven with those from our side of the pond, with a post-punk flourish standing out when the coarseness of latest single, ‘My Honesty’, adds a raw appeal to the effortless vocal.

Currently aligned with tastemaker label So Young, it’s easy to understand how Been Stellar’s potential was spotted from afar – they later offer up a second set to reinforce this, but 30 minutes do the job just fine. Nilufer Yanya is marking her third outing at Latitude. With a new arsenal at her disposal thanks to recent album ‘PAINLESS’, it’s also a step above the rest. Capitalising on the album’s frustrated expression, it proves a pivotal moment for Nilufer – a swift but decisive upgrade. Cityscape sounds are established immediately with ‘midnight sun’ and flow all the way through to the dynamic ‘stabilise’. piri & tommy‘s rattling reinterpretation of club culture takes a peek through the lens of Gen-Z dance. Whether it’s nostalgic or a world of discovery, they light up the Alcove, fleshing out each subgenre with their own self-produced contributions. The pair’s chemistry – creatively and otherwise – fuels a euphoric collaborative approach, particularly on ‘words’. The genuine naivety and optimism of ‘soft spot’ proves to be just the icing on the cake of future hits. Nova Twins sure have a lot to show off at their first Latitude, their older cuts spawning mosh pits and dust clouds the Alcove after a single track. It’s in 2022’s ‘Supernova’ that the real power lies, though. Songs like ‘K.M.B.’ push the genre boundaries, mixing innovative alt-rock with a knowing sense of fun.

↑ Dylan

↑ piri & tommy

↑ Nova Twins

From their first EP onwards, Nova Twins have defined themselves as a consistent force to be reckoned with, but now people are really starting to get on board. Amy Love splits the room for a shouting contest and then jumps into the resulting moshpit, while Georgia South’s groove tests bass face to its limits – together, they almost literally have the audience on its knees. Three albums deep and post-punk ringleaders Fontaines D.C. feel like a band with serious momentum. With the fizzing energy of a new band but the back catalogue of established favourites, the urgency of third album ‘Skinty Fia’ signposts a watermark moment. Mingled in with the rugged nature of ‘Dogrel’ and triumphant ‘A Hero’s Death’, Fontaines are now teeing up a discography that could soon be main stage headliner worthy. Grian Chatten’s steady drawl melds seamlessly into a soundscape dominated by screeching guitars, inflated further onstage to fill out the epic scope these songs demand. Even Grian himself needs time to tread the stage and soak it all up. Their journey diverts through all eras. ‘Televised Mind’ leads to a complete rapture with flashing, floral staging to boot, ‘Boys In The Better Land’ is a prodigious encore moment, and ‘I Love You’ grants a fitting sense of closure. The growth Fontaines D.C. have felt since 2019 not only lights the way for the next wave. Give them another couple of years at this pace, and they’ll be ready for that final leap to the top. FINLAY HOLDEN

readdork.com 17.


FAROE PLAY

↓↓↓ FESTIVAL REPORT ↓↓↓

FESTIVALS

Most festivals are predictable - on the well beaten, corporate sponsored track, all featuring a variation on the same list of bands. So why not go a bit off piste and head to the Faroe Isles of G! Festival? Turns out, it's a blast. Photos: Alessio Mesiano, Jonas Persson.

→ HERE AT DORK, we love an adventure. We don’t go on many because we’ve got a magazine to write, but that doesn’t mean we don’t yearn for wide open spaces and the adrenaline of travelling the unexplored portions of the map. OK, not really – we get quite scared when we can’t get wi-fi to be honest with you. Luckily, 200 miles north of Scotland lie the Faroe Islands. A collection of 17 islands inhabited by 50,000 people, they’re about as remote as you can get without decamping to the moon (and you can’t get a connecting flight to the moon from Oslo airport). They’re also blessed with months of perpetual daylight, high-speed internet, an underwater roundabout, and G! Festival. We’re mainly here for the last of those, but the rest are pretty cool as well. Now in its 21st year, G! Festival takes place in Syðrugøta, a tiny village of 500 people and a few wandering sheep. Every year 5000 people come from across the Faroes and beyond for a surprisingly slick music festival which boasts all the mod-cons of an event like Reading, just on a smaller scale. Food vans sell fish and chips, hot tubs look out onto the Atlantic ocean, and there’s even a special G! Festival lager on sale to steady the nerves when you realise it’s still daytime at 11pm. It might seem like an incongruous place for a music festival, but in our time on the Faroe Islands we barely meet a single person who isn’t somehow

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involved in the music scene. Bands share members, rappers produce EPs for acoustic singersongwriters, and Tutl, the local record-label-slash-shop, does a roaring trade in vinyl that’d make any UK record store green with envy. It’s this bubbling music scene which provides the bedrock of G!, with much of the lineup made up of Faroese bands of all genres. International names like Jose Gonzalez and Jillionaire from Major Lazer (yes, really) top

the poster, but the enthusiastic response to homegrown talent like heavy-metallers Sic (playing their final ever concert) and bisexual vegan punks Joe & the Shitboys shows where the crowd’s heart lies. Kicking things off on the playground stage (aptly located on an astroturf pitch next to a swing set) is Marianna Winter, her shimmering bedroom pop reflecting her dual upbringing in California and the Faroe Islands. Pom Poko follow, blasting away any pre-festival cobwebs with one of the meatiest sounding sets of the day. Musically, the band are incredibly tight, but it’s singer Ragnhild’s boundless energy which stands out as she leaps around the stage like a woman possessed. Things take a turn for the slightly stranger on Friday, as Iceland Eurovision contestant Daði Freyr leads the beach-based main stage in a rousing rendition of ‘The Birdie Song’ followed by Smash Mouth classic ‘All Star’. Back over on the packed-out Playground Stage the Tamil-Swiss artist Priya Ragu brings a slick stage show which hints at bigger stages very, very soon. Once again though, it’s the homegrown acts which get the

biggest response, and none bigger than for hometown heroes Joe & The Shitboys. The band are on top form, with Joe bringing his newly 18-year-old brother on stage for his first legal beer, before quickly telling him “Now fuck off!” to cheers from the crowd. The slogan-screaming punk of tracks like ‘Macho Man Randy Savage’ and ‘Save the Planet, You Dumb Shit’ cause more energetic mosh pits than most UK headline acts could manage, and with most of the crowd knowing each other,

it’s a peculiar mix of circle pits and hugs for most of the set. As if to hammer home the communal nature of Faroese music, Faroese rapper Marius DC and members of the band Æðrasoppar come out to trade bars while the Shitboys keep playing. The final day of G! brings a final surprise in the form of rap collective RSP. It’s the Faroese answer to Bad Boy Chiller Crew, with songs about MDMA and an entourage of balaclava-clad teens lending a surreal air to a group from a chain of islands which proudly proclaim “there is no crime on the Faroe Islands” in their tourist guides. Regardless of the play-acting on stage, the crowd of topless teenagers singing along to every word is real enough. As one attendee said, “it’d never work anywhere else, but on the Faroe Islands, they’re heroes.” More than anything, G! Festival is a shining example of the Faroe Islands’ commitment to music. Band members manage stages, parents ferry rappers to and from their shows, and people go absolutely wild for local acts as if they were international legends. The festival is never likely to become a major destination in itself for music fans outside the Faroe Islands, being just a little too remote and a little too cold for a quick and easy summer holiday. Combine it with some of the most stunning scenery in Europe, five thousand friendly Faroese, and the chance to walk up a hill and see some puffins though? That might just do it. JAKE HAWKES


TOP 3 THINGS

FESTIVALS

WE SAW AT

2000TREES One of louder music's banner days in the diary, 2000Trees made its postpandemic return stronger than ever. Here's three standout sets from this year's edition.

DEAR GLASTO, SAM'S READY ↓↓↓ FESTIVAL REPORT ↓↓↓

KENNYHOOPLA

It's a performance that shifts through all the gears from KennyHoopla over on the Main Stage. From the lo-fi sunshine-drenched 'lost cause' to spinning around in circles screaming "She's gonna cut my head off / But I don't care", it's a reminder that KennyHoopla keeps lighting up every line-up he plays.

With his huge Finsbury Park show, Sam Fender shows he's ready for that big A list festival headline slot.

TURNSTILE

Words: Alexander Bradley. Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett

Turnstile have been very loudly blazing a trail through hardcore since the release of 'Glow On'. Dressed in his PE kit, Brendan Yates is ready for a workout. They're all energy, all of the time as they rifle through their set. With guitarist Brady shredding Metallica-style riffs that crash against their springy rhythm section, the Maryland outfit have found a winning formula that can traverse a multitude of taste, styles and influences. Capping off a whirlwind hour with a little 'T.L.C', Brendan takes his mic stand down into the crowd for one final hurrah in amongst the people whose faces they've repeatedly melted.

NOVA TWINS

The meteoric rise of Nova Twins means that on only their second visit to Trees, they have the chance to take on the Main Stage - and they conquer it with ease. It's wall-to-wall hits as they show off their new album 'Supernova'. Commanding the festival's biggest stage, Amy and Georgia barely stop for a moment, and the energy is matched out in the pit, which is bouncing. The pit looks so good, in fact, that Amy gets down to mix it up for 'Undertaker' as the duo throw it back to their debut album. It's a rare departure from the new cuts which make up the body of the set, but this is Nova Twins, after all, and that forward motion is only taking them higher and higher. It continues to be a joy to watch them breeze through these milestones and come to terms with the fact there is really nothing that can stop them.

Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett

→ THERE’S A SEA of black and white flags, an even bigger ocean of Newcastle football shirts, and that sense of palpable anticipation in the air that comes with a big summer headline show. It could only be Sam Fender at Finsbury Park. Since the beginning, it’s seemed these sorts of nights were already scribbled in Sam’s diary. More than that, it feels like a celebration of other voices telling tales of modern life in their own distinctive manner. Today, Finsbury Park is a coming-together of artists who know their power, changing the game for a new generation. Not just in music – but far beyond, too. Take opener Rachel Chinouriri. Emerging with her own stunning indie bops, it’s a perfect way to start a sun-soaked day. The likes of ‘All I Ever Wanted’ and ‘Happy Ending’ encourage singalongs and a new slew of fans desperate to hear more from an artist fully coming into her own. There may not be a better combination than a clear blue sky and Declan McKenna. Taking to the stage halfway through the day, it’s a technicolour celebration from start to finish. The likes of ‘Daniel, You’re Still A Child’, ‘Isombard’, ‘The Key To Life On Earth’, ‘Be An Astronaut’ and ‘Brazil’ are euphoric – with a presence on

↑ beabadoobee

stage that most would only dream of. Embracing every moment, it’s no hyperbole to say it’s easy to see him headlining these sorts of stages very soon indeed. On the same day as ‘Beatopia’ drops, beabadoobee turns Finsbury Park into her own playground. It’s no wonder – when recent singles ‘Talk’ and ‘See You Soon’ hit, they turn the park into a shimmering world, with Bea standing front and centre, a superstar creating everything around her. Having fun at every step – whether it’s jumping between a drowned-out singalong of ‘Coffee’, a wide-eyed party that comes with ‘She Plays Bass’, or the punchy vastness of ‘Back To Front’ or ‘Last Day On Earth’ – the result is the same: a bigtime celebration as a new era kicks off in style. One ticket to Beatopia, please? Return journey? Naah, we’re staying, thanks. Certain artists’ music makes more sense the bigger they get. Sam Fender is a prime example of that. His anthems may have knocked the doors off clubs, theatres – hell – even the grand stages of the biggest venues this country has to offer, but they have never felt more at home than they do in the massive fields and parks of the summer. It’s why Finsbury Park not only feels like a genuine moment as Sam takes the stage tonight, but also where he belonged all along. One look at last month’s Glastonbury set says it all – these songs were made for the biggest of crowds to sing their hearts out to. Tonight, we’re precisely where Sam Fender was born to be – and boy is that clear by the time fireworks rain down at the end. The opening trio of hits that welcome the evening perfectly capture what’s taken Sam to the very top. ‘Will We Talk?’, a thriving indie stormer, ‘Getting Started’, a swirling classic songwriter tale dialled up to 10, and ‘Dead Boys’, a brutally-to-the-bone story that taps into the common consciousness. It’s a combination that signifies just why he’s become a very big deal

↑ Declan McKenna

indeed – someone who puts into words what so many can’t. He can jump between the soothing tones of ‘Mantra’ before letting rip with the one-two of ‘Spice’ and ‘Aldi Howdon Death Queue’. What holds it all together is the undeniable hold that Sam Fender has on a crowd. Drifting between a catalogue that already feels like a greatest hits collection, the likes of ‘Spit Of You’, ‘The Borders’ and ‘Play God’ all perfectly rub against each other, feeling like songs we’ve known our whole life. Dropping new track ‘Alright’ and beloved fan rarity ‘Angel In Lothian’ is all part of the Sam Fender experience. At no point does this feel too big. If anything, it’s natural. By the time ‘Get You Down’ roars into view, there are fans crying, smiling, cheering and signing in equal measure. It’s almost indescribable. Taking a moment to acknowledge what this all means, the finale hits even harder. ‘The Dying Light’ – dedicated to “the ones who didn’t make it through the night” – leads into a fireworkfilled finale. ‘Saturday’, a near riotous version of ‘Seventeen Going Under’ sung from the top of everyone’s lungs, and ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ puts a bow on an evening that, in Sam Fender’s world at least, feels like a genuine moment. JAMIE MUIR readdork.com 19.


↓↓↓ FESTIVAL REPORT ↓↓↓

FESTIVALS

INDIE’S PRESENT AND FUTURE COMBINE TO SET THE BAR AT COMMUNITY FESTIVAL From the big beats of indie to up-and-coming new names, Community Festival showcases a genre in fine health. Photos: Patrick Gunning

→ IT’S FAIR TO SAY we know a few things about indie – be it big arena icons, tiny club shows, or new names promising a musical revolution. Nestled in London’s Finsbury Park, Community 2022 is a genre’s state of the nation address that needs to be experienced to be believed. “It’s warm,” observes Priestgate frontman Rob Schofield. Stating the obvious doesn’t stop him pounding and prowling The N4 Stage like he’s just devoured enough sugar to knock out the average man. Only adding to their status as one of the best new live bands in the country, it’s all heart-on-sleeve emotion as their mesmerising brand of punk meets new wave indie grips Community early doors. ‘Eyes Closed For The Winter’ and ‘Bedtime Story’ ensure they’re taking the mantle of discovery of the day for many. Equally flipping the script is Courting. With debut album ‘Guitar Music’ on the horizon, and Alfie Templeman joining them – because why not – their sound takes over the Main Stage with ease. Today marks the first time that Crawlers have played a festival main stage – not that

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you’d know that judging by their command over their blistering mid-afternoon set. Crunching riffs and serves galore come from ‘Fuck Me (I Didn’t Know How To Say)’, ‘I Can’t Drive’ and new track ‘I Don’t Want It’, but it’s the manner in which they seize it all which means more. Whether it’s talking openly about anxiety and loving yourself, or simply letting loose as Holly Minto does on stage – it’s bold ambition that rings through. Closer ‘Come Over (Again)’ suggests Crawlers are the sort of gang you’d want to follow. It’s pretty ace when you catch an artist getting better and better with each performance. By now, these sorts of moments are becoming an everyday occurrence for Alfie Templeman – but that doesn’t mean they’re any less as stunning. Feeling effortlessly at home on the Main Stage, a set that encompasses ‘Stop Thinking (About Me)’, ‘Candyfloss’, ‘A Western’, ‘Obvious Guy’, ‘3D Feelings’ and ‘Happiness In Liquid Form’ is a surefire sign of the breadth of his bubbling mind. A cheeky lick of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and The Wombats’ Moving To New York’ (“we could just play their whole set for them – maybe not,” he cracks), as well as a guest appearance from his dad Martyn thrown in for good measure, show Alfie Templeman is having a ball on a summer Saturday. Firmly making a statement, Pale Waves fly in from a US tour to stake their claim to headline these stages in years to come. With

↑ The Wombats

↑ Pale Waves

↑ Crawlers

that immediate star presence, it’s hit after hit that grabs Community by the shoulders. Whether it’s early cuts like ‘Television Romance’ and ‘There’s A Honey’ or singalong tender moments like ‘She’s My Religion’ and ‘Easy’ – they’re impossible to resist. Even more exciting is what cuts like ‘Lies’ and ‘Jealousy’ point to – emphatic anthems that already have fans moving in unison despite only recently dropping. With a leader like Heather Baron-Gracie blazing a trail, Pale Waves confirm their lofty intentions. There may not be a more perfect definition of ‘scenes’ than when The Wombats open their early evening set at Community with ‘Moving To New York’. With a frankly ridiculous number of crowd-pleasing bangers served up at rapid speed, there’s no stopping the tens of thousands of people gathered from throwing themselves into each blast. Whether it’s the drowned-out singalongs of ‘Kill The Director’ and ‘Let’s Dance To Joy Division’, the whipped-up euphoria of ‘Lemon To A Knife Fight’ and ‘Greek Tragedy’, or the immediate refrains of newer tracks like ‘This Car Drives All By Itself’ and ‘Method To The Madness’ – The Wombats are kings of the big festival moments. Today is no exception. If Community is the first time many fans discovered the world of Daisy Brain, it’s guaranteed to have been a top day. His distinctive brand of fuzzy grunge-pop is one born for balmy days like this: all surging singalongs, erupting riffs and dynamite potential. Bouncing across The N4 Stage, cuts like ‘Kleptomaniac’ and ‘Boring’ already sound perfectly at home. As Daisy Brain extends his hand to get onboard now – it’s impossible to resist. Taking to the N4 Stage with a crowd practically bursting at the seams to get a view, Circa Waves are the talk of the town as the evening draws in. For good reason. Offering a ride across a career that has seen them build and evolve with each step, ‘Wake Up’ lights a fuse on Finsbury Park. Cue mosh pits and limbs in the air as hit after hit follows. Even sound issues and some eager tree-climbing from fans looking to get a peek doesn’t stop them – it’s a sizzling summer moment topped off by an unstoppable finale of ‘T-Shirt Weather’. A reminder of their standing and rich catalogue that’s only getting bigger; that’s how you seize the moment. After such a stacked day, it’s easy to see how pressure may hit on Community’s headliners Two Door Cinema Club to close out proceedings in a suitably celebratory fashion. Two Door, though, have become experts at this game. For their first UK show in quite some time, it’s practically overflowing with – and we quote – “absolute scenes”. As the opening one-two of ‘I Can Talk’ and ‘Undercover Martyn’ lays out, they mean business. Each track is dialled up to the highest order. ‘Something Good Can Work’, Talk’, ‘Cigarettes In The Theatre’, ‘Changing Of The Seasons’, ‘Sleep Alone’, ‘This Is The Life’, ‘Are We Ready (Break)’ – it’s a pace that never relents. Everything fits perfectly together. New track ‘Wonderful Life’ is a swirling world of keys, oomph and hooks. Whilst that may be the only slice of new music, tonight’s set still feels fresh at every turn. Whether it’s the stadium-sized blockbuster show that spans across gigantic screens, or the setlist that skips from singalong favourite to singalong favourite – Two Door Cinema Club have everyone tuning in. As ‘Sun’ and a final firework of ‘What You Know’ round out the evening, the bright lights and sounds that ring across Finsbury Park are like those of a perfect house party, just super-sized. As a flag in the ground of modern indie? It’s doing just fine, thanks. JAMIE MUIR


FESTIVALS

GOLD SOUNDS ↓↓↓ FESTIVAL REPORT ↓↓↓

→ THE IDEA OF ESCAPING can take many forms, but that idea of a release and comfort away from the world is something we can all connect with. It’s at the core of everything George Ezra does. Whether it’s reflecting on heartbreak, embracing the good times or taking us to pastures new, it’s also what has made him a beloved national treasure. As he headlines Finsbury Park, tonight is confirmation of all that and more – of an artist on the top tier doing it all in a way that makes him feel like the friend next door. The difference here, though, is laid out by the man himself: “I write about escaping, but I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to be

↑ Holly Humberstone

right here.” Up to much on your birthday? For Jules from The Big Moon, there’s the small matter of playing Finsbury Park before Mr Ezra comes later. In what feels like the start of a brand new era, days after the release of their new single ‘Wide Eyes’, their set feels like a wake-up call. Feeling effortlessly natural on a festival Main Stage, they bounce off one another between a cover of ‘Praise You’, ‘Your Light’, and more – it’s bloody wonderful to have The Big Moon back. From the first note, Holly Humberstone has Finsbury Park in the palm of her hand. Captivating from start to finish, her level of honesty and rawness is compelling. ‘Falling Asleep At The Wheel’ and ‘London Is Lonely’ has the park hushed in appreciation as she showcases the world she’s creating. Boosted on-stage with drummer Loda, Holly is becoming the sort-of artist that unveils another layer with every new release. ‘Scarlett’, ‘Overkill’

and ‘Sleep Tight’ fizz with big time energy, and by the time her set is through, another wave of fans are along for the ride. Mimi Webb is a surefire crowd pleaser on a day like today. Ranging between anthems that’ll fill radio playlists all day, every day, and raw, epic ballads, her rise to the top isn’t up for debate. A cover of The Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber’s ‘Stay’, a triumphant ‘House On Fire’ and breakout ‘Good Without’ are welcomed with open arms – as Mimi Webb shows her star credentials. With undeniable confidence from Tom Ogden leading the charge, Blossoms‘ set is a display of how to be a band in 2022 while still doing things in your own distinctive way. With dazzling new album’ Ribbon Around The Bomb’ to hand, Stockport’s finest sons flex their muscles with a festival tour-de-force. There’s everything from electric party starters like ‘I Can’t Stand It’, ‘Your Girlfriend’ and ‘There’s A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)’ to gorgeous 70s grooves with ‘The Sulking Poet’, ‘The Keeper’, ‘Care For’ and ‘Getaway’. Throw in a dash of ABBA with ‘Oh No (I Think I’m In Love)’, plus the super-sized closer ‘Charlemagne’, and you have a band thriving with creativity. There’s nobody quite like them. By the time George Ezra takes the stage, Finsbury Park is more than ready. “We’ve been looking forward to this day for so long,” he notes early on, and it’s clear what this show means to him. What follows is

With the escapism on hold for one night only, George Ezra and friends are celebrating the here and now. Photos: Jamie MacMillan.

the ultimate summer headline performance from the last true bop-and-roller. ‘Anyone For You (Tiger Lily)’, ‘Cassy O”, and latest album title track ‘Gold Rush Kid’ are soaring rock-pop starters to a night that feels more like a night-in with George Ezra as he pours tales and tunes on a crowd eating up every moment. That earnest sense of knowing George is something that connects at the click of a finger – a wordsmith for a modern time that crosses generations with ease. It’s all about joy and celebration from start to finish. The sun-kissed ‘Pretty Shining People’, ‘Don’t Matter Now’ and ‘Listen To The Man’ are met with mass singalongs and beaming smiles. George Ezra connects with his fans in a way few others can. It’s a life-affirming release led by a songwriter whose dreams have captured the hearts of millions. When he switches things up to the heartstring-pulling ‘Hold My Girl’, ‘Barcelona’ and the practically deafening ‘Budapest’, it’s jaw-dropping. For an hour and a half, nothing else matters. Any thoughts of trouble are wiped away. But tonight is a party, first and foremost. As he rips through ‘Green Green Grass’, ‘Paradise’ and ‘Blame It On Me’ before rounding out the evening by sending confetti and fireworks into the sky with ‘Shotgun’ – George Ezra cements his spot as a summer superstar. The world still may need that sense of escapism, but tonight is a call to arms for celebrating the here and now. JAMIE MUIR readdork.com 21.


STANDON'S THE CALLING BEHIND

Festivals are always full of big moments. Here's some of the not to be missed action from this year's edition of Standon Calling... Photos: Alastair Brookes, Ania Shrimpton, Giulia Spadafora

→IT'S EASY TO CONSIDER FESTIVALS one big, uniform series of summer events - all catering to the same people, with the same line-ups, just across different weekends. That's far from the case, though. While many aim for niches and sub-sectors, Standon Calling exists to do something all together more difficult. How many other festivals would be headlined by Loyle Carner, have a Dive Bar stage that's shut down by a punk band too brilliant to be contained, and also have room for Dick and Dom? A wide ranging, expertly curated selection of acts that provides for all the family, but never risks becoming too beige or boring in the process, it's far harder to pull off than simply tick-boxing the beloved bands of a specific musical outlook. 2022's edition does it all superbly. From the bands for the mums and dads (not that Madness are remotely mundane), national heroes (Sam Ryder is making a great go of this year's circuit, post Eurovision), and some of the hottest new acts on the planet (English Teacher, Yard Act, Porij, Lynks and more), there's a bit of everything. The Cribs have always known how to work a festival - and they certainly aren't stopping now - while Declan McKenna continues to work up to what's almost certainly going to be a stellar level up once he gets round to releasing his third album with one of the festival shows of the summer. Dry Cleaning, equally, are in fine form, with upcoming album 'Stumpwork' clearly worth a closely fixed eye. It's Self Esteem, though, that's the real winner. Like with almost every festival Rebecca Lucy Taylor has and will play this summer, her ability to create big pop impact without the need for a stadium sized budget has seen her storm the circuit. With a strong message and an even stronger performance, it's impossibly rare to see a set this good in such a setting. But then, this is Standon Calling. What can't it do, exactly? BEN PETERS

SCENES We asked some of 'the bands' to capture the 'behind the scenes' action from this year's Standon Calling. Here's what they sent back.

DIVE BAR MAYHEM

Our Standon Calling stage the Dive Bar might have had three days of exciting music planned - but we only got to enjoy the first of them, thanks to the raw, uncompromising brilliance of Bob Vylan. Yes - they were so good, they broke the whole stage. What other festival can say that, eh?

LOYLE CARNER

Bessie Turner: Our dressing room was filled with rad things like naked bars and sweets and we were in the same vicinity as Dick and Dom and Craig David. Felt very proud and privileged to me amongst such legends.

Porij: Walking from the dressing room to the stage is always pretty funny at a festival when you look like children whose parents have weirdly dressed them in the same clothes.

With a new album due very soon indeed, Loyle Carner is already one of the most beloved musical voices in the UK. Proving he's got what it takes to headline, that journey only looks set to continue, as Standon Calling proves it can pick out the talent destined for the biggest festival slots.

English Teacher: Our manager Pete and his partner Maria’s baby, Penny’s first gig and she was wearing her ‘I’m with the band’ T-shirt. Here she is having a cuddle with her best pal Douglas.

SELF ESTEEM

Truth be told, Self Esteem has been the star of almost every festival she's played this summer. Packing one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2021, Standon Calling is no different. A pop show that carries serious impact, it's hard not to appreciate just what Rebecca Lucy Taylor has achieved.

Porij: Defo enjoying the post show adrenaline release :) And more importantly, so obviously thrilled that we’re about to see the legendary Sugababes on the main stage. It was I N S A N E !!!!

SUGABABES

Just a few months ago, the reformed Sugababes - Mutya, Keisha and Siobahn - packed out a tent at Glastonbury to the point they had to stop letting people into the field. At Standon Calling, they prove it wasn't a one off. Far more than retromania, they're proof that some combinations are worth revisting.

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English Teacher: Got all my (Lily) gear laid out before going on stage. My Cyclone, OCD, tinny etc.

Bessie Turner: We played a really fun show on the Laundry Meadows stage. The crowd were really lovely and humoured me in my in-between-songs quiz which consisted of the audience guessing things like my favourite condiment or crisp and in return winning some sweets from our rider.


FESTIVALS

↑ Black Honey

↑ Bombay Bicycle Club

↑ Yard Act

KEEP ON TRUCKIN' BORING DOWN

WITH

LIVE! Not content with all the live music, this year, we brought our flagship podcast-slash-radio-show Down With Boring along, for some real time, in-person, live fun and games. Featuring, across the three days, Sigrid, Sports Team, Sea Girls, Spector, Crawlers, Pixey and Lime Garden, if you missed out, don't worry - you can hear the whole thing in full via our usual feeds right now. Presuming we've finished editing everything together by the time you read this. Maybe we shouldn't count our chickens, huh? Head to readdork.com for more.

↑Sigrid at Down With Boring LIVE!

↓↓↓ FESTIVAL REPORT ↓↓↓

Truck is still exactly as fun, and exactly as bonkers, as it always has been. Photos: Caitlin Mogridge, Gaelle Beri

→ 2022 IS A BIG YEAR FOR TRUCK, with the festival celebrating its 25th anniversary. It’s also the first time in three years that it can actually go ahead after last year’s event became one of the last festivals to be cancelled due to Covid-19. If people were worried that the magic may have dissipated in that time, they can rest easy. Truck is still exactly as fun and bonkers as it always has been. A giant furry Truck mascot wanders around the arena, Mr Motivator leads a morning workout, Barry from Eastenders conducts a rousing singalong to ‘Mustang Sally’ – and that’s without even mentioning the midday circle pits to the Oxford Symphony Orchestra. It’s a festival that understands nonsense is a good thing. But nonsense is nothing without a good lineup. Truck has always fought indie’s corner, and this year’s offering goes all out. Thursday’s onetwo punch of Black Honey and Blossoms make

the crowd very glad they opted for early entry, with both pulling out all the stops. Blossoms’ cover of The Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me’ is a particular highlight, but it’s the encore performance of ‘Charlemagne’ which gets the biggest response, as thousands of fans scream every word right back at the band. Friday sees a flying visit from Yard Act, whose 30-minute set is just long enough to show everyone why they’re nominated for this year’s Mercury Prize and selling out tours left, right and centre. Over on the main stage, indie veterans Spector marvel at the biggest crowd they’ve ever seen. The band are on top form, crashing through their setlist with just a short break to… film a member of the band’s crew landing a tre flip on a fingerboard? Sounds odd, but judging by the deafening crowd response, it might just have been a festival highlight for some. The length of the queue for the Sea Girls’ slot signing records in the merch tent hints at their fanbase, but the response to their set is overwhelming. Mosh pits break out immediately as the band launch into ‘Sick’, and so many people are on each other’s shoulders that it looks like a crowd of 12ft tall people have invaded the front rows. Bombay Bicycle Club close the first ‘proper’ day of the festival, and from the opening notes of ‘Eat, Sleep, Wake’ to the closing refrain of ‘Always Like This’, the set is a masterclass in feel-good festival tunes. Festivals are often about winning over punters who might not be overly familiar with every band on the bill, but Truck’s laser-like focus on indie past and present means the bands can forget all that and just have fun. Sports Team take full advantage during their set, throwing in new tracks with gusto while singer Alex Rice struts around on stage in a matador costume. Exit Sports Team, enter Kelis – the natural

festival pairing. She comes on stage grinning from ear to ear and offers the crowd exactly what they’re after: a tight run through of her impressive list of chart smashes. From ‘Millionaire’ to the iconic chorus of ‘Milkshake’, she knows exactly how to work an audience. Of Truck’s three headliners, it’s Sam Fender that people are most excited to see, and he doesn’t disappoint, leading a high-energy set topped off by the biggest moment to ever occur at a festival – a duet with Shaun Williamson, AKA Barry from Eastenders. The two storm through ‘Getting Started’ and receive a response only rivalled by the absolute carnage which erupts to ‘Seventeen Going Under’. The Magic Gang are all smiles on Sunday afternoon, joking about it taking them half a decade to get to the main stage. It’s worth the wait, with the sunshine indie of ‘Take Back the Track’ and ‘What Have You Got to Lose’ helping to soothe the crowd’s collective hangover. Easy Life take the opposite approach, with frontman Murray demanding the biggest moshpit he’s ever seen to shake off those final day cobwebs. The crowd obliges, and turbobanger ‘Nightmares’ causes a pit so big it can probably be seen from space. Closing out the festival is Kasabian, in a set that many in attendance hope will prove the band still works with Serge as the frontman. They swiftly dispel any doubts by opening with ‘Club Foot’, as clear a statement of intent as we’ve ever heard. Truck has always been a great small festival, backing UK indie music to the hilt and making sure it has fun while doing so. In 2022 though, the word ‘small’ seems to have been dropped entirely, without losing any of the magic. There’s still a local charity selling baked potatoes for a fiver, and there’s still room for a charmingly off-kilter Bruce Springsteen tribute. The main difference is that this year’s line-up has graduated to a whole new level. JAKE HAWKES

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YOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO THE BEST NEW NAMES.

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C -


CRAW -LERS Rising fast, despite the leather pants, Crawlers are quite probably your new favourite band.

I

t's been a matter of hours since Crawlers made their first ever appearance on a festival main stage, and let's just say it's been a memorable one. "Honestly, I think we're still sweating from that show," declares lead singer Holly Minto, as the band gather around a picnic table following the sort of storming set at Community Festival that'll mark them out for many as a new favourite band. "I wore leather pants today… LEATHER PANTS! It was fucking moist up there, I'll tell you that - I actually just had to change." While the weather may change, Crawlers' ascent up the bill of festivals like this is something the world should be getting used to fast. In just over a year, they've grown from a buzzy word-of-mouth sensation into a force already surrounded by a fanbase full of dedication and admiration. With the sort of soaring anthems made to be blared at the highest volume and lyrics born to be inked onto skin - they're not just another band bringing the fire. They're ready to burn down any preconceived notions and form something new and more refreshing from the ashes. "It's been weird and surreal," explains Holly - possibly the best way to describe the reaction Crawlers have seen stepping out onto the road over the past year or so. For the band, it's a response both mind-blowing and wild to see play out in front of them. "When we first got this reaction and a following, it was right during COVID, and we couldn't really see those people in real life. As things got bigger, it was like just before things opened up, so we still hadn't really done a show. Then when we did our first tour in March and April. Seeing people know the songs was so odd". The small matter of opening for childhood heroes My Chemical Romance was "nauseatingly insane", and the accompanying run of dates darting across the world has cemented that indisputable fact: Crawlers are your next phenomenon. "Doing these festivals like Community, hardly anyone knew us, but they're jumping up and down and reacting to everything we do, and it's just like… THIS IS IT! We're

getting to do things that before COVID, we'd watch other bands do and be like, ahhh, we'll never do that. Yet here we are." Throughout their turn on the Community main stage earlier, it's easy to see why Crawlers are quickly becoming a big deal. With an infectious energy that rides through the crowd like a tidal wave, it's a storming, in-your-face call to arms that's fresh, vital and powerful all at the same time. Crunching riffs meet tender singalongs, fizzing pop meets moshpit-starting grooves a Crawlers show is a showcase of every twist and turn that makes up their DNA as a band, and one that's always ready to surprise. "There's always something for everyone with our set," nods guitarist Amy Woodall. "There's at least something that will tick the box a little bit for someone, which isn't a bad thing at all." "I think it's what has made this all so much fun," picks up Holly, "because we're all into so many different things. Music is run by playlists, but also run by feel and vibe. It's what makes it more fun at festivals, too, when we play. We go from this kind of lighters-in-the-air moment to me just screaming about how much Donald Trump is a dick, know what I mean?!" A look through their journey so far can best explain the Crawlers we see before us today - a band thriving with the here and now while also fully aware of the importance of the stories they're telling in their music. When Holly joined Amy and bassist Liv Kettle to form a new band, they bonded over the sounds of Queens Of The Stone Age and Nirvana before more influences and tastes poured into what they were doing. "Liv went even more metal-y, Amy went really pop-y with like Charli XCX and ABBA, and I got really into songwriters and songwriting as a whole," explains Holly. When drummer Harry Breen joined, those punk influences made their way into the Crawlers' sound, and before they knew it, they were asking: "How are we going to satisfy ourselves? It's just writing good songs to the vibe we think goes best with them. We definitely started saying we're a rock band, and then we've ended up going - we don't really know, we're

“I KNEW I WAS GONNA GIVE IT ALL UP FOR THIS BAND”

Words: Jamie Muir. Photos: Em Marcovecchio.

"That was the song that got us signed and stuff, and it was all written in Liv's kitchen with Liv and Harry," reflects Holly. "I wouldn't have been able to write that song if it wasn't for these guys being around me. I wouldn't have felt comfortable." That step into writing about life's experiences frankly and directly is something Holly notes could only have happened thanks to the bond they all share. "When I started, I came from a bit more of a political background because at that point, HO L LY M I NTO it wasn't like anything life-wise had affected me. It can be really hard to Crawlers, I guess?' speak about some of those topics, After initial first impressions that and it's really important to accept can be summed up as everyone your privilege before talking about thinking everyone else was too them, but when 'Come Over' started cool for each other ("I was very happening, it was a bit more like intimidated by all of you to be - oh, what's going on here? And honest," cracks Liv. "That's it, we're obviously, they all knew exactly all either really anxious or really what I was talking about. It was horrible - one of the two," laughs honestly so emotional." Amy), Crawlers found their home. "That's it, though," picks up Amy, One of best mates living life and "It's never been a conversation channelling their experiences in about being able to come and say every unflinching moment. They in front of everyone what a song is couldn't even think about the idea about to feel comfortable. We're all of heading their own separate ways best friends, so whatever comes when university came calling. "There through, we all know about that was one moment that you guys are situation already! If Holly turns going to laugh at me for bringing up around and says, I wrote this song as a big moment, but it was when I about this moment six months ago, knew I was gonna give it all up for then it's like - we were all there when this band," lays out Holly. "We were it happened anyway, so there's still in sixth form, and we played a never a need to worry about it." local music festival, and we weren't 'Come Over (Again)' helps good, but we were so new and represent something undeniable so different. I turned around and about Crawlers - that through looked at my bandmates and was exploring the personal and releasing like - you guys are so talented, and it into the world, they help bring I just want to grow with you guys. together a community looking for a I think we should risk it, keep the place to call their own. Being able to band together and go for it - then put into words an emotion they've Harry joined, and then TikTok just struggled to define. There may be blew everything up for us." no greater purpose to being in a Launched into the wider online band than helping change lives - an consciousness, 'Come Over (Again)' impact that isn't lost on Crawlers may have been an introduction to and the messages they see pouring Crawlers for many - but for the band, into their inbox each and every day. it represented a bold new step. One "The fact that our lyrics are that packed with the sort of emotional interpretable and so many people meaning that has come to set them are embracing it with their own apart from most of their peers. experiences and feeling helped by "When we first wrote 'Come Over', it," opens up Holly, taking a moment that was like the furthest from what to consider it all. "It's really nice. we had written or released so far Especially when some of these as a band," notes Liv. "It was quite songs are about such dark things - it nerve-wracking." really means something."

"The most traumatic thing can get turned into such a positive thing," Liv continues. "Songs like 'Come Over (Again)' gave a load of listeners that space. To go like - oh my God, this song represents this to me and is about this situation to me - and then other people being like, oh I can relate to this too. Just feeling like they're seen. It's amazing." "We were in America doing our first ever - well, I've never been outside Europe so going to America was a bit nuts," adds Holly. "Seeing them screaming these new songs like 'Fuck Me' was so insane. It's fulfilling but also like surreal. You write these songs about horrible situations, and these people give you this amazing support blanket." Supporting each other at every step, Crawlers are taking in every moment. They're the sort of essential new band that might not just change up the pop hierarchy, but change lives too. Community may be their first main stage performance, but you can be guaranteed it won't be their last. As they chat around a picnic table in the middle of Finsbury Park, the sound of their peers playing across the site around them, Crawlers are busy plotting the next step toward world domination. "Honestly, we love just like writing music," explains Amy. "Any time we just get to do that, as well as playing some amazing gigs, that's the goal. It all comes from writing…." "But you know…" begins Liv, "headlining a main stage and playing arenas wouldn't be too bad either!" "Why not!?" Holly adds. "What has become so special since the pandemic is just how mad live gigs are. We've watched some insane artists, and the way they perceive music is just fucking magic. Like, watching a Self Esteem show is amazing. Watching other artists using colours and stuff, like Baby Queen with 'Colours Of You' - all of these different elements we maybe didn't think about before, we want to bring into our performance. It's made it even more exciting for what we do next." Whatever it may be, the world will be hearing about it. Sweaty gigs, leather pants and all. ■

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BAYLI New York popster Bayli is out to change the status quo.

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limbing the ranks of the new pop revolution leaderboard is Bayli – a New York-born and bred pop icon in waiting. Boasting co-signs from Shygirl, Mura Masa and the late great Sophie, her first EP 'Stories From New York' gave us an insight into her pre-pandemic life in the big city. We catch Bayli for a chat between her first UK tour and the release of follow-up EP 'Stories 2', the second act that celebrates her beloved city opening back up. "I try to make bangers all the time, but I think a lot of my lyrics and what I like to put out comes out very intimate and very, like chill vibes that are deep introspective songs," says Bayli. She's in New York (obviously), a place she's recently moved back to after dabbling in the LA lifestyle for a few months. But it's neither of those cities that have inspired her latest single, 'TELLYBAG'. Nope, it's London. It's Bayli's most unapologetic banger, pulling together a drum and bass beat and the bouncy energy of Beyoncé's comeback 'BREAK MY SOUL', adding in a fake

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Words: Abigail Firth. Photo: Savanna Ruedy

British accent and a chorus line that simply goes "you're so straight, and I'm so gay", it's a pride anthem that perfectly summarises Bayli's ethos. "I feel like everyone's coming back outside, so we needed something that the girls can really turn up to together in the club, at a party or whatever. So it's really cool now to be a few months later with 'TELLYBAG' playing at Pride, seeing everyone outside safely as a community, you know? I feel very good about how I'm flowing." Ditching the conceptual idea behind 'Stories From New York', going with the flow has been her approach to making a second EP. That showed when she dropped follow-up 'Think of Drugs', a

melancholy track that details her upbringing in a household surrounded by drugs. Bayli grew up in the Brooklyn neighbourhood Bed Stuy, raised by her parents, who she refers to as 'city hippies' – they met in a club, her dad an 'encyclopaedia of music', her mum moving from the UK, and a part of the punk scene – and thanks her community for giving her all her best assets. "My parents were very artsy, cool, 80s party people. They were very free; they gave us a lot of freedom to see things for ourselves, express ourselves, try different things, which a lot of our friends around us in our community didn't have. So I'll always have gratitude for my parents for being that open, and

“WE NEEDED SOMETHING THAT THE GIRLS CAN REALLY TURN UP TO TOGETHER IN THE CLUB” BAYL I

letting us discover ourselves without feeling too judged. "Obviously, there's struggles and stuff. Like the song 'Think of Drugs', I talked about addiction because that was something that I experienced growing up in the household, and I think a lot of people did, so I wanted a song that reflected that. It is dark, but I think for me, too, it's really cathartic to be a musician. There were definitely struggles, but I still have a very optimistic viewpoint, and I have so much gratitude for my parents, even with all their struggles and flaws. I think a lot of people that had tumultuous upbringings still have that gratitude and empathy with their parents." Adopting her musical side from both of her parents, Bayli picked up the guitar at 14, after watching the Led Zeppelin concert film The Song Remains the Same. Her parents put her and her siblings into music school, and at around 16, she signed her first deal, spawned by a video of her band at the time, The Skins, going viral. It was then that she was picked up by Rick Rubin, who'd go on to help develop her as an artist today. "It's a very soft, very gentle mentorship. And I'm saying that in a slightly facetious way, but I love it. He's very hands-off. He'll invite you to his studio, where it's just like you focus on the music, and there's not a lot of distractions. There's not a lot of cell phone service; there aren't party people. We would go there and just write and freestyle and not think about if it's going to be for an album or for a project. And he would just kind of be around, pop his head in and be like, 'Hey, check this out', or 'Ooh, I really like when you try that', and not say this is good, or this is bad, essentially, let us as the artists find our own way. "I think some people find that frustrating because, in life, we want real guidance, concrete answers - but he can't tell me what to say and what I'm feeling. It was almost just like guiding artists more into their truest self and then hopefully being able to reflect it on the page in the studio." Alongside Rick, Bayli is one

of the few artists who was able to work with hyperpop pioneer Sophie before she passed. The track they made together – the almost nineminute 'clown sh*t / (up the wall)' – was Bayli's biggest club banger until 'TELLYBAG' arrived. "I honour even the small interactions that we had because we never met in person. Sophie makes you feel empowered in yourself, I think maybe it's the thing that we're all looking up to her for, and we're like, oh my gosh, you're an insane icon, but she's so humbled and just sweet and encouraging. I think working with her is her kind of a way to say, I think you have some potential. So yes, it was very much an honour." This year, she'll feature on Mura Masa's new album 'demon time', on the titletrack. She slides in perfectly with the rest of the record's features, which are a compilation of pop's most exciting outliers, Shygirl, PinkPantheress, Isabella Lovestory and more. Her second EP 'Stories 2' also drops later this year, and is decidedly bouncier than its predecessor, and feels more love-led than the last too. On 'Into Me', she's braggadocios, she's flaunting her other half on 'Act Up', and fawning over a crush on 'Ur Mine'. "I am an artist who tries to reflect the times and my community, and those voices that maybe we don't hear so much in the mainstream pop worlds. I'm just literally trying to keep pace with where the world is, going with the flow. It's definitely a roller coaster ride. It's not as slow and steady as 'Stories from New York'; it's really fun." Bayli describes her biggest influences as 'aliens'; those who are pressing to change the status quo, are strong women, and empowered in themselves. She notes everyone from her mum, to Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse, to Georgia O'Keefe as heroes. "I think that's the type of artist that I've evolved into, at least right now where it's like, I do want every single song to have a conversation that maybe is hard and uncomfortable to have, but we have to have it." ■



HIGH

COVER STORY

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5 SECONDS OF SUMMER

FIVE 5 SECONDS OF SUMMER HAVE BEEN AT THE TOP OF THE GAME FOR MORE THAN A DECADE, BUT AS THEY PREPARE TO RELEASE THEIR FIFTH ALBUM, THEY'RE ONLY LOOKING TO THE FUTURE. WORDS: ABIGAIL FIRTH. PHOTOS: ANDY DELUCA.

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COVER STORY

APPRECIATE YOU SAYING that you don't want to talk about the past too much," says 5 Seconds of Summer's Michael Clifford at the front end of our chat. It seems like a moment of relief for a member of a band who are a decade into their career and have spent a lot of that time talking about the start of it. With the release of their fifth album, conveniently titled '5SOS5', they're entering a new phase in their journey together, one where they can both reflect on the past ten years and keep pushing themselves further. For 5SOS, there isn't an end in sight. When we catch the boys – that's Luke Hemmings, Calum Hood, Ashton Irwin, and the already introduced Michael Clifford – it's in Rogers, Arkansas, at the final stateside stop of their ambitious 'Take My Hand' world tour that began in

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"HAVING NOT TOURED IN ABOUT TWO YEARS, IT WAS DEFINITELY A BIT OF A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM" - MICHAEL CLIFFORD the UK in April and has so far spanned Europe, Mexico, the US and Canada, and will eventually wrap up in their homeland Australia in December. And they look, bluntly, fucking knackered. Amidst prepping for their last show, they take an hour to sit down with Dork, but it's clear a proper rest is due. A couple of years off touring and being thrown back into a three-month worldwide slog has taken its toll. Ashton (who recently suffered extreme heat exhaustion at their Houston show, resulting in the event being cut short) understatedly nods that it hasn't been easy on the body. "A decade of touring really makes you aware of the fickleness of your physicality," he explains. "It's very, very difficult. We've had to get on the path of attempting to observe and master how to look out for ourselves out here if we really want to do this for a long time." "Having not toured in about two years, it was definitely a bit of a shock to the system," says Michael. "So we've been adjusting and relearning how to tour again, but really we're just super grateful to have this many people come and see us on this tour. It's been way, way bigger and better than we could have ever expected." It's the biggest tour they've been on in a long time. Beginning as the one for fourth album 'CALM', it ended up being postponed for so long that they wrote another album in between, and rebranded the tour to encompass the new tracks. It's also the first time since before their debut album that they've been playing unreleased tracks live. "I think it's our best show yet," says Calum. "The set flows so well, and takes

you on a journey throughout the last 10 years of our discography, which is cool. It's quite a difficult thing because, you know, especially with us, we want to kind of bend the different genres, and have opportunities to keep evolving as a band and our sound, and we have done that for such a long time." Evolution is perhaps the best way to describe how 5SOS have moved through their career. Beginning as a pop-punk group who found their feet supporting One Direction at their height, the first two records – a self-titled debut and 2015's 'Sounds Good Feels Good' – were indebted to that sound. After a couple of years away, they returned in 2018 with 'Youngblood', a fresher, more mature sound that reintroduced the world to 5SOS, and by the time 2020 record 'CALM' came around, with its moodier, more experimental takes, it was hard to believe they were the same boys who debuted with a song referencing American Apparel underwear. Now at a point in their career where they're looking back on the journey so far (an insane thing to say about a group of 26-28-year-olds), the pandemic gave 5SOS a chance to properly reflect and process the lifestyle that consumed most of their teenhood and early 20s. What came out of those reflections is their biggest – in both length and sound – and boldest album yet. The group obviously look back on their formative years fondly (they wouldn't still be playing songs from even their earliest EPs like 'Disconnected' and 'Amnesia' live if they didn't), and as Michael explains, there are fans who've been through this


5 SECONDS OF SUMMER


COVER STORY


5 SECONDS OF SUMMER

"THERE ARE NOT REALLY MANY PEOPLE ON EARTH THAT HAVE DONE WHAT WE HAVE DONE TOGETHER" - ASHTON IRWIN whole journey with them too. "It's funny that we're in this period where we get to play songs like 'She Looks So Perfect' and 'Amnesia' and stuff. It's like those songs are living in this strange, nostalgic era for people now," he says. "Even though the songs came out eight years ago, it definitely doesn't feel like that long, but it also feels like a lifetime ago. It's a really interesting thing for us to see how people react to it. People are singing those songs louder than ever, because of what they meant to them eight years ago, and it's been amazing to watch it all unfold." Calum adds, "The last two years have given us space to reflect for the first time properly and have time to be able to articulate how we truly feel about those experiences and how they interact with the people we are today. It actually gave us a great opportunity to be able to put those into words and hopefully resonate with the people that shared that journey with us." One of '5SOS5''s leading tracks, 'Take My Hand' unpacks the story so far from the boys' perspective. It's a slow burner that sees Luke ground himself, lyrically noting the blur of their first few years with the pre-chorus that goes, "shut my eyes right at seventeen / open eyes right at twenty-three". 'Carousel', which comes directly after, echoes a similar sentiment, delving into the chaos but reiterating that they've no intention of stopping. Explaining how these themes

came into the album, Ashton talks of the collective therapy 5SOS were going through with one another while writing this record. "The combined experience that the four of us have had is kind of shocking and traumatising to some extent. So who am I going to talk to about my combined experience? Oh, there are three other guys that have been through the same thing. So when you isolate us, we kind of look at each other and go, look how far we've come. You've got wrinkles on your face, you look older, you're a fucking man, and we're kind of held in this place of nostalgia because we share such a unique experience. "There are not really many people on earth that have done what we have done together," he continues, "and we praise that, we try to understand that together. We try to form positive mentalities on how to move forwards even though the past might be heavy. And we try to believe in ourselves. When people just want to talk about 'She Looks So Perfect', we want to talk about what we're doing today. You know, talking about the past is a really weird thing when it's not really the past you associate it with. Like, we associate the past as working really hard together, writing songs together, doing all these things, but there's a projected past that's made up by people that perceive us. So when we're just isolated together, we enjoy the shared experience." '5SOS5' largely came around by accident. As their legend goes, the readdork.com 33.


COVER STORY

"A BIG THING FOR THIS BAND IS JUST LETTING GO OF WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK" - CALUM HOOD

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four of them travelled out to Joshua Tree towards the end of 2020, deflated from the pandemic, riding out the comedown of finally stopping for the first time in years, and lacking inspiration for writing new 5SOS material. Initially, there was supposed to be an additional producer/engineer coming along with them, but after his car broke down, 5SOS were left to their own devices. As luck would have it, Michael had spent his lockdown months learning sound design and production techniques, so took the reins. With no real end goal, they just let loose. "It's interesting when it's like, 'Michael produced' because it doesn't necessarily feel like that," he explains. "It's done by all four of us. Obviously, I was the one behind the desk doing the things, but there's no way I would have been able to finish songs if it wasn't for the three other guys, you know what I mean? I'm so critical of myself that I can barely even get past making the first couple of track ideas. I know as well as the other three do exactly how this band functions and what type of music we want to make, what type of music we like, how to apply that in ways that are a compromise for all four of us. It was a really freeing experience. It's harder to say to a person who's a third party, 'hey, I don't like this', whereas, with our process, it was really easy for everyone to just be like, 'you know what, that's not great, let's try something else'. It really helped not only speed up the process, but get to the most genuine version of the songs we were trying to create." The album sonically reflects the process. It sounds wide open and sprawling, the group releasing their grip and indulging in both enormous arena-ready belters and more intimate, personal numbers. When it comes to post-pandemic albums, it veers on the brighter side; even when the lyrics feel darker and more introspective, the sound looks outwards and upwards. The tracks feel oxymoronic at times. 'Bad Omens' details struggling to let go of a lover, slowly blooming into something almost gospel in its final third; 'COMPLETE MESS' flips its title lyric to 'you make me complete'; 'Flatline' is one of the bouncier tracks, elevating higher with a head-voice chorus and grounded with a heavy bass line. Oftentimes the record feels more like the huge 80s ballads of U2 or The Police than something a TikTok algorithm would cook up, but the boys' ability to write a fucking fantastic topline saves it from being any kind of dated. "We've written a lot of songs since we were just wee boys," says Luke, "so this was kind of the culmination of many years of hopefully getting better at songwriting. It's hard to really say; we just made what we wanted to make, which is kind of an underwhelming answer, but really is just the case. We came into the studio as just the four of us, and it's just sort of wherever it took us." There's a particularly sincere love song on the record titled 'Older', where Luke enlists fiancé Sierra Deaton to join in a piano-led duet of sorts that's

really unlike anything they've done before. He says, "We haven't had that many female vocals on songs, and that one obviously lends itself to that storyline, but it just needed something else. She's got a really beautiful voice, so we thought we would utilise it for that song. We started that idea a couple of years ago, and it's grown into this beautiful, strange song. It's such an interesting outlier on the album." Although separated for this interview – Cal and Mike in one chat, Luke and Ash in another – they're pretty in tune with each other in terms of how they speak about the band. While Calum and Michael joke that it's because they can't do interviews together anymore, Ashton, later on, likens their relationship to a brotherhood and notes that it's not necessarily that they like everything about one another, but that they've come to accept it. There's a very obvious amount of love and dedication between the four that shines through on the track 'Best Friends', which employs a very pop-punk melody, perhaps as a nod to their roots, but backs the power chords with a whole string section. On the eve of '5SOS5''s release, they'll play a special show at London's Royal Albert Hall, bringing in a whole orchestra for the performance. It'll serve as a geographical signifier of their growth, as the group used to busk and host fan meet-ups across the street from the iconic venue in their earliest days, but 5SOS give the impression that they never doubted for a minute that they'd make it to that stage. "It's such a risk to choose this, and you don't fuck around," says Ashton. "When you choose a risky job, like being a musician, or starting a band, leaving your family, leaving everything you know, and moving to a place like England, you're not messing around. Like, you'd be a fool to. We wanted to slay this shit. So we did, and we continue to manifest this thing that we started on over a decade ago. And I feel like we would be letting down our fans to say we didn't think this would happen, because they convinced us that it probably will happen. And if it did, I like to think that if people did support or do support this band, they feel like they chose the right people to support. Because we didn't take this like it was nothing." And although they've spent the last couple of years and a whole album cycle looking back, it isn't with regret. Yes, hindsight is 20/20, but their vision for the future is crystal clear too. "A big thing for this band is just letting go of what other people think and focusing on what we have," says Calum. "The internal opinions of the band is kind of what means the most in terms of if we're trying to grow. But I don't think we're scared; it's awesome to be able to see the amount of growth that we've been through, and to see the kind of differentials that our career has displayed. That's such an amazing thing, and we're better for it." ■ 5 Seconds Of Summer's album '5SOS5' is out 23rd September.


5 SECONDS OF SUMMER


FEATURES

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PALE WAVES

W A V E S

WITH A PANDEMIC PAUSE FORCED UPON THEM, PALE WAVES HAVE EMBRACED THEIR HEAVIER ROOTS. WORDS: JAMIE MUIR. PHOTOS: DEREK BREMNER

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FEATURES

ORRY, BUT WE'RE DRIVING through what looks like woods at the moment…where are we??" questions Heather Baron-Gracie, searching for signal while attempting to work out her surroundings. "It genuinely looks like we're on the set of Twilight." There's a pause. "To be honest, I would love to go where they shot Twilight - I'd be living my dream. In fact, just leave me there, find a replacement, and I'll just pretend I'm a vampire. I don't think anyone would be surprised to hear that, to be honest!" Pale Waves fans fear not - this isn't the story of a band shutting up shop thanks to a vampire film franchise, but of one entering a bold new chapter as their moon rises once again. Their journey today is

one of many, traversing the US on a hot run of shows supporting 5 Seconds Of Summer. It's part of a schedule that'll see them flying between festival dates in the UK and packed arenas on the other side of the pond. "We're just having a blast," states Heather. "Everyone's been so lovely on this tour so far… plus the CATERING!" If there's an added sense of excitement and fun bursting through the world of Pale Waves at the moment, it's for good reason. When the world slowed down and stepping onto stages in front of tens of thousands of people may have seemed a dream far in the future, Heather, Ciara Doran, Hugo Silvani and Charlie Wood started work on an album full of urgency and immediacy. An album ready to pop off, no matter the location or occasion. "That was the aim, really," explains Heather. "We wanted to make an album that would translate well live and be fun for us to play. It's why we headed in this heavier direction. We want to thrash about on-stage. Play our instruments more, be out there more. I think that comes with confidence as you grow as people. This moment was always coming." 'Unwanted' isn't just a third album, but a laser-focused statement of intent aimed squarely at kicking down any doors left standing. It's not about trying to fit into cliches or what's "expected" but defining something more individual. The result is a Pale Waves hungry for the very top - born from the path laid out by 'Who Am I?' and only aided by that sense of anticipation built when the world began to shut down. "I think the moment where 'Unwanted' started was the pandemic," admits Heather. "We were sitting at home and just knew we wanted to make an album. We didn't want to wait like we had before. It was all about utilising this time and getting into a studio while still trying to figure out everything going on to start writing and recording. I knew once things began to get back to normality, we would be right back on the road again. This was our opportunity, and it happened pretty fast, to be honest." It continues a journey for Pale Waves that has always bristled with ambition from the moment 'There's A Honey' and debut full-length 'My Mind Makes Noises' flipped new music on its head. Sold-out tours, undeniable devotion and feverish live shows only added to the rush. With 'Who Am I?', any sense of the difficult second album was thrown briskly to the kerb - marking the next evolution of Pale Waves with a confident and raw record born of honesty and eagerness. Looking back, it sits as a "really important time for us," Heather reflects, while the ensuing effects of a global pandemic "really allowed and helped me to figure out who I am as a person a lot more and what I like, what I want to do and what I want to say. I feel like that time was really important and needed for a lot of people, and it was definitely needed for me." Putting themselves first and learning how to deal with being a band in demand across the globe came thick and fast. "When we were younger, and we first came to America and toured, we were up for partying. We were up for doing

EVERYTHING in terms of grafting," Heather remembers. "Now, I need a certain amount of sleep, or I'll definitely get sick. We can't just say yes to everything now we need to make time for ourselves - but that lesson comes with learning. I wanted everything as a new band, and I guess that kind of just really dampened my mental health, whereas now I have to set up a lot of boundaries because I'm the one who knows when my body needs a break!" Pale Waves aren't just any other band. That was clear from the beginning when track drops would provoke story after story of fans whose lives are intrinsically intertwined with that of a band who've worn their emotions on their sleeves from the get-go. Acceptance, love, pride, defiance and more - it's what Pale Waves represents that has taken on a life of its own, only bolstered by the personal journeys each member has made. It's something Heather holds close, aware of how important having that outlet was and could have been for her when growing up. "Sometimes, I wish I had someone to look up to or connect with like that. I had one or two artists, but I don't feel like I had a whole lot. To see people resonate with who we are and what we're doing means a lot. It's really important to have that in general, whether that's artists or friendships or activities, those things that make you feel okay and happy. To feel like you're being seen - so many people don't feel seen or heard, which is just crazy. If we can be that to someone, then that's amazing." With evolution as each era begins, there remains an undeniable thread - that at the core of all things Pale Waves is a heart full of emotion, release, honesty and comfort. Laying that out for the world to hear is no small feat. "Sometimes, it can be really intimidating. It can be real scary to just put all your shit out there," Heather admits. "To put all your trauma out there essentially for everyone and anyone to just look up and dive into and analyse. People know you in a way just through that, and that's kind of scary." It's in the connection with Pale Waves fans that Heather and the band have found something altogether more important, a community that supports not only the band but each other in a manner that makes every low point completely worth it. "There are days where we can feel quite mentally fatigued and so exhausted, and I'm like, okay, this is a lot. Then you get these messages, or I meet people who tell me about their journey or their experiences and how we as a band have helped in some way to get people through their struggles or to find themselves, and I'm like - oh, yeah, this is exactly why it's worth it. This is why we maybe played a show on a few hours of sleep when I feel like I'm dying. It makes everything worthwhile." "I'm definitely a caretaker at heart," Heather continues, "and I think that comes from my mum because she's a nurse. She's always taught me to look out for people and to look after them. There's this like fibre within me to help where I can, and I get this satisfaction and relief when I hear these stories. It's amazing." On 'Unwanted', those stories of defiance, determination, heartbreak, loss


PALE WAVES

"IT CAN BE REAL SCARY TO JUST PUT ALL YOUR SHIT OUT THERE" - HEATHER BARON-GRACIE and resilience rip larger than ever before - turning those moments into bold rallying calls not only to live but to thrive. Linking up with producer Zakk Cervini, it sees Pale Waves embrace the sounds and bands that soundtracked their early years. Pop-punk with an edge - the Pale Waves message delivered with an emphatic knockout blow, sitting happily on a mixtape of alt anthems you'd have blaring from speakers at the highest volume possible. "All of us grew up with heavier music, so it was really natural and easy for us to get in the studio and make this album. That's a genre I'm constantly listening to personally, and as we go through life and become more confident with ourselves and ourselves as musicians, we figure out our sound a lot more. Like you know those kinda whiny high-pitched voices and those songs that are constantly singing out of tune, but it's still amazing?" cracks Heather. "People catch me listening to it and are like, what the hell is this? I'm like - you just don't get it, and that's fine, but I love it! That's the kind of music I love, and we wanted to go in that direction. But I did want to sing in tune. I didn't want to bring that part to the record!" That raw energy stems from recording sessions where tracks clicked into gear, with a sound that feels like one they've been keeping in their back pocket for years. "We just knew instantly. A lot of the songs you hear on the record were done like there and in the moment," explains Heather. Constantly serving out pop-punk banger after pop-punk banger, tracks would form together quickly and get laid down during day-long sessions - with first-takes being used to capture that immediate sense of emotion. The result was a bit of a dream for the band. "I feel like you can just really hear that. It just feels really exciting; very unapologetic, very bold, and very in your face. Just loud!' 'Unwanted' feels like the band's grandstand takeover. Punchy garagerock licks with 'Lies', 'Reasons To Live' and 'Jealousy', devastating ballads with 'The Hard Way' and 'Without You' and explosive pop-rock bangers such as 'Only Problem', 'Clean' and 'Act My Age' all live up to that blueprint. Yet it also showcases Heather's crystal clear approach to telling her story, not being afraid to tell things as they are. Take 'You're So Vain', an angry takedown of narcissistic people in a modern world obsessed with nothing but self. "I found it quite easy to be blunt and real when writing

a song about them," Heather notes. "In general, I try to be as on the nose and as honest as possible because I think that's what people want. They want things that are real and don't hide behind anything. They want to see everything you go through as a person. That's just how I have to be when writing a song. It wouldn't feel right otherwise." From the very beginning, it's been clear that Pale Waves are born for the headiest of highs, but on 'Unwanted', they have the ammunition to fully claim something even bigger. "Even now, we're always asking - erm, what are the ticket sales like for the show we're about to play?" admits Heather. "It's still there, that feeling - are people actually going to come? Are people actually going to listen to what we do next? I feel like we have that daily. I'm always surprised and shocked because I feel like I always set my expectations at the lowest! That way, you can't get hurt or disappointed, but in a way, I think it's a good thing. We're firmly down to earth and not getting carried away with anything that comes our way. We're still just so appreciative." As Heather speaks, there's that buzzing of excitement for where 'Unwanted' will take Pale Waves. Yet, while it signifies a soaring new chapter, it's also a moment Heather takes to look back on the ride that's taken them to this point. "It's amazing to be with the same three people for years and to look back on those memories and everything we've shared together so far." Whether it's those early nights jumping between small venues as word spread, to travels across the globe as they themselves have learned and lived - it's a bond impossible to break. "To see how much people have grown in confidence, grown into their own skin and grown as musicians - it's really nice. It gives me a warm feeling when I think about it." Pale Waves. The band coming for an arena near you soon. "Headlining those, that's the dream," states Heather, as the Twilight woods come to a close and the 5 Seconds Of Summer tour welcomes another preview of what's to come. "Walking out to a sold our arena and knowing that everyone is there for you… I'm getting goosebumps just talking about it. That is the dream for us." There's a pause. "...and that's mainly for the catering," Heather laughs. Dream fulfilled. ■ Pale Waves' album 'Unwanted' is out 12th August. readdork.com 39.


FEATURES


PHOEBE GREEN

Phoebe Green has been on our lists of buzzy new acts for ‘quite a while’ now. Embracing new horizons, her debut album ‘Lucky Me’ takes all that potential and sends it stratospheric. WORDS: MARTYN YOUNG. PHOTOS: EM MARCOVECCHIO.

T’S ALWAYS ENLIGHTENING TO DISCOVER what our fave pop stars enjoy beyond the music. What do they obsess over when they’re not making great music and ‘stuff’ like that? For rising Manchester pop legend Phoebe Green one of those passions is astrology. Pretty cool, you might think. Sadly Phoebe disagrees. “I’m not that much of an interesting person,” she laughs self-deprecatingly. “I’m very into star signs and shit. I’m a Scorpio, and I feel you’ve got to have a pretty intense star sign to be interested in them.” It’s said that Scorpios (a water sign, dontchaknow) derive their strength from the psychic and emotional realm, forging deep soulful connections while displaying empathy, depth and passion. So really quite interesting, actually, and fortunately a perfect descriptor for the emotionally resonant music of Phoebe Green, currently taking things up a whole staircase full of levels with her debut album ‘Lucky Me’. We’ve known for a long time that Phoebe Green was special. Blessing us with indie alt-pop bangers with a deep emotional core, Phoebe has always stood out from the crowd. The release of a debut album is a big deal, though, and the singer-songwriter knows it. “I’m very nervous about the album release,” she begins. “It’s a very exposing body of work. It’s very personal. I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently. I’m so nervous because people are going to be critiquing my deepest thoughts and feelings. Not even just the music itself, but people are going to be hearing such deep, dark things about me and forming opinions.” For all the people who might be readying their critiques, though, there will be way more thinking it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever heard. “I bloody hope so!” she laughs. That’s the thing with Phoebe. She’s a deep analytical thinker, but she’s always incredibly engaging and super funny - a perfect pop star in many ways. She wasn’t always going to be this way, though. For years, she chafed against it while PHOE BE G R EEN emphasising

"I’M NEVER THE SAME PERSON FOR VERY LONG" -

an indie sound and approach that, while still great, turned out to be not quite her. It wasn’t a harsh pivot, more a gradual realisation that maybe there was a different way to do things. “There wasn’t any lightbulb moment, but I started to realise that my skills on guitar were quite limited,” she laughs. “I didn’t enjoy it enough to push myself further. I was just like fuck this, I’m going to try something else. I love dancing. I love dancing around. I’m quite a theatrical person, and when I was playing guitar on stage, I found that I was really stationary, and I really didn’t want to be.” Following the desire to switch things up came a new way of writing that would build the vivid electronic palette of ‘Lucky Me’. “I didn’t want to write songs on guitar anymore because it really did limit me,” continues Phoebe. “Even though I did music for A Level and I did all my theory, I found it hard to apply it. I started using Apple Loops on Logic, finding a beat and just getting a bassline and typing it into the computer. It was so much easier to do everything on my laptop without using actual instruments. The whole sound just shifted, probably because I was fucking lazy. The songs I was starting to write all started to sound the same, and I felt like I was starting to outgrow that sound. I was listening to more pop music. I was in an indie scene for so long and touring with indie bands that I absolutely love, but I was so surrounded by it that I didn’t think there was any other option. I realised I could still do what I want, and no one’s going to think I’m a traitor.” The change in sound soon opened up a change in dynamic in Phoebe’s songs. “I was trying to fit around the band sound and see where I could slot myself in,” she says. “The songs I wanted to write were very personality focused, and I wanted to be the focal point of the song. Something clicked when I started to fit the instrumentation around me. The sounds really do reflect the mood of the song and what I’m trying to say.” “My writing has changed a lot through personal growth,” she continues. “I used to be such an observer of other people, and I still am, but the older I’ve got, the more I’ve thought about myself and my behaviour and patterns I slip into. The music has become more of a personal thing about my relationship with myself rather than the way I interact with other people. That comes across in the new music. There isn’t as much to hide behind or point away from.” Some of the emotional centrality in her songs at least partly comes from her most formative musical experiences. “I grew up in a very small seaside town called Lytham. All of my musical experience was at school,” she explains. “We had a really good music department, and as soon as I got to high school, I was encouraged to pursue that. Inspiration wise I watched a lot of musicals and Disney films and stuff. That’s where I started associating music with emotional storytelling. That’s where I got the idea that you sing about your feelings. Musicals are

quite visual. They set the theme and then go into detail about a situation. That’s what I first started writing about, and that hasn’t really changed. I guess it’s just got a bit cooler.” As she came to write and record ‘Lucky Me’, a newfound clarity and lucidity emerged. “I wanted it to represent where I’m at now,” she says. I’m a very inconsistent person. I’m never the same person for very long. I don’t feel like my identity is very concrete. I’ve embraced the fact that the most consistent thing about me is that I change. I didn’t want to make something that was easy to pigeonhole. That’s why I’ve embraced the pop label because it’s so much broader than a small section of a smaller genre. It seems so intimidating because it’s so massive, and there’s so much room for growth and exploration. I’ve kind of grown into it.” One of the themes Phoebe talks about is what she calls “emotional suppression”. “It started with the EP ‘I Can’t Cry For You’. I’d been through so much shit that I couldn’t cry anymore. It was all too much, and I couldn’t feel anything,” she explains. “This album is the journey of me learning how to be vulnerable again. It starts with ‘Break My Heart’, where I’m saying you’re never gonna break me as effectively or easily as I can. It’s quite defensive, not wanting to let anyone in. By the end, it gets really emotional and is quite open. I start to accept that feeling things is way better than feeling nothing.” We all know pop music is at its best and most transcendent when artists immerse themselves in their feelings and embrace every emotion. Good or bad, happy or sad, throughout ‘Lucky Me’ we experience Phoebe doing just that. Be it on dancefloor banger ‘Crying At The Club’, or an intense sad heartstopper like ‘Clean’, every emotion is ramped up to the extreme. “I’ve always been such a sensitive person. I feel things to such extremes that I can’t remember ever not being that way since I was a kid,” reflects Phoebe. “Half of the reason I tried to suppress it was because it was inconveniencing me. I always felt like no one else would ever feel things as deeply as I was. It made me feel quite isolated. That became me not feeling anything. I got so scared of my own feelings that I numbed myself completely. It worked, but now that those methods have stopped working, I’m feeling things more than ever. Writing this album was a godsend because I was able to channel these super intense emotions into something that felt like an extension of me and my emotions. ‘Clean’ is the only slow straight-up sad song on the album. That was really freeing because, for a long time, I was trying to write catchy pop songs. That’s everyone’s goal, and at that point, I’d been trying to write upbeat songs for months. It just wasn’t happening, so I was like fuck it, I’m just going to write a sad song. As soon as I got all those feelings out, I was able to relax enough to write something upbeat. That was one of the first songs on the album that I wrote.”

The record also finds Phoebe embracing a collaborative approach working with producers Kaines and Tom A.D as well as the very in-demand Jessica Winter. “I surprised myself with how open I was to doing things differently,” she exclaims. “I’ve always been quite rigid in wanting my music to sound a certain way. I was trying to meet this brief that I’d set myself, and it got old and felt like I was stifling something. I was so sick of that that I thought, as long as I get to keep my lyrics the way I want them and say whatever I want to say, then with the production, I’m going to be very open and see what suits my dialogue the best. I’ve always been so resistant to collaborating. I’ve always hated the idea of it. I was so precious about it because they were going to take it away from me and turn it into something I didn’t want. I accepted that collaborating doesn’t necessarily mean compromise. I always just saw it as a threat. I realised everyone is just trying to focus on what I want to do and encourage what’s already there.” The result is a special debut album worlds away from her lo-fi first project, ‘02.00 AM’, back in 2016. Could Phoebe have made an album like this back then? “Not a chance in hell,” she laughs. “I was too stubborn. When I was 21, I was convinced that I knew everything. I thought I knew more then than I have accepted that I know now. I’m much more willing to learn now and accept that I don’t know everything. I’ve been able to accept help and support from the people around me. I did the first self-released album years ago and wrote it completely alone, and I thought I could just do it again. That’s not how it works. Yes, that album is ok for an 18-year-old, but that’s not what I want to do. I just have so much more ambition now.” That ambition has led to an awakening that puts her in the same conversation as fellow inventive and hugely creative musicians like Self Esteem, whom Phoebe toured earlier this year. “The reason I was resistant to pop originally was I thought it had to be really generic and really easy to connect with but not in an emotional sense,” she admits. “I thought I might have to simplify my lyrics or make them more digestible in order for it to be pop music. Seeing MUNA and Self Esteem and Lorde and all these pop artists saying things in such interesting ways that can sometimes be quite abstract yet still resonate made me realise that this is doable. What makes good pop music is when someone has a really specific experience, but is still able to connect with people who might not be able to empathise.” It shows how far Phoebe has come that she can legitimately be mentioned with artists of that calibre, but the album also shows how far Phoebe can go. Now that she’s all in and fully in touch with exactly who she wants to be, there are infinite possibilities for a new star blossoming into pop’s vast galaxy. ■ Phoebe Green’s debut album ‘Lucky Me’ is out 19th August. readdork.com 41.


FEATURES

Shirt and waistcoat: The Costume Studio Trousers: Holly Scott

42. DORK


"I THE

HI

LAVA LA RUE

A CREATIVE MULTIHYPHENATE BURNING A TRAIL IN THEIR PATH, LAVA LA RUE MIGHT WELL BE THE FUTURE, BUT THEY'VE ARRIVED IN THE HERE AND NOW.

WORDS: MARTYN YOUNG. PHOTOS: PATRICK GUNNING. STYLING: CHARLOTTE MOSS. MAKE-UP: MAYA MAN USING BYREDO.

readdork.com 43.


FEATURES

music, Lava finally has some of what they need to bring their vivid creative visions to life. "I have more resources and people around me now. I can make things sound a lot more like I intend to rather than being forced into a style due to a lack of resources. That's amazing because I can make things sound like the idea I have in my brain. I'm in a position now where if I want a violin or a double bass player, I can just get them in the studio. Having that is incredible. You can hear such a sonic shift in the music. Not just with me but with all my friends as well." That sonic shift is all over 'Hi-Fidelity' with its amorphous alt-pop, psych-washed sound. The progression isn't necessarily an abrupt shift, though - it follows on from their last solo release. "I feel like I just started opening up a conversation on my last EP 'ButterFly' where I'm trying to expand some ideas sonically and genre-wise." There's an extra confidence and sense of

ambition in the music they're making now as the full Lava La Rue experience comes to life. "Everything before was based on little freestyles and was like something me and mates at school made in our bedrooms," they continue. "Every release I've done was a collection of things I made in like 2017, and things I just put on a mixtape. Now, I'm focusing much more on having a project tell a narrative both sonically and lyrically as a body of work. "There's so much more consistency now. It's allowed me to delve in and expand on this sound. I just want it to feel even bigger and make a statement. It's this fusion of psychedelia and rock and indie mixed with things you can hear from my more R&B-inspired projects, and hopefully, I can get a real solidified genre fusion from that," they say excitedly. What about that all-important album, though? Could it be on the horizon? "The

"THE IDEA OF AN ALBUM IS DEFINITELY CALLING ME. I THINK IT'S TIME" - LAVA LA RUE

idea of an album is definitely calling me," says Lava. "I think it's time." For now, though, the 'Hi-Fidelity' EP is a supremely satisfying teaser. "This project makes the Lava La Rue sound a lot clearer," they add. "The music moving forward will be an expansion of that. I'm glad I haven't released an album until now because I was a kid just trying to get my bearings and get the right resources around me. If I had made an album two or three years ago, it wouldn't have been fully formed because I didn't have what I needed. Now is the right time. It feels authentic. It feels me. It represents many elements of my identity, both who I am, where I'm from and how I feel. It makes sense to me." The EP deals with the resonant themes of growing up and finding your place in the world. Finding your own identity. "It's about growing pains," says Lava. A lot of the ideas in the songs are because I had just left teenhood, and I was starting to approach thoughts and ideas as a young adult as opposed to everything else I've released that was written and conceptualised as a 19-year-old or a 20-year-old. I have a different approach to life now and different thoughts and feelings when it comes to love, coexisting and mortality." One particular song on the EP - closing track 'Motel' - is perhaps the best thing Lava has released. A vast, chunky, soulful, spacey, funky banger - the track encapsulates the vibe of the whole project. "The main idea of that song is when is too old to die young," explains Lava. "Growing up, when I heard about the 27 club and saw Jimi Hendrix and Amy Winehouse or whatever, because I was so young, I thought they had lived these big fruitful lives. 27 seemed quite old to me. Now that I'm 24 and 27 isn't that far away, I'm like fuck, man, that's young. There's so much I want to do, and so much I want to achieve. I explore that in that song. That expiry date that some people put on youth and craziness. It's like fuck, I don't even know anything right now. There are more mature existential ideas on this EP." That desire to get things done and experience life to the fullest is present in all

Suit and feather collar: The Costume Studio Boots: The Costume Studio

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of Lava's work. They are insanely creative and constantly buzzing with ideas. "Pushing myself in different directions comes from a place where I get excited to better myself. Not even just for financial success - I find it really exciting to pick up a new skill. I believe that no matter what your religious beliefs are or what you believe happens in the afterlife or if you believe in that at all, you can live so many lives within your own lifetime," they say excitedly. Right now, there are no worries about burnout. The possibilities are endless. "I will get to that stage at some point, but while I've got all that excitement now, I may as well do it," they say. "In school, I'd never be bothered to write an essay, then suddenly I'd get into a zone where I'd just write three. Once I'm in a zone, I want to do as much as possible because there'll come a time where I just can't be arsed. I haven't come to that stage yet, but at least when I do, I can say I've done that now. I'm happy." When they get deep into talking about the music, they clearly feel things on another level than your average artist. "As pretentious as this sounds, all my senses will inspire the music I'm making," they laugh. "I can watch a movie and feel really moved by that. I can be moved by the landscape visually. I can hear a soundtrack for it that I want to make myself. I can smell something, and a smell can instantly unlock a memory. It's a primal thing. I'll feel that nostalgia, and that smell will bring me back to this time, or that smell of perfume will remind me of this person. Every single sense works for me. Even just being really cosy and wanting to make a really sleepy, cosy, groovy song because I'm wearing a fluffy fleece. Every sense can inform the music. It's visual, it's sonic, it's touch, it's taste. It's all of it." As important as all of these senses are, another critical feature of Lava's aesthetic is the importance of heritage. All those days growing up in West London listening to reggae and punk and plotting to take over the world. It's now more important than ever to not lose sight of that. "When you grow up with something as your heritage, it's really easy to fall into that because that is the basis of your identity. When you're a child, you're basically a moldable clay, and that's what you're soaking in," they explain. "That's why we speak the way we do, walk the way we do and have all the mannerisms we've learned. Growing up around the Notting Hill Carnival community and the Caribbean community with elements of West London Britishness has had a huge impact on my basic core identity. Leaning into elements of that now as an adult where it really is intentional is because I feel that there's so much of that history that people don't fully understand. Specifically being a black, mixed Caribbean musician making in many places very indie-leaning alternative guitar music. A lot of people when I was growing up didn't understand that rock music and guitar music has always been a Black thing too. When you look at British bands, it's still very caucasian dominated, despite the fact that a lot of early rock music throughout time has had huge influence, starting with Chuck Berry and


LAVA LA RUE

Jimi Hendrix through Prince. In the 2000s British indie scene, the only Black British person I knew who came from migrant parents was Kele from Bloc Party. That was it. That was pretty wild. It was cool leaning into that world and wanting to represent and saying, hey, we exist." For a whole new generation of kids, Lava La Rue will be another icon within that lineage but forging their own distinct path. It's definitely a good time for Lava to fully embrace their music's alternative side. A lot of the boundaries of the old music industry are all-too-slowly being broken down. New opportunities are finally arising for a more diverse and inclusive group of engaged artists. Plus, thanks to technology, anyone in their bedroom with a vision and a desire can make something and get it out into the world. "We're having a British and Irish boom of bands which is really cool," they enthuse. "We're going to see a lot more bands charting, a bit more like it was in the 2000s in The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys era. Now we have things like Wet Leg and Fontaines D.C., I think we're making the best bands in the world right now. We'll have an influence on pop music. You're seeing it as well with a lot of solo artists and songwriters. It's exciting that there's less of a need now for a middle man between the artist putting out their record and instantly attracting a demographic. Back in the 2000s, you did need someone to distribute the CDs and the vinyl, and even though these things are still important, I'm seeing so many bands come up now who just put out a song online that they've made that morning and it instantly has like a million views, and they've reached their crowd," they add. "Even though there are still loads of gatekeepers in pop,

the public is like, hey, we're going to make Kate Bush chart again after 40 years. That's fucking incredible. That's a good thing for pop music. Kids online just find things and say, we think this is cool. I think that's quite organic rather than being based on an algorithm. It's great that sometimes 13-year-old kids get to dictate that some random person who dropped a demo in their bedroom can enter the UK Top 40." Fully blossoming into a music scene that is more vibrant and exciting than maybe ever before, Lava La Rue feels right at home leading the zeitgeist. As they prepare to go out on tour, their ambitions are only getting bigger. "I'm making the live show more of an experience," they say. "Anyone who saw me perform a live show before the pandemic saw me with a microphone and a DJ. Now I have a full band. You can hear that the music is made a lot more for live. I want to make that an amazing experience and visually represent that." While it's easy to get caught up in the rush of someone who is almost breathlessly creative, for Lava, the ultimate goal is pure and simple. "I just want to expand on the sonic world and remember to have a good time. Not be on autopilot for everything. Just try to stay present," they laugh. They might feel they're only just getting started, but Lava La Rue is already on the next level. Anything is possible. ■ Lava La Rue's EP 'Hi-Fidelity' is out now.

Suit: The Costume Studio Feather boa: stylist's own Shoes: Isabella Mars readdork.com 45.


THERE WILL BE FLOOD FEATURES

Stella Donnelly has returned with her new album 'Flood', a record with depth that lives up to its name. WORDS: NEIVE MCCARTHY. PHOTOS: EM MARCOVECCHIO.

’m taken out to sea in the flood,” sings Stella Donnelly on the titular track of her second album, ‘Flood’. At the mercy of the tides, plunged into the deep end, forced to go with the flow – it’s a fitting introduction to her latest album. In giving in to the powers of those unsearched waters, Stella found time to think, to breathe, to rediscover. Rather than treading water, Stella swam harder than ever. Displaced by multiple lockdowns, dispersed across Australia and with no idea when ‘normal life’ would resume, relaxing and relenting was crucial to ‘Flood’. Much was out of Stella’s hands, dragged into the unknown with little capacity to stop it. It provided an opportunity to slow down and engage with nature beyond that watery semantic field that echoes through the album. Crucially, Stella immersed herself in the rainforests of Bellingen, allowing herself the space and time to pause. “The infinite amount of time ahead of you…” she ponders. “That feeling, plus being in a place I’d never been before, a part of Australia I’d never experienced. Where I spent my childhood in Western Australia is a very dry place. It appealed to all of the senses and gave me a lot of time to get out into the bush, go birdwatching, and just slow down, which is not something I’d done in a long time.” Returning refreshed and more at ease, Stella found creativity in new places. “When I returned back to Perth, and then after that Melbourne, there was a lot more human stimulus. Stories being told between people and interactions - ST E LL A and variety. I feel D ONNELLY like that breeds creativity for me. It’s just being surrounded by people with different opinions and different thoughts.” With a reminder to ease off the accelerator now and then and an armful of inspiration, it seemed the perfect time to turn to the album. In doing so, those newfound lessons seemed to resonate from life into work. “So much of it is out of your control when you’re creating something like that. You have to give up a little bit of the wheel and allow it to travel through its thing. Because there was so little else to concentrate on in that time, it really did allow me to stay completely focused and present in that process. With the first record, there was so much going on: we

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had to leave and play a big festival halfway through the recording, then I went to the UK and mixed it while travelling in America touring. It was very disrupted. This one was disrupted by COVID lockdowns. We had to close up the studio a bunch of times. But I could go home and be able to listen to the desk mixes. Being able to sit there and be constantly present with the record definitely helped.” In relinquishing that total control and perfectionism, Stella could truly immerse herself in the process and learn to trust her instincts. Things might not go according to plan, but in diverting away from your visions, there can often be something more exciting to discover. With over 40 tracks now in her arsenal, it was a challenge to narrow them down (one which was partly helped by the fact that - direct quote - “most of them were shit”). With a new perspective shift, Stella was ready for that challenge. “The approach was a lot more hardworking in this case. I dug in a little bit more. I didn’t just settle for the first take – it was very much like, let’s actually work on this and persevere. With the last record, I just didn’t have the time to do that. I’ve only done three works, but it’s always such a universe that you enter. You don’t know how you’re going to get out of it, but eventually, you do.” It’s easy to see why Stella perhaps got lost in the world of ‘Flood’ – it’s open and immersive and offers a deep well of comfort. It’s a universe a lot of people would love to take refuge in. On the opening track of the album, ‘Lungs’, she takes the perspective of a child, observing her family’s suffering at the hands of greedy “suits” – it’s a concept she returns to, tracking the album through a younger self’s eyes. An older sister, Stella admits she has that classic eldest child tendency of growing up too quickly – making ‘Flood’ ultimately allowed her to return to that childlike state of mind. Infinitely fruitful, it prompted an exploration of who she is and how things can stay the same. In entering this world, she learns to strip back to the core of who she is and reignite those ways of being. Interestingly, this return to her childhood extended to the musical process too. In an unexpected move, Stella and her bandmates chose to defer to instruments they usually wouldn’t – rather than picking up their usual drumsticks or plectrum, they instead turned to something they were less well-versed in. For Stella, that meant stretching her fingers and turning to the piano. “It was definitely a more innocent and exploratory experience,” Stella reflects. “There was no ego involved. It was very trial and error. And it was very fun. I think that was the main thing, that it felt more like child’s play. We just tried things. For me, being on piano was a whole new experience, so that paved the way for everyone to be a bit more vulnerable.” It’s another layer of working through instinct and not being overanalytical

every step of the way. In abandoning the pretension and expertise of instruments they’d played for years, they discovered sounds they may have otherwise never come to. In having that more innocent slant on their creation, they captured a much more unguarded, frank sound. Much of the album revolves around those experimental piano progressions – ‘Move Me’ begins with an emotive sequence before it grows in size, weaving a story of an uber-specific character and experience. Those initial piano parts conjure up the vivid emotions the track stirs – Stella’s vocals wrap serpentine-like around the keys in such a way it would be nigh on impossible to untangle the two. “Piano is a really human-sounding instrument,” contemplates Stella. “It takes a lot of people back to their childhood – whether it’s that old piano that was sitting in their grandparents’ house or something like that. For me, that’s where I go when hearing a piano. The flugel horn, as well, is really round and a gentle sounding instrument. I always want to hear sounds that feel nice to my brain and soothing. That’s why a lot of the songs go back to that place for me. The last time I played piano was when I was quite young, so it was a very innocent and exciting prospect to be playing that. Just look at babies’ faces when they realise they’re making that sound from pushing those buttons – it’s so exciting!” It’s an impulse so many of us feel – an itching to press the keys whenever we come across a piano, wherever it may be. Stella indulges that here. It lends ‘Flood’ a uniquely soothing quality, as if by satiating those needs and thoughts held by a younger version of herself, she endorses our own reconnection with that version of ourselves. ‘This Week’, with its stripped-back, percussive drive, seems to meditate on how we become better and begin to take care of ourselves in those small ways. It’s as though by having that inner child in mind, we are better able to act the grown-up. It’s far beyond a return to childhood, though. It’s fundamentally human. Forever the observer, Stella steeps ‘Flood’ in the qualities of those around her. The stories she’s overheard, the way someone acted, the thoughts they may have had. It encompasses each track – an exploit in exploration through and through. She dives deep into herself but also into a multitude of other people. The scale of feeling is unparalleled. It achieves this through Stella’s deep intimacy with the album – beyond writing and creating these tracks, she also had a hand in the production sides of things, which she hadn’t had a chance to before. “I loved it,” she professes. “Working with Anna Laverty on the bulk of the record, and also with Jake Webb on ‘Cold’ and ‘Lungs’. Having the permission to speak my mind and have my ideas heard and put into practice. I feel like I was able to take up space that I needed to take up without

having to apologise for it like I may have done in the past.” ‘Flood’ feels sliced from the core of who Stella is, and for Stella herself, it served as proof of her own capabilities, too. By putting so much of herself into this record, she could assure herself that this was the right path. “I felt I stepped up in terms of my work ethic and my creative pursuits. I feel a lot more confident in myself. It was just knowing that I could do it. After ‘Beware of the Dogs’, I wasn’t sure I could. I didn’t know if I had the skills or the desire to try and put something out there again. In a way, just the fact that I was able to write that many songs feels really rewarding and healing. Giving myself the space to do it is key, and turning up for it and keeping the muscles flexed. If you leave it for a long time, it’s really hard to go back and work it up again.” It feels like a very different album to what came before – those muscles have been flexed, but so have many new ones. It’s a full body stretch, an expulsion of relief and harboured thoughts – so, so many thoughts. It’s often hard to sort through them all; they whirl ceaselessly through the mind and throughout the album. There’s always something new to think about. On the album’s artwork, a huddle of banded stilts crush together, heads down. They’re claustrophobically close, much like the frequency of thought on ‘Flood’. Squint, and you can’t quite see where one ends and another begins, but up close, they revel in their individuality. Much of the experiences on ‘Flood’ are universal, but there’s still some pride that tells us when we feel those things, they’re uniquely our own. It’s a fine line, which Stella has captured in that image. “We’re all flailing around doing the same thing and trying to make something work out of what we’ve been given,” Stella says. “That photograph is so evocative to me. When I first saw it, I wasn’t even sure what it was. Whether it was birds or not. It just felt like this overcrowded feeling – I wanted to evoke that overcrowded nature of life, and I felt like the title ‘Flood’ really worked with that. Those birds are also migratory, so they’re constantly travelling from the north to the south of the world. I find them really beautiful and symbolic of humanity. I can’t just tell one story over eleven songs. I get bored. It has to be a put-together thing with random things to keep it interesting.” A flood of different stories, a flood of emotions, a flood of newfound realisations and understanding. It’s all too easy to get caught up in that. The weight of Stella Donnelly’s second album is enormous – it overcomes you and forces you to feel the extent of every moment. It’s an intense experience, but one that will have you completely okay with being taken out to sea. ■ Stella Donnelly’s album ‘Flood’ is out 26th August.


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STELLA DONNELLY

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D F F S


DON’T FEEL LIKE FEELING SAD

YUNGBLUD

WITH A DESIRE TO BE THE MOST HONEST VERSION OF HIMSELF POSSIBLE, YUNGBLUD'S SELF-TITLED ERA HAS ARRIVED. WORDS: ALI SHUTLER. PHOTOS: TOM PALLANT.

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FEATURES

UNGBLUD SAYS HE ISN'T A PUNK. He isn't a rock star, either. Hell, at one point, he claims he isn't even a musician. What he is, is the subject of his selftitled third record. Rather than a definitive statement, though, YUNGBLUD's most personal record leaves things deliberately openended. 2018's debut album '21st Century Liability' was a scrappy, snotty record that saw YUNGBLUD desperate for belonging. Follow-up 'Weird!' was a celebration of the community that found him. Released on the back of crossover collaborations with Halsey and Machine Gun Kelly, YUNGBLUD became bigger than Dom Harrison ever expected. "It entered this realm of beauty but also a realm where everyone had an opinion about YUNGBLUD." He describes album three as a "reclamation of identity, a personalisation of his story and an explosion of expression. The age of the new kid on the block is over. Who is YUNGBLUD?" he asks. "I don't know, you fucking tell me." It might sound like a cop-out, but YUNGBLUD has always stood for selfexpression. "Whoever you want to be, that's what YUNGBLUD is," Dom explains. "That's what this album truly means." Despite another uplifting message of rebellious freedom, 'YUNGBLUD' isn't more of the same. While previous records have tried to be everything all at once, there's a focus to this third album. "It breathes," agrees Dom. "The first two records, I was saying whatever the fuck I felt in the moment, even if I didn't mean it six months later. It was fucking true, and it was real," but it was often a knee-jerk reaction to the conversation. "I'd scribble an idea down, record the song on the bus and put it on the album." That urgency came from Dom's insecurity around YUNGBLUD's increasing success. If he didn't question his lyrics, he couldn't lose the

honesty. "People would try and put me into so many boxes. When you're younger, you listen to it. You play into the idea of what people think about you." A little older, a little wiser and with time on his hands, 'YUNGBLUD' let Dom "bathe in the emotion, sit in the pain and feel the negativity of the world." And there was a lot of negativity around. "LOOKING BACK ON YUNGBLUD, I was pink socks and black hearts - that's all I had. I started to talk about what was on my mind, how I felt, and people started to connect to it. So I wrote more, because I had so much more to tell after speaking to all these people who felt the same way. Then 'Weird!' came out, and the mainstream started to sniff around. People misunderstood me, twisted things that I said, found old videos and blew them up." He was accused of queer baiting and being an industry plant. "Everyone had an idea about it," Dom says. "And I saw what people on the internet were saying about me. At first, it hurt me, but then I had a word with myself - come on, mate, this is what you're here to do. You're here to be the one to take the punches and get back up again. That's what YUNGBLUD is." "I've always said I'm a vehicle for people's expression, so if people don't like that, it's hypocritical of me to moan. As long as you're expressing yourself," he says with a grin. It wasn't quite as breezy as that, though. "There's a lot of death in this record," says Dom. "I have always thought about, what if I wasn't here? What would it be like? When the internet turned on me for a bit, death almost felt like the best career move for me, because people would look past the caricature of YUNGBLUD and actually look into my life and maybe give me a chance." "Would anyone mind it, would everyone like it," he sings on the stripped back 'Die For A Night' before adding, "I don't know what I'm talking about." "Lil Peep and Mac Miller were taken far too soon," he says today. "They were incredible artists, but they were ridiculed because the world wasn't ready for them. Then they passed away, and that was an ignition point for acceptance." Dom pauses. "The internet is a rough place to exist as an artist. Fuck that. Actually, it's a rough place to live as a person, and it'd be ignorant of me not to talk about that." Dom realised that "the arguments against me were as moronic as they were when I was 15. I just roll my eyes at it all now."

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YUNGBLUD

"I didn't want this to be a rock star album, saying 'woe is me', though. This record is me as a human being, talking about what people say about me in the street, just as much as they did in school. I wanted to humanise it. I don't want to be a rock star because then you're unobtainable. If you're a fucking rock star, how can you relate to anyone?" he asks. Home from a run of European festivals and gearing up for a tour of Australia, today Dom is "the best I have been in a long while because I feel so connected to my audience, and I feel so confident in my art. I'm at a place where I've written a couple of cool songs, and I might add them to the album," even though it's out in a little over a month. Dom questioned being so outspoken, but realised that's who he's meant to be. "I'm not going to be Ariana, Lizzo or Harry – I love them, and I think they're great, but pop music says something and nothing all at the same time. I'm here to say it as it is, even if I get burned for it." "If you talk about politics, there's going to be division," he explains. "I'm going to fight for equality, fight for love and fight for the individual - I never said I'd do it politely, though. I never promised that. I'm not going to sit here with a cup of tea and ask people to accept others, then thank them for listening anyway." A little later, Dom says he's not "some bratty punk kid you can't talk to. I look like I might bite your head off, but I'll probably make you a cup of tea and give you a cuddle," before explaining 'YUNGBLUD' is "the closest thing to a conversation with me." "My generation is a generation of contradictions, but contradictions are almost an outdated concept because we have access to so much," he offers. Despite his earlier denial, Dom admits that some days he does want to be "a fucking rock star". "Rock and roll music is my religion. But I don't want to be the sort of rock star that's come before – wrapped up in pretension. I want to be me. And I want other people to be themselves too." It's a lesson learnt from Bowie and John Lydon, "before he was a fucking idiot". Dom then namedrops Mick Jagger, saying the pair spoke about what a rock star was. "It's

not textbook," he explains. "It's an energy. I understand people calling me a punk, or a rock star, but it doesn't do it justice. It's all about feeling. It's all about telling the rulebook to fuck itself." "Punk's moved on," he continues. "It's not the same old outdated movement that's fighting against a fascist government regime. Now, it's young people fighting for love. We don't want to be divided. We want to be unified." Later, he mentions a conversation he had with Ozzy Osbourne about pushing back against hate. "As long as you mean it with love," was the consensus. "It's all about love. If you want to call me anything, call me a hippy." Instead of another record where Dom tries to shatter each and every box he's put in, 'YUNGBLUD' is "a step forward". It's a tough line to walk, especially when you've got a reputation for shock and rebellion, but he's created something "that feels obvious. I made a record me and my mates would want to listen to, that we'd love," rather than worrying about challenging expectations. You'd call it a coming-of-age record if it wasn't so exciting. For 'YUNGBLUD', Dom was inspired by legendary artists like Linda Ronstadt, The Cure and Madonna, as well as more contemporary acts like Twenty One Pilots. The record started with 'Funeral' and the belief that "if you list all your insecurities off, you take the power back because no one can say anything about you you've not said about yourself." The songs that followed all had a "keep on, keeping on" mentality. "I want people to put this album on and have courage," says Dom. "It represents where I am now and where we're going. It's got this sadness and this defiance within it. That is what YUNGBLUD is. The message is to be oneself," he continues. "It was all about creating a truthful record." Easy to do when you're speaking to the safety of your fanbase, but a much harder job when you know there's an audience of people looking to deliberately twist words or misinterpret lyrics. "I played into it," grins Dom. "That's why I

respect Matty from The 1975 so much. I like how he fucks with people. I learned a lot from him. It's about time I said that." The glitching synths of 'I Cry 2' takes influence from The 1975, especially with tongue-in-cheek autotuned lyrics like "Everyone online keeps saying I'm not really gay / I'll start dating men when they go to therapy." "I still get questions all the time about my sexuality," says Dom. "I wrote that line so hopefully others don't get worried that they're being questioned as well." Elsewhere, the delicate 'Sweet Heroine' was written about Dom's girlfriend Jessie, "who really pulled me out of a dark place," while he describes the arena punk of 'The Boy In The Black Dress' as being "almost like the movie about my life. It's about the first time I was punched, the first time I was insulted by a teacher, the first time I had casual sex and where I'm at now." Dom really leaned on Lou Reed, Bowie, Robert Smith, Brian Molko and Lady Gaga with 'YUNGBLUD'. "You can feel it in the lyrics," he says. "There are a lot of lyrics I'm really fucking proud of. It feels more poetic, less straight up," he explains. While '21st Century Liability' was "like being down the pub, telling homophobes to fuck off before giving them a slap," 'YUNGBLUD' is bigger with its ambitions. "It's a kickback against the world." "People believe I do things for a reason. I don't. Everything I do is complete, unfiltered expression. That's what YUNGBLUD is. It's the reason people are frightened to death of it. It's why they fall in love with it." What 'YUNGBLUD' isn't, though, is a pop-punk record, which is surprising considering YUNGBLUD helped kickstart the entire revival by teaming up with Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker on 2019's 'I Think I'm Okay'. "That was a beautiful moment, and it's such a great song," says Dom. "From '11 Minutes' to 'I Think I'm Okay' something definitely shifted with guitars in the mainstream, and that's fucking beautiful, but I don't want to be defined by it." There was never a moment where Dom wanted to make a pop-punk record following Machine Gun Kelly's success because "it wouldn't be real. It would be a marketing

exercise." "I love 'I Think I'm Okay', and I play it every night, so I know how much it means to people. But when I play 'Mars', I see the tears. When I play 'Parents', I see the rage, and I see the acceptance when I play 'God Save Me, But Don't Drown Me Out'. I want to make many different things. I want my shows to be full of many different shades." "Anytime maths and science comes into YUNGBLUD, it needs to be kicked out," Dom continues before explaining how being defined by one song or one moment would be "a complete contradiction. YUNGBLUD is growing in the most beautiful way because it's natural and real - no matter what any fucker says about it." "And if you don't know it now, you'll know it later," he promises. When people ask Dom what he wants this album to do, he answers: "Build the house a little more, so more people can be welcomed in. I want it to be as inviting as it was when we were playing Dingwalls," and not whatever venue comes after Alexandra Palace – Wembley Arena maybe, or perhaps The O2. "Right now, the community is the hit – not the songs," Dom says. He wants it to stay that way as well. "What I've really learnt is that The Smiths didn't make The Smiths, The Smiths. Noel Gallagher didn't make Oasis. The culture, and the people did." His relationship with his fans is the "only thing in the world that makes sense to me," he explains. "Most people never obtain something that raw and authentic in their whole life, and I'm so lucky and humbled to have that. That's why I called the album 'YUNGBLUD', because nothing has made more sense to me. "I fucking care about them, and it's why YUNGBLUD has become an explosion. People want to be cared about. If people don't accept you for who you are, it can really fuck you up, but it's more than that. People want to be cared for, adored and looked at for being who they are." He goes on to describe his live show, the exchange between artist and audience, as "the realest thing you've ever felt. If you're unsure about YUNGBLUD, don't look at me – look at them." ■ YUNGBLUD's self-titled album is out 2nd September.


FEATURES

After a run of killer EPs, Lauran Hibberd is finally about to drop her debut album, 'Garageband Superstar' - a record so dripping in vivid personality, it's almost its own movie soundtrack. WORDS: NEIVE MCCARTHY. PHOTOS: EM MARCOVECCHIO.

S THE ZOOM CONNECTION SLOWLY loads, there’s a pleasant surprise waiting on Lauran Hibberd’s end of the call. “I don’t know if you can see my dog? He’s just chilling on my lap,” Lauran introduces us to Django, arguably the best interview guest you can ask for. The summer has also been off to a good start for Lauran – a string of tour dates with The Snuts, a hectic festival season, and the release of her debut album, ‘Garageband Superstar’ on the horizon. “I like being busy,” she explains, Django now out of frame. “If I’m not busy, I’ll just be sat overthinking something. Especially after being cooped away for so long writing and recording the album, it feels really good to change the mindset, go out and play live, and hear the album how I thought it would sound.” After releasing EPs throughout lockdown to much acclaim, it was time to settle in and work on that debut album at last. “I was writing so much at that time because there was nothing else to do. I thought to myself, I could write three albums in this time. I just wanted to jump on the album circuit as quickly as possible and say I’m an album artist. I have so much material sitting in a folder on my laptop. I want it to be in people’s ears. It was very much a ‘why wouldn’t I?’. I felt ready.” At the crossroads of an abundance of varying influences, ‘Garageband Superstar’ is an amalgamation of everything Lauran has consumed up until now. It’s intrinsically unique, capturing a very specific moment and sound. It’s an early 2000s rom-com soundtrack – Disney Channel reigning supreme, a teen protagonist pulling on angsty attire in a room that looks like

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it’s been hit by a tornado because of the mess. It’s that moment when her mum yells upstairs that she’s going to be late for school. As she shouts back that she’s ready, the first few notes of a vibrant, punkspirited pop song play out. There’s no doubt that Lauran Hibberd’s sound would slide right in. Playful and with shades of both darkness and pure dry humour, it’s the perfect sound for those moments that feel like the end of the world when it’s really just a slightly bad day. It’s for the dramatics and the daft, in the best way possible. “I love funny, weird films like Booksmart and Juno and stuff like that. I’ve definitely grown up with that sense of humour,” Lauran reflects. “I’ve always wanted to write music that I heard in those films because it’s a big reason why I like them – it makes you feel good. Especially, like, Scott Pilgrim – that makes me feel like I want to start a band when I watch that film. It’s that. There are definitely elements of that in it. It’d be full circle. I need someone to make a new TV show that I can do a theme tune for. If Netflix is reading this, I’m available.” Lauran has already had her first starring TV moment, though – her track ‘Bang Bang Bang’ featured in an episode of the hit Netflix series Heartstopper. “It was so cool. When it actually came out, and I watched the whole show, I felt really proud to be involved in it. Hearing other artists I know and love on the soundtrack felt really cool. It was on a show that I would’ve watched whether my song was on it or not. It’s definitely an important show right now.” Much of those films Lauran adores have a larger-than-life, fizzingly bright colour palette – blue skies and primary colours. It translates into ‘Garageband Superstar’ perfectly. As an album, it spins on a technicolour axis. Everything is felt in confetti-like bursts, from every sardonically delivered line to each guitar progression. A crucial part of making the album was sheer enjoyment, and it delivers. “We had a great time. It felt relatively easy. It never felt like it was becoming a chore,” Lauran says. “The album’s got a fun tone, so nothing was ever really strenuous. It was like, let’s put a sitar on this, that’ll be fun! We never just didn’t do something, and we made sure we had a good time with it.” ‘Step Mom’ is a fast-paced wall of sound that practically drips in sarcasm – its characters are all too easy to conjure in your mind, a strong point of the album as a whole. It’s brimming with caricatures: ‘Average Joe’ is hilariously scathing in its annihilation of one particular figure. “You know when you’re reading a book, and you make the character look like someone you know or a celebrity? I wanted that effect,” Lauran confirms. She successfully pins these people in your mind, doing so with the heaviest of eye rolls – it’s unbelievably amusing to hear it all unfold. Naturally, those biting observations are often born from pent-up annoyance. ‘Garageband Superstar’ allowed Lauran to exorcise her feelings, no matter what shape

they came in. Whether fantasising about honeymoons to Spain with a drummer on ‘Hot Boys’ or working through concerns of whether you’re on the right path in ‘I’m Insecure’, the album is upfront about each emotion and serves as a means to filter through those. “When I listen back to the album now, I just feel this sigh of relief,” Lauran admits. “It’s like when you’ve eaten a big meal, unbutton your jeans, and you sit there and let everything fester. It’s gross, but that’s kind of how I feel. On a personal level, that’s the last two years of my life on a disk that I can now just sit with and be like, cool. Now what? Now what have I got? Now what am I feeling for next time? It’s good to look back and be like, I can’t believe I felt like that. It definitely helps you get over stuff faster.” Getting into a zone where you can feel those weird feelings to their fullest and let your mind guide you down different paths is crucial to creating something like ‘Garageband Superstar’, which Lauran acknowledges. “It’s one of those things. Not being very conscious of everything around you and getting into that space where you can think ridiculous things. I always get it when I’m really bored and on my own – you forget everything else in the world and imagine yourself in so many different scenarios. I was at that level of boredom where I was almost insane. I had a playlist on the go, and I was forever listening to bands like Weezer just to remind myself of what I was trying to do from time to time. It’s easy to write a bunch of songs and get lost in a bit of whatever you’re feeling that day.” It’s perhaps because of that tendency to transform into whatever piques her interest at any given moment that Lauran has been able to land on such a unique sound. It’s often harbouring pop intentions but with more alternative attitudes that lend it that snark – it’s heavier but also easily consumed and light-hearted. “You can appreciate the lyricism of Phoebe Bridgers and her vocal as well as the structures and hip-hop choruses of A Tribe Called Quest. You can put Weezer guitars on it, and it will make someone go, ‘oh, that’s cool, that sounds like these three together’. It’s really good to not just be like, I only listen to Weezer, and I only write this. It’s good to keep an open mind.” Lauran has often been labelled as a ‘pop-punk’ or ‘slacker pop’ artist. They’re both genres previously dominated by men – yet, with a new wave of women at the forefront of a pop-punk revival, there’s hope that the genre might be revitalised. “It’s changed a lot,” Lauran contemplates. “When I think of pop punk now, I think of artists like Cassyette and Girli. It’s great that that’s where my mind goes first. It’s not because they’re female. It’s just because that’s what I’ve been listening to, and I think that’s cool. It definitely feels like there’s way more space now. Girls aren’t a genre, we’re cemented in and around them, and that’s how it should be. There’s a lot of promise now for female artists.”

It’s not just a pop-punk thing, either – Lauran’s musicality is evidently more pliable than that. ‘Garageband Superstar’ touches on more mellow territories, too. ‘Slimming Down’ offers a tenderness that the rest of the album rarely sees, in a style that Lauran has only found herself more empowered to embrace in recent times. “When I first started being a musician, I wrote loads of sad folk songs,” she recalls. “I think as I naturally evolved as an artist, I started picking up an electric guitar and playing in a band, and I thought it was much more fun. But it’s important to show another side and where I originated from musically. I can still do that. Listening to artists like Phoebe Bridgers, she’s made that cool. She’s made me feel like I can write a song like that, and people won’t be like, oh, you’re just a girl with an acoustic guitar. That was how I felt when I went to a music college. I think Phoebe Bridgers has done a lot for me in that sense. I wanted to include it towards the end of the album and be like, I do this too. It’s the oldest one on the album, so it felt nice to put something in there that reminded me of a time before I did all of this other stuff.” There was a great deal of freedom in the recording process that allowed Lauran to explore those different sides of herself and show them in all their brightness on the album. “I made the album I wanted to make. It sounds how I wanted it to sound. It looks how I wanted it to look. I can sleep at night knowing that I did the thing I wanted to do.” The final track on the album, ‘Last Song Ever’, encompasses that satisfaction and release the album is so tied to. As she encourages you to breathe in deeply, at first glance, there seems to be a somewhat peaceful ending to the album. Fortunately, that’s not the case. ‘Last Song Ever’ is anthemic, the musical equivalent of throwing an arm around your mate’s shoulder and rejoicing in total abandon. It’s fiercely angry and the epitome of finding solace in letting everything go. “One day, I just felt like screaming. That was when I developed the rest of the track. I went for walks, and I’d be ranting into my phone about things that annoyed me – I managed to pick things out of that and use that as a lyrical base for it,” Lauran reflects. “You get to that age when you can’t not go do the thing you don’t want to do anymore because you’ve got a stomach ache. No one cares. You’ve got to go and do it. You’re an adult. It’s a bit like, I don’t want to do that, I don’t want to face that – I want a summer holiday! It’s that thing you miss from when you’re a kid – that get-out card you don’t have anymore. After recording that song, I definitely felt lighter.” ‘Garageband Superstar’ is an album for the times when you want to act like a kid and throw a tantrum over a tiny thing, but have to remember you’re not a kid anymore, and you have to just get on with it. Lauran Hibberd’s debut is the balm that makes getting on with it that little bit easier. ■ Lauran Hibberd’s album ‘Garageband Superstar’ is out 19th August.

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SPORTS TEAM

WITH THEIR NEW ALBUM 'GULP!' IMMINENT, IT'S TIME FOR THE SECOND COMING OF SPORTS TEAM. WORDS: JAKE HAWKES. PHOTOS: PATRICK GUNNING.

T'S THE CLASSIC INDIE BAND PIPELINE: first, you write some songs about flip-phones, motorways and middle England, then you plan an annual bus trip to Margate, sign to a major label and narrowly lose a chart battle against a completely disinterested US megastar. Okay, so none of that is exactly the standard route, but it's the one Sports Team have somehow taken since they burst onto the scene a few years ago. Debut album 'Deep Down Happy' kicked off the first of about three thousand chart battles which filled the bleak, empty days of lockdown, with the band squaring off against Lady Gaga and gracefully losing after accidentally selling their album too cheap on Google Play. "Did you know you can't sell your album for 99p because then they disqualify all the sales - who would've guessed?" says frontman Alex Rice with a grin as we discuss things the band might do differently for album two. We find him and the rest of the band out the back of a pub in East London. Inside, the bartender changes a lightbulb while the only other customer plays pool against himself. Rumours abound of a 'quirky' L-shaped pool table, but it's hard to make out in the bulb-less gloom. "Great little pub, this," says Alex, although presumably, it's the proximity to the band's rehearsal space he enjoys rather than the mid-afternoon ambience. One of the reasons for the rehearsals is the upcoming release of the band's second album, 'Gulp!'. The title (and the alternative album artwork, drawn by the band's keyboardist Ben Mack) is a reference to the feeling of putting a new album out, which Alex describes as "wondering if you're Wile E. Coyote hovering over the edge of a cliff and about to fall." The album itself is both a marked departure from 'Deep Down Happy', but also follows the same threads laid out by tracks like 'Lander' on the debut – a willingness to experiment without abandoning the sound they're known for.

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'Gulp!' has classic Sports Team moments in the form of 'R Entertainment' and 'The Game', but it also has pianos, a snippet of a children's chorus, and even a banjo. "Oh god, we wasted so much time on the banjo," groans guitarist-slash-songwriter Rob. "I think you'll find it was pretty much a one-take wonder," counters guitarist Henry, to laughs from the rest of the band. However long the banjo took, the result is a very different album, but one that's still unmistakeably Sports Team through and through. Gone too are the lyrics about hyper-local English minutiae, replaced by far more universal themes. "Hopefully, people will be able to relate to this one wherever they're from," says Alex. "It's a bit more 'human-themed' than the debut. I think it's also a bit more mature. It just sounds a bit fuller, really. "We just realised we had to acknowledge that we're detached from those regionalised experiences of the first album. We've been in a band full-time for five years now, so I don't think there's any way we can pretend we have these normal life experiences anymore. That's not to say we're huge stars," he adds with a laugh. "We're just in a different place to the one we were in when we wrote the songs for the first album, and the lyrics reflect that. The one constant we do have is that the six

of us see each other all the time, and that dynamic brings out love and hatred and all those sorts of things, which to me is what a lot of these songs are about." Alongside the love and hatred, there are also a lot of lyrics about death on 'Gulp!'. Whether it's 'The Drop' opening with the lyrics "Katie died / Just waiting for the right time to retire", or 'Getting Better's acknowledgement that "Every foot you place / Is just another step into the grave", the possibility of a swift exit from the world is never far away. "Classic universal theme, that," deadpans bassist Oli. That may be the case, but we do have one question for the band in light of the topic choice – is everything ok, or has hitting their late twenties caused an existential crisis? "Early 20s, actually," says drummer Al, willing a Wikipedia change into existence. "If you could start this with 'As Sports Team move out of their teens…' that'd be great," adds Rob. "I think it's more regular reminders of death than a fear of it, to be honest with you," says Alex. "I'm just spitballing here, but do you ever really grow up when you never change the people you're with? People always say this cliched thing about how celebrities get stuck in the era they 'made it', so maybe that's part of it. "We still feel like we've just quit our

"WE'RE GETTING TO THE POINT WHERE WE'RE AS HAPPY PLAYING A BRIXTON HEADLINE SHOW AS A PUB" - ALEX RICE jobs and are incredibly excited to be in a band. We've never got past that, especially as we never got to do it last time. So time moves on, but we haven't really. We're still giddy about everything, which is a bit of a juxtaposition. I do also think the 'template' for a happy life has disintegrated a bit. There was probably a time in the past when you knew what you were supposed to do in life a bit more, and what the steps were to reaching contentment. Whereas now, a lot of the people I know who are the least happy are those that are super engaged in issues, because it can be quite bleak." He pauses, adding: "Although, of course, we don't know too much about that, because we're all making music around our school commitments right now - we are a very youthful band of fresh-faced teens." (Good save, Alex – Ed.) "There's a catharsis in there, too," says Rob. "Singing about depressing stuff is freeing in a lot of ways. There's a feeling that you don't have to constantly pretend everything's great, and of course, there's darker stuff around. It's the juxtaposition that makes it work." This expansion into broader themes is partly a side-effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. Sports Team's packed touring schedule suddenly ground to a halt just before the release of their debut, and the band were left with nothing to do but stare at the walls or start work on album two. This was an unwelcome change in gear for a band built around their live shows, but it did give them more breathing room than they'd had in years. "We were very much forced into a position where we had time to work on album two, because we'd put so long aside for touring, and none of that ended up happening," explains Oli. "It felt like we weren't quite ready, but we went straight into the studio regardless, which I think was the right choice in the end." This extended period with nothing to do but think about the album has led to a fuller and more fleshed-out release than the debut, both instrumentally and

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thematically. Despite this, Sports Team are still a band in the business of making songs which sound good live, and the pull towards depth mercifully hasn't resulted in a fullblown concept album. "We're not Pink Floyd or Kate Bush!" says Rob with a laugh. "We're not going to sit down and write a whole record about someone drowning. It just isn't us. The first record had more localised themes and was tied to a sense of place, and equally, this one has threads running through it which make it feel like more than just a bundle of songs, but it is still a set of individual tracks. We want every song to feel like it can stand alone. There's no joy in tracks two, three and four only existing to set up the narrative for track five – where's the fun in that?" The shift in gears extends beyond the lyrical themes and into the instruments in use – as the controversial banjo playing shows. It's two steps forward for a band who have always been comfortable venturing just enough outside their comfort zone to get people's attention while also not jumping so far away that they alienate their intensely loyal fanbase. It's a confidence that never bubbles over into a detachment from what makes the band work, both live and in the studio. "The extra time definitely gave us the luxury of experimentation," says Al. "I think that enables the album to have so much more depth and contrast than the debut. Some of the lead lines in tracks like 'The Drop' just wouldn't have happened on the first album because we weren't writing around Ben playing synth, for example." "As well as the extra time, we also realised that we can always win the tent if we try hard enough," adds Alex. "You can always walk out to a crowd and put the work in to win them over, which is a freeing thought to have. "We listened to loads of Bryan Ferry before we recorded 'Gulp!' and just had this epiphany that music can be big and ambitious and next level, while still being engaging and catchy. I'm not going to sit


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here and say we've made it to being a stadium rock band, but you learn a little bit more every time you go onto a slightly bigger stage. It's a constant experiment in what works and what doesn't. "We've always written to play live, and as our live situation changes we need songs that sound different. You can't walk out to twenty thousand people and exclusively play scrappy tracks with jangly guitar lines – you need variety. We're getting to the point where we're as happy playing a Brixton headline show as a pub, which is great. I also think any crowd gives you this primal reaction when you go up on stage, and I don't think you could ever put that in the locker and go pro. Even a crowd that hates you is going to inspire an adrenaline rush – it's fight or flight! "Having said that, it is tough when you play a new track and people don't know the words," he continues. "We're used to it because we did so many gigs before we'd put anything at all out, but it's such a stark change when you record something, put it online and suddenly people turn up and sing along. Even now, we look at setlists and we're quite conscious of where the new songs go, because they do have to be broken in somewhat – nobody wants to stand there while you play three tracks they've never heard before." With the album campaign now in full swing, the band are using every tool in their arsenal to ensure people engage with

the new songs and get to know them just as well as the old favourites. To this end, they pulled out all the stops for the music video for 'The Game', booking everyone's favourite celebrity… John Otway? "Let me tell you about John Otway," opens Alex, leaning in. "John Otway is a man who played market squares in Aylesbury years ago, then got signed to a massive million-pound record deal because people thought he was going to be the new face of punk music. He goes on live TV, jumps over his bandmate's amp and lands square on his balls, which went whatever the 1980s equivalent of viral is. Now there's a character arc. "Jokes aside, though, he does all these stunts like asking his fans to vote for one of his lyrics as the greatest lyric of all time and then somehow coming above 'Imagine' by John Lennon. He mobilises this devoted fanbase to make everyone else look ridiculous – something we're very keen to emulate. He showed us that you can change the world with a few thousand people and build your own fantasy." Alex takes a sip of beer. "Oh, he also agreed to do the video basically instantly, so that was good." "We also told him the morning of the shoot that we were gonna put a load of snakes around his neck, and he was totally fine with it," adds Henry. Even with the context, it's a left-field choice. But Sports Team have always been

a left-field band, roping in Jeremy Wade, host of TV show River Monsters, to do a plug for their last album, and posing for photos backstage with Rick Astley. "We've always been the outsiders of the whole thing," acknowledges Alex. "We've never been critical darlings – we've always had to go and win people over, gig by gig. We've developed this sense of trying to entertain people on a basic level, rather than trying to make people believe we're the coolest band ever. It's an attitude that may backfire, because if you look like you don't want to be there, you can never fail. You just pretend you didn't want to be there anyway, so you don't care. It takes a special kind of courage to walk on stage and make it immediately clear that you really, really need this," he says with a laugh. "Speaking of which, you know A-ha?" It's not the opener we were expecting, but Alex pushes on regardless. "They played the day before us in Norway recently, and Rob told me that A-ha had an iconic dance they always did on stage. It's sort of…" he mimes, punching both fists downwards very quickly. "Anyway, to cut a long story short, I did it on stage, and everyone was incredibly confused – didn't have the barnstorming response I was hoping for." "Our tour manager told me that it's actually [early-80s Men Without Hats classic] 'The Safety Dance', and has nothing to do with A-ha," Oli says, offering

a potential explanation for why it fell a bit flat. Despite the novelty 1980s dance moves (and definitely not because of them), being honest about how hard they're trying is a path that's worked for Sports Team. They sold out a much-delayed Brixton Academy show to celebrate the new album, and have planned a special gig at the Roundhouse in London for album two. And they've done it all while making it incredibly obvious how much they love playing. "I'd say to anyone starting a band now, alongside the live stuff and the willingness to be excited about doing what is essentially the best job in the world, just sound different to everything else," says Alex. "It stands out so much when you hear something fresh and unique, and you can literally draw from absolutely everything. You can go and listen to the entire Queen back catalogue before you even touch any of the new music playlists. "I genuinely think we sound completely different to any other band around at the moment. Whether it's good different or bad different is another thing, but we can at least promise you're getting something different. It doesn't necessarily have to be complex… as long as you avoid sounding very, very bad – that's the real key." ■ Sports Team's album 'Gulp!' is out 23rd September.

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EZRA FURMAN

With new album 'All Of Us Flames' about to land, a lot has changed for Ezra Furman. WORDS: ALEX CABRÉ.

HAT ARE WE WRITING HERE? What are we trying to make?” Ezra Furman asks pointedly, over video call from her home in Boston, USA. The 35-year-old musician immediately has Dork on the back foot getting the first question in, but her reasoning is sound; after being burned by the media in the past, “I’ve learnt to watch out,” she explains. “I want to make friends with most people that I talk to, but in this context... I’ve learnt to be careful what I say.” Since Dork last met Ezra, promoting her fire-bellied punk record ‘Twelve Nudes’ back in 2019, she’s come out as a transgender woman. In the same announcement, posted to Instagram in 2021, she spoke publicly about having a young child with her partner. “When our baby was born, I had approximately zero examples of trans women raising children,” she wrote then. “So here’s one for anyone who wants to see one. I’m a trans woman and a mom. This is possible.” Support from friends and fans poured in, but “for some reason I don’t really understand, it was picked up by everybody on the internet.” Major media outlets clickbait-ified the post Ezra thought would only be of interest to her own followers, and an announcement which was meant to be celebratory ended in her receiving a torrent of transphobic abuse. The reaction still baffles her now. “Why would I be on Fox News or CNN.com? I’m not Jennifer Lopez!” If the experience had one silver lining, it was the sense of mission it instilled into ‘All Of Us Flames’, Ezra’s empowered and cinematic new record, which she began recording right as that post went out. Turning pain and anguish into fervent rock and roll is EZRA FU R M A N a trademark of Ezra’s music, which often deals with topics of outsiderdom and mental health. Hateful comments became ammunition when she realised what the album’s purpose was and what it could mean to the queer community. “It’s got to be a weapon you can use. It’s gotta be armour. I know just a handful of people will use it that way, but I hope that they will.” The essence of the record is distilled on ‘Forever in Sunset’, an anthemic cut Ezra wrote during the early days of Covid. When a close friend found herself without income or a home, she found sanctuary in Ezra’s living room, where they considered how, for a lot of queer people, end-of-the-world scenarios occur far more than once in a lifetime. “When Covid was hitting, like a lot of

"I’M FEELING A LOT MORE MELTY THESE DAYS" -

people, my friend Chelsea’s life was blowing up. [But] she was so calm. She was like, ‘my life has blown up before’. The queer people that I know, we’ve been kicked out of our homes, we’ve lived with poverty. You have a personal apocalypse sometimes, and we know what to do. We take care of each other.” The necessity for acts of compassion that the pandemic spurred happened in tandem with Ezra’s new role as a parent. Although it became “very intense” looking after a one-year-old while stuck inside worrying about loss of work, being a mother “feels like a job I was born to do”, she proudly confesses. “It makes you organise your life around love and care. Those are no longer just feelings. They’re the structuring concepts of your life when you become a parent. I think it’s been really good for me, spiritually. “Not that this wasn’t true before, and in some way, I think this comes through on the record, but something you’re reminded of perpetually when you’re a parent is that there is a future, and you have to work to love, to make it possible.” Hence why ‘All Of Us Flames’ strikes such a different tone to ‘Twelve Nudes’, which ricocheted angrily against Donald Trump’s America with an array of choppy drum machines and scuzzy riffs. “It feels like the sequel to a punk rock attitude is an attitude of, well, if it’s us against them, how do we last? How do we not flame out, be resilient, survive to watch them fall? “I always hated all the fucking apocalypse discourse. People joking about the end of the world...” she continues, harking back to the rhetoric during the early days of the pandemic, though the same attitude applies to climate change, politics, and endless other late-capitalism anxieties. “It’s not the end of the world. You still have to do your job as a human being, you know? I know you want all the problems to be over, for everything to burn up, and we all die, but that’s not how it works. I felt like that apocalypse talk was this defeatist and futureless thinking. You got a job to do here. We need you to know; we’re gonna need you in ten years”. Ezra’s Jewish faith is another facet she explores deeper on this record than ever before. It’s something she’s written about in the past; on the grief-stricken 2016 track ‘The Refugee’, she imagined herself in place of her grandfather, who was forced to flee Nazi-occupied Poland in World War 2. ‘All Of Us Flames’ takes its title from the song ‘Book Of Our Names’, in turn a reference to the Bible book Exodus, which is known in Hebrew as the Book Of Names. “I started to think that the act of saying names out loud, of seeing individuals in their full, irreplaceable uniqueness, holds the seed of true liberation,” Ezra writes in a press release. “It’s a huge subject; I don’t know where to start,” she says now of the topic. “If I had to choose one thing that the Jewish people came into existence to demonstrate or teach the world, I would say it’s about caring for the vulnerable and embracing the outsider. Our Bible – the Old Testament, some Christians call it – says some version of care for or love the outsider about 36 times. It’s the most repeated idea.” For Ezra, being Jewish “rhymes with” being queer. “A lot of ideas about what it

means to be a cultural minority were first demonstrated by the Jewish people being so scattered around the world. Not just spiritually and religiously, but [as] some socio-cultural demonstration of what it looks like for there to be a sub-population of people who are different. “Queer people are doing that teaching as much as anyone now, [driving] the conversation about how society should treat a sub-group of people, a hated demographic, a vulnerable demographic.” Over a glistening, hazy soundscape, Ezra reaches out to other trans women on the song ‘Lilac and Black’, singing, “Tonight I’m dreaming of my queer girl gang / We who walk this deadly path / And the city that tries to kill us each night will soon bow before our wrath.” The two colours in the song, which also make up the album’s artwork and accompanying photos, become uniform, a livery for an imagined gang who look out for each other and are willing to defend themselves. “Maybe we should all wear the same colours. It’s just a little idea, just a little suggestion,” she smiles. Endlessly quotable and effortlessly charming, Ezra talks so much like a freedom fighter it’s easy to forget that she’s also a multi-talented singer-songwriter with an impressive breadth of material to her name. ‘All Of Us Flames’ is her sixth solo album and her ninth overall (she fronted Massachusetts-formed outfit The Harpoons from 2006 to 2011). Ever the adventurer into new sonic realms, ‘... Flames’ takes her alt-rock roots into shimmery, dream-pop directions, lending optimism to the often fraught subject matter. Working with trusted collaborators plus an outside producer for the first time helped Ezra create her most ethereal songs to date; ‘Ally Sheedy in the Breakfast Club’ prickles like static from an old TV screen, ‘I Saw the Truth Undressing’ glistens with mesmerising melancholia. “They’re beautiful, right?” Ezra grins. “There’s a couple of factors here. I’ve been with this band – these three guys and me – for ten years now. To my shock! [When you’ve] played together for ten years, you can make decisions about making records that you couldn’t early on. On this record, I leant a lot more on their expertise and ideas. It was the most collaborative, really. I tried to let go of my control freak tendencies and let my genius drummer be a genius drummer, let my genius keyboard player be a genius keyboard player...” The band were aided by studio wizard John Congleton, whose extensive resumé includes work with St. Vincent, Alvvays, and Bombay Bicycle Club, among heaps of others. “Congleton is great to work with. We have a lot of the same taste. Pretty early in the process, I was grasping for a certain weird sound and he pulled out this thing called a Panoptigon. It’s kind of like a mellotron but you put a record on it made of these old recordings of choirs and stuff like that [which] you manipulate with a keyboard. It’s like sampling a texture and then fucking with it, basically. We ended up using it on eight or nine tracks; it’s that swirly organ sound.” “That melty feeling isn’t what I went for in the past. I’m feeling a lot more melty these days,” she says.

Armed with a set of new songs to perform, much of the rest of Ezra’s year will be spent touring, at home in the States before heading back to the UK in Autumn. For Ezra, there are “a couple of attendant emotions” attached to getting back on the road. “The first one I think of is ecstasy because playing shows is one of the big joys of my life. Both the band and the audience are really good at their jobs. But then there’s another aspect of not being very used to leaving home after two years. It’s hard for me as a parent. It doesn’t feel quite right. As of yet, I’m not making the kind of money where I can easily take my family on tour. So, there’s that bittersweetness. “And then there was a lot of fear,” she continues, tone suddenly riled. “A lot of fear just to put myself in front of people again.” A run of US gigs back in May was her first time back in front of an audience since the reaction to her coming out, and though “it turned out to feel okay in a live show context,” she found herself feeling more self-conscious than before. “The truth is I don’t love getting a lot of attention about me; I like to get attention for my work”, she concedes, denouncing the music industry promo machine, which relies on visibility to sell tickets. One way she’s enjoyed her work getting attention is by penning the soundtrack to Netflix’s ground-breaking dramedy series Sex Education; the third edition was released on streaming platforms last year. And although she views her work for the show separately from her “world of making albums,” it’s something she’s keen to continue in the future. “Working for Netflix, that’s my corporate gig. I had to get a job! To have a child and try to rely on rock and roll money? That’s not smart!” she laughs. “We don’t really play it live, but I’m really proud to be associated with it. As TV shows go, it’s very sane and big-hearted. I think it’s a force for good. “I am in my element when I’m on stage,” she notes, as talk turns back to touring. “Especially in the past, when I had more social anxiety than I do now, I longed for the stage because that was a place where I could prepare what I had to say and say it, and no one could interrupt me. Even though I’m very nervous on stage a lot, it’s the perfect place for me to be able to articulate myself”. Ezra considers ‘All Of Us Flames’ to be the third instalment of a trilogy which began on her escapist concept album ‘Transangelic Exodus’. That record explored “this dawning fear and paranoia that we’re not safe” in 2018. The emotion of its follow-up ‘Twelve Nudes’ was “pure fury and despair; it’s worse than we thought”. Now, with the realisation that “these crises are permanent”, her intent to avert the disasters faced by not just her own but the whole world’s children is as rousing as ever. “We have a chance to survive. How does that feel?” she muses. “With ‘Transangelic Exodus’ there was a lot of panic and fear, but I had my guardian angel with me. [Since then, the message] has become of plurality, community. Not only me and my lover on the run, sleeping in the parking lot, but a wider screen picture of people who need each other. It feels like gentleness and solidarity.”. ■ Ezra Furman’s album ‘All Of Us Flames’ is out 26th August. readdork.com 59.


INCOMIN ALL THE NEW RELEASES YOU NEED TO KNOW

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

PALE WAVES

UNWANTED ★★★★ Out now.

→ Pale Waves' third album ‘Unwanted’ is the ultimate realisation of their journey from eighties indebted indie pop to full on pop punk giants. Bigger, louder and bolder than ever before this is the sound of Pale Waves blossoming into their final formidable form. The album carries on from where their pivotal second album ‘Who Am I?’ left off but this time everything is bigger and heavier, in both a literal musical sense and in terms of the songs themselves as Heather delivers her most personal, resonant and razor sharp lyrics. This is an album for the community of fans that have formed the Pale Waves world and been with them from the start on a journey of inclusivity and acceptance. This time the feelings and emotions are ramped up to off the chart levels matching the ferociousness of the music. ‘Unwanted’ is relentless in the best way. ‘Jealousy’ is a fevered headlong charge while ‘Only Problem’ ripples with energy. These songs have been created for playing live following the pandemic pause that hampered their last album and you can feel the sense of excitement in the band’s playing. There’s always a sting in the tail though to stop you in your tracks and this time the yearning piano ballad ‘Without You’ brings the goosebumps. There are obvious touchstones here to the greats of pop punk's past but it’s all delivered with an inherent Pale Waves-ness that makes them so special. No matter how heavier they sound and how much harder they hit they will always sound beautifully like themselves, no more so than on the stunning all time banger ‘Clean’. ‘Unwanted’ is the album they have been building up to their entire lives. An album perfectly matched for the times and poised to take Pale Waves to new stratospheric levels. MARTYN YOUNG

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NG.

ARTIST’S GUIDE

DYLAN FRASER 2030 REVOLUTION EP Dylan runs us through his latest EP, '2030 Revolution’.

STELLA DONNELLY FLOOD

★★★★

Out: 26th August. → Stella Donnelly's debut album 'Beware of the Dogs' was more than enough to kick up a bit of a stir. Its follow up, 'Flood', should whip up full on storms. A bright and brilliant song about her parent's eviction as a child might not be an obvious combination, but opener 'Lungs' is a wonderfully whipsmart indication of what's to follow. 'How Was Your Day?' shifts from breezy choruses to prime 2022 Sprechgesang in the verses, but nothing here is forced to fit a trend. Title track 'Flood' shows as much, offering a subtly different, wonderfully impactful vibe. The real joy of Stella Donnelly, though, lies not only in how good her individual songs are - and they're very good indeed - but also the way they combine as a whole. Slipping down as easy as a cold drink on a hot day, they've a value way beyond the immediate. A winning return. DAN HARRISON

THE AMAZONS HOW WILL I KNOW IF HEAVEN WILL FIND ME

★★★

Out: 9th September. → The third album from The Amazons, 'How Will I Know...' is their most emotive work yet. Written and reworked over lockdown, you can hear the effects of isolation and the toll it took on their personal relationships, and how they managed to turn that into a source of inspiration. Tracks like ‘There’s a Light’ and ‘For the Night’ are thoughtful and raw, and so very romantic. ‘Wait For Me’ presents a real shift, too - leaving behind darkness in favour of promise for tomorrow. It's almost as if they are choosing to reclaim their old lives back while not allowing them to take over, which rings clear in the hope of Matt's vocals. PHOEBE DE ANGLIS

TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB KEEP ON SMILING

★★★

Out: 2nd September. → Having grown from the spiky indie-rock of ‘Tourist History’ into the vibrant world of ‘False Alarm’, Two Door Cinema Club take their first steps into the 2020s with a bold new record that sustains the appeal of their journey to date but focuses momentum on the future. The deep dance beats of ‘Millionaire’ and distorted vocals of the irresistibly groovy ‘Won’t Do Nothing’ exemplify distinctive progression for the band amongst the comfort of their relentless sonic imprint. Each step forward is more exhilarating than the last on this simmering album of sundrenched tunes. FINLAY HOLDEN

LIFE

NORTH EAST COASTAL TOWN

★★★★

Out: 19th August. → Often lumped in with the post-punk crowd, Hull’s LIFE have always, in truth, been moving in their own direction and exploring existence away from the mainstream. 'North East Coastal Town' continues that journey. Fiercely rooted in their hometown lives, it is the sound of a band stretching at any limitations placed on them externally. 'Duck Egg Blue' is the beating heart, packed with late-night tenderness and romantic gestures. Closer 'All You Are' does a similar job of stripping away the veneer of expectation and shows the band moving in a whole new musical landscape. Elsewhere, they show that they haven’t lost their ability to whip up a storm of sounds on tracks like 'Big Moon Lake'. Excitingly though, this third album indicates that they can do it without repeating any of the tricks that got them here in the first place. JAMIE MACMILLAN

INCOMING

IT TOOK A LOT TO GET TO THIS → 'It Took A Lot To Get To This' is a song about how you can put a lot of work and time to get yourself into a good headspace, but little things can bring up old insecurities and send you spiralling again. I wrote this song at a time in my life that was super busy - I was travelling down to London a lot from my small town in Scotland, and it was so exciting but also exhausting. I felt like when I was home, I didn't even have the energy to speak to my family, and that just sucked. I felt so mentally drained, and I was like, how does this make sense? I've worked so hard to get to this place in my life where I'm doing the job I love, but now I'm so mentally drained that I can't even enjoy this experience with the people I love… It's crazy to me how much our brains can send us right back to a place that we worked so

hard to get out of at a flick of a switch. But this song is really about growth, and I guess it could be taken positively, too - it's more just me dissecting my own emotions during what was a confusing time in my life. VAMPIRE → This song is about feeling like you're a bad person to someone you love. When you love someone, you show them every side of yourself, even the bad parts. I think sometimes you tend to lash out at people you love the most, but it's only because you feel comfortable enough to let your frustration or upset out around them, but it can leave you feeling like you're a bad person; a liability, over the top. Who knows, maybe even a vampire, a monster…. APARTMENT COMPLEX ON THE EASTSIDE → Life is crazy and has

always been, but more recently, it has been extra crazy. I wrote this song about existential crisis and dread and how fucked up the world is but in a weird way, it's also a positive message. It's me being like, well we're fucked so we might as well enjoy life while we have it. 2030 REVOLUTION → During the pandemic, it felt like there was a crazy news headline every day. I saw one that said, "scientists say if we don't change our ways by 2030, there's no going back", so the title '2030 Revolution' stuck in my mind. This song is about how we're all just sitting around waiting for shit to hit the fan. We pretend we're climate activists on social media, but does it really run that deep. Are we really doing everything in our effort to save the planet? I'm definitely not, and I'm fully aware of that. ■

DYLAN FRASER 2030 REVOLUTION EP

EZRA FURMAN

Out: 17th August.

★★★★

★★★★

→ Small town boy finds his way to the big leagues – it’s a tried and tested narrative. And yet, as the first eerily ice cream vanesque notes of Dylan Fraser’s third EP ring out, there’s a sense that those big leagues might not be able to contain the scope of his potential. He could be onto something more. While his previous EP lingered on the moodier side of things, some of the lines of thought on ‘2030 Revolution’ are similarly unsettling. But there’s a lightness, and a soul-searching to the EP that seems a new. As though things might be difficult and out of control, but there’s a freedom and a way to find content in that. It’s thoughtprovoking stuff. NEIVE MCCARTHY

ALL OF US FLAMES Out: 26th August.

→ Ezra Furman has never really been an easily defined, cookie cutter musician. Musically diverse, yet cohesively joined-up, her latest album 'All Of Us Flames' is not following directly in the path of its predecessor 'Twelve Nudes', but it's also not entirely removed from it either. In the time between albums, Ezra's emergence as a trans woman makes the themes of the record, of institutional oppression, land all the more potently. But this isn't a downbeat album - far from it. With Springsteen-esque dynamics running throughout, there's plenty of hope too. That flame isn't going out any time soon. DAN HARRISON

readdork.com 61.


INCOMING

RECOMMENDED

RELEASES MAKE SURE YOU CHECK OUT THESE ALBUMS AND EPS.

PHOEBE GREEN

MUNA

LUCKY ME ★★★★★

MUNA

★★★★★

Out: 19th August.

→ For their third full-length, MUNA prove that even leaving a major label isn’t enough to stop them making their best album to date. Shockingly brilliant.

→ We've known for a long time that Phoebe Green was a bit special. We didn’t quite know how special though until we got to her proper debut album ‘Lucky Me’. This is next level stuff. It’s the sound of the Manchester singer songwriter finally finding her true voice. A voice that sees her delving deep into her psyche on an album all about feelings and the richest and most piercing emotions. It’s also an album that sees her defying conventions. Fed up with trying to conform to alternative indie norms, Phoebe decided to rip everything up and embrace her own distinct path and singular vision, a vision more pop and electronic oriented that really brings out the vivid qualities of her songwriting. ‘Break My Heart’ is a heart stopping opener while the glistening electro of ‘Just a Game’ is perfect pop on the level of Robyn. Yes. That good. ‘Lucky Me’ is the blossoming of an alt pop star who is only just scratching the surface of her pop journey and making a real opening statement.

NOVA TWINS SUPERNOVA

★★★★★

→ Proof that rock has finally found its way out its of tired, formulaic rut, Nova Twins play with genre and dynamic to make an album that deserves maximum attention.

FOALS

LIFE IS YOURS

★★★★

→ Foals’ pandemic party album might have all the hallmarks of everything that made the Oxford band great, but as they reduce to a trio, it’s also the most fun they’ve sounded since they first broke through. Glorious.

MARTYN YOUNG

SOCCER MOMMY

JULIA JACKLIN

SOMETIMES, FOREVER

PRE PLEASURE

★★★★

→ Her third album, there’s no sign of a drop off in quality from Sophie Allison. Quite probably her most expansive work to date, it’s an album that proves every silver lining has a cloud. As Sophie puts it herself, “I’ll just have to take both”.

★★★★

Out: 26th August.

LAURAN HIBBERD

GARAGEBAND SUPERSTAR

★★★★

Out: 19th August.

BARTEES STRANGE

FARM TO TABLE

★★★★

→ If there’s one thing you can rely upon from Bartees Strange, it’s a whole lot of heart. His second album is full of it - an album that chooses to embrace the big issues rather than deflect. Honest, authentic and brilliant.

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→ Like a burst of bubblegum pop adrenaline delivered directly to the nerve centre of Indie Bops Central, this debut record fizzes with all of the energy and excitement that you could possibly handle or hope for. 'Garageband Superstar' takes off at a breathless pace and goes onwards and upwards from there. It’s chaotic, it’s

catchy, and it’s never less than pure fun while always managing the important (and harder than it sounds) job of capturing the very essence of Lauran’s live shows. Dripping with personality and self-effacing humour, it’s packed with tracks that would have soundtracked all of your favourite shows growing up. A whirlwind journey through the world and mind of one of our brightest new indie pop stars, and 'Garageband Superstar' delivers on all that potential and excitement (and then some). If there’s any justice, this will be huge and confirm that superstar. JAMIE MACMILLAN

→ Often so whimsical and folksy you don’t notice the heaviness of her lyricism, Julia Jacklin makes a B-line for both the drum machine and the orchestra on her third full-length, and shouldn’t look back. ‘Pre Pleasure’ combines all the directness that’s made Julia a mainstay in every sad girl playlist with a newfound dynamism that brings her to the next level. It's a collection of slow burners that often burst into something more frantic, as she unpicks her relationships with herself and others. Enveloping her usual sound in reverbed guitars, sparse drum machines and cinematic strings, all playing out at different points across the record, but best when it’s all at once. ABIGAIL FIRTH

GENTLY TENDER

TAKE HOLD OF YOUR PROMISE

★★★★

Out: 26th August. → Sometimes it pays to take your time and make the most of second chances. For Gently Tender, a band born from the embers of Palma Violets, a new flame has been lit with a polished and powerful debut. The record quickly soars into the ethers, the dual vocals of Sam Fryers and Celia Archer entwining perfectly. Hints of gospel and brass-filled soul ensure that moments of melancholy are drawn lightly, the album bursting into glorious light and life whenever things get a little dark with promises of better times on the horizon. A record that has been worth waiting for. JAMIE MACMILLAN


INCOMING

isn’t really an album that offers up an illuminating insight into Beyoncé’s emotions and psyche. It’s a physical record. Intense body music, inspired by the club and filtered through Beyoncé’s unique prism. At times it’s distinctly weird, for example, the RENAISSANCE otherworldly ‘ALIEN ★★★★★ SUPERSTAR’. “Don’t Out now. even waste your time → When it comes to pop trying to compete with me.” says Beyoncé in icons, only a select few maybe the truest words can touch the rarified level of Beyoncé. Almost ever spoken on a pop no one has managed to song. If you want bangers, remain at the forefront the count is off the of pop culture for so chart. ‘COZY’ is deep, long, transcending soulful and funky, while the mere notion of the glorious disco of being a pop star into ‘CUFF IT’ is Beyoncé’s something bigger and more powerful. The last most unabashedly celebratory song decade of Beyoncé’s since ‘Countdown’. career has seen her Emphasising the warped focus on the biggest disco sounds that filter artistic and cultural in and out of the album, statements and leave ‘VIRGO’S THEME’ is a the pop game behind. stunning encapsulation ‘RENAISSANCE’ acts as her return to making of its club vibes. It feels like the sort of thing an out-and-out “pop” Daft Punk should have record. Of course, been doing on ‘Random it’s a pop record on Access Memories’. Beyoncé’s terms – a There are experimental wonderfully exuberant and immersive homage vibes of a different nature on the AG Cook to dance and club produced ‘ALL UP IN culture that finds her more loose, relaxed and YOUR MIND’, which, if anything, is finally proof playful than ever. that Beyoncé definitely There’s a lot to unpack into this record. knows who Charli XCX is. It’s overwhelming in As the album a good way – not just progresses, more of a collection of songs, the references and but a journey where the crystallisation of everything flows black history and queer together, sequenced culture that Beyoncé and mixed in the form is paying homage of one long magical to emerge. ‘PURE/ DJ set. In this context, HONEY’ is a stunning the previously slightly peak, climaxing with underwhelming lead a sample of one of single ‘BREAK MY the defining dance SOUL’ truly shines. songs in history, as The transition from she channels and then banging energy to ecstatic release and that overtly samples Donna instantly memorable Big Summer’s legendary ‘I Freedia sample is a real Feel Love’ on glorious closing track ‘SUMMER moment. This is an intoxicating RENAISSANCE’. It’s a pointed and beautifully album. You can’t fail to be caught up in its wild, chosen reference that carefree spirit. There’s a helps place the song – and indeed the entire looseness and frivolity album – in the lineage here that we haven’t of pioneering artists heard from Beyoncé who did so much to for a long time. It’s funny, playful, uplifting, promote dance culture and, indeed, black and at times baffling. female and queer dance Unfortunately, there’s culture. If ‘Lemonade’ another lamentable use of the same ableist was Beyoncé’s defining personal statement, slur that Lizzo rightly ‘RENAISSANCE’ may apologised for and removed at the end of be her defining musical the song ‘HEATED’. Like statement. The greatest Lizzo, she's thankfully DJ set you’ll ever hear committed to changing from the greatest pop it in the near future.. star of the modern age. Unlike ‘Lemonade’, this MARTYN YOUNG

BEYONCÉ

readdork.com 63.


GET OUT. LIVE MUSIC, FROM THE FRONT.

EVENTIM APOLLO, LONDON Wednesday 6th July 2022

Photo: Patrick Gunning.

It’s the penultimate night of her ‘SOUR’ tour, and Olivia Rodrigo is bringing her enormous debut to life for the first of two nights at London’s Eventim Apollo. → WAITING BEHIND A PURPLE CURTAIN projected with the words “SOUR TOUR” is the biggest breakout pop star of the last year. She’s 20 minutes late, but what’s another 20 minutes? Most of these fans have been here for hours (some, days) already. It’s the penultimate night of her ‘SOUR’ tour, and Olivia Rodrigo is bringing her enormous debut to life for the first of two nights at London’s Eventim Apollo. Quite unbelievably, it’s only been a little over a year since the release of her Grammy-and-all-the-rest-winning record, yet it feels like Olivia is selling herself short at this venue. On its announce, she mentioned she didn’t feel like she should skip steps in the ‘new artist’ process, but it’s rare that an artist blows up as big and as quickly as our Liv. This is far from an intimate show, though. The Apollo is packed, barely a spare seat in sight, and there’s certainly no breathing room on the floor. Even better, every person here knows every word, almost entirely overpowering Olivia when she kicks off with ‘brutal’. Some people are born to perform, and Olivia must be one of them. Releasing this record in lockdown meant she’s cultivated an impeccable stage presence in

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secret. An immediate sell-out tour was always on the cards after the roaring success of ‘SOUR’, and Miss Rodrigo rises to the challenge and goes for the gold. Obviously, she takes it. After blasting through a soupedup version of ‘jealousy, jealousy’, she knocks ‘driver’s license’ out early on. Where other pop stars would’ve reserved their first number one hit for later on, Olivia puts in between a late album track and a cover of Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’. It’s icon behaviour. Certain lyrics just hit different live. The “RED LIGHTS! STOP SIGNS!” belting bridge of ‘driver’s license’ is a top-of-your-lungs emotional release, as is the “you betraaaayyyyyed meeeee” chorus of ‘traitor’. She often lets the crowd finish off her lines, and they do it with as much ease on the deeper cuts like ‘favourite crime’ as on monster hit ‘good 4 u’. Speaking of, what a fucking ending. ‘SOUR’ live brings the same turbulence of the album to the stage – through the angsty generational frustration of ‘brutal’, to the cinematic and devastating ’happier’, to the solemn solo performance of ‘enough for you’ – climaxing at the catharsis of her biggest banger. When ‘SOUR’ was released, Olivia Rodrigo felt like an amalgamation of the honest, emotionally driven teen stars who came before her. Avril Lavigne, Alanis Morissette, Taylor Swift, Hayley Williams – the latter two’s influence being so strong they gained credits on the record, the former both joining her on earlier

stops of this tour, proving that it’s more than just inspiration for Olivia – it’s a passing of the baton from one generation to the next. Those influences are all there during her live show. Every time she sits down at the piano to do a heartbreak ballad, she recalls Taylor’s head-banging piano performances of ‘All Too Well’. She’s had lessons in keeping her voice stable enough to belt high notes while bouncing across the stage from Hayley. She borrows ‘Complicated’ from Avril and it slides between ‘SOUR’ tracks seamlessly. Adding to the tradition of bringing out a guest for a karaoke rendition of one of her favourite songs, Olivia (pretty unexpectedly) introduces Natalie Imbruglia to the stage to perform ‘Torn’. It’s probably a lot of this crowd’s actual introduction to Natalie Imbruglia. That isn’t to drag the ages of the people here tonight. Teenage girls are often the driving force behind pop music, and Olivia and her stans are no exception. Olivia stands proud as a fangirl herself (she uses ‘Olivia’ by One Direction as her walk on song). On the other hand, when she returns to her dressing room, she’ll share posts of tonight’s show from her Livies on Instagram. The beauty is that in moments like these, when Liv sings about passing her driving test, or comparing herself to other girls on social media, or an earth-shattering first heartbreak, it doesn’t matter that she’s an ex-Disney star with a record-breaking album; the feelings are universal. ABIGAIL FIRTH


GET OUT

CARLY RAE JEPSEN THE ROUNDHOUSE, LONDON Friday 3rd June 2022

Photos: Frances Beach.

The Queen of Pop Bangers hits London as she prepares to return with a new album. → POP HAS GOT BRILLIANTLY COMPLEX over the past few years, with your Harrys, your Lordes and your Billies asking big, complex questions about life while pulling experimental shapes. By contrast, there’s something wonderfully pure about Carly Rae Jepsen’s pristine pop. She might write almost exclusively about love (self or otherwise), but Jeppers’ music is anything but simple. Tonight, before she even takes to the stage at London’s Somerset House, her touring drummer asks the 3000 capacity crowd if they’re ready to party like he’s a WWE announcer. Without waiting for an answer, the backing band launch into a surf-pop instrumental with Jepsen soon swaggering onto the stage for ‘No Drug Like Me’. A confident, self-assured track, it’s the perfect introduction to tonight’s set, and the sort of star Carly Rae Jepsen

is in 2022. Following her bubblegum introduction to the world and the critically acclaimed cool of ‘Emotion’, 2019’s ‘Dedicated’ saw

Jepsen comfortable in her own skin, toying with everything from glitching electro-pop to Hollywood extravagance with an effortless command. Tonight’s gig is just as sure of itself, with Carly launching into breakout hit ‘Call Me Maybe’ midset while the recently released (and brilliant) ‘Western Wind’ is performed without the usual apologies about playing new material. And quite right so – the swaying, indie-infused track might seem understated at first listen, but there’s a heart of solid pop gold beating away, teasing a very exciting album four. In fact, that indie snarl can be felt throughout the night, with ‘Emotion’ propped up with jangly guitars and ‘Give Me Love’ sounding like self-titled The 1975. Taking that ‘80s escapism further, ‘Want You In My Room’ is transformed into a power-pop anthem, complete with backing singer-assisted dance routine and aching sax solo. Elsewhere, Carly Rae Jepsen promises the crowd that she isn’t pining for a man named ‘Julien’, despite a whole wonky pop track about the fellow. “I’m really not that interested,” she says, again without apology. “Nice guy though,” she adds with a grin. Later, she admits “I always worried about being too loud, too crazy, too emotional, too nuts – but with the right partner, there’s no such thing as too much.” Yes, the sleek

‘Too Much’ is pure, unadulterated pop honesty but Jepsen wields that power with care and precision. With giddy, vulnerable anthems like that, it’s easy to see why Carly Rae Jepsen resonates so intimately with her fanbase. Tonight that connection fills the vast courtyard of Somerset House, as time and time again Carly Rae Jepsen cuts to the feeling and does away with the rest. ALI SHUTLER readdork.com 65.


Photo: Ed Cooke.

WITH... THE

AMAZONS 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 Matt Thomson from The Amazons was once a silver member of the Beano fan club. WHAT DID YOU LAST DREAM ABOUT? I dream about shows a lot. Sometimes they're nightmares where I try to sing, but nothing comes out. IF YOU COULD HAVE A SUPERPOWER OF YOUR CHOOSING, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Time travel. WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE SANDWICH FILLING? I ate an incredible sandwich in Leith, Edinburgh, which had oyster mushrooms. IF WE GAVE YOU £10, WHAT WOULD YOU SPEND IT ON? 1.8 pints. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU BROKE? My Dr Nelson's Steamer. It's a ceramic bong-shaped device I use to steam my voice. I was doing the thing where you're in a hurry but keep running back into the house to grab things you've forgotten. I run back in, grab the steamer, somehow drop it at the top of the stairs and helplessly watch it as it tumbles down and smashes into a thousand pieces at the bottom.

FOR SOMEONE ELSE? Theo from Wolf Alice mistook me for someone in Blossoms many years ago when I had long hair. WHAT'S ONE THING YOU CAN DEFINITELY BEAT THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE AMAZONS AT? Useless history knowledge. DO YOU THINK DIFFERENT COLOURED SMARTIES TASTE DIFFERENT, OR DO THEY ALL TASTE THE SAME? It's hard to accept, but I think they're the same. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A GHOST? No, unfortunately. Any evidence of something beyond death would be really quite wonderful. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN A MEMBER OF A CLUB? I was a silver member of the Beano fan club. YOU'RE PICKING A 5-ITEM BREAKFAST. WHAT'S IN IT? Pancakes, coffee, eggs, avocado, maple syrup - not in that order.

WHAT'S THE SCARIEST THING YOU'VE EVER DONE? IF YOU WERE HAVING A FOOD FIGHT, A best man speech. WHICH FOOD WOULD YOU GO FOR? HOW PUNK ARE YOU OUT OF TEN? We saw Steve Aoki use cakes on the An aspiring 7/10. front row of his shows to great effect. IF EACH OF THE AMAZONS WAS A BREED OF DOG, WHAT BREED WOULD THEY BE? A black lab. WHAT'S ONE THING YOU'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO TRY? Crossing the Atlantic in a boat. IF YOU COULD BE BEST FRIENDS WITH A CELEBRITY YOU DO NOT KNOW, WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE? Will Arnett. His podcast Smartless really kept my spirits up over lockdown. WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO COOK A POTATO? Boil them, mash them, stick them in a stew. THERE ARE TOO MANY BANDS! IF YOU DON'T DELETE ONE FROM HISTORY, RIGHT NOW, THE PLANET WILL EXPLODE! WHO ARE YOU TAKING OUT? The 1975. They're too damn good. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN MISTAKEN

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WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME SOMETHING POOED ON YOU? It's been a while. I will say a seagull swooped over my shoulder and took a pastry clean out of my hand in Brighton a couple weeks ago. On my last day living there, no less. Incredible precision. I would fully support a cull. WHAT IS THE STRANGEST FOOD COMBINATION YOU ENJOY? Peanut butter and eggs. Is that strange? I haven't met many who like it. Fried or scrambled. There was a burger many years ago at The Oakford in Reading that had fried egg and peanut butter in, manager. and I've been hooked ever since. WHAT'S THE WORST SMELL? HOW FAR COULD YOU RUN, IF YOUR From recent experience, skunks. LIFE DEPENDED ON IT? IF YOU COULD READ THE MIND OF A lot of running is a mental game, so I ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE think the motivation of survival could Trump. What the hell is going on there. make most people run pretty far. 500 feet. IF YOU HAD TO HAVE ONE WORD TATTOOED ON YOUR FACE, WHAT WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WORD WOULD YOU HAVE? WERE TOLD OFF? Balls. Written so incredibly small it looks It's a daily occurrence with our tour

WATCHING? It's a classic, but I was surprised to see HAVE YOU EVER HAD A CRUSH ON A how low Knight's Tale is rated online. FICTIONAL CHARACTER? IF YOU COULD LEARN ONE SKILL Esmeralda from the Hunchback of INSTANTLY, WITHOUT NEEDING TO Notre Dame. PRACTICE, WHAT WOULD YOU PICK? Learning a language, easy. That would WHICH SUPERMARKET DO YOU make touring a whole lot easier. SHOP AT? Trader Joes. The Amazons' album 'How Will I Know If Heaven Will Find Me?' is out 9th WHAT'S THE MOST TERRIBLE September. FILM YOU LEGITIMATELY ENJOY like a freckle.


100% popNONSENSE nonsense. 100% POP

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