So Young Issue Fifty

Page 1

Issue Fifty

Also inside: Monobloc Crack Cloud Fcukers Ebbb TTSSFU Blue Polar triage The Itch Mên An Tol

fontaines d.c.

So Young x Rough Trade

We’ve made it to the middle of 2024, and with it comes our fiftieth issue of So Young. We are grateful to every contributor, collaborator, band and artist who has helped us reach this milestone and given so much support to our independent print magazine. There probably isn’t a better way to celebrate than having the most exciting band in the world right now, Fontaines D.C. on the cover. They’re a band who have featured inside our pages many times, as well as live stages we’ve curated and gratefully, on our celebratory compilation too. With new album ‘Romance’ on its way in August, we sit down with the band at an Irish pub in London to chat through the rise to this point, the influence of new genres and giving fans everything they came for, night after night. It’s a pleasure to welcome Crack Cloud back to the pages of So Young. They’re a band we’ve all had obsessive moments with, so having them back, with a new label in Jagjaguwar supporting, makes this a very exciting time indeed. With new album ‘Red Mile’ coming in July, we reconnected with the band to discuss the Mojave, working with a label for the first time and the obsessiveness of their collective. NYC’s Fcukers are within an exciting moment, filling venues, empty swimming pools and any other unconventional space they can think of. The three piece are at the forefront of an exciting wave of indie dance music and they know their roots. With more miles in their legs and more music in the tank, we checked in for the second time to hear what’s been going on and dig into the DJ’s, movements and genres which inspire them the most. Heading back to the UK, and to London, Ebbb have been making some impressive waves over the last 12 months. Landing somewhere between industrial and ambient, Ebbb have created a sound which feels truly unique to them at such an early stage of their career, and its with that it becomes no surprise that they’ve now signed with Ninja Tune. Ahead of the release of their debut EP, we sent over some questions to dig away for a few extra details from the mysterious trio.

Staying in the capital, The Itch have been playing countless shows in all the great small venues in the city. Until recently, the band had solely built their reputation upon their live shows, but now, with a debut single in the world (‘Ursula’) the noise is travelling further and wider. We gave Georgia and Simon a call to chat about their rotating band of talented musicians and their brand of disco rock. TTSSFU, is the solo project led by Manchester’s Tasmin Nicole Stephens. Alongside her commitments to punk-rock band, Duvet, Tasmin has recently released her debut EP ‘Me, Jed and Andy’. TTSSFU’s gothic wash of shoegaze has been turning heads up and down the country over the last few months and we spoke via video call to see what’s been going on and how the solo project grew from secret iphone demos to an upcoming summer full of shows to packed rooms. EP’s are always an exciting first dive into a new band. Not intended to be the finished article, but enough to be introduced to a band’s first ideas and get excited. ‘fox hours’, the debut EP from triage has served that purpose and then some. Following tour dates with bar italia, and recording with Stereolab’s Andy Ramsay, the five piece are beginning to make their mark. Meeting up in London, the band answered some quick fire questions to get warmed up before letting us into their inner workings. Another EP we are excited for is the debut from Blue Polar. Since playing our We Are So Young night at Sebright Arms, the bands impressive single ‘Blinded’ has found itself on repeat in our heads and we needed to know more. Inside, we chat influences and the creative hub in which the band has been built upon. Finishing the features is an interview with NYC’s Monobloc, a band who have found themselves building their audience in Europe before back at home. With plenty of groundwork and opening slots under their belt, the group are ready to step things up. Starting with a support slot with LCD Soundsystem.

4 Blue Polar London’s Raining

35 Ebbb Playing with Extremes

7 TTSSFU Secret Soundcloud

40 The Itch Disco Rock

11 Fontaines D.C. Romance

43 Mên An Tol Folk is the Soul

24 Monobloc I’m Just Trying to Love You

50 Fcukers Empty Pool Party

32 Crack Cloud The Mojave

53 triage Daylight Robbery

London’s Blue Polar began as a childhood friendship, the

We’re all very different musicians, Tiger has been a

school friends grew up together and as they grew, so did

Classically trained Cellist from the age of 8, Joe is big

their tastes in music, eventually moulding into an alt-rock

into the production side of things and dance music, and

band formed of artists, poets and actors. Their music

Me and Jamie come from a slightly “Punk” background I

brings together the feel-good alternative guitar riffs of

guess…though I don’t think we could ever call ourselves

the 2000s with mellow and raw lyrical themes of nineties

Punk. I’d say the cross between our backgrounds has a

singer-songwriters. On a rainy Wednesday afternoon, I sat

large influence on our sound.

down with lead singer and guitarist Jake Scott where we discussed the band’s upcoming EP, his own collective and

We’ve seen lots of classically trained musicians come

everything in between.

together with rock musicians recently...

How did Blue Polar come together in its current

Very much in the Post-Punk scene, almost every band has


some unconventional instrument in there. We’re still a guitar band but our influences still come from other types

Well to start, Blue Polar is Me on Vocals and Guitar, Joe

of instrumentals too! Maybe one day Blue Polar will be a

Anders on drums, Jamie King on guitar and Tiger Braun-

full-on orchestra post-punk 8-piece outfit.

White on Bass. I, Joe and Tiger have been best mates since we were nine years old and we’ve played in really

Naturally the band will progress the longer you’re

shit bands for years, our first band was a jazz band called

together who knows what’ll happen?

“Bazz Jand”. In 6th form we came together with Jamie and we made Blue Polar.

Already I think we’ve progressed so much, compared to our first single the music we’re making is the music we

As a frontman, who would say your biggest inspirations

want to make. Our writing style has developed too. We

are in terms of stage presence and personality?

started gigging very quickly once we formed the band so we made music to get the crowd going, but now we’re

One of my main heroes from when I was twelve was

making music that tends to our influences more. It’s

David Bowie, even though I don’t think my performance

music we can get behind more and it feels like a general

style is anything like his. He was very theatrical and

expression of what we’re aiming to share with people.

studied in mime and I don’t do any of those shenanigans.

Still, we think we’ll develop more but we’ve found our

Another one would be Julian Casablancas though he’s

way of writing and our character and it’s all very exciting.

kind of got just a natural pissed-off look on stage. I’d say I’m somewhere in between those two, I try to take myself

Feels like a natural time to ask about who those

not too seriously and keep it light-hearted.

influences are?

I can hear echoes of The Strokes in your guitar riffs…

Well, I think it goes back to us having our own individual personalities in the band, which also translates to our

Thank you! I’d say there’s a mix of a lot of different

influences. I think the most obvious influence which

sounds, mainly because we’re all very different in our

you can hear in our sound is The Strokes, they’re a big

tastes. I know we were just talking about me being the

influence on us there’s no hiding from it. Our producer

frontman, but I like to think of Blue Polar as all of us. I

Gordon Raphael recorded the first two Strokes albums so

just started writing lyrics, and naturally, it felt right for me

we’re also similar to them production-wise. Going back

to sing them.

to Joe being into dance music, that has an impact on his rhythms and drum sounds.

Words by Peter Martin, illustration by Hanneke Rozemuller


Tiger as a jazz musician loves big band jazz and bebop

You also run a collective yourself called ‘Far From’

but also early Smashing Pumpkins. Jamie on guitar is

putting on events throughout London, how did that

more into Pavement, Fat White Family and My Bloody

come about?

Valentine. I’m getting more into Dean Blunt, bar italia and Far From began as my art account on Instagram but once I

Ethan P. Flynn.

stopped posting art on there and when Blue Polar needed a ‘London’s Raining’ has some of my favourite lyrics

headline gig in sixth form, I turned Far From into this fake

from your releases so far, they’re quite mellow and that

club night to get booked at venues. We played a couple

reflects in the instrumentation too. Was that the goal

of shows like that but then life took over and I stopped

thematically when you were making it?

doing that. At the second show, we had a band called Cardboard play and it was the first time we’d played with

That song came from a rough time, it’s very raw. That

a young band that we liked and got on with. Long story

version specifically is recorded by me in my shed with

short, a year later me and their drummer Dan started Far

a tape machine. It’s a sloppy recording made in one day

From again with me and Dan co-managerial roles of the

and I think that reflects in the track. We took it to the


studio and created a grand version with strings piano and a spoken word bridge, but we decided our favourite version

Tell me about the type of events you’re putting on.

was the original shed version as it’s the most honest and We wanted to make something fun and different and

raw representation of the song.

the idea is that they’re a crossover between different It definitely reflects the sadness you get on a rainy day

art forms. So there’s music while art is being projected,

and you certainly achieved that feeling through the

other people’s videos playing at the same time. The main

production and lyrics...

idea, as cliche as it is, is to bring together as many young creatives as possible to make some cool shit. We put on

It was the first track we recorded for the EP and was

a bikini mud fight recently and we want to put on silly

a turning point for being more raw in our sound, even

things like a hot dog-eating competition or bingo just to

though it’s an odd one out on the project. Some of the

spice things up and create a better experience watching a

other songs on the project have less structure compared to

band. The exciting thing about Far From is that it could be

this and ‘Just Like My Dream’ has notions of Pop, it’s a

anything, we can do whatever we like and also facilitate

good middle ground on the EP. It’s a mellow break from

our friends to express themselves.

the shouty and upbeat tracks. Our recording style is also very symbiotic with our live formation, Gordon wanted

Seems like a very genuine project by very genuine

our recordings to be us four in a practice room facing each


other to make it as authentic and honest as possible. Me and Dan have both equally been fucked over by ‘Just Like My Dream’ is an absolute delight to listen to

promoters taking a big chunk of the ticket sales and we

and has a massive chorus, it’s certainly the sing-along

know what it’s like to be in a band, it’s mutually beneficial

track in your set, was that one of those intentionally

and we pay our bands well. It’s a growing community of

written songs to get people moving?

people coming together and it’s just fun.

Not exactly, it’s a song from the start of the band. We

Any closing words?

were seeing if we could write more of a catchy song and it kinda stuck. We love the energy of the track. It’s a feel-

Keep an eye out for our EP coming up, it’s the best

good kind of theme even though the lyrics are kind of sad.

representation of our sound!

It’s so much fun to play live and we hope that translates onto record.


Blue Polar

TTSSFU is the solo project of Mancunian multi-

I had asked PREGOBLIN if I could support next time they

instrumentalist Tasmin Nicole Stephens, despite already

were in Manchester, and I weren’t being serious, but then

playing guitar for underground favourites Duvet, Stephens

Alex [Sebley] was like “I actually have a gig, and if you

had been building up to releasing her own music for years.

want to support you can have it”, but then it hit me that I

Having been writing since she was fourteen years old,

was actually going to have to play.

it took a jokingly pitched and then nervously accepted slot supporting PREGOBLIN to coax TTSSFU out of

If you first started putting your music out when you

the shadows of Soundcloud and onto the stage, what has

were sixteen, when did you first start making music?

followed is an abundance of excitement and a packed summer gig schedule.

T: I’d say that I got really interested in it at around fourteen, I actually managed to track down some of

Considering creating music on her phone in her room

the first recordings the other day on my iCloud, at that

made up a major part of her formative years, Tasmin’s take

point I really wanted to be the next Kim Gordon and it

on bedroom pop-rock has a particular personal charm that

just weren’t working out for me. There were also some

has claimed the favour of many. 2024 will see TTSSFU

attempts at becoming the next Lou Reed in there as well

welcomed on support tours with the likes of Mannequin

but I just had to be realistic and realise I have quite a high

Pussy and Soccer Mommy, and has also brought with it

pitched voice and that was not going to happen. I always

the announcement of their place in the top five for Green

knew in my head that I didn’t want to start releasing

Man Festival’s Rising Competition, giving them the

anything until I thought it was alright. It was also a

chance to open the beloved festival’s main stage in the

massive secret for a while, I wouldn’t record anything

Brecon Beacons this Summer.

until everyone was out of the house because I just thought it was so stupid and embarrassing to be sat writing songs.

For Tasmin, creating music is something that she has always done, and now with her band behind her and her

When you’re fourteen though literally everything feels

solo music officially out in the world, she can go all in.

like the most embarrassing thing, so it’s still a massive step to start uploading music, did you put it under your

How are you, how is everything going, what have you

name too?

been up to in the last few weeks? T: There is an old Soundcloud account with my middle Well everything apparently! We’ve been doing so many

name called Tasmin Nicole, maybe I thought that no one

gigs, it’s been such a change to what I’m used to, I never

would realise that it’s still me, I thought I was being smart

used to do anything with my own music except randomly

but I weren’t. Then I started posting under TTSSFU, I

put it out on Soundcloud. It’s been making me feel really

think I did want attention but I didn’t, I wanted people to

good to actually do it, I didn’t think it would happen.

tell me what they thought of it. Ages ago, before that, I had one called The Tall Whites? After the alien? That was

How long have you been playing with the people in

really bad…

your band? Was there something in particular that made you ready Well the band only really started last year about December

to start sharing your music?

time, but my lead guitarist Paddy came across the music a while ago so has been asking me about it for years, he’s

Again, it comes back to my family. When I knew that my

probably been learning the songs in his own time for like a

mum and sister had come across it I’d literally run away,

year or so. We always texted about it but then wouldn’t do

but once I realised it was something I really wanted, I had

anything with it until I got the PREGOBLIN support slot.

to force myself to get over it. When they came to my first show I think they were a bit scared of what I was gonna do?


Words by Amber Lashley, illustration by Aleksandra Georgieva

They know a different side to me so they were like “what

So many people have that moment where they first

if she walks on stage and starts being really weird?”.

find out about The Factory, Andy, and Edie Sedgwick, and become obsessed with that era, it’s sort of a rite of

After that first show were they like “fair enough”?


Yeah! I think they were pretty impressed, which is good,

…because the stories are crazy, there’s nothing like that

but they were like “what’s going to happen now?”. I don’t

anymore I don’t think, there’s nothing that shocking! I was

think they knew what my point was at that time, especially

exactly the same, you read it and it’s like “wait what? That

because I was saying I’d only do the one show, but that’s


not happened at all. I read Patti Smith’s Just Kids and I remember seeing It’s been the complete opposite really! With your

her talk about Max’s Kansas City and how there was

EP ‘Me, Jed and Andy’, I find it really interesting

an area reserved for the people affiliated with Warhol,

when people use other people’s experiences to explain

everyone in there including Robert was trying to get

or relate to their own, but to use someone else’s

to that area. It’s crazy that you can contextualise these

relationship is a completely different spin on that. How

characters through all of the different accounts.

did you find putting together that project? I guess there was a structure there already because it’s a real

They’re all kind of linked, all of what I call the ‘actual

life story…

icons’, people who really did pave the way. They all sort of knew each other. When you figure that out it’s weird, as

I mean, I think you see exactly what I tried to do with

you say it’s like do we think of them as real people or just

that. I’d always been a fan of Andy Warhol’s work but


I never knew about Jed, I never even knew Andy had a Are you into pop culture in general?

relationship. When I came across the documentary about them I was just blown away by how Andy behaved, and I saw a lot of myself in it, which maybe isn’t a good thing?

I think so, anyone would tell you this, I get obsessed

I hadn’t been inspired by anything like that in a while

with people and when I do I have to learn everything

and I instantly started coming up with ideas of how to

about them to the point that it becomes my entire life.

talk about Andy. There were so many different feelings to

My friends get annoyed by it because once I’m obsessed

dive into, and obviously with my own experience of being

with something it’s all I’ll talk about, and they probably

insecure, I felt like it was a good outlet to put all of that

don’t care half the time, but I need to tell everyone what I

into him instead of me. It’s a lot easier to hide behind I

know about these people. It could be anything from films,


to celebrities and music. Once I get a grip on something I can’t stop until I know everything about it.

Of course, and he is such a character as well, I feel like there’s such a strong idea of who he is in almost a

I saw the Green Man Rising competition as well!

fictional sense.


I think he thought of himself that way too. Going off of

It’s insane, John Maus is doing Green Man this year and I

what I know and what I’ve researched, he kind of became

posted about it saying “someone needs to find me a way to

like a joke to himself, he wouldn’t let anyone see who he

get to Green Man”, and then that competition was posted.

actually was in my opinion. I think he was really frail on

I think my manager Maria actually signed me up for it,

the inside. He seemed like a bit of an asshole too but I just

when we found out we were in the final five we were all

thought it was so interesting.

in the car driving to Hebden Bridge, it was such a nice moment! We had the Strokes on and it was dead sunny and

It is really interesting because you can question

I was like “Guys! What’s going on!”. It felt like a movie

whether or not those qualities are on purpose?




Those of you familiar with the Fontaines D.C. catalogue will be outright shocked by their fourth album ‘Romance’. For those who aren’t familiar, well where the fuck have you been for the last five years? Their latest groundbreaking single ‘Starburster’ has shifted the sonic and aesthetic world of the once modest Irish five piece into what is now a universal supergroup. Adorned with hair dye, fluorescent clothing, and an all-round Nu-metal vibe, Fontaines D.C. are a kind of 90s-esque postmodern powerhouse. With influences from Korn, The Smashing Pumpkins, Andre 3000, and Shygirl, ‘Romance’ witnesses, as we discussed, the band returning to their adolescent tastes for music they left behind in their twenties. Simply, they’ve looked back to see the future.

Today I meet with the group in the darkest corner of an

When did that feeling of imposter syndrome subside?

Irish pub in London. “It opens nice and early, you know,

Surely not until after you’ve had a successful second

for a couple rollovers”, I’m told by guitarist Conor Curley,


who struggles to conceal a grin beneath his sunglasses. I ask whether they come here a lot. “A bit, like”, chuckles

C: Maybe, although we had a smokescreen of a second

drummer Tom Coll. It’s clearly an understatement.

album during the pandemic. People had to digest ‘A Hero’s Death’ in a different way as everyone was stuck

Littered around the pub are a range of elderly Irish locals

at home, experiencing massive changes in their lives, and

and a lovely Maître d’, all of whom, over the next few

suddenly they had this piece of music to engage with. It’s

hours, will come and greet the boys by their first names.

hard to tell when that feeling went away to be honest.

I jokingly ask the bartender whether the band work here; “no, but they’re here all the fuckin’ time!” It’s a

T: I feel like our third record [‘Skinty Fia’] was similar to

humorous, and quietly endearing moment as I consider the

our second in the sense that we never got to tour it in the

band’s continually distanced relationship to Ireland over


the years. How does the preamble to ‘Romance’ feel compared to Their fourth, and highly anticipated album ‘Romance’,

the build-up before your other records? I’ve never seen

searches for what else there is to be passionate about as

hype like this before, it’s insane.

they move further away from their homeland. Perhaps today, it is these similarly dislocated Irish pub-goers

T: Yeah, this feels different, for sure. Bigger.

who, like Fontaines, find a glimpse of home in the dark reflection from a Guinness. We start our conversation right

C: Yeah, and I think all the visuals that we’ve released

at the beginning of their career, and end, many pints later,

have shocked people into giving the album a bit more

on the here and now – basically, I want to know what it’s

attention than before. It’s more graphic and mysterious

like to be the biggest band in the world right now. As for

than the first three albums which rested more on classic

what we discuss after I stop recording, well unfortunately

alternative rock and roll tropes. Everything up to this

for you reader, that’s for my grandkids only…

point has been in-keeping with that specific genre. This time there’s a lot of anticipation because everything is

I’ve been thinking back to the time I saw you at the


Brixton O2 just after you released ‘Dogrel’ in 2019. The other day I was sitting in the park close to a Tom: That seems like a lifetime ago, it’s crazy.

group of roadmen, for lack of a better word, who were blasting your new single ‘Starburster’ from a

What’s your lifestyle like now as opposed to back then?

UE boom. I feel like this track has reached far beyond what everyone thought your audience was.

T: It’s quite similar in a way. We’re still touring lots, C: No way! Really? That’s mad. I’m glad I didn’t witness

followed by short periods of time off.

that because I would have had the most uncool reaction Curley: The difference for me is that back then, I was

to it.

constantly thinking like, when is this going to end! I was just waiting to pack up and head back home at any minute,

What’s been the perception of your fanbase until now?

to be greeted with a “nice try though…!” Now it doesn’t seem that way. I think it’s inevitable that we’ll be doing this for a long time.


Words by Leo Lawton, illustration by Cameron JL West

T: Umm, I guess people like you! We had a show in

Musically, ‘Romance’ is stylistically a much more

Brooklyn a couple weeks ago and our reception felt

approachable record. Might that explain this

different there this time. America has always been a few

broadening of your fanbase?

steps behind here in a way, but this time we were met with C: Yeah, and because we’ve established such a strong

a really diverse crowd which was exciting to see.

foundation for our sound over three albums, we’ve been a C: Our fanbase has changed from just people that we

lot more adventurous with ‘Romance’. We’ve added more

would have in our own friendship circles, you know. Now

‘mainstream’ elements without selling out. To most people

we’re bringing in a younger crowd, maybe. When that

we are just an alternative rock and roll band. This album

happens, you realise your music is going further than your

has been an entirely different adventure.

own personality.

T: Over the last year or two our influences as a group have

T: Yeah, I was listening to a lot of drum and bass at

broadened massively. From electronic stuff to hip-hop,

that time, which massively informed the drum sound on

it’s been fun to delve into new styles and explore new

that record. It’s a funny thing with us as a group, once

technologies. It’s been a whole new world for us.

someone steps into a different musical realm everyone else goes with them!

Even when interviewing for ‘Skinty Fia’, Tom, you’d said that you weren’t listening to much guitar music.

I want to go back to the drum sound on ‘Starburster’. It reminds me of that huge, spacious sound Zeppelin got on ‘When The Levee Breaks’. Tell me about recording with producer James Ford.

T: James is such an accomplished drummer, and he has

It was a big conversation between James and I, you know,

a great mind when it came to recording the kit. He was

let’s do the John Bonham thing! We recorded drums at the

meticulous about tuning the drums to specific notes.

bottom of a stairwell, and so it’s got this echoey, ‘When

Everything sat in a strictly notated world, which has been

The Levee Breaks’ feel to it.

really cool for me to watch and learn from. A lot of the And how are you going to emulate that live?

album is heavily processed, we ran the drums through distortion boxes, which was class. And you’re right about Led Zeppelin, who were a big influence.

T: I’m using a lot more electronic stuff, delving into that hybrid drumming world, which is new for me. We haven’t really done it yet so we’ll see how it goes!



Right now, you’re in between tours. What does time off

T: Toward the end of every touring period there’s an itch

look like?

to get writing again. It’s never a conscious conversation, it just happens. We’re very bad at resting. The mundanity

C: Time off is catching up with those you miss when

of touring the same set for fourteen months can get a bit

you’re away. Trying to make memorable times with loved

intense, and a bit like Groundhog Day, so you need that

ones knowing that you’re going to be gone for another

kick of excitement for the next thing.

year. Our lifestyle is intense a lot of the time, so it’s nice to see family and friends. Other than that, I also have a

It seems mad that you can get to a stage where touring

studio which I rent, and in which I write music all the

feels like Groundhog Day.

time. For me, that’s where the sanity is. It’s just so hard to record demos whilst you’re on tour. It’s hard to keep that part of your brain ticking over you know.

T: Don’t get me wrong, touring is amazing! We’re good at

That’s why the antidote is writing something new; the

complaining about it! It’s all I want to do, but when it’s so

cycle begins again, and I start to view older songs as ideas

intensive, it can get heavy.

between the five of us at a different point in time. It gives them new meaning too. The older I get, the further away

C: Performing is exhausting. Night after night you’re

I get to the mindset of writing a song like ‘Big’. When I

trying to replicate a song for someone who is so connected

go back to playing those older songs I feel like a different

to you, and you want to give everyone the full experience.

person. On that first album, every muscle in our bodies

It’s shit to complain about it, because it’s the best thing to

was so tense!

be doing in the world, but there’s an emotional cost from putting yourself out there like we do.

T: Yeah, I was just playing as hard and fast as I could,

C: Definitely. To be able to write an amazing song with

you know. A lot of that tension and aggression came from

three chords on an acoustic guitar is the hardest thing.

wanting so hard to prove ourselves. You become more

Take The La’s for example, who were incredible at writing

relaxed once you have a few records under your belt.

simplistic songs. That’s the coolest thing to me, not complex shredding, but making people feel things from

There’s something to be said for the simplicity of the

simple structures. That’s what ‘Boys’ has achieved more

three-chord riff, like on ‘Boys In The Better Land’,

than any Fontaines song.

right? Do you enjoy continuing to play that song at each show?


Both: Yeah, definitely, 100%.

T: I hate being let down by a band who don’t perform the

Touring with Arctic Monkeys was a wild experience to

song which I really like. If people are paying money to

get my head around. You do get desensitised to it after a

come and see you, you owe it to them.

while, which is wild.

C: We’re all avid gig goers as well, so we’ve always

C: When I watch other bands play big arena shows, I get

constructed a show based on what we would want as fans.

nervous for them. Sometimes my palms get all sweaty. I

It’s always a mixture of old and new.

think it’s my own nerves stored up that I won’t let myself feel for our shows. When you’re so tuned into having to

How does it feel to walk out on stage at an arena show?

step out there, you completely ignore thinking about the crowd. Shove it deep down inside you, unhealthily or not!

T: I never thought it would be my life. It’s mental. Any pre-show rituals?

C: We’re like strange football players who don’t know

It kind of started during the Arctic Monkeys tour. A lot

how to warm up! A lot of jumping and shouting “woo!” at

of modern hip-hop, Deftones, Korn, Smashing Pumpkins.

each other…

Our ears were pricking up to different production styles and we liked the idea of approaching our songwriting as a

I wanted to circle back to ‘Romance’ a bit, and ask

band through a different filter.

about your influences for this record, which include Korn, Outkast, and Shygirl. Tell me a bit about these

T: The 90s influences on the album go way back to when I

new, and probably surprising references.

was a teenager. Something happens in your late 20s where you start circling back to the shit you were into at that age.

C: Yeah, it’s all music that we were listening to backstage

It’s really fun! I feel like I had rejected a lot of it in favour

before shows.

of ‘cool shit’ that you discover in your early 20s, like Can or Neu for example.

I can hear the 90s influences especially on ‘Sundowner’

Well, it’s one highlight amongst many off what will

which you sing on, Curley. Those mellotron lines

certainly be the biggest album of this year. Tell me

coupled with your shoegaze-y vocals give a kind of

about working with XL Recordings and moving on

Broadcast vibe, who you actually introduced me to via

from Partisan Records.

your What’s In My Bag. T: Partisan were fucking great, they put so much trust in C: No way! Wow, fuck yeah! That song was inspired by

us starting out as a band from Dublin with only six songs.

them a lot, man. I was also listening to Massive Attack

We owe so much to them. We just wanted to do something

and Portishead as well, which is all in the same realm.

different, you know, have a change. XL are such a historic

I think trip-hop is an exciting place to put yourself as a

label, with an incredible lineage. It was an easy choice to

songwriter, as you can lean into loads of different styles

go with them. Plus, we’re not a major label band.

and methods. It’s kind of just a cool way of being omnigenre. 19

Photo by Kalisha Quinlan

The music industry is a strange and unpredictable place,

T: *laughs * Yeah, yeah it’s gonna be really

where landing in the ears of a single listener can change

embarrassing… I guess we will never run into them

a band’s entire trajectory and lead them to places they never dreamed of. New York’s Monobloc are no stranger

Are you nervous?

to the industry’s fickle tricks of fate, emerging out of years of experimentation and discovery for its members,

T: I don’t know, we’ve never really played a festival

resulting in a project that is astoundingly intriguing and

before. We have been playing a lot of shows for sort of


industry people lately and it kind of feels like going up for a school talent show or something. So I’m really yearning

Forming out of the ashes of beloved indie rock project

to just play for normal music fans again * laughs *

Courier Club, Timothy Waldron and Michael Silverglade formed Monobloc with a desire to take everything they

Had you guys played a lot of live shows as a band

had learned to date and turn it on its head. Completing the

before you released your first single?

lineup with the addition of Zack Pockrose, Ben Scofield and Nina Lüders, the group began to experiment with

T: Yeah, we basically recorded our demo and used that to

their sound, freely throwing ideas around and seeing what

form the band. We played live for about six months before


releasing ‘I’m Just Trying To Love You’ because we were really nervous that if things went well and an opportunity

The resultant debut single ‘I’m Just Trying To Love You’

arises and then we just kinda suck live. Because we’re

broke through in a way they never anticipated. Suddenly

friends who’ve known each other for a while but we’d

Monobloc were launched into a world of hot tips and

never all played together, so we just played like crazy

industry chats, captivating audiences with their confident

with nothing out, just using connections from friends to

and unshakeably cool sound. We spoke to Michael and

be the first of three on a bill. So that six months was sort

Timothy about their whirlwind of a year and where they

of in the trenches, fixing everything, melding as a band.

think this wave of momentum will take them next.

And then when we felt like we were ready we put the song out and then stuff happened so it’s good that we learned

Lovely to meet you, I just saw that you’re playing the

*laughs *

LCD Soundsystem show, that’s pretty cool! And now you’re playing these showcases Timothy: Yeah, that’s gonna be wild. Honestly they’re one of my favourite bands. When I was 18 I got an LCD

T: Yeah, now we’re playing with LCD Soundsystem, so

Soundsystem tattoo because I thought it would be cool

that’s… fucking wild

and… it’s my most regrettable tattoo because I always said I was never going to get words tattooed on me and I got

It’s kind of funny really. We self put out ‘I’m Just Trying

the name of their DVD ‘Shut Up And Play The Hits’. I

To Love You’ and were very focused on the US and

thought it was really cool in the moment and now I’m like

growing in New York. And then somehow, which we’re

“uh, I’m gonna have to try and hide it from James Murphy

not really sure how it happened, there was a guy in Paris

if I see him”

who heard it, and then there was one person in the UK who heard it, and they were both in the industry.

You’re gonna be backstage hiding it

Words by Eve Boothroyd, illustration by Laura Simonati


They didn’t know each other but they really pushed us and

Do you find that as you build the lore and image of the

were like “can we show people this” and all of a sudden

band it is effecting your approach to making music?

it felt like the UK and France cared about Monobloc way more than New York did. I don’t know… we’ve been

M: I think with the songwriting process we have kind of

doing this for ten years so we’ve seen all of the pathways.

done it since the beginning. With this band we have a new

Like we’ve done the “let’s hop in a van and play to no one

approach to songwriting where it’s kind of made with the

forever” thing so this feels kind of... not real, like it’s a

vision of it being received down the line in mind. Each


song basically has a concept that is paired with it, which ties into the visuals too… everything is kind of connected

Is there anything that you learnt from those previous experiences that you brought to this project?

T: Yeah, when a song is being created you’re instantly thinking “how is the video going to look, if we’re playing

Michael: Kind of everything I think. Me and Tim played

this live how is the room gonna feel”. We set a lot of rules

in a band before and that was kind of where we made a

with the songwriting, we’re very minimal with everything.

lot of mistakes and learned what to do and what not to do.

The way we actually write the songs is that we throw

And then when we started Monobloc we had the vision

everything on the canvas and make this really muddy

from day one like “this is the Monobloc sound, this is

mess of a song, and then we sort through the madness and

the Monobloc visual direction, this is how we wanna

slowly carve it down into what needs to be there. I took a

do everything.” I think that is why it is connecting with

painting course once that changed my whole view of it…

people the way that it is, because we had all this time to

I’m very bad at painting but I was kind of like “wait, you

kind of figure out what a band with the two of us is

guys aren’t doing everything perfectly you’re just painting over it and blending later on?” and I realised I should start doing music like that, and being less rigid from the start.

T: For the first time in Monobloc it felt like the idea that we were trying to present was being fully received and that’s been the first time that has ever happened for us

What was the process like behind ‘I’m Just Trying To

where it is such a clear identity. I think a big thing is

Love You’?

playing on things that are very “classic” and then toying with them, putting something in there that shouldn’t be

M: I think with that song it was the first one where we

there but makes sense to the modern viewer.

used one of our guidelines for songwriting which is having a lot of depth and texture with minimal instrumentation.

Do you see this as something beyond a music project?

If I remember correctly I think that was when we kind of came up with that line because there are synths and

T: I always say for a live band that it’s 50% visual 50%

violins and drums but the bassline is the same four notes

music, because the audience are watching the people

on a loop and one of the guitars is also a loop. So we were

play. It’s always been really important to me and I have

kind of taking these really simple parts and looping them

kind of gravitated towards bands that put a lot of work

in really interesting ways and got this song we really liked

into that and gives you a nice world to live in, like a kind

from that. So we took these ideas of writing and started to

of ambient cushion around everything. I just really like

apply them to other ideas we had.

creating the lore…. So I guess in a way we are trying to create things musically and visually, but at the end of the day we are a band, we’re not trying to be gallery artists or anything



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Speaking to Zach Choy and Aleem Kham of Crack

Z: A couple of us have moved back to Calgary, Alberta.

Cloud through a digital aid about coming to terms

Red Mile absolutely is the local reference, although I

with the histories that precede them, both personally

don’t think that we had really intended on that being a

and musically; considering the nature of home and

focal point or an influence on why we came up with the

the inspiring emptiness of the Mojave Desert. With

name. There’s a certain extraction to it, a certain kind of

their upcoming release, ‘Red Mile’, Crack Cloud have

inside notion that we got a lot of joy from, but it’s not

reflected and looked inwards; after years on the road and

necessarily what we are interested in broadcasting as

changing dynamics within the collective. The album came

far as emphasising Calgary specifically. Maybe there’s

together organically and with urgency, with consideration

something arbitrary about what we consider home. Just

of past experiences, cementing their shared feelings

the existential-ness of trying to identify what that is.

and discoursing possible contingencies; a spiritual

When you’re touring five months of the year that becomes

symbiosis. The signature of Crack Cloud is clearly written

especially something that you’re contemplating. That lack

throughout, without reproducing their previous sounds,

of stability definitely inspired both the move as well as

this album is different – succinct and fervently direct. It

the sound of the album and our approach to everything. I

sonically floats with softness, removing reticence, the

would say everything was in unison of each other in a way

music becomes an honest cleansing that is in harmony

where it’s only in retrospect, do we realise that everything

with lyrics which are spat to the front. Merging collective

kind of had a relationship decision wise, artistic wise.

woes and universal emotions, ‘Red Mile’ is a tribute to Signing to Jagjaguwar, does that change your

humanity in our current conjecture.

philosophy as a collective or your creative process? You’ve previously said that interviews are whack, as they tokenise candid conversations. How can I,

Z: Creatively it hasn’t changed our trajectory in any way,

interviewers, the media in general create respectful,

they’ve been incredibly supportive. I think that they

honest environments?

knew what they were signing up for before they even propositioned us. It is just sustainability at the end of the

Zach: I think it’s just a paradox altogether that we

day. Ultimately what made us come to terms with trying

voluntarily participate in. The issue is that we aren’t who

to reconcile with the industry in a more normalised way.

we were a year ago, two years ago, three years ago. So,

There’s definitely a method to our madness that for better

we are just signing up to cement our feelings, our just

or worse has constituted how we have made things. The

general sense of the world based on the experiences that

label helped us concentrate our energies in a way that is

we have at the moment, but it is a cringe thing when you

healthier and more conducive to living a life outside of

look back, for lack of a better description. It is part of

the creative process which is important. So, pragmatism

life and there’s no shame in it really; we have reconciled


with the whole institution, and like why we decide to do these interviews. There’s something beautiful if not

At a gig I went to, you said – “this is a project built

fallible about documenting the moment; the same can be

on gratitude”. How has the meaning of making music

said about art in general, the sounds that we create and our

changed for you? Is it still a confrontation with

visual identity is always changing, so why shy away from

rehabilitation and collective recovery?

spoken-word and thoughts, even if they’re fleeting. It is a way of archiving our experiences and what this generation

Z: The collective rehab thing, that was kind of an

looks like from our corner of the world.

experiment, and it didn’t exactly manifest in the most utopian ways that you would hope for when you look at

Between the Mojave and relocating back to Calgary,

Crack Cloud as a concept or an entity from a distance.

the Red Mile. Did these changes enable the album, or were they consequences of its creation? Words by Teddy Maloney, illustration by Yuka Masuko


We’ve gone through a lot of turbulence and I think that’s

A: Yes, I’d say maturity, instilling the idea of starting from

something natural to growing up. With the history of

scratch and the willingness to be vulnerable.

where a lot of us come from, that intersectionality of

Over there the desert is very barren. Every morning I was

hosting a wide range of personalities there has been

forced to deal with everything that was in my mind and

a lot of flux. I would say being creative is always a

that absolutely went into the music, that introspection.

gratifying process, in the same token a confrontational process, sometimes I wonder if those emotions need

Z: There’s a reason why it has the association that it

to be separated. Maybe how I would describe Crack

does. Like you say, that elemental effect on how we were

Cloud, never a linear eureka process. There is of course

writing, discoursing with each other; it slows you right

a privilege to even have a platform to broadcast these

down, that’s what we were really looking for after a

things. In the beginning it was just a journal entry of sorts.

turbulent year prior to.

For it to proliferate in a way, it is being influenced or The album references tropes of being a rock n roll star,

enjoyed by other people is always surreal.

how can the modern era reimagine the rock star? Aleem: To add to the aspect of gratitude, to wake up the next day is one of the biggest blessings I think we all

Z: This album, a lot of the subtext is very much an


investigation of the constructs that we derive from, that we are actively engaged with. Going with the intuition

Once an outwards lens in ‘Tough Baby’, what

of history and culture, our own sense of self and trying

instigated the return to inwardness, an inner

to follow it in a way that is curious, aware and takes into


consideration the whole history.

Z: I think the timing of ‘Tough Baby’ had a lot of sway

Being in a collective, does that stem from a collective

on how that album was constructed. ‘Tough Baby’ was

organisation structure you made initially or the music

a Covid Baby, it was infinite time. I think maybe a lot

itself makes the collective power structure possible?

of ego, in terms of nothing was feeling like a restraint on how we were interfacing with the medium, music

Z: I’d say it comes from an obsessiveness. The way its

specifically. It’s kind of self-deprecating to continue to

configured at this point, we all have a really good sense

reiterate but we have been doing this for a decade, some

of each other’s sensibilities. It is a synergy or a symbiotic

of us are entering parenthood. There was this urgency to

relationship with each other where we can communicate in

check ourselves, in terms of self-restraint this time. The

these very specific ways. I think that this album is a true

inwardness that you speak of really comes from the prior

execution of that.

year of climaxing on the road, a lot of inner turmoil within the group, a lot of changes as far as reconciling with the

A: This is an investigation, an experiment and meditation

idea that throughout life the people that you love the most

on the history of where we come from.

aren’t always on the same trajectory. All of that played into a bit of frugality and timidness, kind of like an ego-

What is the purpose of Crack Cloud? What, if there is,

death that preceded the album; not really knowing what

the political or philosophical message for the youth?

the fuck we were anymore, artistically speaking. There was something really beautiful about Joshua Tree, where

Z: There’s an intuition, but I think especially now more

we predominantly recorded the album. It’s a literal desert

than ever we are reluctant to associate or prescribe any

landscape, complete isolation and that environment really

idealism or ideology to ourselves.

reinforced those feelings for us. A: It’s the quote, “You belong somewhere, find out where You mention quite clearly the elemental effect of the

you belong, it is your choice”. I’ve felt extremely thankful

Mojave, did it aid in making the decision to create a

to meet everybody who has and continues to collaborate

more ‘stripped back’ album?

with us. That’s where I feel like I belong, and I don’t fucking want to do anything else.


Crack Cloud

Across the span of little more than a year, London three-

We like the idea of playing with extremes and the

piece Ebbb have been moving quickly. Starting out, as

‘unexpected’. We like bands that create an intensity

many do, playing to rapidly filling rooms across London’s

through guitar music, but we liked the idea of combining

grassroots venues, it didn’t take long for the band’s name

more delicate / melodic elements with high intensity

to take its hold on UK/Europe-wide festival bills and for

production and the added heaviness and energy of live

labels to clamber on top of each other for their prized


signature. Eventually putting their names with Ninja Tune, the band’s debut EP ‘All At Once’ lands this summer,

Having all had experience previously in bands, what

letting the proverbial cat out of its synth-lined bag, and

were the major lessons you’d learnt from trying to

doing its darned best to ensure that one of the best kept

‘make it’ with previous projects when kicking things

secrets of the last 12 months might not be so well kept any

off with Ebbb?

longer. Their almost immediate rise has been impressive but hardly surprising. Founding themselves on a heart-

I think the lessons we’ve learned are purely musical.

stopping live show, the blend of Ebbb’s three distinct

We didn’t think about anything apart from creating the

moving parts is as magically compelling as it is daringly

music we felt we wanted to hear ourselves. In terms of

unique. Scott MacDonald’s pounding drums bore into

our previous experience, I think that it’s the gelling of

the earth and dig up the biggest, most dazzling jewels.

our very different musical backgrounds that has created

Lev Ceylan’s glittering, sublimely orchestrated, “Fat

something we feel is singular.

Free” productions veer this way and that: as concise and tightly wrought as imagist poetry (songs never stray much

Publicly, you made a point of staying mysterious -

longer than 3 minutes) but as bold and momentous as any

not showing your faces online, until you had a track

time-honoured epic. And lastly, by no means least, Will

released. What were your intentions behind creating

Rowland’s dazzling choric tenor, floating above it all like

this illusion of an ‘enigma’?

a skylark, adding a wrenching sense of humanity to all the synthetic calculations whirring beneath him.

We wanted it to be solely about the music - for people to have to come to the live shows to see what it is all

Part synth-pop, part-art-pop, part techno, part who-gives-

about, and make up their mind based on nothing but the

a-fuck-what-it-is-this-rules, the band describe themselves


as “Death Grips meets Brian Wilson” but in all honestly, Ebbb’s real truths lie in the ears of their beholders.

Did you expect the Ebbb project to take off as quickly

Sometimes it sounds like the prettiest thing in the

as it has done? Or did you have these ambitions from

unknown universe, and at other times - as I might shout

the outset - to gig loads, pitch demos, not release

semi-drunkenly in a friend’s ear during one of their sets -

music, etc.? In many ways, it’s the current model of

it sounds like absolute ‘filth’. To shed further light on this

progression for a lot of London indie bands at the

elusive tale, we emailed Ebbb a few questions for them


to chew on. And in return, we learnt what links them, The Smile and JPEGMAFIA, plus much else besides.

We’ve been really pleasantly surprised by the quick progression of things. I guess anything external to the

I’m interested in how the idea for this project began.

music is out of our control - we’ve just focused very

The ‘ice’ and ‘fire’ tension between cold, clinical

carefully on building a set list and live show we believe

electronic beats and Will’s ethereal vocal lies at the


core of what makes Ebbb tick. What brought these two elements together?

There’s a discrepancy between the hardness of your live shows, and the delicacy of your recordings.


Words by Elvis Thirlwell, illustration by Victoria Nikolova

They feel like distinctly separate experiences. There’s

It’s easy to get carried away and sometimes less is more.

no live drums on the EP for instance. Is this a gap that will continue to be maintained, or something you’re

Despite operating in a genre that often lends itself

looking to close heading into future releases?

towards longer, more developed compositions, your music is striking for its very brevity, with tracks never

We love the idea of the live show and the recorded

longer than 3-4 minutes. Why do you think you are

medium being a separate and a distinct experience. It’s

drawn to a shorter, more conventionally ‘pop’ song

cool to give headroom for extra intensity live.


Are there other acts you look up to as achieving this

To build on the previous answer, we’ve always liked the

particular balance well?

songs to be snappy. We like the idea of writing ‘fat free’ music, in which every second counts, and there’s no

It seems a lot of artists who have a more electronic

wasted moment in a song.

approach to recording face the conundrum of how to convert their music into a live set. We respect different

Let’s talk more about the ‘All at Once’ EP. What would

approaches; FKA Twigs’ use of sample pads in the past,

you say are the themes overarching the record?

Björk who’s played with a live chamber orchestra here and there, and the simplicity of someone like JPEGMAFIA’s

There aren’t any particular overarching lyrical or musical

live approach. We’re happy to have got to a point where

themes on the EP. It’s more a showcase of who we are, and

rather than feeling we are simply ‘fixing’ the technical

the kind of musical territory we like to delve into and will

issue of translating an electronic track to live, we get

continue to on future releases.

creative satisfaction out of the process. What kind of decisions did you have to make when The live shows have progressed quite far since you

deciding which songs to put on your first major release,

started out, especially your performances Will, which

and which ones to put to one side for later? What kind

have noticeably grown more energetic and wild. How

of ‘experience’, or impact, are you hoping to achieve

have you developed your approach to being the vocalist

with the 5 songs you eventually chose?

and effective ‘Frontman’ of the band? We wanted the EP to be as well-rounded as possible, I feel like I’ve definitely grown into the role, and perhaps

and for each song to represent a different side of us. We

I didn’t know how to respond physically to the music at

wanted to keep the listener on their toes as the EP often

first as it was new territory for me. I’ve previously been a

veers into the unexpected.

frontman in bands, but always whilst playing keyboards, so never had the freedom to flail around. I guess the

What’s been the craziest, ‘pinch me’ moment of the

ultimate goal is to rid myself of all self-consciousness and

last 12 months. Things have been moving very quickly.

just respond to the music in a natural and instinctive way.

I first saw you last summer playing the George on a sunday to like 30 people, and now you’re supporting

What were the main difficulties or challenges in

the Smile. What the fuck?!

committing Ebbb to record for the first time? Yeah obviously The Smile is a big one - we are very Ebbb started off as a recorded project with us making

hyped. Securing a record deal with Ninja Tune was a huge

demos in Lev’s room, and we decided to play live after

moment, and just getting the opportunity to play bigger

we’d recorded several songs. We feel the songwriting has

stages across the UK and Europe.

definitely grown and become more coherent as time’s gone on. Because the EP is electronic and therefore so open-

What are you most excited about for the rest of 2024?

ended in scope, one of the biggest challenges is knowing when to stop adding layers and musical ideas. 37

Releasing the EP and seeing what follows! Ebbb

As much as musical trends may go through changes at the

Can you tell me a little bit about the themes behind it

speed of light, people are always going to want to have

and what resonated with you about Ursula Le Guin’s

something to dance to. While the music that London duo

The Dispossessed - why did you want to write a song

The Itch make would sound foreign in a ballroom, it finds

delving into that?

itself a comfortable home in the dingy basement disco, with its consistently pulsating rhythms and decidedly 80s

Simon: It’s not like sci-fi has much of an influence per se,

synths that vibrantly bounce around.

but I think Ursula Le Guin stands out to me for being in a genre that’s saturated with dystopias and doom-and-gloom

Much of why The Itch have enjoyed such a bright start to

prophesying on the state of the world. It’s quite interesting

their existence is down to the kinetic relationship of its

that she writes a lot about attempts at utopia, and with the

two members, Simon Tyrie and Georgia Hardy. Friends

state of the world right now being in such a bad way, it

since their teenage years, they’ve spent almost a decade

seemed interesting to me to write from that angle rather

flirting with various ideas and projects together that have

than focusing on the negatives.

all shaped where they find themselves now, and their pursuit of this sound is paying off in remarkable fashion.

Do you feel it’s interesting seeing utopian fiction that was written 50 years ago and comparing it to what we

With just one single in ‘Ursula’ to their name so far,

actually see now? Do you think there are similarities

the majority of buzz has arisen through their live

between what she wrote and we’re experiencing?

performances, which have come thick and fast and featured a rotating cast of additional members. It’s clear

S: I mean not necessarily, but I did feel there were

that there’s a more grand vision at play here and that

parallels to be drawn with that book in particular because

we’ve only been privy to a fraction of it so far, but the

the protagonists are striving for a better world and

band were eager to discuss everything that’s happened so

constantly coming up against cultural hurdles with this

far and what can be expected down the line.

other planet. I’m not gonna delve too deeply into the book’s plot, but I do feel like there are always parallels to

‘Ursula’ has been out for a couple of months now - how

be drawn there because there are always people trying to

have you found the response to putting out your debut

change the world for the better and always being met with


ridicule and hatred.

Georgia: It’s been really good. We weren’t sure what the

There’s some satirical commentary in the unreleased

reaction would be considering it’s a seven minute long

songs. Have you always found that a style in which you

song, but we wanted to just show another side to the band.

enjoy writing?

The live show is very dancey and fun, but we wanted this first single to show that there’s a seriousness to the music as well.

Words by Reuben Cross, illustration by Cassady Moll


ST: It’s not really that much of a conscious thing. It’s

It’s like the famous Mark E Smith quote, “if it’s me

just a habitual reflex. Maybe that’s just the first place my

and your granny on bongos, it’s The Fall”.

brain goes to a lot of the time without even realising it’s a satirical point of view. Half the time if a lyric comes

S: I’d like to think that we’ve been a bit less chaotic

across as funny, it wasn’t even my intention.

than Mark E Smith, but yeah, [the rotating lineup] isn’t something we want to spend 20 years doing. One year is

Some tracks definitely do feel like you’re poking fun at


things in a tongue-in-cheek way… The two of you came together in your hometown and ST: 100%, it would be hypocritical the way that we talk

you’ve said that you immediately started exchanging

about the people we’re targeting. We’ve made music in the

ideas. I wondered what those were and how that

past that has kind of fallen into post punk and whatever,

evolved over time to draw you towards the music

and it’s almost less of an attack on other people and more

you’re making now?

of a kind of like slapping myself in the face kind of thing. If you over-listen to stuff and if you overdo something

S: We’ve collaborated on loads of different things;

yourself, you get sick of it. Sometimes it’s just healthy as

obviously music and putting on club nights and movie

an artist to just move on.

nights. We’ve always had a lot of ideas and it’s something we want to carry on doing. One of the first club nights we

Through moving on from previous projects, what kind

put on was a jazz night, it was kind of beat-inspired and

of creative freedoms have you found yourself with?

that was one of the things we bonded over. At that time we were listening to different kinds of stuff - Georgia was

G: I think we just wanted to do something with a bit more

really into Deftones and stuff like that, and I was more

diversity that could be a bit more malleable to change.

into Pitchfork-y stuff like Four Tet and Radiohead. It was

We had an agenda with the last band and we felt like we

good sharing that knowledge and I think that’s also a big

achieved that, but we wanted to do something we can

part of why it’s ended up being the defining sound of what

see ourselves doing long-term that has the ability to shift

we’re chasing, which is this disco rock kind of thing.

genres and perspective as we go along. Playing live we just wanted it to be more of a party and work with lots of

Going back to the live show - because you’re going

different people. For the first like six months it was new

for that disco rock thing, do you have a preference on

members every single time. We’d confirm shows and then

the sort of places you’re playing or do you feel that

just see out of our friends who was free and who was up

your music is quite flexible in terms of where it’s best

for it.


Do you think that’s partly why people have been

S: We’ve only done one headline, but going forwards we

getting so excited about the live shows because they can

want to try and do more venues suited for dance music.

expect something completely different every time?

When we played Electric Ballroom recently, it went down great and it felt like we were at home playing on

S: I don’t really know what people expected, but everyone

that stage, but equally I think we’d love to play sweaty

that’s played with us has been amazing. We’ve been really

basements and clubs.

lucky to play with lots of really great musicians, so no matter who has been playing with us, it’s always been a really great event. It’s almost a shame we can’t physically have every single person that’s ever played with us on stage because they’re all so good.


The Itch

When writing the songs, was there anything in

That’s not saying we don’t want to work with other

particular that ran through as a common influence?

people, because we do, but I think we would never just hand over our recordings to a producer without our say.

G: I think when we were writing these songs we were

I think pretty much all of my favourite music is produced

listening to a lot of Caroline Polachek and Alex G. In that

or co-produced by the artists themselves. Music that has

stuff we were finding really exciting production elements

the artist’s touch the whole way through makes a bolder

that inspired The Itch’s sound a bit more.

statement a lot of the time.

S: Their focus is quite studio-centred whereas our focus

Anything else that you’re excited about for this year?

has obviously been live, but something we want to look into with the album is separating it from the live side.

S: We’re just really excited to crack on with releasing more music into the world, connecting with more people

How much have you learned through what you’ve done

and hopefully collaborating with different people as well.

so far about how you want to set the studio side up?

We’re keeping a tight lid on what we want to be doing right now, but we’re generally excited about the way

G: At the minute, we record and produce everything

things are going.

ourselves which I think is quite important.


It’s becoming increasingly common for artists across the

Bill: We’ve been rehearsing pretty intensively for around

British Isles to lean proudly into their heritage. There’s

six months and the songs that are in the set are the first

been a vivid sense of majesty and wonder as names like

things we’ve written. We’ve gone through a period of

Lankum, Brogeal and even The Mary Wallopers have

chucking things out and putting new songs in, but we

crept into mainstream spaces, proudly bringing all of their

wanted to have a solid half an hour of music before we

musical roots and traditions with them. During a time

played live. We wanted to do a handful of shows to make

when there’s an awful lot to be worried about in the world,

sure it all clicks as a band. But there was an element from

it’s been a breath of fresh air hearing something unifying

the off that it did feel like it was ready. The first show we

and celebratory.

played was at The Old Dispensary in Camberwell and it instantly felt good.

Having laid their foundations for their band in and around a Camberwell boozer, it would be a disservice to say Mên

It’s the old saying of where all good ideas start, but you

An Tol are the latest gang to find joy by picking through

guys came together in the orbit of a certain pub right,

their roots. That’s perhaps because their approach feels

was it quite an natural process then?

less deliberate and a little more organic than that. With vocalist Bill Jefferson plucking the band’s name from a

Tom: So we’ve all been very closely linked to this pub

famous landmark in his native Cornwall, the soul of his

in some way or another whether that’s working there or

writing was found early on in his journey as an artist after

living above it. All of the songs stemmed from here. Our

he learnt his craft playing folk sessions in and around the

first song and mission statement ‘NW1’ was written when

local pubs.

we were living in the flat above it. That song started in the building so it all centred around that. It was just the place

“That’s where I found my love for music and writing

where we all hung out and worked, we all became mates

songs,” he explains. “Those old school folk songs really

through that and we didn’t overthink anything, it was just

tell a story and there’s no fat on there, there’s nothing

about getting to know each other and start writing songs.

wishy-washy about it. I think that’s where the love and the artistry of writing a song comes from.” Though there’s

I guess it afforded you guys a bit of freedom away from

no recorded material out there to date from the five-piece

the pressure of rehearsal spaces and studios across that

who are completed by Felix Knox (Mandolin), Max

sixth month incubation period?

Silvey (Bass), Robert Wiseman (Guitar) and Tom Stevens (Drums), when it comes, you can’t help but feel it will

B: Yeah, it would literally be like ‘oh, I start at half four,

take them straight to the mainstages, and as we find out,

let’s get a couple hours of practice in before that’. We

they’re about to back themselves as well.

weren’t necessarily all in the same room together from the beginning, people would come and go and we’d work

It’s hardly rare for a band to arrive without any

through stuff. It has worked well, we’ve been able to

recorded material, but judging by the direction of

make a living while staying in London but also have this

your live shows, you’ve been working hard behind the

creative outlet to express ourselves through.



Words by Rhys Buchanan, illustration by REN

It does take a certain type of person to work in a busy

It does feel like music that’s capable of connecting

boozer, it gives you a bit of life experience and you

on a mass scale - almost like The Levellers or The

need to have a bit of work ethic about you to do so…

Waterboys in front of thousands of hippies at Glasto in the nineties…

B: Totally, even just working in this pub it’s almost like a national service. You’ll meet some people on a busy

T: We’ve always said that we want to go straight onto the

Friday or Saturday night and you can just tell they’ve

big stages playing to as many people as possible and we

never had to do a day’s work in their life. It definitely

don’t feel shy about saying that. We want to do it because

grounds you, but on the flipside you also overhear great

it does feel like it’s right and people are connecting to it.

stories and you deal with people all of the time. You get

I also feel like the timing is quite good for this type of

the sense of a community which you don’t get when you

music, it feels quite unpretentious and it doesn’t buy into

just work in an office somewhere, so that really feeds into

trends. We’re not trying to sound like anyone else on the

the writing process.

London scene. I mean we love bands like The Verve, Oasis and The Sundays but then also all of the folk stuff. We’re

A lot of band’s across the British Isles are leaning

trying to be the band we want to see.

proudly into their heritage at the moment from Ireland to Scotland and Wales, but we haven’t necessarily

At the same time it does feel like a band of the now as

heard it from an English standpoint as of yet which is


really interesting… BJ: We’re trying to write a song as good or better than B: I think we’ve all got a deep respect for all of these folk

some of our influences. Sonically of course they’re going

artists from decades gone by whether that’s Irish, English,

to chime through but then when you bring the likes of a

Scottish or whatever. I’ve always felt like someone needed

mandolin into the mix, it starts to have our own stamp on

to come at it from an angle of how that music would have

it. That instrument really frees us up because we don’t

sounded then to people. At the time traditional folk music

have these big cliched guitars in there as a textural thing.

sounded exciting and new and just like music, not some

It helps us build up a landscape and an atmosphere without

fun pastiche. That was our angle, we wanted to write

these rogue parts for the sake of it.

songs that people could relate to and sing-along to that are about people. Our listeners might not pick up on the folk

Even away from music, with the emergence of zines

element in the genre sense but it’s kind of the soul of the

like Weird Walk, there is a growing appetite to get

music rather than the dressing.

out there and connect with England and its traditions. It’s a reminder there are elements of this country to

It doesn’t feel forced or on the nose, it’s almost like

explore and be proud of away from all of the crap…

a deeper thing, did you become aware of the fact you were all on the same page quite quickly?

B: That’s completely hit the nail on the head really - with songs like ‘This Land’, it can all be a bit doom and gloom

B: I think we did, one of the first things we spoke about

at the moment and it’s an embarrassment to be English

was the music of Mick Jones. I don’t think I’d met anyone

with so much shit going on. I mean that’s good but I don’t

who could name individual tracks and name specific

think you need to hear about it through art that much. I’d

things that we like about him and his music. I guess it is

rather find a bit of escapism and optimism and celebrate

deeply rooted in our tastes in music. We could quickly see

it for what the country is as well. Almost with a young

where the power within the band was. It was about leaning

generation we can reclaim this country and celebrate that.

into those strengths and that gave us a real momentum. We

There is a unifying message behind our music and we

basically wrote ‘NW1’ and that set the tone of where we

want to promote that for sure.

were going.


Mên An Tol

What do you make of the more politically-driven punk bands then… B: I mean you can always just choose not to listen to it but it’s not for me. It’s also a bit reductionary as well, it’s better to talk about things in a more nuanced way than just shouting newspaper headlines. It’s like, we all get it, but we don’t need anymore white angry men in bands shouting about it. T: It’s also often celebrated as if people are saying something really profound. A lot of stuff like that does feel like a bit of a cop-out, like you can write a few words and then just bark it. We’re not trying to say ‘we’re cleverer than you’ or anything, we just hope to offer something that people can grab hold of and take into their hearts. We want to appeal to everyone. When you’re making such soul-stirring music you almost have no choice but to say something a little more nuanced or different, was lyricism going to be important from the outset? B: With the likes of ‘This Land’, the melody just felt quite grand so it needed to have something bigger backing it lyrically. It’s about this unifying feeling of people coming together. It’s about this country and how good it can be. There are bits of melody in there that come from an old Scottish jacobite tune as well, we try to take those melodies and messages and work it into something. It was in the DNA of the melody to really make it about people. Just to round up on, what’s the action plan, hopefully you’re not going to keep us waiting for recorded material for a year like many have recently? T: Yeah we’re hoping to get one track out in the next couple of month’s at least. The whole thing has been quite considered, we’ve taken our time to get the songs to where we want them and play the shows we want to do, all on our own terms. So we’ve waited a little bit but now it’s about getting going so watch this space!



In a world where phones serve as their owners’ eyes at

What music are you drawn to on these nights?

gigs these days, there’s a malaise amongst audiences whose views are now blocked by a sea of screens. But for

J: We’re all drawn to a lot of stuff that inspires Fcukers.

Fcukers, they simply encourage one to look elsewhere, to

Anything from 90s house, to Italo to Balearic to soul.

find spaces free of flashing red recording circles and white numbered time stamps. If it makes people happy, each to

You’ve spoken a lot about 90s house as an influence,

their own.

but there are so many facets of the genre, even in the United States alone. Can you go into specifics?

This nonchalant emphasis on personal fulfilment informs all facets of Fcukers. Shanny Wise (vocals), Jackson

J: One thing that’s been forgotten in this generational

Walker Lewis (production and live instrumentation) and

overchange is how important New York house was in the

Ben Scharf (beats) didn’t start playing together for fame

90s. House is from Chicago, techno from Detroit but NY

or celebrity - they want to create music that shines a light

dance music in the 90s was heavily inspired by freestyle

on the forgotten niches of 90s New York house music and

Puerto Rican music, and then hip-hop house after that. A

have a good time whilst doing it.

lot of people forget Armand van Helden was a 90s New York DJ first - he just had more chart success across the

Electronic music has been rising on the tides of the indie

pond. Same with Todd Edwards. Other DJs from that

mainstream previously dominated by guitars. Though the

period include Louie Vega, Todd Terry, Kenny Dope and

word ‘indie’ might make music listeners scrunch up their

Junior Sanchez. Who are we to say that we’re carrying

nose in disdain (nb. such disdain is often accompanied

on that legacy? What we can say is that we’re shedding a

by an unfortunate case of memory loss regarding the

light on that music. It’s also important to remember that

individual’s adolescent music tastes), it seems as though

other NY DJs like David Morales and Roger Sanchez were

the growing acknowledgment of electronic indie music

in serious rotation at the Haçienda!

is serving to reinvent this word as a big, Fat (Dog) complement. Just think about Jockstrap, Mandy Indiana,

Even our production references this music, albeit

Lice, Fcukers. People need to dance, to let themselves go,

unintentional. After meeting Junior Sanchez when he

whether that be a solo or communal mission. Either way,

remixed ‘Mothers’ and ‘Devils Cut,’ we realised that

Fcukers’ are here to further that journey.

our analogue way of recording was exactly how DJs like Basement Jaxx were doing it in the 90s.

What makes for a good night out? Jackson: Going somewhere with good friends where the music’s the most important thing.

Words by Poppy Richler, illustration by Cécile Cuny


If you think about those two Fcukers tracks remixed by

J: For me, when you look back on music you’ve made

Junior Sanchez, then also about James Murphy’s ‘Los

a while ago, the happy accident is that the song even

Angeles’ which you remixed, what’s the key to a good

got written. In ‘Mothers’ there’s a sample from ‘Cosmic


Dawn/Eighth Dimension’ by Salami Rose Joe Louis, but if you asked me how I did that today I probably couldn’t

J: It’s funny because it flips. When you’re getting your

tell you. It would sound completely different. We’re lucky

own track remixed, you want it to be a beefed up version

because there’s been a dance and house music comeback

- you don’t want someone to shred it to pieces and do

over the past few years. Especially when we put out those

an Andrew Weatherall/Primal Scream gutting. But when

first two singles, they were on the earlier crest of that

we’re remixing someone else’s song, I like to gut it and

indie house wave.

barely keep anything. For example, in that James Murphy track, the only stem I kept was a single vocal loop that

Compared to your previous releases, your most recent

didn’t even come from the chorus. But it also depends on

track ‘Bon Bon’ seems heavier in terms of the bassline.

the song - if there’s a hot bassline, use that.

Does this signify the direction your music is moving in?

Speaking of other people’s songs - what was it about

J: We definitely pivoted a bit. With our EP that’s coming

‘Devil’s Haircut’ by Beck that made you want to

out in September, we wanted to show a different range of

reimagine it?

music. Another influence for us is Big Beat from the 90s artists like Fatboy Slim and Groove Armada. I’d be lying

J: Me and Shanny were hanging out one night, talking

if I said ‘Superstylin’’ by Groove Armada isn’t a reference

about ‘Homie Don’t Shake,’ our next single. It has a bit

for that track. We’ve always said to ourselves ‘fuck it,

of a ‘Devil’s Haircut’ riff and that got me wondering if

follow our curiosity, anything goes.’ This new EP also has

there was a good house remix of the song. All I could find

a veiled Caribbean vibe because Shanny goes to Jamaica

was a lot of down tempo edits. I was also watching this

a lot.

documentary on Dadaism, and Duchamp’s Fountain made me think of the relationship between readymades and

Shanny - compared to your indie projects in the past,

remixes: with remixes you’re repackaging something that

is there a different way you approach writing lyrics for

already exists. It was 4am and I was watching this video

electronic music?

of Underworld live, asking myself - what if we just added piano to the middle of the Beck track for no reason?

S: Yes and no - for everything there’s always the thought of intention. But with Fcukers, the lyrics are a bit more

Last year you booked a gig at Baby’s All Right in

outside the box compared to previous work I’ve done. I

Brooklyn as an impetus to finish your debut tracks

like using different words and sounds, different syllables,

(‘Mothers’ and ‘Devil’s Cut’). Does that time pressure

instead of focusing on a poem or story. It’s fun because

come across in the songs and were there any happy

with Fcukers there are no rules - we make songs that are

accidents happen as a result?

fun, and that fun comes from the lyrics too. They don’t have to make too much sense or be grammatically correct.

Shanny: It was very much a ‘hey can you come over we need to finish the track ASAP. Fuck we need an album

Was it always clear how this music would translate into

cover, what can we do?’ So we went to the passport photo

a live setting?

shop, took one photo, thought ‘ok that’s good’ and then it was done. There was no time to overthink the process in terms of both the artwork and recording.



Ben: It wasn’t ever obvious, but the main things we had to ask ourselves were firstly about which bits we had to copy and reinforce, but then also how to push or pull the song in different ways to make it more exciting on stage.This was different to the writing process which was very much first thought, best thought. Is it right to say that you prefer to put on ‘parties’ as opposed to ‘gigs?’ J: 100%. From the outset, all three of us had come from indie band backgrounds. There’s this venue in New York called the Mercury Lounge - the city’s oldest venue where everyone plays. I’ve worked as a sound engineer, booker and DJ, and I remember realising that you don’t have to play at 9pm at Mercury Lounge. You can find an empty pool and play there at midnight. As soon as you get your head out of the conventions, there are no limits. And in the nightclub world, those conventions don’t exist - do crazy shit and hopefully people come. B: It’s like world building - when Jackson chooses these crazy venues, he’s literally creating a map of unconventional venues for our fans. Your gigs clearly make people move, but what songs get you moving? S: ‘Catch Ya!’ - Omar S. J: ‘So In Love With You’ - Duke. B: Any 70s disco soul. What are you up to next? S: Up to no good!



Emerging from London’s shadowy burrows, a new band of

E: I haven’t done it in a long time, but I used to be able to

five scurries through moonlit alleys. With their debut EP,

bounce a cigarette off the top string of the guitar into my

‘fox hours’, triage sinks their teeth into a constant tension,


capturing gothic slacker rock that can only be described as teetering on the edge of disorder. Primarily recorded at

S: I can make a back bridge.

Press Play Studios under the guidance of Sterolab’s Andy Ramsay, ‘fox hours’ was nurtured in the anxious company

O: I can drink and just not get drunk.

of nocturnal life and into the quietude of dawn. In the wake of releasing said EP and fresh off a tour

What was the first album you owned?

supporting friends bar italia, I had the pleasure of chatting with Emily (vocals), Siam (vocals/guitar), Orazio (guitar),

O: It was either ‘Room On Fire’ by The Strokes or it was

Bella (bass), and Dave (drums) to delve into the beginning

actually a bootleg of the Gorillaz first album.

chapters of triage. S: Mine was probably ‘Seeing Sounds’ by N.E.R.D As this is your first interview as a band, I thought we could start with some quick-fire questions to help ease

E: Growing up, I didn’t really have access to music easily.

you in. What was the last thing you listened to?

I had two CDs, and one of them was—they were both gifted to me—Miley Cyrus’ ‘The Climb’, her debut album.

Bella: Kurt Vile’s ‘Wakin on a Pretty Day’. Nine minutes long. Great guitars. Great song.

B: My mum gave me all her vinyl and then took it back, but I got really into Talking Heads because of that.

Orazio: High on Fire. D: Mine was when my older brother bought Skepta Dave: ‘Fake Train’ by the post-hardcore band Unwound.

‘Microphone Champion’. I was religiously listening to

We’ve really gotten into them recently.

that back in 2009.

Siam: ‘The Heartfelt’ by Figurine

Who’s the loudest, and who’s the quietest in the band?

Emily: ‘This Sad Movie’ by Con Dolore. Such a great

O: I guess we’re all quite quiet.

album! ‘The 7th’ is my favourite. B: Hmm, I don’t know about that. Have you got any party tricks? O: Maybe you might be the loudest. Maybe Bella’s the loudest.


Words by Will Macnab, photo by Fraser Collier

B: I don’t like that, but I think you’re probably right.

O: I was actually very, very drunk. I didn’t do my party trick that night.

Can you all agree on one album as a band favourite? Was there a point where you each felt like, “Yeah, this E: We’ve all been listening to ‘Beat’ by Bowery Electric.

is going to be something”?

B: That was a tour favourite.

E: From when Siam, Orazio, and I first started making music in the flat, we just worked quite well together. It all

O: A Flix bus favourite.

happened quite organically.

That was great; thank you. Could we start by talking

S: Yeah, from our early rehearsals. I think we sounded

about how you all met and how triage came about?

very ardent, even from the beginning. But the tour announcement was what confirmed it for me personally.

E: Siam and I were friends, then last summer, Siam, Orazio, and I all got together and started making music. It

B: Once we started doing shows, we did maybe three,

just evolved from there.

and then bar italia asked us to support them on their New Year’s show. That’s when we started to feel the momentum

O: I knew Siam through mutuals for a while. That summer,


I met him at a gig, and we were like, “Oh, let’s start making music together.” Siam suggested we do it with the

Right, when I was first listening to you, apart from

three of us, as he had already been doing stuff with Emily.

maybe heavy ‘90s influences, the two bands I could

A month and a half later, we wanted to do gigs, so Bella

draw parallels to were perhaps HighSchool and bar

and Dave joined.

italia. I then saw that you supported the latter on tour.

D: I had known Siam for a while too. He mentioned that

E: Siam and I have been friends with them for a couple

he was starting a band. And then asked me to play for the

years now. I think they came to our first show and

first show.

expressed that they really enjoyed the music. They’ve been huge supporters of us ever since. It was a nice

E: And we were then just looking for a bassist, and I

dynamic to go on tour with them. It felt natural.

realised, Here’s my best friend Bella; they can play bass. As such a new band, you must have learned a lot from B: I’d actually met Orazio and Dave at a party, which

being on tour with them.

neither of you remember.


Can you agree on a collective favourite?

E: They were just really wonderful! They have been touring a lot and have a lot of experience in general. For example, Nina was really great about giving advice to help

D: Maybe ‘daylight robbery’?

care for your voice when doing so many shows. E: Yeah, it’s one of the first we all made together. D: We played two shows, one on that tour and one with The Midnight Audience. For the bar italia show, we played

Something that I love about it is this really

early on, and everyone came really early just to see what

uncomfortable dissonance in a lot of the songs. Is this

was going on. In London, people don’t come until a lot

how you would describe your sound?

later. There were just a lot more people in the crowd, the energy was better, and more people dancing. I think that

B: Yeah, there are levels of dissonance that we like, and

made us perform a lot better. I liked that about Berlin,

there’s a balance to strike within that. I personally like the

people were dancing.

level of distance we have. It works.

B: Not to generalise, but London can feel a bit self-

O: I never learned chords on the guitar—the actual major/

conscious. Most of the time, we do know a lot of the

minor thing. I just play what I think sounds good. I guess

people. I enjoyed those European shows, not knowing

maybe the dissonance comes from those chords; it just

anyone there.

happens naturally. There’s all these words on Rate Your Music: sleepy, nocturnal, depressing, and really anxious.

A couple of you have played in bands before; with the

They’re pretty on it with descriptors on there.

state of British politics, would you say that things like that have felt harder to get/do?

How much do you think this sound has evolved from your initial visions of the band?

O: I may not be the person to ask because I have a European passport. But yeah, it’s definitely gotten more

E: I don’t know if there was a particular vision. In a way,


it just became what it was. The goal was to be able to express ourselves and make honest music with feeling.

E: It’s hard in general, especially for new bands, to fund it. That’s the biggest aspect: the logistics of doing it

O: When we started, before doing anything, we just hung

when you are in an unsigned band. You don’t have the

out and listened to music for hours; that’s where a lot of

same resources to pull from, and everything’s insanely

our musical references have really come from.

expensive. Even just getting your gear there is so hard when you can’t really take flights unless you have flight

And lastly, what would you say is next for triage?

cases. E: We actually just lost our rehearsal space, so that would I wanted to move on to ‘fox hours’. I have been

be our next goal. For myself, I would be really happy if

listening to it a lot over the last couple of weeks, and

we could keep playing together for as long as possible.

think it sounds really great. In your own words, what

I just really enjoy everybody’s company. I really like

would you say it’s about?

making music with them. That’s the goal.

S: There’s a number of themes involved. For me, when

B: To be able to make enough money to do it without

I’m writing, I’m thinking of regrets, desires, school,

losing any creative control is a dream.

insecurities, struggles, paranoia, sorrow, and spite. O: We want to keep writing new songs and record an album.



Editors Sam Ford

Josh Whettingsteel

Writers Sam Ford

Peter Martin

Amber Lashley Leo Lawton

Eve Boothroyd

Teddy Maloney Elvis Thirlwell Reuben Cross

Rhys Buchanan Poppy Richler Will Macnab

Printed By Ex Why Zed



Josh Whettingsteel

Hanneke Rozemuller

Aleksandra Georgieva Cameron JL West Laura Simonati Yuka Masuko

Victoria Nikolova Cassady Moll REN

Cécile Cuny


Cover Photo


Photos for Collage

SoYoungMagazine (Facebook)

Megan-Magdalena Bourne

@soyoungmagazine (Twitter)

soyoungmagazine (Instagram)

Theo Cottle

Ollie Spivey

Fraser Collier

10 Years and 50 Issues of


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