Under City Lights - Issue 1

Page 1

// RareFM magazine




The So So Glos

‘Our record is way more pop than indie pop.’

‘If we all do our bit, London will continue to be great’

‘Fuck the music industry!’

Cover photo by: Linda Sou

UNDER CITY LIGHTS TEAM Editors Jake Crossland James Bailey Design Nikol Chen Jess Harrison Felix Harvey-Jefferson Contributors Bianca Bana Charlotte Stanbridge Clarissa Sorger Conor Hodges EJ Kok Hughie Rogers-Coltman James Witherspoon Jamie Walker Jasper Murison-Bowie Joe Bell Linda Sou Luka Nunar Lydia Yeomans Makee Ogbon Matt Solomons Rosie Todd Sachin Turakhia Thanks to Charlie Thomas Ed Selman Eve Clifton

A NOTE FROM THE EDITORS 2016’s been a bit shit aside from all the great music we’ve found - you can look back over the year in Rewind and look to a (hopefully) happier 2017 in Fast Forward. We interviewed so many people as well, and you can find recent Heavenly Recordings signees The Orielles on Page 044, and pop darlings Fickle Friends on Page 039. Under City Lights has grown significantly this year: we’ve completely redesigned our magazine, had more articles than ever before received, and even branched into radio. Who knows where we’ll head next? Stay lucky, Jake Crossland & James Bailey PS. If you want to write for us, we’re always open to pitches and submissions. E-mail us for a chat at undercitylightsucl@gmail.com!

CONTENTS Rewind 04 06

Leonard Cohen: an obituary Albums Of The Year

Fast Forward 012 016

Features 027 031 032 036

Ones To Watch You Have To Be There

Reviews 018 020 022 022 024

Bands That Blew Up In A Year Fabric: Stitched Up? Trudy and the Romance Who Is Jacob Collier?

Aphex Twin - Cheetah Billie Marten @St Giles-in-the-Fields Dream Wife - EP01 Mild High Club - Skiptracing Soft Hair - Soft Hair

Interviews 039 042 044 046 049

Fickle Friends July Jones The Orielles Benton The So So Glos 03 // UnCL


it’s time to reflect on the best albums and the best idols By: Matt Solomons

Leonard Cohen: an obituary On November 7th, Leonard Cohen passed away suddenly but peacefully in his sleep. His works spanned half a century, during which time the Godfather of Gloom battled depression, heartbreak and bouts of loneliness. Coupled with his melancholic voice and nihilistic lyrics, he became one of the most influential singer-songwriters to emerge in the late sixties – his songs the personal liturgy of the anguished and lovelorn. Leonard Norman Cohen was born in Westmount, Quebec, on September 21st 1934. During his school years, he learned the guitar and fell in love with Spanish poetry whilst heavily influenced by flamenco, courtesy of his first guitar teacher. Examples of the style are found throughout his music in his early career as a musician in a folk band, and the style went on to profoundly shape his artistic works. Initially a poet, he wrote his first anthology whilst living in the serene Greek padise Hydra, where he had moved after university. Entitled ‘Flowers for Hitler’, it was published with two novels. None of his early works achieved great commer04 // UnCL

cial success despite critical acclaim. In 1966 he moved back to New York where he met folk singer Judy Collins, who included two of his songs on her album that year. Meeting the Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol, his social circle was so well connected he signed to Columbia Records and released his first album ‘Songs of Leonard Cohen’ in 1967. The album received mixed reviews at the time of its release, with Arthur Schmidt of Rolling Stone writing, “There are three brilliant songs, one good one, three qualified bummers, and three flaming shits.” Few paid heed to this review, and the album soon became a cult favourite of America, spending over a year on the album charts in the US, UK and Australia. The album received mixed reviews at the time of its release, with Arthur Schmidt of Rolling Stone writing, “There are three brilliant songs, one good one three qualified bummers, and three flaming shits.”

Few paid heed to this review, and the album soon became a cult favourite of America, spending over a year on the album charts in the US, UK and Australia. Fourteen studio and eight live albums later, his career spanned nearly fifty years. His most famous single, Hallelujah, has been covered over three hundred times despite being rejected by Columbia records after the head of the label said: ‘What is this? We don’t even know what this is!’ upon hearing for the first time. Rolling Stone now lists the song as his greatest. His final album, ‘You Want It Darker’ focuses on death and dying. The album received near universal critical acclaim, scoring 92 on Metacritic. The fatalist and dark themes that run throughout many of his

albums are continued, but in the midst of the bleak masterpiece we see a powerful message of hope - an artist determined to struggle on. Upon completion of the album, Cohen told his son Adam that he was ready to die knowing that he had completed, in his mind, one of his greatest works. To say Cohen had a significant impact on music and culture would be an understatement. Countless musicians have labelled him an influence, from REM and Bono to Nick Cave and Nirvana. His mournful voice has echoed across the decades and will no doubt be heard for decades to come. Cohen is survived by two children and three grandchildren.

05 // UnCL

ALBUMS OF THE YEAR 10 Under City Lights writers wax lyrical about their favourite album of the year. Arguing ensues. Mutual Benefit// Skip a Sinking Stone -Lydia Yeomans Following on from their successful first album ‘Love’s Crushing Diamond’, Mutual Benefit’s second release intricately narrates shared human experience, teetering perpetually between comfort and sorrow. During the first part of the album, writer Justin Lee reflects on the terrifying experience of falling in love with tracks such as ‘Skipping Stone’; his airy tones achingly delivering the line ‘I’m so afraid to feel this way again, but I’ll let you in’. The latter half finds Lee meditating on disappointments, from the dissolution of his relationship to the anger experienced in the wake of the Eric Gardner verdict and the protests that followed; hauntingly captured in ‘City Sirens’ - the most poignant song of the album. More so than other works, this piece is best listened to in full to allow the weight of Justin’s arrangements to send you into coming-of-age catharsis, welcome in these uncertain times.

06 // UnCL

Kendrick Lamar// untitled unmastered -Jamie Walker

‘untitled unmastered’ is an album of eight tracks which ran short of making it onto Kendrick Lamar’s magnum opus, ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’. The album doesn’t follow a strict order or progression, but instead metamorphoses over rhythm, metre and voice, and bears witness to a whole host of special guests in the process, including Thundercat and SZA. The collection of tracks plays as an album in its own right, which is fascinating considering the songs were recorded over a two-year time period, yet each track maintains its own individual brilliance and layered complexity.

The listener takes on the role of a wallflower, hidden in a dark corner of a smoky studio or rehearsal space, observing the mastery which is taking place before their eyes. Parts of the album make you wonder as to whether Kendrick deemed certain tracks as too personal to even make it onto ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’; the album as a whole consists of intimate prayers to God, alongside confessions of trauma and paranoia. In a sense, this album allows us access to parts of Kendrick’s mind previously unseen. If ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ was what Kendrick wanted us to hear, ‘untitled unmastered’ is maybe what he didn’t. It’s this privileged access which makes ‘untitled unmastered’ a work of pure artistry and genius.

Solange// A Seat at the Table -Jake Crossland Slick, minimalist production provides the backdrop for Solange’s third album which saw the lesser-known Knowles sister finally step out of Beyonce’s shadow with a gripping and intensely personal portrait of life as a black woman in the 21st Century. In a year which saw racial tensions stoked higher than in recent memory, ‘A Seat at the Table’ intimately documents black culture and history and delves into themes of empowerment and identity. Knowles wrote the songs solo at a piano and then sought out the help of big name producers such as Kaytranada, Dave Sitek and Questlove to bring neo-soul synths to flesh out the album, giving life to standout tracks ‘Cranes in the Sky’ and ‘F.U.B.U’. Its surprise release took it to the top of the Billboard 200 (beating out Bon Iver’s most recent effort) and proved once and for all that Solange had finally arrived, following two albums spent hunting for her seat at the table. 07 // UnCL

Yak// Alas Salvation - Sachin Turakuhia ‘That rock’n’roll, it just won’t go away … it’s always waiting there, just around the corner, ready to make its way back through the sludge, and smash through the glass ceiling, looking better than Benjamin Francis ever.’ Alex Turner’s sermon at the 2014 Leftwich// Brit Awards, as divisive as it was, seems the most fitting way to describe the sigAfter the Rain nificance of Yak’s ‘Alas Salvation’. With each year come critics predicting the end - Clarissa Sorger of guitar music. Yak not only silenced ‘After The Rain’ is Benjamin Francis them, they smashed the wind out of their Leftwich’s second studio album and lungs. an absolute gem. The album, released in August on Dirty Hit (home to The Beyond that mission statement, what 1975 and The Japanese House), is one Yak have given to the world is a comI have been playing on repeat ever since. pletely bonkers album, channelling The The 27-year-old singer and songwriter White Stripes (see the insane ‘Curtain from Yorkshire releases the record five Twitcher’ for the most obvious comyears after his successful first album, parison) with the energy of the Rolling ‘Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm’, Stones, to create a record so raw that which reached #35 in the UK charts in you can hardly resist throwing yourself 2011. His new record is ever so beauti- around to it. It awakens something inful and soothing, yet becomes poignant side of you with a raucous snarl. when you realise the difficulties he went through after losing his father. His calm, angelic voice is one of a kind, and the As with any great album, there are no melodies stick in your head (in a very filler tracks on ‘Alas Salvation’, just riff positive way). Sometimes, a man and his after riff after riff, but opener ‘Victorious guitar is all you need. Anyone who likes (National Anthem)’ and the title track a mix of Death Cab for Cutie, Keane, stand out. Both clocking in at under two Savage Garden, and Damien Rice will minutes, they epitomise the unadulterfall in love with BFL’s unique music. My ated ‘Yak As Fuck’ attitude. Buy into it now before the critics get their breath absolute fave of 2016. back. Must-listen-tos: ‘Kicking Roses’, ‘Mayflies’, ‘Groves’. 08 // UnCL

Glass Animals// How to be a Human Being -Conor Hodges Peanut butter vibes came back gooier than ever this year with Glass Animals’ ‘How To Be A Human Being’. Tragic characters, changing genres and edgy lyrics pervade this conceptual album based on the lives of people the band encountered during their two-year tour of their previous one, ‘ZABA’. The fast-paced single with out-of-thiscontinent drums, ‘Life Itself’, kicks off the album, with the pounding Pakistani drums juxtaposing the monotony of a sci-fi-obsessed nerd’s life. Mood changes abound as ‘Youth’ slows the album right down with the laments of a mother and then ‘Season 2 Episode 3’ picks it back up again, with its bouncy, retro 80s video-game sound. These atmospheric fluctuations carry on to the end, where the emotionally-charged ‘Agnes’ closes the album with Bayley’s ominous voice chanting ‘I’m lost but I don’t know why’. Having the album end on this despairing uncertainty reflects on the fact that all these vignettes are, at the end of the day, about humans. Whilst there’s no real sense of continuity throughout the album, maybe that’s the point. Humans are diverse. We want to be different. Having each song do its own thing celebrates this uniqueness, our uniqueness. And whether you’re coping with loss or you’re getting stoned and eating mayo from the jar, what’s important is that you’re a human fucking being.

Whitney// Light Upon the Lake -Hughie Rogers-Coltman Formed from the ashes of Smith Westerns, Whitney’s debut album is wonderful piece of laid back, summery folk music. Drummer and vocalist Julian Ehlrich played with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and you can hear the influence of their trademark fuzzy melodies in the album, with a splash of Chicago soul thrown in by the brass section. Each song is a meticulously crafted piece of pop perfection, with Ehlrich’s haunting falsetto vocals adding a sublime edge to it all. It’s good to see a band bringing sensitivity and sincerity back to indie, as opposed to the slapdash goofiness of Mac Demarco et. al. have made de rigueur. Opener ‘No Woman’ is the standout track from the album, a genuinely beautiful love song, while the title track is a Sufjan Stevens-esque piece of finger-plucked folk. A stunning debut from one of 2016’s most promising new bands. 09 // UnCL

In his third full length album after his eponymous 2011 debut and the sublime ‘Overgrown’, James Blake delivers yet another pioneering masterpiece. ‘The Colour in Anything’ demonstrates the power of Blake’s voice and unparalleled production talent; conjuring haunting melodies, impossibly rich textures, and towering riffs, within the grey world that his music inhabits. He shapes all this around frameworks of all too familiar themes hammered over and over again; lost love, defeat and decay. Each listen becomes more draining and inspiring than the last. ‘Radio Silence’ opens the door with Blake's minimal Dub and R&B-inspired harmonies, paving the way for what is to come. The almost desperate build up in ‘Points’ juxtaposes the melancholy opening of ‘Love Me In Whatever Way’ before it transforms into something mimicking his early post-dubstep work. These influences then become all too apparent in the beautifully minimal ‘Timeless’ and the languid and dangerously melancholic ‘My Willing Heart’. The first half of the album soon makes way for swooping synths of ‘Choose Me’, looping vocals and soft harmonies of Justin Vernon in ‘I Need a Forest Fire’, and the powerful ‘Modern Soul’ with its soft drum beats and shimmering reverb. That track, tucked away towards the end of the album is one of highlights, gliding to a mournful ending with James repeating ‘I want it to be over, I want it to be over.’ Judging by the current trajectory 2016 is taking, so do we. 010 // UnCL

James Blake// The Colour in Anything -James Bailey

Kano// Made in the Manor -Charlotte Stanbridge Kano’s Mercury Award-nominated and MOBO award-winning ‘Made in the Manor’ showed grime off in its most artistic form to date. The album ventures into thematic territory which most MCs shy away from, tackling issues from the importance of family and friends, to the complicated social history of East London. Sonically more mature than other grime releases of the year, Kano gives us tracks to muse on; to be played ‘on the way to the club, and not in it’. But he’s by no means lost his edge, with singles ‘3 Wheel-ups’ and ‘New Banger’ providing the harder hooks and electrifying pace that grime is so well known for. ‘Made in the Manor’ proved the king of grime is still at the top of his game, continuing to push the genre in new directions over a decade on from his pioneering debut. ‘This is England’ in 2016, and it’s Kano’s playground.

The Avalanches// Wildflower -James Witherspoon Marking a 16-year hiatus from their debut masterpiece, The Avalanches made the summer of 2016 with a sprawling psychedelic odyssey of mismatched samples, faded nostalgia, and vibrant big-hitter performances from the likes of MF DOOM and Danny Brown. Fulfilling on their promise from 2000s ‘Since I Left You’, The Australian DJs created a perfect long play, continuously-running, old-skool record that fits perfectly with long warm nights; and drunken siestas with friends. It begins with the incredible scene-setter of ‘Because I’m Me’, in which a sunny 50s sample dances along with an orchestral big-band; and some more modern house beats to bring it up to date in the present. This continues through a kaleidoscopic genre mindfuck; landing somewhere between Jamie XX’s ‘In Colour’, Tame Impala’s ‘Currents’, and Snoop Dogg’s ‘Bush’. Special mention goes to the foot-stomping funk of the transcendent ‘Subways’, and the hallucinogenic madness of ‘The Noisy Eater’ – which, funnily enough, soundtracked my time in Amsterdam over the summer… So yeah, ‘Wildflower’ lives up to its name. At the end of the day, it’s a super chilled, organic, beautifully unique slice of old-skool hip hop about getting high and having a goddamn good time.

011 // UnCL

photo by @salakhidin

fast forward


Husky Loops Clowns, trumpet-playing hippies, and cocaine-fuelled funerals – welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Husky Loops. Driven by the sheer sonic intensity of nauseatingly sinister basslines and discordant guitars, these three childhood friends from London via Bologna are all set to give post-punk a new face. Standout single ‘Fighting Myself’ is nothing short of an anthem for modern apathy, with frontman Danio Forni’s sleazy vocals laid over a fantasti012 // UnCL

Words by: EJ Kok, Hughie Rogers-Coltman, Linda Sou cally anxiety-inducing bassline. Debut single ‘Dead’, on the other hand, is a skittish, vitriolic number guaranteed to convert even the most skeptical listener, one searing riff at a time. For fans of: Gang of Four, Joy Division, Drenge, The Orwells

Eat Fast Eat Fast may have recorded their Fenham Dread(lock) EP in a kitchen, but that hardly rules them out of being the most exciting lo-fi rockers currently on the scene. ‘Public Display of Affection’, their most recent single, is a healthy cocktail of distortion and fuzz guaranteed to satisfy any garage fan – think ‘Is This It’ by The Strokes, with a massive shot of adrenaline straight to the heart. No other band could make the idea of marriage in a corner shop seem more exciting. For fans of: Splashh, the Strokes, Bass Drum of Death

Totally Five-piece London band Totally made a huge splash in 2015 with only two lo-fi demos, and suddenly found themselves sharing a stage with Weaves and Juan Wauters when the promoters caught on. Their soothing mix of 60s harmonies, the DIY scene and R&B vocals is both relaxing and invigorating - it’s strange to hear something so calm and at peace, yet exciting and refreshing. This year saw them release debut single ‘Falling Apart’ on Art is Hard, and 2017 promises more: their fully-formed sound could be the antidote to 2016 that we’ve all been after. For fans of: Sugababes, Warpaint, Mac Demarco

013 // UnCL

ONES TO WATCH Shame The scuzzy south London post-punk scene left in The Fat White Family’s wake has been producing some very promising bands, perhaps none more so than Shame. The Brixton 5-piece have been causing a stir with their own brand of abrasive, cynical punk, and their notoriously unhinged live performances. Their new single ‘The Lick’ is the perfect antidote to indie-pop conformity. For fans of: The Fall, Fat White Family, The Wytches

photo by Daniela Atibekova @danielascodelario

Aldous RH Aldous RH, previously recogniseable as frontman of indie mayflies Egyptian Hip Hop, returns to front a seven piece band saturated in ironic sex appeal. Making the sort of 70s funk and soul that would get your parents dancing (and perhaps lead to an extra sibling), he luckily keeps a strong hand to make sure the songs stay the right side of cool. The fascinating live show throws back to jazz bands of yesteryear, with onstage improv and solos taking the lead, and Aldous encouraging audience participation through witty quips. For fans of: Stevie Wonder, Egyptian Hip Hop, Miles Davis 014 // UnCL

Raye Sultry UK R&B singer Raye has had a stellar year, and 2017 promises to see her hit the big time. Once turned down by Britain’s Got Talent, the BRIT School graduate looks to shrug off the rejection and replicate the success of her fellow alumni, after signing with Polydor and collaborating with current chart-pests Blonde. Her subtle combination of modern production and pop harmonies welds the soaring choruses of R&B to trap beats and horns, and chopped and screwed vocals. Throwing her fresh approach to pop into the ring, and finally whipping alt-R&B into a form as accessible as it always promised to be, 2017 is no doubt the year Raye claims the charts for her own. For fans of: Rihanna, FKA Twigs, Willow Smith

photo by: Charlotte Patmore

015 // UnCL

photos by Daniela Atibekova @danielascodelario

YOU HAVE TO BE THERE By: Rosie Todd Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon


The Lexington, 13th Jan

KOKO, 27th Feb

For some reason, Labour’s princess is doing pop mash-ups with a live band. I’m not sure either. Some people on Twitter have said that seeing her version of Love Will Tear Us Apart was better than seeing the Fall at the same festival, so, there you have it.

Their new stuff is a bit repetitive for me, but their live shows said to be ‘unhinged’ and ‘manic’. Music aside, or music included, it’ll be a show worth leaving bed for at least.

016 // UnCL

Jenny Hval

Jagwar Ma

Rich Mix, 28th Feb

The Forum, 15th March

Hval is back with another classic album ‘Blood Bitch’, a concept album about menstruation, vampires and blood. A lot of echo/repetition/reverb, and if you’re into artpop this will be a top banana of a show.

Now in their 5th year and on their second album, Jagwar Ma continue to add to that little volume of good dance/psychedelic rock available. ‘Every Now and Then’ sounds like an album crafted for hearing live.

The Moonlandingz


Village Underground,

The Dome, 28th April

4th April Fat White Family and Eccentronic Research Council have spawned The Moonlandingz. Once a fictitious concept, now real, and they’re touring with only a few singles released on Youtube. You’ve probably seen FWF at least once by now: expect similar live exertion.

Heralding from LDN, this definitely above average rock band is definitely worth a see. Weird/bad videos aside, they seem a world apart from the usual mindless guitar bands that inundate the indie scene. Happyness have supported Mac DeMarco and Suede if you don’t believe me, believe them.

Snarky Puppy

Angel Olsen

Brixton Academy, 5th May

The Roundhouse, 24th May

Following the win of their second grammy, Snarky Puppy are touring their latest album with a jazz ‘fusion’ collective of around 40 members. With this large number of musicians, at least one of them will be doing something on stage worth listening to.

Olsen swiftly departed from her country pop roots: her new album features new garage gems such as ‘Shut Up, Kiss Me’ and ‘Never Be Mine’. 1 2 watch 4 sure. BADBADNOTGOOD The Forum, 31st May Moving from their hip hop covers of their earlier releases, to their focus on original material, BBNG have also much improved as a live outfit - their shows are said to be quite dynamic. 017 // UnCL


photo by Daniela Atibekova @danielascodelario

018 // UnCL

APHEX TWIN - CHEETAH Like the synthesizer it’s named after, Aphex Twin’s latest cosmic phantasmagoria is far more complex than perhaps it seemed on the box. After all, the lasting history of the Cheetah MS800 – which shared effectively the same packaging art as Richard D James’s effort – is one of a legendary incomprehensibility; once called ‘one of the most unfathomable instruments ever made’. Perhaps more perplexing is the paradoxical naming of what turns out to be his slowest tempo record… well… ever, really. But in the clean simplicity of its tracks, evading the usual scattershot timbre and synth that form AFX’s legendary braindance, a new kind of spine-tingling expertise evolves in the form of a melodic genius. Using the antiquated titular device, James brings a euphoric bliss to ‘CHEETAHT2 [Ld spectrum]’ and ‘CHEETAH7B’, the two openers on the album. When wearing top-notch headphones, these tracks have the depth of a limitless ocean – and it’s easy to get lost in them. Give it a spin in vinyl, on the other hand, and you’ll get a richly textured tapestry of noise. Two listening experiences that vary in almost every possible way, yet that feel bound by the same masterful skill of a true genre pioneer. Shapeshifting cerebral harmonies take narrative prominence here, in direct contrast to the far more primal and seemingly random nature of an album such as 2001’s ‘Drukqs’ or the ‘Richard D James Album’. Nevertheless, these two tracks turn out to be merely the warm up for an explosive

By: James Witherspoon

centrepiece in the form of ‘CIRKLON3 [Колхозная mix]’. Preceded by two escalating short pieces, the track bounces in with a strong melodic kick that would prove worthy of a standalone single. Staccato harmonies alternate with crushing bass lines, revolving around an ostensibly catchy (who’d have thought it, eh) central rhythm and tune. It is, so far, the only song on the EP that’s been given a music video, and for the right reasons. Braindance aside, the intricate simplicity of this track creates the urge to move, or to dance. It’s as vivid as ‘Windowlicker’, and I could certainly see it on a dancefloor: differentiating it from the far more cerebral ‘Syro’.

What Aphex Twin has created here is a minimalist, melodic and moody piece with surprising depth and substance.

In its twilight sections, Cheetah chooses to peter out rather than ignite in a ball of fire and I suppose that’s fine. The penultimate track which is, weirdly, the final track on the vinyl edition – ‘CIRKLON1’ - admittedly does a good job of trying to sustain the sheer zippy momentum of what came previously, before tucking it into bed and turning out the lights. By this point, I my019 // UnCL

self usually feel a bit tired in the album listening. Despite its short length, it’s mentally exhausting music: stimulating and deep throughout. And that is why, it seems to me, the final track ‘2X202-ST5’ seems a little out of place. It’s tonally secure with the rest of the album, but the presence of it just goes a little too far. Zoning out is too big a temptation to resist when ‘Cheetah’ just isn’t bringing anything new to the table anymore. With all that said, ‘2X202-ST5’ is a perfectly reasonable standalone track, and it shouldn’t discourage you from Cheetah altogether. What Aphex Twin has created here is a minimalist, melodic and moody piece with surprising depth and substance. It’s characteristically textured, unusual and even weirdly catchy to the point where you can conceivably dance to it. But what’s more, it marks the return of a certain kind of listening experience that our ears have been craving for since 2014: a new AFX album. This one’s vintage James.

Billie Marten @ St Gilesin-theFields By: Joe Bell

020 // UnCL

After finally making it out of the church (we somehow got locked upstairs), I returned a few hours later for Billie’s sold out London gig. People were squeezed onto every pew, and the venue felt special, with complete silence in the audience during each song. Supporting Billie were Jasmine Kennedy, whose set list included a song about a dead rat and a song about wanting to be an accountant, and Norwegian singer-songwriter Siv Jakobsen. Jasmine Kennedy stood out as the most interesting support, with a rich voice and clever songs, reminiscient of Tracy Chapman. Billie was accompanied by her band and kicked off with ‘La Lune’, the clean sound of her guitar echoing through the church. The acoustics of the venue added an enchanting effect to Billie’s vocals, and despite the view not always been that great (pillars everywhere!), St Giles in the Fields was a good place to have a first sold out gig. The peace during her songs and the applause in-between highlighted the fact that most of the audience were mesmerised throughout. High points included ‘Milk and Honey’ and ‘Green’, which injected energy after many captivating downbeat songs. A cover of ‘In for the Kill’ by La Roux was arranged perfectly and fitted into Marten’s set as if it were one of her own songs. For the last song, Billie moved to the piano for an acoustic rendition of ‘Teeth’. The chorus ‘Don’t we all have our doubts on love’ softly reverberated through the church and it was hard to tell if people were still breathing the audience was so quiet. Overall, a great performance and venue – Billie may prefer churches to festival stages but there will be bigger venues to come.


People were squeezed onto every pew, and the venue felt special, with complete silence in the audience during each song.

Photo by Luc Coiffait

021 // UnCL

Dream Wife -EP01 By: Lydia Yeomans Describing themselves as ‘poolside pop with bite’, this Brighton-formed trio of art students deliver plenty of the latter with their first EP, released on Cannibal Hymns. A classic punk-rock band format gets updated with the innocent charm and haunting vocals of Icelandic lead singer Rakel Mjöll. It roars open with the delightfully catchy ‘Hey Heartbreaker’ that uses a classic three chord pattern to invoke a 90s high school movie (think Smashing Pumpkins). ‘Hey Heartbreaker’ could be the EP’s main head-banger, or, perhaps more accurately, ponytail-flicker. ‘Everything’, the second track, is a far mellower affair. Slower-paced and (relatively) quiet, this track allows Mjöll’s gentle vocals to be appreciated. One to listen to whilst wandering home after winter time lectures, however, what this track lacks in angry chords it also misses out on in substance. A forgettable second track filler. Forgettable is definitely not how you’d describe ‘Lolita’, though. A good listen for when you are feeling angsty. The accompanying video is a pretty creepy Halloween-appropriate number turning damsel-distress on its head. This is a fab dance number when you need to shake it off - Rakel often uses this one to crowd surf. Then on to ‘Kids’, the final song and my 022 // UnCL

personal favourite. ‘Kids’ feels comforting, unfolding an upbeat guitar riff into a track that has a delightfully teenage-nostalgia vibe. Definitely the most cheerful of the set, it makes you want to dash with abandon straight into a glitter-filled mosh pit with your old pals. Dream Wife started as art students forming an imaginary girl band for a gallery exhibition, and this is evident throughout EP01. It lacks real musical complexity or flair, relying heaving on three-chord guitar pop, but if some self-aware riot grrl punk is what you’re after, give it a listen.

Mild High Club Skiptracing By: Jamie Walker Mild High Club’s second album release ‘Skiptracing’, unveiled in late August, can be described as the auditory equivalent of looking into a kaleidoscope: beautiful at first, the experience soon becomes disorienting and increasingly confusing. Alex Brettin, the architect and engineer of the Los Angeles band, has brought a much-needed intellectual edge to the slapdash world of slacker-rock, incorporating ideas of theoretical jazz to lie behind the hazy atmosphere created by the warm and sometime unsettling synth and 12-string electric accompaniment. ‘Skiptracing’ opens with a trio of first-rate songs. The opening beats of an electron-

ic metronome, first heard on title track and opener ‘Skiptracing’, foreground the acutely tight percussion section of Brettin’s band, headed by Mat Robert. It is on this backbone that Brettin can weave and wind his vocal melodies and instruct his bubbling basslines - you can see them all over the choruses of both ‘Homage’ and ‘Tesselation’. The album as a whole is saturated in nostalgia and recollection, no more so than on ‘Cary Me Back’, a track on which Brettin confesses: ‘show me my past / looking through rose glass’. The album is broken in two by the outof-context abrasiveness of both ‘Kokopelli’ and ‘¿Whodunit?’ with both tracks waking the listener from their induced slumber. ‘Kokopelli’ contains a grinding Omar-Rodriguez Lopez-esqe guitar solo, whilst ‘¿Whodunit?’ appears to take the form of a two-minute requiem for Buddy Rich.

as Homeshake and Connan Mockasin (Mac’s ex-bassist Pierce McGarry even directed the music video for Mild High Club’s ‘Windowpane’, from first album Timeline). It’s almost inevitable that Mild High Club, and any other band formed in the aftermath of DeMarco’s revival of the attractive slacker, will likely be kept in his shadow. If Mac DeMarco is the cool, rebellious older brother, Mild High Club is the quiet and insecure younger, spending his weekends practicing the flute whilst listening to old Chet Baker albums. It is this erudite edge that Mild High Club pursues throughout the whole album and it’s the same edge that makes Alex Brettin so interesting, and different.

However, the album soon becomes overpowered by a feeling of listlessness. Brettin falls comfortably back into his warm structure and sound, and the final four songs of the album fall by without you really realising. Although, I don’t perceive this to be a fault with the album. Neither do I see the strange and at times perplexing interludes of explosive musical expression as meaningless, instead I see them as genuine articulation of emotion; the only problem is that at times I’m not sure what emotion Brettin is trying to articulate. It’s easy to fall into the over-generalised line of thought currently clouding the music scene, in which any band wearing oversized, baggy blue jeans with long hair whilst playing careless, guitar-driven, sugary pop songs are the progeny of Mac DeMarco. Many a likeness can certainly be drawn between the sound of Mild High Club and other slack-rock titans such


023 // UnCL

Soft HairSoft Hair By: Hughie Rogers-Coltman The past few years have been good for trippy takes on pop songs. Homeshake’s Midnight Snack, Drugdealer’s The End of Comedy, and Mild High Club’s Skiptracing, among others, have created something of a niche for post-Demarco weirdo-pop. It’s fitting, then, that Connan Mockasin and Sam Eastgate (aka Sam Dust, aka LA Priest), two spiritual godfathers of the scene, should gift us this slice of psychedelic gold to finish the year. Although Soft Hair is not strictly speaking a new album. Mockasin supported Eastgate back in 2008 when the latter was still playing for mid00’s indie rockers Late of the Pier. The pair remained friends and this album is an amalgamation of 8 years of recordings. It’s amazing how relevant this album sounds given that some of the songs were recorded back in 2008. On Soft Hair we see the best sides of the two artists combined to brilliant effect. LA Priest’s funky rhythms and homemade synthesisers complement Mockasin’s sublimely creepy melodies perfectly. What results is a collection of songs that are both delightfully confusing and incredibly catchy. Nowhere is this sound better exemplified than in the first single and stand-out track from the album ‘Lying Has to Stop’, which might be one of my favourite singles released this year. Its combination of an infectious synth line, LA Priest’s voice playing off Mockasin’s signature falsetto, and one of the strangest videos you will ever see makes this an enjoyably bewildering experience. 024 // UnCL

Aside from the obvious stand-out ‘Lying Has to Stop’, this album contains some of the best work produced by either artist. Mockasin has never been one to be pinned down to a single genre, and the best tracks on the album pull together an eclectic mix of indie rock, glam and 80s synth-pop. ‘Relaxed Lizard’ is an enjoyably upbeat opener, with an incredibly catchy hook, offset by an underlying dreamy synth pattern. ‘Jealous Lies’ sounds like a sugary 80s pop song played underwater, the twisty lead synth interacting with the wavering vocals in an unsettlingly beautiful way. ‘i.v.’ is a gorgeous little interlude; coming after the upbeat opening songs on the album, it was recorded immediately after Eastgate woke up from a dream about using an HIV-infected needle. It brings a sublime edge to the album, and segues nicely into ‘A Goood Sign’, a dark, dreamy ballad with a crunching synth that fittingly contrasts the guitar line at the end. The whole album seems saturated with a kind of saccharine sexuality, recalling mid70s synth soul such as Roy Ayers or Light of Worlds-era Kool and the Gang. This sound, coupled with Mockasin’s creepydad lyrics (‘I’d like to watch you run but I’ll never touch your bum’) creates a weird parody of sexuality, as though the pair are enjoying watching us squirm at their combined creepiness. They revel in their androgynous image, and at times the line between parody and reality seems blurred. ‘In Love’ is a kind of fucked up serenade about being ‘In love with Japanese girls/In love with Chinese girls’. It’s a misstep from the two, and shows that it’s a fine line between jokey faux-creepiness and lazy insensitivity. It could be a direct parody of David Bowie’s and Iggy Pop’s ‘China Girl’. In fact, the whole album seems to recall the Bowie/Iggy collaboration The Idiot, with its experiments in slow tempos, drum machines and weird, discordant synth lines.


The whole album seems saturated with a kind of saccharine sexuality.

This is The Idiot updated for the millennial. Of course, Mockasin & Eastgate would never make such a claim. Their genius lies in the apparent refusal to take life seriously. Under a slacker-rock exterior, Mockasin has produced some of the most sublime and intelligent music of recent years, with LA Priest matching him step for step with his debut album. Soft Hair is a worthy addition to their catalogues.

025 // UnCL

026 // UnCL


photo by Daniela Atibekova @danielascodelario

Bands That Blew Up in a Year

The Big Moon This London-based group have gone from relative unknowns to Fiction signees in under a year, all thanks to their debut single ‘Sucker’ posted on Soundcloud in April last year. The thrilling twist on the well-trod indie trope saw them rocketed into the limelight and quickly identified as ones to watch. Lead singer Jules’ knack for a catchy chorus coupled with the band’s aversion to grungy distortion has seen them take pop melodies and flip them upside down for the sake of keeping things interesting. Since then, they’ve headed out on tour and never really stopped - supporting everyone from Local Natives to Mystery Jets to The Japanese House and playing at countless festivals. Hinds

2016. Besides being known as the year that saw humankind reach an all time low, it could more optimistically be remembered as the year that saw bands skip the small talk and head straight for the big time. This year, and the few before it, have seen countless acts blow up in a small amount of time. How did they do it? It’s time to dress up in our trench coats and deerstalkers, and pull out a comically large magnifying glass to uncover their secrets and complete this paragraph of sloppy cliches.

Hinds The Spanish 4-piece have gone from selling out KOKO to playing the O2 Forum in less than a year, almost doubling audience size in just under 10 months. Even more impressive is that the two shows are part of the same tour - they’re now 8 parts in, and whilst they say this is the final slog, there are no guarantees. They released their debut in January and have been touring ever since. There’s no doubt their relentless schedule has added to their success with it being more of a challenge to avoid them at any festival this summer than to witness their infectiously joyful ramshackle girl-gang garage rock.

027 // UnCL

Catfish & The Bottlemen Yes, the band everyone hates (not loves to hate, that’s currently the 1975). Bit of a sneaky one - the band had actually been playing together for seven years before that whiny bigmouth even hit the radio. Whilst it might seem that only yesterday we were introduced to them, sometimes hard work really can take you places. They used to play in carparks after gigs by bands such as Kasabian. So whilst they might be annoying, it would be hard to argue that they don’t deserve their success.

LA Priest LA Priest introduced us to something we hadn’t ever heard before - sexy space-prog-rock-synth sampling jams. And whilst the inevitable past fame in Late of The Pier would have definitely helped him make connections (see: Soft Hair w/ Connan Mockasin), the fresh take on a genre so dull dads have claimed it for their own and only Dire Straights want to bother making it anymore inevitably lead to a huge flood of press coverage. Deservedly heralded as a newcomer destined to shake things up, LA Priest will no doubt excite as much the second time round as he did with his first coming. 028 // UnCL

Francis and the Lights The hip-hop prodigy seems to have sprung out of nowhere, but if you take a closer look you’ll find a sad past alongside some superstar friends. Way back in 2008, Francis Starlite, the leader of the ‘musical project’, incorporated Francis and the Lights LLC, and received a $100,000 investment from Normative, as an alternative to signing a record deal - showing just how much potential the industry saw in him and how independently he’d be doing things. Crushingly, Normative shut down in 2009 and left Francis with nothing. He continued to tour, most recently with fellow music industry outsider Chance the Rapper. Francis and the Lights’ debut has been widely praised and features contributions from Kanye, Bon Iver and Rostam from Vampire Weekend. What a turnaround.

The Lemon Twigs These glam-rock twins are signed to 4AD, home of Grimes, Pixies and Ariel Pink, so it’s not exactly a complete mystery as to how they’ve gotten so big. In the UK it might appear they’ve sprung out of nowhere, but in the US they’ve been generating buzz for a while. The Atlantic never made it easy for us Brits to keep up - their baroque-pop debut was even produced by Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado, if it needed proving further that they’re kind of a big deal.

Words by: Jake Crossland Illustrations by: EJ Kok @trashromeo

029 // UnCL

Illustration by: EJ Kok @trashromeo

030 // UnCL

On the 21st November, the news broke: you saved Fabric. After three months of closure, and a rigorous campaign spreading across the dance music community, the fight was won.

In September the loss of the super-club was mourned around the world, from superstar DJs and London Mayor Sadiq Khan to your auntie who used to rave in the 90s. Fabric is a clubber’s paradise: three rooms of diverse and cutting edge electronic music played out on one of the world’s best sound systems, literally shaking your bones through the bass transducers installed under the dancefloor. In the basement, like-minded ravers are sprawled over couches, chatting incessantly to anybody who’ll listen. Keep walking up the seemingly never-ending stairs and you’d emerge into a smoking area that’s bigger than your £180 p/w London bed-sit, where you’d meet strangers who would become friends, before returning inside to dance together until sunrise. The campaign to save Fabric raised over £300,000 putting on events in collaboration with other clubs around the country, and garnered the support of DJs from across the musical landscape. From house legend Carl Cox, to underground veterans Artwork and Skream, DJs and producers were lining up to rescue the club. But, the reality is that any other club in the UK would not have survived such a process. If clubs are to be held strictly accountable for the choices and actions of their customers, then the future of nightlife does not look bright. The police and councils have a duty to protect people from harm, and the deaths of 6 people at Fabric since 2011, two in 2016 alone, cannot be ignored. Drug taking is endemic in Britain, and is closely associated with nightclubbing, especially in London. Organisations like the Night Time Industries Association and drug protection charity The Loop have worked tirelessly in recent years to help educate clubbers about

Fabric: Stitched Up? By: Charlotte Stanbridge

the drugs they’re taking. Both the Met Police and the Government still seem to be under the illusion that they can fight their war on drugs on the dance floor, which seems to be altogether missing the point: the closure of Fabric would not have made even a slight dent in the covert business of drug-dealing. Shortly after Fabric’s licence was revoked, a narrative began to emerge of a pre-planned vendetta by the police to close Fabric, limiting the club’s opportunity to fight their case in court. Documents released by The Independent outlined the crudely named ‘Operation Lenor’. Its findings of drug taking on the premises were inconclusive, yet were instrumental in closing Fabric. The case raised questions over whether the fast tempo of certain music played at the club could affect the safety of clubbers, demonstrating an astounding ignorance. Emily Thornberry, MP for Fabric’s borough of South Islington asked whether Fabric was expected to have ‘an approved Met Police playlist, with Bryan Adams or something?’ The re-opening is a piece of good news in a somewhat bleak year, and the electronic music community has proven itself as a force to be reckoned with. We will dance again at Fabric, but the story is not true for so many of the UK’s beloved nightclubs and music venues that have closed their doors for good. If Sadiq Khan is serious about bringing the life back into London’s night time economy, clubs and the authorities need to have a serious and open discussion about drugs, as well as the licensing laws that restrict events. Until that day, all we can do is wait for Fabric’s doors to open once again for what promises to be the re-opening party to end all re-opening parties. 031 // UnCL

Trudy and The Romance

words by: Jake Crossland photos by: Makee Ogbon

Trudy and The Romance. Trudy. Trudy Sings The Blues. Call them what you will (and the trio have probably heard them all), but there’s no doubt you’ll be able to get through the next year without hearing one of the long string of singles they’ve left littered behind them throughout 2016. Working with Spring King frontman Tarek Musa and former Coral lead Bill Ryder-Jones, their inimitable sound completely justifies the attention they’ve recently received. A demonic mash-up of sweet 50s pop harmonies and trashy garage, the band take the old and couples it up with modern lo-fi riffs, fashioning something completely new in the process. The press have been quick to invent a genre especially for

032 // UnCL

them, flitting between ‘trash pop’ and ‘mutant pop’, though lead singer Olly prefers his own moniker: ‘A Doo-Wop Screaming Funfair Mutant 50’s Spaceman’s Happy-Sad Trash-Pop Dream.’ A comprehensive cover-all for their raucous take on pop music. But about that name. Olly (‘the sexy funny one, apart from Lew and Brad’) promises that it was never meant to mean anything. ‘The name Trudy means nothing, but has been there from the start. Which makes it special to us.’ You can find tracks online from before the current band even existed, all the way back from 2012, under the name Trudy Sings the Blues. Shortened to Trudy by the time they released debut single ‘All

My Love’ in May 2015, they subsequently found themselves under the threat of legal action from cult rock has-beens The Trudy. The Liverpool/Leeds trio took it all in their stride, selling off old merch and quickly adapting artwork. Trudy and the Romance they became. But it doesn’t matter to Olly: he’s only ever really written under Trudy. ‘We are the Trudy boys; The Original Doo-Wop Spacemen on a voyage to the place where it matters most.’ You’d never know that the name fiasco would’ve changed their brilliant artwork, thanks to the expert behind it all. The band work almost exclusively with Hello Thunderpuss, an illustrator that Olly found on Instagram, for their artwork and merch designs. ‘I think her artwork has a shit-ton of character and is bold as bricks.’ And it’s hard to disagree - the quirky, adult take on seemingly innocent scenes stands in complete harmony with Trudy’s gnarled swipe at the mainstream. The band grew from ‘good times and making love’, according to Olly. ‘Brad’s a childhood friend - I knew him from my sweet, sweet sixteen break-up. Where do the young teenage heartbroken go from there, huh? I met Lewis the Lew soon after a another bongle’d attempt at true love.’ You can hear it in their music - youthfully lost in love but definitely the best of mates. They’re the kind of mates you first tell when you’ve got a thing for someone

and they relentlessly take the piss, but you know they’d never fuck you over. Going steady for two years, the subtle harmony of their lyrics, music, and live shows is something so natural, it only makes sense that the band were birthed from teenage uncertainty. They’re fully formed, but don’t let the illusion of overnight success fool you this is a trio that’ve grown into their music as much as their audience have. That sweet, lovelorn edge is one that reaches deep into Olly’s musical past too - he remembers dancing with his father and sister to Jonathan Richman, and the innocent, naive lyricism has obviously had a big impact. Fresh off tour with the other NBTs of indie, The Big Moon, the future is bright for the lads. Of the tour, Olly dropped in a cryptic little verse (Future lyrics? Does he think in rhyme?) whilst also smothering the quartet in praise: ‘We had a big load of fun on the tour. The girls were lovely jubbly. I fell in love with a girl from the Ocean, she couldn’t stay nor grow legs. We said goodbye but she’ll never leave my head.’ He’s an enigmatic one, but he can easily be direct when he wants to be: ‘I’d love to get an album out. Shelved all over the world. Something people can really get their teeth into.’ With all the buzz about them currently, it’s only matter of time before audiences start to nip at Trudy’s heels for more.

033 // UnCL

034 // UnCL

035 // UnCL

Who Is Jacob Collier? by: Jasper Murison-Bowie

Who’s that then? Jacob Collier.

nies on covers of famous tunes by songsters like Stevie Wonder.

And who’s in his band? Uhh, he is. That’s it really, most of the time.

If you don’t mind having it stuck in your head for the rest of the day, check out his cover of ‘Isn’t She Lovely’, using exclusively vocals (with a cheeky melodica solo), on YouTube.

But who plays all those other instruments? He does—piano, bass (of double and electric varieties), drums, tabla, tenor guitar, ukulele, ocarina and melodica (and likely more besides), with more than a smattering of vocals (often through a vocoder or harmoniser) too. Neat. What does he do with them? His distinctive style fuses elements of jazz, a capella, groove, folk, classical music, samba, gospel and soul. Now can you tell me something that’s not on Wikipedia? I have it on good authority that he has a tin of Heinz beans for lunch every day. Woah there—bit creepy, no? Welcome to the world of journalism.

I thought he plays the piano, bass, drums, guitar, … etc.? Well, yeah—since the days of multi-panel-vocal Jacob, he’s gone bigger and more layered, multi-tracking and looping all of the various instruments he plays to create some fascinating musical textures. More recently, he’s also been getting into using video technology to recreate his splitscreen YouTube videos in real life. For example, watch the third single, ‘Saviour’, from his album, the video for which was recorded in one take using 6 projectors, if you get a chance.

Why aren’t you telling me about his music then? Ouch. Fine then.

What happens when he gets in a room with 18 other musicians? You know what, I’m so glad you asked—I was looking for a way to shoehorn in the collaboration he did with the band Snarky Puppy and sousaphonist Big Ed Lee.

He recently released his debut album In My Room, but more on that later. He started to gain an online following with a series of YouTube videos featuring him, harmonising with himself to create complex vocal harmo-

‘Don’t You Know’ is one of Jacob’s own pieces, also on In My Room, but arranged for the jazz fusion phenomenon that is Snarky Puppy. It feels funky, but drifts off into an ethereal, otherworldly piano solo

036 // UnCL

from Jacob himself before the driving drums drag and tease it back into the high-energy groove from whence it came. Particularly enjoyable are the faces the other band members make as they delight in his pianistic ability and sheer musicality. If you want to see more of him playing on the same stage as Cory Henry, check out the incredible vocoder battle he has over Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’, featuring Jules Buckley and the Metropole Orkest (again, on YouTube). Okay, now you’re just making things up. No, no, it’s for real. And as if all we’ve heard so far wasn’t enough, there is room somewhere in Jacob’s soul for his stirringly beautiful orchestral arrangement of his song ‘In the Real Early Morning’, performed at the BBC Proms this year. It showcases his folk influences, which are often understated in the world of jazz, but should not be underestimated. Where can I find more Jacob? Have a look at his website, his YouTube channel and his Facebook page. Also look out for shows—he plays London from time to time. I saw him at the Brooklyn Bowl and he was a delight, rushing from instrument to instrument on stage (yeah, he does the whole looping thing live too, complete with an innovative video setup with a webcam that projects copies of his face onto the wall behind the stage). (Jacob, if you’re reading this: please record that version of Blackbird you did. It was fantastic.) Jazz? Jazz. (and funk. and folk. and so on.)

037 // UnCL

Interviews 038 // UnCL

photo by @salakhidin

Fickle Friends: ‘Our record is way more pop than indie pop.’ By: Jake Crossland

When Fickle Friends quietly released debut track ‘Swim’ online 2 years ago, they had no idea of the storm they’d start with their sunny pop. Cue blogs blowing up, writers dubbing them the next ‘buzz band’, and an industry quick to hone in. Fast forward to present day, and riding the wave of a relentless touring schedule, they’ve found the time to ground themselves and build a fanbase. Signing to major label Polydor has seen them frequently jetting over to America to record their debut album, and they’re now about to embark on their biggest tour yet, culminating in a huge date at Heaven on December 1st. Their 80s-influenced pop couldn’t be more suited to the charts of 2016, with comparisons to Haim, Carly-Rae Jepson and the 1975 almost suffocatingly common. The contrast between their buoyant music and darker lyrics lends this band a depth that give them the upper hand: bouncy synths giving way to brooding ruminations on anxiety and pop culture are their edge. With the album set for release early next year, I spoke to lead singer and lyricist Natti about their favourite music at the moment, their creative process and how their producer got a hernia and left them with 5 days free in LA. UnCL: So, you guys all met at BIMM in Bright- FF: Yeah, it’s good, we’re almost there actuon. How much are you part of the scene there ally. that’s blowing up at the moment? You’re in America a lot recording the debut... UnCL: Has the tour put a bit of a stop to it or is it nice to get out the studio for a break? FF: Urrm, yeah. We’re not here very much. (laughter) FF: Well, we had to come back because we’re going on tour. I think we could have probUnCL: No. ably finished it, but unfortunately our producer got a hernia the last time we were out FF: I mean, as far as new new music is con- there a couple of weeks ago, so we lost like 4 cerned, I don’t get to go to as many gigs here or 5 days. I think we’re just going to go back as I used to because I don’t have the time. I after Christmas and finish it all off. guess the generation of bands that we were developing with were like Black Honey, UnCL: You’ve toured for 2 years, was that endand MIAMIGO, who have now actually less or were there breaks? moved to London. There are a few other bands from around here, but we know Roy- FF: There were breaks there, there were al Blood as well. There’s a few other bands, breaks. We were doing it by ourselves so I’m trying to think - Kudu Blue - but it’s just we needed to work, and try and make some all our friends really, which is what happens money. when you get to music school. UnCL: During those two years did you know UnCL: And obviously you’re in America quite a that you were gonna make it and eventually get lot, recording the debut in Los Angeles. How’s the somewhere? album going? 039 // UnCL

FF: We didn’t know really, just because we got off to a weird start where we caused a lot of buzz with our first song and the music industry were in a bit of a paddy with it. We just weren’t ready for it, and everyone knew that, so it was like we always felt we were on the cusp of something but we couldn’t get over that next step. We didn’t know whether it was us or our management or the songs, and I think it was just a little bit of everything in the end. We started writing better music. UnCL: Yeah. Do you think that period of two years where you went on tour helped you get through that initial buzz and come up with something just as good? FF: Well, it meant that we just learnt to be a band and tour, and we made a fanbase which is the most important thing. UnCL: So when the irst single came out, was that really near the start of the band and [the reaction] something you weren’t expecting? FF: Yeah, completely. UnCL: You’ve just shared [new single] ‘Brooklyn’ online. You’ve said it deals with the battle against anxiety, and I was just wondering whether the title was because there was a homesickness coming in... FF: No, no it’s actually called ‘Brooklyn’ because the name of one of the loops that we used in it was called that. That was just a name we were giving it when exchanging files back and forth, but then when I was writing lyrics I liked the idea of keeping it. The whole idea of the song is the fact that it’s not being able to recognise yourself, or being in a foreign country. It’s something you’re not comfortable with, or able to recognise where you are. UnCL: Giving it that oblique title is like cutting it of from yoursel? FF: Yeah. UnCL: Which bands do you look up to as a band? 040 // UnCL

FF: Well when we were first starting out, I just wanted to have a band like Friendly Fires. I thought they were the best thing in the whole world, but we also listened to like Two Door Cinema Club and Bombay Bicycle Club and all the clubs (laughter). So those were the bands that we really looked up to, and I remember having Ellie Goulding’s first album and just wanting to be her aswell, which is funny. UnCL: What would you say inspires your lyrics? Do you write the lyrics yoursel? FF: Yeah, I do. I do all of them. UnCL: What makes you think I’m going to write a song about this? FF: It’s all sorts really. Sometimes I sit down and I know what I want to write about, and other times I write random things on the notes in my iPhone or I have a little book in my bag but it’s all sorts. I get a lot from books. Reading books and there’s quite cool, little one liners that can spark something off. Or films - I mean Crybaby, I watched a John Waters film last year and it made me feel so uncomfortable and weird watching it. That’s kind of a cool thing to write about. UnCL: Do you ind songwriting a release, or a creative endeavour? Like you want to make music so you add lyrics to it afterwards. FF: It’s a bit of both, but yeah because it’s just me that does the lyrics, the music is something that’s always happening. It’s not like the music is inspired by the lyrics at all and it’s weird that they don’t really link up very much. I think that’s why a lot of times people say it’s bright sunny pop music with dark undertones, and that’s kind of cool. UnCL: Does the whole band work on the music then, and you go away and work on the lyrics afterwards? FF: Three of us do the writing, and it’s very much we go in on it. The band will have something like a loop or an idea for a song, and sometimes I’ve got some lyrics ready

to go which I can build around the song. Sometimes it’s just a matter of changing the odd thing here and there. We do most of it together really, but for the lyrics I sit in the corner and scribble a few things down and try a few different things. Usually you get a consenting nod and you’re like ‘OK, cool we’ll go with that.’ UnCL: You have quite an 80s sound which is getting quite popular recently. Is there a worry you’ll be lumped into a big group of artists? What do you do that keeps you fresh and diferent from the others?

they are awesome. Chet Faker’s just started releasing new music under the name Nick Murphy. I think he’s actually done with Chet Faker, because he’s formerly know as. He’s put out two songs and I am absolutely obsessed with them. Check them out. UnCL: Thanks for your time and good luck with the rest of the album and the tour. FF: Thank you!

FF: Well, it was a never an intentional thing. People are always like ‘Aargh this sounds a bit like the 1975 with a girl!’, and fair enough, I guess so. It’s so difficult to not be derivative because there’s just so much music about but I guess it’s about finding something which people are always going to really identify with, and that will always keep you current and make you stand out from a very large pile of indie pop bands. But our record is way more pop than indie pop. That’s the direction we’re going. UnCL: People always need touchpoints to reference things. FF: Exactly, they want to be able to pigeonhole you, and be like what do they sound like? They sound like Haim, or the 1975, or whatever. UnCL: I guess the hope with the debut album is that they eventually just start saying you sound like Fickle Friends. FF: Yeah, that’s the dream. Perhaps I won’t hear anyone being like ‘Aww, the 1975 sound a bit like FF’... Well I do [think that] because I’m a musician, I’m just like ‘Aww, wow! Their new stuff sounds like Bowie, a bit like Peter Gabriel.’ UnCL: To inish up, are there any bands that you’re listening to that people should start taking note o? FF: Yeah, there’s a band called Get Inuit, 041 // UnCL

July Jones By: Luka Nunar

Five years ago, one of my friends showed me a video of a young girl called Julija Aljaž (now known as July Jones) covering ‘Skyscraper’ by Demi Lovato (to be honest, I still haven’t checked out the original version of the song so I cannot make any comparison). I was amazed. The quality of her vocals was jaw-dropping: I couldn’t (and still can’t) believe that she was 15 at the time. But as time passed, I totally forgot about her for a few years until three months ago when I moved to London. I realized that she’s studying and working here, checked her online presence and saw that a lot of things have changed since I last heard about her. She released 3 EPs at age 18, finished high school in the US and settled in the UK where she is now one of the most aspiring artists of the modern era. And she’s only 20 years old! I gave her a call, we met up and after a nice afternoon tea, I was blown away by her hard work. I gave up trying to figure out how she should be described and my conclusion was that there’s no better person to present her than July herself, so I texted her and we had a quick conversation that covered her musical path from the early years to the present day:

JJ: I first came in contact with music when I was 6 years old. My parents encouraged me to start playing flute and piano, so basically my journey started with classical music. When I was around 11 I’ve noticed my voice was quite strong, so I decided to take singing lessons and got really inspired by soul music. Shortly after that, I got signed to a label, where I’ve learned all about creativity and songwriting, for which I wrote over 30 songs. UnCL: What was your path from Julija to July in terms of musical career? JJ: I’ve started by posting videos on Youtube and created my versions of songs that I’ve liked. After I’d reached a certain amount of followers and views a label approached me, and that’s when I started writing original material and noticed that I actually have a talent for writing and that I can do something out of it. I was around 16 at the time. 042 // UnCL

photo by: Wayne La

UnCL: Let’s start at the beginning and your musical roots. How did you get involved in music? What were your irst musical steps?

UnCL: So this led you to the USA?

have met so far during your career?

JJ: After my time at the label I was just finishing high school and as I’ve always been inspired to do gospel, an opportunity came up to do last year of high school in the USA, so of course I was so excited for it and took it straight away. And that’s where I finished high school, participated in gospel and developed myself, personally. I’ve also got a lot more involved into LGBT+ and started accepting myself for who I am. So all in all, it was an amazing experience for me.

JJ: Man, there are so many inspiring people in the world, it’s quite hard to say. I think the biggest inspiration are the up-and-coming artists/producers that are at the same stage as me, where they’re more underground at the moment.

UnCL: Okay, this sounds like a perfect opportunity. How did you end up in London and not in the United States? JJ: After I’ve finished high school, I got accepted to Berkeley and was 100% certain that I was going to move to Boston to pursue a career in music. I got a scholarship and I was living the dream, but there was a year gap between my high school and university, so I traveled to London to perform at some smaller venues. After only one month in London, I knew this is where I actually want to grow musically. It had such a strong community of musicians and art. At the same time I was a lot more involved in a contemporary sound rather than jazz, and since I was so involved with music already, I didn’t see a point in studying vocals or an instrument. UnCL: Awesome, but let’s move to some more general questions about you. What is your greatest strength and weakness as a musician/songwriter? JJ: I think my greatest strength as a musician/songwriter is my ear for music. I know what my sound is, I know who I am and I’m also very quick with writing and creating a sound around other artists that hire me as a songwriter. My biggest weakness would be wishing that I’d play more instruments. I play the piano and flute but I wish I’d be more versatile, playing bass and drums would be fun.

UnCL: And what are you still aiming for as an artist? JJ: My aim is to create a sound that people will remember me for. I want to combine soul with pop like nobody ever before and really bring that soulful sound and mix it with a completely contemporary feel, in that I’m talking visually and musically. I also want to raise awareness in LGBT+ community, I want to inspire people to be who they are, which sounds a bit cliché but it’s very true. UnCL: How diferent is the creative outlet as July Jones comparing to your job as a songwriter? JJ: As July Jones I’m focusing completely on my own sound, my own look. I’m going in a military, strict style look, but at the same time I want that soul/pop sound. While as a songwriter you adapt to other people, it’s a bit like acting, you have to put yourself in the artist’s skin to write from their perspective. UnCL: To inish of, where do you go from here? JJ: I’m just growing with what I’ve started. I’m playing as much as I can, next year we’re playing KOKO London, all the festivals possible and just expanding and sharing my music with people that can relate to it. I want to share my music with as many people as possible in the world.

UnCL: Who are the most inspiring people you 043 // UnCL

The Orielles: ‘We spent a night with a cult!’

By: Jake Crossland

Listening to the Orielles on record is an entirely different experience to seeing them live. Their jangly, sweet surf-pop morphs into something much heavier and demonic on stage - pulverising waves of guitar solos and disco basslines whisk crowds into a cyclonic pit, night after night. Their huge back catalogue of singles accompanied by goofy slacker videos are just a sugared veneer to sisters Esme and Sid, and Henry, who they met at a house party. Their tour with the Parrots sprawled across the UK leaving ear drums blown and pupils dilated, the London show almost bringing the roof down (literally: the lead singer of the Parrots swung from the light fixtures when leading the third encore into an acapella run through of All My Loving). Their tight live show has been perfected by a near-constant tour schedule, with taut, angry drums and cutting guitar solos candied by butter-wouldn’t-melt vocals. Completely captured by them, both live and recorded, I dropped them a quick email with a few questions whilst they were touring Amsterdam to learn more about the Orielles.

UnCL: What’s an average day in the life of the similar to the word for ‘ear’ in French. Orielles? UnCL: How do you write your lyrics? What intO: We get out of the wrong side of the bed spires them? then have a simple breakfast, usually something along the lines of avocado on toast with tO: We base them mainly on books, art, film a Tempeh rasher, a poached egg and siracha and philosophical ideas. We don’t really like or Albert Heijn muesli with soya yogurt and writing about relationships or generic subdark chocolate chunks. (Shout out to Raven ject matter so our lyrics tend to be pretty abfor the intro to that beaut combo). Then stract. The lyrics are also always the last thing we’d spend the day at university/college we do when writing a new track because we or we’d be hanging out, writing tunes and like to get the full vibe of the track to influwandering aimlessly around some Northern ence the lyrical content. City. Then you can probably find us at a gig in the evening or a bar! UnCL: What do you guys listen to together? UnCL: I know it’s an awful question, but where tO: We listen to a really wide range of music. did the name come from? A lot of it is from the 70s so anything from punk to disco! Ha! tO: We didn’t think about it too much, which we probably regret a little now but it’s very UnCL: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened 044 // UnCL

to you on tour? tO: The craziest night on tour was one where we didn’t even play a show haha. We spent a night with what we can only describe as a cult, it was a night full of surprises and really weird events, our driver was particularly spooked! We set alarms and left at 7am the next day and we don’t think we’ll be returning anytime soon. UnCL: What’s next for The Orielles? Are there plans on the horizon?

photo by: Priti Shikotra

tO: Yeah tonnes to come soon! We have some pretty big announcements to make in the coming months and we’re very excited [editorial note: The Orielles signed with Heavenly Recordings after the interview took place, which UnCL expects is at least one of these announcements]. We have also just returned from Amsterdam where we did some recording with Raven of Moses and the Firstborn so expect a gnarly cover song swingin’ your way soon. UnCL: Finally, could you suggest a few bands that people should be listening to? tO: People should be listening to Beachtape, Moses and the Firstborn, Omni and Fentonville Street Band (the last you can catch at our Fallow Cafe weekender in November eyy eyy plug plug ;)) I also asked them how they’d like to be remembered in 20 years time, and their simple answer was more than achievable for a band so astonishingly talented: ‘fondly’.

045 // UnCL

BENTON By: Charlotte Stanbridge

South London producer and DJ Benton returns with a new album of jungle-inspired tunes on his own label, BBS. BBS (Benton Beats) is a sister label of bass heavyweight Swamp81, co-owned by Benny Ill, Swamp81 boss Loefah and Benton himself - BBS Volume 1 is their first long release. The album follows two 12-inch releases on BBS: Brian and The Callin’, which showcased Benton moving in a new direction from the dubstep sound of his last album Reflections. Released on cassette tape (which will be available to buy soon from the Swamp81 shop), BBS Vol.1 features a selection of his tracks from recent years, including the anthemic opening track ‘Going Down’ which served as the intro for his Boiler Room set a couple of years back. 046 // UnCL

Jungle has seen somewhat of a revivila recently with events like Jungle Splash and Jungle Fever bringing the sound to a generation who missed out on the rave scene in the 90s, when the genre was king. BBS takes these old school beats and samples, and mixes them with heavy basslines and crisp production, creating a new sound that’s irresistible to fans, both old and new. For Benton though, BBS Vol.1 is a return to a style that has captured him since his childhood, giving it a modern twist and paving the way for a new era of jungle sounds. I headed down to Kamio off the Old Street roundabout for the BBS Vol.1 Launch Party, where

Benton played an hour of his new tunes, with support from hardcore legends 2 Bad Mice, and Johnny Banger and Sgt. Pokes on mic duties. After a great night, and not being able to stop l istening to the new album, I got in touch with Benton to ask him about the release and his plans for the future of BBS.

UnCL: First of, I had a really great time at the launch party last month and the crowd seemed to really enjoy the new material. How was the night for you and what has the reaction been so far to BBS Volume 1? B: Thanks for coming down! The night had an amazing turn out, hopefully we’re going to do a regular night over at Kamio. The reaction to BBS as a label has been really refreshing for me, it’s cool having a fresh platform to release and experiment with a sound I’ve been into since I was a kid. UnCL: Your releases on BBS have a more jungle/hardcore sound compared to your more dubstep sounding stuf on Relections a few years ago. How naturally did this change come about and what has inluenced it? B: Well as soon as I learnt to write music I was writing jungle / hardcore, it was always something I wanted to release but back then I was mainly releasing dubstep tracks because that’s what I was listening to and going raving to. UnCL: Tell us a bit more about why you decided to start BBS, and how it came about from Swamp81. B: I was initially going to release on Swamp81 but after writing so many similar tracks me and Loefah sat down and decided to

start a sub label for my beats to go on. We was in Croatia 2013 and I’d just given The Callin’ to Klose One before I left, when I got back there was a video from the Swamp81 boat party of it getting pulled up twice. When Loe returned he called me up and said let’s sit down and discuss releasing it, that’s how Benton Beats came around. UnCL: It seems like Swamp81 and BBS have a sort of family feel to them as labels where everyone is supportive of each others work, like DMZ and Big Apple were too. How important is this for you and do you think it inluences the way you make music? B: Definitely! I was going to DMZ at 16 along with a lot of the other guys on Swamp and other labels so we’ve always been tight and exchanged/made music together. UnCL: Why did now feel like the right time to release your own music on your own label, and who is making music right now that is inluencing your sound? B: Honestly I never thought I’d have my own label / platform to work so freely on so it’s dope, as for timing it kinda just happened naturally. My sound is influenced by old and new music but the new 2 Bad Mice EP definitely inspired me to keep on writing this sound. 047 // UnCL

UnCL: Now that the new release is out, will you be focusing more on DJing and playing more nights or is your focus always on producing new music? B: Both! The DJing inspires the producing and vice versa, I’d like to start working more on BBS LIVE though so hopefully that’s something you’ll see in the future. UnCL: We recently heard the great news that Fabric will reopen, but clubs are still having a hard time in London as we saw when Dance Tunnel had to close over the summer. How do you feel about London clubland at the moment? B: It’s having a bit of a hard time at the moment but now that Fabric has got its licence back it goes to show that if we all do our bit for the club scene and not back down London will continue to have a great rave scene. UnCL: Finally, BBS is a fairly new label but you’ve already achieved a lot. What can we expect from BBS in the future? B: More vinyl releases, more tapes, more raves and I’m going to try get this BBS LIVE off the ground in 2017! BBS Vol.1 is now available to stream on Spotify, or you can support the label by downloading it here: https:// www.kudosrecords.co.uk/release/ bbsv001/benton-volume-one.html 048 // UnCL

By: James Witherspoon

The So So Glos: ‘Fuck the music industry!’ New York based punk band The So So Glos release their hotly-anticipated new album, ‘Kamikaze’, in the UK on Friday. I caught up with lead singer Alex Levine to discuss it, the current situation of world politics and their UK tour which begins in December.

UnCL: So you guys have a new album out in the AL: It was a struggle. One of us was hospitalUK, Kamikaze – how would you describe it in one ised, there was a lot of trials and tribulations sentence? that went into the process. It was very much a coming together record…. It was a real triAL: One sentence? One sentence is hard. The umph I’m proud of it. In a funny way, the record is an expression of emotion on an ex- record almost didn’t happen in the same way treme level; very loud and quiet at the same that it did if you get what I mean. time. A very contrasting record. UnCL: I know it’s a hard question, but what’s UnCL: I heard through the grapevine that this your favourite track on the album, and why? album almost didn’t even get made, would you be able to elaborate on that? AL: Hmm. That is a hard question; I go back

049 // UnCL

and forth. Usually when I’m done with a record, the songs that are stuck in my head whilst we’re recording aren’t the songs that are stuck in my head when it’s out. I guess ‘Devil’s Doing Handstands’ - that’s one that I think is good. Either that or ‘Down the Tubes’; I had to put a load of chords and changes into it, that’s something I really love: those ones are my favourites.

UnCL: What’s your favourite venue to play in the UK? AL: I’m less concerned with the actual venue and more with the show: if we reached the point of ecstasy; a stage of euphoria with the audience. We’ve definitely seen that over here. The venue isn’t what gets it going for me, the energy that seeps underneath the door and goes outside of the venue.

UnCL: Ahead of your tour in the UK, you recorded a pretty heartfelt cover of Barry McGuire’s ‘Eve UnCL: Have you ever had a complete disaster on of Destruction’… what are your thoughts on your stage. Like, I’m talking complete disaster? new president? AL: We’ve had shows where we’re completely AL: It feels like we’re at the end times. It’s out of tune for the whole time. We had a show the best of times; it’s the worst of times; it’s where I broke 3 bass strings then my bass amp the end of times. But you know, you have to broke and I ran with a kid in the crowd to the stay optimistic. Hopefully, it’s gonna unite the van and got a different bass amp. We plugged opposition to that kind of rhetoric and the it in, and it turned out to be alright. Somepeople who have been taken advantage of will times a disaster can work to your advantage. come together and punk rock will be more Hopefully that’s what will happen with Breximportant than it has ever been. All these it and Trump. The world loves a comeback. misfits and outcasts will be brought together When we finally got that amp back on stage, under one roof; people feeling left out and like it was a great show – even better. their rights have been violated. Ultimately, we can take one step back and twenty steps UnCL: What’s the funniest thing that’s happened forward - that’s my hope. The powers that be to you at a show? are getting more dangerous than ever, and it seems hopeless, but I don’t think it is. I think AL: One time we were at a show and these we need to have a lot more protest songs be- kids were in the front row who were like 13 or 14 years old. And they were just super-fans ing written. – screaming every word. A mosh-pit: they UnCL: What’s worse, the UK for Brexit or the started all that action on the dancefloor. And they’re starting to look at their watch and US for Trump? they’re gonna leave. I looked at them and I AL: It’s hard to compare. There’s a lot of sim- said ‘Are you guys gonna leave?’, ‘cause they ilarities; a lot of prejudices built into certain were like the energy – and they said ‘We gotdecisions that have been made - there’s a lot of ta go, our mum is gonna kill us ‘cause we’re fear and it’s important for people in the resist- out so late’. And there’s a law that 16 year olds ance, on the other side, to not get apathetic or can’t be out past midnight in New Jersey. I discouraged and to get motivated to do any- told him to call his mum and I spoke to her thing. Hopelessness is marketed to you so that on stage. That was funny. We’ve had a lot of you don’t care; there’s a reason why the edu- stuff like that, funny moments. I’m half joking cation system doesn’t really work in America. about everything I say on stage. People need to stay informed, stay positive UnCL: What’s your favourite artist or band? and stick together. 050 // UnCL

AL: That’s such a tough question because there’s so many artists that have inspired me in different ways. I’ve been listening to a lot of Leonard Cohen post his death, and definitely pre his death. He’s always been one of my favourite songwriters. I don’t know. Mmmm. There’s too many. UnCL: And what was the irst musician you loved as a kid? AL: I remember when I was like 5 or 6, my mum took me to the Buddy Holly Story and I just became obsessed with Buddy Holly... and the Beatles… and the Kinks. So I started at that point in rock and roll history. I loved the character, loved that he was a nerd but also super cool. He died young, that’s not good. I was a pretty dark kid. UnCL: I notice you set up a few all-ages performance spaces in Brooklyn. Do you feel like getting young children immersed in the world of music is crucial to their involvement in it in later life? AL: Yeah, I think it’s essential - all ages is really important. In America we have 21 and up for drinking so it’s different. The reason these centres exist is so that all ages can come. Imagine there’s a 16 year old kid and music is saving him from whatever shit he’d otherwise be doing, and usually people don’t let under 21s get into a venue where music is playing. Seems like common sense but there’s a lot of bureaucracy. Sometimes you just need to take it into your hands and be a vigilante.

UnCL: What’s the thing you hate the most about the music industry? AL: The industry! I like music. And I hate the industry. Fuck the music industry. UnCL: What do you like doing outside of the recording studio and touring? AL: Bowling is good. Go to the movies. Eating Chinese food. I like to drink too. Drinking’s good; whiskey. UnCL: Finally, what advice would you give for people starting out with a band? AL: I would say, just go with yourself and just go with what is right and write as many songs as possible. Don’t let anyone stop you. Hopefully the rest works out. You gotta go out all the way, you can’t go half way. And say something. The So So Glos’ new album ‘Kamikaze’ is out in the UK now.

Venues are rooted in community and I think you can feel that. When we play a show in a town, you can feel it. We’re a dysfunctional group of brothers, and we feel that. There’s an energy, that’s contagious, and people feel it in a real way. Maybe there’s some darkness in the lyrical content but there is an overall positive energy coming out of one of our shows and that’s important. 051 // UnCL

Š Under City Lights MMXVI The views expressed in this magazine do not necessarily represent the views of the editor, Rare FM or UCLU.

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.