Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Dry the River

Dry the River by Avril Kelly
Dry the River by Avril Kelly.

I first encountered Dry the River when they offered to do a gig for the Climate Camp stage at Glastonbury this summer. On record they are fabulous, but live I was absolutely blown away by this talented five some. Over the past six weeks they have been on tour up and down the country: I find out how life has been treating them in my intimate interview with Norwegian lead singer and chief songwriter Peter Liddle.

How did the band get together?
I’d like to say it was an epic tale of overcoming obstacles and triumph in the face of adversity but it was actually a pretty run-of-the-mill thing, haha. I had taken some time out of music to do some other stuff but before I knew it I’d kind of unconsciously started writing a record. One weekend I recruited some musicians I knew from old bands etc. and we spent a weekend recording. The day after we finished recording I went off on an acoustic UK tour and the band was kind of built out of that.

Dry The River by Karina Yarv
Dry The River by Karina Yarv.

How do you describe your music to people who have never heard it?
Actually it’s changed a lot – at the start it was very lo-fi folky stuff because the songs grew out some acoustic bedroom recordings, but now that we all live together and are all involved in the writing process we’ve opened the door to a lot of different influences. I think the songs still resemble folk music thematically – I write a lot about family, relationships, the things that a lot of us deal with day to day – but in the practice room we all get the chance to pull the arrangements in different directions. I guess the short answer is that it’s folky gospel music played by a post-punk band.

Dry The River by Mags James
Dry The River by Mags James.

You share a home in Stratford – is this ever hard work? Who does the most washing up (and the least)?
I think living in a confined space with other people is always a tricky business. At least in our case we have a mutual understanding of each other’s situation. That said, some days are obviously harder than others. We’ve been on tour for six weeks now, mostly cooped up in a van – I think after our Nest show on Wednesday we’ll all go back to our respective family homes for some time apart. Jon (drums) does the most washing up, he likes to keep things tidy. I think I probably do the least, or Scott (bass)…

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You are known for utterly lush harmonies… is it hard to get these right and how do they come about?
It’s funny, it was never our intention to be a band that feature prominent harmonies. We were in the studio working on a new recording and I asked Scott whether he could sing. He had a go at singing a third or a fifth on top of what Matt and I were singing and it seemed to work. It really was that haphazard – we rarely spend time crafting harmony parts, Matt and Scott just sing where it seems to make sense. Sometimes we get to recording a song and realise what we’ve been singing doesn’t even work, and have to sit at a piano working out what the lines should be!

dry the river by Gaarte
Peter Liddle by Gaarte.

Were you all musical children? Did you learn to play instruments from a young age?
Aside from Will, we’re all first generation musicians. None of us come from particularly musical families. I think we actually all grew up at a time when being in rock bands was just what kids did. Certainly in Newbury where I took up music in earnest, almost everyone tried their hand at it. That said, I’m at the other extreme to Will – I never studied music formally at all and one day I’d like to. The other guys all have at least a pretty solid (if rudimentary) understanding of music theory.

Stephanie Thieullent-dry the river
Dry the River by Stephanie Thieullent.

Does Peter write all the lyrics, and where do you draw inspiration from?
Writing lyrics is a separate endeavour to writing songs, for me. I write chord progressions and vocal melodies and have a pretty formed idea of where a song is going, then I go away and spend a long time writing lyrics. I think experience informs the way everybody behaves – it’s the lens that everybody views the world through and music is no different. In my case the songs are rarely based on a specific event or a candid message that I desperately want to deliver. They’re more a collection of responses to environments I’ve found myself in – periods of time, people, places… So I guess in that respect they include images of my childhood in Norway and the UK, reflections on my time at University, and a whole load of other stuff that influences my worldview on any given day.

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Your songs are very intense emotionally – is this intentional and why do you think they come across like this?
I think there are probably two reasons for that. Firstly, whether it’s an event or a feeling or a situation, something has to motivate an artist enough to write a song or paint or whatever. I think the vast majority of artworks are created as an emotional response, so the subject matter is always going to be emotional in nature. Secondly, though, we are grew up listening to post-punk and metal and so on, which is traditionally played in a very intense way. I think the way we play probably magnifies the emotional content in the lyrics.

We first met at Glastonbury when you played for Climate Camp this year… what was your highlight of this year’s festival?

You will be playing a lot more festivals next summer, can you tell us which ones they will be, and are there any in particular that you are looking forward to?
I think we’ve confirmed quite a few now but I’m not sure which we’re meant to reveal! The other day we were announced alongside Midlake and Wild Beasts in the first batch of names for End of the Road, which we’re super stoked about!

Dry the River by Gaarte.

You’ve decided to release your debut single on Transgressive Records – what made you decide to go with this label and what will the single be?
Tim and Toby at Transgressive really put their faith in the music at an early stage when everything was uncertain. A lot of people see a band with potential and sit in the wings, waiting to see how they’ll fare. Transgressive were the opposite – they met us straight away, told us they loved the music and believed in it, and set about moving mountains to help us become a full time band. Aside from all that, they’re a great label and we’re really proud to be adding to the discography. As for the song, you’ll have to wait and see!

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Your YouTube video for Bible Belt has gained more than 100,000 hits – why do you think it has proved so popular?
There are a variety of a reasons I suppose – firstly it was on the YouTube front page as part of a YouTube Music Tuesdays promotion, which I think put it in front of a lot of people who wouldn’t normally have seen it. Also Watch Listen Tell, who filmed that session, have a really loyal following, and maybe there was a word of mouth element too – I guess it’s quite memorable with Matt’s broken arm and so on!

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You’ve just played the Forum, what was the highlight of the gig? What can the audience expect at your headline gig at the Nest in Dalston?
The Forum was our biggest show ever – there’s no substitute for experience on big stages in front of lots of people! That said, we love the more intimate settings where we can see familiar faces and talk to people. I hope The Nest will be a really special event – for us it’s our homecoming show after six weeks on the road, as well as our 100th show and a celebration of all that’s come about in the past year.

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You can find the wonderful Dry the River on Myspace here, and at home on their website here where you can download three songs for free. You can also follow them on twitter here, and of course do not forget their headline show, which is on Wednesday 15th December at The Nest. Full listing info here. Read my review of their gig at Glastonbury here.

Categories ,dalston, ,Dry the River, ,folk, ,Harmonies, ,Indie, ,Midlake, ,Norway, ,Peter Liddle, ,Stéphanie Thieullent, ,Stornaway, ,The Forum, ,The Nest, ,Transgressive, ,Transgressive Records, ,Watch Listen Tell, ,Wild Beasts

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Amelia’s Magazine | Wild Beasts

So here we are. After a couple of years the guys from Canada return come back with their long awaited second release Neon Bible. As a consequence a little journey to London is always good to promote their new material and the Brixton Academy has no problem in selling out tickets of their four concerts in March.

Supporting artist is Patrick Wolf who’s also coming back on the scene with a lighter, more about online funnier and probably less difficult album than his previous offerings. His was a good show, try nothing to complain about and he certainly knows how to impress the public with his vocal qualities.

Suddenly it’s nine o’clock: lights down, what is ed public screaming and from the video projectors a preacher is explaining to us God’s law. In the background an enormous neon bible illuminates in red while some other neon’s appear in front of the stage.
Keep the Car Running, The Well and the Lighthouse or Ocean of Noise, the last one much better live than on the album, are among the first to be performed before coming to their relatively old hits.

As for Arcade Fire they represent everything a big band should be: multi-instrumentalists (Régine Chassagne), violins, horns, organs, lots of different materials and a show that offers all the songs that a fan can ask. The lead vocalist Win Butler is constantly supplied by choruses, shouts or backing vocals while the rest of the band seem unable to rest and keeps moving around the stage. Well, static is definitely not the word to define them. Chaotic in their movements and epic in their anti-minimalist concept of music probably fits better for a band that concentrates on orchestrations.

A really good live show that makes you come back home and listen again to the new release if, just like me, you’ve been a little disappointed the first time you heard it. Even if I am definitely a bigger supporter of Funeral, I am beginning to think that probably in a couple of weeks I’ll be playing Neon Bible constantly on my earphones.

Barfly on a Friday night – rammed. Not as you might expect with sweaty youths, help oh no, visit an older crowd is in tow tonight for a couple of hot, new electro-ey acts – wicked.

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Amelia’s Magazine | Festival Preview: Kendal Calling

For a festival that is just five years old, illness Kendal Calling has already amassed a kudos rating that belies its youth; (Annie Nightingale remarked simply, “It’s how festivals should be”). Savvy enough to realise that it is all about keeping the punter happy; the organisers of Kendal have gone above and beyond the call of duty to provide an enjoyable and hassle free weekend for all attending 2010′s festivities. In a few aspects, they got lucky. Take the setting for example; situated in Lowther Deer Park inside the Lake District in Cumbria, Kendal gets to take advantage of the stunningly breathtaking and unspoilt location; nestled between the dramatic landscape of craggy mountains, Lowther Deer Park makes up 1,000 acres of lush greenery. But with everything else, Kendal has worked hard on its own volition to provide a sound weekend.

The eclectic and diverse line-up will mix up bigger acts such as Doves, The Coral, Calvin Harris and The Futureheads with indie darlings Wild Beasts (whom several of our contributors have professed undying love to recently), OKGo and Erland & the Carnival, while the Calling Out Stage – dedicated to cherry picking the most exciting new music – and the Kaylied Stage (featuring a blend of local and folk music) has the kind of line-up that makes our mouths water. Like some kind of Tom Robinson/BBC Radio 6 airplay fantasy, the buzz around First Aid Kit, The Parlotones, Goldheart Assembly, Good Shoes, These New Puritans and Kirsty Almeida will mean that anyone catching their sets will be a good six months ahead of the curve (which you all are anyway; but extra brownie points can never go amiss)

There are now only a few hundred tickets left for Kendal Calling. Tickets can be found on their website, along with details on additional Thursday night entertainment and camping.

Categories ,BBC Radio 6, ,Calvin Harris, ,Countryside, ,doves, ,Erland & The Carnival, ,festival preview, ,festivals, ,folk, ,Goldheart Assembly, ,Good Shoes, ,Indie Pop, ,Kirsty Almeida, ,OK Go, ,The Coral, ,the futureheads, ,The Parlotones, ,These New Puritans, ,Wild Beasts

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Amelia’s Magazine | Festival Preview: Latitude

Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Viveka Goyanes
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Kim Seoghee may not be Flemish (I’m gonna bet he isn’t) but his work sure as hell feels the touch of Belgium. With a team of skinny stoney faced pretty boy models and ethereal girls, visit web Kim showed us a classic example of the sulky European genre. Eyes emphasised with kohl, visit this the models lined up to show Another 7th Day, prescription a pick ‘n’ mix collection in black, grey and cream. Amongst the upbeat surroundings of Alternative Fashion Week their cool collective attitude stood right out, but they’d fit right in at Paris or London fashion weeks proper.

Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Kim Seoghee
Kim Seoghee with his models.

Laura Panter showed a clever collection – ‘This collection cries adolescent’ – God knows what being a teenager had to do with it though. The clothes were a curve enhancing mix of pastel chiffon and wool with bondage inspired straps and belt features.

Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Panter
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Panter
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Panter
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Panter
Laura Panter.

She was followed swiftly by the work of another Laura. Laura Fox had put together a cute series of outfits inspired by ‘British Heritage, Harris Tweed and Oilskin’ – with the aim of promoting manufacturing in the UK. Her love for classic British designers such as Christopher Bailey for Burberry were clear in what I thought was a sweet and mature collection, and that was before I discovered that Laura is wheelchair bound. She has a good web presence with a Carbonmade website and a twitter feed so she clearly hasn’t let a little thing like a disability stop her from keeping busy. And my friends over at Creative Boom have also blogged on her here. Dead impressed.

Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Fox
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Fox
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Fox
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Fox
Alternative Fashion Week Day 5 2010 Laura Fox
Laura Fox had business cards to hand: the way it should be done!

Sarina Hosking showed a couple of pieces titled Beauty and the Beast. I have to say I’m not surprised by the title – during a week when titles often bore abstract relevance to the collections they were attached to (at best), this did exactly what it said on the tin. The girl that really got all the photographers salivating was a sexy grown-up version of Little Red Riding Hood, complete with red lacy veil. An elegant gent in wolf mask looked on. They were a distraction from the rest of the collection but heck, why not mix and match your fairytale references? According to her myspace Sarina is principally a theatrical designer, so it all begins to make sense.

Transform by Elizabeth Wilcox was described as ‘Sportswear creating capsule wardrobe’. It was certainly sporty but I am not sure I was feeling the marl grey highlighted with neon sculptural thing.

Viveka Goyanes put together cutesy cream printed shirts with carefully styled black and white tailoring to present a mature collection called Brummella the Dandella. I particularly loved all the little touches, like the ripped and accessorised socks. It always pays to look down!

The first festival I ever had the fortune to attend was Latitude 2007. Still a fresher at university, page still fresh-faced and just a little naïve; a small hatchback, viagra order four friends, and every nook and cranny jammed with our camping equipment. We were green, and we didn’t know that you wouldn’t need six sets of clothes, nor a full foldable mattress, nor (as one of our group, bizarrely, thought) a full set of crockery. It was only due to our general keenness that left us arriving early and managing to snag a camping spot both close to the site entrance and (crucially) within 600 yards of the car park. That was, I discovered, exactly the limit of my stamina for being able to carry my own weight in paperbacks and camping stoves (three!) and several pairs of shoes. Oh, idle youth! These days I can take five nights of living in muddy squalor like a medieval serf in my stride, but that’s only down to training myself; I had to ween myself off such modern luxuries as soap, razors, and fresh underwear.

But I digress – this is meant to be a preview of Latitude 2010. The background: Latitude occurs every year in July in Southwold in Suffolk, and operates under the banner of Festival Republic (formerly Mean Fiddler), that gargantuan promotions company with fingers in many pies and still perhaps best know for the carnival of the damned that is the Reading and Leeds Weekender. Latitude is something of a pet project for Festival Republic, who felt that British festivals had lost track of what made them so culturally important in the first place – not just the bands but the atmosphere, the vibe, the performers on stilts and the chance meetings in the dark under the boughs of some off-to-the-side willow. Glastonbury has become something of a behemoth, but it used to be a small and intimate affair; Latitude’s raison d’être is to mimic what Glastonbury is suppose to once have been. My verdict, taking my experiences of 2007 into account, is that they have succeeded admirably, though it would be churlish to say that it’s exactly as the same. Many of those ideals that the hippies celebrated at the solstice three decades ago – appreciation of the earth, appreciation of humanity – have arguably seeped into the larger (regular) festival-going public, but these days we’re much, much better at recycling.

Capacity is relatively small, as far as festivals go these days, capped at 25000 since 2008, and the wondrous thing about Latitude is that you can go the whole weekend without seeing a single band. There’s a strong lineup of comedy acts, theatre performances, literature talks and other cultural oddities that mark it out as unique in the British festival scene. I’ll run through some of the things to look forward to this year, for those that are going, and if you’re not then be quick, because it’ll sell out soon.

There are several music stages scattered about the site. The largest is the main Obelisk Arena, this year headlined by Florence & the Machine, Belle & Sebastian, and Vampire Weekend. Other artists worth seeing include folkster Laura Marling, indie legends Spoon, insanely talented Mexican acoustic duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, gorgeous melody act Dirty Projectors, and even a recently-reformed James. They’ll probably sing that song about sitting.

Move across to the second stage and you’ll find the Word Arena, headlined by the National, the xx, and Grizzly Bear. The first is one of the best bands in the world, without question, and if you go you’ll probably find me there too, undergoing some kind of trembling transcendental spasm attack. I love that band. Oh god how I do. The xx are an interesting choice of headliner as their music, so heavy with meaning and yet so utterly minimal, might struggle to hold a headlining slot on a festival stage. I’ve seen them live before and they were bloody fantastic, so I’m sure they’ll be fine; I won’t be seeing them at Latitude, though. My reasons involve a broken heart, a worn mixtape, and shattered promises – I won’t burden you any further than that, but know that it was horrid. Grizzly Bear are sick, and will absolutely suit the beautiful site that Latitude is situated within. Also playing the Word Arena are Wild Beasts, Richard Hawley, the Horrors, and Yeasayer, etc. etc..

Then you’ve got your Lake Stage, which is (no surprises here) situated next to a lake, as well as the Sunrise Arena deep in the woods on the edge of the site. Exactly who shall be playing where on these stages hasn’t been announced yet, but what is know is that artists and bands such as the Big Pink, Black Mountain, Girls, These New Puritans, Tokyo Police Club, and a bunch of others. I’ve been looking back through past years and Latitude 2010 looks like being potentially the best ever with regards to the music acts (though 2009 was also pretty sick – Nick Cave!). But it’s not all about the music, of course, otherwise it wouldn’t be quite as sweetly unique as it is.

In the Comedy tent there are sets from Richard Herring, Emo Philips, Rich Hall, Phill Jupitus, Mark Watson, but also many smaller acts such as Mark Oliver and Doc Brown. In previous years this tent has had a propensity towards overcrowding when the bigger names have appeared, but hopefully they’ll have ironed out the creases there. We’ve already covered the Literature tent on Amelia’s Magazine, somewhat, but I’ll add that Jon McGregor is also giving a talk. He’s the author of If Nobody Speaks Of Remarkable Things, a novel that is in itself extraordinarily remarkable and one of the finest examples of prose-poetry I’ve read in the past decade. Also of note here is that Dan Kitson, who probably blushes when he gets described as, “perhaps the finest standup comic of his generation,” all time, will be telling a story for an hour every night at midnight on the Waterfront Stage. His work is rarely available on video as he doesn’t like the idea of his shows being pirated, so please take this opportunity to see him in the flesh.

John Cooper Clarke is in the Poetry tent – one of the towering figures of modern performance poetry in this country should be reason enough to raise some curiosity there, but there are also appearances from important figures on the British poetry scene like Luke Wright and John Stammers. Eddie Argos, of Art Brut fame, will also be doing a set – if you’re familiar with the man then you’ll know that’s an intriguing prospect.

I’ve barely scratched the surface here – there’s a Cabaret tent that parties on into the early hours of the morning, there’s the Film & Music Arena showcasing some unique new audiovisual shows (as well as more irreverent stuff from the likes of Adam Buxton and the Modern Toss crew), and there’s also a chance to wander into the woods to find both the opera performances and the In The Woods area, a woodland clearing set up for late night raving. There are numerous plays put on at the Theatre Arena, including performances from the Royal Shakespeare Company and Everyman Playhouse. There’s a huge childrens’ area that’s almost like a playground.

Hell, the whole thing is like some gaudy carnival from the middle ages transported through time for our enjoyment. There’s a parade at some point, there’s giant painting projects, you can row boats in the lake, you can watch a jazz band play all day on a floating stage on the lake, and so on, and so on. The beauty of the site just completes the package, and thankfully the Latitude team are very good at maintaining it. They’ve got a well-developed set of environmentally-friendly policies that have managed to recycle most of the waste from past festivals, including designated recycling bins, bags handed out to campers for sorting their recycling, and everything you can buy on site is sourced so that it won’t damage the environment both getting there and if it’s thrown away. Sorted.

So that’s Latitude 2010. Three days almost doesn’t seem enough, does it?

Categories ,2010, ,Adam Buxton, ,Art Brut, ,Arts, ,Belle & Sebastian, ,Black Mountain, ,Cabaret, ,comedy, ,Dan Kitson, ,dirty projectors, ,Doc Brown, ,Eddie Argos, ,Emo Philips, ,environment, ,Everyman Playhouse, ,festival, ,film, ,Florence & the Machine, ,girls, ,glastonbury, ,grizzly bear, ,ian steadman, ,James, ,John Cooper Clarke, ,John Stammers, ,Jon McGregor, ,latitude, ,Latitude Festival, ,Laura Marling, ,leeds, ,Luke Wright, ,Mark Oliver, ,Mark Watson, ,Modern Toss, ,music, ,Nick Cave, ,opera, ,Phill Jupitus, ,rave, ,Reading, ,Rich Hall, ,richard hawley, ,Richard Herring, ,rodrigo y gabriela, ,Royal Shakespeare Company, ,Spoon, ,Standup, ,the big pink, ,the horrors, ,The National, ,The XX, ,These New Puritans, ,Tokyo Police Club, ,Vampire Weekend, ,Wild Beasts, ,Yeasayer

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Fireworks Night and review of new album One Winter, One Spring

Fireworks Night by James Shedden
Fireworks Night by James Shedden.

Straight from the opening clatter of Settle Down its clear that the new album from Fireworks Night (championed in Amelia’s Magazine many a moon ago) is something quite special. A violin curls hypnotically around the driving beat as the lyrics relish the ‘untold pleasures of human interaction‘ in grand orchestral style. (Why not teach yourself to play like this? Find excellent beginner violin lessons with private teachers here.) Across the Sea is a partly delicate, partly bitter tale that yearns for something more far away across time and space, whilst the grind of strings dominates in Broken Bottles. Even as the vocals come to the fore, as in That Easy Way (where the falsetto has more than a touch of Antony Hegarty) there is always a defiant beat to drive the melody along. One Winter, One Spring is a rollicking slice of what I have decided to term chamber folk: a beguiling mix of folk inspired narrative and chamber pop largesse (I say that in a good way) On the day of the album release I caught up with founding member James Lesslie.

Fireworks Night by Alex Green aka MSTR GRINGO
Fireworks Night by Alex Green aka MSTR GRINGO.

What have you been up to since we last spoke in 2007? Has it been an eventful few years? What has changed and what has remained the same?
It has been a very eventful four years, even if the time between the two albums might suggest otherwise. When last we spoke the band was more a collective – which is perhaps a fancy way of saying I hadn’t worked out how to organise things properly. In the second half of 2007 Rhiannon and Neil, then Ed, joined playing violin, viola and drums respectively. In the autumn of that year we toured with another band that Ed and I were in called The Mules (also featured in Amelia’s Magazine, fact fans) and that cemented the line-up. It’s been the six of us ever since with the other half being made up of myself, Tim on piano and Nick on guitar and too many other instruments to mention. Through 2007 and 2008 we were lucky enough to play with some bands who I very much admire such as Frog Eyes, Sunset Rubdown and David Thomas Broughton. We also recorded and released an E.P in 2008 and began work on the album in 2009. We recorded it ourselves and that and other boring practical issues led to the rather long time it’s taken for us to release it.

Fireworks Night One Winter One Spring Cover
New album One Winter, One Spring is released on Monday 7th November, did you deliberately time it for this time of year?
We had initially hoped it would come out in the summer so it was not entirely deliberate. When things got delayed it was suggested and seemed an apt, if a little hokey, combination.

Fireworks Night in the street
What prompted your name, was it a particularly love of Bonfire Night?
It was the result of a rather poor joke that I can no longer remember. It has since turned out that my mum loves fireworks – she bounds to the window any time they appear near the house – and has decided we’re named on account of this, a story I don’t want to spoil.

Fireworks Night by Victoria Haynes.

Your music is described as a cross between folk and chamber pop, has it always been thus, and what influences have helped to shape your unique sound?
I think so, though the chamber pop factor has seemingly increased over the last few years. I think our sound is the product of the multitude of musical interests that the six of us have. I hope I am right when I say that Nick is keen on people such as William Basinski and Arvo Part, Rhiannon enjoys Bellowhead, Ed likes ABC, Neil Wild Beasts and Tim has all of the Tom Waits albums – they all end up in there in some shape or form. You might have to listen closely but they’re there.

Fireworks Night
What inspires your lyrics and who writes them? I hear that family, home and the sea are strong themes, why is this?
I write the lyrics to the songs. It is difficult to say what specifically inspires them but generally it might be the pleasure of attempting to express an emotion, a story, or a visual image that the music might have suggested with language. I was a few songs into writing the album when I noticed that the themes you mention seemed to be recurring in the lyrics so I thought I would try and develop them. The reason for their initial appearance may be where I grew up which was near the ocean. The attention to family and home probably connects to that as well as the fact that we are all around the end of our twenties and perhaps thinking about such things. Our parties these days have more food and less own-brand spirits with white labels that bark their contents, GIN, VODKA, WHISKY. Ouch.

fireworks night by zyzanna
Across the Sea by Zyzanna.

Have you made any videos to accompany this album and if so where can I see them and what are they about?
There are some videos on their way we hope. There’s one for Settle Down that’s being made by a man named Nate Camponi who I have never met but is very good with a camera. It is very near completion and should be visible in the next week or two. There are subsequent plans for doing ones for Across the Sea and One Winter, One Spring, the former hopefully will be done in mid-December and the latter mid-January. Ideas so far have included the use of old super-8 footage and film-noir using Lego. We shall see what emerges and let you know when it does.

Settle Down

What are your plans for the future and can we see you playing live anywhere soon?
We will be celebrating the album’s release with a show at The Wheelbarrow with the Bleeding Heart Narrative in London on 17th November and I think we’re also playing at the New Cross Inn on 14th December. We all have jobs and other things that make playing shows a less regular event then they used to be. We currently aim for one per month which seems to be working out. We will see how things go with this album before plotting our next project. I already have songs ready to go so we shall see what happens. I’d really like to get everyone together and have dinner at some point in the near future as well.

Here’s to a heartwarming Fireworks Night dinner sometime soon. One Winter, One Spring is out today on Organ Grinder Records. Make sure you grab a copy and spread the word because Fireworks Night is too good to be a part time project!

Fireworks Night by SarahJayneDraws aka Sarah Jayne Morris
Fireworks Night by SarahJayneDraws aka Sarah Jayne Morris.

Categories ,ABC, ,Across the Sea, ,album, ,Alex Green, ,Antony Hegarty, ,Arvo Part, ,Bellowhead, ,Bleeding Heart Narrative, ,Broken Bottles, ,Chamber Folk, ,Chamber Pop, ,David Thomas Broughton, ,Fireworks Night, ,Frog Eyes, ,James Lesslie, ,James Shedden, ,MSTR GRINGO, ,Nate Camponi, ,New Cross Inn, ,One Winter One Spring, ,Organ Grinder Records, ,review, ,Sarah Jayne Morris, ,Settle Down, ,Stravinsky, ,Sunset Rubdown, ,That Easy Way, ,The Firebird, ,The Mules, ,The Wheelbarrow, ,Tom Waits, ,Victoria Haynes, ,Wild Beasts, ,William Basinski, ,Zyzanna

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Amelia’s Magazine | Single and Video Review: I Like Trains – Sea of Regrets

iliketrains sea of regrets
My favourite music videos are those which take you on a narrative journey such as that for the new I Like Trains single, Sea of Regrets. In this 8 minute video Ben Lankester times his story in perfect harmony with the highs and lows of this emotionally extravagant song. Actor Segun Akingbola beautifully embodies the character, a man who is leaving something undetermined behind to head into the great unknown. The result is a silent cinematic piece that stands up to its own scrutiny.

Director Ben Lankester is a founding member of The Progress Film Company. Visit their website to view a film about the London Riots, asking Why Has This Happened?

From today I Like Trains are in the studio with Mercury Prize nominated producer Richard Formby, who worked on the Wild Beasts albums. Read my previous interview with singer Dave Martin here – I look forward to their third album!

Categories ,Ben Lankester, ,film, ,I Like Trains, ,London Riots, ,Mercury Prize, ,Narrative, ,review, ,Richard Formby, ,Sea of Regrets, ,Segun Akingbola, ,single, ,The Progress Film Company, ,video, ,Why Has This Happened?, ,Wild Beasts

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Amelia’s Magazine | Music Listings: 5th – 11th October


Turner Prize

Enrico David, information pills Roger Hiorns, Lucy Skaer and Richard Wright are the lucky shortlisted ones on the Turner Prize’s notepad this year and it’s been noted that the Prize has gone for less shock and awe than usual, resulting in a more thoughtful set of works on show. You will probably have at least heard of Roger Hiorns via his incredible work coating an entire flat in blue crystals.But it’s not about the fame of course. From Tuesday, you can go along to the Tate Britain and see for yourself.


Booker Prize
Announced Tuesday

The 2009 Booker prize shortlist is full of big-hitters, in the form of Sarah Waters (The Little Stranger), JM Coetzee (Summertime) and A.S. Byatt (The Children’s Book), as well as historical fiction from Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall) and lesser known authors Adam Foulds (The Quickening Maze) and Simon Mawer (The Glass Room). If you’re not sure what to read next the Booker shortlist is always a good place to get ideas outside of lists of the 100 Greatest Books of All Time. If you’re quick enough to have read them all already, look out for the winner announcement on Tuesday to see if you, in your wisdom, agree with the judges’ decision.


Grayson Perry’s Walthamstow tapestry

Grayson Perry is trying his hand at something other than ceramics with his “Walthamstow Tapestry”, an amazing, detailed piece of work a bit like a Bayeaux Tapestry for 2009. They cared about war, we care about shopping, it seems. Perry examines our consumerism but has also made something that is anti-consumerist: a one-off object that is the opposite of fast fashion or instant gratification.


Dance Umbrella

In recent years we’ve all rediscovered how amazing it is to watch and do dancing that is more involved than shuffling from one foot to the other while hoping that person over there will notice you. A big part of this change, other than Strictly of course, is Dance Umbrella. The influential dance festival-makers annual season kicks off this week, with the theme “African Crossroads”. They are staging performances and “days out” where you can get a little taster of lots of the shows going on around London over the next few weeks.

origin london craft fair

Origin London Craft Fair

There’s something special about an item that’s been made with love by another human being and not just generated by a machine or made under duress in a sweatshop. All the 300-odd artisans at this craft fair at Somerset House make beautiful pieces that are worth treasuring or just getting inspiration for your own Autum projects from.

Monday 5th October, web Fuck Buttons, Rough Trade East

The excellent, abrasive yet sublimely melodic electronic duo, Fuck Buttons, who we reviewed last week, play cuts from their much-anticipated Andy ‘great name’ Weatherall produced second album ‘Tarot Sport.’


Tuesday 6th October, Fanfarlo, Bush Hall

If your bones are composed of Beirut and Teitur then you’ll enjoy the musical flesh of epic London orchestral folk-popsters, Fanfarlo.


Wednesday 7th October, Pixies, Brixton Academy

With what seems like an influential band anniversary reunion a week, this week it’s the turn of Frank Black to reSurface-r Rosa with his oddball bandmates, to play 20 yr old Doolittle in its entirety.


Thursday 8th October, Wild Beasts, The Garage

We’re great fans of Wild Beasts’ elegant indie-tronica here at Amelia’s Magazine and singer Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto vocals in partilcular. Tonight, they celebrate the release of their stonking new album ‘Two Dancers’.

green kite midnight

Friday 9th October, Dance Yourself Happy, Round Chapel

Raising money for the Great Climate Swoop on 17 – 18 October, Amelia’s very own Ceilidh band, Green Kite Midnight, provide a stomping musical soundtrack to a really good night out.


Saturday 10th October, World John Peel Day, Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes

Twenty acts and fourteen DJs over two floors equates to a mini-festival celebrating the late great DJ John Peel. You get the feeling with many a Peel dedication that he would actually back a small percentage of the line-up, but we’re sure there’s something amongst this eclectic mix – that’d feature on his posthumous playlist. If not, bowling if fun I hear.


Sunday 11th October, Nick Cave reads from ‘The Death Of Bunny Munroe,’ Palace Theatre

Close your week in an unconventional manner, with gangly goth punk stalwart Cave as he reads excerpts from his new book and performs with the Bad Seeds, Warren Ellis and Martyn Casey.

Categories ,beirut, ,ceilidh, ,electro, ,fanfarlo, ,folk, ,fuck buttons, ,gig, ,goth, ,Green Kite Midnight, ,Indie, ,john peel, ,listings, ,live, ,Nick Cave, ,Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, ,pixies, ,pop, ,teitur, ,Wild Beasts

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Amelia’s Magazine | The Barclaycard Mercury Prize – A Preview!

[insert header by katie harnett]

This September London Fashion Week enters the courtyard of Somerset House for its third season. Over the next week Amelia’s Magazine will be previewing both the on and off schedules, medications ambulance naming the designers to firmly keep your eyes on.

For our first preview we have selected designers who have been showing solo for less than six seasons and have already caused quite a stir within the fashion industry.

Hannah Marshall

You may already be aware of Hannah Marshall’s darkly bold shapes without being aware that you are watching a Hannah Marshall in Florence and the Machine’s music video: The Drumming Song. As an introduction it does not prepare you for the exquisite inkiness of Marshall’s colour palate or embrace of the female figure her clothes propose.

Hannah Marshall by Naomi Law

Watching her s/s 2010 show in an old post office building in Holborn, advice was breathtaking. As the models stalked through the space, ailment the inky blue effervesced in the dim lighting. Marshall’s a/w 2010 named ‘An Army of Me’ was a continuation of stark cuts along the shoulders, waists enhanced or lost by the cut of jacket alongside bodycon dresses produced in luscious velvet.

Mary Katrantzou

Mary Katrantzou has been experimenting with the boundary pushing possibilities of digital print since her a/w show 2009. The occasional harshness of the prints are softened through Katrantzou’s application of the technique to silk.

The collections are a celebration of the decorative and her clothes are littered with references to the excess of the Baroque or the Rocco periods of art and architectural history.

Mary Katrantzou by Meeralee

However it would be a mistake to confuse these prints as a gimmick, Katrantzou’s interest spreads to the cut of the dress, producing a series of structural tailoring which serve embellish the texture of her designs from short frocks to elegant gowns. Amelia’s Magazine welcomes the break from the increasing dominance of minimalism.

Michael van der Ham

Michael Van Der Ham’s described his a/w 2010 collection of dresses as 3D collages, through which multiple fashion references were stated by an insatiable contrast of colours, fabrics and textures. During graduate season earlier this year his design influence could be felt across the catwalks. What will s/s 2011 bring for van der Haam?

Michael van der Ham by Lulu Biazus

Louise Gray

Central Saint Martins MA Graduate, Louise Gray was a recipient of Lulu Kennedy’s and Fashion East’s ever on the button talent for spotting innovative designers. Gray showed with Fashion East before staging solo presentations with the support of NewGen.

A Louise Gray exhibition begins life at London Fashion Week almost completely bare, before exploding in riotious colour as the exquisite detritus from her presentations fill the space. The clothes, a combination of traditional stitch and embroidery create intriguing collections.

Louise Gray by Jessica Stokes

Amelia’s Magazine’s are delighted by Gray’s decision to stage the collection on a catwalk at On|Off for s/s 2011.

David Koma and Holly Fulton

For s/s 2010 Holly Fulton and David Koma. will share a catwalk, Amelia’s Magazine have been watching Koma since his debut as Fashion Scout’s merit winner a year ago this September.

David Koma by Stuart Whitton

Holly Fulton first blasted onto the scene as part of Fashion East for two seasons, before launching her successful solo a/w 10 collection at London Fashion Week in February 2010. Fulton’s monochromatic colour palate was interspersed with a healthy dose of pop art.

Holly Fulton by Francesca Bourne

The clothes structure referenced the Fulton’s interest in off duty/on duty French daywear crossed with the elegance of Dr Zavargo. Amelia’s Magazine found ourselves bewitched by the bold graphic prints bordering on the illustrative that adorned the collection.

Fashion East

For ten incredible years Fashion East have been at the forefront of spotting and supporting graduates who develop into ‘the’ sought-after designers of our generation.

Heikki by Gemma Randall

This year’s crop are as delectable as ever as Lulu Kennedy introduces Saint Martins MA graduate Simone Rocha and fellow Royal College Graduates Felicity Brown and Heikki Salone.

The excitement of a Fashion East catwalk lies in their ability to reinvent what it is to be feminine and this season is no exception.

For a/w 2010 Heikki Salone presented the tomboy, dressed in black cobwebbed knitwear, that you would wear until it crumbles finished with DM boots. A look -potentially- for fans of Janey from MTV’s hit TV series Daria.

Felicity Brown and Simone Rocha by Gareth A Hopkins

Felicity Brown’s delectable designs are a lesson in vibrant romanticism, a feat not surprising considering her training at Alberta Ferretti, Loewe Lanvin and Mulberry.

In contrast Simone Rocha’s monochrome MA collection displayed structured modern cuts interspersed with a playful nod towards femininity by her inclusion of netted fuchsia headpieces.

Amelia’s Magazine wait with baited breath to see all of the aforementioned designers collections for s/s 2011.

Laura Marling, buy illustrated by Natasha Thompson

The nominees:
Biffy Clyro ‘Only Revolutions’
Villagers ‘Becoming A Jackal’
Corinne Bailey Rae ‘The Sea’
Mumford & Sons ‘Sigh No More’
Paul Weller ‘Wake Up The Nation’
Wild Beasts ‘Two Dancers’
Kit Downes Trio ‘Golden’
Laura Marling ‘I Speak Because I Can’
Dizzee Rascal ‘Tongue N’ Cheek’
Foals ‘Total Life Forever’
I Am Kloot ‘Sky At Night’
The xx ‘xx’ ? 

Beginning in 1992 during the height of Brit pop cool, the Mercury Prize still exists to champion the best of British music. Judged by a range of musicians, journalists and executive muso types, the winners get a massive cash prize and usually see their album sales soar. Unless of course, they are one of the unlucky ones who fall victim to the ‘Mercury curse’, which will see them become a distant musical memory. A fate suffered by last year’s winner Speech Debelle. Or ‘Who?’ as you might know her.  

As the twelve nominated acts gear up for Tuesday night’s/tonight’s awards Amelia’s Magazine run through the shortlisted nominees. As usual some are well known, legends the likes of the ‘Modfather’ himself — Paul Weller, some have burst onto the scene just this year such as the banjo-loving Mumford & Sons, and some are less well known such as experimental jazz outfit Kit Downes Trio.  

The xx, illustrated by Gareth A Hopkins

The xx and their debut album, the imaginatively named ‘xx’, are joint favourites along with Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Tongue N’ Cheek’. When you consider the young rapper has already claimed the prize once in 2003 for debut album ‘Boy in Da Corner’ it could be looking quite hopeful for the indie trio. The xx, infamous for their quiet unassuming indie anthems — a description that also fits the band’s demeanour – have enjoyed a brilliant first year. Winning fans on both sides of the Atlantic and among music stars and the public alike, they were perhaps a safe bet for a Mercury nomination. In fact much has been made of the rather impressive list of nominations this year. Important though the Mercury’s are to British music, there is usually criticism that the list is perhaps not representative enough, or trying to be too representative, or, that the judges are guilty of tokenism. 2010, however, sees one of the strongest line-ups of recent years. 

Mumford & Sons, illustrated by Natasha Thompson

Laura Marling and her beautiful second album ‘I Speak Because I Can’ will compete with boyfriend Marcus Mumford’s, of Mumford & Sons, debut ‘Sigh No More’. The boys have enjoyed a pretty meteoric rise to fame this year in contrast with Laura’s steady rise in popularity since she started winning over fans with her pretty folksy ditties as far back as 2007 — her album ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’ was shortlisted for the prize in 2008. And it could be argued that either Laura or the Mumfords would be deserving winners. After some thrilling performances at this summer’s festivals, 2010 really has seen folk rock re-enter the mainstream. 

Nominees Villagers and I Am Kloot also belong to the folksier side of British indie rock, the genre to which The Mercury’s remain the most faithful ever since the Brit pop days. Villagers enter the fray as total newbies with debut ‘Becoming A Jackal’. As beautiful as their songs are, eerie and driven by some powerful ‘80s pop influences, some critics argue that front man and chief songwriter Conor J O’Brien still has some scope for growth. I Am Kloot are definitely not newcomers; having come together from various bands in 200, Kloot are a mishmash of some of British music’s biggest names. Nominated album ‘Sky At Night’ was co-produced by former Mercury winner, Elbow front man, Guy Garvey.   

Villagers friends — Conor and co. have been touring with the Cumbrian group — Wild Beasts are next, with second album ‘Two Dancers’. It impressed fans and critics upon its release and is finding new fans all the time, possibly thanks to their sound belonging to a genre similar to a range of upcoming and forward thinking American outfits like Animal Collective, Yeasayer and Grizzly Bear

Biffy Clyro, illustrated by Natasha Thompson

Biffy Clyro
have been around for the best part of a decade but it is this year’s ‘Only Revolutions’ that made an impact on the Mercury shortlisters. Perhaps their increase in sales and fan base is largely down to the securing of admirers among the Radio 1 playlist compilers and consequently listeners, but their Scottish slant on stadium rock certainly appears to have taken off this year.  
Then to Corinne Bailey Rae’s moving second album ‘The Sea’, Rae admitted that many of the songs are about her late husband and the album would probably be up there among the favourites if the list of nominees was not as strong as it is. The follow-up to her million-selling eponymous first album ‘The Sea’ sees a shift from upbeat lounge-friendly soul to songs packing a whole lot more emotional punch and meaning, understandable after the tough couple of years that punctuated the recording of the two albums.  

Another Mercury act making a shift in styles between albums is, of course, Foals. Where 2008’s ‘Antidotes’ was all about bounding in with all guns blazing; guitars on the attack and punctuated chant-like vocals, 2010’s ‘Total Life Forever’ showcased another side of the Oxford five piece’s musical talents. This time round it is about quieter melodies, hushed voices and layers of instrumentation that gradually build into something really beautiful like in stand out track ‘Spanish Sahara’.  

Since going solo in the early 1990s Paul Weller has released an impressive ten albums, although always selling amazingly well none have particularly made much of an impact, apart from within the circles of his hardcore followers perhaps. His 2010 effort ‘Wake Up The Nation’, however, received some critical acclaim upon its release in April making the Modfather a deserving nominee for a Mercury. It’s the second time Weller has made the shortlist, 1993 album ‘Wild Wood’ made the cut in 1994 — the same year that saw M People controversially snatch the award from firm favourites Pulp. 

Kit Downs Trio, illustrated by Stéphanie Thieullent

And then to left-field nominees the Kit Downes Trio and their album ‘Golden’, perhaps proving that the Mercury’s can be guilty of a little tokenism after all? So maybe it was the case that someone on the panel felt the list was lacking an experimental jazz band, but actually the album is totally worthy of inclusion. Beautiful in its brave attempt to forge something different and new — it wouldn’t be that unusual for the Mercury’s if outsiders, the Trio, got the prize – unfortunately for them it could be the last we ever hear of them.   

Categories ,Awards, ,Barclaycard, ,Biffy Clyro, ,Corinne Bailey Rae, ,dizzee rascal, ,foals, ,I Am Kloot, ,Kit Downes, ,Laura Marling, ,Mercury Prize, ,Mumford& Sons, ,music, ,Nominees, ,Paul Weller, ,The XX, ,Villagers, ,Wild Beasts

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Amelia’s Magazine | Review: Dot-to-Dot Festival 2010, Nottingham

Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova

Animal Bandido are a fashion label with a difference. They’re totally anti-establishment and detest the omniprescent multi-national fashion empires that exploit workers and fabrics, price case and are on a mission to create a renaissance for struggling manufacturers who cannot compete with the big boys.

Their collections range from the vibrant to the downright whacky; weird and wonderful creations which illustrate fruits and other objects make up there range, pharm which includes knitwear, fabulous graphic prints and casual basics with a twist. Viewing their collections draws comparisons to Jean Charles de Castelbajac, nutty nu-raver Carri Mundane and knitwear brand Sibling. I caught up with Zosen and Claudia, aka Animal Bandido, to find out what’s behind this fresh new label…

What made you guys team up and create the street-wear label Animal Bandido?
Claudia: We started to talk about this project in September 2007. I finished studying fashion design a year before that. I was designing my own collections, doing super-limited editions that I sewed on my own.
At the beginning I was sceptical because I had collaborated on projects before, and most of the time it’s very difficult to agree with the ideas of other people. I thought I’d give this one a go because our backgrounds are different, each of us bringing different ideas and ways of working.
Zosen: I printed my designs on t-shirts for years and I collaborated with fashion designers, but I wanted to go forward producing other garments and control the process. Animal Bandido was born to make something in collaboration and use different techniques; Claudia brings her experience with the patterns and fashion design and I with the graphics and design in general.
But, day-to-day, we both take part in every process.

Spring/Summer 2009

What does the label represent for you?
The label represents other way to create pieces and to show our stuff to as many people possible.

Zosen, you are a well known urban artist in Barcelona. What made you move into fashion?
After the zero tolerance law against street art in Barcelona, I decided to use another techniques to spread the word. Using my graphics and colours on clothes, it’s another way to have a presence on the street and give the message to the street’s citizens.
Also, it’s interesting for me to experiment with other media and other people – it’s a great way to learn.

Autumn/Winter 2010

Claudia, tell us more about your background, in fashion?
I studied a degree in Fashion Design in Barcelona and then studied millinery at Central Saint Martins in London, followed by jewellery workshops at Casa Espiral, Barcelona.
I interned with Alberto Tous for his fashion show for Barcelona Fashion Week, and then began designing my own collections and selling them in little shops in Barcelona and Berlin.

What makes you different to big fashion corporations?
Well, there’s only two of us! There are no hierarchies; we work together and are both involved in everything, all the time. We produce everything locally, we pay worthy salaries, and we keep our manufacturing quantities reasonable to avoid waste.

Illustration by Natsuki Otani

Do you think your label is art or fashion led?
Our clothes are fashion, but treated as small pieces of art. We don’t follow the trends or encourage throwaway fashion, as the corporate giants do. We create and manufacture to order (for shops and customers) again to reduce waste.

Do you usually agree on everything? How easy is it to compromise when working as a creative partnership?
Claudia: It depends on the project, normally we just discuss everything thoroughly, allowing both of us to express our point of view. Sometimes Zosen is forced agree with me when we are talking about patterns and shapes or different ways of finishing a garment, but he controls more in graphic and web design!
We always try to be equally satisfied with everything related to the brand.

Autumn/Winter 2010

Do you experiment with anything else apart from clothes?
Zosen: Oh yes! We do many things, the most recent thing being a sculpture to present the new collection, that we installed in our studio to photograph the collection against.
It’s huge and gives so much new life to our studio that we are hoping to relocate it to some public space.
Claudia: Zosen always has a million and one projects on the go: a giant mural for the people on walls in London, an exhibition of customised records in Rome…
Now I’m coming up with a few surprises for September for Animal Bandido.

Illustration by Yuann Shen

What does Animal Bandido support?
We support the national textile industry in Spain, as opposed to the over-production and the exploitation of the third world. We pay people fairly. We’re behind a renaissance of the companies that became obsolete as a result of insurmountable production levels in third world countries; we want to give the possibility of growth to small companies so it’s not just the yucky multinationals that dominate the local market.

What makes Animal Bandido unique?
Our fabrics have our own original and unique designs printed on them. We make no more than 100 items per piece, so they are truly limited edition. When you consider that we now sell in Basel, New York, Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Zaragoza, Sweden and Nottingham and our pieces are divided between those places, there aren’t many per country.

Autumn/Winter 2010

What’s up next for Animal Bandido?
For the summer we’re launching printed bikinis and swimwear; lightweight hoodies using prints from the collection and a new, retro-inspired one. We’re also looking at launching accessories.

Another year, seek another bank holiday at the start of the summer, sale and another edition of the Dot-to-Dot Festival, sickness a sprawling mess of bands and audience occupying venues and bars in cities up and down the land. This year sees it spread from birthplace Nottingham and second city Bristol to Manchester, taking in three regional centres that, it could be argued, have long lacked massive centrally-located indie festivals to call their own and to ground their musical calendars.

Thanks to a snail-paced jam on the M1 we missed the first band of the day (Frontiers, in Rock City’s main hall) – instead, the day began for us in Rescue Rooms with the lads of The Cheek, who sadly failed to sparkle in the mood of the glorious sun twinkling down outside. Their name may bring to mind something skinny and sharp from the late 70s but the lead singer’s suit certainly didn’t. It looked like he’d borrowed it from his dad. Their poppy punk sound came across like a sort of watered-down Suede, which held my interest for all of ten minutes before I headed out for a wander.

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Trent SU, the second-largest of the venues at the festival, had what seemed to be the most appealing consistency in acts, even if it meant foregoing Blood Red Shoes and Wild Beasts (both bands having appeared at previous editions of the festival, however, and both bands were, inevitably, awesome – also, it illustrates just how frequently Dot-to-Dot manages to pick out the next big bands mere months before they break).

Small Black were gracing the stage as we arrived – hailing from Long Island, they’re something of a blog darling in corners of the web and I can completely see why. Their music is a very carefully crafted pop that bears a resemblance to geographical cousins like Beach Fossils and Memory Tapes, bands that specialise in a kind of laid-back, fuzzy sort of sound. It’s instantly unlike anything specific that you’ll have heard before, but equally, instantly recognisable. The four lads manage to balance melancholy, longing, joy and ecstasy in a way last seen regularly in the films of John Hughes.

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Upstairs in the bar, Islet were going through their usual routine of tearing up the stage. I’ve been an ardent fan of theirs since their lead singer screamed in my face back in March when they supported Los Campesinos! at the Koko in Camden – their bizarre mélange music, all drum circles and hollering and ambient noise and funk grooves and… oh, why bother with a description when I can offer a demonstration:

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Back downstairs, and Washed Out (or, rather, New York resident Ernest Green) has taken to the stage with his tripped-out ambient house and his friends (and geographic neighbours) in Small Black join him, adding extra layers to his sound. The clash with Blood Red Shoes appeared to have left the audience numbers a touch low, but nobody there regretted their decision – there’s something of the madchester in Washed Out’s sound, like a chilled-out evening at the Haçienda (or at least how that would seem in my mind). A case could also be made for saying it sounds like Chicago house played on a tape player with low battery. The results, regardless, are wonderful.

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The second of my 50-50 choices then arrived, as Liars won out over Wild Beasts – but can you blame me? The American art-punk band has doggedly refused to stick to any kind of consistent style, with their latest release, Sisterworld, yet another masterful addition to their discography. Lead singer Angus Andrews cuts a demented figure on stage, strutting and preening like a preaching Mick Jagger – his voice, the drawl of a doorstep drunk at 4am, smitten with violence, joyfully spitting the lyrics to ‘Scissor’ like some kind of mental declaration of war. Proper, proper good.

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It is then, unfortunately, something of a timetabling error to follow this violent display with Beach House, a delicate washed-out band that would have sat much more comfortably next to, well, Washed Out. The audience, still somewhat full of bloodlust, is quickly bored and begins to dissipate, which is a terrible shame considering just how brilliant Victoria Legrand and Alex Scully’s sultry Kate-Bush-meets-a-shoegaze dreamscapes are.

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I’ve written at length about how much I love Los Campesinos!, so for some of you it will be no surprise that I’m going to say that their set headlining at Trent SU was something of a triumph. I’m not being biased here, though, in all honesty – this really was a magnificent performance. The crowd, who all day had looked a little bit sun-frazzled and unable to conjure up much more than the occasional whoop (even during Liars there were visible signs of struggle during the rounds of applause), suddenly sparked into life. Jumping! Singing along! Gareth couldn’t have looked happier, and his usually awful singing was merely average. A definite peak for the day.

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Had to take a quick break here, because at this point it had been something like 8 hours of standing up with neither break nor sustenance – I grabbed some a sandwich in the still-open Lee Rosy’s Tea Room, a wonderful establishment that’s at the heart of Nottingham’s alternative music and arts scene. Somewhat a shame, then, that this year it isn’t hosting the acoustic acts – Primavera Sound, held on the same weekend, appears to have snapped up many of the bands and artists who usually make it here, leaving us with a smaller-than-usual Dot-to-Dot. It is inescapable, too, to note that the festival is far from sold out. Usually leaving a venue for another is something of a risk – in previous years it has been impossible to see the headliners on any stage without waiting through several hours’ worth of bands beforehand. The breathing space is a welcome change, but the lack of people inevitably means that the festival feels less like a party.

Yuck took to the stage of the Bodega after midnight, looking every bit like they’d been enjoying the £3 pints of 7% cider in the bar downstairs for the past few hours. Already something of a convert to their cause, having seen them several times around London over the past few months, I’d been waxing lyrical to friends all day about their brand of borrowed-from-the-90s slacker rock. Their stage banter was a little dry, and their response to a call from an audience member for their closest thing to a hit, ‘Georgia’, was met with a deliberate omission of the song from the setlist, meaning that this was not exactly their most friendly appearance, but nevertheless it proved a decent gig.

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Dot-to-Dot ends with Stealth putting on the last of the shows as the night turns slowly into early morning, and after fighting my way inside for the end of Casiokids’ brittle dance set I realised that my day (and my feet) were done. Another excellent bank holiday weekend festival – despite the smaller crowds and slightly smaller lineup, it’s still proving itself one of the most important festivals in the regions that host it, and it also provides an excellent way of kick-starting the festival season.

Categories ,Alternative, ,Annual, ,beach fossils, ,Beach House, ,Blood Red Shoes, ,bristol, ,casiokids, ,Chillwave, ,Dot to Dot, ,festival, ,Frontiers, ,Indie, ,islet, ,liars, ,Los Campesinos, ,manchester, ,Memory Tapes, ,nottingham, ,punk, ,small black, ,The Cheek, ,Washed Out, ,Wild Beasts, ,yuck

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Amelia’s Magazine | Festival Review: The Great Escape

Sleighbell Illustration by June Chanpoomidole

I love the idea of city festivals. To me the idea of being confined to a field, stranded miles from the nearest off license and unable to charge my mobile is not fun. A city festival combines the best of both worlds; killer music and civilisation.

That’s partly why I love The Great Escape, but the festival isn’t without its flaws. The downside to city festivals is that you face massive queues to get into venues that are much smaller than they’d ever play normally. If you get in, you can worm your way to the front and feel pretty smug about it, but if you don’t it really is a bit shit.

That’s the only thing I can fault The Great Escape on, but something you can avoid with a delegate’s pass.

It’s more than a queue jump pass; delegates get access to parties and can sit in on talks as part of the convention. You can basically go to the industry events during the day and then run around town checking out gigs at night. Sounds great in theory, but hangovers and late nights get in the way somewhat.

For the first day I was a little bleary eyed, having made the most of the free drinks at the launch part on Wednesday night. The main band was Pope Joan, who I am not a fan of. They put so much energy and passion into their set but no one was really feeling it, except for a few girls at the front. I don’t understand why they’ve got a seemingly big Brighton following.

Thursday was the day I eased myself into The Great Escape madness. I went to a talk about digital marketing, which was clearly aimed at people who had zero knowledge of the internet and completely missed the audience of people who probably tweeted their way through the talk. After checking out a few venues and not stumbling across anything inspiring, I ended up at the Corn Exchange where I watched Surfer Blood play a set that was, at best, uninspiring. It felt like their set went on for twice as long as it should have.

Then The Cribs came onstage, to play a mammoth set in front of a rammed crowd. There’s not much you can say about the Cribs that hasn’t already been said. They played well and they played good songs, but they didn’t steal the weekend for me. The venue felt too big; I prefer the band playing smaller, more raucous gigs and it just felt a bit distant at the Corn Exchange.

Silver Columns illustration by Donna McKenzie

When they finished, we stumbled across to Digital to try and catch one of about a hundred gigs that Fenech-Soler played, but we couldn’t get in. Instead we went to Jam, where we caught the last half of Ou Est Le Swimming Pool’s set. The tiny venue was filled with people who only seemed to properly come alive when they played ‘Dance the Way I Feel’. It was the perfect way to end the first night, but a shame the venue was closing so early.

Friday began with an even bigger hangover, and plans made early to ensure we would get into the biggest gig of the night. Organisation is the secret weapon to tackling The Great Escape.
I went off for a talk about the future of music radio, which was endlessly interesting. Putting the geeky stuff aside, I met some friends and we went to the French Music Party. There was a band on stage who were pretty good, but I didn’t catch their name. The singer was dressed like someone out of a western. It was strange. There was also plenty of free Ricard, which was very tasty, and plenty of CDs on offer. I swiped the Revolver album and I adore it. I’m pretty sad I missed them play the festival.

We didn’t get in to see Warpaint that evening, and my friend was pretty pissed at me, so I promised to endure at least half of HURTS playing at Coalition. I don’t understand why people like that band. When I first heard their album I thought a PR company was having a joke, but kudos to Theo for being a lovely guy, and easily the most accessible musician over the weekend. Him and Mr. Dawin Deez were examples of how to be crazy popular and also friendly to fans.

Thanks to my inability to endure a whole Hurts set, we left early and headed to the Pavillion Theatre for the gig of the night; Wild Beasts. I’m a massive fan, and made sure we got there in plenty of time. It meant we had secured some floor space for the headliners, but had to endure a full set from Fiery Furnaces and that was not pleasant. After nodding my way through a breathtaking performance by Wild Beasts we shot back to Coalition and ended our night with the very talented Silver Columns.

Wild Beasts illustration on Abi Daker

The next morning started with trying to kill the hangover sat, looking at the Pier with some Canadians, at Terraces on the seafront. We checked out part of the Canadian Blast event, but the bands weren’t much to get excited about. In a desperate bid to find something interesting happening, we checked out a Japanese music party, but left after the opening riffs because my head was about to explode.

Saturday was my favourite day for music. We caught the mega-hyped Frankie and the Heartstrings who were even better than I expected. Frankie is the perfect front man. They were followed by Summer Camp – a band I like listening to, but whose vocals didn’t really hold up live.

Angus and Julia Stone were playing across the road, and we managed to get in, but the layout of Terraces meant that anyone at the back half of the room couldn’t see anything and chatted through the whole set. It was frustrating, because they’re an incredible acoustic band, so we went to watch a tiresome Chateau Marmont. They aren’t a bad band, but I just felt the music wasn’t that interesting; it simply wasn’t my thing. Sleighbells however ended the festival on a complete high. I’d never heard them before, but I completely fell in love with their unique mix of heavy rock riffs and Crystal Castles-esque vocals and danced my heart out.

There really is no other festival like The Great Escape, and I’ve certainly spent the past few days pining now that it’s over. I’ve found one way to cure the post-TGE blues though; drinking Red Stripe with my pass around my neck and dancing to music at home. It’s not quite the real thing, but if you try hard enough, you can almost hear the seagulls in the distance ….

I’ll see you at the Queens Hotel for next year’s festival.

Categories ,brighton, ,festival, ,review, ,Sleigh Bells, ,The Cribs, ,The Great Escape Festival, ,Warpaint, ,Wild Beasts

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