Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with The Finger Band: self-releasing debut album I Don’t Believe My Eyes

The Finger Lia and Album Artwork by Madeleine Lithvall
The Finger Band with Lia by Madeleine Lithvall.

When the singer of The Finger Band got in touch with me a few weeks ago to share their new single I Don’t Believe My Eyes I was immediately hooked… and intrigued. For here was a band based in Greece, but bearing all the hallmarks of 80s new wave influences from the UK. Then diminutive singer Lia Siouti sent me a link to the whole album – a glorious mash of anthemic walls of sound and heartfelt thoughts – and I just had to know more. Singer Lia answers the questions with producer Sotiris Noukas – read on to find out how The Finger Band got together and what it’s like to make music in the throes of a major economic and political crisis.

I Don't Believe My Eyes by James Grover
I Don’t Believe My Eyes by James Grover.

What inspired the sound of your new album? I like it because it sounds quite heavily 80s…. was this a conscious decision?
Actually, this wasn’t a conscious decision, it just came out during the recordings. We just put in what sounded good to our ears, and what we thought would fit the songs. Of course, this could be due to our influences. We are all kinda stuck with the earlier days of music and not so much with that is coming out these days. We are mostly influenced by the sound of the 80s, but not by any particular groups. We love so many artists, but we tried to stay not so influenced, we wanted to have our own sound. That’s why during the recordings, we rarely listened to anything new.

The Finger Band full portrait
How did you all meet and when did you decide to become The Finger? What was the deciding factor that brought you all together?
Before the formation of the band, we all kinda worked together in several projects. The link that brought us all together was Sotiris actually. Our guitarist and producer. He owns the recording studio, where we all met. At some point, we were all at the same state, where we wanted to do something new. We were talking about it for a long time, but the timing wasn’t right I guess. Not until some of the projects that we were involved in were finished and we decided to form the band.

The Finger Band by Scott Nellis
The Finger Band by Scott Nellis.

When was the album written and what inspires your lyrics? Can you tell us the story behind a couple of tunes?
We began to write the album around Christmas of 2010. But then, we had only written one song and we weren’t even officially a band. That first song was Too Slow, which is included in our album. We started to write new songs, six months after that and after the release of our debut single Die! Die Superhero! in June, 2011. And it was the fastest release we’ve made so far! We wrote it in a week, and released it immediately. During that period, in Greece, the demonstrations had began, about the financial and political situation. This was actually the inspiration behind the title and lyrics of the single. We wrote it while watching news on TV and we were so furious with what was going on. That is actually what most of our songs are about, but we don’t talk only about politics. We have written a couple of love tracks too! Who doesn’t need one more love song?

The Finger Band heads
You are self releasing your debut album in mid March. How hard is it to make music in Greece at the moment and what is the music scene like?
Well, unfortunately, there’s not much going on if you choose to ignore the mainstream scene. There are many great bands and musicians in Greece, but there aren’t many stages left to perform. Record stores and record companies have been shutting down too, so we’re left to swim with the big fish! There are only two major companies and it’s pretty difficult to succeed if you’re an unsigned band. The indie music scene is slowly dying, I am afraid. The only positive thing I guess, if you can call this positive, is that during sad periods inspiration grows and new ideas are born. Maybe we’ll find a way to work it out, till the hard times are over.

The Finger Band by Aliyahgator
The Finger Band by Aliyahgator.

On a more broader note, how are you coping with the political and financial troubles in Greece, and how do they impact not only your music but your lives?
The situation in Greece right now has really affected everybody, without exceptions. The high, the mid, the low class. Everyone. As musicians the only thing we can do is talk about it. And we do it, a lot. You simply can’t stay uninfluenced by what’s going on. If you live in this situation every day you start thinking about these matters and that’s passing them into your songs and music. Living with all these troubles in your head makes you wanna express yourself even more, let it out of your system.

the finger band
Why is it so important to reach out to a global audience and how have you set about trying to do that, and how did you find me?
Actually, the kind of music we write could never find a wide audience in Greece, unfortunately. Besides, I believe every musician’s dream is about getting outside of the borders of his or her own country. We use the internet a lot to achieve this. We are on facebook, twitter, blogs etc. and we love socializing. That’s how we found you!

the-finger-band-by-catherine-askew
The Finger Band by Catherine Askew.

What are your hopes and aspirations for 2012?
We want to reach more ears and hearts! We want people to know that good music may come from every corner of the earth. And we want to start writing the second album soon!

The debut album I Don’t Believe My Eyes can be listened to in its entirety above: I urge you to give it a whirl! The Finger Band will be self-releasing the album on March 15th 2012 – available to pre-order on Bandcamp.

Categories ,Aliyahgator, ,Andy Haralanis, ,Catherine Askew, ,Die! Die Superhero!, ,Greece, ,Greek, ,I Don’t Believe My Eyes, ,James Grover, ,Lia Siouti, ,Madeleine Lithvall, ,Nick Ditsias, ,Sakis Azas, ,Scott Nellis, ,Sotiris Noukas, ,The Finger Band, ,Too Slow

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Amelia’s Magazine | Welsh singer Lydia Baylis introduces her new single Life Without You

Lydia Baylis by Daria Hlazatova
Lydia Baylis by Daria Hlazatova.

Having completed a history degree at Oxford University Welsh singer songwriter Lydia Baylis has made a major career change and is set to release her debut album inspired by the literature of the suitably high brow Bronte Sisters and Virginia Woolf. Here she describes the making of her new single Life Without You:

YouTube Preview Image
‘My new single Life Without You is from my debut album, A Darker Trace, which will be released in 2014. It is a song about coming to terms with the end of a relationship with the first person you fall in love with but overall it is a hopeful message about living a fuller life alone – even if at first it feels like you can’t. With the video I wanted the viewers to feel close, because it is a deeply personal song. Intruding, almost by watching someone crying in the bath – but then, as the song goes on, becoming more hopeful and joyous. We shot it in my Grandmother’s house, somewhere I have a lot of fond memories from. I felt very safe there, so it was easier than I had thought letting go and sharing the song… ‘

Lydia Baylis by Novemto Komo
Lydia Baylis by Novemto Komo.

Lydia Baylis by Antonia Parker
Lydia Baylis by Antonia Parker.

Lydia Baylis by Claire Kearns
Lydia Baylis by Claire Kearns.

Get your free download of Happy Man by Lydia Baylis here.

Categories ,A Darker Trace, ,Antonia Parker, ,Bronte Sisters, ,Claire Kearns, ,Daria Hlazatova, ,Happy Man, ,interview, ,Life Without You, ,Lydia Baylis, ,Novemto Komo, ,Oxford University, ,video, ,Virginia Woolf, ,Welsh

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Amelia’s Magazine | They shall not grow Oldmovies…

Youthmovies3Photograph courtesy of Youthmovies

For those of you familiar with Youthmovies, information pills I say this: Fiddlesticks! On the 29th of December, they declared their intention to split after a handful of farewell gigs. No planecrash. No overdose. Not even any musical differences. They just sound a bit busy, and too spread out across this green and pleasant land. They won’t be replacing anyone, they won’t be choosing a band member to do a Richie Manic so the rest of the band can go mega-famous, a “Best Of” seems unlikely, as does a 2 hour cinema release of rehearsal footage. It’s simply over.

YouthmoviesPhotograph courtesy of Youthmovies

For those of you not familiar with Youthmovies, I say this: Get familiar with Youthmovies. If asked to name five bands that have dominated my mp3 player in the last three years, I confess that two of them are Youthmovies’. That’s love. First up, though, a disclaimer. Youthmovies do have intellectually advanced lyrics. And they have a borderline-classical note sense. And any band found in possession of either is bound to get called pretentious by someone. But there is no way any of this is pretense. Pretense is a band that decides “ooh, let’s sing about, erm, black holes – they won’t expect that, it’ll make us sound well interesting”.

Youthmovies2Photograph courtesy of Youthmovies

Youthmovies’ Andrew Mears may be in the arty sophisticate camp for singing a two-pronged attack on bourgeois patriotism and William Blakes ludicrous hymn Jerusalem (205 years overdue), but he hasn’t just decided to sing about it to look cool. He means it. It’s something he really thinks and feels. Likewise, an affectionate farewell ditty to a polyp before its surgical removal is hardly as universal (or banal) as Sex on Fire, but why dumb down when you can sing your authentic complex self and guarantee you’re not falling into cliché. As for the clever music, pretension only happens when idiots shoehorn their songs into 13/8 and minor 9ths without knowing what they’re doing (see Yourcodenameis:Milo) or push orchestras around in Abbey Road without knowing what a French Horn is (the list is too long now). A Youthmovies track may have twelve distinct sections, and the third verse might be in a different rhythm, but when it finishes, you’ll have the feeling that it all belonged together. Nothing ever jars, which magically trumps even grand wizards like King Crimson. Whoosh.

Youthmovies4Youthmovies’ soundcheck, photograph courtesy of Adam Gnade
Anyway, it’s recipe-time (since that is the funnest way to review anything). We reverse-engineer the seriousness and beauty of Radiohead, the vigour and accomplishment of early Mystery Jets, the sensitivity of Satie, the fearlessness of Late Of The Pier, the purity of mid-period Tortoise, the occasionally-surfacing twisted-yet-hooky motifs of maybe Soundgarden (imagine I just mumbled that, breathily and nervously), the right hemisperes of iForward, Russia!, and the tendons of Mew and, inevitably, it’s all gone wrong. Let’s try something else…

Youthmovies5Youthmovies photograph courtesy of Adam Gnade

Remember when Foals were about to release their album, and NME made it look like it was going to be the album of the decade, and it would redefine the next twenty years at least, and possibly bring peace to Palestine? Well, the million-dollar production budget and the million-dollar propaganda machine were on the wrong album. Around that time, and with minimal fanfare, Youthmovies released Good Nature on Drowned In Sound Records, an album that actually was the secret Album Of 2008. Behold skilfully deployed teen pop-rock hooks in The Naughtiest Girl Is A monitor, the melancholic failure to caress or placate of Cannulae, the meandering thought-train of Surtsey, the protective cuddle of Archive It Everywhere, the lusciously twiddly-versus-parpy highs, lows and detours of If You’d Seen A Battlefield… Frankly, I really want them to do another one but they won’t.

Youthmovies6

Photograph courtesy of Gregory Nolan

Instead, we can follow a dozen solo-projects (closest to fruition is Jonquil) and hear Mears read his novel in an art gallery. And most importantly, keep relistening to the back catalogue for fractal levels of general truth and beauty, rendered with a depth we rarely hear in rockular bands. The bastards.

Categories ,Alternative rock music, ,Andrew Mears, ,art gallery, ,foals, ,iForward, ,King Crimson, ,Late of the Pier, ,mew, ,music band, ,Music review, ,musician, ,Mystery Jets, ,NME, ,Records, ,Richie Manic, ,Russia!, ,Satie, ,Tortoise, ,William Blake, ,youthmovies

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Amelia’s Magazine | Plastiscines: An Interview

PLAS1

Following their super successful appearance at Barfly last week I made my way to a west London location to meet the Plastiscine girls. On the way, ailment I’m trying desperately to remember my French from school to impress them. On a trip to Paris with my friend Ruth, there was no way we would have got by without my “C” grade, I’m sure I can think of something amazingly French to say. I arrive and briefly they are all there, hugs and an ipod charger are exchanged and then drummer Ana and bass player Louise are whisked off back to Paris. I’m sure they are going to have to get used to this whisking about business. So, I was on a very bizarrely patterned couch (see photo above) with lead singer Katty and guitarist Marine. I thought I’d open with my French skills…

Bonjour
K: Bonjour

Cava?
K: Cava merci, Vous parlez francais?

Non, that’s my limit
K: That’s good enough!

(Really?! That’s all that I could have come up with?! I should have revised more.)

You guys played Barfly last night, how do you find London crowds?
K: We really enjoyed the crowd yesterday because it was very busy, so we were really happy! We had a lot of friends in the crowd so they were dancing and jumping! It’s always good to have people reacting when you say something. In Paris people are so quiet, just at the back with their arms crossed and watching. They are interested, but they just don’t move. So it’s good to be here and have the crowd reacting.

There seemed to be a lot of French folks in the audience, That must have been nice?
K: Yeah, I was really surprised! When I asked, “Who is French tonight?” there were quite a lot of people shouting!

plass 019

So, How did your story begin?
K: Marine and I met in high school when we were 15 or 16. We started the band because we watched lots of bands like The Strokes and The White Stripes. We loved them, they had so much energy onstage, they were young and we thought we want to do the same thing. So we started the band and a few months after we were already doing some gigs in bars in Paris. We actually learnt our instruments on stage because we just wanted to play! We didn’t care if we could play, all we wanted was to play and get on stage and get into it!

So, you began by doing covers?
K: When we started we did a few covers, but we were very interested in doing our own songs. We did some covers from The Strokes and other bands for a while then we started doing our own songs, thats what really interested us more rather than covers.

A lot of your influences are English so do you guys find it more natural to write in English?
Both: Defiantly
K: Because all the songs we listen to are in English it is very natural to write in English, but sometimes we do write in French. We get direction from people saying we should say things this way because it’s a better way to say it in English. But yes, its natural because the music we like is English and American, we were never really into French bands.

plas

I read that French radio have restrictions (a percentage of French radio has to be French songs)
K: Yeah, so its quite difficult for us to be on the radio in France because we may be French but we sing in English. We are not in the same category as big international bands like The Arctic Monkeys, But then we don’t sing in French so we don’t fit into that category either, so its quite difficult to be on the radio.

You worked on your album with top producer Butch Walker what was this like?
M: We went to Malibu to record the album and it was amazing, it was really beautiful and we were in the this big house all together and in the morning we would go to record together or go swimming. Everyday we got to work together! It was interesting because it was the first time we were working with someone American. When we are French we don’t know if we would get along or have the right words to express, so we had a really long talk with him and he said what he likes and we said what we like. Butch is really passionate about music.

He’s worked with a wide range of people from Katy Perry to Weezer and now you guys…
K: Yeah, he has done a lot of very big pop stars and he also works with acts because he really likes them, he’s done a lot of indie bands like Hot Hot Heat.
M: He was very honest, he said I do some stuff for money I do some stuff for passion and you are a passion for me.
K: He told us that from the first time he saw us playing on stage at Coachella he fell in love with us.

So what acts are you into right now?
M: Lots of stuff, lots of English acts, I love the Jamie T album, I think it’s amazing. I like Metronomy, Katty loves Florence and the Machine. Also I love Eagles of Death Metal, we went to see them in Paris. We like lots of old and new stuff.

“Bitch” was on “Gossip Girl”, this must have been a massive deal for you?
K: I think we didn’t really realize when we did it! It was such a big thing to do! When we saw it on the internet were like “that’s weird!”. We watch the programme, we know the characters and the story so when we arrived we wanted to know what was happening! We were playing on stage at a ball so we couldn’t hear what the actors were saying! It was nice because all the actors came to us to say “hello” and Leighton Meester who plays Blair came up with our album and she wanted us to sign it!

How did this come about because it’s as if the song was written for “Gossip Girl”?
M: No, its on the album so they heard it on the album it was picked out because it worked really well. We recorded it back in February.

You have a great relationship with Nylon can you tell us a little more about this?
K: Marvin Scott Jarrett, the editor in chief at Nylon, he is so passionate about music and he always puts a lot of bands in the magazine. I think he wanted to launch a label and so he did it with Nylon, Nylon Records. We are the first band signed because he really liked us and I think he thought we were a good image for the magazine. He knew of us because in Paris fashion week we were on the cover of a magazine, from this he got in touch with our label, at the time which was Virgin, he contacted us we came to NYC to play at a party for the magazine. Then when we came back again he had the idea for the label and wanted to sign us.

So you spend a lot of time here and in NYC, would you ever relocate?
K: We would love to live in New York! We all love it there! I think people are amazing with us there because sometimes here when people see four girls on stage in a rock band it is weird for them, like there is something fake, something wrong with it, but in NYC they are just like that’s cool its just four girls rocking and they don’t care.
M: Also, I think that in NYC everybody is doing something interesting. We were only there for a few months we already made such good friends and there’s so much going on so much different music. I think it would be good for the band living in NYC for a bit, for inspiration.
K: You walk in the street and you just feel good there, I don’t know what it is. Its such a big city but you still feel safe.

PlasC

I follow u guys on twitter and I noticed you had a meeting with Topshop today, You guys are obviously into your fashion, Who are your style icons?
K: Yeah we got it all myspace/facebook/twitter there is also a blog that Marine writes on.
M: Yeah we like fashion because we are girls. I love David Bowie from the Ziggy Stardust period.
K: I love Debbie Harry, she’s got it all the music the style, she’s amazing!

The same thing could be said about these girls, they have the style, they have the music, they also seem to have it all. I glance and notice the smudge of a stamp on my hand from the entry last night, this reminds me that I have not even bothered to wash for our meeting today never mind attempting to dress nicely. I don’t think there is much point in trying around these girls though. They are naturally chic (I think it’s a French thing) with a playful grunge twist. I’m in love with them for the fact that they just decided to pick up interments to be onstage; from viewing them at The Barfly they all seem to be perfectly at home on this platform. These beauties armed with the energy and attitude they bring to their performances, their catchy rock/pop tracks and their effortless style is a winning combination for these pop/grunge goddesses to begin a French revolution.

Single “Barcelona” is available now and the album “About Love” is due out early 2010.

Categories ,Arctic Monkeys, ,barfly, ,Butch Walker, ,coachella, ,David Bowie, ,Debbie Harry, ,Eagles of Death Metal, ,Florence and The Machine, ,Gossip Girl, ,Hot Hot Heat, ,Jamie T, ,Katy Perry, ,london, ,Marvin Scott Jarrett, ,metronomy, ,new york, ,Nylon, ,the strokes, ,The White Stripes, ,topshop, ,Weezer

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Amelia’s Magazine | Cwmback 09 – The not-so-Reading Festival

London has had many guises over the millennia, cheapest website like this and what we Londoners (born and bred in my case) consider essential and iconic about it varies wildly from what foreigners do, buy information pills whether they be from the Welsh borders or much further afield. Some outsiders hate London and all it stands for – everyone knows someone from outside who refuses to ever come to the Big Town because it is so “noisy and dirty, and everyone is so rude”.

Of course it is! It’s a big, bad mess of a place. It’s also much more than the sum of Oxford Street and Madame Tussauds, where lots of visitors start their London experience, missing out on the more personal, human aspect of the city because it’s all just too overwhelming. Admittedly, sometimes London feels like an overpriced dump, but it’s our dump. So how to make outsiders see what we see?

Mayor Boris has issued a competition to ad agencies to give London a new identity, presumably with an eye on the Olympics, and branding agency Moving Brands has decided to take its bid public. It’s inviting submissions from all of us to suggest ideas and images in the hope of coming up with something that’s quintessentially Londonic, something Londoners might actually like and want to look at, as well as luring more tourists to the banks of the Thames. There’s a lot of logos already defining some of London’s attributes, some more popular than others:

identity_crisis.jpg

London needs its brand identity to unite all the different facets of city life in the capital. The new face of London can’t be all shiny and perky because we aren’t in America; it shouldn’t be too “yoof” or urban because huge swathes of London is preppy and upper-crust. But we also don’t want to see any references to Shakespeare or any mythical past golden age. London has street markets, opera houses, a Queen, gay clubs, curry houses, Fashion Week, Soho and more scenes than you could count. Why not have a go at designing something that does justice to the London you know and love?

The project is also an interesting peek into the journey a brand goes through during development. Moving Brand’s blog is essentially the brainstorm phase played out in public, where everyone can see the false starts and evolving ideas. There’s quite a few interesting submissions up on their blog already, which could form the basis of the agency’s tender, and they’re getting feedback on everything via Twitter and Facebook. One of these images might become very familiar some time soon.

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Jeans for Genes day was once the highlight of the primary school calendar: one of only a few days when our joyous little selves can don our own clothes and ditch our school uniforms (of course inspiring the mini divas in each of us to spend hours deciding what combo to go with to best impress our school-kid counterparts, order or was that just me?!) Synonymous with freedom, this site equality and embracing the American way of the Western frontier, denim has always held associations with youthful hope. Becoming popular in the James Dean era with 1950s teenagers everywhere, jeans have become symbolic of casual dress, ‘devil-may-care’ attitudes and rebellion. Perhaps that’s why they make an excellent choice for supporting this charity for Genetic Disorders; giving kids a chance to make a difference through self-expression. Whilst providing adults a chance to embrace their inner child, wear their jeans with pride and be optimistic about making a change for a day in our doom-and-gloom world.

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At the same time as raising money for children and families affected by genetic disorders, the charity donates funds to groundbreaking research into cures for the disorders it supports such as sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis. Frequently funding research into many unknown disorders enables small projects to receive help they would scarcely be able to generate on their own. By simply donating a bit of dosh each year to help change a life on Jeans for Genes day millions of people are ‘allowed’ to wear jeans to work and school. And this year is no different, with the event taking place on Friday 2nd October across the country.

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With supporters such as Project Catwalk‘s Nick Ede and Donna Ida, of Dona Ida’s denim boutique, Jeans for Genes is well-known in the fashion world. Frequently running other initiatives to unite the fashion and charity spheres, including a t-shirt design competition at London College of Fashion. This year the competition was won by Asha Joneja, a London College of Fashion student for her gold foil double helix design.

Donna Ida summarises the case for Jeans for Genes rather fittingly: “Fashion speaks to such a wide audience that I thought it important to use that platform to gain awareness for a great charity, and Jeans for Genes was the perfect fit,” using the mass-appeal of the fashion industry to generate money for a good cause, rather than personal profit or greed.

Moreover Jeans for Genes are not the only ones with this attitude. It seems this ethic is spreading at the moment; with other charitable organisations tied to fashion springing up and stomping their heels in the name of raising money. One such event, Fit for a Princess, will be held on 26th September 2009 at the Bentall shopping centre in Kingston. Endeavoring to fuse the worlds of fashion and charity, the shopping centre states that it champions the event because it is giving back to the local community with a kick-ass fashion punch.

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Helena Bonham Carter

The event’s exhibition is run by the Princess Alice Hospice, a local charity with 25 years of experience caring for its patients, providing free, excellent quality support in a modern setting; it’s income is largely generated by charitable donations such as this event promises to secure.

Undeniably, the event has drawn much fashionista support in the form of Twiggy, Trinny Woodall and Fern Cotton. Each celebrity will showcase their personal party outfits in shop windows throughout the centre, promising to exhibit sassy personal styling as well as trend and designer knowledge. Giving a new meaning to the term ‘window shopping’, shoppers will be able to bid on their favourite celebrities’ stylings on eBay from the 19th October. To locate the clothes type ‘fit for a princess’ in to the site’s search engine.

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Fearne Cotton

Key pieces featuring in the exhibition include an Alberta Ferretti sequin skirt and top worn by Helena Bonham-Carter at the Planet of the Apes premier, and a body con dress by current fascination and legend of the eighties, Hervé Leger, donated by Beverly Knight. It seems that fashion, despite its bad rep as heartless and money-grabbing, can also use its power for good… watch this space for more events that Amelia’s Magazine thinks you should be involved with.

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Beverley Knight
Over the last few years, there the British summer has seen the festival crescendo. Featuring initially as a mere whisper in the background of our holiday activities to an overwhelming, generic near inaudible screech with festivals popping up bigger and louder than ever before. We all need to take a long hard look at ourselves and ‘STOP!’ Not everything needs to grow to epic, brand-lavished proportions, things can remain at a small, intimate size. In our economic c*****e (excuse the blasphemy), let’s take it DIY…

An antidote to all things grotesquely commercial, this weekend I ventured to Mellow Croft Farm in the idyllic hills of South Wales to check out the fifth annual CWM event, hosted by South London arts collective, Utrophia.

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In place of queue foreboding portaloos, were handmade huts where excrement was neatly disposed of with a layer of pine needles. To be ethically turned into manure by the landowner in two years time. There was no sign of any beer sponsored, overprized bars. Instead a table offering £2 pints of local ale and organic cider via, at times, an honesty box system. Not to mention the fire-heated open-air bath to wash off the festival fun. But best of all, the festival goers consisted of around 200 like-minded music lovers and the organisers intend to keep it that way.

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“Using the word ‘festival’ to describe these events is debatable, as we like to think they mimic the outdoor gatherings that had occurred pre-Woodstock. You know the ones you never heard of, where folk came from near and far to share their goods and entertain one another, ” says the collective.

Something charming about such an intimate event is that you don’t have that (self-coined) ‘Clashtonbury’ moment, where after desiring no bands all morning, you are forced to choose between seeing your two favourite acts, billed simultaneously. At Cwmback, the schedule was as organic as their cider, with announcements of acts made by a cowbell assisted role call from around the campsite. In between acts, was an obligatory regroup at the bar tent or campfire where gems of entertainment were born out of idle moments; the ‘communal hair washing’ incident and ‘crisp eating to music’ event to name just two.

Rather than a main stage live experience that is more like watching BBC iplayer for all you can see of the bands, Cwmback’s live music setting was built within a snug pine forest which handily provided shelter from the rain when those Welsh skies opened – which they love to do.

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So what of the music? A cast made up mostly of friends of friends, there was an eclectic mix of the obscure to the bizarre, but never a weak link. Jame Dudy Dench delighted on the opening night with a comical Hip-Hopera, more in a vein of a satirical Beastie Boy than R. Kelly. Staying on the ironic end of the spectrum, duo Ginger & Sorrel, opened Sunday night’s entertainment blending Fairground keyboard phrases with beer sipped in comedy timing and a rap about tarpaulin, which was also a component of their outfits.

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Gentleman’s Relish brought an air of Sinatra, if he’d have gotten lost on the way to Vegas and found himself in a sweaty indie club. The lead singer croons over a mire of guitar riffs and in ‘Wolves and Monkeys’, chimpanzee noises.

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The Human Race managed to overcome technical obstacles in the form of a broken amp/guitar and eventual loss bass guitar string mid-performance to deliver a stomping set – nothing like staring into the face of adversity to up your musical prowess.

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The lo-fi element of the weekend came in the form of girl/boy folk duo, Mouth 4 Rusty who had the audience clicking and clapping along to stripped back simple songs of love forlorn.

A personal hightlight were Limn, an instrumental 4-piece who play in a revolving drum/guitar rectangle, communicating in call and response riffs that transport you to an old Batman cartoon series.

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Pop crooner, Mon Fio, was joined by a trombone player in an appropriately, Sunday afternoon, ad hoc fashion from the depths of the pine forest location. Such was the desire for an encore (and hangover), songwriter Jon, simply repeated the last song in the set to an audience who had broken out into a line dancing formation.

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Please paid a fleeting visit to the farm to play a full throttle performance at dusk which had the most timid of music listeners moshing at the front. Festival closer, Pseudo Nippon donned African prints and tropical inspired outfits to screech over a Gameboy backing track, in a Japanese accent and individually hug every member of the audience several times throughout their set. We were charmed.

If you like to enjoy your festival from the confines of your bourgeois motorhome, then this may not be the one for you. If, however, you’ve given up on the scene, loathing everything about Reading Festival and its conglomerate cousins, then Cwmback, because you may well have met your match. Maybe next year avoid the big punchers of the festival circuit, take a leaf out of the Utrophia book and Do It Yourselves.

As previously mentioned in this week’s music listings, you can conveniently find the crop of these bands at Shunt in London Bridge this Friday.

Categories ,art, ,beastie boys, ,cwmback, ,festivals, ,frank sinatra, ,gentleman’s relish, ,limn, ,mouth 4 rusty, ,pop, ,pseudo nippon, ,punk, ,utrophia

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Foreign Slippers and review of album Farewell to the Old Ghosts

Foreign Slippers by Sam Parr
Foreign Slippers by Sam Parr.

Melding Scandinavian iciness with immaculate story-telling skills, Sweden’s Gabi Froden is the latest songstrel to win my heart. Farewell to the Old Ghosts showcases her gorgeous voice, by turns sweet as sugar and strong as steel. With skills learned in the church choir of her native town of Norrkoping, and then honed on tour singing Tom Petty and Pavement covers with previous bands, now is the perfect time to unleash her new guise as Foreign Slippers. From the soaring melody of Thank the Moon to the yearning of Two People in You and the melancholy of What are You Waiting For… this is an album that you will listen to again and again, as I have done in recent weeks.

ForeignSlippers
How does your worldview affect the way you create music? 
I guess your worldview only really is a worldview if it influence what you do, or it is just a lot of empty opinions. I suppose subject matter and priorities affect the way I make music. So I will write about something I believe is important and I do so while working in a cafe because I believe it is what I am supposed to be doing right now even if it doesn’t pay.

Foreign Slippers by Zyzanna
Foreign Slippers by Zyzanna.

What kind of stories do you write?

I hope my songs are stories of love, loss, resistance and new beginnings. When I write children’s stories I write about creatures or people who I hope could move and amuse both children and adults.

Foreign Slippers by Jacqueline Valencia
Foreign Slippers by Jacqueline Valencia.

What do you remember most from childhood and how has this affected adult life?
I remember the sea and running around on islands on the coast of Sweden. I remember our cabin by the lake and playing cards with grandma and granpa during long light summer nights. I remember drawing in my room and singing while mum  played the piano. There were difficult times too but the things above are the ones that light up my heart and gives me a feeling I want to recreate in my music.


Foreign Slippers
foreign-slippers-by-adopted-design
Foreign Slippers by Adopted Design.

Where did you learn to sing? How else do you create music?
I learned to sing in church and school and when mum played the piano. I write on guitar and piano mainly.
 
Foreign Slippers by EdieOP
Foreign Slippers by EdieOP.

Describe your earlier bands…
They were full of boys who wanted to play their instrument but didn’t want to write or sing so I did that and it was always great fun. They were my best friends, we created something together and I learned a lot.

 
YouTube Preview ImageIt All Starts Now

Why Foreign Slippers?
Because I was drunk when I decided it and then it kind of stuck. The idea is that you can put on shoes depending on what you want to be. I have put on my foreign shoes in the UK. 

ForeignSlippers
What better things are coming your way for 2012?
Hopefully more shows, more travel, more songs to write and more people to meet and befriend.
 
foreign slippers album
Farewell to the Old Ghosts by Foreign Slippers is out now on Izumi Records.

YouTube Preview ImageAvalanche
 

Categories ,Adopted Design, ,Avalanche, ,EdieOP, ,Farewell to the Old Ghosts, ,Foreign Slippers, ,Gabi Froden, ,illustrator, ,It All Starts Now, ,Izumi Records, ,Jacqueline Valencia, ,James Round, ,Norrkoping, ,pavement, ,Sam Parr, ,Swedish, ,Thank the Moon, ,Tom Petty, ,Two People in You, ,What are You Waiting For, ,Zyzanna

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Amelia’s Magazine | The Teenagers – REALITY CHECK

The_Teenagers.jpg

This Parisian trio really are filthy. From clipped beat-driven opener Homecoming onwards, Reality Check is ridden with lewd lyrics and sordid sounds delivered in charming broken English and inspired by an impressive range of influences from Slayer, Nirvana, Weezer
and Dillinger Escape Plan to M83, Jacques Lu Cont, Madonna and Beverly Hills 90210.

This striking first track sets The Teenagers‘ impish intentions out perfectly as it paints a humorous picture of an adolescent holiday fling. Like a synth-tinged, mischievous take on Grease’s Summer Nights, the male vocal boasts about “fu*king American c*nt” while the naïve cheerleader in question swoons over her English romance. The band then turn their attentions to seducing someone new as breathy electro pop offering French Kiss finds them in a girl’s bedroom watching Dirty Dancing and offering a “French kiss on your soft lips”.

But this impeccably dressed, easy on the eye bunch are not just here to brag about past conquests and have their wicked way with the ladies; they mix alcohol-soaked anecdotes that would make your elders blush with witty cultural references, tell tales of violence on the streets of their hometown, address everyday teenage issues and bare their souls post-break-up. During string-tinged breezy ballad Wheel Of Fortune, for example, they ask what their lives would be like if they’d been popular at school and whether they would dance in the same way if they’d never seen Michael Jackson, Sunset Beach – their account of being dumped after a one night stand – finds them seething the refrain “this fu*king bitch deserves to die”, End Of The Road is a Cure-esque epic about the end of a love affair and Fuck Nicole was written about a Myspace encounter in the midst of a late night vodka session.

The subject matter on display throughout Reality Check is clever, sexy, romantic and utterly of its time, as is the music which soars and simmers, combining breezy harmonies with blissful, instantly catchy melodies, scratchy riffs and pulsing basslines. It is a glorious triumph of a debut, crammed full of youthful oomph and oodles of ideas and originality that utterly justifies the hype about this band. The Teenagers‘ lusty effort also makes many of their British counterparts sound lifeless and stale, but then we shouldn’t really be so surprised – French boys have always been more exciting…

Categories ,Music French Parisian Vocal Band Electro Pop

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Amelia’s Magazine | Owen Duff

Pin-balling my way through The Troubadour, further pissing off the already pissed off waitress whose path I continually obstructed, I started to lose sight of what the hell I had actually trekked across London for. This notion intensified further by the bitter sting of embarrassment that came after I had marched to front of the queue for the gig, proclaimed my name was on the list, preceded to walk in, only to be told I still had to pay. Having just spent the last of my cash on an overpriced drink, I managed to barter my way in with shrapnel and some pocket flint; and just when I thought my night couldn’t get any worse, Owen Duff took to the stage. Nay, I jest.

The moment the few bars of his first song were played, my seething melodrama quelled. This multi-instrumentalist first played the piano at just four years old, progressing onto cello, guitar and bass. When watching him chirp through the energetic Act of War, taken from his first EP A Tunnel Closing in, it’s hard not wish that he was sat at a grand piano rather than a Casio Keyboard, allowing him to fully demonstrate his obvious mastery. Having been compared to a bizarre hybrid of Sufjan Stevens and Dusty Springfield, Duff’s sound is one of complex melody and artful composition.

His range of song is practically bipolar, effortlessly jumping from jolly ditties such as Any Captain Worth his Due to the far more sombre Sepulchre. Probably best for those with suicidal tendencies to avoid this track at all costs. Undeniably, the highlight of the gig was ‘Morning Finsbury Park’, which enlisted the celestial tones of Ellie Gray. It was during this collaboration that you realised you might be witnessing the embryonic stages of a very successful musician. With a definite theatrical twist, this song floats with the softness that epitomises Duff’s signature velveteen sound.

As ever, you can find out more about both Owen Duff and Ellie Gray on the communicative/informative phenomenon that is MySpace. Just go to www.myspace.com/owenduff or www.myspace.com/elliegraymusic.

Categories ,EP, ,Gig, ,Live, ,Owen Duff, ,Troubadour

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Amelia’s Magazine | Pyramiddd: An Interview: Part Two.

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So, shop Lets tackle the name situation. (A few months ago these fellas were known as Starfucker) I was on your blog reading the suggestions that fans sent you and my favourites were Rad Stewert and Wasabi Lube…
J: Oh, salve I don’t like that one at all!

That was my favourite!
J: You can have it! I dunno if you play but whoever suggested that would be stoked to know that there was a band called it I’m sure.

Pyramiddd was the one to go with?
R: Not necessarily, page I fucking hate it.
J: Not really, I kinda hate Pyramiddd too.

I got that vibe when I read that blog, there seemed to be a little tension surrounding the issue…
J: The thing that sucked was that we had to pick it so quick. We rushed into it, We were releasing our 7” here and everyone was like “What the fuck is your name, you need to pick a name so we can release this” So we were like – I guess this is it.
R: That was the one that we agreed on more than any other name, out them all.
J: Master Control was close and Trust Fund was close. They were the two runners up.
R: We had some other ones we picked. But, We picked ones and we liked it for a day and the next day we hated it. But there’s no such thing as a good band name. Like Radiohead sucks. That’s a stupid band name.

There is another band called Starfucker, Can they have it, are they worthy?
J: Yeah they can have it, It’s a stupid fucking name!
R: Starfucker is a bad name too.
J: It was a joke! We didn’t think we would be touring the US let alone coming to Europe and Japan if we had any kinda foresight we would have picked a better name a long time ago. Its like getting married, a joke that goes too far… Never again!

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Another thing I saw on your Myspace was the Las Vegas episodes
J: That was funny, That dude talking bout the cist! I dunno how he saw it, I like bent over to pick up a key and he was like “Aahh cist there”
R: Its not even that big!

Are you guys filming what your doing over here?
J: Yeah we have, We have mainly been filming in the car because that is all we do. It takes hours to get everywhere, but its pretty, the architecture is pretty. Have we filmed anything interesting?
R: I filmed the red light district. That was difficult, your not meant to.
J: He got flipped off.

The Internet told me about the Target commercial, One of your tracks feature on it?
J: Unfortunately, that’s the way it is now- that licensing your songs to commercials is a way to make money. Which is better way of making money than parking cars for me.

Yeah, but its does get a lot of people to hear your music that wouldn’t necessarily hear it…
R: Yeah, I didn’t know that people did this but people will actually find the songs used in commercials and find out who the band is. I didn’t know that was a thing because I don’t have a TV. Target has great music on their commercials.. plus Target has great things at great prices! Make sure you go to target! Today!

Medicine” is your first release over here, Is this a good representation of what is to come with the album, or is it not that far on?
J: It’s not that far on but it seems mostly a little darker than stuff we have so far. The new idea is a 30 minute dance block-all the same tempo and songs that fade into each other. Maybe it will b like that. I dunno about “Medicine”, We didn’t really pick that. Other people were like “This will be a good song” So we were like, “Alright, do what you want.”.
R: Really every song is a single on the album!

Sorry for the “Smash Hits” stylee question, But what is your medicine for winter?
R: Most the things that make me feel good, make me feel bad later
J: I have been really homesick on this tour. I just started dating someone I really like so we are gonna take a trip to LA I’m excited about that. I’ll be all warm all my friends will be cold in Portland. I have been eating lots of good food like cantrell mushrooms chopped up with pasta.
R: That’s another great thing bout Portland, You can get so many great vegetables. That’s my winter medicine- I like cooking and baking pies.
J: He is an amazing cook!
R: I like to save my vegetable ends, put them in a big plastic bag in your freezer then boil it and it makes good vegetable broth. Keep all your ends and boil for a few hours = Perfect, amazing vegetable broth.
J: I want ask you how to make granola-he makes really good granola. He is like Mom, he would make us sandwiches when we started on tour.
R: I don’t do it anymore now, I get tired. I’m too busy now. I have a kid. If I make granola while my kid is with me the kid will end up in the granola.

The first thing I thought when I heard “Medicine” was that you guys played a lot of video games in the 90s?
J: Yeah, That’s really true! 007 was my favourite video game from the 90s on N64. Playing 007, listening to The Fugees album on repeat for hours on end.
R: I was a Nintendo system kid. I never moved beyond that. I played the Sega Genesis once, but that’s it.
J: Genesis was good.

I wasn’t a Sega fan, Nintendo all the way..
Both: Yeah
J: But I think Sega had, Mortal Combat, that was rad.
R: Yeah totally, Sega had Road Rash and Sonic the Hedgehog.
J: Sonic was rad too.

It’s such a colourful song but the video is black and white, any reason behind this?
J: I think it was easier for Andrew to make-he’s our friend, he is learning the programmes.
R: I think its fitting, I think the video is still very colourful, l like the dancing in black and white, it can bring out the movement. Whether or not that was intentional or not, I think It works really well.

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I kind of came to my own conclusion that you were really into what Beyoncé does right now?
R: Her video was after ours!
J: That “Single Ladies” video was amazing though!

With the black and white thing and also all the moves being busted out all over the place I assumed she was one of you creative influences?
R: I like her for sure, I have total respect for her she’s queen diva. Neal Medlyn, a comedian/performance artist came to Portland and did “The Beyoncé Experience” and wore a wig and had gay dancers with him and that was one of my favourite shows ever. Yeah, so that was inspiring!

What’s your signature dance move, I know you defiantly got one Ryan from that at the end of the set? (He owned the floor)
J: I don’t go out, I don’t dance. Only on tour.
R: I love when he does though, its awesome!
J: It’s horrible!
R: I don’t dance like on stage when I got out, I tone it down, I cant go out on a dancefloor like BLUGHG, Some things are strictly for performance but for the most part when im around other people I don’t go too crazy I respect peoples space.
J: What that called, grinding though, that’s always nice. That’s how you get laid thts how it happens. You like it?
Love it!
R: Yeah, it doesn’t matter you just find someone you like!
J: That’s how it happens!
R: It’s very primal.

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What live acts do you aspire to be as good as?
J: Of Montreal are amazing live! We played with them at Monolith festival, Colorado. They really put a lot of effort into putting on a live show. There is a lot of thought- interesting clothes, people coming out doing crazy shit.
R- I don’t even like Of Montreal that much, but live is amazing for sure. There aren’t that many live shows, I don’t really know, There just aren’t many good live bands…Broadcast they don’t do much, but they have a certain energy while they are playing that draws you in.
J: Deerhunter’s great live, they are one of my favourites.

What should people be prepared for when they see you live?
R: I like it when people don’t know what to expect, when people don’t know who we are. When there’s some mystery about it. I like going to something and not knowing anything about it and then when its really good, it being awesome like makes me feel like I have a secret now.
J: Sometimes you can see Keil’s junk when he is playing drums, like a lot because he wears dresses. Be prepared.

I thought they were nice boys.
If you think they are nice boys,
Follow them on twitter
Add them on myspace
AND BUY THEIR TUNE HERE

Categories ,beyonce, ,Broadcast, ,deerhunter, ,Monolith Festival, ,Of Montreal, ,Pyramiddd, ,radiohead, ,Smash Hits, ,Starfucker, ,The Fuegees

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