All illustrations by Andrea Kearney.
It is March and the daffodils are in full bloom. London is drunk on sunshine. There is talk of vest tops and the unbearably exciting prospect of leaving the house without a coat. March also means that the light has started illuminating my smudgy windows and the dust that had collected under my radiators over winter. Yes. It’s probably time to think about Spring cleaning. For someone who is slightly anal (ok, visit very anal), you’d think I would find the prospect of a spring clean satisfying and wholesome. This would be wrong. I do it as little as I can get away with and secretly long for a cleaner (my bookshelves though, dosage are neurotically ordered according to colour).
My aversion to cleaning doesn’t mean that I don’t think about it. During my unemployment 18 months ago, a particularly low point came when I had exhausted Homes Under the Hammer and resorted to How Clean Is Your House. Kim and Aggy were all vinegar and lemon juice and elbow grease and baking soda and impossibly blonde chignons; and I was converted. As I sat on the sofa in my pyjamas, I thought to myself, if it’s good enough for Kim and Aggy, its good enough for me. It would take me another year and a half to act on this (ahem); fast forward to New Years Eve 2009. Maybe it was something to do with spending the last day of 2009 up to my elbows in ‘tetrasodium pyrophosphate’ (bleach, apparently) but that night I drunkenly resolved that 2010 would finally be the year that I would reduce the chemicals in my home.
A look in my cleaning cupboard, and in fact in most average cleaning cupboards, and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were entering a nuclear zone. ‘Irritating to skin, toxic, risk of serious damage to eyes, harmful, keep locked up and out of the reach of children, if swallowed, seek medical attention immediately and show this container.” Yikes. I realised that there was something wrong with sloshing substances around my home that could literally burn my hands off.
The first hurdle in my new year’s resolution was not being able to find big enough quantities of vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. My initial web searches yielded nothing, but just before I was about to spend £14 buying 6 tiny boxes of bicarb, I came across the wonderful Summer Naturals* web shop which stocks industrial quantities of everything you’d need to make your own cleaning supplies.
I began with surface spray. Mine had run out so I washed out the bottle and gathered my supplies around me. An air of anticipation settled in the kitchen.
I’m not going to lie, it began dreadfully. Like an excited 9 year old I decided to slosh a bit of everything in there and make a ‘potion’. I must have been otherwise engaged during my school science lessons (vinegar + bicarb = volcano!) because attempt number one ended with a frothy white layer of goo covering my kitchen surfaces. Attempt number 2 was slightly more restrained but still an unmitigated fail. Putting any sort of powder in to a bottle with a nozzle will just clog it. I went back to the Summer Naturals website with my tail between my legs and found a much more functioning recipe for a surface cleaner (vinegar, water, Dr Bronmers castile soap and orange essential oil, if you were wondering) and the rest has sort of snowballed from there.
• At the risk of sounding like a sad housewife, you can do most, if not all, household tasks with a few chemical free ingredients. This includes drains, toilets, floors, dishwasher powder and washing powder. • I have saved a fortune. Domesto’s Grotbuster Bleach Gel will set you back £1.97! Cillit bang Degeaser Power Cleaner will cost you £3.07! Cif Power Cream Bathroom Spray; £3.66! My Summer Naturals stash cost about £20 and will last me years. • It’s safe. If I spill a bit of my floor cleaner on my hands (borax, water, scented oil) the worst that will happen is that I will smell pleasantly of lavender. • It works. I live in a ‘hard water’ area so I know that I need to add more vinegar than usual to help the lime scale breakdown, which it does • My home smells amazing. Essential oils are needed to mask the vinegar smell, or your home will smell like a chip shop. French Lavender and juniper berry scented floors? Peppermint and rose scented surfaces? Oh yes please. The oils add an antiseptic quality too. • Cleaning has become (dare I say it?) more enjoyable for both me and my mister, and it’s even slightly more regular too. Boom.Give it a go. And give it some time. It’s not quite as quick as squirting some Domestos Grotbuster Bleach Gel down your loo, but the process is much more satisfying and the results are pretty darn good too.
Hailing from Brighton, purchase :Kinema: (yes, click those colons are an intentional and integral part of the band’s name) haven’t been around for long but have already managed to put out a series of warm and smart poptacular indie tracks that insist – nay, demand – a trip to the dancefloor. I dropped lead singer Dominic a line to find out more about them, and he cheerfully responded to my questions with admirable depth and dedication. Nice one, Dominic. Let’s take it away:
Hello there. Can you introduce yourselves and the rest of the band?
Dominic Ashton, singer, at your service, then we also have Ross Flight on Keytar and synths and on guitar Andy James Nelson.
Lovely. Describe yourselves and the music you make for us.
Musically the phrase ‘Dancefloor Romance’ feels right. In more familiar terms you could say we are a soulful, electronic pop band.
Interesting self-description there, ‘dancefloor romance’ – that’s a phrase that really reminds me of Franz Ferdinand‘s declaration that they wanted to make ‘music that girls can dance to’. They were at the forefront of a post-punk revival, and then we had other danceable indie bands coming through under hip’n’happening labels like dance-punk and, hah, ‘nu-rave’. Alongside bands like Phoenix (who appear to have finally cracked more widespread praise, and who are a band that I reckon share a few traits with you guys) would you consider yourselves to be a part of a new similarly-minded dance/indie/pop crossover trend? Put more simply, is your time now?
We are definitely fans of a lot of the indie-dance stuff. We listen to a lot of the DFA, Kitsune and Modular bands, and DJs, and that obviously has an influence on the music you make, but I think it’s important for any pop producer to listen to a wide variety of contemporary music and to try and meld as much of it together as possible into one cohesive pop sound. I have absolutely no problem with people calling us indie-dance or whatever, if that’s the element they are mainly hearing in our songs then that’s all fine with us, but I’d like to think we share just as much musical DNA with people like the Neptunes as we do with Franz Ferdinand – though I’m willing to admit that we aren’t as good-looking. As for whether this is our time, I’d like to believe that we could have released these songs 5 years ago, or we could release them in 5 years time and it wouldn’t really make a difference. If the indie-dance scene collapsed tomorrow I don’t think it would really affect us; I don’t think pop music is ever going to disappear.
So what is it that you’re trying to achieve with your music?
It wasn’t so much as planned, but the idea of bridging a gap between ‘indie’ music and ‘pop’ music really appeals to us. People tend to polarise these forms – pop music being seen as fake or manufactured; indie music being more ‘real’ and authentic. Now whilst we don’t wholly disagree what this, we have a big love for pop music and are trying to improve its reputation by making pop with an indie sensibility if you like. Writing songs that mean something and performing them ourselves.
Why do you think it is that a lot of people don’t consider music with groove, your average pop song, to be as worthy as, say, a straight up folk song? You’re right that pop often gets labelled as being insincere, phony, or fake, but why is that? I can’t really detect any huge difference between Little Boots and Lady Gaga, yet they receive different kinds of assessments in the press, for instance.
Well… I could probably give you an essay in answer to this but I’ll try and keep things brief. I think there is a whole host of reasons to be honest. A lot of people are of the opinion that for music to be meaningful, the performer has to have written the material themselves, and to a certain extent I would agree with this. I don’t get the feeling that Lady Gaga has invested too much of her time in the writing and production of her music and so I tend to regard her as a celebrity who’s main purpose is to sell mobile phones and soft drinks through the medium of music video. That’s not to say, however, that music that is written and produced for performers, rather than by them, isn’t of value. If you look at some of the motown that the Dozier/Holland/Dozier team created for a variety of artists, it is some of the most memorable music ever made. So I think its got more to do with how music has been commercialised in the last couple of decades. Once major record companies realised that to score a hit single they didn’t have to make a great song, they just had to market it correctly, that’s precisely what they did and we ended up with such musical heavyweights as Steps and Vanilla. I don’t actually have a problem with major labels doing that; children seem to like it and it makes a lot of money that record labels (supposedly) spend on developing other artists. What I dislike is how it has led to music fans equating the term ‘pop music’ with stuff like Steps, because there is a world of difference between what we do and what is churned out by the majors.
Secondly (I told you this was going to be long), I think there has always been a type of music fan who thinks that the classic subject matter of pop is not what ‘real’ musicians should concern themselves with. It probably started when disco and rock seemed to polarise the music world in the seventies. I’ve always got the feeling that some rock fans feel that musicians should concern themselves with loftier themes than dancing and making sweet love, and maybe they are right, but I’ve always felt that rock albums that are only concerned with digging to the very depths of the human soul are just as misrepresentative of the breadth of human experience because dancing and fucking are great fun and a large important part of many peoples’ lives. Even folk musicians think about sex sometimes, so I don’t know why it is that they rarely tackle the subject. Its just generic conventions I guess. As far as our music goes, we try and write about it all.
Very sentient analysis there, I have to say. So how do you go about convincing people that you’re serious about having fun?
Once people hear our songs I don’t actually think they need that much convincing. There’s a song that I wrote about how I love my synthesizers more than my girlfriend, a subject matter that you probably wouldn’t find in the lyrics of say, Cheryl Cole, because she has yet to learn the joys of producing her own records. I think people pick up on those things pretty quickly and realise that our stuff is, for want of a better word, ‘authentic’.
Which are the artists that have influenced you the most, then?
We all have different influences, but we like to think our music follows in the footsteps of early-80′s yacht-rock stars like Michael McDonald – although, perhaps more like if they’d spent more time hanging out at new wave discos like The Roxy or Paradise Garage than in marinas. From today, artists like Holy Ghost! and Aeroplane, and a whole host of French producers, inspire us.
What are you recording or planning to release? Anything soon?
There’s a double A side of ‘Recreation’ and our cover of Animal Collective’s ‘My Girls’ released as a download on the 29th of March. Then, in April, the ‘Circles’ EP gets released as a limited edition 2 track 7? yellow vinyl and a 4 track digital release, and our friends Grovesnor and Line have supplied remixes for that one.
Both these releases are coming out on Hot Pockets, and after that we’ll see. There’s interest from various quarters, but we’re just taking it as it comes at the moment, we’ve also recently done some remixes for other artists but we can’t say too much about that just yet, we don’t want to ruin the surprise.
You can’t reveal anything about the remixes? Pretty please?
Oh, alright then – we’ve just given Husky Rescue a kind of Derrick May meets Billie Jean re-working, there’s a remix we did of an Italian band LFC coming out soon and we’re currently working on giving our label mates Shock Defeat! a sparkling synth make over. There’s a few more things in the pipeline but I really can’t say anything more about them at the moment.
Can’t forget this either – where can people catch you guys live? Any festival slots lined up?
Over the next month or so it’s mainly London and Brighton, in fact we have 3 gigs in a row in west, central and east London in late april (22nd/23rd/24th) so if you live there you really have no excuse to not see us play. As for festivals we’ve got 3 or 4 offers on the table, they should be all confirmed soon. Best bet is to check our website or join our mailing list, we’re getting offered all sorts of gigs at the moment so hopefully people will be able to catch us playing near them very soon.
Ta muchly, Dominic.
Categories ,:kinema:, ,authentic, ,band, ,boogie, ,brighton, ,dance, ,french, ,Indie, ,indie-dance, ,interview, ,live, ,motown, ,pop, ,production