Amelia’s Magazine | Interview: Kirsty Almeida

My name is Miranda. I was born in Peterborough but I managed to escape to London after a 3 year stint studying in the wild terrain of Wales. I was sent away after years of noise abuse on my family, malady reciting poem after poem on very uninterested ears. Now, approved by day, I am an assistant-extraordinaire, helping to keep the retail industry alive. At night, I enjoy scouting out events and secret gigs with my friend Mel, to see how much we can blag. A perfect day would be a festival, with some great bands and cold cider. I like mint tea, vintage playsuits, F. Scott Fitzgerald novels, and hunting for treasure in charity shops around the Fens. I am always late, left-handed and nosey. I recently fell in love with London all over again whilst taking a walk through Kensington Gardens on a warm day and enjoying a perfectly whipped ice cream. One day I plan to write my memoirs in Barcelona, but until then I will continue to build up a collection of vintage clothing, worthy of a wing in the V&A.

Photograph by Hannah Kinver Miles

There is nothing generic about Kirsty Almeida; she was not artificially created from a record labels wish-list, for sale nor manufactured during an X Factor audition. Navigating her own path, she is very much the modern Renaissance Woman: artist, experimenter and a true creative. Before meeting Kirsty to chat about her new album Pure Blue Green – a rich tapestry of blues, folk and jazzy pop – I watched video clips of her performances. Singing live, she is mesmerizing, a powerhouse! Free spirited and alive, at times she is an enigmatic chanteuse, and other times she is a ringleader to a raucous vaudeville troupe. She sings with a passion that leaves us in no doubt that her music come from an honest and heartfelt place. Her voice is tender with sparkles of underlying inquisitiveness and humour and it only takes a minutes listening to see that her life, thoughts and loves are entwined within her lyrics, revealing an existence lived to the full and one that is continuously questioned. So it comes as no surprise that our conversation becomes an all-encompassing discourse that occasionally touches on her album and then soars off in the direction of magic, art, self-development, women’s rights and the dubious ethics of the music industry….

I love how visual your shows are…..
I love the big show thing, I think that people want to be entertained; because music is so accessible, and more downloadable now, people really like going out to live shows. I like to do something thats entertaining, but I also love the little live acoustic shows, those are some of my favourite gigs to do. I’m doing a gig soon that will be just me with a guitar and a girl called Lucinda Bell on harp. I’ve had a six foot bird cage designed and built for me, and we’re going to do a series of exhibitions and art galleries where I will play sat in the cage that will be suspended from the ceiling!

There is a lot of creativity in your performance…
Truthfully I am a visual artist, so I can’t help but look at things and go “well if you just stuck a massive big flower there, and that was attached to an umbrella with a bath chain and then water came out of it…. ” (laughs) and thats just how my mind works; it’s really visual and my work is really visual, I can’t help it!

What do you see first?
When I’m writing a song, I always see colours. I see music in colours and textures. so the first thing that will happen will be that I will be playing guitar and then the colours will come together and at that point I will know that it’s right and then I just have to close my eyes and wait and then the lyrics come.

So the song arrives together?

Do the visuals come at the same time?
No, when I write, it is just about the song and being a channel of creativity. I try and let the song happen, and then afterwards when it’s on loop I get the visuals.

Photograph by Hannah Kinver Miles

Where does your inspiration come from?
I’m inspired by a day, every day there is a million things that inspire me. I’m inspired by clothes, people, situations, conversations that I hear from other people, situations that I get into, trouble, butterflies, birds, nature, trees….. everything!

Do you paint?
Yeah, I paint a lot. But, (sighs) there is never enough time. I also run a collective called Odbod. I set it up in Manchester where there’s a very strong support network of artists, musicians and composers who work together but because you don’t normally get paid to do original music, you have to call in a lot of favours, and in the Manchester scene there are a LOT of favours, people calling each other all the time and helping each other out on each others projects, but there is no set network so there is no way of getting funding or help and I realised that a lot of the artists needed support and advice and people were coming to me for advice, so I thought if we had a collective, we can all get together and say to each other, ‘what do you need, how can I help?’

It’s a genius idea! Would you consider expanding the Odbod’s collective to London?
I would love to! It’s hard to contain it, there are so many people who want to be involved and to everyone who wants to get involved, I just say, come along, support us and we will support you. Hopefully none of the Odbods will be there in a year, they will have flown the nest and it will be time for the next lot of artists to come in. I’m also managing an Irish singer called Rioghnach Connolly, she’s amazing, that girl blows my mind! I’ve watched her and given her advice along the way; I’m quite good at keeping peoples motivation up and helping them to see where they are messing up, and where they are putting in energy where they don’t need to be putting energy in. The whole psychology of being an artist is quite self destructive and I really recognize that so I’m good at pulling someone out.

Do you have that self destructive side to you?
Yeah, there is an element of that in all of us. To be an artist you have to stare at yourself in the mirror every day and to be a true artist you have to get to a place where you actually see what’s not in the mirror, and then separate that from yourself and that’s really hard. You judge yourself very harshly and artists are especially hard on themselves. I have a lot of issues with balance, so I spend most of my time trying to achieve that balance in my life.

If there are particular issues that are bothering you, do you ever find the answers in your songs ?
Definitely! I usually find out what’s going on in my life when I write a song, I have no idea otherwise! Most of the time I don’t know what day it is!

Are you on the road a lot?
Not as much as I would like to be. I would really like to go around the whole world, that would be great…

You are quite a wondering spirit (born in the UK, brought up in Gibraltar, Kirsty grew up travelling the four corners of the globe) Do you feel like an outsider, or can you fit in anywhere?
I empathize with people, I find it easy to talk to anyone or any culture; I’m just fascinated by people. I never felt like I didn’t fit in, it was only as I got older that I thought, I don’t fit in anywhere, I’m the wrong shape for everything! And it took me a long time to work that one out.

How did you reconcile that?
By being really honest with myself. I did a course called The Artists Way. One of the tasks that you have to do is write every morning; first thing you do is write all of your thoughts, and you write out your negativity, all those thoughts that say “I’m not good enough, I’m not happy…” and at the end of that you rip up the paper and throw it away and after a few months you notice that what you write is more creative; you are writing more positive thoughts. You cease the negative voices, and those are the words that say that you don’t fit in. And through that and meditation, I just kind of found out who I was and realised, you know, I am different, and everyone is different, and that is something to be celebrated.

Photograph by Hannah Kinver Miles

I read you saying that the future of women worries you, can you explain that? What specifically concerns you?
We still have so many issues in our sexist world, we still have so many places where men are in charge of things that women should be in charge of, and that concerns me. I am most concerned by the fact that magazines and newspapers are airbrushing us out of existence, and airbrushing us into mental hospitals! I’m really worried about the next generation of girls and how they will deal with this; their idols aren’t real – they are not real human beings! They don’t have curves, they don’t exist… It’s a unreal ideal. I’m really worried about the music industry too – especially what Simon Cowell has done to it! When I go to someone’s house and there is a TV on and they have X Factor or Idol, and I go, “is this what people are watching?” It’s a mind numbing existence for people who should be out living rather than watching.

And the music industry certainly has some interesting ideas about how to market their female artists!
There are a lot of issues and struggles; it is incredibly difficult for women in the record industry; it drives me mad! No matter how good you are, you are solely competing with say, KT Tunstall, Corrine Bailey Rae, Amy Winehouse, Imelda May; the labels always pit us up against each other and say “You have to be the new….” You are not out there and being celebrated as a good musician. If people can’t pigeonhole you, you are seen as a bit of an oddity. Had I been a man in this industry I would have been dealt with differently; I would have been celebrated for the way that I handle myself, but if you are a female, and you have opinions then you are seen as being difficult.

It must be hard to maintain your confidence, and sanity and creativity, whilst these obstacles come your way.
If you realise that creativity, well this is my perception of it; that creativity comes from creation, and that it’s all already there and you just have to become the channel and keep that as your focus and centre. Then none of that other stuff can touch you.

Categories ,acoustic, ,blues, ,collective, ,folk, ,Kirsty Almeida, ,live, ,manchester

Similar Posts:

Amelia’s Magazine | First Love – Emmy the Great


Monday 19th January

Greg Dulli/Mark Lanegan, viagra sale information pills Union Chapel, cialis 40mg London


For fans of the drug-n-whisky soaked darker side of life this intimate venue should be the perfect place to catch the full intensity of this bad boy duo’s melancholic rumblings.

Still Flyin’, patient Stricken City, We Have Band, Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen, London

15-piece Californian band/orchestra/whatever headline with their sunny but diverse indie pop. Plus cool electro pop from We Have Band.

Tuesday 20th January

Kasms, White Heat, London

Noisy and shambolic guitar sounds from these metal-tinged black-haired Londoners.

Wednesday 21st January

Wire, Cargo, London


Sometimes gigs from old favourites can be a risky business, often liable to disappoint when your heroes have become sad old has-beens. With any luck these late 70s punk stalwarts were too cool to age badly and this should be a great gig.

Little Joy, Dingwalls, London

Strokes drummer Fab Moretti becomes a front man on this side project. Expect New Yorkey, indie-pop in a similar vein to, um, The Strokes via Brazil.

Thursday 22nd January

La Roux, Cockpit, Leeds


She’s in Issue 10 so she must be pretty good but don’t just take our (and every other music journalist in England’s) word for it. Check out her fun dance pop live.

Friday 23rd January

Sky Larkin, Barfly, Cardiff


Cute but clever indie rock from Leeds with a definite off-beat edge.

David Grubbs, The Croft, Bristol

Once the founder of 80s punk metallers Squirrel Bait, David Grubbs now plays grungy post-rock as a solo concern.

Saturday 24th January

James Yuill, The Macbeth, London


Think Jose Gonzalez without the advert but with plenty of electronic sounds to accompany the quiet and introspective acoustic numbers.

Of Montreal, Digital, Brighton

Much loved indie pop, spreading a little happiness whilst supporting Franz Ferdinand on their latest tour.

Sunday 25th January

Le Corps Mince de Francoise, Library, Lancaster


Daft Finnish pop in the same vein as CSS, Chicks on Speed and others of that ilk. Crazy make up and fun party girls = a great end to the weekend.

Rows of fish heads preserved in salt – even in the quirky world of Tatty Devine, viagra 60mg that’s an unexpected sight. They peer out from a long black board mounted on the gallery wall like hunting trophies. Next to them, buy cast copies of ripe oranges burrow into blocks of dark red velvet, rx as if victims of a bloody fruit massacre.



This is the first solo show of sculptor Amaia Allende, which opened on Thursday at the Tatty Devine boutique and gallery space in Brick Lane, east London. Allende claims to tackle the “subject of belonging” by assembling similar everyday items into tidy rows. It looks suspiciously like she has emptied her kitchen bin around the shop.

By the front door, some sort of green pear-like fruits line up on a narrow shelf. Poking out of the top are long strands of polyester blond hair, which make them look like a family of Mrs Pear Heads. So they belong together, you see, while at the same time having individual personalities (because of the hair).



Tatty Devine is famous for its unique jewellery and edgy art exhibitions, including “Jane Amongst the Birds”, a competition for the best foreign bird or budgie (complete with Tatty Devine trophy) held in September last year. So when it comes to belonging, it seems that Allende and her sombre line-up of fish heads and old fruit, have found an appropriate home.
The most glamorous way of recycling clothes is buying vintage. Last week was launched by luxury fashion PR, viagra order Carmen Haid, about it and fashion journalist, Alice Kodell, and it is a literal vintage heaven. It’s not the place to go if your vintage needs are met by Beyond Retro but if you want a designer dress to suit your decadent palette, you’ll love it.

In the 1930′s Carmen Haid’s grandmother, Klaudia Mayer ran a haute couture atelier in Vienna, selling exquisite clothes sourced from all over the world and it is this that recreates as an online boutique.

The launch truly indicated the splendour of the site, as we entered Marks Club – gentlemen’s club extraordinaire – in Mayfair, we were greeted with roaring fireplaces, country estate décor and the elegant melodies of the violinists could be heard wafting down the staircase.

Photograph by Tilly Pearman

Such a grand setting was fitting for the designer and couture gowns on show, a taste of what can be bought on the site. As well as on rails, the clothes were worn by models and the violinists, to show off the true beauty of them.


Photographs by Tilly Pearman

The site not only allows you to browse through the clothes online, the style me section acts as your very own personal shopper, taking into account your size and preferences and finding appropriate pieces and accessories for you. is also a great source for brushing up on your fashion knowledge, it has biographies of designers and fashion houses, guides to buying vintage and the style minute section contains a collection of fashion videos, including a fabulous Audrey Hepburn montage and an interview with key sartorial players including Coco Chanel, which is in her native French but we (Prudence Ivey – bilingual Music Editor) has done a handy translation of the key questions for you:

Could you give me a definition of elegance?
Coco: It’s difficult, you ask a difficult question, what is elegance? It’s many things. I will say something which I repeat all the time that for me is obvious but which many people don’t understand: that you can never be elegant enough.

Many of the dresses you designed last year have been copied or imitated in practically every country in the world. The Chanel style has descended to the street. Are you happy about this?
Coco: I am delighted. That was my goal. I don’t believe in defending fashion. You can’t have fashion if you are against imitation. There is no fashion if no-one sees it. Not me but many of the couturiers have an insane fear of imitation but you can’t be successful without it. For me success is the copy. You can’t be successful without that and imitation.

Wise words Coco.

photograph from Gavin Cullen

I should confess that I don’t come to First Love with impartial ears, information pills but more as an inadvertent geek, verging-on-groupie, who has faithfully been following the movements of Emma-Lee Moss since first stumbling across the girl who sang out prophecies of premature death and the difficulty in distinguishing between love and a stomach disorder. Assembling whoever I could, I stood among many a rowdy crowd turned to enchanted silence – the boys would always fall in love and the girls would come away a little jealous.

Now her album has appeared on our desk and I am all excitement and nerves. The name is taken from Samuel Beckett’s depressing novella about a violently misogynistic lover, whilst Emmy’s First Love is a “hard-won innocence-to-experience saga about a destructive but ultimately character forming relationship, in which songwriting process was her final act of catharsis”. But the tracks that most explicitly fit this bill are the ones I find hardest to warm to, stripped of the subtlety and delicacy of earlier songs, they can be a little sour to the taste. For the most part however, the album shines with all the appeal that makes Emmy great. Lyrics that are dark, humorous and full of brilliantly evocative imagery – all veiled beneath teasingly playful melodies and a disarmingly sugared deliverance – “Our guitarist Euan says our songs are passive aggressive – people think we’re harmless unless they’re really listening”.

We went along to 12 Bar to see her play an acoustic set of before an intimidating crowd of straight clothed industry folk, though she was unfazed, always confident, “we’re used to much bigger stages” she joked …. and so Emmy the Great enters into the mainstream, and perhaps it is just the natural preconditioning of any fan but I think I preferred her on intimate stages when it was just her, her guitar, and a pool of admirers. Saying that, ‘We are Safe” is my new favourite song, full band.

Categories ,12 Bar Club, ,Acoustic, ,Album, ,Emma-Lee Moss, ,Emmy the Great, ,First Love, ,Live, ,Singer

Similar Posts:

Amelia’s Magazine | Shhh: A Celebration Of Quiet Music, Art and Film – Review

Shhh music night 2012 -amelia gregory
Completely gratuitous shot of me in the snow, just cos I like the effects.

On Saturday night we took a delightful stroll through the snow to check out the last few acts at Shhh: A Celebration Of Quiet Music, Art and Film as recommended on my listings section. When we arrived it was clear that most people had been in full flow since mid afternoon, but since I can’t drink these days I can’t exactly get jealous.

Shhh music night 2012 -anna meredith
The main venue behind The Gallery Cafe is a remarkable find, somewhat reminiscent of a village hall. Here cans of Red Stripe littered the tables as a lady called Anna Meredith tackled an apple laptop on her own in front of a warm orange glow (and no, that’s not just hipstamatic effects.) What began as mellow electronic beats soon took on a darker sheen with a thudding bassline… which my baby decidedly did not like: funny how you can just tell.

Shhh music night 2012 -Folk Cancellation
Out in the tiny chapel a couple of blokes were having a quietly fought war of the speakers. Steve Dickie and Stuart Bannister’s Folk Cancellation ended with the unfurling of two opposing banners, folk and anti-folk. How very east London.

Shhh music night 2012 -Mirel Wagner
In the main cafe we sat down for a set by acoustic songstrel Mirel Wagner, who baffled us with her accent. I’ve since discovered that she is Ethiopian born Finnish – what a mix! Her deathly take on the blues was depressing, not helped by overly cliched lyrics that gave away her lack of skills with the English language, but she certainly has a beautiful voice. I agree with a recent Guardian review that herein lies the bones of something wonderful, if only she can escape her downbeat ghetto.

Shhh music night 2012 -Stranded Horse
Then came the highlight. Stranded Horse took awhile to set up his home made Koras, which are a type of African harp. Using deceptively simple repetitive techniques he proceeded to create the most marvellous hypnotic sounds, sadly cut short as he ran out of time. I recommend you go check him out! Unusual and very special.

Shhh music night 2012 - snow
Another gratuitous shot of snow on Weavers Fields. Photography by Amelia Gregory.

Categories ,acoustic, ,Anna Meredith, ,Bethnal Green, ,electronica, ,Folk Cancellation, ,Gallery Cafe, ,Kora, ,Mirel Wagner, ,review, ,Shhh: A Celebration Of Quiet Music Art and Film, ,Snow, ,Steve Dickie, ,Stranded Horse, ,Stuart Bannister, ,The Line of Best Fit, ,The Local, ,Weavers Fields

Similar Posts:

Amelia’s Magazine | Elvis Perkins: Ash Wednesday

Those of you who’ve seen Fame (you know the one, store information pills “Remember my name (FAME!)/I’m gonna live forever” and all that jazz) may remember the relatively small but significant character called Bruno. He hated playing in the strings section of the orchestra because he could electronically create an orchestra of sound and fury on his own, information pills healing resulting in much dancing in the streets and on taxis…

…The comaprison: Napoleon IIIrd Napoleon IIIrd. Why he hasn’t had more Fame action himself is quite beyond me. Though that said, I had heard on the grapevine that the man was touring with a full band and was hoping to see and hear such a spectacle in the flesh. But alas, whilst hoping that the brass section was hiding out in the toilets working up the saliva to play, the man himself emerged to take his place behind two microphones, that met above a keyboard, nestled between all manner of electronic and musical paraphernalia…and no band.

Never mind though, performing solo, he didn’t disappoint. Unexpectedly formidable, Napoleon is energetic and jerky as his music often is. One thing is that from the start, Napoleon is so believable. Without guile or pretensions, yet vaguely angsty and almost aggressive, not quite desperate but definitely hopeful, he is one man doing his own orchestral manoeuvres in the dark.

Like a proud band leader, pumping his metaphoric baton triumphantly, Napoleon IIIrd conducted his way through the set with a well practiced panache; twiddling with levels, blue-tacking keys, pressing buttons and bristling on his guitar. Completely comfortable but not complacent, Napoleon IIIrd played with abandon. With heavy industrial beats, crunchy glitches, big refrains, random samples and a pre-recorded choir of Napoleons to back him up, Napoleon IIIrd’s music is quite epic live. It’s all the more strange to match the sound to the scene when the guy is all alone on stage amongst his band of merry, electronically recorded selves.

So remember his name, because Napoleon IIIrd is dynamite.
Having studied graphic design, remedy I too had put on a show at my university and then made the journey to London to showcase my talents to industry moguls. My experience was, remedy well, pretty shit – but this was flawless. With over 50 stands showcasing talent, 2 fashion theatres and an orange-carpeted Moët bar for pre-show drinks, GFW supported by River Island (amongst other major players) really packed a punch.

Read more

Amelia’s Magazine | Album Review: The Magic Lantern – A World In A Grain Of Sand

Much of The Magic Lantern’s A World In A Grain Of Sand reminded me of the folk music coming out of London three of four years ago, sildenafil before the Mumfords came along and popularised the genre and made it synonymous with banjos, dosage harmonies and big anthemic choruses. I know this music still exists, here but it seems everyone has sort of forgotten about it. Brilliant artists like Johnny Flynn, Emmy The Great, and Lightspeed Champion – they are more about stripped back, folksy ditties, accompanied by traditional, acoustic instruments and usually, crucially, only one voice. It’s reminiscent of what we get here with The Magic Lantern’s latest offering and it’s really lovely to hear again.

The Magic Lantern by Steve Campion

Any fan of the bands I’ve already mentioned will love the albums two opening tracks Somebody Told Me and Cut From Stone, which are sweetly sung, largely guitar-led tracks. The rest of the album, however, is perhaps not quite so easy to listen to because this is quite an involved album, and it might even take a couple of listens before you understand how it fits together as whole. I almost wanted to turn all the lights off, sit down and simply listen.

The Magic Lantern by Claire Kearns

As the title of the album suggests there is something rather other worldly about The Magic Lantern and in particular Jamie Doe’s songwriting. These are ballads, in the very traditional sense of the word in that they are stories set to music and they require a bit more than just half your attention. The use of a whole myriad of instruments and some unusual and exotic sounding rhythms help add to the other worldly feel too, of course.

The Magic Lantern by Vanessa Lovegrove

Clearly this is a band with many many influences, like Doe sings in Shine A Light On, which is clearly, unbelievably, reggae-influenced, “don’t just believe me, write your own song”. Songs like Guilty Hearts, are moody, dark even – “It’s the quiet ones who tell the biggest lies”, Doe sings.

The Magic Lantern by Kiran Patel

But there are some moments when you wonder whether The Magic Lantern couldn’t have benefited from being a bit more concise with some of the tracks. Some of the solos that feature on this album are a little on the indulgent side, the two minute outro on The Ship That Washed Away, for example.

The Magic Lantern by Natalie Hughes

From the sounds of it The Magic Lantern are certainly a group of formidable musicians, which made me feel aware throughout the album that I would be much better off seeing them live.

The Magic Lantern by Emma Carlisle

Categories ,A World In A Grain Of Sand, ,acoustic, ,album, ,album review, ,Chameber music, ,Emmy the Great, ,folk, ,Folk Scene, ,guitars, ,Indie, ,Jamie Doe, ,Johnny Flynn, ,Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit, ,Lightspeed Champion, ,live music, ,london, ,Mumford and Sons, ,New music, ,Nu Folk, ,review, ,Songwriting, ,The Magic Lantern

Similar Posts:

Amelia’s Magazine | Album Review: Butcher the Bar – For Each A Future Tethered

For Each A Future Tethered is easy-listening embodied in 11 songs and Nicholson’s is a voice that simply seems to melt into your ears. There are a few artists that Nicholson in his Butcher The Bar incarnation brings to mind and many come from across the pond. His sweetly sung, more about breathy songs definitely evoke Elliot Smith but perhaps without the darker edge – from the amount of sunshine that comes bursting through the songs on this album it’s certainly difficult to believe that Nicholson is of a similar disposition to the late Smith.

Butcher The Bar by Natalie Hughes

Butcher The Bar by Cheryl Windahl

Shoegazey ditties like Alpha Street West conjure Josh Radin or Jason Schwartzman’s band Coconut Records and there’s definitely something Eels-esque in the rousing Lullaby. As for a homegrown influence then you wouldn’t be far wrong if you imagined the best of Badly Drawn Boy’s back catalogue.

Butcher The Bar by Jaymie O’Callaghan

Butcher The Bar’s sound is quite a full one – layers of clarinets, keyboards, glockenspiels, trumpets, and guitars all pile up to make for some pretty hefty choruses. It would definitely be interesting to check them out at a gig to see if they can translate this big sound into their lives shows.

Butcher The Bar by Emma Carlilse

Inspiration for most of the lyrics seem to be taken from the every day with many tracks recounting little stories – including walks with loved ones, imagined romances and teenaged mums – giving the album a really lovely, personal feel.

Butcher The Bar by Cheryl Windahl

Stand out tracks include Sign Your Name (“sign your name upon my heart for me”) and Silk Tilts, which will give anyone in need of a instant banjo hit a great deal of pleasure – just try not to continually misread and mishear the title, as I keep doing!

Butcher The Bar Man by Natalie Hughes

Giant with it’s refrain of “you’re my favourite, favourite one” is a good example of the material on offer here – it’s not complicated stuff, but it’s so sweet and backed-up by some pretty impressive musicianship. In fact most of the songs don’t surpass 3 and-a-half minutes so there is no hint that Nicholson is trying to do anything particularly wacky or experimental. For Each A Future Tethered is simply a collection of delightful indie-pop songs, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Butcher The Bar by Cheryl Windahl

Categories ,acoustic, ,album, ,Butcher The Bar, ,Clarinet, ,Eliot Smith, ,folk, ,guitar, ,Indie, ,Indie Folk, ,Joel Nicholson, ,Joshua Radin, ,New music

Similar Posts:

Amelia’s Magazine | Interview with Laki Mera and review of new album The Proximity Effect

Laki Mera by Abi Lewis
Laki Mera by Abi Lewis.

The Proximity Effect is the second album from Glasgow based Laki Mera, order a band who excel in the creation of their own unique trip hop influenced sound. Focused around the luscious vocals of singer songwriter Laura Donnelly, the album moves sleekly between ambient textures and big folk inspired melodies, plucking the best from the electronic and acoustic worlds to create something utterly new. I caught up with the talented foursome: Laura Donnelly, Andrea Gobbi, Keir Long and Tim Harbinson.

How do you work together to create music as a foursome?
We write in a few, different ways… Some tunes start more as acoustic tunes written by Laura which are then arranged by the band as a whole – introducing beats and electronic feel. Some tunes start off as electronic ideas, from jams or individually from Andrea or Keir. At any stage of the process though, the collaboration between all of us is what creates the Laki Mera sound.

Laki Mera by Michelle Pegrume
Laki Mera by Michelle Pegrume.

Do you all bring different musical inspirations to the table – and if so what are they?
We have a really wide and varied bank of influences ranging from folk and acoustic music to minimal electronica. To list a few… Beck, Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, Bjork, Radiohead, Datasette, Zombie Zombie, Bat for Lashes, Portishead, Massive Attack, Advisory Circle, Benny Greb… there is a lot of good music coming out of Scandinavia at the moment – Little Dragon, Efterklang, Lykke Li, Fever Ray

Laki Mera by Evan Smith
Laki Mera by Evan Smith.

What brought Italian Andrea Gobbi to Scotland and what keeps you there? 
I travelled up from London in 2001 and instantly felt attracted by the Glasgow music scene… collaborations were born and I got deeper and deeper into both the indie and folk music scene, both as a musician and a producer engineer.

YouTube Preview ImageFool

Is there anything that you miss about Italy? 
I obviously miss my family and friends, but as far as music is concerned not very much at all, I’m afraid… I’m very happy in Scotland! 

Laki Mera night
What’s best about living in Scotland?
Definitely not the food!

Laki Mera by Dan Lester
Laki Mera by Dan Lester.

The Proximity Effect is named for a studio technique – what does it mean and how was it used in the making of the album?
Our album The Proximity Effect was named after the interesting combination of the audio technical term ‘proximity effect‘ and the philosophical meaning behind how people react when in the proximity of other people, how people interact in the proximity of each other and how important these connections are. The actual meaning of the technical term proximity effect… well, it is simply a way to describe how microphones react to the relative closeness of the sound source you are recording… say for instance how a softly spoken lyric would come through when spoken directly into a microphone (i.e. with your lips touching it). 

Laki Mera by Sarah Jayne Morris
Laki Mera by Sarah Jayne Morris.

I haven’t heard the first album, how does the new one differ? 
The first album was a production which took several years, during which studio electronic music experiment and song-writing took their time to develop! The outcome was a very deep-layered production with a much calmer and reflective feel about it. The Proximity Effect still has moments of pause and reflection but it’s a much more direct record, based around tracks that were born playing live rather than in the studio… Most of the electronic music production on this album was inspired by the tracks and not vice versa. 

Laki Mera
How do you ensure that you retain an organic feel to the music when applying so many electronic textures?
Retaining an organic feel to the music is very important to us as we are well aware that electronic music can become too sterile and repetitive if not handled properly. We have a good mix of acoustic and electronic elements to the band and when working on the electronic arrangement we use many analog synths such as Korg Sigma, Korg MS10, Roland Juno 106. We also create our own sounds from samples of real sounds. Also, when playing live we ‘play’ everything rather than relying on pre-recorded loops as so many electronic acts do. This is more fun (if a little tricky sometimes) for us and more interesting for an audience to watch.

Laki Mera by Joana Faria
Laki Mera by Joana Faria.

You recorded some of the new album’s songs in turf house in a small Highland village – what lay behind the decision to decamp? 
We recognised that there was a bit of a difference between the tunes on the album and we wanted to embrace this. We made the decision to spend a week in a remote part of the Highlands to concentrate on the more acoustic, song-like tunes on the album. We felt that the hustle and bustle of our city studio did not provide the right kind of environment to properly capture the more sensitive feel of tunes such as Reverberation, Double Back and Solstice. We needed somewhere with a more quiet feel and a slower pace. 

YouTube Preview ImagePollok Park

Does living in Glasgow influence the sound of the music?
Glasgow has always been a very musical city and I think that’s partly why we have all been drawn there. With its long, dark winters and brooding, grey skies it definitely lends itself well to writing dark, introverted tunes!

Laki Mera laura donnelly
What else does everyone do when you’re not involved in Laki Mera?
Andrea & Keir are both sound engineers, Keir is also a piano teacher. Laura works on graphic design and art projects and Tim has recently completed a masters in Social Ecology.

Have you got any collaborations in the pipeline? 
We’re working on it, so watch this space…

YouTube Preview ImageOnion Machine

The Proximity Effect is out now on Just Music.

Categories ,Abi Lewis, ,acoustic, ,Advisory Circle, ,Andrea Gobbi, ,Aphex Twin, ,Bat for Lashes, ,Beck, ,Benny Greb, ,bjork, ,Dan Lester, ,Datasette, ,Double Back, ,efterklang, ,Electonica, ,Evan Smith, ,Fever Ray, ,folk, ,Fool, ,glasgow, ,Highlands, ,Joana Faria, ,Just Music, ,Keir Long, ,Korg MS10, ,Korg Sigma, ,Kraftwerk, ,Laki Mera, ,Laura Donnelly, ,Little Dragon, ,Lykke Li, ,Massive Attack, ,Michelle Pegrume, ,Onion Machine, ,Pollok Park, ,Portishead, ,radiohead, ,Reverberation, ,Roland Juno 106, ,Sarah Jayne Morris, ,Sarah-Jayne, ,Scottish, ,Social Ecology, ,Solstice, ,Tim Harbinson, ,Trip-Hop, ,Zombie Zombie

Similar Posts:

Amelia’s Magazine | Austra, Viv Albertine & Daughter at the Windmill: music review

Sarah Baardarani, search illustrated by Naomi Law

With Fashion Scout releasing their Ones to Watch for the coming season last week, it was only going to be a matter of fashion minutes before the British Fashion Council announced who was going to feature on the stands this A/W 2011 fashion week. And here they are!

I like the exhibitions a lot. You get to really get a feel for the collections – you can see them up close and touch them – hell, you can even smell them if that’s your bag. While a big-budget catwalk show has the atmosphere to accompany the clothes, I often miss many of the design quirks and fabric features because I’m just too damn busy photographing, tweeting and scribbling what will later become illegible notes. With the stands, you can see the colossal effort that a designer has put into their collection and often they’re hanging around, so you can EVEN chat to them too.

It’s also a great place to find up-an-coming design talent: fresh ideas and new ways of doing things. Sod the oldies on the catwalks. This year looks like it won’t disappoint. Here’s a round of the ‘Emerging Designers’ that the BFC has added to its roster:
austra by anko
Austra by Anko

It may have been a typically miserable Monday night in January, thumb but we were safe from the elements within the hallowed hall that is the Windmill in Brixton. This unassuming little pub just off the busy thoroughfare of Brixton Hill (and in the shadow of a real windmill, the only one remaining in London), has seen many upcoming bands and surprise appearances from old faces grace its stage over the years. My favourite music venue in London (and my second gig there in 48 hours), I’ve had a lot of nights at the Windmill that have been great (including my second New Year’s Eve in London), hazy (ditto) and just plain bizarre.

elena tonra by ellie sutton
Elena Tonra by Ellie Sutton.

The evening began with some haunting acoustica from Daughter, aka Elena Tonra. Plucking at an acoustic guitar, and backed by some subtle electric guitar washes, Tonra’s hushed vocals delivered some daintily dark lyrics that drew the onlookers in. As the Windmill began to fill up, Viv Albertine took to the stage with her new band, Limerence. Once the guitarist and co-songwriter with iconic punk band The Slits, Albertine had been off the music scene for over 20 years after pursuing a career in TV and film directing, but she recently made a return to the stage (indeed, her debut was here at the Windmill) and has gone on to release an EP on the label of Sonic Youth’s very own Thurston Moore.

Viv Albertine by Karina Yarv
Viv Albertine by Karina Yarv.

“Limerence” was a term coined to describe a near-obsessive form of romantic love, though Albertine joked that her songs were generally about pretty much the opposite. Limerence the band is a loose collective of musicians – I’d seen them play at the George Tavern in Stepney last year with pretty much a full compliment, but tonight it was just a pairing of violin and a combo of keyboard, guitar and ukulele. Musically, Albertine has moved on from the reggae infused sound of her old band, though her guitar is still as distinctive as it was on songs like Typical Girls. If anything, there’s a hint of Syd Barrett about songs like Fairytale and the twisted pop of Never Come, and the lyrics are as witty and spiky as you’d expect. Void references a darker part of her punk past, and was introduced with a few reminiscences of 1976. The paired down line-up actually gave an extra edge to Albertine’s songs, highlighted on the unsettling set closer, Confessions Of A Milf, which descended into a one-chord riff on suburban paranoia.

Canadian headliners Austra have been causing a bit of a buzz of late. Hailing from Toronto, and centred on vocalist Katie Stelmanis, with Maya Postepski on programming and Dorian Wolf on bass, they recently renamed themselves (having previously been going under Stelmanis’ moniker), signed to Domino and currently have a 12” single out, with an album in the pipeline for later this year.

Austra gig at The Windmill by Laura Godfrey
Austra gig at The Windmill by Laura Godfrey.

For the UK leg of a whistle-stop European tour, starting tonight, Stelmanis and co were joined by a drummer, keyboard player and two extra vocalists. There was a bit of a shaky start with a technical hitch before things got into their stride. It would be easy to make comparisons with Fever Ray and Glasser (especially as I’d seen both live fairly recently), and Austra do fall into that category of brooding female vocals over dark electronic beats. However, they’re not as dense as Fever Ray or as spectral as Glasser, especially live. I’d read somewhere that Austra were like “Fever Ray gone disco”, which actually isn’t a million miles off the mark. The single, Beat & the Pulse, is distinctly dance-friendly, and while Stelmanis’ vocal delivery may be reminiscent of Karin Dreijer Andersson, the general vibe is more akin to the early to mid 80’s indie-dance crossover. In the confined space of the Windmill, Austra’s songs become much more organic, with the live drums and bass giving an added kick. There was also plenty of theatricality, with Stelmanis and her sidekicks whirling and dipping during each song.

It was a typically great and varied mix of bands and styles tonight, another in a long line of great nights that I’ve experienced at the Windmill, and another one I’m sure that the venue’s legendary Roof Dog would approve of.

Categories ,acoustic, ,Anko, ,Austra, ,Brixton, ,dance, ,Daughter, ,domino, ,electronic, ,Elena Tonra, ,Ellie Sutton, ,Fever Ray, ,George Tavern, ,Glasser, ,Karin Dreijer Andersson, ,Karina Yarv, ,Laura Godfrey, ,Limerence, ,LJG Art, ,punk, ,reggae, ,Roof Dog, ,Sonic Youth, ,Stepney, ,Syd Barrett, ,the slits, ,Thurston Moore, ,Toronto, ,Typical Girls, ,viv albertine, ,Windmill

Similar Posts:

Amelia’s Magazine | Country Mile: an interview with the multi-talented folk singer Johnny Flynn

Johnny Flynn by Emma Mc Morrow

Johnny Flynn by Emma McMorrow.

Johnny Flynn is now a husband and a father, as well as an actor and musician. His many roles have inspired Country Mile, his first album in some years, and one which returns to his roots as a relaxed storyteller – relating journeys, both real and literal, in acoustic style. The result is a sonically beautiful yet raw selection of songs that will keep you warm through those long dark winter nights. I particularly love his title track, which is accompanied by a suitably lo-fi video that follows Johnny’s travels across hill and dale.

Johnny Flynn by Luke Montgomery

Johnny Flynn by Luke Montgomery.

Here at Amelia’s Magazine we have long been Johnny Flynn fans, ever since I saw you accompany Emmy the Great nearly a decade ago (gulp). What have been the main changes in your life since those heady days?
Hmm yeah that feels like a long time ago. I can barely remember what was going on then. I had no idea I was going to pursue music at the time – I was kind of living hand to mouth, quite often living on Emmy’s couch. I was happy to go along with chance encounters and end up playing different nights and with different bands. In terms of my own stuff – I felt private about it – I made lots of bedroom recordings that were only meant to be heard by a few people. So quite a lot has changed. I have a wife and son now. I’m somehow fully submerged in the music industry having never really intending to be here…

Johnny Flynn By Lynne Datson

Johnny Flynn by Lynne Datson.

It’s been awhile since your last album release, how has your approach to making music altered?
Well, this album was a return to the ethics of those early bedroom recordings I just mentioned. The first two albums were done in traditional studios with a producer. That was great and we made the albums in a few weeks but I wanted to go back to ‘tinkering’ with these recordings. That and having the autonomy of making it ourselves – I worked with Adam who plays bass in the band and who I’ve always worked with on demos/soundtracks/bits and bobs. We have a kind of short hand for communicating so it’s cosy to be just us in the studio.

YouTube Preview Image

What kind of journeys inspired the lyrics of Country Mile?
Mostly the kind made on foot along old routes and pilgrimage ways. I was inspired by writers like Robert Macfarlane – who writes mostly about his experiences in wilderness or walking ancient paths. I have a group of friends who all share an interest in being alone in nature: I think it’s healthy to head out on your own in a state of contemplation as often as possible. It’s something that is a prevalent aspect of lots of ancient cultures but has disappeared from our own. If you go back a relatively short time in our history, the act of pilgrimage was an important part of people’s lives. I have made a few ‘pilgrimages’ in recent years and always got so much from giving myself to a ‘way’. When all you have to do each day is walk along a path, all sorts of beautiful things occur – inwardly and outwardly – and you have the space and time to notice and enjoy them.

Johnny Flynn by Julie Gough

Johnny Flynn by Julie Gough.

I understand that the song Einstein’s Idea was written as a lullaby about relativity. How do you write a song with a child in mind?
I don’t know – it just came out of me. I wrote it when my son was box-fresh and I was starting to be filled with an overwhelming paternal energy that was totally new to me. I also wanted to commit something to that moment almost as a testament to my newfound love for this new friend I’d made. And the idea of writing a song abouts ‘Einstein’s idea’ (the theory of relativity) was kind of a joke but also my own cack-handed understanding of it in story form.

Johnny Flynn_CountryMile album cover

How has becoming a father changed your world view?
I’m no longer at the centre of my world… It’s a relief to have someone else to worry about, frankly. I’ve found that’s a lot of new parents have a similar feeling about having kids. It’s such a massive shift, it knocks you sideways in your perception of almost everything. My family comes first now and there’s a kind of lion instinct that kicks in when I least expect it – I get angry when I’m taken away from them.


Johnny Flynn by Lizzie Donegan at New Good Studio.

What productions have you lent your acting talents to in recent times? Any favourites?
I was in productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III when that started at the Globe last summer and finished in the west end earlier this year. They were pretty special shows and I was sad to pull out of the broadway transfer that’s just begun so that we could tour with the new album. It was wonderful to work with Mark Rylance again. After I finished the Shakespeare double bill I was at the royal court doing a fantastic play called ‘the low road’ set in 18th century New England. That was also a lot of fun and the court has always been my favourite theatre.

You are currently on tour for the first time in a few years, what can fans expect to find at your gigs?
We’ve enlisted the amazing Cosmo Sheldrake to play with us (and usually support us on tour too) so having him on organ and upright bass has really allowed us to fly. I feel like the old songs are sounding new and re-invigorated. Having a few years perspective on all that stuff gives us a chance to mess around with the arrangements. And we love playing the new songs. It’s been a while so we’re just happy to be up there.

Country Mile from the Country Mile album by Johnny Flynn is released on 18th November 2013.

Categories ,acoustic, ,Cosmo Sheldrake, ,Country Mile, ,Emma McMorrow, ,Emmy the Great, ,folk, ,Globe, ,Johnny Flynn, ,Julie Gough, ,Lynne Datson, ,New Good Studio, ,Raw, ,review, ,Richard III, ,Robert Macfarlane, ,Rylance, ,Shakespeare, ,Twelfth Night

Similar Posts:

Amelia’s Magazine | Wood Festival 2011: a special preview interview with founder Robin Bennett

Wood Festival  Relax

Wood Festival is mere weeks away, sale so what better opportunity to catch up with one of the founders? I asked Robin what inspired him to create this fabulous boutique festival, check and why being sustainable is so very important to him.

Wood Festival tent

What initially inspired you to start Wood Festival and what were your goals in putting it together?
I have a life-long interest in environmental issues, and the relationship of these to festivals was brought home when freak floods caused the postponement of Truck Festival in July 2007, flooding the village of Steventon and my parents’ house too. While these floods may or may not be to do with global warming, it did make us think. We also thought that if we ran some more events we’d be less susceptible to such ‘acts of God’, and for our first new event, Wood, we thought it would be good to make it an example, even the greenest event in the country (though there are some other very fine contenders for that crown).

Woodfest Portable+Solar+Generators

It has been awarded Gold standard by A Greener Festival and Industry Green 2*, and we’re shortlisted for the Music Week Green Business award, so we are getting there. I also had a newborn son and wanted to create an event that was suitable for small children and families, which certainly has become the case, as children nearly outnumber adults at Wood! Our new company which has run the events since 2007, Truck Enterprises, has a mission: “to build community through music and the arts”, and that’s what we try to do.

YouTube Preview Image
2007: Year of the Flood.

How do you manage to run so many events, and your own shop?
I’m not sure if manage is the word, it’s more like juggling hot potatoes, even on-fire potatoes… the idea is they form part of a greater whole, and make out lives more balanced. They certainly make a lot of work! we have some quite efficient methods and systems, but then we try to work individually with the community around each event, which means there are no short cuts. For example, Wood is held at a community living experiment/eco-village called Braziers Park. The shop – Truck Store – is run day-to-day by our friends from Rapture, an independent record store in Witney, a Cotswold market town. My brother works in there to keep things family. There are many Bennetts involved in the Truck Enterprises team… maybe that explains it!

A documentary about Wood Festival made in 2009.

Can you tell us more about the Truck shop – what is special about it and what can people find there? if people don’t live in Oxford where can they tap into your offerings?
Truck Store is a shop, and also a hub for the Oxford music community – it has great big windows, tables and chairs for those who just want to read a magazine, and a stage for live music events such as Record Store Day. It sells loads of vinyl, the best new CD releases, comics, DVDs, festival tickets, and even cuddly Truck monsters. It’s also an all-year base for all things Truck and a chance to say hello. You can always find interesting, helpful and unusual music advice from the staff that is more personalised than you might get on the internet. It’s close to the Oxford Tube (St Clements) stop so no excuse not to visit from London. It has a facebook page and twitter but not yet a website. The events have websites – and

Wood festival Street

What was your highlight of Wood last year?
Seeing the Make Your Own DIY Wormeries workshop sell out – if that’s the term. Who knew so many people wanted to make their own wormery? In fact, the children’s Sunday morning fancy dress parade is always a highlight and taps into some strange pagan instinct…

Trevor Moss & Hannah Lou playing The Allotment Song at Wood Festival 2009 in a pedal-powered tent from Magnificent Revolution.

Why is sustainability so important to you? is it something you’ve grown up with, or that you have found over the years?
I was aware of the issue from the age of 5 or 6… picketed Macdonald’s at age 10, etc, so it goes back a way. I was lucky as a child to be able to roam freely in the woods and see farming conditions first hand, an opportunity many children now don’t have. I became aware of the importance of education on the subject after being a trustee of a charity called Siren which worked on conservation education, hence there is a great emphasis on that at Wood. Really, sustainability is important for all of us – it’s hard to actually be opposed to it! Having child(ren) certainly reminds you that the world must be left in as good a state as it can be. As a dominant species, it’s our responsibility.

Wood Festival child

What are your current hot tips for the festival season?
Bell tents, at least, I’d like one. Dreaming Spires, my band, will be at some festivals. We will try to be hot. Gaggle are appearing at Truck and sound quite novel, a choir of indie opera singers. Mama Rosin, at Wood, are a Swiss Cajun band. What is that? Come find out.

Cat Martino dancing to Dreaming Spires in Truck America
Cat Martino dancing to Dreaming Spires in Truck America.

Just Can’t Keep This Feeling In by Dreaming Spires.

Why should people come to Wood this year?
It’s a special experience – where else can you make your own musical instrument from vegetables, or go foraging in the woods for food? *NB, we have normal food too.

I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to get to Wood. Here’s my full listing here.

Categories ,2011, ,A Greener Festival, ,Award, ,Brazier’s Park, ,Cat Martino, ,charity, ,Dreaming Spires, ,gaggle, ,Green Business, ,Just Can’t Keep This Feeling In, ,Macdonald’s, ,Magnificent Revolution, ,Mama Rosin, ,Music Week, ,MusicWeek, ,Rapture, ,Record Store Day, ,Robin Bennett, ,Siren, ,Steventon, ,sustainable, ,Swiss Cajun, ,The Allotment Song, ,Trevor Moss & Hannah Lou, ,Truck America, ,Truck Enterprises, ,Truck Festival, ,Truck Store, ,Vinyl, ,Witney, ,Wood Festival, ,Wormeries

Similar Posts: