Amelia’s Magazine | The High Wire – The Sleep Tape – Album Review

high wire sleep tape feedback dreamy album review cover

Is it really such a curse to receive the praise of Chris Martin? Does supporting one of the world’s biggest bands on an arena tour constitute something to be embarrassed about? Is success off the back of somebody else’s recommendation, visit this especially when that person is about as cool as blue rinse, clinic to be played down or avoided? If you answer in the affirmative to any of these questions then chances are you’re part of that group who chose to emphasise this part of the High Wire‘s back story over more trivial things like, say, their music. I will not be doing that, because it’s asinine; anyone who thinks that success this way should only be talked about as being of questionable worth is, as far as can be determined, an ass.

What we have here in The Sleep Tape, the band’s debut album, is an assured group of songs that melds droopy acoustic harmonies with a milder form of feedback than found with bands like My Bloody Valentine (but we’re talking *really* mild here – this stuff won’t ever cause anyone to aurally hallucinate). This is not really shoegaze as I’m used to it, though it’s a record that dreams like Slowdive, or hazy-pop group Galaxie 500, or even like psych-rockers Mercury Rev in places – it’s not cruel of me, whatsoever, to say that it’s called a ‘sleep tape’ for a reason.

This is narcolepsy, this is fatigue, this is a yawn and a stretch. It is deliberately designed to be so very sleepy. It is not boring, because those things aren’t synonymous with boredom. They are synonymous with, of any single word, ‘contentment’. This record feels very content. If this summer turns out to be a hot one (and I damn well hope that it is) then I want to spend at least one night falling asleep on a beach with these songs wrapped around me.

Their opening gambit, ‘The Midnight Bell’, is a slow 4/4 drumbeat accompanied by chimes, harmonies borrowed from the Byrds and what sounds like an acoustic guitar plugged into a reverb pedal. This is the format for pretty much every song here, but it’s to the High Wire’s credit that this doesn’t tire or bore, mostly because every few songs there’s something of a change in the air and along comes a thumping tune like ‘Odds & Evens’ to break the spell. It’s the highlight track, that one, and it’s obvious why it was chosen as the lead single – whilst this is hardly radical music to terrify and alarm most listeners, it is still slightly odd by many usual standards, and ‘Odds & Evens’ is exactly the way to lure in the punters.

It’s the closest thing to rockin’ out on The Sleep Tape, but there are other highlights – like ‘It’s No Secret’, where the male/female vocal overlap really comes into its own. The refrain, “yesterday/yes, I was kissing somebody new/but my baby/I wish I was kissing you,” loops around a country-tinged ballad where it’s not sure who’s been wronged, or who wishes for a second chance. That gender ambiguity drives the dreaming, the sense of sleep – everything’s a whisper in the ear from someplace just out of sight.

As the ‘Bodyclocks’ comes around and ends the album with that same refracted nursery chime that opened it, I can safely surmise that, if the High Wire have gone from three friends to this within two years, then their next record must be eagerly anticipated. It’s just so accomplished, so pretty! I commend Chris Martin, and I recommend listening to this woozy summer package, but please – pay attention. It’s worth not falling asleep listening to this.

Categories ,album, ,album review, ,Coldplay, ,debut, ,Dream-pop, ,dreamy, ,feedback, ,high wire, ,ian steadman, ,indie my bloody valentine, ,london, ,sleep tape, ,The High Wire, ,the sleep tape

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Amelia’s Magazine | The High Wire : An Interview

emmahamshare instudio2All images throughout courtesy of Emma Hamshare

Emma Hamshare is a designer and textile artist who graduated from London College of Fashion with a first and a scholarship to create her debut collection. After winning a place on the Creative Crafts programme at Cockpit Arts in Deptford she has begun to set up her label äelska from her studio space.

aelska shirt emma hamshareImage styled by Lorraine Bailey

Her inspiration, decease pills she explains, purchase comes from phonetic units such as text or musical notation. “I spent a lot of time in libraries researching my graduate collection, remedy and developed an interest in the theory of how we read words, and the interconnecting nature of all these symbols to form words or music.”


The resulting graduate collection was a mix of simultaneously delicate and strong lace collars, trousers and dresses. Emma explains she was interested in trying to manipulate a delicate material like lace to behave in a stiff nature. To achieve this strong yet fragile effect Emma uses lost of interfacing to create a thick, durable material. She then uses laser cutting technology to create the intricate lace like patterns. During this process the edges of the fabric become slightly singed with the heat, which adds a lovely, antique effect to the lace.

Lasercut dress Emma Hamshare

Her biggest selling items are the collars. “One woman came in and gasped, she said it reminded her of her childhood school collar.” Resembling Victorian items of this nature, the collars make a perfect addition to a plain top and come in either a rounded or pointed variety.

Emma hamshare toile

However the pièce de résistance is a pair of spectacularly huge trousers. These trousers were inspired by Emma’s research into perspective drawings, and the Bauhaus dances, in which the dancers wore large geometrically shaped costumes and as they twirl they resemble wooden tops spinning.

emma hamshare neck lace

Emma also designs T shirts complete with a black pointed collar printed onto the neck. She explains that she wanted to stick with the motif of the collar to gauge whether people would respond well to her aesthetic. “My mind works on a very grand scale, and my plans are huge” Emma admits, “so I have to be disciplined and start small.” However she is keen to experiment on a much larger scale in the future, and would like to move into public artwork. “I love the idea of the juxtaposition of minute and huge, minute intricate lace but in a huge sculpture.”

Emma’s collection of abstract yet pretty pieces strike a harmonious note, and a breath of fresh air in an industry saturated with middle of the road, safe clothing. I would wager äelska is a name to watch out for in 2010.

The Guardian and The Sunday Times have both given them glowing reports and that one from Coldplay that’s quite famous is a fan. I’m not sure how to continue this introduction… since all I have in my head is “avoid the words shoegazery/dreamy/mellow” because I don’t want to anger The High Wire lot…”Ecstasy Pop” is something I have read, visit this site let’s go with that? I met Tim, here Stuart and Alexia. I’ll just let them introduce themselves…

L: Me first? I love how convenient the ladies first thing is! When it serves the right purpose! My name is Alexia, but everybody calls me Lex, so it’s always funny seeing my full name in articles. And I am from Vancouver Island, an Island an hour and a half west of Vancouver and its full of surfers and hippies and pot smokers.
S: My name is Stuart, I play guitar in The High Wire and sing… I can’t think of a fun fact….
T: Do we have fun facts?
L: We are a fun band!! Come on guys!

What was your first pet called?!
S: It was Cindy
L: Cindy with an “I” or a “Y”
S: Cindy with a “Y”, With that you can do your porn name can’t you..
L: What is your porn name?!

You take your first pets name and your mums maiden name…
S: Cindy Bound. I’d be blonde and busty and… stuff.
T: Im Tim and my porn name is Goldie Weaver!

How long have you guys been together?
L: February, Valentines day, 2008, so a year and a half.
T: Before that there was a brief bit where I was on my own and then Stu joined, We also have a drummer and a bassist who play with us. But for a while it was just the three of us, kind of acoustic.


How did you come together? You have been across here a while Lexi?
L: I have been here for 5 years, So I have been here a little while now. How we met was pretty random…
T: So, I met Stu through the guy who was producing the first album we did. And Lex we met because she was in another band who knew and we went to see and we kinda…

Stole her?! That atrocious!
S: It’s the best way to get band members!
L: It’s like auditioning without knowing it!

So, you guys have provided support for Coldplay, is that correct?
All: Yeah

Is that something that you get annoyed about being asked about?
S: No, not at all!
L: It was an amazing experience!
T: A guy called Richard who helped mix an earlier single of ours and actually helped us finish of the album, he does work with Coldplay aswell and he heard a bit of us and the connection was there they said “We think you should do some dates with us”

That must have been scary…
T: We said no at first because we thought it would be too scary, but they came back and said “We don’t think that you are going to be doing anything more interesting”
L: We agreed!
T: So we caved!
L: Dam, I missed that pub quiz on Tuesday!
T: It became less scary than the normal gig, you can’t see anyone, and it was exciting!
S: It was far easier than any smaller show, – you’re almost in a bubble that you get moved around and plonked on a massive stage
T: And its black in front of you and you don’t see anything…
L: The only time I ever realised just the immensity of it- was when, you get on stage and you can see a face- and your standing up there and suddenly you see a flash of a camera that seems to be coming from 5 miles away, then you think “OK… this seems a bit big”
S: When we were doing our sound check at the 02, Tim and I walked up to the the back of the venue, looking down…
T: Yeah, sound checks are more nerve wracking than the gig because you can see how big it actually is!
S: Once you get on stage and start playing the songs apart from the exit signs and a few rows you can see anything.
T: Also I think that our egos needed that sort of space.


Did you do the whole of the UK?
T: We did half the UK tour, up in Manchester and across in Ireland.

Where were the best crowds?
All: Dublin
T: Everyone was really up for it and got into our set.
S: It was quite lucky, all the dates were pushed back until the date before Christmas Eve, So the whole Irish spirit with Christmas was great fun, It was really good to be over there and playing these shows.

What’s the dream destination for your music to take you?
T: Well, we have been over to New York for CMJ last year and it was so cool, we didn’t realise that people had heard of us over there and we turned up and we were playing to a packed venue and the whole reaction over there seemed so good- kinda desperate to get back, it feels like they aren’t so cynical compared to London as well – I think it’s the same if you’re a New York band and you come over here, we get really excited if a NY band comes over here…
L: Makes it seem exotic!

Your sound is pretty chilled laid back, but I want to know what annoys you guys…
T: Now, that annoys me!
S: Being called “mellow”!
T: We try to make it heavy on record, and there are some songs on the album, that for some reason we will turn everything up, it never comes across heavy – We are a lot heavier live!
S: I think that if people hear something and if its got lots of echo on it or stuff, you kinda immediately think of it being a chilled out record, a quiet, or a slower record , where as if you listen to The Libertines –it sounds like its live, its quite an intimate, brash, harsh record..
T: I think Lex makes it sounds mellower!
L: Yeah, Blame it on me!

The new album is called “The Sleep Tape”
S: Yeah, its out in March. We finished it a long time ago!
T: We finished it in the summer, and we have been going over the track listing.

But its all set now, Everybody pleased?
All: Yeah.
S: There there were more songs in that period of recording than obviously can go on the album, we tried to ram all these songs on the album, but we couldn’t do it. Its difficult that when you are in the middle of recording it is so personal to you, you have this big opinion about it and the further away it goes and the more people hear it you loose attachment to it and becomes something else and you cant really have a personal attachment to it
T: In a way, it’s like if you are dropping that song it feels like what it is about or if its about a person, it is like your dissing it. That became a difficult thing- trying to edit ourselves.


So what should we expect from “The Sleep Tape”…
T: Really heavy!!
S: Not mellow!
T: I think because of the last record and this last single we do often get this shoegazing lable which we are not gonna argue against but we think that wen people hear the whole record there are a lot of different styles and it is really varied.

Are you guys goin to tour to support it?
T: Yeah, We are planning it now, but we don’t have any details yet.

So whats in store for Christmas?
L: I’m flying back home to Vancouver Island, which I’m excited about! For a couple of weeks. So just relaxing. Reading loads of books, drinking wine…
S: Will it be snowing?
L: You think that because its Canada, but we rarely get snow on Vancouver Island, just rain. Lots of it. Kinda like here!
T: Mine is just going to sound really boring. I’ll be in London. I might go out to the country for a day. Not quite the other side of the world
S: Pretty much the same. Go back to the folks. Hang out there, and when I get there wanna come back again. I didn’t say that..
L: Your mums gonna read this!
S: You know, its like when we came off tour last year, and we went direct into Christmas, We had been quite busy and just really wanted to have a rest and the day after you just want to be out on tour again!
T: You’ll be 2 days out of London and after dreaming of getting out your like “Gotta get back, Gotta get back!”.

So until they get back to touring in the new year with “The Sleep Tape”, the first single from the album “Odds and Evens” available now!

Categories ,album, ,CMJ, ,Coldplay, ,live, ,london, ,music, ,new york, ,The High Wire, ,The Libertines

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Amelia’s Magazine | Kiki Neon – Interview


At Amelias we get tons of emails every day from bands asking us to take a listen to them and see what we think. More often than not they’re pretty decent but not quite right for us to cover. However, when we heard Kiki Neon we knew that we’d stumbled onto something a little special. We got in touch with them and asked them a few questions.

Amelias. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, approved background etc?

Kiki Neon. We started writing these songs about a year ago, ask around a film idea that featured Kiki Neon.  The story is about a girl who runs away from home and travels north in search of adventure and experience.   She is chased by an over protective father who fears for her sanity.  On her way she encounters many great dangers but is protected by her innocence – she also finds love, in a way.

A. What influences you as a group?

KN. We like a lot of different kinds of music, it’s stuff with stories that inspires us most – we like Polarbear , Velvet Underground, The High Wire, Joe Gideon and the Shark, Jake Thackray, and Led Zep.

Kiki Neon 1

A. The songs and videos on your myspace page have a very homemade feel about them. Is that an aesthetic which is important to you as a musician, being able to control what you do?

KN. We are at that brilliant stage where we can do anything, which is really exciting, as long as it doesn’t cost too much!  Making films was always part of our aim.

A. How do you go about recording your songs, do the lyrics come first and then you write a song around it or is it more of an organic process?

KN. Each song comes out of a session.  We find a musical thing and get that going – driven by Albie who’s a multi instrumentalist – whilst one of us (usually Smed) scribbles away in the corner.  If he hasn’t come up with any words we like we usually leave him in the room while we make tea or something.  He likes watching football matches – sometimes we bribe him.

Kiki Neon 2
A. Other than your myspace page is there anywhere else people can hear your music?

KN. Not yet.  More places coming soon!

A. There don’t appear to be any upcoming live dates either, is playing gigs something that you’re not interested in or are you just taking a break at the moment?

KN.We have a little tester gig coming up in February, mostly for friends. If it goes okay we’ll do more. Fingers crossed.
Kiki Neon 3

A. It shows that you’re unsigned, is being on a label something that you’d eventually want to work towards?

KN. We would love someone to help us – when the time is right.  But we may have made the big film by then and Kiki Neon will be a household name!

You can see/hear more about Kiki Neon here and here

Categories ,Jake Thackray, ,Joe Gideon and the Shark, ,Kiki Neon, ,Led Zeppelin, ,polar bear, ,The High Wire, ,The Velvet Underground

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