Smoothboi Ezra makes sad songs for sadbois

Photo by Leon McCullough

In a bedroom in Greystones, Ireland, Smoothboi Ezra spent isolated days and nights crafting their latest EP, Stuck. A collection of songs that seem sombre on the surface, but dig deeper and they try to understand the sadness they’ve been dealt. The sound is sparse, consisting mainly of just a guitar and Ezra’s voice, but this only further brings out the deep intimacy of their sound. Evoking the spirit of those early Soccer Mommy tapes, Ezra has both honed in their sound to resemble their biggest influences whilst simultaneously evolving their songs to become grander in their emotive palettes. Ezra’s music also offers an often overlooked insight into relationships, being both non-binary and on the autism spectrum, Ezra is trying to bring about more representation for neurodivergent and non-binary artists through their music and stories. We asked Ezra a few questions to get to know the smoothboi behind the songs.

Over what time and where was this EP recorded?


Between July 2020 and February 2021 all recorded in my bedroom.

 What has your last 12 months looked like?

Binge watching a bunch of different TV series, crocheting a lot, basically doing any type of arts and crafts between writing and recording my EP.

 You explore relationships and their eventual fallout on the EP, is the writing process somewhat therapeutic for you? Or is it more diaristic?

It’s a mixture of both, writing is my therapy – releasing it into the world is like releasing it from my brain.

Your songwriting is also very vulnerable lyrically, what allowed you to be this open with your music?

I don’t know how to be any other way when I’m writing. It’s easier to be vulnerable in my writing and tell the truth than to make things up.

What was the best part about recording this EP and what was the most challenging? 

The challenge is knowing when I’m finished with a song and to stop working on it. I just like making music so I like the whole process.

Your sound has a very melancholic undertone to it, is this something you try to achieve with each song or is that just a sound you naturally gravitate towards?

I’d say it’s a sound I naturally gravitate towards.

 Who inspires your sound? 

Musicians like Eillott Smith, Phoebe Brigers, Kate Bush, Haley Heyenderickx. They’re the musicians I listen to and I would love to sound like.

Do you think there needs to be more representation of non-binary and autistic artists in the music industry?

I think anyone who wants to make music should make music and be listened to, we definitely need to amplify more neurodivergent voices.

And if so what do you feel needs to be done to achieve this? 

The media should be open to covering more diverse artists. Venues need to be more accessible to all abilities. We should get more used to listening and giving platforms to autistic people who are not able to mask. I’ve seen that most autistic people in the media that are given airtime are able to mask to be more neurotypical passing, which is a comfort to neurotypical people. Autistic people who don’t have the capacity to mask deserve the same opportunities.

What will it be like playing those first shows again when they’re allowed?

It’s going to be exciting and I can’t wait.

What have been some of your favourite live memories so far? Both playing and gigs you’ve attended

When I supported Orville Peck two people came up to tell me that they loved my music and then they came to watch me at my first headline gig in Whelans (Dublin) later in the year, that was really nice. One of the first gigs I went to was The Front Bottoms and it still remains one of my favourite gigs along with Haley Heyenderickx.

If anything, what is something you’d like to change about the music industry? 

We need to do a better job of amplifying more neurodivergent voices and musicians and creatives of all types.

Stuck EP is available to stream everywhere and buy now.

You, Nothing. are breaking boundaries

When a band emerge with a sound that is so refreshing, yet brings together so many wide influences and sounds, you get something truly special. A cornerstone of alignments and crossed paths thats end result is something truly spectacular. Every part of that is true of You, Nothing., your new favourite shoegaze/punk/pop-punk/ dream-pop band. Formed of Gioia Podestà on guitar and vocals, Federico Costanzi on Guitars and synthesisers, Giulia Cinquetti on bass and Nicola Poiana on drums and drum machine. The band hail from Verona, Italy but have their sights set on the world. First emerging last year with debut single “Waves”, the band showcased their ability to create tender and yet ever expanding soundscapes that were shrouded with an underlying wave of longing. They’ve now broken out with their debut album “Lonely // Lovely“, that will have you head-banging one moment and feeling hopelessly nostalgic the next. It’s a remarkable showcase of just how diverse the band already are and leaves an incredible wealth of potential for whatever they want to go from here. We asked the bands a few questions about who, what, why and when they’re all about.

What drew each of you to music and how did you get into it?

We have all been playing for several years and we have all had various projects of different musical genres. The thing that unites us the most is that we all play because we need it, an essential need like breathing.

Where did the band form?

We formed in October 2019 in Verona, thanks to an ad from Federico on Facebook, where he wrote that he was looking for a singer, bassist and a drummer to start a project with shoegaze influences.


How would you describe your sound?

In our sound there are different influences; we easily pass from shoegaze to post punk, until we reach pop. We have combined the musical genres to which everyone is most attached and this album is the result. We do not feel we belong to a specific music scene and we want to continue in this direction, because it is precisely what characterises us most.


What’s the creative process behind a song?

It all starts with Federico (guitar) who writes the complete musical part or simple riffs, which are then elaborated in our rehearsal room together with Giulia (bass) and Nicola (drum). Lastly come the lyrics written by Gioia, the singer.


What does the album’s title mean or represent to you?

We like that each person can give their own personal meaning to these two words. In reality, the title of the album was a fairly casual juxtaposition of the two words, over time we have given it a deeper meaning, understood as a dualism between our more ethereal side and the more pounded and pounding part. Even the album cover depicts this concept through two girls (Alina and Ania, sisters in real life) in a mirrored position, with two similar but different energies.


What were some of the main themes you were trying to explore on this
album?

The recurring themes in the songs on the album are loneliness, the search for oneself and the desire to escape. Perhaps the fact that most of the songs were written during the first lockdown in Italy helped, especially with regard to loneliness and the desire to escape.


Who are some of your biggest influences?

The bands that most influence our sound are Slowdive, Beach House, My Bloody Valentine, DIIV and Joy Division.

Favourite concert you’ve been to?

Gioia : The XX in Milan (2017) and also Be Forest in Verona (2019)
Federico: Sigur Ros, Jesolo (IT) 2013
Nicola: The Deftones in Bolzano (IT)

Favourite show you’ve played?

We as a band have only had the chance to perform live twice so far, including one without viewers, on Twitch. So we can say that our favorite live was in October, when we presented our album live for the first time, at Colorificio Kroen which is one of the most important live clubs in our city, but also in Italy. People were sitting and spaced out, but it was still a great experience.


What will it be like playing that first show once shows are allowed again?


The first show after all this bad period, we imagine it outdoors, maybe at a nice festival with various bands, lots of people and no restrictions. It would be great, and we hope this wish will come true as soon as possible.


Where would you like to be in a years time musically?

In a year we would like to release a second album, and be able to promote and play it live all over the world, without restrictions, with people standing and crowded at concerts. Playing in Italy remains important for us, but the biggest dream of all four is to travel the world thanks to our music. Opening the concert to some bands we adore would also be a dream.

What’s a cool fact about you that people might not know?

A cool fact about us that we noticed, is that a lot of people, blogs and webzines, are describing us as a very young band, but we must tell you the truth: we are almost in our 30s and over. We admit that we still feel like teenagers.

Lonely // Lovely is out now, available to purchase here.

Read our review of Lonely // Lovely here.

heka exists between worlds

Francesca Brierley aka heka exists in a world of her own. A place that borders between gently plucked guitars one moment, gliding synthetic harmonies the next and then landing back down on a subtly immersive bed of beats. There’s not a moment that you’re listening and you don’t feel lost in the soundscapes and rich sonic palettes that seem to dance and twirl around the melodic mountains she creates. She’s now returning with her latest project since 2019’s Other Drugs EP, in the form of (a) EP, released today via Ballon Machine Records. We caught up with heka to learn where she draws sonic influence from, the story behind the EP and her parallel growth with Bon Iver.

Over what time and whereabouts was the EP recorded?

Mostly in my bedroom over there! (Points to desk) I had some demos of the songs that were from different times but I started recording the new versions in October. I was doing uni stuff as well so I was pretty much just in front of my laptop all the time haha. It was during the lockdown, so pretty boring just me and the old laptop.

So the songs on the EP are older songs that you re-recorded?

“(a) dab” is probably the oldest one at 4 or years old and “(a) mask” and “(a) wall” are about two years old. So they weren’t the newest things that I’d written but they were songs that I’d been wanting to record as a bunch for a while and finally it happened! I always feel like with everything I do I plan something and then two years later it finally gets done.

Going back over them after so long did you change anything drastically? Or are they fairly true to their original form?

I think the one that changed the most was “(a) wall”. Mostly because it wasn’t just me working on it, I collaborated with Ed Tullet on the arrangement. So the way he interpreted it was different and I thought “Oh that’s really cool, let’s take it into this direction”. I was a bit scared at the beginning about going back into having to figure out these songs again, as I had them in my head as what i’d recorded in the demos. You have to deconstruct that a bit to think “What is good to keep and what is just my lazy brain thinking that this is the only way this can be done”. So I was a bit scared that I wouldn’t understand them anymore and I wouldn’t understand the version of me that had written those at the time. I think the fact that I was recording alone in the dark like a vampire probably helped recreate that connection of intimacy with the songs even though it felt distant at the beginning.

With the main theme of the songs being about relationships, was it weird looking back and seeing how you viewed those situations then?

It’s definitely always that sense of “Oh god” haha. A lot of the stuff I write is personal and it’s a snapshot of a very specific time that I write in. It’s like looking back at old pictures and thinking “Oh god what are you wearing!”. It’s a very funny thing, but I didn’t feel too far away from them that I couldn’t relate to them anymore. That was a worry a little bit.

Is your songwriting more diaristic or therapeutic?

Definitely therapeutic for me to write in general. I think it’s probably a survival situation where I would be insane if I didn’t write haha. But it is also diaristic in the sense that it’s conversations that I’ve had in my head or things that I want to say and I can’t. It just comes from my everyday life I guess.

What was the story behind “(a) dab”?

It’s mostly about when you’re in love with someone and it’s unrequited, so you fall into this pattern of addiction to that person and addiction to the situation and it’s this whole toxic thing going on. I had this very visual idea of the lyrics. I had this scene in my head and I wrote it down which is not something I do very often so I don’t know where it came from. But it was just trying to express that feeling of helplessness and also wanting to be helpless which is what’s the most fucked up about those situations haha.

The song structures for the EP begin with electronic samples and field recordings and then transition into the ‘folky’ ballads. What’s it about those combination of sounds that draws you to them?

I think that’s partly the fact that I went and revisited the songs that were initially very folky and I wanted to create this tapestry of sound that’s a bit more current for me in what I like to listen to and what I like to make. So it was me trying to make those songs more contemporary to how I felt and what I liked. I don’t know if it’s something I accomplished but I really love when there’s a collection of songs, whether it’s an EP or an album and you feel like you’re on this journey where all of the tracks are connected. It’s like a mini symphony. I remember when 22, A Million by Bon Iver came out, that completely changed my life. I remember thinking “Oh my god, this is exactly what I want!”. I want the tracks to feel cohesive and part of something organic and fall into one another. Which is probably the conscious part of why there’s an ambient connection between the songs.

Did Bon Iver influence the folk side of your sound as well?

I have this really funny relationship with Bon Iver where I feel like we’ve grown up together. We haven’t though haha! But I feel like the stages that I found myself at within songwriting were the same as his. When he was doing the more folky side of things I was definitely doing more folky sounding things. And then I gradually evolved into something a bit more hybrid, which was the same with him. He definitely influenced me, but I feel like I was ready to be influenced by him in that specific time. I was like “Yeah you get it! This is what I’ve been trying to say”. So that’s why I love him so much as I have this ‘in my mind’ connection to him in a way.

Are there any other artists who also inspire, even just for the sound?

I’m always really bad at this question. I really like Feist, James Blake and Alt-J. I was really obsessed with Laura Marling at a certain point. But at the same time I don’t say “Oh I’m really inspired by this person I’m gonna do the same thing that they’re doing”. I just really appreciate what they’re doing. It almost feels like we’re contemporaries and we like the same things and I think “Oh you get it”. I don’t know to what extent they influence me, I think I’m influenced by all sorts of stuff. I listen to a lot of different genres and my discover weekly on Spotify tries to keep up but I can tell that they’re struggling haha. There’s house music and then classical, hip-hop or folk or rock. I really like a lot of different things so I can never say for certain what exactly goes into what I make.

It’s interesting you said Laura Marling because especially with her latest album the key part I took away from it was there’s a lot of harmonies. With quite a few of your tracks harmonies play a key part, is that something you try to build in or just the way you write?

So I feel that doing harmonies is probably the most natural thing that I think of when i record. I think it comes from early days of trying to figure out Logic for the first time and what can actually make a song sound better. Just having more voices because it’s the only thing I know how to do haha! At the beginning you play with your voice as a singer and think “Okay this is how I can enrich this sound and this is what I can do”. It’s just kind of stayed I guess. I like to use the voice not just as a vocal. It’s corrupting it haha. So the sound of the voice and making into something that isn’t the voice. In “(a) wall” there’s a line of a really high pitched sound. I don’t know that it’s immediately obvious that it’s a voice, I mean I know. But I thought “How can I make this sound like some weird synth that you don’t know what it is?” but it’s actually a vocal. I think that’s really interesting to play around with the vocals and sound because they just make everything better.

Is that manipulation of sound something you try to achieve in each song? Are there any more easter eggs hidden throughout?

I like to manipulate the sound into something a bit weird. Sometimes when I’ve recorded with other people I’ll be like “Make it darker!” and they’ll say “You can’t hear this now!”. So I have a bit of a weird idea of how things sound and I’ve certainly learnt how not to make everything dark and weird, but I do enjoy it.

There’s a moment in “(a) mask” with this eerie synthesiser that takes a turn from the rest of the song, do you try and hide those eerie moments in there?

I feel like the eeriness comes naturally to me. I don’t necessarily try and be eerie but it just happens. I don’t know that I always love it but I definitely recognise that it happens. It wasn’t on purpose, I think I found these sounds that are cool then afterwards looked at it and thought “Oh that’s really eerie”.

Is there a reason you chose to use the simplistic title of (a)? Or is it from the songs?

It’s from the songs. I like patterns where “Oh these three things are the same and that’s not” so let’s just call it that. So it’s really just a joke.

Your music has been described as entering VR. Do you agree with that? And does virtual reality influence your music at all?

I don’t necessarily write with VR in mind. I’m just about to finish my degree which is in computational art so I do think about that stuff a bit as I do it at uni and enjoy that aesthetic of it a bit. But I definitely think my songwriting is personal intimate stuff rather than technology. I think it comes from trying to explain the idea behind why I don’t necessarily love being pigeonholed in one genre. I like the hybridity of producing music that sounds a bit in-between things. So I guess the relationship between VR and reality being in-between worlds maybe has something to do with that.

With shows hopefully on the horizon, what’s it been like releasing this music without shows to back it up?

It’s been a bit strange. I’ve been quite lucky that a few people have asked me to play in June out of the blue but I don’t have a release gig booked which is usually what I’ll do so that’s strange. I don’t mind having gigs that aren’t necessarily release gigs and just playing the stuff. Hopefully it happens now, I’m itching to play now!

What’s your usual live set up?

It’s usually just me and my loop pedal. I had really wanted to put together a small band for this project and in general I feel like it’s a lot more fun and you’re not alone. You get to share music ideas for arrangement and I think it would sound really cool so I’ve been wanting to do that. It hasn’t been the ideal time though yet, but it will be. I decided to release an EP on the last year of uni and this is my last month of uni so up until now I haven’t even been able to think about what I want to do in a live setting. But I would definitely like to have at least another one or two people to just balance it out.

Thinking back to Bon Iver’s live set up, is that electronic set up of thousands of pedals something you’d want to have?

Yeah! I went to see him in Edinburgh on the tour of 22, A Million and it was so cool. He had this tiny stage above the main stage where he had all his equipment. And all the other musicians were surrounded by equipment and they all work like cyborgs where they’ve got one instrument with 200 keys. So that’s definitely the 10 year plan. For now I quite like simple set ups. I get a bit apprehensive with having too many things to move around. I like to have that connection with the audience which isn’t just me frantically trying to figure out what button to press. I want to look at people and sing with them so that’s my priority, to have the time to connect. And have the mental capacity to focus on that. I like that loop pedal because of that because it’s really intuitive and adds that bit of atmosphere and that minimal arrangement lets me be in the room. And that’s why it would also be amazing to have other people play as it would mean then I can delegate some stuff, the sound would be rich but I wouldn’t have to think about all of it.

If anything, what would be something you’d like to change about the music industry?

There’s so many things. I was just talking to someone about this the other day and I was saying “How is it even legal to not pay musicians when you have live gigs”. Maybe their could be someone who says that’s actually illegal. I’ve been feeling this a lot recently, that we’re such a huge industry but there isn’t that class consciousness of musicians in the same way there is for other employments. Where you have rights and you fight for the rights of that specific job for example. It feels very disconnected. It’s a network but it’s hard to unionise and mobilise in the same way that other industries do.

So for example the whole thing with Spotify is absolutely insane if you think about it. It’s this illusion that we’ve all bought into. Don’t get me wrong I actually really love Spotify and it lets me find loads of music and it’s an easy to use app etc. But they have the money to pay everyone better, and they don’t. And we haven’t been able to do anything about it. It’s insane if you think about it. I would hope for a stronger class consciousness, for a stronger union of people that say “We’re not going to have this anymore”. And big acts saying “I’m gonna take all my music off my service if you don’t make changes”. If hundreds of big acts do that then it’s gonna get to the point where Spotify’s gonna say “Okay, you called my bluff!”. So why isn’t that happening? There’s really rich musicians that can afford to not be on Spotify and help make the change for the little guy. It’s not going to make a difference to them if i’m not on it. But for me it would mean less people get to listen to the music.

(a) EP is available now, purchase here.

Was Nailbreaker a mistake?

Photo by DEMIDOW Photography

From the depths of a bedroom in Rushden, Northamptonshire, George Hammond creates catchy, avant-garde art rap, influenced heavily by the likes of early 2000’s power electronics. We sat down with him not long after the release of his second EP Pain.

Who are you and what’s Nailbreaker’s deal?

I’m George, I’m a 21 year old musician. I’ve been making music under the name Nailbreaker since late 2018, mostly a mix of punk, rap, industrial and noise with some other influences thrown in. So far I’ve put out two EPs, a few singles and a megamix, done a few remixes and was gigging a lot until COVID happened. Since then I’ve been sat in my bedroom with a broken laptop trying to make disgusting noise rap. 

Describe what it’s like living in Rushden/Northamptonshire in general.

Rushden isn’t that interesting. It’s a bit rough and got rougher during COVID. I live just off the high street and it’s been a bit run-down after the shopping centre by the lakes opened up. The lakes are nice and there are a few good parks but the town’s so small you get used to it quick. Other than that there’s not a lot going on other than crime and a couple of pubs. Northampton is a bigger town so there’s a lot more to it. It’s cleaner, little more upmarket, still generally working class. It’s got a good DIY music scene with a lot of great bands and rappers and the town centre has a lot more stuff to do than Rushden does. Rushden’s where I feel most comfortable though, I know it better than anywhere else. 

What was the first ever concert you went to?

I think it was Jack White at O2 Academy Birmingham in 2012. Always been a really big White Stripes fan and Jack White was an early influence for how I approach music. It was a fucking sick gig and blew my mind as a 12 year old. The support act was this guy called Willy Moon and he was dogshit, but everything else was great. 

How did you get involved in producing electronic music yourself?

I got into producing myself purely out of necessity. My old band Acolytes had gotten a bit inactive and a couple of the members were off to uni so I needed a way to still gig and make music without other people. Our bassist, Bewlay, had been making his own music under the name Dylon Dean and was making the beats for it on Garageband on his phone, so I took inspiration from what he was doing and figured out how to record my own stuff on Garageband myself. I had no experience of production or beat-making or mixing or anything before then which is why the first two NLBRKR singles sound so lo-fi, so you can hear me gradually figuring out how to produce if you go through my discography chronologically. I eventually started making beats on my laptop but still with a pretty minimal setup, and sometimes I do still make some of my beats on my phone. It doesn’t really matter to me how I make the tunes, as long as I have some way of making them. 

You were recently featured on an Anthony Fantano live stream, what was going through your head as he listened to it & gave you advice?

It was a bit surreal, I’ve been watching Fantano’s reviews since 2015 and whether I always agree with him or not I respect his opinions because they’re generally quite well thought-out and nuanced. I knew as soon as it came up there would be a lot of “Bri’ish Death Grips” comments in the livestream. But it didn’t bother me considering Fantano’s fan we base will call anything from Show Me The Body to JPEGMAFIA “Death Grips”. I like Death Grips anyway so I don’t care. I was glad that Anthony seemed to like the track overall and he was very constructive in his feedback, and I had a lot of people reach out after to say they’d discovered my music through the stream and they really liked what I was doing. It’s always good when someone with that big a following gives small artists a platform and I’m happy that loads of people who would’ve never heard of me found out what I was doing because of Anthony giving it his thoughts. 

Describe a typical Nailbreaker live show.

Very physical. Confrontational. Probably not very COVID-friendly. Personally I use playing live as a way to get out any negative emotions I’ve got that I otherwise don’t know how to express. It’s not really a performance “for” other people if that makes sense, it’s something I do for my own peace of mind. That’s why I play with the same level of intensity whether the venue is packed or completely empty. I can be quite violent with myself and tend to take up most of the room instead of playing just onstage but that’s not something I put any thought into, I just lose myself in the music and let my primal instincts take over. Not being able to play live admittedly hasn’t been great for me mentally because a lot of feelings I would purge in my gigs which I haven’t been able so when shows come back I’ll definitely be more at peace. 

What are some of your favourite power electronics artists?

Deathpile, Prurient, Genocide Organ, Dreamcrusher, Pharmakon, Knifedoutofexistence, Whitehouse and Hunting Lodge. This is also the first time I’ve been asked about my taste in power electronics in an interview and I hope it’s not the last. 

Often, artists from the P.E genre tend to tackle transgressive and taboo subjects, often far more to the extreme than say metal or punk sub genres. What inspires you to write about the themes in your songs?

I guess similar to my approach to live shows it’s really just purging the feelings I have that I don’t know how else to express. The reason the themes of depression, suicide, anti-capitalist politics or just taking the piss out of stuff come up is because those are whatever I’m feeling or thinking about at the time of writing. It’s not always doom n’ gloom, sometimes I’ll have lyrics that I write just to make myself laugh. Whatever I write though is always authentic to whatever I’m going through at the time. 

When the pandemic becomes more manageable/comes to an end, what do you hope to achieve musically and personally?

Musically I’m gonna keep doing what I’m doing pandemic or not. A lot of people say shit like “music’s the only thing I know how to do” and it always comes off cheesy but music is for real the only thing I know how to do. While I can’t gig right now, the pandemic isn’t stopping me from recording so I’ve got EP3 and a full-length mixtape on the go at the minute, as well as demoing new material for Sharkteeth Grinder (the mathcore band I play guitar in). 

Personally, I’m trying to improve my health – physical and mental – and I’m gonna keep working on that. My knees are fucked from throwing myself around at gigs all 2019, the kneecaps float and pop out of place constantly, so I’ve been working on getting some strength and stability back and hopefully they’ll be in much better shape before gigs are back how they used to be. 

Do you still believe that Nailbreaker was a mistake?

It depends. When it comes to my knees, head, hearing, back and bank account then yes, a terrible mistake. It gives me something to do though. 

Tell us the story behind the closing track Nailbreaker Vs Nailbreaker.

I made the beat in late 2019 intending to use it for a different release which I never finished. I ended up coming to not like it as much so it got put on the shelf for a while. I listened to it again as I was recording Pain and I remembered what I liked about it in the first place so I decided to stick it on the EP. Lyrically, it’s about allowing self-destructive tendencies to get in the way of your own progression, how we sometimes use pain as a motivator and source of inspiration yet have to constantly navigate how we deal with pain so it doesn’t consume our existence. The vocal sample at the track comes from an Instagram story Lewis from the band BLOOD-VISIONS uploaded a couple of Halloweens ago where he was walking home drunk in corpse paint upset about how nobody in Northampton would accept him for what he truly is, a black metal guy in 2019. The video’s since become legendary and I’ve had the audio saved on my laptop for a while looking for an excuse to honour it, I’m glad I finally got to shoehorn it in. Lewis was happy to be included too. 

What’s the response been like to Pain so far?

Actually better than I expected. I didn’t expect it to be universally hated obviously but I’ve had a lot of people tell me how much they love it and that it’s my best work yet so the support has been sick. I’m always surprised when BBC Introducing plays my shit anyway so it was cool to see them get behind it too. I am really grateful to everyone who’s given any of my music my time – as I’ve said I make music solely for myself so the fact that anyone else gets anything out of it is humbling. Because the music comes from a very dark place it seems like it’s resonated with a lot of people. Obviously we all had a shit 2020 and I think most peoples’ mental health had gone to shit by the end of the year, and I’ve had a number of people tell me the EP reflected the state of mind they were in or reflects what living in 2021 feels like or whatever. This music exists to help me cope, anyone else getting anything out of it is a bonus. 

Pain EP is out now, available to buy here.

John Myrtle on his new home-made, homely album

Photo by Marie Dutton

John Myrtle creates the kind of music that is infectiously catchy. Through home recordings he’s developed a style that both draws from the past whilst being simultaneously fresh, warm and welcoming. Upon the first listen of his music you soon realise that the melody is each songs core, and these melodies are sure to be swimming around your head for days. He released his debut EP Here’s John Myrtle in 2019 and now has returned with his latest singles “How Can You Tell If You Love Her?” and “Get Her Off My Mind”, both cuts from upcoming debut album Myrtle Soup. Exploring themes of longing and loneliness, the album is packaged like a tin of soup to bring some home comfort. We spoke to John to learn about the new album, his songwriting process and what he’s looking forward to in the days to come.

Over where and what time was this album written and recorded?

Part of it was written in London and the other part of it was written in Birmingham where i’m from originally. I feel like some of the songs which were written back at home are more reflective. I mean the ones in London are more just pop songs haha.

You used the album to document the last year or so within isolation. What were some of the themes you were trying to explore within that?

I think I wanted to have an album that would document it more so in the process and ways in which it didn’t talk about the pandemic. So there’s a song on there called “Spider On The Wall” in which I assume the identity of a spider. So I talk about being at home with this spider, seeing everything you do and the spiders just as repulsed by humans as humans are by spiders. So I guess it was more looking at observations from home in that way rather than just being sad about being locked in. Although there’s one called “Ballad Of The Rain” which is essentially about someone who’s isolated in their house and all they can do is look outside, and they think of a tune which the rain has created haha. There are a few instrumentals which have quite weird noises like bubble sounds which is supposed to be someone making a bowl of soup. It’s all home spun and the home spun nature of it has been amplified by the fact that everyone including myself has just been indoors.

Is that why you chose the name ‘Myrtle Soup’ for the album?

I guess so, I thought it fit quite nicely! And I thought it was quite funny to call it Myrtle Soup. It’s homely, everyone likes soup. I think.

What made you sing within these characters rather than have them be from a personal perspective?

Even the love songs are me assuming a character in a way. I try and be personal but I always end up imaging different situations. Writing as someone else or thinking of different situations which you might not have experienced yourself gives you creative freedom to do whatever you want. If you’re just writing from your own experiences then there comes a point where you go “Yeah but that didn’t happen to me” or “That place doesn’t really exist so I feel like a fraud, I can’t actually write this” so you stop. So pushing yourself out there to try different identities just helps you write songs.

A theme that appears in some of your songwriting, especially older tracks is love and feeling uncertain about it. Why is that something you tend to write about?

I love pop music, older pop music mainly. And I like love songs, I think that’s what i’ve always been drawn to the most because I like trying to relate my own experiences to those songs. But I always feel that songs that are so sure about love aren’t reflective of how people actually feel. Everyone likes to write their own film for themselves with their own feelings and their own story and I feel it’s good to question that or at least acknowledge that in some songs. There’s a song on the album actually on the album that talks about actors playing parts within love.

What were some of those songs that inspired this sound?

I like a lot of 80’s and 90’s indie bands. I really like The La’s, with “There She Goes”, but I guess they’re not normally like that focused on love. The Servants, Shack, I just like all that British rubbish. I like the Kinks and The Beatles. When I was just starting out to record my own music I went to do “How Can You Tell If You Love Her?” and I had the song and I thought “Well everyone goes into a studio right?”. So I booked to record at a studio and it just sounded awful and I just felt like theres a better way of doing it. So I realised that with Ween, a band I really like, a lot of their early albums are just recorded on tape and as stupid as it sounds I never really knew you could record things on tape on your own. So I started researching different recording methods you could do at home. So now i’m described as “a 60’s guy” but its just tape! Sometimes I do want to sound like 60’s people but not all the time.

Do you think discovering that ability to record at home unlocked more freedom within your songwriting?

Yeah with going to a studio there’s usually other people there, and I always behave differently with other people and I feel the way you interact with them is gonna have an impact on what you’re recording. Whether it’s your performance and you feel a bit self-conscious about singing. Whereas if you’re on your own you can just do stupid stuff. You can probably sound really bad to eventually get really good, just let your hair down. In the long run it’s also probably cheaper. I think as well everyone does record from home to a certain extent but it’s the use of tape that people are put off with. Especially some label people they just think it sounded so old. You either sound like a computer or you sound like tape. I’m just ranting now haha, but it’s like if you’re a painter and everyone’s saying “Everyone’s using MS Paint now, why are you using paintbrushes?”.

Another part of your sound is having a juxtaposition between the upbeat feel of a song and the downbeat mood of the lyrics. Do you sometimes try and hide the lyrics behind this sound?

Yeah usually I will get the tune first and the lyrics come next. I struggle to write lyrics so the tune and sound of a song will come first a lot of the time.

The video for “How Can You Tell If You Love Her?” has you singing back in your hometown, what was your reason for going back there to film it?

Lockdown haha! But also recently i’ve also embraced things other than boring London. It’s nice that i’m from a different place and I thought people haven’t seen Bourneville in a music video!

Without shows at the moment what’s it been like releasing this music not having them to back it up?

It’s sad. It’s a lot of just having plans for the future. Thinking “Maybe in a few months we’ll book a tour” but it until it actually happens it feels very much like pipe dreams. Which is the same as doing music anyway, having people listen to it is a bit of a pipe dream anyway so it’s just that amplified.

What do you think that first show back will be like?

I hope it sounds good! I think everyone’s gonna be going crazy, glasses thrown everywhere!

What’s something else you’re looking forward to doing once everything’s a bit freer?

There’s a pool club that I play pool in with my girlfriend and we’re obsessed with playing pool! I’m awful but this place is cheap and quite lowkey so we thought we’d get a members card, which just means you don’t pay for entry when you go in. It’s not some sort of exclusive club though haha. It’s really fun and i’ve really missed it. I’ve also really gotten into snooker during lockdown and there’s something comforting about having it on the screen with all the colours. So playing it will be next.

What are your hopes for the album and beyond?

Well I hope it puts smiles on faces! It’s only supposed to sooth and please. I just want to keep making good happy music with maybe a bit of sadness and a bit of weirdness thrown in. I just want to keep writing songs, I just enjoy the craft of songwriting and it’s really fun to learn more about it and to keep going and hopefully other people will come on the journey with me.

Myrtle Soup is released digitally on June 18th and on vinyl on September 17th via Sad Club Records, pre-order here.

JayWood is constantly evolving

Photo by Carly Boomer

JayWood is the musical project of Winnipeg, Canada based artist Jeremy Haywood-Smith that at its core is ultimately infectious in every moment. His styles range from bedroom-pop, funk, jazz, indie-rock, psychedelic pop and just about anything in between. But the true enticement of JayWood comes from diving deep into the soundscapes he creates, with embellishments and subtle flairs of genius striking up within every corner. He’s now taken his next step into musical glory after signing with New York indie powerhouse Captured Tracks, whose roster has included the likes of Mac DeMarco, Juan Wauters, Diiv and Becca Mancari. His new EP Some Days will be his first major label release which was originally written and recorded in 2015 as his first venture of recorded music. Revisiting the EP he’s added new flavours of funk and undying grooves to bring the songs in line with the modern JayWood sound. We spoke to Jeremy ahead of the release to learn about the EP and his evolution as an artist.

The EP was originally written and recorded in 2015, what made you come back to it all these years later?

With everything going in with the pandemic and everyone stuck at home I was just sitting in the present and thinking about the past and I thought “Well i don’t wanna be doing something that is uncertain, like new music for right now” and I was just very much feeling a lot of writers block at the same time as well. Two things to do in that situation were just record covers or just revamp old ideas. So I thought i’d rather just polish off the first JayWood ideas that were not really done that well the first time and just give them a new life. As well as honouring the past and just reconnecting with that time when I was just writing pretty much every single day and getting into that mindset. Funnily enough it really helped with working on new music after that. I just found myself sitting in the past a lot and that’s what really spurred the idea to re-record those old songs.

At the time of writing the EP you were going through a lot of transitions, was the EP a way of documenting those or was it more of an outlet?

Yeah I definitely think both as some of those things were happening as I was writing it and some of those things were past and were done but I hadn’t really vented them out or really made sense of them. It was really like a journal entry. There are lot more songs on the original version but on this version I thought that I didn’t really need all the excess crap that’s not really doing much. It was just a way to vent and just track my thoughts because everything just felt like I didn’t really feel like I had my footing in anything at the time so working on the EP was a nice way to stay grounded and see what I was thinking at that time. And also reflect and make sense of that time.

To initially record the EP was something that took you out of your comfort zone, did coming back to the EP take you out of your comfort zone as well?

I think going back to it, it felt not necessarily out of comfort but definitely felt like I was taken back. I was almost re-learning how to play songs so it almost felt like I was making new songs on top of things that already existed. So it was just a weird getting into that mindset as well, so what was I thinking when I was singing these lyrics, what was I going through, putting some emotion into that. I think as well at that time as well the music was a lot more vulnerable too. In a sense I was getting out of my comfort zone by getting into that mindset where I was just saying what I wanted to. After that EP started to hide what I was really trying to say by adding more effects or being as vague as possible. It was definitely more of form of discomfort in just speaking your truth and being honest. And what I took from that is that I should just honour that way more in newer writing and just being honest in what I want to say.

Going from the bedroom pop sounds of Time your last album to the new EP there’s a lot more elements of funk and jazz within, what made you move over to this style?

I think when I first started writing music I was just trying to write what was popular at the time. Back in early 2014/15 Mac DeMarco was huge, Real Estate, all those types of bands were really big. So I thought I should really try to make music like this because it’s the popular way to go. But it was never really natural for me and it felt like I was forcing it out of myself and I didn’t really like it. So when I stopped and assessed and thought “What do I want to write? What comes natural to me?” and what i’m currently doing now was kind of the first thing to happen. So I thought “Alright it’s like the path of the least resistance” and I didn’t want to fight that and I kind of just went with it and continued to experiment and continued to dive deeper into what i’m interested in making. I think there’s definitely elements of jazz and funk and psych and all these things I like. I just try and take little bits and pieces of all the music I like so that’s where my current style came from.

What inspirations did you draw from for this sound?

Definitely Unknown Mortal Orchestra at the time and Neon Indian’s third album Vega Intl. Night School was the most important album I was listening to in 2015. I also got really into Tame Impala early in 2015, just after Currents came out so that was the album of my summer. And my biggest inspiration always and forever is Gorillaz and that’s a project that’s constantly changing. I’ve always loved that idea but I never thought I could do that, then I thought “Oh wait, there aren’t any rules when you do music your own way and at your own pace”. You know I can do that and I can constantly be re-inventing and changing what I want to do and it doesn’t need to be this whole thing, it can just be part of my ethos. I was definitely still listening to the bands that were really popular at the time, but i was just trying to not make what they were making. Anything that was really capturing something for me.

That evolution of sound, is that something you look for when writing new material?

When I start a new project I got to the idea of “What haven’t I done yet that I want to try?” which is the big thing. I listened back to my old music a lot when I’m working on new music, so I can think “this is where i’ve been, where am I trying to go?”. I often just don’t listen to anything at that time when I’m writing, I don’t listen to any new music. And then after thinking what haven’t I done I become fully uncomfortable when working on new music. So i think “This sounds a lot like something I shouldn’t be doing” but then i’m like “Alright I’m just gonna go with it and hope for the best” haha.

I often have ideas that aren’t necessarily songs or sound ideas, just like concepts where I think “I want a really jammy song” or “I want a song thats only four chords all the way through or just stuff like that. And I think just having little challenges for myself just keeps me connected to what i’m making at the time.

I can definitely here that on the EP, with “Some Days” being jazz and funk infused, then going into “Dreams” with the tender sweeping string section.

Yeah for the EP I just really liked the contrast of going from one thing to another thing, then back to another and another. I think “Some Days” and “What You Do To Me” have a similar vibe to them, but everything in the middle has something different so it just feels like a nice full package.

Going into the EP you were writing the first thing that came to your mind, is that an ethos you still keep today?

At that time music was just pouring out of me and I was constantly creative and it was so easy. Now my old mind is just working against me to some degree. I feel like it takes a little longer to get an idea fully formed, but as soon as I have one part the rest will come a lot easier. Music kind of happens away from instruments for me, like i’ll be going about my day and I’ll hear a melody in my head and then think “Okay now i just have to find that sound” and then I have to build around that sound and then I can see a song forming. I try to use that first idea and try it out and incorporate new ideas and then rework it if it doesn’t work with the new ideas.

What’s it like now having signed to Captured Tracks and releasing your music alongside a fantastic roster of artists?

It’s still very much surreal to me. Obviously a lot of the artists at the time of originally writing were the biggest influences for me and to put it out years later on the label feels just like a complete full circle moment, just like “Holy shit that’s so cool” haha. It’s been really really great, everyone at the label has been amazing and I just feel very much part of a team and i’m incredibly grateful to be a part of Captured Tracks and i’m just super excited now. Obviously with releasing old music, it’s old to me but it’s new to everyone else and my mindset when it was done was thinking “I wonder if people will even respond to it well” but getting the response from everyone at the label and people listening to it for the first time is just very affirming to be like “I need to get on my own way a bit”. It’s been really great to have everyone hype you up and be your biggest support and just think “nice this is a cool moment in time for sure”.

Do you think it’s helped having the first release on the label something older to give people a taste of your sound?

100%. I was really nervous at the prospect of putting out a first album as being a new artist, but putting out an EP of old music is like “Okay i’ve got my footing, got myself a win” and it’s a great introduction. It starts people at the very beginning of this project so now I can work my way up to be current with everything. And now i’m super excited for the next project to come after this one because that confidence boost was everything. It just gave me time to really tinker and tweak on some new ideas and really feel good about everything.

I looked back at your soundcoloud and saw some old Mac DeMarco covers on there, what does his music mean to you?

I think with Mac it was the fact that he’s Canadian and i’m Canadian because for music you don’t see a lot of Canadians doing the cool big things that Americans can do. Like playing festivals to people or just touring around the world. That was the biggest thing seeing a Canadian artist that’s well renowned both in Canada and America. It’s a do it yourself approach. He just seems like a very approachable human being doing music. The music was just something that I didn’t think I would normally like, it just kind of happened that I really enjoy this for some reason and that’s really special where on paper I shouldn’t like this music but I love it. And I thought that I had to really honour whatever this is doing for me. His approach to music just seemed really effortless, but he also seemed like he was really hard working so I thought if I applied myself then i could do something like that. I think his evolution over time has been really inspiring to see, just see him come to form where it’s like “I can do the fun stuff and I can still be myself” within that without having to be the crazy character that everyone thinks.

Do you have a favourite release of his?

Salad Days was the one that really did it for me. But I think Another One was a really special one as it came out in 2015, which was really when I thought I was gonna commit to JayWood. The timing of it as well, I was having a great time and it was on the other end of Some Days where things were getting better and it was just really refreshing. It felt like a release that felt comfortable for him. I think at that point he was touring for 2 years for Salad Days and he was just like “here’s some new music”. So I was just like “Oh perfect thank you”. So that ones sentimental to me, it has a very nice by the water feel.

The reason I ask is because there’s a guitar solo at the end of your song “What You Do To Me” that sounds very familiar.

Ode To Viceroy! Yeah that’s exactly what it was haha! It was definitely a nod and that was exactly where my headspace was at and I didn’t want to shy away from it either. That whole ending part was me just saying “I want to do my own version of Ode To Viceroy”. Doing and ode to Ode To Viceroy in a song, making it a very meta moment and I had a lot of fun with it and I hope I don’t get shit on by people haha. It’s meant be very meta.

It’s a really fun addition just hearing that littler easter egg within it!

It’s so cool you caught that!

On the cover of the EP aswell as your last album you’re with an owl character, does that represent anything?

I never liked the idea of it just being myself on the cover, that’s just not me. I just don’t like being the biggest centre of attention. So creating a character that’s just an extension of myself just helps break the attention. Kind of like what Gorillaz is essentially where it’s a cartoon band and then music behind it. So it’s like i’m the music and this character is something within the project as well. As well as making stories and bridging parallels with this character has been really fun. I named them Walter to give them more life as well. It’s been really fun to figure out what to do with them, putting them into different mediums. My goal in the future is to have them appear in a cartoon or a comic strip and just extend on whatever this JayWood project becomes, it’s just having something alongside it to alleviate attention, just make it fun and keep it artsy in a way. So it’s a person but it’s also a very creative project and i’m excited to see what becomes more of Walter.

Do you think having Walter just gives you more freedom to say “Oh no hits them doing the music”.

Exactly! It distracts a bit and it moves me out of the full formed spotlight. Having them alongside me is just a cool juxtaposition I think, it’s strange but also something humanising.

What’s it like releasing this music at the moment without having live shows to back it up?

I think for this release in particular it’s been kinda nice as the whole label announcement, the music, the music video, all this stuff would have been very overwhelming for me if i’d have to go on tour as well. So to have a nice soft release where it’s just having some music and some video content, getting to know me. I’m settling into the label a lot more and by the time the next release happens and hopefully things are a lot more open and safe i’ll be really ready to go on the road.

After just performing nonstop it for a while just felt like I was losing the attachment and losing the excitement from it, so getting that back now and getting that confidence and excitement to perform again, especially with the support behind now is perfect. I want to build that up as much as possible so when it’s time to perform again then every shows gonna be better than the last and everyone’s equally excited as I am.

What will it be like having that first show back?

I don’t even know, it’s just hard to picture! Especially with capacity, you know every artist always hopes you get a full show, but a full show now is half of what it should be. That’s just such a weird thing to happen. I’m more than happy to wait for everything to be completely or at least 70/80 % safe so that shows can happen at a more familiar capacity. I would hate to see that divide in people, just having little pods of people. I’m happy to wait though as it gives me more time to do more video stuff which I’ve been having a lot of fun with lately. But at the same time I’m more than happy to perform when it’s totally okay. Even if that is just to the pods of people. I just want to be able to dance! I think that would be so disheartening if people wanted to moved but they’re not allowed to, maybe i’ll wait until people are allowed to dance and the footlose ban is up.

Some Days is released April 23rd via Captured Tracks, pre-order here.

iogi paints colourful and vibrantly rich sonic soundscapes

Tel Aviv native iogi aka Yogev Glusman is a craftsman of sound, a multi instrumentalist and producer who fuses together jazz, psychedelic pop, funk, folk and yacht rock to make soundscapes that are constantly shifting, swirling and swaying in their diverse and enticing movements. Being likened to the likes of Benny Sings and Jerry Paper, iogi has been making a name for himself for the past few years and now it feels like it’s his time to truly shine.

As a bassist, guitarist, violinist, and drummer, iogi has performed with several of Israeli’s biggest exports including Idan Raichel, the hip hop-leaning Yemenite sister trio A-WA, and Efraim Shamir and Yoni Rechter, both members of the legendary ‘70s Israeli prog-rock band Kaveret.

And now today he has returned with new album everything’s worth it, released via Raw Tapes, following on from his 2018 debut the ceiling. On his new album iogi is celebrating the joyous moments of life, backed by a swirling sonic landscape of psychedelic and jazz infused movements that are washed in an irresistible cool. We caught up with iogi to learn about the influences and ideas behind the new album.

What’s your musical story? How did you get into it?

I started as a classical violin player, and I played the violin from the age of 7 until I was 18 years old. At the age of 13, I got a classical guitar for my bar mitzvah from my brother & sister, which then led to the discovery of plenty of new music and genres that I was not aware of until that age, and that changed everything. When I was 17 I started playing the bass, and for many years it was my main instrument. Later in life, I got to play bass and guitar for many Israeli artists, and also tour with them worldwide. After almost 10 years of being a side musician, I had the urge to record my own music, which I did. From that point on, i started seeing myself not only as a musician and a player, but as an artist with his own taste. Since the first album came out, I have been more involved in studio work as a producer- for my music and for other people’s music. 

How would you describe your sound?

My sound is a mixture of sounds and tastes that i acquired during my years as a music listener, but also as a musician and producer. Generally, I would say that it is indie-pop, with influences from 70’s folk and psychedelic music.  

What’s the creative process behind a song?

All my songs begin with me sitting in front of the computer, with Ableton open. Usually I start by finding a beat or a groove that I like, and then I play guitar or synth over it. I have to finish the whole song structure in the same session I started the song, because if not – i will never be able to get back to it and finish it. Usually, I will finish the session once I have even a gibberish version of the melody. The next day, I will come to the studio, and probably write all the lyrics and finish the production of the song. If I love a song I am working on, I can finish it within two days.

Over what time and where was the new album created?

I started recording the album in my bedroom studio that i made in Jaffa, right after i finished recording and mixing my first solo album, the ceiling. It was a time in which i didn’t know what to do with my first album and how to release it, and if so – how will it be accepted. In this state i was, i started recording some of the songs for the album. I guess i just needed to move forward.

What’s the story you’re trying to tell on the new album?

I feel like this album is a natural continuation of my first album. It deals eventually with the same issues I dealt with 3 years ago, but from a more sober minded point of view. 

What was the best part of recording the new album? And what was the most challenging?

The best part of recording the album was doing it all by myself. The first album was produced alongside a good friend, Nomok, who helped me a lot during that process, but I think that for the new album I needed full independence. It was a good experience letting him listen to the songs once they were almost finished, rather than working together from scratch. The most challenging part was also doing it all by myself. I had to trust myself completely, and that was hard. Constantly believing that what i’m doing is good, without getting immediate feedback – was super challenging. 

Being a multi-instrumentalist what is your preferred instrument? And is there one you’d like to improve on?

Most definitely – drums. Drums are the most important instrument for me, and the one i love to play the most. Everything sits on top of it, and the song doesn’t lift off without it. Every song that i have in my heart and my brain – I know the drum part on it. I would love to improve my piano playing, i feel pretty stuck every time I sit in front of it.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

It evolves from Paul McCartney’s first solo albums, through Mac DeMarco and Real Estate, Super Furry Animals, Tame Impala – and back to Beach Boys.

Favourite show you’ve played?

One of the favorite shows i played with my band was 2 years ago, at Teder Tel Aviv. The place was packed, and that’s the moment that i felt that something new and special is starting to happen for me. 

What will it be like playing that first show once shows are allowed again? (Concerts aren’t currently allowed in the UK)

Actually, in Israel shows are allowed already. Things are still pretty weird, because the crowd is standing with their masks on and it is hard to know what they really feel, but it is great to feel the warmth of people and hear them sing with you.

everything’s worth it is out now via Raw Tapes, available to buy here.

Joy Guerrilla use the world around them to create vibrant worlds of their own

Joy Guerilla is the musical brainchild of LA based duo Adam Grab and Magna Daniec. They released their sophomore album The Park Is Closed last Friday, an album that takes simple melodies and phrases and turns them into sonic landscapes that are bursting with life. It’s the follow up and almost sister album to 2018’s Skyline and takes a look at the darker side of the West Coast of America that they mapped out on their debut in both tone and inspiration. One of the immediate reactions you get to listening to their music, beside the instinctive feeling to groove to it, is just how tightly composed and structured every moment is without losing that free-flowing nature that makes jazz so beautiful. We caught up with the duo to learn a bit more about their process, inspirations and what makes their sound so vibrant.

How did the group form? What’s your story? 

We met up in the Bay Area of CA. Mags was actually Adam’s piano teacher for a short time, but we soon realised that we had a lot of musical interests and goals in common, especially 70’s fusion, Euro prog rock, and vintage analog keyboards. We soon started playing music and writing together, and it’s been constant since then. 

How would you describe your sound? 

We’re sure we could come up with something esoteric and lofty here, but at heart we both know it could best be described as jazz fusion, with influences from anything that grooves, really. One of our fans from Japan describes it as “a blend of the city and the country,” and we suppose we’re happy with that. 

What do you draw inspiration from for the sound and movements within the songs? 

The music we most admire (both stylistically and recording-quality-wise) would be the “high-fi” era of the mid/late-70s, when analog recording was really at its peak. As such, a lot of our sound choices most often come from that era, plus the collection of analog instruments we’ve slowly acquired over the years. In terms of direct sonic influences – probably Dexter Wansel and Larry Carlton for arrangement sensibility; Michael Boddicker, George Duke, and Cecil & Margouleff for synth sound design; Herbie for phrasing and tone. The movements within our songs are ultimately because we fully understand the limitations of instrumental music, especially in the current rapid consumption streaming environment. We personally are not fans of indulgent, overly “jammy” music, and instrumental music with solos can trend in that direction at times. We like tight arrangements and transitions that keep you engaged in the musical narrative. It keeps us interested in creating it, and hopefully the listener in listening. 

What was the story that you are trying to tell within the album?

 When we were writing and recording our last album “Skyline,” we were trying to put together an album that portrayed life on the West coast as best we could. We ended up, more so by happenstance, deciding on a tracklist with a brighter, more “daylight” feel. However, we still had a body of songs we knew had potential, yet tonally just didn’t fit. Inadvertently we had essentially left out the songs that evoked the darker side of the picture, both literally and emotionally. We knew that we couldn’t leave that half of the story unaccounted for, and decided this time to focus on that. 

What’s the creative process behind a song?

 We always have a picture of the songs development and sequencing, so we start with recording the bass and drums directly to tape. This helps them sound really locked-in, and also makes sure that it still retains the human feel of being played live in as few takes as possible. We then do a lot of tinkering with the guitar, percussion and keyboard overdubbing, and we’ve learned to be okay with simply losing stuff that doesn’t fit. Since we use a lot of analog synths, we sometimes spend hours tweaking patches until we feel it fits the song. Overall, the process is somewhat pre-determined, but it also will evolve and take form as elements are added. It may not be the most time-efficient method, but we’ve gotten our work-flow pretty dialled in now. 

Over what time period was this album created? 

As mentioned above, many of these songs were started at the same time as “Skyline” was being written and recorded, and others were much more recent (“Sowa” and “The Park Is Closed” specifically). It would be safe to say that between writing, recording, overdubbing, editing and mixing, it took us about 2 years to really get it to where we felt it could be called finished. 

You worked with a lot of musicians to bring this album together. What did they all bring to the project? 

Tim Aristil on drums and Elijah Zhang on guitar have been invaluable and they are in no small part responsible for the sound of the group. They are willing to listen to our suggestions but aren’t afraid to assert their own musical tastes to the songs. They both think like producers and musicians, which is really the best kind of person to work with. Les Lovitt, John Grab (Adam’s dad), and Doug Webb have been doing session work in Los Angeles since the 70’s, and it’s hard to replicate the sound of a horn section that has really grown together and knows how to self-balance. Doug Webb’s sax solos truly blew us away when we were recording, and he had nearly no heads up on the song or the changes. We were really excited to have Mike Maher from Snarky Puppy on “Earthsuit,” and his melodic ear and placement really helped bring the middle section of the song to life. We also owe a lot to our compatriot Julian Nicholson, who not only helped us mix this, but brought his own creative ear to the sound design and balance of the songs. A multi-talented technician. 

Who are some of your biggest influences for the sound of this album? 

Herbie for the sound of this album and really all the music we do. Roger Nichols sense of space and clarity not only with the mixing but also the arrangement and instrumentation itself. It’s hard to top the staying power of P-Funk horn lines, they always fit so perfectly and stick in your head. We always use that as our high-water mark when writing melodies. 

If you could be a support act for any artist who would it be and why?

Probably Drake or Taylor Swift or something, just to see how the audience would react. Sounds like fun. 

Favourite concert you’ve been to?

When we lived in Brooklyn, we managed to see D’Angelo twice in one year, right after Black Messiah came out. Possibly the tightest band ever. It’s a sobering experience when a concert is insanely good yet also slaps you in the face by showing you how much work you have to do. 

Favourite show you’ve played?

We actually own an old short bus that we outfitted with solar panels, which charge batteries and allow us to power a full band set-up anywhere we can set up and park. The idea was to have a mobile busking machine, since when we started we did a lot of busking and have always had a love for it. In 2016 we went on a little DIY tour out to TX during SXSW, and we would use the bus busking to fund our gas and food expenses along the way. One night, we were out in Austin and were set up on the sidewalk, busking from the bus power, when a group of cops started flashing their sirens and pulling up to shut us down (something we had become pretty used to). All of the sudden, seemingly if sent by some birthday-party-guardian-angel, a procession of 10 or so costumed characters marched up and started vigorously dancing to our music. Sonic the Hedgehog, Ninja Turtles, Sponge Bob, Super Mario, Bugs Bunny – the whole gang was there. Fairly certain Sponge Bob even did the worm, a difficult feat with that boxy frame. Not only was this hilarious, but it did buy us another 10 minutes of playing time, as the cops seemed unwilling to break up this dance party of cultural heroes. Don’t think that will be topped for awhile. 

What will it be like playing that first show once shows are allowed again? 

We’ll have to get back to you when we do!

Grandmas House are Bristol’s newest powerhouse of punk

Holy shit. That’s your initial reaction to hearing Grandma’s House for the first time. And every time after that. The Bristol based, surf-wave infused queer punk outfit have some of the hottest riffs coming out of the South West right now.

Made up of Yasmin Berndt (vocals, guitar), Poppy Dodgson (vocals, drums) and Zoë Zinsmeister (bass) this three piece delivers punchy, chaotic and unforgiving tracks that are as ferocious as they are introspective. Having played most of Bristols renowned venues such as The Louisiana, Rough Trade, Exchange, The Old England and appearing alongside big names like Stef Chura, Frankie Cosmos and Rita Lynch, they have secured themselves as a force to be reckoned with already. Yesterday they released “Small Talk”, a furiously raucous track that relishes the small talk of entitled men at the bar (Available to buy as a 2-track cassette here). We caught up with the band to get to know the people behind this new powerhouse of punk.

How did the group form?

We all met at uni, and Poppy persuaded Yas and Zoe to move to Bristol. We started playing all together and then finally braved our first gig and the rest is HISTORY. 

Is there a story behind the name “Grandmas House” ?

We spent so long trying to think of a name – to the point where we were just shouting random things we could see like”lamppost” or “foot”, and our old bassist has a tattoo of her grandmas house on her arm! As soon as we said it out loud we knew it was the one, it encapsulates the homely vibe that we want people to feel with us perfectly. 

How would you describe your sound? 

We would describe our sound as loud, sweaty, fast and punky! 

What was the inspiration behind “Always Happy” ? ‘

Always Happy’ is a song we wrote about the social anxiety we all experience in some way or another particularly concerning social media. It’s a kind of sarcastic take on how you can easily convey a certain vibe that might not necessarily be the truth. 

What’s the creative process behind a song?

 A lot of the time we just jam and an entire song flows out of us, lyrics and all! Other times we will have lyrics that we know we want to use, or a lil instrumental that we wanna incorporate and it just goes from there. 

Who are some of your biggest influences? 

Some of our biggest influences are The Slits, Sleater Kinney, L7 and X-Ray Spex. We also LOVE Courtney Barnett, Nova Twins and Idles at the moment. I think we constantly get influenced by all kinds of genres though, which inspires our music a lot. 

If you could be a support act for any artists who would it be and why?

 Miley Cyrus!! She’s been going for a more rock n roll and punky vibe and we love it – think we’d be an amazing match tbh 

Favourite concert you’ve been to?

 We saw Shame and Fontaines DC at SWX a while ago and it was amazing!! Real sweaty and frantic, just how we like it. 

Favourite show you’ve played?

 One of our favourite ever shows so far was at The Lanes in Bristol, and was actually a socially distanced seated gig! It was our first headline show and the energy in the room was electric – everyone was proper jumping in their seats. 

What will it be like playing that first show once shows are allowed again?

 Incredible. Life-changing. Unforgettable. We’re going to be absolutely buzzing to be back on stage and I think people coming to see us will feel the same. Everyone’s just gonna go MAD.

Any future musical plans after the new single? 

Yesss we’re working on an EP at the moment so that’s very exciting indeed. We’re going to make lots of visuals for it too so lots of fun things to look forward to.

Where would you like to be in a years time musically? 

I think our sound is constantly developing so we’re just excited to keep working on new stuff and just see what happens innit! We love all genres of music so we love bringing in various aspect of each genre into our own music. 

What’s a cool fact about you that people might not know? 

We adopted two guinea pigs during the first lockdown and we are absolutely OBSESSED with them. They’re called Joan (Jett) and Bean and they are the cutest little ladies in town. 

Introducing: REAVE

Reave are the new synth-pop trio you need on your radar. With influences ranging from some of the contemporary greats to classic artists, they hone in their sound with familiarity whilst simultaneously being immediately captivating. Made up of Brandon Darby, Rory Ward & Enya Philips, based in Manchester and London, together they join to make the type of music that just makes you want to get up and boogie as soon as it comes on, whilst concurrently being heartbreaking at their core. Backed by glistening beats and swaying synths, lead singer Enya’s dreamy vocals wash through and shine out of every mix, evoking similar stylings to that of Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser. They released “One More Night” back in January, the band’s fifth single and are already planning for what’s next. We spoke to the band to get the lowdown on what they’re all about.

What drew each you to music and how did you get into it?

Brandon – I grew up in a very music loving family, my parents had been going to gigs all their lives and were also into the early 90s house/rave scene, going to the hacienda etc. So I think that has had probably brought me towards music. Apart from that it’s just a type of creating that attracted me.

Rory – I listened to the Smiths a lot when I was younger and I was fascinated by the melodies of Johnny Marr, since then I had to learn every Smiths song.

Enya – I grew up in a very musical family, I watched all my siblings perform and make music growing up. They taught me everything I know and I’ve got them to thank for being able to do anything music related. My parents were in a band together and threw us into pretty much every musical class when we were younger! So I think the familiarity drew me into it, it’s all I’ve ever known and is kind of a safe space for me. 

How did the band form?

It started out as a project to create synth music and we eventually saw the potential of having a female vocalist over the music. Once we met Enya and we tried a few ideas, REAVE was formed.

How would you describe your sound?

We try invoke a certain danceable and evocative energy into our music and nostalgic sounds, if that’s even possible. Electric but soft and moody. A Concoction of multiple influences but rooted in the synth-pop music and soundtracks of the 1980’s (without being too cliche 80’s) but with quirky and modern sounding lyrics/vocals. Make of that what you will, haha.

What’s the creative process behind a song?

When we’ve developed an instrumental, Enya has a go at the melody and lyrics from the feelings/vibe she gets from the track. When we’ve decided on something, the vocals are recorded and anything else that fits the track with the new vocal (like new guitar parts) are added before mixing. We spend a lot of time perfecting the sounds but the idea for the track can come really quickly and after that it’s sort of a blur how each song comes to fruition.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

Enya – There are way too many to list but to name a few: Tame impala, Euthrymics, Grimes, Talking Heads, Happy Monday, The human league, New order, Yazoo, Modern talking, GL, Sylvan Esso, Methyl ethyl, Porches, Harvey Causon, Robyn, Jack Garratt, James Blake, Franc Moody, Duo Mundi 

Rory – The Smiths, Gorillaz, Pixies

Brandon – Its ever changing and there’s always new ones im picking up on but to name a few: Bowie, Beach House, Cocteau Twins, Depeche Mode, Johnny Jewel, Vangelis, Julee Cruise, Pure X, Michel Berger, Sharon Van Etten, Pink Floyd, Future Islands, Austra, Brian Wilson, Arthur Russell, P. Cowley, John Maus, Moroder, MBV, Ride, Erik Satie, Tamaryn, Wire, Black Marble etc. Mostly dark, melancholic music with gothic undertones 

If you could be support act for any artists who would it be and why?

Brandon – Beach House would be insane because I feel like the vibes could compliment each other nicely, even though we are different. The lights and effects at their gigs are so cool too, would love to play while being engulfed in blue mist.

Rory – MGMT because it’ll be a good show.

Enya – Tame impala because they are such an inspiration. Almost wouldn’t feel worthy to support them hahaha.

Favourite concert you’ve been to?

Brandon – Hard to choose one – my top three are Beach House, John Maus & Tamaryn

Rory – The Cure

Enya – James Blake but Jack Garratt / Franc moody are a close second.

Favourite show you’ve played?

We unfortunately haven’t had the privilege yet, although individually we have all played live as solo or with bands before.

What will it be like playing that first show once shows are allowed again?

Well it’ll be our first gig as REAVE so it’ll be a great experience we reckon.

Any future musical plans after the new single?

Release more singles, an album & play shows eventually. We can’t wait to get together and have a jam in person.

Where would you like to be in a years time musically?

Brandon – Be in the middle of nowhere in a studio recording new tracks

Rory – I would like to own a grand piano!

Enya – Playing and making music together!! In the flesh!!  

If people want to find out more about you where should they go? 

Check out or Instagram, Spotify or give us a search on google..