Mumble Tide splash a big wave on their new mini-album

“Everyone’s an arsehole” sings vocalist Gina Leonard on “Breakfast”, a statement of intent that sets the tone for many of Mumble Tides songs, passively aggressive. Mumble Tide are a band of opposites, they take their work very seriously, but not themselves. This merging of two worlds allows their charismatic personalities to shine through in every moment. After first meeting via a Gumtree advert that Gina posted in search of a bassist for their last project, the duo started hanging out more after Ryan’s previous relationship ended and the pair realised they had more than just playing music together in common. “I think if we hadn’t worked together beforehand in that setting as band members would have been very difficult to work together now” says Gina. “We almost have modes that we go into a little bit, because you have to be pretty brutally honest when you’re working with people in music. And sometimes a bit rude and harsh”. “It’s hard because you never really know when to turn it back on” says Ryan. “Occasionally we’re just like “Can you just be a boyfriend for a bit”.

Their name has been slandered by those around them as “The worst name ever” recalls Ryan. “I really like whales and I went to uni in Swansea where I didn’t study too hard…” explains Gina. “But there’s a place in Swansea called Mumbles and we were on our way back from visiting some friends there and I was saying to Ryan how the tidal range there is the second biggest tidal range in the world. And I also do Mumble a bit so we went with it”. Their whimsical personalities shine through in every aspect.

It’s a cold November evening when we chat to the duo about their new mini-album Everything Ugly, first connecting over our stints working at hmv, the dreadful loyalty card scheme there and the fact that we share the same roof beams in our houses. The down to earth nature of the duo is immediately noticeable, both sat surrounded by swathes of equipment in what appears to be a living room in Gina’s parents home, they are encapsulated by their craft in every aspect. We first ask the duo what the reaction to the singles released so far in the release campaign. ” I think we were a little bit apprehensive as there’s a lot of different sounds in the mix across the singles and we weren’t really sure how that was gonna go down” says Ryan. “But it’s been received really nicely and I think we were just happy with anything as we’d made it all here by ourselves and we weren’t really sure wether people would enjoy it. But we were just grateful that anyone was paying attention really!”. “And with the first EP you’re basically a new thing” continues Gina “But with this it’s a little tougher in a way coming back with more stuff and we didn’t leave much of a gap, we’ve been a bit relentless with releases which is maybe a bit demanding from people. But people have still listened which has been nice. We’ve found that certain people like some tracks and not others which is always interesting”.

The contrast in their sound is immediately noticeable on your first wade through the album as a whole, ranging from the indie anthem “Sucker” to the heartfelt folk ballad of “Bulls Eye”. But the one thing that glues the range of sounds all together is the enigmatic personalities behind it. “We don’t put loads and loads of thought into it but we both listen to a pretty wide range of music and I personally go through fazes where I listen to a lot pretty heavy stuff and it’ll be a month of just that so then I’ll think “Man I really want to write some metal” remarks Ryan. “And then I’ll bring a really sweet folky song and ask “How can we merge the two?”” adds Gina. “We probably should think more about it to be honest” she laughs.

The album was written with the space of 3-4 months, “About the second half of the ‘intense’ pandemic phase” explains Gina. The first song of which that emerged from the ‘sessions’ being “On My Deathbed”, which also took the band the longest to finish. “It was a bit of a nightmare” recalls Gina. “At the time I thought we were gonna do a disco pop record” continues Ryan. “Gina had brought “Deathbed” as one she’d written acoustically and it wasn’t fully formed but I thought “Oh this is going to be like Tennis or Tops and it’ll be a really indie record” but it just didn’t work at all”. “Then “Sucker” I was messing around with at New Years and I remember you brought that guitar riff and you thought “Oh that was a bit of fun we won’t do anything with it” but I said no we will because it was really cool” says Gina. “The last one we did was “Everything Ugly” which felt like a resolution track where we’d got most of it out of our system. It was a tricky time for everyone and other projects had disbanded. I’d also never been in a lot of long-term relationships and then I moved with Ryan into his childhood bedroom and have been living with his parents, it was intense. But we survived!”.

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The dynamic of the pair often merges into one, both finishing each others sentences and continuing stories, you can tell that they come very much packaged together. Their songwriting is no different, they play their separate parts but will often compare notes to make sure their answers are always right. “Gina is 100% lyrics and melody” explains Ryan. “But there’s different ways we put stuff together. Sometimes she’ll have something fully formed on acoustic and then we’ll build it into the song it becomes. And then sometimes I’ll write a riff but Gina’s 100% the lyric mastermind”. “And i’d say Ryan is a lot better at production and having an idea of where the track is going to end up” adds Gina. “We have kind of defined roles but also we’re obviously super comfortable around each other so we can step on each others toes without it being too intrusive. As time goes on we’re writing more and more together and I was always nervous of that because for years I would just write on my own with a guitar and was very precious about it. But over the years I’ve gotten more into co-writing and writing more on the spot with other people playing which is so fun and exciting”. “It’s like a Venn diagram of placing everything and roles” adds Ryan.

Although the lines may be blurred about how the songs are formed, the content behind them comes straight from a clear place of reflection from Gina. “It’s very therapeutic and most of the time I don’t know what I’m singing about when I’m in it, but it does help to get this stuff out of me. I’m quite an oversensitive person that gets quite overwhelmed by things and that’s my outlet. I don’t think that much about lyrics. I am very passionate and when I’m listening I focus on the lyrics. But I don’t slave over them when I’m writing, I prefer when it’s coming from this place naturally. It’s all based on real things that have happened and all honest”. The content has to be kept fresh however and due to the constant output that the band create, lead times for releases can become a challenge. “I get very quickly over it and it’s almost as if once it’s written it gets stale” explains Gina. “It’s exciting when it’s getting written but if I have to sit on it for a year when we go to the studio then I really struggle to get back to the place it came from”. The delays within the vinyl production world have meant that any physical copies of the album have now been pushed back until Spring next year; something we all are becoming impatient with.

The DIY nature of the band exists within every aspect, from the music recorded at home, the bedroom studio to directing their own music videos. It’s not necessarily out of desire to capture a lo-fi sound that’s become so lauded in the independent scene, but “Mainly down to lack of budget and what equipment we have rather than intentionally” laughs Gina. “It’s funny though because a lot of projects we worked on in the past, we were lucky enough to work in situations where there was a lot of money being put into stuff within studios” continues Ryan. “But then when we came to do Mumble Tide, especially with the way it started as an underneath project, we kept the ethos of doing it for free and cheap. Especially with the first EP it was “Let’s just do it ourselves””. It also comes from a desire to have some control over their project, feeling as although their previous project had a big budget, that often outweighed how much creative freedom they had. “We’re also just both super into doing it and we love making the videos and coming up with these stupid ideas which sometimes work and sometimes don’t” says Ryan. “We think with the next thing we do we want to step it up a level and take it away from the DIY aspect. As great as it is we’d love to just create a slightly more hi-fi sound” says Gina. “We want to follow the EP pretty quickly” adds Ryan. “We did a couple of days with Ed Nash from Bombay Bicycle Club recently. It’s still a little while off but we’re following up as soon as we can and we’re lucky to have met so many great people through doing Mumble Tide that can help from different angles and seeing how that fits”.

From working with new people to touring with new people, the world of Mumble Tide is ever expanding. “We’re looking into ways of just doing it with us two for fun but with this tour and with the Liz Lawrence we had a drummer and a really old friend of mine John playing guitar and synths” explains Ryan. “It was a four piece but our next tour we are a six piece. We want to be able to change it up constantly where sometimes it’s just us two and a drum machine or whoever’s around and wants to get involved then can join in as well”. One thing that will never change is the bands love of the live show. “We started this project and released the first track during the first couple of weeks of lockdown so we’ve never really had the chance to do the live aspect of it. We’ve done a handful of shows and it was just amazing” recalls Ryan. ‘We did the lockdown thing of doing stuff with cameras but that was shit haha! That was horrible, the way they look at you” laughs Gina. “I got the need for it and some great things happened with it but doing the real thing is where it’s at” follows Ryan. “I think as well with our last project it was quite a serious electronic set up we didn’t get chance to go heavy or go loud with it. Whereas with this tour we could really go for it”.

We ask the pair finally to turn on their serious side reflect on the music industry as a whole, asking what they would want to change about the industry. “More women would be good” states Gina. “I’ve literally just exclusively worked with men. This tour we’ve got a friend to come and play with us but it’s been mostly men. I think that’s changing though which is great, with stuff like Fender’s campaign to get more girls playing guitar, there’s a lot of good stuff happening. I think it’s going in the right direction but there’s still a ways to go”. “That first, definitely!” remarks Ryan. “I also think the perception of the music industry by the people who aren’t in it where everyone bases their ideas of it off 1% of artists who are this enormous thing. We have a lot friends who are in these great band and are doing really well, but they’re not at Ed Sheeran or Adele level. And I think it would be great if people who aren’t in that 1% would stop having to apologise for not being in that 1%”. It’s a numbers game for most but Gina is happy with the stats so far “Most people who are in music or into music get it but everyone else is like “Poor you and your little band” but it’s not going that bad”. It’s not going that bad at all in the world of Mumble Tide, their wave will keep crashing on the shores of listeners ears for many years to come. “I wish my mum didn’t think I should be a plumber” says Ryan longingly.

Everything Ugly is out now via Nothing Fancy, purchase here.

Anna Leone battles with herself on her debut album

Photo by Marie Vinay

Anna Leone creates the type of music that immediately spellbinds you with its incredible natural aura and ability to encapsulate you through every subtle movement. Growing the youngest of five sisters in Stockholm, Anna sought comfort not always in people but the stories that are told through video games and comic books. The ever expanding stories of the Marvel & DC comics soon became a home away from the real world for Anna, becoming absorbed and surrounded by the deep and rich storytelling.

She first emerged back in 2018 with her dazzling debut EP Wandering Away, a collection of heartfelt and earnestly bright songs that showcased her tender vocal trance and carefully constructed sounds. She has since gone on to win at the 2020 Music Moves Talent Awards and yesterday announced her long awaited debut album I’ve Felt All These Things, set to be released on September 10th via AllPoints/ Half Awake. We spoke to Anna over a very temperamental phone connection to learn all about her journey as an artist and what the album means to her.

Over what sort of time and whereabouts was the album recorded?

I recorded it two years ago now, between 2018 and 2019, I feel like I’ve lost track of time recently. I recorded it in LA with Paul Butler as a producer and we went in in instalments since I’m from Sweden. I don’t have a visa or anything so I went there twice for the album and then we went back again. It was very much a back and forth situation from LA to Stockholm.

Has sitting on the album for so long made you want to go back and change anything at all?

I haven’t dared to listen to it again! I want to be able to disconnect from it a little bit. Mainly because during the album process I was so wrapped up in it. And I think it’s still quite painful in a way for me to listen back to it, so I want to distance myself as much as possible so that I’m not a wreck when I sing the songs live or talk about them. And everything that has to do with marketing the project, I want to feel a little bit more disconnected than I’m able to be.

Is that due to themes of the album and what you were writing about around that time?

I love the album and I’m really proud of what Paul an I did together and everyone else involved within the album process. I’m really proud of the album and of the songs. But I’m so emotionally attached to the songs as they’re a mix of reminding me things that I felt at the time. I was going through depression when I wrote it and I’m still kind of in that space right now so just reliving those songs feels kind of tough. But also I think the music is really healing for me and painful at the same time so it’s a double edged sword.

Did writing these songs help you overcome what you were feeling at the time?

Yes, they didn’t solve anything at all but I think they were comforting at the time. It’s also cathartic sorting through your emotions as well. Being able to put it on the page helps you to analyse and see the situation clearer. And discovering what you’re feeling as well.

In the video for “Still I Wait” you’re all in this refurbished hospital showing people separated, was that inspired by last year or was that planned before?

The idea from it came from Savannah Setten, the director. It was after COVID hit but before the isolation aspect of it started. But the song in itself has also always represented that feeling so it felt natural to show it in the visual way that we did. But it also coincided with the pandemic so it was a real coincidence.

Do you think that now the last year has happened, there’s been a new meaning been placed on the song?

Yeah I think maybe more the video and the song together. I think when I looked back at it I thought “Oh this is actually sensitive of what’s going on”. Everyone is talking more about connection nowadays and how people find connection and who we become without it. So I think that’s an interesting perspective that we have now that we might have not had before.

Did you find yourself finding a connection with yourself on the album as well as other people?

Yeah the album is definitely very centered around myself but also loneliness and how that can manifest itself. And how you can try to reach out to other people and love them other people but also making sure you can love yourself.

You’ve said before you’re a fan of the DC and Marvel comics, what drew you to them originally? And how long have you been reading those?

It started when I used to watch them on Sunday morning cartoons. The old Justice League and X-Men shows. I grew up with that so I’ve always been a fan of those universes. I think comics-wise it started with Batman by Frank Miller so it was the really dark stories. That’s what drew me to them, the realism, the gritty, the really deep questions of “Why are they vigilantes?”. Then with the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe I’ve been really into that.

Does the storytelling from the darker side of the comics influenced the stories you tell within your songs?

It’s what I find interesting about it. The stories are about superheroes but it’s also about the person behind them and what a human does in extreme situations and the extreme emotions they face and the weight of responsibility. I think the emotional turmoil behind that life is really interesting. So I guess that’s what inspires me in that way. It’s also something I find really exciting, but I don’t think it’s the exciting side that translates more to my music, more the psychological aspect.

Who would you say would be some of your other biggest influences for your sound?

Bob Dylan and Laura Marling I think about a lot. I’m really drawn to these singer-songwriters who really explore different sounds with the guitar and that can be really sparse and have a raw feeling with their songs. They don’t have to rely on production, it’s just a beautiful song within itself. I’ve always loved the strings that Lana Del Rey uses, how she creates this cinematic universe with her sound. It feels like you’re stepping into her world.

Is creating a world within your songs something you try to achieve?

Yeah definitely. I think that’s a great goal of mine, to be able to lose yourself within the songs. You can almost drift off in a way. A lot of people have told me that they fall asleep to my songs! Which is fun haha. They’ve said it’s because I have a soothing voice and I like that idea that you’re entranced in a way. It’s not something that you put on in the background, you’re present in the music.

It’s almost entering a meditative state where the music is relaxing you.

Yeah I think that it’s a cool thing to represent.

Originally you never intended to release your own music, rather just playing it for yourself. What brought you to the point of deciding to release your own music?

I never thought that I would become an artist because despite listening to folk singers like Simon & Garfunkel or other people I looked up to, I saw the word “artist” as something that I wasn’t and something that I couldn’t be. Mainly because I felt very introverted and I thought that to be a singer and to release music you have to be a certain kind of extroverted person. So that’s why I didn’t picture myself in that industry. I don’t know exactly what changed but I guess it was me creating my own music and feeling that “well maybe I should give this a go”. After that both my sisters connected me in different directions. And then I started working with Mica Elig, my partner in crime right now and who has been for a few years. He’s really supportive and very ambitious and he’s driving me to get out of my comfort zone in a good way.

Is coming out of your comfort zone something you try to do often when writing songs?

I think my main thing is that I shouldn’t hold back when I’m writing. I shouldn’t think too much about how the song will be received or thinking “I can’t write this because it’s too honest”. I feel as if I should just write for myself, as if it was never going to be released. And then I just release it! Otherwise it would just feel like I’m holding myself back in that sense.

What’s it been like releasing this music at the moment without having any shows to support it?

It’s weird because you kind of need that exposure that you get from live shows. So from a business perspective it’s much harder to get the songs out there. But I’m really afraid of the stage and I have stage fright, so for me it’s been kind of nice in a way to release music and be able to have that be the main way that people consume the songs. That’s my main way of delivering emotions. I was looking forward to touring and meeting people and performing the songs live because that’s a whole different world for me.

You get that connection from people. But at the same time people appreciate the album as what it is as that’s all they can have.

It’s nice that people can dive into it that way.

I’ve Felt All These Things is out September 10th via AllPoints/ Half Awake, pre-order here.

Body Breaks make unconventional music for unconventional people

Photo by Natalie Logan

Body breaks emerge out of proven greatness. Formed of Canadian DIY veterans Julie Reich and Matt LeGroulx, whose musical background include expansive and sublime outfits such as Bile Sister, Galaxius Mons and Expwy. The duo have crafted a debut album, Bad Trouble, that plays like a 70’s art rock infused hidden gem of wondrous and wonky paths. The album was written instrumentally by Matt as a way of showcasing his love for microtonal tuning. With Julie later on adding her vocals and stories over the top to craft an album that will both leave you encapsulated by its unexpected twists and turns, and grooving along to every wavy beat and riff. Although the album will eventually be released this month via We Are Time Records, the music has been in the works for much longer than your average album cycle. “The tracks that I recorded in 2013 were the ones that Julie used” explains Matt. We spent a calm Saturday evening talking to the duo to learn about how they came to meet and where the albums long chrysalis into becoming released.

The duo first met after trying to play on the same bill together for a concert. “We were connected through the DIY music scene in Toronto and Montreal. As big of a world it is, it’s such a small world, especially within these communities” explains Julie. “Matt and I connected through a show, it may have been Galaxius Mons and he was coming to Toronto and he asked Bile Sister to play”. But timing meant that Julie couldn’t make the show and ended up afterwards going to see Matt play where she was left in awe at his proficient musicianship.

They continued online conversations, connecting over their shared love of microtonal music and the world of craftsmen and instruments around it. Eventually the duo realised that this connection could be fruitful not just in a matter of friendship, but through a joint venture into each others art. Matt had been working on a new album for Galaxius Mons and was collaborating with various other artists for vocal features. “I contributed, but he asked me last minute and the timing was so tight for me” explains Julie. “I got my version to him just in the nick of time but he had already sent things to mix so I didn’t make it on the album they released. So we had this unfinished business, this need to collaborate with each other”.

They continued talking until Matt showcased one of his many projects to Julie. “Matt told me that he had an album of music that he had already recorded and he wanted to collaborate with the vocal part of it all” says Julie. “So knowing his talent and just being super connected musically I just said yes straight away. Then I heard the music and of course I was like “this is an automatic hit!”. And that’s how it started”.

For many microtonal music may seem like the newest novelty, but for Body Breaks it’s been at their core since the beginning. “What I love about music is being surprised and not knowing what’s coming next. And if you grow up listening to western tonal music then microtonal music is quite surprising and novel so it was immediately attractive” says Matt. For Julie though the sound has become her baseline, her return to normalcy from the far-flung corners of the musical spectrum. “I come from an experimental background, so I started in noise and then I worked my way towards something more formal and organised” she says. “I’ve always been drawn to music from all places and especially the idea of tailoring western scales to something that is a bit different. With the sound, as much as it may be surprising for some people, for me it makes total sense. When I hear it, it’s not like it’s so shocking to me, it’s just other notes that work together”.

Some people may have first heard the word microtonal used when King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard released their 2017 delve into the eastern style tuning Flying Microtonal Banana. But Body Breaks and other DIY outfits have been using the sound much longer than that. “King Gizzard only started doing it recently, but you have a band like Horse Lords, who I don’t know if they’ve been doing it since 2013 but they’ve been doing it for quite a while” says Matt. “When I wrote the music in 2013 I wasn’t aware of any other bands that where doing that. So if it had gotten released back then, then who knows what would have happened” he remarks. “Hahaha, sorry Matt!” laughs Julie.

Although microtones play a large part in the albums sound, the other equally distinctive and captivating aspect comes in the form of Julie’s vocals. Ranging from the bold and brash on “Eyes To Brightness” to the sweet and surreal on “Bad Trouble”. “I recorded “Eyes To Brightness” in a style that’s closer to Bile Sister. After I recorded that song, I put so much thought into this and I kind of developed a character for the album. I was influenced by glam rock men like Lou Reed and David Bowie” she explains. “I recorded all the vocals myself and mixed them. Nyles Miszczyk did the final mix of them. I wasn’t using as many effects for most of the songs, I recorded a majority of them dry. There’s reverb added onto them afterwards, but you can really hear what i’m saying and singing. It was more of an attitude that I wanted to bring and I wanted people to hear the lyrics”

Where the stories touch on subjects of heartbreak and lost connections to the world, they come from both reality and inspired messaging . “They are in a way speaking to people, almost like advice. “This is what i’ve been through, maybe I can help you learn from it” says Julie. “Each story is from my own experience, except for “Generation Y”. That song is about me, but it’s more of a tale about talking to other people to not forget these people from the past, where you come from. It’s important to pay homage to the history of music and art and the sacrifices people made. So many people went unknown and I really relate to those unknown people, coming from an experimental place”.

Summing up the themes of the album Julie says that “It’s about this generation of artists and the things they are doing. My relationship to that. The struggle with work and being an artist. The struggle as a woman ageing and personal relationships. The generational thing is a big one as generation Y is recognising the past”.

Whilst she taps into these subjects of whole bodies of people, she voices her life and the struggles finding the balance between dreams and reality, in both the literal sense and her ambitions as an artist. “The element of sleep is one of the themes for me, with “Eyes To Brightness” also touching on that. I struggle with it so that brings me into thinking of dreams in a more metaphorical level of “What is real? What isn’t?”. How to make your dreams real and then the dichotomy of awake and asleep. And then the metaphorical dichotomy of reality and dreams and how to realise your dreams when all odds are against you. And when you’re equally struggling with sleep, how can you overcome this? The meta is looking at things where you’re “seeing the thoughts”, that is a strategy for meditation that helps me sleep. So there are all these parallels i’ve drawn between sleeping and trying to sleep and also realising my dreams so thinking what is actually realistic, what can I make happen?”.

Working as an artist is always between two worlds, struggling to make money from it and struggling to afford to do it. For Julie the everyday 9-5 grind that most of us find ourselves living isn’t sustainable anymore to fulfil human potential. “I don’t feel like it really reflects the natural rhythms of people and their dreams and desires and what functions best for them. I think that it’s based on a system that was created for order and for capitalism and to keep society pumping the blood. But it doesn’t work for everyone, it doesn’t reflect everyones style and I think younger people now are questioning this more and more and they’re trying to find other way to make money and to live a happy life. So it’s really a strange generational shift we’re witnessing with the age of technology where people can work differently now. Nobody likes to be forced to do something but you have to survive”.

For as much depth and detail that Julie puts into her lyrics and the tales she tells through them, Matt’s approach to songwriting matches his sense of humour; more cut and dry. “I just kind of write phonetically without much regard to meaning or expressing ideas. So when I wrote it at the time I wasn’t trying to say anything in particular, I just thought it was a line that sounded good” he says in regards to “Break The Icons Down”, the albums shimmering closing track that repeats the phrase “I don’t want to see your technology inside of me”.

But Julie soon steps in to offer her insight on Matt’s lyricism “I do think it’s relevant though. I’m just analysing you now and I could be wrong but it does seem like you’re more of an ‘in-person’ person. With the way you make music, you use Ableton and use all this technology but at the same time for Body Breaks you recorded all the instruments and a lot of people are producing things with technology and I think you still have that raw ‘in-person’, real former vibe about you. Maybe it was a Freudian slip in a way or some subconscious thing that you didn’t even realise, but that’s just me talking about you” she laughs.

“I just couldn’t figure out how to use the EQ in Ableton, that’s what the lines about” laughs Matt. “I’m in control of it now though” he adds. “You’ve got the technology inside of you now!” remarks Julie. “Well I certainly will when I get the vaccine” laughs Matt. Perhaps Matt knows something we don’t after all.

We then move onto the topic of live music. An unbalanced bridge that every artist is precariously trying to cross as concerts begin to partially re-open in certain parts of the world. When we spoke to the band Canada was facing stay at home orders so live music was the least of the bands concern. But that wasn’t the only reason that a live rendition of Body Breaks may be a while in the works yet. “The thing about this music too is that no-ones ever played it. I only ever played it once when I recorded” explains Matt. “There’s never been a band that’s played this music together as it would be pretty rehearsal intensive. I can see it going different ways. I wrote all the music down as there’s going to be a songbook coming out with the album, so I’ve got all the sheet music which would make it easy for people to learn the music and it could happen that we’d get together to rehearse and it would work fantastic first time through. But it could also have elements just not working. I wouldn’t want to be in a situation where we have a show and we can have two rehearsals and they’re both disasters and we still have to play the show. I’d really want to workshop the music to make sure it works, because we have no idea”.

“There is also the issue where we live six hours apart from each other as well” he continues. “So we can’t just get together on the weekend and rehearse. I would have to go down there or Julie and the other musicians who are interested in playing would have to come up here”. Perhaps one day when the stars align and the world is a slightly less turmoil hell-scape then Body Breaks will be able to give Bad Trouble the live rendition it deserves.

Finally we ask the band a larger question of anything they would like to change about the music industry. “That’s like “What would you like to change about cancer?”” laughs Matt. “I mean don’t change the music, the music’s great. We’ll keep that” he adds. “That’s it! That’s our answer” laughs Julie before continuing on about how undervalued live performers still seem to be. “Artists definitely need more money. I think there’s an issue with live performance and money. It’s a big issue. People are complaining about not being able to play live but you weren’t paying the rent!” she says. “There are some artists who can make a living that way but live performers are highly undervalued and underpaid and they work so hard. Getting grants is hard, touring and paying for the visas. On the Canadian end if you want to go to the states, they make it almost impossible. There’s so many issues with that side of the industry that bug me. I’m shocked that people are complaining so much about not performing because it’s an opportunity now to call out things in the industry that are wrong. Why would you want to go back to making no money? And working your ass off doesn’t make sense. I also think a lot of artists don’t understand how to promote. Digital distribution, the business side of things really prevents so many talented people from success and it’s a shame. There needs to be more of a bridge I think”.

For Body Breaks their timing could perhaps be a blessing. Although this album has been years in the works, the usual process of touring and promoting the album can be left out of thought for now, allowing listeners to enjoy it for what it is. A brash, bold, borderline-psychedelic and all out whirlwind ride through the magical soundscapes that the mystical minds of Julie Reich and Matt LeGroulx have crafted.

Bad Trouble is released June 18th via We Are Time Records, pre-order here.

The Early Mornings aren’t unnecessary

The Early Mornings are one of those bands that hit you like the first light of the day, bleary eyed and comfortably warm. Consisting of Annie Leader on guitar and vocals, Danny Shannon on bass and Rhys Davies on drums, the group are emerging at the perfect time. Following on from the success of new-wave post-punk outfits Dry Cleaning and Porridge Radio, the bands sound is both jagged and yet comfortably cool. You lose yourself among the flurry of guitar lines and anecdotal lyrical quips, trying to unpick the world that they inhabit and have created for themselves. With inspiration coming from the likes of Cate Le Bon, Kim Deal, The Breeders and The Amps the band merged together influences and inspirations to find a style that is instantaneously recognisable yet unrequitedly unique. It’s a surprisingly warm sunny April afternoon when we call the band to talk about their bright future ahead and the journey to their debut EP Unnecessary Creation, set to be released on June 18th.

Originally forming in 2018 after Annie and Danny put out an advert for a drummer, “Rhys liked some of the bands we mentioned and we just sort of knew after the first practice” says Danny. They then spent the next few months rehearsing to ensure the live aspect of the band was fuelled like clockwork. Debut single “Artificial Flavour” was released in January of last year, subsequently landing the band support slots with the likes of post-punk legends The Raincoats. Although with all the prestige around the event, the bands experience was somewhat scuppered by technical difficulties during the rehearsal. “Whilst we were sound checking the strap on Annie’s guitar broke and it just crashed to the floor and the scratch plate came off as well! My snares broke during the last couple of songs but they were still making noise. So we enjoyed who it was we were supporting but the gig was so frustrating” remarks Rhys.

They’ve recently moved down to London to break into the ever expanding and joyously fruitful underground scene. “We always wanted to live in London at some point and we just thought why not now. We’ve just lived in Manchester our entire lives, so time for a change” explains Danny.

Their music channels the depleted lifestyle of everyday nothing, with the title of the EP coming as a facetious remark of the pointlessness of art and the day to day grind. “It’s a line from a poem I wrote that said “I punctuate my days with unnecessary creation””, explains Danny. “And I guess that fits in as well with the theme as it’s just about filling our days with unnecessary creation and just trying to find meaning within our day to day lives. It just made sense as it’s a bit tongue in cheek calling our first EP unnecessary. Art in general is unnecessary, but it’s impossible to conceive life without it so it’s that paradox where it’s pointless, but we couldn’t live without it”.

“We kind of just came up with the music and then came up with lines about separate things and just glued them together. We just kind of made it up on the spot as we were writing it I remember” Annie says about recent single “Blank Sky”. A song that grabs within the opening moments of Annie’s deadpan vocals over the infectiously sporadic bass line. And just like the music, the accompanying video contains references to all aspects of inspiration for the band, from a Lowry painting to a Sarah Lucas self portrait; art imitating art.

Showcasing a candid tour of Manchester, the band sought out to find the beauty in the bland. “A lot of our other videos were edited with a very high pace so we wanted it a bit more still and focused. And obviously we wanted to get shots where we could get a lot of white sky. So I guess it’s just a meditation on certain spots” says Annie. “They form more of a specific atmosphere together rather than just a collection of shots. They’re almost framed more as a still painting, it’s all about the composition and colours and having them all merging to form quite a distinct atmosphere of grey” adds Danny.

Just like the menial travail of every day life, their songs don’t follow succinct themes or structures, but rather are collections of disjointed musings. “I guess in the way that we don’t really have an idea of what we’re doing when we write songs it’s the same. We didn’t especially write it with a theme but there probably is one if we sat and listened to it” says Annie.

Their debut EP, Unnecessary Creation almost acts as a greatest hits of the bands workings so far, containing songs both past and present. “We wanted to pick a good mix of the different sides to our sound as our first proper EP. We didn’t want to have one that has all songs that are similar so we tried to pick a range of most different” says Danny. “We spent the first year of being a band just focusing on playing live and getting our live sound right. We didn’t want to rush into it and regret putting all these songs out that we care about and not doing them justice. And now we’re in a position where we can do it as well as we could” he adds.

It’s easy to understand why the band have gained such a following so quickly. The unison not only in their sound but their connection in finishing each others sentences. After a while of talking to the band you get a real sense that their mutual understanding lies deeper than the music.

With the prospect of live shows returning on the horizon the band reflect on past gigs that have brought them to this deserved position of acclaim. “The single launch we did, we chose the bands to support and they were all bands we really love. It was at The Peer Hat, basically our local which we used to rehearse above. All our friends came down, it was sold out, probably the busiest gig” say Rhys. “I can’t even imagine it being that busy now!” adds Annie. With support on the night coming from local contemporaries and friends Roxy Girls, Vat-Egg and All Girls Arson Club. “It was such a great feeling after just putting the record out, even my mum and dad came down!” continues Rhys. “They tried to get in for free” he laughs.

But as in tune as the band are with one another there’s still room for practice. Annie stating that the thought of playing that first show back will be “Scary! I’ll be scared”. It’s a moment that, like most musicians, she’s been thinking about for a while. “I have dreams sometimes that we start a gig and we’re just looking at each other and we have no fucking clue. Just asking “What song is it?”. But that’s a horrible dream so I don’t want that in real life. We’ve all just forgotten everything” she exclaims. But the thought is quickly quashed once she talks it over. “I’ll feel a lot better once I can find a new practice room here (London) and get going with that because it’s been a month since we practiced now and I just wanna make sure I haven’t forgetting everything. I’ve probably forgotten how to sing” she jokes.

Being built on those small independent venues we also ask the band what more needs to be done to support them. “Money! I guess it depends on the social distancing thing. Maybe if you didn’t bring drinks into the actual bit where you see the band then you could all have masks on and be quite close. That’s just a theory I’m working on” says Annie. “I think there should be more live sessions on TV” she continues. “Bring back music channels! If you had the show in the venue it would showcase the artist and the venue. I want that to happen anyway. More new TV bands stuff”.

The battle to be heard in the saturated modern industry of music has never been more challenging. And with support from major streaming platforms seemingly getting thinner and thinner we ask the band to reflect on what they’d like to see changed within the industry. “It’s a bit shit that with streaming you get 0.000001p per stream so that’s quite bad” remarks Annie. “But also when we were back in Manchester I would have liked it if it was like back in the old days, where there were people in the industry coming to gigs being like “Hey they’re cool”. Where’s the ground people these days?” she asks. “Maybe they’re in London” adds Danny. “Maybe! But who knows. Like Alan McGee who would just be at this tiny club saying “Oh sign them”. I just feel like that doesn’t happen” says Annie. “I think labels now wait for you to prove that you’ve established yourself. They never just take a punt anymore and throw money at a wall. Or maybe they do and it’s just not us” says Danny.

Trying to find that balance between over and under-sharing is a line that the band tread carefully. “You have to put a lot of effort into the whole social media thing” says Annie. “Oh yeah no social media would be good” continues Danny. “I mean it’s obviously good but knowing that there’s no option to have the extra stress of worrying “Should I be posting stuff”. I feel like it’s cringey having to say “Oh look at us” but it’s necessary.

New single “Days Spent” is out now. Unnecessary Creation is released June 18th.

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.

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.

Slow Crush are leading the way for a new generation of shoegazing

Like soaking your head in a warm bath of water, the Belgian group are well crafted in the art of abrasive immersion. Formed from the ashes of various hardcore projects, Slow Crush formed in 2017. Since then, they have toured with well admired scenes across the world such as Gouge Away, Torche, Tennis System and had their first EP Ease distributed by US based label Deathswish Records. We caught up with vocalist and guitarist Isa Holiday about their ventures at home during the start of the COVID 19 Pandemic.

You had so much planned 12 months ago, what have you been up to in the meantime?

Slept! Haha, we had such a big schedule for 2020. We had just gotten back from a US tour, when we sort of heard the news creeping in about the pandemic potentially ruining plans to tour Italy, which was the next stop. So we were watching the news, and seeing all of the countries slowly on our tour schedule just sort of disappear. It was like, “Okay, maybe it’s best to just stay home”. Plans for recording  also needed to be rescheduled because  wherever we wanted to go initially, that just wouldn’t have been able to happen. Eventually we found that the perfect fit and finally, we were able to do that in January. So yeah, we were just using our time productively to work on that while being stuck at home.

Logistically, how did you manage to come up with ideas for recording whilst everyone was initially apart from each other?

With the whole introduction of zoom as well as WhatsApp message groups and everything like that it gave us the opportunity to share ideas over the internet. I think the pandemic did cause people to get a lot more creative or, or just think about how you can go about things differently, because stuff still needs to be done. You can’t just sit at home, although the government would want you to.

Are there any ideas that you’ve sat on for a while?

We have tonnes of ideas that don’t all come into fruition to make it onto an album. It just depends on the creativity flow, right. Being stuck at home can work in both ways in that respect, because it could spur a lot of inspiration, but then it can also be very restricting if you’re only seeing the same four walls over and over. 

What was your favourite tour of your career thus far?

They’re all so much fun and they’re all very different! I think all of the tours have had something memorable about all of them. Just because crazy shit goes on all the time that you can’t predict. But I think that one tour that I really enjoyed a lot was the Soft Kill tour. That was towards the end of last year as well. The whole tour crew were really fun. Their merch guy like he and I, we would just be dancing every night and we promised ourselves before heading out on tour that we would do cartwheels every night, but we never got around to it. They got me on stage to play bass on one of their songs for half of the tour. So it was just really fun. But like I said, every tour is fun. Especially now you look back when you can’t do it. And yeah, it’s just amazing to get to know all of these people, like all of people from from the other bands that you’re talking with, and then just being in different places and learning or seeing things that you wouldn’t see on this side of the world.

It’s interesting that you bring up Soft Kill as they are essentially a group of hardcore kids that ended up making heavy dreampop. Do you feel like there are similarities with how you started Slow Crush?

The style that we’re playing is sort of a kind of lighter version of what we sort of grew up listening to and what we grew up playing. But then again, we do incorporate some little hints to hardcore now and then. 

What was the first shoegaze band you ever saw live? 

I saw Nothing and Newmoon together in 2016. Hardcore and shoegaze go well together because its all organised chaos! I think Nothing actually ended up renting our van at some point as well. Around that time we had just kind of quit our doom metal band and we were considering continuing in that style, but with me on vocals. So then, I started like listening to a lot of Pity Sex. And like bands like Mumrunner, and Jaguar. I got the inspiration for my vocal sound and range sort of fits well with their style of singing. They all have that shoegazey sound although Pity Sex were a little bit more punky or raw I suppose. That’s that is the inspiration that led to the beginning of Slow Crush. 

What other music do you listen to besides shoegaze?

I haven’t personally sort of looked out for new music for a while, just because I’ve just been so busy with with, like, the day to day work and everything else. So I suck. But, um, but something that that I have discovered recently is Cassandra Jenkins. It’s very kind of soft, easy going stuff. I’ve also been going back to old hardcore like In My Eyes whenever I go for a run, which hasn’t been for a while. I know that when I used to drive into work, I would put on Carry On. And that would get me pumped to like, start the day and this is something relatively new, I suppose. But the Curse These Metal Hands song “High Spirits” is very motivational song. 

Tell me about the recent indoor live stream show you performed earlier this year?

The Ancienne Belgique is one of the most renowned venues in Belgium. I have been to numerous concerts there. I think even my first concert that I went to without parents was there, which I think was Green Day. It’s like a huge hall with balconies as well, which is quite intimidating if you’re standing there to an empty room. I imagine it’s more intimidating when there are 1000s of people there! I’m kind of glad that that was my first experience on that stage to an empty hall. It’s a dream to be able to play there. It was also the same venue that we played the last show of the Soft Kill tour in but we played a smaller room. I haven’t seen any images yet, but  they are prepping everything right now and just editing everything together.

What is the most personal song you have ever written?

From Aurora the title track is quite meaningful to me. It was written about a friend who was having a hard time with a breakup and everything like that, so it’s kind of my tribute to her. That’s pretty close to my heart. “Tremble” is another good one. It is our protest song, being a voice for the voiceless. Whether it’s animal rights or any other injustice that the government throws at us. 

If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?

It would be great if all venues shared the same hospitality as one another. I’m not being a dick, but you should at least offer a drink to a touring band regardless of how big they are. After the pandemic ends it would also be great to see more government support for the music industry and the arts in general. Don’t get me started on Brexit either. It’s made it so much more difficult for touring bands to come to the UK and vice versa unless you’re huge. In Belgium we just received the news yesterday that the biggest festival in the country is not going to take place this year. Everything is just postponed to next year. They’re still debating whether the late summer festivals can take place. If any festival booked, the bill is going to be local bands, because travelling is just going to be almost impossible until the vaccinations spread like wildfire.

Slow Crush’s AB Session will be streaming on April 24th, tickets available here.

The live audio will be released on April 25th, available to pre-order here now.

Juan Wauters is celebrating friendship on his new album

Juan Wauters is a man of the people. He travelled the length and breadth of South America in search of sounds for his 2019 album La Onda De Juan Pablo, incorporating street musicians he passed by. And on his new album, Real Life Situations, he’s enlisted a plethora of musical friends to create his most vibrant album to date, with the sound ranging from the hip-hop tinged “Unity” with Cola Boyy to the electronic infused “Monsoon” with Homeshake. Intertwined throughout it all is Wauters joyous personality, weaving every shifting moment together into a storybook of life, or as he likes to call it, “the JPW sound system”.

It seems even more important these days that he’s releasing an album that celebrates these friendships when most of our connections to friends have been impeded. Although Real Life Situations was completed during 2020 it’s very much not a lockdown album, but rather a reminder of those sunny days with good company. We spoke to Juan to learn how this album came about, the influences behind these newfound sounds and what, for him, a real life situation is.

Over what time and whereabouts was the album recorded?

I started making the album when I finished touring in December 2019. The idea was to work on the album up until March 2020, which is when I had been scheduled to continue touring. The first idea of this album was to include my friends in the songwriting process. I had an album before in which I included instrumentalists from different countries around the world, so this time I said “Let’s bring in people to do the songwriting with me”. And because of the nature of the idea of the album it was going to include some travelling to go and meet these people. I recorded in London, Toronto, LA, Oxnard in California, one in Mexico City and then in Europe.

When March came around and travelling stopped for most people, did that shape some of the album as well?

Yes definitely! Everything came to a stall and in late February and early March which is when we were in the middle of the process of making the album. We had planned to continue recording with more friends but it was right when the pandemic happened. For me I felt like it was such an impact for people, I lost ambition in a way. We had been so used to be able to project things for the future that seemed stable. You know you could project a year ahead and it seemed fine, everything was gonna be the same. Whereas when this happened I was like “Oh shit, what’s gonna happen?”. So I put everything aside for March, April and into the beginning of May, I didn’t touch anything to do with music. I was feeling very disconnected from my source of inspiration.

In New York as well the civil rights movement was happening and it felt in a way that this is not a time to do something personal, this is a time to be connected to the world in other ways. So I put everything aside and when I came back to the project everything had a new meaning, things had changed so drastically from before so I had to find a way for them to work within a concept. Then I started recording new things at home because I couldn’t go to the studios. I rearranged everything with new material and although a lot of the things in the album were conceived pre-covid, the album as a whole was conceived with a different mindset. The process was a very particular one as I had to deal with life at the time as well.

You can hear that with some of the samples that intertwine that nicely.

I wanted to bring that onto the album as well. Some voices to paint some kind of landscape to describe a feeling.

Yeah you can definitely hear that. I wanted to ask about some of the collaborations. One of which being “Real” with Mac DeMarco, when did you first meet him and how did the collaboration come together?

Mac and I met in 2013 in New York. At the time he was living there and we were both working under the same record label (Captured Tracks) and we had been scheduled by them to get together and work on a song back then. We got together and started working on music at his place but the machine we used for recording broke so that material got lost. But then our friendship became about something else, we hit it off that day and we became friendly. We went on a lot of tours together and we had a lot of time that we would just hang out. A lot of times there would be music intertwined in the hang out, but a lot of times it would be just a straight up hang out. So when it came time to do this album I wanted to include mostly friends because I have a history with them. It’s not just two people that know each other getting together. And so I definitely thought it would be a good idea to invite Mac who I really like as a person, but also as a songwriter.

So I asked him and right away he said “Yeah let’s do it!”. I really like the song that we made because as much as myself as much my music and my persona shows through the song, his also comes across equally as well. It’s definitely not a Mac DeMarco heavily influenced song let’s say. Just as much as all the other collaborations I did, they’re very well balanced.

Is that balance something you were aiming for when working with these other artists?

Yeah definitely, I think that’s the point of them. I didn’t wanna have a Mac DeMarco song on my album haha. That would have been a completely different approach. But if he invites me to sing a song on his album and he says “Hey I have this song written already, do you want to sing on this verse? But this song is already finished”. I would say “Yeah of course let’s do it” but that’s a different experience, we started from zero. We got together and went from zero to one hundred and there wasn’t anything pre-made.

As well you mentioned your other collaboration album, La Onda De Juan Pablo. Did making that album open up your willingness to collaborate with other people?

Yes definitely, that was the first time that I had other musicians play on my album really. Up to that point i’m the kind of person that developed through home recordings. I have a studio at my house and I would record my albums by myself, playing and arranging everything all by myself. At some point I grew up and I saw the world and I saw people. Like “Oh shit, look at this person right here, they play really well!”. Then I imagined what a song of mine would sound like with that person, I started thinking about those things. Then I started saying “Okay let’s see how it sounds with these street musicians playing my songs on my albums”. I was definitely very happy with the final product then, and it opened up so much that I thought “You know what, It’s cool to have people play my songs, but why don’t I write songs together with other people?”.

It has to do with how in other genres or music styles singers come on each others songs all the time, on rap for example. So I was thinking “Wow it would be really cool if we did that amongst ourselves, why don’t we do it?”. I’m a big Queen fan and I really liked it when they brought David Bowie on for “Under Pressure”. I always thought that’s a great song and within that, as much as the song we made with Mac, David Bowie comes off really like David Bowie and Queen come off as Queen. They both preserve their element within the song. So I thought it would be a good idea to test that and see what happens when we do that. Then as I said Covid hit and I had to reimagine the album, but the initial idea behind this album was to do an album with all these singers and songwriters that I know.

Within all the collaborations there’s a lot of different styles going on. Were there any particular influences you had for these as it varies from electronic to hip-hop?

I grew up in New York and the most popular music there is hip-hop, so we’ve always had it very present in our lives. You go to a party and that’s what you listen to. You go around in a car and somebody puts the radio on, that’s what you listen to. We are all very much aware of what happens in that world. I happened to gravitate towards the guitar as a kid, but that had always been present in my life. So what happened is that when I got together with these other people it gave me the freedom to think “You know what, this isn’t a Juan Wauters song. This is a song we’re making together and in this space I can do whatever I want, I’m gonna let loose”. We let loose and this type of thing came of, but nothing was really planned like that. Like we didn’t plan to make a hip-hop song lets say, we didn’t go with that mentality. But from letting go and exploring and trying to see what would happen, then that came about.

The song “Unity” with Cola Boyy, i’ve known Matthew for more than 10 years, and we’re both hip-hop heads, we both like that style and we both know that we like to fuck around with that style. Like if we go to a party and somebody starts freestyling, then we start freestyling too. He laughs. So naturally when we both got together we gravitated towards that, because we both love that and neither of us had done anything like that on our own music space and we found a safe space to do it in. By finding that middle ground, he was not in his safe environment, I was not in my safe environment. So from just starting to mess around with things then these songs came about, but it was not planned prior.

From listening to the album it just sounds like a very fun album, was it a fun album to make?

Yeah definitely, we definitely had a kick haha.

One thing I wanted to ask about your songwriting, some songs are in Spanish and some are in English, is there a pre- determined feeling of what language they should be going into the song, or does it just come naturally?

It comes to me naturally, Spanish is my native tongue but i’m familiarised with English to a point in which it comes to me naturally. In my songwriting i’m very much affected by the environment. If i’m writing songs in England surrounded by English people then I will sing in English because I would want to communicate with my surroundings. For example with the song with Cola Boyy, we express our ideas to each other in English so naturally we would write a song in English. There are other songs on the album that are in Spanish, but for those particular songs I happened to be writing songs with Spanish speaking friends of mine. Or I was in a Spanish speaking time of my life. We switch back and forth between the languages but our brain doesn’t pick up on that, it’s just natural to me. But the surroundings and the moment affect the language that I use.

The album title “Real Life Situations”, what does this mean or represent to you?

I was listening to a lot of the Outkast’s early discography during the lockdown. I knew the songs but I reconnected with it a lot then and there’s a song on their Aquemini album that has a really long title, “Spottieottiedopaliscious”. And there’s a part of that song when Big Boy talks and he says “Funny how shit come together sometimes (ya dig), One moment you frequent the booty clubs and the next four years, You and somebody’s daughter rising y’all own young’n” meaning you had a baby with the person you met at the booty club. And then he says “Now that’s a beautiful thang, that’s if you’re on top of your game, And man enough to handle real life situations (that is)”. And I don’t know why but that phrase really caught up with me and it made a mark on me. I really like how he explained that moment, from just goofing around at a booty club, just saying hello to people you could end up having sex with someone and then having a baby. Then all of a sudden this babies in your life and how do you take care of that? I really like how he used that “Real Life Situations” phrase.

At the beginning I wanted to have the whole quote on the cover of the album and make the “Real Life Situations” bold. Maybe it had to do with the life we were living at the same time. Also real life situations, when I met with all these people to make the songs with, those were definitely real life situations. You know we would get together and say “Let’s make a song together now out of nowhere, let’s go!”. And that moment was definitely stamped on the album. And all the songs were like different moments, they were different situations and that collection of all those different situations made the album. So I wanted to tint the album with some sense of reality. Like this is real, this is not make believe, this is actually real life happening in front of your eyes. You know I think everybody’s music is like that in a way, but as I keep going in my music career I put down the guard more and more so i’m closer to the listener and i’m closer to the core of myself.

Do you think it’s about having those interactions with people as well?

Yes in many different ways.

Going onto an interaction we can’t have at the moment, what’s it like at the moment without being able to play shows around it?

It’s quite strange. In a way it’s a new experience, as you said in this album I go into genres that I hadn’t gone into before and when I was making the album I was wondering “How the fuck am I gonna play this live?” he laughs. What am I gonna do this show live? Up to that point I had mainly just made my shows me and a guitar. So in a way it’s a relief because if I make a new album now I can think of music in a way separately from a live show, whereas before I hadn’t been able to conceive that. I do miss the live show, I miss going around and being in contact with people. That’s something I really like about a show, the back and forth between the audience and the performer. But at the same time it gives me the opportunity to think of music in a different way from the live show and the way that I had conceived it up until then. It feels strange, but I try and think of it as a different moment only, neither worse nor better, just different.

Just adapting to the situation.

Yeah I mean we definitely don’t have control over it, you know, us personally.

Do you have an livestreams planned instead?

Not really yet, we might plan something later but I haven’t yet thought of that. Maybe what I could do when the album comes out now that you ask me, we could have a live listen. So I go live and we listen the album together with everyone, singing along. I could bring in the other people from the album and sing along with me just for fun. But I haven’t thought about doing concerts really, it seems quite strange to me to do a concert in a room on my own with a phone. I don’t connect with it. But as you said we’re adapting to this whole new thing so maybe I will do it. I haven’t really played together with the other musicians since we made it. I haven’t played my songs with a bass player or a drummer but that I would really like for the fun of it. Just get together and work on some songs and see how they sound, see what happens.

Yeah that would be really nice.

Real Life Situations is out May 31st via Captured Tracks. Pre-order 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!

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..