Starting life in the late 80s as a record shop in London, selling super rare Latin music, Mr Bongo eventually became the Brighton-based label and publisher for some of the finest selections in Brazilian, Latin, African, Jazz, Soul, Reggae and Psychedelic flavours. With a new shop in the heart of the North Laine, and a 30th anniversary celebration gig as part of Brighton Festival, Jeff Hemmings visited the offices/shop and met up with Graham Luckhurst, to talk all things Mr Bongo.
The Australian singer songwriter Stella Donnelly has juts released her debut album Beware of the Dogs, following a number of singles and EPs, including the much talked about Thrush Metal! Part of a fantastic and growing Australian scene that includes the likes of Courtney Barnett and Cub Sport, Donnelly’s straight-to-the-point music is full of humour alongside tough topics such as racism and abuse. Here she talks to Jeff Hemmings about the album, her Great Escape shows last year, Australian politics and being half-Welsh
Amber Bain aka The Japanese House, has just released her debut album, Good At Falling, on The 1975’s label, Dirty Hit. It sees her face up to fears in tracks that lay her personal life and heartbreak bare, especially her relationship with fellow songwriter and label mate Marika Hackman. Co-produced by Bon Iver producer BJ Burton, it follows up a set of stellar EPs, co-produced by George Daniel from The 1975. She talks to Jeff Hemmings about the emotional turbulence involved in the making of the album, her inspirations, The 1975, and why name The Japanese House.
Whilst still at school twin brothers George and Jack Barnett formed These New Puritans in 2006, along with Thomas Hein. Electronica, synth pop, and orchestral music informs their dark, panoramic music, and has resulted in four albums, the most recent album Inside the Rose recorded largely in Berlin, in an old studio which was used by the communist East Germans for propaganda purposes. Berlin is where Jack has made his home, and he took some time from band rehearsals to chat with Jeff Hemmings about the album, the studio, their music making process, the forthcoming tour, and comparisons with Bros!
Refined during a year spent touring the world playing bass in This Is The Kit, What A Boost is Rozi Plain’s fourth solo album, recorded over an extended period of time, and released on Memphis Industries. Gentle, pastoral, rootsy, freeform, folksy and warm to the touch, it showcases her blossoming songwriting skills. Whilst in Brighton supporting and playing with This Is The Kit, she took some time out to talk to Jeff Hemmings about the new album, growing up with This Is The Kit’s Kate Stables, and juggling her dual roles as a solo artist, and member of This Is The Kit.
You simply cannot keep a great songwriter down. A founding member of Brighton based The Mojo Fins, Stephen (SJ) Brett has found his feet again, with a new band that includes Paul Pascoe on bass, Oddur Runnarson on guitar and Nick Van Vlaenderen on drums. This is only their third gig together, but there’s a natural chemistry apparent from the off, as they effortlessly gel as a unit.
The young singer-songwriter Maisie Peters cut her teeth in Brighton and via YouTube, where she posted a lot of her songs, just her and a guitar. Just 18, she’s already a brilliant and mature songwriter, developing quite a following in a short space of time. She’s just got back from supporting Tom Walker on tour in the United States, has released an EP, Dressed Too Nice For A Jacket, and is about to head out on a UK tour. In May she’ll be performing at The Great Escape.
Dirty Hit is the label that just keeps on giving. Set up in response to the supposed lack of industry interest in The 1975 (oh how some must be kicking themselves!), it’s now home to the likes of alt-indie artists such as Marika Hackman, Pale Waves, and The Japanese House, aka Amber Bain.
Moving down from Newcastle around the turn of the decade, Demob Happy have slowly but surely stamped their mark, with two glorious progressive grunge-pop albums, Soda Dream and Holy Doom, under their belts. More recently they’ve been out supporting the likes of Jack White, Frank Turner & The Rattlesnakes, and Nothing But Thieves, expanding their fanbase both here in Europe, and in the US. Hungry for more, they’ve just released a new single ‘Less Is More’, with an album expected later in the year.
Ploughing a distinctively folk favoured path since he signed to Domino and released Moving Up Country back in 2012, James Yorkston is now up to album number nine with the same label. That total doesn’t including the two recent albums of folk-world fusion music as one-third of Yorkston / Thorne / Khan, along with his recent forays into the world of prose, via his 2016 novel Three Craws.