The Comet Is Coming – Interview – 2017

Back in 2010 or 2011 (time sometimes blurs, does it not?) I was on a jolly courtesy of White Nights (the sadly no more arts and culture event that took to the streets, cafes and venues of Brighton in late October), who had an exchange thing going on with their French counterpart in Amiens, France, the idea being that a load of Brighton-based acts would showcase their wares to a French audience. Last on the bill, and in the very early hours of the morning, Soccer 96 took to the stage to a rapidly dwindling audience made up of a few friends and the odd French native. Not only did they instill a second, maybe third wind in me, but they completely blew the roof off with their out-there instrumental jazz, prog, space, punk, dance fusion. It was made by just two people; Dan Leavers (Danalogue) on analogue synths, and Max (Betamax) on drums. It was amazing and brilliant.

A few years later (last year to be more precise), The Comet Is Coming are on the telly, having been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize for their debut album Channel The Spirits. Apart from the band name the only real (but big) difference with Soccer 96 was that they now had the saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings on board, helping to expand their sound in the process but still with that aforementioned fusion at heart. As well as a special Record Store Day release, the Death To The Planet EP, they are hitting the road for a UK tour, as well as a date with Love Supreme festival this summer. So, it was a pleasure to catch up with Dan for the first time since that night in Amiens.

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Orkesta Mendoza – Interview – 2017

Sergio Mendoza is one of the great innovators of the Arizona music scene. He’s a composer, arranger, producer and programmer who plays keyboards, guitar, percussion and horns, and works with the cult American band Calexico, as well as Smiths/Morrissey tribute act Mexrrissey. He may be based in Tucson, but his inspiration comes from south of a border that is not blocked by any walls. With Orkesta Mendoza he sets out to update and enliven the Latin big band tradition, mixing influences from Mexico and across Latin America with electronica, strings and unexpected bursts of western pop and psychedelia. He has a sometimes brash, widescreen style that would have impressed Phil Spector, but there is impressive variety in his exuberant approach. So he starts with stomping, brassy dance songs, slows down a little for a grand, piano-backed ballad and then changes direction again for ‘Mapache’, with its witty reference to 60s instrumental pop. Classy and enormous fun.

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The Orielles – Interview – 2017

I’ve kept my eye on The Orielles for a few years now, seeing them play in Brighton numerous times. After a string of singles and EPs, the band have now signed to Heavenly Records and have released their first single on the label ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’ which sees the band at their most refined but also starting to play around with their sound. They’ve started to shift away from the surf-pop tag that has followed them around for so long and are concentrating on developing their songs further. I met up with them in a small pub by Brighton’s train station to talk about the band’s beginnings and their future. They are a few dates into their current UK tour, which will run throughout April, playing dates all over the UK.

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The Big Moon – Interview – 2017

There were doubters. There probably still are. But anyone with an iota of musical appreciation should acknowledge that in Juliette Jackson, we have found a rare gem. A shining star who just knows how to write naturally, space and dynamic thrust at the fore, as a songwriter and a lyricist. Already universally acclaimed, Love In The 4th Dimension is a stunning debut album from the London/Brighton four-piece. Last year they played The Great Escape with two big shows and will be back on 20th April for a headline show. Jackson took time out from a bit of down time with her boyfriend in Rotterdam to talk SXSW, discovering guitar music, learning to write songs and being a waitress in a cocktail bar…

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Laetitia Sadier – Interview – 2017

Best known as the singer and keyboardist with the hugely admired and much missed Stereolab, a key band of the 90s and one who helped introduce 'post-rock' as well as bringing analogue synths back into action. Sadier has been pursuing her own projects for the better part of ten years; firstly with her four-piece band Monade and now as essentially a solo artist. Her last three records bear her name, whilst the just released Find Me Finding You has been released under the name Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble. Whilst Stereolab were largely about mixing lounge with krautrock droning and sing-song vocals, Sadier has broadened her musical palette in recent years, forging many new and sometimes experimental musical combinations, that sit alongside her continuing interest in political philosophies and ideas in general.

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Husky Loops – Interview – 2017

Husky Loops are a band at the start if something good – playing heavy hitting riffs with influences coming from the intense blistering beats reminiscent of Suuns and the divine emotional indie likened to early Arctic Monkeys. The trio, who originally come from Bologna, find themselves living in London where they joined forces to create some of the most thrilling and most imposing music around at the moment. Danio, Pietro and Tommaso release their debut self-titled EP on April 7th, which perfectly captures their ferocious live show which has got them support slots with the likes of Sunflower Bean, Yak and then this summer with The Kills. We see big things for this band, so we made sure to find out more about them.

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Wire – Interview – 2017

40 years ago come April Fool's Day, Wire set foot on the stage at the legendary The Roxy, in London. Bottom of a bill ("they were OK, but pretty much the style of Rotten take-off bands", according to punk blogger Adrain Fox) that included Eater and Buzzcocks, this was in fact the moment when Wire stepped out of the increasingly stultifying shadow of punk, and instead became part of the much more creatively fruitful and infinitely more interesting post punk and new wave scenes. Coming out of the punk scene, Wire consisted of Colin Newman, Robert Grey, Graham Lewis and Bruce Gilbert, and proceeded to latch onto the possibilities, musically and artistically, that were being energetically prised open by punk, without really becoming punks themselves. In particular, their opening three albums (Pink Flag, Chairs Missing, 154), are a triumvirate of classic proportions, works that are still held up as era-defining muscial pieces that defined British art-rock.

40 years later and Wire – with the same lineup minus Bruce Gilbert, plus Matthew Simms – are improbably still at it. Not in a cash-in nostalgic sort of way, as befits many from that era, but as a prolifically creative on-going way. They are a band that refuse to snatch more than a glance of their past in decidedly focusing on the road ahead, both in the abstract and the physical sense. Lead singer and the man responsible for most of the band's music, Colin Newman, has made Brighton and Hove his home, and he took some time out to talk to BF about all things Wire.

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Tall Ships – Interview – 2017

The Brighton-based band's difficult second album wasn't so much the result of flagging creativity, but a deep and thorough test of their resilience as they faced many obstacles in getting to this place. Following the buzz and promise of their 2012 debut album Everything Touching, including headline tours and prime festival slots, the band lost their management and their label, and it looked like it had all been a false start. Even worse, there was a growing sense of momentum lost. But the band battled on, eventually signing a new deal with the rather brilliant local label Fat Cat. Impressions is the result of this testing birthing process, of battle scars and lessons learnt, but has nevertheless cemented the band's wish to be in control of ther own destiny. They literally went it alone for a while, out of necessity, in crafting what is a magnificently realised alt-rock album that is passionate, intense at times, and alternately tender and euphoric at others. It's big on ideas and sound, whilst at the same time allowing the music to breathe and enabling contemplation. It's anthemic, without being overblown; DIY without being shambolic. They say first impressions are everything. That may be true, but second time around, Impressions can also be the one that transforms Tall Ships from being one of the country's most promising rock acts, into the rock premiership.

I spoke to frontman and main songwriter Ric Phethean, just as they had started their UK tour, which will bring them back home to Brighton in early May.

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Jesca Hoop – Interview – 2017

Some people are just natural born songwriters. Not just those of the straightforward classical pop variety, as much as we love them. I’m talking about songwriters who generally break the rules, do things you wouldn’t expect, and have developed a truly singular voice that can’t be replicated.

There are the obvious ones. David Bowie in his 70s heyday, Joni Mitchell of course, Kate Bush, and the likes of avant-garde rockers like Captain Beefheart. All of them produced at various times in their respective careers subtly sophisticated, unpredictable songs that still contained strong melodies and hooks, and enticing structures that just simply worked. That drew you in as the songs weaved and did their magic. This is the area that Jesca Hoop operates naturally in. One who treads diligently and inventively around pop’s unorthodoxies, in creating a highly distinct music.

Born into a family of Mormons, she eventually hit the road in search of adventure, and ended up nannying for Tom Waits’ children. He was so enamoured with her music, that he described it as, “Like swimming in a lake at night”.

Guy Garvey, too, fell in love with her voice, her mystical way with words, and her lyrical rhythmic qualities, before she was known at all in the UK. He interviewed her for his radio show. And then Elbow invited her to tour with them in the States, thereby cementing the beginnings of what is still a strong relationship, only enhanced by Hoop’s decision to move to Manchester some nine years ago. Since then she has released a stream of albums including 2009’s Hunting My Dress, and last year’s collaboration with Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam, Love Letter For Fire. Earlier this year she released the poetic, poignant, and sometimes incomprehensible Memories Are Now.

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Splashh – Interview – 2017

Ahead of the release of their second LP Waiting a Lifetime and headline show at Patterns, I caught up with Splashh frontman Sasha. After several years of touring, a brief relocation to New York and a stint of self-imposed exile to get the album written, the band recorded it at the Rare Book Room Studio in Brooklyn, working with producer Nicolas Vernhes. It sees the four-piece reach into occasionally more raucous musical territory than their slacker-rock debut, tempered by Vernhes’ dreamy production.

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