The Levellers – Interview 2014

Rewind to Glastonbury 1992. A different era, a different time; no mobiles, no social media, no internet. It was still regarded as a 'hippy' festival, nowhere near the kind of festival it is now, where more cappuccinos are consumed than pints (well, maybe…). For Brighton band the Levellers it was the moment they realised that they had made it, after only four years together as a band. But they didn't know it until they got to the stage, a daytime slot on the esteemed Pyramid Stage. "It was effectively our Glastonbury," says Mark Chadwick, singer, songwriter and guitarist with the band, as can be heard in the new and excellent documentary of the band, A Curious Life. "Even the media – who hated us – knew it. We didn't understand why everyone wanted to talk to us. They knew before we knew that we'd broken, that we'd made it. It was a shock, they knew all the words. It was absolutely nuts!"

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Lisa Lindley-Jones – Dark Horses – Interview – 2014

Resplendent in a 70s denim-style onesie, and sporting over-sized sunglasses that match her orange-hued hair and very white skin, Lisa Lindley-Jones (aka Elle J) is fighting a bad lurgie, battling to get match fit for the up coming European tour. No touching is allowed, just an air kiss or two, as she insists she is contagious… So is the music of Dark Horses, the band she fronts, and which is steadily making a name for itself here and abroad, for its intoxicating and complimentary marriage of music and imagery, as the band strive to hark back to the punk and post-punk days where aesthetics and meaning were totally wrapped up in the music making. They are in fact like a proper gang of friends, albeit one that has welcomed new members over time.
 
"Dark Horses has been born out of a curiosity and defiance. There are a fluid number of members and this makes for continuous growth and experimentation," says Lisa. "We never really know how the next recordings will sound like; perhaps this is why we like to work with the same producer, Richard Fearless. He keeps the 'Horses' sonic focus and identity clear." Fearless was the founder of Death in Vegas, a band who merged psychedelic rock with techno, krautrock and big beat, and seems the perfect choice to help give Dark Horses that slightly dark and gothic edge their music and personas demand. "We recorded Hail Lucid State in a converted barn in Ovingdean, with views of the tumultuous sea, thunder and rain storms in the background. Fearless brings with him a wealth of musical knowledge but most of all an ability to draw out the best performances in us all. There is a trust there which allows for this fast and furious way of working. And a lot of weed…"

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Barry Adamson – Interview – 2014

 
One interesting dude is Barry Adamson. From member of seminal post-punk band Magazine to member of the first incarnation of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, he's been developing a career as a solo artist, film and soundtrack composer, writer, film-maker and photographer over the last 25 years. Three years ago he came to live in Brighton, the same city as his old friend Nick Cave and seems as busy as ever as he juggles the demands of being in Cave's band again (after a gap of 25 years) whilst pursuing his own projects, which have always had cinema and the qualities of cinematic music in the foreground. Not surprisingly, he has become a patron (like Cave) of Cine City, Brighton's excellent yearly film festival and is an active participant in that event.
Meeting at a café in central Brighton, the weather fine, the coffee strong and Brighton life streaming by, we chat about his life and current projects, whilst every now and then making derisory comments about so-called disabled people parking their cars in disabled zones (Barry knows a thing or two about this having had a hip replacement…)
 
"I think it's great," says Barry, about his adopted city, a world away from the urban deprivation of Manchester's Moss Side of the 70s where he grew up. "In that time I've been to many places, because I was re-instated in the Bad Seeds, with Nick (Cave), so we've been touring constantly; and it's funny, that old adage about it's nice to go travelling but it's so nice to come home, it actually works! Even when you go to London, coming back you get that whiff of the sea…"

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The Acid – Interview – 2014

Brighton resident Adam Freeland may be familiar to many as a ‘breaks’ dance pioneer, having set up the Marine Parade label back in the late 90s, and becoming something of a legend in that world. But DJing around the globe, on some of the biggest stages, he eventually exhausted himself. Spending more time in Brighton, he has recharged his batteries and has come back in the most unexpected way with his first 'proper' band, The Acid, who've signed to the highly respected Infectious label (alt-j, These New Puritans etc)
"I set up Marine Parade about the same time I moved here, in 1998," he says over a coffee at a beachside cafe. "I moved here and I was looking for a name for the label. I had just moved into Marine Parade and there was a certain ring about it."

Marine Parade, which runs up from Brighton Pier towards Brighton Marina, is architecturally iconoclastic in many ways, many of the seafront buildings built in the Regency style. And then there's the unique and Grade II listed left, which links the upper and lower promenades, and for which £½ million has been spent on to make it work again!! I've been here more than 20 years and hadn't ever been in it, and so it was quite a thrill to find it working and manned as we made our way to a lower promenade cafe. I can easily see why Adam Freeland is very much at home here.  

"A friend of mine saw this flat where I live now and said 'I think you are meant to be living there. I haven’t seen inside but I have a very strong vibe about you'. OK… I walked in, and it was like I had already seen it in my mind's eye and said this is where I am meant to be."

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Mishkin Fitzgerald from Birdeatsbaby – Interview – 2014

 
Last week I popped round to Mishkin Fitzgerald from Birdeatsbaby’s flat to have a chat with her about their latest and arguably their best album yet. The Bullet Within is the bands third long player and it’s a bit of a magnum opus: there’s a fantastic amount of detail on a cracking set of songs all finished off with the bands trademark macabre style (for my full album review head here). It’s quite an accomplishment and I’m aware it has been a major undertaking – a labour of love that’s finally come to fruition so I started by asking her how that feels:
 
It's been a long time coming so we're happy that it's finally out. There's lots going on which is great, I don't think we've even yet fully seen the repercussions from it because it's literally only been out for a couple of weeks. The album has had really good feedback, the best response for us so far has been a four star review in Q Magazine which was really, really cool and hopefully will get us lots of exposure. We got a review in R2 Magazine (Rock & Reel) which was great and we're going back for an interview with them which is really cool and of course BrightonsFinest gave us one of the best reviews we've ever received!

It’s great to have our review acknowledged but in all seriousness the prestige of Q must have been a bit of a boost – I picked up a copy myself and was chuffed for you guys…

It was really cool to go into a shop and buy a magazine that's shelved all over the world and see your little square in it. It's really, really nice. I don't think we've had any bad press. I still don't feel like people really get us but really that's a good thing.

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Luke Sital Singh – Interview – 2014

 
From the birthplace of both John Martyn and Jamie Woon, New Malden's Luke Sital-Singh seems to be part of an unlikely tradition of singer songwriters from this unassuming corner of South West London. Certainly, he can't pinpoint anything about the water there ("There's not much to know," he laughs), although some older readers may recall the legendary TV comedy The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin, where Perrin – not once but twice – uses New Malden as an excuse for being late for work, one of them being that a badger ate the signal box in New Malden…
 
But it was a combination of Brighton and Damian Rice that largely determined Sital-Singh's path to being a singer songwriter. "The thing that started me off before I was really into music, was that socially I was a metal head; nothing to do with what I do now, and it never meant anything to me. But the thing that first meant something to me was Damian Rice's album, O. That changed my musical outlook; a conversion experience! And, I picked up an acoustic guitar. That was the DNA I took to becoming a singer songwriter. I learnt all his songs, performed them at gigs. I haven't listened to that album for years, but it means a lot to me as a starting point."
 
As Sital-Singh developed as a singer and songwriter, a choice had to be made; music or another career, and after much thought he took the music route, enrolling at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music (BIMM), where he was allowed the space and freedom to develop as an artist. "It was a real turning point in me to take it seriously and commit myself, because I was deciding up to that point whether or not to do that or go to a standard university and study English. I chose music – it was a big decision. It gave me a lot of time to focus on it and meet other musicians and just be in a community like that. While Brighton was a good place to play gigs. I probably learnt a thing or two in the lessons, especially in terms of business; what a major label deal looks like, publishing, management, that kind of stuff… to get a leg up on all that."

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Royal Blood – Interview – 2014

Royal Blood, eh? Where did they come from? From nowhere (well, at a tiny Brighton venue in Feb 2013, sandwiched on a bill of 5 indie-rock hopefuls), to making the BBC Sound Poll 2014, to high up the bill at Reading and elsewhere with support slots with friends Arctic Monkeys at Finsbury Park under their belts, a Later… with Jools Holland scene stealing performance, a worldwide tour in motion and a UK leg in November to look forward to.

With their tasteful truckers and beards look, bludgeoning riffing and Bonhamesque meets Dave Grohl drumming, the suitably monikered Royal Blood have been a breathe of fresh air, an air raid siren amidst the saturated landscape of singer songwriters and electro pop acts. There are times – and they are many – when we need to seriously rock out and let our collective hair down. Not that this is heavy metal of the old school, more of an amalgamation of grunge, Black Sabbath, Queens of the Stone Age, and a little bit of Rage Against The Machine, White Stripes/Raconteurs and Muse. Their rise to the top has been incredibly quick, and live they have already nailed it, their very simple set up of bass and drums perhaps not the most difficult thing to synthesise when you aren’t burdened with other players. Nevertheless, the sheer power and energy of the duo’s sound has tested many a venues fabric.

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David Gedge from The Wedding Present – Interview – 2014

 
Indie music. What does that mean to you? Nowadays, the term is almost meaningless as it refers to any electric guitar based band that also sports the current haircuts and fashion. The Kooks are indie, right? Arctic Monkeys? Maybe… Indie, as originally defined, refers to music made 'independently' from major record labels, made on a DIY basis. The Wedding Present are an archetypal indie band. Not only did they release their first single on their own label, and which they self-funded, they received regular air play on the John Peel show, released 12 singles in one year, and dropped an album of Ukrainian folk songs on the folk market, albeit – and this makes the story even better – on a major label, and formed another band, Cinerama, in 1998, while The Wedding Present were on sabbatical, and which ended reverting back to The Wedding Present in 2004.

Influenced by the likes of The Birthday Party, Gang of Four, Orange Juice and The Fall, The Wedding Present soon developed a distinctive sound; super fast rhythmic guitar combined with a wall of aggressive noise or some jangly moments, along with almost invariably witty and colourful lyrical narratives,  For the earlier part of their career they were at the vanguard of the 'indie' scene, additionally taking on board some American hardcore and punk influences, with the result that The Wedding Present, helped along by Gedge's distinctive baritone voice, had created a fresh and invigorating sound, a style that was later borrowed by the likes of My Bloody Valentine, whose fast rhythmic songs and wall of noise bear more than a passing resemblance.

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Emiliana Torrini – Interview – 2014

 

We all love Icelanders, don't we? For those who haven't visited (and that includes me) the Nordic country has a population bigger than Brighton but smaller than Bristol, is full of volcanoes, but actually not much ice, is considered one of the most equitable counties in the world, despite the fact it suffered particularly badly from the financial crash, and have some very peculiar laws relating too naming.
 
Familiar to some Britons for the so-called 'cod wars' of the 70s, Iceland practically fell off the map, as far as we were concerned, until the arrival of The Sugarcubes who featured one Björk Guðmundsdóttir (aka Bjork), who debuted in the UK singles chart with the classic 'Birthday' song in 1987. Ever since then, the most sparsely populated country in Europe has produced a seemingly never ending stream of unique, adventurous and high quality folk, pop and alternative indie sounds from the likes of Bjork herself, Sigur Ros, Asgeir, mum, Of Monsters & Men, GusGus, Hjaltanin, Olafur Arnalds and more recently, Samaris, a three-piece making big waves in Europe.

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Moulettes – Interview – 2014

 
So, what exactly is a Moulette? An inter-web search reveals nothing except this band and some rather unlikely reference to a hairstyle, as defined by the rather wonderful Urban Dictionary: the moulette is a stylized modern mullet, originating in Canada. It is essentially a curly combination of hat hair (in Canadian winters, hats are a must), the mullet and the famous hair swoosh (optional but encouraged)." Could this be the inspiration for The Moulettes? As Hannah Moulette (they refer themselves individually as a Moulette) has said before: "… I had a free haircut one day that turned into a mullet. We were joking that it was a moule-ette…." So, there you have it, a female mullet!
 
Not that they 'wear mullets' of course, that would be crass. Instead, they are a remarkably intelligent unit of musicality, sensitivity and adventure, a wild fusion of classical, prog, rock, pop and 'fantasy folk'. Comparisons are nigh on impossible but Bellowhead springs to mind or maybe the crazy alt-prog 70s rockers Gentle Giant (look them up!)? In any case, they make fresh and original music, helmed by the core unit of Hannah Miller, Ruth Skipper, Jim Mortimore and Ollie Austin, although the extended Moulettes family runs into double digits including recent recruit Eliza Jaye. Moulettes are female AND male…
 
Now based in Brighton, I went to visit Ollie and Hannah at their Queens Park residence, where a welcoming atmosphere of coffee and biscuit making was in progress, although Ollie is in tour preparation mode, which means he's off the booze and on the de-caff… And, almost immediately upon arrival a parcel arrived with a new batch of their bespoke Moulettes tea towels, designed by Hannah. Excitedly examining the goods, Hannah and Ollie give the thumbs up, a piece of band merchandise that apparently sells very well at their gigs (someone else once told me that their biggest seller on the merch table was mugs…), alongside the usual CDs.

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