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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The Mojo Fins – Interview – 2014

I was always intrigued by the Mojo Fins, ever since they first sprung on the Brighton guitar scene in the early noughties, their name to me an attractive proposition that suggested something akin to the 'blues' or roots music… Of course, the definition of mojo pertains to having 'charm' or casting a 'spell', and although this usually refers to sexual attraction, it is actually a byword for almost anything  – 'I got my mojo working…" As it happens they have almost next to nothing to do with the blues, but in terms of musical ability they definitely have their mojo on, as heard on the recent 'Circa' album, their third long player in a career that has encompassed major tragedy along the way…

"It's got a dull origin," claims Stephen Brett, lead singer, songwriter and guitarist with the band, "but at the time Jeff Buckley's 'Grace' was everywhere, and there's a track on there called Mojo Pin. His music caught the imagination of many people, and at the time I was obsessed by who he was and his music."

Stephen has just become a father, and inevitably the conversation takes a detour down that route as it is obviously something that now demands much of his time… "He's adorable, I love it, and I feel a complete addiction to him," he beams.

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The Great Escape – 2015


The XcertsPaul Thomas SaundersElli IngramRoyal BloodYumi & The WeatherKat Morris

Since 2006 The Great Escape has established itself as Europe's leading showcase festival and music industry convention, featuring over 350 artists from around the globe over three days. About 35 venues are used including unusual locations such as museums, the beach shop fronts and hidden spaces. In all there are 650 live performances, attracting 13000 music fans and 3000 music industry delegates. The City is alive with the Sound of Music!

Running alongside The Great Escape is The Alternative Escape, which features even more bands and artists representing labels, agencies, promoters and management companies from Brighton and around the UK. Some of the acts play more than once, on both the main Great Escape and the Alternative Escape bills over three days.

Since 2006 the likes of Adele, Mumford & Sons, Haim, Jake Bugg, Tini Tempah, The Maccabees, Foals, Friendly Fires, Laura Marling, Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend, Kasabian, White Denim, The xx, Chase & Status, Warpaint, Ed Sheeran, [Alt-J] and Disclosure have performed at the festival. This year expect to see the likes of Kaiser Chiefs (playing a secret show), Kelis, Wild Beasts, Little Dragon, Dry The River, Future Islands, Clean Bandit and Jon Hopkins performing, spanning almost all genres of music known to man. Just as importantly the Great Escape presents a fantastic amount of new and up and coming acts, all of whom are considered 'ready' to take a further step up.

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Paul Hartnoll – Orbital Interview 2014

Hard to believe but Orbital have been at it for 25 years now, the Hartnoll brothers creating some of the most distinctive, beautiful, intelligent and commercially popular dance music of all time. From their breakthrough hit and industry game changer, Chime in 1990, to last year’s excellent ‘comeback’ album ‘Wonky’, Paul and Phil Hartnoll have always been about much more than four-to-the-floor beats, instead always seeing themselves as a band, often using guest singers such as Alison Goldfrapp, in making interesting, intelligent, evocative music, that could be both danced to and listened to and performed live, often improvised. Aided by their distinctive headlights which act as a focal point for their live performance, Orbital took dance to the mainstream, in part due to their legendary 1994 Glastonbury show which was also beamed on television.

Not only that, but almost uniquely amongst mainstream electronic dance acts, they tackled political, environmental and social issues, such as in ‘Halcyon’ (based on their mother’s addiction to tranquillisers), ‘The Girl With the Sun in Her Head’ (recorded entirely using electricity provided by Greenpeace’s mobile solar power generator) and a four minute remix ‘Criminal Justice Bill’ remix of ‘Are We Here?’ which appropriately enough consisted of four minutes of silence in response to the draconian bill that would attempt to repress so-called repetitive beats.

Their story is a brilliant one and I met up with Paul at his Brighton based studio to talk mainly about those early days, but also about the here and now and Brighton of course…

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Almighty Planets – Interview – 2014

I managed to meet up with the two lead singers from Almighty Planets – Noah and Ally at the quirky Marwoods Café in the south Laines last week. The energy and finesse they exude on stage certainly came across in the interview. It was an absolute pleasure to meet them both as they’re both passionate about what they do and hilariously funny at the same time. Not only is their music and live performance electrifying, but the band’s friendship and deep affection for each other makes Almighty Planets a really unique and special collaboration.

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