Hinds – Interview – 2015

What an incredible year for the Madrid girl group Hinds! Anyone who went to their last Brighton show at The Joker last January 2015 will understand why there is such hype surrounding them. Now at the beginning of 2016, they release their debut album Leave Me Alone.

Having nearly toured constantly since the later stages of 2014 with only a couple of singles, performing a mammoth sixteen times at the 2015 SXSW festival, dealing with the forced change of the band’s name from Deers, as well as shows in Asia and preparing for their second headline tour to promote the release of their much anticipated début album Leave Me Alone. The garage rock quartet have already had a careers worth of experiences in just eighteen months. As well as being extremely hard working and constantly bringing a mighty live shows, Hinds are refreshing unpretentious and genuine, making them one of the most likeable bands around. I spoke to guitarist Ana Perrote (second from the right) on a rare day at home in Spain to find out more about the Hinds phenomenon.


Yumi And The Weather – Interview – 2015

The meticulously crafted Yumi And The Weather brings together futuristic electro-pop that is as happy voyaging through luscious vocal sounds and catchy beats, as delving into more haunting and introspective places. After the recent release of the fantastic Something Tells Me EP we had to find out more about this special local talent. I had a couple of pints and a game of Battle Ships with the brains behind Yumi And The Weather, Ruby Taylor, to find out more.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Harrow up in North-West London/Middlesex area. I moved down to Worthing when I was about 14 years old.
Is there much of a music scene there?
Yeah, when I got into high school everyone was listening to Garage, R&B and pop, but then at the same time I was listening to the Jimi Hendrix and Green Day as well as being in love with Sisqó and Craig David. So I was getting a real mixture of genres. When I moved down to Worthing everyone’s music taste was so different, it was all punk, ska and indie.
What kind of music were you brought up on?
My dad was really into Dad Rock and my mum was a massive Bruce Springsteen fan. She also had these really weird CDs in her collection as well, like a South American Pan Pipe album. At dinner time we used to always sit down as a family and listen to music like Doris Day and Dean Martin. My mums partner got me into more heavy stuff like Alice Cooper – I would be listening to R&B in my room, he would be like, “why are you listening to that crap” and give me Green Day’s Dookie album.
Can you remember the first album you owned/brought?
On cassette it was All Saints. The first album I bought for myself was Summer Dance 98’, I’ll never forget that album – haha! My first record that I bought was Jimi Hendrix’s Greatest Hits from this awesome record shop that’s not there anymore called Jamming With Edward in Harrow. I didn’t have a vinyl player at the time but I knew when I was in high school that I was going to be into vinyl – I think it was the idea that it made me feel older.
What was the first instrument you learnt to play?
The first instrument was the violin and I was pretty bad – it was so screechy. My dad played bass but he had a guitar lying around the house and I would always pick it up and play around with it. I felt that the violin was quite cool at the time and learnt what my dad was listening to, like plucking Deep Purple. I ended up getting bored of the violin so my dad started to teach me properly how to play the guitar. I then started to sing through learning the guitar, but I couldn’t really sing at the time. When I was at school I really wanted to sing this song on my own, I think it was ‘Silent Night’, but my music teacher said (not a mean way) that I need to strengthen my singing.
Apparently you were in a reggae band before Yumi And The Weather?
When I moved to Worthing I got really into the ska scene. There were lots of local bands that I really looked up to and at the same time I was listening to a lot of dub and reggae. I went to see Madness at the Brighton Centre with my mum and my dad went through a phase of listening to Bob Marley which I fell in love with. I ended up buying this compilation called One Step Beyond which had music from 60s old skool ska to 2 tone 80s ska. From then on, I suddenly started writing ska tunes which evolved into reggae.
What is the story behind the name?
Someone told me about a conspiracy where the government was controlling the weather, and I said, “right, so they control you, me and the weather?!” As soon as I said it, I thought it sounded really nice. I then thought about it in terms of a person too – how weather affects so many people, whether it is your emotions or the food that we eat, and how dependent we are on it as well as the catastrophes it can cause. Also in England it is such a typical thing to start a conversation off with.
How would you describe your music?
Colourful, emotive and half-silly half-serious.
What were your main influences for the Something Tells Me EP?
Break ups, falling in love, mental health and Phil Collins. I love the gated snare in Phil Collins’ drum production.
How do you approach the writing and recording process?
I do it all myself. I’m not the kind of producer how goes into the studio and lives there for ages without showering, I find that I need to get out and let the music have space. I know my samples so well that I can immediately decide what sound I want, sequence them and then build from there.
Have you been thinking about the next release?
I think I am going to do one more EP and then an album. I have enough for those already, I just need to finish them. I have just got a new studio that I am doing up, so I have been working my ass off to save money to put into it.
What has been a musical eye-opener?
When I was 16/17 years old, in a pub in Littlehampton called the Railway Club opposite the station, everyone was craving live music. People were forming bands and putting on nights but there was no one like the council backing it. We had to put on our business heads and put on our own shows to generate this musical youth culture. Everyone loved and wanted to go to these gigs all the time. Seeing bands perform at the Railway Club made me want to be in a band.
Who would be in your ultimate supergroup?
Prince on vocals and guitar. St. Vincent on guitar, vocals and backing vocals. Rick Wakeman (Yes) on synths/piano. James Jamerson (The Funk Brothers) on bass. Chris 'Daddy' Dave (D’Angelo) on Drums.
What would be your perfect line-up for a concert you are putting on and where would it be?
I had a dream years ago where I was on a beach looking at an island where there was a stage – that would be amazing. Nick Drake would start things off, then Jimi Hendrix, with Led Zeppelin playing before Bob Marley who would have to headline.
If you could work with any artist, who would it be and what would they bring to Yumi And The Weather?
I have always want to work with Slugabed (Activia Benz), this Electronic producer from London. I love his music and I get a really fun vibe from it.
If you could have written any song ever, which one would it be and why?
Anything that St. Vincent has done first comes to mind. Her song-writing is insane and you just cannot fault her voice. I wish I had written A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me’, I just love that song!
Have any gigs stood out for you this year?
This year I managed to see one of my dream bands at the End Of The Road Festival, The War On Drugs. I also got to see Alvvays there and fell in love with one of their songs called ‘Party Police’. Future Islands and Marika Hackman were also incredible. The whole festival blew me away – I even got to meet Nick Drake’s sister!
What music are you listening to at the moment, any recommendations?
I found this Hip-Hop group called Artifacts who are great. I bought tickets yesterday to see Jamie Woon in March. Jordan Rakei was supporting NAO at the Green Door Store recently, his voice and piano playing is amazing. One of my best mates is in a band called Pink Film, who are brilliant! He also sent me this incredible album called Back From The Brink – Pre-Revolution Psychedelic Rock From Iran: 1973-1979, which then got me into Awesome Tapes From Africa that Sam my booking manager showed me. NTS Radio is always good too.
What are your future plans?
To make as much music as possible and tour. I have a mini tour in January.


Capt.Lovelace – Interview – 2015

Whether you are listening to her songs as you go to sleep or you are just wanting to hear beautiful songs of love, solace and adventure, you will struggle to find anyone who produces a more captivating sound than Beattie Wood aka Capt.Lovelace. Having lived in Norway, been an avid traveller using the European railways and meeting people from many different cultures, Beattie's quaint folk is striking to say the least. Having only moved to Brighton in January 2015, Capt.Lovelace has let her music do the talking, quickly making a name for herself in Brighton’s music scene. I caught up with Beattie to find out more about her and her music.
Where did you grow up? Is there much of a music scene there?
In the south of France, close to Bordeaux in a small town called Arcachon by the sea. No, it’s just a small town with fishermen and old people. I would only watch the sea and spend time with friends. I moved to Bordeaux for my studies and I could finally go and see gigs. I didn’t have many friends that were musicians but we still all went to see concerts. I then met someone who was a contributor to a webzine and a local newspaper, so I got a lot more involved with music.

What made you move to Brighton?
Brighton is really really exciting with so many bands. I was working for an IT company in France that specialised in email and I had always wanted to work in an English speaking country, as I studied English at University. I found a good company in email marketing that was based in Brighton, so I started googling more about Brighton and discovered that it was the perfect city for music and arts. I have a good friend that lives in London who I have visited a couple of times and he said I had to visit Brighton. So I took the train from Victoria to Brighton and thought “ok, I definitely want to settle here!”
What kind of music were you brought up on?
I thank my mum forever as she was into The Beatles, Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac. My dad was more into Chanson Française (french songs) like Jacque Brel, but that was less my thing even though I was surrounded by that scene. I was into English music such as Cat Stevens.
What was the first instrument you learnt to play?
I went to a music school when I was a child where after two or three years you had to choose an instrument, as at the beginning all you do is theory and play the flute – which I thought was quite boring and frustrating. I can remember the teacher showing the class a video of an orchestra and I fell in love with the trombone. I must have been about 9 years old and I started to play the trombone.
What drives you to write music?
I am really interested in words and their meaning. My first songs were covers of French poems in English.
What is the story behind the name Capt.Lovelace?
‘Lovelace’ refers to Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, as she was a great mathematician. She was the first programmer who used algorithms math formulas that are considered as the first computing programme. I really wanted that geeky reference as well as the link to the porn star Linda Lovelace which I thought was quite funny. I wanted to keep the ambiguity with ‘Captain’, keep a bit of mystery. I was born by the sea and my grandfather was also in the French Navy with many other members of my family.
Tell me about your band?
Capt.Lovelace was always a solo project and I recorded my songs with a friend of mine in Bordeaux. Since I have moved, Brighton is a great place to find other musicians and to experiment. I now play with Nathan who is the guitarist, El is the drummer and David is the keyboardist, but we all change instruments too.
How would you briefly describe your music?
It is soothing and also melancholic. I play music about what I feel. It helps me to move on, because all my songs are about people I was in love with or still in love with or really just close to me. It helps me deal with my emotions, so there is very much a cathartic thing to it.
What inspires your music?
When I studied English at University, I really enjoyed digging through dictionaries. Some of my songs are phrases that could sound a bit strange but for me it is a way to play with words and language. Since I have moved, I have been listening to BBC 6Music all day and it has been interesting to see how you can structure your language. I also really like Virginia Woolf and then its bands like Calvin Johnson, Arthur Russell and so many others. I can remember the time when I found an old tape of Joan Baez in my parents living room, that was a big moment. I then discovered Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, PJ Harvey and Beth Gibbons form Portishead. Herman Düne was also a big influence.
Tell me a bit about /*Preview Pane*/ EP?
I have been writing songs for 10/12 years now and have never recorded anything. I had written ten songs that I wanted to record and picked five for this EP. They are about steps in my life so I want to record the five other songs just to finish this chapter. The EPs title comes from the name given to the preview in your email inbox. It is something I am obsessed with – writing, emails, letters and having correspondence.

Have you been thinking about recording an album?
It’s very early days but I think it is going to have a theme of maps. For two years now I have travelled a lot worked in lots of different cities and have read lots of different books about wandering and nature, finding lots of old maps. I want to explore this visual aspect and how we can find a way to connect people.
What has been a musical eye-opener?
I saw Pattie Smith at last year’s Field Day festival and she played Horses – I cried, it was such a strong experience. A friend of mine runs a record shop in Bordeaux and he gave me a Calvin Johnson record. He is part of this USA DIY scene and that helped me a lot to see that I can do music with anything or everything. Also the first time I heard Bob Dylan was when I was about 20 years old – it was such a different way of song writing.
If you could make a supergroup, who would be in it?
Marissa Pasternoster (Screaming Females) on guitar, Kate Bush on keyboards, Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads/Tom Tom Club) on bass, Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) or my friend Claire on drums in the style of The Shaggs. Joe Meek (Shirley Bassey/Tom Jones/The Tornados) would be around for the recordings/production! 
What would be your perfect line-up of any three acts for a concert you are putting on and where would it be?
I could have ended up with a list of 30 names but I think The Pastels, Orange Juice and Belle & Sebastian all have a common characteristic. It’s hard to choose a venue – I love outdoor festivals as when it is light and when it is night is a very different experience, or to play in a church would be amazing if you can find a place with different yet really good acoustics.
If you could work with any artist, who would it be?
I would love to collaborate with John Grant, Delia Derbyshire, Antony and the Johnsons, King Krule, Xavier Dolan, Miranda July, Walter Benjamin & Amandine Urruty. I have recently sent emails to Scout Niblett to see what she's up to.

Have you been to many gigs since you have been in Brighton, any that have stood out?
I saw Sea Of Bees at the Marwood Coffee Shop which was amazing. I saw ESG at Sticky Mikes Frog Bar which was really fun – I just danced. I really enjoyed Sweet Baboo, he was talking about Cardiff so I bought a ticket there for three weeks soon after.

What are you listening to at the moment?
I was listen to modern French pop today and also Françoise Hardy. I’ve been listening to some film soundtracks by François De Roubaix when I have been working as they are instrumental and you can stay focused. I recently discovered British Sea Power.

What are your future plans?
We will be contributing to a compilation which will be the first song I record with the band. I'm  playing on Thursday the 17th December with Chris T-T at the Brunswick in Hove. I have organised to play in a small bookshop in Copenhagen on the 3rd of January as I am going there for New Years. We are on Radio Reverb with Pete Jones in the New Year. I am going on tour with Kath Bloom in Spring 2016 which I am really excited about. At the end of April, I will also be playing with Splintered Man.




This is The Kit – Interview, December 2015

A veritable slow burner, This Is The Kit have been showcasing their music for a decade now, but it’s only been in the last couple of years or so, that the band have been deservedly getting the recognition for their folksy acoustica that includes touches of electronica and psychedelic rock , spearheaded by singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kate Stables, possessor of a lilting, songbird voice. Part of a loose post-millennial zeitgeist that includes the likes of Marika Hackman, Rachael Dadd, Dark Dark Dark and Serafina Steer, her softly spoken, yet enunciated voice, is deceptively serene, on record and on stage, where the band can morph from a folksy acoustic duo to a more psychedelic folk-rock tinged five piece, usually with fellow singer songwriter Rozi Plain at her side.


Birdskulls – Interview – 2015

Birdskulls have created quite a name for themselves in Brighton. I was recently invited to the launch show of their debut album not knowing a huge amount about this Brighton rock three piece. However, Jack (guitar and vocals), Rory (bassist) and Sam (drum) played a phenomenal show which is without a doubt a top contender for my show of the year. Having listened to their album, Trickle, they are definitely not a one-trick-pony and are in fact an up and coming band that everyone should take note of. I caught up with the lads to find out more.
Where did you grow up?
[RORY] Me and Jack are from South Devon. Jack is from Exeter and I am from South Burton
[SAM] I’m from East Grinstead which is about half an hour away from Brighton.
What kind of music did you grow up with?
[JACK] My dad had really good music taste. He was listening to James, Oasis and Blur. I can remember hearing The Smiths but I wasn’t that aware of it. He had the Nirvana album Unplugged in New York which was how I grew to like Nirvana. There were lots of compilations we would listen to in the car, with stuff like Mike + The Mechanics.
[RORY] My dad had hundreds of records and when I was about 12 years old he started playing them to me. He loves Van Morrison and The White Album by The Beatles. When Jack and I were at college in Exeter there was a really good punk scene, so we got to see a lot of great touring American bands.
[SAM] My mum was into stuff like Abba and Disco, but my dad was into Black Sabbath. When I was a kid I went through this transition of looking for heavier stuff, finding Hardcore and then going onto Indie.
Can you remember the first album you owned?
[JACK] My first one was Surrender by The Chemical Brothers.
[RORY] Mine definitely wasn’t as strong as that, I think it was Shaggy Hot Shots or Music by Madonna.
[SAM] I think it might have been the first Strokes album, Is This It. My grandad gave me the album on the sly as it’s got a naked woman on the front of it.
How did you all meet?
[JACK] Me and Rory met in Exeter. We went to college together and also started a few band. I then moved to Brighton for University and Rory went to Bournemouth.
[RORY] I always wanted to move to Brighton and met Sam through Jack. So when I moved to Brighton, the band got serious and we did an album.
Can you remember the first jam you had together?
[RORY] We were down at the Black Bunker Studios in Brighton. As Jack and I had songs before, we were like “Sam, learn our songs dude!”
[SAM] Ha. It was just a crash course in how to play drums.
[RORY] It started with learning couple of songs, then we all started writing more. That was when the album started, about six months of not playing live and just writing instead. We were all fully locked into it.
[SAM] There was lots of bedroom jams and light night practices.
Is there a story behind the name?
[JACK] When I first moved to Brighton I kept seeing it, not actual bird skulls, but written down. I liked the combination of words and everywhere I went I was seeing it as a tag.
When you started writing Trickle, did you have an idea of how you wanted it to sound?
[JACK] Yeah, as we were writing an album we wanted it to have defining parts, dynamics and changes. The A side is definitely a lot heavier than the B side.
[RORY] There were points early on where it was just a collection of a few songs. Then we started thinking about them as a record – thinking it would be nice to have this or that. So we started trying things out.
Who produced the album?
[RORY] A mate of ours called Jamie Stewart, aka Jim Jam, did the recording and producing. He has a studio at his house which is used for voice overs and Warwick Davis was in there a couple of days before.
[JACK] Would have been nice as a guest vocal.
[RORY] Jim Jam was brilliant though. As he was a mate, he was friendly about it but still pushed us which was kind of genius at how he did that.
[JACK] It was good fun even when we were getting tracks wrong. We were both producing, floating ideas back and forth, Jim Jam would write pages of really detailed notes to send to Bob Cooper (Nai Harvest and Empire Of The Sun) who took all that on board and put his own twist on it which was pretty amazing.
[SAM] We were really fortunate to work with both of them really.
What has been a musical eye-opener?
[RORY] I can never forget the times me and Jack spent at The Cavern venue in Exeter. Must have been 17 years old and every Thursday used to be Freak Scene, where local and touring punk bands would perform. Seeing them play with this high energy that I had never seen before really changed my view on music.
[SAM] As I was from a small town I used to come down to Brighton a lot, to see shows, meet people and get involved. It was realising that things are actually possible if you just put in a lot of effort, as now we know people who put on shows, run labels and lots of other brilliant things.
[JACK] When I was really young, I watched a school band do a cover of Rage Against the Machine and thought it was really cool. I didn’t even know what Rage Against the Machine meant – they were shouting ‘Killing In The Name Of’. After that I thought I definitely could be in a band, just needed to learn how to play an instrument.
What would be your perfect line-up of any three acts and where would they be performing?
The Cavern (Exeter) is the venue. The Ramones headlining with Fugazi as the first support and then Elvis Presley. That would be one hell of a green room.
If you could work with any artist, who would it be?
[RORY] King Buzzo from Melvins could fuck us up a bit.
[JACK] Beethoven might add a bit of musical genius.
[RORY] It would be good to see the outcome of both of them working together.
[JACK] Picasso could do our art work, and Elvis could guest.
What are your future plans?
[RORY] Make more music.
[SAM] Tour loads and go to Europe.
[JACK] I would love to play CMJ next year. We are playing with Shit Present in December.
[RORY] We are playing London with Grieved, who are Swedish, in January.

Octopuses – Interview – 2015

Octopuses are one of Brighton's favourite bands, their jaunty indie pop has been filling venues for the last few years and they are, after a slight false start (read our review of the album preview show), releasing their positive début album Yes Please  on November 20th. I caught up with band leader Adam Bell to learn a little more about the history of him, the band, their label and their place in the Brighton Scene…
Where do you come from originally?
I was born in Manchester back at the beginning of the 80s, I moved to Brighton with my brother and family in the mid 90's and have been doing music since I was a kid. I have lived in other places around the country including St Andrews in Scotland, Oxford and Cornwall, for a bit.

What are your formative musical influences?
A combination of Rock/Grunge in America and Britpop in the UK. Nirvana, REM, Oasis and Blur were probably my first four favourite bands, followed quickly by Weezer and Pulp. So a bit of a combo of the two, each side of the Atlantic. I was a big fan of The La's too, as my guitar teacher was a friend of Lee Mavers who played guitar in The La's briefly. I picked up a guitar at about the age of thirteen and was very excited by the whole idea of writing songs.
Has Brighton influenced your music making?
Mostly through some of the people I met when I moved back to Brighton in 20007. Matthew Twaites, who is a very old mate and my brothers best mate. He was in a band called Restlesslist and that was probably the first band I was really close to in Brighton. Although they were a completely different sound I think we influenced each other through enthusiasm. I formed Big Salad Records and made music with my old band Foxes at that time and Milk & Biscuits, I think we had a similar interest in melodic pop writing and we definitely influenced each other.
What was the first album you bought for yourself and how old were you?
The first album I bought was Graceland by Paul Simon, I think I was about 12 or 13 years old. Great album. Still listen to it.
What was the first instrument you played, do you still have/use it?
The first musical instrument I played was the violin when I was about 6 years old. I still have the first violin I bought but I haven't really played the violin since I was about 18 years old. I've still got the violin but it's in a terrible state.
Why do you make music?
Probably because it is exciting, I like playing in a band with other people. I think that my band Octopuses are my best friends, so being together doing something creative is an amazing feeling. Expressing yourself, getting things off your chest, music is a great way for me to express the stuff I'm thinking deep down that I don't express otherwise.
How did Octopuses get together?
I moved into a house share with Smalan and Tom Matthews in 2012 and we just used to have little jams in the front room and play at Open Mic nights at The Signalman pub. Then our first sort of gig was at a Weezer tribute night at The Green Door Store where me, Tom Matthews and Smalan performed a few Weezer tracks. Then we got the Grice brothers in a bit later to turn it into a fully fledged rock band.
Why Octopuses?
The name Octopuses originally came from Tom Matthews thinking of incorrect words that people think are correct but they're not. He thought that 'Octopi' was the correct pluralisation of Octopuses so we thought it would be funny to have a wrong word as the name. Of course Tom Matthews was wrong and it is actually correct!
How would you describe the music you make?
I would describe it as neo-psychedelic pop-rock music. We like to think about unusual topics lyrically and musically. I think we like to write tight pop songs but we also like to be a bit psychedelic in our outlook. I think that word always rings true as a good descriptive word for what we're doing.
How do you approach the writing process as a band? Is it always the same?
Quite often songs start with me playing the keyboard in the rehearsal room and coming up with a vocal melody line then the band builds around it. Other times at home I write, to a lesser or greater extent, a song with verse and chorus and bring it into the studio and we build on it form there. Also Smalan Odgers has written a few really good songs in the same sort of way and brought them into the studio, to a greater or lesser extent, already written and we build on that.
How was Yes Please recorded – who did you work with and where?
We recorded Yes Please originally in two weekend sessions at the Metway Studios in 2014 produced by Matthew Twaites. We did further recording and engineering at Silverdale Road with Alan Grice, our drummer, engineering or producing – whatever the word is! So actually the majority of the album was recorded in those two weekends very quickly in very long sessions. Two 20 hour sessions in the first weekend and then the second weekend as well but we spent quite a lot of time fiddling around with stuff with Alan Grice afterwards.
What was the process of getting from your initial recording sessions to the final version ready to release?
It was a lot of further sessions with Alan Grice and then a lot of discussions. We edited some of the songs down and we took out three tracks which we're probably going to release as b-sides next year, or as an EP possibly. Then we also mastered the album quite recently in Wales and the master really made a difference. It's great, we're really happy with the master.
You're putting on the gig of your dreams, which three bands make up your ultimate line-up?
The La's, Weezer, The Beatles. Should be a good gig, two Liverpool bands.
You're well known for your crazy videos, do you make them yourselves?
We have made a few videos in different ways. My favourite video, the 'Cool Story Bro' video, was made by Fred Burns and David Peter Murphy who are two really good friends of ours. The 'Pogo' video was made by Smalan Odgers and the new video 'Girl' was made by Alan Grice. Our first video 'Sarcastic' was Laurence Dean and myself.
Who would you work with if you could collaborate with any artist?
Probably Adam Kidd from Fragile Creatures, it would be good to write a tune with him some time.

Who are you listening to at the moment?
The Dandy Warhols, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Courtney Barnett, Mac Demarco. Those are the things I'm most listening to at the moment.
I hear you guys do a podcast called 'The Brighton Scene' – what's that all about?
That is me and Smalan weekly, every Monday night, we run a radio show called the Brighton Scene [Monday evenings on http://mixlr.com/the-brighton-scene/] and we like to talk to people who live in Brighton about different topics. We have regular features such as 'what injury do you have?' and 'where are the other Brighton's in the world and what happens there?' We play local bands, we chitchat, we just have a really nice time. We interview people, so there's quite a lot of lifestyle chitchat as well – what's life actually like? What's it like living in Brighton? The big question we're asking is 'what is the Brighton scene all about'? It's a very difficult question to answer.
Are there any bands from the Brighton music Scene we should be keeping an eye on?
Prince Vaseline, Purple, Milk & Biscuits, Fragile Creatures, Seadog… did I say Purple already? I think I did – that would be the starting point of the bands that I like. I also think the Hornblower Brothers are good and Tigercub. Plenty of others but those are a few that come to mind.
What has been your happiest memory with music?
Possibly the last ever Foxes gig in Oxford. The album had been out a couple of months and it was a good audience. Everyone knew the lyrics and were really into it. It's a bit sad in retrospect, as it was the last gig which was a shame, but at the time I was very happy because it felt like people were really getting into the album and knew the album, which was very exciting.
Octopuses debut album Yes Please is out soon, what are your future plans?
The album is out in two weeks (20th November) we want to organise a Spring 2016 tour which we'll announce as soon as it's ready. We've writing a few songs for the second alum already as well as the unreleased tracks from the first album sessions so there's still plenty on the horizon of new music. We want to start recording the new album next year as well as touring as much as possible.
How do things work with you and Lick Music?
I actually work with Lick Music, it's myself and Tom Lavis. They are a record label, of sorts, and this album (Yes Please) is the first album release for Lick Music. We do sessions as well, we get bands in to do sessions in the Lick frozen yoghurt warehouse – that's something we're hoping to do more of next year. So, yeah it's really good. Really good people.
If you had to fight another member of Octopuses who would it be and who would win?
It would most definitely be Rob. He's a great guy but I think he's a terrible fighter. He lacks the necessary coordination to win a fight. So I think I would fight our bass player Rob Grice.

Octopuses are launching their album with a show at The Hope & Ruin on Thursday 3rd December. Check out the video for their latest single 'Girl':

Birkwin & Vienna – Interview – 2015

Brighton produces all sorts of music and Birkwin & Vienna put another fine and important feather to an already impressive bow. They bring together alternative electronic ideas with beautiful organic instruments, forming a mellow hip hop pop sound that is unbelievably chilling. Birkwin makes the beats and Vienna layers her spoken-word rap with neo-soul tendencies snugly atop of the glorious overall sound, melting every ear it comes across. After the recent release of their wonderfully quaint and introspective album, Diane, I spoke to Graeme Coop (aka Birkwin) to find out more about the Birkwin & Vienna.
How was growing up in Brighton?
I’m from Hassocks but moved to Brighton when I was 18 years old. When I was a teenager I was really into Punk Rock, getting involved with all the one-dayers and hanging out at The Punker Bunker (this clothes shop that had a tiny little record shop down these steep stairs beneath it) on Sydney Street. We would bag a few support shows, when I was in terrible teenage bands, which they would put on.
What was the first album you owned?
It’s a shame to admit it but it was a live Phil Collins CD – I believe it was called Serious Hits… Live! When I was about twelve, I remember getting my first CD player and having the Phil Collins CD and loving it.
What was the first instrument you learnt to play?
It was the guitar and it will always be the guitar. When I was nine or ten I received it as a birthday present. I have lots of other instruments but definitely play the guitar best. Everything else I like to hit and shake. I have this thing called the Erhu which is the hardest bloody thing to play – it’s a Chinese violin made with snake skin which has two strings that a bow goes between. I have sampled it loads as I love the sound but I’ve found out I can’t really play it at all.
How did Birkwin & Vienna come about?
I started putting music on Soundcloud as Birkwin about six years ago. In the last four years I have been putting releases together that have been put out on American independent labels which was mainly just me, although I had Vienna feature on bits. I did gigs and festivals around the releases for about a year, then just continued to make music with Vienna as we work really well together. We had made loads of tunes and thought we need to put them together as Birkwin & Vienna.
How did you meet Vienna?
One of my best mates James (J Biscuits) went to school with Vienna, so I knew her since I was thirteen. It was only when we were about twenty when she moved down to Brighton and we started hanging out.
Is there a story behind the name?
I couldn’t go around calling myself Graeme, as it’s not the coolest music name. Vienna’s name is Vienna, and you definitely don’t want to change that because it is awesome. Graeme & Vienna doesn’t really work. I had released music under Birkwin Jersey before, so decided to get rid of Jersey as Birkwin Jersey & Vienna is a bit of a mouthful.
What are you main influences for this sound?
In general, stuff like The Books which was mind blowing when I first heard it. It was the first time I heard guitar chopped up and reversed. It wasn’t electronic as they were using really natural sounds. More recently, I would say I have reluctantly become a hip-hop fan as I’m not massively into it. When I hear it on the radio, I’m like “No Kanye, don’t do that”. However there are certain things like Anticon Records who do a kind of avant-garde hip hop with band like Why? that are one of my favourites. There is also Milo and Busdriver who are both on the Hellfyre Club label, and almost do this spoken word rap.
How would you describe your music?
Melancholic head nodders. There is nothing too aggressive to it.
What has been a musical eye-opener?
Why? have an album called Elephant Eyelash which was the first time Jonathan "Yoni" Wolf had collaborators – it’s an indie hip hop. Musically and lyrically it is so interesting and it is still one of my favourite albums. It was just after my skater punk period when I was 14/15 years old and it literally blow my mind.
What would be your perfect line-up of any three acts for a concert you are putting on and where would it be?
I would have Tom Waits headlining, as I am bitter that I have never seen him live. Sufjan Steven would be in support, very much in the same vein as the last one. The first act would be an acoustic set by John K. Samson, who was in this amazing indie rock group called The Weakerthans and previously this hilarious punk band Propagandhi. If you could combine a barn and a jazz club, that’s where they would play – a Jazz Barn
If you could make a supergroup, who would be in it?
On piano would be Robert Glasper (Blue Note Records), Billie Holiday or Eartha Kitt on vocals, and Jimmy Tamborello (The Postal Service) putting a happy spin on the sound.
If you could work with any artist, who would it be and why?
It would be really cool to do a sound track for a Wes Anderson film – that would be awesome. Also I would quite like to meet him.
What are you listening to at the moment?
This really dreamy synth driven pop by Yumi Zouma. You can put it your headphones and walk through town, and feel like you are in a film.
What are your future plans?
Sort out the live set for this album and play some shows. Make another video as there is only one for 'Diane' at this moment. We were going to do it for ‘Soon Soon’ but that has been put on hold, so now we are thinking ‘Stranger Fruits’. Live shows are the priority.
Name your price for the Diane album via their Bandcamp: BirkwinAndVienna.bandcamp.com

Penelope Isles – Interview – 2015

Introducing Penelope Isles. Having only been in Brighton for little over three months, the four piece have quickly made Brighton their new home, releasing a gem of a debut album, Comfortably Swell. Jack and Lily Wolter, Jack Sowton and Beck Redford bring together a complete lo-fi sound which holds the right amount of nostalgia and innovation in a lovely beach pop package. I had a pint and a chat with the band to find out more about them.


Darwin Deez – Interview – 2015

Formerly of obscure alt-indie band Creaky Boards (whose main claim to fame was having a brief run-in with Coldplay over the latter's alleged plagiarism in their hit song Viva la Vida), Darwin Deez (real name Darwin Smith) has been building up a cult following for his breezy and melodic indie pop songs, his trademark corkscrew curls and headband, kooky live show and surprisingly virtuoistic guitar playing, performed on just a four string guitar.
Following his stint with Creaky Boards, he was signed as a solo artist by the UK label, Lucky Number Music, who released his debut single Constellations in 2009, followed by another single, Radar Detector, his DIY, self-titled debut album in 2010, and a NME front cover. Songs or Imaginative People was released to further acclaim in 2013, and this year he released his third, and best album yet, Double Down. It's full of hook-laden indie-pop gems, that often feature sparkling guitar work, and lyrics that oscillate between uplifting optimism and sharp asides. The first single, the quite brilliant Kill Your Attitude featured all that is best about Darwin Deez; it's sing-a-long indie pop sound features one of his highly melodic guitar solos, while the Call of Duty style video belies the summery vibe.
The 'band' Darwin Deez is essentially the Brookylyn based Darwin Smith and an ever-changing cast who take his music on the road. It's on stage that the riotous and colourful tones and melodies really make sense, as he and the band like to break out into synchronized dance routines to the sounds of Beyonce and others, for no discernible reason other than to have a bit of fun, and to break up the traditional concert format.
Following in the tradition of such prolific and prodigious multi-intrumentalists Todd Rundgren and Prince, Darwin Deez does almost everything himself in the studio. "Yeah, pretty much recorded, produced, wrote, sung, performed, mixed, even mastered a couple of tracks," says Darwin in his thoughtfully quiet voice. "I let someone else mix and master the second album, but it's pretty much my style to do it myself. I get attached to how it sounds and I don't want it changed." Are you familiar with the work of Todd Rundgren? "His band was The Replacements, right?" Obviously, he is not familiar… "I think there are some Pete Townsend records that my parents had, and on some of his solo records he did everything. My parents had those records not because they are massive Who fans, but because Pete Townsend is a follower of the same guru as they are (Meher Baba) and so am I." More of that later….
"It's a few orders of more subtlety than mixing," says Darwin, of the mastering process. "With mixing, you have the ability to turn the guitar up and vocals down. With mastering, you're dealing with everything at once, it's balancing the frequencies more broadly; like bass frequencies. It's more to do with compression and limiting, and the overall volume. Mastering can make records sound amazing. It's cheaper over in the UK, because maybe people think of it less over there… The top-of-the=line people in the US, it can cost $10,000 to master a record. I think they have these very attuned ears that can get the record balanced in a way it can be."
Can you tell me about the Double Down reference in the title? "Double Down is not a reference in the song lyrics. It's more like an attitude, like a courage sort of vibe; the second time, going again… that kinda thing. And it's also a reference to the debut record. This one has a lot in common with the approach I took on the first one. People seemed to like it, so I thought I would do it again. Experimenting is important for an artist and it is something I did on my last record, so I'm differentiating it with that in my mind. It's the spirit of 'let's go', caution to the wind stuff, and have fun."
When did you first start writing songs? "I've been writing songs since I was 11. My best friend and I used to write songs together, and both play guitar, and we had our own band called Black Moon,"laughs Darwin. "We had four or five songs together, but I had a lot more on my own… I think ever since I've worked alone. There are so many subtleties I like to explore and have control over, and experiment with when I'm writing. When I'm allowing space for someone else's ideas… it's a very delicate balance. You don't get to explore your own ideas, and see if they work or not if you're constantly making space for someone else's ego.
"I started learning guitar right away when I first got one. My dad taught me my first chords, and got me some lessons. But, I couldn't get better, and got real frustrated around 12, and I quit for a while. At the same time I was being blown away by The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy, and some hip hop, like Dr Octagon. I enjoyed electronic music for most of my teens, and made drum'n'bass tracks on my sampler. Then I got back into the guitar when I was about 18; Animal Collective, Q and Not U, The Strokes coming out was pretty exciting. By then I had learned to produce things on my computer. I was also into playing around with the four track cassette stuff when I was 11 and 12, messing with that. Although it sounds terrible now.
"It was probably Green Day that first got me into music, when Dookie came out. I was in fifth grade, about 11. And that is just a great record, they really deliver on almost every track. It was definitely a huge influence."
Of course, if you make 'band' music you need a band to take with you on tour, and for their current UK tour, which included a date Brighton's Concorde 2, it was his usual mix of friends, old and new. "Greg Richardson is on lead guitar (another former member of Creaky Boards), who has previously played every other instrument in the band; he was our drummer, and then our bass player. But he is able and willing to do whatever for the band. A solid compatriot. Tim's on drums, Shauna Tohill on bass (who has her own project, Silhouette, on the go), who is from Ireland, and who lives in London. She is filling in on bass for the UK leg. She's great fun. I always like to have a woman on stage when we can. The original line up had Michelle Dorrance on bass." She was known as Mash Deez, and it was the Deez that formed the second part of the Darwin Deez band name. A highly regarded dancer and dance choreographer, she was also once a member of the New York branch of STOMP, whose HQ is in Brighton…). "She's now furthering her tap dance career…" says Darwin. "I'm happy to get to do it with friends. If it wasn't with friends, it might be a little less fun. I have difficulty in romantic life," he says by way of a tangent, something that can be easily discerned via his lyrics and videos. "I've not had a relationship that has lasted more than two years. I'm 31 now. So, it's good to have that fellowship, to be around people. New York is a very isolating city, and I'm a bit of an introvert. So, I definitely appreciate touring, and not be alone."
Like many of his American musical compatriots, it was the British who stepped up to the plate, and appreciated his talent. In fact he's still signed to the British label Lucky Number Music, home to artists such as Alex G, Caged Animals, Friends, Hinds, Sleigh Bells, and Sebastien Tellier. "I had been to random small towns in Germany, with my old band, Creaky Boards. All four of us, we were songwriters in that band, but it was really Andrew's (Hoepfner) band (who went on to play bass in Darwin's band). Andrew is really 'Type A' and he goes after things he wants, so he booked an entire tour in Germany. But there is a circuit there for anti-folk… the point is I was there, and I was playing a couple of my own songs, solo, before Andrew's band, and I was distributing CDr's in paper cases that I did the art for, this minimalist art. This woman from a distribution company in Germany happened to be in her little small town, and she saw me, and sent the record label my myspace link and they were the ones who decided it had merit and were going to back it. They started talking about it to everybody and that's how I got my first blog in the NME."
Back to Meher Baba. A quick look at his Wikipedia entry reveals a rather infamous Indian spiritual master who said he was the Avatar; God in human form. As well as the aforementioned Pete Townsend (who dedicated the Tommy album to him), there was Bobby McFerrin's song 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' inspired by this ubiquitous quote of Baba's… "We are all Baba lovers," says Darwin straight-faced. "Having met other Baba lovers and people who had spent their life with him, there's something special about them and him. You just feel the love and the joy. I was bowled over by this really sweet love that melts your heart and makes you weep.
"When I was 15 I really connected because I went to summer camp for teenager Baba lovers. I went not knowing anyone with parents like me. All these kids, from all around the world, and we all met each other, and we had such a good time together, so much love and connection, I was blown away. I was on cloud nine for months afterwards. That's what Baba is about apart from any beliefs or metaphysics or philosophy. It was that experience. You gotta have it to understand. Now that he is not here, the only way to get that experience is from people who love him. If you were curious you would have to meet other Baba lovers and see if you like them.
"Some of my band mates have gotten a pretty good idea of the common threads between us (Baba lovers). When we tour around the country I meet up with them and crash with them. I think there's some sweetness, some thoughtfulness and care, as common threads."
How does it influence your music? "I don't think it does influence my music. My dad wrote songs and they were all about Meher Baba. My songs don't. They are all secular, about relationships, existentialist as far as I will take it in a song, as pertains to cosmic themes. I don't really go there in my music. If it has any influence it would be that I try and uplift with my music. Even my sour songs I try and have an up-tempo groove to them. Hopefully I am bringing spirits up, rather than bringing them down… There's people like Portishead or James Blake who do that well. If you are in the mood to write you are generally a little bit down. It's music easier to write then, therefore it's easier to write downer music in my experience. It takes more of an effort to write upper music."
Jeff Hemmings
Website: darwindeez.com
Darwin Deez
Songs For Imaginative People


Dog In The Snow – Interview 2015

We have kept a firm eye on the talent that is Dog In The Snow for some time. Having seen and been impressed by the Brighton based duo when they have played live, BrightonsFinest has been eagerly anticipating their first release, Uncanny Valley EP, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Comprised of Helen Ganya Brown and Eva Bowan, they have created a heady mixture of experimental electronica with strong vocals that burrow deep into the sub consciousness leaving your mind full of their lovely reverbing ethereal atmospherics. Uncanny Valley EP came out on the 9th October, so we caught up with Dog In The Snow to find out more about the release and their music.
Where did you grow up?
[HELEN] I grew up in Singapore, Eva is from Poland
Do you think where you lived has influenced your music?
[HELEN] Yes definitely. Singapore is an interesting place to grow up. An economically prosperous place but also a place that made me dramatise the dystopian-utopian constructs of universes like Brave New World.
[EVA] It didn't really inspire me directly, maybe more in the way that it influenced my personality and that transferred to my music. Being in the UK and my development since coming here has been definitely more influential.
What kind of music were you brought up on?
[HELEN] I had a fun childhood love Neil Young and Pearl Jam thanks to my dad. Then MTV set me back a few years in my teenage years, and I slowly got out of it again by discovering amazing musicians such as Sufjan Stevens and Sigur Rós.
[EVA] My parents didn't really listen to much music so I made all my choices independently going through most typical phases (excluding pop and hip-hop). Although I have always been drawn to electronic music so it was in the core of my interest.
Can you remember the first album you owned?
[HELEN] Something on cassette, probably the Spice Girls.
[EVA] Some disco compilation or something by Rammstein.
What was the first instrument you played, and when?
[HELEN] Recorder at school because I had to. Guitar is still my favourite.
[EVA] Guitar, a few years back at music college. Synth is my favourite.
What drives you to write music?
[HELEN] A need for a creative and cathartic outlet. To try and make sense of the absurdity of existence.
[EVA] A need to express feelings that can't be expressed in any other art form. The unique satisfaction that comes out of it.
How did Dog In The Snow form?
[HELEN] I have been writing songs since I was about fifteen. I met Eva last year through mutual friends, I had been taking steps towards a more electronic-based sound and knew Eva would be the perfect person to help with this direction.
Is there a story behind the name?
[HELEN] It was inspired by the ending of Franz Kafka's novel The Trial
How would you briefly describe your music?
[HELEN] Existential / experimental pop stuff.
What are your main influences?
[HELEN] Literature, podcasts, dipping in to people's conversations.
[EVA] Movies, literature, old experimental music and art.
What inspires your lyrics?
[HELEN] Reading lots of books and finding interesting phrases which may then spur on some overall idea / lyrical content for a song.
How do you approach the writing process?
[HELEN] Hide away behind closed doors.
Tell us a bit about Uncanny Valley EP?
[HELEN] The songs on the EP were all based around a loose theme: which is the aesthetic phenomenon of robotics professor Masahiro Mori's 'Uncanny Valley'. The hypothesis states that when something/someone looks and/or moves almost human but is still slightly off, it creates a unique feeling of revulsion and uneasiness in the observer. I felt like all the songs touched on this existential feeling.
What has been a musical eye-opener and how has it affected you?
[HELEN] Hearing Sufjan Stevens' album Illinois when I was about 14/15, somehow turned a switch on in my head to start writing music. It's still my favourite album ever and it must have reached me at the perfect time.
[EVA] Discovering Radiohead as a teenager expanded my view on music and then meeting certain people at the right time in my life has always been really helpful with taking my taste to another level. Also moving to the UK has definitely changed the way I perceive music-making and the industry in general.
What would be your perfect band of any musicians?
[HELEN] Frank Zappa, Scott Walker and Brian Eno. They would be called Zap-Walken. Christopher Walken would be in all their music videos.
[EVA] Karin Dreijer Andersson, Tim Hecker and Andy Stott.
What would be your perfect line-up of any three acts for a concert you are putting on and where would it be?
[HELEN] What a tough question! Right now, I'd say Scott Walker, Phillip Glass and Jónsi all in a church.
[EVA] Fever Ray, Aphex Twin and Broadcast. Somewhere small and private.
If you could work with any artist, who would it be and what would they bring to Dog In The Snow?
[HELEN] Sufjan Stevens. I love the albums he's had some kind of hand in producing (including his own).
[EVA] I reckon Nigel Godrich could give me some production tips.
If Dog In The Snow did a cover, what would it be?
[HELEN] We once covered In Heaven by Peter Ivers when we supported Chrysta Bell; probably something like that again.
What music are you listening to at the moment, any recommendations?
[HELEN] Julia Holter's Have You In My Wilderness is on repeat. She manages to perfectly capture a very indescribable feeling, akin to just really questioning one's existence. Wish I could be more specific but I am still trying to understand what it is.
[EVA] I listen to Sea Oleena's Shallow a lot at the moment. It is perfect for this kind of chilly autumnal vibe.
Do you get to go to many gigs?
[HELEN] I should go to more. Big Freedia at the Haunt was pretty amazing, Sufjan Stevens at the Dome too of course.
[EVA] I really enjoyed seeing James Holden this year and Tim Hecker's gigs are always a great experience.

What has been your happiest memory with music?
[HELEN] I'm not sure. I feel like music for me is a necessity more than a pleasure. I of course enjoy it and it does make me happy in some way, but it's more of a deep form of expression rather than just doing something like eating pizza (which definitely makes me happy).
[EVA] Supporting artists I really respect. Being close to them is very inspiring and it drives me to make more music.
What makes you happiest when you are not playing music?
[HELEN] Reading, wrapped in a duvet with some barley tea.
[EVA] Making art, walks, reading, and spending time with people I don't hate.
What are your future plans till the end of the year and after?
[HELEN] Hoping to do more shows, a few potential support tours early next year, and more music releases!