An interview with electro-pop film scorer Voldo Blanka

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How did you get your initial start in music?

I’ve been playing music since I was in diapers, and playing in bands since I had terribly filthy long dyed black hair in jr. high, but it wasn’t till later I knew this would be what I was going to do with my life.

I went to coachella alone in 2007. First time I’d ever been to a festival like that. Rage Against the Machine reunited and I really dug into electronic music. From that day I knew there was ONLY one thing I’d do with my life. And that is to make records and play live.

I had a few projects on the go but the one that broke was my last band Head of the Herd. We were the first band in our country to have a #1 song without a label and that taught me everything I know making the music YOU want to make, and standing by that.

 

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

I love making records, touring, and writing film scores. So every record I make, gig I play, and film I compose for, I’m getting closer to the place I want to be

 

How long have you been writing your own music?

I reckon I wrote my first song at about 12. A switch flipped in my head and I became OBSESSED with music. I would play till I fell asleep with my guitar in my hands, and spent all day at school talking shit about this band, that band, this instrument, that producer. Since then I’ve never suffered from not knowing what to do with my time. Every moment then went towards being the best artist I could be.

 

Who are your top three influences and why?

This question is impossible! But a few people have always astounded me with fearlessness and creativity. Nina Simone…my favourite vocalist ever. And I don’t just throw that around. Listen to the live version of “funkier than a mosquito’s tweeter” and you’ll know why.

Tarantino. You don’t need your musical influences to be musicians. It’s about making your own rules and creating what you want to create regardless of all the voices in your ear. You can learn a lot from his take on dialogue.

Josh Homme. Has there ever been a cooler motherfucker than this. Making the darkest, prettiest music I’ve ever heard in my life.

Seriously this question is killing me… Ray Charles, Damon Albarn, Dangermouse, Zeppelin, its endless. Let’s crush a casual dozen beers together and we can really dig in.

 

Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?

Making ‘nuns enjoy a madman’ was about creative freedom. About making movie moments and tapping into subtle, and not so subtle, mood manipulation.

I came from a touring rock band that made records all over the world, to shutting the door and locking myself in a dark room to see where I could get with just my imagination and a fuckload of instruments.

It was scary and fun, but more scary than fun. And I like that.

 

Where are you based and what’s your local scene like? Any favourite venues?

I’m currently based in Vancouver on the West Coast of Canada. The commodore is one of the best rooms I’ve played in my life. Gaddam do I love that place.

 

Who else can you recommend from your local scene for people to have a listen to?

Plasteroid is a new band from here that are a must listen to. Fucking aces.

Give our readers a round up of where they can find you online and hear more of your music.

Go to www.voldoblanka.com to hear the record and sign up for the email list. But first, add Voldo Blanka on fb and Instagram. That’s where I do most of my updates.

You guys are the best, thanks for listening.

Soundcloud: https://tinyurl.com/yczk5ewq

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/voldoblanka/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/voldoblanka/?hl=en

 

Get to know: TONICA

We’ve been in conversation with Manchester based electro-pop band TONICA about their roots in music and their new single ‘Save Yourself’ which is out on August 11th. Get the lowdown here:

How did you get your initial start in music?

 

We’d both played various instruments from an early age, but the leap from playing for pleasure to planning a career in music came when we decided to move to Manchester. We met in the city and have been writing together ever since. 

 

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

 

Though I’m sure the industry will change as we progress as a band, I imagine our aim will always be the same – to have our music heard by more people. Whether it’s through a major label, an independent or some kind of self-release, I hope we continue to grow and gain more support with each record.  

 

How long have you been writing your own music?

 

We’ve been writing together for just under a year; though most of the TONICA material was done in early 2017 – I feel like we’re just hitting our stride.

 

Who are your top three influences and why?

 

Speaking specifically about the influences for this band, I’d say…

 

The Weekend – On both a song-writing and production level. The sonic of his tracks perfectly compliments the subject matter, I believe he’s at a commercial & creative peak right now.

 

Honne – They’re a throughly modern band yet their music feels classic, it’s like future-soul. I think we referenced them a few times over the last year, especially when recording/producing my voice. The vocal sounds on Honne’s first album are incredibly rich and satisfying. 

 

Miike Snow – I feel like MS are overlooked. Some of their music is incredible, particularly on the last album. I believe they work as a writing team for numerous pop-acts too. I like that you can hear that mainstream pop influence in the structure and arrangements – it’s definitely something we’re mindful of too. 

 

Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?

 

The track is called ’Save Yourself’ and it comes out on 11th August. I think the most important thing to know is that it’s our first release. We’ve been waiting to get this record out for a couple of months now and we’re excited to see what the reaction is. It was mixed by Lewis Gardiner (formally of Prides) and mastered by Chris Gerhinger (Drake, 1975). It was an honour to have them work on our debut and I hope the song gets the recognition we feel it deserves. 

 

Where are you based and what’s your local scene like? Any favourite venues?

 

We’re currently based in the centre of Manchester. There’s hundreds of great venues in the city, but if I had to name just a few I’d say – Deaf Institute (Oxford Road), Albert Hall (Peter Street) and the Night & Day Cafe (Oldham Street, NQ). 

 

Who else can you recommend from your local scene for people to have a listen to?

 

I went to see a friend’s band called Big Society the other night, check them out. 

 

Give our readers a round up of where they can find you online and hear more of your music.

 

https://www.facebook.com/tonicaofficialband/

 

https://www.instagram.com/tonicamusic/

 

https://www.youtube.com/c/Tonicaofficial

 

https://soundcloud.com/tonicabandofficial

Get to know: J.J Leone

It’s easy to simply label a lot of artists as ‘singer-songwriters’, but J.J Leone takes this title to the next level, blending his talented songwriting skills with an easy listening combination of R&B and soul. We were lucky enough to have chat with him:

How did you get your initial start in music?

I was heavily influenced by my older brother’s musical ability as a kid, he was already doing tours when I was growing up but he introduced me to a lot of music and played guitar around me all the time. I looked up to him and still do, so I wanted to learn to play guitar like he could. I picked it up by ear and by watching him, then when I discovered guys like Jimi Hendrix, John Frusciante and John Mayer, they really pushed me to try different things with the instrument. Eventually I moved on to learning the drums, largely due to heavy rock and metal music I discovered, bass guitar and electronic production, which I put down to my love of Hip-Hop. I learnt everything by ear and with no tuition. I never really had a lot of confidence in my voice until I was like 18, and things grew from there!

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

I don’t really have an ‘ultimate aim’ or an ‘end goal’ in music, because I’m not creating music to tick boxes along the way or to think: ‘Once I get to this stage, I’ll be satisfied’. I write and perform music because I love it, and the way it can bring people together. ‘Making it’ has different meanings to different people. If someone sits down one day and says ‘I wanna learn how to play Little Wing on the guitar’ and then a year later they can, then they’ve made it! I’m the kind of person who is restless and never really satisfied, so I just want to make music for many years and what will come will come!

How long have you been writing your own music?

I started writing my own music around the age of 14. It was never normally for myself, or I didn’t picture that these songs will have me singing them, or anything would come from them, I just enjoyed it! The first serious music I wrote was for my band when we were 15; we took a couple of them into the studio and we got to open for Suzi Quatro, Hot Chocolate and tour Barcelona amongst other things, so I guess they went down alright! That was the first time I realised that I could possibly get somewhere with my music, so ever since then every lyric, melody and instrumental section has been written by myself!

Who are your top three influences and why?

Stevie Wonder, Prince and Cody Chesnutt. There are so many more great musicians who i really admire, but Stevie Wonder for the simple fact of how long he has been around and stayed at the top of his game. He has made maybe two songs I don’t like in his whole career. Prince because of his attitude and diversity. Not only an amazing musician, who played all the instruments on his tracks himself, but because he was always coming up with something fresh and was an artist who defied genres and boundaries. You could tell he was just in it for the music and didn’t care about critics or any of that stuff. My brother introduced me to Cody Chesnutt a few years ago. He played me his album ‘The Headphone Masterpiece’. Cody really inspires me because he recorded that entire album is his mum’s kitchen, with some really basic recording gear. It taught me that you don’t have to have this and that costing x amount of dollars or pounds to put your message out there, he had a real DIY attitude, something I’m trying to apply to my own music.

Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?

I suppose I would just like people to know that everything you hear on ‘With You’ is done by me. All the writing, the vocals, the instrument, the production. That and the fact that its available NOW WORLDWIDE!

Where are you based and what’s your local scene like? Any favourite venues?

I’m based in Norwich. The local music scene is pretty tight-knit to be honest, every band kind of knows each other. There is actually a lot of singer-songwriters based here too, and a couple of venues that put on ‘Oen Mic’ nights, so there is a really good chance to connect with other artists. Norwich is a pretty artsy place in general, which I like. I’ve played in quite a few places in Norwich, and the county of Norfolk in general, I really like ‘The Owl Sanctuary’ because they are really fair to the artists who play there, its a really chilled vibe.

Who else can you recommend from your local scene for people to have a listen to?

There was a rapper I heard a couple of months back called ‘Obongjayar’ (I hope I’m spelling that right!). His stuff is really sick and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t do some bits in 2017.

Give our readers a round up of where they can find you online and hear more of your music.

You can find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with: @iamjjleone. My official website is www.jjleone.com, which has further links to my Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud etc.

 

Listen to J.J’s new single ‘With You’ here:

Get to Know: Music Theory

Know Me Better music managed to get in conversation with emerging Egyptian pop artist, Music Theory, who’s releasing his new track emotive love song ‘Down The Aisle’.

 

When did you first get into music? What or who Inspired you?

I started writing music when I was about 9 years old. My first song was about 7 lines. It was about a ball rolling down the street 🙂 I was a very shy person growing up. Writing music put me up when I’m feeling down. It helped me release my thoughts and dreams, that I usually couldn’t share. I could be whoever I want in this make believe world, that I create while writing.  As I grew up, I wrote also about experiences and emotions.

My inspiration was all those singers that I grew up listening to. Their ability to make me cry, feel loved or pumped up through their songs was amazing. I wanted to have that effect on people. My dream is to touch people’s hearts.

 

Who did you grow up listening to, and does that impact on what you create now?

I grew up in the eighties and the nineties. I listened to mainstream music. Michael Jackson, REO speedwagon, Sublime, REM, Oasis, NKTOB, Boys 2 Men, Phil Collins, Bon Jovi, Stock Aitken Waterman, Pet Shop Boys, etc.

I could write an endless list. It was always about the song, not the artist. I always listen to mix tapes, never albums.

I believe that everything I hear influences me.

 

How long have you been playing/writing?

About 30 years. However, my song “Down The Aisle” is my first professional release.

 

How often do you play live?

I never played professionally, yet. I plan to do that in the near future, at a certain point.

 

What has been your favourite moment in music?

Band Aid. USA for Africa. It was inspiring and extraordinary. Music can heal and connect the world.  

 

Where is the best place to find you online?

https://soundcloud.com/musictheory2016

https://www.facebook.com/musictheory2016/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNHe1k5TPYkM8EHLiaDkL_w

http://www.musictheory.zone/

http://mtmusictheory.blogspot.co.uk/ 

 

Get to know: Feline and Strange

Know Me Better were recently in conversation with Feline Lang, one half of Berlin based electro-wave cabaret act,  Feline and Strange, who are ready to unleash their out-there sounds to the world.

How did you get your initial start in music?

I was born into it… seriously. My parents are classical musicians, I was bred in a womb that supported a concert harp, played with bricks under a grand piano, and started to learn the violin within 4 years. Thus I am sorry to say that it is beyond even my abilities to remember the initial moment!

 

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

I want to become a household name and fill the biggest arenas in the world, and have my music sent on the next gold disc that goes out into the universe to represent humanity – who doesn’t? Anything below that wouldn´t justify a musician´s life which is serious shit most of the time. But then there´s these magic moments when you play for hundred, fifty, maybe just  two people, and you REALLY touch them, and you know that´s why you do this. Happens rather frequently to me lately.

 

How long have you been writing your own music?

I have been writing the odd song or arrangement since school days, but it all became really serious in 2009 after learning my tools through arranging operas for pop and folk bands with my own troupe.

 

Who are your top three influences and why?

Do I really have to choose from a world full of music? OK, first three that pop to my mind. Mozart, because he wrote music everyone can enjoy but few can understand. Depeche Mode, because their top defined sound is what defines pop music for me, and they proved like no one else that you can be epic without an orchestra. Nina Hagen, because she, in turn, proved that you can be a punk on any instrument and in any language.

 

Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?

I wrote this album in only 2 weeks, away from home, while Germany was turning upside down, from welcoming refugees with soft toys and water bottles at train stations, to burning down camps and marching against the government who let people seek help. I watched the news, and didn´t find any ways to help. So I wrote the album and made it, together with the now-released CD artwork, a pathetic glimpse into the feeling of suddenly losing your home, your right to survive, without warning, or alternative. What happens when you are evicted from planet Earth? And somebody you never met decides over your fate? The album tries to put you into this perspective. But it´s just a game. A play.

 

Where are you based and what’s your local scene like? Any favourite venues?

We´re from Berlin! Well, we´re extraterrestrials obviously, but I guess most of Berlin´s inhabitants are. I like ballroom dancing a lot, especially Sing, and Tango, and I love swimming, so my favourite location is a tiny lake in the city, the Weissensee, where in summer balls are held at the shore, sometimes with live performances – we played there too – and after dancing your heart out, you can jump into the lake and swim, have a cocktail, and feel like a VIP in Monaco. Only dirtier.

 

Who else can you recommend from your local scene for people to have a listen to?

You should definitely check out The Jackaffair! They do Latin Fun Punk, and support us very often. And I only recently met Les Pleureuses, who are as wacky as we are.

 

Give our readers a round up of where they can find you online and hear more of your music.

If you want to know all that´s going on, join The Feline&Strange Spaceship Crew on www.facebook.com/groups/felineandstrange! I spend a lot of time there, and reveal a lot of what´s in my head. Even closer you can get if you become a patron on www.patreon.com/feline , of course, getting early access, exclusive releases, and can actually influence my work. When I need help, I call out there, and listen! But the best first steps into the Feline and Strange universe is, of course, via our webpage www.felineandstrange.com. And if you are like, leave me in peace with all that stuff, I just want the music – did you know you can stream (and buy for your own price) ALL our music on http://felineandstrange.bandcamp.com?!

 

Check out the video for ‘No Life On Mars’ here:

Get to know: Les Kirsh

Les Kirsh has been writing catchy soul-influenced tunes since the 60s/70s, but has suffered more than his fair share of set backs. Now he’s back with a few remastered and mixed versions of old songs, reworked for a modern audience. Know Me Better managed to get 5 minutes with the talented songwriter:

 

How did you get your initial start in music?

After being in quite a few bands since school, I answered an advert in the Melody Maker and met with George Young and Harry Vanda (of The Easybeats) which which led to my first record deal with Phillips.

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

To have my songs covered by other artists and to be known as much as a writer as I am a singer.

How long have you been writing your own music?

On and off since the 60s

Who are your top three influences and why?

My ultimate influence is Otis Redding, later followed by Rod Stewart and Lionel Richie. These are artists I feel put a lot of soul and feeling into their music and lyrics.

Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?

They are three completely different songs – two of which I feel tell a story and one is a fun, party song with a Four Tops Reggae feel. I enjoy writing all styles of music. 

Where are you based and what’s your local scene like? Any favourite venues?

Im currently living In Essex – I don’t really have a favourite – each venue always has its own special feel.

Give our readers a round up of where they can find you online and hear more of your music

There is plenty more to come and some already out there. Feel free to check youtube where you will find some other of my songs including the original ‘Tell Me To My Face’. My newest tracks are on sound cloud too.

https://soundcloud.com/leskirsh

https://www.facebook.com/LesKirshMusic/

https://twitter.com/LesKirshMusic

 

Listen to ‘Tell Me To My Face’ here:

Get to know: Vispa

Know Me Better were lucky enough to get in touch with Iranian electronic artist, Vispa, whose retro-synth sounds are making waves in the modern world of electro music.

How did you get your initial start in music?

I’ve had a talent in composing since my childhood. But at the age of 19, I attended my first music class and perfected my skill on playing keyboards and synthesizers. After that, I self-studied harmony, counterpoint and orchestration amongst other things.

 

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

My ultimate goal in the industry is to attract attention as an electronic musician with different ideas and become famous. And money is also important to me 🙂

 

How long have you been writing your own music?

Since 5 or 6 years ago. But ‘Cosmic Force’ is my first professionally recorded song. I have a whole load of other songs that have not been recorded yet though.

 

Who are your top three influences and why?

Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis and Hans Zimmer.

I think that these three people are unique in that they employ perfect ideas in their work because of their talent. Also, they have the best possible musical influences – you can see it in their arrangements and their style of music.

 

Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?

This is just the beginning of my work. These days I’m looking for a sponsor and I decided to record an EP with the same name (Cosmic Force) which contains three different remixes of the song.

 

Where are you based and what’s your local scene like? Any favorite venues?

I live in Tehran, Iran. Actually there are not as many venues as you think there might be here. But there are some, like Azadi Tower which I think best suits an open-door concert. There are also two nice indoor venues here which I enjoy going to.

 

Who else can you recommend from your local scene for people to have a listen to?

Actually I don’t listen to Iranian pop music, but simple or traditional Iranian music are among the best which I like and maybe in the future, I will employ a sense of this music in my work. Among Iranian musicians in the international scene of traditional music are Kayhan Kalhor, Homayoon Shajarian and Hossein Alizadeh.

 

Give our readers a roundup of where they can find you online and hear more of your music.

My song is now available in 95+ online stores and streamers. But the most important ones are as follows:

Also, you can find me on social media here:

 

Listen to Vispa’s ‘Cosmic Force’ here: