Category Archives: Interview

British Folk Revolutionary JohnlikeJohn Discusses Vegans, Casualty and Fake Foxes

On December 1st, JohnlikeJohn release their EP, “Vegans are Evil Too”, a distinctly British mixture of whimsy, introversion and head-spinning flights of fancy, all wrapped up in Tom Wait’s raincoat and Robert Wyatt’s mittens. Speaking to head JLJ, Calum, we found what it means to be a modern folk musician and what makes the band tick.

What kind of music did you grow up listening to at home?

Well between the hippy refugee that is my mum, and the zoot suit, white jacket and side vents-wearing mod that is my dad (The Who reference) I’ve have a fairly eclectic mix of music growing up. Quite a poignant moment of first falling in love with music, was when my dad first played me Matty Groves by Fairport Convention, the song plays like an old-timey English folk song, detailing a man found sleeping with the farmers wife, they then have a sword fight for the love of the wife, the farmer wins (apparently most farmers are skilled jousters). I remember thinking, wow that was like a whole entire story in a song, it was funny, it was tragic and there was a sword fight. At that point I became obsessed with folk music and the troubadours of the 1960s – there was something about the emotions behind the stories that seemed so theatrical and I never doubted they were lying, everything was said with such truth and conviction that even at 8 I could listen to someone like Joni Mitchell or Neil Young and feel the full force of words and be a bit changed with each listening.

What’s your local music scene like? How do you think you fit in?

Well local to Battersea? Ha, I can’t imagine I could pin a musical movement on Battersea in 2017. There are only a few venues I go to, one of them being that Magic Garden that’s always got good stuff going on – they always have great gypsy jazz bands and blues acts, so I should probably try get a gig there since it’s a 2 minute walk. Also I’m a bit of an open mic addict since there just aren’t enough stages in London to play everyday, I’d highly recommend The Grove on Battersea Park Road – really fun and laid back, unlike some snobby ones I could think of.

What names did you consider for the band before settling on JohnlikeJohn?

John likes couscous, John likes curtains, John likes chesterfields….. But then I finally realised I like myself the most.

You use your music to tackle some serious issues – is this just cathartic for you as a songwriter or are you hoping to change peoples’ minds about the subjects?

For the most part I use my music, as vehicle to spew out the most embarrassing, tragic and ugly parts of myself out. listening to the EP is pretty much the splash zone. The track Vegans Are Evil Too is essentially a long list of things that have gone wrong so far, but there’s a gag or two in there to stop you from completely overdosing on melancholia. But yeah, I write a lot about anxiety, depression and “purpose” and it is cathartic: the more I write about it, the more I open up a discussion in myself as to why I feel this way and hopefully in others too.

Tell us about how you go about creating your music, from initial idea to completion. What equipment do you use?

As I said before, probably the most crucial element of making my music is to be painfully honest and really embarrassing, I figure most people are as embarrassed and as anxious as I am, the only difference is I happen to sing about it. So, I normally start with the lyrics. I write them as more of a conversation with myself, kind of like a really incoherent monologue. And from there, I’ll grab my Guild acoustic guitar or ukulele and play something that sounds how the words feel…God, I sound like an art student! I’m not the most confident of singers, so a lot of times I put on different accents or character depending on the song. I was heavily discouraged at college from doing this, but, meh, it’s fun. The same applied to the humour in my music, which at this point I find is impossible not to put in. Since I tackle issues that are fairly dreary and melancholy, I feel it’s my duty to contrast it with whimsy and levity, reminding people not to take it all too seriously, cheer up, have some dip!

Tell us about the rest of the band and how you met Kano (The Guitarist)

I have him in the band because he looks like a mixture of Neil Young and Nick Drake, plus he’s a wicked guitarist, especially when he’s got a slide in his hand…also he shares his tobacco with me.  Pedzy(Ukulele/backing vocals/flute/general sound-maker) I first met Pedzy my first year of studying music at BIMM – he was the only person in the whole college who shared my love for freak folk music like Daniel JohnstonThe Squirrel Nut Zippers and Coco Rosie. He always carries at least 8 different instruments with him at once,: they usually include a melodica; harmonicas; ukulele, and a bamboo saxophone, Tibetan bells and various percussive shit. He’s one of the golden ones that Pedzy.  Iain (Mr Double Bass). The direct descendant of William Wallace, he is the only person in the band who actually knows what were doing, musically I mean. Sometimes I just am amazed at how intricate his knowledge of music theory is. I first met Iain at my second home, El Metro, a tapas bar next to our college (couldn’t afford it, but you got free bread). We instantly clicked, even though Iain’s more about the funk than about the freak, but we compromise. Twiggy (The Fox) – so you will either recognise her as a human girl or as a fox. A lot of the time, Twiggy is wearing her famous fox mask at our gigs. She’s making her first online debut on the 31st of October when she appears in my spooky music video to Faking Foxes.

What have been your acting highlights?

One of my earlier jobs was an episode of Casualty where I played the character Rory Ronson who suffered from severe autism and absent epilepsy. It was the first time that as an actor I had to do real research and actually change how I thought about everything in order to  portray the character. I must have watched Rain Man 100 times, since Dustin Hoffman’s character was a massive inspiration and, funnily enough, Michael Cera too.

You’ve got a huge gig lined up – what would be your dream venue?

There’s a gig at the beginning of the film Lost Boys, where the big muscle guy’s playing sax. I’d play there.

Describe a typical JohnlikeJohn live show

Wow, see, when we play live its so much different to what the EP sounds like. Since I come from working in theatres and stuff like that, I’ve always had a strong on-stage vision. We’ve definitely toned down with recent gigs but there were goats and mimes and confetti, all kinds of shit but at the root of it all, its very entertaining. The audience aren’t separated from us and they are with us the whole way: making jokes; dancing with them, speaking to the audience. If I could, I’d spend all my time just playing shows.

What would be your ultimate aim in the music industry?

Honestly, just to keep doing what I’m doing but get paid for it haha! I suppose that’s they key really, write music, play amazing shows, say words occasionally and then get paid to do it again. I’d love to get a record deal with who ever Alabaster Deplume’s with.

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

Vegans Are Evil Too, but so are milkmen, sausage dogs, barbacks and pretty much everyone. (I’m not just coming after the vegans)

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-576372009

Spotify: http://spoti.fi/2wX9uVE

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC90iBtQqhlTgWpz0NkdkwUQ

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JohnlikeJohn/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/johnlikej

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

 

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Under the Covers With…Mihail Doman

We asked neo-classical genius, Mihail Doman, to imagine a very straight forward scenario: we’ve zipped forward in time to the eve of his fourth album, and his record company insist he makes an album of cover versions. We asked him what he’d choose and why…

Time – Hans Zimmer
This is THE song which inspired my album – epic and dramatic, yet sensitive.

Chevaliers de Sangreal – Hans Zimmer
Part of The Davinci Code Soundtrack – and part of the Soundtrack for my trip to Florence in October ‘16, where so many things changed for me.

Only the Winds – Olafur Arnalds
A song which inspired Part VI (the track with the video) – great production and theme.

Chronologie I – Jean Michel Jarre
A song I’ve listened to a thousand times – it’s like the beginning of spring – joyful and big.

Rendez-vous II – Jean Michel Jarre
One of the most epic and huge songs ever made, period.

See Mihail’s own work here:

https://mihaildoman.com/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLqDaz4DiSXVd6TTInSG7XQ

https://soundcloud.com/mihaildoman

 

Interview with Detroit Techno-Noir Artist, Nej!Las

What attracted you to the techno/electro/house scene?

The ability (and even the requirement) to make, not only harmonic melodies and bass-lines, but to additionally have percussion and drums that could, by themselves, carry a song.  Techno/electro/house pushes the envelope by requiring and allowing for creativity in all areas of a song. It requires one to constantly innovate and come up with new, original, creations and techniques applied to the production.

What is your local music scene like? How do you think you fit in?

The Detroit Techno scene is so prominent; it created its own genre. The Detroit Techno Militia shows the attitude of techno producers that reside in Detroit – independent, proud and original. Detroit allows for producers to have creativity, to not necessarily fit inside the box of what “techno” is supposed to be, but to continuously push the boundaries of the genre. Detroit Techno is innovative. The innovative and original style shines through my music.

You’ve got a huge gig lined up – what would be your dream venue?

An intimate venue where I could feed off of the audiences’ energy and they could be up close and personal to my live production. A symbiotic relationship between me and the crowd.

Tell us about how you go about creating your music, from initial idea to completion

I create two different live sets.

The first live set – the “progressive, melodic set” focuses on the harmonic elements. This set, by itself, would be categorized as “progressive” music. I spend days creating and manipulating analogs, wavetables, and filters in order to find a unique synth sound. I tend to favour an almost guitar-like synth – overdriven and raw. I then, likewise, formulate an “opposite” synth that is sweet and melodic – as if it could lead a progressive/chill-out song. This synth tends to be a string or rubber instrument. I then spend additional days writing, re-writing, and rearranging midi data and appreciations. With all the variations of synths and midi, I usually have enough sounds and tracks to form an entire arrangement. This is the next step, to formulate all the melodies into an arrangement of a harmonic song from an intro to an outro.

The second set – the “techno” set focuses solely on drums and percussion. I likewise arrange a very heavy techno arrangement from an intro to an outro. Hardware, like the Alesis SamplePad 4, is very useful to continue to create original midi data, or even audio samples, for percussion.  I want this second set to be able to stand alone as a song without bass or melodies.

In the end, I combine the two sets, which could, by themselves, be sufficient for a song, into one set that has movement and free flowing segments. I arrange the set to make it play as if I were playing it live. I even record all the modulations and envelopes from a MIDI controller (the AKAI MPC40) as if I were performing it live. This “live performance” of the song becomes the final track.

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

To continue to innovate and bring original music into the traditional “techno” genre. I want to create a niche of original, harmonic, progressive, techno songs that play, and sound, like a live set.

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

Songs like “Fini” play like a live set, except it allows one to listen to it anywhere. That is the style of my production – to have harmonic synths that could stand by themselves as a progressive song, but on top of the harmonies, to have percussion and drums that could also be sufficient for a song. The music is “alive”, always changing and morphing into something new and creative.

 

 

GET TO KNOW: Kid Cupid

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  1.  How did you get your initial start in music?

Laura: For me, I started playing instruments/songwriting in primary school (I actually played the cornet for a while! As well as guitar and singing lessons) I would perform at any opportunity and that slowly progressed into regular gigs and being noticed.

John: I started songwriting, and then I got into recording in a big way when I went to uni.  I actually found a love for piano a few years ago, I think it was prompted by getting into production.

Ian: I grew up always wanting to play saxophone. My Grandad was a big collector of jazz records. I actually didn’t start playing guitar until I was 18 and I got an electric for my birthday. I started playing bass when all my friends’ bands had plenty of guitar options but no one wanted to play bass, hence I now keep tabs on the low end!

James: I started on pots and pans from my parent’s kitchen, and drove them insane enough to buy me a real kit. I tried a couple of lessons but never did the homework, so in the end I just learned by playing along to CD’s.

 

  1. What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

To be able to call music our ‘job’ would be very cool and I think we would all love to perform on a big stage at Glastonbury. Honestly, to know that people genuinely like and want to buy/download/stream our music is such a buzz!

 

  1. How long have you been writing your own music?

Laura: I have been writing since I was about 5/6 years old. I have stacks of notebooks full of lyrics and song ideas.

Ian: I started writing my own stuff about 4/5 years ago and even had a brief foray into solo acoustic shows. I just didn’t like the pressure of performing by myself and I like bouncing ideas off people when you’re in a band and the sense of seeing things through to the best outcome via committee.

James: I’ve always been into creative writing from an early age, but didn’t turn my attention to lyrics until I was a teenager.

  1. Who are your top three influences and why?

Hard question! As band it helps us out a lot that we all have such different influences, it helps us be more experimental when writing!

Laura: For me personally I would say Stevie Nicks for her uniqueness and my many nights belting out ‘Edge of Seventeen’, Portishead for their experimental trip-hop vibe and Little Dragon who can do no wrong, just amazing!

Ian: Mine would have to be Ryan Adams, Josh Homme is an absolute hero and Thom Yorke

 

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

We had such a great time recording and producing this track (we do all production ourselves in John’s studio).  It took a long time and we kept returning to it, we really wanted to create something cinematic. It came alive when our friend Amy Squirrel added her beautiful cello part.

 

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

We’re based in London and as you can imagine the music scene is buzzing. At times it feels a little daunting as there are SO many bands, but it actually makes us more determined to stand out. We played The Water Rats which was great fun and we had a blast at Zigfried Von Underbelly recently

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

‘Brontë’ https://www.facebook.com/bronteofficialuk are definitely a duo to check out and we recently shared a bill with a band called ‘Posters’ who were really great!

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

Hey readers! The best place to find our music is www.soundcloud.com/kidcupidmusic (we have 3 singles out so far and a couple of great remixes)

For reviews, articles and to see what we’re up to gig wise www.facebook.com/kidcupidmusic

For pictures and randomness go to www.instagram.com/wearekidcupid and www.twitter.com/kidcupidmusic

Get to Know: Neil C Young

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  1. How did you get your initial start in music?

I first got into music when i was around 4 years of age, there was a piano in the house and so i messed around on that and then sang and played any/every instrument available at school. My Dad was the person who enabled me and still inspires me to create and play.

  1. What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

To be able continue and develop the way I create and play music and to be able to play in as many different countires and learn as many different types of music from around the world and let them influence my music.

  1. How long have you been writing your own music?

Since as long as I can remember, I either start writing something that then turns into a huge practice or, I start practicing something unrelated and then end up writing something new from that! This can also take place on a gig, in the middle of something a line or a little chord sequence spring out of nowhere and thats a new thing to work on later that night or the next day, (cliche alert***) it just keeps on giving!?!?

  1. Who are your top three influences and why?

My dad – always made and performed music, always enthused and encouraging about music and its big picture values and its ability to bring people together along with its individual theraputic powers.

My Mum – see above

Gary Boyle – Old guitar teacher who unknowingly is a mentor. Relentless in the quest to get better at expressing himself and getting better musically and instrumentally.

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

Its a trio album (guitar, bass and drums) in contrast to the last one which was for 2 kits, 4 horns, bass and guitar. I using some established forms such as Gospel and Latin music but it also is a development of the serial techniques that I have been working on over the past few years and a conscious move away from the harmonic and melodic writing that i had been using before. Bit by bit I’m finding something new.

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

I’m based in the north of England but get around a fair bit. Favourite venues that I’ve played at recently would be Strays in Newark, The Stonewell Tavern in Lancaster and The Blue PIano, Birmngham.

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

The local scene could be split between Colne, Lancashire on one side of the hill and the North/West Yorkshire side of same large hill. In terms of Jazz, in Colne there’s a cracking trio of Dan Arnold (guitar), Jonathan Towers (Bass) and Ben Gonzalez (drum kit -who incidentally features on the new album). On the Yorkshire side, there’s the vocalist Rebecca Joy, and whole load of guitarist led by Adrian Ingram, Darren Dutson-Bromley, Steve Hemsworth, Sam Dunn..I could go on but the best place to find out is the Huddersfield Jazz Guitar Society. You’ll find em on Facebook…

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

    The music is available via the usual on line sites, spotify etc. and you can find me at www.neilcyoungtrio.com or on twitter @neilcyoung or there is a facebook page – neilcyoungtrio come by and say something to us!

Get To Know – Karmilla

  1. How did you get your initial start in music?

I had some guitar lessons when I was 11 and learnt a few of my favourite songs and was hooked from that point onwards!

 

  1. What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

Playing your own music is cool. To play live in as many places possible in front of anyone possible is great. If I can manage that in countries across the world that could be cool.

 

  1. How long have you been writing your own music?

When I was s kid I wrote songs, they were terrible!!! but they helped me express whatever it was I was thinking about at the time, which was cool. After co-writing  in bands through collage and stuff I began to seriously write my own tunes. Some of them even made it on the album, I’m always writing.

 

  1. Who are your top three influences and why?

This is hard!! When I really started to find my singing voice I listened to a lot of Paul Rodgers. Also Janus Joplin, she was an incredible woman as well as having an awesome voice. As far as song writers go I have listened to a lot of Bruce Springsteen over the last few years. He’s a man who can tell a story or two! And the music is so well crafted and ‘full’ it’s great.

 

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

‘Leave Me To Me’ is the first  single off the debut album ‘Early Workings Of An Open Mind’

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

Karmilla is based in Reading UK. There is a cool music scene there, and with the Festival taking over once a year, the town gets really busy. There are a few cool ‘music’ venues. All the pubs play live music too which is cool.

 

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

‘Third Lung’ are a rock band who can pack a punch! Defiantly a credible band to look out for.

 

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

Everything you need is on the website

www.karmillamusic.co.uk

Get to Know- Carina Round

  1. How did you get your initial start in music?

Music was always a part of my life from as long as i can remember. I grew up in Wolverhampton with a single mother and listening to music and dancing was a big part of our household. Then at around 6 I moved in with my grandparents and it was a huge part of that household too. My grandfather had a terrific voice. He would be singing more often than not singing and I just adored him for it. It became a big part of my physical expression as a child to go about my day singing my face off. Both pre-existing songs and stuff i made up in them moment. I began writing poetry before I was a  teenager. I picked up a guitar and began crafting songs around the age of 15.

At 17 or 18 I began playing out in the live scene in Birmingham. Through other musicians I heard about a guy in Wolverhampton that had a studio in his back yard called ‘Magic Garden Studios’ where we recorded my first record ‘First Blood Mystery’. After releasing this through a friends label based in London one of the employees there took it to Dave Stewart who, after a curious meeting and a speedy writing session signed me to a label he was starting in the UK. That label folded but I used my advance to record ‘The Disconnection’ also at Magic Garden but in a different location on an industrial site. I released it myself and toured it in the UK, then Dave played it for Jimmy Iovine at Universal who then signed me to Interscope and released it in the US and put me on my fist US tour. That’s what inspired my move to the states. There are a lot more details before, in between and after but you get the picture.

 

  1. What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

TO BE LOVED BY EVERYONE SO MAYBE ONE DAY I CAN LEARN TO LOVE MYSELF!!!!!!!!!

 

  1. How long have you been writing your own music?

With a view to it going out into the world, almost 20 years. As a child I would write all the time too. Simple expressions of my feelings about some event in my home with abstract beats and sounds from a Bontempi organ that I didn’t know how to play. I started crafting songs with conscious direction around the age of 16.

 

  1. Who are your top three influences and why?

Musically, As a child Led Zeppelin, Roxy Music and David Bowie played a big part in inspiring me to express myself through music. Japan and the voice of David Sylvian. I discovered Can very young. Bob Dylan, Neil young, Nick Cave are a constant. Kate Bush of course. The honesty and warmth with which Patti Smith writes poetry and the rawness with which she performs is an ongoing inspiration. The recording of Chess Records and Northern Soul music where a big presence in my youth. As well as whatever was on the radio at the time.

 

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

Funny you should ask—

It’s a retrospective called Deranged To Divine spanning over the last 15 years.

I released the album partly because I knew I was going to be traveling through the UK and EU with Puscifer this summer and the response our latest album has been so great. It’s picked up a lot of new people and I wanted to release something that would be a cohesive yet eclectic, experimental and very personal introduction to my solo work for people who have never heard it before.

When choosing the songs I actually used a close friend for help. I started by simply listening through my entire catalogue and taking note of the songs that to me felt most “necessary”.  The songs that had a definitiveness that was expressed by a congruence between the melody and the lyric, generally were the songs that I ended up including. There are two songs that, following that logic, should be on the album but in the end I just couldn’t make them flow in the sequence. Those were “Pick Up The Phone” and “Do You”, which contains the lyric that “deranged to divine” is taken from.  In a way, I think those two songs stand alone so well as their own complete little narrative universes that once they are taken out of the context of the album (Tigermending)  and EP (Things You Should Know) that they come from it was very hard for me to find a place for them amid all the other songs from different records.

Overall I made a conscious effort not to worry about being objective. I could have gotten a consensus from friends and fans and built the song list from that. But really I wanted the retrospective to be my own personal introduction to my work, for someone who has never heard me before.  I didn’t want it to be balanced or have all the “favorites”.  More than anything I wanted it to encompass the most eclectic examples of moments in my career where I’ve had a breakthrough and achieved something with a song or recording that was unexpected. ‘Message To Apollo’, ‘Backseat’, and ‘Mother’s Pride’ for instance share nothing in common thematically or mood-wise but the feeling I had while writing and then when they were completed was almost exactly the same:  that in spite of whatever ambition or focus I initially had going into the process something inspired happened out of my control and the result was better than anything I could have consciously willed into existence.

There are also a couple of songs on there simply because they have never been released before and I wanted long time fans that bought the record to be getting something that don’t already have.

 

 

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

I live in Los Angeles.

As far as I can tell its pretty disconnected, a fucking free for all. There seems to be lots of different little scenes depending on what area you are in. It’s hard to get a single pulse because it so spread out and also I’ve been on tour for the last couple of years.

I love seeing and playing shows at the Wiltern and The Ace Theater. I also have a soft spot for The Hollywood Bowl because I had a great experience seeing Arcade Fire there on the Neon Bible tour and its a pretty magical place but on the whole its not ideal to see a show there.

The Hotel Cafe is actually a good venue to play when you’re starting out and there’s a heavy scene based around there. The bootleg has a great sound and people really come for the concert as there’s nothing else around it. And of course School Night curated by KCRW DJ Chris Duridas is a good place to just show up and trust that there’s something interesting happening every Monday night.

 

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

LA based trio Autolux just put an album out called ‘Pussy’s Dead’ produced by Boots. Failure just put out their first record in 20 years. Jenny Lee from Warpaint just put out a solo record. Alessandro Cortini is an Italian minimal electronic artist based in LA. He plays with NIN but his solo project is called Sonoio. Telefon Tel Aviv is currently opening for Moderat. Alain Johannes (Eleven, Queens Of The Stone Age) is out playing with PJ Harvey right now but his solo stuff is amazing. My friend and collaborator Aidan Hawken is recording new music. My other band Early Winters you could say is LA based, apart from the other singer Justin Rutledge who lives in Canada. We have a new record set for release early next year.

 

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

www.facebook.com/carinaround

www.carinaround.com

www.instagram.com/carinaround 

www.twitter.com/carinaround

www.soundcloud.com/carinaround 

Its also a good idea to join the mailing list on my website for regular updates whenever something is happening.