Category Archives: singer-songwriter

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: 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: 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: Jake Aldridge

How did you get your initial start in music?

I started out when I was 17. My Father passed away when I was 11 and from that point on, I was always searching for a way to express myself and my emotions. Music became like my own therapy and I enjoyed the feeling of being creative. The positive reactions from people who heard my music spurred me on and keeps me going to this day, some 12 years later.

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

My ultimate aim? That’s a good one, It’s never been about money for me but I guess my ultimate aim would be to make a living out of my music, even if it was just a small one. This way I could put all of my energy into it. It’s not easy to write and promote new music around a full time job, but i certainly do my best.

How long have you been writing your own music?

I’ve been writing my own music for 12 years. It’s gone quickly too. I’ve always written my own stuff and have never really considered covering other people’s. I enjoy the writing process too much.

Who are your top three influences and why?

My top 3 influences would be 1. Tupac Shakur. His work ethic inspired me and his authenticity did too. He was very much a lyricist and I loved that as well. Number 2 would be probably be Nelly. I love that he can seamlessly combine R&B & Hip-Hop, it’s something i try to do in my music as well. I love that he’s not afraid to sing on his tracks either. Number 3 would probably be Nas. I love how he’s never really steered away from the music and sound that he’s always been known for. He never sold out. His music is real and I admire that so much.

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

Definitely, my new single is titled ‘Fireman’ and I honestly feel like it’s my best one yet ! It features Lisa Ambrose, who is a singer i’ve always loved and i feel truly honoured to be able to work alongside. The track also features production by Ninety II. He’s a producer from Bristol and he and I have been working together for some time now. We’re like Batman & Robin !! The track is set for release via ITunes, Spotify & Google Play etc on the 7th of April.

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

I’m based in Suffolk and to be honest the local scene isn’t really geared up for my kind of my music but i try to get it around as much as i can. i’ve received great support from local people as well as the press here too.

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

Definitely Lisa Abrose, Steve Moyse, Haleana,  Kelly Jenns and Kelly Brooks. I’ve worked with them all and they are incredible at what they do.

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

The best place to listen to my music is my website – www.jakealdridge.com you can also sign up for my mailing list and receive some free tracks as well !!

GET TO KNOW: Adam Lanceley

How did you get your initial start in music?

Well, after a near fatal car crash which left me unable to walk for a long time & needing something to fill the void left by my inability to play competitive sport, my interests turned more towards the arts. That’s the start of what got me into the creative side of things, but I suppose it was a gradual process of circumstances that came together over quite a long time, like a friend from college being a sound engineer or a colleague at a job – who was already teaching me the guitar – encouraging me to start writing my ideas down & trying to put them in a song. Basically though, just plugging away & I’ve been lucky to meet the right people at the right time – hope it continues!

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

Good question. I suppose for me, the ultimate goal is to leave my mark on on music. To leave a footprint on life that’s revisited whenever people hear my music & bring back the vibe they had when they first heard it.

How long have you been writing your own music?

Probably about 15 years. I’ve always had a lot of ideas in me that at first I was unable to express. At first I tried to do it through acting, but it didn’t really work for me trying to be someone else when I had so many issues of my own that I wanted to communicate with the world. It was after I left East 15 Acting School – 1 of the Centres of Excellence for Drama – that I realised I was more suited to saying what I had to say through music.

Who are your top 3 influences & why?

First & foremost, The Beatles. They were the group that really made me fall in love with music. When I first heard them, it was quite a difficult time in my life & I found strength in their unique sunshine sound. They have influenced my writing & production techniques a lot.

I think some of REM’s stuff is great! I love Michael Stipe’s use of metaphors & trying to figure out what some of his words actually mean. This has influenced my writing too.

Roy Orbison is another big influence on my music. I love his approach – where not being trained in music I think it gave him the licence to use unorthodox structures & writing techniques. This gave me the confidence to write by the principle: if it sounds good, do it!

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

I think that the less you tell people about what your songs are about the better! It’s good to let the listener interpret your lyrics & music in the way they want, in my opinion. 1 thing I do want people to know though is the single & the EP it’s off – ‘Back To The Sunshine’ – is a charity release with all net proceeds going to The Brain & Spine Foundation. They are at the forefront of research into the treatment of brain injury & after my own personal experiences of how traumatic the recovery can be, I think they are a charity well worth supporting.

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

I’m from south west London & there’s quite a big music heritage here! The Olympic Studios were near where I’m from, where everyone who’s anyone used to record way back when… from The Rolling Stones to The Beach Boys & The Eagles – they all recorded in Barnes! There’s always something going on music wise in London. My favourite venue to play is ‘The Fighting Cocks’ in Kingston. This might have something to do with it being a venue Jimi Hendrix used to play when he was based in Kingston!

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

There’s always a wide variety of music in London. Whatever your taste your bound to find something that suits! 1 group worth checking out are ‘The Groove Monkeys’.

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

I have 5 studio albums that preceded this release. You can find them on most free stream or download stores if you just enter Adam Lanceley. Enjoy!

GET TO KNOW: Beldon Haigh

How did you get your initial start in music?

I’m not sure what the initial start really is. In music as in life we have lots of starts. They are all like relationships. Some are exciting adrenaline fuelled and filled with dreams they go off like a rocket at the start, sometimes stay like that, sometimes go nowhere. Other beginnings are less dynamic, more stop start, more idiosyncratic they lead somewhere gratifying/fulfilling at the time but lack ultimate direction. That is a good way to look at the music business – hard to find the start point, and only after reflection can you see the roads that ultimately led anywhere.  That’s why it’s always a good idea to value the actual journey – love the journey as much as the final destination.

And personally I think that the start in music always comes from yourself.

Every musician needs to value their effort, I’ve worked with many musicians and its easy for people to forget to value themselves, their own direction, their own talent enough. Not valuing yourself can be a one way ticket to drug addiction or alcoholism or worse. So musically speaking, I was the one who made the decision to practice and apply myself and I took responsibility for my music, my writing and my life and  I am pretty happy with what I have done with all of that.

That said I hugely appreciate all the people who have helped me along the way. My folks bought me a guitar and got me lessons when I was 10. We didn’t have a lot of money and in a way I’m glad we didn’t, I bought my first electric guitar out of proceeds from paper round/milk round and working in Asda when I was 14 – it was a Yamaha Pacifica – still a great guitar. I loved that guitar.

My music teacher Jock Archibald had a huge influence on me and really helped me develop classical guitar technique, my high school headmaster Hugh Lynch let the band I was in rehearse in the school at weekends so long as we’d play charity concerts in return – which we did. That gave us the opportunity to practice in a big hall with awesome acoustics.

After that I many people helped me from guys who owned studios and record company people who helped me along the way. Just a few people include Jon Turner (studio owner) Chris Harley ) producer) Brian Guthrie (from the Cartell in Scotland who we released our first record through) promoter and label owner)  Mark Mackie (promoter) John Kennedy (lawyer) David White (lawyer and Simple Minds Management team who also advised us for a while) and  Malcolm Buckland  (A&R ) and Dominic Walker who looked after me at BMG and is the current head of music at the BBC he’s been great in his support and encouragement me even to this day. Also, Justin Skelton my Manager and my friend.

 

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

I don’t have an ultimate aim. I want to be happy every day. I live my life with good intentions and I aim to make a positive and constructive impact in whatever I do.

I would like to inspire others to write about real things and produce songs that move people.

 

How long have you been writing your own music?

Since I was 10 years old, I’ve written and recorded hundreds of songs. That’s the great thing about having had a studio for as long as I can remember. Everything is recorded – some good, bad, indifferent, but all recorded.

 

Who are your top three influences and why?

I love so many really current acts. I listen a lot to Jungle and Elbow, Arcade Fire… there’s a huge  list.

And yet when really pushed on three influences I would go with:

David Bowie – magical voice, timeless prophetic lyrics and very classy music – just everything. Life on Mars is one of my favourite songs of all time.

John Lennon – Genius song writer with a spellbinding voice and mega attitude – Imagine has to be the perfect song.

Jimmy Hendrix – excellent songwriter, genius with a guitar and production that was truly decades ahead of its time – there are so many Hendrix songs still used today in TV commercials because they are timeless and packed with atmosphere and symbolism.

And I’d still need to sneak in a mention for Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan – two of the finest songwriters that will ever live.

 

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

Freedom came to me in a dream, I woke up and wrote it all down. I got 90 percent done in 20 minutes but the final 10 percent took a lot longer. But it is a song that seemed to be gifted to me, I never decided to sit down and write an anti Trump song – but and what he stands for and what he was doing was clearly concerning me greatly and he that hasn’t changed.  If anything I get more concerned with every tweet he spits out and every executive order he signs.

I think that we all need to stand up and do our bit to prevent this alt right cancer from taking hold. We cannot afford to be complacent. We can’t leave it to other people. If we value freedom we need to fight for it, or it will be taken from us. It is already happening.  Everyone can do something. Talk on social media, protest, sing songs, give money. We must never let this alt right behaviour and authoritarian, nationalistic, fascist/ racist ideology be normalised.

 

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

I live in Falkirk in Scotland, there is a very good local music scene here particularly in Glasgow and Edinburgh which are both very close.

My favourite venue has always been is Glasgow Barrowlands the vibe, the acoustics and even the size of the place are all just perfect – not too big , not too small.

 

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

Favourite Scottish band of the moment is Glasvegas and the small venue I like the most is the Mash House in Edinburgh – because it is where (IMHO) all the best good Scottish indy bands play. There is always some good talent on display there.

 

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

https://twitter.com/beldonhaigh

https://www.facebook.com/Beldon-Haigh-Freedom-An-Anti-Trump-Protest-Song-1270990246327550/?fref=ts

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/freedom/id1195525999?i=1195526008

GET TO KNOW: Glenn Harrold

How did you get your initial start in music?

I played the bass in a band called The Vagrants who morphed into the Sugar Ray Five. In 1983 we won £10,000 in the BBC1 National Battle of the Bands competition. We were then signed to a major label, released a couple of singles and appeared on various TV shows.

What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?

To write a song that become a worldwide classic hit and was covered many times by other artists. My hypnosis and meditation Apps and MP3s have sold over 7 million copies worldwide and I am now hoping to emulate those sales in the music world!

How long have you been writing your own music?

On and off for about 25 years, but recently I got the bug again big time and decided to release a few of my new songs.

Who are your top three influences and why?

The Beatles for their amazing song-writing ability and also because their later songs had such depth and resonance. The band James as they are still writing great songs after a long career.

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

My first new release is a song called The Wayfarer, featuring Dean Rhymes on lead vocals. This song tells the story of an inspirational lady called Peace Pilgrim who walked across America many times in the name of Peace. You can hear it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AChkWW6jPlY

Following that in the Spring of 2017 I am releasing a ballad called Fading Photograph. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7AaPZIGpA0

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

I moved the Fuengirola in Spain 18 months ago and I love it here. It’s interesting that whenever I get out to watch a band they nearly always play British songs. A few weeks ago I was walking through Marbella old Town and came across a band playing early Jam, Buzzcocks and Clash songs! They we’re great!

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

Not sure as it’s a new area to me.

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

You can hear all my music on my main website below and join me on all social media networks.

Website: http://www.glennharrold.com/music.html

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/glennharrold.fanpage

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GlennHarrold

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/glennharrold

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/doctorofthemind

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/glenn_harrold