The Penelopes - Axel Basquiat and Vincent T - make shimmering electro pop, with plenty of indie influences. Originally from Paris, they moved to London to finish their new album Never Live Another Yesterday. It was mixed by The Vaccines/Scissor Sisters/Lana Del Ray collaborator Dan Grech-Marguerat who was seduced by their international yet very French sound, and features Laura Kidd as guest vocalist. The Penelopes love playing live and Axel has a gorgeously growly deep voice as well as the kind of stage persona that sees him dubbed “The Black Iggy Pop”. The duo are playing a series of London gigs this month including one for Oxjam at the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen on 25th September.
Great filming with Tim Cohen and Shayde Sartain of The Fresh & Onlys today when they were in London. The San Franciscan musicians told us about some pretty interesting kit and plenty of funny stories. From pawn shop specials to beaten up guitars, we were gripped.
Music Tech Fest London 2014 launched with an incredible mix of technology, performance and probing of the future of the music industry. With everything from brain hacking to playable interactive artist merchandise, wearable tech and new business models, it was a compelling first day.
Bands and artists we’ve interviewed, from Sleaford Mods and Martyn Ware through to newcomers Deux Furieuses and dressmaker, tell us what they want under the Christmas tree - from things practical to spiritual.
Dom Smith runs the ace alternative culture magazine Soundsphere, based in Yorskhire. Soundsphere spotlights local and international musicians, and has launched its own free app. Dom is an evangelist for local talent, and has picked some of his favourite northern bands for us. There’s some amazing music here and we’re listening closely to his every word!
Animations, an app battle, new instruments and even a new genre - Gunk (geek punk) were all vying for attention as Music Tech Fest day 2 progressed.
How often do you get your hands on the stems of a track from a top-selling artist? Shure have launched a remix competition for the Snow Patrol track ‘Fallen Empires’ from their album of the same name. Turn them techno, acoustic, dubstep… anything goes. The isolated vocal and music stems are all being made available, and Snow Patrol will pick the winners, who get vouchers to spend on Shure kit.
We met “Beatboxing MC” Marv-ill Superlungs a while back, and marked him out as a talent to watch. Now he’s captured the nation’s imagination, as the beatboxer behind the Beatboxing Bird ad for First Direct. We’ve just filmed a brilliant interview with him, and can testify that he’s not called Superlungs for nothing! Here’s a little taste of what’s to come.
Pulling together The Woodentops’ tapes for their new album, sounds like some kind of knightly quest - with tasks ranging from hunting down lost dance mixes by legends such as Arthur Baker, to oven-baking fragile masters. The indie dance rock gurus have launched the 3-CD set ‘Before During After’, on One Little Indian Records, to great reviews, and there’s a new album due in 2014.
Our favourite festival - Music Tech Fest - celebrates its 10th Edition in Berlin 27-29 May, with an amazing line up of performers, technologists, hackers and industry. It’s a giant creative laboratory and festival of music ideas, taking place at the legendary Funkhaus studio complex, and we’ve got a great discount on tickets for people on our mailing list.
Wolfgang Flür held the audience spellbound at Ditto Campfire in London, with anecdotes from Kraftwerk days, tips for songwriting, and some of his new music. Electronic musicians at the packed out event included Neil Arthur from Blancmange, and Jon Fugler from Fluke, and it proved to be a great night. Wolfgang played percussion in Kraftwerk from 1973-1986, has written a book called ‘I Was A Robot’, and has a music project called Yamo, as well as DJ-ing and working on collaborations.
Legendary London music club Ministry of Sound says it is under threat from a housing development. Music lovers across the world are being urged to support the pioneering dance music operation before 26th February when London Mayor Boris Johnson will make the decision that could kill it. We spoke to Ministry’s CEO Lohan Presencer for the latest news.
French synth pop duo and disco lovers The Penelopes - Axel Basquiat and Vincent T - have done an audacious unofficial remix of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, to “honour our hero”. It’s had an amazing response and is in the top 50 of the most popular tracks on Hype Machine, which aggregates the favorite songs of music blogs all around the world.
What makes a Sleaford Mod? If you listen to the post-punk / hip-hop duo talk through a few of their favourite tracks and artists, some truths emerge. With The Wire Magazine’s Derek Walmsley on interviewing and DJ duties, the ICA Culture Now event was a chance to get some insights into the band’s formative years and influences ahead of the Sleaford Mods’ highly anticipated next album release. ‘Key Markets’, their fifth album, is out on 24th July on vinyl, CD and download.
With three bands fast carving out a name for their blistering rock, Rocklands TV put together an amazing bill at Alleycat in London’s Denmark Street. Deux Furieuses, Mourning Birds and Dana Jade made for an incredible evening.
The first ever She Rocks Awards, set up by The Women’s International Music Network to take place at The NAMM Show, really rocked! The inspiring event started with a mass vocal warm-up, honoured some amazing women in the music business and finished with a stunning performance by Orianthi, Nik West and drummer Brittany Maccarello.
Songs About Women (in the 21st Century) is an exciting compilation album that will be launched on 15th November at Rhythm Factory in East London, with performances from six of the featured bands. It’s been compiled by post-punk band Gertrude who have selected great acts from around the country. The varying genres include electronic and experimental music, and a Focus E15 poem, and many of the artists have been championed by BBC Radio 6 Music and XFM. The theme is what it means to be a woman, and Gertrude say the musical insights range from the personal to the political: the bitter sweet to the lyrical. The album is free to download, and we asked them to tell us more about the project.
Torrents of glitter, torrents of rain, torrents of talent, and lashings of politics as well as craft beer, turned Field Day into a truly heady brew.
Guitars are very important to me. I have spent a large portion of my time and emotional energies in guitar stores, looking for the new, novel and personal. It is this fascination that brought me to Tim Van Tassel’s house in Golden Valley, Minnesota. My girlfriend’s family comes from Minneapolis and we were going to see them. Our journey planned for August, I picked up the phone and called Tim out of the blue. I said I was a fan of his work from England and wanted to help out, could we meet? He seemed keen though a little surprised and frankly I felt the same. I could sense that feeling familiar to guitar fiends of being reeled in on the hook that one has baited.
Dom Smith runs alternative culture magazine Soundsphere, based in Yorkshire. Here are his latest hot tips for up and coming bands.
Two amazing artists, Amir Amor - a top Producer who is also in the blisteringly hot band Rudimental - and acclaimed multi-instrumentalist Laura Kidd from She Makes War, launched our Kit Session video series with a visit to Roland UK and a good look round the new Jupiter-50 synth. Gareth Bowen from Roland, who also plays with Tricky, showed them all its special features for studio and live, and they asked the questions - finding out the things that artists need to know.
Keith Levene is a legend in the punk world and beyond. A founding member of The Clash and PiL, he’s now raising money to record Commercial Zone 2014, which he describes as the missing 4th PiL album, and which will feature new material too. He’s got pledge rewards up for grabs on Indiegogo, including one of his guitars. Judging by the eight-minute bootleg track he sent out as an extra to pledgers, the album is going to be brilliant. We talked to Keith, who’s on twitter as @missingchannel, ahead of a rare public appearance at a Ditto Campfire session.
Music Tech Fest is back, from 29-31 May in Umeå, Sweden. With the latest in music tech, plus performance, a hack camp and jam sessions, it’s another don’t miss event. Artists already confirmed include Scanner, Laura Kriefman with Guerilla Dance Project, and Kenneth Alewine’s Performing Melancholia, a visual music experiment with an automaton. Exciting new band merch technologies, sound artists, instruments and digital platforms are all featured too, and tickets are free. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from Music Tech Fest Paris to give you a feel for what to expect.
Beth White, the inspirational founder of Who Run The World, a promotions company dedicated to booking women, looks back at two amazing years of shows, and at the future for women in music, ahead of the WRTW second birthday celebrations on Sunday 13th August at Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden, with ARXX, Fightmilk, The Baby Seals, The Menstrual Cramps, Suggested Friends, and Beth White.
Dublin duo Hudson Taylor have built a huge following for their pop-folk guitar-driven sound. We talked to the brothers about new single ‘Care’ from their Osea EP - named after a tucked away island that’s their song-writing haven. The EP is out on Polydor, and there’s a 15-date headline tour in November.
Playing foreign territories is always exciting. Polish audiences are receptive, open, and willing to book music that does not fit in boxes. When you stand on stage in Poland, everyone stops what they’re doing. When you stop what you’re doing, and your set is over, they usually ask you to continue!
Vuvuvultures’ music is very much a combination of experimenting with sound in the studio, and the live energy of writing and performing an actual song. As a result we always found playing live to be a bit of a challenge as in order to incorporate the sounds we had made in the studio we tended to have to use a backing track.
Graham Dunning’s Mechanical Techno is a masterpiece - he has played Boiler Room Live in London, Music Tech Fest in Berlin, and his demo video has had over a million views. Graham works in art, music and sound, and shared the inspiring story of Mechanical Techno at a packed Music Hackspace.
Pussy Riot Freedom Compilation is a new album of great electronic tracks donated by members of female:pressure to raise money for the two imprisoned Pussy Riot members. As hopes mount that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina will be released, the fundraising goes on to support them and their families.
Deux Furieuses’ huge visceral rock sound pins you to the wall. Their thrilling residency at The Water Rats in London has seen them dubbed “The half way point between PJ Harvey and the White Stripes”, and founding member of PJ Harvey, producer and drummer Rob Ellis, was checking them out at their most recent gig. The next Deux Furieuses show is on 2nd May.
We asked some of our featured artists what they want for Xmas and got some fascinating answers. New kit, old classics and fantasy gear - from a space bass to wireless shakers!
Beardyman’s new Dream Team Sessions kicked off at The Jazz Cafe in London, billed as ‘you make up the track titles, Beardyman and his very special guests make the album’. Part of his ‘album in an hour’ project, the first night featured guitarist Gary Lucas from Captain Beefheart, Andy Gangadeen from The Bays/Massive Attack/Chase & Status on drums and percussion, and solo bass player Steve Lawson, whom we’ve interviewed before. Rolo McGinty from The Woodentops, reviews.
Sleaford Mods play Banksy’s Dismaland on Friday 18th September, after a string of festival successes. They’ve released a remix of Tarantula Deadly Cargo ahead of the show, and Jason Williams talked about the Banksy event and how they got involved.
Loud Women Volume One is a thrilling twenty-one track compilation that gets the punk rock party started. These tightly-packaged tunes from the UK’s most hotly-tipped female artists, are ready to explode out of your speakers. From anger as an energy, to shivers down spine moments, laughs out loud, ferocious guitars, and more punchlines than a week’s comedy programming, it is punk at its broadest and best. The album launch party is Saturday 18th March with artists including Lilith Ai, Madame So and deux furieuses, and with all profits going to Women’s Aid. You can order the CD here.
If one man can be said to have brought Indian music to the west, that man was Ravi Shankar.
The first Music Tech Fest, run by Ravensbourne College and Stromatolite in London gathered sound gurus, hackers and musicians together to make, talk and play. From synth legend and 3D sound designer Martyn Ware (The Human League, BEF, Heaven 17) to the dance demon that is Coldcut/Ninja Tune’s Matt Black, and new app designers, minds were well and truly expanded, if not blown! There’s even a free Synaesthesia app.
Legendary electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire is being celebrated with a day of events in Manchester on Saturday 12th January, including specially-commissioned new music that will also be played in other cities too.
This week marks the launch of my new single “Minefields”, the latest to be released off my second album “Little Battles”. The video introduces some of my latest musical collaborators and is She Makes War’s first foray in to performance videos - I have shot them for others and appeared in them in the past but never before for this project.
Dreadzone are about to release a great new single - Too Late - that features Mick Jones on guitar and backing vocals. It fuses dance, rock and dreadness with a killer sample to make a swaggering track that embeds itself in your brain. We talked to Greg Dread about the single, and new album Escapades, ahead of the band’s tour.
I’ve played drums for 12 years, have lived in London for 3 years & love leering at shiny drum kits that i’ll never be able to afford. Somehow these things have never culminated in me going to The London Drum Show. Finally, last weekend I went to the place that, in theory, should be utopia for me. I think that any place that hands out ear plugs as standard on arrival you can’t quite describe as utopia, but it’s definitely how I picture my afterlife.
Martyn Ware launched the stunning “Tales From The Bridge” in July, a 3D soundscape collaboration covering the length of the Millennium Bridge in London. The mesmerising piece was commissioned by the Mayor of London for the London 2012 Olympics. We filmed behind the scenes - with riggers more used to rock stadiums, dangling over the Thames - and asked Martyn how he and the team, including Grammy winning composer Eric Whitacre, and poet Mario Petrucci, created the work. There’s more from Martyn on making his Human League and Heaven 17 hits on our bands page.
Desperate Journalist generated huge excitement ahead of their sold out album launch at The Lexington, with even their peers calling them the future of indie music. Their exhilarating, euphoric and intense post-punk is amazing live, and the album a must-have release.
Saint Agnes set out to thrill - whether it’s stunning raw rock n roll live shows, putting their blinding new single Sister Electric out on lathe cut vinyl, or merch that’s a special ‘The Fuzzy Agnes’ hand-built effects pedal.
The incredible vibe hit you like a velvet brick as soon as you walked through the door – outrageously good music from hotly-tipped bands, innovative merch (Satan pants anyone?), and a welcoming atmosphere.
Musician and author Helen McCookerybook was mentored by Vi Subversa of Poison Girls, and pays tribute to the punk legend.
We were tipped off about The Lampost Gullivers and their “gnarled, brutish, blues metal” and vocalist that “scares the living shit out of anyone he manages to make eye contact with”, and pitched up at the launch of their debut album All Your Worldly Schmutter on Marble Ears Records, held at The Stags Head in Hoxton, London, home to many an arresting new underground band.
The second day of #ArtBeatFest was stuffed with hotly-tipped artists, from country punk to dream pop, electro and rock. Put together by ArtBeat Promo, along with The Zine, Panda Power and Kitmonsters - our reviews team checked out these rising stars at The Amersham Arms in London.
Whales in Cubicles are making plenty of hot lists right now, from XFM to Artrocker, Daniel Radcliffe AKA Harry Potter, The Independent, the BBC’s 6 Music and The Sunday Times. They launched their new single Nowhere Flag this week at Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen. The jaw-dropping video - in which they blow up London - has already had a huge response. We’ve got some pics from the gig. Full video interviews and kit talk here.
The first #ArtBeatFest was a two-day thrill-a-minute rollercoaster at The Amersham Arms in London, featuring bands across all kinds of genres, from Hyper-Pop through to Electro and Garage Rock. With a booking policy of future festival headliners, and spearheaded by ArtBeat Promo, along with The Zine, Panda Power and Kitmonsters, the all killer no filler lineup was stuffed with the stars of tomorrow.