Month: August 2014

Indiana – ‘Heart On Fire’

Music, Reviews, Singles August 28, 2014

Originally published and still available on The Girls Are (28/08/14).

Indiana, Heart On Fire, Epic

If we take a swift detour into the land of myth, the cryptozoologists amongst us would declare that the phoenix is a creature that is cyclically reborn upon incinerating its own demise. Ricocheting back to reality, it can be noted that electronic music mirrors this observation. Since the emergence of synthpop in the 1970s, electronica has boomeranged between the good and the bad for every decade since. For every experimental musician there was a multitude of cheap imitators cashing in on their quick buck, the latest culprit of such being the resurgence of artless EDM which has latched its claws into the charts. Luckily, it transpires that we are due a ’10s electronica revival (a quick glance down TGA’s Introducing segment shows a myriad of synthpop artists) and one thrilling addition to such is Indiana.

The Nottingham born siren has been slowly slinking her way up the UK charts thanks to her sophisticated and delectable synthpop. Breakthrough single ‘Solo Dancing’ saw her peak at number 14 last April, and now the singer-songwriter returns with the brooding ‘Heart On Fire’. Debuting as Zane Lowe’s ‘Hottest Record’ (and rightly so!), ‘Heart On Fire’ is a throbbing, emotive wedge of electronica that merges tropical synths and textured percussion to create a lush and lucid piece of pulsating pop.

Indiana’s vocals meander between sultry, confessional whispers and a heavily bass toned command of Leave my heart on fire‘. Indiana’s folk lilt and proficiency in her choral craft could have easily curated something far less contemporary or interesting than the majestic spectrum of sound she has managed to concoct.

Upon closer inspection ‘Heart on Fire’ reveals itself as a dark introspective narrative of Lauren Henson’s fear of falling in love, and after naming her debut album No Romeo (a pseudonym that she gave to herself when writing) it can be expected that her forthcoming material will be equally multifaceted. It is both this honesty and occasional vulnerability that when combined with her confident musical stance makes Indiana a force to be reckoned with. Perhaps the future of electro pop is brighter than first assumed after all.

Au Revoir Simone – Spectrums

Album, Music, Reviews August 27, 2014

Originally published and still available on The Girls Are (27/08/14).

Au Revoir Simone, Spectrums, Moshi Moshi

When it comes to remixes, they are often unnecessary, unwarranted and comprised of juvenile incarnations that pale in comparison to the original. Undeterred by this, Au Revoir Simone are no stranger to the remix album. Previous full scale re-imaginings of their work include 2008′s Reverse Migration (reworkings of 2007′s The Bird of Music) and 2010′s Night Light (reinterpretations of 2009′s Still Night, Still Light), and whilst the trio’s fourth album Move In Spectrums was a lushly understated and simultaneously nostalgic and contemporary effort, in listening to Spectrums it is immediately apparent that its fraternal twin is by far a more exotic beast.

Despite being bolder than their previous work, elements in Move In Spectrums which hold back are pushed forward in Spectrums. The bass notes are deeper, the drum machine whacks and the synths manoeuvre between sophisticated electronica and ultra-pop. The voices of Erica Foster, Annie Hart and Heather D’Angelo alternate between whispering desires and uttering brisk rebukes, drifting through the darkness of the discotheque like concealed liaisons with a high school crush.

Produced for social gatherings and shindigs, Spectrums manages to scope a surprising amount of diversity in its offerings. The first half of the album runs parallel to the running order of the original work, which provides a side by side comparison of each track. Songs such as the sweltering pop nugget Just Like A Tree are practically unrecognizable with Tyde‘s remix eschewing much of the vocal and amping up the bass to create an enjoyable, throbbing club number. Kiwi‘s rendition of Boiling Point travels a similar route as the track builds into an exquisite climax, whilst Passarella Death Squad‘s version of More Than and the Babe remix of Lead Is Gathering offer more subtle and experimental interpretations of their counterparts.

The retro infused and funky pop number Somebody Who is the album’s main victory. This gem has been given an EP’s worth of eclectic versions which include the scuzzy and theatrical The Shoes and San Zhi effort and Machines In Heaven‘s lucid and pulsating remix, whilst Dubka‘s interpretation channels an echoed dance backing. The cherry on this colourful cake however is NZCA Lines addictive remix of Somebody Who; a leisurely slice of pure disco funk that jolts new life into the song.

Now onto their third remix album, Au Revoir Simone continue to invite others to take their songs for a spin. These renditions are fun, sprightly and intriguing, and as a body of work, Spectrums does not take itself too seriously, and as such, neither should we.

Treasure Hunter feat. Sara Thomas

Fashion, Features, Vintage August 20, 2014

Originally written for, published by and still available at Old Tat (19/08/14).

Many of us dream of a free spirited existence that allows us to indulge in our most passionate loves, but for vintage hoarder Sara Thomas, that dream is a reality. As the one-woman powerhouse behind vintage brand WAISTE, Thomas has nourished her hobby into a flourishing and ever-expanding business.

‘People always asked me where I got my clothing from and always seemed to sigh when I said it was vintage,’ says Thomas. ‘I seem to have a knack for finding great pieces, so I thought why not turn the talent into a career!’ It is this aptitude for discovering unique morsels of vintage that has seen WAISTE gather such an impassioned and rapid following, one that has seen the label garner over 20,000 Instagram followers* and having their wares donned by high-calibre models of the moment Cara Delevinge and Georgia May Jagger.

The popularity of WAISTE extends to Thomas’ own internet presence largely in thanks to her personal fashion blog, also monikered as WAISTE. ‘All my social media is interconnected and I love being able to showcase WAISTE in my outfits on my blog. I basically just wanted somewhere to document my outfits, as I usually ended up forgetting everything I wear and it all went from there really’.

What began as a desire to dress differently evolved into an unquenchable thirst for the old and quirky (‘I was always asking my Mum and Nana if I could go up the loft and dress up in their old clothes!’) and rummaging through discarded items in charity shops in a bid to authentically channel classic and bohemian fashion icons such as Marianne Faithful, Janis Joplin, Jane Birkin, Mary-Kate Olsen and one Stevie Nicks. ‘I’ve gone from wearing every print I could find to look as crazy as possible to toning down my whole wardrobe,’ says Thomas, who now prefers key pieces such as smock, midi and maxi dresses and kimonos. ‘I remember a lot of bad outfits, but luckily Instagram wasn’t around at the time to have any evidence of them!’

‘People always asked me where I got my clothing from and always seemed to sigh when I said it was vintage,’ says Thomas. ‘I seem to have a knack for finding great pieces, so I thought why not turn the talent into a career!’ It is this aptitude for discovering unique morsels of vintage that has seen WAISTE gather such an impassioned and rapid following, one that has seen the label garner over 20,000 Instagram followers* and having their wares donned by high-calibre models of the moment Cara Delevinge and Georgia May Jagger.

The popularity of WAISTE extends to Thomas’ own internet presence largely in thanks to her personal fashion blog, also monikered as WAISTE. ‘All my social media is interconnected and I love being able to showcase WAISTE in my outfits on my blog. I basically just wanted somewhere to document my outfits, as I usually ended up forgetting everything I wear and it all went from there really’.

What began as a desire to dress differently evolved into an unquenchable thirst for the old and quirky (‘I was always asking my Mum and Nana if I could go up the loft and dress up in their old clothes!’) and rummaging through discarded items in charity shops in a bid to authentically channel classic and bohemian fashion icons such as Marianne Faithful, Janis Joplin, Jane Birkin, Mary-Kate Olsen and one Stevie Nicks. ‘I’ve gone from wearing every print I could find to look as crazy as possible to toning down my whole wardrobe,’ says Thomas, who now prefers key pieces such as smock, midi and maxi dresses and kimonos. ‘I remember a lot of bad outfits, but luckily Instagram wasn’t around at the time to have any evidence of them!’

*stats correct at time of publication.

Read the rest of the feature over on Old Tat.

Vintage goodies: http://www.waiste.co.uk

Sara’s fashion blog: http://waiste.blogspot.co.uk

Images of Sara Thomas: © Sara Thomas

Interview: NIGHTS

Features, Music, Q+A August 13, 2014

Originally published and still available on Gigslutz (12/08/14).

Nights are a Newport four-piece with a penchant for minimalist indie with a touch of funk. Made up of  Mikee Gregory, Anthony J. Smith, Gareth Pearson and John Miles, the band are about to unleash their new single ‘Hey Love Hello’ via Necessary Records on September 15th. Before the hubbub begins, Gigslutz took a pit-stop with Mikee to get the low-down on this elusive foursome.

Hi Nights! What have you been up to lately?

We have been stuck in the studio preparing our production for our recent Club NME gig at KOKO, whilst writing a few new tracks in between which we are about to record in our newly refurbished studio.

How did the KOKO gig go?

We obviously wanted to step up our game drastically, so we went to work on making it a full production. We had enough in the budget to bring in some great crew and used a friend of ours and all round great FOH guy, Simon Baxter, who really made the sound something quite special. We also wanted to invest a lot of time in the lighting production, so we hired one of the best guys we know, Jordon Cooper from Moth Lights, who we had seen recently doing lights for our friends Skindred.

With all these factors coming together, along with a lot of practice and preparation and the addition of a violin on our new single ‘Hey Love Hello’, the show went off without a hitch. We were looked after extremely well by KOKO and really made the evening and event one to remember. A lot of friends turned up to support us, so to share that great show with some of your closest friends really makes it something special.

You unveiled the video for your latest track ‘Hey Love Hello’ a few weeks ago featuring alt-model Carlos Costa and his girlfriend having a 3 minute canoodle on London Bridge. Was that your idea, and if so, what made you choose it?

To be totally honest about the video, we weren’t 100% sold on the idea from the directors Robbie Knox and Ryan Prout at first, but after talks with them and amongst ourselves we came to the conclusion that what we wanted to create was something simple and elegant to match the song. We chatted for a few days about how we would do it, who we would use, where and how it would be shot. We wanted it to be classy with an edge, so the black and white was our classy and the edge of the video was the fact it was all in reverse.

We are friends with Carlos and Jenna and we wanted a couple kissing who really meant it, who live it and who love each other. You can’t make two actors do that, we had to have it real and Carlos and Jenna were the perfect couple. We asked them, they agreed to do it, we shot it and it worked beautifully. Some people love it and some people don’t like it but either way we had people chatting about it and to us that’s the main reason for doing a video.

‘Hey Love Hello’ mixes catchy melodies and funky guitars to create chilled-out indie pop. What influences your sound and how do you approach creating your music?

Firstly, writing a song always seems to fall from nowhere and slap you in the face. I hear something by mistake and tend to scramble for my phone and hum or sing it in to my voice recorder. With the help of Gareth I find the chords and progressions I need and we start playing around with different chords, bass lines and melodies until we are left with the bits that stick. We all end up working together in the end, however, that’s just my preference for writing songs. It works differently for each of us.

When creating our music we go with whatever we want to do, we have recently been writing slow soul songs and songs that seem to be driven by Talking Heads and then other songs that are in 3⁄4 and swing. Next week we will be doing minimal house. We believe that good music is just good music and that people should not be confined by the gates of genre. Exploring music is the best part of writing.

With all this in mind ‘Hey Love Hello’ was a song that we wanted to be extremely simple and elegant but with a strong groove and melody. Antony plays one note throughout the whole song and sounds horrible without hearing the song, but we felt it worked at the time and still feel that now. It was a little bit of a challenge if anything.

Do you find it difficult to combine everyone’s musical preferences within the band?

Everyone in the band has their own style and choice of listening music, however, Nights has a very distinguished vision. We know what’s right for the band and so some songs we write may not even be used in a Nights set, but we are writing music to help us explore it and not to just be confined by the band. Having four perceptions looking in on one project is a great thing, it’s just managing it correctly and we all understand what Nights is about so it makes decisions easier.

Read more of the interview over at Gigslutz.

See more of my Gigslutz posts here.