Tag: interview

New Music Friday: Amii Dawes

Indie-folk singer-songwriter Amii Dawes has been enchanting Northampton and the wider world for the last few years. New “comeback” single ‘Filthy’ progresses her sound on to new heights, so New…

Indie-folk singer-songwriter Amii Dawes has been enchanting Northampton and the wider world for the last few years. New “comeback” single ‘Filthy’ progresses her sound on to new heights, so New Boots had to take five with her. Kettle on then…

How did you start on this path? You’ve been writing songs since 12, is that right?
Yes, I started at age 12. I found it really difficult when my Grandad passed away and writing poetry and short stories was the only way that I could deal with stuff. My Grandad was obsessed with those home shopping channels and he once bought a Yamaha keyboard, and he would sit me down and try to teach me Beatles songs on it. He left the keyboard to me when he passed away, and I wrote my first ever song called ‘Here With Me’. I still use that keyboard to this day.

You’ve been in bands too, could you tell us a bit about that part of your history?
I joined my first band called Light Factory when I was about 16/17, I wrote most of the songs and we had a much more fun/pop vibe than the stuff I make now. Then I was in OhBoy! and we made mostly noisy pop stuff. We got to do some really cool things in that band; we played Maida Vale and got to perform at some amazing festivals like 2,000 Trees.

How would you describe your sound?
I really don’t know how to describe my current sound if I’m honest. I think I’ve always wanted to write in different genres, but got nervous so in the past I tended to stick to the more comfortable acoustic folksy kind of vibe. Now I feel like I’ve found my style a little bit more, so I’m experimenting with different styles and taking inspiration from the music I listen to, which is literally a bit of everything. My main influence has always been Joni Mitchell, I happen to think she’s the greatest songwriter of all time and has done everything from acoustic folk to jazz to soft rock and beyond, I think she’s incredible. I’m also a massive Beatles fan. And Annie Lennox. And Simon & Garfunkel. And pretty much anyone that has ever written a song that I’ve listened to.

You put an album out in 2015. How was that experience? How it been easy to follow it up with writing and recording new material?
Recording and releasing Little Blue Book was such a great experience. Before that I had recorded one EP which I mainly used to just sell hard copies of at gigs and things. To have a collection of songs that I’d put my heart and soul into out there in the open for everyone to listen to if they wanted was a lovely feeling. I took a little hiatus from recording but was still very active musically with bands, writing and gigs. I did a tour of Europe in 2017 and when I returned from that I knew that the next thing I recorded had to top anything I’ve done before, so I definitely didn’t want to rush into anything just for the sake of it.

Tell us everything about this new song, ‘Filthy’.
The new single ‘Filthy’ is, I think, one of the best songs I’ve written to date. As a kid I was always a little bit strange and little bit of a geek. I used to think that that was a bad thing, but in the last couple of years have really come to terms with the fact that it’s what makes me who I am, and I’m now really proud of it. The song is basically about celebrating everything that makes us different, and that if we were all the same the world would be a pretty boring place.
The song was recorded at The Animal Farm, which is an independent record label based in London that I’ve been working with for about a year now. I sent them a demo of the song and they really liked it, so they took me under their wing and helped me to turn it into what it is now. I sing all the vocals on the song and play guitar, and the Leppanen brothers from The Animal Farm play bass, drums and electric guitar.

There’s a nice video to accompany it.
I’m so proud of the music video. The idea of the song is celebrating people for their differences and the video shows that too. I wanted a really simple idea for the video, just a bunch of people stood in front of a camera showing their natural reactions to every day things. It really shows off the people at their best, with no fancy lighting or camera trickery, just them being themselves. I also got to direct the video which was great fun and it was shot and edited by my very talented friend James Ryan.

Any Northamptonshire acts or people you wanna give a shout out to?
I play in Northampton all the time, I think our music scene is one of the best in the country but also one of the most underrated. There are so many people that I love here, but one of my favourites has to be Velvet Engine. We go back a few years now and I think she’s just fab! I also love working with anyone that is associated with the Umbrella Fair Organisation, I think they do great things not only for the music scene but for the community as a whole.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
I pre-ordered Lewis Capaldi’s debut album just this morning, he’s got one of the best voices I’ve heard in a long time. Also Dermot Kennedy; I went to see him live the other day and he blew my mind.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
I have a few more singles and videos coming out throughout this year which I really can’t wait for people to hear. I really do think that it’s my best work yet. I think things are heading in the right direction for me at the moment, so I just want to keep making the best music I can make, working with people that I admire and hopefully just keep on doing what I love to do.

 

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New Music Friday: Kev Minney

Northampton-born artist Kev Minney went to Brighton to find himself; and the process worked if his music is anything to go by. As he prepares for his sophomore album with…

Northampton-born artist Kev Minney went to Brighton to find himself; and the process worked if his music is anything to go by. As he prepares for his sophomore album with the release of new single ‘God Is An Algorithm’ New Boots took the opportunity to get some more of the details of his personal and musical journey.

How did you become a singer-songwriter?
I became a singer-songwriter after turning 30. Before this time I spent almost two decades around the Northampton jam scene. I think I always was searching to do something deeply creative, but never had the confidence, or never knew exactly what it was that I wanted to do. I moved to Brighton around seven years ago. I think I needed the change of scenery, and that change helped me discover that I wanted to play folk music, rather than rock/blues/jazz stuff. I was always in and out of various different bands, but in the back of my mind I was seeking what I wanted to do. It kind of was perfect timing to have this change; a lot of other things changed for me around that time. If I would have stayed in Northampton I would have made this change eventually, even though being in Brighton did help, it was the more the case that I needed to find a new love for music. I was always listening to artist like Nick Drake and co, but was never playing that stuff.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences in getting to here?
I like the fact that I sing with my Northampton voice. A lot of folks down here in Brighton think I’m from a small farm or something, because of my accent isn’t as clean as it is down here. I play around with a lot of odd guitar tunings, and like to find various inverted chords. The piece I’m writing needs to interest me first and foremost. I get easily bored, so it has to have something unusual about it. I obviously hope that my sound is interesting to the listener, or at least I hope they can either be inspired or feel something from the song. A lot of influence probably comes from the guitar, though I find it more interesting when it comes from the song. With my songs I try my best to not hide anything and be open with them. The album I have listened to the most is Blue by Joni Mitchell, and for that very reason of being total open, raw and emotive.

Your album Stories Of The Sky from 2017 seemed to go down well. What was the reaction like?
Ah, it is so hard to say. From an artist point of view, you either look too much into it, or kick it under the carpet and try not to look. I was very pleased with it, I learned a million lessons, and I improved. I think this is what artists should always aim for; to always improve, and provide honest, decent songs. To be completely transparent the artist also needs a good level of drive too, as well as good songs. I worked incredibly hard to get it out there and heard, and just hoped that people enjoy it. I felt that Stories of the Sky was a time of establishing myself in the singer-songwriting world. I am happy with it and very happy with the reaction I received. I got played on BBC Radio, in Acoustic magazine, and knocked out a few European and UK tours. Though I am more happy with my forthcoming second album, but I think everyone says that!

Tell us about this new single, ‘God Is An Algorithm’.
First of all, the whole album [to be called Modern Stories] is all about stories of our modern time: technology, mental health or having good friends, it’s very broad. This single is about that algorithms making more and more decisions for us, therefore losing our free will. Book writer Yuval Noah Harari had just released his second book Homo Deus: A brief history of tomorrow. He was talking on a podcast and he mentioned the words ‘God is an algorithm’ – I thought, that’s a great song title, and listened further to the podcast. A week or so later, and after reading some of his book, I managed to write the song. I am really inspired by technology, astronomy, and general philosophy. I sometimes switch between these subjects and raw human emotions in my songs, or try to link the two.

What are your live shows like? Why should people come see you?
Sometimes it is just me, sometimes with Andy who plays keys, violins, mandocellos and other instruments. Sometimes it’s with Steph who plays keys and provides backing vocals. And for my next gig I have hired a string quartet! I much prefer playing with others when possible. I try my best to engage with the audience, and try my best to just be myself.

Best thing about moving to Brighton? Worst thing about leaving Northampton?
Leaving Northampton was really hard. I have a lot of good friends there, but it was a decision I had to make, as I was desperate for a change. I recently recorded a video with AudioStage in Northampton [for series 3], and was chatting to Marcus and co. They mentioned how the Northampton scene music is growing, which is amazing. We have always had so many great musicians and bands, and it is great to hear it is growing. When I moved to Brighton in 2011 it wasn’t purely for music reasons, it was more-so for needing a change, I was 29 when I left and it was the first time I left my hometown. Brighton has a great music scene: it’s lively, every night there is something happening, and I have managed to become friends with a lot of folks in the music scene here. I still keep in touch with people in Northampton, and they also support me a lot with my music. I am really appreciative of this.

What has been your favourite moment of the past 12 months, career-wise?
Quite a few! Recording the ten songs and making the music videos were all enjoyable. I have really enjoyed playing shows with Andy and Steph. We have been having a great time playing live, and this last year I have felt that I have much more confidence on stage. That’s a big thing, as it took me a while to get over nerves, which I still have, but I feel more at home. Those who know me know that I stutter a bit, and sometimes stuttering whilst talking live is a bit of a pain in the arse. But I’m used to it; sometimes I just can’t always get my message across clearly.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
As I writing this I am listening to an artist called The Miserable Rich – I’m loving their music [chamber pop]. Also the classics, I have been playing a lot of Beatles stuff recently. I kinda purposefully pick songs to sing along with, so I can improve my voice. Recently I have been trying to learn the cheesiest song ever written, ‘Unchained Melody’. It’s beautiful, but so hard to sing!

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
Mostly to carry on what I am doing. I feel I have found a really nice balance of being creative and getting stuff done. I am already writing the third record, so that’s on the cards for sure. Steph and I are currently setting up a European tour, and then will do another UK tour. So, yes, write, record, tour, love it!

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New Music Friday: EGO

Milton Keynes/Northampton trio EGO is the new brainchild of Sean Grant, the man behind growly rockers S.G. Wolfgang. Joined by Phill Andreas on guitar and Darren Stephens on drums, the…

Milton Keynes/Northampton trio EGO is the new brainchild of Sean Grant, the man behind growly rockers S.G. Wolfgang. Joined by Phill Andreas on guitar and Darren Stephens on drums, the band are on a mission to get down and dirty with your rock’n’roll desires. Their new eponymously-titled EP, featuring lead single ‘Gurl Is Gunna Kill U’, is a real treat, and New Boots went and got all the background titbits from Mr Grant.

How did you guys get together?
EGO was born from a love of heavier music and boredom. It was an inbetweeny moment of having some free time and throwing together some music which I really enjoyed. Originally it was me and Mark, but it had no future unfortunately, so I recruited some mates that just so happened to play the required instruments. Three mates playing in a band having a laugh, just like when we all aspire to start our first band with starry eyes.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
Angry sexy shouty punky rock. Definitely if Jamie Lenman had a gangbang with Idles and Frank Carter.

What was the reaction like to your ‘Social Media SUX’ single last year? It seems the social media backlash is in full effect these days…
Yeah it was good; I think people were digging it as it was a bit different. BBC Introducing gave it some love, which we’re always appreciative of. Ah social media, we all love and hate you. It’s still a great platform to reach a fan base, although now you mainly have to pay for advertising to reach that fan base. Although I can’t see it going anywhere.

Tell us everything about this new EP
It is mind blergh from my brain. Whatever’s in there comes out in my writing. It’s heavy, but it’s melodic and screamy – but hopefully in the right places. It’s angry and it’s cheeky, but it has its sombre moments. It’s the whole flipping spectrum in five tracks. It’s fundamentally EGO. It’s not taking itself too seriously, it’s having fun. It’s remembering why you want to make music, and loving it again. I fundamentally write all the tracks with embellishment from the lads, and in the same way I record and produce all of it too. It’s something that I’ve played at before, and with this project wanting to to have complete control it just made sense to to do it myself. That’s why we’ve birthed Alt:Disco Records too; it’s all our vehicle and we’re looking forward to being at the steering wheel. ‘Gurl Is Gunna Kill U’ was from Friday nights DJing the club night Alt:Disco [at The Craufurd Arms]. Seeing the endless pursuit by men of the women on the dancefloor, and thinking “man that girl is going to kill you”…or “that girl is literally going to kill you”. I love a play on words, a double-edged sword… And a song was born.

What are your live shows been like so far?
Amazing noisily horribly fun. It definitely has a more interesting stage dynamic with myself just screaming / singing, a guitarist guitaring and a drummer drumming. We have our own little bubble, and I’ve certainly enjoyed the freedom of just being a frontman.

What has been your favourite EGO moment of the past year?
Mark and I did a northern tour which was pretty cool and 100% laughs, and I’m just looking forward to this new release and unleashing the new live setup for the world to see!

Are you part of a wider scene in Northants/Bucks, playing with like-minded bands? Any favourite bands/venues you wanna give a shout out to?
Definitely; I’m always open to collaboration and helping each other out. Definitely The Craufurd Arms in Wolverton, and the most recent band who’ve jumped on the bill at our EP show Loose Tooth – SICK BAND.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
I’m a big fan of local music, so it was actually the new release from Big Loss! Bloody lovely stuff by three lovely people. Apart from that then the new Crows album Silver Tongues is colossus.

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
All we aspire to is to be bigger than Ginger Snaps.

The EGO EP is out now on Alt:Disco Records via the usual download and streaming platforms

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New Music Friday: Harry Mockett

Harry Mockett is a 20 year-old singer, songwriter, and producer from Northampton, who has seemingly come out of nowhere to wow us with his first two singles. ‘Circles’ was quickly…

Harry Mockett is a 20 year-old singer, songwriter, and producer from Northampton, who has seemingly come out of nowhere to wow us with his first two singles. ‘Circles’ was quickly followed by new one ‘Into Night’, and New Boots had to find out more behind his journey so far.

How did you develop your music to this point in 2019?
I started playing the guitar at quite a young age, 5 or 6 I think, and singing just went hand in hand with that as time went by. As a teenager I gigged a lot, and sang in a band for five years, but it wasn’t until college I really found my love for music production and having total control over how my music sounded. It changed the way I write music, and it became a big part of the creative process for me.

How would you describe your sound? What are your main influences?
I’ve always been a big fan of old school hip-hop and disco music, and I feel like that shows in my music in that I like using nice chords and some busy guitar parts. But at the same time I make sure not to overdo it, and keep things simple. A less-is-more kind of thing. I think that’s important, production wise; to have everything in its own pocket. More importantly, what I write needs to feel good to play.

What was the reaction like to first single ‘Circles’?
The reaction to ‘Circles’ was amazing. As my first single I was nervous about how it would be received initially, especially after having not released any music for so long. But when it made the national ‘BBC Introducing Hot List’ [on April 9th] it made it sink in how well it’s going down. It’s definitely given me some confidence that people will like my EP that comes out in May.

Tell us about this new one, ‘Into Night’.
‘Into Night’ all grew from a bass line I’d been messing with for a while, you can hear a part of it at the start. That bass originally played throughout the verse, but I decided to strip it back and have it come in more infrequently. I’d had the idea for the chorus vocal melody for a long time as well, and this just turned out to be the perfect track to use it on. After I first recorded the song, in my shed/studio where I make all my demos, I knew I wanted to make the arrangement bigger. So when I was recording this along with the rest of my EP at Numen Studios we tracked some keys [from Joe Nix], percussion [Matt Brettle], and female vocals/harmonies [Lauren Dejey], which really brought the chorus to life. It was a great place to be creatively. We were all throwing ideas into the mix, and I’m really happy with the finished product.

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire?
I’ve been out the loop recently due to getting diagnosed with a brain tumour last May, so nearly a year ago now. It was quite a hectic year, seven weeks spent in the John Radcliffe in Oxford, and then seven weeks receiving Proton Beam Therapy in Essen, Germany. At one point I was given a 50/50 chance of making it through the night, so it definitely wasn’t a smooth ride. Despite all of that going on I was still making music throughout my recovery, and it was a huge relief that I hadn’t lost my ability and drive, post neurosurgery.  Whilst it has been the biggest challenge imaginable, my music has been a driving force of positivity, and has really given me something to look forward to and focus on even when times were tough.

Whilst the tumour has left me with lifelong damage, I am now back to my old self and have a changed outlook on life. This experience has really shown me how powerful music can be in healing, and the importance of always looking forward and never giving up on what you want to do. Amazingly I got the all clear at the end of February just after I released ‘Circles’, and now that I’m putting music out again I’m excited to get gigging later this year and seeing more local artists.

What have you been digging recently? What was the last album you streamed?
I really love stuff from the likes of Vulfpeck, Anderson Paak, Jamiroquai to name a few. Anything with groove. I’m a big fan of Tom Misch; he also has a love for disco/jazz/hip-hop kind of stuff. I came across him when he was just a beat-maker on Soundcloud, so it’s crazy to have seen him get to where he is now. It’s so great seeing other songwriter-producers blow up, it really motivates me to just make the music I want to make and have faith in it. Last album streamed was Fantastic, Vol. 2 by Slum Village.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
I’m dropping a new single called ‘Windows’ in early May. It’s without a doubt the longest I’ve ever spent on a track, especially on the production front. I’ve been excited about this one for a while, so I’m very happy to finally be sharing it. I’m looking forward to releasing an EP in May, and following that I’m planning to start gigging it which I can’t wait for. It’s been way too long. That’s the goal for me really. Of course it’d be amazing if more opportunities came my way and more people hear my music, but as long as I’m recording music and playing shows I’ll be content. Anything else that comes along with it is just a bonus.

Harry Mockett on Spotify

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New Music Friday: Nailbreaker

Digital hardcore artist George Hammond aka Nailbreaker has set the cat amongst the pigeons a little with his early recordings and performances. The Acolytes singer has just released his first…

Digital hardcore artist George Hammond aka Nailbreaker has set the cat amongst the pigeons a little with his early recordings and performances. The Acolytes singer has just released his first EP, entitled Spectrum Songs. New Boots locked him in a basement for a thorough interrogation.

How did you start this project?
I started playing around with the idea of doing something more electronic-centric around August-September 2018, in the downtime of my other band Acolytes not really doing anything. I don’t think there was anything particular in my listening habits that inspired me to start this project. I had just come out of a really difficult period in my personal life, I didn’t have anything interesting to say in Acolytes, I just wanted to make something different and unique and not look back. I put out my first single, ‘Shawn Michaels Circa 1999’, and the reaction was way more positive than I was expecting, so I just kept moving.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
Generally I find it difficult citing main influences for my music; I have a pretty broad taste in music and film so I pick up lots of different things from different places. I think my music fits most accurately under subgenres like digital hardcore or cyberpunk, so I reckon there’s some inherent influence from bands in those styles; bands like Atari Teenage Riot, Death Grips, Machine Girl, Deli Girls, etc. It’s the energy and ethos of hardcore punk put through a filter of industrial, harsh noise, breakcore, power electronics, maybe some rap. I don’t know, it’s very impulsive.

What has the reaction been like to your singles so far? Great to see BBC Introducing behind ‘Friday Aesthetics’.
Yeah it was well weird seeing BBC Introducing be so positive about it. In a good way obviously, it just wasn’t something I expected. I’m really grateful for all the support I’ve received so far from everyone; sometimes I have a hard time viewing my music in a context outside of ‘me dicking around and maybe some people might like it’. So seeing people say all this positive stuff, and seeing how many people have reacted well, has been really reassuring. Had a dude in America send me some anime fan art, which was wild for a project where I mostly work on my phone. But it’s shit like that that’s so cool about doing this project; that people feel inspired to create after hearing this stuff. That’s why I’ve also been really grateful for receiving requests for collabs and remixes and stuff. If I want people to take away one thing from my music, it’s to create their own art and creatively push themselves as much as possible.

Tell us everything about this ‘Spectrum Songs’ EP
I recorded, mixed, and mastered the EP in my house over an eleven day period. I didn’t leave the house, drink, smoke, use social media, or listen to other music until it was finished. As much as those things can help fuel creativity, I thought it was important [especially with a self-imposed deadline] to not put any kind of filter on my ideas so I could be as artistically raw as possible. That probably sounds bare pretentious, but it worked for me.
I wanted to make sure that every song on the EP had its own distinct sound and style, without sounding out of place in the context of an overall piece. When I put out ‘Friday Aesthetics’ as a single, I didn’t want people to take it as a teaser track because [other than being aggressive and noisey] none of the other tracks sound like that. Lyrically I didn’t want to be as message-orientated as I am in Acolytes; I think there are a lot of social and personal things that aren’t addressed in that band that I wanted to address here. On the EP I wrote about internet culture, sexuality, personal issues I face, whatever else. The lyrics are available to read on my Bandcamp page. I’d encourage anyone interested to read them themselves and come away with their own interpretation.

What are your live shows like?
I don’t really put a lot of thought into gigs in terms of things like, I don’t know, particular movements or whatever, I don’t want it be choreographed. I see bands do that kind of thing and it completely takes me out of it. The only thing I think I stay aware of is interacting with other people. I try to talk as little as possible during my sets, so making people feel personally involved in what’s going on is important to me, so physically I’m always as upfront and confrontational with the people there as possible. Other than that I like to climb and jump off of stuff. I bleed quite a lot during my shows. I normally have a drummer playing along live as well, either Marcus [from Acolytes] or Dan [from La Folivora]. I don’t know. Every single set I play is different so describing them is difficult; if anyone wants a better idea of what my shows are like then they should come join the party themselves.

Tell us a bit more about the NN10 Noise Club? Is Acolytes likely to come back at some point?
I’ve been asked the Acolytes question a lot recently and I’ve not really been able to give a proper answer. Right now none of us really have any desire to do anything Acolytes related. That doesn’t mean we’re not gonna play more shows or release more music at some point, but right now we’re all more interested in doing other things. Bewlay’s releasing music under the name Dylon Dean, Marcus has just started releasing his own solo material, Tom is playing bass in his brother band, Dan Pigeon.
NN10 Noise Club was an inside joke that got out of hand. Now it’s a collective of Rushden-based musicians. We use that name to put on shows, as a label name for releases, to shitpost on social media. We’ll figure out what it is eventually.

What has been your favourite Nailbreaker moment so far?
My second ever gig was a highlight. It was a house show in Bournemouth and was probably the most intimate space I’ve ever played in [the address of the house is also the title of the closing track on ‘Spectrum Songs’]. I also played a show at The Library in Oxford last month which was probably one of my favourite shows ever. Honestly I don’t reflect on things a lot, I just keep moving. I think I probably should reflect on things more often but it’s always more important to me to think about the present and the future. Maybe I’d call myself a futurist if I wasn’t so pessimistic.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
The last album I bought was a cassette copy of Veteran by JPEGMAFIA, it’s my favourite album from 2018 and I’d been meaning to get a physical copy of it for a while. The last album I streamed was We Choose Pretty Names by Kermes, another one of my favourites from last year. Can’t recommend either of those albums enough. I think Kermes have some new material on the way from what I can tell, so keep an eye out for that.

What is your burning desire for Nailbreaker to do in the future? What plans do you have?
Play as many shows as I possibly can, I wanna bleed in as many venues and houses as possible before the year’s up [so if you’re reading this and you put on shows, contact me via social media. I would call that a shameless plug but this is an interview about my EP anyway, so fuck it]. Other than that, I’m recording new music but it’s not gonna be out for a while. I might be involved with another project this year, but I can’t talk about it yet. I’ll probably keep posting stuff on Acolytes’ Instagram account without having any plans to play or record music. Maybe there’ll be some collabs in the works, who knows.
All I’ll say is keeping watching. I said it was impulsive music and I wasn’t lying.

Spectrum Songs is out now on BandCamp and the usual digital platforms. Feature photo by David Jackson

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New Music Friday: Beth Munroe

Wellingborough-raised, Northampton College [and BIMM] graduate Beth Munroe is back with her second EP of intensely personal indietronica. New Boots couldn’t wait to hear it, nor the story behind the…

Wellingborough-raised, Northampton College [and BIMM] graduate Beth Munroe is back with her second EP of intensely personal indietronica. New Boots couldn’t wait to hear it, nor the story behind the artist. So here’s a little history and more from our conversation.

How did you first begin writing songs and performing?
I remember writing songs as soon as I picked up the guitar, before I could even play, honestly. I pressured myself to get better every day, but as soon as I would touch the neck my first instinct always was to just muck about and write and sing. I wrote heavier stuff and performed in rock bands when I was 18, searching for the right band members who were dedicated enough. When I realised I was going to have to go it alone I rethought my sound, and took my rock influences into a darker pop/indietronica sound.

How would you describe your current sound? Who are your main influences?
Someone called my music “indietronica” and I’ve been rolling with that ever since. I took my early guitar influences of Muse, Radiohead and Biffy Clyro and pushed into a more modern electronic dark-pop sound – more influenced by CHVRCHES, Billie Eilish or Tash Sultana.

You moved to Brighton for a while to continue your artistic pursuits, was that a useful learning curve?
Yes. I studied guitar and songwriting for four years, but I think I learned my most useful lessons just as a human being. When I came back I had a whole new world of experiences to write about; I wasn’t a naive nerdy kid holed up in my room anymore. I had my heart broken, I sank a boat, I was homeless for a while, I was fired, I made lifelong friends, I pissed other people off, I grew up, and I messed up so many times the ego-driven perfectionist in me was hammered out, failure by failure.

What was the reaction like last year’s University of Northampton-assisted debut EP, ‘The Euphoria Of Losing Everything’?
It’s nearly a year on and I’m still overwhelmed by the response. Especially at gigs: when I played the EP live there was such an incredible reaction. I remember the first time I came offstage and people were queuing to buy the EP I had to fight so hard not to cry. It meant to much, and still does.

Tell us everything about this new EP, ‘i amok’.
This couldn’t have been done more differently than the ‘Euphoria’ EP. Everything you hear was recorded in a different place. Some of it was recorded in my home; the backing vocals were recorded lying down in bed under the duvet! Some stuff was recorded in different studios, some at friends houses. It was absolute chaos. I produced and mixed some parts, other parts were done by three different talented friends of mine. The songs themselves changed constantly, and entire songs were scrapped and replaced twice. Each song ended up being about something completely different, meaning running themes and cohesion went out the window. It was all over the place and an absolute nightmare to keep on top of, and keep the momentum going. It was supposed to be released last September!
My personal life couldn’t have been more chaotic either, punctuated by an awful few weeks when my mum became so critically ill we really thought we were going to lose her. Of course everything else was dropped, and when finally I came back to the EP it was with the addition of the song ‘Brave’, in honour of her, and the moments that I absolutely begged the universe to let her live.
The feeling of absolute hopeless, endless chaos ended up being quite an inspiration for the name, artwork, and overall vibe of the EP. Ambitious projects can get messy very quickly, and life is messy enough as it is. More than anything else it just becomes a test of character to just carry on, even though everything’s imperfect and feels wrong and frustrating, and there’s just endless setbacks and obstacles. That’s how life just is, and in the end I absolutely love the fight this EP has been, and the fact that it represents standing in a hurricane inferno of complete mess and know that everything is OK. I am OK.

How are your live shows going in London and around the UK?
They’re incredible; every gig feels like the best night of my life, and they keep getting bigger and better and more terrifying. Not going to lie: touring the UK as a solo artist is exhausting, especially working a full-time job as well. I remember playing Eastbourne one night, Edinburgh the next night and then rushing back to London for work at 7am (poor tour management on my part). The feedback and support from the tour was more than anything I could have asked. I can’t explain how grateful I am to everybody who came, and everybody who bought an EP to support this.

Any favourite Northamptonshire acts and/or venues to you wanna give a shout out to?
I’ve been keeping an eye on Kilamojo for a long time. I love that they’re unique, and I’m super honoured to be playing with them at the end of this month. [sane] are another; a beautiful Northampton ambient-electro act that deserve more recognition. I went to college and university with Ashe O’Hara from Voices from the Fuselage, so I root for them as a friend but I’m also blown away by them as a fan. Their new album [Odyssey: The Founder Of Dreams] came out last year and it’s just stunning.
I’ve had a lot of help from people in Northampton, and for that I’m super grateful. Particularly SBD Promotions, Northampton University, WMTH Records, Audio Works and NLive Radio for all their help getting me where I am now.

What has been your favourite musical moment of the past year?
I would say one of the tour dates, but I’m not sure which one! Otherwise probably when my single ‘Masochist’ was played on BBC Introducing. That was a really surreal moment to hear myself on the same radio station I listen to every day on the way to work – till the day I die I won’t forget that night.

What was the last album/EP you bought/streamed?
Been listening to Paradise by [Canadian punk band] White Lung the last couple of days. They’re such unique and talented songwriters, they deserve so much more recognition.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
I do my best to run everything on my own but I do really need help, whether it’s a manager, record label, or another musician. I need to keep climbing the ladder and get to a point where I can earn a living as an artist and musician. If I have to do it on my own I will, I just need to reach the biggest audience possible so I can carry on doing what I’m made to do. I pour so much of myself into this, I have no doubt I can get a lot further, with the right people.

Beth’s UK tour runs from March 27th to June 6th, and the EU leg June 8th-22nd.

https://www.bethmunroemusic.co.uk

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New Music Friday: Joe B. Humbled

When he’s not furiously lashing at his guitar and spitting into a microphone [in firstly The Mobbs and latterly GoGo Loco] Joe Martin likes to show off his softer side with…

When he’s not furiously lashing at his guitar and spitting into a microphone [in firstly The Mobbs and latterly GoGo Loco] Joe Martin likes to show off his softer side with his Joe B. Humbled solo project. His new single might be his best song yet, the melancholy widescreen retro-pop of ‘To Be True’. New Boots gets the lowdown on the Northamptonians latest movements.

Please give us a bit of background to your solo project.
Playing as a solo artist came way before The Mobbs. I have a wide musical taste, so my solo projects have usually been an aside to experiment with lots of different styles. I started writing, playing and recording folk acoustic songs in my bedroom in 2003. From there I became obsessed with perfecting a finger-picking style. I was very interested in keeping everything as basic as possible. I’d try to write songs that wouldn’t need any other instruments or musicians – just my acoustic guitar and my voice. It remained like this for a long time. The Mobbs became the real backbone for my songwriting, but I continued to perform and record occasionally as an acoustic act. Right now I am in a sort of songwriting haven. I suddenly have the technology to multi-track properly, and can record and perform everything myself. I have been on quite a personal musical journey since The Mobbs finished last year. I’ve gone back to the music I grew up listening to, and have also opened myself up to a lot of contemporary music.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences for this solo work?
I’ve found myself back in love with 1960s soul and the funkier side of rock ‘n’ roll. I’ve also been highly influenced by the work of Dan Auerbach [The Black Keys] and his record label Easy Eye Sound. Due to my love of analogue recorded sounds I’ve got into artists on Daptone Records, and most recently a label called Big Crown. Traditional and contemporary American roots music has always been something that I get excited about. I’m digging everything from Sam Cooke to Alabama Shakes at the moment. My new experiments in sound are quite soulful, I would say, and there is still a blues influence in some of the songs too. I’m perhaps showing off my ability to sing and do harmonies as oppose making a two minute rock ‘n’ roll noise. Although I still have that outlet with GoGo Loco.

What was the reaction like to the Ten Odes LP of 2015, and also the more recent EP from last year?
Ten Odes was a quick demo collection of the acoustic folk/blues songs I had been performing from 2010 to 2015. It was just a stage in time where I thought I’d better record something. It was nice working with Nick Ellison (on fiddle) and doing a vocal duet with Leila Jane. I didn’t push Ten Odes too much so the reaction was as small, as I intended it to be. This was also the case with the How Did The Folly Begin EP. It was just a point where I needed to make a record of the songs I had been working on. I lost interest pretty quickly with that EP to be honest.

Tell us about this new song, ‘To Be True’.
‘To Be True’ is quite an old song that I hadn’t been able to use for anything previously. This was the first thing I recorded toward the end of last year. When I had finished recording ‘To Be True’ I kept on writing and recording fresher material spurred on by the success of how it had turned out.

Any plans for Joe B. Humbled shows?
I am hoping to put a Joe B. Humbled band together this year. I can just say [at the moment] I have some very talented musicians interested – which is very exciting. We shall see what happens!

Any favourite bands and/or venues in Northamptonshire?
I’ve had a lot of fun playing percussion and knocking about with The Keepers. Those guys have the lust for music that I had at that age and it’s a tonic to be around them and feel inspired by their enthusiasm for it all. For this reason as well as their brilliant songs these guys are probably my favourite band at the moment. I do also like seeing Kilamojo live. The thing about Northampton music is that there has always been a sea of genres and something for everyone, everywhere – long may it continue. I like The Pomfret Arms as a venue, and The Lab. There’s masses of positivity around and plenty of support for Northampton music – same as ever. There’s always new music popping up all the time too!

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
American Love Call by Durand Jones & The Indicators

What is your burning desire for this project in the future? What plans do you have?
I want to perfect some aspects of the recording side of it. I’m always working hard to get the right drum sound. Now that I am a drummer and obsessed with rhythm I realise that the drumming is really the most important part! My desires and plan is to have a fully rehearsed and tight backing group so I can perform my new songs to an audience with a full band. There are more songs ready and I will be releasing these online over the next couple of months.

To Be True is out now via Bandcamp [see below]

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New Music Friday: Broken Empire

Broken Empire are rockers from the Towcester and Oxford area. Ieuan Owen is on vocals, Matt Stevens on guitar, Marco Arena on bass, and Ricky Hill on drums. New Boots…

Broken Empire are rockers from the Towcester and Oxford area. Ieuan Owen is on vocals, Matt Stevens on guitar, Marco Arena on bass, and Ricky Hill on drums. New Boots celebrates their recent two singles by asking them what them tick in our patented in-depth conversation/interview.

How did you guys get together?
Ricky Hill: In 2017 Ben [band manager] put out an advert online about starting a new band project and that we require a guitarist, bass player and vocals. Matt got in contact and we had a jam together which just clicked straight away. A few months after that we found Marco and we knew he would fit perfectly. After starting to put together a few complete songs we found Ieuan. His influences on the songs we had roughly written was spot on for what we were looking for.
Marco Arena: I remember it was one day before my birthday! The day before I had a chat with Ben, and he asked me if I was available to join the guys for a jam the next day!

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences in music?
Ieuan Owen: I’d describe our sound as hard rock/metal, although we don’t tend to fit into a set subgenre. We’re a very riff driven band!
Matt Stevens: Our sound is modern but with plenty of influences from history. It’s a sweeping range of bands from Killswitch Engage to Alter Bridge, and I personally like throwing in Petrucci and Jason Becker touches.
Ricky Hill: Personally my main influences are Alter Bridge, Disturbed, Periphery, Tremonti…the list could go on and on! I think our sound reflects on all of our influences and creates a great combination of heavy metal and hard rock.

What was the reaction like to your self-titled EP from last year?
Ieuan Owen: The reaction was exceptional. Considering it was recorded quickly just to get it out there, it has exceeded our expectations, and the songs themselves are still largely staples in our set!
Ricky Hill: I was blown away from the reaction that we have received for our EP. It definitely helped having a lot of online radio stations playing it, which gave us a wider audience, and as for the streams on Spotify I think it’s done extremely well for a self promoted and produced EP.
Marco Arena: As a new, self promoted band in the music scene I would say we got really decent feedback from our previous record. Hopefully it’s going to be even better in the future! Fingers crossed!
Matt Stevens: The reaction was awesome as we self promoted, and over several months picked up almost 20,000 streams across the record. Really appreciate the promotions from local radio and online radio stations and Facebook reviewers.

Tell us everything about these new singles, ‘No More Light’ and ‘Hearts Of Damaged Men’.
Ricky Hill: ‘Hearts Of Damaged Men’ is definitely the most commercial out of the two I’d say: quick fast, short and punchy with meaningful lyrics – which of course can be interpreted in different ways and would mean different things to different people. ‘No More Light’ has a touch of our heavy side but still stays true to our sound, both portraying the battle people have with mental struggles.
Matt Stevens: From a music standpoint we wanted ‘Hearts Of Damaged Men’ to be in your face, make you listen and keep driving all the way to the end. ‘No More Light’ goes through a range of emotions, from steady rhythms to staccato, to minor/major feels and dark dissonant sections to really portray the difficulties people suffer internally.
Ieuan Owen: Both of these singles are fun to play, and to listen to. Both are lyrically coming from the battles people struggle with, a war of the mind as such, and I hope that people who delve into the lyrics can find there own meaning, for whatever hits home for them.

What are your live shows like?
Matt Stevens: Our live shows are all about the music; we focus on making the sound and the tracks as good as possible so people will want to listen!
Ricky Hill: Full of high energy and definitely keeps people interested throughout. We all have a unique stage presence and this definitely comes across when we’re playing live. Come and see us and find out for yourselves!
Ieuan Owen: They are fun, and as a band we pride ourselves on being tight and polished live. We enjoy performing and hopefully it shows.
Matt Stevens: We try as much as we can to have the most similar sound that you can hear when you listen to our studio songs. We also used to add some live intros and some interludes in our live show which you can’t find in the studio songs.

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire/Oxfordshire, playing with like- minded bands? Any favourite bands/venues to play with?
Marco Arena: O2 Academy Oxford is a cool venue for sure! Stormbringer is definitely a band that I would gladly play again with. Which is good as we are playing with them again very soon!
Ricky Hill: We play at a variety of venues with loads of different bands. It’s always good to get gigs with similar bands so that the energy is in the room throughout the night. But equally playing with different bands is just as good. Playing at the O2 Academy Oxford was amazing but I really enjoy playing at small, intimate venues as well – one of my favourites being Fat Lil’s, Witney.
Matt Stevens: Northants and Oxford are doing a lot to support rock music. Of course things could always be better, but there’s a lot of dedication from the rock promoters out there. Dedicated rock venues are always killer.
Ieuan Owen: Some of our favourite venues are The Wheatsheaf in Banbury, Fat Lils in Witney, and Wheatsheaf in Oxford. I personally enjoy going to local and larger gigs as and when I can, inspiration and influence can come from anywhere! Stormbringer were probably my favourite band to play with so far, they are such nice guys, and our music fitted well together. We’ll always enjoy gigs supporting them!

What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Ieuan Owen: Probably headlining the 02 Academy, because not only was it awesome to do, but we didn’t feel out of place being there!
Ricky Hill: Marco deciding to set fire to someone else’s bass amp on stage – albeit not his fault, but still a hilarious moment.
Matt Stevens: Marco showing us what is under the hood! You won’t see him without a hat.
Marco Arena: Playing the Finals of Metal 2 The Masses was probably my top moment!

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Ricky Hill: Of Mice and Men – Restoring Force: Full Circle
Ieuan Owen: Reverence by Parkway Drive – can’t get enough of that album!
Marco Arena: Pantera discography. (I felt a bit nostalgic!)
Matt Stevens: Twelve Foot Ninja – Outlier

What is your burning desire for the band to do in the future? What plans do you have?
Matt Stevens: Download Festival main stage with a three-part harmonised solo with Jason Hook, Mark Tremonti and Matt Stevens!
Marco Arena: Trying to share a stage with Alter Bridge would be pretty good!
Ricky Hill: Would love to play some big festivals and just generally get our name out there a bit more to a wider audience. Would be amazing to record a live session in a world famous studio and if I’m not asking too much, then maybe go on tour with Alter Bridge as well! Loads of gigs coming up and plenty of recording happening though so who knows what the future holds for Broken Empire.
Ieuan Owen: In the future we hope to play further away, as well as bigger local shows. We’d love to do a small tour of some sort should we get the chance. But one step at a time, we’re proud of how far we’ve already come!

‘No More Light’ and ‘Hearts Of Damaged Men’ are out now via the usual digital platforms

 

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New Music Friday: SkyFlood

Northampton rock quartet SkyFlood have been on the edges of the music scene for a bit of time now, but firmly seem set on making a name for themselves in…

Northampton rock quartet SkyFlood have been on the edges of the music scene for a bit of time now, but firmly seem set on making a name for themselves in 2019 with a revised line-up and a series of singles, starting with the marvellous 70s-style rock-pop of ‘Destiny’. New Boots spoke to the band about how they got here and where they go next.

How did you guys get together?
Craig O’Donnell: SkyFlood started about two years ago and not long after we released our first single ‘Flawless’. Since that time we’ve played many shows in and around Northants, but we’ve only recently began to gain some momentum as our current line up. We had a couple of band member replacements, but now it’s the strongest as a group it’s ever been. Rob and Lewis joined in November after advertising online, and Oli and I met through our old bass player over a year ago. With Oli it was love at first sound for me; he really kicked some of the songs up the backside and got them moving.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences in music?
Craig O’Donnell: I would say it’s upbeat and colourful, as well as being quite dark at the same time. One of my main influences over recent years is Hans Zimmer – there is so much feeling in his scores and sometimes it’s nice to hear music without lyrics to make your own world up in a piece of music. My other influences include Radiohead, London Grammar, and Muse.
Oliver Law: Our sound is very different to anything up-and-coming. We have a wide variety of influences and sounds which all mash together to make something unique. My main influence is Queen which hopefully shows through my style of playing a little.
Lewis Else: Some stand out drummers for me are Jon Beavis [Idles]. He has such an driving and relentless sense of energy. Of course Players like Stewart Copeland too, filled with feel without overplaying ever.
Robert Hughes: Music taste? I like to keep it varied. As much as I love spag bol, I wouldn’t want to eat it every night and I try to keep it that way with music too – a nice varied diet. As players I like John Mcvie and John Deacon because they both focus on serving the song, but both are capable of adding some of the most memorable touches. Think ‘The Chain’ or ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ – in both cases simple but trademark bass lines.

What was the reaction like to ‘Flawless’ single, from 2017?
Craig O’Donnell: ‘Flawless’ was strange just because we released the song before playing any gigs and also had it played on BBC Introducing, so for anyone who listened to it that would have been their first time hearing it before they had even seen us perform it. The initial reception was great; we managed to get a few gigs just from that song alone, and it really helped us to build a platform to progress.

Tell us about this new single, ‘Destiny’.
Oliver Law: ‘Destiny’ was the first track I jammed with Craig. It started off very Supertramp, but it gradually became more dynamic and stronger to get the live shows going with a bang. It’s probably my favourite track.

What are your live shows like?
Craig O’Donnell: I would say, energetic and emotional. Our set starts off quite energetic and we try and carry that through the whole set but with the lyrics of some of the songs it balances out quite nicely

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire, playing with like-minded bands? Any favourite bands/venues to play with?
Craig O’Donnell: Yeah, my favourite place I think is probably The White Hart in Corby. It can be quite an intimate but explosive venue and when everything is just right it can make for some amazing shows there. My favourite band is Sarpa Salpa: we played our very first gig with them, and they were so lovely and kind to us and ever since I’ve been a massive fan of them, and their music is great too. My other close favourite is definitely King Purple – we haven’t played with them but really want to, they’re again so lovely and make amazing tunes.
Oliver Law: I’m more familiar with the Northampton venues than local bands. We’ve played a few local venues. I Always love the King Billy because it’s quite well known. Hopefully we can move up to the Roadmender before the year is out.

What has been your favourite band moment of the past year?
Craig O’Donnell: My favourite moment is actually hearing ‘Destiny’ on BBC Northampton, because there was nearly a point it wasn’t going to see the light of day and to top it off Lal had very lovely words to say about it, which I was ecstatic with.
Oliver Law: Favourite moment of last year was finally getting ‘Destiny’ and a few of our other tracks recorded. We went through a couple of producers because we were very picky about the mix, and we drove them out of the country. But we eventually got there with a company called Damage Audio, who has absolutely knocked it out the park

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Craig O’Donnell: Mine was an Icelandic Artist called Olafur Arnalds, called Re:member
Oliver Law: The last album I bought…25 copies of our unreleased EP, because it’s that good.
Lewis Else: The last EP I bought was Flamingods ‘Kewali’. It’s a crazy mix of eastern folk mixed with psychedelia and electronic music

What is your burning desire for the band to do in 2019? What plans do you have?
Robert Hughes: To play some gigs, write some anthems, entertain the masses and have some excellent fun.
Craig O’Donnell: Destiny is going to be the first release of 2019 and definitely not the last from what we’ve got lined up.

‘Destiny’ is out now across the usual digital platforms. Photo credit: Hana Smith

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New Music Friday: Poetic Horror

Poetic Horror (aka Kailan Price, aka that singer/guitar guy from Fox Chapel) is a Northampton-based bedroom songwriter and producer. With his knowledge and love of dream pop and hip-hop Poetic…

Poetic Horror (aka Kailan Price, aka that singer/guitar guy from Fox Chapel) is a Northampton-based bedroom songwriter and producer. With his knowledge and love of dream pop and hip-hop Poetic Horror creates instrumentals washed in reverb and erratic rattling hi-hats. Third tune ‘Blue Light’, featuring that man again L30 Robinson, just dropped, and we took this celebratory moment to ask some questions to Price.

How did this project begin?
I started getting into beat making and production. I’ve always had a love for hip-hop and electronic music. The idea that I could just sit in my room, make music on a computer, put some vocals on top and just release it to the world really just fascinated me.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your influences?
I guess the sound is kinda lo-fi and homegrown. It’s heavily influenced by hip-hop. I have a massive love for producers like Madlib and Swedish producer Whitearmor, he is insane. I also have a lot of love for dream pop and post-punk, so some influence from those genres may also carry through.

You’re studying at BIMM London music college right now, alongside fellow Fox Chapeller Johnny, correct? How’s it all going? 
Yeah London is great. Just exploiting the student maintenance loan for music equipment and trying my best to get the work done amongst all the madness.

What was the reaction like to to the first two Poetic Horror songs you put out, ‘City Air’ and ‘Astronaut’?
Yeah it’s been good. I’ve had so much love and support from the hip-hop community in Northampton, and yeah it seems a lot people rate what I’ve done so far.

Tell us everything about this new one, ‘Blue Light’.
‘Blue Light’ is a little collaboration between me and the super talented L30 Robinson. I just do a little sing and he goes in hard with some bars. It’s nice.

Will this ever be a live project too?
Yeah 100%. I’ve just bought a portable sampler from eBay, so I shall be hitting the road very soon.

Is Fox Chapel simply on a bit of a break now? Will there be new sounds and shows in 2019?
I’m not sure, everyone’s just doing their own thing. I hope that we can maybe bring it back and play some shows. We have a lot of unreleased music and it’s depressing me.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Them A Mad Over Me by Yellowman.

What is your burning desire to do in 2019? What plans do you have?
After I throw a couple more tracks out I really want to make a mixtape or an EP of some kind. Just sit down and focus on something bigger, and make something I’m proud of. So far I’ve just been making songs in one day and throwing them out and not really thinking about songwriting or anything. So yeah, just get something real good out and play some shows.

Blue Light is out now via the usual digital platforms

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