Tag: singer-songwriter

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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Album review: Mali Mae

MALI MAE Personal [self-released] Now this is how to start the summer properly. Mae is a young singer-songwriter from Northamptonshire who has, with little fanfare, put together a collection of…

MALI MAE
Personal
[self-released]

Now this is how to start the summer properly. Mae is a young singer-songwriter from Northamptonshire who has, with little fanfare, put together a collection of breezy pop that is as good as anything you’ll hear on top 40 radio.

Personal, her full debut album, is a celebration of love and loss, of young hopes and dreams coming to fruition, or wishing them to. The opening song, ‘Up’, is both an exceptional and ever-so-slightly haunting pop song, but also an immediate showcase for a voice that will regularly stop your heart. The instrumentation here, and indeed throughout the album, is generally quite sparse: all minor chord piano lines, brief sections of snare playing, programmed keys. Yes her sudden mood and melody shifts are very much from the handbook of modern pop. Yet it sounds natural; and she seems totally in control of it all. Owning a song with this sort of confidence should takes years to develop. She’s barely out her teens and she’s there already. It’s actually all a bit frightening.

‘Remind Me’, which adds soft strings that come in and out of focus, ratchets up the drama a little, the chorus delivering a sustained moment of vulnerability. It doesn’t take a huge imagination to envision her sat behind a piano playing it on the X-Factor. And that’s no dig: it would melt even Cowell’s frosty heart. ‘Get It Right’ has some attractive background harmonies on it, presumably her own voice doing all the parts. The track has some real sass to it; the soulful lines at the end making New Boots think of Joss Stone in her early days. ‘This One Too’, meanwhile, is a song that drives home a defiant note, aiming higher and higher with each verse. It’s followed up with ‘Try Again’, which aims in a completely different direction. 1970s-style finger-picking acoustic guitar, and a spiritual feel. “I keep falling in and out of love/With somebody I don’t know” is a pretty heartbreaking line delivered in her hands.

Her previous mini-LP All I Know, from 2017, only hinted at what Mae could do on Personal. She’s tightened the songwriting for sure, but crucially projected a stronger presence in all areas. Like on ‘Keep Me High’, the slow-burning and sparse blues-pop number which draws favourable comparisons with another NN artist, Charlotte Carpenter.

‘Something Else’ bring a certain Joni Mitchell-esque yearning to the album, but again with that melodic certainty that all the big game popstars have in their locker. Before the album is over you get a country stummer in ‘Down To Me’, whilst ‘Bones’ darker colours hints at domestic violence and general bad relationship times. It’s a nice counterweight to some of the lighter material actually, though you’d hope it’s not too autobiographical. Closer ‘Perfect’ is perhaps sequenced incorrectly – it’s crystalline, gospel vocal really needs highlighting earlier on. It would make a terrific single, for sure.

Regardless, Personal is a true triumph; the diamond that shines from the shadows. It’s discoveries like Mae that keeps the chase in new music alive. Someone sign her up!

Phil Moore

Personal is out now via the usual digital platforms

 

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New Music Friday: Josh Wylie

Northants singer-songwriter Josh Wylie creates catchy melodies that mix folk with indie-pop. His latest single ‘Rockets In Your Mind’ is his best yet, so New Boots took the time to…

Northants singer-songwriter Josh Wylie creates catchy melodies that mix folk with indie-pop. His latest single ‘Rockets In Your Mind’ is his best yet, so New Boots took the time to get some background from him.

How did you start writing and performing?
I began performing from an early age treading the boards at my local theatre in Finedon, Northamptonshire. When I was in my teenage years I began to write down lyrics that came to me and I’d record the melody on my phone and experiment with that. After pursuing a career in theatre and performing on the West End Stage I decided to follow my singer-songwriter roots. I picked up the guitar late, when I was twenty-one, at university, following a handful of lessons with a mate and a few beers – and self-taught myself from there. I’m by no means a Jimi Hendrix, but the acoustic guitar has helped me to forge my melodies and fuse them with my vocals; providing a new way of expressing myself.

How would you describe your sound?
Indie acoustic pop with a folky edge. I don’t really think about what genre I’m creating when I do it, it just sort of falls into that category I guess. Having an open mind to what you’re about to create is the secret I’d say. I never set out to ‘create a folk song’. I think I’d be limiting myself. Influence wise the main artist that I would go as far to say is my ‘idol’ [and I don’t use that term very often] is Frank Sinatra. The man had it all. The voice. The charisma. The stage presence. [I’ve released a swing covers album too, I like to be versatile].

What have you put out so far? What has been the reaction like?
I released my first major music video ‘Waiting Game’ in 2015 whilst at uni. I never expected the reaction it got. It’s hit over 30 thousand views to date. I don’t really know how it happened, but I’ll take it! University was a big social hub at the time. It was a massive creative community at the London College of Music and I think all the students really took note of each other’s work and there was a massive respect for ‘new music’.

Tell us everything about this new single, ‘Rockets In Your Mind’.
‘Rockets In Your Mind’ has been in my back catalogue for years! I think I actually wrote it way back in 2012 when I split with my ex-girlfriend. Breakups always make successful songs. It sounds cliche, but it’s true! It tells the story of a relationship that has reached breaking point. “Seems I’ve woke the rocket’s in your mind” is used metaphorically speaking to describe rocket-propelled missiles. These missiles are representative of the sheer destructive power of one’s mind, and the deadly damage it can cause. I’ve written a lot of songs but there’s just something about this song that makes it my favourite. It’s everything I’m about when it comes to music. It’s catchy, relatable and it make you want to grab the nearest chair, table or box and use it as a drum.

What are your live shows like?
My live shows vary. Acoustically speaking I often play small and intimate gigs. This year I’m focusing more on the studio and developing my songwriting. I want to have enough fresh music for the next decade! Last year was a really cool breakthrough year for me. Having performed my first so called ‘mini tour’ across Northamptonshire it was great to hit the scene sharing my music, but also to listen to the diverse talent that’s out there. Certain festivals that stood out for me were the likes of ‘Bardic Picnic’ in Northampton and ‘The Music Barn’ in Cranford. I’d definitely recommend either to any festival goer!

A proud moment was when I did a show at the Old Nag’s Head in Wollaston, now the Wollaston Inn. During the 60s and 70s it was famous for showcasing progressive bands of that era. Performing at any venue like that with such rich music history is an absolute blessing.

What has been your favourite Wylie musical moment of the past year?
Can I be cheeky and say two? I think having the opportunity to be a support act to Musical Youth has to be up there! Secondly, working with ‘Live in The Woods’ to film the music video to ‘Girl from Rosario’ was so much fun! Nature and music is just the best combination. I dare anyone to name a better one…

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
‘Hounds of Love’ by Kate Bush. One of the first artists I remember listening to, as my dad used to play all the concert and music videos. I think ‘Cloudbusting’ has to be my favourite from her. Anytime I play her music there’s a big feeling of nostalgia.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
To just bring a smile to many people’s faces. Wherever I play and wherever I go. Playing abroad in Argentina was pretty cool. I have family in Australia and South Africa. They’re itching for me to play a show in their parts. Maybe it’ll happen one day!

‘Rockets In Your Mind’ is out now on the usual digital platforms

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Album review: Gerald Claridge

GERALD CLARIDGE Frisson [self-released] Claridge is a prominent face of the Northants folk scene, who has played with many cohorts in many guises over the years. A cursory glance around…

GERALD CLARIDGE
Frisson [self-released]

Claridge is a prominent face of the Northants folk scene, who has played with many cohorts in many guises over the years. A cursory glance around Discogs shows how he once made a folk-rock album way back in 1975 [with Nick Salomon, no less] as Oddsocks, makes reference to a private press solo album from 1990, and shows him as part of Tickled Pink during the noughties. He plays in a professional Ceilidh band as of now, and has seen fit to release another solo album of his own songs.

It is fortunate enough for us that he has recorded and released Frisson, for the Northampton singer has a deft touch with melody and arrangement that has not withered with age. Yes this is a ‘thin’ record [low production values, keyboard strings, some drum machines in place of actual drums] but it matter not a tot when you’re listening in. On Frisson we witness Claridge’s joie de vivre writ large; his folk spirit of bonhomie rising above any restrictions of time and finance. ‘So Far So Good’ sets off on the path of optimism, that continues on ‘Upside Down’, and indeed is rarely deviated from. 

‘Plain Clothes’ pays homage to McCartney-esque melody and guitar-picking, whilst ‘Rainy Day’ shows off his celtic soul/Kevin Rowland lilt to maximum effect. The middle of the album brings some light relief, with the nursery rhyme style of ‘Ten A Penny’, and an oompah ode to drinking and farting in a ‘Hot Tub’! Later still we get a tribute to the Beach Boys [‘Sound Of The Ocean’], which is a very un-Northampton thing to do, so much respect for that, Gerald. Squelching keys and clomping hooves introduce the lounge goodness of ‘Good Night’, and Frisson is completed with an instrumental ‘Wedding March’, hauntingly played on church organ by John Miller.

There’s a nice touch in the CD liner notes where Claridge gives a little explanation of the song, making the project feel intimate, the warm comfort blanket to accompany a glass of whiskey at the end of the day. For folk fans this is a “must investigate”.

Phil Moore

Frisson is out now on CD, available from Spiral Archive and Claridge directly

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live review: Jen Dobson

JEN DOBSON Club 43, Northampton March 5th A Northampton university graduate, Jen Dobson is a folk artist that has been playing now for seven years. I first saw her perform…

JEN DOBSON
Club 43, Northampton
March 5th

A Northampton university graduate, Jen Dobson is a folk artist that has been playing now for seven years. I first saw her perform before I started university on an open day, giving me great inspiration. Here she performs a heart-wrenching and emotional four songs; ‘A14’, ‘I Got You’, ‘Mess’ and ‘Jesus Loves My Girlfriend’. All four songs talk about real life matters such as friendship, religion and the issues faced in modern day. She speaks out strongly about LBGTQ+ subjects. This performance incorporates great audience participation, getting everyone to sing along and have themselves a lively and entertaining night.

The first song ‘A14’ starts off with spoken lines, which really puts you in the song and makes it easy to relate to. The way the song is presented feels very intimate, the vocals making it feel like you’re having a heart to heart with your friend. As the song hits the chorus it speeds up and Jen began to encourage the audience to sing “get me on the A14 with you in my passenger seat” and used this to ad-lib for the rest of the song that got everyone to join in and have a good time. Second song ‘I Got You’ shows real emotion and heartbreak as the lyrics come across again as very personal and intimate. The song content talks about being there for friends and gives a strong message. ‘Mess’ talks about serious issues but has an upbeat, fun sound – though the lyrical content talks about self-destructive behaviour. Closing song ‘Jesus Loves My Girlfriend’ talks about being both religious and being part of the LBGTQ+ community, confronting people’s opinions on that. The lyrics “Jesus loves my girlfriend just as much as your son” shows the negative affect people opinions may have and how it is unfair to discriminate based on sexuality.

Dobson’s songs are very touching and emotional; they make you feel like she is personally talking to you and contains a lot of feeling. If you have ever felt that you are going through a rough patch these songs are definitely relatable.

Katie Montford

https://www.facebook.com/jendobsonmusic
https://bandcamp.com/jendobsonmusic

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Charlotte Carpenter offers us ‘Shelter’

[Excuse that groan-worthy title, but no one has used it yet and that is a grave oversight] Kettering singer-songwriter Charlotte Carpenter has had a pretty good opening scene so far,…

[Excuse that groan-worthy title, but no one has used it yet and that is a grave oversight]

Kettering singer-songwriter Charlotte Carpenter has had a pretty good opening scene so far, releasing EPs and singles digitally since 2014, to much acclaim. And now she releases her best song yet, ‘Shelter’, as the lead track from her first vinyl release, the 10″ Shelter EP.

New Boots had a quick chat whilst she is on her whirlwind promotional trail

New Boots: This new song is something special. What’s is about?
Charlotte Carpenter: ‘Shelter’ is about the push and pull of the early stages of a new relationship, the moment you know you’re about to go into this big life changing event but part of you is still holding back. It’s ultimately about letting go, and just embracing new change. The video embodies that along with my growing confidence – as a musician and a woman.

NB: You have referred to ‘Shelter’ as your “unofficial James Bond theme”.
CC: Awkwardly, I’ve never watched a Bond film! They don’t tickle my fancy, but the songs always have. I love those big Bond numbers, with uneasy strings and chords to make you feel on the edge. My favourite Bond songs are ‘Skyfall’, ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ and ‘Diamonds Are Forever’.

NB: ‘Hey Mr. Cowboy’ feels so intimate. Do you find this intimacy plays to your strengths?
CC: The funny thing with ‘Hey Mr. Cowboy’ is that its quite different to what I’ve done before. Firstly, It isn’t about me, and my songs usually are. The feel/tone of the song is a slightly different style to previous releases too. I think the intimacy in this song shows that I can bring both light and shade to the table, and that’s a strength on its own. So I guess, to answer the question: yes.

NB: Who’s in your band?
CC: Lee and Matt! When I’m playing headline or festival shows I’ll have the guys with me; they’re wonderful people and completely respect my songs. Lee plays slide, baritone and Moog (he’s also my producer) and Matt is my drummer who literally takes on anything I throw his way.

NB: How do you find touring? Must be finally nice to have some vinyl to sell at the upcoming shows
CC: I love touring, it’s the best part about it all. You get meet those who you talk to online and thank them in person; visit cool venues, cities and countries and eat some great food. I am over the moon to have some vinyl, it’s a complete dream to hear these songs on my record player at home.

NB. Best and worst things about the Northants music scene.
CC: Best – There is some serious talent. Worst – Not enough variety of good size, good sounding music venues.

NB: What do you have planned for 2018?
CC: I’m planning on recording every week, touring my ass off and making my way across Europe!

CC live dates:
Oct 23 The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham
Oct 24 Open, Norwich
Oct 25 The Star Inn, Guildford
Oct 26 Record Junkee, Sheffield
Oct 27 The Cookie, Leicester
Oct 29 Surf Cafe, Tynemouth
Nov 01 St Pancras Old Church, London
Nov 10 The Roadmender, Northampton (with Hana Brooks)

The Shelter EP is out now. Watch the videos for ‘Shelter’ and ‘Hey Mr. Cowboy’ below. Order the Shelter EP here, and stream/download it from the usual outlets.

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