Tag: university of northampton

New Music Friday: Zandr

Northampton’s Zandr is 20 year-old producer Alex Howard, who pops up with these fascinating and euphoric chillwave beats, and DJ Shadow-style sonic journeys. Punchy new single ‘Void’ is just out…

Northampton’s Zandr is 20 year-old producer Alex Howard, who pops up with these fascinating and euphoric chillwave beats, and DJ Shadow-style sonic journeys. Punchy new single ‘Void’ is just out and already making people sit up and notice. New Boots has a chat to help joins the dots.

You’re at the university, studying music.
I am just about to top up my recently acquired HND in music production, to the full degree of ‘Popular Music’ by completing the third and final year. I would strongly recommend a course like this to anybody that is after a well-rounded approach to music. What you can learn from the different pathways you choose is eye-opening.

How did you start the Zandr project?
During the time of my two year HND we were encouraged to make music outside of the scheduled sessions to better our skills and begin to make what came naturally to us. I took the full advantage of having my chosen DAW [Logic Pro X] accessible to me at any time, and began to craft my sound and practice all the time . Whilst doing so I decided it was a good idea to choose a name to release music/ produce under. After some research I decided I wanted a two syllable catchy name that was visually recognisable and easy to remember. I had been thinking of shortening my name or making something out of it, but when my mates started jokingly calling me “DJ Xander” which is obviously a play on my full name “Alexander” it just fitted perfectly. To make it stand out more and look dynamic I then changed the spelling to something more out-there and abstract. And that’s where the name originated.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
Whenever I’m asked to describe my sound I always struggle to answer because I make quite an array of different styles under the electronic umbrella. I think as far as what I have released: chilled electronic music, with catchy melodies and punchy drops would be a good description. Although I’ve showcased that I can make more hard hitting tracks such as ‘Void’ also. I have so many influences in music, from big producers such as Pharrell Williams and Timbaland, who’s online MasterClass I took earlier this year. To the other end of the spectrum; course-mates and musicians I have as friends that are just starting out like myself. Listening to them starting to find their sounds is inspiring in itself. I feel a standout artist for me is Diplo – his sound is so versatile and he works with so many different artists whilst covering countless styles of music. Something I aspire to do one day for sure.

What was the reaction like to the ‘Cloud 9’ EP earlier this year?
The reaction was surprisingly positive, as I had no clue how people would react to it whatsoever. ‘Cloud 9’ in a nutshell was supposed to be a small collection of feel-good tracks, with euphoric vibes that reflected the project title. Bar the introductory song ‘3AM Brainstorm’ – that was included to create a contrast and set the tone for the songs that followed. I was extremely pleased with the outcome of my first proper piece of work, especially as I mix and mastered it all myself as well.

The meaning of the tracks:
‘Epiphany’ – I was originally going to do a course in marketing and advertising after completing A-levels as academically I suppose it’s what I’m interested in, but after reading a life changing book on holiday I literally had an “epiphany” and something told me to follow music. Easily the best decision I ever made.
‘Cloud 9’ – doesn’t really have a deep meaning, and definitely isn’t about anyone in particular. The aim was to make a simple but catchy club-style drop with my chopped up and pitched vocals driving the drop.
‘Nostalgia’ – this was the first electronic track that I ever made after learning the basics of production, and I called it Nostalgia as it’s my oldest track and It’s crazy to think how long ago it was!
‘Higher’ – a track I wanted to have a really cool ambient vibe to it. The simple and relatable lyrics aren’t meant to mean anything in particular, it’s more just to blend into the rest of the song and enhance it slightly. And to my complete surprise, amongst my peers it seems to be the most popular song from the E.P!

Tell us everything about this new release ‘Void’. You must be ecstatic it’s had so many listeners already?
It’s a track I’ve been working on for a while, it’s something I started, but put off finishing until I thought it was just right. The goal was to make a single that had quite a distinct feel to it, and I really wanted to incorporate this into a house song because it’s one of my favourite genres. I feel with making music it’s so important that you love the sound of what your making and that your doing it for yourself before anything, otherwise what’s the point? Although the response of listeners is important to me, I’m making what I want to make, any positive comments are a bonus. I’ve been over the moon with the response to the track, it seems like people are really loving the feel of it which honestly makes me feel amazing.

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire? Do you have many peers you’re in contact with?
I would say I am part of a wider scene in Northampton, having grown up performing in bands as a drummer and building up the amount of people I know through music. Musicians I have met through college that I’ve became friends with have come round to my personal studio to jam or lay down melodies for me, etc. This along with attending local events has all contributed to being a part of the scene ! I feel producing and releasing music helps in itself. As far as peers I’m in contact with, I’ve been lucky enough to be the “resident producer” at a small events company called Yellowbrick, ran by one of my good friends in Nottingham. This means if they need any music for anything promotionally, or they have clients contact them for beats or anything like that – they get sent to me!

Any live shows on the horizon?
Doing live shows is something I want to start getting into, I need to further develop my DJ skills as I’m still relatively new to it all. However this is all in the very near future as I have a couple of small events in the works that will be perfect for me to get started.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
The last album I listened to in full was Tyler the Creator’s IGOR. I’m a huge fan of him as an artist as he isn’t afraid to be different and explore innovative production styles, the album was a breath of fresh air.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
I’ve got quite a lot I want to do, I’m really looking forward to hopefully working with different artists and getting some features after I’ve crafted my sound a bit more. I want to also explore different genres as I produce a lot of experimental stuff and hip-hop as well. Following doing all of the vocals on Cloud 9 I want to really push myself out of my comfort zone and try new things and see what I can come up with, possibly implementing all of this into an E.P within the coming months.

Void is out now to stream and buy on the voidesque internet thingy machine you’re reading this on

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Album review: Ecco Pine

ECCO PINE ECCO PINE [self-released] Hailing from our very own ShoeTown are brand new alternative/electro-rock trio Ecco Pine – aka Adam [guitar and vocals], Ali [guitar] and Louis [bass and…

ECCO PINE
ECCO PINE [self-released]

Hailing from our very own ShoeTown are brand new alternative/electro-rock trio Ecco Pine – aka Adam [guitar and vocals], Ali [guitar] and Louis [bass and synth]. Though the band only formed last year they have certainly made a grand entrance to the music scene; their unique ambient sound means they are by no means late to the party. In a recent success for the band their track ‘More Than This’ was featured on the ‘Best Up and Coming Acts of the East Midlands’ Spotify playlist, alongside other favourites The Keepers and Sarpa Salpa.

The album’s seamless blending of rock and electronic tones creates a unique ambience that gives the band its distinct sound. Imagine the lovechild of Massive Attack, Vampire Weekend and Talking Heads – if you can! Nature is a constant element running through the album, from the panoramic artwork of an open road, stretching far into the distance, sandwiched between the sea and alpine woodland, to the carefully constructed tracks.

The floaty, atmospheric style immediately transports you to another place: a tranquil forest glade or mountain top of your choosing, somewhere entirely removed from the reality of everyday life. It offers an outer body experience for your mind. Such features beautifully combine in ‘The River’, with its crystal-clear, flowing serenity, and ‘Pines’, with its movement and moments of darkness, mirroring a night-time woodland trek.

The bands indie influence shows through, in tracks ‘More Than This’ and ‘Stranger Things’, the latter tipping its hat to the popular series of the same name. ‘Aliens’, of a sci-fi influence, and ‘White Wall’ further the album’s themes of escaping the here and now, echoing some melancholic lament for the current state of things.

Here’s hoping it’s the start of things to come for the band. Be sure to show some local support and stream or download your copy.

Rachel Thomas

Ecco Pine is now available on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music and Amazon Music

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UoN launches record label; Beth Munroe first release

The University of Northampton have set up an in-house record label, WMTH Records (We Make Things Happen), announcing local artist Beth Munroe as their first project. The label, operated by academic…

The University of Northampton have set up an in-house record label, WMTH Records (We Make Things Happen), announcing local artist Beth Munroe as their first project.

The label, operated by academic Roy Wallace in partnership with the University, begins it’s activities by releasing a four-track EP from Munroe entitled ‘The Euphoria of Losing Everything’ on the April 26th at 6pm, to be available via iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, YouTube, and Google Play. This will be accompanied by an EP launch party on May 18th at The Lab [Charles St, Northampton], as part of a full UK & Ireland tour in May & June. The tour is still being booked, but dates in London, Brighton, Edinburgh, Canterbury, Isle of Wight, and more will be announced in due course. Physical copies of the EP will be available to buy at all of the shows.

Beth Munroe is a singer-songwriter working on indietronica [a mix of ambient/electronic indie rock, combining guitar music with elements of IDM/glitch music]. Her influences include CHVRCHES, Lorde, Muse, Bastille, and London Grammar. “I’m so excited to be working with WMTH Records, it’s like a dream come true after so much struggle”, says Munroe. “Roy Wallace is incredibly skilled and knowledgeable, as a musician himself he has that clear passion and understanding that’s just priceless. The production team in the studio have done an amazing job in making the EP sound exactly like I hoped it would, and my marketing manager Nicole Drury has looked after everything so perfectly”.

“It is a pleasure working with Beth as she is a truly unique artist”, says Drury. “Her powerful vocals and personal lyrical themes make for very catchy, relatable songs. The process we’ve gone through to get the music to where it is now has been challenging but definitely worth it and I can’t wait to share it with others. Beth should be very proud”.

The video below for ‘Masochist’ was directed by Jon Hogg in collaboration with UonTV students.

http://www.wmth.tv/record-label
BethMunroeMusic.co.uk

Update: also confirmed for release on April 26th is ‘Long Way from Home’ by Ellie McCann and ‘Surgery#2’ by The Doctor.

 

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EP preview: Ellie McCann

Ellie McCann is an acoustic folk artist from Bedfordshire, working with third year students at the University of Northampton to record and release her first EP, entitled Long Way From…

Ellie McCann is an acoustic folk artist from Bedfordshire, working with third year students at the University of Northampton to record and release her first EP, entitled Long Way From Home. Her EP is being released in April, including songs ‘Elephant In The Room’ and ‘Long Way From Home’, both with hauntingly brilliant vocals. Some of her inspirations include Kate Rusby, Show of Hands, Fleet Foxes, Joni Mitchell, Crosby Stills &  Nash, and Hunter Hayes.

The first track on the EP, ‘Elephant In The Room’, has superb vocals, beautifully played guitar, and peaceful calming tones throughout. The lyrics are truly remarkable. ‘Ghost Train’ has a certain twang to her vocals bringing a real folk vibe to the song, with some breathtaking backing vocals [also performed by McCann]. ‘Long Way From Home’ includes palm-muting, giving it a real ‘get your lighters out and sway’ vibe. This track also includes powerful, relatable lyrics. The last track is ‘Pickup Truck’, a catchy love song, is sung in such a passionate way you almost feel as if it were you.

She is now in the finals of a competition called New Roots, showcasing young folk artists, and then will go on to perform at folk venues around the UK. She is also participating in Royston Folk clubs showcase.

The Long Way From Home EP is out on Spotify next month; in the meantime you can find her music on her Facebook page.

Report: Katie Montford

 

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Libertines drummer Gary Powell completes Changing Futures Week at UoN

Gary Powell, drummer with The Libertines completes the line up of the Changing Futures Week at the University of Northampton. “The inside story” of one of the UK’s best-loved bands of…

Gary Powell, drummer with The Libertines completes the line up of the Changing Futures Week at the University of Northampton.

“The inside story” of one of the UK’s best-loved bands of the past two decades is promised when he appears on Wednesday February 7th [plus other tales – he has at various times played with The Specials, Dirty Pretty Things and New York Dolls too] . His appearance has been organised by the Popular Music department to provide insights into the music industry.

Dr Jasmine Shadrack, Senior Lecturer in Popular Music, said: “We can’t wait to welcome Gary to the University. He has a particularly brilliant story to tell about headlining festivals and breaking into the mainstream, to the dynamics of The Libertines and their reunion in 2014″.

Powell’s appearance is one of a series of special events lined up by the Popular Music department during their Changing Futures Week, a five day University-wide showcase of industry speakers. The event is open to current University of Northampton students, plus local school and college students. Guests can register their attendance by emailing schools.liaison@northampton.ac.uk

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Slipknot Sid performance/talk at University of Northampton

Sid Wilson, best known as the turntablist from Slipknot [as well being a renowned DJ in his own right under the DJ Starscream monikor], visits the University of Northampton next…

Sid Wilson, best known as the turntablist from Slipknot [as well being a renowned DJ in his own right under the DJ Starscream monikor], visits the University of Northampton next month.

Invited by the Popular Music course, he will give a performance and take questions from the floor on Wednesday February 7th, providing “insights into the music industry”. Dr Jasmine Shadrack, Senior Lecturer in Popular Music, told the UoN website: ““Sid has a wealth of experience to share, from being part of a band and touring internationally through to forging a solo career and conquering new markets. We can’t wait!”

The event is open to current University of Northampton students, plus local school and college students. Guests can register their attendance by emailing schools.liaison@northampton.ac.uk.

Slipknot shot to fame in 1999 with their self-titled debut album that was at the forefront of the emerging nu-metal scene.

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