Monday, 28 April 2014

The Death of Pop interview

They are a new name, yet they already have a strong signature. The Death of Pop hail from london and, in contrast to their name, they mix lovely shoegaze and pop sounds. Ive got great expectations from them, plus... they are the only band Ive ever interviewed where ALL members were kind enough to write a few lines for my blog. Read below the wonderful interview, answered by Angus James (AJ), Isaac Jones (IJ), Thom James (TJ) and Oliver James (OJ).

I read you formed in london after a drunken conversation in 3am. do you remember what you were talking about?
Me and Ollie were just confused about why we hadn't formed a band together and in our drunkeness we were convinced that we could do something we would be really happy with. We knew our voices went well together and we also liked all the same music. That evening I’d attended an indie/unsigned night in the city where I was teacher training. I was so disappointed by what i'd seen and the attitude to the music and I vented my frustrations to Ollie. We just knew we would have to meet up and starting writing/recording and a few weeks later we got together and wrote the first two songs and shot a video. (AJ)

There was some sort of element of “we can definitely do better than this” and a real determination to tap into some current trends and prove we could easily make a name for ourselves. Drunk and delusional. It's since expanded from being a sort of songwriting side-project to a much more committed thing now that we have Thom and Isaac on board. (OJ)

Were you involved in music before the band? what have you studied?
We've all played together in previous bands before TDOP, so we've got a good idea of how each of us works. It lets us work pretty fast. Angus, Isaac and myself have music degrees or are nearing finishing them, Oliver has studied film and George is currently studying fine art. As far as jobs go, Oliver and Angus actually met through both working at a Supermarket....which they've both now left, Angus is a teacher in a secondary school and Oliver works at a digital media agency and as a freelance filmmaker. In between studying and playing I work in a pharmacy. (TJ)

Me and Oliver met working in a supermarket in a small rural town, i started talking to him because he knew "Forever changes" and he asked me if i'd seen "Rumble Fish" which I had. He'd bought the soundtrack on vinyl and I was really impressed. (AJ)

This january you uploaded album "two thousand and thirteen", which is basically every song you released online in 2013. How come you are not signed to a label yet? 
Yeah, it's just every track we released in 2013 in the order we released them. It's not an album as such, it's more of an archive, we didn't change any of the recordings or delete anything. It means people can download everything in one go and keeps the Soundcloud tidy without anything disappearing from the internet. But yeah, our debut album is still to come. We've spoken to a fair few labels. It's certainly not a conscious decision not to sign with anyone. it's just a case of waiting until the right one comes along. we don't want to rush into anything, it needs to be true love. (IJ)

Is that your choice to have your music online for free download?
It seems a bit unnecessary to charge people for unsigned digital music at this point and we just want as many people to hear it. The music didn't cost us anything to make because we produced it ourselves. Often people leave us donations on our bandcamp page which is really nice of them and we really appreciate it because they don't have to. Some people are great. (AJ)

It's so nice getting the odd email telling you someone's paid a few quid for a tune, but we get just as excited by the free download figures. It's cool that people are listening to our music! (OJ)

You mention on fb that we should expect your first physical release of 2014 with a prominent South coast based label. More information on that?
That's still happening and it's coming out early July. It's all mixed and ready to go from our end though. We're used to releasing as we record so it's been a bit frustrating. It should be getting announced properly very soon though. Some things are worth waiting for. (IJ)

Between shoegaze and indiepop ... where would you say you stand the most?
I would say somewhere in the middle, which sounds like a bit of a non commital answer but i think we like those genres equally. I think our music often comes out more shoegazey than indiepop because we like to overdub so many parts and we are so loud as a live band. (AJ)

Could you name me a few artists that could be cited as your inspirations?
We're definitely influenced by alot of the music we get compared to. Bands on Creation like Ride, My Bloody Valentine and Teenage Fanclub are a huge influence aswell as other shoegaze bands like Lush, The Telescopes. We're big record collectors so we listen to an eclectic selection of music. We enjoy alot of classic pop songwriting, at the moment we're really into Carole King and Todd Rundgren. We've also been listening to alot of sunshine pop recently with bands like The Association, The Millenium, Roger Nichols and the Small Circle of Friends and The Free Design. (AJ)

How important is the visual aspect of the music? What is your vision on that? 
Visuals have always been really important – we knew it would give us a bit more credibility when we started out if we had a visually arresting video and artwork and stuff. George Abram has been with us since day one designing all of our artwork, and me and him have co-directed every video together. George debuted our live visual show in Madrid in December which we're keen to make a recurring feature of our live shows. I guess what we're doing isn't much different to most bands but we're creating all of the content ourselves so I guess it ties in with our music and ultimate vision a little more? (OJ)

Whose idea was the video of "Tasteless"? And do you think it is by any means procovative?!
George came to me with some storyboards for the Tasteless video which consisted of frames of a bare bum, some solid colours, and shots of raw meat amongst other things (George is always pushing for nudity and raw meat). In the editing process we realised that the naked shot walking into the sea should carry the video. It's not really intended to be provocative; we did actually shoot it with our model stripping down to just their underwear but it turned out looking a lot more sexual like that so all of the clothes had to come off. (OJ)

As a band, what would make you happy in 2014?
I'd be happy to have more time to write/record and it would be nice to tour this year. I'd really like a cream tea with Crowded House if anyone could arrange that. (AJ)

Oliver and I used to have a band that formed exclusively to play End of The Road Festival in Dorset, and that never happened so maybe that's still a lingering dream (IJ)

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Azure Blue Interview

He comes from Sweden, he's got a thirst for knowledge... Tobias Isaksson is one of those people you would like to spend endless evenings with a glass of white wine and witty discussions about modern art or popular culture. Apart from Azure Blue, who I love, he now introduces himself with brilliant disco new project Night Flights. Thank you Tobias, for this truly lovely interview. 

Beyond the dreams there's infinite doubt.. Does that mean that you only feel secure and creative while dreaming?
It's a tough first question but I'll do my best to answer it. I am pretty philisophical in my lyrics. I've based my view of the cycles of life and love on my own experiences and what I've read and heard from others. I have a dream of a perfect life with inner peace and true love. But the road I know is becoming a travesty of old love and a feeling of great doubt. But I'm not as pessimistic as it may sound. Beyond the doubt there's infinite dreams, too. So my sounds work against the sometimes sad lyrics as a sort of juxtaposition.

You mentioned in one of your interviews that the color of the sky and the ocean on your record sleeves is a symbol of your personal journey, a love story. Could you explain?
When I was writing my first album I was looking out with new expectations. I was in a new city and found a lovely person along the way. It all felt positive. But when I was writing my second album the relationship fell apart. Partly because of the intense touring. So the dream of living from my own music only got distorted and I used rushing back into the city nightlife under a dystopic sky as a symbol of the new direction. Without spoiling the future it looks like there will be lighter colours again for my future Azure Blue work.

I understand you read literature and inspire from pieces for your music. Fav writers?
I don't have time to read that much since I also run a label, but I read Klas Östergren and Earnest Hemingway etc while writing Rule of Thirds and I read Francoise Sagan while writing Beyond the Dreams. Now I've been reading philosophy again for the first time since gymnasium. Though I am a five year academic with a bachelor in media, I prefer philosophy and sociology. Thinkers like Bourdieu and Kierkegaard. And still, my main inspiration has always been film and relationships. Sorry for making your head spin.

If Azure Blue were a book, it'd be a romantic novel or an autobiography and why?
It would be a romantic drama with me as a protagonist, playing me, based on personal experiences, but I'd add colours and maybe end with a surrealist twist where it all goes into an impossible= murmur or the end of the world.

You manage to combine retro and modern, sexy and dreamy, simplicity and wittiness in an effortless way. What is your true feeling and vision with Azure Blue?
I just make the music I feel most passionate about. My vision is to stay honest but leave some of the lyrics more open for the listeners to interpret. That's probably more interesting for everyone. I'm a pretty normal person, only I have the blessing - or curse of coming up with colorful themes and oneliners. I'm very easy to talk to and in person I crack too many jokes. I can't help myself. Comedy is another ambition of mine. I'm writing for national radio right now. Another juxtaposition I guess.

Your new project "Night Flights" releases now self-titled debut. 70s disco ambient beautiful and a bit darker stuff! By that sound, do you maybe feel that you are one step closer to your "destination" ?
Nite Flights is my club music, so it's maybe slightly closer to my current position. But it will also lead it's own life and evolve. Azure Blue is in a new place for me, too. I don't think there's any final destination for music or art. Just for the musicians and artists. Our inevitable death. Laughs.

You mentioned somewhere that it is very important to always find fun and beauty in things. How do you manage to do that?
By having great friends and an active social life. Right now the people in the clubs I frequently visit are the most inspiring and uplifting part of my life. But I think it has to change from year to year. Everything has to progress and there has to be humor.

Name me 3 movies for which you'd be delighted to have written the soundtrack.
The Big Blue, Blade Runner and Betty Blue.

Do you get on well with other swedish bands? Do you feel part of the "swedish pop scene"?
Yes, I do but as I also work as a booking agent I have to be trend sensitive enough to both be a part of it and try to develop it. But yes, after more than 10 years in the business I know a lot of bands from all over the world.

Tell me a few things about Hybris, your own label and music agency. You've got a few of my fav names on there.. like Postiljonen, TIAC, Korallreven and Biker Boy.
Postiljonen are my babies, but I don't work with them personally. Korallreven are great guys, too. I only officially release one band so far and that's Wild At Heart. But we do a lot of collective stuff like PR etc. But originally I was signed as an artist, but as I was a booking agent since years I started my own agency under Hybris's umbrella. TIAC and Biker Boy are not active anymore. You should check out Wild At Heart, Niva and Iberia etc. I also represent The Embassy, Team Rockit and some other great bands from other labels as a booking agent. It's a lot of work. I also dj and arrange clubs all the time.

When are you coming to Greece? open invitation and free sofa for the summer!
I'd love to return to Greece! I've only visited you as a beach bum. It would be cool to dig into history, and it would make sense to play some gigs. I just got two tracks on a compilation for a huge record store in Greece. Maybe that will spread the word so I can come on tour. Otherwise I might just accept that sofa invitation.

You can listen here the Night Flights EP >>