Monday 5 May 2014

Hibou Interview

His name is Peter Michel, he is only 20 years old.. yet he makes some of the finest dreamy pop sounds I've heard lately. Known as Hibou, he talks about craft spells, yummy cheesecakes and his forthcoming debut album.

You are only 20 years old! since when have you been involved with music?
I started taking piano lessons when I was 3 years old, followed by the drums, then guitar, & then any instrument I could get my hands on.

Were you a member in Craft Spells?
Yeah I played drums for CS for a little less than a year.

I love your music cause it combines dreamy retro and lofi modern sounds. With which eight artists (that have inspired you) would you make a compilation?
Field Mice, Ventures, New Order, Another Sunny Day, My Bloody Valentine, Beatles, The Cure, Orange Juice

Are you responsible for the artwork/videos? What is your perspective on that?
I worked on the 'Dunes EP' artwork with photographs by myself and Emily Harriet. Most of the other artwork and videos have been collaborations. The 'Glow' and 'Above Us' music videos were done by David Dean Burkhart, who is a genius. I love seeing what other people create to combine with the music, and seeing it from someone else's point of view.

Have you reached any labels yet? Album coming soon maybe?
None yet, but the full length should be out quite soon & we're hoping to have a label to support it by then.

How is the music scene in Seattle nowadays? any bands you would recommend?
The music scene in Seattle is great. There's always a chance to see new bands and play with up and coming locals. Some of my current favorites are So Pitted, FF, Lures, and La Luz.

You are in the middle of a UK tour right now. how has the reception been so far?
We've only played 3 shows so far, but the reception has been great. These festivals have been amazing, we all feel so lucky to be a part of them. It's been a long time coming that we play over here, so it feels well deserved.

Are you really a massive cheesecake fan?
Absolutely, I love cheesecake with all my heart.

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 >>

Monday 24 March 2014

Teen Daze interview


Beautiful dreamy music is hard to be found, especially if that comes out of the dark Vancouver forests. Jamison who goes by the alias Teen Daze is always busy creating his own introvert, witty sounds or remixing others' tracks.. still, a few days ago he took a break and therefore, told me this story.

You make dreamy elegant ambient pop music .. would you use these words for your music?
Those are definitely the types of words I would use to describe it, but describing my music is not the sort of practice I find myself doing very often. I try to make something that's an honest representation of who I am as a person, and however it's labeled or described is up to the listener. Getting too caught up in descriptions and genres is always a limitation.

You are quite prolific as an artist. How has the writing and recording process evolved throughout your albums?
I've learned a lot about patience through my writing and recording process, on lots of different levels. Patience in the sense that I've learned to not every consider a song to be "finished", just because I've finished working on it for a certain amount of time. I used to "finish" a song and then move on to the next one immediately. Now, I like to revisit things that I've worked on in the past and try to get it to the best possible version that it can be. Also, the process of releasing an album has taught me a lot about patience. I used to just post music as soon as I finished it, but I've really learned the virtue of waiting and editing, and making sure that a song/album is truly ready to be released at the proper time.

Your last album "Glacier" was released in October. You mention that "it is a collection of moments, historical particles and physical experiences, gathered into a whole." Could you explain? Do you feel you are moving towards a more experimental introvert music path?
I was really inspired by the works of Phil Elverum in the creation of Glacier, and I've found that he does an amazing job of synthesizing what could be considered mundane experiences (walking in the woods, for example) into these incredible, existential pieces of art. So with Glacier, I wanted to take this icy world that I imagined in my head, the feeling of being isolated in winter, and create a soundtrack for it. I love the recording age we live in because it does allow for so much introverted experimentation. If I have a musical idea, or theory, I can immediately put it into practice through my home recording set up.

In what ways has Vancouver influenced your music?
The nature has been the biggest impact. From where I live, I can be lost in pretty dense forest in a matter of kilometers. I'm close to lots of lakes, mountains and open spaces, and I've found that those aspects of living on the west coast has made the biggest impact on my creative output.

How is the music scene there right now?
I'm really into Vancouver electronic music right now. There's two amazing labels (1080p and Mood Hut) who are doing incredible things. Cyril Hahn and Pender Street Steppers are two of my favourite locals. Both creating really beautiful, melodic, house-inspired tunes.

Is there a certain type/genre of music that you are most interested in currently?
I've found myself listening to lots of really mellow, melodic house music lately, like Cyril and PSS as I just mentioned. Also Leon Vynehall, Fort Romeau, and Todd Terje have been staples.

Have you been to Athens before? any expectations?
I haven't, but I'm really excited! If I have time, I would LOVE to visit the Acropolis and the Parthenon. Both are such huge monoliths of an older time. Hopefully they're not too touristy at this point ;)

Ive read in an interview that you love making breakfast sandwiches. if i asked you to make me one, what would that be?
I do! So, here's how a normal breakfast sandwich looks to me: Multi-grain bagel (toasted), with three strips of bacon, two eggs (cooked over-medium) and a slice of cheddar cheese. I usually stick with that formula, but I'm always up for new interpretations!

Teen Daze play six dogs (athens) sunday 30 march.

Tuesday 11 March 2014

The Proctors interview

The Proctors arent like any other indie pop band. In fact, they formed in 1993, broke up and came back with a performance in Cambridge in April 2011... looking and well, sounding fresher than ever. Gavin Priest, singer of the band, shared some lovely thoughts with me.

You were originally formed in 1993, out of the ashes of the Cudgels. You broke up in 1997 and then came back in 2009 with the cloudberry release. Was it something that you were planning or was it the indie pop revival that drove you to reform?
I bumped into Stephen who was also in the Cudgels and it was he convinced me. He gave me confidence, there were a bunch of songs I had recorded years ago during the period we were signed with sunday records that had never seen the light of day including 'perfect world' sp we felt there was unfinished business!

You mix 90s indie pop with 60s sounds, sth between sarah records and Byrds-esque melodic guitars. which era do you feel you are most inspired of?
My musical influences are very varied! I will listen to Simon and Garfunkel next to Felt, early Primal Scream and The Sex Pistols! Throw 80s synth pop too! The era that most influences me is 1986 to 1992 i would say. During this era I felt a strong connection with Sarah bands like The Sea Urchins from our part of the world who knew their music, and The Field Mice, being a big Joy Division and New Order Fan, I could hear they loved that too, but loved their fragile 'bedroom' approach to it. The Proctors was a recording project at that time, something i really want to get back to, though we have enjoyed playing live. I also got into bands like Love, The Velvet Underground, The Kinks and The Byrds during this era. Prior to this I got into early punk and new wave while at school! Anything from Xray Spex to The Jam, Siouxsie etc etc. I'm drawn to bands with a femininity and would even include The Pistols in that.

You mentioned in an interview that you write "melancolic pop songs" - what are the ingredients of a perfect melancolic pop song?
Well listen to 'New Dawn Fades' by Joy Division, 'Letting Go' by the field Mice or 'The sound of silence' by Simon and Garfunkel, and whatever's in there they are the ingredients! If I were a musiclogist I would say sad chords, weeping guitars and honest lyrics!

"Everlasting Light" album was released last september. in which ways was it different from the releases more than a decade ago?
Well the previous album/singles involved absolute zero rehearsal. We literally booked studio time the Adrian, Christina and myself showed up in my clapped out Mini and just jammed along. Pete Williams from Dexy's Midnight runners actually engineered it and played harmonica and keyboard here and there He just happened to be working at the studio. With this one we have the benefit of new technology! Nowadays My sister christina is no longer involved and we have Margaret Calleja on vocals. We are all very close, and i think that helps, we are very honest with one another!

How is the collaboration with shelflife records?
Great! Fantastic to get to work with Terry Bickers from House Of Love, absolute hero of mine as a guitarist, and one of the nicest people you could wish to meet. He had a genuine respect for what we do, and was great to spend a weekend with him. Shelflife have been brilliant.They have been really supportive, and Ed from the Label even bought his own guitar pedals for me to use at New York Popfest

Is indie pop still alive? What do you think of the current indie pop scene? 
Very much alive, this interview and your fanzine is the evidence! I like the scene and all the popfests most people I've met have been lovely. I think most people's hearts are in the right places! I'm looking forward very much to Bobby Wratten's new project, and loving Burning Hearts, Azure Blue, Watoo Watoo at the moment, though the list could go on and on!

Youve got a new EP coming in a few weeks. Could you tell me a few things about it?
Its called 'the Kaleidoscope Ep' after the Ray Bradbury short story. Its 3 songs about breaking up. They are 3 new songs, quite personal I hope people will like it, but each release is a leap of faith. There is a lyric about being 'scared to fly' in there and that has a double meaning!

You are playing the birmingham popfest next month (what an amazing lineup!!). any more gig/festival plans for the summer?
Yes playing Hamburg april 4th, Berlin April 5th, Rome May 9th, Milan May 10th, Copenhagen May 16th. We are also playing the brilliant 'going up The Country in Congleton UK June 7th

Monday 17 February 2014

The Wedding Present Interview

One of my all-time fav bands, The Wedding Present have always filled my moments with love and joy. I met singer and leader of the band, David Gedge, when I was doing my MA in liverpool ten years ago. A lovely person and a real gentleman, he is back with his band for a set full of hearts, flowers, heartbreaking odes and loads of pure punk feeling.  

I first saw you live in 2004, in Liverpool, when you reunited. That was also our first interview. It’s been ten years since then.. was that a good decade and what has changed in your life?
Yes, it’s been a great decade! It was refreshing to return to The Wedding Present after a few years away and also very exciting to be invited to play in places we’d never visited previously… countries like Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Latvia and, of course, Greece where we first played in 2005. We also travelled to record. We recorded ‘Take Fountain’ with Steve Fisk in Seattle and the follow-up ‘El Rey’ with Steve Albini in Chicago and I’ve spent more and more time in Los Angeles, where we mixed our most recent album ‘Valentina’ with Andrew Scheps. But, aside from the tours and the albums, there’s been plenty of other stuff, too… I’ve started my own festival in Brighton, England called ‘At The Edge Of The Sea’ and my own biographical comic book called ‘Tales From The Wedding Present’. So you could say that I’ve been keeping pretty busy…

Since the release of your last album in 2012, has there been much work on new material?
There’s only two or three completely finished songs but what is most exciting is that there are lots of ideas bubbling around. Our ‘new’ guitarist, Patrick Alexander, joined the band a couple of years ago and brought lots of ideas for songs with him, so I’m really looking forward to getting to grips with those later this year.

Name me three things that you love about The Wedding Present and Cinerama.
With The Wedding Present I love… 1 - the simplicity - the fact that we’re influenced by punk and pop music… 2 - the basic but classic “rock ’n’ roll” line-up of drums, bass and guitars… and 3 - the sheer energy of the live performances.
But then one thing I love about doing Cinerama is that it’s totally different to The Wedding Present! But, also I adore the cinematic sound of strings and orchestral brass and messing around with weird keyboards and stuff. Thirdly, I suppose I like the fact that Cinerama is kind of ‘retro’ - so the whole concept of the band is quite nostalgic for me… it’s the soundtrack to my ‘growing up’, in a way.

You've written some of the most beautiful love songs. Do you believe that love makes the world go round?
Thank you! Yes, ha, ha… there’s no greater force than love! I remember a teacher at school telling us that everything we do in life is motivated by our desire to love and be loved and I think there’s a lot of truth in that…

Are there any albums (or even particular songs) that you don’t want to play live?
No. Well, I have my favourites, of course, but there isn’t anything I would never play live. There are some songs that I would probably not have personally chosen to play in concert but our drummer Charles Layton does the set lists and he often comes up with surprises. And I like a challenge!

What's your take on social networking? Do you like interacting with fans?
I do. I love interacting with fans on Twitter, for instance. It’s great to have that direct communication via my personal account @weddingpresent. My only problem with social networking is that there’s so much of it. If we kept up with everything on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, etc., I wouldn’t have time to write songs or make records.

What are you doing in LA right now?
It seems like the main thing I’ve done is escape some horrendous weather back in England. But I’ve also been working on a couple of long-term projects while I’ve been here. The first is a totally new version of “Valentina” re-arranged and re-recorded by Cinerama and the second is a new version of “George Best” which The Wedding Present recorded a few years ago with Steve Albini. They’re about as totally different projects as you could imagine, so that’s been interesting…

You mention on the newsletter that there'll be naked dancers during the Athens gig. Apart from that, what should we expect?
Performing poodles, magic tricks and free fish and chips for everybody.

The Wedding Present are playing Athens (Six Dogs) friday 14 march.

Monday 10 February 2014

Northern Portrait Interview

Northern Portrait were named 'one of my favorite bands' immediately after their first single. They are smart and delicate and they translate pop in a deeper and tasteful way. I also love the fact that they are Danish and that they are kind of obsessed with releasing singles and EPs. Stefan Larsen, singer of the band, gave me a lovely interview!

You recently released a collection of non-album tracks (including songs from sold out EPs, vinyl-only singles, and compilation appearances). How come you haven't released a second album yet? 
Well, for a number of reasons. First of all, I am personally quite fond of the single and Extended Play formats - the way I see it, there'a a bit more emphasis on the individual songs, and it still feels like an entity in its own right just as an album is. One quite bewildering thing for me is the continuous focus on the album format. However, I am not saying we won't record an album ever again, but right now we just have a growing collection of songs, that we work on with no particular type of release in mind. Might be an album, might be something completely different. As you mention, our new release 'Ta!' is an album collecting single and EP tracks that are either sold out or haven't been available on CD before. A number of the songs have been revitalized for the release, and we are really quite pleased with the result.

Your music is elegant, and romantic, and retro and powerful. It reminds me of bands like Gene and Strangelove, with a modern feeling. Which words would you use to describe it?

Oh, thank you! I think we used to describe it as Sophisticated guitar pop music, which I guess is still valid. Gene is a group that I didn’t discover until somebody pointed out similarities between my voice and the guy from Gene’s. All of which is very flattering indeed - their music is really beautiful. Drawn To the Deep End is probably my favorite record of theirs. So I must say I’m glad we remix you of them.
As for our own music I think we try to balance an obvious inspiration and appreciation for a bunch of mainly English pop groups from the past sixty or so years, add a dash of freshness and whatever is on our minds around the time we write and record.

You are signed to Matinee. You mentioned in one of your interviews that "going into the Matinée office was really like entering the treasure chamber of Indie pop" How did you sign to the label and was that your first choice?
The Matinée Recordings office is most certainly an Aladdin's Cave of great music. Jimmy Tassos who runs the label is a man with a most astonishingly impressive collection of superb music. We are indeed very happy and feel very privileged to be part of the Matinée family. Jimmy handles everything with such great taste, attention and friendliness. Things went pretty quickly in signing to Matinée - I think we had a deal within the first two weeks of publishing our first track on Myspace (does anybody remember that place anymore, and what’s happened to Tom?). I cannot really say that we even got to a point where first, second or third choice of label was an topic, but the way things turned out seems perfect for us.

I love your artwork! Who is responsible and do you think that sound and image should have a common vision? (if so, whats yours)
Again, thank you very much, I’m glad you like it! For the first two Eps we released, we pretty much had an idea of what we wanted. It was a kind of the Beast and the Beauty - and Matinée made sure they both turned out so nice. For our album ‘Criminal Art Lovers’ the initial idea with the Villa Savoye came from Michael (drummer and songwriter). We all loved the modernist coolness and strange appeal of building. By the way both Michael and Jesper (lead guitarist) are architects, and Caspar (bass player) is son of two architects, so we have lots of architecture in the band. For the 7" single ‘Life Returns To Normal’ and our latest 10” vinyl EP ‘Pretty Decent Swimmers’ we gave Jimmy Tassos free hands to design the artwork. Both turned out very very nice indeed, and I must say holding a copy of ‘Pretty Decent Swimmers' for the first time was quite a special moment. Really a beautiful piece of plastic and cardboard. All those sleeves have used photos, and we thought it would be a nice diversion to do something entirely graphic for our new compilation ‘Ta!’, and as both a tribute to and inspired by Danish underground experimental magazine ‘Ta’’ (notice the difference?) we made this check pattern, which with the magic touch of Jimmy turned out very nice indeed. I wouldn’t say we have a vision per se, but we do have taste and pay attention to the graphic side of our band.

There is a copenhagen popfest but still, there is not a well-known indie pop scene in Denmark.. home come? Are there bands that we are not aware of?
I am not really sure what the reason for this is. There are some very nice Danish groups indeed; Sock Puppets, Ampel, and Balloon Magic for instance, but the live scene doesn’t seem to function very well for some strange reason. There has been some nice initiatives with club nights and live acts coming over, but right now the community, scene, fan base, or whatever doesn’t seem to be at it’s best. Hopefully this will change.

Through your interviews I’ve seen your love for Pulp, Lightning Seeds and Suede. A phrase for each band?

Pulp is absolute intimate excellence. Lightning Seeds is pure perfection, and Suede was guitar magic.

I read that you have published a book in Denmark. Is that correct and what is it about?
Well, that’s sort of true - but it’s just something to do with my work. It’s not like I’m an author or anything like that. It’s a book combining art and certain everyday problems.

Which would be your dream fest to perform?
We have been playing at so many brilliant festivals - last year Madrid Pop Fest was an enormous thrill for us. I cannot really say what our dream fest would be. People are always very nice everywhere we go, and over the years we have come across some incredibly talented bands. So I think a dream fest is just impossible - but please bring Holiday Crowd and Math and Physics Club.

I think you should come and play in Athens. I can give you a grand tour and take you to places with amazing food! What do you think?
I think so too! I love Greek food, and would love to go on a grand tour of Athens with you. Please send an invitation. 

Monday 3 February 2014

Interview with Alpaca Sports

                                                             Press photo by Per Möller

I first came across Alpaca Sports a couple of years ago. Its one of those rare moments where you instantly fall in love. They come from Gothenburg and they make the most beautiful pop, sweet, cute, adorable pop music. They soon release their debut, which its truly haunting, a pop masterpiece! I shamelessly admit that they are my favorite band right now and watching them live would make me the happiest girl in the world. Andreas Jonsson was kind enough to answer my questions.

You write amazing pop songs, the one after the other. Is it so damn easy to write a perfect pop song?

Thank you! Haha well seriously, it’s so damn hard! We spend so many hours on each song trying to find the right arrangement, finding the right words, use the right instruments, sounds and so on. Just to give the impression that it was recorded in thirty minutes I guess, haha. I find it can be easy to lose the straightforwardness during the song making process and to complicate things, so I always get very happy when people think writing popsongs is easy for us.

Your music is sweet and romantic and heartbreaking. Is that a way to express your own personality?
It’s definitely a way to express my feelings. But oh, I don’t think I want to call myself sweet and romantic? That’s for others to do, haha. But I’m very naïve and I’m addicted to romantic movies, I admit that.

"Sealed with a Kiss" - your first album is released in a few days. What are your expectations from the debut?
Yes, it’s finally ready! I’m very excited about it but I’ve never released an album before so I don’t know what to expect really. We just put all our effort into making a record we could feel proud about. Hopefully others will like it too, that would make me very happy!

Which are the features that make Swedish pop music so distinct?

I don’t know about characteristics but I think a lot of Swedes are good at making pop music and I’m sure there are many explanations for that. I think one could be that kids get the chance to try different instruments in an early age which encourage people to start bands. There are different music schools which you can sign up for and at least when I grew up music was a compulsory subject in school. So, music is always present and many generations here in Sweden have been brought up with songs from bands like Abba, Beatles, Elvis and more. After a while you learn which music buttons to push maybe?

Do you hang out with other Swedish bands?

I’m not sure we have that culture anymore here in Gothenburg where whole bands go out together hanging out at the same place. I can miss that sometimes! But of course I meet members from other bands from time to time. At the moment I listen a lot to The Electric Pop Group, I think they’re fantastic.

If Alpaca Sports were a film, a book and a painting which ones would they be?

Film: Cinema Paradiso
Book: The Notebook? haha
Painting: One from our wonderful friend Ray Kimura!

Gig plans? You announced your gig at the Copenhagen Popfest!

We’ll play in Milano and Rome on February 22-23! And we’ll play at two Popfests so far this spring, Birmingham and Copenhagen. I hope we can announce more gigs soon!

And last.. is Johnny Marr your hero?
He’s definitely one of my heroes. But my biggest hero is Gunvor Jonsson, my dear mother.

Alpaca Sports premier today their video for new single "Just like Johnny Marr", shoot in Japan! Watch the video below and watch out for debut release on the 24th Feb (Luxury).

Saturday 14 December 2013

Jay-Jay Johanson Interview

Are you afraid of cockroaches?
I have only met a cockroach once, at Chelsea Hotel in New York, it was not a pleasant sight, but one cockroach can't scare me, but if they would have been many, then I would have found it disgusting I guess.

What does this word represent as the title of your new album?
Well, there are many answers, one is that they say that the cockroach will survive the human being on this earth, and I begin to feel like a survivor in the music business, I never thought I would do more than maximum 3 albums - and now I have released my 9th! I feel like a real cockroach. a survivor. and another answer is the hat I'm wearing on the cover. I saw this hat the first time in 1982, and I have always wanted one, it was designed by Malcolm Mclaren and Vivienne Westwood, Malcolm had it on in the video for Buffaloo Gals, if you remember, I've been trying to find a vintage one for ages, and finally a couple of years ago I got my hat, and when I put it on, and took the photo, I felt like I was protected, like if I had a shell over me - like a cockroach.

What is the concept of the new album (or the message you'd like to come across)?
I never really think conceptual - even if the end product sometimes turn out to be a very conceptual result, like Spellbound became very minimalistic and private. this time I wanted to continue where we left the studio on the last song we recorded for Spellbound - that was Dilemma - and I wanted this new album to be full of the percussions, drums and beats as we did on Dilemma. that was the only idea really - and to continue to dress up my songwriting in peculiar experimental alternative arrangements and work with improvisations etc.

You've always dived into melancolia (apart from a short break when you experimented with electro pop). Would you play again with other genres?
I don't know - I can magine to make an instrumental album one day - in the spirit of the song Insomnia from my new album Cockroach.

Even though you are swedish, you dont make happy pop music (as most of the musicians in your country). How come?
I have no idea - I only write the type of songs I can write - I can't really change - and I have no idea why my song writing is like it is - it's hard to explain the sources and fundament of creativity.

Do you feel you connect with the greek audience and in what way? 
Well - they have been there since the beginning - it was one of the first countries I started going to with my first album Whiskey back in 1997 - 16 years ago! - together with France Spain Portugal - I think my Greek fans are among the people who knows me the best - and it's a great pleasure for me to come back to your beautiful country again and again... 

Jay-Jay Johanson is playing TIKI (Athens) sunday 15 dec. 

Monday 4 March 2013

sunshine smile

Derby Sunshine seems to be the solo project of Luigi Buccarello. I dont know much about this weird guy, apart from the fact that he was born in Rome and moved to London at the age of 24. I also assume, by listening (over and over again) to his fairly new project, that he is into 90s beats, layered sounds and pure nostalgic pop music. I love the video clips, the vintage aesthetics, the ambient feeling, the retro shoegaze vibe. Pure beauty. and shine.

Wednesday 9 January 2013

boy of my dreams

What’s the connection between librarians and indie pop music? Pale Lights are the only ones who can truly answer this complex question. A US band that likes the sounds of The Chills and The Go-Betweens, while has strange connections with bands like Comet Gain, Crystal Stilts and Knight School. Pale Lights have their lovely first EP out on Calico Cat label and.. there is a limited edition of 250 copies that comes with a free button badge. Hurry up, order and pop!

Thursday 29 November 2012

twee coast

Pop is sweet. It’s full of cream, cherries and little marshmallows. Edine knows the recipe pretty well as she has proven over the last years through Hong Kong/London indiepop duo The Marshmallow Kisses. Now she introduces herself via another project, Edine avec Lisle Mitnik et son Orchestra (shortened as Edine), which she brings together with Lisle Mitnik.. the guy behind Fireflies, Very Truly Yours, and Tiny Fireflies. What a match! Together they now release first lovely 60's yeye/twee pop EP “The West Coast” (on Elefant records). Super cute song+video.

Sunday 21 October 2012

trees + dreams

When Victoria Bergsman decided to leave The Concretes in 2006, she had other (bigger) plans in her mind. Inspired by the sparkly frozen trees in Stockholm, Bergsman formed her project Taken by Trees and was smart enough to cover Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. Now she's back with third Hawaiian tropical album "Other Words" (out on Secretly Canadian), while is proud to be touring with Mr. Jens Lekman himself. Dreamy Hot.