With a never-more-timely single “Keep The Euro, Keep The Pound”, James Day has become is a spokesperson for both sides of the Brexit war through the best way he knows how – song. Representing ‘the voice of the people’ Day issues a rallying cry for neither Leavers nor Remainers but for both to unite in the common goal of simply getting on with it!
A protest song which is on the side of everyone in the country, the song cries out for the nation to come together and help the country move forward before power struggles break it apart.
Armed with a blend of prog rock riffs, rustic vocals and a catchy chorus, Day sings “see the gathering crowd, why don’t we give ’em some sound? They all got choices, they all got voices, and they can make their country’s proud.”
Produced by legendary producer and engineer, Stuart Epps (Elton John; Led Zeppelin; Oasis), the trackechoes the likes of Paul Weller and The Clash in its style, with the kind of rousing, sing-along chorus which would keep football crowds satisfied for many a season.
Rather like the situation the UK has found itself in, the track has found that by looking to successes in times-past, the route to the future becomes much clearer. What unites us is stronger than anything which divides us.
Following her iconic release ‘Rebuild This Land’ that reflected on rebuilding the unity of countries after the Brexit decision, PachYa continues to enforce this message through her music with the release of ‘Kind of Different Human’.
Having lived in the UK for 10 years PachYa was settled with her child and surrounded by friends, however when the referendum signaled that Britain planned to leave the European Union it was as if opinions changed over night and PachYa subsequently felt that it was necessary for her to move back to Poland.
Now using her music to “unite” people in a time of divide, PachYa echoes the electronic beats and dance rhythms of Alan Walker and INNA and combines them with her crisp vocals to create tracks that elicit the universal joy of dance.
Singing in Italian, Polish and English Language, PachYa reinforces the need to rebuild bridges and to concentrate on what binds us together as people, not what divides us.
Through bridging the traditional sounds of her homeland in Ontario to those of her current home in Limerick, the new EP ‘Throwing Shapes‘ from Emily Jean Flack is perhaps her most accomplished work to date – showcasing her gorgeously pure vocals and the Celtic music she was raised with, whilst injecting cool electronic textures to create a genre-spanning mix that defies expectations and delivers on every level. Produced by Belfast native Peter Wallace, and mixed by three-time Grammy Award winner David Bottrill, ‘Throwing Shapes’ also features guest performances by two Irish folk stars, whistle and flute player Brian Finnegan from the band Flook and guitarist Marty Barry.
“Although I come from a traditional instrumental folk background, I’ve always listened to so many other styles of music. And my own music has always been more personal, more modern and more contemporary. Being in Ireland is wonderful in the sense that it’s so culturally rich, but there is a ferocity and sense of independence within the music. It’s not cute or quaint. It’s quite raw and organic. Ireland has offered me an environment to openly make the music that moves me”
Harnessing an impeccable musical lineage as the daughter of Denise Flack – a member of the groundbreaking Celtic-pop band Leahy, Emily Jean Flack grew up immersed in traditional Irish music and dance. Emily cites her mother as her main influence and inspiration, with her family experiences being what has given her both an undeniable stage presence and an aptitude for performance. Her first public rendition was at an Irish Ceilidh near Peterborough, Ontario where she sang “Katie” by Mary Black, accompanied by her aunt on piano. Despite this being a small performance, this clearly had a profound effect of her maturing musically at an early age, and she had been quoted as saying that this moment felt in some small way that she was following in her mother’s footsteps. Her love of ceilidhs and festivals meant that her eventually uprooting to Ireland was a transition was one that was both effortless and empowering.
Through honing her craft while studying for a Masters in Traditional Music at the University of Limerick, vocalist, songwriter, musician and dancer Emily has spent her life surrounded by music and musicians, but has always harnessed a keenness to express her influences in a way which was entirely her own. Despite the dynamic and joyous feel to her music, there is an inherent degree of heartbreak behind the veil, which emotionally, allows the tracks to feel more wholesome and real. With the spirit of the Emerald Isle permeating her material, Emily also incorporates jazz, pop and Americana influences to create a sound that she describes as progressive folk. Lyrically, the concept of love is explored in all its various forms, with all of her songs coming from a degree of personal experience – Love is hard, love is beautiful, love is worth the fight.
Having emerged onto the music scene as the songwriter behind Carmen Grey – one of Finland’s biggest ever rock bands, Tommi Tikka has partnered with fellow lyricist Antti Autio to form The Impersonators, a two-man project journeying away from the generic production that’s typical of producing music while signed to a major label. From a period of having been signed to Sony/BMG came a longing to have complete artistic control over the final product, and thus gave rise to a duo which masquerades as a full band, born of the living room instead of the studio. In utilising all of his ability as a competent instrumentalist, Tommi notes that he feels like he’s impersonating all of the members in his imaginary rock group.
Speaking ahead of their forthcoming EP ‘Sad Cafe‘, released 22nd March this year, Tommi discusses their journey up to this point:
“The reason why The Impersonators took the shape it did was that I wanted to have complete artistic control over how my songs were produced. Writing and recording for major labels was awesome and I am so grateful for everything they did but at the same time, I wasn’t always happy with the sounds and the final product. My goal was to avoid the sterile production typical of modern pop/rock.”
From the perspective of style, The Impersonators’ goal is to nurture and cultivate the creativity, spirit and warmth that graced the pop records of yesteryears – realised through poignant lyrics, emotive music and sixties-flavoured vocal harmonies. Partnered with their producer – Janne Saska, The Impersonators are a group of two songwriters, whose inspiration is inherently true to life.
“If you start with the lyrics and the story, it’s somehow easier to find the right mood musically. I like to write autobiographical songs that reflect what’s happening either to me or around me in real life. I dislike ‘cool’ love songs. I don’t think there’s anything cool about being in love – so much of it is actually difficult and unnerving. Love make you vulnerable and aimless in so many ways. It’s trusting the other person with your happiness and ultimately, with your life.”
Previous outfit Carmen Grey had enjoyed no less than 8 top-ten hits, including Tommi’s proudest feat ‘Gates of Loneliness’, which stood as the most played song in his native Finland during 2010. However, outside of the security of the ready-built music machine which generates both hype and distribution, it’s of little surprise that The Impersonators had struggled to take the first steps towards success in their own right:
“I pestered a few local labels trying to get them to sign us, but it was a real challenge getting them to listen to our stuff. One guy said to me that he’ll listen to the CD if I bring it to him dressed as Santa Claus (Christmas was just around the corner) and give everyone at the office a small present. I surprised him when I showed up with a sack of candy canes and, obviously, a CD.
You can just imagine his surprise when he realised it was me. He did listen to the CD, and although he didn’t sign us, he gave us a few names that turned out to be very valuable for us. It was a fun afternoon all in all and as the two absolutely gorgeous secretaries wanted to sit on Santa’s lap, I consider it an out-an-out success.”
He also reflects on his past with Carmen Grey detailing some crazy stories and experiences such as supergluing their manager’s door shut during a stint in Berlin:
“We cut the phone cord and stole the battery from his mobile phone, so he couldn’t call for help. It was a prank and we were supposed to let him out after an hour or so, but then we received the news that our song was #1 in Finland and forgot all about him. That evening at the airport we realised he was missing. Obviously, all it took was a quick call to the hotel and the help of the local fire department to get him out. He was pissed off but calmed down after a huge bouquet of flowers and a very, very expensive bottle of cognac.”
Tommi explained that his approach to life, music and everything in between has long since been in accordance with one of Abe Lincoln’s most famous quotes: “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the life in your years.” Musically, this EP is etched in subtlety. Stylistically reminiscent of the bejewelled power-pop of The Go-Betweens, the effortless song-writing genius of Matthew Street and the immediacy and worldliness of early R.E.M., ‘Sad Cafe‘ succeeds in delivering timeless studio-based alt-pop melodies.
”A fluid, loose, almost drunken drawl that you can imagine playing in the background of one of those misty bar scenes in Twin Peaks” – Wonderland
Hailing from the far north and east of Sweden and offering a treat for fans of bands like My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins, duo Pink Milk are back with their new single Heart of Fire – a track that exceeds the high expectations anticipated following the release of their critically acclaimed 2017 album ‘Purple’.
Known for their captivating use of guitars and bass and Maria’s spacey, transcending vocals, Heart of Fire comes as a devastatingly powerful shoegaze ballad with heaps of cinematic soundscape and a towering magnitude of noise. Lyrically the song is fueled with emotion, written for Maria’s recently born first child their latest track comes with a tenderness that isn’t always displayed in songs of rock genre.
With the past year presenting Pink Milk with nominations for best rock / metal of the year in the prestigious P3 Gold-award, Album of the Year and Breakthrough of the Year in Gaffa, WOW of the Year in Rockskallen Music Awards and Shoegaze album of the Year on the US radio channel DKFM the duo are set for a good year ahead.
In a way completely befitting the world’s most enduring game of heroes and villains, Chilean singer Juga has combined the worlds of chess, cinema and music by releasing two music videos to accompany her tracks ‘Oh Capablanca‘ and ‘Isolated Pawn‘. As the World Chess Championships took place in the heart of London towards the end of last year, Juga made her name as an artist who has been actively pioneering links between the world of art and chess – combining her life as a recording artist with her role as a celebrated ambassador of the game, utilising themes of intrigue, drama and psychology all at the fore.
Juga’s first release could well be considered to be the greatest Bond theme to never feature in a film, as it combines lush orchestration and Spaghetti Western guitar with her spine-chillingly yearning vocals. ‘Oh Capablanca‘ refers to the Cuban chess champion from the 1920’s Jose Raul Capablanca, who is often referred to as the greatest player of all-time.
“The real inspiration was the irony of living a fantasy completely different from what was really happening on the board before my eyes”
The lyrics were inspired by a real-life experience of her participation in a tournament in Rome – describing an emotional voyage through a twisted chess game with her opponent, in which she suffered from over optimism. The track in essence reflects the psychology of what goes on inside a chess players mind after losing a game from a winning position.
‘Isolated Pawn‘ offers a different tale in which Juga recounts, in first person, the human emotions of the humble piece as it’s caught alone and undefended in the middle of the chessboard. The track opens with the lowest self-perception possible – of how the labels put on you by the other pieces (representing society) determine that you are weak, that you can be blocked, attacked, and then captured. However, it then demonstrates that if your hopes are high enough, you can empower yourself to break through and become the most powerful piece – the Queen, as the pawn reaches the enemy’s side of the board.
“The golden scar across the isolated pawn’s head represents how special and strong your wounds can make you. In Japan, there is a traditional art of repairing broken pottery called ‘Kintsugi’, where the piece’s ‘scars’ are filled with gold – honouring the story of the object instead of throwing it away”
These stories depict the triumph of spirit over matter, which is something that often happens in chess. For Juga, this is what makes chess poetic and beautiful, in continuous contrast with it’s scientific and logical side.
Toronto based Lailien describes himself as the ‘anti-matter twin and alter-ego’ of poet Brad Shubat, whose debut album ‘Ensoular‘ is set to smash any preconceived notions of how pop music should be contrived from a pre-defined formula. As a classically trained pianist and university graduate (at one point on the path to become a Professor of Literature), predictably this record unveils a mature talent for careful, poetic and intelligent song-writing, although you might be forgiven for misinterpreting your own expectations on your first listen.
“Lailien exists as a fictional character within a mythic cosmology at play: An extra-dimensional sorcerer, conqueror of Vishnu’s body-suit, rational empiricist, fool, gender fluid prince of darkness… and yet another iteration of the Gnostic Christ resurrected.”
From a belief that “the best musical artists [utilise] profound, erudite, mind-expanding lyricism“, ‘Ensoular’ is less of a genre-crossing, and more of a genre-creating experience – with no single track taking the lead on the how the rest of the album sounds. It’s perhaps unsurprising that this debut LP was written in part during an intense period of experimentation with psychedelics, which had resulted in an intense period of clinically diagnosed psychosis during periods of the creative process.
“What happens when you love yourself or someone else unconditionally, with all your heart and soul, but you know that suffering will disrupt said love? Exploring the complex interrelationship between life and death, the song and video features principles of eternal reoccurrence, anti-matter spacetime, a multidimensional daemon and mystical psychopomps.”
The accompanying video for the track ‘Blue Love’ is every bit as imaginative as his music. Having been conceptualised by Lailien himself, the video was shot by Mina A Solomon and directed by Zafir Ahmed of NRWFilms and stars lead actress and former Miss Universe Canada delegate Chealse Sophia Howell.
“a symphony of thick and warped textures… subtle beats and infectious melancholic vocals.” – Line of Best Fit
Though discovering a love for experimental electronic, pop, rock and jazz sounds derives the main fuel for his creative imagination, Lailien is perhaps best described as a ‘cultural-omnivore’. At the same time as citing a diverse range of musical influences from Animal Collective to Lana Del Ray, academic influences such as gender theorist Judith Butler and modernist writer Virginia Woolf, even video game influences such as Legend of Zelda and Super Mario had samples which made it into the final edit.
Having been mastered by Grammy-nominated Emily Lazar (Foo Fighters/ Sia) in her New York Studios, ‘Holding On, Letting Go‘ is set to be the first of a triad of records from singer-songwriter Elyssa Vulpes. From her native Italy, Elyssa is now based in Edinburgh after a twelve year spell in New Zealand, having soaked up the cultural elements of all these disparate places. Utilising the Celtic folk traditions of Ireland and Scotland, as well as the celebrated Italian singer-songwriters of the 1970’s, ‘Holding On, Letting Go‘ is set to be the most sombre in tone of the trilogy, but is a meditative as it is motivational.
Elyssa has stated her mission in her music echoes that of her profession – to help people. As a hypnotherapist, her daily routine centres around looking to empower, to inspire and to give hope. If she can illuminate a path to connect with a community of like-minded people then through this they can be encouraged to find their own way. This advice has also been reflected inwardly, having cured her own anxieties through a combination of hypnotherapy as well as writing and performing music.
“I believe that without meaning, there is no art… I believe the true aim of art is being fulfilled at the soul level [and] I will be successful when my effort to reach out and build a bridge between me and others is achieved.”
Elyssa attributes the inherent soulfulness of her work to what she calls ‘Scorpion Energy’ -the essence of which is all about transformation – ‘Death and rebirth. Transforming darkness into light’. Through the shedding of metaphoric skins is said to then allow you to confront whatever is bringing you discomfort and hence overcome your fear of pain and accept your own truths without becoming a victim to circumstance.
“From the perspective of eternity, no choice is a bad choice – It leads to the same end: the evolution of consciousness.”
How this resonates through her music is a concept that has begun on this album, with this and the accompanying two records reflecting on the past decade of her life. Lyrically, there are recurring themes of life’s sufferings, but also that of hope and transformation – which is perfectly encapsulated in the albums closer and lead track ‘Front Line‘: a defiant track resonating the themes of overcoming pain and turning it into something positive. Over the course of it’s 15 tracks, the album takes you on a journey of discovery as well as showcasing a variety of musical hues – from the sweet melodies of ‘Summer Romance‘, to the rocked up ‘Do You Wanna Play‘ to the positively punky ‘Grow Up‘.
At a time when ‘the jazz mentality’ is permeating through to the mainstream, Swiss musician Alex Scheuerer is primed to release one of the most impressive jazz albums of the year. The ‘Between Heaven and Earth‘ album was recorded in 2 days in London’s Eastcote Studios. During these sessions, it was of the highest importance for Alex that his musicians recorded simultaneously in order to capture the singularity of the instant. In doing so, it was ensured that the rawest and most unique moments of the recording process were immortalised henceforth.
With jazz, formulaically, it’s a genre that’s full of surprises and moments of magic. In removing the temptation of any kind of production trickery, this ensured that the best and worst eventualities were encouraged as part of the process. As Alex himself describes: “Between Heaven and Earth expresses a will to reach perfection while being unable to do so. An ever perfectible journey through necessary deceptions and successes.” Moreover, rehearsal for each track was completed an hour before recording the whole album, and recording was remarkably achieved in no more than 3 takes.
While having being based in London for nearly a decade, the Swiss national has long since been an accomplished session musician across Europe, Morroco and Dubai. On this occasion, Alex was responsible for writing the whole arrangement and leading proceedings in the process. The album contains cover versions of both ‘Diamonds‘ by Rihanna, as well as Edith Piaf’s ‘La Vie en Rose‘. The former features the voice of Najwa, who notably reached the semi-finals of The Voice in France, reaching the semi finals of the competition.
The inspiration for the title holds it’s own intrigue. Mount Lebanon, home to his maternal roots, is a place that Alex Scheuerer has described as being a place which is close to his heart, and expresses a similar kind of duality that was aforementioned to be an integral ideal behind the production process. Continuing, “A beautiful country torn apart by his history. It is the soul and inspiration breathing through the notes, and the sound which I hope will make you travel and draw colours in your own mind.” Having gone back there and seeing the ruins of where his mother used to live echoed an honest interpretation of somewhere so beautiful it could be considered heaven, but won’t be due to it’s native tensions and, as such, represents the good and bad in all of us.
Despite being born in Manchester, the musical inspiration of indie folk artist Joshua Howlett is very much grounded in his Swiss base in Montreaux, where he now resides. A soulful, young and ambitions performer, he is an artist that is striving to evolve and develop without taking himself too seriously and, as such, has looked to his surroundings – the exquisite nature and historical cities of Switzerland as his creative muse in order to produce his ‘Autumnal‘ EP. With a sound likened to the likes of Ben Howard and Angus and Julia Stone, this is a record that evokes the calm atmosphere of beautiful scenery.
The EP has been noted to draw further inspiration by feelings of nostalgia about leaving the UK, which nicely introduces themes associated with autumn. In an interesting synergy between the atmospheric surroundings of the Swiss mountains, the songs all give off the feeling of autumnal reflection, evoking feelings such as change, anxiety, nostalgia and deeper states of consciousness. It’s an emotional collection of feelings – a meta-cognitive explanation of his physical and mental state at the time of composing.
As mentioned, the true reflective aspect is reflected from his surroundings with him taking heavy inspiration from nature – trees, forests, mountains, and ironically water. He has often written about water and the sea, metaphorically or otherwise, despite the fact he hates swimming and going in it. However, the poetic tranquillity of the element certainly serves its own purpose here.
Having being raised between British and Swiss culture, he has ended up being somewhere between the two. After learning guitar at an early age, he slowly began to develop his own unique style and identity that has been shaped and refined throughout his young career. From writing songs in his bedroom, with no particular intentions, this process reached its natural catalyst in 2017 when Joshua became friends with a producer from Big Fam Records at sound engineering college. Merely a day after deciding to record a song together for fun, they then decided to partner up and record music professionally.
Joshua has been noted to be somewhat shy in character away from music, but everything changes when on stage. His on-stage persona is a mixture of a soulful musician and a stand up comedian – often engaging with the crowd before introducing a song. Indicative of this characteristic, his stages have not always been traditional in their truest sense, as his live performances have taken him from a snowy chalet up a mountain to a show window in a subway station.
His debut EP, recorded with experienced live musicians who have thoroughly immersed themselves in the concept, has been spearheaded by the release of the single ‘Dover‘.