Sheppard compile exclusive ‘Songs From Down Under’ playlist

Songs from Down Under

I figured there’d be so much great Australian music that doesn’t get heard overseas, so I’ve chosen some of my favourites, some old, some new, some better known than others, but all fantastic examples of how rich and diverse our music culture is here in Australian.

 

“Disciples” by Tame Impala

Disciples is a short, but standout track on Tame Impala’s critically acclaimed album “Currents”. Super quirky, vintage pop at its finest. The way the sound of the production changes from old-school to modern 44 seconds in is amazing.

 

“Learnalilgivinanlovin” by Gotye

Although you may only know him from his super hit “Somebody that I Used To Know”, Gotye has been releasing incredibly diverse and uniquely stylized music in Australia since 2001  – and no two songs sound alike. “Learnalilgivinanlovin” is the first track I ever heard from Gotye, and it’s funky motown vibe instantly pulled me in. His other tracks “Hearts A Mess”, “Easy Way Out” and “State of the Art” deserve honourable mentions here too. 

 

“My Happiness” by Powderfinger

You can’t have a list of Australian music without featuring the great Powderfinger. A rock band which wasn’t super well known overseas, but was an unstoppable force in Australia during their years performing together. Their song “My Happiness” is a true Australian classic. 

 

“Surrender” by Ball Park Music

Hailing from our home town of Brisbane, Ball Park Music are one of the most interesting bands to emerge on the Australian music scene in recent memory. Quirky, intelligent songwriting, coupled with an energetic powerhouse of a live show easily earns Ball Park Music a place on this playlist. “Surrender” is one of their more direct efforts at writing a ‘hit’ pop song, and it’s a true gem of the genre. Their songs “Coming Down” and “All I Want Is You” deserve a mention here too. 

 

“Waves” by Dean Lewis

Dean Lewis is a new Australian singer/songwriter who’s currently impacting the airwaves with his epic single “Waves”. The song’s uniquely progressive structure and beautifully crafted melodies tug at the heartstrings and earn it a place on this list. 

 

“Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” by Jet

Another true Australian classic, and one of the greatest rocks songs of the century, if not of all time. If you haven’t heard this song by now, then get on it. The song is just way too much fun, and rightly earned Jet a place as one of the most loved rock bands in Australian music history. 

 

“Never Be Like You (Wave Racer Remix)” by Flume

I’m sure this brilliant Aussie tune is no stranger to your ear holes by now, but this remix by fellow Aussie producer Wave Racer is something to behold. It adds a funky new dimension to Flume’s international hit song, and is one of those rare remixes that is able to stand alone as a great production in its own right, whilst staying true to the original.

“Gold” by Chet Faker

Chet Faker dominated the international music scene in 2014/15 with his debut album “Built on Glass”. My favourite track from the release was “Gold”. A smooth, soulful electronic production with Nick Murphy’s trademark husky vocals on point.

 

“Fences” by Isabel

Another example of smooth, soul-infused electronic music. Isabel is a relatively unknown artist from Brisbane, who I feel deserves to be heard far and wide. Incredibly chilled, slick production techniques coupled with a voice that makes melt you right into your chair.

 

“You Were Right” by Rufus

Originally from Sydney, Rufus are one of those bands who seem to consistently improve on their last release, and their latest studio album “Bloom” is no exception. Their state of the art electronic production is perfect for summer chilling. The album’s biggest single “You Were Right” deserves your attention for 3:59seconds. If you like that, check out another song of theirs “Sundream”. 

 

“Breathe Me” by Sia

Even though she’s now a superstar songwriter, penning party anthems for the likes of Rihanna and Katy Perry, Sia has long been a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter hailing from Adelaide. This song, “Breathe Me” from 2004 is one of the most beautiful efforts from her third album “Colour the Small One”.

 

And of course, you can catch Sheppard’s new track ‘Keep Me Crazy’ below:

Sheppard will support Little Mix on their UK tour this summer.

Follow Sheppard:

Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

‘LP – Finally me’ discussing pushing self with LP

 

Despite her career spanning over a decade, you’d be forgiven for believing LP is a hot new artist on the scene as magazines rave that “she’s the new big thing to take the world by storm”. In truth, LP for the last seven years has been a mainstay in the music industry behind the scenes writing hit songs for some of the world’s most acclaimed artists. Her own solo music is a different story, however, after years of pushing and crafting her artistry – she has been stifled or continually pushed to be the vision of an outside entity.

Now in 2017, LP is out with a new album that is unapologetically her – her style, her journey, her vision. We caught up with LP to find out more about breaking through as 100% herself.

 

What’s changed for you since the release of Into the Wild back in 2012?

Back then, it was difficult to predict what was going to happen in my musical career; it was my third major record deal but it was the first time music was actually getting released as crazy as that sounds. It was hard because I had no idea what was going to happen next and as an artist, you just assume you’re just going to release a record and then be on tour and everything will just fall into place. Now, I have a more realistic vision of what’s happening with my career and my artistry.

At the time did it feel like the music you were releasing wasn’t LP or is it only in hindsight?

Back in 2012, I felt for the first time my personal styling had made it through but sadly my music didn’t and the end result was a little over produced which didn’t do anything for my current fanbase nor did it help gain a larger fan base. While I was able to get who I was out there, my music was suffering.

If you see my record now it has a landscape and story throughout, whereas in the past it’s just been a decision from the higher ups to release a record of anthems without much storytelling in between.

Your songwriting this album comes from a very personal place, are you happy to put so much out there?

I’m was going through stuff then and even until this day I’m going through my highs and lows. Throughout my writing process, I was really in a difficult space but in order to get to the positive songs I still need to play about those low moments – it’s all part of my journey to this completed record.

When you’re playing tracks about the lows, does it bring it all flooding back making it harder to perform?

Not really, when I play those songs to my fans, they aren’t only hearing my story but they can associate it with their own individual history and in many ways, we’re bonding over our shared pasts. Both the crowd and I are vibing over different experiences but they come from very much the same emotional background?

What’s it like to have someone dictate to you, what sort of artist you should be?

It can be very subtle, it’s not so much “hey, let’s put a dress on now!” which happened once and no one has said that to me in years – well I dare them to say it now! It’s more the subtle comments when people are having meetings about me as an artist but it’s strange to think of someone having a meeting about me without me there.

Does the previous record deal play on your mind?

I played them my single ‘Lost On You’ so it wasn’t like I was hoping to be dropped but they just didn’t want LP. I’d love to be a fly on the wall of that meeting but I do understand it, you’re a product sometimes and I do understand it and I feel for people in those decision making positions. It’s profit and loss and that’s the industry sometimes. As an artist, I can’t be bitter about it, if I was I’d crawl in a hole and never release music again but I appreciate what they did for me and understand the business side of music enough to look passed it. My career with them went on the chopping block for profit and loss and that’s how it goes sometimes.

It sounds like you find a healthy place in your music when times have gotten rough around you.

Of course and it mirrors my history with my own father who I had major disagreements with how he handled my family but in the end, I forgave him before he died and just had to accept that some people are one way and we just have to keep rolling
When you write for other artists who you’re detached from, does the art of songwriting convert to more into a science?

I once wrote a really sad breakup song for Leona Lewis and once I met her months later and it turns out from speaking to her that my perception of what she had gone through and was feeling differed from what she actually went through.

I think earlier on when I was writing for other people I tried to make it more into “I’m writing for this person who I only know from TV and I will write for them based only on that persona”, but I don’t do that anymore. I try to think more along the lines of what their instrument offers and where their voice tries to go.

Does negative feedback on such a personal project get to you?

No, they have no authority to scrutinise what I’ve been through or what I was feeling. If you don’t like the music, you don’t like the music and it’s really that simple. I remember a time when I’d suffer all day over Youtube comments posted from a random person who needs to spew vile shit from behind the mask of the internet; there’s no point dwelling on those thoughts because they’re viewing from one point of view.
What is your FAULT?

I’m a people pleaser and as much as I’m an individual, I’ve people pleased for years of my career up to now. It’s the thing I wish I didn’t do and now I’m working to stop doing. I’m working to change that but I also don’t want to go to the complete opposite where I’m “no, fuck you, I’m only going to do it all my way” because that puts me more off course and it could turn into a vicious cycle.

And finally, after all the people pleasing and misrepresentations is the ‘Lost On You’ album finally 100% LP?

Yes, totally. What’s beautiful about it is it’s made me feel better about where I’ve been. When I play shows now and people request even older songs, I now feel better about actually playing them. It’s been nice to experience my new listeners appreciate the old music which I really did put my all into back then for better or for worse. It’s nice to see them finally appreciated.

 

LP’s album ‘Lost On You’ is out now

Sub Focus documents his takeover at Fabric exclusively for Fault

Loved the challenge of capturing a night at Fabric on a disposable camera. It kind of instantly ages the shots so it looks like they could have been taken at a rave 20 years ago, like the visual equivalent of recording sounds onto cassette. It was my first time back playing there since the club has reopened; this is a little look behind-the-scenes from a DJ’s perspective. Shouts to Rami at Fabric and Max from my management for the assistance with taking these!

 

You can find Sub Focus on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

FAULT meets Dead!

London-based quartet Dead! are proof that hard work and determination pays off. Made up of vocalist Alex, guitarists Sam and Louis and bassist Chappell, the band released their first EP in 2014 and are now gearing up for the release of their debut album. Produced by the acclaimed Charlie Russell, who has also worked with Madonna and Jamiroquai, the band have crafted a record that they hope will become a part of the rich tapestry of rock ‘n’ roll that has preceded them. FAULT is Dead!

Your album is ready to drop really soon, what can you tease us about it?

Chappell: Not much.

Louis: It’s done, it recorded, we spent the whole of December recording it.

Where was it recorded?

Louis: We recorded it at Dean Street Studios in Soho with a guy called Charlie Russell who has worked with Jamiroquai, and he’s engineered for Madonna as well, so a really mixed bag. There were quite a few people that we tried and some of them were safer routes. It might have made more sense to go with a more rock orientated producer but because it was our first ever album we thought we could experience things that were new and he could experience them as well and it felt very natural because of that.

Alex: He’s done a variety of pop stuff and some slightly rock stuff, he definitely has an ear for things unlike somebody who has just done rock bands in the past. He sat back a lot more than other producers we’ve worked with but you notice two sessions later that he’s said something earlier in the day that has snowballed on subconsciously and mind-tricks you into writing something differently.

Louis: You start off and thin, ‘Does he know what he’s doing?’ But at the end you’re like, ‘He know exactly what he’s doing.’ It was really important to us that it was recorded in Soho, it had to be done there, we wanted to record down Dean Street. There’s not much point trying to do the best British rock album in a long time in the middle of nowhere in Lincoln or something, it’s such a vibe in Soho.

You’ve been a band for a lengthy time now, has your song creation process evolved? Do you think you have a formula?

Alex: Me and Sam used to solely write all of the songs, then in the last few years we’ve got our system down and rather than it being about the songs, it’s about each other and understanding what the person is like and how they work as opposed to just writing a song. That’s the thing that comes naturally and that’s the really fun part, we can just go in a room and write a pop punk song or a pop song just for fun and we enjoy doing that together, but when it comes to something like Dead! and what we’re trying to do, it’s having four guys’ opinions and four guys’ passions and trying to melt that all into one output. Sometimes that’s really hard and you can hit walls but, especially with writing this album, these guys have put in a lot more ideas and it’s becoming more and more in the rehearsal room with everyone chipping in and it feels more like a band writing a song together.

Louis: It’s quite impressive how lyrically he [Alex] can write something that, because the themes on this album are a lot more mature than anything we have done before, it’s mad how some of the things sum up what we’re all feeling. Obviously we gone through a lot of the same things together, touring in the van and we live together, stuff like that, but some of it is uncanny.

Do you think it’s become more of a movement as an extension of the band?

Louis: Yeah we very much live it, it is a 24/7 thing. It’s not a job, it’s not a hobby, it’s something else. I guess that’s a good word to use.

Alex: That’s the really good part and also the really bad part, especially at the stage we’re at now. We’re having to hang everything we want on something so fickle as the music industry, that’s the really terrifying part, but it’s also the most fun thing we’ve ever done our lives.

Louis: I don’t think you could be more invested in anything than we are in what we do at this point, this is it for us, in a great way.

Do you think it’s been quite a steady growth for you as a band? And is that more of a benefit instead of it happening straight away?

Alex: Yeah, I don’t like the words ‘hype band’ because when a band is instantly labelled as a hype band then there’s a certain amount of pressure for them to live up to it in a certain amount of time. Obviously you have the ones that come out of nowhere and do stay there, but that’s once in a blue moon. You see bands that grow steady over a period of time and they get their core fanbase, like Biffy Clyro, and we did it at the start with two years of DIY touring in venues you’ve never heard of with bands you’ve never heard of, with a handful of people every night. Having the album coming out later this year really excites me because we’ve got these festivals to build, and last year we did see from the tours we had done dotted throughout the year, places like Reading Festival, 2000 Trees and Download you saw an accumulation of all the fans we picked up on the previous tour and it’s really nice to see. As long as progress is there, whether it’s slow or fast, I’m happy.

Do you read your own press?

Alex: After tour I read reviews, and it’s like smoking, I want to stop but I can’t. Maybe that’s the younger side of me that’s still in there that needs to be validated but I don’t read the interviews because I cringe myself out.

Louis: It’s hard not to look, if you get ten good reviews then that’s great but you get one bad review and you’re like, ‘The world is ending!’

Are you influenced by other forms of art as well as music?

Louis: Yeah, movies are a big one, we like Quentin Tarantino films. For every song we recorded in the studio we had a big projector playing films and we had a different film for every song which was vibe building.

Alex: The fight scenes are the best when you’re ripping a guitar.

Louis: Until you’ve got to do a slow song [laughs]

Chappell: But on the last day we were a bit hungover so we just put Spongebob on.

Louis: Having the visual cues definitely helped a lot. If you find books and films that you love and let them influence you, you might find yourself a bit more sidestepped from what other people are making.

You’ve got a single out called ‘Enough, Enough, Enough’, what have you had enough of?

Alex: The song is a very self-critical song and I think I’ve had enough of, when you’re going through the stage of growing up – we were teenagers when we started this, and now we’re 22 – you have to learn to adapt and change, and sometimes that is so difficult because it’s been ingrained in you to be a certain way. To make certain things work you have to compromise and you have to make an effort and I’ve had enough of not doing that.

Louis: I’ve had enough of blandness and beige, mostly to do with music, just because that’s what we do so we’re quite wrapped up in that. Not anyone in particular but I think there are a lot of bands that follow trends and it’s watered down nothingness, which might be fun for a few years but ultimately it’s nothing.

Chappell: Mine is the same, that’s fair.

Do you listen to anything that’s a bit more mellow than your own sound?

Louis: Yeah, we don’t listen to the same stuff at all

Alex: I’ve just discovered a guy called Mark Jenkins, it’s a bit like SBTRKT but a bit more hip hop and that’s really cool. We all have a really vast taste. Whilst recording the album I didn’t listen to any rock stuff at all.

What’s your most rock ‘n’ roll story?

Chappell: When we first started we bought a van, which is a stupid idea when you’re a young band just starting to tour, and we had our mate drive the van because none of us could drive – we were the only people to own a van that couldn’t drive – and we were going to Leeds and a 22 tonne lorry crashed into the side of the van and completely wrote it off, I don’t know how rock ‘n’ roll that is.

Louis: That’s pretty rock ‘n’ roll, almost dying.

Chappell: We still played the show that night, our mate had to sit in the van to stop people trying to steal stuff because there were no windows.

What is your FAULT?

Louis: How long have you got? [laughs]

Chappell: We gave our band the one band name you can never Google, that’s a pretty big fault.

 

Words Shannon Cotton

Photography Stephanie YT

Grooming Lynda Darragh

Photo Assistant Erica Fletcher

FAULT Magazine Reviews: HotPot, Chinatown London

Photography: Rob Greig

 

Summer is fast approaching and with that in mind FAULT is on the quest to bring you the very best of dining experiences in London for our 2018 “where to dine this summer guide”.

Today we present to you Hot Pot, the quintessential group dining experience for friends and family. Hot Pot is of course nothing new, for over one thousand years it has allowed groups of people to come together in a shared cooking experience to prepare and enjoy food cooked at your very own table. With the newly opened Hot Pot restaurant located on Wardour Street and right in the heart of London’s Chinatown, we headed down to see if Hot Pot could still be enjoyed as part of a summertime experience.

Photography: Rob Greig

Walking into the restaurant, it’s clear that it’s already a hit; despite it being a Wednesday evening, the restaurant was still a hive of chatter as friends caught up for their slow-paced postwork meetups. With two floors the second to be opened later in the year. It’s important to mention that the décor and arrangements are well put together as opposed to some other venues within the area. Every ornament complements the next without being garish or thrown together; it’s truly a place you’d feel comfortable.

As a group dining venue, seating is arranged in tables of 6, 8 and 10 with private dining rooms available if you’d like a more exclusive experience. In the centre of each table, you’ll find the hot plate on which all of your cooking will take place.

Now down to the food! Diners have the choice of five broths to cook chosen ingredients within which are listed below.

Mala Sichuan Spicy, Tom Yum, Chicken, Clear and Vegetarian.

We had the chance to sample all five and to my own surprise Vegetarian was my favourite – any vegetarian will tell you that some restaurants can really miss the mark with their vegetarian options usually resulting in disappointingly lacklustre flavours but Hot Pot is defiantly not an example of this. I’d highly recommend the Vegetarian or Chicken Broth for meat eaters who aren’t great with spicy food but are still looking for flavoursome dishes with rich spices.

Photography: Rob Greig

After finding your broth, it’s then time to pick your ingredients to cook with it. This is somewhat daunting but luckily the restaurant staff are on hand to help pick dishes which complement each broth’s individual flavours. You can pick from a vast array of ingredients, all of which are listed below.
Rib-eye, wagyu, marinated chicken, pork belly, sea bass, king prawns, shrimp wontons, Scottish lobster, fresh abalone, shitake mushrooms, golden needle mushroom, sweet potato, fresh tofu, crab claws and quail eggs. 

While a large option is available, make sure to ring ahead and see what they actually have available that day. We know from last year’s “Datenight Guide’ that you’re all a big fan of lobster and crab however on this occasion the restaurant did not have the option available even with lobsters in the tank display, so if it’s a must, be sure to confirm before making the trip.

Despite it being a strange concept to have to cook your own food at the table, it’s actually surprisingly fun and interactive. An unexpected plus side to everyone participating in cooking and dining is that it drives conversation as you comment on the different flavours and discuss favourite dishes with your table. What really would be handy would be a graph with cooking times for each ingredient, left to our own devices there was a worry about making sure each ingredient was cooked properly and with little guidance, we were forced to either overcook the food or to risk eating it before it was fully cooked and neither option is ideal. That being said, it’s a new venue with all the potential to add in these features at a later date.

What really would be handy would be a graph with cooking times for each ingredient, left to our own devices there was a worry about making sure each ingredient was cooked properly and with little guidance, we were forced to either overcook the food or to risk eating it before it was fully cooked and neither option is ideal. That being said, it’s a new venue with all the potential to add in these features at a later date.

Photography: Rob Greig

We tried a little of everything available and your dining experience is definitely down to you thanks to their wide variety of options. If you’re after something light, you can go with wontons and shrimp cooked in a light vegetarian or clear broth and if you’re looking for something more hearty then pair the ribeye and sweet potato cooked in a tom yum broth. If there’s one thing you get when dining at Hot Pot, it’s the pleasure of choice which is a massive advantage.

Is Hot Pot a must this summer? Despite some growing pains which we imagine will be ironed out in the coming months, it’s a resounding yes. Despite it sounding more suitable for the winter season, the broths are actually pleasantly cooling. Located in the convenient but often bustling Chinatown, it’s  a godsend to have a place where you can take things slow and enjoy a meal at your own pace with your loved ones. If you’re looking for a truly unique dining experience, then look no further than Hot Pot.

Address:
17 Wardour Street
London
W1D 6PJ

Opening Times:
Monday-Wednesday: midday to midnight
Thursday – Saturday: midday to 00.30am
Sunday: midday to 11.00pm

www.hotpotrestaurants.com
Price:
Hot Pot is £8 for the table and ingredients range from £5 for vegetables, mushrooms and tofu, £5.50 for marinated pork, £7.50 for mussels, £10.50 for scallops and £20.50 for premium wagyu.

 

TCTS’ Dancefloor Anatomy Fault Playlist

I’ve put together some of my favourite records featuring anatomical references and body parts. Fair warning, I’ve been quite liberal in testing the limits of this, some links are tenuous like.. “call you BACK”…

1. TCTS – Do It Like Me (Icy Feet) feat. Sage the Gemini & Kelis

When I wrote this I wanted to make a club record with a bit of swagger, as I’d just bought myself some new trainers and felt my feet looked good – hence Icy Feet. For it to turn into what it has, and to now feature these two artists is mad.

2. MANT – Bodywerk

This is getting a lot of play in my sets at the moment. I’m a big fan of these guys, and their new record on Salardo’s Sola? imprint is huge.

3. Ninetoes – Finder

In my opinion this is a modern classic. One of my favourite DJing memories from last summer is playing this on the terrace of Amnesia, it’s always such a switch up and always gets a warm reaction.

4. DJ Funk & Will Clarke – Booty Percolatin’

A typically fun and tongue in cheek record from Dirtybird mainstay Will Clarke and DJ Funk, I’m always reaching for this one.

5. Rene Amesz – Mind, Body & Soul

This guy has such a good sound, all his records are really chunky and groovy. Thankfully one of them included an anatomical reference so I could put him in the list!

6. Claptone feat. Jaw – No Eyes (Kyodai Remix)

Claptone has had a big few years, and this track is a remix of one from his album. I started getting really into Kyodai after hearing one of their tunes in a Laurent Garnier boiler room, and this is a great example of what they do.

7. Josh Butler & Bontan – Call You Back

Super tenuous link, however I was determined to squeeze it into the list. Both these guys are incredibly talented musicians, and this collab was never going to disappoint.

8. Lovebirds – Want You In My Soul ft. Stee Downes

For the sake of this exercise the soul is a part of the anatomy. This is an Ibiza sunrise tune, its very sexy.

9. The Bucketheads – The Bomb (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind) (Armand Van Helden Re- edit)

Another classic record, just a total party vibe. Written by Kenny Dope and reworked by AVH, it’s a pretty hefty slice of house royalty on one record. Also worth checking out is Federico Scavo’s ‘BUG’ which samples the horn type sound, and also gets heavy rotation in my sets.

10. Laurent Garnier – The Man With The Red Face

Laurent Garnier is one of my heroes, and this is a masterpiece. Those keys chords, and that saxophone solo.

Honorary Mentions:

Frankie Knuckles – Your Love

Armand Van Helden – Wings

Emanuel Satie & Roberto Rodriguez – Ride Your Body (Sabb Afterdark Remix)

Tiga – Blondes have more fun (Jonas Rathsman remix)

Scuba – Hardbody

Lauren Lane – Diary of a Madwoman

Do It Like Me (Icy Feet) feat. Sage the Gemini & Kelis is out now.

 

JP Cooper discusses new single ‘Passport Home’ in exclusive shoot and interview

Having amassed a cult following over a lengthy career on the festival circuit, JP Cooper has now officially launched himself to stardom after a string of hits such as “September Song” and “Birthday”, with the latter being on the soundtrack of the latest 50 Shades movie. With the release of his new single “Passport Home” and him having just finished a lengthy European tour I caught up with the man himself to chat about life as a musician on the cusp of stardom.

So what are you up to? You’ve just finished you Europe Tour, managed to lose your passport in the middle of nowhere?

It’s amazing; right now I’m kinda in the middle of a lot of radio promo, a lot of European stuff so basically I’m just flying a lot. We’re kinda going to 4 or 5 radio stations a day… Last week we were in Germany, out there for 3 days so a lot of performances and interviews. So, a lot of travelling, finishing off the record at the minute getting all sorts of mixes done on that. What else, in May we’ve got our first proper headline European tour going on which is exciting, so we’re just getting ready for that. And also we’ve got the Shepherd’s Bush show in May… Mainly it feels like I’m doing mostly promo, but I’m enjoying it, y’know just going to different places and getting a feel for how things are starting. It’s exciting. I’m just grateful that things are actually kicking off in other places, because it’s been lot of years putting this in, and finally seeing it, other territories getting on board with it and seeing the support come from them is amazing.

Yeah, because before this you’ve had 5 EPs and you’ve been putting out music and performing solidly for seven years. You had quite a cult following at festivals like Barn on the Farm and smaller festivals, but now you’ve had the success of Perfect Strangers, September Song and Birthday, how have things changed since then?

So obviously the Perfect Strangers thing was like, a random, one off, “Let’s see what happens” sort of thing, and that kinda opened up a lot more things internationally, I started getting a lot more interest from Europeans, and obviously the radio stations gave me more of a name. September Song was almost like we had to bridge the gap between “Classic Me” and the more poppy stuff. September Song did that perfectly y’know, so it’s put me on the map in a much more commercial way, so for now we’re kind of in a place where it’s getting those people to just follow me down the rabbit hole with where we’re going with the music. Yeah, things like seeing my monthly listens on Spotify go up has been crazy, and that changes everyone’s view of you in terms of radio stations and industry people so the last nine months have changed so much in regards to my status. Sadly that’s the way things are, you need to have that before people start really working you, but that’s happening, and it’s all good.

So I actually interviewed Jonas Blue a few months ago and he was very nice about you, it was quite cute actually – what was it like working together?

He’s a great guy; it’s weird because when we first met it was after we actually finished the song. Because we wrote it on Facetime together, and it’s the start of his career as well, obviously he’d had the big success of Fast Car but people were like “Well it’s a cover, so can he write?” y’know, is there anything that can continue this. But he’s amazingly talented when it comes to pop music; he’s really on point with it. It’s really nice to share the experience with someone where it’s new for him as well, so yeah, great guy, and I’m sure he’ll have a lot of success in the future really.
So you’re working on a new album, are we allowed to talk about it?
Yeah! Full album, the title is probably going to be “Rays from the Grey Skies”, 98% sure that’ll be it. At the minute we’ve narrowed it down to like 20 potential songs, we’ve just recorded so much work. So now we’re going to finish them, and that’ll go over to whether we release like a Deluxe or… the main album will be about 12 songs. We’re just figuring out which single is best to go with, it’s almost like having a look at what cards you have really and figuring out the best way to play them. The album will be with you before the summer, and yeah I’m feeling pretty relaxed about it really. There’s so many songs and so much material that I’m quite comfortable about it.

So this new album, would you say it’ll bridge the gap between the classic you and the more commercial side of things?
Yeah… I dunno whether I could say that about the album, that was more September Song really. The record is different, because what I’ve done with the album is, obviously when I started doing this I’d play the guitar, because most of the gigs I’d do I’d have to do them on my own. But certain tracks I’ve gone “Y’know what, this would work better on piano”, so there’s a few tracks on there that are mainly piano based… guitar kind of limits where you go with a song, sonically, so there’s moments of absolutely beautiful stripped back piano and vocal moments. I don’t know if everyone’s heard “Birthday” from the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack but we’ve got songs in that same pocket, a classic soul song with modern production. We’ve been trying to blend those two worlds really, of traditional and modern, but yeah overall there’s so many beautiful, heart-breaking moments on there. I think that’s what people loved about my earlier stuff was that it was just very honest and very heartfelt. That’s still the same, but it’s just a bit more piano instead of just me and the guitar. There’s only one or two acoustic songs on there really, most of the time I’ve been playing electric a lot more, in fact most of the time I don’t play the acoustic anymore, I just play the electric. Yeah it’s definitely been an evolution, and getting to a point where we’re putting out the first record and saying all of the EPs have been experimentation and figuring out where you are. The first album is a statement, kind of like “This is who I am” and it’s funny because a lot of people have made up their minds about who I am. I’m just trying to challenge that a little bit because I want to be free. I think we’re doing good… I’ve been amazed at the reaction; I was terrified when we put Perfect Strangers out. I just thought everyone would be like “What are you doing!?” – But people have been very understanding about collaboration and I think people listen to music differently these days compared to when I was a teenager.

Are there anymore collaborations on the album, or is it just you and the band?

There might be… We’re toying with the idea. Mainly the album was always going to be selfishly me. But we’re toying with the idea of a… if it was gonna be on a CD and people were still buying physical stuff, then it would be a secret track. We want it to be a part of the album but a bonus kind of thing. I don’t want to say what it is, but there’s potential. As far as the future goes, like, obviously after doing the Jonas Blue thing I got every tropical house DJ in the world asking me for stuff. I can’t turn into a feature artist, it’s not what I do, but the focus has definitely been on getting people back to what I’m doing. But in the future I’m always gonna be doing collaborations, it’s something that I love. You learn a lot from it and meet some great people and have a lot of great experiences. That’s something I’ll do in the future, but for now it’s just focusing on the record.
So what are you doing when you’re not pootling about on your son’s scooter, when you’re not recording or touring?

You know what? Usually if I have time off I’m just with the little one. At the minute it’s like, I need that time. For want of a better word, I’m owned by this work. If there’s a space in my diary it’ll get filled within a day. At the minute there’s like three people, I’ve got the live guy who works for me, the British part of the label, the main part of Island records that are saying “Well you need to finish the record and be continuing to write moving forward as well” and then you’ve got the international team at Universal who are trying to get me out to do promo. So I’ve got all three of those people going “We need you!” The international team want me to be in Europe, the live team want me to be booking more gigs, and the label want me to be working more on the record. If there’s ever a space then someone’s gonna jump in it, like for example, today was supposed to be a free day up until 3 or 4 days ago and now there’s things in it. My diary is theirs apart from when it comes to time with my boy, and even then there are times when big things come up and I’ve got to go and do that. But yeah, usually when there’s time off I’m at the park, or the swimming pool, or at the cinema, just chilling with him. That’s about it, other than that my evenings are mainly car crash TV and if I get anything free I just want to sit on the sofa and completely zone out.

So, Passport Home. I’m getting some real Macy Gray and Lighthouse Family vibes from this track; you’ve got the gospel choir going on… What’s the story behind it?

So the story behind the idea of the song came about because I actually lost my passport when I was in the states at the beginning of the year, and the day that I realised I’d lost it I had the studio session and I was kinda chatting away about losing my passport. I was like “We should write a song about it”, about the idea of not being able to get back home… Kind of because we got a little deeper into it and it’s not so easy for a lot of people to get around these days, without getting too political about things there’s a hell of a lot of people who are struggling to find their way back home. So I wanted to draw on that emotion and dig into that a little deeper, the idea of somebody being the person that allows you to get to your destination… Whether it’s a literal destination or a problem that you’re struggling with and there’s someone there who helps you get to the point you’re trying to reach. So that’s the idea behind it, that someone could be your passport to allow you to move forward. If that makes sense? It’s really nice to go back to the organic stuff, y’know the last few things that I’ve released; obviously the Jonas Blue thing was completely left of centre for me. September Song was a lot of production, even though there’s a classically written song under there there’s still a lot of modern production there. So we thought it’d be cool to do something that’s just a shout out to my beginnings, which is singing in gospel choirs, very straightforward strings, singers, piano… Production wise we thought it’d be cool to do that. Hopefully the world will embrace it like they did September Song and it’s an interesting little experiment really just to see how that kinda music exists in the commercial world at the minute. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes.

So I want to ask about live performances, are you going to have to drag a gospel choir out with you everywhere you play now?

As with everything, most of the songs I write I try to make sure that they work with just one instrument and one vocal. I’ve already done a couple of shows in the states where it’s just me and a piano… We’ve just done a live version actually that should be out at the end of the week, y’know a video with strings and a choir and that’s amazing. Whichever gigs we can get the backing singers into we will do, but obviously some thumbs will see whether that’s available or not. But yeah there’ll definitely be some shows where we’ll bring them along and have some fun with it.

What is your FAULT?

I’d say my biggest thing that I’m trying to work on is being a perfectionist. Just as far as a human point of view, I’m so lucky in what I’m doing and the gifts that I have and the opportunities that I’ve had to make that better. Sometimes I just focus so much on my failings or my own personal idea of my imperfections that it kinda takes away from what incredible stuff is happening in my life in a way that almost kind of ungrateful. I’ve been really working on it though, like it used to be that if I’d do a show and drop one note I’d just beat myself up for the whole night about it and forget that there were three people crying in the first row. Now when I do like radio station things then I’ve got a rule that I’ll do one take if I’m in a live thing, unless something terrible happens which luckily hasn’t happened yet. Every single person we go out with like from the international team are like “I can’t believe how fast you are!” because we’ll do one take of each song and then leave the studio, I don’t listen back to it. You just get too involved in little things that no one will ever notice. So that would be it, being a perfectionist, I wish I was freer. It’s not worth the heartache.

Get Passport Home right here.

Words Morton Piercewright

Photography Gerald Boye

Styling Edith Walker Millwood

Grooming Shamirah Sairally

Special thanks Zigfrid von Underbelly

Bear’s Den and Banfi – Live at the Apollo

Banfi

London-based Banfi approach the stage at the Apollo in a quietly confident manner, one that has perhaps been crafted over their stretched out tour with Bears Den and immediately captures the crowd’s attention with their subtle and yet rich pop rock sound that exceeds far beyond a traditional three-piece band.

Tracks such as Where We Part and Happy When You Go are certified crowd-pleasers with tranquil melodies that guarantee to hook audiences in and leave a lasting impression long after they’ve gone. Songs such as Future however, exhibit the bands ability to comfortably switch between radio-friendly ditties to emotional sucker punches that crescendo into beautiful harmonies that soar above and solidify their rightful place alongside Bear’s Den.

Ending the set with their latest offering Rosedale House, arguably their strongest and most refined track, proves that Banfi are one to look out for this year as they quietly make waves within the festival circuit and destined to do great things.

Bear’s Den

We’re so often reminded of the afflicting terrors surrounding us, which is why tonight, live at the Apollo, indie folk duo Bear’s Den ninety minute offering was a welcome calm amongst chaos embraced by its devoted audience. Crowds were encapsulated by the electric blue and red neon display that accompanied the bands ethereal openers The Red Earth and Pouring Rain and Emeralds, shimmering high across the stage and exhibiting the beautiful intricacies of the bands sophomore album.

Though the evening grew cold outside, familiar tracks such as Elysium, Stubborn Beast and Above The Clouds of Pompeii sparked a radiant fire within the Apollo that resonated far beyond the farthest corners of the room and new offerings such as Berlin plucked at heartstrings as eloquently as the instruments being performed. The band addressed their lack of acknowledgement as a sheer moment of awe and gratitude towards their audience, only to be reciprocated by an extensive round of applause.

As the band huddle round a single microphone, Andrew Davie quietly commands his listeners daring them to draw breath as the poignant sounds of Bad Blood stifle what was seconds ago an incandescent performance and bring it down to a single flicker that could extinguish at the sound of a single whisper. Quiet admiration however can only go so far and no sooner does the last note fall to the floor, the room catches ablaze with over a thousand cheers sparking embers that ignite to the awaited sounds of Agape, the grand and harmonious finale that rises beyond the flames and fills audiences with the warm glow of reassurance that all is not lost.

 

Words: Jack Lloyd