Sounds the trumpets! The EFG London Jazz Festival has officially begun, and, this Saturday, we headed to the Southbank Centre to see Kandace Springs perform her soulful tracks to a packed-out audience.
The 10-day celebration hopes to provide audiences with a mixture of renowned artists and emerging stars from the world of Jazz. The popular event will see artists such as Camilla George, Cherise Adams-Burnett and Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra bring jazz to the forefront of London culture this winter. Kicking things off, Kandace Springs channelled her inner Dusty Springfield for a wonderful end to the first week. However, we were also treated to opening act AJ Brown and his Elton John-esqe piano renditions.
You wouldn’t be the only one to mistake Yorkshire-born AJ Brown for an American cruise ship performer. His upbeat, popular performances had strong Burt Bacharach influences (who he’s actually performed with), and his charismatic charm had the audience tapping their feet. His powerful voice carried around the newly refurbished Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre, performing his own tracks as well as many of his idols, including Luther Vandross. Closing his set with a ballad version of Latch by Disclosure feat. Sam Smith, AJ Brown revealed his vocal talents, hitting all the high notes with ease. Although, it may have not been the jazz I was expecting (the style of Michael Buble with the reach of Tom Jones), he definitely got the audience alert and ready for the next act – Kandace Springs.
The late and great Prince once said that Kandace Springs ‘has a voice that could melt snow’, and he wasn’t wrong. Captivating from start to finish, the wonderful Kandace Springs from Nashville, Tennessee performed an amazing set of meaningful and beautiful songs. Alongside the two-piece band, comprising the double bass and the drums, Kandace brought new tracks, her favourite songs and anecdotes of growing up with her father (also a jazz musician), Scat Springs, to the stage.
Kandace’s voice sounds like an old soul, despite her young age. Her husky, dulcet tones are mesmerising and send you into another world. Her range, however, was outstanding and she made sure she performed tracks to showcase her vocal repertoire. Performing songs by Dusty Springfield, Nina Simone and many other talented jazz musicians, Springs also performed her new single Fix me, which was an amalgamation of R&B, pop, jazz and classical genres – Chopin is one of her most-loved composers. Springs’ music was full of classical inspiration, merging well with her love of jazz. A welcoming and upbeat concert, by the end I felt like I knew the singer well. Kandace Springs is one to watch.
We featured 18-year-old English-born phenom Tommy Newport a couple weeks ago and today, the precocious talent has dropped his debut record 13-track record “Just To Be Ironic.” Speaking on the album, Tommy says: “This record was the most fun I’ve had making music. It’s the first time I’ve had people really look over it and help the creative side on it and it was great to step out of that box. It took me to many new places I’ve never been before and tested me in many ways In which I have grown from.”
The 13-track album is a personal diary from Tommy, lyrically he’s honest and raw, remarking, “The theme of Irony plays a big role in this project. I speak and write about things I normally wouldn’t want to talk to anyone about… Some of the stuff I write about on these tracks are things that are specifically ironic to me. Like the line, “do you love me be honest or is just to be ironic,” is used to describe how the relationships I’ve been in have made me feel more ironic than anything in the end. You start out so confident but in the end, you’re like a pilot that’s afraid of heights.”
We asked Tommy to put together a playlist of tracks that inspired the record, listen in below.
Andy Shauf – Quiet Like You
I appreciate the tight production and the warmth of all the records of this album. This one is airy and depicts a great story.
Fleetwood Mac – Dreams
Classic Fleetwood Mac, beautiful song. Always makes me want to get up and write a song.
Dan Auerbach – Undertow
Dan is a huge inspiration to me, and this song is just as an amazing representation of the things he’s taught me just by listening.
The Arcs – Put a Flower in Your Pocket
This track has the type of fidelity to pull you into another dimension. It’s on hell of a song and I’ve always wanted to capture the feeling I get listening to it in one of my own songs.
Arctic Monkeys – One Point Perspective
My top pick from their latest record tranquility base hotel and casino, it flows through my ears like a river, I appreciate the warm piano and drum tones.
Trudy and the Romance – Is There a Place I Can Go
The vocals in this song paired with the fuzzy guitar and piano always bring me back to it. This track is perfect.
Queen – Good Ole Fashioned Lover Boy
Grew up listening to this track and queen. Can’t go wrong with Freddy Mercury. This is my all time favorite queen song, the guitar solo is my mantra.
Mild High Club – Kokopelli
Sounds I’ve never heard before from Mild High Club always make me feel like I’m listing to something so unique. Always been a big inspiration.
Steve Lacy – Dark Red
Simple but elegant song Steve lacy should be a role model for all young artists trying to find a path.
The Killers – My List
The killers are the reason I make music today and every single song of theirs is special. This one in particular is a song that motivates me to create more music.
After growing up in Sweden as a child, Tinx moved to England in her teens to pursue her career in music. After several years grinding it out, the now 22-year-old singer steps out with her debut EP “Six One Zero,” out today.
Named for Tinx’s Swedish hometown area code, “Six One Zero” is dark pop with big drops, crisp production, and diva-esque vocals.
Speaking about her new EP, Tinx said, “I’m proud that this is the first body of work that people will get to hear from me. I wrote on all the songs and had a hand in the production alongside my producer. It summaries my life over the last two years”.
The EP’s lead single “One More Time,” which we’re happy to premiere today, showcases eclectic production and thunderous percussion. The track strips away all the atmospheric pretense of modern day pop music, leaving behind an anthemic and captivating release that demands to be heard.
Adding to the message behind her new single, she explained, “‘One More Time’ was written about that stage in a relationship when those rose-coloured glasses come off and you see the relationship you’re in for what it is. When things have turned a corner and it’s gone to sh*t – but you want to have them for one more time, as selfishly as that may seem.”
Saint Clair – less beatifically known as Emma Topolski – is a London-based singer-songwriter whose influences range from James Blake, The Internet and Frank Ocean to Amy Winehouse and her ”two main musical giants” Stevie Wonder and The Beatles.
Her latest release, ‘I’ll Stay’, is striking in its grandeur, reflective of Emma’s penchant for writing ”big and dark” compositions that crest to near-operatic peaks before plunging to rolling, emotional depths.
While she isn’t ”fiddling with her Nord”, Emma can be found playing bass for CHILDCARE, synths for FAULT Issue 11 star Ghostpoet, or giving gawping journalists impromptu tours of her grandfather’s old studio and gallery space near Waterloo.
Watch the brand new, live video for ‘I’ll Stay’ below:
FAULT: Let’s start off with the name. You’ve mentioned previously that you go by ‘Saint Clair’ as a solo artist because that’s your mother’s maiden name. So is it pronounced ‘Sinclair’ or…?
Saint Clair: Well it’s Scottish, so it’s actually pronounced: [unintelligible noise]
Err…OK…could you spell that?!
Saint Clair: Sure – JK…
Ah, I see what you did there!
Saint Clair: Busted! It is Scottish, though. My mum’s family is from a small town in the far North called Wick. Sinclair is the name of the local bay and it’s also my brother’s middle name; not to mention the family tartan…
So it IS pronounced Sinclair, then?
Saint Clair: Well, it started off like that. But then I thought that was a bit surname-y and perhaps a little macho (everyone just thinks of the footballers called Sinclair) so probably a little confusing! So I had a bit of a rethink. I’m bilingual in French and I started thinking that it’d be lovely to translate some of my songs into French, and definitely to do some gigs in France. I was French educated and all my cultural references are French, so ‘Sinclair’ became ‘Saint Clair’ – very ‘phonétique‘, as the French would say!
I guess I saw it as a nice way to marry those two influences in my life – my own French cultural upbringing and my mum’s Scottish ancestry. Although my Dad was Polish and I’m not sure how they would pronounce it in Poland…however they want, I guess!
You’re a career musician and have been for many years. What was the turning point for you when you decided to start releasing your own stuff?
Saint Clair: Yeah, I’ve been a professional musician for 10 years. I started out as a jazz singer and used to do a lot of corporate events. You know the drill: big boss gets a promotion and wants to make his function look fancy by hiring a jazz trio. I was doing a lot of that, but also just casual jamming and gigs with other musicians that you meet on the scene in London. We used to play 4, 5 times a week.
Your network expands so much by doing that stuff – but much more on the creative side of things. You’re not really industry-aware at that sort of stage: you’re just making a living and meeting people. That then evolved naturally for me into songwriting. People would come up to me after a gig and say things like, ”oh, I love your voice, do you have any original music that you’re working on?”
That’s when I really started to write – to find a sound and an identity. I started working with a friend of mine, Ben, who’s a great guitarist. We started writing a lot together. The whole first EP is with him, as is ‘Human Touch’ off the second EP. That was really my starting point in terms of understanding who I was as a songwriter.
Did you have that epiphany moment when you just thought, ”I get it: this is what I’m about and this is the sort of music I really want to do”?
Saint Clair: Yeah, I did. When I wrote the song that ended up being my first single – in hindsight, analysing what we’d done, it drew from all the elements that I wanted to have in there. It wasn’t intentional but it created a great template for me in terms of what I wanted my music to be about: it had electronic elements and programmed drums, but also real guitars and loads of vocal harmonies…and plenty of weird chords…
‘Weird chords’? Is that a technical term…?
Saint Clair: Yep, very technical term! But, yeah, in essence my music is very hooky, succinct… I always want to soar. I want the chorus to come and grab you by the balls… In a sense, it’s a very traditional approach to songwriting. It’s very accessible and it should be: it’s pop music in its lyricism and its melody. And then there’s all this other weird shit going on…
You’re a singer, obviously, but what instruments do you play?
Saint Clair: I write mainly on keys. I was playing synths for Ghostpoet for a while. I also play bass for a band called CHILDCARE, who I’ve just been on tour with. We’re also putting out an album in the new year.
What’s the next step for Saint Clair then? You’ve just released the new video, of course, so will you be focusing more on recording or gigging in the near future?
Saint Clair: I’ve recorded the next 5 singles and my sister Tamsin and I have made videos to go with them that are all loosely interlinked. They’re much more abstract than the stuff I’ve done before – all of my videos have been very narrative-driven whereas these are a lot more surreal. They’re a portrait of loss and grief from different vantage points.
The focus so far has been on making the music and finding a coherence within a body of work. Everything is so one-off and track-based nowadays that I wanted to make this more like a mini-album.
What was the inspiration for these new releases?
Saint Clair: After my last EP went out, I found myself reflecting on my archive and realising that a lot of the songs I’ve made were written at different stages of grieving the loss of my Dad. To have that as a through-line – to look back on my head-space during that time…it was almost like having a series of diary entries detailing my reactions in different moments.
How long ago was that?
Saint Clair: Three and a half years now. At the time, you’re so in the throes of it that you don’t really realise what you’re thinking or feeling. Writing becomes a bit of an outlet: something that you do when you feel the need to do so or, at other times, not at all. All those songs that I wrote during that time became a sort of mini-story for me. I spoke to my sister about it and we thought that maybe we could come up with some treatments that would reflect how we both felt (and feel) as an accompanying visual component. My sister’s an actress and the videos ended up sort of like a short film, I guess.
It’s difficult and there’s a lot of trepidation that comes with doing something like that. You know that a lot of your output has been affected by this massive personal loss, and you want to express that but, at the same time, you worry about it coming across like you’re promoting yourself through a particular narrative. Like you’re looking back on something and saying, ‘oh, look – this fits!’ But, actually, it didn’t come from that place at all. It was very organic. Me and my sister are inseparable and it just felt like a really beautiful way to honour what both of us – and our whole family – were going through at that time.
You’re not signed at the moment – what happens if someone comes along with an offer tomorrow?
Saint Clair: I’ve set up my own label for my releases – Dearly Beloved. The logo for the label is actually an old sketch by my Granddad, Feliks Topolski, that I found while trawling through his old work. After basically drowning in his art for most of my life, it struck me that this image was something that I’d never seen before. I just thought that incorporating it into what I was doing would be a really lovely way to introduce that part of who I am.
For now, it just made sense to get a move on. I didn’t want to wait for any additional infrastructure. I just thought: ‘the music’s here, I’m proud of it, I’d like to put it out.’ So that’s what I’ve been doing with Dearly Beloved.
Speaking of your heritage, and I know it’s a completely different medium, but do you feel any pressure attached to your grandfather’s name and accomplishments as an artist?
Saint Clair: Not at all. I think it’s an amazing thing to be able to carry on that artistic legacy. He’s left such an incredible gift to his whole family – something that’s tangible in the work he left behind but also in the ideology of what he was all about: not precious or pretentious, really accessible and open to whoever wanted to be a part of what he wanted to share.
I’m more of a fan than anything else, I suppose. My relationship with him doesn’t really form a huge part of my identity – I was only three when he died. His work is more something that I want to champion. I don’t think it’s been given the platform that it deserves at this stage, so using his artwork or my label seemed like a fitting tribute, as well as a natural thing to do.
Who’s underrated at the moment?
Saint Clair: CHILDCARE! The lead singer [Ed Cares] is a brilliant songwriter – absolutely brilliant.
What’s your FAULT?
Saint Clair: I’m very opinionated. I can get pretty belligerent when I disagree with someone else’s point of view!
Rising British singer/songwriter Billie Black has drawn comparisons to Banks, Jessie Ware, and Jorja Smith, and it’s easy to see why. Her effortless combination of R&B, jazz, and electronica also mixes in Roots, Reggae, and 70s disco. There’s nothing stopping this 19-year-old budding talent as evident with her latest EP “the Last Time.”
We asked Billie to put together a playlist of tracks that inspire her music, which includes cuts from Kadhja Bonet, Cosima, and Kwabs. Listen in below.
Kadhja Bonet – This Love
Stumbled across this artist on spotify about a year ago, saw her live in London a week ago, I’m in love with her tone, utterly mesmerizing.
Julie London – Show Me The Way To Go Home
A tune I always end up listening to traveling home last at night after a gig. I love the warmth of the strings and Julie London’s voice will always be one of my favourite jazz voices.
Cosima – WYD
The way the verse drops into the chorus on this tune gets me every time. I love the melody and the production, perfect for feeling warm on cold winter nights. Gentle and honest.
Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans
A tune I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of. The lyrics are so beautiful, especially in the chorus and melody is very cool. Love how atmospheric the song is, makes me feel like I’m in a film.
Feist – Let it Die
I love the beautiful simplicity of this song. Again, such honest and heartfelt lyrics. This song takes me back to a really specific time in my life, it’s a song that has the ability to draw precious memories back into consciousness.
Chet Baker – Like Someone In Love
One of the first jazz standards I ever learnt, sung by one of my favourite jazz voices Chet Baker. Listening to this makes me feel happy and safe.
Billie Black – The Last Time
Well we all know why this is in here. My latest release that feel sums up where I am in my life at the moment. Hope you connect with it the way I do x
James Blake – Radio Silence
Kind of speaks for itself. James Blake. Beautiful, powerful everything. I specifically like this tune because of the lyrics, they’re super relatable and poetic.
Lapsley – Tell Me The Truth
Love Lapsely. Her voice is so unique. Really like the contrast between the verse/chorus in this, and how the whole song fits together, feels as though you’ve been taken on a journey. Very cool.
Kwabs – Perfect Ruin
Kwabs will always be one of my inspirations, we used to sing jazz together. This song can only be described as beautiful and powerful. One of my favourite songs every written.
At only 23 years old, London singer-songwriter Freya Ridings has caught the ear of millions of listeners worldwide. Her single, ‘Lost Without You’, resonates with such authenticity and hits with such devastating fragility that it has received over 37 million streams on Spotify and was featured on ITV2’s most watched show Love Island.
Last week, Freya performed ‘Lost Without You’ on BBC Radio One’s Live Lounge and on C4’s annual fundraising show, Stand Up To Cancer.
FAULT: How’s your year been so far?
Freya Ridings: It’s been a whirlwind and kind of unbelievable. I’ve been touring around the world, releasing a couple of live albums as well as focusing on my debut album. It’s been an incredible journey so far.
Your single Lost Without You has gone on to be hugely successful; what’s the story behind the song?
Freya Ridings: I always write from personal experience and I think one of the reason’s ‘Lost Without You’ may have connected with people more is because it really happened.
It’s that feeling where you’re emotionally exposing yourself and feels almost too raw to share with people. You have that feeling of isolation and heartbreak and you’re not sure if you’re ever going to get past that and writing was a way for me to deal with that.
I was quite scared at the idea of sharing it with people but I’m so happy I did because I’ve had a really overwhelming response from people and it’s really touched me. I feel extremely lucky now but at the time I felt like I couldn’t share those stories in my songs and it took a while for me to do that so I’m really happy it’s connected with people.
It was also featured Love Island; how did you feel when that happened?
Freya Ridings: I had no idea it was going to be used on the show. I’m a massive fan of the show and when it came on I got all these messages from my friends freaking out. It was an incredible moment having one of my songs being played on one of the biggest TV shows and the response after on Instagram and Facebook was incredible, I feel so lucky.
What was it about the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s song ‘Maps’ that you wanted to cover?
Freya Ridings: I feel like choosing a cover song is not just about finding a song you like it’s about finding one that you connect with on an emotional level. It’s like choosing a Pokemon, they kind of choose you as opposed to you choosing them.
If I’m playing a song that isn’t mine, it either gets me or it doesn’t in that first moment and when I first sung that song I was going through a really hard breakup at the time and it hit me like a lightning bolt and I just really resonated with the story and felt like I needed to share it with people.
Being raised in London, has it influenced you in any way?
Freya Ridings: Hugely, at school I was heavily dyslexic and really struggled academically so music was my safe haven. Growing up when I started to do open mic nights around London, it was where I started making friends with other musicians that shaped me and shaped the kind of artist that I wanted to be. I feel like London can be hard when you’re younger but then when you turn into a teenager it’s suddenly the best place to live.
When I started doing open mic nights, I would focus on doing upbeat covers because that’s what I thought people wanted. It was actually the songs I would come home and play on piano that felt like the real me and it was a journey to realise that I can actually share the songs I was writing on the piano and it was only when I started to that everything started to change for me.
It’s been a rewarding experience to be more authentic and raw and less scared to share.
What was it about the Omeara and St Pancreas Old Church that you wanted to record your live albums?
Freya Ridings: I’ve been playing live for so many years and being in the room you can feel this sort of magic, especially in venues like churches or venues that have a bit more character to them. I didn’t want to do something where you hold everything back until it’s perfect, I wanted to share the songs in their raw exposed authentic form and I’m so happy we did that because feel like it’s a way to let people in instead of holding the at arm’s length. I feel like people have really resonated and connected with that which means the world to me and have people come and sing the lyrics with you is just another level.
Is there any artists that you never get tired of listening to?
Freya Ridings: Florence and Adele are huge influences because I feel they’re very heart driven songwriters that I resonate with on another level. Tom Odell is huge influence who I adore, I actually saw him recently and wanted to tell him how much I was fangirling.
Hozier is another one, I love really honest storytellers. Ray Lamontagne’s voice transcends like no other voice I’ve heard live, Trouble was the album that made me want to write and play songs to begin with.
I adore Taylor Swift too, she put me on her Apple Music playlist and I literally dropped my phone.
What’s next for you?
Freya Ridings: We’ve just come out the studio and I’m excited because we’re in the final stages of finishing the album. I can’t wait to share the songs with everyone, I’ve been so used to playing them on my own so it’s great to hear them with all the other instruments and choirs because it changes the whole feel. I just never thought I would have the opportunity to share that with people so I’m really really excited.
What is your fault?
Freya Ridings: There’s too many, I would say up until now not living in the moment enough. I’ve really been trying to work on that mindfulness and gratitude just so I can appreciate all that’s going on and be grateful for the things I have.
Australian producer North Elements’ (Ravi Vithal) new single “It’s Always Been You” is a gorgeous lo-fi electronic lullaby featuring buzzed about London vocalist Ayelle. Ayelle’s voice glides across North Elements’ minimalist composition effortlessly and feels like a warm embrace on a cold winter night.
“This single developed as an unexpected spark of creativity in a time of uncertainty and insecurity, and it has been my proudest work to date,” he says of the track. “The collective energy that went into this song rejuvenated my writing, confidence and sense of self, after a prolonged period of self-doubt.”
We asked North Elements to put together a playlist of songs that inspire his music, including slick R&B influenced cuts from Kllo, RY X, and more.
Kllo – Last Yearn
Kllo are by far, my favourite artist in Australian music at the moment. ’Last Yearn’ brought out memories and feelings I’d long left behind. There was such a vulnerability and sincerity felt in both the words spoken, and the instrumental layering behind this song. I felt so exposed the first time I heard it and it has since become an all time favourite.
RY X – Untold
I think you’ll find the majority of songs I’m listening to at the moment share an underlying element of vulnerability and low-key melancholy. ‘Untold’ captivated me from start to finish. This song is intensely emotive and I cannot stop listening to it.
Bon Iver – 22 (OVER S??N)
This song has a pretty good chance of bringing me to tears every single damn time. I’ve battled with my mental health for the large majority of my adult life and a lot of Bon Iver’s music has soundtracked my struggle to look past my own vulnerabilities and internal faults. The expression and experimentalism shown in his most recent work was also outstandingly refreshing.
Golden Vessel & Emerson Leif – Hesitate
Only good things have come from these two. Emerson Leif and Golden Vessel are going to play a big part in the future of Australian music and I’m so excited to see where their talent takes them. The production is warming, the melodies are hypnotic and the overall sense of this song brings me to a solemn calm regardless of storms that may brew.
Jack Grace – Downstate
There was such a sense of fragility and nostalgia to this song. I’ll soon be moving away from my family, friends and the life I know here in Melbourne, so this track has me incredibly vulnerable, introspective and homesick even though I’m yet to even leave haha.
Emerson Leif – Twenty2
There’s something so nonchalant in the way Emerson Leif lays down his vocals on ‘Twenty2’. I feel nostalgic for a life I’ve never lived and long for an era I wasn’t a part of. There’s feel good energy all over this. It feels like ‘New York City, summertime’.
Chrome Sparks – I Just Wanna feat. Kllo
‘I Just Wanna’ is such a transfixing composition of dynamic synths and layered instrumentation. Chloe’s vocals seamlessly slide throughout the production and I can’t help but get lost in the energy and sentiment this track expresses.
Christopher Port – Nobody Chose You
This was such a sonically immersive experience for me. ‘Nobody Chose You’ made me ruminate on my own production/direction and this song in all honesty just energised me to learn, evolve and improve on my own craft and sounds. ‘It’s Always Been ~ You’ owes a lot to this song.
ALTA – Figured Out
I am bewildered by how emotionally resonant and catchy as fuck this song is. I absolutely love the production and progression on this. As brooding and contemplative as these lyrics may be, i still think it’s a certified banger.
Tourist – Apollo
‘Apollo’ is an amalgam of all the things I love about contemporary electronic music. First and foremost, this track is just a downright banger. I am so enthralled with the evolving ambience and entrancing warmth this track brings forward. There’s something just so sonically engaging about how disruptive and textural it is.
Canadian singer/songwriter/producer Tep No makes guitar-fueled electronic pop that’s crisp yet maintains a raw edge that conveys a feeling of deep authenticity. His music conjures images of beaches, sunshine, and living the slow life – finding bliss in small everyday moments. With over 1.5 million monthly Spotify listeners, it’s evident that fans are on board with the Tep No movement and hungry for more.
Today we’re premiering his latest single “Fighting,” out today via Ultra Records. Speaking about the track Tep No says: “‘Fighting’ is about the difficulty of breakups and moving past relationships, feeling like a part is taken away when it’s over, the loneliness, not knowing how to move on.”