Alternative Friday

Spreading the word about great new music

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Last Autumn in New Tunes #33 we said about Latvian 4-piece Carnival Youth that “if they keep this quality up, we’ll surely be back there again soon“.

Well, we’re now back in Riga (via Black & White Music) to have a Q&A with Emils and Edgars from the band, who play an engaging mix of indie and neo-folk which has seen them perform at London’s KOKO and Brighton’s The Great Escape festival. Read on though, to find out what they appear to have in common with Dave Grohl, and what Hobbit feet and blueberries have to do with rock ‘n’ roll…

Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Black & White Music

 

~ Where are you right now, and what can you see?

Me and my brother are driving form the seaside to the capital of Latvia, we see the most beautiful countryside with its fields and forests.

~ You formed in 2012, but how did the four of you meet and decide that you wanted to be in a band together?

We met in school, it all happened very naturally. When we started playing together we did not have an aim to become a band, we did it for fun. Everything else came later.

 

 

~ What’s the best advice you’ve received about making music?

The best advice was to not take advice from others!

~ Do you have any band rules?

Last year we graduated from high-school, and the rule was: if someone applies for a university, the priority still is the band, and if there’s an exam and a gig coming up at the same time, the concert comes first.

~ What’s your most memorable UK gig, and why?

For me, it’s our first gig in London, we played in a small bar and Kit Harington was there, and as we are huge fans of Game Of Thrones we were super stoked!
The most epic one though was at KOKO, because the venue by itself is beautiful. However, we haven’t had that many gigs in UK that we could not remember all of them.

~ What are your plans for the rest of 2015?

A few concerts here and there, have fun, and clear our heads for new sounds.

 

 

~ Are there any other new bands or musicians from Latvia you that you recommend we check out?

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~ Describe your most embarrassing musical moment?

There are none, but from time to time we like to fall from a stage.

~ What’s the least rock thing you’ve done this week?

Edgars – I gathered blueberries, cherries and cloudberries.
Emils – Had a chat with my cat!

~ If you could have a superpower for a day, what would it be, and why?

Emils – Have Hobbit feet, I would go for a good walk, hang out with Yetis.

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There’s definitely a dazzling summertime feel to all the tracks in the latest Mixtape, which cover a range of genres, from dreamy indie pop to African influenced soul, via a bit of electro rock. Either way they’re all highly impressive and catchy tunes. Enjoy…


Death Masks – Always Lost
Record/Start – Lake Summerene
Auction For The Promise Club – This May Hurt
Charlotte Campbell – Songbird
Haula – Freedom
Lake Walawi – Young Blood
Stewart Newman – Love’s Off The Hook
Centrefolds – You, Me & Debauchery
The Android Angel – Words
The Crows Fly – Broken Wood

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I will always argue that music should make people think, but I also want them to dance too.

Take a mix of reggae, folk, rock and pop influences, and infuse them with the politically aware lyrics of people like Morrissey, Frank Turner, and Joe Strummer, and you have Geraint Rhys from South Wales. I’ve already featured him for Fresh on the Net, while he was here last year in New Tunes #34. He’s just released an excellent debut album, with his band The Lost Generation, called All That Is Left Is Us, so read on to find out more about the album, as well as to uncover what butternut squash, a lobotomy, and mind reading have to do with rock ‘n’ roll?!

Website | iTunes | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

~ Where are you right now, and what can you see?
I’m at my desk doing ‘work’, and from the headlines in the tabloids what I can see is the supposed coming of the apocalypse fuelled by immigrants, refugees, benefit cheats and bacon sandwiches.


~ What’s the best advice you’ve received about making music?

At the moment there are many people like myself who are DIY musicians doing everything from writing their own music, to creating their own websites, doing their own marketing, promotion, getting gigs etc so I feel like I’m learning new stuff everyday and picking up advice from people all the of time.

One of my friends told me to be patient with everything you do and I think that is advice I often forget. There are many steps to self-releasing your own music and it’s very easy to want to try and get everything done as soon as you can so others can hear it. But by rushing things you inevitably make mistakes. Make sure you do things right and how you want them, even if it takes a bit more time.

~ What did you found most challenging about making the debut album?
As this is my first musical project, everything was a challenge but also a great opportunity to learn how to do and not to do things. When I moved back to Wales after living in Edinburgh for a while I had these songs which I had written which I wanted to turn into an album, but had never stepped foot in a studio or played my music with other musicians before.

So I really had to start from scratch. Writing the songs is the easiest part and the most pleasurable. Plus the world is such a fucked up but yet beautiful place to live in there’s inspiration on every street corner.

It’s the practicalities which I find are the most challenging. First I had to find a studio and musicians. I luckily found a place in Newport called Junkyard Studios and met up with a great musician and drummer called Steve Eyers who was really supportive and played a lot of the instruments on the album.

Musically the most challenging part as a solo artist is translating exactly what’s in your head to other people. What I have learnt however is that although you must take on other people’s opinions, at the end of the day you have to go with your gut and just do what feels right with you.

Logistically, the most challenging part is then finding the right people to help you make your vision a reality. One of my friends Luke Slade is a great graphic designer who designed all the album artwork and these things are also really important to get organized. When you surround yourself with other creative people good things will come of it.

The whole of this debut album has taken me two years which is a long time. But now I have a band in place and I know a bit more about how the process of being in a studio works as well as all the other intricacies that go into making your own CD, the next album will take nowhere near as long. I’ve already written 2/3’s of it and I’m already really excited about it.

~ Your videos are both simple yet highly polished and very watchable. Who came up with the concepts for them, and do you find performing for camera as easy as being on stage?

I have been working with a great South Wales director called Simon Bartlett and it’s always fun when we get together and make the videos. I will usually go to him with an idea and we will sit down and chat for a few months about what we want to do and how we want to do it and then we just get out there and do it.

It’s a really exciting process because we don’t have any budget and just rely on the visions we have in our heads and the good will of our friends and the great actors we have so far had the pleasure of working with.

For me, lyrics are really important in my music and in both the videos for ‘Think Again’ and ‘Take Your Time’, conveying this has really been a priority and a challenge. For our next video for the song ‘The Lost Generation’ we are moving away from showing the lyrics but still want the meaning of the song to be central to the whole experience. Music videos I think need to aesthetically compliment a song and as you can tell by the title, this next one is going to get more political.

Luckily I won’t be in it much as I find it very awkward to be in front of camera.

 

~ Which famous song by another artist would you love to have written yourself?
Currently I can’t get the song Johnny and Mary by Robert Palmer out of my head. I love the lyrics and simplicity of the song but it manages to conjure up a lot of atmosphere. I don’t understand how the same man wrote Addicted to Love.

~ What’s the best gig you’ve been to?
I just saw Manic Street Preachers play the whole of the Holy Bible in Cardiff Castle which was pretty special as that album has been so influential on my music and my life in general. Another quite special gig I was lucky to see was Daft Punk in 2007 under the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, both visually and sonically it was pretty amazing.

Sometimes however I find the best gigs are those where you are blown away by an amazing support act who you have never heard of. I went to see the guitarist Kaki King in Manchester a few years back and her support was Anna Calvi. I was mesmerized for the whole performance and couldn’t take my eyes off of her, it was so powerful. She later went on to be nominated for two mercury prizes so I was lucky I guess to see her at the beginning.

~ If you could curate a festival stage, what five bands/artists would you invite to perform?
1) David Byrne & St Vincent (I loved the Brass album they did together ‘Love This Giant’ and was gutted to not see them perform it live)
2) John Cale (Either performing the whole of Paris 1919 with a full orchestra or to see him play through the whole of ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’ just himself and a Viola)
3) Jimmy Eat World (Their album clarity is one of my favourite albums. It would however take a lot for me to not get on stage and steal the mic and try wail my way through their whole set)
4) Chromeo (Because they would simply make everyone dance)
5) One Direction (Although I couldn’t name you any of their songs I would have them on stage because they will a) make me a lot of money and b) I would love to see the faces (and tears) of their fans having to sit through an angry John Cale performing ‘Venus in Furs’. They might even have a revelation moment and realise what good music is.

~ Are there any other new bands or musicians from the Swansea / South Wales area you that you recommend we check out?
There’s a good scene in South Wales at the moment. Someone I really like is a songwriter called Kizzy Crawford. I am lucky enough to have her as my support act for my album launch and recommend people check her out. She has a great voice and is creating some really innovative stuff.


~ What are your musical Guilty Pleasures? Don’t panic, no one will read this!

Kanye West. He is clearly bit of an anus but he has made some pretty good music and really innovative and lyrically interesting albums. Also Whitney Houston’s song ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ does exactly what the title says, it makes me want to dance.

~ Do you have any hidden talents you’d like to reveal to the world?
I can read the minds of animals.

~ What’s the least ‘rock thing’ you’ve done in the last week?
I cooked a butternut squash thai green curry. It tasted acceptable.

~ What would it take for you to do Eurovision?
Probably a lobotomy immediately after the experience so I can forget what just happened.

The tracks in this latest mixtape vary from the noisy to the mellow, and include some cosmic gospel and good old indie. All of them, however, contain melodies that should grab you by the short and curlies. Enjoy…


Tall Ships – Will To Life
Short Skirts – Far Side of Mexico
Ross Trigwell – Fear is Blind
The Bloom – How It Starts
Vienna Ditto – Long Way Down
Josh Newell-Brown – Shine
Foggy City Orphan – Rocket
EofE – Wake up
Scarlett Parade – Hold On
Poor Things – No Way José

Musician.
London.

Is that it??

When I write new music articles I try to avoid making them the length of War & Peace [hallelujah! Ed], and instead I leave the music to do most of the talking, both here and in my Fresh on the Net posts. I do like to research the artists though, to both learn more about them, as well as to hear additional tracks.

It’s therefore hugely frustrating when I can find barely any information about them… nothing… zilch… yet surely they want both reviewers and new fans to know something beyond just the music, and to engage and inform them, don’t they?

 

So when artist pages, whether on their own site, Soundcloud profile, Facebook ‘About’ page, or even Twitter profile, have little more than links to other sites and pages which have an identical absence of information, I just want to scream [very similar to your singing then, Ed]! They’ve made a great record, and myself and other writers/bloggers love it, but we’d like to know more about them than just the fact they’re from “London”, or noting a link to their Soundcloud page which has an identical (lack of) ‘profile’. Here are some examples of sadly wasted opportunities to add even a snippet of information to reviewers, and also further inspire their listeners…

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Now don’t get me wrong. Myself and other visitors don’t need the drummer’s inside leg measurement, but the amount of times I’ve either written or read a review that has included the phrase “I’d like to tell you something about the artist, but…” is far more regular than it should be!

So musicians, please have another look at your various profile pages, and then spend just fifteen or so minutes adding a bit more colour, which could include information such as:

~ where you’re from
~ when and how you got together
~ links to where we can stream or buy your music
~ links to and from all your other online pages… soundcloud, bandcamp, facebook, twitter, youtube etc
~ your genre and influences
~ a bit about your backstory
~ details about your debut track or EP release, or a mini discography (if suitable)
~ a flavour of the type of subjects you tend to write about
~ your live ‘flakiness’ rating*
~ upcoming live dates and venues
~ venues you’ve played live at
* the likelihood of fans sustaining a mosh pit injury at one of your gigs – useful for older gits like me!

 

Some of you may think I’m being overly fussy about finding stuff about you, but I know I’m not alone in being frustrated when information is absent, as a number of my colleagues at Fresh on the Net feel the same way. Tom Robinson even wrote some advice on the subject back in 2012.

Mind you, it could be worse… last year I caught an impressive new local band live, but when I spoke to them afterwards to find out the best interweb places to hear their music, and to find out more about them, I was told that they intentionally had NO online presence at all.

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This month’s mixtape isn’t just another eclectic mix of great new music, but takes us on a global tour too, stopping off in Tokyo, Sydney, & LA, plus Cardiff, Liverpool, & London! Pack your suitcase and enjoy…

 


Jingo – A.D.D.
DMA’s – Feels Like 37
The Black Leaders – My Best Friend
XY&O – Low Tide
Freddie Dickson – Speculate
Hodges – All Up With You
Doc Hartley – Come On
Polar States – Vines
Darkbeat – See Them Now
Saint Motel – Ace in the Hole

The eclectic mix in this latest New Tunes post covers numerous bases, including indie pop, post-punk, and an electro ballad. I love them all, and so I hope you do too… however, which one shouldn’t you play to your nan!

Chase the Deer – Bad Date
Bad Date is the second single from Worcester 5-piece Chase the Deer, and was written “for everyone who has ever taken the risk of going on a date, only to deeply regret the decision within minutes”! It’s a wonderful piece of infectious indie pop, reminiscent of The Primitives, which presents a classic dilemma… do you find an excuse to leave or do you try to salvage something by heading for the dance floor? “Come on let’s dance, get up and dance”.
Website | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook

 

Plastique – Quake
This track will certainly hit the spot if you love hi-energy electro post-punk. Plastique are an Anglo Brazilian trio, while Quake is three minutes of attitude on an industrial scale, full of bruised lyrics and dark synth driven hooks. You should love this, but I don’t recommend you play it to your nan!
Website | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook

 

Border Scout – Hold Your Fire
This is an epic but tender electro ballad, with warm vocals, driving cinematic orchestration, and highly polished production. It’s surely a perfect song anytime of the day, but it possibly sounds best (becoming a huge earworm too) late at night. Dazzling.
Website | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook

 

True Adventures – North Atlantic Ocean
North Atlantic Ocean is the debut single from True Adventures, aka Norfolk singer-songwriter Sam Leonard, which in his own words, is “a poignantly relatable tale of ambition and love in the cold, wet face of the humdrum”. The video compliments the track quite perfectly too. Hugely impressive!
Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

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