Alternative Friday

because great new music doesn’t always get the exposure it deserves


This is a first – two for the price of one! Lewis Bootle (left) from Ware in Hertfordshire, and North London based Gecko (right), are two individual musicians, however they have written, recorded, and performed together, so we’ve grabbed them for a joint Q&A! Both play a similar style of troubadour guitar, with delightful lyrics and a playful sense of fun. Lewis has previously appeared here, in New Tunes #41, and also won a 2016 Award, while this is Gecko’s first outing, so read on to find out what birthday parties, the Mona Lisa, and mind reading have to do with musical storytelling…


Gecko – Website | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook
Lewis Bootle – Website | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook


~ The two of you are obviously great mates, so how did you both meet?

Lewis: During early 2016 I had a manager booking shows for me. Unfortunately it didn’t work out, but the last gig she booked me was Gecko’s birthday gig. I sung him happy birthday and we became best friends.

Gecko: And the rest is (recent) history!


~ Who first proposed the idea of collaborating together, and does the one who agreed to it regret it yet?

Lewis: Haha, well I messaged Will (Gecko) #namedrop a few days after the gig and asked him if he’d like to write a song. He readily accepted, and voila.

Gecko: Then we met up and we wrote ‘The Seed’ together (*see Hollywood’s romantic scene of this exact moment at the end of the Q&A) and from then our musical relationship started to grow. In the words of Dappy I have ‘No regrets’.


~ You’re heading off for a few dates in Holland later this month, so how would you best describe your performances to people who have yet to see you live?

Gecko: I’m a singer storyteller. Playful wordplay, lots of animal references, and a bit of humour chucked in for good measure.

Lewis: Well, we both have different styles but I’ve learnt a lot from Will this past year on performance and stage presence, all in all I love to croon my heart out and make people laugh so expect some of that.



~ Your lyrics are certainly at the forefront of your songs, but where does the initial spark usually come from when a new track takes root?

Lewis: This is always the tricky question. Sometimes I will write out poems / lyrics to a beat / rhythm in my head, then add the music, or vice versa. Lately I’ve got into producing / writing at the same time so its more of a patchwork as I go along.

Gecko: It will usually be the concept that sparks my imagination. I’ve often got some melodic ideas and chords on the go and then when a story strikes I’m off. They can come from anywhere, one of my songs is about a character in the painting opposite the Mona Lisa at The Louvre feeling ignored. That came from being in Paris and feeling it was an injustice that this beautiful painting was completely invisible for the majority of the hoards of tourists attempting to take (bad) photos of Leonardo’s work.


~ Are there any other new bands or musicians local to you in the North London / Hertfordshire area that you recommend we check out?

Lewis: Yes, check out:
Dom Claytor
Ten Tonnes
Ed Tattersall

Gecko: The Leano have been lying dormant for a little while, but I’ve heard some recent stirrings and it’s extremely exciting.



~ If you could each claim one famous song as your own, what would it be?

Gecko: The Beach Boys – ‘God Only Knows’, the melody is pure perfection, I find it hard to believe a human being constructed it, it feels so intrinsic. And there’s a good car horn tooting sound.

Lewis: Mine would be Heart Of Gold by Neil Young, because Neil is don and so is that song.


~ If you could curate a festival stage together, what bands/artists would you invite to perform?

Lewis: Frank Ocean, Chance The Rapper, and Grimes.

Gecko: I second Frank and I’ll add Randy Newman, Conor Oberst, and Andre 3000 to the mix!



~ Aside from music, do you have any other creative skills? (or obscure talents!)

Lewis: I can fly falcons!

Gecko: I can read minds, so I know what Lewis’ answer to the next question will be.


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

Lewis: Be able to read minds.

Gecko: To fly like a falcon mate!


~ What are your plans for 2017 once you’re back from Holland?

Lewis: I have a London tour the first two weeks of March with a gig every day for 18 days… leading up to a full band show on April 5th at The Dublin Castle in London. Then me and Will are off to Scandinavia on a tour later in April, then another in May in Italy. Then roll on festy season!

Gecko: I’m currently crowd funding the recording of an album via PledgeMusic. On top of that in February and March I’m touring the UK with Harry Baker (World Poetry Slam Champion) & Chris Read (his Jazz musician sidekick). Dates and tickets are up at my site.


~ And finally… which actors would you each choose to play yourselves in a blockbuster film about your musical lives to date?

Lewis: Leonardo DiCaprio, however he would look rather old for the part.
Gecko: Kate Winslet

* Gecko & Lewis thoughtfully debate the line “can’t force the seed”.


Sax & drums & rock ‘n’ roll… the first Showreel entry of 2017 – when song and video are in perfect unison – isn’t a new release but comes from mid 2016, however it’s far too good to overlook. London based collective Melt Yourself Down play a stimulating mix of avant-garde jazz and punk, with African flavours thrown in too, while the video by Will Simpson of Omni Studio captures the dark mood of the track brilliantly, which comes from the album Last Evenings On Earth. When the video gets the best out of a great track…


Website | Bandcamp | Spotify | YouTube | Twitter | Facebook

Happy New Year to you all and welcome to the first mixtape of 2017, which shows that new and emerging musicians were still highly productive as last year drew to a close. So I hope you fall for these gems like I have, which range from surf pop to post-punk revival, via some slow burning rock… and a bit of sex & power! Enjoy.


Honeymilk – The Nothing New
Jitterz – One Good Song
Rale – Sprinkle With Rust
Albert Man – I Feel Like Dancing
King Washington – My Reflection
Green Buzzard – Do You Ever Glow?
Council – Rust To Gold
Birdyhop – Blossom Tree
.IMP – Sex & Power

As already highlighted in the Best of 2016 Mixtape, it’s been an outstanding year for new, independent, and emerging artists. So as it draws to a close we reveal our Alternative Friday Awards, which cover an eclectic array of flavours, from the rousing to the mellow. So who are the winners?


Best Independent Album: Albert Man – Cheap Suit
This album has some stunning piano led pop tunes, from the percussion assisted Skimming Stones below, to a few more mellow numbers, but it’s the consistently high quality of song writing and vocals throughout that mean this is the standout independently released album of 2016. You can find out more about the album and artist in the Q&A from earlier in the year.


Best Debut EP: The Assist – Trouble
Love was the lead from this 5-track EP, however the standard of songs is so strong throughout that Things Get Good was the track that made the recent Best of 2016 Mixtape. You can find out more about their baggy brilliance here.


Best Vocals (& production): SOULS – Release
Release is a quite fascinating album, which took vintage vocals from rare Alan Lomax field recordings in the deep south of America in the early 20th century, and was then combined with some soulful and brass rich contemporary music, from the lively If I Got My Ticket to the haunting I Wait For You. The man behind it all, from writing the music, to the production and engineering, is David Gledhill, and he has created a truly impressive album.


Best Psych Euphoria Track: Super Best Friends Club – Humans
If there’s a better song from 2016 that makes you want to shake your stuff then please let us know, as Humans is an infections yet crazy masterpiece, full of energy. Energetic psychedelia at its best.


Best Maximum Volume Track: Coquin Migale – Grindie
Being raucous is one thing, but to give it a tune too is harder to achieve, however the alternative rock band Coquin Migale have got it just right with the dynamic Grindie (which also has an excellent video). They also put on one hell of a live show too. Mosh pit & earplugs please!


The Hottest Latin Track: Magnus P.I feat Penya – Search It Out
The energetic percussion grabs you first, then the exotic vocals, as the London based collective bring their experiences of the Latin and wider world to create a fusion of wonderful floor-filling sounds. Bringing hot balmy nights to the UK, all year round!


Best Troubadour Tune: Lewis Bootle – All I Know
Is it urban folk or acoustic rap? Either way, this is a gem of a song with captivating vocals and poetic lyrics. The Provençal region would be proud, however he’s from Hertfordshire. Minimalist, but inspiring.


Most Contagious Song: The Lulu Raes – Never Leave
When a song becomes an earworm, with a chorus so melodic you find yourself singing it day and night, it can be dangerous… especially when wearing headphones on public transport (I’ve been caught singing it more than once!). You have been warned.


Best Rock ‘n’ Roll Number: Of Empires – Baby Darlin’ Sugar
This is a humdinger of a rock ‘n’ roll tune, which is stuffed with catchy riffs and a wonderful chorus. There’s a great video too, while you can find out more about them in their recent Q&A. What happened to you…


Most Poignant Track: Richard Walters – U
The first thing that hits you are the stunning vocals from Lui Bei singer Richard Walters. They are added to as the story and instrumentation build, with lush arrangements and polished production too. An enchanting song.


A fine set of winners, I hope you agree? Sadly 2016 has robbed us of numerous legends, but thankfully new ones are emerging.

It’s taken a while to get a very high quality long list down to these 20 tracks, such has been the excellent standard of new and independent musicians this year, so jump aboard, and please share your favourites as we venture through a wonderfully varied mixture of sounds, covering alt rock, surf pop, psychedelia, tropical folk, Afro-Latin, indie guitar, RnB and more. Enjoy…


Super Best Friends Club – Humans
The Lulu Raes – Never Leave
Souls – Bad Girl
DMA’S – Play It Out
Estrons – Drop
Gizmo Varillas – Freedom For A Change
Albert Man – Skimming Stones
Coquin Migale – Grindie
Of Empires – Baby Darlin’ Sugar
The Assist – Things Get Good
Wilderado – Wheat
Green Buzzard – (I Don’t Wanna) Break Your Heart
Lewis Bootle – All I Know
San Blas – Zaid
The Silhouette Era — Tides
Magnus P.I feat Penya – Search It Out
Hannah Lou Clark – It’s Your Love
Shobha – U-Turn
Animali – Who?
Richard Walters – U


I wrote the Fresh Faves (221) review for Tom Robinson’s Fresh on the Net site this week.

They were the 9 songs by new and independent artists that received the most votes from the 25 tracks on the Listening Post at the weekend (which had first been whittled down by myself and the other mods from a shortlist of around 130).

It’s a wonderful selection of music, which take us from Scandinavian hypnotica to haunting folk, via a bit of indie and post-punk pop.

To find out what I’m on about, listen to the excellent tracks, and read the reviews… head over here.

It can’t be easy to create a brilliant track, and so it’s surely a double challenge to then add an outstanding and engaging video, which complements the song just perfectly. It does happen of course, and so here are some of the best I’ve come across in 2016, with links to the directors (where possible) below.

Click here to see the playlist in full, or just enjoy them below…

(Legal disclaimer: Alternative Friday do not endorse any adverts shown before the videos, unless they’re actually quite useful)


Tracks & video directors/producers:

The Academic – Mixtape 2003 by Finn Keenan
SOULS – I Go On by JJ Augustavo
Of Empires – Baby Darlin’ Sugar by Josh Fletcher
Coquin Migale – Grindie by Callum Scott-Dyson
Alex Opal – Thin Suzy by Ollie Rillands
Marsicans – Absence by Rianne White
Hippo Campus – Boyish by Jimmy Bloniarz
On Dead Waves – Blue Inside by Lukasz Pytlik

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