Tag: Brighton UK

Lyric Video: Beat Hotel Returns with a Swooning and Heartfelt Power Pop Anthem

Split between Brighton, UK and Plymouth, UK,  Beat Hotel, which features current and former members of The June Brides, The Loft, The Weather Prophets, Distractions, Mudlow, Mojo Fins and Lolita Storm can trace its origins to when its founding members — The June Brides’, The Distractions’ and The Granite Shore‘s Arash Torabi and Paul Pascoe met after a 1988 The Jasmine Minks show.  (Interestingly, many years later, the first Beat Hotel single featured a guest vocal spot from The Jasmine Minks’ frontman Jim Shepherd.)

Developing a strong live presence in their local scene, the act managed to record a number of demos,  but they didn’t officially release anything until 2013 — the “Best of Our Years”/”The Fire,” double A-side 7 inch, which featured The Loft’s and The Weather Prophets’ Dave Morgan (drums), who then became a permanent member of the band.

Released earlier this year through Occultation Records, the band’s long-awaited self-titled EP was recorded at Hove, UK-based Church Road Studios by the band’s Paul Pascoe and features five originals written by Pascoe and a cover of The Wishing Stones‘ “Beat Girl.” The EP also features guest spots from The June Brides’ Frank Sweeney, who contributes strings and piano and former Mojo Fins member Stephen Brett (guitar), who releases material as a solo artist under the moniker SJ Brett. “Every now and again, we produce something that’s very special to us. These forays into the physical world are usually inspired by a collaboration,” Beat Hotel’s Paul Pascoe says in press notes about the band’s self-titled EP. “This time it was driven by an unexpected creative surge due to the sudden and shocking end of a relationship. I felt like I had to relearn everything about how to be in the world and look seriously at who I actually am. I found comfort in the music that had given me a sense of belonging the first time around. The Jesus & Mary Chain, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Weather Prophets .  .  .these songs and songwriters, so familiar to my psyche, were there again to drag me to safety.”

“This collection of songs is about love and near-death and confronting the very worst aspects of ourselves, facing down those inner demons, the fears that haunt us and our deepest, darkest secrets,” Pascoe says of the EP’s material. “And… with one of the tracks beginning its recording journey in 1997 and getting its final guitar overdub and mix in 2019 (in all its 3 minutes 14 seconds of rock’n’roll glory), this record is also a tribute to the awesome power of getting shit done.”

Earlier this year,  wrote about “Bury It Deep,” an upbeat, hook-driven song that brings Starfish-era The Church, early-to-mid 80s Echo and the Bunnymen (i.e, Crocodiles, Heaven Up Here and Ocean Rain) and The Dream Syndicate to mind — and while possessing an uncanny period specificity, the song is more than a homage to a classic and beloved sound: at its core, the song is centered around a narrator desperately trying to maneuver a confusing and uncertain world, as well as their own demons. The EP’s latest single “Feel It” continues a run of hook-driven, 80s inspired material — but in this case, the track is a jangling power pop anthem that brings The Smithereens, The Sighs, and others to mind. But interestingly, the song is a heartfelt love song that evokes the swooning urgency of newfound love in a way that should remind you of your first love. 

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New Video: Paris’ Morning Robots Releases a Symbolic and Animated Visual for “Moonlight”

Emerging Paris-based indie rock act Morning Robots — Romain, Victor, Jerome, Benjamin and BT — can trace their origins to a school trip to Brighton, UK: Romain, Victor and Jerome met Benjamin and BT while sharing the same room with a host family. The members of the quintet bonded over a mutual love of The Strokes, Oasis and Kasabian and others. And as the story goes, the quintet wanted to start a band as soon as they got back to France. 

When they started the band, not everyone would know how to play an instrument but eventually the stragglers picked an instrument and they all began practicing and honing their sound. Although they wrote and recorded some demos, the band can officially trace its origins back to 2012. Early 2013 saw the band playing their first live shows in the Paris area — and by the following year, they released a handful of singles including “Shiny Laughter,” and “Fall With You.” 

The band continued to hone their sound and live show with shows at some of Paris’ most renowned venues — including L’International, l’Alimentation Générale, FGO Barbara, La Clef, Bus Palladium, Le Baron, Le Truskel, and Paris Paris Club. They’ve also opened for Yungblud at Supersonic. 

The band released their debut EP, 2018’s Vincent Marie Bouvot-produced Nothing Like Tile For A Tango, which featured “Meet Me Later,” a track that found the band establishing a new sound centered around enormous, arena rock friendly hooks and reverb-drenched guitars. Morning Robots spent the next year, playing in and around Paris before eventually returning to the studio to record new material late last year with Vincent Marie Bouvot. 

The late 2019 sessions resulted in the band’s latest single “Moonlight.” Centered around  an alternating quiet verses and loud choruses with enormous power chords, the song features shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, thunderous drumming paired with earnest and plaintive vocals in English and in French. 

The recently released video find the band continuing their ongoing animated visual collaboration with Oscar Langevin (a.k.a Dinopelo). The visual is centered around a mother and child, who are violently separated with the child eventually imprisoned. The mom sets out to get revenge and get her child back in a way that bears a resemblance to Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol 1. and Vol. 2. But at the end, we see a lovely reunion — and a mother’s love and sacrifice for her child.  

Deriving their name from a retired racing greyhound that’s since been renamed Jenna, Jetstream Pony is an emerging shoegazer act split between Brighton UK and Croydon UK. Featuring Trembling Blue Stars,’ The Luxembourg Signal‘s and Aberdeen’s Beth Arzy (vocals), The Wedding Present’s and The Popguns‘ Shaun Charman (guitar), Kerry Boettcher (bass) and the band’s newest addition Hannes Müller, the members of the band bonded over their mutual love of post-punk and indie pop.

The band released a few 7 inch singles through Kleine Untergrund Schallplaten, along with a their 12 inch debut EP Self-Destruct EP — both of which received a bit of attention across the shoegazer and indie pop scenes. Building upon growing momentum, the British act’s self-titled, full-length debut is slated for a May 22, 2020 release through Shelflife Records and Kleine Untergrund Schallplaten. Interestingly, the album’s second and latest single “Trapped in Amber” is a shoegazer-like bit of guitar pop that recalls 120 Minutes-era MTV college radio that features an enormous hook, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, four-on-the-floor drumming and Beth Arzy’s ethereal vocals, delivered with the self-assuredness of old pros.

“‘Trapped in Amber’ is a relationship song, with lyrics by Beth,” the band’s Shaun Charmn explains in an email. “She writes a mixture of prose and verse on virtual scraps of paper. When I have new music, I flick through them to see which fits best, then edit to fit. Beth’s happy for things to be changed, she then edits again for the final version. It does work really well. This song was written at the very last minute before album recording, I was still working it out in the studio as we recorded it, but it was sounding too good to leave off.”

 

 

 

Natasha Khan is a Brighton, UK-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, known as the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed solo recording project Bat For Lashes — and for being the vocalist for Sexwitch, a collaboration with the members of British psych rock act TOY and producer Dan Carey. Born to an English mother, Josie and Pakistani squash player Rehmat Khan, Natasha Khan traces some of the influences of her musical career to attending her father’s and her uncle’s Jahangir’s squash matches, which she felt inspired her creativity: “The roar of the crowd is intense; it is ceremonial, ritualistic. I feel like the banner got passed to me but I carried it on in a creative way. It is a similar thing, the need to thrive on heightened communal experience.” Her father left when she was 11, and she taught herself to play the piano, which quickly became an important channel to express things, to get them out.

Khan’s debut single “The Wizard” was released digitally through Drowned in Sound Records and on seven-inch vinyl through her own imprint, She Bear Records. By 2006, she caught the attention of Echo Label, a record label owned by Chrysalis Records that acted as an incubator for emerging artists and assisting their careers while moving them to major labels. Echo released her debut, 2006’s Fur and Gold. The following year, Khan and Echo signed an international licensing deal with Parlophone Records, who re-released Fur and Gold that year. The album reached #48 on the UK Albums Charts and since its release, it’s been certified gold. Building upon a growing profile, the British singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer played at Glastonbury Festival and toured across the States. The album was shortlisted for that year’s Mercury Prize, losing to Klaxons’ Myths of the Near Future, despite being critically applauded and named a heavy favorite to win. She won ASCAP’s Vanguard Award, which resulted in her performing at their “ASCAP Presents . .  .” SXSW showcase.

2008 continued an incredible run by the British singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist as she was notated for two Brit Awards — British Breakthrough Act and British Female Solo Artist. She opened handful of dates for Radiohead, and she released a cover of The Cure’s “A Forest,” which appeared on the Perfect as Cats charity album.

Khan’s sophomore album, 2009’s David Kosten and Khan-co-produced Two Suns was inspired by a trip she took to Joshua Tree, CA. The album focuses on her desert-born alter ego Pearl, whose personality she adopted while living in New York. Sonically, the material was inspired by the Brooklyn bands that had started to receive attention nationally and internationally at the time — in particular, TV on the Radio, MGMT, Gang Gang Dance and others. Interestingly, the album also found her collaborating with the members of Yeasayer, who contributed bass and beat programming. The album debuted at #5 on the UK Albums Chart and has since been certified gold as a result of “Daniel,” which peaked at #36 on the UK Singles Chart. “Daniel” later won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song and was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year. Additionally, Khan received her second Mercury Prize nomination and a second BRIT Award nomination for British Female Solo Artist.

Summer 2009 saw her play at Glastonbury Festival, Somerset House and the iTunes Festival, which was followed by a special edition of Two Suns, which was released ahead of her October UK tour an included a cover of Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody.”

Khan’s third Bat for Lashes album, 2012’s The Haunted Man debuted at #6 on the UK Albums Chart, her second consecutive Top 10 album, an effort that has since been certified silver. Khan was nominated for her third Best British Solo Female BRIT Award and was nominated for two Ivor Novello Awards — Best Song Musically and Best Song Lyrically for album single “Laura.” That year saw her play at Coachella Festival. She also opened for Blur and Depeche Mode.

During a surprise 2015 Green Man Festival set in Wales, Khan debuted her collaboration with Dan Carey and TOY — Sexwitch. That September, the project released its self-titled debut through Echo and BMG, which featured six covers of 1970s psych and folk from different parts of the world.

2016 saw the release of her fourth full-length album The Bride, an album that was nominated for the Mercury Prize.

Khan’s fifth album Lost Girls was released last fall through AWAL Recordings, and the album continues a run of concept albums: in this case, the material was centered around an off-kilter coming of age film, in which bands of marauding female biker gangs roam the streets — and teenagers make out on car hoods. The female characters throughout are parallel to the protagonists of her previously released albums — most notably, the street tough, darkness-driven Pearl from Two Suns. The album’s main character Nikki Pink, was one of the album’s central Lost Girls. And at its core, the album thematically is a loving and romantic homage to all things Los Angeles, being a child of the 80s and the films that influenced Khan. Sonically, the album found Khan mixing sounds she’s long loved — heavy bass lines, synth arpeggios, Iranian pop beats and cascading chorus which help evoke an achingly wistful air.

Khan recently released a four song live EP recorded at London-based venue EartH that features a stripped down versions of “Daniel,” “Desert Man” and “The Hunger” off Lost Girls featuring Khan accompanying herself on piano and organ. The EP’s first official single is a slow-burning,  stripped down, atmospheric cover of Don Henley‘s “The Boys of Summer” centered around twinkling keys and Khan’s expressive vocals.  Khan’s Bat for Lashes cover retains the song’s awareness of the passing of time, the end of youthful innocence — of a darker, more uncertain adult world just over the horizon.

Interestingly, the EP comes just before Khan embarks on a Winter North American tour — and it serves as a taste of what fans should expect: intimate renditions of the material off Lost Girls, as well as never performed songs and some surprises.

 

New Video: Brighton Psych Act Wax Machine Releases a Gorgeous and Mind-Bending Animated Visual for “Shade”

Led by its Brazilian-born founder Lau Ro (vocals, guitar), who spent time living in Italy and England, along with Isobel Jones (vocals, flute) and Toma Sapir (drums), the Brighton, UK-based psych rock act Wax Machine draws heavily from its founder’s international’s upbringing. With a handful of EPs under their collective belts, the band has developed a reputation for drawing from a number of disparate genres and styles.  The Brighton-based act’s forthcoming Go Kurosawa-produced album Earthsong of Silence will further cement the Brighton-based act’s growing reputation for a genre-defying, anachronistic sound, as the album reportedly finds the band incorporating elements of spiritual jazz, krautrock. tropicalia and library music filtered through a psychedelic lens.

Slated for a March 20, 2020 release through Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records, Earthsong of Silence continues where “Mind Palace,” off their last EP, Mind Palace left them — exploring English psych folk but while also touching upon the sunny tranquility of West Coast psych. As the band’s Lau Ro says in press notes, the album thematically “is an exploration into paradoxes, meditation and magic, predicated on the underlying idea of becoming one with nature and in harmony with the environment.”

“Shade” Earthsong of Silence’s latest single is a lysergic and seamless synthesis of Nick Drake-like folk, Haight-Ashbury-era grooves and vibes, Brazilian tropicalia-like breeziness and free-flowing jazz-tinged improvisation that manages to sound decidedly anachronistic — as though it could have been released sometime between 1967-1969 or so. The song — to me, at least — manages to evoke an easygoing summer afternoon, observing nature under the influence of hallucinogens.

The recently released animated video for “Shade” is fittingly mind-altering: in the background the viewer will see leaves fluttering in the wind, the rippling of water. But superimposed over that are gorgeous line animations of the band performing the song, with equally hallucinogenic imagery.

With the release of their debut EP last year’s I Used to Love You, Now I Don’t, the rapidly rising Brighton-based dream pop act Hanya — Heather Sheret (vocal, guitar), Benjamin Varnes (guitar), Dylan Fanger (bass) and Jack Watkins (drums) — received attention nationally for a sound that meshes 90s dream pop and shoegaze. Building upon a growing profile in England, the Brighton, UK-based dream pop act has opened for Honeyblood, Lazy Day and Tess Parks.

2020 looks to be a breakthrough year for Hanya: they’ll be making their Stateside debut at the 2nd Annal New Colossus Festival in March. But they begin the year with their latest single, “I’ll Do It Tomorrow.” Centered around shimmering guitar chords, Sheret’s gorgeous and achingly plaintive vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook, the track further establishes the dreamy  Brit Pop-like sound that has won them attention nationally while subtly nodding at 70s AM rock. In fact, in some way the song reminds me of The Sundays, Travis and others.

“I’ll Do It Tomorrow” was the result of realising that rarely does anyone take the advice we ask for, we love to procrastinate and wait until things change around us, it’s the magic of the human psyche,” the members of the band explain in press notes. “The song is pretty much advice to an old friend…be every version of yourself, let go, do it now, don’t wait until tomorrow”.

The band has a handful of tour dates, including their Stateside debut at the New Colossus Festival. Check out the dates.

 

Live Dates
17th January – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton (Love Thy Neighbours ‘Triptych’ Series)
1st February – The Piper, Saint Leonards (w/ Penelope Isles)
11-15 March – New Colossus Festival, New York City

New Audio: British Indie Act Beat Hotel Releases a Shimmering 80s New Wave-Inspired Single

Split between Brighton, UK and Plymouth, UK, the rising British indie rock act Beat Hotel, which features current and former members of The June Brides, The Loft, The Weather Prophets, Distractions, Mudlow, Mojo Fins and Lolita Storm can trace its origins to when its founding members — The June Brides’, The Distractions’ and The Granite Shore’s Arash Torabi and Paul Pascoe met after a 1988 The Jasmine Minks show.  (Interestingly, many years later, the first Beat Hotel single featured a guest vocal spot from The Jasmine Minks’ frontman Jim Shepherd.) 

Developing a strong live presence in their local scene, the act managed to record a number of demos,  but they didn’t officially release anything until 2013 — the “Best of Our Years”/”The Fire,” double A-side 7 inch, which featured The Loft’s and The Weather Prophets’ Dave Morgan (drums), who then became a permanent member of the band. 

Slated for a January 31, 2020 release through Occultation Records, the band’s long-awaited self-titled EP was recorded at Hove, UK’s Church Road Studios by the band’s Paul Pascoe and features five originals written by Pascoe and a cover of The Wishing Stones’ “Beat Girl.” The EP features guest spots from The June Brides’ Frank Sweeney, who contributes strings and piano and former Mojo Fins member Stephen Brett (guitar), who releases material as a solo artist under the moniker SJ Brett. “Every now and again, we produce something that’s very special to us. These forays into the physical world are usually inspired by a collaboration,” Beat Hotel’s Paul Pascoe says in press notes about the band’s self-titled EP. “This time it was driven by an unexpected creative surge due to the sudden and shocking end of a relationship. I felt like I had to relearn everything about how to be in the world and look seriously at who I actually am. I found comfort in the music that had given me a sense of belonging the first time around. The Jesus & Mary Chain, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Weather Prophets…these songs and songwriters, so familiar to my psyche, were there again to drag me to safety.”

“This collection of songs is about love and near-death and confronting the very worst aspects of ourselves, facing down those inner demons, the fears that haunt us and our deepest, darkest secrets,” Pascoe says of the EP’s material. “And… with one of the tracks beginning its recording journey in 1997 and getting its final guitar overdub and mix in 2019 (in all its 3 minutes 14 seconds of rock’n’roll glory), this record is also a tribute to the awesome power of getting shit done.”

The EP’s latest single “Bury It Deep” is a propulsive and upbeat, hook-driven song centered around layers of shimmering guitars that immediately brings Starfish-era The Church, early-to-mid 80s Echo and the Bunnymen (i.e., Crocodiles, Heaven Up Here and Ocean Rain), The Dream Syndicate and others, as it hints at radio psych rock, New Wave and post-punk in an uncanny period specific fashion. But the song isn’t just another  soulless homage to a classic and beloved sound we’ve grown up with; at its core, the song finds it narrator trying to maneuver a confusing and uncertain world while facing their own demons.

 

NANCY is a rapidly rising, enigmatic and rather mysterious Brighton, UK-based indie artist, who quickly received attention across the blogosphere from StereogumNME and DIY and airplay on BBC Radio 1 from personalities like Annie Mac, Huw Stephens and Jack Saunders and BBC Radio 6 personalities Iggy Pop, Lauren Laverne and Steve Lamacq.

Earlier this year, the Brighton-based artist re-emerged from a brief creative hiatus, he re-emerged with the release of the attention-grabbing single “When I’m With You (I Feel Love).” Building upon the success of that single and a growing profile in his native England, the Brighton-based artist released “Clic Clac,” a breakneck ripper — and self-described ode to anxiety —  that seemed to draw equally from ’77 era punk and glam rock. Nancy closes out 2020 with the warped and dryly ironic “The World’s About to Blow (Thank God, It’s Christmas)” Centered around heavy distorted and fuzzy power chords, layers of whirring feedback and handclap-led percussion, the Brighton-based artist’s latest single is a holiday song for the exhausted and defeated — and anyone else, who has accepted the fact that everything is fucked up. We live in a hellish dystopia and it’s only getting worse.

“No matter what side you’re on, there’s one thing we can surely all agree on: everything has gone wrong and we’re going to hell in a hand basket . . . so let’s join together and find strength in the consensus that we’re all fucked, and that it’s okay to cover your eyes and ears and just get mortal to celebrate the birth of our lord and saviour: Santa Claus,” NANCY says of his latest single.

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Thyla Releases a Bold and Brightly Colored Visual for Anthemic “Lenox Hill”

Over the past year, I’ve written a bit about the rapidly rising Brighton, UK-based indie rock band Thyla. The act can trace its origins back to when its founding trio — Millie Duthie, Danny Southwell and Dan Hole — met while attending college. Bonding over shared musical interests, the band’s founding trio started writing material together. But with the addition of Mitch Dutch, the band began to reimagine their sound and aesthetic, centered around a general distaste of what they felt was the stale and boring state of the British recording industry.

Interestingly, during that same period of time, the members of Thyla have helped establish and cement their hometown’s reputation for production a music scene that features some of England’s hottest emerging acts — while playing shows with the likes of Dream Wife, Luxury Death, Matt Maltese, Yonaka, Husky Loops and Lazy Day. They’ve also shared bills with  Sunflower Bean, INHEAVEN and Fickle Friends while being spotlighted alongside Pale Waves, Nilüfer Yanya, and Sorry in NME‘s 100 Essential Acts for 2018.

They’ve continued on the remarkable momentum of last year with their debut EP What’s On Your Mind, which was released earlier this year to reviews from Pitchfork, Stereogum, NME, The Line of Best Fit and Dork. The EP also received airplay from BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6, Radio X and KCRW. Building upon a growing national and international profile, the band has spent a portion of this year on the road opening for Rolling Blackouts Costal Fever, played attention-grabbing sets at The Great Escape, Live At Leeds and Hit The North. And adding to a massive year for the band, they also went on their first national UK tour, which included their biggest show to date, at  London’s Electrowerkz.

And while it’s been an extraordinarily busy year for the band, they’ve managed to work on new material, which will compose their highly-anticipated sophomore EP slated for release early next year. Now, as you may recall, earlier this year, I wrote about the EP’s first, official single, the boldly ambitious “Two Sense,” a single centered around a rousingly anthemic, arena rock friendly hook, explosive power chords, thunderous drumming, earnest vocals and a slick, modern production that emphasizes a band that has grown more confident and self-assured. But along with that the song, featured a purposeful and defiant message about claiming your right to self-determination.

The EP’s second and latest single “Lenox Hill” continues in the same sonic vein as its immediate predecessor, as it features a driving groove, shimmering and angular guitar lines and a rousing hook. And while continuing a run of remarkably self-assured and ambitious songs — it may arguably be the most personal song they’ve written in some time, as it’s an honest and triumphant coming-of-age story that touches upon finding oneself again to figure out where you need to be and need to go.

“Lenox Hill is the hospital I was born in, with the track inspired by my early years as a kid living in New York City. It’s an honest and emotional coming-of-age tale,” the band’s Millie Duthie explains in press notes. “Life can take so many turns and you can forget where you came from and what makes you you. The important stuff like family can get set aside in the pursuit of whatever it is that drives you. ‘Lenox Hill’ is about realising you’re lost and deciding to go back to your roots to find the way again.” 

Directed and shot by the members of the rapidly rising Brighton-based band, the recently released video for “Lenox Hill” was filmed in the band’s hometown and stars the band’s Duthie in a series of brightly colored outfits. We follow her as she dances and runs around town. And while firmly following a DIY spirit, the video manages to capture the song’s immense and triumphant air. 

“The urge to put ‘Lenox Hill’ to video was too strong to ignore, so we decided to try and shoot something essentially for free,” Thyla’s Millie Duthie reveals in press notes. We bought a gimbal stabiliser off Amazon and used Danny’s iPhone to shoot the whole thing, turns out all you need is some outfits, a willingness to look a bit silly to passers by and a whole load of patience for editing in iMovie and you’ve got yourself a music video! We had a lot of fun making it and we hope it sheds some light on the song and how it makes us feel.”

Interview: A Q&A with M for Montreal’s Program Director Mikey Rishwain Bernard

M for Montreal (French – M pour Montreal) is an annual music festival and conference, which takes place during four days in late November. Since its founding 14 years ago, the music festival and conference has rapidly expanded to feature over 100 local and international buzzworthy and breakout bands in showcases across 15 of Montreal’s top venues.

300 music industry movers and shakers, heavyweights and tastemakers from over 20 different countries make the trek to Montreal to seek out new, emerging artists and new business opportunities – while hopefully eating a ton of smoked meat sandwiches and poutine. I have the distinct pleasure and honor of being one of those music industry folks, who will be in Montreal tomorrow. As you can imagine, I’m looking very forward to poutine and smoked meat sandwiches, as well as a wildly eclectic array of music that includes the rapidly rising hometown-based Francophone indie rock act Corridor; acclaimed London, Ontario-based DIY rock collective WHOOP-Szo; British Columbia-based psych folk act Loving; hometown-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Ada Lea; hometown-based shoegazers Bodywash; Vancouver-based dance punk act NOV3L; Cameroonian-French pop artist Blick Bassy; and New York-based dance punk act Operator Music Band;  as well as a showcase featuring Icelandic artists and a two showcases featuring locally-based and Canadian-based hip-hop among a lengthy list of others.

Before heading out to Montreal, I chatted with the festival’s program director Mikey Rishwain Bernard about a wide range of topics including Montreal and Montreal’s music scene, what music fans, music industry professionals and journalists should expect from the city and the festival and more. Check it out below.

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WRH: While JOVM does have readers in Canada, most of my readers are based in the United States. Can you tell me and my readers a couple of things about Montreal and its music scene that we probably wouldn’t know but should know?

Mikey Rishwain Bernard: Most people will identify Montreal with Leonard Cohen, Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and that’s cool as shit. After that Arcade Fire movement, it felt like many creative Canadian musicians started flocking to Montreal for the cheap schools, cheap rent, vast music scene and live venues. All that hype brought a new generation of artists like Grimes, Mac DeMarco, BRAIDS and more. All this to say is that Montreal is one heck of a place for creative space, freedom and affordable rent. Aside all that, there’s an entire francophone music scene that’s considered mainstream and not to forget the top shelf beatmakers and producers, most notably Kaytranada, Kid Koala, and A-Trak. There’s a lot of government funding dedicated in arts and culture and that’s a huge factor.

WRH: This is the 14th edition of M for Montreal. What was the inspiration behind its creation?

MRB: First and foremost, M was created on a whim. It was set up as a showcase to introduce 6 Montreal bands to 12 festival buyers and media from the UK, who happened to be in Montreal, while on their way to NY for CMJ. It helped artists like Patrick Watson and The Besnard Lakes get some action. In short, M is a networking platform for Canadian artists and industry to mingle with international tastemakers. We now recruit over 100 international delegates from 15 different countries to attend in hopes to export these acts into their respective markets. Another inspiration behind M is Martin Elbourne.  He’s our co-founder. A legendary British programmer who books for Glastonbury and co-founded The Great Escape festival in Brighton. He also worked with The Smiths and New Order, and has always had been involved with new wave’s in the making. He saw Montreal as a “sexy city” and wanted to contribute to this festival to help bring Montreal acts to Europe. Since then, M for Montreal has grown into not only a platform for Canadians, but we also make a little room for international acts.

 WRH: What does a program director of a festival do? 

MRB: I curate the music and conference. Lots of listening, making offers, negotiating and waiting. On repeat.

WRH: In your mind, what makes a successful festival? 

MRB: Aside from the talent, it’s the experience. The people you meet and the memories you make. I sound like Hallmark card, eh?

WRH: This is my first time in Montreal – and it’s my first time covering the M for Montreal festival. Besides the cold weather and maybe a little snow, what should I expect as a journalist? What would other music industry professionals expect from the festival?

MRB: You’re gonna feel welcome and our locals treat our guests/delegates with a lot of respect. Quebecers are very welcoming and charming, and they’ll all share their opinions on where to go, who to meet and what to eat. Everyone is going to ask you to try poutine. Just do it, once or twice. Try it sober at least once if you get the chance. Aside from that, don’t be surprised if some women kiss you on both face cheeks.

WRH: As a music fan, why should I check out Montreal? Why M for Montreal?

MRB: Like previously mentioned, the rich music history. It’s always good to see where Leonard Cohen slept & where Win Butler got his coffee, but it’s also a privilege to discover and experience the culture and new music cooking in French Canada.

WRH: I was doing some research and checking out the artists playing this year’s festival. Admittedly, I was very impressed – the bill manages to be very local centric but while being an eclectic and diverse sampling of a number of different styles and genres. There’s also a fair number of Canadian acts from other provinces, at least one American band and so on. How much work went into that? And how do you and the other organizers choose the artists on the bill?

MRB: It’s a mixture of things. We work with a lot of new kids on the block, Canadian export partners and local industry. We book bands and work with people who wanna play ball. Not for the money, but for a chance to play for some interesting people from all over the world. So, like the programming, it’s all over the place.

WRH: So once the festival ends on Saturday night, what happens next for you and the rest of the team?

MRB: The team will close out the festival and close the 2019 file. The week after M, I’m attending a conference in Saskatoon called Very Prairie… From there, I go directly into hibernation, back home, in Stockton/Lodi California (home of Pavement and Chris Isaak). I will start the new year booking another festival taking place in May called Santa Teresa. And the beat goes on.

While in Montreal, I’ll be busy with my social media accounts, live tweeting and Instagramming as much as I can. Keep on the lookout here:

Twitter: @yankee32879 @williamhelms3rd

Instagram: william_ruben_helms

 

For more information on the festival, check out their homepage: https://mpourmontreal.com/en/