Tag: London UK

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Welsh-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Sarah Howells, best known as Bryde, and as you may recall Howells quickly exploded into both the British and international scene with the release of “Help Yourself” and several other singles, as they received praise from NylonThe Line of Best Fit and Earmilk and airplay from BBC Radio 6BBC Radio WalesRadio X and Huw Stephens’ BBC Radio 1, thanks in part to a sound that had been compared favorably to Jeff BuckleySharon Van EttenBen Howard and London Grammar — while thematically focusing on complex, ambivalent, and hopelessly entangled relationships among other things.

Howell’s much-anticipated full-length Byrde debut Like an Island is slated for an April 13, 2018 release through Seahorse Music, a label that Howell founded to release records by-like minded women and help them achieve more visibility in a male-dominated industry.  With the 90s alt rock-like, power chord-based “Peace,” Howell further cements her growing reputation for crafting incredibly self-assured, earnest and anthemic songs grounded in the gritty, psychological realism of a woman maneuvering complicated relationships, her own emotions and society’s expectations of her — and while this song sounds as though it draws from PJ Harvey, Howell manages to write material that feels and sounds as though it were based directly from her own life experiences.

“‘Peace’ is about the warm glow of two drinks and real connection with another person,” Howell explains. “It’s about the end of anger and the settling calm after a storm. Being able to be entirely yourself and still be liked. I had to make it the loudest track on the album because if something’s a not a little subversive.”

 

 

 

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Rachel K. Collier is a Swansea, Wales, UK-born, London-based singer/songwriter, producer and electronic music artist, who achieved both commercial and critical success across the UK relatively early in her career; in fact, Collier is credited as a co-writer or producer or several chart-topping, smash hits including Ray Foxx‘s “Boom Boom (Heartbeat),” which peaked at number 12 on the UK Singles chart back in 2013; Mat Zo‘s Grammy-nominated album Damage Control, which peaked at number 1 on the iTunes Dance Album charts; and on pioneering garage producer Wookie‘s comeback single “2 Us.” As a solo artist, she recorded a cover of Jimmy Cliff’s Hard Road to Travel,” which landed at number 79 on the UK Singles chart, and her debut original single “Predictions” was named Sarah Jane Crawford’s “Smash of the Week” on the radio personality’s BBC Radio 1Xtra show. Collier has also received airplay and praise from the likes of Annie NightingaleCapitol XtraTiësto and Oliver Heldens, which has added to the growing buzz surrounding her in electronic music circles.

Building upon a growing national profile, Collier released her self-produced, debut EP Words You Never Heard through Love and Other Records in late 2015 and followed that up with “Ships,” a single she released during the last few months of 2016. Now, as you may recall, last year I wrote about Collier’s “Paper Tiger,” a slick yet un-fussy club banger, which she followed up with extensive touring playing sets at clubs and festivals across the European Union and unsurprisingly, with the release of her latest single “Darkshade,” her experiences touring throughout 2017 have influenced her creative process and her sound, as the new single finds Collier pairing what arguably may be the most emotionally direct lyrics she’s written with a sound that manages to be simultaneously radio and club friendly — all while further cementing her reputation for crafting rousingly anthemic hook.

“I’ve been heavily inspired from playing live at clubs and festivals throughout 2017 -playing my synths on stage at full volume is so satisfying and fulfilling that I’ve been incorporating synth solos and counter melodies way more into my actual production rather than just doing it on stage for fun!” Collier explains in press notes. “Darkshade feels like a song I needed to get off my chest — many of us will go through life hiding, disguising or playing down a physical/emotional element that we have but we don’t like. This song is about that and how I deal with it.”

This year may be a breakthrough year for the Swansea-born, London-based singer/songwriter, producer and electronic music artist as her full-length debut is slated for a September release.

 

 

Biig Piig is an up-coming 20 year-old, London-based pop artist, who has lived a rather nomadic life in a wide array of cultures as she was born in Spain, moved to Ireland, where she spent several years before finally settling in London, where she eventually joined the Nine8 Collective, a London-based crew of 27 creatives, who collaborate and support each other through a number of different artistic disciplines. As a solo artist, the British-based singer/songwriter has received attention for material that assimilates the sort of life experiences — she once worked as a poker dealer and as a tequila bar waitress — that gives her work an intriguing blend of maturity and youthful naivete. In fact, her stage name reportedly came about after drunkenly reading the name off a pizza menu and relating it to a sense of self-acceptance. “The more I called myself it, the more it made sense. I’m just a mess really. Still cute tho,” the up-and-coming London-based artist jokes in press notes.

Biig Piig’s latest single, the Dylantheinfamous-produced “Flirt” is the first official single from her forthcoming debut EP, Big Fan Of The Sesh, and it features the up-and-coming pop artist’s coquettish and jazz-inflected vocals over a dusty, soulful yet minimalist J. Dilla, Madlib-like production consisting of twinkling keys and boom bap beats but underneath the surface is a song with a narrator, quietly suffering through the feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and overthinking that typically happens when you’ve started to like someone but don’t quite know what you want to happen — or if you even want it to happen. And while capturing a fairly universal experience, Biig Pigg gives the song subtle yet detailed bits of realistic and intimate psychological detail that makes it seem as though the song was inspired by her own experiences. Interestingly, the EP is conceived as the first of a trilogy of audio-visual stories mixing the deeply personal with the universal, centered around a main character, a young woman named Fran — and the material generally focuses on that first doomed, major relationship, losing yourself in city life but somehow managing to come out o the other side.  “I’d hope,” says Biig Piig, “that anyone that feels they’re in a situation like that would find some solidarity in some of the tracks; understanding that you don’t owe anyone anything, and if you’re in a cycle that makes you unhappy, best believe you can change it compadre.”

 

 

 

New Video: Benin City Returns with a Thumping, House Music-Inspired, Club Banger

Comprised of Joshua Idehen (vocals, spoken word), Shanaz Dorsett (vocals) and multi-instrumentalist Tom Leaper, the London-based trio Benin City have received both national and international attention for a sound that meshes Afro-pop, hip-hop, spoken word and electronica in a seamless, club banging fashion. The trio’s forthcoming sophomore effort Last Night is slated for a April 6, 2018 release through Moshi Moshi Records, and the album reportedly is an ode to London’s nightlife and club scenes with the trio commenting on what their hometown’s nightlife scene has meant to them while expressing anger, frustration and weariness over a rapidly disappearing scene.

For countless people across the world, especially those in a city like New York, the disappearance of beloved clubs, bars and music venues create much larger, universal questions: What does it mean for your town and its culture? What does it mean socioeconomically? With nightlife being both an escape from the soulsucking horrors of the daily grind and a way for weird kids passionate about dance, music, art and fashion to find a supportive loving alternate family, where do these kids go to find that kind of support and love? What happens to them if they never find the support and love they needed? Where do they find a sense of belonging and purpose? And if they have found all of that in a beloved club or bar, what happens when that spot closes?

Interestingly, each individual member of Benin City has spent the past decade in London’s nightlife scene in a variety of roles including artists, ravers, bartenders, bouncers, bar backs, scenesters, drinkers, partiers and weekend warriors, and as a result the album’s material emphasizes a deep, inconsolable sense of loss. As the trio’s Joshua Idehen explains, “London nightlife has been our way out, our release, our daily escape. We’ve been clubbers, barmen, part / full-time drinkers. We’ve served cocktails and downed shots. We’ve found ourselves on dancefloors and lost our dinners on nightbusses. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve engaged in dumb drunken squabbles and we’ve found ourselves in strangers’ houses. We’ve danced to songs we didn’t know the name of. We made landmarks out of hidden corners of London: Passing Clouds, Ghetto, Trash Palace, Plastic People, Vibe Bar, Cable, Crucifix Lane. Those places, and the stories they held are gone for good as London becomes pricier and ever more grey. On this album are some of those stories: this is an ode to London’s nightlife.”

Towards the end of last year, I wrote about album single “All Smoke, No Fire” a track that featured a minimalist yet propulsive and club rocking production consisting of stuttering beats, an eerily repetitive and chiming synth line and an enormous yet sinuous hook over which Idehen and Dorsett rhyme about prototypical club situations — while noting that those who engage in and love nightlife culture need it to survive with their dignity and sanity intact, even if the bouncer is a no-neck having asshole or if someone spilled their drink over that dope new outfit you brought just for that one night of freedom; but underneath it all is a subtle and undeniable sense of loss and unease over your personal headquarters disappearing — forever.

Last Night’s latest single “Final Form” is a thumping and sinuous house track production featuring arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, chiming percussion paired with a rousing and anthemic hook — and in some way,  the song strikes me as a swaggering and modern synthesis of Snap!’s “Rhythm is a Dancer,” and Stardust’s club classic “Music Sounds Better With You” but with an ecstatic yet deeply personal bent. As the British act’s Joshua Idehen explains, the song was inspired by a night at Zoo Bar, “I once went to Zoo Bar in the West End with a poet I really fancied. It was a Saturday night, and neither of us drank but we felt like dancing. They were playing soulful house (this was back in the noughties). Spurring and daring each other on, we started with the running man and ended up at last orders, dripping in the worst sweat, making up entirely new dance moves, downing large glasses of tap water. She, a Dragonball Z fan, kept saying ‘nah, you haven’t seen my Final Form. Next song I will be over 9000.’ Obviously, that stuck with me.”

As for the video treatment, Idehen explains, “Our last video for “All Smoke, No Fire” was in memory of all the clubs that have shut in the last five years, so we wanted our next video to celebrate the mainstream and alternative scenes still thriving in London. Working with George Bushaway, we crafted a narrative of two clubbers working up the courage to lose themselves in three very different dancefloors: Lindy hopping with Swing Patrol in Holborn, Jungle/Garage raving in Fire down [in] Vauxhall, and a soca night at Ruby Blue, Leicester Square.” The video focuses on these two lonely men, feeling self-conscious, awkward and as though they couldn’t possible belong — that is until they figure out a way to let go, and embrace the moment, absorbing the joy, ecstasy and community of the room they’re in, while being authentic to themselves.

Live Footage: Million Miles’ Sultry and Jazzy Cover of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ “Beggin'”

Over the past year, I’ve written a bit about the Paris-born, London-based singer/songwriter Sophie Baudry, whose solo recording project Million Miles is the culmination of a life-long love affair with soul music. After completing her studies at  Berklee College and a stint as a recording engineer and studio musician in New York, Baudry returned to London, where she felt an irresistible pull to write music inspired by Ray Charles and Bill Withers. On an inspired whim, Baudry decided to make a trip to Nashville, where she spent her first few days wandering, exploring and reaching out to strangers, as though she were saying “I ’m new here and I’m a songwriter and i’m looking for people to collaborate with.” As the story goes, Baudry wound up having chance meetings with local songwriters and producers Robin Eaton and Paul Eberson and within an hour or so of their meeting, they began writing material that eventually became the French-born, British-based singer/songwriter’s Million Miles debut EP, Berry Hill, which was recorded over the course of a year during multiple sessions at Robin Eaton’s Berry Hill home studio. And from EP singles “Can’t Get Around A Broken Heart” and “Love Like Yours,” Baudry quickly received attention across the blogosphere, as well as this site, for an easy-going yet deliberately crafted, Sunday afternoon, Soul Train-like soul that nodded equally at the aforementioned Bill Withers and Erykah Badu and Jill Scott.
Recently, Mahogany Sessions invited the French-born, British singer/songwriter to participate in their Covers series in which she contributes a sultry and jazzy soul-like cover of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ “Beggin'” that sounds as though it nods more towards Brown Sugar-era D’Angelo, giving the classic song a modern interpretation without erasing the song’s plaintive and urgent need. 

New Video: SSHH Returns with a Club Banging Industrial Electronica-Influenced New Single Paired with Trippy Visuals

Comprised of Bondi, Australia-born, London UK-based Sssh Liguz (vocals) and Zak Starkey, the son of Ringo Starr, a multi-instrumentalist, best known as a touring drummer for The Who and Oasis (guitar), the London-based electro punk duo SSHH received attention with the release of their 2016 debut effort, Issues, which featured the duo collaborating with some of rock’s most renowned rhythm sections, including members of The Sex Pistols, Mott the Hoople, the backing bands of Marilyn Manson and Peter Tosh — to benefit charity.

The propulsive, industrial techno-like single “Rising Tide” which features heavily arpeggiated synths with thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and an infectious hook is the duo’s first bit of new material since Issues and the club banger was born, as Liguz told Earmilk “from a fiery argument” while “driving in a heavy rainstorm.” “I remember being furious beyond belief. Not only because we were having a huge fight, but because even though we were acting like assholes to each other, I couldn’t stop thinking how much I loved him,” Liguz recalled. “Just like I couldn’t stop the rain from falling, or the stars from shining, I just can’t stop loving this man!” Liguz continued, “There is anger in the happiness and a little hate in the love. At the end of the day, passion rules.” And as a result, the song possesses a raw and unbridled tension at its core, influenced by the tempestuous push and pull between love and hate in a fiery and passionate relationship.

BMG released the single globally today, and the single comes with 7 additional remixes and re-workings of the tracks, including re-workings by the likes of YOUTH, Sondrio, Acaddamy, Secret Space, Jevo,  and the members of SSHH.

Co-directed by the band and Billy Zammit, the recently released video for the song manages to subtly draw from rave and electronica culture, as well as psych rock, as it features the duo performing the song in strobe lights and projections.

 

Comprised of Ross Pearce (vocals), Mike Stothard (guitar), Kane Butler (guitar) and Dan Heffernon (bass), the London-based indie quartet BOYS formed back in late 2014 after bonding over a mutual appreciation of shoegaze. By the following year, the British indie rock quarter released a handful of demos that quickly amassed 15,000 streams in a short period of time, and as a result they began playing shows at some of London’s best known indie venues, including The Old Blue Last, Birthdays and Moth Club. Interestingly, last year may have begun a breakthrough period for BOYS as they received widespread praise for both a batch of new singles and their live show — and building upon a growing profile, the British indie rockers went on a Stateside tour that managed to influence their latest single “Hollywood.”

As the band says of their breezy and shimmering, new single “Having gained new experiences and ideas from the time we spent in the US together, whilst there we started talking about leaving our lives behind in London and starting a new one in Hollywood, even if it wasn’t a realistic idea.” And while bearing a resemblance to The Smiths and others, the track possesses and unbridled sense of possibility — the sort that seems to only happen when you”re a stranger in an equally strange and faraway place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Up-and-Coming London-based Pop Artist Jodie Abacus Releases Swooning Visuals for Euphoric New Single “Meet Me In The Middle”

With the release of “I’ll Be That Friend” and “She’s In Love With The Weekend,” the up-and-coming London-based pop artist Jodie Abacus quickly saw a growing national profile, as both singles received airplay on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6 and BBC Radio 1xtra — and as a result of his growing profile, Abacus has collaborated with some of the UK’s hottest producers, writers and artists including Julio Bashmore, Tobias Jesso, Jr., Duke Dumont, Ariel Rechtshaid (who has worked with Beyonce, Adele and HAIM, and others), Rahki (who has worked with Kendrick Lamar), SOHN and others.  Adding to a growing profile, the up-and-coming, London-based artist has received praise from The Fader, who hailed him as “irresistible” and i-D Magazine as “somewhere between a less animated Thundercat and a more off-the-wall Stevie Wonder.” 

Abacus’ second EP, Mild Cartoon Violence derives its name from his desire “to capture the flavour of what goes on in my mind at any point in time when I write songs. I have an aggressive and playful approach towards everything I write within the creative process . . . I stand up, jump around and get excited. I envision the past, the present and the future feel of the storyline like a movie in my head in a cartoonish way and then scrutinise and bash away heavily at anything that may not feel right. This EP is about love, sex and torment.” The EP’s latest single, the POMO-produced “Meet Me In The Middle” pairs Abacus’ easy-going and soulful vocals with a shimmering neo-soul meets house music production featuring arpeggiated synths, stuttering drum programming and an infectious and euphoric hook — and that shouldn’t be surprising as the song is a swooning and euphoric track that the up-and-coming, British pop artist says is about a new romance, when you’re trying to get with someone sensually, physically, mentally and spiritually. 

The recently released video was shot in South London and follows Abacus as he meets cute with a beautiful woman, chats her up and invites her to a local house party. As Jodie Abacus says in press notes, “We had such fun shooting this as it turned into a full on party after the cameras stopped rolling.” 

 

Comprised of Dean Rodney, Jr. (vocals, rapping, songwriting), Matthew Howe (guitar),   Charles Stuart (bass, co-songwriter, background vocals), best known for being a member of Grace Jones‘ touring band, and Andrew Mclean (drums) with Felipe Pagani (guitar) joining in on live shows, the London-based indie act The Fish Police formed back in 2010 and is a unique and pioneering act, as it features neurodiverse personnel — Rodney, Jr., Howe and Mclean are all on the autistic spectrum, with Howe and Mclean being trained by the band’s Stuart at the London creative arts charity and label Heart n Soul.  Sonically, the neurodiverse act have developed a reputation for an electronic-based sound that draws from hip-hop, soul, 16 bit era computer game soundtracks and Afro-punk among others

The Fish Police’s forthcoming EP Edging Myself to the Middle reportedly sees Dean Rodney, Jr. taking on a slightly bigger role in terms of bringing musical ideas to the creative table.  Interestingly, because of his autism, Rodney, Jr. sees life through a very different angle and consequently, the lyrical themes and concepts he explores in his lyrics are humorously surreal while possessing a deceptive, childlike simplicity. After all, along with the aforementioned influences of hip-hop, soul, computer game soundtracks and Afro-punk, the band is influences by cartoons, fast food and Japanese culture — and as a result they band has built up quite a bit of buzz; in fact, the band will be playing sets at this year’s SXSW.  Edging Myself to the Middle‘s latest single “Cactus” is inspired by one of the cacti in the meeting room of their label’s offices, and the song finds the band pairing Rodney, Jr’s inventively surreal and childlike lyrics with glitchy electronics and funky and propulsive groove reminiscent of Fear of Music-era Talking Heads. But the bigger point is that this band should remind the listener of the inherent value of everyone — and that everyone has a story that should be told that respects their dignity and humanity.