Tag: Utrecht the Netherlands

Interview: A Q&A with The Orielles

I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the rapidly rising and acclaimed Halifax, UK-based act The Orielles over the past couple of years. Founded by siblings Sidonie B. Hand-Halford (drums), Esmé Dee Hand-Halford (vocals, bass) and their best friend Henry Carlyle Wade (guitar, vocals), the JOVM mainstays built up a great deal of buzz, when Heavenly Recordings‘ head Jeff Barrett signed the band after catching them open for labelmates The Parrots in late 2016.

2017’s critically applauded, full-length debut Silver Dollar Moment found the band establishing a genre-defying sound that meshed elements of psych rock, pop and disco centered around surrealistic observations of everyday life. After the release of Silver Dollar Moment, the band’s founding trio recruited Alex Stephens (keys) as a full-time member of the band, expanding the band into a quartet. And with their newest member, they went into the studio to record material that included “Bobbi’s Second World” and a cover/rework of Peggy Gou’s “It Makes You Forget (itgehane).” Those two singles saw the band’s sound increasingly (and playfully) leaning towards Speaking in Tongues-era Talking HeadsESG and the like, while featuring rock-based instrumentation.

Released earlier this year, The Orielles’ sophomore album Disco Volador continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with producer Marta Salogni – and the album’s material finds the newly constituted quartet pushing their sound towards its outer limits. The end result is that the rapidly rising Halifax-based JOVM mainstays have sonically become astral travelers of sorts, creating mind-bending, trippy and progressive material that features elements of samba, ‘70s disco, boogie funk, 80s New Wave, dance floor grooves and ‘90s acid house. The material also draws from the work of Italian film score composers Sandro Brugnolini and Piero Umiliami, as well as contemporary acts like Khruangbin and Altin Gun. “All the influences we had when writing this record were present when we recorded it, so we completely understood what we wanted this album to feel like and could bring that to fruition,” the band’s Sidonie B. Hand-Halford says in press notes.

Deriving its name from a literal interpretation from Spanish that means flying disc, the band’s Esme Dee Halford says, “ . . . everyone experiences things differently. Disco Volador could be a frisbee, a UFO, an alien nightclub or how you feel when you fly; what happens when to your body physically or that euphoric buzz from a great party. But it’s an album of escape; if I went to space, I might not come back.”

The album also manages to capture the British indie quartet riding high off the success of their critically applauded debut, which included a lengthy and successful summer tour with festival stops Green Man and bluedot. Two official singles have been released off the album so far: the expansive, hook-driven and genre-defying “Come Down On Jupiter,” which features a slow-burning and brooding intro, before quickly morphing into a bit of breakneck guitar pop before ending with a psychedelic freakout – and “Space Samba (Disco Volador Theme),” a shimmering dance floor friendly boogie woogie with an lysergic air. And interestingly enough, the album’s first two singles are perfect examples of how versatile and dexterous the JOVM mainstays are – they’re pulling from a wild and eclectic array of sources, like a bunch of mad, crate-digging audiophiles and meshing them into something familiar yet completely novel.

The members of The Orielles are about to embark on their first North American tour. And as you may recall, the tour will include a handful of sets at the second annual  New Colossus Festival. Unfortunately, SXSW has been cancelled because of COVID 19 – but as of this writing, the band’s West Coast dates are still happening. You can check out those tour dates below.

For JOVM’s latest Q&A, I contacted the members of the British JOVM mainstay act. We discuss Halifax’s local sites of note, their impressive and expansive sophomore album, their cover/rework of Peggy Gou’s “It Makes You Forget (itgehane),” the gorgeous and cinematic video for “Come Down on Jupiter,” their upcoming Stateside debut and New Festival Colossus Festival sets and more.  Check it out, below.

TOUR DATES:

3/11/2020-3/15/2020 – New York, NY – New Colossus Festival

3/24/2020 – Los Angeles CA – Moroccan Lounge

3/25/2020 – San Francisco CA – Popscene at Rickshaw Stop

3/27/2020– Boise ID – Treefort Music Festival

3/28/2020 – Portland OR – Bunk Bar

3/29/2020 – Seattle WA – Vera Project

TheOrielles_CreditHollyFernando
Photo Credit: Holly Fernando

cover The Orielles - Disco Volador 

 

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WRH: If I’m traveling to Halifax and Northern England in general, what should I see and do that would give me a taste of local life? Why? 

The Orielles: In Halifax, we really recommend checking out Revo Records to stock up on some quality vinyl. Then head over to the Meandering Bear for a beer before finishing on a cocktail and The Lantern! Also, The Piece Hall is definitely worth a scoop!

WRH: Are there any bands from Halifax or from Northern England that should be getting love in the States that hasn’t yet – and should be? 

The Orielles: There are a few really sick bands coming out of Halifax and West Yorkshire right now. Most noteably The Lounge Society and Short Causeway. We have also just done a few shows with a great young band from the South of England called Drug Store Romeos. Well worth a listen, they’re gonna be biiiggg!

WRH: How did you get into music? 

 The Orielles:  We have all grown up listening to music and trawling through our parents record collections definitely helped influence our love and passion for music. We started playing music pretty much by chance. When we met each other, only Henry could actually play an instrument, but we decided to meet up and jam together the following day regardless. After that we realised our passion for playing music together was huge and we didn’t want to do anything else.

 WRH: Who are your influences? 

The Orielles: Our main influences include Stereolab, Air, ESG, The Pastels and YMO amongst others!

WRH: Who are you listening to right now? 

The Orielles: Right now, [we’ve] been listening to the new Jessica Pratt record a lot! Also, Big Thief and our faves, Altin Gün.

WRH: How would you describe your sound to someone completely unfamiliar to you? 

The Orielles: We like to describe our sound as post-punk funk.

 WRH: Before you went into the studio to your latest album Disco Volador, the band added keyboardist Alex Stephens. Has the addition of Stephens changed your creative process at all? And if so, how? 

The Orielles: He helped to develop our sound and his expanded knowledge on chords and harmony really worked well with our vision of what we wanted this record to be. The creative process stayed the same, we all still write together, and the recording process has always been very collective and shared. We never like it to be rigid in terms of what we play.

WRH: Sadly, it doesn’t appear on the new album, but I love your cover/rework of Peggy Gou’s “It Makes You Forget (itgehane).” How did that come about? 

The Orielles:  Thanks! We wanted to cover a song for a B-side and thought it’d be fun to rework something that wasn’t the genre of music that we make already.

We also love that song and listen to a lot of dance and electronic music so had the idea to try add our own personality to the cover.

WRH: Two of my favorite songs on the album are album opener “Come Down on Jupiter” and album closer “Space Samba (Disco Volador Theme).” Can you tell me a bit about what they’re about and what influenced them? 

The Orielles: “Jupiter” is about the idea of fate and being controlled by a potential higher force from outer space. “Space Samba” is a similar idea but more about boogie and having a disco in space!

We were influenced by bands such as Stereolab, Talking Heads, Arthur Russell, and John Coltrane.

WRH: I love Rose Hendry’s cinematic and hallucinogenic video treatment for “Come Down on Jupiter.” How did that collaboration come about? Can you talk a bit about how the treatment came about? 

The Orielles: We met Rose through a recommendation and as soon as we read her treatment we were in love with her creativity and her ability to be able to understand the lyrics and the ideas of the song on a deeper level.

We think she’s done a really great job of it and are very proud.

WRH: With the release of your debut, 2017’s Silver Dollar Moment, the band went from being one of the most exciting, emerging bands in Northern England to becoming an international blogosphere sensation, playing some of the biggest festivals of the UK touring circuit. How does it feel to be in the middle of that whirlwind of attention and activity?  

The Orielles: It’s really surreal! We definitely didn’t expect for our music to be so well received and for that we’re eternally grateful.

WRH: From what I understand, as you were touring to support Silver Dollar Moment, the members of the band wound up absorbing a wider and more eclectic array of music and sounds – in particular the film scores of Sandro Brugnolini and Piero Umilani, as well as the work of Khruangbin and Altin Gun (who I really dig, by the way). And sonically, the album does manage to reflect getting into a wider variety of things, throwing them into a big old pot and mixing them into something that’s sort of recognizable and sort of alien. So as a result, the material on Disco Volador seems like a bold and self-assured expansion of your sound. Was this intentional? And how much did Altin Gun influence the overall sound and aesthetic? 

The Orielles: I guess it was sorta intentional. We don’t really listen to a lot of western music and prefer exploring other styles and eras.  I think just expanding our musical palette meant that this progression came naturally.

We have been listening to Altin Gun for a while now after first seeing them play in Utrecht. We love the way that they can make traditional Turkish folk songs very danceable and fun and wanted to replicate that idea with guitar music.

WRH: There are brief hints at 80s New Wave – there’s a brief 30 second or so sequence on “Rapid I” that reminds me of Stop Making Sense-era Talking Heads before closing out with a house music-influenced freakout coda. How much did house music and New Wave influence the material? 

 The Orielles: Those genres inspire us a lot. We feel that they are often a lot more interesting than straight up guitar indie etc. We also really wanted to have a go at creating guitar music that people can have a boogie to.

WRH: Disco Volador finds the band returning to the same studio you recorded Silver Dollar Moment and continuing an ongoing collaboration with Marta Salogni. How has it been to work with her? 

The Orielles: Working with Marta is incredible! She’s such a great energy and has a really special and inspiring knowledge of musical production. She’s also a great storyteller and really hilarious!

WRH: You’re about to embark on a handful of sets at this year’s New Colossus Festival here in NYC, before heading down to Austin for SXSW. If I’m not mistaken, these sets will be your first Stateside shows. Are you excited? Nervous? What should Stateside audiences expect from your live show? 

The Orielles:  That’s right! It’ll be our first time playing there. We’re very excited! We are hugely inspired by the NYC late 70s/80s art and music scene and so playing out there will feel special to us.

WRH: Is there anything you’re looking forward to on your first Stateside tour? 

The Orielles:  We’re looking forward to living up to our collective nickname and being proper ‘thrift shop cowboys’. Also excited for hopefully a bit of Vitamin D in California lol.

WRH: Provided that you’ll have the chance to do so: Is there anyone you’re looking forward to catching at New Colossus? 

The Orielles: Looking forward to catching label mates, Stealing Sheep as well as a band from Bilbao, Belako.

WRH: After you play New Colossus and SXSW what’s next for you? Will there be more Stateside tour dates? 

The Orielles: Yes! After the festivals we do a short headline tour of the West Coast. Doing LA, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Treefort Festival in Boise.

 

New Audio: Acclaimed JOVM Mainstay Amber Arcades Releases a Mournful 70s AM Rock Inspired Single

Over the past couple of years of this site’s history, I’ve managed to write quite a bit about Utrecht, The Netherlands-based singer/songwriter Annelotte de Graff and her solo recording project Amber Arcades. And with the release of her full-length debut, Fading Light, de Graaf quickly received attention for pairing crafted guitar pop with erudite thematic concerns — in particular, time and the relativistic experience of it, magic, jet leg and her own dreams, which have managed to influence a great deal of her personal and creative life. In fact, as the story goes, De Graaf used her life savings for a flight to New York and studio time with Ben Greenberg, who has worked with The Men, Beach Fossils and Destruction Unit, and a studio backing band that included Quilt’s Shane Butler (guitar) and Keven Lareau (bass) and Real Esate’s Jackson Pollis (drums) — both of whom she had specifically hand picked because she had dreamt of working with them.

de Graaf’s critically applauded Cannonball EP, an effort that landed at #1 on this site’s Best of List last year — with the gorgeous “Wouldn’t Even Know,” landing at #4 on the Best Singles list. Slated for a September 28, 2018 release through Heavenly Recordings,de Graaf’s forthcoming album European Heartbreak was recorded and co-produced in Los Angeles with Deerhoof’s Chris Cohen and in Richmond, Virginia with Trey Pollard, who oversaw horn and string overdubs from the Spacebomb Records crew. And the album sonically and thematically are reportedly a major step forward for the Dutch- born and-based singer/songwriter and musician — thematically, the album is about the nature of memory and the human tendency to over-romanticize the events of our lives. And while naturally focusing on the passage of time, there’s a disillusionment that’s been concealed just under the romanticized surface. Nothing in this life is what it really seems — and ultimately, everything can be a bit disappointing, alienating and downright strange. As Annelotte de Graaf says of the album, “If it were called ‘American Heartbreak,’ you wouldn’t bat an eye. Somehow calling it ‘European Heartbreak’ feels far less comfortable, almost like a statement in itself. I’m Dutch, hence European. The focus of the record is Europe. As for Heartbreak, for me a heartbreak symbolises any kind of falling apart of one of these concepts or stories we invent for ourselves, like romantic love, a sense of identity, nationality, an economic system. It’s kind of a universal thing in my mind.”

Sonically speaking, the material, as you’d hear on the album’s first single “Goodnight Europe” managed to be both sophisticated yet anachronistic as it finds her sound nodding at classic, late 60s and early 70s rock — in particular, Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, T. Rex and Sgt. Pepper and Let It Be-era Beatles, as the song features some impressive and bluesy guitar work paired with a gorgeous string arrangement; but interestingly, the song is both a meditation on the current state of the European Union and of a dysfunctional and confusing romantic relationship, meshing the personal and the political in a way that expresses a concern over what it all means in the first place.

European Heartbreak’s latest single “Alpine Town” is a decidedly 70s AM rock-like song centered around shimmering guitar, twinkling piano, a sinuous bass line, a mournful horn and string arrangement and de Graaf’s ethereal vocals floating over the mix. The song evokes a deeper  disappointment — that an illusion that the song’s narrator once held as true has now been proven to be false. And as a result, the song is a world weary sigh while being someplace away from home. As de Graaf says of the song “I wrote this song exactly a year ago while on holiday in Guillestre, a small town in the French Alps. I was kind of in a sad place and my boyfriend had dragged me along to get away from all that, but I guess it doesn’t really work like that, ha. It just made me reflect on the sad part of the tourist condition as a metaphor for life, man.”

Over the past 18 months or so, I’ve written quite about the Utrecht, The Netherlands-based singer/songwriter Annelotte de Graff and her solo recording project Amber Arcades, and as you may recall with the release of her full-length debut Fading Light, de Graaf received international attention for an album that thematically focused on the and the relativistic experience of it, magic, jet lag and her own dreams, which have managed to influence much of her personal and creative life; in fact, as the story goes, De Graaf used her life savings for a flight to New York and studio time to record her debut with Ben Greenberg, who has worked with The Men, Beach Fossils and Destruction Unit, and a studio backing band that included Quilt’s Shane Butler (guitar) and Keven Lareau (bass) and Real Esate’s Jackson Pollis (drums) — both of whom she had specifically hand picked because she had dreamt of working with them. Along with that, De Graaf had a long-held dream of working for the UN, and she eventually worked as a legal aide on UN war crime tribunals and n human rights and immigration law, assisting Syrian refugees.

Last year, saw the release of the critically applauded Cannonball EP, which was among my favorite releases last year — in particular, the gorgeously shot video for “Wouldn’t Even Know,” which featured a guest spot from British singer/songwriter, composer, producer and guitarist  Bill Ryder-Jones brought back memories of riding trains through the Dutch countryside from Amsterdam to Dordrecht, passing through and by towns like Abcoude, The Hague, Breukelen and others. Along with that, EP singles like “It Changes” and her cover of Nick Drake’s “Which Will,” revealed a singer/songwriter with an self-assured yet uncanny knack for a catchy hook within jangling guitar pop.

De Graaf’s latest single “Goodnight Europe” is the first taste of her forthcoming sophomore, full-length album slated for release later this year, and the single finds the renowned Dutch singer/songwriter’s sound leaning heavily towards Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, T. Rex and Sgt. Pepper and Let It Be-era Beatles, as the song features some impressive and bluesy guitar work paired with a gorgeous string arrangement — and the song manages to further cement De Graaf’s ability to craft a razor sharp hook around some thoughtful songwriting; in fact, the song is a meditation on the current state of the European Union, written from the perspective of a dysfunctional and confusing romantic relationship that’s inescapably odd. As De Graaf explains in press notes, “I guess about half of it is me actually being worried about the current state of the Union. The other half is me kind of messing around with, and making fun of, this archetype of the tiresome existentialist academic in me.”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three years or even over the past couple of weeks, you’ve likely seen a handful of posts featuring the Utrecht, The Netherlands-based indie trio Stillwave. Currently comprised of founding members Michael van Putten and Marcel Jongejan, along with their friend and long-time roadie Joris Keizer, the Dutch indie rock trio have developed a reputation for uncompromisingly refusing to do what their fellow countrymen have done, instead making the trip to the UK to play some of their first shows in dingy, beer soaked clubs and music venues that their influences  — namely, Radiohead, David Bowie and Slowdive — have played in before they made it. As a result of their dedication, hustle and moxie, the Dutch trio began to receive attention and praise from media outlets across the UK and the States, including Q Magazine, Speak Into My Good Eye and others.

The band had started to achieve some level of success and attention when member van Putten and Jongejan were rocked by the departure of original, founding member Adriaan Hogervost. As the band explained to me through email earlier this month, “When Adriaan quit, it felt as if we had lost a brother. We were risking our last savings for another tour in a cramped ’94 Civic, but we knew we had to continue. Stillwave had become more than just music, it became the bond that held us together. We asked our long-time roadie and childhood friend Joris [Keizer] to join us.” They go on to explain that the band’s newest member, had a deep understanding of their dedication and passion for music, knowing that the band was each individual member’s labor of love, “an almost physical place, which we can create, enter and share with those who listen to it.”

The band’s long-awaited full-length debut Sell Another Soul is slated for a November 3, 2017 release, and as the band says about the recording sessions, “When we decided to start recording our album, we had ceased to care about compromise, polish and overanalysed bullshit, which supposedly celebrates the idea of being young and carefree. We do care. For 3 sleep deprived weeks we toiled in a dilapidated structure that would soon after be swallowed by the attempt of gentrification around it. We did away with vocal comping and held onto the tracks where we fucked up. Every second was a battle, every minute a victory.”  As you may recall, I wrote about “94 Civic” earlier this month, a single that derives it name from the 94 Civic that the band drove around in for tours across Europe, and the song was a slow-burning and dreamy ballad that featured a gorgeous but minimalist arrangement of strummed guitar and gently swirling electronics paired with yearning and contemplative vocals that reminded me quite a bit of  Damon Albarn’s solo work and his work with Gorillaz.

Sell Another Soul‘s latest single “Adelaide” find the band returning a bit to the sound that first caught the attention of this site and the rest of the blogosphere — angular, David Bowie Berlin triology-influenced post-punk with similar, moody atmospherics and a rousing, larger-than-life hook and industrial clang and clatter.

The recently released video continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with former member Adriaan Hogervost. And interestingly enough, the video stars Jop Gorris, as a man, who runs around a race track with a metal ladder strapped around him. And although, the ladder is clearly a hinderance to his movement, and he grows increasingly frustrated with the ladder — until he uses it to climb up an abandoned house.

New Video: The Contemplative Sounds and Visuals of Stillwave’s “94 Civic”

Now if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three years or so, you’ve likely come across a small handful of posts featuring the Utrecht, The Netherlands-based indie trio Stillwave. Currently comprised of founding members Michael van Putten and Marcel Jongejan, along with their friend and long-time roadie Joris Keizer, the Dutch indie rock trio have developed a reputation for uncompromisingly refusing to do what their fellow countrymen have done, instead making the trip to the UK to play some of their first shows in dingy, beer soaked clubs and music venues that their influences  — namely, Radiohead, David Bowie and Slowdive — have played in before they made it. As a result of their dedication, hustle and moxie, the Dutch trio began to receive attention and praise from media outlets across the UK and the States, including Q Magazine, Speak Into My Good Eye and others. 

Although the band had started to achieve some level of success, the founding members were rocked by the departure of founding member Adriaan Hogervost. As the band said to me through email, “When Adriaan quit, it felt as if we had lost a brother. We were risking our last savings for another tour in a cramped ’94 Civic, but we knew we had to continue. Stillwave had become more than just music, it became the bond that held us together. We asked our long-time roadie and childhood friend Joris [Keizer] to join us.” They go on to explain that the band’s newest member, had a deep understanding of their dedication and passion for music, knowing that the band was each individual member’s labor of love, “an almost physical place, which we can create, enter and share with those who listen to it.” 

The band’s long-awaited full-length debut Sell Another Soul is slated for a November 3, 2017 release, and as the band says about the recording sessions, “When we decided to start recording our album, we had ceased to care about compromise, polish and overanalysed bullshit, which supposedly celebrates the idea of being young and carefree. We do care. For 3 sleep deprived weeks we toiled in a dilapidated structure that would soon after be swallowed by the attempt of gentrification around it. We did away with vocal comping and held onto the tracks where we fucked up. Every second was a battle, every minute a victory.”  The album’s latest single “94 Civic” derives its title from the aforementioned 94 Civic that the band drove around for tours, and the song is a slow-burning and dreamy ballad featuring a gorgeous yet minimalist arrangement of strummed guitar and gently swirling electronics paired with yearning and contemplative vocals — and interestingly enough, the latest single finds the Dutch trio gently expanding their sound in a fashion that reminds me quite a bit of Damon Albarn’s solo work and his work with Gorillaz. 

Directed and produced by former member Adriaan Hogervorst, the recently released music video stars Harold van de Kamp, as a lonely man sitting in the backseat of a car, lost in his own thoughts, further emphasizing the contemplative nature of the song. 

New Video: Catch Amber Arcades and Bill Ryder-Jones Travel the Dutch Countryside and Perform Their Duet “Wouldn’t Even Know” in New Visuals for Latest Single

Now, if you have been frequenting this site over the past year or so, you may recall that with her debut effort Fading Light, Utrecht, The Netherlands-based singer/songwriter Annelotte de Graff and her solo recording project Amber Arcades quickly received international attention for material that thematically focused on time and the relativistic experience of it, magic, jet lag and her own dreams, which have influenced much of her personal and creative life; in fact, De Graaf had a long-held dream of working for the UN and eventually worked as a legal aide on UN war crime tribunals and on human rights and immigration law, assisting Syrian refugees.  Building upon a rapidly growing profile De Graaf and her backing band went on a Fall 2016 Stateside tour with Nada Surf, while releasing several singles off Fading Light‘s much-anticipated and recently follow-up of jangling and anthemic guitar pop, Cannonball EP including “It Changes” and her cover of Nick Drake’s “Which Will.”

Canonball’s latest single “Wouldn’t Even Know” is a subtly brooding and lushly gorgeous duet with British singer/songwriter, composer, producer and guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones that gently nods at Phil Spector-era pop and the great June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash duets — and while further cementing de Graff’s reputation for jangling guitar pop, the song possesses the swooning Romanticism of finding friendship, love and understanding through the open road and through music. 

Directed by Wander Andringa, the recently released and utterly gorgeous and cinematic visuals for the song features de Graff and Ryder-Jones driving through the seemingly endless seas of green and blue of the Dutch countryside in an old Mercedes, cut with footage of the duet performing the song with a backing band that’s reminiscent of Roy Orbison’s fantastic concert film Roy Orbison and Friends: A Night in Black and White; however, throughout the footage de Graff and Ryder-Jones have an unmistakable musical and creative chemistry. Annelotte de Graaf adds, “I wanted the video to look like the song sounds: flowing at a certain pass, broody, yearning and uplifting. I also really love the Sonic Youth video for their version of “Superstar”. That inspired me to do a kind of live performance of the song for the video. Mixed together with the shots driving through the Dutch countryside I think it really captures the mood of the song. Wander did an awesome job, even though I’m pretty sure me and Bill weren’t the most easily directable “actors” (sneaking sessions watching football in a pub into the day’s program)  — haha.”  Personally, the video reminds me of sitting on trains and busses traversing the Dutch countryside from Amsterdam to Dordrecht and back to Amsterdam with a mixture of weariness from being awake and moving for more than 30 hours, awe, excitement and loneliness.