Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Gig Review: De La Soul

I hadn't seen De La Soul since Glastonbury three years ago and just as I was then, I was equally as, if not more excited for their headline set. I have to say, because I was going to the Birmingham show, I wasn't really expecting the biggest turn out - it's not often that I get to meet many "hip hop heads" in this area and as the show didn't sell out I was expecting a fairly sparse crowd... WRONG. Before long the floor was packed out with every kind of person you could imagine and I guess I should've known because it's not out of the ordinary for De La to draw in diverse crowds with their energy. Either way, it was a welcomed surprise.

First up on stage was UK trio Jungle Brown. I'd not heard any of their material prior but I was expecting something lyrically great if they were to warm us up for De La Soul and I'd definitely say that lyrically they were engaging and true to their style as musicians. However, I felt like on some songs, their beats overshadowed their performance, the beat was the reason for the movement and had it been an acapella performance, the level of attention would have dropped significantly. Despite the issues I had with their abilities on the night, they definitely showed potential (which may be more obvious on their studio material), their sax player was a very slick addition, and they definitely managed to heighten vibes and crack a few smiles before De La graced the stage.

As I mentioned, De La Soul know best how to draw in a crowd and put on a show. I was of course expecting them to play the classics like "Me, Myself and I" and "Feel Good Inc." but I was most interested in what they were going to play from this latest record. When I first listened to it I enjoyed it but I remember thinking that a lot of the songs that I expected to like the most after reading the track list, ended up taking a back seat to ones that hadn't necessarily caught my eye initially. Again my guesses were off on what would appear on the set list, but once again De La showed me why they've been so good for so long. As the night went on and energy was on what I thought was a pretty perfect level, De La graced us with a guest appearance. Dres from Black Sheep bounded on stage with that flow and ease that we knew so well and it was as if he was with them the entire show. Energy levels shot up again for that last portion of the show and by the end of the night my shoulder was aching from all the arm waving, my face was aching from all the smiling and singing, but it was well worth it. I feel like they would've benefited from a bigger production (budget permitting) but with or without, they filled the room, and brought their all, what more could you ask for really?

Overall Rating - 7.5/10 


Here are some pictures from the night... 





Monday, 8 May 2017

Interview: Luke Sital-Singh

Luke Sital-Singh is a London based singer/songwriter. I first came across him in 2012 after hearing his track "Bottled Up Tight" playing somewhere and before the likes of Shazam I had to scrawl down any words I could catch. Now after all these years, several EPs and one debut record later, Luke's about to start his solo UK/EU tour tomorrow and release his sophomore on Friday the 12th of May. Luckily I was able to catch up with him last week for a chat...


For someone who’s been making music since they were around 8 years old – what’s kept you pushing along with your dream so far?
Um, it’s weird, I guess it comes with anything that you’re good at doing. I mean it only got- I’ve been kind of musical for a long time but I suppose it’s changed. In that time it’s like developed into something actually sustainable and kind of doable. It’s only been in the last 7, 8 or 9 years that it’s really felt like something I could actually do for a job or like, I’ve only been doing it actually to pay bills and stuff for 5 years or something like that so it’s kind of progressed quite a long time. You know it’s just something that I enjoy doing, and when you find something that you enjoy doing and that you’re quite good at doing, and that you can make enough money from, it’s kind of a bit of a no-brainer isn’t it really? [laughs] It just becomes something you do, and as a career it changes a lot. It’s not a boring job that’s for sure, sometimes I wish it was a little bit more boring because it is kind of fairly stressful and um, just like all over the place in terms of the lifestyle but at least it keeps you busy and on your toes. I’ve not gotten bored of it; it’s still a pretty fun thing to do.

Given that it’s been so all over the place in terms of the schedule, is there any point in your career where you’ve thought about going corporate?
Yeah loads of times, I mean I’m a bit of a pessimistic person really and I often- on the bad days can get really down on everything which is not a great trait because you start to be like “ah I just want to get a job in a bank” or like “I just want a paycheque” like an actual monthly- y’know just to be able to count on some money coming in more regularly. But then you speak to someone and it’s like nothing’s ever a given really – anyone can lose their job at any point. I have to sometimes just punch myself over the head and be like “Mate, you’re doing it! You’re doing this thing that you’ve always wanted to do! There’s tonnes of people that would love to be in your position so like, just enjoy it.” I mean that’s only on my really kind of bad days, most of the time I just know that there wouldn’t be anything that I could do that I would enjoy as much and I would regret it instantly if I was to give up and get some boring job. It would be an instant “what have I done?!” kind of thing, so yeah it’s only on the really bad times that I question the whole thing. 

Around this time about 5 years ago, you hadn’t yet been on your own tour. Obviously now you’ve got your own UK tour coming up next week, and have been touring since. Is there anything about life on the road that’s shocked you or that you hadn’t expected to see prior?
Um… it’s a lot less fun than I thought [laughs] it’s a lot less like exciting. I think I thought that the day-to-day travelling stuff would be more exotic and fun and exciting. The thing is, partly because of my set up in terms of being a solo artist; I don’t really tour with a band so you don’t really have a group of mates that you’re hanging out with. It’s usually just me and like the tour manager. But even when I have done a couple of tours with a band it’s kind of just like “oh! I thought touring was going to be amazing but I’m just eating Ginsters Pasties from another petrol station and not getting much sleep”, but then you do the gig and everything’s amazing! You think “this is the best job in the world!” I guess I wasn’t prepared for the ups and downs of a tour, because you do go from super elation, adrenaline rush of the gig to getting back in the crappy van and driving to a Travelodge and then waking up the next day in some crap Travelodge and you’re like “ughhh”. So yeah, it’s very contrasting in that way. 

And so if you did have an unlimited budget for a show, but you could only perform three of your songs – which songs would you choose and how would you perform them?
Oh wow! Um, that’s a really good question! I would do- well there’s one song on my first album called “Nearly Morning” which is on the album in one way but there’s another version of that song. On the album it’s fairly subdued like guitar-y, piano-y kind of nice harmonies but yeah it’s fairly sad. There’s another version that we did, when we were recording it we wanted to do something different and it was like proper epic, crazy, stadium anthem, choirs, like massive, bombastic performance! But the label said that it was annoying [laughs] and it’s not out there but it’s on my hardrive and I’ve always been like “One day, when I have a 10 piece band, and an orchestra, and all that, I’ll play this song, the way that we intended it to be on the album”. That’s number one. 

Um, weirdly there are some songs that I would still play on my own. Maybe with- there’s a song called “I Have Been A Fire” which I love performing, and I would play it solo but there’s a point where like it explodes, and I would definitely have like fire and pyrotechnics going and just exploding on the stage – 100%. Then there’s also one song on this new album – Time Is A Riddle – called “Nowhere Is Home” and at the end, on the album version it explodes into this heavy rock outro type thing, so like a somewhat Radiohead influenced outro, and I think I would just love to have a band for that one bit. They can just be there for that one tiny bit of that song, which would be a massive waste of money but they would all appear from underneath the ground or something. And one other! The last song on the album is called “Slow Down” and at the end it’s like imploding and it’s all this distortion and it goes all crazy. It’s a very Sigur Ros type song, and I would probably just pay them lots of money just to come on stage and it would turn into like a big Sigur Ros gig at the end. 

As much as your music sparks emotions in people, be it melancholia or even optimism; what are you hoping will shine through the most on this upcoming album?
Um, I don’t know, it’s tricky. I don’t think about that too much. I think for me, when I listen to music I like to feel like I’ve been understood and to feel like I’m not alone and there’s somebody else going through the same kind of questions and the same kind of- exploring life in a deeper way or exploring what it means to be alive. That’s why I listen to music and my favourite artists instil that in me… so I would like that really! Just for people to feel like there’s been a space for them to feel things and to feel like it’s okay to feel those things, whatever it is- it’s okay to feel y’know mostly sad with my music. We’re all on the same journey really, just trying to figure out what the heck to do with our lives. I think that this album is probably more confused than the first one in terms of whether there’s one message saying “it’s going to be alright” (like the first one) but this album is more saying “is it? I don’t know[laughs]. But yeah I’d still want people to feel understood.

And seeing as you said that this album is a little bit more confused than the first; do you feel like your writing style has changed in that same way or do you feel like you still write very similarly to how you always have?
I definitely, on this album, thought about it less. I tend to overthink in general life and on the first album everything was very thought out and I had to know what I was talking about and I had to know what everything meant, what every line meant, and with this album I’ve dropped that a lot and I just wanted to let the subconscious speak and trust that there was stuff to be said that I didn’t quite understand. So there’s one song on here that came to me in a dream and that’s something that I’ve always found sort of suspicious when people would say that like “oh, this song came to me in a dream” and I’m like “yeah, yeah ‘course it did”, but I genuinely woke up singing the chorus and this is the song “Rough Diamond Falls” like track four. Yeah, I experienced this place which was like heaven and hell mixed together and then the chorus melody and words were just ringing in my head when I woke up and I just wrote the song and that’s never happened before. There’s lots of things like that where I’ve just tried to let things flow and just react to it in that way and so in some ways that’s probably why it’s a bit more confused, because I wasn’t trying to find the answers to what was coming out. I wasn’t trying to kind of round it all up and summarise what my mind was trying to say.

After listening to your Film Songs record quite recently, I was wondering, if you had the chance to work on any film soundtrack of your choice which would you pick and why?
I would happily score a Wes Anderson film but using songs mostly, and it would be a really depressing Wes Anderson film, I would happily do that. Um, to be really geeky about it, any Star Wars- like any John Williams soundtrack really, I’m a big Star Wars geek. What’s amazing about the new Star Wars film- we’re probably going to die before they stop making Star Wars films and that gives you all the options. I mean it’s a long shot that someone would ask me to score a Star Wars film – how cool would that be?! They’d be a crazy person [laughs] I don’t know why anyone would listen to my music and go “Hey! You can score a Star Wars film![laughs]They’d be a crazy person but I’d still say yes.  I would love to write songs for anything really – it’s something I’d need to be interested in doing but I never really write songs from a brief like when you write songs for films. I think I would struggle to do that but it would be fun! I’d definitely like to do something like that.

You’ve had quite an eclectic music taste over the years listening to firstly grunge music and then delving into more alternative music such as Damien Rice and Bon Iver. What kind of music have you been listening to lately and in the lead up to the album?
Um, there’s a load of great albums coming out at the moment! I’ve been listening to Feist’s new album Pleasure. When I was writing the album I was listening to her second album Metals so that was a bit of an influence on how I wanted it- it didn’t end up sounding anything like Feist but there was something about that record that inspired me when I was writing. I’m listening to a lot of Spoon albums, which is a bit more Indie/Rock band type thing which I’ve been getting into more and more. My music taste recently and I guess like over the last 10 years, has been fairly Singer/Songwriter-centric and I’ve been listening to more bands, and like the new War On Drugs single is great. I’ve been trying to delve into Ryan Adams’ stuff – he’s just released loads of his b-sides from his new album, it’s like 17 b-sides, so yeah those are the few things that I’m listening to at the moment. 

Keep up with Luke's movements over the next few weeks of touring, and check out his new album Time Is A Riddle out on Friday, here on Facebook, Instagram, his Website and Spotify


Friday, 5 May 2017

SPRING PLAYLISTS

Music over the past couple of months has been insane - everybody's releasing new albums, singles, videos. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I was this spoilt for choice! Exams start on Monday, Spring is on its way out, so here are a couple of playlists with a few of the songs that I've been listening to in the lead up.

I know the past couple of playlists that I've posted have been mostly based around hip-hop/rnb/pop music, but most of the music I've been playing so far this year is rock/alternative/post-hardcore so to appease all genres and stay true to my music taste I've made two playlists with both, because why not.

 SPRING PICKINS (rock)


SPRING STREAMING (pop/hip-hop)



Best when not shuffled but enjoyable either way, happy listening! 

Monday, 1 May 2017

VIDEO PREMIERE: Heaven

My heart. I can't really explain how good it feels to have new PVRIS music in my life honestly. The last time I tuned into a radio station specifically to hear a song debut was when Paramore released "Now" in 2013, I remember it so clearly. I doubt I'll be forgetting the first time I heard this song either. As always, Lynn's giving us those beautiful, strong and gritty vocals over a beat that forces you to move. As much as I enjoyed their debut record, the amount that they've improved as a band is pretty clear. Have a look and a listen...


As big as the track sounded initially, this video brings so much substance to it making it easier to isolate each detail in such an encomspassing sound. People often associate good music with colour and even in black and white PVRIS have managed to paint a bold picture here. The scenes of death and reawakening did remind me of Slipknot's "The Devil In I" concept but as gruesome as it seemed in that video, here PVRIS have managed to make it seem almost beautiful. The album drops on the 4th of August and is available for pre-order right now. PVRIS are playing a couple of small shows this week in London (Shepherd's Bush Empire) and a few more across Europe. I don't doubt that there'll be a few surprises at those shows and I have high hopes for the new album, so if you can get along to see them at some point, most definitely do.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

VIDEO PREMIERE: Hard Times

Paramore are back with some new musical magic for our ears in the form of 80s inspired electronic rock and I'm absolutely here for it, but we'll get to that. Check out the new video first...




I'll try and keep this short because I could go on about this for a while. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from "Hard Times" as the first single from the new record After Laughter (out on the 12th of May). With Zac's return I did expect a bit of influence from his current project HalfNoise. However I'd be lying if I didn't say that a large part of me was hoping that they'd return to their earlier, angsty rock sound, but I wasn't surprised or disappointed when I heard something similar to their poppier self-titled sound. The new visual is a blessing on the eyes - it was beautiful to see Zac behind that kit for the first time in a long time and once again Hayley's vocals are without fault, unmistakable and a very welcomed sound after four years since their last release. All in all, the song is well written and super catchy, it just missed that je ne sais quoi for me. If it's anything to go by, I don't think that this record will top Brand New Eyes in my opinion, but it definitely has the potential to surpass my feelings on the self-titled. Time will tell...

Monday, 10 April 2017

Gig Review: Welcome To Wonderland (Little Simz + Friends)

When I made the list of shows I had coming up this year, this one alongside the few summer festivals I have coming up (stay tuned) were at the very top. Little Simz continues to blow me away, musically and just in general as a human being. Boasting two independently released albums, a plethora of features/collaborations, and just twenty three years of age; she's now here to blow London of its feet with her own mini-festival. Mind boggling doesn't even cut it!

First up for me was Tiffany Gouché. I had a listen to her record Pillow Talk before going. Her sensual jazzy vibes definitely peaked my interest on that and watching her perform firmly cemented that interest. As it was one of the earlier performances, at first she came on stage to a noisy crowd, chatting amongst themselves but once she started singing, she quickly captured the room's attention. Despite minor technical difficulties, Tiffany managed to play a set that I'm sure stayed fresh in people's minds long after the evening was over.

Next up, Sipprell. Probably the newcomer that I was most excited to see. After checking out her EP Letter D and her single "Journey" I was 100% sold. If you don't know her yet, please don't hesitate to check out her stuff. Lovely, lovely voice. The only shame about this performance was that because of where the stage was placed, it was hard to get a good view if you weren't right at the front and it was also hard to hear everything as the surrounding sounds interfered. A real shame, but the parts of the set I did catch were impressive and I'm very sure I'll be seeing her around in the future.

Afterwards, up on the same stage, were Space Age. Anyone who knows about Little Simz and her crew, knows that their talents are most certainly not restricted to music. The collective also showcased own-brand clothing for sale on the night, and although the space in the Roundhouse wasn't the biggest to work with for a multi-stage mini-fest, they used the space well. Despite the issues I had with the staging, they really showed that the phrase "iron sharpens iron" is true. You can tell that as a collective (Simz included) they all came up together and although each creatively different, each shone the same light.

Back to the main stage to post up for Mick Jenkins. What a guy! By the time his set finished up I was really thinking "Man, if I didn't know any better I could've thought this was his headline show" - if only I realised what was to come. As expected he played jams from his latest record The Healing Component. I shouldn't have been surprised at how many people knew his songs and the lyrics but seeing him take over the room like that, made me have a much higher appreciation for not just his music but also for him as a performer. If you're not already familiar with his work I would definitely recommend checking him out. He's over on UK/EU shores quite a few times this summer so if you're heading to a summer festival, be sure to look out for his name.

Now - Little Simz. I was not ready!!! After watching her at Reading Fest last year performing with just a DJ, in front of about 50/60 people the juxtaposition of seeing her kitted out with a full band playing to thousands of people hanging onto her every word, every movement. It was a complete 180. Playing songs mostly from her latest release Stillness In Wonderland, Simbi was enjoying each song just as much as we were. Of course it wouldn't be a Simz show without an appearance from some friends - Space Age popped up on stage to drop some more bars, and during her hit "King Of Hearts" leading onto "Dead Body" we welcomed to the stage Chip, Ghetts, Stormzy and then Kano. The crowd was absolutely beside themselves! The word "reload" was being thrown around all over the place! This evening lit a fire under everybody in attendance. Particularly creatives - after speaking to a few people afterwards, many said that this show gave them an extra spurt of energy, inspiration and hope. Little Simz, smashed it and the maddest thing is, I don't even think that's half of what she has to bring to the table. All I can say is watch this space very, very closely.

Overall rating - 9/10


Here are some pictures from the night... 




Saturday, 8 April 2017

Gig Review: Princess Nokia

I'd been excited for this show from the minute I booked the ticket. As soon as we got into the venue the vibes were heavy - so many beautiful people, so many great auras. It just felt like we were a huge collective... maybe it's because it was only my second show of the year, or maybe because it had been so long since I went to a show to watch a female lead, but something about the vibe at this show was different.

First up DJ-ing the night was LSDXOXO. I've never been the biggest fan of having DJs as support acts where the main act isn't also a DJ if I'm honest, but like I said, this night was different. The tracks he played slowly started grabbing my attention as people milled about finding their spots, then  I found myself bopping my head, and before long my friends and I were shacking out as he played banger after banger. It wasn't even the kind of set where you could guess the next few tracks just by listening to the bpm - every few songs he was hitting us with the unexpected. One minute we're getting down to Migos then the next we were throwing up arms and belting out Evanescence. Doors opened at 7; Princess Nokia didn't come on until around 9:30 and to be honest the crowd was entertained pretty much the entire time. 100% would love to catch a set again.

When Princess Nokia stepped on stage it seemed like everything just sped up. Before I knew it surprisingly she'd already charged through her biggest hits "Tomboy"and "Kitana" and my friends and I were left trying to recollect and to catch our breath. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't completely caught up but also a little sceptical about what she would now finish with. Silly me I guess - by the time the show was coming to an end she'd already won hearts and minds. Don't be fooled by her small silhouette; Ms Destiny boasts an overwhelming presence, on stage and off. This could've been a living room or an arena and her presence would have filled it all the same. As she made her way through tracks from her most recent release 1992, she managed to bring the crowd further into her world, speaking on her upbringing, heritage and even hair woes, and after talking to some people after the show it was obvious that energies were high all round. Everyone saw something that they could relate to at that show, whether it came from Nokia herself, or just from seeing themselves represented in the crowd at a rap show, everybody felt like they belonged to something even if only for those few hours. A true testament to the way Destiny prides herself on creating safe spaces for her audiences (women and women of colour in particular). I will most definitely be seeing her again in the future I'm sure and needless to say, I'm buzzing for whatever she drops next. It was a real celebration. 

Overall Rating - 8.5/10


Here are some pictures from the night...