Category Archives: Interviews

Jon and Roy Interview – Brighton UK Hope And Ruin 11th August 2017

Just before they take to the stage for the final UK date of their European Tour, I spoke to Canadian folk band Jon and Roy about their latest record The Road Ahead Is Golden, life on the road and new music coming out of Canada.

Hi Jon and Roy (and Lou). First off, can you tell us what are the main differences between your audiences in Canada, mainland Europe and UK?
We love playing in new places and seeing how people react. Mainland Europe tends to be a singing crowd and we get more dancing in the U.K./ North America. We get people of all ages from the 50th wedding anniversary celebrated at our show in Hamburg to the dancing 2-year-olds in the beach in the Netherlands.
Are you going to anywhere on this tour that you’ve never been before?
We are very excited for our first trip to Hungary playing Sziget Festival and Budapest!
Your latest album is called The Road Ahead Is Golden. Who is the most optimistic in the band?
Our drummer Roy is always keeping us laughing on the road. Also our European tour manager JP brings the love wherever we are.
What is the new record about? Is it concept-driven or more of a collection of songs?
More of a collection of songs that fit together for an album.
What food do you miss the most from back home when you’re on tour?
Home cooked meals are rare on the road. We miss cooking up our own feasts.
You’ve just come from Boardmasters Festival in Cornwall. How was it? Did you get to see any other acts performing there?
We had the most inspiring couple of days of music in Cornwall warming up the stage for 2 amazing concerts. Toots and the Maytals are such an influential part of our musical upbringings and Slightly Stoopid put on an unbelievable show.
Your latest single is called ‘Runner’. Do any of you like running and if so what music do you listen to whilst you run?
Jon likes to listen to Fela Kuti while running, Roy likes more electronic beats like LCD Soundsystem and Lou listens to audiobooks while running. We all try to stay active on the road but can be tough.
What is the strangest thing that you’ve ever had to do for a music video?
For a video a long time ago we had to pretend to be playing the song but twice as fast. Felt weird but looked cool when slowed down. For the runner video we had to stand still while playing on the back of a moving truck and try not fall off.

Who are your favourite bands in Canada that might not be known in the UK?
Our Victoria pals Current Swell and our trombone player’s band Dope Soda!
Where do you hope your music will take you in the next 5 years?
We just want to keep traveling and spreading our music to new people. Hoping to get to Italy, South Africa and Brazil in the next couple of years!
Finally, if you wanted to show somebody your music but could only play them one song, which one would it be and why?
‘The Road Ahead Is Golden’ is one of our favorites to play right now and it showcases our style well. We’ve incorporated some trombone into it when we play live too.
You can find out more about Jon and Roy on
Related Read
 Find out more about the music scene in Canada with my interview with Madison Violet

What’s On Brighton February 2017

Check out my monthly roundup of some of the best gigs happening in and around Brighton and Hove in February 2017, including gig previews, features and interviews.

There Will Be Blood: Live

Mon 6th February – Brighton Dome

there will be blood live brighton

Following on from their performance at London’s Royal Festival Hall on 30th January, this week sees the London Contemporary Orchestra (LCO) performing three dates of their fantastic ‘There Will Be Blood: Live’ show, with performances at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall (Sun 5th Feb), Brighton Dome (Mon 6th Feb) and Bristol’s Colston Hall (Tue 7th Feb).

Read Full Preview

Barry Hyde (Futureheads) Acoustic Show

Thursday 9th February – Brighton Komedia

Barry Hyde (Futureheads) solo acoustic show brighton komedia feb 2017

Fans of indie post-punk rockers The Futureheads will be delighted to hear that guitarist and vocalist Barry Hyde will be coming to Brighton to perform an intimate solo show at Brighton Komedia (Studio) to showcase his debut album, Malody, which was released in June 2016 on Sirenspire Records. The show is hosted by local promoter Melting Vinyl, and as with most of their shows, features a great support from a local artist – in this case the gentle folksters Lutine, a Brighton 3-piece known for their delicate arrangements and vocal harmonies.

Read Full Preview

Little Comets + Eliza and The Bear

Sunday 11th February – Concorde II


7 Little Comets Quick Facts

1. The band is from the North-east of the UK, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne and their names are Robert, Michael, Matt, Nathan and Matt II.

2. They were signed to Columbia Records in 2009, following a series of gigs in unusual locations, such as lecture halls and on public transport.

3. The Little Comets are the only act inside the top 200 to self-produce, record, release, market, distribute and publish an album.

Read the rest on

Gabrielle Aplin

Tuesday 14th February – The Haunt, Brighton

gabrielle aplin february 2017 tour brighton interview

This week, UK singer-songwriter and YouTube favourite Gabrielle Aplin will be embarking on a short 3-date tour in the south of England. Unsurprisingly, the shows have all sold out, but we are using this as an opportunity to trace her history so far, to give you a brief history of Gabrielle Aplin, told in just 6 videos. Enjoy!


More gigs to be added soon!



MOVES Festival 2017 banner


Esben and the Witch February 2017 UK Tour Interview Brighton



Signals Band Interview – June 2016

Before their gig tonight at Brighton’s Komedia, read more about the gig here, I spoke to lead singer Ellie to ask her 13 questions about herself and her bandmates. Of all of the interviews I’ve done, this has to be one of my favourite because of its great straight-shooting honest replies. I look forward to seeing the band live tonight! You can check out their social networks below the interview. Enjoy!

13/4 – Signals Band Interview

1. For those not familiar with the genre, what is math-rock and is it cooler than it sounds? 
DEFINITELY! Well probably not. It’s a bit nerdy to be honest. It basically takes elements from jazz and rock and metal and pop and mashes them up. It allows you to do so much more musically as a band, and you can push the boundaries and create something challenging. There is no direct formula to stick to and that’s quite exciting. I think math-rock specifically is defined as music that plays with time signatures, has certain playing techniques that crop up like ‘tapping’ guitar, post-rock qualities with builds and loops and textures, and tends to have really rad rhythmical qualities. It doesn’t really lend itself towards vocals though normally, which is why we have changed it up a little and involved a sprinkle more RnB and electronic elements too. We were trying to describe our genre more accurately the other day, and came up with ‘algebrock’. Algebra is math, right?!
2. Who takes the longest to get ready before a gig?
I’m pretty sure it is me haha. There’s no getting around it, I have more makeup to do than the others. Only slightly though.
3. Do you have any pre-gig rituals?
We like our food. Our bassist, Alex, tends to pass out when he hasn’t eaten for about 23 minutes, so snacking is imperative. We like getting the stage sound as top notch as possible in the time, and we love chatting to the other bands and learning new shit. No harm too in a little warm up with deep lunges, star jumps etc either, where appropriate of course. Like the mating dance of a bird of paradise.

4. What do you think your album artwork and band photos tell potential fans about you? 
That we are hip, trendy, very important people, with great hair. But no, that we are probably quite anal. Mikey spends years on the artwork and finding really decent people to work with. Our promos are always quite serious and stern, but in person, we are pretty giggly. We take our music quite seriously, but not ourselves. Hopefully though, it generally makes the point that we work pretty hard and put the effort in to all sides of creating something. We are not ones to half-ass stuff. I think it’s quite easy to see a CD and think ‘oh that’s cool you have a CD’, when actually it’s taken years of crafting all the songs and working together and the production and the manufacturing and packaging and the visual representation we wish to portray and all of the official jargon that goes with a professional music release. We like to keep the quality as high as we can without just being ridiculous haha.
5. What do you when you’re not making music? (jobs-wise)
We lead a pretty successful interpretative dance group. Unfortunately though we still have to earn money somehow (damn, right), so we all have little jobs that, to be honest, all just get in the way with each other and we then realise that we only have like 2 hours a week all together where we can make shit happen haha. Ryan is a TA at a primary school and also teaches drums, but don’t be fooled in to thinking he’s a softie, because he hates kids. Alex is a music teacher on the Isle Of Wight, which adds the inclusion of ferry timetables in to our scheduling (most expensive stretch of water by the mile to cross IN THE WORLD (sort of) BY THE WAY – fact of the day). Ellie works front of house at an independent restaurant and teaches piano to littluns, so illness aplenty. Mikey also works at the restaurant with Ellie (can’t get rid of him), and runs a tea shop every so often, but can’t read our future in leaves yet, so he’s useless. We are also all in a function band together doing weddings so get to see a lot of punch ups, which is alright. Yeah, basically we are very busy, so now I’m writing this, i don’t know how we fit the band stuff in to be honest.
6. Favourite subject at school and why?
RE, because of watching all the movies, obviously.
7. If you had to split into teams on Countdown, who would take the numbers rounds and who would take the letters rounds and why? 
I would probably take the letters round because, despite being in a math-rock band, i’m ashamedly poor at maths, and also Alex and Mikey can’t spell. So I guess that leaves Ryan with letters too, although they’d probably all end up being naughty words, and Alex and Mikey with numbers, but only if they could count with various mini snacks. God help us all. When is the general knowledge round?!!? Alex is a ceaseless fountain of irrelevant wisdom. Ceaseless.
8. Favourite unusual time signature and why?
We made something in 21/8 by accident the other day and that sounded quite snazzy.
9. Which songs mean more to you: the most recent, the first or the most popular ones?
Good question! We kinda hate the really old stuff to be honest haha because we’ve grown out of it, but Alex still loves it, because he joined a bit later, and was a bit of an embarrassing super fan first hahaha. We like ‘Paraesthesia’ because it was silly to write. Luckily, it seems to be popular so far too, so that’s always handy. ‘Trojan’ goes down well live too, so that’s satisfying to play. I think you always favour your newest one because it’s all sparkly and exciting to perform, so we actually have a new favourite one, currently called ‘Bird Bath’, that we are enjoying at the mo. It’s a bit heavier than some of our more twinkly orientated ones. If we created music based upon how popular it was, we would have died about 5 years ago haha. It’s equally for us as it is for fans.

10. If you could tour with any band or artist who would it be?
Everything Everything. They are rad and we are more in their vein of commercial music than most others (they call themselves ‘bizarRe&B’ so that’s close enough). There’s also an American band called ‘From Indian Lakes’ that we would cherish the opportunity to tour with. More locally, ‘Little Comets’, or ‘TTNG’ who we have played with before, and there will always be a little piece of our hearts attached to them. We’d have to contain our fangirling though. Wear our fangirl control pants.
11. Festival that you’d like to play in the next 5 years?
Reading & Leeds, ArcTanGent, Glastonbury. Please. Yep.
12. Who came up with the title ‘paraesthesia’ and where did you first hear the word?
We actually put a little competition up to name the song on the line and some amazing chap called Paul Armfield offered the term. It’s kinda the scientific word for pins and needles, or when a limb goes numb, and that made sense with the lyrics, because they relate to when you’re feeling numb in a relationship. And then you chop off your arm. You know, the standard. Plus it just sounds cool.
13. Finally, what’s next for the band? More gigs/tours/an album?
Gigs everywhere, festivals, recording in July. More EPs and videos hopefully. Would be beyond amazing to do a support tour maybe in winter, but we will keep you posted.
SIGNALS logo 2016

Interview with G4 – December 2015

Before the last date of their Carols By Candlelight Tour, I caught up with the recently reformed operatic quartet G4 to talk about pigs in blankets, Christmas Medleys and terrible Christmas presents.

G4 Interview – St. Georges’ Church, Brighton

How has the tour been so far? Have the audience been in the festive spirit, as some of the tour dates were in November?

It’s been interesting. Ben was reticent to begin with. For a lot of people 1st December is seen to be the start of the preparations for Christmas, but it’s been nice because for a lot of people we have literally been the first Christmas event in their calendar. I think that it’s great to have that live experience early on to get in the spirit.

Does it bring back memories from your early days singing in local choirs performing in Churches and Cathedrals?

(unison) Definitely! That is the exact background that we all come from. For us Christmas was the most memorable time of singing in the church. It’s nice to be able to choose the tracks that we sing now though. On the album there is a version of Away in a Manger with Jon singing the first verse and an old version of Jon singing when he was about 8 recorded on a cassette that we’ve used for the second verse.

These concerts have been particularly interesting for us as we have come around full circle bringing a chorister to each on to start off each performance of Once in Royal David’s City. We ran a competition called ‘G4 Search for a Christmas Star’ where we invited young singers to audition for the opportunity to lead the carol a cappella. The winner tonight is a great young singer called Toby Peters, who also opened up the first date of the tour in Norwich. He was so good that we invited him back to finish the tour with us!

G4 Interview - Christmas Star
G4 Interview – Christmas Star Competition

What has been your favourite venue on the tour and why?

Brighton of course! (I think they may have been joking) All of the venues were completely different. Lincoln had a very powerful sound, whereas Derby had  real family feel. It was great to be able to travel across the country to play in such beautiful and unique venues.

How did you first become involved with Rock Choir?

We’ve been working with Rock Choir since our reunion gig and they’ve played every gig with us in 2015. We first became involved with them when we enquired after hearing about them as a franchise. We thought that it was great what they were doing, as an amateur choir with a really professional attitude. Because there are so many of the choirs around the country, it’s great to be able to perform alongside different people each night on the tour. It adds a real energy to things where otherwise you might be lagging. From a practical point of view it makes a tour more logistically possible too. It feels like a natural marriage for us with the music and hope that they will continue to perform alongside us in the 2016.

How did you decide on the track listing for the album?

With difficulty. We started out by making a big list of all of the songs that we’d like to sing. Then we worked through some of them to see what would work best. We wanted the album to be different from the traditional Christmas album, pushing the boundaries with some obvious choices, some historic choices – like O Holy Night which was a song that we originally sung back on X Factor but never recorded – and some new moments such as the Christmas Medley and Bring Him Home, which is very fitting with the associated charity for the album, Missing People, and their #HomeforChristmas campaign.

Do you have a favourite track from the album?

The Christmas Medley. It was really fun to record. We enjoyed the anonymity of the whistling of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer…until the live performance when everybody was looking to see who it was!

Where did you get the idea for the PledgeMusic campaign and how did you feel when you reached your target?

(Jon) I had previously used PledgeMusic for a solo project and when I put it forward to the guys they were keen to give it a go. It’s a really exciting project to be a part of, coming up with interesting incentives to give the fans more than just an album. It’s about letting them be a part of the experience from the first stages of recording the album through to its completion. Some of incentives included inviting people to the recording sessions of the album, going up The Shard for afternoon tea and going on a limo ride with one lady. It’s a great way to engage with your fans and we even managed to sell some albums too!

What are your plans before the Back For Good tour in April?

We’re on The Saturday Show tomorrow morning (Saturday 19th Dec) at 7am so we are travelling up to London after the signing after the show tonight. After that we have some solo work lined up over the holidays. (Jon) I’m in a pantomime and the rest of the guys have solo work going into the new year. Then we have some promo work to do for the new tour, rehearsals and perhaps some more recording before we start the tour. We’ll also be working on our new arrangements for the tour. We want to try some new ideas for this tour.

G4 interview - Back for Good Tour
G4 interview – Back for Good Tour

What is the most unexpected place that your music has taken you?

About 7 years ago we visited Ghana with the charity SOS Children. We went to an orphanage and saw the difficulty that people had living there, without any running water, scavenging for scraps of anything that they could eat. The people lived in shanty towns, in tiny huts that didn’t seem big enough for one person, let alone a whole family. There was one village that we went to where they had 1 TV, and people came from miles around to gather and watch it. It was a real social experience. Some of the people knew who we were through X Factor and we performed for the orphanage, helping to make some instruments for them to play along with.

Do you feel that by taking a break from G4 to pursue other solo projects, you feel more re-invigorated now you are back performing as a quartet?

There is definitely a much more healthy balance this time around. When we were first coming out of X Factor it was relentless. 24/7 for about 5 years. We only had about 3 weeks off in that time and even then we were on reserve, in case we got a call from Elton John to ask us to play a gig with him as we’d have to say yes. He never did call though… Now we are all a little older and it’s great to have the time to pursue our solo work and have more fun with what we’re doing. I think a lot of classical music and operatic singing is made too formal and we are definitely breaking pre-conceptions about classical music, reaching a mixed audience to make the music accessible to all, regardless of social background or age.

What is your favourite part of the Christmas Dinner?

Ben – Pigs in blankets.
Mike – I was going to say pigs in blankets too but actually I think it’s the bread sauce. We have a special family recipe. I would gladly have bread sauce sandwiches for days on end.
Jon – I like the meats. I like to cook a nice multi-bird roast. I buy all of the birds and then stuff them myself.

Finally, what is the worst Christmas Present that you have ever received or given?

Ben – Dettol. I was given it when I was about 9 years old. I think I still have the bottle somewhere. I was also given a leopard-print mankini.

Nick – I once got the same boring collection of poetry two years in a row from the same relative.

Jon – I like to make my friends fake scratchcards, so that they think that they’ve won like £50,000. It’ quite mean but it is very funny.

You can buy the G4 Christmas album on

Read a review of G4 at Norwich Cathedral

This Is The Kit Interview – Brighton

Before her packed out show at Brighton’s The Haunt, I caught up with Kate Stables, front-woman of This Is The Kit, to talk about philosophy, influences and wooden spoons.

Hi Kate! I can see that you’ve got a busy schedule lined up, playing shows across the UK and Europe before Christmas. How do you think that gigs in the UK and Europe differ?

I think that it’s more that countries than the views that changes. European shows sometimes have more of a theatre vibe, compared to the club vibe that UK shows often have. Wherever we play we try to be warm and welcoming. When you’re opening for other bands you’re never sure if people are thinking “this isn’t what we came to see!” or that it’s a nice surprise.

This is the third time that I’ve seen you perform in 2015, the first time at Brighton’s Green Door Store in March and the second at the End Of The Road Festival in September. How do you prepare for different shows of such different sizes.

Part of it comes down to a show being a show and making sure that the audience have the best time possible. Festivals are a bit mad. You have more control over the sound of your music at a smaller gig, so at a festival you just have to go with it, and that can be more fun some times. We just try to have a nice time wherever we play.

Do you have a live performance highlight of 2015?

EOTR Festival! The show was just unexpectedly rammed and everybody seemed to be having a great time. (Editors note: I arrived about 5 minutes into the set at EOTR and couldn’t even get into the tent, it was that packed!)

If you could go back to when you were first playing and tell yourself something, what would it be?

(after some thought) Take your time. Don’t apologise to the audience so much. Maybe I still do that a bit now but not as much. I used to be quite apologetic and twitchy. I’d say just to have a nice time and that you’ve got nothing to prove to yourself.

It must be a big boost to have high profile fans of your music such as Guy Garvey (Elbow) advocating for your music. If you had a Radio 6 show, who would you be championing?

Ooh, so many people. Apart from the music of my bandmates, Richard Dawson – I have his music on repeat almost every day. There’s lots of great French bands – Moodoid, Kids Are Dead, Hyperclean – and some Belgian ones – Castus and VO.

Read my track by track review of Bashed Out, the most recent album by This Is The Kit

Having supported the likes of Lisa Hannigan and with an upcoming show with Jose Gonzalez, is there anybody in particular that you’d like to play a gig with?

All of the above! But aside from that somebody that I’d love to play a gig with is a Belgian electronic/dance artist called Stromae. Our music is so different that I don’t think his audience would get it, but I’d just love to collaborate with him on a track.

I’m currently reading a book by Japanese Author Murakami, who once ran the original marathon course to accompany an interview feature for a magazine. If you could do something to show off another talent as part of an interview what would it be?

I know it’s not very cool but I quite like knitting! Aside from that thought I think that doing a swimming interview would be fun!

Speaking of running, when is the last time than you ran and was it for pleasure or necessity?

The last time I can remember running is sadly to avoid missing an aeroplane. We had a mad dash to the airport on Amsterdam with all of our equipment and somehow made it for our flight to Cork. I should really look to do some fun runs…

Can you put the following in order of least to most influence to your music?

8. Social Media
7. Film
6. Art
5. Other popular music
4. Love interests
3. Real-life events
2. Nature
1. Personal Stories

Do you have any songwriting rituals?

I like to be on my own for as long as possible. A nice little shack away from people. I usually need solitude and time to write songs. I also like to write when I’m travelling – sat on a train or in the back of a car, but that’s just for lyrics.

Do you believe in anything after life and how does this affect your daily life?

Compost. I spend a lot of time thinking about where everything goes – all in the ground. I don’t buy many new things from shops as I just think about all of the waste. I much prefer to shop in 2nd-hand shops.

Finally, when you performed in Brighton last, a fan had kindly created some wooden spoons for you to sell at your gigs. Did you manage to sell them all?

The fan had spent a lot of time on the spoons, and so they were priced quite highly. We sold some of them, 1 was stolen and I gave 2 away as a wedding present.

This Is The Kit have a new EP coming out mid January so keep your eyes peeled. In the meanwhile, here is a video directed by Sam Wisternoff for their song Magic Spell. Enjoy!

Folklore Sessions Birthday – Jacko Hooper Interview

This month marks the first birthday of the Folklore Sessions, a monthly acoustic night hosted by Jacko Hooper at the White Rabbit, designed to give some of the finest acoustic musicians a great platform to showcase their music to a respectful audience. In this Jacko Hooper Interview, we reflect on the first year of Folklore Sessions, his highlights and the future of Folklore Sessions.

So one whole year of Folklore Sessions! Did you think that it would last this long?

Well I sort of fell into it… I didn’t really go into it with a game plan as such. Some friends asked if i wanted to play at the pub they work at and I said that it sounded fun.
It has grown a lot since then and i realised soon after starting it that it could really grow into something.
So to answer your question no! I didn’t think it would but it’s become an incredibly enjoyable journey so far and now have some really exciting plans for it all.
Folklore Sessions Jam
Gabrielle Aplin, Hudson Taylor, Joe (Amber Run) and Jack Morris join in for a jam

How do you go about choosing the artists to play at Folklore Sessions?

Well luckily there are a lot of very talented artists in Brighton and the surrounding areas. Initially it was a case of getting friends to play and other musical friends that I have played shows with myself over the years. Nowadays it is done more on submissions, I can get anything between 10-30 submissions a week.

What makes Folklore Sessions stand out from other acoustic nights?

Well I hope that the quality is the first thing. Folklore only has the very best artists play and the calibre of music is always exceptionally high. People can come to Folklore and be guaranteed that everyone on the line up is excellent.
The fact that it is also organised by a musician who is actively gigging might help it too as too often shows aren’t organised very well. I try and put as much time and effort into the lead up to the shows as I can.
Folklore Sessions Newspaper Cutting
Fresh Off The Presses – Folklore Sessions

Do you have a favourite moment from the first year of Folklore Sessions?

Very tricky. I think running the Folklore stage at Together The People festival was a real exciting moment. When Mara Simpson first went on stage as the first artist on the first Folklore stage it was quite a satisfying and exciting moment. As it was when Aniseed Treats played to a packed out tent on the last night surrounded by fairy lights. The event for The Great Escape was a lot of fun too though…

How do you think the local scene for acoustic music has changed much in the last 12 months and if so do you think that Folklore Sessions have played a part in that?

I hope so? I mean, there has always been such a wealth of good acoustic music in Brighton. I just wanted to try and deliver a night that could represent that as well as possible. Brighton has in the last few years had such a surge in electronic based music and left field stuff and the acoustic side of things has always been there too… but perhaps without the proper ‘home’.
There are so many awesome open mics in the city and venues like The Brunswick that really support the scene but hopefully Folklore has given it another place to flourish.

What was it like to host a stage the Together The People Festival earlier this month?

Very exciting! I was really happy when the guys asked me to be involved. It was quite stressful mind you! 20 artists in two days was a lot to try and juggle, not to mention I was playing on the 2nd stage myself on the Sunday! But I loved every minute of it.
The festival seemed to be a total success and it was a real privilege to have been involved with it, especially for its first year.
Jacko Hooper TTP Festival
Jacko Hooper at Together The People Festival after hosting the Folklore Sessions Stage

Where would you like to take Folklore Sessions in the future?

There are a lot of things I have planned. Inner city festivals, an album, all kinds of exciting things. They will be kept firmly under my hat for now however regarding details or other ventures.

Have you thought about releasing a Folklore Sessions Mix Tape to celebrate it’s first birthday? I think that would be well received!

Oh Tom, you read my mind.

Folklore Sessions - Photo by Josh Harrison
A Captive Audience at Folklore Sessions – Photo by Josh Harrison

Finally, do you think social media or word of mouth have played a bigger part in the night’s success so far?

I think that social media will always play a big part in any sort of venture like this. I think for Folklore word of mouth has probably been more key. We also have a mailing list that goes around every month at the showcases. This has helped too I think.
Here is a playlist of what you can expect at the Folklore Sessions Birthday Party on Tuesday 20th October. See the Facebook event for more information.

Sol3 Mio Interview 2015

Last month when Sol3 Mio were over in the UK to support the release of ‘I See Fire’, the soundtrack to the New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup team. In amongst a busy schedule, they took the time to answer some more of my questions (see my first interview with Sol3 Mio from 2014). Unfortunately the video had some technical issues, but here is the interview for you all to enjoy and to find out some more about the powerful voices supporting the All Blacks in their Rugby World Cup campaign.

Nice to have you guys back in the UK. I know that myself and many others will have been disappointed not to have seen you live last year when Alfie Boe had to cancel the Brighton tour date due to illness. When is your next UK tour planned?

Pene: We’re definitely going to do one again but at the moment there’s nothing planned as we’re incredibly busy for about the next two years but I’m sure we’ll come back again.

Shooting the video, I get the feeling it will be used for years to come by the New Zealand tourist board. Did it feel more like you were shooting a film rather than a music video?

Moses: Yeah when we were recording the vocals we did envision the video while we singing because of the orchestra stuff and the Haka elements – it was like a film. And so when we actually put everything together it was almost like creating a short film. It was an epic little piece what with Amitai opening it and then leading into these different chants. It didn’t have a particular genre it was just cinematic.

What made you choose this song to cover as your first single from the new record? Do you think that this track will make your music accessible to a new audience who are not familiar with your operatic style?

Amitai: We definitely hope it opens the music up to a new audience as that’s one of our main goals. Not many people listen to opera so If we can open an audience to this song in particular and then they can look us up online and hopefully they will see all our other music as well. We hope we can help them to get over that barrier that they might have with opera and seeing it as an elitist genre of music. They can see that we can also do contemporary stuff and hopefully they’ll like the rest.

Did you feel the brotherly connection between the Dwarves in the Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was something that you could connect with and use to connect with your audience to rally them in support of the NZ rugby team?

Pene: That’s a good one! I didn’t think of it that way but the brotherhood that goes over to defeat the dragon and take back the homeland…this is what New Zealand’s doing right!

Sol3 Mio Interview 2015 Serious

The title of the new album ‘On Another Note’ seems to suggest that this is a move away from your debut record. How do you think the albums mainly differ?

Amitai: I guess you could look at it that way – it’s definitely a step-up. We’re staying true to our classic side but we’re taking it up to another level. People enjoyed what we did on the first album so we wanted to bring something different but also to do something portrayed us as both the group and individuals. Hopefully people will enjoy the diversity in it.

Pene: Yeah it’s not too different. People will instantly assume after listening to ‘I See Fire’ that we’ve swung that way but that’s not completely where we’re at. That song was put out first to coincide with the world cup but if they listen to the rest of the album there’s a lot of different stuff.

With such a wide range of styles, who do you imagine is your ideal listener and how do you think the album is best listened to?

Pene: We see our ideal listener as everyone which is a good and a bad thing. It’s that common saying of not focusing on just one audience but rather taking a risk and taking everyone on. But if you do pull it off you’ll have reached everyone!

Sol3 Mio Interview 2015 Laughing

When we last spoke, you said that your aim was to promote core opera as much as possible to new audience. To what level do you think you have done that with the new record?

Moses: We’ve absolutely seen the results! It has shown in everywhere that we’ve performed. When we first started our audience was little older which is normal for the kind of music that we do. But the proof is in the pudding and wherever we perform now we can have people as young as two years old coming to our concerts and absolutely loving it. And families loving it! A family will come and really enjoy what we do and they can all take something different away from whatever song and be inspired to do something.

Finally, having covered Ed Sheeran and Coldplay, is there anybody who has caught your eye/ear in the pop charts at the moment that you would like to cover?

Amitai: I’ve done a few pop covers but you probably wont hear them on this album. They’re shower songs! We’ve had a few ideas that have sprung to mind.

Pene: Yeah its not always ‘right-now’ pop; we really like those nostalgia pop songs that everybody knows but once you sing it people are like ‘oh I haven’t heard that in a long long time’. Stuff like ‘Something Stupid’ – it’s a popular song but it hasn’t been sung in a long long time.



Luke Concannon Interview – 11/09/2015

Before opening the doors at The Brunswick in Hove, I caught up with Nizlopi frontman and travelling troubadour Luke Concannon to see what his future plans are, the recent changes in the musical climate and whether or not the JCB song was based on playing truant at school.

TOM: Hi Luke. Thanks for taking the time to have a chat with me before the show. Do you have any hidden musical talents?

LUKE: I can play the bones. You play them kind of like the spoons, but they’re just cow bones. It’s a very Irish instrument.

T: Why did you decide to do these songwriting classes as a part of the tour?

L:  With my music, I’ve got to love and believe in what I’m doing, but it can be hard to draw people in to gigs sometimes, particularly mid-week. My idea of doing the songwriting workshops came from Fiona Bevan and Kal Lavelle when they did workshops on their ‘Song Sisters’ tour. I wanted to encourage songwriting, to engage with the audience and from a PR point of view, radio stations really like it.

T: How has the standard been so far?

L: It’s been good. There haven’t been a lot of people turn out so far to be honest, but those that have all had some previous experience. It’s nice to work together with people, so that you don’t feel alone when you’re writing a song. One song that I wrote with a guy was to be performed at an intimate family occasion. It’s really special to be involved in something like that.

T: If you could pick one musical festival to headline, which one would it be and why?

L: Oh that’s a tough one. Glastonbury, for obvious reasons. But actually also maybe the Willie Clancy Festival in Miltown Mabay. It’s a tiny festival. I once saw a travelling bagpiper performing in a church hall there and I think it was probably the best gig I’ve ever been to. I’d love to be a part of that.

Luke Concannon Interview

T: When you’re not hitch-hiking to Palestine, touring and songwriting, what do you like to spend your time doing?

L: I like to go to Quaker meetings, I practice meditation and I spend time with my girlfriend . We hitch-hiked to the mountains recently, sleeping under the stars. It was just the best thing. I also watch an unhealthy amount of boxing and MMA. My dad used to fight so from the age of about 5 up til I was 12 I used to fight with him each day for around an hour. We had boxing gloves and he just let me spar with him. I had some troubles at school with being bullied from a young age. There was one particular bully who was a couple of years older than me and I’m ashamed to say that I did  get into a fight with him. I probably shouldn’t have done that.

T: If you could achieve just one thing with your music, what would it be?

L: I love to see my friends together and engaged, creating a community to work around and a harmony amongst people. I like to sing for justice. It nourishes you. It creates a sense of empathy, a sense of values and makes your work great when it is believed by others. It’s all about making music of the people for the people.

T: How do you feel the musical climate has changed since your success with the JCB song back in 2005?

L: I feel there is a real expectation of artists to use social media these days. I find it hard as I like to focus on what I am doing and social media take the essence away from that. Distribution wise, it is great that a lot of talented newcomers can make it without a big label behind them. It’s good that somebody with a really authentic voice, like Ed Sheeran, has thrived in this new generation of technology.

T: What are you views on music streaming services?

L: I feel kind of pressured into them really. It feels a bit like the days when you would play a gig for no money, even though the promoter was charging on the door, so that you could get ‘exposure’ for your music. Thinking about it, I might take my music off Spotify.

T: Have you ever considered using crowdfunding for a record?

L: I’ve thought about it before and people have asked/offered before but I guess the answer is I don’t know if I would. There’s part of me that likes to be able to go away and make a record on your own, but then again if people want to help then that’s really nice.

T: Going back a while now, I was watching the clip of you playing the JCB song on Top of the Pops and the audience looked pretty unsure what to do when you were playing. How did it feel to play to such a staged audience?

L: We were brought on as this underground act and the producers just decided that we would play in the middle of the audience and it would be very different from what they were used to. It was very strange playing to such a staged crowd and I don’t think anybody really knew what to expect from it.

T: So was the JCB song written about playing truant with your dad when you were just 5?

L: I wasn’t always in school you know! The song was about remembering a time in my life when my dad was working on that machine, that and his vibrant Irish charisma.

T: Finally, what is next after the ‘Love & Revolution’ Tour?

L: This is Jimmy’s last tour for a while, but I’ll be carrying on with more tours soon. My album Give It All is out on iTunes and there will be more new music soon!


Andrew Phillips Interview (GRASSCUT)

Before GRASSCUT’s gig in Basement at the Otherplace, I caught up with founding member Andrew Phillips to talk about his career as a film composer, the new GRASSCUT album and how he let Passenger go…


To what extent do you think that university prepared you for going out into the working world?
Well I didn’t study music at university. I studied English and Spanish and then did an MA in American Poetry. When I was in London I was into the avant-jazz scene and that was a big influence in my work. As a composer, I think that university prepared me for it academically, but as a musician I think that it’s something that I’ve picked up over time.


Was there a pivotal point that made you realise that you wanted to be a composer?
Yes there definitely was. It was in the mid-90s and I’d written this piece which combined spoken word with a Steve Reich style piano part. I played it back and I thought “This is pretty good!” and it seemed that my friends agreed too. In the early stages I was experimenting with melody, spoken word, minimalism and field recording, but I didn’t really have the tools to do it like I can now.


Nowadays, a lot of music graduates turn to teaching for fear of not finding another job. Did you find it hard when you came
out of university to get your first commissions as a composer?
I got my first commission from Thames TV after a friend of mine had heard one of my demos and played it to them. At the start it’s hard to find regular work. I’m sure that anybody in this line of work will tell you that. It’s the ‘freelance disease’. But it’s about building relationships with Directors and Producers and editors, sharing a rhythm and an understanding of how each other works. Then if you keep going things build and you get more and more work.


Is there a particular score which you’ve heard that really influenced you and your work over the years?
Paris Texas – It wasn’t the blues of it. It was the loneliness and how it was textured. It was both melancholic and beautiful at the same time.
North By Northwest – And all of the Bernard Hermann/ Hitchcock scores. They were just so powerful.
The Ipcress File – John Barry. We had the same agent for a couple of years. We didn’t cross paths but I’ve always been proud of that.


With a massive film composition scene in the US, particularly in LA, and in London in the UK, what made you settle in
Brighton & Hove?
Mainly because of my family. My wife works in television and we lived in London for a few years. Now we have two children and it’s nice to be in Brighton. We had a great few years in London and made some good friends there though. Now with broadband internet it doesn’t really matter as much where I work, so it’s nice to be in a good space, particularly for the kind of reflective music that I write.


Do you have a favourite score of your own work and what do you like about it?
Battle for Marjah (for HBO) and Fire In The Night (BBC), based on the Stephen McGinty book. Marjah is mad, electronic and very intense, and got me an Emmy nomination. Fire In The Night is elegiac, string based, and features Emma (violin) from Grasscut.


You were one of the founding members of the Passenger band, which is now just Passenger, as most people will know him. Was the split amicable? Are you still in contact?
Very much so. I think he may be coming down tonight actually. I had great fun playing in Passenger and I produced the first album, and then a couple more, even after I had stopped playing with Mike. He is a lovely guy, and a dear friend, and it though was a completely different kind of music, although I can hear parts of GRASSCUT in the production of the first album. It’s how I met Marcus O’Dair too (the other half of GRASSCUT).



Why did you first start up GRASSCUT? Was it as a musical escape from writing for film/TV?
 It started out as sketches really, trying out different things with the music. It was nice to be able to do something without the restrictions of commissions. There were still restrictions, but they were imposed by us – like writing pieces for a fixed ensemble and of a certain length. But it is nice to have that control over the music and I think it helps with my other compositions too.


How do you divide up your time between GRASSCUT and your other musical work?
It does involve a certain amount of juggling. Sometimes I’ll just focus on one and take time off of the other, but when time doesn’t allow you just have to work twice as hard and manage everything at once. I think it’s very important to play live and not get stuck in the studio with your music. For me, it’s about experiencing the physical force of it, the power of the music and seeing the reactions of people when they’re listening to it.


With the first album receiving such praise from the press, did it make it a hard act to follow?
It was to an extent. We were honestly quite surprised at how well the first album was received. It was made up of pieces some of which I’d had for years, although not in that form, and we were trying to figure out what Grasscut was exactly. The second album is a transitional record, looking back on it now. There are still some tracks on it that we’re really pleased with and we learned some different skills with it. I think the new album is the best we’ve done though, as a whole.


What is your favourite thing about performing live with GRASSCUT?
Singing in harmony. Without a doubt. It’s a great feeling just singing live in harmony.


Is it difficult to replicate the music that you produce live?
Not with this album. I wrote it to be performed. The first album was very difficult to play live, as it was a studio record really. We try not to just replicate the music when we play it live. It’s more like a development or an interpretation of it.
Finally, with the new album out what is next for you both within GRASSCUT and individually?
I’m working on a new film with Channel 4 about the Charlie Hebdo, which I’m sure you can imagine is not an easy thing to work on. For GRASSCUT, we’ve got a bunch of shows lined up and some festivals over the summer and then we’re looking onwards to the next record, which is pretty exciting. But there will definitely be a lot more live performing.

Daudi Matsiko Interview

After Daudi Matsiko‘s fantastic performance in the dimly lit Paganini Lounge as part of The Great Escape Festival, I caught up with him the next day in the baking sun outside of the one-in-one-out Spiegeltent to find out a little more about the man behind the music. After a couple of hours and a few cans on the beach, it was clear to see that there was a lot more to this man than an acoustic guitar, effects board and a raspy voice.

After assessing the Spiegeltent as being too busy and with Patterns’ beer garden not yet open, we headed to a local supermarket to pick up a few cans to sit on the beach with on the sunny Sunday afternoon. The city was buzzing with The Great Escape in its final day and the fountain by the Old Steine was surrounded by people enjoying the sun and the acoustic covers of a busker who was at the time playing Paolo Nutini’s ‘Jenny Don’t Be Hasty’. In the supermarket I picked up some ciders and Daudi was over the moon to have found his favourite beer for sale, Crafty Dan’s 13 Guns IPA. “I’ve been looking everywhere for this since February” he told me. With his spirits already lifted before opening the can I knew that this would be a fruitful chat.

On the way to the beach he told me a little about himself. As a former BIMMer, he was happy to be back in his student town, noticing all of the little changes around the place since he was studying here. He remembered The Bees Mouth as being a great place for live music (it still is!) and talked about how he teaches guitar as well as playing shows and songwriting himself. He told me that he has “Musician” written on his passport and that means a lot to him after working a number of jobs before getting to where he is today.

Daudi Matsiko Interview -
Artwork by Stephen Teeuw.

The road to being a musician is always a tricky one. What is the worst job that you’ve ever had?

My worst job was working in a call centre for a telecoms company. It was clear that I was no good at sales so they put me on auditing, which basically meant that I had to listen back to other people’s sales calls and making sure that they were doing it properly. That was pretty grim. I don’t think I’d ever want to do that again. Some of the people were great though. I became good friends with one of the guys years later and together we pieced together this jokey book of stupid ‘your mum’ jokes. It probably doesn’t even make sense to anyone else but it’s great to work with others on projects like that.

Do you have any all-time favourite songs?

All of the music that I like is music that you can feel. That’s what I try to make. One of my favourite songs is an old Ugandan church hymn that has been passed down through the generations. It’s so ominous and reverent.

Another important track for me is ‘All That You Give‘ by Cinematic Orchestra.” (T.S. I’d not heard it before but after giving it a listen I can see why.)

We moved onto talk about Death Cab For Cutie and started discussing the finer points of Ben Gibbard’s lyrics. I told Daudi about an article that I’d read about them where they said that when they were recording ‘We Looked Like Giants’, one of my favourite of their tracks, it was one of the moments when everything just merged together musically between the band.

“It’s a beautiful song. It’s got that line ‘And we learned how our bodies worked‘ which taken out of context could be nothing special, even quite corny, but within the song it just works and really means something. The track is similar to ‘We Laughed Indoors‘. (He plays me the track on his phone) It’s just got this really flat sound in the drums that I love. ‘Brothers on a hotel bed‘ is my favourite Death Cab song hands down.”

What sort of venues do you like to play?

I like playing shows with friends and other musicians. I recently played a lovely gig at the  Bodega in Nottingham, but I couldn’t really see the crowd. I really like the Jamcafe in Nottingham. I generally like playing in well-lit rooms. It’s nice to be able to see your audience and develop a relationship with them that way.

Daudi Matsiko Interview - Live at Bodega
Image by Daniel Whiston Photography.

What is your usual line-up?

I often play shows on my own because it is easier that way. It’s great to play with a band, but with that comes a stress of getting everything together, the costs and other practicalities. I’m using a new rig at the moment with a lot of effects pedals. It’s a lot of fun to use live. I feel like I’m 16 again. I think that my songs are quite malleable which gives me scope to play around with them when I’m performing live. One of my favourite pedals is the Fuzz Factory, which Matthew Bellamy (Muse) has built into his guitar.

I’m playing at Sunsplash Festival in Turkey in June, which is a week long dance music festival so I’m going to work a bit more weird stuff into my set, like using my pedal board, doing stuff that I’ve wanted to do since I was 15. I don’t think that I’ll fit in if I just sit down with my acoustic and play some songs. It’s good to challenge yourself to change your music too.

What do you listen to when you’re in a bad mood?

I remember my worst week in Brighton. Everyone had left and I was feeling really out of it and depressed. I listened to ‘Manners‘ by Passion Pit over and over and somehow it got me through.

Do you ever go back and change old songs?

I don’t often really change my songs. Rarely I’ll revisit older material from incomplete songs or songs that I didn’t release and if there is something that I really like something then I’ll steal it from myself to make a new track. The only song this that I’ve done that with is the ending of ‘Home’ which was originally in a song about an ex, Dr Who and Back To The Future that I wish I didn’t write (the ex bit), but I loved the chord structure and it fit perfectly with where Home needed to go…and that was that really.

Daudi Matsiko Interview - Artwork EP
Artwork by Stephen Teeuw.

What do you write about in your songs?

I write about life. Everything. I try no to write songs about girls as my friends and I have a loose rule to not do that, which we’ve lived by since we were kids, so it rarely ends up being about just that. I wrote a song about a friend’s mum dying once. That was a hard one, trying to give a bit of comfort to them without ignoring the brutal pain of the situation. I kind of see my songs as a chronological tale of the last 4 years. Sometimes I set myself challenges for songs, like for years I’ve been trying to write a song with a toilet reference in it. Finally I did that with my song “Take Me Old”, which is a pretty serious song. I like to do that. Combine the stupid with the serious.

Any goals by the this time next year?

I’d love to be a full-time musician. Technically I already am, but being able to write and gig full-time would be beyond perfect. I just want to make music – and having the opportunity to do that is just great.

Finally, what music have you got out there for people to hear?

My last EP is called ‘A Brief Introduction To Failure’ which is on Soundcloud and Bandcamp. I’m currently working on my new record which I think is going to be called ‘The Lingering Effects of Disconnection’.

Earlier this year I was a featured vocalist on this dance track called ‘Just Escape‘ by the artist Escape. That’s done pretty well online and a remix of it was premiered on mixcloud’s page as has had over 200k plays.

I’m also working on some collaborations with a London-based producer Adam Scrimpshire.