To Elle And Back- The Kiara Elles Interview.

The Kiara Elles - Interview-Von Pip Musical Express 2010

“Laser Shot” By The Kiara Elles.

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What’s in a name? Does it really make a difference?  Would The Clash’s contribution to music seem somehow less valid if they’d have been christened “The Foppish Dandies?”-Probably not, although T-shirt sales may well have struggled to get into double figures.  It’s difficult to assess whether the Sex Pistols would have had the same incendiary effect, striking fear into establishment hearts if they were called simply “Giles” . . . . “Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s…. Giles,” It just doesn’t put you in the right frame of mind for a night of mayhem and anarchy does it? In fact the statement “here’s Giles” would surely presage the arrival of a bloke in a tank top and jumbo corduroys whose idea of an iconoclast is Jeremy Clarkeson, in short a bit of a twat.

But whatever your opinion on band names and their significance you’re probably aware that there are certain conventions to follow when choosing a collective cognomen.  Many contrive to conjure up a name that’s achingly cool without being ostentatious; one which will look great on a T-shirt and also succinctly manages to capture the Zeitgeist,( well, in Camden at least.)  You could of course be ‘a bit wacky’ in which case you’re probably  in the market for a “crap-but we-know-it-band- name,” a genre which seems  perennially popular with students who love to mainline on irony.  In this case simply opt for the most half-witted name known to man but ensure everything is coated in a veneer of whimsy, performed with a knowing arch of the eyebrow and a conspiratorial wink, because hey, you’re like uber cool, you’re in on the joke and  irony is so like, um , ironic. One rule that must be obeyed above all others is that you ensure people can actually pronounce your chosen name. Calling yourselves The Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Delusion”, may appear to be a bit of rib tickling jape after a hazy night in the student union bar, but it’s unlikely to help you gain a massive fan base outside of Anglesey.

Alas the unwritten imperative of pronunciation was one rule which Leeds based indie hopefuls The Kiara Elles failed to adhere to and it soon became apparent that people were unable to correctly articulate their original name (The Chiara L’s).  A few tweaks and the band re-emerged armed with, not only a phonetically user friendly moniker, but also a clutch of fabulous, spiky post punk, pop songs, and a wonderful debut album entitled – “Slide Over”.  It’s an album in which The Kiara Elles have conjured up a delicious example of Indie punk -pop  at it’s very best, proving that essentially, a decent collective appellative is a nice touch, but ultimately it’s the quality of the music produced that remains the real heartbeat of any band.

Building on the solid foundations of last autumn’s “Odio” EP , The Kiara Elles transform their sound from colourful indie analogue  to glorious high definition, surround sound,  new wave electro punk.  Album opener “Routine” is anything but, and deals with a recurring theme that runs throughout the album, disaffection with the modern world, the desire to break free from the cocoon of mundanity and emerge transformed into something beautiful and extraordinary.  It also sounds a little like The Shangri-Las fronted by Julz Sale.  The slinky, seductive bass on the sexually charged “Savoir Fare” demonstrates a new maturity in terms of sound in which lead singer Chiara switches from a hyperactive Poly Styrene on a sugar rush  (as on “Odio”) to teasing kittenish, temptress as she purrs  “The subtle savoir faire is gonna take you there/ the charming non-chalance, the power of one glance. . .” Previous single “Laser Shot” once again demonstrates the bands ability to write edgy hook laden pop whilst “The Bet” conjures a melodic take on the strident agit pop of bands like the Au-pairs.  “Nine Lives” is another outstanding anthemic swirling musical tornado in which Chiara warns “I will shake you ’round just like you’ve landed on the eye of a storm/”.

“Sunday” is possibly the one song that comes closest to channelling the spirit of fellow Leeds band Delta 5, with Chiara’s strident vocals narrating the ultimate paranoid ‘come down’ song, replete with edgy guitars and ominous keyboards.  It’s a tune that anybody who’s ever woken up on a Sunday morning with a raging hangover, feeling ‘the fear’ will relate to.  At it’s best “Slide Over” dances on the grave of landfill indie with its fusion of beats and  angular guitar work  in which the Elles manage to combine the finer aspects of  new wave, electro, punk and pop. It’s accessible, melodic and possibly cooler than the Fonz’s cryogenically frozen thumb undergoing Bose-Einstein Condensation.  The Kiara Elles have reinvigorated indie and by refusing to follow trends, have produced an album full of energy and verve that ultimately leaves you feeling totally satisfied, yet conversely, hungry for more. You could get fat on this sort of music 😉

9/10 VP.

“Slide Over” is released on May 3rd 2010 and can be purchased here

So what do the band themselves have to say ?. . . .Read on. . .

The Kiara  Elles are CHIARA LUCCHINI (CL) – Vocals,  JONNY LEE HART (JH)- Guitar,  EMMA QUICK – Bass,  DAN STRETTON – Drums,  AMY GREIR (AG) – Synths

VP: Chiara, you’re originally from Italy, why did you come over to dear old Blighty in the first place?

CL: Always been into British and American music. When you wanna make the kind of music I like, Italy is a really terrible, hopeless place to be. When at uni I had the opportunity to do an exchange somewhere in Europe, the choice was obvious.

VP: From The Chiara L’s to The Kiara Elles, how did the current line up come together

CL: We rather think of them as two COMPLETELY separate things even if a portion of the members are the same. The sound has changed and so has our way of working. The Chiara L’s was about a bunch of people finding their feet with what came easier without too much effort, but not necessarily giving our talent and potential any justice or presenting a sound that fully belonged to us. The Kiara Elles is about people working really hard to achieve the kind of songs and sound that they really feel theirs.

VP: I’m mightily impressed with your début album “Slide Over”. Although it’s easier nowadays for bands to get their music out there, was it difficult recording the album around a normal 9-5 lifestyle? When do you actually sleep?

CL: Errrr…YES. And it’s not just writing/practising/recording, it’s all the other work you have to do to make sure people know who you are and to keep the ball rolling once the job is done. The album is ready to come out, but I am still spending endless amounts of hours in front of this computer trying to keep all the rest ticking and all the pieces falling into the right places. To answer the main questions, I do not get an awful lot of sleep at all over this, still…

JH: I don’t really have fixed sleeping patterns nowadays I’ve worked quite a few jobs with different hours and shifts my body clock seems to operate in its own dimension, the only constant it has is that it has to fit around the band.

AG: I don’t have a normal 9-5 lifestyle. I’m a full-time postgrad with a job, so I’ve got things constantly on the go – sleeping takes a back seat I’m afraid.

VP: Your sound and vocal delivery has been compared to another Leeds band Delta Five, (who only managed one album so lets hope you stay around a bit longer than that eh ? ) can you hear a similarity? What sort of music has influenced your style and also your song writing?

CL: I admit being a Delta 5 fan, them and several other new wave female fronted acts from that period and I can see where people are coming from, which I of course don’t mind. On the other hand, I never sat down thinking “Now I am gonna sing that bit just like Julz Sale” or “I am gonna write a song just like this or that other band”, NEVER! None of us do. Our influences are the very varied, literally from indiepop to dub, from 60es garage to 90es rave so you can’t really put your finger on one thing, they all come out in different ways, but it’s never planned ahead. There’s a lot of late 70es and 80es stuff in my collection, but there’s older stuff too and an awful lot of new music, guitar stuff, electronic stuff, all sort really. I can’t understand people who get fixated with one period or genre, they just stupidly miss out if you ask me.

VP: Talking about song writing what sort of themes attracts you, would you say you’re drawn to the darker side of life?

CL: Ay! I sure am, hang on, are there any other sides? Ok ok, I’m sounding like a goth now, but yes, the darker side seem to interest me the most…being happy can be great for yourself, but it can also make you really boring, it’s from the darkest side and the struggle that the good interesting things tend to come out. If you’re happy you’re happy, nobody wants to hear you bragging about it all the time. If you’re sad, finding someone who can understand it kinda makes you feel better, it’s a very special connection. Sadness, subconscious, violence, sexuality, escapism, anything like that you probably wouldn’t talk about in a typical work place: my cup of tea.

AG: Come to our rehearsal room in the depth of winter. Then you’ll understand!

VP:  What are your own personal favourite tracks on the album?

CL: The most dreaded question as I love them all of course. Presume you have a gun pointed at my head then I’ll probably say Savoir Faire. I am especially happy with my vocals (lyrics, melody and delivery) I think it gives it justice more than all the other recordings, but other than that, I like it because I think it’s the sexiest and most unusual track on there. I find it really hypnotic, reminds me a bit of a snake charmer if you can see what I mean.

JH: my favourite track is probably Sunday, i like the urgency it creates. thats strictly from a playing point of view im proud of all the tracks on the album I think they show the full melting pot of sounds and themes we live through.

AG: Switch the Beat. I want to hear it on a CBeebies advert one day.

VP: Do you think women involved in music still have to work harder than their male counterparts to be taken seriously, judged  by many purely on their looks and ‘hotness’

CL: I think things have got a lot better and the roles are reversing…there’s a lot of male “artists” out there who only sell because a lot of idiotic women find them “hot” and they are blinded to the fact their music is actually utter s*it, excuse the language. So not really anymore, the last few years have done us women a lot of favours.

JH: I think it depends on the genre, you can’t take men seriously from boy bands etc like the blue blooder from Busted who is inFfightstar now, people still see that he’s gash! If people are talented and engaging enough whatever their sex they will be taken seriously.

AG: I do think women have to work a lot harder; you’ve got to dress the part and put in more effort cosmetically than men, no one’s interested in a female fronted band who’s singer isn’t hot. In the past I’ve also got a lot of stick from people when they hear I play keyboards in a female fronted band, because it’s not considered a serious instrument. They are all wrong, of course.

VP:  And leading on from that who would you say are the most inspiring women in music (past and present)

CL: Probably the obvious ones but there you go: Patty Smith, Siouxsie Sioux, Kathleen Hannah, Karen O….I did it in chronological order then! I currently have a massive crush on Lo from Heartsrevolution.  I think she’s amazing, she has a wonderful brain and she writes the best lyrics I heard in a long time, check out “Digital Suicide” if you don’t know them already.

JH:  Of the past it all starts for me from Sister Rosetta Tharpe,  she was definitely the first female rock and roll star and taught most of the British beat bands a think or too about guitar,  Siouxie Sioux and Madonna empowered the women of the 80’s generation and nowadays I would say Karen O, Beth Ditto, Gaga and Bjork are doing the same in their own individual ways.

AG: Probably Patti Smith and PJ Harvey.

9 Any thoughts on the Digital Economy Bill ?

CL: Pffffffffffffffff  !!!

JH: All I ‘ll say is its highly flawed and very wishy washy, how can  people who pay for the connection be charged 500 quid if they have been hacked and are not even aware someone using their connection to download? If you really want to stop the file sharing on a massive scale then the providers need to be accountable. It’s a double edged sword though, exposure from sharing from bands can be as good as word of mouth but bands should be paid for their creations too. Maybe service providers should give a flat rate to PRS to cover a segment of artist’s losses. Who knows either way the bill in its current rushed state is flawed.

VP:  Now the “Smash Hits” bit-what makes you laugh and what makes you  cry ?

CL: Laugh: non sexual objects and shapes that resemble genitalia…very childish, I know.

Cry: Being forced Scouting For Girls and other musical obscenities down my ears while at work (like that alone is not bad enough!)

JH: Father Ted always makes me laugh and if someone destroyed my guitar that would make me cry, probably.

AG: Everything.

VP:  Aside from this interview what have been your most exciting and memorable moments as part of a band thus far.

JH: This has to be the tip of the iceberg Andy……. but….Playing to 5000 people in Millennium square in Leeds, recording the album, the last tour, I’m sure there is tons of excitement to come I’m just creaming my pants right now at the thought of it.

CL: Many things. Jonny’s mentioned most of them already so I will not repeat them, but I shall add, having Steve Lamacq coming to watch us play once, literally coming just for us and leaving after our set….and every time someone gets in touch to say they heard or read about us somewhere and “they love our stuff”, gets me every time J…And the day I “met” you of course Andy .

AG: Being played on Topshop TV.

Give me a five word band motto …..;)

CL: “We will switch the beat”

JH: “We will switch the beat.”

AG: “Dread one day at a time”




“Slide Over” is available from 3rd May 2010 HERE



“Laser Shot”– The Kiara Elles

“The Bet“-The Kiara Elles

“Odio”-The Kiara Elles

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Sarah Blasko, Live, Islington Academy Thurs 15 April 2010

Sarah Blasko Live-Photo by Catshoe

Words and photos by Catshoe

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Sarah Blasko is huge in Australia, which made it a bit of a reality check stepping from the street into a packed house at Islington’s 800 standing capacity Academy. In fairness there were clues, what with the obligatory touts outside. Inside, well mannered 20 and 30 somethings, checking their Blackberries and iPhones. Well mannered, but desperately keen to press to the front, I’ve had more personal space at punk gigs.

Original support band The Tiny had to cancel at the last minute. That’s a real pity as I fancied seeing their purported Swedish strange-ness, but Icelandic volcanoes put paid to that. Instead, the audience gave a generous reception to Whitley, consisting of one man and guitar.

I could hear the accent twang all around me, and chatting to people in the crammed space up near the barrier, friendly people, they jokingly surmised that 80% of the crowd tonight was antipodean, likely from Melbourne and Sydney.I’ve never seen Blasko live before. Even on the opening number, tinkly piano’d “Down on Love”, what immediately struck me was just what a forceful presence this woman is on stage. I’ve really enjoyed the new album As Day Follows Night, but unless you play it loud, you miss the full effect of her voice, especially with that lush Björn Yttling production. With the band tonight consisting of two violins, double bass, drums, keyboards and the odd bit of acoustic guitar, there was a marked difference from the slightly popsicle inflections that come through just a teensy bit on parts of the album. Not that it’s a good or bad thing, just different.

Sarah Blasko Live Photo By Catshoe

Tonight in the nicest most pleasant way, she demanded and commanded with that voice. A remarkable thing it is, a huge gift if that’s how you see life. Even if I wanted, I can’t make any easy comparison to another artist. Girl-ish and lilting but pushing it out there powerfully, and with a huskiness you could only get by mixing corn flour and icing sugar.  A couple of numbers in, and leading into anthemic and empowering We Won’t Run, Sarah dedicated the song to ‘anyone who’s not feeling so good, anyone going through any sort of difficulty’. This was a touching moment but was marked by having to lace the dedication with a suggestion that ‘keeping the talking down a bit would be good’.

On Sleeper Awake, possibly my favourite Sarah song, the backing band pushed their own up to 10, with the addition of a second keyboard, but still Sarah’s voice flew up there riding over the mix.In contrast Is My Baby Yours was just her and one of the band’s two Daves on piano. Having listened to this a few times on CD, here it finally made emotional sense with that melancholy rejoinder of “should have known he still loved another”. As it faded, there were ‘Woohoos’ coming from the audience, which delighted Sarah – a particularly Aussie thing and therefore making her feel more at home than mere applause. Here’s a bit of a litmus indicator of the night. You know those nice but tough security chaps given to hanging round stage front in yellow vests and earplugs? It was a glorious moment to see the slightly jaunty intro to I Never Knew get the biggest and toughest of these dancing at the side of the stage. Until his no. 2 reminded him that he wasn’t there to dance, but even so… I was impressed. A couple of songs, All I Want amongst them, demonstrate a particular additional gift that Ms Blasko has, that being to yodel and give us an almost Roy Orbison moment. It was disconcerting for a second I have to admit, but hey, she seems comfortable with it and the crowd loved it.  A couple more songs and the rest of the band trooped off leaving just Sarah and ‘Dave the piano’ for what she said was going to be the cabaret section. “Just imagine you’re in a cabaret club”. By now I was standing a bit further back, not far from the bar, trying to achieve my new year’s resolution not to spend every moment of every gig on the front row. The clientele was just as jam packed and enthusiastic but possibly more lubricated, and this request from Sarah caused some confusion. Melbourne / London accents giving it “..but we are in a club” “A cabaret club” “Oh I see..I think…” Sarah told us she was going to do Seems Like Old Times from the film Annie Hall. “Oh my god, that’s my favourite film EVER” trilled  the girls alongside me. The next song in the cabaret was Xanadu, from the film. ‘Love the song, don’t like the film’ said Sarah, and despite it being a nicely stripped back version, it inevitably produced the sort of dancing usually seen at wedding receptions. Just thank the lord it was a cover and there was no sign of the original ‘artistes’.

Sarah Blasko Live-Photo by Catshoe

We were told that this count instead of an interval, and there would be more songs but not an encore. Hey, I can really respect such honesty of approach. I have to be honest, this was not the strongest part of the set, variety act rather than revelation via re-interpretation, but as an alternative to standing clapping and stamping and waiting, it got my vote.  We then ran into three older songs to finish the set, Sarah feeling the need to apologise that everything up to the cabaret interval had been off the new album. No need to apologise to me, but I can see the need for a few older crowd pleasers.  Finishing with Always Worth It, the band eventually trooped off at 10.30 having been on stage for an hour and half and true to promise, the house lights came straight up. Despite this fairly long set, there wasn’t any sense of flagging, on the contrary it just built all night. My enduring impressions and emotions were of Sarah’s voice, her all encompassing presence on stage, and, I have to say, the sheer quality of the songs.

By the time you read this, Sarah will be off for a few European dates before coming back to the UK to support the Temper Trap. If you’ve got tickets, do yourself a favour and get there early enough to see Ms Blasko. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.


Sarah Blasko SetlistDown on Love

Bird on a Wire

Lost and Defeated

Hold On My Heart

Over and Over

We Won’t Run

Sleeper Awake

Is My Baby Yours

I Never Knew

All I Want

No Turning Back

Night and Day

Seems Like Old Times


All Coming Back

Amazing Things

Always Worth It



Official site


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Something For The Weekend 23/04/2010

This week Win a Pair of tickets to Beach Break live- the UK’s Biggest student festival …

Plus new music from  Blood Red Shoes,  New Young Pony Club, LCD Soundsystem, Johnny Flynn, Run Toto Run, Scary Mansion, Kids On Bridges , Half Man Half Biscuit,

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Blood Red Shoes– Don’t Ask

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Out on May 10th on limited 7″ vinyl and download.


New Young Pony Club-We Want To’

“We Want To” will be released at the end of May, here’s the video the band describe as “the best video we’ve ever made”


LCD Soundsystem– Drunk Girls

“Drunk Girls” is a pulsing & pounding electronic rock stomper that has reawakened the resurgent fan base, who have been eagerly clamouring for any and all new material since 2007’s “Sound Of Silver” opus. It is distinctly the sound of LCD Soundsystem – often imitated, never bettered.

“Drunk Girls” is taken from the album, “This is Happening”, which will be released in the UK on May 17th.


Johnny Flynn-Free Download

Johnny Flynn

‘Kentucky Pill’ is an exclusive free Mp3 from Johnny Flynn’s forthcoming new album ‘Been Listening’ (out 7th June through Transgressive).


Run Toto Run –“Hater”

Run Toto Run -New Single Hater

Billed as one of XFM’s top 20 artists to watch in 2010, Manchester’s Run Toto Run release their new single ‘Hater’ via download this May. It comes backed by remixes from Midi Midis and the band’s explicit alter-egos Dance Toto Dance and competition winners TallZombi.

‘Hater’ follows on from February’s ‘Catch My Breath’ which was the second release from the band to have XFM’s playlist backing, also collecting plays at Radio 1 and 2 as well as 6 Music, Galaxy and Absolute, making Run Toto Run one of the most exciting leftfield acts to make the pop crossover this year.

Run Toto Run begin a UK tour on May 9th at the Big Issue’s Big Noise event and end up at the Secret Garden Party in July. Having already played with the likes of Ellie Goulding, The Noisettes and Miike Snow, their live set is celebrated as an elegant, tight electro performance, drawing comparisons with Passion Pit and The Knife. Run Toto Run parade what are, at their heart, charming and warm pop songs built around vivid melodies.

Download the Midi Midi remix below.

The UK tour unfolds like this:

9 May- The Big Noise @ Soundcontrol- Manchester

14 May- Future Everything Fest – Manchester

15 May- The Golden Lion- Ripon

18 May – Madame Jojos – London

21 May- Liverpool Sound City- Liverpool

28 May – Port Mahon – Oxford

29 May – Lennon’s – Southampton

11 Jun – Nation of Shopkeepers – Leeds

23 Jul – Secret Garden Party – Cambridge

18 Sep – Southsea Fest – Portsmouth


Scary MansionMake Me Cry

Release Date: 29th March 2010

Label: Talitres Records

Review By Catshoe

Coming from Brooklyn and fronted by Leah Hayes, the vocals on this album are for the most part  truly yearning. It’s like sitting in the back room of a cafe in a climbing town somewhere, way after closing, drinking malt and being unexpectedly treated to some prodigious late night talent. Not just Leah’s vocals though, the whole album is redolent with brush snares, piano, banjo and other good things. It’s more than just an acoustic fest, there is plenty of use of reverb, even vocoder at times, layers of lovely noise like varnish and paint on an old door. You might be getting the idea that I’m slightly hooked and you would be entirely correct.

Speaking of reverb leads us back to the songs. Opener No Law belts in with layers of buzz, and is heavily and explosively guitar driven. It’s quite some feat to get Leah’s voice up to the top of the mix but it’s achieved with aplomb. “How can you say there’s no law” she asks as it builds from the chorus to the bridge. Is it an insult these days to say that shoes can be gazed upon as this rocks out to a crackling whining feedback finale? No insult at all in my book, this is just lovely.

It segues straight into second track Over The Weekend, sounding for a moment like a reprise of what went before. That tiny cry of “maybe you just don’t know what it’s like” and even more so “make myself cry every week” – that notion really gets under the skin of how this album feels, percussion and instrumentation grows and fades, leaving emotions in a minor key.  The rest of the band – it’s a four piece – consist of Leah’s twin sister Vanessa on backing vocals, Bradley Banks on bass and Benjamin Shapiro on drums.

Yer Grif (sung as ‘your grief’) starts with upbeat drums, bells and banjo – like pretty cajun music with thumping rhythm. It works, especially with Leah’s words coming over like a cry. Fatal Flaw and 1% carry on almost like a single track, a story told in segments but holding together as one late night tale of life, one that you’d like to get to know more of. Scum Inside is anthemic and choral despite it’s worry about about all the, err, scum. Repeated guitar motif leading out into that comforting feedback. On My Mind is a change down in pace and mood, just Leah and piano, joined eventually by a tapped hi-hat. It stays wistful right through till the end. Curiously this track ends with 2 minutes and 18 seconds of silence, or was that just my review copy?

Closing track  Look Through Your Eyes has a slightly syncopated feel and this is the one with vocoder. In normal circumstances I’d advise anyone to avoid such a device, but here it works to lovely effect, where Cher made it horrible, Leah makes it charming.

I’m usually a bit reluctant to make comparisons, too easy, too trite, but if you were to think of The XX with some occasional and righteous punch, soaked like a Christmas cake drowned in brandy, that might come somewhere near.  I’ve listened to the album half a dozen times and it keeps getting better


Kids On Bridges – Free download

Recent Wall Of Sound signings  Kids On Bridges offer a free download of Y Don’t U (F*ck Right Off)




Beach Break 2010 win tickets !

To win  said pair 0f tickets simply answer the following  question, what is the name of Elly Goulding’s debut album.

A. The Unbearable Lightness Of Being

B. The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

C. Lights

D. Strike A Light

Tough eh !   E-mail your answers HERE

Comp ends Monday 3rd  May 2010.

Beach Break Crowd

Beach Break 2010

14th-18th JUNE 2010


Retro Track Of The Week

“Trumpton Riots” By Half Man Half Biscuit

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Shooting From The Hip – Dum Dum Girls Interview

Dum Dum Girls Intreview 2010 Von Pip Musical ExpressOriginal Dum Dum Girls photos by Lauren Dukoff

“Jail La La” By Dum Dum Girls.

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Free Download here (Right click here)

If you’re a sucker for scuzzy guitars, Spector-esque drum beats and the head down, insouciance of the Ramones, then chances are you will adore Brooklyn’s latest buzz band, Dum Dum Girls.

Their début album for the legendary Sub-Pop label, “I Will Be is a raw, adrenaline fuelled white knuckle ride through heartbreak and B-movie cool which employs Ronettes style vocal harmonies allied to discordant Mary Chain guitars and old school garage punk. Clocking in at just under half an hour and containing only two songs that last longer than three minutes “I Will Be” could never be considered a concept album, in fact you get the feeling that Dum Dum Girls would consider any song that lingered over the four minute mark to be an exercise in pomposity and self indulgence. Prog rock they certainly ain’t ! However the collection of tunes on offer here are short, sharp blasts of sheer melodic joy combining carefully constructed pop hooks with a definite D.I.Y. garage band vibe. It’s a testament to the quality of songs on “I Will Be” that literally every track could be a single and suggests that Dum Dum Girls head honcho Dee-Dee is song-writing talent to be to be reckoned with.

If you’re looking for self important, overproduced stadium rock then this may not be album for you, on the other hand if you’re in the market for a fizzing slice of  blissed out indie pop punk  perfection then you need look no further than Dum-Dum Girls. A quite wonderful début.

9/10 (*review originally written for Faux magazine-P.45)

It’s a busy time for the band but we grabbed a quick work with Dee-Dee who most certainly isn’t Dum Dum.

VP: Dum Dum Girls apparently started out as a ‘one girl garage project’. What was your initial aim and how did the band evolve?

Dee-Dee:  It was just a way to pass a lot of lonely and frustrated time.  I never expected it to land me here.  I wrote and recorded enough songs for a few releases, and once I signed to Sub Pop and finished the album, I wanted to take it out of the bedroom.

VP: Your debut album ‘I Will Be’ has just been released, it’s managed to retain a really raw honest indie vibe. Was it your intention to produce something that was a true representation of your sound rather then something that sounded overproduced thereby losing its energy and power?

Dee-Dee:  I wanted to retain the general sound of earlier releases, but also show some progress.  What Richard Gottehrer did for it can be summed up as “gentle finessing” — improving the fidelity and helping showcase the vocals.

VP:  A Ramones/Blondie/Phil Spector early punk type vibe definitely comes across (to me at least) on your album, would you say these sort of bands are ones who have primarily influenced you?

Dee-Dee:  Ramones and Phil Spector more so than Blondie, but there all are sorts of things that have gone into my head and shaped the kind of sound I want my songs to have.

VP: What was it like working alongside a producer like Richard Gottehrer?

Dee-Dee:  Surreal.  He is so personable, though, that it was a really easy and natural partnership.

VP:  You started our as a drummer? What made you switch to guitar?

Dee-Dee: Have you tried writing songs on drums? 😉

VP:  You’ve said in the past that you’re obsessed with big chorus’s, so was it important to you to make every album track sound like it could be a potential single?

Dee-Dee:  Not in such a contrived manner, but yes, I definitely want every song I write and record to be memorable like a single.

VP: You’ve  played a few UK shows earlier in 2010 . Will you be coming back to see us  again this year ?

Dee-Dee:  We’ll be back in May and July!

VP:  What’s the plan for the rest of 2010?

Dee-Dee:   Hit the road with my ladies.

VP: When you’re not immersing yourself in music how do you relax?

Dee-Dee:  I’m always immersed in some manner, but I do spend a lot of time with my family, friends, and cat.

VP: Five words which could sum up your album for us Brits 😉

Dee-Dee:  Blissed out buzz saw pop.







“Jail La-La” By Dum Dum Girls


“Catholicked” By Dum Dum Girls

“Blank Girl” By Dum Dum Girls


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The Ghost Of A Smile-Kyla La Grange Interview

Kyla La Grange Interview -Von Pip

“Walk Through Walls” By Kyla La Grange.

Free Download Of “Vampire Smile” Here .

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Let’s get a bit philosophical- “Most people live and die with their music still unplayed. They never dare to try.” Now,  anybody who’s chanced across  the “X Factor” may feel that this may be no bad thing, each person may indeed have a song to sing but whether that song is worthy of public attention is a moot point. The same cannot be said for Kyla Le Grange, a young lady who sings with the sort of smoky world weariness that recalls a younger (albeit more sonorous) version of Marianne Faithful. As a philosophy graduate from Cambridge University her songs were unlikely to be  simplistic nursery rhymes about boys being mean, make-up, Top Shop and dancing, nope our Kyla sings about  the things that matter, life, death, the beauty of disappointment the ache of never satisfied love, the desolation of the heart and vampires, obviously.  “Vampire Smile” was written way before the “Twilight” series imbued the genre with the sort of empty poster boy hipness that contrived to make “The Lost Boys” look like a flick of some import. Unlike the aforementioned movies, Kyla’s songs are certainly not a case of style over substance and  any artist who writes  lines such as “Baby you need to leave/ Cos I’m getting drunk on your noble deeds/It doesn’t matter that they don’t get done/ When I feel this cold they’re like the fucking sun” is surely worthy of your attention.

Kyla’s Dad is Zimbabwean whilst her mother is South African, but she grew up in the slightly less exotic environs of Watford.  Always  a keen musician she started her first band at thirteen but  it was whilst studying philosophy at Cambridge University that she realised writing and performing music was something she really wanted to be involved in on a full time basis.

She started producing home demos  and as luck would have it  they caught the discerning ear of Rollo from Faithless.  Suitably impressed he made contact and introduced her to producer Marky Bates.  All three of them have since been sharing production duties on Kyla’s début album ‘Ghosts’, which is nearing completion.  We  took the opportunity to put some questions to Kyla because, a/ she’s great and  b/ that’s what we do!

VP: When did you first start writing songs, and what was the first song wrote where you thought, yeah I could actually really go for this..?.

KYLA:  I think I wrote my first proper song when I was about 14, though there had been many little mishaps before then. When I say ‘proper’, I don’t mean good, I think it was called ‘Poison’ and about a boy who had annoyed me and involved a murder. Really went in for the melodrama. I thought I’d try and go in for it all properly when I started gigging with friends at university.

VP: Did the fact that your parents both come from different parts of the world mean that you were exposed to a lot of different influences both musically and culturally?

KYLA: Definitely – both culturally and musically. I spent months of my childhood on big road trips across Southern Africa and Zimbabwe – my parents liked to do these massive trips and we bed-hopped, staying with relatives and friends. We’d stop the car and climb on baobab trees, go canoeing, live on beans and chips (they don’t really do vegetarians over there) and see so much every day. It was eye-opening, for many reasons. Musically, my parents’ tastes are hugely diverse. Classical, blues, rock, folk, Mongolian throat singing, it was all there.

VP: How did Rollo Armstrong happen to come across your work?

KYLA: A mutual acquaintance – he knew Rollo and thought he might like my music, so sent him a couple of really rough demos. He did like it, which was nice

VP: You have a free download on your website “Vampire Smile”-can you tell us a little bit about that song?

KYLA:  I wrote it when I was 19 and I thought I was desperately in love with a person it would have been inappropriate and wrong for me to pursue. Luckily my head got the better of me and I realised it was a misdirected obsession, but at the time I felt like I was going to burn up with the hopelessness of it all. It was your classic teenage crush really – explode and fizzle.

VP: Your début album “Ghosts” is currently nearing completion, any more details as yet, release date, track list, first single ?

KYLA:  Not yet. I have written all the tracks I think I want to be on it (though you can never know for sure) but I think it’d be jumping the gun to decide a release date. I have a rough idea of the track list and first single.

VP: Would you call yourself a prolific songwriter, what’s the process?

KYLA:  I really go through phases – I can never sit down and say, ‘right, i’m going to write a song’. Nearly all my songs are written in sort of a spontaneous surge – and often at really inconvenient times, like, I’ll be riding my bike down a main road or it’ll be 2am and I want to go to sleep and then whooosh, suddenly I have this lyric or melody and I just can’t not write it. Sometimes I’m prolific, but sometimes I can go months without being able to write.

VP: You went to Cambridge and studied Philosophy; do you think having a detailed knowledge of this subject has had a big effect on your song writing? Does it make you more analytical perhaps?

KYLA: I don’t know if it does… I’m sure studying philosophy made me think in a more analytic way, and maybe that comes across in my songs, but often the songs reflect me at my most irrational and self-absorbed. I’ve no idea!

VP: Here’s a philosophical question for you-“Can something come from nothing?

KYLA: Haven’t you ever had sea monkeys? ( if you haven’t)

VP: The last few years have seen an explosion in female songwriters/ pop stars- who out of the current batch of singers have grabbed your attention?

KYLA:  Florence definitely – when I saw her play at Glastonbury I thought it was the best performance I’d ever seen. Laura Marling too – incredible voice and lyricist, and Bat for Lashes I love very much. Those three for me stand head and shoulders above the rest.

VP: What have you got planned for 2010?

KYLA: To work very hard, gig very much, write as often as I can, and finish recording the album. Also to master the art of face-painting.

VP: Five words to sum up your mood today?

KYLA:  Stressed, achy, tired, BUT happy






“Vampire Smile” By Kyla La Grange

Glasto 2010


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Black Box Recorder Final Statement

One of the nations finest institutions have finally called it a day, the fantastic Black Box Recorder  have issued the following statement as they prepare to release their final ever songs on election day. You don’t know it yet. . .but you will miss them.

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“Keep It In The Family” By Black Box Recorder








John Moore, Sarah Nixey & Luke Haines

“England Made Me” By Black Box Recorder

“Child Psychology” By Black Box Recorder

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Une Class Differente- Standard Fare Interview

Standard Fare Interview 2010

“Dancing” by Standard Fare

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Whilst “Big Music” continues to exhibit the sort of  head in the sand, Neo-Luddism that makes Ted Kaczynski look like an enthusiastic advocate of new technology, and by pursuing a policy that continues to successfully alienate their target demographic, it’s the smaller indie labels that continue to show the big boys how it’s done. And really it’s not rocket science, the formula’s quite simple; Don’t threaten to cut people’s internet off, discover great new music and deliver it in a format that people want and are willing to buy.  Yorkshire label Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation have been around since 2003 and by treating their customers like grown-ups and offering them something that is both collectable and aesthetically pleasing they are still able to successfully sell physical products, along side their digital brethren-as Darren of Thee SPC says “Our music is not merely an accessory for your mobile phone” …So whilst  ex-bandwagon punk Fergal and his industry chums threaten litigation and  suggest that the government form a “creative industries cabinet committee”( how like, anarchic! ), Darren knows ultimately it’s the quality of the music that really matters-everything else is merely garnish, a compliment to the main course. Bizarrely “Big Music” doesn’t seem to get this simple concept and generally continues to serve up the equivalent of a beautifully presented steak dinner, minus the steak.  Thee SPC, on the other hand, have never been a label to release standard fayre, and their latest release “The Noyelle Beat” by erm, Standard Fare is no exception 😉

Standard Fare are Emma Kupa, Danny How and Andy Beswick, adopting a collective moniker which is somehow endowed with an air of northern common sense, reliability and is reassuringly unpretentious. Of course there will be puns a plenty regarding the bands name but there’s certainly no doubting that Standard Fare’s  wonderful album The Noyelle Beat” is a mightily impressive debut. It’s a collection of songs that the band say really started to take shape after performing at a music festival held in Noyelles Sous Lens, France, which Danny describes as the moment “where we felt our sound came together.” Many of these  songs  went on to form the basis of  “The Noyelle Beat”, as Emma explains “we felt we wanted to carry some of the energy from that time into the album”. Recorded in just six days, the album has a raw untamed quality and vibrancy that just can’t be manufactured. In fact it’s the sort of natural uncontrived sound that many hugely successful artists often attempt to recapture, as if to remind themselves of  why they got involved in music in the first place.  It’s a perfect snapshot of a band brimming with ideas, enthusiasm and energy who have found their voice, a voice informed by real life experience, and whilst these may not have always been  happy experiences they have doubtless, been character building 😉  “Our main influences are relationships,” they say, “these songs are often what we wanted to say to someone at the time but couldn’t articulate. There is often a fine line in the nature of relationships and friendships. And there are many emotions and situations common to both. But since the songs are often based on true experiences it is good to retain some vagueness about who they are about.”

Whereas every Tom Dick and Florence are intent on becoming “electro-mystics”, Standard Fare are reassuringly John Peel old style indie, with pristine Orange Juice style guitars allied to a singularly  romantic kitchen sink sense of  melodrama much beloved by the likes of The Smiths.  You may also detect a hint of the Long Blondes, Belle and Sebastian or even a less saccharine version of Camera Obscura, but despite theses musical reference points (intentional or not) the band manage to stamp their own unique sound all over this marvellous album. Darren from Thee SPC tells us that after the band had made contact regarding the submission of a demo he had a quick  listen on myspace, was more than impressed and asked if they could send him every demo they’d recorded! “ I soon found out they had more than enough ace material for an album,  I acted really quickly and signed them up right away.” His faith has definitely been justified, as “The Noyelle Beat” will surely  feature in many of the “best of” lists” at the end of the year . The band have just returned from  SXSW and so we caught up with them, just before jet leg  kicked in….

VP: What’s your background story? How did you all meet up and form “Standard Fare” ?

Dan: We all played in separate bands, Emma in ‘The Daisies’, Andy in ‘Pocket Lemon’ and I played in ‘The Boring Mortals’. I got to know Emma when our bands played a gig together and when the bands stopped we started playing. My brother also played in ‘Pocket Lemon’ and when we needed a drummer, he suggested we ask Andy.

VP:  Would you say you all share a similar taste in music or do you all bring different influences that inform your collective output?

Andy: Our music tastes do over lap, I’m influenced by what Emma and Dan bring to the band too.

Emma: We all have an appreciation for a lot of different types of music. We all like some of the same bands (especially some of the bands we’ve been playing with the last year or so like Nat Johnson and the Figureheads and Allo Darlin’) but we also have different tastes like I’m more into some of the older rock/pop stuff like Fleetwood Mac and Sam Cooke and Dan can be more into punkier stuff and Andy has a wild taste and is currently liking some drum ‘n’ bass.

VP:  What made you decide to relocate to Sheffield?

Dan: Andy moved to Sheffield to study at Uni and Emma moved to York to study whilst I was still living in Buxton, we’d decided we still wanted to play as a band and Sheffield seemed like the middle point to do it. We had a rough idea what Sheffield was like but it was only really when we started playing there we realised it had so much going on with so many great venues and bands to play with. I’m glad we did it.

VP:  Your debut album The Noyelle Beat is released on 29th of March , and it has to be said, is bloody ace, is it true that you recorded it in just six days ? Was this due to financial constraints or are you just really quick workers?

Andy: Thank you, it was a combination of us and Alan at 2fly, we had most of the songs all practised and ready to be recorded so that helped, Alan’s Ace at what he does too and is quite particular about the process.

VP:  Emma, you’re mum was apparently a member of The Poison Girls, has the fact that she’d been involved in ‘the biz’ made you aware of possibilities and pitfalls?

Emma: Yes I suppose it’s always seemed possible because I know my mother did it. She’s been a great role model of going for what she wants to do.

VP:  How does the song-writing process work in the band?

Dan: Originally either me or Emma would bring an almost complete song to the band and the other two would add their parts, but the last year or so we’ve been writing more as a band, starting from some chords or a drum beat or a guitar riff. It’s nice not knowing how the song is gonna sound.

VP:  What have you got planned for the rest of 2010?

Dan: We’ve just got back from our first tour in North America, we had a great time and played some really nice little venues. Over the next few months though we’re doing a session for Huw Stephens on Radio 1, we’re playing our first Scotland gigs in July and also around that time we’re playing a few festival spots such as Indietracks and Farmfest, which we’re really looking forward to.

VP:  You’ve been featured on 6 music yourselves what are your views on the BBC’s proposals to axe the station

Dan: I think it’d be a real shame to close one of the few national avenues that lets people hear smaller bands they might not otherwise discover, and likewise it cuts down the routes bands like us have for reaching those people.

VP: Which new bands have impressed you over the last year?

Dan: Mexican Kids at Home, The Runaround Kids, also, although they’re not that new, they were still new to me and impressed me no end – One Happy Island

Andy: Yeah, Mexican kids at home are really good and I saw the Exlovers in Sheffield a coupla weeks ago and really enjoyed their set!

Emma: I’m really liking Allo Darlin’ at the moment.

VP: Name five songs you wished you’d written

Andy: Graham Coxon – People of the Earth, Jimi Hendrix – Little Wing, the Specials – Too much too young, the Seahorses – Love is the Law.

Dan: I’ll throw in ‘Hall of Mirrors’ by The Distillers and ‘J.A.R.’ by Green Day

Emma: ‘Only in the Past’ by the Be Good Tanyas, anything from ‘Tusk’ or ‘Rumours’ by Fleetwood Mac.


Official Site / Order Album





“Fifteen” By Standard Fare

“Philadelphia” (audio only ) By Standard Fare

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