Sonic Boom Girl- Spark Interview.

Spark- Interview 2010- The Von Pip Musical Express

“Revolving” By Spark.

Free Download -‘Revolving Warrior One Remix.’


BOOM!  Welcome to the world of Jess Morgan, aka Spark.  With hair as black as a raven’s wing, pale, almost luminous alabaster skin and blood red lips, Spark looks set to take the pop world by storm.  After the limited seven inch single release of Shut Out The Moon in July,  her stunning début single for 679 Recordings , ‘Revolving’ is about to be unleashed.  It’s a fantastic  slice of  hypnotic left-field  electro-pop which mixes the soul-influenced funk  of Cameo’s ‘Word Up’ with the faux-goth pop sensibility of  Strawberry Switch Blade.  Throw in a touch of the Kate Bush style theatrics, add a dash of Alison Goldfrapp and Spark looks very much like a pop sensation in waiting.

Spark wrote her first song when she was just twelve years old but it wasn’t until she performed  the Kate Bush classic ‘Wuthering Heights at a school show that she experienced her own particular Boo Radley moment of musical clarity.  Thus inspired and armed with a new sense of purpose she adjusted her style accordingly to reflect her new influences.  After playing  just one solo gig  fate intervened, the stars aligned and she nabbed a spot on tour with Marina & The Diamonds,  a record deal soon followed.  I managed to catch the end of her set on  Marina’s Family Jewels tour and she positivity sparkled, leaving many of us in no doubt that we had just borne witness to the emergence of a bright new talent, one who was definitely going to make her mark on Planet Pop, it was just a question of when, not if.

She’s also a girl who’s enthusiasm is undoubtedly infectious but be warned, she doesn’t suffer fools.  Ask her about any record label restyle or musical  finesseing and she will most likely fix you with an intense dark gaze and reply “I’m not something you can construct. Fact.” At which point you should laugh nervously and then cleverly distract her by pointing over her shoulder whilst saying something like ‘ooh look a puppy’ before hastily moving on to another question !

If you follow Spark on twitter you’ll no doubt notice that she is prone to indiscriminately peppering many of her ‘tweets’ with the word  “boom,” indeed she implores her fans to “bring their boom” along to her gigs.  I’m not quite sure what this actually means or indeed if  it’s legal,  but it seems to be an affirmation of positive emotions which is no bad thing.  However, one fears if this behaviour goes unchecked it may provide a stumbling block to one day conquering America;  bellowing ‘BOOM’ will most likely not endear you to homeland security, in fact it could impede or least severely delay admission onto  U.S. soil and the last thing I’d want to see is Spark heading for Cuba in an unfeasibly orange jump suit. 😉

As well as the release of ‘Revolving’ Spark is preparing for her début album, due out early next year, her only problem at present appears to be narrowing down exactly songs will be  included on the album , “I have too many songs, I need to stop writing” she says. Finding a fantastic new talent like Spark is one the myriad of reasons why people like my good-self get so excited about music and feel a compulsion to share our enthusiasm via a blog.  Bloggers still believe that, that despite what the charts may tell you, great music from every genre is still being made, you just have to seek it out.  And so prior to world domination I had a chat with Spark and desperately hoped she didn’t ask if I’d remembered to bring my ‘boom!’


VP: Hello there, you release your music under the name Spark, what was it about that particular nom de plume that appealed?

SPARK:  Haha, well my real middle name is Sparkle. Birth certificate, passport and all that jazz! So when it came to being called something else, instead of being Sparkle- because that sounds like I’m 8 and like glitter.. Spark it was!

VP: You’re release your first proper single with 679 Recordings the ruddy marvellous ‘Revolving’. How does an artist decide on the singles? Do you have discussions with the label; do they tell you what they’d like to put out, how does it work?

SPARK: They’re decisions that my manager and I make together. When I first put these songs on myspace and blogs started to write about me and I started to get feedback, Shut Out The Moon seemed to be the one getting the most attention, so it felt right for us to release that first. Revolving is very different to SOTM, it has a different sort of sound and feel and so we thought it would be a good idea to put that out next to show that difference, another dimension.

VP:  So what exactly is  ‘Revolving’ all about then ?

SPARK: ‘Revolving’ is about control. It’s about being controlled, losing control and trying to regain it and also has elements of being taken advantage of- in any way that could be done. It tells the story of a girl, the metaphor being a wind-up doll. It goes on a journey with her, starting off with asking to be controlled, needing it and shows a vulnerable girl needing what could be described as love, or affection or anything like that- ‘Just turn me round, wind me up and make me work again, take out my heart, wind it up and make it beat again..’ and then talks about the trickery of that, instead of being controlled in a loving, caring way it becomes the opposite, saying the world should be ready for her ‘This wind up doll hands behind my back, hiding what I’m using for the attack, get yourself ready I’m back…’ and ‘You won’t know I’m under control, someone else tells me where to go, pushing my buttons and squeezing my soul, following directions I don’t know..’ – It’s about trust being broken, pressures of the people we choose to surround ourselves with and the results of doing that, the results of giving yourself away and allowing someone else that control over you.

It’s actually pretty deep and has a big underlying meaning, for me at least. Although, these are things that I think of and things that I wrote, I always want and like to leave my songs open for interpretation. This song may mean something completely different to someone else, and that’s what it’s there for. I feel like once you write a song and put it out for people to hear, it becomes their song as well and that entitles them (or us, because I do this as well) to have their own opinions on what songs mean to them as individuals, picking out different parts of the songs because certain words mean certain things, while others don’t. That’s how it works. But if you just don’t get it at all, maybe it could make more sense understanding the things going through my head when I wrote it! And that is all the above!

VP:  Marina and the Diamonds is big fan of your work, you also toured with her, how did she find out about you and how did you enjoy the tour?

SPARK: Marina was introduced to me and my music by my manager only a matter of months ago, and after she had a listen to the songs on my myspace she asked if I was around in May to support her on her tour. It was as unplanned and spontaneous as that! It happened really fast and was only decided about 2 weeks before tour started- if that?! The tour itself was incredible. It still feels like I dreamt it. Marina is amazing. She has something seriously special and it was an absolute honour to support her, there are so many things I’ve taken with me from the whole experience and Marina’s support is priceless. Loved it! (Understatement!)

VP:  When I was 18, before the war, the thought of public performances terrified me; luckily I had absolutely no talent. How do you explain the desire to want to go out and perform songs in front of an audience?

SPARK: Haha! Well I don’t really have an explanation. There was never a time in my life that I said to myself, or to anyone else ‘Hmmm, I think I want to sing!’ Or ‘I want to perform’ or any of that. It literally has been as natural as learning to walk or talk. I never questioned it, I just ran with it- and now here we are!

VP:  People have compared you to everybody from Toyah to Kate Bush; do you find comparisons annoying, lazy, or flattering?

SPARK: People will always make comparisons. It’s a way of people being able to make sense of something new. That’s why we’re a society that relies on genres, even though most artists don’t like putting themselves or their music in categories or boxes. But it helps people make sense of it all, and that’s okay. Comparisons can work in both good and bad ways. Some I think are lazy, definitely. I understand the need for people to compare, so I don’t like to call it annoying, although sometimes I don’t agree with what’s been said. Most of the time I find it flattering though. Being compared to Kate Bush, Toyah and all the others is an honour! They’re incredible, no complaints from me! Even when I don’t see it myself, I’ve been compared to amazing, strong, successful women and that can’t be anything but flattering. Could definitely be worse!

VP:  So we’ve established your views on comparisons, but how would you describe your music to somebody who’s yet to hear your work?

SPARK: I’d say edgy pop. I guess its pop music! But slightly left field possibly, because it’s not bubblegum- it’s deep and personal. Each song I write has a different part of me in it and has been written because I have something I want to write about, never because I want to write a pop song. But for the sake of the public! It’s probably best categorized as pop music. So pop music with a personal, edgy twist. Or I’m sure it can also go under so many other categories! It’s, as always, open for interpretation for whatever makes it easier for people to understand.

VP:  How do you go about song writing, do ideas just pop into your head, or do you sit down and think ‘today is a good day to write a new song’?

SPARK: It varies. Lyrical ideas pop into my head because of situations I find myself in, others in, relationships I have, relationships I see, people I have something to write about. I take those literal things and try and make something poetic, and I let my imagination run with it. I never try and force a song out, if it’s not working- it’s for a reason. But when it’s working I can feel it in the pit of my tummy and that is one of the best feelings ever. The same I get on stage. When I start writing I don’t usually stop until the song is done, which always tends to be really fast, because I see my songs as moments in time. I was feeling a certain way, then, and wrote a song that in some way portrays that. And I don’t go back and try and change them to get a hook or a killer chorus because like I said before it’s not about writing a hit or a great pop song, it’s so much more personal and real than that, whether that results in a banger or not!

VP:  So  you were born in my hometown, Liverpool, but then moved to London. Can we claim you as a scouser when you’re hugely successful please?

SPARK: Haha! Technically, yes! I was born in Fazakerly! My mum and her whole family are from Liverpool, but I’ve lived in London my entire life and I am a London gal, BUT I support Liverpool FC though! So definitely a whole load of scouse in me!

VP:  Did you give your image a lot of consideration or is this pretty much you? You’ve said on your blog “If people think I’ve been manipulated or changed or altered or constructed or then they mustn’t have really known me in the first place!”

SPARK: I’m afraid this is 100%, without a doubt, most definitely me. The good and the bad! My ‘image’ isn’t and wasn’t ever thought out. I obviously give consideration to it; a chick needs to look presentable! But I rock what I want! It is definitely true that I’ve never been and never will be manipulated or altered or constructed. That blog was written in defence of the people I have chosen to work with. I rock with the best! It’s insulting for them, and of course for me, when it’s assumed that they would change or attempt to change me. It’s an impossible task! I’m too opinionated and set in my ways for that! Although obviously I’m growing and developing all the time. But I know what I like and I know what I don’t and just as I wouldn’t let that slip or forget that, the people I work with would never try and change it, or me. Those assumptions are lazy! Again though, I understand how lazy assumptions can be made when there is manufactured pop and all of that going on, but it was important for me to put my feelings on that out there when I wrote it (ages ago?!). I’ll give the facts and my own opinions and then people can and will judge and decide from that. But honesty is the best policy; I was honestly frustrated at those assumptions and comments so threw my facts and opinions out there for people to read. That’s all a gal can do!

Spark -Interview-The Von Pip Musical Express 2010







‘Revolving’ By Spark


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Record Of the Day 2010 - Vote Von Pip Musical Express


“Wistful Thinking” -The Concretes Interview.

The Concretes- Lisa Millberg Interview-WYWH 2010

“All Day”-By The Concretes.


“Apparently the Concretes are embracing that whole 80’s thing” shrieked my not quite enigmatic contact and Sweden’s answer to Gok Wan,  Anders Panders.  Despite my offer of copious amounts of alcohol he resolutely refused to shed any more light on this somewhat sweeping statement, and rather bafflingly seemed to think that continually tapping his nose in a conspiratorial manner was somehow endearing and in no way irritating.  But what on earth did he mean? Surely one of Sweden’s finest musical collectives of recent years were not about to start expounding the virtues of unbridled brutal neo liberal laissez-faire capitalism?  Did ‘doing that whole 80’s thing’ mean that they’d decided to sport ludicrous Kevin Bacon style mullets, replete with leg-warmers worn over skin tight, tie dyed jeans? Even worse had, The Concretes persuaded 1980’s production line (s)hit-makers, Stock, Aitken and Waterman out of retirement to produce their latest album!!???

Thankfully, it transpired that Anders, who is often prone to tabloid style exaggeration and hyperbole had merely discovered that The Concretes have employed  ‘less guitar and more keyboards” on their latest album “WYWH”, which,  let’s face it, hardly constitutes an 80’s makeover.

Rest assured that “WYWH” has about as much in common with the recent 80’s revivalists as George Osborne’s spending review has to do with fairness.  It emphatically proves that anybody who has previously written the band off following the departure of former vocalist Victoria Bergsman will soon be choking on large slices of humble pie because “WYWH” is without doubt, a triumphant return.  The Concretes have reinvented themselves and in doing so produced an album that sparkles with a fragile beauty and a sense of yearning which is perfectly communicated by former drummer and lyricist Lisa Milberg’s airy, delicate ethereal vocals.

They say it’s their ‘disco album’ but it’s more disco in a stylish, sensual European sense, than the hairy chested get your funk on, brash glitter ball variety of the 1970’s. It’s also their finest album to date  and is a wonderful example of how brilliantly written pop music can transport you to another place, or to paraphrase E.W. Howe, WYWH make you feel homesick for something you have  never had, and never will have.  In essence the world  just somehow seems a much improved place for having  this album in it . . .  innit ?  😉          9/10.

After being enthralled, enraptured and let’s face it, seduced by ‘WYWH’, we wished Lisa Millberg was here and lo !……..


VP:  Hello Lisa, first question has to be,  after a trio of albums in quick succession (2005, 2006, 2007) , three years must  seem like an eternity for fans and indeed the band, why did “WYWH” take longer to produce than previous albums?”

LISA:  Hello VP …Basically the quick succession that came before “WYWH” was our way of coping with all the troubles that happened along the way.  But we could only keep that up for so long. When we did the third album we even named it ‘Hey Trouble as if to prove to ourselves that we were still a band after Victoria had left. We needed to know we had something. But after we toured that album I think we felt in a way we had proven that but we also felt we weren’t having much fun. It took three years to get that will back. But once we stopped trying to force it, it really came pouring back. This is the first album we’ve done since the début that I have really enjoyed doing.

VP:  And what’s this I hear of one band member joining the circus during your hiatus?

LISA: Ha it’s true! He was hired by one of those avant garde circuses but sadly as a musician. Waste of talent really, he is very lean and he is also faster than the wind on a fixie so I am sure they could have found much greater challenges for him…;)

VP:  There’s talk that “WYWH” has seen the Concretes go “disco” , but it’s certainly not of the medallion wearing Studio 54 variety . The guitars are certainly less up front, what sort of sound or vibes were you going for?

LISA: I think disco is in the eye of the beholder. I find it can be whatever you like as long as it makes you tap your feet. I’ve always thought Stones made some of the finest disco around. Or Marhall Hain’s ‘Dancing In The City’ for that matter. Grumpy, a little reluctant and a little on the slow side, but really so very excellent. That’s what I like, not the glittery euphoria in wedges and flares, that tells me nothing about anything. There has to be fight in there somewhere, an urge to cover up a sulky mood or to better a night when you’re feeling lonely.

I’ve realised there will always be a sadness to the songs we write but that’s no reason to wallow in it. And that makes disco the perfect aim. Happy and sad, eye to eye on the dance floor.

VP:   And just to confirm, “WYWH” stands for ‘Wish You Were Here” not something obscure such as “Wild Youth’s Wistful Homage”  or “William, You Where Horrid” 😉

LISA: ‘WYWH’ stands for whatever you want it to stand for, which is why we kept it to the initials only. But yes, for me, most days, it stands for ‘Wish You Were Here.’ Or Him. Or something like that.

VP:  Lyrically would you say “WYWH” has an overriding theme?

LISA: Yes, and it’s pretty much summed up in the album title. It’s about love, loss, longing. About the wandering mind and heart.

VP:  You’re touring the UK in December , you took over lead vocal duties in 2007 and at the time said you’d  never planned to become the bands singer, and that the thought of being at the front of the stage ‘petrified’ you. Has this fear recede somewhat or does it still make you nervous?

LISA: It’s true, I was petrified for at least a year. Now, I kind of love it. But it’s got to do with expectations and making it your own I think. When I started I felt I had certain expectations on me to be a certain way. I think it was mostly from myself but that really doesn’t work at all. Then I just stopped trying to be something I’m not and now it makes much more sense. Having said that, it can still be quite intimidating.

VP:  Not only do I love the album, but the art work seems to perfectly convey the atmosphere. Who designed it and what was the idea behind it?

LISA: Oh thank you. It’s a century old painting by Swedish artist Arthur Bianchini. I do all the art direction for us and with this album I knew I wanted Stockholm on the cover and preferably a painting. I searched everywhere and had people take photos, send me drawings, stamp collections, old posters, etc but nothing felt right until my Mom sent me a photo of this painting, which belongs to her boyfriend. The moment I saw it I knew it was perfect. It’s such a stunning image and the view is the best representative of our Stockholm. It’s the view from up a hill right next to our studio and it shows the southern part of town where we know every brick of every pavement. I also love that it’s so blue,  it’s got that perfect shade of blue, like one of Dennis Wilson’s old t-shirts. The perfect colour for ‘WYWH’ I think.

VP:  What sort of music have you been listening to / getting influenced by in the last couple of years? Which bands /artists have impressed you most?

LISA: There are so many brilliant bands and we all consume a lot of music but from the top of my head, and if we’re talking contemporary bands some of the ones that stand out to me are Dirty Projectors, My Morning Jacket, James Blake, Ariel Pink and a lady I discovered only the other week: Katell Keineg.  I have only heard her most recent album ‘The Mermaid Parade’ but it blew me away.  I also love Idiot Glee, How To Dress Well and the Shangaan Electro comp, with mad South African electro, that Honest Jon’s just put out. I could go on for days. There are so many great things around.

They don’t influence me in the way that I wanna do what they are doing,  I just think they are all excellent and I think they all do their own thing, which would be the inspiring bit…

VP:  As a band The Concretes have now been together in one form or another since about 1995 , what do you think have been the biggest changes you’ve seen on the musical landscape over that period?

LISA: I suppose that would have to be the physical albums vs download thing of course. When we started out the album sales pretty much reflected how many people were listening to your music. These days they will only show you who’s got exceptionally high morals or bad computer skills.

But musically things have gotten very interesting in recent years. Whilst I find the blogosphere to be a little too narrow-minded at the moment- it’s all palm trees and witchy glow wave? I think music generally is quite challenging compared to ten years ago.  Even some of the billboard stuff is quite elaborate in terms of sounds and production. I like that, I think it’s good that people still feel the urge to be creative and push things forward, whatever the reasons may be. So I think it’s all good and what’s not will be. Fear not for music.

VP:  Five words to sum up “WYWH”

LISA: ‘It is really very good.’

VP: ‘I certainly agree with that!’





The Concretes Site




“WYWH Teaser” -The Concretes

“All Day“-The Concretes

“You Can’t Hurry Love” -The Concretes

Something For The Weekend w/e 22/10/2010

This week , Johnny Cola and the A Grades, The Gay Blades, Projectionists, Doctors & Dealers, The Chapman Family And Billy Bragg.


Jonny Cola and the A Grades-“In Debt”

Johnny Cola And The A Grades
Photo by A Secret Picnic

“The Party’s Over” By Johnny Cola and the A Grades.

Johnny Cola and the A Grades debut album “In Debt” certainly owes a debt to the slightly androgynous glam rockers of yore, ranging from Queen Bitch era Bowie  to the hip swinging ‘Animal Nitrate strut of Suede.  In successfully taking these points of reference they have produced an album laced with great pop tunes and served with a side order of sarcasm.  “The Party’s Over” for example could be Jarvis Cocker and Brett Anderson drowning their sorrows in response to Osborne, Clegg and Cameron’s dismantling of large chunks of society.  “Fireworks/Gunshots” is possibly their most sophisticated emotive track to date whilst other stand out tracks such as “Marlborough Road” “ Greenhouse” and “Out Of Focus” show that Johnny and the gang are more than simply cheeky chancers with a charming take on Brit pop,  they are in fact a band of  ‘glamshackle’ romantics who can produce music full of fire, passion and heart. In these unrelentingly grim times you could well feel “indebted” to JC and the A Grades for providing sanctuary and adding a splash of colourful rebellion to this apathetic, monochrome age of conformity. Wake up suckers!  -AVP.


Album will be available From Corporate Records


The Gay Blades-New Single and Album

The Gay Blades

“Burns & Shakes” By The Gay Blades

NYC duo have been sealed in a studio with The Hold Steady’s working on their second album ‘Savages’, The first single from the new record is the exceptionally fierce BURNS & SHAKES and it’s getting airplay on Xfm, Radio1 and 6Music, and here’s a little album trailer/teaser.




Featuring our old chum Becki ( formerly of The Pipettes), Projectionsts have already released a debut  EP, ( here’s a track below) . They play their first London gig on Wednesday 27th October @ Hoxton Square Bar, Shoreditch -7.30pm.

‘I Never Wanted Anything’ By Projectionists


Doctors & Dealers-‘Trouble’

“What happens if you combine star producer Gordon Raphael (The Strokes, Regina Spektor) and Sparrow, the one-woman driving force behind Doctors & Dealers, in a studio and close the door for a month?  You get the Trouble EP and the upcoming album, Every Sinner Has A Future.

Gordon Raphael, who had been following the career of Doctors & Dealers with great interest since the release of her earlier albums, Confessions of a Drunken Mind and Lost Friends and Newfound Habits, was quick to take Sparrow under his wing when the time came to record album number three. The only outline that they had throughout their recording sessions was to make an album that sounded like Chicago, if it were directed by Tim Burton — and they accomplished the goal with fervour.”


The Chapman Family

New Single “All Fall”


Retro Track Of The Week

“Which Side Are You On” By Billy Bragg.

When Push Comes To Shove-Seeräuber Jenny Interview.

Seeräuber Jenny Interview 2010

‘Push it Away’/ ‘Waste of Time’ By Seerauber Jenny.

“Firefly” By Seeräuber Jenny (free download).


With my impending unemployment about to explode all over me like a shit filled water balloon, my email inbox has been the subject of intense scrutiny of late as I surf the veritable tsunami of job offers and business proposals. To be quite honest the only petition of any real substance thus far has been from a nice chap called Mr. Zongo Ali from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. It seems the poor fellow is in a bit of a financial pickle, however his business proposition, although unusual, may have legs, we shall see.  As a blogger you do get many unexpected treats popping up  in your  in- box, threats of physical violence, offers of physical love (well not really), drunken, hate filled, misanthropic communiqués from citizen journalism’s staunchest supporter,  Andrew Marr, and obviously plenty of music. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s not so great and sometimes you come across bands that knock you sideways.  This is exactly what happened when I received an email about Seeräuber Jenny.

The band is made up of the nucleus of Fran Barker from Brighton and Neil Claxton from Manchester who was also one half of cult electronic remix duo Mint Royale.  Seeräuber Jenny’s début single ‘Push It Away’ is an intense, passionate slice of pop and  demonstrates just why songwriters who perform their own songs will always bring something more to the table in terms of emotional depth than those vapid, soulless little meat puppets who are told what to sing, what to wear and indeed what to feel.  Fran’s vocals are full of genuine sentiment because she has a bona fide connection to the song, and that, to me at least, is what music is all about, the ability to conjure up atmospheres and convey emotion.  If I want to be entertained I go to the circus, if I want to be moved and inspired I listen to the kind of music that Seeräuber Jenny produce, a dark, glittering  combination of despair, isolation, beauty, strength and hope ( ie/ all the good stuff!)  which comes from a very real place.  Suitably impressed we spoke to Fran, and talked about music, Radiohead, public speaking  and death!

VP: First thing I have to ask is, your name’s Fran so where did the name “Seeräuber Jenny” come from, does it have a special meaning for you ?

FRAN: Well, it’s a song in an old Marxist opera where it’s warned that a horde of pirates will invade a town and destroy it. It also inspired one of my favourite stories about a shipwrecked man trying to return to his family and being driven insane in the process. Basically it just had a really strong, light hearted and positive feel to it that I felt was reflected in the type of music we make.

VP:  How did you meet up and start performing together?

FRAN: Well, I sent Neil a parcel with a demo to listen to and a toy soldier to play with. He then got back to me saying that he was interested in the songs and would like to have a go at adding a lot of things he felt were missing, I said go for it and he sent me a song back with a lot of things that it turns out were missing. It’s a pretty perfect set up really.

VP: You’ve just released your debut single “‘Push It Away’ . What are the themes contained within the song?

FRAN: Well, I guess all the usual themes, heartbreak etc. but it’s mostly about the basic instinct of comparing like to like which we do all the time I guess. I also like to think it sounds kind of wintry.

VP:  What are your plans for the rest of the year, is an album in the offing?

FRAN: I think we’re going to go for another single around Christmas time, not a Christmas single, though I have always wanted to release one. Then I’ll think we’ll go for releasing the album next year, which sounds really nonchalant doesn’t it? I guess we are going for a softly, softly ‘if you build it they will come’ approach, failing that we are working on a cover of JLS‘s Beat Again and Neil is practising his back flips.
VP:  What sort of music has influenced you? Is there one band that you could say , ‘They were the band that made me want to start writing music ?

FRAN: I guess I can’t talk for Neil but personally I’ve been very much influenced by Shoegaze and Grunge and Folk, bands like My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth or Slowdive but also Guthrie and Dylan. I think the ‘one band’ would have to be Radiohead but then they are pretty much the best band in the world so it sort of goes without saying. That’s not to say I think the music we make is like that but I think it has the same sort of structure and ethic.

VP:  What do you think of 2010 in terms of music? Good year or bad ?

FRAN: Good and Bad equally. There seems to be as much crap as ever floating in the rivers of 2010 which is kind of comforting.

VP: What song do you wish you had written and why?

FRAN: Fleet Foxes ‘White Winter Hymnal’ because it’s practically perfect and the video is really cool and their beards are immense. Also Beach Boys ‘I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times’ because it’s also perfect, I really like that sort of naive sound.

VP: Do you get nervous performing, given that surveys have indicated that Britain’s fear performing public speaking/performing ahead of death!

FRAN :Is that true?

VP: It is indeed,  Jerry Seinfeld put it into perspective best when he said,  “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two!! Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy!!”

FRAN: That’s pretty cool! 😉  But yes I get very nervous, nervous that I might make a massive prick of myself. Luckily after successively making a prick of myself at previous gigs my nervousness has dissipated to just a slight fear. I like that fear though, when it’s not there I worry something could be wrong with me.

VP:   You’re based in  Brighton, with Neil some 250 miles away in Manchester,  how does the creative process work ?

FRAN:  It’s all about the Internet for us. Me or Neil will write something then send it to each other then we add something of our own and send it back. We just keep on like that until we’re both happy.

VP:  Five words to describe your music would be …

FRAN: Sufficient, frosty, honest, determined and steadfast.







“Push It Away” By Seeräuber Jenny



Sivert Høyem & Band, Manchester Night & Day Cafe, 7th October 2010.

Sivert Høyem & Band, Manchester Night & Day Cafe, 7th October 2010.

Sivert Høyem

Moon Landing” By Sivert Høyem.

The oft-quoted punchline “Norway : nuls points” is not something you’re ever likely to hear in relation to the “Arctic Chanteur” from said country; Mr Sivert Hoyem. His previous band Madrugada turned out some staggeringly beautiful music and, inIndustrial Silence“, one of the great debut LPs.  That they remained basically to all intents and purposes utterly unknown on these shores is a continuing mystery. After the sad untimely death of guitarist Robert Buras, they called it a day, and Sivert pursued an equally enthralling solo career. Following the release of his most recent LP “Moon Landing” he finally arrived for his first ever 4 solo UK dates, Manchester’s compact and bijou Night & Day Cafe being the third. It’s a chilly October night outside but it’s hot as hell inside as the band take the stage in a haze of smoke and murky atmospheric lighting. There’s nothing pretentious about the guy at all, big sh*t-eating grin, and a “hello, I’m Sivert Hoyem and I’m a Norwegian” works rather splendidly as a no-nonsense introduction.

Sivert’s always been an artist who wears his influences proudly on his sleeve, but is never a slavish copyist.  As with Madrugada, you can see and hear bits of all sorts in the music, and there really is something for everyone in there:  The melodious sadness of Leonard Cohen, the one-foot-on-the-monitor preaching-the-hellfire-blues of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, the twisted folky Americana of Tom Waits or the Gun Club, a hint of the glorious aching emptiness of “Darklands”-era Mary Chain:  it’s all there, from the pure singalong pop of Moon Landing’s title track, to newer darker material like “Long Slow Distance”, which uncoils in a threatening murky evil floorboard-shaking hum.

Highlights are many: the mad top-hatted suited and booted axe-hero yeti that is guitarist Cato almost demolishes the stage and does himself a serious mischief as he slips on the remnants of a spilled drink and sends himself crashing to the floor during his limelight-hogging solo in “High Society” but doesn’t miss a note, Madrugada’s “Honey Bee” is twisted from a simple downbeat song into a sinister lecherous crawl, a raucous singalong of the anthemic “The Kids Are On High Street”…. but perhaps the best moment comes during a long and noisy feedback-drenched “Shadows/High Meseta”; as the band crank it up into a hypnotic Sonic Youth-style windout, Sivert slips off the guitar strap and falls to his knees and proceeds to ram the machine head of his guitar repeatedly into the floor of the stage, producing howls of white noise from the instrument, and he looks like a man possessed, almost obscured in the fog and the eerie green lights.

If you’ve never come across the music of Madrugada or Mr Hoyem before, do your ears a serious favour, and check him out.  After the London show the following night, he promised a “swift return” to the UK… you would be well advised not to miss him next time.

Richard The Goth.

Amoral Dilemma -Violens Interview


“Acid Rein” By Violens.

‘He Got the Girl (Marine Girls cover)‘By Violens -Free Download.


“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” sang Old Blue eyes in his famous homage to New York, and after visiting the place for the first time recently I can see exactly what he means!  NYC can be somewhat overwhelming and the inexperienced traveller may be forgiven for thinking they’ve inadvertently been diverted to  ‘Shutter Island’ upon first arriving in Manhattan.  Nothing is quite as it seems, your waitress for example, is really a Broadway star in waiting, your Taxi driver the new Steinbeck and your hotel receptionist America’s next top model, ( I alas, remained a twa*t! )   But the Big Apple has always been a magnet for creative types, attracting them like moths to a flame, however the problem  remains, how do you ‘make it there?’ How do you get heard above the noise?

Violins lynch pin Jorge Elbrect moved from Miami to New York to study art at Cooper Union and admits that the city sometimes makes him feel like “I should  be wearing earplugs all day.” But Violens (pronounced Vy-lenz)  are a band who have been steadily making themselves heard due to the quality of the music they produce. In October 2008 they released a self-titled EP and toured Europe and the US with the likes of MGMT, Grizzly Bear, White Lies and Handsome Furs. Good things come to those who wait and Violens’ self-released, self-recorded, self-produced, self mixed  debut album ‘Amoral’ has certainly been worth waiting for.

They have created a strange aural dreamscape, nostalgic, yet at the same time contemporary, it’s an album that throbs and undulates with an understated, meandering beauty and one which shifts direction more than once throwing the listener a number of curve balls.  At times you’re listening to a jaunty Teenage Fan Club daydream and suddenly, without warning, you find yourself pitched headlong into the eye of a sonic hurricane. The production is sharp, clean and polished but  never overbearing, submerging a number of songs in a hazy, shoegazy wash of sound, whilst others utilise 1980’s synth flourishes and 60’s psychedelia . Imagine XTC, the Psychedlic Furs , the Byrds and Sonic Youth with a touch of  David Lynch thrown in.  We had a quick word with Jorge asking the sort of derivative questions only we can ask. 🙂

VP:  First off the inevitable, how did the band come together question and what’s the reason for the collective name?

Jorge : Iddo and I have known each other for years and I asked him to help me harmonize vocals for some songs I had been working on. We met Myles a little more than a year ago and got along instantly. Now all three of us write music and sing/harmonize together. Phonetically, the name came from a memory of Alejandro Jodorowski’s pronunciation of the word “violence” in an interview I saw in college. He said: “I like violence, I LOVE violence. And I hate the idiot who says “Aahh, I am scared of that image.” That memory morphed into the idea of blending the words “violence” and “violins” as this fit the idea for the band well.

VP:  There’s also a dream like quality running through the album, with a sinister undertow. What sorts of themes interest you as a songwriter?

Jorge : There aren’t any particular themes that interest us. The lyrics come from a sort of a subconscious place, as a lot of the song melodies and production ideas do.

VP: Was it a difficult task to get your album finished, self produced and released?

Jorge : Yes, it was.  It certainly took a long time!

VP: You’ve toured with some pretty well known acts in the last couple of years , what would you say has been your favourite experience thus far ?

Jorge : Definitely this last tour with MGMT because it was really fun to watch them play their new songs every night and their crowds were amazingly supportive

VP: What are your plans for the remainder of the year?

Jorge : Touring and making a video, and of course working on music all the time as well.

VP: Imagine there’s a gun to your head and you HAVE to pick just two albums which you consider to be the most influential…what would you say they are?

Jorge : MBV -“Loveless”

Necrophagist- “Epitaph”

VP:   What are the best and worst aspects of touring?

Jorge : The best:  Definitely a fun show playing for an awesome group of people

The worst: is when equipment doesn’t work

VP:  Describe ‘Amoral’ in five words.

Jorge : Rose, rising, blister, drowning, sliced.





“Trance, Like Turn” By Violens.

“Are You Still In The Illusion? (Home Recording)” By Violens