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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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.


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Two’s Company-Victoria And Jacob

Victoria & Jacob -"With No Certainty"

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“With No Certainty” By Victoria & Jacob

If you have a penchant for pretentious, mystical sounding band names then it’s entirely possible that ‘Victoria and Jacob’ may not be the sort of collective appellation that would immediately grab your attention or appeal to your “inner snob”. However your initial opinion would surely change once you’re ears had been introduced to this wonderful duo’s beautiful, evocative, heartfelt music. The message they appear to be giving  in choosing to use their own names is that of an approachable down to earth couple who aren’t too concerned with pretension or cultivating a faux-cool  image- it’s the music that matters and thankfully it’s the sort of music that will melt your heart. Victoria’s poetic musings and languid vocals,( which at times bring to mind a rather less phlegmatic version of  Dubstar’s Sarah Blackwood) float around a dreamy, ethereal, multi-layered electronic soundscape that radiates beauty and warmth and taps another nail into the coffin of the school of thought that subscribes to the belief that  electronic music by definition, is cold and impersonal.  Maybe in this case the warmth and emotion stems from the fact that many of the synthetic sounds on their début are actually Victoria’s voice, looped, stretched and distorted out of recognition, then again, maybe it’s simply due to the fact that the  duo write songs of  rare,  fragile beauty.

Their songs may be suffused with a sense of melancholy  but they don’t come across as angsty, self obsessed little twerps who subscribe to the “woe is me, whinge-a-long” school of song writing,  for what is on offer on this début EP  is much more subtle, nuanced, reflective and mature and as such is actually strangely consoling.  V&J’s first EP, ‘Super Computer’, was self-released in August 2008 and soon gained praise and support from Tom Robinson ( note to the Independent- that’s TOM Robinson not Baldrick) via his BBC 6Music show.  This was followed up  by the ‘In The Rough’ EP  which was again, self released in October 2009, and now their début single/EP ‘With No Certainty’ is set for release on 5th April 2010 on Voga Parochia Records. We were more than impressed and demanded (in the nicest possible way)  to know more …. we  discussed their influences, their name and their decision to ditch acoustic instruments and embrace the electronic vibe on for enchanting debut single.

VP:  As a collective name you must admit Victoria and Jacob  isn’t terribly rock n roll is it? Did you consider any other names, I dunno,  like The Electric Adverbs, or  Soundgasam 911  or some other such nonsense. Any really bad discarded names you’d like to share?

VICTORIA & JACOB: We didn’t consider any names before because we didn’t really care at the time and now we just like the way the initials spell VAJ. It means people know our names at gigs and it feels more personal. Although if someone had suggest Soundgasam 911 we would have probably gone with it.

VP: You’re new EP ‘With No Certainty” sees a slight departure from your earlier work, more electronic than acoustic. Any particular reason for this or was it just the way your music was going?

VAJ: Whilst we were studying electronic music at University making compositions based on stockhausen scores and creating multimedia installations, we were writing folk music, which was probably a response to the experimental music we were making. The folk sound then evolved into folktronica, which is when we released our first two EP’s. But we then realised that we wanted to define our sound and make it more comprehendible, which is why we ditched the acoustic instruments. We felt the computer allowed for a much wider scope of textual possibilities.

VP:The songs on the EP are all beautiful, but do seem to be drenched in a sense of melancholy and infused with regret …would you agree?  And what sort of themes inspire your music ?

VICTORIA: I wouldn’t say regret, but melancholy certainly. I find a beauty and kind of sympathy in that sort of music. Like a lullaby to small child, it’s very comforting.

VP:Who’ve you been listening to in the past twelve months?

VICTORIA: My favourite artist of last year was Burial, I can’t get enough of his music.  I would love him to do a remix for us.  It’s the vocal samples he uses that make it so unique, quite obvious lyrics but really repetitive and hypnotic. The beats have an urban feel, and all the crackly sounds have an almost otherworldly quality to them.

JACOB: I been getting into the work of Takagi Masakatsu, he’s a multimedia audio/visual artist from Japan who writes electronic music built from acoustic instruments and environmental sounds. It’s not dissimilar to early Four Tet. I’ve also been listening to a lot of The Magnetic Fields, I regrettably only discovered their 3 disc album 69 Love Songs last year, but its quickly becoming one of my favourite albums ever.

VP: What does 2010 hold for you? Anything exciting lined up?

VAJ: Our debut single is released on the 5th of April on Voga Parochia, that’s exciting and what may come as a result of it, it’s our first release on a label and we are looking forward to playing gigs where people know our music. Right now we’re currently working on our debut album in between playing gigs and promoting the single.

VP: Which side of music do you enjoy best, the writing, the recording or playing live …?

VICTORIA: All of it, but I do really enjoy playing live as it allows us to test out new ideas, and it’s always a challenge because it makes us think about different ways of performing the music live.

JACOB: Definitely the writing, gigs can be too much hassle, and recording can be monotonous and time consuming! I write at home, so I just make a pot of coffee and sit at my laptop, occasionally looking outside to check on the weather. I love the spontaneity and chance involved with writing, especially when the ideas start flowing out uncontrollably. When recording and playing live doubts start to creep in, and it’s then that I think an idea is shit, probably because it’s so final and there’s no going back.

VP: If we came back and interviewed you in say, 3 years time, what would you like to have achieved?

VAJ: We would have loved to do some shows around Europe, and toured a bit more, and just still be doing what we are doing now.

VP: There are so many ways to access music these days, streaming music with services such as  Last FM, Spotify, etc,  downloading such as I-Tunes and of course good old fashioned record shops. What’s your own preference in terms of how you consume music?

JACOB: I prefer to listen on iTunes and go to record stores in London and buy some vinyl on a whim, it encourages me to take a risk with something. I’m really trying to get out of the habit of downloading ten albums in a day and never listening to them, although downloading can be positive because it allows our music to be heard all around the world, and means one day we could go and do a show in Japan and people could know our music.

VP: Some kindly soul reading this interview falls in love with your sound and decides to give you a few  grand, on condition it’s spent on enhancing your ability to make music. How would you spend it?

VAJ: On equipment we can’t possibly afford, although two grand wouldn’t go particularly far.

VP: Everybody has a record or two in their collection that makes them say “What was I thinking”…now is your chance to confess to a past musical faux pas! You’ll feel better for sharing 😉

VICTORIA: I was listening to Heads High by Mr.Vegas on Spotify, and of course I wouldn’t buy it, and a friend told me to give 1995 back their tune.

JACOB: I still haven’t got over my teenage obsession with Pearl Jam, me and our producer spent a whole session once comparing the original of Ten to the remastered version.

VP: Five adjectives to sum up your sound would be…..

VAJ:

Ethereal

Playful

Textured

Endearing

Woven

“Clash” By Victoria And Jacob -Free Download*

*courtesy of Bloody Awful Poetry PR

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“There’s A War” -Live – Victoria & Jacob

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Entente Cordiale-Mono Taxi Interview

Mono Taxi

“How You Gonna Feel About This” By Mono Taxi

There have been a number of bands who, over the years have experienced the giddy pleasure that can only be induced from having the word “Mono”in their collective moniker. This elite bunch include  Mono Stereo, The Mono Lps,  Mono, The Monochrome Set , Mono In VCF and Liam Gallagher’s new band, which if you follow the smart money, will be almost certainly be named,  “Mono-brow.” You can now add Anglo- French duo Mono Taxi to that ever growing list of “mono-philes”.

The nucleus of Mono Taxi comprises Yorkshire-born chanteuse Ellice Williams, and French-born Antoine Collin who have a real D.I.Y. ethic, they make their own artwork, cut each other’s hair, get friends to take photos and create their own lo fi videos.  On their latest single “How You Gonna Feel About This” they take the best of 90’s guitar music (Belly, The Breeders, Throwing Muses, Sonic Youth) give it a light coat of  pop varnish and produce a sound  that is powerful ,melodic, full of energy, and  infused with  joie de vivre. It certainly makes a welcome change from the 80’s keyboard revivalists whose quirky charms are starting to wear as thin as Cheryl Cole’s legs. It’s also rather nice to hear a song that hasn’t been subjected to  ‘death by overproduction’, one that gets back to basics and captures the spirit of spontaneity, which is of course, so often at the heart of all good rock n’ roll.   Mono Taxi is due to release their debut album in April of this year (that’s 2010 for those of you arriving at this page from the future-how’s it looking? ) and it promises to be an intriguing affair.  We had a word with the band, tried to deduce what a Mono Taxi actually is and were delighted to find that not only did we share a love of the same music, but we also shared a mutual mistrust of a certain Eton toff 😉

VP: When did you meet and what inspired you to form Mono Taxi ?

Antoine: We met in Paris in 2003. We were waiting for a cab at Gare du Nord and met in the queue. It just happened we were both going to Bastille and so we decided to share a taxi. We exchanged numbers once arrived in Bastille and started the band the following week.

VP: Where did the name come from?

Antoine: Two reasons why we chose Mono Taxi :  the first one is because we met in a shared taxi in Paris, the second is that it means “Beautiful Taxi” in Spanish.

VP: Your new single “”How You Gonna Feel About This “is about to be released and I believe your debut album is out in the near future, did you enjoy recording it?

Antoine: We record everything in our basement flat in Shepherd’s Bush so it’s always lots of fun. We transformed the corridor cupboard into a vocal booth, which sounds great but lacks a bit of oxygen after a few takes and can make you feel very dizzy if you don’t open the door every now and then. You can also just about fit in with a guitar but you have to keep the neck slightly angled up which can give you cramps at times. The living room has dozens of instruments that we have accumulated over the years including our latest find, an electric blue 1930’s piano which says “As used by Princess Elisabeth” with the English crown symbol next to it (but it looks way too sexy to have ever been used by the queen). Our debut album is out in May and we’re just finishing it up as we speak. It’s been a long time in the making, we’ve had some real joyful and awful moments making it and overall it sounds a lot better than we ever expected it to.

VP: You’ve been compared to 90’s bands like The Breeders and The Pixies with a popper edge, which bands would you say have influenced you.

Antoine: We love The Breeders and The Pixies ! American alternative music of the early 90’s definitely has a big influence on our sound although not everyone necessarily hears it as we do have a popper tone. One day we will make a proper dirty album though, promise.

VP: Many musicians tell stories of musical epiphanies, whether it was fist hearing Hendrix or The Pistols etc ,  defining moments when the suddenly realised “yes ! I want to be a musician” . Did you have such a musical epiphany?

Antoine: I remember seeing Dinosaur Jr in ’93 (shit, was it really 17 years ago ?), for the ‘Where You Been’ tour. It was my first gig and it left me both filled with wonder as well as deaf for a few days. The next day I went to Camden Market to buy my first guitar. £20.

Ellice: The day I got a keyboard for Christmas when I was 7.

VP: What’s been the strangest gig you’ve played so far as a band?

Antoine: Not really played strange gigs. Should we have? we played memorable gigs and miserable gigs but they were never strange as such. Maybe this year?

VP: What’s on the agenda for 2010 ?

Antoine: Our next single is out soon. We’ll be touring France, Spain, Portugal and the UK in May and June. Our album is out in May. Then the summer festivals and then we’ll start working on our next album in October (with that Princess Elizabeth piano, of course).

VP: What were your favourite albums of 2009?

Antoine: The re-release of Spiritualized’s Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, Yeah Yeah Yeahs It’s A Blitz.. Really liked the new Raveonettes too, with its euro-pop angle.

VP: I have a musician friend who once got so angry at the manufactured dross that is constantly playlisted on the big radio station’s that he threw his radio out of the window, is there are particular style of music that would induce you to do the same?

Antoine: We’re quite open to every style of music really. It’s more the people who make it that can be really irritating. We have to agree with your friend though, 95% (if not more) of what’s playlisted on major radios is stupid music played by stupid people but hey, are they not all signed to stupid majors in the first place ?

VP: Five things that would make 2010 a year to remember would be ……

Antoine: Cameron does NOT win the general elections, American troops leave Afghanistan and Iraq, Mono Taxi’s debut album is play-listed for an unlimited time on BBC radio 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19… And The Von Pip Musical Express gets a printed version distributed in every corner shop in the UK and which outsells the NME. Et voila !

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“The Sound Of You” –Mono Taxi

“Love Shows No Mercy To Fools“-Mono Taxi

“Here Right Now”-Mono Taxi (Live in Main D’oeuvre, Paris

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Liverpool Sound City 2010

NEW WEBSITE FOR 2010 & LIMITED DISCOUNT TICKET OFFER

Wednesday 19th – Saturday 22nd May 2010

www.liverpoolsoundcity.co.uk

“One of the biggest musical events the city has seenNME

“Taking control of Liverpool’s venues and commanding attention with one of the city’s most eclectic line-ups…..the event shows a lot of promise and could certainly become an annual draw on the festival circuit” Virtual Festivals

“This event is sure to stay on the UK music calendar for many years to come and has plenty of room to expand in the future. Proving that Liverpool really is a ‘Sound’ city” Music-News.com

Critics Pick 2009 – Independent on Sunday

Top City Festival 2009 – Sunday Times Culture

Following their foray into Dubai this winter, the UK’s most eclectic metropolitan festival ‘Liverpool Sound City’ is back for the latest instalment of their musical junta alongside their internationally renowned music conference. After the resounding success of the 2009 festival, Liverpool Sound City is raring to go with a packed programme of live acts, special events and world renowned speakers and panellists who not only shape, but make the music industry.

With Early Bird tickets on sale for a limited time only, Liverpool Sound City has launched a brand new website to give a taster of what to expect in 2010.

Applications are also now open to perform at Liverpool Sound City 2010, through www.sonicbids.com. Bands will be chosen from the festival’s extensive A&R team to play a gig alongside some of the biggest names in the current music scene.

Liverpool Sound City 2009 welcomed the best in new music with over 400 bands from across the world at 35 venues across the city. Over 4 days and nights of live acts included The Zutons, White Lies, Little Boots, White Denim, Black Lips, Telepathe, Enter Shikari, You Me @ Six, Cage The Elephant, Mongrel, Juliette Lewis, The Damned plus many more, alongside parties hosted by the likes of Gigwise, SXSW and Clash magazine.

On top of a premier and eclectic line up Liverpool Sound City includes an international music conference.  With over 1000 registered delegates and 40 panellists in 2009, the Liverpool Sound City international music business conference caters for everyone; from young people aspiring for careers in the music industry to the more established entrepreneur looking to grow their business.

And new for 2010, as part of it’s ongoing commitment to grass roots education and the DIY spirit of music, Liverpool Sound City will host ‘Create @ Sound City’- a series of educational panels, workshops, seminars and interactive sessions aimed at both new and established artists and young people.

Complimenting the extensive music festival and conference offering Liverpool Sound City also present a mastermind selection of Special Events including art and photography exhibitions and the now legendary John Peel World Cup where 18 teams of music industry favourites don their shorts and battle it out for the prestigious cup.

Early bird wristbands tickets are now on sale for just £40 which enables full entry to all the live gigs (capacity permitting and age restrictions apply)

Early bird Delegate passes are now on sale for just £100 which enables full entry to all live gigs and conference and special events.

The Early Bird tickets will only be available for a limited time so to ensure your annual fix of music exposure and education visit www.liverpoolsoundcity.co.uk

“Liverpool Sound City is about being the coolest and most exciting city centre music festival in the world. With Sound City we bring together the greatest new music and art from all over the world.  Together with this we welcome the key execs, mavericks, new entrepreneurs and industry players from the international arena of music, media and technology businesses…” Dave Pichilingi – Festival Director

TICKETS ON SALE NOW!

Key Info:

Date:                            19th – 22nd May 2010

Location:                      45 various venues, Liverpool.

Ticket Price: Early Bird Festival Tickets: £40

Full Delegate Pass Tickets: £100

Online Tickets:            Offical Festival Website:

http://www.liverpoolsoundcity.co.uk

_____________________________________________________________

Stop Making Sense-Cosmo Jarvis Interview

“She’s Got You” By Cosmo Jarvis

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A recent Q&A with the man the N.M.E. have bestowed the title “the coolest man in rock” revealed that Strokes front man Julian Casblancas may indeed be incredibly cool but he also gives interminably dull interviews. He offered precious little insight into his ‘creative process’ and the information he did proffer was the square root of f**k all. He came across as somebody who was either guarded to the point of paranoia or somebody who is about as interesting as Formica. The same cannot be said for our latest interviewee, Cosmo Jarvis. Cosmo, like the aforementioned Strokes front man was born in the USA ( New Jersey) before making the move to Devon, England as a child. However unlike Casablancas Cosmo is a young man who is rarely lost for words. Indeed some may say he has too many, that he’s a little too open and honest about life.  Such candour may not exactly shroud Jarvis in a veil of mystery meaning he may never be considered the “coolest man in rock”, he may divide fans and critics alike but he could never, ever be described as “dull”.  You feel Jarvis would heartily agree with Wilde when he stated  “I am but too conscious of the fact that we are born in an age when only the dull are treated seriously and I live in terror of not being misunderstood.”

A film-maker, songwriter, musician, storyteller, poet,  visionary or is he just simply  f**king with your head ? Will the real Cosmo Jarvis please stand up ? Cosmo first began making films at home on VHS when he was barely twelve.  Even at that age it was apparent he had a unique talent in terms of storytelling and pretty soon he was channelling his creative energies into music. “There’s more to be done with film,” he muses. “Music’s  just something that I do and making records sort of happens. Where some people write a diary, I just write songs.”

His songs may not be to everybody’s taste as he tackles subjects such as masturbation, Jessica Alba,  family breakdown, paedophilia, alcoholism, and domestic violence with a brutal honesty that is unprecedented in the age of the sanitised squeaky clean vacuum packed pop star. His frankness however is not sensationalist and is not  in the same vein as the  bombastic, spiteful Jeremy Clarkeson “I speak as I find” school of  boorishness.  No,  Cosmo’s prodigious output  appears to be a genuine attempt to find truth, to work things out in his own mind and as a result can at times make for uneasy listening. His mission is not to obliterate knowledge by writing songs that reflect a distorted photoshopped ‘Hello’ magazine style reality but appears to be a genuine quest for answers to the questions people rarely ask. If that means holding a mirror up to himself and indeed society to reveal all the random ugliness and sordid reality that goes with the human condition, then so be it. We spoke to Cosmo about his music, his school days his film making and of course gay pirates…..

VP:  Do you consider yourself to be a musician first and foremost or would you say you’re  more of a social commentator, expressing yourself via whatever medium best suits the message?

COSMO:  Maybe a commentator on whatever seems worth spending time making into something else. Something sticky and/or pleasant that will entertain, educate or alter someone, or just waste their time.

VP: Your eponymous début album contains 18 songs split over two discs with nine tracks on each . What was the thinking behind this? Are they two distinctly different groups of songs?

COSMO:  Yes, one group ‘Humasyouhitch’ is mostly what I would call the ‘Chicken Korma’ of my music. It is easy. I think so anyway. It is not belligerent, ‘Easy Shaved Pop’, catchy I’m told…

‘Sonofabitch’ is more all the other Indian food you would like to order but cant because you are in the Spar and tonight they are only selling the korma, because it is a low risk curry. ‘Sonofabitchis less where I’m from and more where I’m headed I guess. No that’s bullshit but I’m not deleting it. If someone was to f*ck their girl friend to ‘Humasyouhitch’ I wouldn’t be all that offended. However, if the same was attempted whilst listening to ‘Sonofabitch’, I would feel as if I had failed slightly, especially if that persons first impression of my record was made during a ceremony that demands (in most cases) quite some attention.

VP:   You’ve said in the past (with regard to the education system) “They make it sound like if you fail your exams, your existence is not worth living”.. Did you enjoy or endure your school days?

COSMO:  Both at different times. I hated that to feel comfortable and increase your worth to other students, it was essential that you admit and stick to, your social class. I suppose at school I was weird, I used to sit in the library and draw naked women all lunch time. I enjoyed work and valued some of my student/teacher relationships. I saw the whole debacle as an opportunity to infiltrate and understand as many groups of different people as I could. After a while in year 8 I started to learn what made my class mates tick. I already knew the scum. They made it obvious to me that I was not welcome. Then there were many like me who I tried very hard to make my friends. Even today, some of those still remain. Teachers and authority were my biggest problem. The teachers who knew their jobs well, and wanted nothing more than to educate in a professional manner, were the ones I respected. There was also a new wave of younger teachers at my school, many of whom were very thick and loved their power a little too much. Those were the ones to fuck with. I hate that my school seemed to favour the stupid but local types, much like the police force. In fact it was being at school that got me ready for the police, the fickle way they operate, the unjustified favouritism, the loud voices asserting things they don’t even understand.

I was in trouble a lot but I loved it. As a scholar, I knew what subjects stimulated me and everything outside of these would soon act as battlefields for me to ruin lessons by pointing out important errors in the way that things were taught and, at the same time, make myself into something less of a joke to the other students. It was funny though that to achieve this I had to adopt and utilise, permanently, those exact natural, laughable, embarrassing and hopeless traits that had rendered me unfit for honest, social, human interaction. This coupled with my total disgust and lack of acceptance for the ‘syllabus’ made me fight harder for what I saw as being a very sick and at the very least, inconsiderate way of making young people’s minds thrive, thus increasing their tolerance (and in some hopeful cases interest) for the exploration of all knowledge. I could never see an adult as a superior purely because of their age, but this was never my argument. This was the argument of many other students whose interests reached no further than ‘tonight’ and their ‘girlfriend’s bust size’. I didn’t want to come across as an argumentative timber-head who was only that way because he was young and had a problem with the old. I did have a problem with the old. But one thing I had learned was to always give people the opportunity to offer you their respect. If they do then it is in your hands and you can prioritise and estimate it as you see fit. The same goes both ways of course. There were too many questions the teachers didn’t want to answer because 1. They didn’t think it was relevant information for someone studying at my level to seek. 2. They didn’t know the answers 3. The system that I was being taught in did not include debate, challenge or argument as a part of its operation. It was the same as everything in this unfortunate existence, if you don’t play the game (even if you know it’s bull) you don’t win. Now, every write up/essay (especially in sciences, art and music) was not to be considered as an exercise of one students mind and was certainly not to be marked in such a way either but was a test of how well that student retained information given to it with only this very essay in mind and nothing further. This method of teaching to me rendered any knowledge gained in lessons, pointless, because I knew I was only learning it for the purposes of measuring and recording how well I had learned it. It sounds obvious but unless a person can argue ‘what is there already’ or at least choose which part of ‘what is there already’, they can examine and develop, they will never create their own passion for ‘what is there already’.

Religious education was good though, Ms. Screech allowed written challenges, as long as they were justified and presented a clear argument/point.

So when I wasn’t being a c*nt to my teachers, I was drawing hundred foot penises in the astro-turf and getting suspended proudly.

VP:  Your song “Gay Pirates” has attracted a fair bit of attention, what inspired you to write it ?

COSMO:  Just thinking about gay pirates. And the difficulties they must have faced.

VP: Is it true that you have pretty much written your next two albums?

COSMO:  Next 8 at least. And some instrumental albums. Not all of its gonna blow everybody away, but I always hope that an audience neglected by one record is an audience gained by another…maybe…. but yeah, I’m recoding new songs all the time. And have to brush up a few demos for album two but yeah should be cool. With the touring and pr shit I cant record as much as I used to but I still make a comfortable quota and have finish-able doodles filling up note books everywhere in my room. Yeah writing all the time.

VP:    Another project you are working on is a video about a man who takes himself hostage in erm… a urinal. One imagines you’d have a hard job pitching that to Hollywood, but if you did… how would you explain the essence of the story? 😉

COSMO:  Well that’s true, but it’s not gonna happen for a while, that’s gonna be a bigger film than any stuff I’ve made before. Bigger crew etc. It’s pretty distant, at the moment though, before that one, I’m writing a script based on a short I made but then scraped because it wasn’t good enough. It’s called ‘the naughty room’. It’s about a 20 year man who lives in a bath room, since the age of 4 he hasn’t been outside or exposed to anyone other than his mother (who keeps him there) he has a mind like a child and knows nothing of the severity of his circumstances. I am playing him: Todd. His mother blamed him since he was a child for the car accident that killed his father, because he was whining like a child and distracting his parents. Next door there lives a total kaner pot head. Unaware that more than just a grumpy woman lives next door. Eventually the two meet, through a wall, and some serious shit goes down. It’s kind of dark but also funny and weird. In the story you see the 20 year old boy discover masturbation over Jessica Rabbit. The story meanders between the two very different homes of these two boys. One who wants nothing more than to go outside and doesn’t understand why he is kept inside and another who f*cks his life away.

VP:    Apart from the obvious charms of Jessica Alba what things really motivate you to write songs and poetry?

COSMO:  Everything.

VP:   What   sort of music did you listen to as kid? And what new music have you discovered this year

COSMO:  The Beatles, Tom Waits, Crash Test Dummies, Gerry Rafferty, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Frank Zappa, John Mayall, John Lee Hooker, Grateful Dead, Bowie, US3, Eminem, Beach Boys, the Stones, Canned Heat… everything.

VP: Will you be touring as a result of the album release?

COSMO:  Yes England and Holland I’m told.

VP: Has the internet democratised music or made it more difficult for new bands to get record deals. Do you think labels play it even safer now than in the past and are unwilling to take risks?

COSMO: Yes, nobody takes risks now, The sad truth is the shit. The real shit, is the safest music for labels, the remixed crap put to beats and then some brain dead moron rapping about how he cheated on his baby. Because most people like shit and most people means the most money. So its a commendable business decision. Everyone likes shit. Radio one loves it. NME loves it. What I find astounding is that it is so easy for the shit to make it and hard for the slightly better shit to. There is no logic, only gimmicks. Magazines talk about what’s relevant and hip at one time as if it is stone cold fact. Even the crap thinks that it is better than the crap and so forth. I think of it like: I am someone else’s crap. It is a mindless cess-pit of fashion monkeys talking about music. The ones who should be on the radio, never are. Only fat mouthed shit wipers can be found there. So I guess it is down to a lucky break of some kind. There is no honour or content consistency among media companies. That’s fair enough though I guess. There is no reason why it can’t be just as powerful, which is why it’s great that there are so many online radio stations growing all the time. I can’t wait to start a real radio station with broadcasting capabilities greater than Radio One. That is one of many things, worth going to jail for. Real music. I know my faith in new music is fading, but I hear great things sometimes. Experimental things and even though they may not be to my taste, I value the intention behind them. but seriously, I was watching TV this morning and saw that one of those fools gold, click track only, rapping, singer, dicks had sampled ‘Hide and Seek’ by Imogen Heap. Not only sampled but written an entire excuse for a song around its original beauty. The result was a soulless, meaningless, waiting-to-be-set-as-your-ringtone insult. Yet, this dude was on daytime T.V. hell, everyone know that’s shit……………………………. Right?

VP: What five things would make the world a better place?

COSMO:  A diabetes cure

A huge increase in the standard of basic education

For people to be brought into the world without being made to accept its rules as anything other than man-made systems of living and to be allowed to recognise and explore the primeval within everything they think and do under the notion that they can improve themselves by understanding it.

For religious indoctrination to miss at least two generations (to start with) as a test to see if people could just be people.

Someone to invent a more efficient way of wiping ones ass in a hurry (other than a bidet), and I mean spotless.

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“Problems” by Cosmo Jarvis


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The Illumination Station-Lulu And the Lampshades Interview

“Rose Tint” By Lulu And The Lampshades

Free download “Clown Tit Fun” By Lulu And The Lamshades  here

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A girl called Lulu and her friends the dancing lampshades?? Good grief! It sounds like something that might have been commissioned for kids TV during the 60’s and early 70’s , a time when the counter-culture and consumerism collided and bizarrely kids TV seemed to be laced with none too subtle drug references  There was the visual equivalent of the ‘Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test ‘in the disturbing somewhat freaky form of ‘HR Pufnstuff’. We had ‘The Magic Roundabout’ , replete with hallucinogenic imagery and moral corruption ,which introduced a generation of youngsters to some rather dubious characters including a tripped out rabbit called Dylan who, one suspects, was germinating something rather more powerful than carrots in his “vegetable patch !” And what of ‘Ludwig’? , This terrifying cartoon had “bad acid” writ large throughout and led to many children needing psychiatric help . I kid you not….

However I digress, Lulu And The Lampshades, aside from their name, have little in common with any of the above. They are in point of fact a musical collective best described as quirky folk rockers with a whimsical sense of playfulness and an ear for a great tune.  A word of caution however, their live shows really do contain scenes of dancing lampshades which some people may find disturbing ;).  Hallucinogenic drugs are not recommended!

The free spirited ethos of Lulu And The Lampshades is apparent on their debut single “Feet To the Sky” a beautiful ode to escapism “For too long emotional extremities have been uncharted territories” sings Luisa as she seeks to shake herself from “the things I think that make me whole” It’s a call to arms, challenging people to look at things from a different perspective, to shake things up, to do something out of the ordinary and to put as little trust as possible in tomorrow and seize the moment.  “Feet To the Sky” is a fabulous introduction to the bands clever word play and sense of fun and will no doubt delight fans of Emmy the Great, Peggy Sue, Laura Marling et all, they are a band who quite literally, get the furniture dancing!!

Lulu And The Lampshades also share a deep love for their namesake, the humble lampshade, they nurse a deeply held belief that it is a vastly unappreciated item of furniture and should be celebrated. Thus intrigued I decided to have a chat with Luisa about the moral implications of fusing music with soft furnishings and attempted to shed some light on what made the band tick…The results were somewhat illuminating

VP: Hello there, how did the band come about? Who is Lulu and how did she meet her Lampshades??

Lulu:  Hi hey hello.  Lampshade past? Well I wanted to be in a band for ages, but I didn’t know anyone to be in a band with, so I made one up, and called it Helouisa (mine and Heloise’s names combined, clever no?).  We went to school together and it was the name we gave to all our entrepreneurial failures: t-shirts, cakes, hoodies with cushions inside the hood (another good idea I think) …  After a while it occurred to us to try singing together, but everyone said the name was rubbish and they were right.  Jemma agreed to play with us one night and we convinced her to stay and Dan we found at a furniture convention where we bonded over our love for lampshades and decided we would strive to see their appreciation in modern day society … more or less.

VP:  I know it’s difficult to describe your own music, but who said this was going to be an easy interview ;)…

Lulu:  Well I really like harmonies and I really like percussion, so, erm, harcussion music?  Or Parmony music?

VP:  You’re about to release a single “Feet to the Sky”, which was written apparently whilst cycling to Paris on a whim.  At 4am.  On New Year’s Eve. As you do

Lulu:  Kiiiind of, a few details to be remedied.  It was whimsical in as much as we decided to do it the day of departure, a few days earlier so that we’d get there in time for New Years Eve.  We left at four because we thought we’d miss our ferry, but that was the dumbest thing ever because it doesn’t get light for ages and we were suddenly on a dual carriageway in the pitch black with lorries whizzing by, very scary, we had to sit in a bush on the hard shoulder and wait for sunrise, we played ping to stay warm.  Aside from that it was completely magical, a perfect bit of escapism in cold winter.

VP: What are you doing to celebrate its release?

Lulu:  We’re having party! 26th of October at Passing Clouds just off Kingsland Road.  Details coming, Melodica, Melody and Me are playing, who I love so I’m very happy about that, and some others confirming … come, it’ll be grand.

VP: Aside from recording your debut single what have you been up to musically in 2009?

Lulu:  Forming a band.  This time last year it was still just me, garage band, and any boy I could get to strum a guitar with me on open mic’s.  Now there are permanent members, new songs, lots more gigs and the like. We spent the last few days making a video which we’re very excited about, Dan is dressed as a Duracell Bunny, Heloise is Little Bo Peep, and Jemma is Marie from the Sound of Music.  I wish they could dress like that all the time.

VP: What has been your most memorable gig so far?

Lulu:  Maybe one of our first for first times sakes… The Lock Tavern earlier this year, it was the first one with Dan and the first one where two of my friends agreed to dress as lampshades and dance for us.  We were so nervous and excited and we inevitably messed up loads, but it was so much fun.  When we got an encore we just had to sing Elastic Limbs again because we didn’t have any more songs.

VP: Who are your musical heroes and why?

Lulu:  It’s mostly just been a series of female solo singers, starting with Billie Holiday who I was massively obsessed with when I should have been into much cooler music.  The other biggest one I reckon is Lauryn Hill.  Apparently I’ve never been so excitable as when I saw her play at Exit (which was otherwise horrible).  I made sure I was at the front and was reduced to the screaming fan I never thought I’d be.  She came on an hour and a half late, and shouted her songs over a ska beat, rubbish, but I didn’t care in the slightest.

VP: What’s your poison, Facebook, Myspace? Twitter? Or do you get out occasionally?

Lulu:  If we’re referring to interspace vices then I’ll be specific and say Facebook threads.  When I was writing my dissertation we started a Facebook message to plan summer whilst we were stuck in libraries, but then everyone got a bit hooked and it became my salvation, it was literally my life for about two months… so dependable, somebody was always there!  We started referring to it as a real person and christened him Malcolm, Dear Malcolm, today I … and so on.  Now he is embodied in a little red caravan.   Malcolm is my poison.

VP: If the government could appoint a minister for cool, who’d get your vote?

Lulu:  As a testament to how cool Brazilians are, they’re minister of culture is world-renowned musician Gilberto Gil, basically a minister of cool if ever one did exist. We compare thinly.

VP: What are the five most important words in Lulu And The Lampshades dictionary

Lulu: I’ve*drawn*a*blank*sorry

‘Feet To The Sky’

7” Released 26th October 2009 (Voga Parochia)

Digital Release 18th October 2009 (Voga Parochia)

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“You’re Gonna Miss Me” Lulu And The Lampshades

This article was written for Altsounds and can be read in full here.

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“Shine On” – Marina And The Diamonds Interview

“Mowgali’s Road” By Marina & The Diamonds

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As soon as I began listening to Marina And The Diamonds I quickly experienced the same sort of “brain-gasam” enjoyed by Alan Yentob  as featured in BBC arts show “Imagine”. This disturbing spectacle occurred during an episode in which Yentob investigated the core elements of Dr. Oliver Sacks book “Musiciophillia: Tales Of Music & The Brain” which examines our physiological relationship with music. As part of the show our facially hirsute hero underwent an MRI scan which purported to show his brains emotional response to certain pieces of  music.  This in turn led me to ponder on my love of music and wonder what an MRI scan would reveal in terms of my own response to certain pieces of music. For example if I found myself  forced to listen to the tuneless ego-centric bleatings of failed Butlins Redcoat, Robbie Williams, I’m fairly certain the only emotion this highly sophisticated piece of medical equipment would be able to discern, would be mild irritation. On the other hand, such is the euphoria induced when listening to the aforementioned Marina And The Diamonds I could quite easily envisage my brain lighting up like a firework display at the Epcot centre on the 4th of July! (Technically an intense pleasurable emotional response to music observed during such a scan would actually show areas of my brain literally becoming “bathed in blood”, as happened with Yentob when listening to Slipknot.. oh wait..no..my mistake, it was Chopin. However I’m not so sure Marina would have readily agreed to an interview if my factually accurate but somewhat scary opening gambit had been “I love your music so much that it floods my organ with blood”)

 

Marina and The Diamonds is in reality the incredibly talented Marina Diamandis  from Wales, or possibly ancient Greece, or even both, and she has followed up her fabulous debut single  “Obsessions/ Mowgali’s Road” with the amazing “Crown Jewels” EP. Her work has sometimes lazily been compared to the likes of Kate Nash , Lily Allen, Florence and The Machine (insert any upcoming female singers name here ) but other than the fact that they are all female, write songs, play instruments and have a head and arms and legs there is little similarity or as Marina rather more bluntly puts it “I’m sooo like Kate Nash because OOPS! I have a vagina and a keyboard.” Marina’s songs stand on their own merits, they are distinctive, unique, intelligent,literate, powerful and moving. I’m not going to dub Marina “kooky” or “quirky” or “off the wall” as this could erroneously hint that there is some sort of novelty or gimmick at play here, which simply isn’t the case. And another thing, why on earth are innovative female performers so often described in such terms, yet their male counterparts, who have also torn up the musical rule book are called “experimental” whilst heroically depicted as “visionaries” or “mavericks”? If we must make comparisons ( and I’m afraid we must, because where in the world would  music bloggers and journalists be without them,) then a new wave Kate Bush, may be a slightly better fit, but even this doesn’t really do Marina’s music justice, maybe you should just listen to it because writing about music is like having a foot massage with  your wellies on, to experience it fully you have to really feel it.

Despite the recent success of female performers in 2009 such as Florence, La Roux and Little Boots, Marina doesn’t see herself at the vanguard of some sort of “female movement” as she explains ‘When Britpop was at its peak, all the Britpop bands got lumped together but, personally, I do my thing; I write songs, I perform and I couldn’t give two shits about what X, Y or Z are doing. If we have 15 girls rise to the top this year and they’re all super-talented, then brilliant. But good music is good music; who cares if you are male or female?’… She certainly tells it like it is and demonstrates a refreshing candour which may one day have the suites at “big label music” twitching nervously, whilst they work on a marketing strategy aimed at airbrushing and diluting her personality. But such an attempt would rather be missing the point, I mean do we really want an army of interchangeable “Stepford popstars” all nice, polite, safe musicians who have nothing to say and merely front a corporate vision of what pop should be? That may be Cowell’s vision of nirvana but it’s my vision of pop hell! Besides, such brutal honesty only makes Marina more endearingly real to her ever growing army of admirers as regular readers of her blog will surely testify. In fact it’s the people with passion and talent like Marina who can actually help halt the apotheosis of the bland, the celebration of the talentless and the beatification of the terminally stupid.

And so after being seduced by her music I simply had to tell her that if she isn’t a huge success in 2010, I’ll be demanding that the Great British record buying public undergo a compulsory MRI scan to ascertain whether they actually have brains. 😉  And that’s what I did …….

VP: Hello there, let’s begin with a bit of background…you’ve been  releasing  some of the best new music I’ve heard for quite some time under the name Marina & The Diamonds, but who are the Diamonds  I thought this was  essentially a solo project?

MARINA: I am a solo artist. But I like fantasy and I hate loneliness so the idea of Marina & the Diamonds instantly felt cute and warming and not so egocentric as Marina Diamond.

VP: You’ve just followed up your debut single “Obsessions”/“Mowgli’s Road”, with equally majestic “Crown Jewels EP” can you tell us a little bit about the songs on the EP ?

MARINA: It’s down to you whether you want to read into the songs or not. I’m a pretty open person in my songs and so don’t feel it’s right to elaborate any more on themes or subjects.

VP: Any news on when we might expect the debut album or are you still writing and biding your time waiting for the right moment to unleash your album on the Great British public…?

MARINA: Ha ha. I am planning to release it January 2010. I can’t wait.

VP: How did Glastonbury go ? I believe you nearly got strangled? What other festivals are you playing this year ?

MARINA: Oh they totally dramatised that! I just wrapped the mic lead around my neck. Hardly near death experience. Im playing Bestival, Latitude, Camp Bestival, Under age, Get Loaded and a few overseas. Not many left to play now.

VP: You have a very interesting blog on your site in which you are pretty candid about how you feel, you certainly don’t pull any punches. You were particularly scathing about certain vapid female celebs describing them as “Vacant. Airbrushed. Empty. People. Getting. Paid. To talk. About fuck all…” Does the obsession with celeb culture irritate you?

MARINA: Well, we created our own monster here. I’m not so irritated anymore. I mean, that quote above was written almost 2 years ago. I’m a very different person now to how I was back then.  We’re all privy to lolling about over some sensationalised pieces of celeb news from time to time. I don’t think its the worst thing in the world but I certainly would like to avoid becoming that type of person. It gives you nothing only takes. I just feel celeb world is very unhealthy and I do not want to be like those people nor live their lives just because I am headed for show business.

VP: You’ve also said that record labels are so obsessed with acts producing an album containing twelve potential number one singles that they “actually forget that there needs to be a tiny bit of soul in the music “. What sort of music inspires and moves you?

MARINA: Honest music. Music that is creatively risky. I like musicians who genuinely don’t care about what a song will do for them/ their label/ their fans. They just write it for the love of writing it.

VP: Is it true that 14 record labels were all vying to sign you up ?

MARINA: ‘Vying’ is the key word. None of them wanted to take a bet. Except for 679 that is 🙂

VP: As mentioned you blog a fair bit, although you admit you have quite an ambivalent attitude to blogging, what do you make of all this social networking malarky.  Is it a great way to meet likeminded people from all walks of life?  The Daily Mail, in their usual understated style have actually claimed facebook can cause cancer( link here)  !…. However health risks aside  it must be a great tool for  helping upcoming musical artists connect with a bigger audience..?

MARINA: Oh definitely. As the ancient greeks said.. “All in moderation”. As long as it doesn’t substitute normal real life relationships then I think it’s a great way to communicate.

VP: What was the first single and album  you ever bought?

MARINA: Eesh… I think it was Pretty Fly by The Offspring. And Alisha’s Attic was my first album.

VP: Five words to describe Marina And The Diamonds ?

MARINA: Strong, hyper, driven, heavy, dark, dazzling

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Buy “The Crown Jewels EP here ,

or digital download here

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“Iam Not A Robot”- Marina And The Diamonds

“Obsessions”-Marina And The Diamonds

“Mowgli’s Road “-Marina And The Diamonds (Live)

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