Ladytron – “Gravity The Seducer” – Review / Interview.

dytron - Gravity The Seducer Album Review and Interview with Helen from the band - The Von Pip Musical Express (3)
Photo Credit – Michele Civetta.

‘Melting Ice’  By Ladytron.

 ‘Moon Place’ By Ladytron.

 

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Brian Eno once described Ladytron as a band who posses “a full awareness of what’s happening everywhere in music which is interwoven to produce  something quite new”  they are, he went on to say, “the best of English pop music.”   And after revisiting the band’s recent career retrospective it would be rather difficult to argue with Mr Eno’s assessment. The “Best of Ladytron 00-10” served as a timely reminder as to why they have managed to stay at the forefront of  cutting edge music for over a decade,  and also why they have made a steady transition from influential cult band to national treasure.

They return with their fifth studio album ‘Gravity The Seducer’ which sculpts  a much more languid aural soundscape then the relentless, aggressive ‘hypno-tronic’ majesty  displayed on their last album, the epic Velocifero.’  In many ways this is a far more considered piece of work with swirling, symphonic flourishes embellishing the inscrutable, frost fretted dual vocals of Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo.   This is a slightly softer, cuddlier Ladytron than we are perhaps used to, a band confident, at ease and comfortable within their own musical skin. The lush elegance of opening track  ‘White Elephant’ sets the tone for an album that doesn’t strive for huge anthemic tunes but instead constructs a miasma of sensual languidity and doomed grandeur that is both haunting and soothing.  ‘Moon Palace’ sees Ladytron at their most glacial and imperious whilst the gorgeous ‘Transparent Days’ and ‘Melting Ice’ are nothing short of sublime. ‘Gravity The Seducer’ is full of beautiful, evocative, cinematic music imbued with dark throbbing undertones and although maybe not as commercial as previous works is every bit as satisfying. Fashions and fads may come and go but Ladytron will prevail because when it comes to making mature sophisticated electronic music of both style and substance, they have few equals.

Rating 9/10.

I spoke to Helen with regard to the new album, the bands secret of longevity, and popular misconceptions about the band.

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VP : Ladytron have always been at the cutting edge of music and yet never been part of any paticular scene. Is that pretty much how you’ve approached music, not really influenced by trends as such, just concentrated on producing the music you love. 

HELEN : Yep, totally. The press has tried very hard to tie us to a particular genre or scene but I think we’ve managed to come through that and prove there’s a lot more to us. We’re not really interested in trends and when it comes to songwriting we do it the only way we know how. It’s a natural process. Generally we don’t listen to current music when writing for ourselves, it just makes things confusing. You need a clear head and space to think for ideas to develop. 

VP : Your fifth album ‘Gravity the Seducer’ comes in the wake of a  greatest hits retrospective. How has the way you write and produce your albums changed over the years.  For example you have toured all over the world and an outsider may wonder when you have time to sit down and write.

HELEN : Well, up until about 2009 we literally hadn’t had a moment to sit down and write. We’d pretty much toured constantly since releasing Witching Hour. Thinking back now I’m not sure how we did it. Maybe youth helped. I can’t see us being able to handle that now. It was quite intense. From the autumn of 2009 we took a good years break. It was much needed for everyone’s sanity. In that time we gathered together tracks, wrote new ones, piled them into a pot and then decided which ones to work on for Gravity the Seducer. Generally we all write separately at home and then collaborate on tracks that require it. The writing process has always worked in the same way for us. We then take the songs into the studio where we mess around with instrumentation and layering, putting down lead vocals and harmonies. Building and building is the key. 

 VP : Every album you’ve released is different yet retains your own distinctive ‘Ladytron’ sound. Would you agree there’s a definite sweeping, more cinematic vibe this time around and was that your intention?

HELEN : Gravity the Seducer still sounds like Ladytron but perhaps just another, softer, side to Ladytron. We did want to create something a little different but you never really know what an album will sound like until you work on the tracks in the studio. The instrumentation available to us helped shape the sound, along with production techniques. The layering of vocals creates an air of lushness, and an ethereal glow. Velocifero was a much harder, more driven album and that was because of all the touring we’d done. At the time we wanted to create a more ‘live’ sound on record and Velocifero was the result. With Gravity we felt free to explore other options.

VP: What exactly does the title ‘Gravity the Seducer’ mean, who came up with it ?

HELEN : It’s a lyric from the song 90 Degrees which features on the album. It’s a lyric Danny came up with and it seemed to embody the entire album.

VP: You’ve composed music for video games, whilst Ace Of Hz was in the last Fifa game, some people take the rather fatuous  old school view that this somehow diminishes the music.  In the age of the download bands often have to look at innovative new ways to monetize their music, and the old Bill Hicks quote about selling out seems slightly irrelevant now. Even so are you careful about whom you license your music to? For example it’s about as likely for Morrissey’s music to be featured in the latest McDonalds ad campaign as it is for  Billy Bragg to compose a rousing Tory Conference sing-along. 😉 

HELEN : I really don’t think there is any such thing as selling out these days. People have to understand that in order to continue making music as a band, like anybody else, we need to make money. We have no other source of income as Ladytron is our full time job. So many bands are forced onto the road for non stop touring as it’s the only way for them to make pennies, and this is partly due to the fact that people aren’t paying to buy their records anymore. We’ve been very lucky. But most bands will not be. Of course it is not just about the money. If we’re really not into something then we won’t do it. No way. If we all agree on something then we will. It’s great to have support from games such as Fifa and The Sims. It also opens up our music to a whole different fan base. 

VP : What’s been your weirdest experience as a band?

HELEN : There’s been a few. The most recent would be flying business class from China with Emirates. We were the only ones on the plane so ended up having our own private party with all the hostesses in the bar of the A380. It was pretty surreal. They took Polaroids of us all in their hats drinking champagne. They also told us we could have anything we wanted. I didn’t want to push it though. I recommend Emirates to everyone now

VP:  You co-owned one of my favourite and most stylish  bars in Liverpool, the much missed Korova. After some licensing shenanigans it relocated  to Hope Street but never quite captured the atmosphere of the original, even less so  after it burnt down. Will it reopen and are you still involved with it?  

HELEN : Well, it was Danny & Reuben who had a hand in Korova. Not quite co-owners. It was a great bar and live venue though. Danny is working on a new bar currently in Liverpool.

 

VP: What are your plans for the rest of 2011 ?  Will there be more UK dates at the end of the year?

HELEN : We’re flying out to Mexico is 2 weeks for a gig and from there we will kick off our North American tour. In November we’ll be doing some South American dates then after that who knows. 

VP : What’s the secret of the bands longevity?  I assume you all still adore each other’s company  and you’ve had no huge rock n roll style spats over the years?

HELEN : Oh, we’ve had our fair share of spats, but thankfully none that have rocked the boat too badly. It’s only natural I think. When you’re on tour for such long periods of time its hard being in each other’s pockets. But, we’ve learned how to deal with it. It’s important to get your own space. Your bunk is always there if you need to hide. On our upcoming US tour there are actually going to be about 4 girls on the bus which is unheard of. I’m hoping the bus smells like roses and daisies. 

VP :  What would you say is the biggest misconception about Ladytron?

HELEN : That we’re 4 icy lesbians. 

VP: Five words to describe ‘Gravity The Seducer’ 

HELEN : Warm, otherworldly, melancholy, vast, heroic.

Links

Official Site.

iTunes: http://www.itunes.com/ladytron
CD on Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/jgX0q1
LP on Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/kXihkK
CD on Amazon (Euro): http://amzn.to/n1D2BT
LP on Amazon (Euro): http://amzn.to/r89D7F
Large Pictures/Wallpapers.

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Songs To Learn And Sing – Love Scenes, Strangers, The Whip, The Good Natured, Howling Bells And Other Lives

This week : –  Love Scenes, Strangers, The Whip,  The Good Natured, Howling Bells And Other Lives.

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Love Scenes.

Love Scenes -  New Album

This came via an email, and admittedly we weren’t previously aware of Love Scenes, a collaboration between two Buffalo locals, Leah Loefke & TJ Grace. They produce understated, wistful electronic indie pop in the same vein as say The Postal Service.  Their debut albumClassy Excuse for a Trashy Experience’ is available on a pay whatever you like basis HERE and is rather lovely.

‘Robot Despair’  By Love Scenes

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Strangers.

Strangers. EP2 Cover

Dark pop trio Strangers, release their second EP on July 18th entitled, somewhat surprisingly EP2 ! (the follow up to , yes you guessed it, the critically acclaimed  EP1!)  What they may lack in terms of imagination when it comes to naming EP’s they more than make up for musically. This is glorious dark electro pop of the highest order, reminiscent of ‘Violator’ era Depeche Mode. Check out the lead track below.

It Was A Sin’ By  Strangers.

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The Whip.

The Whip Announce New Album

The new album from The Whip released September 19th on Southern Fried Records. ‘Wired Together’ is available to pre-order from the band’s site at http://www.thewhipband.com from June 13th. Those who pre-order the album will receive a five track download immediately to whet their appetites for the full version on release. They have also announced a string of dates in September.

Dates are as follows:
September
Wednesday 7th                   London Hoxton Bar & Grill
Friday 9th                               Glasgow King Tuts
Saturday 10th                         Manchester Ruby Lounge

 

‘Riot’ By The Whip

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The Good Natured.

Sarah McIntosh - The Good Natured

VPME favourites The Good Natured continue our electronic themed round up with the release of their Skeleton EP , which is streamed in full below.

And a free Remix of ‘Skeleton’  below

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Howling Bells.

Howling Bells Announce 3rd Album

Howling Bells will release their new album on September 12th on Cooking Vinyl.  Recorded in Las Vegas with The Killers’ Mark Stoermer producing, The Loudest Engine will be preceded by a clutch of live shows, including a London date at the Electric Ballroom on September 15th. They promise it to be a 70’s tinged psychedelic affair as they continue to explore new musical horizons… There’s a taster below…

The Loudest Engine”  By Howling Bells.

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Other Lives.

Other Lives

Other Lives, are a  five-piece from Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA, are a set  to unleash their latest single ‘Tamer Animals’, which will be available to download alongside the full album, of the same name on 29th August through their label Play it Again Sam. From what we’ve heard of the album so far, it sounds like it’s going to be somewhat epic.

‘Tamer Animals‘ By Other Lives.

‘Dust Bowl II’ By Other Lives.

Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes Review.

Lykke Li  Wounded Rhymes

I Follow Rivers‘ By Lykke Li

February 28th  sees the release of ‘Wounded Rhymes,’ the second album, (or snigger, the sophomore album if you’re a pretentious arse) from  Lykke Li. It’s an album that certainly looks set to turn her into a BIG star. But not a pop star,  heavens no, please don’t call her that , lest you prepare yourself for a tongue lashing, and be warned she doesn’t mince her words -‘ pop music has this negative, fake and disgusting image. And that is something I don’t want to be a part of. When people label me pop, I want to puke.’ Yet in essence ‘Wounded Rhymesis a pop album, but one that’s bursting with such originality, subtle sophistication and restless creativity that to label it ‘pop’ in the ‘Pop Justicesense of the word, would actually be an injustice!

‘Wounded Rhymes’ is an eclectic a mix of cascading tribal beats, wonky, skittering keyboards and haunting vocals that range from the strident to the sultry. It’s always innovative, entertaining, sexy and at times downright eccentric.  It’s an album that delves into the feelings experienced in the aftermath of loss and it is undoubtedly a dark, melancholic slice of pop noir,  yet it never feels bleak,  in fact the overall impression one is left with, is that of a singer who has become emboldened by experience and one who has found her true voice.  It’s an album that works on many different levels and on  occasion sounds like a twisted version of the Ronettes drowning in black honey..or maybe Marmite, because I get the feeling Ms Li could be an artist that may well divide music fans.  As  for  me, well I  definitely Lykke and that’s no Li (e)!  (oh dear and I’d done so well to avoid clunking puns)

Album rating 8.5/10

The whole album is streaming over at the Hype Machine

Ones To Watch in 2011

Ones To Watch in 2011

1. The Good Natured

The Good Natured-Ones to watch in 2011 -The VPME

‘Be My Animal’ By The Good Natured

We’ve featured  Sarah McIntosh-The Good Natured, a fair bit in 2010, and hopefully 2011 will see her star continue to rise. Picture a less imperious Ladytron or maybe Dubstar with empathy or even La Roux devoid of reedy voice and gargantuan ego. With silver in her lungs and gold in her heart The Good Natured could well prove to be the most interesting act to emerge from the current crop of female electronic pop pioneers. It’s a darkly celebratory sound, full of contradictions, euphoric yet  melancholic, phlegmatic yet expressive, and it really should establish Sarah as one of our brightest talents. She also produced one of the finest cover versions I’ve had the pleasure of hearing in 2010, a beautiful, hauntingly evocative version of Sufjan StevensFor The Windows In Paradise’ (below)

Interview here

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2. Islington Boys Club.

Islington Boys Club-Ones to watch in 2011 -The VPME

Another band who should make a name for themselves next year! Glittering dark goth pop which shows what could happen if  Bauhaus,  Siouxsie and Bowie were all trapped in Andre Delambre’s matter transporter.

“Plastic 16” By Islington Boys Club.

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3. The Vaccines

The Vaccines- Ones to watch in 2011 -The VPME

“Blow It Up” By The Vaccines

You don’t really need to be a pop Nostradamus to predict that The Vaccines are going to bigger than Dawn French after a midnight binge in 2011. The delightfully raw don’t give a f**k speedball insouciance of  The Ramones flavoured ‘Wrecking Bar’ checks in at around one and a half minutes, whilst the Spectoresque /Marychain vibe of “Blow it up” and “If You Wanna” all serve notice that here is a band who seemingly have the songs  to match the hype.

Interview here

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5. Spark.

Spark-Ones to watch in 2011 -The VPME

Left-field, commercially viable, electro-pop is essentially what  Liverpool born Londoner Spark is all about. Her last single ‘Revolving’  mixed 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 plus a dash of Alison Goldfrapp and Spark looks very much like a pop sensation in waiting. Her début album is due to ‘drop’ (as they say) this year.

Interview here

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6. Japanese Voyeurs.

Japanese Voyeurs-Ones to watch in 2011 -The VPME

It may get a bit annoying if every review of Japanese Voyeurs mentions the ‘grunge revival’ but when you hear the sort of visceral, tormented howling rage that Japanese Voyeurs can produce you can’t help but think that the nearest point of reference is a female Kurt Cobain. I suppose a lot will depend on how you take to Romily Alice’s vocal but personally I love a bit of twisted torment  and therefore expect this band to acquire a fearsome reputation  in 2011.

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7. Chapel Club.

Chapel Club-Ones to watch in 2011 -The VPME

Live Chapel Club manage to combine raw power with swoonsome melodies and powerful poetic lyrics to produce music that positively throbs with dark euphoria (what’s dark euphoria Andy?  Fuck knows but it sounds  good.) It’s a sound that manages to sound heroic without ever sounding bombastic whilst possessing a natural eloquence and intelligence that never sounds contrived or pretentious. So now you know!  Debut album ‘Palace’ is available on 31st January .

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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8. Kyla La Grange.

Kyla La Grange--Ones to watch in 2011 -The VPME

Kyla sings with the sort of smoky world weariness that recalls a younger (albeit more sonorous) version of Marianne Faithful. As a philosophy graduate from Cambridge University her songs were unlikely to be  simplistic nursery rhymes about boys being mean, make-up, Top Shop and dancing, nope our Kyla sings about  the things that matter, life, death, the beauty of disappointment the ache of never satisfied love, the desolation of the heart and vampires, obviously. Marvellous!

Interview here.

‘Walk Through Walls’ By Kyla La Grange

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9. Seeräuber Jenny.

Seeruaber Jenny-Ones to watch in 2011 -The VPME

Seeräuber Jenny are Fran Barker from Brighton and Neil Claxton from Manchester (who was also one half of cult electronic remix duo Mint Royale.)  As Seeräuber Jenny the duo produce, a music that conveys genuine emotion, a combination of despair, isolation, beauty, strength and hope ( ie/ all the good stuff!)  which comes from a very real place. Love ’em.

Interview here

Push It Away’ By Seeräuber Jenny.

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And much more to come from Zola Jesus, Emmy The Great, Let’s Buy Happiness,  The Joy Formidable, Emily Barker, Run Toto Run, Little Comets, Catherine AD, Standard Fare and The Indelicates to name but a few !

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School Of Seven Bells – Free Download.

School Of Seven Bells Free Download

The utterly wonderful School Of Seven Bells offer a free download of  “I L U” ahead of a tour in the New Year with Interpol, ( that’s the band, not the International Criminal Police Organization)

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“I L U” By School Of Seven Bells.

The Tour

Dec 02 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5 supporting The Walkmen
Jan 27 – Vancouver, BC @ Orpheum Theatre
Jan 28 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox SoDo
Jan 29 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
Jan 31 – San Francisco, CA @ Warfield Theatre
Feb 02 – La Jolla, CA @ RIMAC Arena
Feb 04 – Santa Barbara, CA @ UCSB Events Center
Feb 05 – Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theatre
Feb 07 – Salt Lake City, AZ @ In The Venue
Feb 08 – Boulder, CO @ Boulder Theatre
Feb 11 – St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
Feb 12 – Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
Feb 15 – Toronto, ON @ Sound Academy
Feb 16 – Montreal, QU @ Metropolis
Feb 19 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues Boston

 


Sonic Boom Girl- Spark Interview.

Spark- Interview 2010- The Von Pip Musical Express

“Revolving” By Spark.

Free Download -‘Revolving Warrior One Remix.’

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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!’

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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

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‘Revolving’ By Spark


Performance-Red Brick Heart

Red Brick Heart Performance

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Once tipped as the next big thing, Mancunian electro-pop outfit Performance seemed to be on the cusp of greatness then- ‘ Boom!’ cue self implosion, in-fighting  and the loss of a major label deal, leaving a  divided band who were barely on speaking terms.   But Performance have survived, regrouped, reorganised and rediscovered their love for great pop music and it certainly shows on their comeback album ‘Red Brick Heart’. This is an album full of epic synth laden pop hooks that finds Performance halfway between the gutter and the stars. It’s an album of contrasts, of beauty and squalor, optimism and shattered dreams and possibly an album that could only come from a city like Manchester.   Dark sarcastic lyrics merge with sweeping synths and guitars and whilst ‘Red Brick Heart’ is undoubtedly a pop album, it is quite clearly not from the lobotomised school of song-writing.  This is intelligent literate pop of the highest order which is no surprise; after all there aren’t too many bands that are fronted by a published novelist.

You’d be hard pressed to find a filler on the album but  standout tracks  such as  “The Love,”“ O Surgeon” and the fantastic “Reptile” have sharper hooks than Abu Hanzer watching back to back screenings of  “Rolling Thunder,”Candyman” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer”. If you enjoy swaggering anthemic pop that will exercise your mind as well as your feet then this is a performance you can’t fail to enjoy.

8/10.

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INTERVIEW