“One of the biggest musical events the city has seen” NME
“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 where18 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
Flamboyant Bella? What sort of a name is that? It sounds like the sort of appellation Perez Hilton would bestow on his pet Chihuahua, or perhaps it calls to mind that burlesque dancer from Madam Jo-Jo’s, you know, the one who made love to you, and only you, with her eyes … erm not that I’d know anything about that sort of thing!! In reality Flamboyant Bella are a four piece musical outfit from Hitchin who have racked up over 1.5m hits on their MySpace page and have also topped the site’s unsigned chart. Inevitably there will be comparisons made to the Kate / Lilly school of pop, due in no small part to singer Flo’s vocal delivery,(altough vocals are shared with James ) and this in turn may well provoke the sort of reaction oft displayed when folk are confronted with a jar of Marmite. But if you like the idea of Kate Nash fronting the Primitives on a sugar rush and have a sense of fun then “Flambo” (as their fans call them) may be right up your musical street. It’s great summery pop music. A word of warning though kids, Flamboyant Bella’s songs more often than not contain some reference to sex, booze, boozy sex and sexy booze. We feel a moral duty as a blog with a social conscience, to point out that binge drinking is responsible for all of society’s ills, so forget global warming, terrorism, poverty and MP’s expenses, having a pint is the real enemy within. We also feel duty bound to point out that unprotected sex can have terrifying consequences – children for example.
Rather fittingly Flamboyant Bella do produce pop that’s as catchy as Chlamydia ( minus unpleasant side effects) and show me a teenager that isn’t preoccupied with close encounters of the drunken kind and I’ll show you a young Conservative. Such predilections are all part of the normal rights of passage and of course it’s not the destination, it’s the journey that matters.So worry not about the dissolute state of this young bands collective soul, they’ll be fine and in time, excess and giddiness will be replaced by temperance and responsibility. In fact society has the perfect antidote to curb such rampant unfettered fun, it’s an institution that has been around for many years, it’s called “marriage”. 😉
We had a chat to Flamboyant Bella’s Flo, which was a erm, gas!
VP: How did the band get together?
Flo: Well, the bassist, Mitch, and drummer, Elliot, met in their parent’s cells, as they’re brothers. And Elliot’s been good friends with James for years. They found me, in a hairdressers and it clicked from then on.
VP: Was it always an ambition to be involved in music?
Flo: I think it’s everyone’s dream to get to be in a band. But personally, yes. We’ve all done music for years now, so we’re very lucky!
VP: “Flamboyant Bella”?? Where did the name come from is it a person? A burlesque artist? A state of mind?
Flo: We nicked it out of a newspaper headline chronicle thing. It’s some bird from New York or somewhere.
VP: What have you released thus far?
Flo: We first released ‘Touch’ as a single. It was attached to a Frisbee which we still sell today as it works so well. We then released our song ‘Absolutely Wankered’ but just for free for everyone, and now we’ve just released ‘Abbi’ which has done us proud, especially radio-wise.
VP: Would you care to share the strangest thing you’ve done when “Absolutely Wankered”
Flo: Ooft! Umm.. Err.. We have spitting fights in Travelodge’s when on the road?
VP: What have you found to be the most surprising/weirdest aspect of being in a band?
Flo: Some great kids in Newcastle and a lovely lady from Brazil have got tattoos of either our artwork or lyrics. MADNESS!!!!
VP: Who are your musical heroes?
Flo: Mine is a singer by the name of Inara George. She sings in a group called The Bird and the Bee. She’s very pretty and has a lovely voice so I love her. I know James adores Blondie. She’s such an icon for sure!!
VP: If Simon Cowell mysteriously disappeared, would anybody really care ?
Flo: I would. I think he’s genius. Some kid cut out a picture of his smiling face from a newspaper, at a gig in Southampton and gave it to me. I kept it for weeks… Then he disappeared… and I DID care!
VP: What would you say are your worst habits?
Flo: The boys suffer from terrible flatulence. To be honest, we all fart on each other.
VP: Five words to best encapsulate the Flamboyant Bella vibe?
Jonny Cola & The A-Grades have been making waves in London since late summer 2008. They have performed live sessions for Resonance FM and Earwax Radio, played high profile club nights and SE5 dives, self-released one single with lo-fi accompanying video, made jaws drop and grown men weep. Crucially, they have remembered to write some tunes.
“Disappearing Act” is their second single, a tasty three-and-a-half minute slice of dirty disco pop, complete with killer chorus, key change and calypso middle eight. You can’t say fairer than that. Expect it to be making people fall over on sticky dancefloors all summer long.
The single is available in two different download packages. The first, available via iTunes and the usual digital stores, features “Disappearing Act” itself accompanied by remixes from Hunterheck – aka Hamish from Scottish electronic maestros Swimmer One – and The Soft Close-Ups. The former essentially transforms the song into an ultra-summery, borderline Balearic stomper. Meanwhile, The Soft Close-Ups take our heroes on a thrilling eight-bit dub adventure. We predict an eight-bit dub explosion in six months’ time.
Meanwhile, the second set of downloads – a CD2 for the postmodern age, if you like – is available to download for free here. Rather than “Disappearing Act”, what you get is the song which was originally intended to be its double A-side, “Shooting Up” – a skewed Motown-tinged pop classic, co-written with David of The Soft Close-Ups (and formerly the singer in Luxembourg) – and yet another remix of “Disappearing Act”, a spiky electro reimagining by Shoreditch’s Hellbent & Leather.
Both “Disappearing Act” and “Shooting Up” are taken from The Yellow Mini, a short album released next week (June 1st) via the obscure BBA Highland label, with distribution from the less obscure Cargo Records (which means you can actually buy it in shops and stuff). The format should not be seen as indicating a lack of ambition – quite the opposite. It’s just that sometimes you can get things across more clearly in 23 minutes.
Jonny Cola & The A-Grades are determined to make a drama out of a crisis.
Here’s what Jonny Cola (vocals), Mauro Venegas (guitars), Aurora Sommer (bass) and Nicholas Bukowski (drums) had to say when confronted with a searching set of questions…
VP: Tell us how the band came into being, how you all got together…
JC: We met in a dense and frustrated crowd at Victoria Station, metaphorically speaking. Rather than queue up for a ticket from the sole working machine on the vague assumption that a train might actually be departing anytime soon, we saw our chance and hot-footed it crosstown to craft songs to live, love and die to. One day, we aim to return and commandeer the tannoy system. That’s our story anyway, and we’re sticking to it.
VP: What’s in a name? Where did Jonny Cola come from?
JC: I used to record electropop, before it came back into fashion, under the moniker of Charly Bubbles. Jonny Cola is his older, slightly more jaded brother. The A-Grades are essentially my dream team, my fantasy band made flesh. Which is nice.
VP: How difficult is it for a band to get their music “out there” these days?
JC: It’s incredibly easy, but getting anyone to listen, or to take you seriously, is another matter. If you’re not desperately postmodern, providing a quick fix of disposable novelty, it’s hard to register in people’s minds in the gaps between Facebook messages and videos of amusing cats.
NB: Yeah, it’s not specifically difficult at all anymore. It’s all measured on your expectations of what you think should happen with it. You can create it, fund it, then make it appear somewhere for people to buy, but ultimately it can disappear just as quickly without radio play or major label funding. Even if it’s great. People’s attention spans can also be quite brief unless the idea that something is brilliant is consistently cemented into their minds with some insistent marketing scheme. I do like the amusing cats though.
VP: Songwriting… How do you choose subject matter etc?
JC: I’m not sure that writing songs on a particular subject works very well – for me, anyway. I find it more fun to start with visual and emotional snapshots, and see where things go from there. Think of it as a psychoanalytic process, if you like, or just an evasive tactic to avoid revealing too much.
VP: What do you have planned for 2009?
JC: We’ll be recording a full-length album, for which The Yellow Mini is a mere appetiser. I also plan to teach myself to hit top C.
NB: See answer below. Once we’ve mastered this, we can find out and let you know.
VP: And, in an ideal world, apart from your own world domination, what else would you like this year to bring?
JC: A ceasefire in the wholesale demolition of London’s West End.
AS: Time travel. Not for all though, just me. And possibly you, you and you.
NB: Lifesize models of ourselves that can play musical instruments. Like Kraftwerk. I’ve decided it could be just as much fun to watch our own gigs as it is to play them.
VP: Who are your major musical influences?
JC: Brian Eno for invention and texture, Vince Clarke for melodic genius, Bob Stanley for pop music as total art, Kurt Cobain for desperately flailing immersion, David Shah for sharply romantic lyricism, N-Trance for “Set You Free”.
AS: Too many to mention but as far as bass players are concerned, James Jamerson and Carlos D.
MV: Mick Ronson.
NB: Mark Ronson.
VP: What’s been your weirdest experience as part of a band thus far?
JC: Our first gig – from terror to elation in 25 minutes.
AS: I am hoping it is yet to come.
VP: Who would you most like to execute for crimes against music?
JC: I can think of a few much-hyped acts of recent times who could definitely do with repaying their debt to society. I’m far too polite to say who though.
AS: I’m against the death penalty and wouldn’t wish death on anyone, not even Rod Stewart (although I have to say I am scarred for life now and am not sure I could touch a man ever again after seeing this video –
NB: I’m much less polite. The Ting Tings, The Hoosiers, Scouting For Girls and The View are all shocking. That Rod Stewart video eases the pain though.
VP: Tell us something nobody knows about yourself…
Kids Love Lies were recently described by the NME as “Tweecore/power pop/pop-punk” -Pardon ? Apart from over use of the word “pop” what does that even mean? “Tweecore“, I assume is the polar opposite of hardcore, indeed the definition of “twee” means “Overly precious or nice” so lets throw that one out of the window straight away eh? Now then, onto power pop, pop punk ? A description that seems to be given to anything that is melodious but has a rather spiky attitude, yes ? Is it both punk and pop? However punk was surely the antithesis of “pop music” as we knew it and correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t recall the Pistols singing “Anarch-twee In The UK”, although admittedly, John Lydon has since developed a disturbing penchant for all things twee-d. Yes musical genres are still as baffling as they are meaningless, but, one imagines, great fun to make invent, after a hearty liquid lunch in IPC Towers.
In essence, I imagine the previous description is an attempt to succinctly convey the fact that Kids Love Lies cleverly combine all the elements mentioned above to produce a sound that has a punk attitude with a pop edge, or is that a punk edge with a pop attitude? I feel dizzy! Anyway Kids Love Lies debut single ” Count In My Head” is certainly a spiky, jagged slice of pop that has both melody and riot grrrl attitude in abundance, and contains a youthful exuberance and energy that can’t fail to win you over, unless you’re a bit of a twa*! Hmm, on reflection maybe I should have saved time and simply said, it’s a f*cking great pop song so let’s forget pretentious pigeonholing and let’s enjoy the music….and while we’re at it lets talk to the band.
VP: Predictably I’ll have to start with a question relating to how you met, and how the band came together?….. and I just have 😉
Matt: Seems like half of London tried out to be our singer until Ellen turned up (drunk) and blew us away. That was a pretty good tube ride home that night after practice, thinking we’d finally sorted out the singer problem. I think we had a few cans on the way to celebrate. That was before Boris ruined that sort of thing.
VP: The name “Kids Love Lies?” What does it mean?
Leigh: It’s an anagram of ‘kilos de Elvis’, I saw it on a poster for a club night in Amsterdam, I was told it roughly translates to ‘ a Kilogram of Elvis?’
Ellen:Ha-ha, it’s just a kinda saying that a friend of mine used to say…although I do like Leigh’s anagram
VP: Your single ‘Count In My Head’ was released on 13th April, what’s the plan for 2009?
Ellen : Well we’re playing loads of great festivals this year like The Great Escape, Sellindge etc We just want to carry on playing to as many people, where, when and however possible. Getting a good support slot on a tour would be SWEET! But mainly we just really wanna enjoy ourselves, and just keep on writing more and more songs that just get stronger and stronger until we have the right material for an album.
VP: Your music’s been described as post punk angst with riot grrrl attitude, but how would you describe it?
Ellen : Mixture of Indie, rock, post-punk in bite size pop nuggets?! Although I’m into the whole riot grrrl thing
Leigh – Put simply; Drums + Bass + Guitars + Vox + 5 personalities = Kids Love Lies
VP: What’s on repeat on your I-pods at the moment?
Raf: What’s an i-pod..?
Ellen: La Roux, Micachu.
Leigh: AC/DC ‘Thunderstruck’, The Bronx ‘Young Bloods’, Wave Machines ‘Punk Spirit’, Strung Out ‘Exhumation of Virginia Maddison’.
VP: Ellen, who do you think are the most inspiring female singers in pop history?
Ellen: Oooh that’s a hard one…there’s been so many great female singers in the last few decades…But most inspirational to me would have to be people like Janis Joplin, Siouxsie Sioux, Poly Styrene, Debbie Harry, Ari Up, Dusty Springfield.. There’s probably so many more that I haven’t mentioned…but I think basically any woman that just gets out on stage and has an attitude to be reckoned with is an inspiration…..it’s not just about having an amazing voice, but about how you carry yourself on stage…and all of these women have something about them, a stage presence that draws you to them; totally captivating to watch….More recently female singers like Karen O and Peaches give me no end of inspiration, especially with their illustrious stage outfits!
VP: What do you think of the current trend for so called “legendary bands” reforming? For example is Spandau Ballet a reformation too far ? Do you think sometimes “Move over granddad you’ve had your go, give the kids or chance?” Or is it great to get the chance to see bands like My Bloody Valentine et all?
Raf: It’s a bit sad in a way, but its a good way for them to make a living. I’ve seen a few bands do reform type shows and they’re fun but it’s not the same as discovering a good new band.
Leigh – If the fans still want it I see no harm what so ever, I got to see Gang of Four and My Bloody Valentine last year, 2 bands I’d thought I’d missed my chance of seeing live.
Matt: Saw the Pixies and My Bloody Valentine which was ace, didn’t think I’d ever get to see them and they blew me away (MBV actually left me deaf for about a week).. Got all excited last week when the Stone Roses teased us with a possible reunion which isn’t happening apparently. Nope, I think it’s a good thing as long as you had the credibility in the first place!
VP: Kids may indeed love lies, but what’s the worst one you’ve ever told ?
Raf: “No, I didn’t do that. SHE did it”
VP: Is The X Factor’s popularity definitive proof that there is no God?
Matt: X factor is just representative of this ‘get famous in 5 minutes’ culture that society seems to have appropriated! Whatever happened to getting success through a bit of grit and hard work rather than having it handed to you….
These shows have the tendency of producing a short lived winner….think of the amount of series they’ve have with only maybe 2 people ever continuing their success after the show!
VP: What are the five most annoying songs ever written are ….?
Raf: Anything by the Enemy.
Leigh :In no particular order; Mr Blobby Song, Bob the builder, Barbie Girl
Ellen:Hmmm the thing is if a song starts off annoying I usually end up liking it after a few listens!! but I HATE ‘laddy indie music’ like just imagine a group of fat beer swilling chavvy lads goin ‘yesss mate Kaiser chiefs, the Enemy, LADS have it!!’ Very annoying!
Music and comedy can be uneasy bedfellows. The Monty Python team pulled off a few amusing tunes in their day, and I’m sure if you delve far enough back there might be a chuckle or two to be had in the Comic Relief charity single back catalogue. But let’s face it, the comic musical brilliance of the Mighty Boosh or Flight of the Conchords is balanced out in the universal whole by unforgivable assaults on the charts from the likes of Terry Wogan and Ken Dodd. So when the top of the Anglo-Canadian, London-based three-piece the Duloks’ MySpace page declares their musical genres to span indie, new wave and comedy, they certainly lay down a gauntlet to themselves. Thankfully, the declaration is backed up by nicely surprising, wryly assembled lyrics which are carried on some seriously dramatic, entertaining and uplifting keyboard melodies, a concoction which has a wonderfully hand-made feel that only ramps up the appeal. Add to that songs inspired by video games which I thought had been banished to the unreliable memories of Clive Sinclair’s great grandad, plus the first band name I’ve come across since Nerf Herder to be named after an obscure creature from the Star Wars universe, and the result is not only more exciting than I can quite find words for just now, but is also very worth investigating in closer detail.
Having bribed the band with an artistic favour or two, I was lucky enough to be able put a few choice questions to singer Mira, drummer Mar and newly-installed keyboard player Abi, and they were nice enough to give some highly entertaining answers in return…
Mr Lion – First things first, how did you all get together? Are there friendships in the band that predate the Duloks as a unit, or did you assemble especially for this musical mission?
Mira – Mar & I wrote for the same website – which was called Coolgrrrls.com – luckily for me she decided to come to ENGLAND from Canada and that’s when we met in Real Life! I had talent spotted Abi at a few shows and tried to steal her when we had gaps in our keyboard players but she was always busy busy busy!! ‘Til NOW!
Mar: One thing that should be mentioned is at the first practice all Mira and I talked about was boys and foreskins. It’s a true story. Cock talk brought the Duloks together, we love discussing the difference between North American and European cock. Abi doesn’t like to take part though.
Abi: The Duloks were playing at Club Motherfucker and I was also playing there the same night as Abi Makes Music – it was fate that we met over music! Even though I don’t believe in fate.
Mr Lion – I’m a lion of advanced enough years to recall the Ewoks cartoon series in vivid detail… for those who aren’t in the know, can you put us in the picture about your name and how you came to use it?
Mira – This is really Mar’s story… I will just say that we are not as stinky as our cartoon namesakes and we like to wash!!
Mar: The Ewoks was my favourite cartoon show growing up. I was in a band in Vancouver called the Ewoks which was organ, drums and singer. When I moved to England I missed having a silly band to play drums in so I started the Duloks (who were the Ewoks’ enemies in the cartoon show)…. it was an inside joke that has now been going for 3 years!
Abi: I had never even heard of the Ewoks. Terrible.
Mr Lion – Is it possible to name your influences? Are there any significant artists or bands (or otherwise!) which you feel have informed your musical stylings, and if so who are they?
Mira – Again – this is a nice one for Mar to answer because she was in mind of definite influences when she put the Duloks together! I love lots of old 70s prog rock, which probably explains my predilection towards concept albums and intertextuality!!
Mar: Thee Goblins from Vancouver Canada were the first organ and drums silly band I ever saw. I dated the drummer in that band when I was 18 and that’s how I started playing drums. I also think the simplicity, attitude and sparse-ness of Bratmobile has been a huge influence on both the Duloks and Ewoks.
Abi: Before I started Abi Makes Music I wanted to have a band, but I didn’t have any friends (I mean MUSICAL friends…) but I used to make up band stuff anyway in my head. It sounded quite Duloky and I think Help She Can’t Swim was a big influence. But you can’t even hear that music, because it was in my head and I have forgotten in now.
Mr Lion – How does song-writing work in your ranks? Is it purely a collaborative process, or do you each have tunes you’ve penned individually?
Mira – Lots of different ways! We normally start with the seed of an idea or topic we want to write about or some melody or Mar has a beat she wants to feature and then it’s like children building a sand castle together!! I like to feel I get to decorate the finished structure with seashells of harmonies and funny voices!
Mar: The lyrics are usually about some boy Mira can’t get out of her head OR some sort of random sentence / inside joke I’ve said which inspires a FULL song. Music wise though it changes for each song – drums, keys and vocals have all been the first bits just depends on each individual song.
Abi: I’m looking forward to making them write songs about lesbians.
Mr Lion – What’s the long-term game-plan for the Duloks? Do you have your sights set on a specific objective, in terms of the kind of music you’re making and where you want to go with it?
Mira – I’d love to continue being able to travel with our music and play all over the world. We’ve already been all over the UK, to France, to Norway, to Spain, to Austria and Germany! So wherever else will have us! Also the satisfaction of making people laugh with our music is a big part of what we do. So as long as we get opportunities to make people smile with our silliness I will be happy!
Abi: Yeah I want to start taking the band into a bassline house sort of direction, with a bit of thrash metal thrown in for good measure.
Mr Lion – It’s clear that you place a certain value on image, with your coordinated uniforms and the construction of a brand to go with the band, as it were… do you think this is essential for a pop group in this day and age, or is it something very specific to yourselves and the kind of music you make?
Mira – The uniforms were a lucky coincidence due to Mar hosting a Jocks VS Nerds party! I love the fact that we have a uniform. Some of our fans buy headbands and wristbands to wear to be part of Team Dulok!
Mar: I think it’s pretty important in our band because our lives shows and band is all about entertainment, participation and fun. So having an image and brand is part of what makes up the Duloks. I think people can make amaaaaazing music and not have any sort of image but it’s probably harder to sell your band and get out there.
Mr Lion – You just got back to the UK from a mini-tour in Germany – how was that? Do you have an established fan-base in that part of the world? What sort of a cross-section of society do you get at the gigs?
Mira – We don’t have a typical fan, they come in all different guises!! We get lots and lots of laughs in Germany and we played a show to 14 people on the mini tour but still managed to sell 9 lps and a teeshirt – so they’re pretty passionate in their awesomeness! 🙂
Abi: That was my first trip abroad. EVER. In Offenbach the DJ was playing bassline before and after our set and there were 15 year olds and 60 year olds in the audience.
Mr Lion – Your first mini-album, Children of the Sea, comes out on 9 March. There’s a distinctly nautical feel to this release – what was the inspiration for that? And will we see the short-shorts and long-socks dropped in favour of pirate costumes and mermaid tails at future shows?!
Mar: Mira’s already worn a mermaids tail before. I’ve played in a bikini 3 times…. we love all sorts of costumes but the shorts will never leave!
Mira – We actually HAVE done a few shows dressed nautical style!! (see http://www.flickr.com/photos/miramanga/1395731063/) and I absolutely LOVE wearing mermaid clobber so I am sure that quite a few nautical costumes will be surfacing!! Not only that but with the advent of the arrival of our Duloks CDs we got super excited and bought a stage dressing fishing net complete with lobster, starfish and shells…! Eeek!
Mr Lion – I imagine the immediate future is very much about this new release, but what comes next? Will you be recording again soon? Do you have ideas yet for future singles or a full-length album?
Mar: We’re recording again in March. Immediate plans are to record one original and a cover of a You Say Party! We Say Die! song. We’re gonna do a split 7-inch with them with each of us having 2 songs on either side. They’re covering Star Trail.
Mira – We’ve been talking about how the next LP will have a fire & desert theme. It’s been inspired by the freezing cold winter and casting our minds and imagination into the sun! I’d love to have a new LP ready for summer 2009 themed around FIRE! How cool would that be, then we’d just have to complete two more taking in Air & Earth to have a musical collection entitled, The Four Elements by the Duloks..! Like the Four Seasons by Vivaldi. Kinda 😉 The most recent song we wrote called Making Plans for Oliver takes in conspiracy theories, Mars old band The Ewoks, the credit crunch, has biblical references and also refers to the Duloks. So who knows what will happen!
Abi: Who knows what it will sounds like now that I’m in the band……..(I predict a ‘Bad Lesbian’ song….)
Mr Lion – Do you have five words with which to suck any unsuspecting passers-by into Dulok World?
Initially you may get the impression that Alessi (of Alessi’s Ark) resides within a giant toadstool in the middle of an enchanted forest in which she routinely communes with imps, woodland sprites and all manner of magical creatures. Admittedly she could be perceived as a quirky mix of Emily from “Bagpuss” and Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, with varying shades of Kate Bush and Regina Spektor thrown in for good measure. Now this might have some of you wringing your hands in despair shouting “No! Not another kooky female singer”, but fear not, for upon listening to her debut album “Notes From the Treehouse” any qualms should be quickly dispelled. The album occupies that twilight world between childhood and responsibility, where a sense of wonder, magic and possibility has not yet been devoured by the cynicism that comes with age.
The album itself is an incredibly mature affair which shimmers with beauty and is solely the product of London singer and guitarist Alessi Laurent-Marke’s fertile imagination. She left school at 16 to take her chances within the pop world, fully supported by her parents, with the proviso that she should return to full-time education if nothing happened within a year. Fortunately a collection of songs written on her computer caught the attention of a discerning soul at Virgin Records who pretty much signed her up on the spot. ‘It has all happened so quickly,’ she says. “I sang in the school choir but that was about it. I didn’t even know the names of any chords.’ We had a chat with Alessi and were somewhat taken aback that she didn’t arrive for the interview astride a magical unicorn.
VP: Is it true that you’d never really considered a career in music until you took your music exams at school?
ALESSI: I had been playing drums in the school bands up until the music exams but I hadn’t really thought of making music of my own.
VP: And were your parents supportive of your decision to leave school and pursue a musical career? Are they big music fans too?
ALESSI: My parents are very supportive of my sister and I and all that we’re interested in. Without their encouragement and love for music, things would be very different. Hats off to the folks!
VP: What sort of music do you think has been a major influence on you?
ALESSI: I like listening to all sorts so I’m not sure if any one type has influenced me especially ; of the older music I listen to Graham Nash, David Bowie, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Sam Cooke, Muddy Waters and of the newer ; Magic Magic, Neva Dinova, Elliott Smith, Coal Beautiere…
VP: Your debut album “Notes From the Treehouse” is due out soon; did cult Indie darlings “Bright Eyes” provide the backing on the album? What’s the official release date?
ALESSI: The album is all done and dusted and due out April 6th. There are many wonderful musicians that perform on the record but my right (and left) hand men were Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott of Bright Eyes.
VP: Your song writing style? Would you say its, personal, or do you treat as kind of, writing a kind of fictional musical story?
ALESSI: Every song is a little bit different and has travelled in from a different part of the brain. There’s always truth, whether it’s my own or imaginary.
VP: What have been your favourite albums of the last year?
ALESSI:“Swim’ by The Whispertown 2000 and Magic Magic’s self titled album.
VP: Which singer/band do you most admire at this moment in time and why?
ALESSI: There are quite a few bands that I take my hat off to – one in particular is Mumford & Sons, they are very, very kind and behold so many beautiful melodies in their brains.
VP: What are your plans for 2009?
ALESSI: I’m not quite sure just yet, I think there are shows ahead and I hope to share the music with more ears, I like meeting people.
VP: Do you facebook, Twitter or Myspace ? What do you think of the whole social networking malarkey?
ALESSI: I use Myspace and Facebook but I don’t feel like a pro with either of them. The internet gives you longer arms to reach out to friends faraway and can be used like a musical library too. These are good things but nothing beats a call or a letter.
VP: What are the first five words that came into your head when you woke up this morning?
ALESSI: Things were quiet in my head this morning. “Moonage Daydream” has been on my mind though. ‘Mama Papa coming for you!’
“Hand to the Tide (Sweet Billy Pilgrim Remix)” By Catherine A.D.
“If Kate Bush died and went to hell, she might sound like Catherine A.D. …” Now that’s a description to get your attention isn’t it? Catherine A.D. looks and sounds like a fallen angel trapped for eternity within a snow globe fashioned by Tim Burton and her voice could well haunt your dreams in 2009. Strangely such a talent may not have been developed fully had it not been for an accident in her first week at university, her first big break so to speak. Unfortunately she fell down some stairs breaking her back, ribs and shattering her long held dreams of becoming a dancer. But from broken dreams and broken bones came a new direction, whilst recuperating Catherine decided to teach herself to play the piano, and not one to do things by half, she totally immersed herself in a world of literature and music, switching to study two degrees simultaneously whilst also mastering “the art of heavy drinking”
Whilst studying Catherine became an up market busker playing the piano in the lobby of the Hilton hotel and upon completing her university education she was invited to collaborate alongside Nitin Sawhney for the grand re-opening of the Royal Festival Hall in the summer of 2007. She subsequently became one of the Emerging Artists in Residence at the Southbank Centre. Catherine has oft been compared to Kate Bush and Tori Amos whilst Courtney Love characterised her voice as “‘gorgeous sick beautiful…”, which one can assume is slacker speak for “ Ruddy marvelous”. Her music and vocals could be described as being the bridge between the gothic noir world of Nick Cave ‘s nightmares, the sensual kookiness of Regina Spektor and the gentle siren allure of Sia “‘like pirate radio for the heartbroken’.
The public will soon be able to experience the Catherine AD effect with the release of her debut EP ‘Carry Your Heart’ and they too will be lost in this sweet, euphonious voice, as she relates tales of heartbreak and despair, which paradoxically instill hope, because you know that somebody else has also experienced her own “dark night of the soul.” Catherine A.D. has been there and now she’s sending out “satellites out to every girl who might be dying a slow death in Suburbia, nowheresville,” Her pain is our gain; she knows how we feel, because she feels it too. She is far more than merely young loves undertaker however, for within the heartbreak there lies hope, and through the darkness, glitters a heart that is full of desire, empathy and passion.
As well as the epic title track, the EP also features a one (wo)man-band re-working of The Magnetic Fields track ‘The Book of Love’ which once again showcases her fabulous voice. The “Carry Your Heart EP” is released on February 16th 2009 as a limited edition of 500 ribbon-wrapped packages, the artwork also includes a guide to making an origami dove. ‘Japanese custom says that you need to fold 1000 paper cranes and then you have a wish granted’ she says, ‘ so with the EP I should be halfway to a wish… or something! ‘says Catherine……….Surely the other half of anybody’s wish would be an interview with the VPME? No?
VP: Ok, let’s hit the ground running with a barrage of questions !You’re described as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, which instruments do you play, you took took up music after a serious accident, what happened and was music something you’d always been interested in?
CATHERINE: The guitar and piano are my main songwriting instruments but I have been known to be drunk in charge of a lapsteel, banjo, accordion, melodica, drumkit…. I am officially only qualified to play the flute but have since forgotten everything I ever learnt about music theory although my right ear seems to remember something about triads sometimes… I’ve always played music, even before the accident I was playing in youth orchestras and singing harmony in stairwells. Sometimes fate intervenes to redirect your dreams though and I had to abandon Swan Lake for the Pixies but it wasn’t so much a change of route as redirecting the same energies into something that was already a huge part of my life. I have nicer looking feet because of it. This is no bad thing.
VP: Your voice has been likened to “a lake of black honey” and ‘a gothic mermaid version of the grim reaper ‘, do you feel in terms of your song writing, you like to explore the slightly darker side of life ?
CATHERINE: I think that has been what came naturally in my first impulses to write songs but, like life itself, not all my songs are doom and gloom. I think I was just going through a particularly dark period when i began exploring songwriting and I am always drawn to the extremes but I’m just as attracted to writing things that are really anthemic and pull you through the darker times.
VP: There have also been comparisons to the likes of Kate Bush and Tori Amos, who would you say your major influences are?
CATHERINE: I do, of course, have huge admiration for Kate Bush and I would like to think that I share alot of her ambitiousness in terms of arrangements and a theatrical approach to song but my major influences are probably more Nick Cave and the Carpenters. That pretty much sums up the contradictions in my sound! I also listen to a lot of Roxy Music and Fleetwood Mac looking for the key to the perfect song. I’ll let you know if I find it.
VP: You’re due to release your debut EP, produced by Bernard Butler, and are working on an album , how has that been progressing and when might the debut album surface ?
CATHERINE: The lead track on the EP is actually a Liam Howe production! (with the rest of the EP recorded by myself in my bedroom) but, yes, I am currently recording some tracks with Bernard for the album that will be emerging sometime this year… It’s all going very well thank you, apart from this week when the pipes froze overnight and we had no water or heating in the whole studio. It was -8 outside but I managed to fix it. In fact, I am sure in fact that Bernard just keeps me around for my plumbing skills…
VP: Do you prefer playing live as opposed to studio work? Any upcoming live shows?
CATHERINE: I think the two are very different experiences. I love losing myself in a live context although when you’re playing two instruments this can sometimes be hard because you have to remember to play and where you are. The studio means you can explore things that you could never do without growing additional hands and feet, which i adore. I am a huge plug-in geek. You could probably just lock me in the studio for a month with food and water and I’d be in my element. The next live project I’m doing involves arranging two songs from scratch for a full orchestra and gospel choir and playing them live at the Royal Festival Hall in front of 2000 people. I am clearly in need of a hobby…
VP: What’s this I hear about being banned from The Trash Club?
CATHERINE: Erm, yes. All I will say is that it involved a staircase, some bad vodka, and a bad right hook.
VP: Aside from music, what are your major passions?
CATHERINE:I’m pretty much a one track/4-track mind girl. Although I do love cinema as well (Lynch mostly) but it’s usually to do with the musical experience as well. I’m a marathon book reader too but mostly to steal ideas/lines/styles for songs. Basically I have no life!
VP: Was 2008 a good year for music? Did anybody grab your attention?
CATHERINE:I was still listening to Panda Bear’s Person Pitch for the whole of 2008, although I did love the Cut Copy record and Nick Cave’s latest which I play on repeat.
VP:Tell us something about yourself that nobody knows?
CATHERINE: My ringtone is ‘Breaking Glass’ by David Bowie
VP: What was the first pop single you ever bought?
CATHERINE: “Confide in Me” by Kylie
VP: The five things that will make you happy in 2009 are:
gluten free walnut cookies
more unnecessary red shoes
meeting Jonathan Ross
meeting Brian Eno
dancing like a lunatic at Coachella