The VPME Podcast – August 2011 – This IS Music


VPME Podcast JAMC

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Hurrah and Huzzah ! It’s the  latest VPME podcast!!!  Featuring the best new music from the past, present and future and a Dj as intresting as socks .

Listen out for special guest appearances from the godlike  Jim Reid  of  80’s/90’s legends The Jesus & Mary Chain, Emma Andreson from Lush, plus songs by the likes of The Cramps, Suede,The  Psychedelic Furs nestling snugly alonside  new music from The Whip, Strangers, Seize The Chair, Pris, Freezepop  and Deep Cut. Click on the player below or if you prefer go to http://www.mixcloud.com/TheVonPipMusicalExpress/the-von-pip-musical-express-podcast-episode-4-august-2011/

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Record Store Day 2011.

Probe Records Liverpool

As it’s Record Store Day I thought I’d get all whimsical and recall the olden days spent at my favourite Indie Record Store !

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If you’re of a certain vintage you’ll doubtless recall those halcyon days when supermarkets sold food, Burtons supplied gentleman’s clothing and the best music was discovered via your local independent record stores.  As it should be.  These Record Stores were not the neutral homogeneous metrosexual Megastores we now have in our midst today. They were not owned by ‘big music’ their window displays did not promote the latest big label karaoke monstrosity, nor did their sound systems blast out the ear cancer that is N-Dubz.. These stores had soul, they were individual, edgy, dimly lit Aladdin’s Caves, rammed with all manner of weird and wonderful vinyl treasures. A place where the record enthusiast could lose track of time searching for obscure musical gems they’d doubtless heard on John Peels hugely influential radio show the previous evening.  The people who ran these stores where generally curmudgeonly individuals, a couple of olives short of a pizza, whose idea of customer service was to mock your musical taste (after of course pocketing your money). In actual fact they were also huge music fans, which meant they were not always necessarily the most astute of business men. A fact I’m sure, Geoff Davies the owner of my home town record shop would readily admit. Geoff  started Probe Records in Liverpool in the 70’s after becoming frustrated with regard to the lack of decent musical outlets in the area and in doing so created something far more  important than just a mere record shop. Probe Records became synonymous with the underground scene in Liverpool, drawing musicians, artists, poets, fans and lunatics into it’s hallowed walls.

By the time I’d discovered ‘proper’ music Probe was based in Button Street at the bottom of Matthew Street, way before the boom in Beatles Tourism infested the area like a mop topped plague. It was at the very heartbeat of Liverpool’s vibrant alternative culture.  You’d more than likely bump into folk like Pete Wylie, Ian McCulloch Julian Cope or Jayne Casey if you hung around Probe or the nearby Armadillo Tea Rooms long enough, as I often did. Admittedly Probe initially terrified me, it seemed to be populated and staffed by alien invaders from Planet Weird. But it had items of such beauty within, obscure imports, coloured vinyl, picture discs, badges, fanzines and T-shirts that resistance was futile, Christ even the shopping bags they popped your purchases in were works of art.  It genuinely did contain a veritable cornucopia of everything the alternative music fan could wish for, a secret world away from the mainstream and a home for the distressed, depressed and the fantastically dressed.

 On one occasion my dear old mum took me into Liverpool City Centre in order to buy my birthday present, and although being spotted shopping with your Mother wasn’t generally considered cool, the promise of a new piece of vinyl was too much to resist.  WH Smiths, my mum’s first point of call had refused to stock the album upon which I’d set my heart on. It was not a new album by any means and I knew the only place in town that would stock it would be Probe Records. To my horror my mother steadfastly refused to furnish me with my birthday money and to wait, as I had hoped, in nearby cafe, instead she insisted on marching straight into Probe to ‘see the funny haircuts’   Thankfully the shop was almost deserted inhabited only by the most gorgeous gothy girl I’d ever seen and an inebriated punk with a rather splendid Mohican.  I loitered by the door, distancing myself from my mother ( hey I was an anarchist right?) but from my vantage point could maintain a cool aloofness whilst still being able to keep a watchful eye on the old dear as she hailed a member of staff  by rapping her brolly on the counter.

‘Young Lady, young lady, excuse me miss, do you have ‘The Bullocks’ please’, she shouted shrilly across the counter to the assistant who immediately span round (right round, somewhat like a record). The ‘young lady’ in question was none other than Mr. Pete Burns, glammed up to the nines replete with scary contact lenses.

‘Hello love,’ he replied ‘did you just ask- do I have bollocks?’

Yes it’s a gift  for my son, he says he’s a  Punk New Wafer these days, daft if you ask me-There he is  over there- Andrew, Andrew come here lad ‘… and yes I prayed the floor would swallow me up as my mother jabbered on ’What’s it called son ? ‘Minding Those Bullocks’ By Six Pistols?  

I regularly visited Probe and Pete would often ask how my mum was before he went about berating customers musical choices-‘No idea why you’d wanna buy that shite mate’- ‘Oh My God now that is a total waste of  four pounds’etc, etc  –You see back in those days as Pete was well aware,  shit music wasn’t ironic or knowing (now marketed as ‘guilty pleasure pop’)– it was what it was- shit fucking music!  You just don’t get that sort of entertainment with I Tunes do you?  I loved Probe for many reasons, the social aspect, and the fact that their record label Probe Plus released my old mate  Nigel’s first album and has continued to support his music to this day.   It wasn’t just a record shop it was a place that fuelled my passion for music, it was outer space, and it was a place where I met some wonderfully weird and creative characters.

I do feel a twinge of regret that the local record store isn’t quite the focal point for youth culture it used to be and that some people appear to spend so much time amassing music via the Internet that one wonders if they have time to actually listen to it. Of course  the advantages the net brings far outweigh  any whimsical misty eyed nostalgic reverie about days gone by, but they were genuinely exciting times growing up, feeling part of a subculture that your parents, your boss and even some of your friends didn’t really understand.  It bonded you to the people and tied time and place to the music, you were part of the tribe and felt a sense of belonging, which, after all is something we are all looking for. It would be a fitting way to end this recollection by describing how I married the gorgeous gothy girl mentioned earlier. But I didn’t. However I did ask her out, her reply was so profound, so eloquent, that even today it moves me…’Fuck off you fucking big nob ‘ead’


Happily Probe Records is still going today having recently moved (again) to new premises at The Bluecoat on School Lane in Liverpool and any self respecting music fan who visits this fair city should call in,  after all you never know who might serve you!




Fire And Ice-The Good Natured Interview

The Good Natured- Von Pip Interview 2010

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‘Your Body Is A Machine’  By The Good Natured (remix free to download.)

A number of years ago my dear eccentric grandmother was having one of her infamous ‘spring cleans’. During her previous indiscriminate ‘purges on clutter’ she’d not only managed to throw out a perfectly acceptable, fully functional keyboard but also my uncle’s electric guitar and amp. He still cannot bring himself to talk about his loss to this day. And so when I overheard that she was about to embark on yet another of her notorious ‘clear outs’, I dashed around to her house with indecent haste, ostensibly to ‘help’, but in reality furtively hoping I might unearth all manner of discarded riches (or my Uncle’s bass guitar at the very least!). ‘Help yourself lad, take what you like’ she said, pointing at two swollen bin bags, all neatly packed in readiness for their voyage to the local Charity Shop. Alas, these bin bags, whom minutes earlier had positively groaned with the possibility of imagined treasures, yielded nothing more interesting than  a leopard print pashmina stole, a rather ostentatious faux fur coat, a rather disturbing peroxide wig, sunglasses and three pairs of vintage high heels. A tidy haul no doubt for a budding drag artist, or Lady Ga-Ga impressionist, but of little or no use to me.

Berkshire electronic artist Sarah Mc Intosh, fared slightly better than I at her grandmothers house  and having managed to salvage a 1980’s Yamaha keyboard  was soon producing brilliant, brooding electro pop under the name ‘The Good Natured’.  McIntosh’s fabulous self produced début  the ‘Warriors EP’ led to The Guardian newspaper singling her out as one to watch, but no sooner had they done so Sarah promptly disappeared to concentrate on  her A-Levels. Now with her qualifications safely in the bag she’s back with a wondrous re-recording and video of   ‘Your Body Is A Machine’. It’s a brilliant slice of electronica, commercial, yet dark- catchy yet complex, with a brooding, intense introspective lyrical style reminiscent of Depeche Mode- We are influenced by our self love and benevolence/ Narcissism’s overwhelming/vanity is quite exhausting/self indulgent hedonistic/blame it all on your upbringing”. Picture a less imperious Ladytron or maybe Dubstar with empathy or even La Roux devoid of reedy voice and bad manners. 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  . . .  And so off we skipped, utilising the very same quicksilver speed employed when attending a clear out at granny’s house  to have a quick word with the lady known as The Good Natured…

VP:  Hello Sarah, how did you decide on The Good Natured as the name to release your music under? Would you say it describes your own disposition? Or your music ?

SARAH: I wouldn’t say it describes my music per se, however  I am quite a nice person so I consider it most appropriate!

VP:  Your new single, “Your Body Is A Machine” is quite a dark sounding number, what’s it all about ?

SARAH: The song itself is all about self indulgence, destroying your body with drugs and alcohol and hurting someone else in the process.

VP:  Any imminent plans for an album release?

SARAH: Not just yet……watch this space…;)

VP:  How did you first become involved in making music yourself?

SARAH: I played the violin when I was little, then I progressed  onto learning to play the drums. This was the stage when  when I really got into music. After that I  taught myself how to play the  keyboard and that’s when things really took off and  I started writing songs, probably when I was  about 15 or 16.

VP:  What sort of music would you say has influenced your own output?

SARAH: All sorts! My parents record collection, so old stuff from the 80’s like the Human League, Sparks, Japan, Siouxsie and the Banshees. Some folk music too like Nick Drake. I also like pop  music such as  Timbaland. I suppose it’s quite a broad and eclectic range really.

VP:  There has certainly been an explosion in female led electronic music of late any new artists from this genre you admire?

SARAH:  I love  Fever Ray, and I think Marina is great.

VP:  I believe you’ve started to take singing lessons, is this so you breathe properly and don’t asphyxiate on stage?

SARAH: Well, to be honest I have only had one, but yes  I do hope that it will  really help  improve my  all round technique and my breathing.

VP:  What do you make of social networking, I imagine it’s almost a full time job these days for artists, but it is a great way to connect with fans and get instant feedback.

SARAH: I think it’s great to engage with people who like what you do, and it’s amazing how  you can talk to fans so easily! I must admit I do get a bit fed up of twitter sometimes; I think it takes away that certain  air of mystery if you tell people what you are doing all the time. For example  I don’t really want people to know what I had for breakfast!

VP:  Finally, you’ve already covered  The Cure’s ‘Love Song’, any other song’s would you love to cover and why?

SARAH: Hmm, maybe Mad World by Tears for Fears purely  because I love that song!


VP:  Oh dear…I forgot to ask my traditional, describe your music in five words question and so before sacking myself. . .  I’ll do it. . .

Electronic pop with a heart”

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‘Your Body Is A Machine’ is released July 5th 2010, get it here : The Good Natured - Your Body Is a Machine - EP

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‘Your Body Is A Machine’ By The Good Natured

“Warriors” By The Good Natured

 

 

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“My Fair Bladey”-Eliza Doolittle Interview

Eliza Doolittle

“Rollerblades” (Plastic Little Remix) –Eliza Doolittle

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“Pop” has certainly been big business in 2009, generic indie bands (who generally weren’t actually indie) found that the public had turned a deaf ear to  their increasingly unconvincing, manufactured mewling as the “pop singer” became fashionable once more.  Maybe the recession caused people to seek out a slightly more escapist, upbeat, optimistic vibe? Or perhaps it’s just the cyclical nature of music?  For my part after a hard day at the coal face the last thing I wanted to hear was Bloc Party in sackcloth and ashes, whining on about Mercury being in retrograde or some other such po-faced piffle.  Wallowing in romanticised misery is of course a perversely pleasurable indulgence but there should always be some room in your heart for a bit of fun, for pop that is bright and breezy and isn’t burdened by the weight of the world. Sometimes we can take things far too seriously and get so wrapped up in things we consider “worthy” that we forget what fun actually is! “People have forgotten what life is all about. They’ve forgotten what it is to be alive. They need to be reminded.” Music is an often essential ingredient in that process.

All the reasons mentioned above may go some way to explain why  I found listening to pop newcomer  Eliza Doolittle’s début EP  a thoroughly enjoyable affair. Listening to songs such as“Rollerblades” and “Money Box” certainly had an effect on me, both mentally and physically!  Within minutes of listening to her début my hunched and hideously twisted frame had visibly straightened and my usual sour faced grimace had miraculously been transformed into something that resembled a smile. Why even the ubiquitous rain-cloud above my head had all but evaporated and I actually started to whistle..in public!! Doubtless had London been the place of my birth I would have hooked my thumbs through my jacket lapels and affected a jaunty walk to denote my cheery disposition. Eliza’s EP contains songs that are perfect examples of how to write endearingly bright and breezy folksy tinged pop songs. Initially the songs may appear to be somewhat simple in terms of structure and production but the reality is they actually display a far greater degree of sophistication, wit and style then the normal overproduced chart bound fodder and this is what will surely propel Eliza into the “Pop Premier League!” in 2010.   After a year in which we have been bombarded by a profusion of shrill voiced synth driven pop it’s nice to be able to listen to a female singer whose voice is given room to breathe without being buried under layered synth effects or  suffering the indignity of “death  by vocoder.” Of course the danger of producing bright upbeat pop in  today’s cynical consumerist  ‘too cool for school’ society is that you may be perceived as irritatingly chirpy, mentally ill or worse, be viewed as suffering from the maniacal preternatural state of euphoria that seems to afflict  the majority of children’s TV presenters who appear to have mainlined “Haribo” prior to leaping on screen and gurning like a simpleton.  People basically mistrust happiness!   Eliza avoids these pitfalls due in no small part to the quality and depth of her song writing and her natural way of singing.  There’s also a reflective soulful element to Eliza’s free spirited vocals, which in a sense, acts as a counterbalance to the bright, sunny vibe the songs give off.

After speaking with Eliza it’s apparent that the songs really do reflect her personality, happy-go-lucky yes, but with an intelligent thoughtful side.  A genuinely  nice girl who believes in herself, who refuses to compromise in terms of record company makeovers and a young lady who wants to be totally involved in all stages of the creative process “I would never have been able to be Britney or anything like that – someone who just sings. I love being involved with every bit of the music, making it from scratch.  It’s really fulfilling.”

Now the question is could I make it through the interview without making naff jokes about “My Fair Lady?” Maybe, “With a little bit…with a little bit… With a little bit of bloomin’ luck!”

VP: Your name? Obviously it’s taken from the character in “Pygmalion/My Fair Lady” what made you pick it ?

ELIZA: Well, Eliza’s my real name and the rest, well, it’s a nickname I’ve had for so long I can’t even remember how it came about to be honest. Everyone calls me it !

VP: Is singing something you’ve always done? Did you start at an early age?

ELIZA: Yeah I was quite young, I started singing when I was about eight. Then when I was around about 12 I really wanted to go for it. I started writing my own songs and then a year or so later I recorded some demos. It all started from there really and I continued and just tried to get as good as I possibly could.

VP: So how did getting a record deal come about?

ELIZA: It was after I wrote “Rollerblades” that I got a lot of interest, a label really liked it and were keen to see if I had other songs that had a similar vibe. So I signed a deal about a year ago and spent about eight months writing the album.

VP: Yeah, the EP’s got a different vibe to one of your earlier tunes “Piano Song”

ELIZA: Yeah, before this album I was really trying to work out what I wanted to create, what musical path I wanted to take. I’m really happy with the album as I feel it really does represent me. All my old songs were quite separate; they didn’t really come together as a whole. As soon as I wrote ‘Rollerblades’ I thought ‘Yeah this is it this is the sort of music I want to make.’

VP: Sorry to bring this up, but it seems to be the curse of English female singers, certainly those who come from down South, that almost inevitably you get described as “the new Lily Allen” or “the next Kate Nash” . Do you find this a bit annoying?

ELIZA: You mean because we sing in an English accent? I’ve always sang in my own accent and hundreds of singers before Lily have done so too. Maybe it’s because Lily is the most recent and most successful? I suppose it always happens with girls, we are always compared to what’s gone before.  I can kind of understand it, it gives people a point of reference but I always say it’s a gender not a genre but.. whatever! I’m already over that comparison now; I think real listeners will be able to tell it’s different!

VP:  Your music is often described as breezy folk-pop, but on myspace you list your likes as everything form Destiny’s Child to Radiohead. Is your taste really that eclectic?

ELIZA: Oh yeah, I try to listen to everything, I’m pretty open. When I was really young I was into UK garage and slightly cheesy R’nB, I guess when you’re young you can get into a clique, want to fit in, so your taste can be a bit narrow. But when I was 14/15 I really started to open up to all sorts of genres from rock to Indie to old soul music. If it’s good music that’s all that matters. Although I must admit I do find it difficult to get down to metal!

VP: What have you been listening to in 2009 ?

ELIZA: The Xx, I love The Golden Silvers album, I liked Miike Snow and the Empire Of the Sun too.

VP: The Sound Of 2010 list from the BBC will be out  at the end of the year. Anybody you’d like to see on the list? Any tips?

ELIZA:  OOOh , well there’s The Cocknbull Kid, Kid Harpoon, Alviin. Also  Sam McCarthy and MPHO are both amaaazing!

VP: The “taster” video for your EP features somebody Rollerblading is that you ?

ELIZA: Ha, ha yes that’s me on the Rollerblades, I got pretty good by the end of the day. It’s not like, an official video though; it’s like a viral video for the internet.

VP: So it’s your legs on the EP sleeve?

ELIZA: Yes, my legs, both of them !

VP: I’m always interested to find out how much input an artist has with regard to their promo videos…..

ELIZA: Well, I’ve already filmed the video for my first single for next year. In the case of that song I really wanted to see what the directors came up with. I worked with an amazingly talented guy called Daniel Eskhill. Because it was like, my first single, I wanted it to be quite simple and show me in my best light really, so it’s got me bouncing about but with some amazing effects. I do have a lot of creative control; I’m creating the art work for the next single for example. I guess I’m kind of a control freak but at the same time it’s always good to listen to advice of people like directors who have that expertise. They might have ideas or take your ideas and lead you to a place you wouldn’t have thought of! And the next videos amazing, honestly!

VP: So what have you got lined up for 2010? Is that when we can expect the album?

ELIZA: Basically gigs, gigs, gigs hopefully. Something like a UK tour would be great. In February we are due to go to L.A. and hopefully that may lead to a few more American dates while we are out there. The first single proper is due out in February and then another in May followed by the album. So these are huge things for me and I’m very excited!

VP: Are you planning any festival dates?

ELIZA: I’m looking to do like a hundred festivals in 2010, to make up for not getting to any in 2009! I was just so busy, so to do some in 2010 would be a real highlight !

VP: The internet and music? Has it changed things for the better or is it, as some in the industry feel, strangling the life out of music?

ELIZA: How is it strangling the life out of music? No I think it’s changed things for the better, it’s so easy to find music now. I suppose there’s the argument that there is so much out there that finding something good is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. It’s certainly put power in the hands of the people and music now isn’t purely label led.  It’s so easy to promote yourself on the net and it doesn’t really cost that much!  Hopefully if your music is good people will want to hear it. Mind you I say all this but I’m not that brilliant with the net, but I’m getting more into it with facebook and twitter etc. The more you do it the more you get used to it and enjoy it.

VP: Finally, five words to describe your music?

ELIZA: I -find-this-really-difficult!!  (is that ok? )

Eliza’s Ep is avialable here via I-Tunes

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“Rollerblades” -Eliza Doolittle


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“Creep” Acoustic Cover


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Ps. Apologies for the world’s worst pun in the interview headline 😉 – a career in the tabloids awaits me I’m sure !