"The most important thing is doing what they [Eurovision fans] feel like doing. Always be yourself."
Well Eurovision has been given the green light to go ahead this year (as last year was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID pandemic) and so it's time for Global Mainstream Arts to have a wee chit-chat with the participants. First up is the Danish entry Fyr & Flamme, whose infectious number has possibly brought some lightning strikes with it, in that it debuted at #2 in the Danish charts - the last Eurovision song to do this for Denmark was 'Only Teadrops' by Emmelie De Forest... who won in 2013, so perhaps this was a subtle omen? We have to take a long trip back to 1997 to see the last time a Danish entry was in their native language... maybe we have a dark horse on our hands?
Unlike other media covering Eurovision who may have entertained the odds, we shall not because they're not reliable... however rest assured we can be sure that the Danish duo will give a stellar performance, to get a taster watch the video below and check out our interview with them beneath that.
Hi guys, firstly congratulations on winning the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix and consequently representing Denmark at Eurovision 2021. How did you come together?
"Well we have been making music together since 2017, but started releasing our music about a year ago. It sure is a crazy world that we’ve entered!"
So how did you both meet and what was it that made you 'click' together?
"We are rooted in the same kind of pop culture. As grown-ups it’s fun to ‘click’ with someone else in the same way you would do in elementary school, when you found someone else who wanted to play the same games as you did."
Given your song is in Danish, what tips could you give non-Danish speakers who want to sing along to your song?
"The most important thing is doing what they feel like doing. Always be yourself. Like the Portuguese artist in 2017 [Salvador Sobral] who asked people to turn off the light, because the song was enough on its own. I googled his song to know the meaning and I cast him my vote that night."
Things will be different this year due to COVID-19, how have you been preparing for the semi final [they're in the 2nd semi-final]? Is there anything you can tell us about your stage preparations?
"We’re often asked if we have something special up our sleeve. The stage in Rotterdam fits very well with Jesper’s little sprint during the performance."
"The Eurovision Song Contest [ESC] will be our first ever concert in front of an audience since all our music has been released in the past year."
"Jesper often says, we hit the ground running. And we’ll do the same at the ESC. Who knows if Jesper will spontaneously do something on stage!"
It's been 8 years since Denmark last won, the song 'Only Teardrops' also charted high at #2, surely this a sign of things to come, could Fyr Og Flamme win?
"Obviously, I’ll take it as a sign, if we do win. The song is very popular in Denmark, but I don’t know how the other European countries are going to vote."
Obviously, Eurovision welcomes all music to participate, Finland once again has chosen metal, do you feel metal music is vastly under-represented at Eurovision?
"Finland’s entry is a super established band. I usually don’t listen to that type of music, but I like their song."
Looking to post-Eurovision, what plans do you have for the year ahead?
"We recently released a new song, and when we get back home from Rotterdam, we’ll be rehearsing for the summer concerts. We’ll be meeting up with our band for the summer tour, who we haven’t played with yet. Jesper is also shooting a movie right after the ESC."
"Yes, it’s right after the ESC, so I won’t be back in Denmark for a month or so."
Fyr Og Flamme will partake in the 2nd Eurovision semi-final on 20th May, be sure to send them your votes!
Sony Music released "A Perfect Planet (Soundtrack From The BBC Series) on January 8th, with music by composer Ilan Eshkeri (Stardust, The Young Victoria). The album features the music from Eshkeri’s fourth collaboration with Sir David Attenborough, the legendary naturalist who will narrate the BBC series.
In five parts, the series explores how forces of nature – volcanoes, sunlight, weather and oceans – drive, shape and support Earth’s great diversity of wildlife. Its final episode examines the impact of humans on the natural world and asks what can be done to restore a perfect balance. The series includes stunning footage filmed in 31 countries across six continents.
Global Mainstream Arts spoke to Ilan about his latest outing; what it took to conjure up the majestic sounds showcased on the soundtrack, his experiences in working on other publications such as Shaun The Sheep and where this new venture fits in with his achievements, how he and his team navigated through the challenges of the COVID lockdown(s) and what it was like to work again with Sir David Attenborough... including that mysterious butterfly.
Hi Ilan, arguably you've had amazing opportunities in scoring numerous films and TV series, from 47 Ronin to the Shaun The Sheep Movie, where does 'A Perfect Planet' sit among the productions you've scored?
"The message in Perfect Planet is very important and something that is very close to my heart. It ties in with the focus of other work that I am doing and the opportunity to help educate and spread the word about the impact of climate change means that this project is extremely important to me at this moment in time. It has always been a great pleasure and honour to work with Sir David Attenborough. The team at Silverback has been creatively very generous towards me allowing me enormous latitude with my creativity so that my experience on the production really stands out."
Did Sir David Attenborough bounce ideas back and forth with you; did he have some ideas alongside what you envisaged?
"As Sir David Attenborough is not the producer or director of the shows, he was not my creative point of contact. In the past I have met him when he came to a recording session at Abbey Road Studios, but the pandemic has not allowed this to happen in the recent months. The most extraordinary thing happened that time at Abbey Road, though. We were recording the orchestra in Studio 1. Sir David left just before lunch and I went out to speak to the orchestra and as I stood on the podium a butterfly floated down and landed on the conductor’s stand.
We were all stunned into silence. It was November and the studio has several soundproof doors between it and the outside world. How could this butterfly have appeared? I like to think that Sir David somehow left it as a sign of approval! I do know however that Sir David listens to the music when he’s recording his voice-overs and knowing his great passion for music, I am certain he would say if he was not happy with it."
Tell us about the creative scoring process, obviously lockdown posed logistical challenges and so how did yourself, the BBC crew and Silverback navigate through this?
"Not having face to face meetings is always difficult when you are talking about music because it is all about emotions and you get that from feeling the room. Fortunately I did have time to meet the producers and directors on several occasions before lockdown so I think creatively we had a good sense of each other which made it easier. Recording the musicians was extremely challenging. Many of the great London musicians who we would usually have recorded in places like Abbey Road had to record in their own living rooms. My producers and engineer Steve McLaughlin then had the unenviable task of making it all sound great.
We were lucky that we were able to record strings in Iceland where the pandemic hadn’t hit as hard at that time, as recording them individually would have created a different sound. Overall though, it was fortunate that I had decided to approach this score in an contemporary fashion and not in a traditionally symphonic way. Contemporary records are not typically preformed together like orchestras, so it was a normal process for guitar, bass, keyboard and other instruments to record separately.
Having said that, not being able to be in the room with the musician also made communications slower and harder. All in all it was a tremendous challenge but the idea that we made this music by overcoming these challenges and performing/recording it in places all over the world relates to the message in the show that everything and everyone on our planet is connected and that we have tremendous challenges to overcome."
Arguably 'A Perfect Planet' is a way for viewers to realise that they are human beings and are part of something larger, would you therefore agree that 'A Perfect Planet' is a reality-check for humans?
"Yes, I agree but I would rather describe it as an opportunity for people to educate themselves about what is happening and then decide to change their behaviour to help improve the situation. If every parent on the planet taught every child to recycle and to not waste things, for example and if every parent taught every child about climate and sustainability, then the culture and the attitude of people on the planet and towards the planet would quickly change. I hope this programme and my music can play a small part in this change that we so desperately need."
I guess in a way the natural forces have their own orchestrations e.g., the thunderous sound of volcanic eruptions, did this play an important role in your ideas for the score - were there any pieces that did not make the final cut?
"The idea of what the forces are did inspire the sound of the score of course, but the series producer and I wanted to celebrate the earth in all its wonder so, for example, in the past we've thought of volcanoes as dangerous and terrifying things but in this programme the volcanoes are creators of the building blocks for life so the music had to reflect that. Many things I write don’t make the final cut. It takes many ideas to find the perfect thing and I am my own harshest critic."
Outside of the film / TV realm, you've worked alongside the likes of Annie Lennox and KT Tunstall among others and so, do you ever feel the emotion of being 'star-struck' or is the feeling humbler?
"I am not often star-struck, famous people are people like the rest of us, but one story in particular does spring to mind. I was working with Annie Lennox and we had spent a few days together in the studio, I felt very comfortable chatting to her, then one morning I had put together an arrangement of 5 ’Sweet Dreams’. It’s a deceptively difficult piece of music to get right, but when I played my version, Annie was excited by it and - sitting right next to me - she began to sing the melody on top of my arrangement. When I heard that voice that I had grown up hearing as a child, I was completely overwhelmed. That is by far the most star-struck I have ever been! I don’t think I would've been able to stand up in that moment. Annie was always incredibly kind to me and is a true inspiration - standing on a stage with her is certainly a career highlight."
All being well 2021 should be a brighter year, with that in mind do you have other plans in the pipeline, or is it a case of one step at a time for the months ahead?
"I’m looking forward to getting back on the road with my show 'Space Station Earth' which I created with European Space Agency and astronaut Tim Peake. We did one show in the summer of 2019 in Stockholm in front of 10,000 people and it went better than I could ever have imagined, so I can’t wait to be back out there and show it to all of you. Please follow me for updates as tickets will go on sale soon."
You can now buy the album via https://soundtracks.lnk.to/APerfectPlanet
Don't forget to follow Ilan on Twitter & Instagram @ilaneshkeri
You may have or have not heard of him... but you certainly will have once you've checked the music video below. Rising singer-songwriter Ulysses Wells released his debut EP "Can't Take It Much Longer" back in September last year and has two more to come as part of his EP-collection. The Warwickshire guitarist has ripped the rulebook up and gone with his own genre-bending style of rock music, having received warm support and recognition from established rockers Bastille, there is nothing to prevent Ulysses Wells from reaching the upper echelons of the music industry, GMA spoke to him about his EP, the state of British rock and how he came up with his intriguing style of rock.
"The main objective of this EP was to showcase a side of me that I have not showcased before"
Ulysses, you must be excited to finally release your debut EP 'Cant Take It Much Longer'?
"So it is one of three, the 2nd one is called 'Contemplaton', the 3rd one is 'Freedom'. They're a body of work that I put together during lockdown and that's pretty much there is to know about it really."
What challenges alongside the lockdown did you face in creating the EP?
"The obvious challenges, but to be honest with you now with the internet and with what's available, it was pretty definitely doable. I think from a lot of people's points of view it changed the game a lot with big producers flying off to L.A., and with friends cancelling their flights and being like 'oh we can't do the work', but it turns out they've just a-good-a-job. So from that point of view no it didn't really affect us that much, if anything it just made me more hands on with the production, with the next one I did all the production myself and then worked with a guy called Paolo from Third Man Records, he mixed it and I just jumped on 3-4 chords with him and it was done.
It all came together pretty quickly, the main objective of this EP was to showcase a side of me that I have not showcased before, a bit more of gentler side; just to take it down a bit."
What were your emotions like when Woody from Bastille got in touch?
"I was pretty shocked to be honest but in a really lovely way, he fell in love with the project and showed a lot of enthusiasm... I was pretty blown over and then within a few weeks and months we were out touring (with Bastille); obviously he's a big fan of rock music and loved what we're all about. All the guys in Bastille are lovely and want to help as many people as they can e.g. Rag n Bone Man, they not only make great music, they also have the time to spend doing other things with people like myself."
So would you argue that is what the British music industry needs more of, more big-name artists and bands helping the up-and-coming artists?
"Yeah 100%, I think that the days of the egotistical rock star is over and I think David Bowie put it pretty well and I know that in an interview he said: 'the future does not involve the idea of big artists and supergroups', people know this and the more modest and humble you are, the better. It's brilliant to see more and more established bands and artists help nurture the fresh talent."
With that in mind would you say British Rock is going through a new wave?
"Yeah I think so, there's definitely a big resurgence in the punk rock scene with the likes of Idols, Shame, Big Honey and people like that, also Nothing But Thieves. I think it's definitely going through a bit of a change and for the better, it's good to see fresh blood coming out everyday, and quirky great music doing well commercially... people like Sam Fender, Declan McKenna and people like that, so yeah it's cool to see".
How did you first arrive at the electronic music / guitar crossover sound?
"It was a total happy accident, I just drove myself mental living in a shed and I started putting my guitar piece sets on the computer, and was just mucking around for 3-4 days writing really aggressive and weird tunes. I felt like I needed something crazy, a bit mad and then my mate came over and said 'this is no going to work, you sound like you're on crack', I was like 'great that's exactly what I want, this sounds perfect'. So yeah I rolled with it and joked in the beginning to be honest, making it as mad as possible. I tried to work out how I was going to do it all live, which was a wish in itself but I got there."
Did you always want to be a musician growing up? How did you get into playing music?
"From a really early age, I never really thought about becoming a musician as a job till I was around 14, 15, but it was always something I just did. I was quite an anxious child and I think I still have some element of anxiety like we all do, I think guitar playing or playing any musical instrument is a life-saver. For me it was just an obsession that allowed me to escape, continue to love it and enjoy it... I wasn't naturally gifted in it, I think I had a couple of guitar teachers in the beginning and they never thought I could pursue it as a career."
What are your plans for the rest of the year all things considered?
"Finishing the current EP, writing the next one and then hopefully taking it live when we can, maybe this or next year... 2022 maybe. The main thing is to try and top what has already been put out, I think that's what I want to be achieving."
"[The new album is] heavier. Much bigger sound, more representative of our live sound. It was mostly recorded at Abbey Road Studios."
It's always a success story when refugees end up creating music and becoming known both nationally and internationally, these are people who have stories to tell and they might not always be positive (think Somali-Canadian hip-hop artist K'naan who speaks out at the violence in Somalia [song: Soobax]), but when they are you have bands like The Scorpios spearheading it. The Sudanese-British formation have been grafting hard at their second album which is to see light sometime this year, Autumn time is the aim. With the lockdown we're in, they have been using this time to draft up ideas and form (so far) half of their 3rd album... Global Mainstream Arts decided to interview them about their past, their opinions on Heavy Metal and their future plans.
Adam Bulewski was happy to talk to us on behalf of the band.
For those who have not heard of The Scorpios, could you give us a brief history of the band? What does the band name mean?
"The band consists of five Sudanese musicians who have played around the Horn of Africa as well as Arab states. The main singer Regia Ishag comes from a musical family which includes such greats as the guitarist from the 70's Sudanese band The Scorpions. The other four members have been playing in traditional settings for many years, such as weddings and religious festivals. They left Sudan in the 80's when the situation became very bad, so when they initially came to the UK they were refugees. The music they are influenced by is old traditional songs, 60's songs and 70's pop songs, which had reggae, funk and soul as well as Latin leanings. The UK guitarist Adam Bulewski got to meet some musicians via some community work he was doing in London with the local Sudanese community and began recording sessions.
It was a musical project to reduce stigma around mental health. One of the percussionists became a very good friend and through him he managed to assemble the beginnings of the Scorpios. At present the Sudanese members are supported by an international backing band of guys from Jamaica, Poland, Japan and the UK. The music was put on YouTube and picked by Fredrik Lavik, label owner of Afro7 records ,who asked the Scorpios to do a whole album. So they did. It was recorded in a deliberately rough and raw manner, very live. So much so that some people thought they were original recordings from tape from the 60s. The Scorpios relates to Scorpions in the desert and also the star sign Scorpio.
Now half of the band originated from the Sudan, can you tell us what it was like growing up there and when was your first taste of music and rock music?
"In the 60's and 70's a lot of music came to Sudan via the West. Funk, reggae, psychedelic rock. I suppose key rock outfits would have been Hendrix and Santana. This was mixed with traditional forms and out of all the Horn of Africa countries Sudan has always been the most open to the influences. But most of the Sudanese members would have grown up with traditional songs about love, war and religion."
What are your perceptions of Heavy Metal music?
"It's heavy stuff. Some of the band members are into it but more older stuff like Black Sabbath. Sabbath has a lot of groove in there especially as the drummer and bassist came form a jazz background which we can relate to. But some members of the band find it too much!"
What were the challenges (if any) you faced when you moved to London? Surely you must be happy to see how vibrant the music and cultural scenes are?
"Being refugees it was getting work, somewhere to live etc. Sudan has a very strong relationship with the UK and the Sudanese members of the band find it very easy to love in the UK."
How is the new album coming along? What is different with the new one compared to your previous album?
"It's heavier. Much bigger sound, more representative of our live sound. But still has the moisture of big funk / groove tunes mixed with a couple of sparse traditional songs. It was mostly recorded at Abbey Road Studios."
What traditional instruments do you use and can you tell us what sort of sound they produce? Are they easy to play?
"We use traditional darbukas but also specific bongo / tabklas hybrids which are home-made in Sudan. They consist of three rather than two drums joined together."
What are your plans for the rest of 2020 and into early 2021?; what plans were cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19?
"We have nearly finished the second album which should be released in Autumn this year. given the COVID-19 situation, with the time we have it has already given us ideas for half of the third album which we will probably record at the end of this year or early next year."
Do you have any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"Yes. These are trying times but music and art can lift you up and keep you strong."
"[Frank on the lockdown] A lot of my friends are all kind of saying 'man the very first thing I'm going to do is go to a gig once I'm allowed'"
Some of you may know Frank Turner from his time as vocalist of the Post-Hardcore group Million Dead, for those who don't, Frank Turner is an accomplished singer-songwriter whose music spans across a plethora of music genres but mostly is rooted within the Punk Rock, Folk and Country music genres. He is complemented by his touring family known affectionately as The Sleeping Souls - Ben Lloyd (guitar, mandolin), Tarrant Anderson (bass), Matt Nasir (piano, mandolin) and Nigel Powell (drums). Just last year, Frank Turner released his 8th studio album "No Man's Land" and two weeks ago released his 3rd live album "Live In Newcastle"; released earlier than planned due to COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown.
We spoke to Frank about his latest release, his lockdown experience and guitar building expedition, his passion for Heavy Metal and astonishment at the Syrian Metal band Maysaloon, his beloved and devoted support of independent venues and what tips he can give to musicians or bands looking to make it in the music industry.
As the UK is in lockdown musicians have been streaming performances, you played a benefit gig in aid of supporting the Huddersfield venue The Parish, can you tell us more about that?
"So basically I came home from a tour after playing around the UK; I was on the road when the lockdown kicked in, which sucked as cancelling shows is never a nice thing. So I came home and did a benefit for my touring family; my crew, my band who you know were looking at real financial hardships. It went really well and it was really easy to do, afterwards I was thinking about what else I could do that might be helpful.
So I thought about doing shows for independent venues because I've done lots of work with music venues over many wee places like that over the years; helping out indie venues and they really need help right now. I feel very strongly that I owe these places my depth in gratitude for helping my career, so I started doing them 7 weeks ago and haven't stopped yet because they've been going well."
Speaking of which it's not just COVID-19 impacting venues, but rents, noise complaints etc forcing some to close, so it's now than ever more important to back venues.
"Yeah definitely, I mean I think the fact that organisations like the Music Venue Trust existed before the lockdown goes to show that this is not the only problem facing venues, it's not all about us to run an indie venue and it's not certainly how anyone is going to become a millionaire. I think we have to be careful about talking about positives in regards to coming out of this as people are suffering and dying, you have to recognise that. Nether the less I think one of the potential positive angles about everything that's happening right now is that people really are starting to appreciate how much they miss live music and what it is that live music brings into their lives.
I miss gigs enormously but that's partly because of what I do for a living, but I think a lot of people who I speak to, a lot of my friends are all kind of saying 'man the very first thing I'm going to do is go to a gig once I'm allowed'."
Of course it's not just musicians, but the whole music industry is suffering due to COVID-19, in your opinion where do we go from this?
"Well I mean that's the million dollar question and if I had a short answer to that, I'd place some bets and make a lot of money (laughs). I think the thing is no one knows what's going to happen and at the end of the day I do sort of broadly accept the reasons for us having this lockdown and the medical side, that kind of thing. I'm not like sitting there saying 'there's no such thing as coronavirus, or anything like that', this is a real problem that we all have to deal with. It is a shame given that my career of 20 years has been based around travel and gathering people together and those two things seem to be a bad idea right now.
It's difficult and I suspect that live music is going to be one of the last things that will return to normality; if it ever does return to normality, but honestly I don't know but again I feel like that there's a lot of kind of positive energy right now in the industry. Even from some of the major labels, some of the major corporate promoters, people like that, there has been a sense of 'not being assholes' kind of moment, trying to pull together and trying to sort of maintain the structures that we built throughout all of this; which I think has been interesting and kind of heartening."
During the lockdown musicians have been looking at ways to keep engaged with music, but what other things have you been engaged with?
"Well the first thing this isn't strictly outside of music but it's outside of my usual thing, I've bought a kit off the internet to build a guitar, right, because I thought that would keep me busy. If I'm honest with you (because I thought it wouldn't be that hard), it turns out I'm an asshole and it's really hard and it's going to take me ages. I am working through it, but I was thinking that it might take me a couple of weeks but now it's going to take me f**king months. But you know it turns out that lockdown is going to last for f**king months as well so (laughs) I've got the time.
Other than that I read a lot, generally speaking I've been getting through books which I've been shying away from reading over the years. I'm fortunate enough to have a little root garden so I've made sure I've been doing a bit of gardening as well."
I suppose in a way building a guitar would be similar to the Airfix models you used to get?
"Well I think that was roughly the way I was thinking, that it was going to be something along those lines. But like I said, it turns out you've got to sand, cure, grain and all this kind of stuff. So I'm definitely learning new skills, but it's a lot of work."
Speaking of skills that you learn, what advice could you give to musicians and bands who are just starting out?
"Well I mean it's a difficult time to start right now in terms of the lockdown. Having said that one of the good things the internet has brought to us over the last decade or more is that it puts the power in the hands of the bands much more than it used to be. Much more than when I was starting out in bands when I was a kid, you can make your own luck, it is easier now to record good quality music at home, get it up on streaming services, do live stream shows you can do all of this and make noise.
Beyond that, this is going to make me sound a little old-fashioned so forgive me for that, but there is a large part of me that believes that quality will out, the fact that you can do that if you want to be in a band, make waves and be successful is to be f**king excellent and to be unique, to be different and make a noise that no one else is making - to do it in a way that is original. If you do that then people will find you and will pay attention."
Now you yourself are a Heavy Metal fan correct? Are you surprised about seeing bands emerge from countries like Nepal, Botswana, etc?
"That is correct yes I mean my first love was Iron Maiden.
No not really I think that one of the things that metal has always been is like kind of outsider's music and is kind of fashion-resistant. Part of the things that attracted me to it when I was a kid was the sense of defiance almost, it's like yes I'm a metalhead... f**k everyone (laughs) and obviously people from other parts of the world are opening up, for example a Syrian Metal band (Maysaloon)... I cannot imagine what it's like to play music of any kind let alone metal in Syria, you know hats off to them for it.
It seems to me that metal's attraction is again down to that sense of defiance, that sense of identity against the grain and so on that level no it doesn't surprise me too much."
With that and the whole global pandemic in mind, it makes the love and sharing of music more important than ever.
"Yeah definitely I feel like people are starting to kind of like appreciate it more, now on the level of gigs I was chatting to a friend of mine the other day and he said that 'a couple of weeks before the lockdown kicked in, someone invited him to go to a gig and he didn't go because he said he was tired from working and couldn't be asked, and he said right now I will literally go and see any band, any f**king band', he was like dying for it. But I think that people are getting a sense of appreciation."
Musicians have all kinds of influences from in and outside of music, what influences do you take in creating your music?
"It's mostly purely music, the external thing for me would be that i read quite a lot of poetry and I emphatically believe that lyric writing and poetry are two separate things; they're not the same thing. I'm slightly scared of poetry writing, in the sense that you don't have the structure of the music to back it up... how the f**k do you do that?
A lot of the influences on my work come from other lyricists, whether it's John K Sampson, Nick Cave, Adam Duritz or whomever, but mostly within that I try to be as broad as I can; I always have my go tos from Hardcore music, Country and Folk music, those are my two kind of main repertoires of inspiration shall we say. I like to try new things, I try to challenge myself particularly as I go through my career and I do album after album; trying not to repeat myself, but for example when I did "Be More Kind" I went through a big phase of listening to Afrobeat and Ska stuff, not because I was trying to make an Afrobeat record but more so trying to push myself outwards in my sound."
You released your 'Live In Newcastle' album on 24th April, what was the reception like?
"Yeah It's been great and it was entirely different approach to a show, we were trying to do something different, it was a secret show which was weird and new for us. Me and my family usually have a more of a Punk Rock approach to a show, but now suddenly it was a sit-down show and with this it is something we've never done before; it was kind of a one-off, this isn't now how I am going to tour forever, it was just an experiment and that's why we captured and recorded the tour.
We practised and recorded it and I think the plan was to put it out at the end of this year, maybe at the start of 2021... but then the pandemic set it and so we thought f**k it why not get it out there. The one thing I'd have to say about that though, is that there is a level of which I quote 'mixing the record and then like releasing it', it's ever so slightly emotionally mixed where it leads to a point where you suddenly go 'I remember gigs, like gigs were great'. It's lovely to hear a room full of people enjoying the show and at the same time it reminds you that you're currently not doing that."
Have you got any greetings or thanks you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
"I'd like to say thank you to everyone who's been tuning in for the live streams, we've been raising serious amounts of money every week for independent venues that I love. I know I'm the one sitting there playing the guitar, but it's the people who are tuning in, making the donations which is an incredible thing - to see people rising up week after week making donations to a cause like that'; I'm incredible blown away and grateful for it so big up for everyone who contributed to the live shows."
"Live In Newcastle" is out now via Xtra Mile Recordings / Polydor Records
"Em and Jack really made sure they’re parts complimented our sound and who Milk Teeth are live"
Steadily they have arisen from the underbellies of the English rock underground and thus henceforth arrive boldly having delivered their second album back in March, say hello to Stroud-natives Milk Teeth. The punk rock trio have in the past 7 years signed with some of the biggest labels on the planet: Roadrunner Records, Hopeless Records and now Music For Nations. Vocalist and bassist Becky Blomfield spoke to GMA about the state of the Punk Rock scene, what plans Milk Teeth COVID-19 depending and the beauty of the vinyl revival.
Guys would you say that Punk Rock over the past few years is seeing a huge resurgence in the UK? How did you get into Punk Rock?
"I think punk always exists in the background and underground scenes, I actually think there will be a more prominent rise in punk at the forefront again in light of so much anger caused by the Government lately and the circumstances surrounding COVID-19.
I got into Punk Rock as a teenager - I found bands like Operation Ivy, Alkaline Trio, early Green Day, The Ramones etc and was hooked."
You released your second album back in late March, what was the reception like given the circumstances we are faced with?
"It’s been so positive! I think it was so important not to hold the date back for release. What time is better to give people music and escape than in a global pandemic."
How did it feel signing for Music For Nations and was it a rocky journey signing with 3 labels over a 4-5 year period?
"I feel like I’m used to large amounts of instability in my work and personal life so have almost come to expect things to go wrong before they go right. It’s been positive signing to someone new and we are grateful they have championed the record and music we are making. I think a lot of labels aren’t sure what to do with us."
What would your favourite tracks from the new album be? What did you do differently with this album compared to 'Vile Child'?
"My favourite tracks are “Smoke”, “Better” and “Wannabe”. Vile Child was written as the original line-up - a lots changed and it’s given me so much to write about. I think this self titled record brings my writing to the forth front more than it ever has been, we stuck with a stripped back approach to production and Em and Jack really made sure they’re parts complimented our sound and who Milk Teeth are live."
Your album was released on both black and orange splatter vinyl, you must be excited to see that?
"It’s always crazy to see your own record exists physically. I don’t really associate it with me there’s “band Becky” and “regular Becky”. I’m stoked it’s out - I feel especially proud of this album."
Outside of music do you have any other hobbies / interests?
"I love working out and hiking - lately I’ve enjoyed trying boxing style workouts. I love reading, am getting into gardening and am hoping to do some more craft based courses in either ceramics or silversmithing."
What plans do you have for the rest of the year when everything gets back to normal?
"Everything’s uncertain right now, when we know what we are doing, the fans will be the first to know."
Are there any greetings / thanks you wish to send out?
"I want to thank all frontline workers looking after us all right now whether it’s in the supermarkets, collecting the bins, caring in residential homes or hospitals etc you are literally keeping the world spinning on its axis right now and there aren’t enough ways to tell you thank you."
The Eurovision Song Contest 2019 may be over, but there is still time to catch up with a host of entries to find out how how they felt, what their immediate plans on and to reflect on the artists themselves. Here Danish entry Leonora was more than happy to talk to Global Mainstream Arts about her journey from the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix to arguably music's biggest stage, the Eurovision Song Contest; this time held in Tel Aviv, Israel following Netta's win with 'Toy' last year.
Denmark has a rich history of winning the song contest having won it three times, the last win being 'Only Teardrops' by Emmelie De Forest back in 2013, so was the pressure on Leonora?
"Of course! They [Faroe Islands] should be in the competition, just like Iceland and the rest of the North."
Leonora, firstly how did it feel to be representing Denmark at this year's Eurovision Song Contest?
"First of all, it’s been overwhelming winning the National Final, and that part was my first goal. It’s amazing how much wonderful support I’ve been receiving, both from friends, family and the entire team I have behind me – as well as from fans all over Europe. So it’s been an amazing, and I think Eurovision was the biggest moment of my life. Thank you so much!"
Denmark last won with 'Only Teardrops' back in 2013, what would it have meant for Denmark and yourself to add a fourth win?
"Well, I hoped so. But I’m very proud of my self and my whole team behind me. And I’d never thought I would make it to the final. It was an amazing experience. And come on – 12! It’s kind a cool, when you don’t expect anything. ;)"
Eurovision always throws in some way out-there artists, this year arguably it's Iceland - what are your thoughts on Hatari? Have you got any Eurovision 2019 songs you like?
"Well, I have talked to the guys from Hatari, and they are the sweetest. I think it’s nice to be who you are, and take a chance for once in a while. And just rock this great show! They are truly good guys. My favourite song this year is Czech Republic – (and they are sort of my friends too, hope it’s not cheating?) and Mikis ’La Venda’ always makes me dance!"
Your song 'Love Is Forever' is unique in itself being multilingual, are you fluent in German and French alongside your native Danish?
"No, unfortunately not – we have German and French in Danish schools, but not fluent. But I really like that the song i multilingual. It shows everyone that we’re all equal and Love is forever and for everyone! I believe we all have to appreciate the differences in the world, and we should treat others with the same degree of respect, as we would like to be treated ourselves. We should embrace our differences, not be afraid of them."
You're also an award-winning skater, what was it that made you take a step back? Ice skating has it's own choreography, with Eurovision did you look back at your ice-skating for inspiration? Or where did your ideas come from?
"That’s true. I had a hard time finding the motivation, because I started spending a lot of time on music. Also, it’s very common in Denmark to stop competing when you’re 18. Well, both disciplines feel like natural extensions of who I am, and I feel comfortable with both. Skates quite literally serve as extensions of my legs! They are a tool that allows you to do a lot of technical moves and tricks, but, more importantly, they allow you to dance on the ice and do choreography, which is the side of the sport I love the most. My ideas comes from all over, my family, people I walk by, something I see in TV – anything. "
Would you agree that Eurovision offers escapism for everyone worldwide, free from politics, heartbreak and bad news we face everyday?
"Without a doubt. Eurovision is a singing competition, not a politic statement."
The Faroe Islands have long tried to participate, would you welcome the Faroe Islands into the contest?
"Of course! They should be in the competition, just like Iceland and the rest of the North."
Now Eurovision has finished, what are your plans? Will you be looking to record an album?
"Afterwards, my plan is to record a new album with my own songs, and treat myself to a very long vacation! I’m already craving some relaxing downtime at home."
Do you have any greetings to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"Thank you so much for all your support through this journey of mine! Remember: Love is forever and for everyone Lastly, I’d encourage everyone to always be kind to one another – love is forever!"
For fun what are some fun Danish phrases people should know and use in their daily life as well as at (any) Eurovision?
Based in Chelmsford, the only city in Essex is alternative rockers Lemoncurd Kids. Their unique sense of fashion does not detract the focus from their musical brilliance and to prove they should not be taken lightly, the quartet have delivered their second album "Consequence Of Doubt". To show that there are consequences should you doubt this band's musical arsenal, the guys discussed the new album, their back-story and their place within the Essex rock scene.
"The problem in the [Essex] music scene is getting people to shows and keeping venues alive"
For those who have not heard of Lemoncurd Kids, could you give us a brief history of the band, the meaning behind the name and how you all became musicians?; was you in previous bands? Was it hard to obtain your signature outfits?
"Lemoncurd Kids were born in Winter 2014. Mark was a solo performer under the name of 'The Lemoncurd Kid' and he decided to put a band together for a charity show, so James, Jon and Matt joined him and he has been unable to shake them off ever since. The name comes from Mark’s propensity as a child to smear lemon curd over his face and stick slices of bread to it. He thought ‘The Lemoncurd Sandwich Kid’ was a bit of a mouthful so it was shortened.
We’ve all got a fair bit of band experience so we came into it knowing how a band should work; we function pretty well and have kept disagreements to a minimum.
The cardigans (or ‘Curdigans’, as they’ve become known) were purchased online from an American label called ‘2/men’ - I would guess they’re discontinued now. Also in the line-up is the burgundy cardigan - the ‘Burdigan’, and the lesser-spotted lemon corduroy trousers - the ‘Curduroys’. When we’re not naming our clothes, we sometimes make music."
Back in December, you released your music video and single 'Tick Tock', could you explain the meaning behind the title, what the video is meant to portray and where inspirations came from? What was the reception like?
"I guess the whole feel of the song is a message. A reminder to really live in the present, look around you, take it all in and appreciate all the little things that we take for granted in everyday life. In the video you see us connecting musically with each other through some strange scientific experiment. Take time every now and then to stop, put your phone down and really have a moment of peace. Social media and the instant gratification culture that we live in is screwing with people's mental health. The track had an amazing response and has become a firm favourite for people at our shows."
Regarding the video, is it true you made the hats yourself? How long did they take to make and did you have any inspiration to go by?
"James had the initial idea for the hats; I think his inspiration cams from an 80’s film, maybe ‘Ghostbusters’ or something, and he created his for a fancy dress party a year or so ago. It was a good look so we all had a go at making our own and personalising them in some way. Apart from Matt, who is inept and cannot operate a glue-gun without adult supervision so he got his friend Tom to do it for him."
What is the Essex rock scene like right now? Is it going strong? What could (or should) change in your opinion?
"The Essex music scene, in terms of the music itself, seems to be in rude health. Here in Chelmsford the established acts are putting out really strong efforts, and up and coming bands like Children Of The Fuzz are getting the recognition they deserve. Further afield, Shooty & The Bang Bang released an absolute banger of an album last year and we really have to be on our toes when we’re on the same bill. We’ve been lucky to play with some truly great talents. The problem in the music scene is getting people to shows and keeping venues alive - we lost Asylum around 18 months ago and The Square in Harlow went and The Railway in Southend nearly went. It’s a shame but we keep fighting the apathy."
Out of all the gigs you have done, what has been your favourite and why?
"Favourite gig is a hard one; we’ve had some great times and a great crowds but personally I’ll never forget the crowd singing along to ‘Tick Tock’ at a charity gig in January 2019, the song hadn’t been out long but everyone seemed to know it and it’s an undeniably amazing feeling when that happens."
Would you agree that rock music in the UK is on the up again? Or did it never really fade away?
"I think the supposed demise of rock music pre-dates The Beatles, so I’m not too concerned at a national level. The festival scene has diversified, and that’s a good thing, but it’s not unusual to see rock bands headlining here there and everywhere."
With 2019 in full swing, what plans (aside from album promotion) have you got for the year ahead?
"We have two gigs in the diary - June 16th at The United Bretheren in Chelmsford and The Fling Festival on 6th July, also in Chelmsford. We’re planning on making another video. And after that who knows?"
Finally do you have any greetings, thank you's, etc., that you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
"We’d like to thank everyone who continues to support us. Playing in empty rooms or to disinterested punters is no fun so to all that come to our shows and listen to and like our music - thank you so much. Peace out x"
Kenya in East Africa is a country most would associate with safari parks, sandy beaches and the Maasai people. Few would associate it with rock and metal music, even more so Punk Rock. Leading the African Rock movement for Kenya is Powerslide, a band of three brothers-in-arms who stand for what they believe in. They're no Sex Pistols nor are they any flashy wannabe punk rock band of late, they create music true to their heart, but as the vocalist / guitarist Willy Ojiro goes on to explain, the rock/metal scene is more or less still in it's infantile stage and has yet to reach the burgeoning levels witness in Europe, North America and Australia.... this is their story.
"We have a Government owned station (Y254) that has a Rock show ('Rock Tour')... the only Kenyan show that promotes the local scene"
For those who have not heard of Powerslide, could you give us a brief background of the band?
"Powerslide is a punk band comprising of Willy Ojiro (vocals/guitar), Timothy 'Qreed' Wafula (drums) and George Zuko (bass). We have roots in Punk Rock, but we use elements of everything from Metalcore to Indie. Taking inspiration from bands like Blink 182, Nirvana, NOFX, Black Flag, Architects and While She Sleeps just to name a few. We all skated together for years before any of us were musicians but in 2015 we decided to form a band. Our goal is to spread love and positivity through our music and to change the world one pair of ears at a time."
Your debut album is out this year, what will you be doing to promote it?
"Our debut album 'Cheshire Grin' is almost out. For promotion we have a bunch of music videos in the works and have released 2 so far, as well as TV appearances planned. We also intend to tour to the extent of our capability. If everything goes well we'll be touring Germany in the summer."
Tell us more about the Kenyan rock and metal scenes, what is it like? Do you have bands from neighbouring countries come and play?
"The Kenyan Rock and Metal scene is extremely small, but extremely vibrant. Most Kenyans don't even know that a scene exists. But when bands from around the world come down here to play they're always stoked on how intense the crowds here are. There's an incredible sense of community in the scene. Yes we have a few bands from neighbouring countries that come through like Vale of Amonition from Uganda, and Norbormide NMD from Botswana."
What is the Government's stance on rock / metal music?
"I don't think the Government has given two thoughts about the scene lol. But we have a Government owned station (Y254) that has a Rock show ('Rock Tour). That's the only Kenyan show that promotes the local scene. The station has invited us on twice in the past 2 months, cheers to them."
For rock / metal fans visiting Nairobi, what sights / attractions could you recommend?
"Nairobi has a bunch of attractions tourists could visit. Kenya's first national park, Nairobi National Park which has a huge array of animals such us lions, cheetahs, rhinos, gazelles, elephants, buffaloes and more than 400 species of birds. We have the Bomas of Kenya with is an open air museum featuring traditional tribal villages with indigenous crafts, performances and music. We also have the Giraffe Center which Stray From The Path visited during their tour here.
We were blessed with the chance to share the stage with them in June at the Hardcore Help Foundation's 'This Is Africa Fest'. Stray From The Path is my favourite Hardcore band and getting to go on stage and perform with them was a mind-blowing experience."
What do your parents think of your choice of music? Are they musicians themselves?
"Neither of my parents are musicians but they are both huge music fans (unfortunately not of rock). They have shown me nothing but support as I pursue my music. I might even go as far as saying they are more supportive than all the parents of the musicians I surround myself with. And for that i will always be grateful."
With the end of 2018 drawing closer, what can fans expect from Powerslide in 2019?
"In 2019 fans can expect us to play more shows than ever, in more countries than ever. We will also be releasing a 2019 album which we have already started writing."
Are there any greetings, hello's, etc you wish to send out?
"I'd just like to give a huge thanks to everyone that's given us a chance, everyone that's come to a show, everyone that's taken time to listen to our music, everyone that's believed in us, we appreciate you."
As you may well know, Finland has a rich history of rock and metal music. From both genders I might add. One of Finland's undiscovered talents lies within the all-female rock band Sarca. You might well agree that even though these five ladies are extremely pretty, their music should never be judged on looks and Sarca as a whole has a lot of bite in their repertoire. Having also had a stint with Finnish stunt legends The Dudesons (think Jackass), there is more to Sarca than meets the eye as you will now find out...
How did Sarca come about as a band; how did you form? What does the band name mean?
"Our guitarist Amanda and drummer Sandra are sisters, our keyboardist Vilma has known them both since kindergarten and our bassist Alisa was in the same grade as Amanda from 2002 to 2010. Sarca was born in 2002. The whole idea was born at school. I talked with our bassist on our lunch break and asked her if she wanted to start playing the bass. :D Our singer Tuuli sang her way to our band in 2005 after our earlier singer left Sarca. The name Sarca actually means nothing. I (Amanda) had a dream in 2005 that we had that name. In the dream we were reading a review about our debut album and we thought and decided that it was a premonition and changed our name!"
Is there any stigma towards female rock musicians in Finland? How do you cope with any abuse or bullying received because your an all-female band? Is the term female-fronted sexist in your opinion?
"First of all the term "tyttöbändi" which is used in Finland means a 'girl-band'. I think that's kind of an insult already. After all we are not girls any more and that term feels underrating. The first thought when we go to some gig seems to be that girls can't play really good or something. Especially when it comes to rock music and attitude, time after time everyone seems to be surprised that we actually can play. That's kind of funny and annoying also and yes, we don't understand why people have to talk about "all-female bands" or "girl-bands". Why it's so different when it comes to men? Maybe its so magical and rare that "girls" are playing in a band? I don't know. And when it comes to bullying and mean comments etc., I think in those cases the bullies are mainly women. Women can be so mean to each other. I think it's the envy or something. Any case its stupid and childish."
You released your debut album "Nollasta Sataan" 5-6 years ago, will 2018 bring a new album?
"Our singer is on maternity leave now. She had her baby in February so I think this year will be quite quiet for us."
How did you all get into playing rock music? Who did you listen to growing up? Who are your current idols?
"We all have our own idols and we all listen to many kind of music. Pop / Rock just feels right for us. Our bassist Alisa and myself (Amanda) are writing most of our songs, so our taste in music shows maybe the most in it. I love for example Kiss, Rob Zombie, Van Halen (Eddie is the BEST!), Alanis Morrisette, Type O Negative, Michael Jackson, Stam1na.... the list is very long."
Where has Sarca performed? Have you played outside of Finland? Would you tour Europe?
"We've performed since 2005 so there has been many different kind of stages along the way. Virgin Oil @ Helsinki, Pori Jazz @ Pori for example. We've been honoured to play with many big Finnish bands and artists like Negative, Battle Beast, Kotiteollisuus, Indica and so on. We've been to Germany once but that's the only time we've played outside Finland. Maybe some day we'll be touring Europe, but we'd like to conquer Finland first!"
What do your parents think of your music, are any of your family members musicians?
"Our parents support us with all their hearts and they love our music and us. Sandra (drummer) and my father is a guitarist, and our bassist's father plays the bass and violin. My (Amanda) and Sandra's mother is our manager so she gives a great amount of support for us of course."
For those visiting your home city of Hyvinkää, what sights / attractions are there? Any festivals nearby?
"Next summer we have this rock festival in Hyvinkää, and there are some big names performing like Ozzy Osbourne, Marilyn Manson, Amaranthe, Amorphis, Avenged Sevenfold, Opeth, Megadeth, Stone Sour and Bullet For My Valentine. It's the biggest event in Hynikää ever! We have also the Finnish Railway Museum, ski resort and an entertainment centre - Sveitsi for example. So welcome all! :)"
What plans do you have for the year ahead? Are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"This year will be quiet but maybe some new songs will be written for the next year. We'd like to remind you all to enjoy your life, make the most of it by following your dreams and making your life the life you want to live! Much love! <3"
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