Nikita Bassi Interview

Nikita Bassi is a UK based artist who just dropped her (really great) debut single, ‘Satin’ I caught up with her to chat about the meaning behind it, playing live & more! I started off by asking her what ‘Satin’ meant to her.

“I was playing around with different production ideas and had been trying to find my sound for a while, so I recognised that something felt different the day I started on Satin.”

“I felt like I needed to keep going down that worldly path and did so, so it’s a special song to me. It’s basically a reflection of what was inside my head when I imagined being in love. It happened to me a bit later in life than people around me so I was always curious.”

Nikita is UK based and has Punjabi-Indian roots and this blend of cultures shines through on ‘Satin’. I asked her how she would describe her own sound.

“When I’m writing now, I play around with a lot of different elements and dive into different genres without really overthinking it. There’s always a Worldly vibe in there – So I’d say my sound is just a little celebration of diversity.”

Despite having just released her first single, Nikita has played live all over the world. I asked her a few quick fire questions about playing live:

What is your favourite gig that you have played so far?

“I played at The Mint in LA a few months ago. I was there on holiday and had just emailed them asking if I could do a little set, so they put me on stage before these amazing blues bands. It was just a really chilled and unexpected night.”

Is there a favourite venue of yours in your hometown and why do you like it?

“The Actress and Bishop. I’d love to play there again as the last time I did it, I was 15 and was SO nervous. I looked like I was going to cry. I actually found a video of it on my old laptop yesterday and I was cringing so much!”

Which act would you love to support?
“Nelly Furtado because she’s incredible and I’ve been singing her songs in my bedroom since I was about 6 – they’re total anthems in my life.”

You can check out Nikita on twitter here.

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Clairo – Immunity Album review

‘Immunity’ was an album with a lot riding on it. Since 2017 viral hit ‘Pretty Girl’ and equally hype-gathering EP ‘Diary 001’ the following year, Claire Cottrill aka Clairo has had all eyes on her, with many assuming she would just be another bedroom pop indie star who would quickly fade away. This album completely disproves that.

Production on the album comes from Claire herself and ex-Vampire Weekend mastermind Rostam, who definitely leaves VW esque fingerprints behind, especially on the track ‘Impossible’, but this style of production works perfectly for Claire. Each song sounds fuller and richer than her previous more lo-fi efforts but still manages to focus in mainly on Claire’s lyrics and central melodies, making sure nothing is lost in over-production. I don’t want to patronise her and say it’s ‘good for her age’ but at 20 years old to be this skilled at songwriting is no small feat.

‘North’ is a high point on the album, it’s focused grooves and snappy melody combined with Claire’s crystal clear vocals making for a really memorable track. The lyric ‘I never let anybody in, but somehow you got under my skin’ summing up the album perfectly; ‘Immunity’ is the story of Clairo opening up about her past experiences, and each track is written in such a way that it’s as if you’re listening to an old friend, or reading a diary of their highest and lowest points.

‘Sofia’ is another album highlight, starting off as a fairly chill indie banger reminiscent of Amber Arcades or Alvvays before bursting into this gritty, groovy distorted guitar riff that takes the track to another level. The layers of vocals and instruments towards the end just show how meticulously this was put together. The whole album sounds so smooth and effortless but the more you listen, the more complex you realise it is.

Closing track ‘I Wouldn’t Ask You’ is an almost 7 minute long track, and it’s pretty much in 2 halves, starting off very intimate and slow with Claire & a Children’s choir over a gentle piano backing before a cascade of synths and drum loops come in almost like her mind has cleared from that gloomy period, with the choir now literally singing ‘we’ll be alright’.

‘Immunity’ is a beautiful, comforting album that I feel that I, and many others, will come back to time and time again.

95%

 

 

 

Tramlines Festival 2019 Review

2019 was the second time that Tramlines took place in it’s new home at Hillsborough Park. Last year was a big celebration for Sheffield’s festival and I was worried that this year’s event wouldn’t have the same party atmosphere as the 10th Anniversary. I needn’t have worried.

Friday

Kicking things off for Tramlines for me was Sheffield’s finest young indie band, The Seamonsters.

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As is tradition, The Seamonsters got even better than the last time I saw them, with their irresistible indie pop constantly growing in quality and scale surely they will rise up the festival stage ranks in the years to come.

Next it was over to the Main Stage for the first time of the weekend for Circa Waves.

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Drawing the first smoke bombs of the weekend, Circa Waves played a very tight set with big hits like ‘T-Shirt Weather’ really getting the festival into full swing.

After Circa Waves was the penultimate act of the day, Manic Street Preachers.

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The Manics brought out all of the hits, starting off with the massive Motorcycle Emptiness which immediately made everyone forget about the torrential rain that threatened to ruin Hillsborough Park’s day.

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With a surprisingly great ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ cover and newer hits like ‘International Blue’ amongst classics like ‘Everything Must Go’, MSP played a career spanning, crowd pleasing set.

Closing the Leadmill stage on Friday were Sunderland’s finest, The Futureheads.

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The Futureheads were one of my most anticipated acts of the weekend, having missed them the first time around I was very excited to see them now that they were back playing live again. They did not disappoint, playing an incredibly tight set of indie-punk, and drawing a massive, eager crowd for the tent who ate up tracks like ‘Decent Days and Nights’ and their iconic Kate Bush cover ‘Hounds of Love’

Saturday

First up for me on Saturday were Sheffield locals Oddity Road.

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Pulling a big crowd early in the day, Oddity Road were on top form bringing indie rock banger after banger to Hillsborough Park.

After Oddity Road, I ventured over to the Leadmill stage to see some of the comedy acts! The comedy lineup for Saturday was international, with Thomas Green and Dan Muggleton both being from Australia, and Reginald D Hunter being American. As with last year. the Leadmill Comedy selection was perfect, with the tent being packed all afternoon.

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After Reg had finished, it was over to T’Other stage for Anteros, who played a great set of shimmery indie-pop.

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Main Stage for an evening of indie madness. Miles Kane took to the stage adorned in glitter and went straight into the blistering ‘Inhaler’.

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After Miles, Sheffield indie icons Reverend & The Makers, as expected, stormed the Main Stage and drew an enormous, excitable crowd.

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Smoke bombs in abundance, Rev and Co bounced through all of their biggest hits with one of the most crowd-pleasing sets of the weekend.

The nice one from The Smiths was up next.

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Johnny Marr very kindly cranked out a few massive Smiths hits alongside his new solo material, with the likes of ‘Easy Money’ going down just as well as ‘This Charming Man’ with a very happy Tramlines crowd.

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Closing the day were indie heavyweights the Courteeners, who brought with them one of the hypest crowds Tramlines has ever seen.

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Manchester’s second Liam and co played a stellar set of Indie Bangers and really proved why they deserved that top spot on the bill. If anyone was ever in doubt.

Sunday

The final day of Sheffield’s Biggest Party got underway with a party, created by none other than Happy Mondays.

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Opening the day with a big hit of 90’s nostalgia could have been a big cheesey mess, but the Mondays proved they still have it, playing a very tight hit filled set and Shaun tried his best to ‘keep things PG this early in the day’.

Guest Singer was up next on the Library Stage.

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One of the acts that BBC Introducing had selected to play at the festival, Guest Singer was one of my highlights of the weekend, with ‘New Experience’ being an absolute banger.

Back to the main stage for 90’s indie stalwarts Sleeper now.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from Sleeper, but they really impressed me with a great, energetic set of classic indie-rock tunes that still sounded fresh. Always good to see a band enjoying playing as much as the crowd enjoy watching!

Next up was Lewis Capaldi.

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Unsurprisingly, Lewis drew the biggest crowd of the weekend, and the lad was on top form both musically and comically, with a really strong voice and stage presence matched with the sharp wit of a genuine stand-up comedian, this could quickly become an intimate gig for Lewis.

Over to the Leadmill stage for the last time of the weekend next for Good Cop Bad Cop.

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A Sheffield supergroup of sorts, GCBC played a blinder of a set, with material from their debut album sounding amazing live, and an incredible cover of The Human League’s Love Action went down a treat.

Closing the Tramlines weekend were Nile Rodgers & Chic.

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Some acts play a ‘greatest hits’ set at festivals, and a few of these big hitters really get a crowd moving. Nile & Chic played a set of pretty much the greatest hits of all time. Energy filled from the get-go, Chic were incredibly joyous for every single song, and the crowd matched that energy throughout. A perfect festival headliner.

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Tramlines did it again. It really is Sheffield’s biggest party, and everyone there just seems so happy and excited all the time; everyone in Hillsborough Park has an amazing time. Bring on next year.

98%

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu Movie Review

The vast majority, if not all video game movies, are awful. Luckily, all it took was a little detective work to fix that.

Detective Pikachu centres around Tim Goodman, a miserable young lad (which is fair enough because his dad has just died in a horrific accident) who discovers a talking Pikachu in his late father’s apartment. It quickly becomes apparent that not all is as it seems, and Tim and Pikachu team up with local reporter Lucy to crack the case.

The majority of the movie takes place in and around Ryme City, a city where humans and Pokémon live in harmony. The way that director Rob Letterman has built this world is really convincing, with the ways that the Pokémon interact with their humans and engage in society is really charming and adds to the immersion, making you really feel like this could be the real world, or at least a version of it that you’d probably want to live in.

The movie is visually stunning, from all the little details and Easter eggs that will please long-time fans of the games in Ryme City to the beautiful outdoor scenery, this is a video game movie that not only has a good plot, but also looks great. The realistic Pokémon may have looked jarring in the trailers when they were first revealed, but in this world they really do work, with the designs of Psyduck and Bulbasaur looking exceptionally good.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

The casting of Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu turned a few heads when it was first announced, but his brand of humour is perfect for this movie, and the chemistry between him and Justice Smith who plays Tim feels genuine and charming, even though he is talking to a Pikachu at the end of the day. Kathryn Newton does a great job as Lucy, and Bill Nighy as Howard Clifford, the visionary mind who created Ryme City, is another great choice.

Kathryn Newton in Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Ryan Reynolds, Kathryn Newton, and Justice Smith in Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Detective Pikachu should catch (haha) the attention of all fans of Pokémon, and should be a fun movie for anyone who even has a very passing knowledge of the franchise. Very easily the best game to movie adaptation ever made, and I’d welcome a whole series of films set in this world.

85%

New Release Roundup 25th Feb 2019

Fil Bo Riva – L’impossible: This new track from Fil Bo Riva is a smooth ballad that uses autotuned vocals before bursting into an emotional crescendo and coming back down again. Very nice indeed. 82%

Teenage Fanclub – Everything is Falling Apart: The first single from veteran indie band Teenage Fanclub since Gerard left the band is very decent, but doesn’t really compare to their material from their last full album ‘Here’ in my opinion. 70%

Kero Kero Bonito – The Open Road this new cut from KKB is immediately more upbeat and positive, being a track literally about the open road on a trip. It sounds like a leftover from their recent ‘Time n Place’ album, but that project was so good that I really do not care. 90%

Weezer – High As A Kite: Another great track from Weezer’s upcoming ‘Black Album’, ‘High As A Kite’ being a Beatle-esque off-kilter rock ballad that goes through a few different phases. Rivers still manages to sound exactly the same as he did when Weezer first started out which deserves phrase in itself. 85%

Jay Som – Simple: A lovely new track from Jay Som here, released as part of the Adult Swi singles series. ‘Simple’ lives up to it’s name, but it’s still an effective track too, with Melina’s vocals being charming as ever. 78%

Foals – On The Luna: On the second track to come from their upcoming 2019 album (part 1 anyway) we see a very dance-able Foals; the lads sound a lot more upbeat compared to their previous single ‘Exits’. I can imagine this one really going off in a live situation but it’s nothing new really for Foals. Still good though. 75%

Zedd & Katy Perry – 365: This is instantly catchy and will more than likely become a massive hit, especially with Zedd’s great, clean dance-pop production and Katy’s now iconic voice. It’s nothing too new or inventive but it’s nice enough. 65%

Cardi B & Bruno Mars – Please Me: There’s only so far Bruno can ride this wave of 80’s/90’s inspired retro-funk before it gets boring, and Cardi’s verses here sound like someone doing a bad impression of her. Uninspired and bland. 25%

The 1975 live at the O2 Arena Review

The 1975 are currently on their sold out UK Arena tour, their biggest to date, and I got to catch their show on Saturday 19th of January. It was very good.

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After great support sets from Dirty Hit alumni No Rome and Pale Waves, The 1975 took to the stage to a ridiculously loud, and excited o2 Arena that was packed to the brim. As soon as that big screen lit up the crowd were relentlessly noisy through till the last song. Kicking things off with a double helping from their latest album ‘Give Yourself A Try’ and ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’ were received as if they were greatest hits.

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Each song had it’s own amazing set of visuals, with the stage morphing and transforming; at one point Matty entered the screen and it became a phone, and a treadmill was in use for a few of the songs alongside massive floating cube screens and some really great backing dancers who added an extra level of spectacle to the show.

The visuals were stunning at times, making the show seem even larger in spectacle than it already was. Opening act No Rome returned for the stage for his recent track that featured The 1975 and even that had got a full visual treatment, dancers and all.

The 1975 played a varied selection of tracks from their 3 albums and a few from their earlier EPs, even being brave enough to play the ambient ‘How To Draw/Petrichor’ from their latest.

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This was a massive show, with amazing visuals and it’s inspiring to see a relatively new band shoot up to this level of production without losing their personality.

95%

New Release Roundup – 21st Jan 2019

Ariana Grande – 7 Rings: Borrowing the melody from ‘My Favourite Things’ from the Sound of Music while also using a trap-infused beat and riffing off Travis Scott’s smash hit and meme ‘Sicko Mode’ and putting it all into a coherent banger is very impressive. 80%

Rozi Plain – Symmetrical: A calming but in no way boring folky new single from Rozi here. It’s just really, really pleasant but the occasional synths and extra harmonies make it a good, developing cut. 90%

Guest Singer – New Experience: A groovy, synthy track from Guest Singer here with rings of Mystery Jets and British Sea Power. Showing real potential on his first single proper. 75%

Sigrid – Don’t Feel Like Crying: A decent new pop single from Sigrid here with a nice positive message & a catchy chorus. She’s like Jess Glynne but actually good. 70%

Little Simz ft. Cleo Sol – Selfish: Little Simz continues the great run of singles she has been releasing in the build up to her upcoming album ‘Grey Area’ with ‘Selfish’, a smooth, funky cut with a great bassline and a great feature from Cleo. 92%

Loyle Carner ft. Rebel Kleff & Kiko Bun – You Don’t Know: More great stuff from Loyle; any time he teams up with Rebel on a song you know it’s going to be a cut with great chemistry and solid bars, and this is no different. 90%

The Japanese House – Maybe You’re The Reason: Another great track from Amber here, with the shimmery production and catchy chorus making this one of her poppiest tracks yet, but also one of her strongest. Very excited for her upcoming debut now. 90%

The Killers – Land Of The Free: Brandon and co have one of the best songs they have released in years here, openly tackling racism, gun control and the prison problems in the U.S with a Springsteen-esque ballad. 90%