Dead Nature Interview

I spoke to Tarek Musa, ex-Spring King front man & drummer, about his new project ‘Dead Nature’ and what life is like solo. We kicked things off by discussing why he chose that name for his solo project.


“The phrase Dead Nature (which literally translates from the word ‘Still Life’) struck a chord with me. It represents a time in my life where it felt as if time stood still, and not much was going on.”


“A lot of the songs I have written for this project already touch on the subject of loneliness, self-reflection and space. It had an emotional response that I took something from.”


The first Dead Nature EP, ‘Taking My Shadow’ released back in July to a great reception, but Tarek isn’t rushing to make a full-length project, but there will be one in the future.


“I’m writing a lot of music for the project and with time it’s only going to grow further. “


“Part of the process for me is in taking time to enjoy the natural growth of the music whilst creating in an inspiring environment. There will be an album at some point.”


‘Rookwood’ is my favourite from the debut EP from Dead Nature, so I asked Tarek about the inspiration behind that track.


“‘Rookwood’ represents a time in my life that was filled with highs and lows. It captures a time of complete stillness that I hope listeners can relate to in their own way.”


“I wrote the track to help explore old feelings from over fifteen years ago, and what came out of it is some of my proudest work.”


As well as making music himself, Tarek has been producing and engineering for the likes of Circa Waves and The Big Moon;


“When I work with other artists, helping to produce their music, I feel I have a level of understanding with how they may be feeling in the studio. “


“I’m lucky to have experience on both sides, which really helps in making a band or artist feel comfortable when i’m working with them.”


“It’s different in the sense that when I work on my own songs I know exactly what I want them to sound like. Getting to the sound I have in my head is a lot easier to achieve, it’s instantaneous.”


“Producing for others has given me a huge respect for the struggle of artists, and a reminder to myself that what we do as musicians, producers, songwriters and artists is not achieved over night. “


“There is so much time and effort put into what people hear, and sometimes it’s good to remind ourselves of the amount of dedication it takes to get a finished song over the line.”


You can listen to the debut Dead Nature EP below.

 

 

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Perfect Sound Whatever: James Acaster Interview

James Acaster is one of the biggest comedians in the world at the moment, and coming off the back of constantly sold out tour dates and his universally acclaimed Netflix specials, James has written a book focused on music that released in 2016.

I chatted to him about why he wrote about 2016 specifically, and the music he encountered along the way. Three instant classics from 2016 got him started on his journey, after a long period of not really engaging with new releases.

“During 2016 I got into three big albums – Blackstar by David Bowie, Lemonade by Beyoncé and Blonde by Frank Ocean, after a decade of engaging with very little modern day music.”

“It got me excited about pop music and at the end of 2016 I really enjoyed reading the end of year lists on all the music websites. In January 2017 I launched into my own personal breakdown and so I did the thing that’d most recently bought me joy in order to cope and continued to read the 2016 end of year lists and buy the albums from it. I just kept going until I felt better. It took about two years.”

Finding every album worth listening to released in 2016 sounds like a daunting task. I asked James how he went about even beginning to find them all.

“Online Lists, YouTube vlogs, Pitchfork, Bandcamp, Word of mouth, Googling musicians I liked on the off chance they had a 2016 project.”

“Some bands even contacted me when they found out about the project. Just every means necessary really.”

Listening to that much music must uncover a few hidden gems, so I asked James what some underrated albums he had discovered are:

“There are so many. I think Badd Timing by The Sooper Swag Project sounds like no other rap album ever and Pixvae by Pixvae sounds like no other rock album ever. But I could give you a very long list of Overlooked Masterpieces From 2016.”

As well as these albums that James feels are underrated, when trawling upon hundreds of recommendations and listicles there must be some albums on the other end of the scale:

“Loads of people were recommending Moenai Hai by The Gerogerigegege. I think it was a prank.”

“It’s just a bunch of nothing-y background sound then one kind of song then more nothingness. It really wound me up because I had to go so far out of my way to obtain a copy. I bet I’ll try and get into it again one day though.”

I had a listen to it, and I agree.

‘Perfect Sound Whatever’ is out on the 22nd August and you can pre-order it here. It contains a story about James shitting his pants.

 

 

‘A Healthy Earth’:Peaer Interview

I spoke to Peter from very good Brooklyn based indie band Peaer, about their imminently releasing second album ‘A Healthy Earth’, due out on the 16th of August. Here’s what he had to say.

First of all, I asked why they went with that title for the album.
“We went through a lot of titles when we were trying to finish this album and nothing seemed to really stick. “We wanted to imply on the concept of “scale” with the title, since the subject matter of the record goes between interpersonal and global ideas.”

“We wanted a title that could talk about the small stuff and the big stuff at the same time. “A Healthy Earth” is actually from a line in our song “Multiverse” – and once we started throwing that around it really started to stick, it was catchy and not too wordy, and it also works aesthetically with the rest because of the repeated “ea” lettering.”

“Conceptually, ‘a healthy earth’ sparks questions in my mind – what makes a healthy earth? do we live in one? is it possible to make one? Its a question, its a call to action, it provokes thoughts.”

 

The album art for ‘A Healthy Earth’ is a rather nice photo of a model railway, and I wondered what the significance of this was:

 

“The train set was built buy Thom (our bassist) and his father some of years ago. Thom’s dad has been part of the local model train society in Westchester, NY, and the train set still resides in the basement of Thom’s parent’s house.”

 

“When I first went to Thom’s house years and years ago and I saw the train set, I immediately started taking pictures and thinking “this would be perfect for the new album (3 or so years before it was completed).”

“Last summer Thom and I went back to the house with some DSLRs and took a bunch of photos with the intention of using them as album artwork. It works really well with the “scale” theme I spoke about in the first response, and its a very beautiful model.”

 

‘In My Belly’ from the album features Indie-Pop icon Shamir, and Peter discussed what it was like collaborating with them on the track, and it turns out they were already friends.

 

“Shamir and I have gotten super close since we toured together in December of 2017, so asking them to sing was something we were eager to do.”
“It was remarkably easy since their voice is amazing and they have an incredible ear for harmony. We simply sent them the song and they sang parts in a studio with their engineer, and we took those tracks and blended them into the recording.”

 

“We knew we wanted another voice to make the middle section of the song shine and Shamir was the perfect ask. I basically just told them to “go wild” and they did!”

 

Second albums are apparently difficult to make, but definitely come with a lot of attention and hype from critics and fans alike; did Peaer go about making their second album any differently? Peter said so and I have no reason to not believe him:

 

“The first LP was very much so a snapshot of time – the band had been playing a bit in college and had these 7 or so songs ready to go, and before we all graduated and lost access to the nice studios we had at college, we decided to lay everything down.”

 

“It was much more hands-off experience. We tracked it all and then I gave it to Jeremy (not in the band yet but still engineered the whole record) and just said “okay make this sound good” and he did!”

 

“This time around we were much more intentional. We took our time with the tracking and pre-production of it all, and generally spent more collective time with the album as it was being made. Editing, re-tracking parts, adding and trying out new sounds and things in order to make the record more involved. We definitely treated it as a more substantial piece.”

 

I asked Peter what artists were inspiring the band while making ‘A Healthy Earth’:

Off the top of my head it would be the production and careful writing of (Sandy) Alex G, Pedro the Lion, the non-chalant-yet-daring nature of The Dismemberment Plan, the eclecticism of Duster’s Stratosphere, Pinback, The Lemonheads, Life Without Buildings. A lot of the same sort of artists that have always been there for me.

‘A Healthy Earth’ comes out on the 16th August, and you can pre-order it here.

 

Say Hello To: Elephant Trees

Manchester four-piece Elephant Trees have just released their latest single ‘4100’. Check the experimental indie cut out below, then find out a bit more about them in WYM’s Q&A.

Where did your band name come from?

“A group of trees in our home town that look like an elephant, they are the first signal of home after we’ve been away. ”


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

“Personally, it’s got to be Guiseley Theatre. I grew up doing shows there and my brother got married there. There is so much history in this building and we always have fun playing it. ”


What is your favourite gig you have played so far? 

“Definitely Leeds Pride, it was the biggest crowd we’ve ever played to and the best, everyone just wanted to dance and so did we. “


If you had to describe your own sound, how would you put it? 

A chaotic sad disco party


Which band would you love to support?

“Florence and the Machine! Girl power and ginger power!”


Elephant Trees are playing the Brudenell in Leeds on the 28th Feb supporting Larkins, and Wakefield’s Weightless Festival on the 3rd August. You can check them out on Twitter at @theeletrees and instagram at @theelephanttrees

Venue Talk: Polo on Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

I spoke to Leeds based trio Doe about their favourite live venue, which is Leeds’ Brudenell Social Club. They recently released catchy new single ‘On My End’; read why they like the Brudenell so much below!

Why do you like it so much?

Intimate, pretension free atmosphere with the best sound, the best selection of up and coming music and a great selection of beer.  Always has a friendly and engaged crowd, and its universally considered one of the best venues in the country. 

Have you ever played there?

Yes, we’ve played there a few times, always a treat. Leeds is our home town and we’ve had the chance to support some incredible bands there, plus host a few of our own shows. There is a new, second room there now too, which sounds just about as good. Although you can’t beat the Brudenell main room…
Who else have you seen there?
We have seen a great selection of bands there, a few of our favourites being Porches, Japanese Breakfast, Mitski and Big Thief.
 

Facts About The Brudenell:

  • The Social club was established December 8th, 1913
  • Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand, The Cribs, Four Tet and The Fall have all played at the Social Club.
  • It is a community ‘non profitmaking’ venue, that holds charitable status.
  • Photography, Film and even Origami groups meet up at the Brudenell.

The Social Club have upcoming shows from Andy Burrows, Queen Zee, Doe, She Drew The Gun and The Orielles. Visit http://www.brudenellsocialclub.co.uk/whats-on to see all of their upcoming events!

Venue Talk: Gengahr on The Astoria

I chatted to John from Gengahr about his fave live music venue. He chose the late Astoria in London. Watch Gengahr’s video for ‘Before Sunrise’ below, then check out the interview.

“Can I choose one that no longer exists? The Astoria. Saw so many great bands there, it was the perfect size and if you found the right spot it sounded great either downstairs or upstairs.”

“You could sit down upstairs if you were knackered. Also it was twinned with the Mean Fiddler and after many years we worked out how to get downstairs to the separate venue without anyone seeing so you could get two gigs for the price of one. This was only useful once when there was a great support band downstairs and a great headline act upstairs.”

“Unfortunately I didn’t make any music anyone would want to hear before it got torn down. The gap by Tottenham Court Road station still makes me sad.”

“I got to see loads of stuff there. A lot of US rock stuff as well as U.K. Indie. I think the last gig I went to was Rancid. I saw Death Cab For Cutie and my mate fell asleep upstairs on the chairs, entirely apt for that band. Saw Biffy Clyro at there last London show before they signed to a major and changed a fair bit.

“I saw a UK band called Seafood that was great, the album ‘when do we start fighting’ is worth looking up. I saw Regina Spektor there before she got really big, I think it was the only time she had a full band and she did some truly awful dancing, probably why she sat behind the piano the rest of her career. The video for Radioheads ‘my iron lung’ is shot there (I’m pretty sure), I wish I was around for that gig.”

Venue Facts

  • The Astoria originally opened as a cinema!
  • It was sadly closed in 2009.
  • Richey Edwards had his last live performance with the Manic Street Preachers in the Astoria.
  • Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Feeder and The Cranberries all had live albums recorded at the Astoria.
  • Nirvana, The Strokes, Prince, Blur, Bowie, Madonna and Oasis all played the Astoria.

Gengahr’s second album, Where Wildness Grows, is out now (and its bloody good.) Buy it here or stream it here.

Venue Talk: The Orielles on Hebden Bridge Trades Club.

I spoke to Halifax indie trio The Orielles, fresh off the back of releasing their debut album ‘Silver Dollar Moment’ about their favourite live music venue, Hebden Bridge Trades Club. Check out the video for ‘Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist) below:


What is your favourite venue and why?
“Our favourite venue is the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge.”
“The venue holds a lot of sentimental value for us and is essentially owned and run by the community, which is so inspiring and lovely. The staff there are also the best, as is the sound!”

Have you ever played there?
“We have played there a few times and they have always been the best shows of the tour. Great to see so many people both old and young enjoying live music.”

Who else have you seen play there?
“We’ve seen so many bands play there!! Most notably Khruangbin, around two years ago, when they played an unreal show to only about 30 people.”
“Also every single Heavenly Recordings weekender has been so, so amazing and memorable, but maybe we’re slightly biased here, haha.”

Facts about The Trades Club:

  • The Trades Club was built in 1924 and still has the original sprung dance floor.
  • It’s a members co-operative socialist members club. Owned by it’s members and run by a committee.
  • It has been shortlisted for NME Small Venue of the year 3 times.
  • Shortlisted for this year’s Music Week Small Venue Award.
  • They have hosted 3 Heavenly Records weekends at the club, the latest headlined by The Orielles, Gwenno & King Gizzard.
Everything Everything.jpeg
Everything Everything at Hebden Bridge Trades Club.
Notable artists to play the Trades in the last few years include Mark Lanegan, Patti Smith, Everything Everything, Fat White Family & The Fall. They have upcoming shows from Girl Ray, IDLES and a Certain Ratio to name a few.
You can stream The Orielles’ debut album below, or buy it from here.
You can find more info and tickets for upcoming events at The Trades club here.
Thanks to Mal from the Trades Clubs for the Facts.