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Archive for the ‘interviews…’ Category

Sometimes the Internet seems like it’s messing with you, just for fun. As I sit, freezing cold in my little brother’s bedroom in a Manchester council estate, somewhere in Iceland is a woman sat in what are likely colder conditions, telling me about her day. “It’s four o’clock and it’s already getting dark” she tells me with a wonderful Scandinavian twang. This isn’t any woman, though, this is Ólöf Arnalds. A multi-instrumentalist, she has a degree in composition and new media, whilst also spending 14 years studying violin and classical singing.

A former member of the increasingly influential Múm, she’s since moved on to doing solo work, and with great results. Originally brought out in 2006, her debut Við Og Við was finally released in the UK earlier this year. The 29 year old admits: “I felt like making something very exact, very clear”. A beautiful, stripped back folk record, it’s simple in its means but lavish in outcome. “I sing and play in all of the recordings; they’re all like live. I tried to have people at the studio listening. It’s like storytelling, that’s the idea” whilst only using additional instrumentation “to add a little colour”. After working with bigger groups, she finally found the need to “do something I could stand and fall with completely”. It’s a record that’s easy to lose yourself in, which might be thanks to Ólöf singing in her native tongue: “I wrote the songs in Icelandic. I feel a strong connection with my language and I totally believe that you can give some people a complete understanding though they might not know all the words”

Produced with Kjartan Sveinsson from Sigur Ros, it’s an incredibly personal effort. “It deals with my relationship with different individuals. Every song is about a family member, the first song is about a friend of mine”. The idea of a Lily Allen style airing of grievances is laughed off, though: “It doesn’t go into any details of anything like that, it’s more about the way that people connect, as well as sorrow and other things”.  And any idea of Kjartan heavily influencing the record is firmly rebuked: “I guess he was just helping me out, helping me getting out of my head onto tape. He wasn’t in any way trying to shape or produce it in the ‘producer’ sense of the word. He had a very strong idea about how to record it.”

The 3 year wait for her debut to hit British shores is put down to “waiting to work with the right people”. And whilst we might have been robbed of one of the most delicate and touching long players in recent memory for a while, it also shortens the wait for Innundir Skinni, which has already been recorded: “It’s being mastered now, and then I’m going to be working on the cover art”. We can expect a release sometime around March, promising a grander sound. “It has more elements and more instruments” Ólöf enthuses, “There’s a similar idea in working with whole takes and live takes but now with more musicians playing”. The new record sounds exciting already, with the promise of “more colour and a lot more experiments”, including half of the album being in English.

Whilst the UK has a history of making musicians with more ego than talent, it seems that Ólöf follows the trend of the Nordic countries unique mixture of being both humble and frank. She struggles to compare her latest effort with her debut, admitting that “there are not that many songs” recorded for her follow up. Without emotion, she concludes “I threw away some songs to keep the whole picture clear”. As the conversation draws to a close and the time on my Skype conversation recording trial runs perilously close to ending, there are hints that still a lot to come from her yet: “I’ve started writing songs for the second-next album”, which, in a cold back room in Manchester, is about the best news you could hope for.

This interview was conducted early December 2009. For whatever reason, it wasn’t published (or at least, hasn’t been yet), so rather than let it go to waste, here it is. You can purchase Ólöf Arnalds glorious debut Vid og Vid from One Little Indian‘s online shop here: http://www.onelittleshop.com/product_info.php?products_id=866. If you’ve not heard any of her work before, here’s a sample:

Ólöf Arnalds – Klara (Aol)

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Jesca Hoop interview

When I first listened to the Jesca Hoop album ‘hunting my dress’, I’m happy to admit that i was a little bit uncertain about it. However, after having a little time for it to settle in, it began to grow upon me, and I found myself humming fragments of her songs throughout the day without really realising it. Now, it’s one of my favourite releases of the year, and fall all the right reasons. Whereas a lot of albums can give instant gratification but merit little sustained interest, ‘Hunting my Dress’ is an album that burns slower, but is far more rewarding than most. Her sound is difficult to describe – Kate Bush is usually mentioned as a comparison, which is about as close as you’re likely to get. However, songs like ‘Four Dreams’ show her in a more contemporary light, and that track in particular sounds like it was made with Micachu producing it.

Anyway, she’s been a childminder for Tom Waits amongst other things in a life that’s already been more interesting than mine couled ever hope to be. She answered some questions for me, and This is Fake DIY have published them:

Jesca Hoop interview (This is Fake DIY)

And here’s a song from her debut, Kismet:

Jesca Hoop – Seed of Wonder (bathlizard)

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It’s hardly a JFK moment, but I remember where I was when I found out that Hope of the States were splitting up. I was sat around some makeshift fire with my friend/cousin James, and he broke the news. It came completyely out of the blue, and a few hour too late – we were at leeds gestival, and the band had just played their final ever show with little prior warning. Where had I been? At my camp, drinking cooking rum or something, convincing myself that I’d see them the next time they played Manchester.

 

Anyway, it’s time to move on, and that’s what Sam Herlihy, lead singer from HOTS has done, forming a new outfit called ‘The Northwestern’. having just released their debut EP, Ghostrock, on their own Bloodbank imprint, I emailed him a few questions over, and he sent me some replies. TLOBF have the results:

 

Sam Herlihy (The Northwestern) interview (TLOBF)

 

And here’s a reminder or why I was so sad:

 

Hope of the States – Blood Meridian (mediafire)

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On stage, he’s a huge, looming presence, moody and subdued, playingg some incredibly loud music. Off it, Oliver Ackermann was an absolute treat, offering me and James some drinks before the interview. Not only that, we spent much of the time between bands chatting to us too, ethusiastically discussing the (ludicrously good) support bands. It wasn’t like it was always us approaching him, either – possibly after a few more beers, hepractically ambushed us from behind as we went to go outside. He even took a request from James to play the opening track from their debut. A genuine pleasure to meet.

Anyway, the interview is up over at TLOBF, so head on over there to read it:

 

A Place to Bury Strangers interview (link)

 

A Place to Bury Strangers – Missing You (mediafire)

 

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It seems like an age since Sparky Deathcap supported Los Campesinos! on their UK tour, when in actual fact it was only about a month ago. Anyway, the man who is destined to be the eight member of the Internation Tweexcor Underground took time out before the show to have a chat with us about a few things – and he’s a very nice man. Not only did he charm us with his tales of disliking Crystal Castles, but he also treated us with a copy of his Tear Jerky EP and one of his brilliant ‘zines.

The Line of Best Fit are running the interview, so go over there to get it:

Sparky Deathcap interview (TLOBF)

If you’ve not experienced the excellence of Sparky Deathcap then now’s probably the right time to start. Lyrically, there are few that surpass him, as the demo for Berlin Syndrome (downloadable below) show. There’s also Mountain and Central, taken from his limited-release  debut album, which was haqndmade by some brilliant French label that I can’t remember the name of:

Sparky Deathcap – Berlin Syndrome (fileden)

Sparky Deathcap – Mountain and Central (fileden)

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Greg Weeks Q & A

With the Shred Yr Face 3 starting this week, it reminded me that i’d never actually published the e-mail question and Answer that Greg Weeks from Espers (as well as being famed for his solo work, too). What better time, then, to regale you with the selection of answers he gave. It’s nowhere near as long and mad as the Woods answers from a few weeks, but I’m sure that over the course of the tour that some of that some of that insanity with seep through to Greg and the gang. Here’s the Q & A:

Greg Weeks

Are you guys excited to be playing the UK?

I, personally, find much to enjoy about the UK. As long as I steer clear of lads its an enjoyable experience.

It’s not very often we see most of you on these shores, so we’re sure excited to have you. What are you most looking forward to?

I think the rest of my band might find my true answer to that question lacking taste, so I will decline answering and thus allow an air of mystery to foment.

How does it feel to be playing the increasingly important Shred Yr Face?

I can’t say. I’d never heard of it before. The experience will hinge on the synergy between bands, I imagine, so I’m hoping everyone will find common ground.

Were you pleased to be asked to be a part of it?

See the above. To that I’ll add that its always nice to be asked.

Had you heard of it before?

Heh heh.

Given the quality of past tours (Los Campesinos!/No Age/Times New Viking and  The Bronx/Rolo Tomassi/Fucked Up), surely you feel like you’ve got a lot to live up to?

Why, are those good bands? I like the vampire teeth on the Bronx album cover. Sexy lips. Haven’t heard them though.

Shred Yr Face has been noted for its strong team ethic between the bands involved. What are you most looking forward to about playing with your fellow bands? And, predictably, what are you least looking forward to?

More bands means more technical hoo ha. I won’t know of any ethical teamwork levels until I’m well in it, so, hmmm. Ethics don’t seem to have played too much in the programming of this tour, have they? Ben Wileman (of Wichita) would know better than I … he’s been the real workhorse behind this thing. I mean, I imagine the event organizers are kickin it too, but Ben has been working tirelessly, I think.

The sound of the bands on this year’s tour is a marked change on the past few years and certainly has a folky feel about it. Who would you class as your main influences?

Sabbath. Purple. Led Zep. Kubrick. Italian Prog. That’s me. The gals probably have different bands to add.
Shred yr Face 3 is shaping up to be one of the best tours of the year, so if you haven’t got tickets, I advise that you get on over to the official website and sort yourself out some (link). The tour has already started, but you can still watch Cave Singers, Woods and Espers on the following dates:

 

12/11/09 : Speakeasy (Radar Club) – Belfast (UK)

13/11/09 : Stereo – Glasgow (UK)

14/11/09 : The Electric Circus – Edinburgh (UK)

15/11/09 : The Cluny – Newcastle (UK)

16/11/09 : The Brudenell Social Club – Leeds (UK)

17/11/09 : Academy 3 – Manchester (UK)

18/11/09 : Freebutt – Brighton (UK)

19/11/09 : Fleece – Bristol (UK)

20/11/09 : ULU – London (UK)

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copy_haho_pic[1]

When playing live, Copy Haho are definitely amongst the most captivating of the new crop of unsigned talent about at the minute. Consisting of Joe (vocals/guitar), Richard (bass), Stuart (guitar) and Rikki (drums), they’ve recently released single ‘Wrong Direction’ on the exclusive Too Pure Singles Club label. Later on that evening they’d be storming through a 40 minute set in support of Los Campesinos!, snapping two guitar strings, blowing a microphone and breaking it’s stand along the way. They’re a beautiful mix of chaos and precision, constantly seeming to be on the brink whilst actually being in perect control. In conversation, they’re just as engaging, being both opinionated and refreshingly realistic – just don’t ask them about where they grew up…

Copy Haho Interview (The Line of Best Fit)

And Copy Haho, if you’re reading, I am so sorry for being a rubbish interviewer and asking you about Stonehaven. It must get massively grating, but I fell into the age old trap of asking a generic, awful question. Sorry.

And if you’re interested, here’s a free download from This is Fake DIY

Copy Haho – Pushing Pull Ups (This is Fake DIY)

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